A Working Weekend

Matt was home over an extended 4-day weekend (mid-terms) so I spent lots of time rattling the pots and pans in the kitchen preparing his ‘favorites’. Used up the last of my goat’s milk cheese with baked manicotti…YUM! I made meatloaf –  it’s always a family fav – for another supper, and last, stuffed green peppers with a basil/tomato sauce with pick’ns from the garden just before the hard frost.

For dessert, I had to bake an apple strudel…but not the type you’re probably most familiar with…light airy filo-type crust? This ‘apfel’ strudel is my mom’s recipe from the ‘old country’, Nieder Osterreich (Northern Austria) from a little farming village called Rastenfeld where my mom was born and raised. It’s a simple-folk farmer’s hearty-type dough, made with flour, sugar, butter, sour cream, milk and egg yolks. It rolls out easily and is then filled with fresh sliced apples, sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter (I toss in a few raisins and a little cinnamon). Another BIG Y-U-M!

  apfel_strudel

Here’s the recipe, made the old-fashioned way – BY HAND. NOTE: MAKES TWO APFEL STRUDELS: In a large bowl, add 4 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, pinch salt. Stir with whisk. Now, make a hole in the center of the flour and add: cut in 2 sticks butter, 4 tablespoons sour cream, 4  tablespoons milk, 4 egg yolks (reserve the whites to brush on top of the strudel if desired). Now comes the fun part! Push up your sleeves and with your hands, begin to pull in flour from sides and incorporate into the ‘wet’ ingredients. Once you have formed a ball of dough – of sorts – turn out onto a floured dough board and work gently adding a bit more flour if needed until ingredients are all incorporated and smooth. Put finished dough aside under the bowl while you prepare your apples. Peel, core ‘n slice 7-8 large apples (I use Northern Spy but any good baking apple will do. Now, back to the dough…cut the dough in half (makes 2). Roll out half the dough to fit lengthwise on a parchment paper lined 11 X 17 baking sheet, approx 1/4 inch thick. Arrange sliced apples down the center of dough. sprinkle on sugar to taste, add cinnamon & raisens if desired, and dot with a few bits of butter. Gently fold over dough to center and pinch ‘n tuck ends closed. Brush on egg whites and sprinkle with sugar if desired – OR – when baked, just dust strudel with powder sugar. Repeat process with second half of remaining dough (for second strudel). Transfer from wood board to baking sheet, next to first strudel (see pic). Bake at preheated 350 degrees F until golden brown, juices should be flowing, approx 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing. Enjoy!  

Since I had man-power available, we managed to perform necessary flock management, worming, feet trimming, etc. getting everyone prepared for the winter and breeding(?). I also managed to skirt, wash and pick Reeces’ fleece, my ewe lamb – whom I sheared this past September. I was hoping beyond hope for a nice warm day to perform this ‘chore’ when it turned so unseasonably cold! Nevertheless, I accomplished the task in two days…well, I had to let the fleece dry overnight in my drying barn before I could ‘pick- it’. That’s kind of like teasing the wool apart – in preparation for spinning. But first…

drying fleece

Before I could USE the drying barn (I forgot to mention sequencing) – remember ALL that lavender drying all over screens and racks in the drying barn??? Well, it took me two days, but I finally ‘garbled’ (that is, removed all the leaves/buds from the stems) every bit of lavender I had harvested this past summer and temporarily stockpiled in the barn. YEAH – well done! Smells heavenly. I saved some of the longer lavender stems to bundle and use as scented ‘faggots’ for the fireplace.

And, I also made another batch of goat milk soap – this time I used peppermint and rosemary essential oils and some of my farm-raised organic peppermint for color. TIP: I use a ‘dedicated’ electric coffee grinder for grinding herbs and other botanicals for creating various herbal sundries. I always look forward to soapmaking day – the kitchen is usually filled with wonderful scents. After the soap is allowed to “set” for approx. 24 hours, I remove the soap (in this particular batch, a 10 pound loaf) from the mold. TIP: Use freezer paper to line your mold for easy release. I immediately cut the soap ‘loaf’ into individual bars. TIP: A non-serrated knife/blade makes a clean cut and/or a cheese-cutter (straight or curly/fancy blade cuts the soap nicely. Sometimes you can find them at the dollar store. I usually get anywhere from 24 – 30 bars depending how I cut the loaf. TIP: A small old wood drawer makes a nice soap mold! The bars of soap are placed on wire racks where they’re allowed to cure/harden for another 3-4 weeks before the soap is used/sold.

cutting_mint_soap

Last, but not least, hubby also mulched our veggie garden compost with his chipper/shredder that operates off the tractor PTO. We have a 3-stage compost system. One bin accumulates, one bin is in-process/cooking and one bin is the final ‘product’ …which is usually always empty because we put it right back into the garden beds in the Spring.  Since we already got hit hard with frost several times, I’ve been cleaning-up the garden beds and accumulating lots of garden debris. You increase the rate of decomposition by increasing the surface area…that is, chop up your veggie waste. Here’s the final product – it looks almost ready to place back into the garden – full of nutrients for next growing season!

compost

That’s flat leaf parsley in the foreground – normally lasts in the garden ’til Thanksgiving. I’ll pick lots and share with family. I’ll use some to make a parsley pesto and prefer to freeze the rest since ‘dried’ parsley begins to loose its flavor quickly. 

3-Stage Compost Bins
3-Stage Compost Bins

A busy, blessed weekend!

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5 thoughts on “A Working Weekend

  1. If I didn’t know any better I’d think we were clones. I’ve been harvesting the last of the veggies and the wheat went on the garden yesterday, gotta put it to bed. The garlic is in and so are the pink daffodil bulbs. I dug up the madder and put it in the barn loft to dry. I bury my rosemary pot in the cold frame and mulch with straw, it winters over there very well. I got my roving back from OVNF and am spinning a shetland/mohair blend I carded on my Pat Green carder. I’ve been making goats milk soap too. Lavender/ clary sage and oatmeal/almond/ylang-ylang.It’s so refreshing to know there are still women out there who are working the land too and loving it. I am also working two 18 month old border-collie males and they are maturing so nice. God bless

  2. Hi Jen, I love reading about your farm life, hope to someday have a small piece of it myself!! Your apple strudel recipe looks wonderful, would you mind sharing your recipe??

    Thanks so much,
    Denise

  3. p.s. Thank you for describing the soap-making process and for that wonderful photo. There is something that’s just really neat about a loaf of homemade soap, and cutting squares off of it.

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