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These were so good, I just had to share them! I bet if I had a commercial kitchen I could sell out with these at every market. They are the best yeast donuts I’ve ever had!

1 Tablespoon yeast
3/4 cup warm apple cider
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large apple, finely chopped (I used Honeycrisp)

oil for frying (I used pig lard)
cinnamon sugar for dusting

Combine the wet ingredients in one bowl. Combine the dry ingredients in another. Toss the apples in the dry ingredients mix. Add the wet and dry mixes together, knead smooth. Let rise until doubled. Roll out 1/2″ thick, use biscuit cutters to cut donut shapes. Let rise to double again. Fry in oil/lard about 60 seconds per side. Toss in cinnamon sugar while still hot. Enjoy!

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See those apple chunks? Mmmm!

See those apple chunks? Mmmm!

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I suggest that if you want these first thing in the morning, make the dough the night before. Even next to the wood stove, this dough took a long time to rise. Overnight in the fridge, I think it would be perfect by morning.

 

This post is featured on Homesteader’s Hop #2 at http://modernhomesteader.net/2014/11/07/homesteaders-hop-2/

I said I was going to share a recipe I found with y’all, and here it is. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the final cakes because they were eaten so fast! Even my picky 6 year old wolfed these down one after another. Although this recipe works out to make about a dozen little patties, I’ll probably double it next time. Everyone at the table wanted to eat more… but they were gone.

 

Cajun Fish Cakes

4 6-8oz fillets of any white fish (I used Swai, whatever the hell that is)

1.5 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 egg, beaten

2 Tablespoons yellow or brown mustard

1 cup stale bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (I used saltines)

1 cup fat (EVOO, Crisco, butter, or what I used – bacon grease)

1 cup Miracle Whip

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teastpoon lemon juice

 

Directions:

1. Cook the fish. Bake it, fry it, toss it on a grill – whatever method you choose is fine. I sauteed it in a pan on the stove top. When the fish is cooked thoroughly, remove it from the heat and put all four fillets into a medium mixing bowl. Season the fish with 1.5 T Cajun seasoning. Stir the seasoning in well with a fork, breaking the large chunks of fish into tiny flakes as you go. Add the beaten egg, mustard, and bread crumbs. Stir well.

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2. In a large, flat frying pan, heat the oil on medium low temperature on the stove top. While it’s heating, make a quick remoulade sauce by combining the Miracle Whip, garlic, lemon juice, and remaining 1 t Cajun seasoning in a small bowl – then set it on the table.

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3. Patty the fish into cakes about 3″ across and 3/4-1″ deep. You should end up with around a dozen. This turned into a two-person job for us. My husband pattied and handed them to me while I mother-henned over all of the cakes in the oil, flipping them as needed. It was a lot more efficient than working alone. (Thanks, honey!) Each cake took about two minutes per side.

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4. Remove the cakes as they finish to a serving plate. Let cool slightly before eating. Spread a dollop of sauce over each cake, then mow down. Make animal grunting noises. Lick your plate clean and stare hungrily at the cake your child is taking his dear, sweet time finishing.

 

There you have it! I hope you enjoy these as much as we did. They are a fabulous way to use up boring old white fish sitting around in your freezer. I paired it with a homemade tortilla soup, fresh cut-up pears, and chips and salsa. Let me know how your family likes it!

Unless you are lucky enough to live in Hawaii or South America, you probably don’t get to eat too much fresh pineapple. Around here, they usually run $3-4 a piece, so it’s not something I buy on a regular basis. When I saw that I could ad-match pineapples thanks to a sale in Green Bay, I jumped on it and quickly bought four.

I’ll be honest, we usually stock up on tinned pineapple. Sometimes I’ll even splurge for store-bought dried pineapple chunks. While still delicious, they have nothing on the sweet, acidic zing of a fresh pineapple. Is it possible to keep that unique flavor intact by home preservation? Yes!

Start out by gathering a cutting utensil, cutting board, pineapples, and dehydrator.

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Cut the tops and bottoms off of each pineapple. If you have chickens, they’ll love picking all of the flesh off of the pineapple scraps. If not, you could compost the extra bits or use the top to grow a whole new pineapple plant.

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Carefully cut off the hard skin of the fruit with a large knife. It’s easier if you stand the pineapple up and cut from the top down in thin strips. Once all of the skin is off, use your fingernail or a small paring knife to remove any deep pocks left over.

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Once your fruit is cleared of skin bits, cut it into quarters from the top down, then cut the woody center out of each quarter. I think you can technically eat that center, but man… is it tough! No, thanks. I’d rather let the chickens make quick work of those.

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At this point, you’ll have notched wedges that need to be sliced thinly. I used a knife, but if you have a mandolin or food processor with slicing blade you can use those as well. Try to keep the slices under 1/4″ thick for faster drying times.

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Line them all up on the trays so they aren’t touching. They have so much sugar in them that they’ll stick together if they’re touching. Yeah, still edible, but not as pretty if you have to tear them apart. I’m such a terrible perfectionist.

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I put it on 125° in my Excalibur. They took about 16 hours to dry leather-hard, then I removed them and put them in quart sized Ziploc bags. You can also store them in clean Mason jars or airtight Gladware. For long term (1+ years), consider using Mylar with oxygen absorbers appropriate to the size of your Mylar bag.

To get the dried pineapple unstuck from the mesh screens, put the screen flat on the counter and use a pastry cutter.

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Grapes were also on sale this week, and seeing as we won’t be harvesting our own grapes for at least another year, I stocked up to make raisins. Making raisins is easy. All I did was wash the grapes really well under running water, cut them in half, then arrange them on the trays cut-side-up. Four pinapples yielded 3 full quart bags. I got one quart of raisins from about 2.5 pounds of red, seedless grapes.

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Store-bought, chemical laden* dried pineapple has NOTHING on homemade. Yum!

 

*Store-bought may contain: sugar, dextrose, glucose syrup, fruit juice, coloring derived from fruit, glycerin (422), sorbic acid (200), sulphur dioxide (220), paraffin, BHA (320), edible fats, and oils.

Today was a beautiful day to harvest potatoes. It rained last night, so the top few inches of soil were easily workable. I was able to dig all of the potatoes out by hand, with some help at the end thanks to my husband and eldest son. I’ve definitely learned a few things.

1. I won’t buy “seed potatoes” from anywhere ever again. They gave me runty little potatoes just like the runty little potatoes I bought. Next year I’ll just sprout out some regular grocery potatoes and plant them.

2. I need to fertilize better. There were a lot of tiny potatoes in the roots that looked like they never developed. I’m guessing the plants ran out of nutrients. Since the potatoes were the first things in, I didn’t fertilize them much before they were done. Next year I’m going to try to set up a barrel for compost tea. That should help me get bigger, better yields.

3. Grubs are assholes. They ate about 10% of my crop. I fed every one I found to the chickens – sweet revenge.

As far as yields go, I think we did pretty well. I planted 2.5 pounds of white and 2.5 pounds of red. We ended up with 12.5 pounds of white and 15 pounds of red. That’s around a 1:7 ratio, which is what I had hoped for. I know it would have been more if I had fertilized better. Live and learn.

I spent the better part of the morning putting up these potatoes by canning them. Here’s how I did it.

First I rinsed and scrubbed all of the potatoes clean under running water. I used a regular kitchen scrub brush that I keep by the sink. The potatoes went straight to a towel spread on the counter.

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Then I cut off all the bad spots and diced the potatoes into equalish chunks. As I diced, I put them into a large bowl with cold water and a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning.

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While I diced, I had my pressure canner heating up on the stove top with about 4″ of water. I also had a stock pot with water coming to a boil. My jars, lids, and rings were freshly washed and sitting ready for me on a towel on the counter. When I finished dicing the potatoes, I gave them one good rinse under cold water and started packing them raw into the waiting jars.

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I can fit seven quart jars in my canner at a time, so I didn’t bother filling any more jars than that for the first load. The potatoes that I didn’t use were put into a fresh bowl of water with a dash of lemon juice until the first batch was done. To the potatoes in the jar, I added a pinch of salt each, purely for taste.

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I wiggled and gently banged each jar down to pack as many potatoes as I could into each jar. They settled a lot. Once I was satisfied that they were full and seasoned appropriately, I brought over my stock pot of boiling water and ladled water in to the bottom ring of the jar. Again, I wiggled each jar to bring up air bubbles and make sure the water was throughout.

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With the jars packed completely, I tossed the lids that I would need into the boiling hot water in the stock pot. They only need a few moments to soften up, so while I waited I swabbed a clean, damp cloth around the top of each jar to clean away any water or debris. Once I was sure of a good seal, I carefully put a lid on each jar and twisted the ring around to seal it finger-tight. As I twisted them closed, I loaded them into the pressure canner.

When all of the jars were in the canner, I put the lid on tight. I let the canner steam freely for several minutes.

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Once it had vented enough and there was a constant issue of steam coming out, I put on the weight, with the 10 pound side down. The canner slowly moved from zero to ten pounds pressure. Once there, I set my timer for 40 minutes and turned down the heat so the weight wasn’t jiggling too much. If you’ve never canned before, stay with your canner the first few times. It’s a scary sound at first, but you’ll be fine. Even though I had the pressure weight in place, a hot stove could potentially make the canner increase pressure, altering the result of my finished canned product. I’ve learned over the years what sounds are good and which are bad by experience – there’s no better teacher.

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When my 40 minute timer went off, I turned off the burner and very carefully moved the canner to a trivet. If you don’t have a steady hand, just leave the canner in place. I waited a bit for the pressure gauge to read zero again, then I removed the weight while wearing an oven mitt. That sucker’s hot – never remove it with your bare hands! A few moments later, and it sounded like all of the pressure had finally released. I opened the canner and carefully lifted out my bounty.

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I used about 11.5 pounds to make exactly 10 quarts of potatoes. You’ll notice that I didn’t bother peeling the potatoes before processing them. My reasons for this are two-fold. For one, I’m lazy. Peeling takes work. Two, the peels are where half of the nutrients are located! Why would I chuck them when they’re so good for us? Did you know that half of the fiber in a potato is in its skin? They also contain potassium, B vitamins, and calcium.

Tomorrow I’ll finish processing the red potatoes. For now, they’re sitting in my big, metal bowl on the counter. We brushed the dirt off with our fingers as we picked them, but I won’t wash or scrub them until I’m ready to process them. Dirt is full of nasty bacteria – I don’t need to introduce that to the flesh of the potato by accident.

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Thanks for stopping  by to see how I process my potatoes!

My youngest had a class birthday celebration for all of their teddy bears recently. Each child brought in their favorite stuffed animal and spent the day singing to, playing with, and making presents for them. In honor of their letter of the week being the letter B, they call this the Bear Birthday Bash. For my part, I decided to make cupcakes along that theme. While I’m quite creative, I have to give the credit to Google for showing me all the fun things I could do with Teddy Grahams and cupcakes.

In a slight change of pace for this blog, I present to you Bears on the Beach!

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The cupcakes were pretty simple and very delicious. The frosting was an adventure all it’s own, since I had never heard of this method before now. Who would have thought to make a white sauce with flour and milk as half the frosting? It’s great, though! The adult staff ate more cupcakes than the children – it was that good.

Here are the recipes I used, along with my strong recommendation.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk

Sift first four ingredients into a bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla extract. Mix well.

In a cup, mix vegetable oil and buttermilk. Add alternatively with the flour mix to the egg mixture.

If you want cupcakes with flecks of color throughout, this is a good time to fold in some colorful sprinkles. If not, just continue on to the muffin cup filling. Fill each cup 2/3 full.

Bake at 350°F for 13 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. Let cool before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 cup butter 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Okay, this is where I might lose some of you. It sounds very strange for a frosting recipe, but trust me – it’s worth the effort. In a small sauce pan, whisk together the flour and milk over medium heat. It will get lumps, but those can be taken care of in a blender or small food processor at the end. Stir it until it thickens to a paste consistency. It should retain some of its form if you scoop some out and plop it back down. At this point, if there are chunks, blend it. Then put it in a shallow pan and chill it in the refrigerator (or outside if it’s colder than a witch’s tit) until it is no longer warm to the touch and perhaps even a bit chilled. You don’t want warm. Warm will melt the butter and sugar and leave you with runny frosting.

In your mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until you get that fluffy consistency often looked for in frosting. Add the vanilla. Now toss in heaping spoonfulls of your chilled flour mixture until it’s all incorporated.

I just used a butter knife to spread my frosting – nothing special. I’m sure this frosting would work well with piping, too. It’s very light and fluffy.

Other than delicious cupcakes, there’s really not much else to report on here. We’ve had record snows for northern Wisconsin this year. Yesterday was the first day of Spring, yet here we are with FEET of snow still on the ground. And it’s still snowing. Good grief, will this winter never end?

Stay posted. We’re still keeping our fingers crossed that construction can get underway again next month.