Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm

Here Here for Beer Bread!


So, The Boy, our oldest son, Jack, will be leaving for college in approximately a year and a half.  I’m starting to panic.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want him to go.  I remember the words my mother said to me as my high school graduation was approaching, “I’m so sad you are leaving.  But I’d be sadder if you were staying.”  It was time.  She knew it.  And I knew it.  I feel the same way about The Boy.  I will miss him everyday, but I want him to go on and experience new things.  And of course I want him to move toward an independent, happy life.

Still, I find myself feeling a little desperate as the time grows shorter and shorter.  Have I taught enough lessons?  Have I said enough prayers?  Have I cooked enough meals to make him mildly homesick when he’s at college?  Just the other day, I assured him that I would visit him at school and bring some home-cooked meals.  His reply?  “I don’t get that many home-cooked meals now.”  WHAT? IS HE JOKING?  IS THIS SOME SORT OF TEEN REBELLION DESIGNED TO PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN US?  IS HE TRYING TO KILL ME?  I can assure you.  I cook – well and often.

The thing is we live in the South.  Here people associate home cookin’ with fried chicken, fried fish, fried okra, fried pies, fried potatoes…you get the idea. I do occasionally make a mean biscuits and gravy, another southern staple.  But I don’t do fried.  I love fried food, I just don’t tend to fix it – my mother was the same way.   Anyway, after The Boy’s cutting remark, I have turned up the heat, literally in my kitchen.  I’m still not frying much, but I am making a whole slew of other homemade goodies, cookies, pies, brownies.   Last week I made a pot of potato soup and a pot of chicken noodle soup.  And what goes better with homemade soup than homemade bread?  Luckily I remembered my Daddy’s recipe for beer bread.

I don’t know if this is one of those recipes that everyone knows, but it should be. It’s such a quick and easy way to have homemade bread any night of the week. It isn’t ideal for sandwiches, but it’s perfect as a side or with a bowl of soup!  And it only has three ingredients!

3 cups of all purpose flour

3 table spoons of sugar

1 beer (12 oz.)

Mix four and sugar together. Slowly mix in the beer.  Let stand for about ten minutes.  Bake a 350 for 50-60 minutes.  When you take it out of the oven you can run an stick of butter over the top for added yumminess.

I certainly hope The Boy sees the errors of his ways.  I do cook.  Homemade bread proves it.  And so will the extra pounds we will all gain in order for me to make my point!




I am a nut for all things pumpkin. A nut. So, of course, I’ve adapted my Luscious Powerhouse Smoothie recipe for the season. And remember, I’m a pinch and dash kind of a cook, so feel free to adjust these measurements (guestimates) to your taste.

One cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (I use plain)

1/3- 2/3 Cup canned pumpkin

1-2 Tbs peanut butter

2 Tbs ground flax seed

2-4 Tbs honey, stevia, sugar, or other sweetener

1 Tbs coconut oil ( This is optional, but to me, yummy though they are, smoothies are primarily a vehicle for The Many Many Benefits of Coconut Oil)

A generous dash of cinnamon

A cup or so of almond or regular milk (I use almond.)

Add ice and puree!

Yummy!  Yummy!  Yummy!

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A Tip From My Daddy’s Kitchen…

This morning when I wanted to make biscuits, I was once again thankful for kitchen tips passed down by my parents and grandparents. Here’s my daddy’s tip for “making buttermilk.”

Take a cup of milk.  Add a TBS of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let stand for five minutes. Voila!

I rarely buy buttermilk because most recipes only call for a small amount. I usually let the rest go bad or end up baking more recipes that call for buttermilk. It’s a vicious cycle. With my dad’s helpful tip, I’m saved a little money and a lot of calories!



Souped Up Recipe…



I know it’s obnoxious and a bit pretentious, but every time I share a recipe that is not totally from scratch, I feel I have to preface it by saying something like, “I don’t usually use canned soup, but…”

I don’t know why I do this. Well, yes I do. Pride. I take inordinate pride in not using canned soups or box mixes. But I do use them. Not often – but sometimes. And when I do, I try to hide it. Or I apologize for it . Or I make an excuse for it. Or I offer too much explanation as to why I broke down and used the canned stuff just this once. Well, this time will be no exception. Here’s what happened:

We joined a CSA this summer. Perhaps you remember CSAs from my earlier post ten-baby-steps-to-natural-living . Anyway, one of our selections this week was kale. Hmmmm? What to do with kale? I tried kale chips a few months ago – back when they were all the rage. Blech! Contrary to numerous Facebooks posts, kale chips are NOT the new Pringle.   Anyway, I googled kale recipes, but  I didn’t have the right ingredients for any of the recipes I found, so in the end, I did what I often do – I made up my own.

My own kale soup recipe relies on a Campbell’s 100% natural, no MSG, no preservatives, two servings of vegetables in every can, tomato soup. (See how I did that – I can’t just say “canned soup” I have to clarify that I at least use healthy, 100% natural canned soup).  I happened to have this canned soup on hand, because I recently discovered The Littles like tomato soup.  Since I’ve never made tomato soup, I bought the canned stuff to tide them over until I learned to make it from scratch (eventually someday). I also keep emergency chicken noodle soup on hand even though I do make a really delicious chicken noodle soup.  This is in case I get sick and need chicken noodle soup but I’m too sick to make it.  Anyway, that’s beside the point, but I’m just pointing out that there is some justification for having canned soup in one’s pantry.  Anyway….

  • Sautee 2 cups kale and one chopped onion in bacon grease and/or olive oil.
  • Add about a cup of chick stock. Cook until the liquid in nearly gone.
  • Add 3 or so cloves of minced garlic
  • Puree this mixture with 2 cans Northern white beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Add the kale/bean mixture to four large cans of Campbell’s Select Harvest Tomato Basil Soup
  • Heat thoroughly
  • Enjoy with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich on crunchy bread!
Easy and Delicious and Very Healthy!  No apologies.

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Do you Pinterest?…

I’m sure you do. Who doesn’t? Like so many things on the Internet, Pinterest is a double-edged sword.  A blessing and a curse! It is, of course, an incredible time waster. I’ve spent way too much time pinning recipes that I haven’t yet tried – the key word, however, is “yet.”  My goal this summer is to try one or two new Pinterest recipes each week.  Another goal of mine is to get organized.  In order to kill two goals with one stone,  I am organizing my Pinterest recipes. Clever, no? Of course there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that there is a better use of my time than re-pinning recipes I’ve already pinned.  But I shut that voice up with a fabulous new cookie, casserole, or soup from one of my many boards.

So what I have done is create a new Pinterest board to keep track recipes I’ve made.  When I try a new recipe, I will pin it to this new board along with comments on how I liked it and what, if any, substitutions or additions I made to the original.  I know what you’re thinking.  “How clever!”  A way to make pinning even more productive. Yes, well, it was this or clean out the linen closet. If I’ve got to organize something, I’ll start with my pins. And it has been fun trying all these new recipes – some are definitely better than others.

Take a look at stuff-i-ve-pinned-and-actually-tried and check back weekly to see which recipes are worth trying yourself.  Happy Pinning!

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Peanut Butter Power Balls…

I promise. I do make lots of things that do not involve peanut butter, coconut oil, or flaxseed. And I will post some of those recipes eventually. But this morning Chet and I are making our Peanut Butter Power Balls, and I wanted to share the recipe. These little babies are delicious and packed with nutrition and protein. Also, they are super quick and easy.

Obviously, the key ingredient is peanut butter. For years, my family has been engaged in what I consider The Great Peanut Butter Battle.  I want them to eat natural peanut butter. They act like I’m trying to spread poison on a slice of bread and disguise it with jelly. To be fair, their suspicions are not entirely unfounded- not the poison part but the disguising part. I have, over the years, tried to trick them into eating healthy foods. I’ve baked spinach into brownies, poured healthy cereal into a Frosted Flakes box, and tried to pass off Not Dogs at a cookout.  I’ve also saved empty Jiff jars and refilled them with natural PB on numerous occasions.  Still, they resist.  Finally, I discovered Skippy Natural, and ding ding ding we have a winner. It’s not organic, but Skippy is an Arkansas company, so I’m pretending it’s local produce.  It’s a small victory, but I’ll take it.

Anyway, this is one of those recipes that is unencumbered by exact measurements. You simply combine the ingredients below until your mixture can be formed into balls.

  • Start with about 2 cups of  PB.
  • Add 1-2 cups old fashion oats.
  • Go with 1/3- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed.
  •  Add one or two glugs of raw honey.
  • Plop in 2 or so Tbs of coconut oil.
  • And for an added touch of health and deliciousness throw in your desired amount of dark chocolate chips (a.k.a the new broccoli ).

Mix it all up adding more of whatever it needs to be the right consistecy. Roll into balls and refridgerate for a couple of hours. On busy mornings, my kids will grab three or four of these power balls on our way out and eat them on the way to school.  If the weather is warm, and you want to pack these in a lunch or in your on-the-go snack pack, you might leave out the coconut oil. And if you are watching your weight, don’t make these at all. They are too yummy to eat just one.



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Luscious Powerhouse Smoothie


It seems like Pinterest is booming with smoothie recipes.  I’ve pinned several myself, but I can’t say I’ve found one I like more than this one.  With the possible exception of the spinach smoothie (that I haven’t tried), I don’t think I’ve found a healthier one either. I’m currently using Peanut Wonder, an all natural, low fat peanut spread that I got at the local natural food store.  I’ve also had great luck with powdered peanut butter from http://bellplantation.com .  Of course, you can also use your favorite natural pb too. As a sweetener I’ve used honey, agave nectar, stevia, and, my personal favorite, raw sugar.    The best thing about this smoothie -the kiddos love it!

2/3 c to 1C Greek yogurt

1 banana

2tbs Peanut Wonder, powdered peanut butter or natural peanut butter

2 heaping Tbs cocoa

2 Tbs coconut oil

2 Tbs ground flaxseed

2 Tbs sweetener of your choice (taste test to see if you want more)

1/2 to 1 cup almond milk or regular milk ( I use almond milk)

1 cup of ice

Blend it all up and drink it down!  Yum!


The Incredible Anytime Cookie

I was going to call this cookie the Incredible Breakfast Cookie, but I was afraid that would be misleading.  We do  eat this cookie for breakfast (occasionally) at my house, but it’s not exactly an egg white and spinach omelet.  I justify it as a breakfast food on the “lesser of two evils” principal.  The Incredible Anytime Cookie contains whole wheat flour, whole oats, only unrefined sugar, flax seed (optional) and dark chocolate (Which is practically the new broccoli).  With all that, it’s got to be healthier than a Pop Tart or a bowl of cereal.

The Incredible Anytime Cookie is also a better name for this luscious wonder because it really is a treat anytime – breakfast, lunch, dessert, midnight snack, with a cup of coffee, a cold glass of milk, a margarita.  I’m telling you, you can not go wrong with this cookie.

The quality ingredients are the key.  The raw sugar and whole wheat flour make for a nice, earthy (in a good way) texture.  The Ghiradelli chocolate chips are 60% dark and larger than other brands.  They are the best!  Of course, real butter is essential.

2 sticks of butter                                                 1 &1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 C firmly packed brown sugar                   1 tsp baking soda

1/2 C raw or turbinado sugar                          1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs                                                                    3 Cups Quaker oats (not quick oats)

1tsp real vanilla                                                  one pkg of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips

You know the drill.  Cream together all the wet (first column) ingredients.  Mix together all the dry ingredients together then add to the butter, sugar, egg, mixture.  Plop large scoops onto a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for approximately 10 minutes.  Everyone has their own taste when it comes to baked goods.  Some like oooey gooey. Others prefer crispy crunchy.  These cookies are good either way. When I double the recipe (which is almost always) I have substituted 1 Cup ground flax seed for two of the cups of oatmeal.  Same great taste and Omega 3s!