Tag Archives: cooking

House update: concrete slab pour

The post you’ve all been waiting for!

I know, I know, it’s been nearly a week since I said we’d get the slab poured, and here I am just now writing about it.

But really, it’s only been 3 days since it was poured. Yep, that’s right, it was done this past Monday, not last Friday.

Yeah, the overnight lows were forecasted to be down around freezing for Friday and Saturday night. Frozen concrete is not a good thing. And while there are steps you can take to make sure the slab does not freeze, waiting an extra couple of days for the temps to warm up is an easy fix.

On top of that, none of the concrete companies in town could do a Friday pour before noon. Doing a slab this size takes about 8 hours. It gets dark here around 7pm right now. I think you can see the problem there.

So, we decided that it was best to just wait till Monday.

It was chilly that morning before the sun hit the pad.

But the crew was there and the cement showed up right on time.

The interior footers were poured first.

Then they started on the slab.

Flower Girl didn’t want to miss a moment, even when she was so cold. But the sun came up and we all warmed up.

There wasn’t much for us to do other than watch.

But watch, we did!

And then spent a few minutes stabbing in the bolts for the walls.

Pajii gave it a go.

Princess Girl looked over the plans to make sure we were doing it right.

I had a moment of panic when I did some measuring and thought we were an entire inch and a half off. Till I realized I was measuring to the wrong side of the form boards. Whew!

Lots and lots of bolts.

The concrete crew we hired did an efficient job.

Looks like he is standing on the edge of a huge drop off. In reality, there’s enough space on the other side of the house for a cement truck to pull up there.

More finishing.

The last thing to do was cut the relief cuts to hopefully control some of the cracking. Our concrete contractor uses a big machine to do the cuts rather than a skill saw by hand.

Here it is with the concrete blankets on. My brother and my dad were each able to loan us enough blankets to cover half the pad. We decided that since we got them for free, it couldn’t hurt to use them. Better safe than sorry.

On Wednesday we started taking down the forms. We can’t take off all of then yet because that’s what the plastic is stapled to.

Since we are going to stain the slab and use it as our finished floor, the concrete guy didn’t want to put on a chemical seal/cure on it. So instead, we wetted everything down then covered it in 6mil black plastic to keep the water from evaporating. This will allow the slab to slowly cure over the course of a week or so without adding something to the top that will make the stain not work.

Pajii and Princess Girl took off all the blankets today. I stayed inside out of the pounding wind because I came down with a cold on Tuesday (great timing, right).

Instead of working on the house, I’ve been resting and recuperating and making chicken stock out of the carcasses of the chickens we processed over the weekend.

One of these pots of stock got canned into jars. The other became soup for dinner tonight. Hopefully it will help me feel better. This not being able to breath thing is getting old real quick.

The next stage of building the house is getting the metal frame up, but that may take a while. In the meantime, we need to finish up our septic system and fresh water cistern and get started on the garage. Still got a lot to do. But it’s moving forward. Slowly but surely.

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Blackberry Syrup with Honey

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So…we’re moving in just a couple of weeks. And we had a freezer full of food to eat up since we will be living in camping trailers and won’t have freezer space available to us (have you seen how small those freezers are?).

We had several bags of wild blackberries in the freezer from two summers ago. First of all, they just needed to be used. Because, you know, two summers ago!

Second of all, as I said, we don’t want to transport frozen food to Nevada. So we either needed to eat them or transform them into something that is doesn’t need to be refrigerated/frozen.

We had so many that we could eat cobbler several times a week from now till we leave. And as much as we all love cobbler, we’re just not that into desserts around here. We see them as a treat rather than a staple.

So a canned good of some sort was the order of the day.

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I coulda made jam. But as much as we had would have probably made about 5 pints of jam. Way too much for us to go through. That would have lasted us years! We just don’t eat that much jam.

So I chose to make syrup. By straining out the pulp and seeds I knew I’d get a smaller volume of juice. Not only that, but one jar of syrup will be gone in just a couple of days. We don’t make pancakes all that often, but when we do, we open a jar of our delicious homemade fruit syurp, use it for the pancakes, and the remainder gets used in oatmeal till it’s gone a day or two later.

I started out with 10 cups of frozen blackberries. I put them in a pot with about 1 cup of water and heated them till boiling, then cooked them for about 5 minutes. I then took a potato masher and mushed them up to get out as much juice as possible.

After that, I scooped them into some jelly bags to drain. You could use a piece of muslin or linen fabric, or several layers of cheescloth if you don’t have jelly bags.

I hung the jelly bags from a cabinet doorknob and let them drip into a bowl.

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They drained like that for about an hour or so. I probably could have let them drain for several more hours and gotten more juice out of them, but I was in a hurry.

I ended up with 4 cups of juice. I added this and one 1 cup of honey to a pot on the stove and started heating it. I chose this amount of honey because that’s what tasted good to us. Feel free to adjust the amount to your liking. You can also use any other kind of sweetener you’d prefer.

Once it was boiling, I sprinkled in about two tablespoons of no-sugar-needed pectin. I figured this would thicken it up into more of a syrup consistency without waiting for it to boil down on the stove. If you’d prefer not to use pectin, you can just let it simmer for a while on the stove, but be prepared to lose a bunch of volume. If you do use pectin, be careful not too add to much or you’ll end up with jelly!

Once it boiled good for a minute or so, I ladled it into prepared jars and processed it for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. For detailed instructions on water bath canning, check out this site.

You can see from the following picture that the syrup is thick enough to coat the inside of the jar. Yummy!

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I ended up with 5 cups of syrup in 4 jars (two 12oz jars and two 8oz jars).

Can’t wait to have some pancakes!

And yes, we left enough blackberries out to make a couple cobblers. 🙂

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Preparing

Today was such a beautiful day out, I just had to forgo the boxes inside in favor of some outdoor work. Did a bit of straightening and cleaning and weeding.

And Flower Girl and I added a bit of curb appeal to the front yard.

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And for dinner, I decided to start getting in the practice of cooking outside, since that will be our life soon. I fired up the side burner on our gas grill for the first time.

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These skillet potatoes and onions will go great with the smoked chicken Hubby is cooking in the smoker. Mmmmm…. the smell of dinner cooking in the great outdoors. What is it about cooking outside that makes everything taste better? 🙂

Anyway, we’re busy preparing for our move (which will hopefully happen in May). Whether it be physically preparing by packing and cleaning house, or mentally preparing by figuring out how we’re going to cook our favorite foods while boondocking on the homestead, we’re preparing to start our great adventure!

And what an adventure it’s going to be!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Zucchini Oat Pancakes

Mmmmm….

The smell of pancakes cooking on the griddle.

I don’t know about you, but pancakes on a rainy Saturday morning seem just about the perfect thing.

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Oat Zucchini Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup

It’s been years since I’ve had regular pancakes. I gave up eating wheat after learning that wheat is a major inflammatory food and it affects the arthritis in my knees.

So I went searching for a “gluten free” recipe. But I wanted one that uses normal and whole ingredients rather than processed, refined, high carb flours in place of the wheat.

I stumbled across this oat pancake recipe at www.mountainmamacooks.com. Orginally it called for a banana, but I am fresh out of bananas and I have quite a lot of frozen zucchini from this summer’s bounty. Besides, the Hubby likes zucchini better than banana anyway. (BTW, I think it’s so adorable that Flower Girl says banana like a Minion – BAN-nah-nah :-). The original recipe also called for almond milk, but we use regular milk.

The pancakes have a very moist and chunky texture, even with highly ground oats. I’ve never experimented with using quick/instant oats since old fashioned are all we ever buy. Maybe it wouldn’t be quite so chunky with instant oats?

As an aside, the girls helped make the pancakes this morning. Flower Girl helped add a few ingredients as is fitting for an almost-three-year-old. But Princess Girl helped with all of it. Not only did she help gather the ingredients, add them to the batter, do some of the mixing, and help with the cooking, she also did all the calculations to add a half batch to the recipe. She’s learning more complicated fraction operations in her school work, so this was perfect. She not only had to halve the recipe, she then had to add that half to the original. Natural learning for the win!

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One thing about these pancakes, they can seem take forever to cook (thus the picture above). So I usually end up cooking them at a higher temp to speed up the process and they tend to get rather dark brown. Compare the two pics below.

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If you’re looking for a gluten free pancake that is as close to traditional pancakes as possible, these aren’t them. But we all like the way these turn out. In fact, I personally like them even better. I always felt guilty eating regular pancakes. I felt that I was eating nothing but fluff and sugar – in essence, nothing more than cake. But these pancakes are filled with good quality, nourishing ingredients. And they taste phenomenal whether you use banana or zucchini!

Zucchini Oat Pancakes

2 cups oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (we use aluminum free)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups shredded zucchini (or 1 large ripe banana)
1-2 Tbl honey
1tsp vanilla
1 egg

Directions:
Place oats in blender or food processor and pulse until it is chopped up fine like oat flour (I suppose you could also just use purchased oat flour as well). Add other dry ingredients and pulse to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Ladle 1/4 cup(ish) of the batter onto a medium-low(ish) skillet or griddle. Spread the batter out so it’s not all clumped up, then cook until golden brown on each side, flipping as needed (time will depend on the heat of your cooking surface.)

I usually heat the oven to as low as it will go (170° on ours), place a plate in there, and put the pancakes in there as each one is done. This keeps them warm till they are all finished cooking and we can all eat together.

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And that makes for a very good Saturday morning.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121