Thursday, October 27, 2011

East Texas Gumbo

I got a little creative today.  I do this from time to time.  I cook by taste and some times I like to just get in the kitchen and make something up.  I generally have a mental image of the ingredients and how they may go together.

Today I made something from 1/2 sausage link, white rice, crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion, garlic chives, Mexican gray squash, collards, Tabasco sauces and spices.

I started off by browning the rice in butter.  When the rice just about as brown as I wanted it I added the chopped onion and garlic.  I let that cook for about 3 minutes or so.  


Added crush tomatoes.  (note:  when adding tomatoes it might be good to remove from heat.  I had tomato splatter since the skillet was so hot.)  I added water to compensate for the rice and the dehydrated vegetables I was adding.
   I added the remain ingredients along with spices to taste then 
allowed it to simmer until the rice was done.

I am happy to report that although this dish does not have a name it is tasty.  The only thing I would change with the ingredients is I would put less collards in it as it has a strong collard flavor.  I don't mind that much as I do enjoy collards but I will admit it is a bit much.

So if you can come up with a jazzy name for my new dish let me hear it.  If I like it I'll use it.

Added note:  It would be really good with garlic bread or toast.  I didn't think of that until after I had already eaten.  I'll let you know how it taste after it has had a night for the spices to sit in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Being Productive

I was sick the last two weeks off and on.  As a result I was really unable to get anything done around here.  Very frustrating since the cool weather had come in and I could actually work outside without passing flat out.

Today is a different story.  I am so happy that I have two of the three things done that I wanted to get done today.  That is a good feeling.  My last project is to plant garlic.  Tomorrow evening I plan on scattering some rye, wheat, and oat seed before the rain comes in.  This is my solution to the lack of hay production this year.  I hope I can keep fowl from eating all the seed before it germinates.  Those darn ravens keep eating my pecans.  Are ravens tasty to eat and is it legal?

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I hope no one ever uses the word follow to describe me when I am gone.  I believe there are leaders and there are followers.  I even believe there are people in the middle deciding their own path in life.

It takes great courage to follow one's heart and one's own truth.  Especially when it doesn't take the path of the social norm.  I find most of my life I have neglected to follow the social norm.  Instead choosing to follow my heart or what I see as the truth.

This has not made me a popular person at times.  People seem to feel the need for you to agree with them.  I have found in life it is best to allow others to be exactly who they are.  Sometimes it is best to agree to disagree.  Most of all I believe with all my heart that is is always best to be true to yourself.

"If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away." - Henry David Thoreau

“For nonconformity the world will whip you with its displeasure.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This blog was inspired by a young college student who's blog I read tonight.  I wanted to badly to tell her how proud I was of her by her actions but decided I would be just another adult patting her on the head.  I really am proud of her thought.  She was more an adult today than most adults.  However I am sure she is so secure within herself that there is no need for anyone to have to tell them they are proud of them outside her parents.  Which I know for certain are very proud of her.  Keep being the example.  You are not our future leader.  You are already the worlds leader.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Homestead Patio with Coffee & WiFi

I love living out here.  The weather is getting cooler and now we can once again enjoy the outside.  It felt so good this morning I brought a table outside and we had coffee as we surfed the net listening to the breeze and the squirrel munching in the live oak tree beside us.

I know there is so much more productive things I could be doing and to be honest I just don't care.  I am enjoying sitting here on the front porch.  Maybe nothing external gets done but my spirit sure is lifted.


I take that back.  Something productive (maybe) is getting done just not by me.  The person leasing our property for hay cut a couple of days ago, raked it up yesterday and is baling today.  I am watching them work.  Makes me tired knowing they are probably using more money in diesel then they are getting out of hay.  Then again with the hay shortage in Texas as they are it might just be a necessity.

You can see the effect of the drought here in NE Texas.  We live about 1 1/2 hours SW of Texarkana.  The fields haven't had enough rain to recover.  From afar they looked green but when you walked into the field and looked down it the coastal was sparely growing and mostly you saw bare earth.

Update: They just finished baling and it looks as though they got aroun 80 square bales.  For a small operation like mine that would be enough.  For some it is just a start.


Despite all the hardships of this past season and of course we are still far from being out of the woods.  I am enjoying my day.  Enjoying the fresh air of the outdoors in a place I dearly love.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Time of Blessings

Samhain it means "Summer's End".  It was in a time before ghost and goblins or even saints day.  It was simply a celebration of the seasons  coming and passing.  Samhain or summer's end was a time when you brought in the last of your harvest.  Took inventory of your livestock deciding what would make it through the winter and what would sustain you through.  It must have been a very solemn time.

I understand and enjoy the changes of the seasons.  It gives me time to reflect on myself.  I find myself grateful that we do not live in times where what we eat is dependent on what we grow or kill.  It doesn't matter how much I watered at night the parched sandy loam.  The sun just baked it the next day allowing nothing to grow.  As many of us can attest it was out of human control.  We have had a few day here and there of drizzle now and with the cooler weather I am not seeing a carpet of grass form in my back yard.  It is a grateful blessing to receive.

Our garden really only produced peppers in the beginning of the summer.  After that I realized it was time to let it go.  Recently I have harvested some grass for the sheep to eat from it.  When you look around you see blessings that you might have missed at first glance.  I was grateful for the trees that needed to be cut back out of the fence line.  They to helped feed the sheep and goats.

In spite of the drought we have been able to build upon our homestead with nothing short of gifts.  There are so many this past year.  We have two guardian dogs that came from our neighbors down the road.  They are sisters and I don't know how we would have ever managed without them.  We have a sheep and her lamb.  I tell you these are my beloved lawn mowers.  (I really love my sheep)  We were gifted 4 pygmy females that we were able to breed with our daughter's Nigerian Dwarf / Pygmy male before she banded him.  No more Bandito/Pan babies after these.  They are due in December.  Not the best time of the year for babies so I hope we will be ready to help care for them.

This past summer there was a lot we couldn't do but there was a lot that got done despite it all.  That is what it is all about.  Putting one foot in front of the other and following your nose.

I watched a show yesterday on the history channel about the Mayan calendar.  They explained that the Mayan's thought of time as always repeating itself instead of linear as we are taught.  I understand time I believe more like the Mayans.  It is not about a starting point to the ending point.  It is more about the journey.  In the journey things will repeat themselves and we will change as a result.

Have I changed as a result of this past year.  Yes.  Have I learned.  I sure hope so.  I know there are many things I will do different starting with now.  If you wait to change.  It might be to late.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One Person's Trash is Another Person's Treasure

Today was round two of picking through my neighbor's burn pile.  There is a blessing to the Texas drought because these treasures would have surely been burned up as junk.  On top of it all they have added more since I was last there.  YEAH!

As you can see I have already been sorting before enlisting a bit of help.  My neighbor had been taking up fencing around his place that is no longer needed.  He these items were rotten and not worth keeping.  There are various types of post, treated lumber, and rough cut oak.  My biggest thrill I have to tell you is the rough cut oak.

With the material I salvaged from my neighbors burn pile.  (Yes, that is plural as I have two of them that allow me to scavenge what they consider junk.)  I have been able to create a shelter in the backyard for the sheep.  Anything I did not scavange I found here on the homestead left by either my Grandfather or my Parents.
As most of you do not know we have been unemployed for over 3 years now.  I have actually started considering myself homestead employed rather than unemployed because what we do directly effect what we receive.  We are grateful for material such as this that people wish to get rid of and allow us the opportunity to receive what is no longer useful to them.  Without having the money to purchase items such as these we are very grateful to be able to recycle them into something constructive on the homestead.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Authentic Moravian Kolache / Kolač

My Granny, Vlasta Patricia Mičan Strathman
holding my brother's hand.

Today would have been my Granny's 100th birthday.  She was of Moravian Czech Decent born in Dubina Texas in 1911.  In honor of her I am posting her recipe for Authentic Czech Kolache / Kolač.

We are of Moravian decent before the merge of Bohemia and Moravia which created Czechoslovakia. My great grandmother never learned to speak English and only spoke Moravian which is now a dead language except for what is preserved as "Texas Czech".

Kolach - in Czech "koláč" - is singular and pronounced approx. kohlach (with long "a"). "Koláče" is plural, pronounced kohlacheh (long "a" again).

It’s a Czech pastry, kind of like a danish, with a filling in the center. Traditional fillings are usually apricot, peach, prune, cream cheese, poppy seed, & cottage cheese.

CONTRARY to some folks, a Kolache is NOT dough wrapped around a sausage…NO, that is called a klobasnek, sausage roll or what we Texans call..a “Pig-In-The-Blanket”.  PLEASE, re-educate everyone and spread the word.

Klobasneck: Uses similar bread to the kolache but is filled with a piece of sausage. These are sometimes mistakenly referred to as kolaches. They may also contain ham and cheese, sausage, jalapeño slices, and more resemble a “pig in a blanket” than the original pastry. There is also a sweet and flakey filled pastry with Polish origins called the Kolachky.

I have been accused of being a Czech snob. I am ok with that. It is my culture and it is important to me that people understand the difference. I would hope others would teach me if I was incorrect with something in their culture.  You know like calling an Asian egg roll a burrito.

How to make Authentic Kolache / Kolač

First I mixed the shortening, sugar, salt and 1 egg along with 2 yolks while the milk was warming a bit. Place the egg whites from the two eggs you separated aside until later. You want to warm the milk to dissolve the yeast.

After the milk is warmed a bit at abt 1 Tbs of sugar (to feed yeast) then add 2 yeast packets. Stir well with a spoon to activate yeast then let it sit for about 10 minutes. (Salt from your hands can kill the yeast)

Add some flour to the shortening mix then add some the yeast mixture. Add a little more flour then the rest of the yeast mixture. Blend well with a spoon. Once the ingredient is mixed well you can use your hands. Adding flour and mixing until the flour no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl.

Let the dough sit covered to rise. This takes about 1 hour. After it has risen pull off balls and make the kolache to the desired diameter and thickness on the cookie sheet. Let them rise a second time (Maybe 45 minutes).

Press the dough in the center of the kolache to make a depression for the filling. There are filling recipes online. We used blackberry preserves, strawberry pie filling, and mango preserves along with making cream cheese filling. Be careful not to overfill!

After you have added the filling add a bit of milk to the two egg whites and whip good. Take a brush or a paper towel and lightly brush the pastry surrounding the filling. This gives it a pretty shiny finish.

We baked ours at 400 degrees. (Watch them as time varies.)

(Note:  Harriet likes it better if they are brushed with melted butter instead of egg.  Also she likes her's a little moister therefore she doesn't like her's cooked quite as long.)