Today is a perfect day for soup.
But this just isn't any ol' soup.
Saturday evening we had a gathering, and a good friend brought over a smoked Turkey. Seriously, it was amazing. The carcass got picked pretty clean. But it was so good, we just couldn't let it go.
The remainder of the carcass was placed in our crockpot. Added water and walked away. 24 hours later I removed all the bones and was left with an amazing broth and tender shredded turkey.
I then ventured out to the garden and harvested several carrots to add to the soup. I also added some of our garlic and one of our onions. They sat in the crockpot until they became tender. Then I added the finishing touches.
Tyler made noodles with our duck eggs. They are perfect for soups. So delicious! This is one of the most flavorful soups I've ever eaten.
Moral of the story. Waste nothing. A whole cooked chicken, duck, goose, or Turkey can have a second life. There is so much good stuff left, even when you think it's done.
** Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Remember this**😉
grIf you know anything about our Homestead, you know we are cast iron obsessed! Some of you may already understand the feeling, others may thing we are crazy lol. One thing I do know for sure, cast iron cookware will never actually go away or be replaced. Seriously, nothing compares to it!
It has started to be more of a "trend" again, for many reasons. (Teflon is harmful, natural non-stick, iron intake, better flavor, etc.) So because of this trend coming back, many have tried using cast iron, and then became quickly disappointed. Raise your hand if that was you...
Don't worry, it probably wasn't your fault that you burn the food, or it stuck to the pan. There is an explanation.
If you went out and bought a new cast iron pan, you probably bought a Lodge ( The oldest American made company) or something similar, probably Wal-mart's brand or something. Now, there are nothing wrong with these kind of pans, they just take a lot more work to make them what you want. They are not the same as Grandma's old cast iron, that's for sure. So what has changed?
The best way I can say it, is they are no longer made with love. You will notice that everything made pre 1950 is lighter, smoother, usually with a nice glassy cooking surface. Now, pans come with a textured cooking surface. Why? Well let's back up. Way back when cast iron was the only cookware- when you purchased it, it came to you in a bag filled with oil. It wasn't "seasoned". They bag was only to prevent the iron from being exposed to the air and rusting. You as the customer were responsible for taking it home and seasoning it. If you have never seasoned a raw pan before, it isn't a quick thing. It takes several layers and lots of time. SO, you bought a brand new pan, and you can't cook with it right away. As you can imagine, this was probably a turn off for a lot of people. Over time, the process evolved. The thing that Lodge did that sets them apart from other makers is their new way to being able to give customers a pre-seasoned pan. So to keep costs down, they no longer "milled" the surface ( creating a smooth cooking surface). They remained textured, which allowed the spray on seasoning to stick to the pan better, but also makes the pan a lot heavier. Another thing to keep cost down, is the type of oil used to season. They are sprayed with one pretty thin layer of a soy bean based oil.
So back to bad experiences with new cast iron. You take it home, throw it on the stove, turn it to high heat (because that is what you are used to when cooking with stainless steal or similar pans), add some olive oil, throw you steaks on, and before you know it the house is filled with smoke, the steaks are stuck to your pan, and you are ready to forget cast iron forever!
Don't give up. A few things to remember with cast iron- you never actually need to cook on high heat. The pans get hotter than your typical pan, so it will get to that high heat level without being on high. So if you use the high level, you are only making the chance of burning your food greater. Also, with cooking oils- many don't know that olive oil actually has a lower smoke point than a lot of other oils. Meaning it will start smoking & burning at a lower temp than some of the high heat oils, like sunflower, safflower, and grape seed. (Check out the chart below.) Having knowledge on your oils will also help you in the future.
When looking for a pan to bring home, I personally look for the oldest one I can find. Pans from 1900-1920 are my favorite. I also look for American made brands. Wagner, Favorite, Wapac, Lodge, BSR, Griswold, Volrath, etc. Many are "unmarked", meaning the name isn't written on the pan, but if you study the makers, you can start to learn things that give them away. Some brands are harder to find because they were not in business as long as others. This makes them more rare and the price usually reflects. I then grade the pan on a few things. It's maker, if its marked or not, the age, the cooking surface, and then the size.
Many people have asked if it is okay to use cast iron cookware on their glass tops. I personally know many people who do this, but the one thing you want to make sure is that the pan sits completely flat. Many of the older pans have warping and may also be called "spinners". Meaning if you set them down, and give the handle a tap, they will spin with ease in circles. These kind of pans are fine if you are using a gas stove, but not ideal for glass. You want the whole bottom to touch the cooking surface, you don't want a hot spot while cooking. Another thing to avoid with glass tops, do not drag them across the surface.
Now you know a lot of the technical stuff about cast iron, but here is my favorite part- the history. I love searching for these pans and learning about how old they are. It feels like they all have a story. I have restored many pieces for families. Pieces handed down from family members. I love being able to share the history I know of the pan with the families, and also bringing it back to life. They get to use the same pan their grandmother or great grandmother used. That is the part I find really cool. It can be handed down for generations and generations. I do with my family would have had some that they used, but so far I have not found any that are within my family.
You hear it all the time- Support Local
But what does that mean to you?
Usually it is just about where you spend your money. Buy your items here in person at your local Wal-Mart, Hy-vee, Fareway, Target, blah blah blah- so that your money stays in your area. Your local economy. Today I want to talk about something a lot more local. Your local farmers market.
Most towns have them, even the small ones. It is a place where you can truly SUPPORT LOCAL. Your money goes directly to a creator or grower in your area, with no middle man. A place to talk to real people in your area- doing real things. Learn about what is going on in your area. Local produce, local art, local products, local gifts, handmade with love. How can you not want to support that?!
Being a vendor is scary. Growing food for others is scary. You put your heart and soul into growing or creating something for others- knowing you will be judged on it. Food especially. People have this image in their head of how fruit and vegetables SHOULD look. And if your produce doesn't fit that perfect image, it could be overlooked. In reality, not every tomato is the same color and shape. Not every egg is the same color and shape. Not every apple has perfect skin. Not every pepper is the same size.
<< Side note: Having raised my own chickens for eggs, and gown my own food for a while now, I find it terrifying that produce and eggs in the stores are so uniform. How is it done!? If you look at a dozen of our eggs, you will see long and skinny, short and round, discolored, wonky, rainbow of color, speckles, NOT ONE EGG LOOKS THE SAME!! Same with the produce. All different shapes, sizes, colors. I can't wrap my head around it. It hurts to think about.>>
As a vendor you also have to determine your own prices. What if they are too high? Too low and it may not even be worth your time. You also don't want to cut the price too low for other vendors. Fair market is key. But it isn't like there is a meeting between all the vendors that sell similar things. No group discussion on prices or deals. As a vendor you just have to go with your gut and know what price will make it worth your time and materials invested.
There are many other factors for vendors. I wont go into depth, but will mention- there is a lot of pressure as a vendor. You have to make it worth your time and effort.
Not everyone has "extra money" or is ready to buy at farmers markets. We get that. So I want to talk about how you can support local without spending a dime.
Tell the vendor you like or appreciate what they do. Even if you can't buy today- tell them you are glad they are there. You like or are interested in what they do. We have met some pretty awesome people at the farmers markets. They have become friendships- all because they took the time to stop and chat for a second.
One of the markets we vend at is in a small neighboring town. It isn't always busy and sometimes hard to sell much. BUT every time we attend, there is a older gentleman who personally thanks us for showing up and being at his local market. He never buys, and that's okay. Just him taking a moment out and recognizing our efforts is motivation enough.
Tell your friends. Tell them about the market you visited. The vendors you saw. Tell them about specific items you enjoyed seeing. If your friend is looking for lettuce, and you saw a ton of delicious looking lettuce at a booth, tell you friends to check it out! Just by spreading market awareness you are helping bring more potential customers to local vendors.
Take pictures. Document your trip to the market. Take pictures of the crowds, the produce, the products, the flowers, the animals, the food. Share it. Social media it. People need visuals.
I have a friend who goes to the market every Saturday- rain or shine. While she is there, she take lots of photos and shares them on Facebook weekly. It always peeks my interest. It is cool to see that wide spread selection and exciting happenings. If I wasn't already vending at a different market, I would surely go and check it out.
At the very least, while visiting a market, keep these things in mind.
Think before you speak.
If an item seems strange to you, educate yourself. Ask questions instead of cutting down something you are unfamiliar with. The vendor will gladly tell you all about the item. What to do with it, where it came from, hows it is made, and any other fun facts. Open your mind- you may just find something you never knew existed and now love.
This could also go for prices. If you see an item and you think it is overpriced- find out why. Ask the vendor why their price is what it is. For us, our produce is priced higher than produce in local grocery stores. Why? Well it isn't the same as what is in the local stores. It wasn't trucked in from other states. It wasn't sprayed with any chemicals
(organic or not). It isn't weeks old. It is local, freshly harvested (usually that morning), and treated with nothing but love. When you tell a customer that and explain your process and hard work- they usually understand.
Handle with care.
Vendors expect you to touch their items. To check them out. But they also expect you to handle them with care. And even if there is no sign posted- if you break it, you really should buy it.
This sounds lame, but for real- treat others the way you want to be treated. If a vendor says "hi" to you in passing, or "good morning" just say it back! You don't have to stop if you don't want to but please don't be rude.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my blog. As a recap, you can SUPPORT LOCAL with your money, kind words, questions, pictures, sharing, and social media.
If there is a topic you'd like to learn about or see my point of view- send me a message or drop a comment down below. Always interested in learning what others are interested in.
Can you believe this weather?! Thank goodness it is finally warming up. Felt like spring would NEVER get here!
We received our packages of bees 2 weeks ago during the blizzard weather. Talk about bad weather to install bees into their new homes. Yikes! It was so cold and wet and miserable. We sadly lost 3 of the 20 new packages because of the terrible weather conditions. Now the bees will have to work a little harder to make up for the lost one.
Speaking of bees, we got some awesome boxes back from our Adopt - A- Hive program! These kids and families did such awesome jobs! Here are a few pics, but we have have them all posted soon!
Please welcome Tupac to the homestead. Tina Turkey was lonely- and calling constantly, but no one was here to answer her calls. So we decided to search for a mate for her. We found Tupac, a Blue Slate Tom. He's beautiful. He was on a farm, with his own lady. His lady was an escape artist. She could get out of the enclosure and would take Tupac with her. But sadly his lady was hit by a car and killed. He spent several days wandering around looking lost and calling for her. We are very glad to bring these two together so they don't have to be alone any more <3
We have put together some Mother's day gift bags this year. There are four sizes to choose from. Everything made here at the homestead. You can find these on our website.
New things are coming
If you didn't see our Facebook post announcement- we decided we will be getting a store front here at the homestead. This building will be split in half, store front and honey house. We will have all our goodies for sale, with set hours of operations. We will also have the honey house. We hope to not only be able to extract our own honey easier, but to do custom extraction for other local beekeepers and also rent the space out to other beekeepers.
The building is very exciting, and very scary all at the same time. We had to get a loan for the building, and it doesn't come with the inside finished, so that is left to us as well. Luckily we have lots of friends and family who plan to help us do the work. We just have to come up with the money for the materials. We have put together a small fundraiser to help pay for materials. There are 7 packages up for auction on our Facebook page. Something for everyone!
If you want to help us fund our next step there are a few ways you can help. Our auction on Facebook, purchasing any of our items on our website, sharing our Facebook page or website to help us expand our customer base, supporting us on Pateron, or a donation. Any of these are so very much appreciated during our leap of faith.
Pork for Sale
2 More Hogs back from the locker! Grilling Season is here!
Red Wattle Pigs. Raised with love in the mud- not a confinement!! You won't find anything like this at Hy-Vee or Fareway. All USDA Inspected for Resell.
New York Top Loin Roast $7/lb averages 3.5lbs
Ribeye Roast $7.50/lb average 3lbs
Boston Butt (shoulder) Roast $7/lb 2-3lbs
Ribeye Chops (packs of 2) $8.50/lb averages 1.25lbs
T-Bone Chops (packs of 2) $7.50/lb average 1.25lbs
Porterhouse chops (packs of 2) $8.50/lb average 1.5lbs
Iowa Chops (thick cut) packs of 2 $8.50/lb average 2lbs
Blade (shoulder) steak $7/lb average 2.25lbs
Spare ribs, whole racks $7.50/lb averages 5lbs
Smoked Bacon $9/lb approx. 1lb packages
Smoked Bacon ends $9/lb approx. 1lb packages
Fresh (not cured or smoked) Bacon Sliced $9/lb approx.. 1 lb. packages
Fresh bone in Ham $7.25/lb average 2lbs
Fresh Hock $6/lb average 2lbs
Smoked & Cured Bone in ham $8.25/lb average 5lbs
Boneless shoulder Roast $8/lb average 3lbs
Brats $8.50/lb approx. 1lb packages
Specialty Skinless Brats $9.50/lb approx. 1.5lb packages
• Jalapeno Cheddar
• Wisconsin Style (Beer)
Ground Pork $4.50/lb approx. 1lb packages
Breakfast sausage $5/lb approx. 1lb packages
Italian Sausage $5/lb approx. 1 lb packages
2 Whole Heads available 2.50/lb approx. 20lbs each
Hearts, Kidneys, feet, tail, skin (scalded), lard (ground approx. 5lb/ package), and bones available $2.50/lb
**Nothing is sold until it is paid for
I should have taken "before" pictures to show my great progress this spring, but I was too embarrassed.
Feels like we are so far behind, but we will make it work. So far in the ground we have potatoes, onions, garlic (from last fall), carrots, radish, and peas.
The basement is exploding with plants that need to be moved outside. Tomatoes everywhere.
We will get the greenhouse set up today and start moving plants out. We will also be selling some starter plants. All chemical free, organic seeds, and plantable pots. So stay tuned for those to be for sale!
Kids Gardening Camp
Don't forget about our upcoming summer camp for the kiddos!
This is a unique camp here at the homestead where we teach everything gardening. There are only a couple spots left, but if this sounds like something your kids, or another family's kids would enjoy- check out our website for more details. Kids Gardening Camp 2018.
Thank for for subscribing to our newsletter and reading it! We appreciate all of our supporters!
Tyler & Sara
Let me just start this post by saying: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. NOT STUDYING TO BE A DOCTOR, WILL NEVER BE A DOCTOR. NOT GIVING YOU MEDICAL ADVICE, JUST SHARING MY OWN EXPERIENCES AND BELIEFS.
In our household we are very open to alternative medicine and home remedies. We try to "fix it" ourselves before running to the doctors office. We prefer vitamins, essential oils, and honey over prescriptions and vaccines.
Something that is always a topic over the winter months is the flu. Avoiding the flu and recovering from the flu as fast as possible. Maybe I am more in tune with it this year, but it seems there is more fear and hype about the flu this year than in previous years. Maybe it is just hype so you will get scared and get your flu shot so big pharma can get their money, or maybe not. Although I am not trying to get into the politics of the whole thing, we don't believe in the flu shot in our household. It is far from "natural" medicine in my eyes. I know many people are forced to get the vaccine because of their work place and such, but I do encourage you to do some research and make an educated decision on getting the shot or not. Don't just do it because someone told you that you should.
Most of this "flu season" I have been thinking in the back of my head that we are just "lucky". It was luck that has helped us avoid this terrible sickness. But let's be realistic...
Most of my life I would consider myself to have a very weak immune system. Health issues as a very young child. Fevers of 104* & 106* and my parents rushing my limp body to the hospital. Health issues as a young adult too. Being diagnosed with a disease I don't believe I have. Missing lots of school from allergies. My ENT doctor, Mr. Brown told me I was the worst case of seasonal allergies he had seen is his 40 years of practice. WooHoo! I also had migraines. Migraines so bad I would have to be driven home from work and sometimes the pain would lead to vomiting. So you get the idea, I wasn't always healthy. So this year, there has been no flu in our household. We both work in public places. I work in a scary public place. People from all over and sometimes very crowded rooms. I know we have been in contact with people who have the flu and other seasonal colds. So why haven't we been sick?
I can say with confidence that the last couple years of my life have been the "healthiest". I believe it to be a number of things. The first being where we now live. Country life is so good for the soul. Working outside, feet in the soil, and skin being kissed by the sun is so good for your body! We also grow a lot of our own food in the summer months. Now days who knows what is really on your food when you buy it form the stores. Organic is more of a hip marketing word thrown around now, more than a safety label. The only way to REALLY know what you are eating is to raise it yourself. Then next best thing would be to have a transparent farmer friend. I also strive to preserve all the food we grow in the summer months. Nothing is better in the winter than delicious pasta sauce you made in July from your own tomatoes, or applesauce made from ONLY apples. NO sugar added, yet the best flavor you have ever tasted. Yet, we do live in Iowa, so winter there are a lot less options for fresh, local, chemical free fruit and vegetables. We still strive to find the best options, try to eat as clean as possible, and we don't eat out often.
Building your immune system is important. How do you expect to fight off any sickness or have a fast recovery without a strong immune system? Vitamin D- naturally provided by the sun. You are exposed to this so much more in the summer than in the winter months. Yes your body stores it, but what happens when it runs out? Maybe sickness? Vitamin D intake is recommended at 400–800 IU/day, or 10–20 micrograms. However, some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels. (healthline.com) We supplement our direct sunshine with vitamin D drops. (the brand we use pictured below) Not only does this help my immune system, but it also helps my attitude. If the drops aren't your thing you can find vitamin D in food. Foods high in vitamin D include eggs, mushrooms, and tuna.
Another essential vitamin, Vitamin C. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adult men is 90 milligrams and for adult women is 75 milligrams (Mayo Clinic). For our vitamin C we use Elderberries, rosehips, and aronia berries. One serving of elderberries contain 87% of your daily value. Rose Hip is a fruit very rich in vitamin C. It outweighs other fruits like oranges, kiwi, and strawberries in its vitamin C content. Aronia berries are not nearly as high in vitamin C content, only 35% of the daily value, but they are one of the highest fruits in antioxidants. They have a very high ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity - a measure of an antioxidant's power to neutralize free radicals) - almost 80 units, the highest amongst fruits.
Something else we consume almost daily is raw honey. Raw honey contains disease-preventing and disease-fighting flavonoids. Raw honey contains both propolis and bee pollen so you get the benefits of those two natural powerhouses as well. It has been scientifically proven to help with allergies, diabetes, sleep problems, coughs and wound healing.
If you haven't yet heard of elderberry syrup or our Aronia Rosehip syrup, these are things we make to help with building the immune system. I started off just making it for Tyler and I, but saw the large demand in natural health, so I decided to be a local source for others in the area. You can learn more about these syrups by visiting our store. We do have them for sale, but we also list all of the benefits there too.
Since selling these products, the feedback has been incredible. As I said before, I was both a believer in alternative medicine, but also a skeptic. Having others tell me of their experiences only confirmed my beliefs further.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
You may be asking, what is barter? Dictionary definitions is the following:
gerund or present participle: bartering
Alight so essentially it's people trading stuff for things. Easy enough right? But if it is in fact, so easy, why aren't we using it daily? For everything? There are a few reasons that come to my mind on why bartering isn't as popular as it once was, but first let's talk about the history of barter.
Bartering has been around longer than money. Actually it dates all the way back to 6000 BC. Tribes would barter for herbs, salt, tea, and weapons. In the Middle Ages, Europeans traveled around the globe to barter crafts and furs in exchange for silks and perfumes. Colonial Americans exchanged musket balls, deer skins, and wheat. When money was invented, bartering did not end, it just become more organized. Bartering became popular again in the 1930's during the great depression when money was short. It was used to get food and other necessary services. It was so organized that it was sometimes done through groups or people who acted similar to banks. If items were sold, the owner would get credit and the buyer's account would be deducted.
The number one reason in my mind is that the government has no way of regulating it and therefor taxing it. Usually bartering goes on with no receipt or record that it even happened. Exchanges happen "under the table" so to speak. That is just not acceptable from the governments viewpoint. They need to get their cut.
Trust could be another downfall to the barter system. You would want to barter with someone you know will hold up their end of the deal. If they offer you a service for your goods, you better make sure that service gets completed. This could also go for goods, you want to make sure you are given an accurate description of the goods you will receive.
Another reason that makes bartering difficult for some could be lack of skills or possessions as use of payment for desired items. Or the "conversion rate" perhaps. Possibly even finding the right person who desires what you have to offer.
But forget all the negative because bartering is an art. You can make it however it fits your needs. You have to come up with the perfect exchange rate for each specific exchange. Something you used to pay Stew, may not be an acceptable payment for Sally. Not to mention there are so many variables of service and goods. You could trade a service for a service, a good for a good, and good for a service, and service for a good. The value of each good or service could be different person to person too. Someone who has their own chickens and eggs probably wont see the value in bartering with you for eggs. However, someone who doesn't raise their own chickens may be craving farm fresh eggs and will give you just about anything to get some. Don'f forget to factor in supply and demand.
So where do you begin? There is no blanket answer for this. You may not be able to start bartering today.
But some advice I can give:
1. Be open minded. When doing private party purchases (garage sales, farmers markets, craigslist, Facebook, your neighbor, or family members) suggest an exchange of goods or services as your payment.
2. Look at what you have to offer other a head of time. Know what you would be willing to do or part with if a barter opportunity comes about in the future. What services can your offer? Handy man, lawn care, babysitting, cleaning, tax prep, financial advising, landscaping, remodel, art. Do you raise your own food? Could you barter garden goods, eggs, raised meat? Do you have a desirable item? Anything from electronics, clothes, toys, supplies, concert tickets, decorations, items big or small.
3. Don't be afraid to ask. You are not the only one who prefers to barter- for many reasons. Don't be afraid to ask someone about bartering. The worst they can say is no, but what if they say yes! Then you can add them to your barter network.
Keep the art of barter going!
This was our newsletter, sent out Feb.1- we understand it is old news now, but to get the news first, subscribe to our newsletter on our home page OR become a Patreon supporter :)
The other day I was cleaning out my closet. I would really like some "new" clothes, but since I'm ballin' on a budget lately, I plan to take my clothes into Plateo's Closet (consignment) and trade them in for some new threads. Anyways, that isn't the point of the story...
The Holton Homestead