Saturday, February 28, 2009

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Inspired by Alton Brown's show, "Good Eats" I ventured into my first attempt at making homemade cinnamon rolls. I recorded his show about breakfast breads this week and watched it twice to make sure I understood his technique. The recipe recommends letting the dough rise for 2 1/2 hours but I ended up letting it rise for 8 hours. It could definitely have risen overnight, though.

It's a long, slow rise so if you try this recipe keep that in mind. This is definitely not a recipe you can hurry! I started the dough at 3:30 p.m. Friday and pulled them out of the oven at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Next time I will start the dough at noon and let it rise all day. I can shape the rolls after supper and let them sit in the fridge overnight. They'll be ready to bake when I get up the next day.

And let me just state that the odor eminating from this pan of rolls (even before baking) is an intoxicating blend of yeast, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon--the nectar of the gods.

The dough has 5 eggs yolks in it which makes for a beautiful deep golden color and a sturdy, easy-to-handle texture. I barely used any flour on the counter when I was shaping the dough. The buttermilk in the recipe gives the rolls a whole new dimension in flavor and texture. Lucky me, I found a quart of buttermilk on sale for 89 cents Friday!

This recipe would be great during the busy holidays. It could easily be prepared in advance and forgotten until the next day. It could also be very easily doubled to make a big batch. The rolls were easy to assemble and it was a real pleasure to form them because of the fantastic smell of the filling as I worked with it. I could have licked my hands clean! I plan to make more of these in the near future. It was a no brainer and fit into my busy schedule without a hitch.

Monday, February 23, 2009

We All Scream!

That's right folks! I am now the proud owner of a Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker--in "Arrest Me Red". Sweet.

I've got the mixing container in the freezer where it will remain over night. I am deciding which ice cream recipe I want to try first but I'm leaning toward egg nog ice cream without the booze. I'm definitely going to try Alton Brown's various ice cream recipes, especially his avocado ice cream.

Then I'm going to try some frozen yogurt recipes, sherbet and custard. The possibilities are endless. Grab a spoon!

Hey Joanna and Mike, can you spare some goat milk?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Sweetheart and Gertie

Friday, February 20, 2009

Betty's Day Off

As the official mascot for Twelve Acres, Betty is one busy biddy. Not only does she have her spokeschick responsibilities, she's also a working girl and dutifully lays 5 eggs a week.

I gave Betty the day off today and treated her to a day of fun. First we went shopping. She checked out the Bargain Bin but didn't see anything she really wanted. She was hoping to find a pair of pumps on sale.

Then we went to the arcade. Betty had a lot of fun shooting the terrorists in "Operation Thunderbolt". She's very good at shooting the bad guys! She was showing off her high score of 159,483. No one wanted to challenge her so we left the arcade and headed home. She spent the afternoon browsing in the yard with the sun shining on her back. Her after dinner treat was a pea pod from the stir fry we had for dinner.

She went to bed a happy chook!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Biscuits for Susan

This batch of buttermilk biscuits is dedicated to my friend, Susan, who taught me everything I needed to know to make good biscuits.

Mmm mmm! Pass the butter!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Esther Has A Crush...

...on the cookie jar. *sigh*

Ain't love grand?

Furry Friend Stops By

Remember this little guy? Well, he stopped by this morning to nibble on the lawn. I looked out as I made my morning coffee and sure enough, there was a bushy-tailed, bright-eyed little squirrelly-O on the lawn. I grabbed the binoculars to get a closer look. It sure looked like our Rocky with his bright orange belly fur and swishy tail.

The ducks and chickens were out there too and they got close enough to inspect the visitor but even the rooster didn't get too close. Derek went outside and called Rocky's name to see how he would react. Rocky didn't want a hug and he ran as fast as he could back to the woods. Within half an hour he was back in the same spot, searching for food in the lawn.

Do you think we could get lucky enough to raise another baby squirrel this spring? It would be wonderful!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thawed Out

It's been very mild this week and all the snow has melted. Areas of the pond have thawed, much to the delight of the ducks. It's nice that they're back in the pond and out of our driveway. It was beginning to look like a duck poo mine field!

The chooks are thrilled to be out in the lawn again! There's not much "green" to eat but they don't care. It's much better than being trapped in the coop by snow. This big Australorp is Lily. She's my biggest girl at just over 6 pounds and she lays the most beautiful dark brown, speckled jumbo eggs. What a good girl!

Sweet Pea clucks with delight as she nibbles on grass and clover leaves. If I crouch down she'll hop up on my shoulder for a minute or two, then hop back down. It's as if she's got to get a close look at me and say hello in her own special way! What a fun chickie she is!

This is our rooster, Coq au Vin Silver. He's been giving me a hard time lately and he better watch his step. He's not too skinny to stew!

Iris is busy in a nest box. See the dried grass in there? That's the stuff I was talking about yesterday. The girls just love it.

A strong storm blew through last night and knocked our power out for 2 hours. Jim had to get a generator from his dad's to keep our basement from flooding. One of our two sump pumps died but he had a back up on hand, so we're OK.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Free Nesting Material

I have clumps of ornamental grasses here and there in the yard. I was out in the yard yesterday due to the unseasonably warm weather and I looked at the golden brown clumps of dried grass. A light went off in my head and I realized I was looking at some really nice nesting material, free for the taking!

I grabbed my pruners and whacked off huge handfuls of dried grass and tucked them under my arm as I walked to the chicken coop. I cut the bundles into shorter lengths and stuffed them into the nest boxes.

The girls looked and looked at the new nesting material. They seemed genuinely interested but unsure if they should try it out. One brave chickie, Sweetheart, climbed right in and began rearranging the grass to her liking. She clucked happily to herself as she moved the long, curly grass around herself. She's going to make a great broody some day!

Dried grass is very cushiony and springy, much more so than straw. It doesn't packed down like wood shavings either. My girls are hooked and they laid all their eggs in the 4 boxes with the dried grass today! I have to admit, it's really cute to look in the coop and see several chooks in the nest boxes with the curly, dried grass all around them. I'll try to get some pictures soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Owly Tenant

We have a green fiberglass duck box on the far edge of the pond. It's about 100 feet from my bedroom window. For the past few days, I've looked out to see this adorable little gray-phase Screech Owl napping in it.

At night when I'm outside I can usually hear Screech Owls calling to each other. The air is very still at night, especially during the winter, and the sounds of owls calling travels easily through the cold, thin air. I always stop what I'm doing and just listen. The trilled owl calls always make me smile!

If you remember last winter we had a regular owl visitor whom we name Oscar. I don't know if this is the same owl. I'm just glad to see these little raptors living on the Twelve Acres. It means our mouse population is being controlled by natural means.

Joanna informed me that I have to list 6 things that make me happy.

  1. Being able to look out my windows and see nature in my own back yard.

  2. Having no neighbors and living in the country where it's quiet and peaceful.

  3. Owning my childhood home and having my son grow up here too.

  4. Cooking nutritious, delicious food from scratch, sometimes using eggs or meat from my own chickens.

  5. Owning a business that some day may support us completely, right here on our property.

  6. Living in a rural town and knowing that the people are good, decent people.