Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmastime at the Creek

Ah yes, the holiday season has, again, descended upon the Coyle household.
There are a few things I have started to love about the winter since moving to Montana. For one, we have taken to crafting our own, personalized presents, each year for Christmas.
And two, ski season begins!
A few months ago, while browsing the book section of a thrift shop, I came across a hardcover edition of a Ball Canning and Preserving book straight out of the 80's. It's pretty much awesome? Oh, and it was fifty cents. From there, I experimented with many different Jams, Jellies, Butters, and Preserves to gift out this year. So simple, so cheap, and so yummy!
My personal favorite was the Plum Apple Butter. Wow. Killer, folks.
As you can probably remember from my last post about the goats, we went through the motions of an attempted breeding this past November with our three female Nubians. The girls finally came home to Jack Creek last weekend, and Mr. Cheap Trick was utterly thankful to have his family back.
A goat's gestation period is a solid five months, with virtually no sign of pregnancy until the last few weeks or so. We hope that all three girls will have taken to Mr. Love Bones (above: what a stud, right? check out that sexy beard!), but honestly wont know a thing for sure until Mid-April or so. Jennifer informed us that a true sign of imminent Kidding is the udder development, so I will be keeping a close watch come spring, eager to have some baby goats running around!
Until spring, however, there will be little goat care for us besides daily hay feedings. The break will be cherished, as it will end abruptly in spring with possibly three milkings a day! Whew!

Here's a funny shot of the goats at the Boyer Farm on the day we went to pick up our girls.
So nosy!
Well....for those of you that follow my daily ridiculousness on facebook, you might have seen that a few weeks ago I decided that I needed to take some serious action on the fresh eggs threatening to overflow our fridge. In a little less than 24 hours, I made a large batch of egg noodles, a ginormous rice pudding (we will not be eating rice pudding again for at least another decade), and two quarts of pickled eggs. I went through about 45 eggs that day, and at the end of the day, had learned three new recipes.
Let me share my egg noodle discovery with you!
First of all, you only need three ingredients to make egg noodles: fresh eggs, flour, and salt.
Beat however many eggs you are using in a bowl with a pinch of salt.
Next, add as much flour as the eggs will absorb to make a soft dough.
I used about half-and-half white and wheat flour, which makes for a heavier noodle, but we're into that. We're also into using as much locally produced groceries as possible and Wheat Montana flour (above) is freakin' awesome stuff.
Use whatever type of flour you're into, and hey, if you make your own flour, you deserve a big hug because I LIKE YOU.
Once you have a nice soft dough, you can roll that baby out.
The flatter the better, folks, and feel free to get all creative with your noodle shapes. I went with the standard fettuccine and flat 'egg noodle' rectangles for my first batch, using a pizza cutter to slice those suckers up. Be sure to use lotsa flour on your rolling and cutting surface or you'll be sad when your dough sticks.
Once you have your noodles ready to dry out, you can hang them over the back of a chair or on a clean drying rack, whatever. I have read alot of people say they lay them on the counter, like on a dish towel or pan to dry, but from my experience that takes FOREVER. My hanging pasta took about 24 hours to dry out in our mildly cool kitchen air.
I actually then put them on a pan into a warm oven (150 F) for 30 minutes or so before bagging them, JUST TO BE SURE they were completely dried out.

Once dry, you can store your noodles in tightly lidded glass jars, or plastic resealable bags.

I threw my labeled zip-locks chock full o'noods right into our freezer.

To cook, I put my noodles directly from their frozen home into a big pot of boiling water.
They took about 25 minutes to fully cook, and were totally awesome in a big batch of chicken noodle soup. I honestly, can't imagine buying or eating store bought noodles again. What a waste of money!

Above are my two quarts of pickled herbed eggs.
Each quart jar holds at least a dozen hard-boiled eggs (no shells), plus pickling juices, and lots of herbs clipped from our household plants. I was a bit skeptical about how these would taste, but was pleasantly surprised last weekend after I chopped one up over my salad. YUM!

When we got this super duper 21 square foot upright freezer this summer from Ed's parents (so awesome, THANK YOU AGAIN), our goal was simple: fill that puppy with self-grown, or self-harvested foods. We are looking at Sustainability and Homesteading as serious issues to tackle while living in Jack Creek, and by god, we are getting there!
This freezer holds 50 pounds of venison, self-harvested, a dozen or so of our homegrown chickens, an elk (roughly 200 pounds of meat), self-harvested, some random summer garden herbs and veggies, home-grown and self-harvested (grumble grumble), and over 150 frozen eggs from our laying hens!
High five!!!
Next year, I would like to add two categories to this array of fresh freezer foods: Goat's Milk, and Pork. (This spring we hope to bring home a baby piglet or two to raise through the warmer months.)
Well, sorry this post really isn't too much about Christmas, but oh well.
We wish everyone a gorgeous holiday, where ever you may be.
We, however, will be at Big Sky, skiing if anyone needs us.
Awwwwwww YEAH