Monday, October 31, 2011

Colors of Fall

I LOVE fall. It is by far my favorite season. I love the crisp leaves, crunching under your feet and the smell of the leaves as you rake them into a huge pile. But most of all, I love the beautiful color of the leaves before they fall! So,my husband and I decided to take the 3-wheeler out on the back roads yesterday as the sun was setting to get some good pictures of the fall colors. Here is what we saw :)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Last night for dinner, I turned a tomato, french bread, olive oil, mozzarella, and basil pesto into a delicious plate full of Italian goodness! Although it is normally thought of as an appetizer, we find that after two slices we are stuffed! With just a few ingredients you can have a delicious meal, that is pretty good for you too. Here's my recipe for one of my favorite quick meals :)

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil
Fresh tomato, diced
Italian bread, sliced
Basil pesto
mozzarella cheese
olive oil or butter
First, mix a tablespoon of basil pesto in with either 4T of melted butter or olive oil. Spread over the french bread slices. Toast in toaster oven until golden brown. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese (slices work best, but all I had was shredded) and diced tomatoes. Toast again until cheese is melted and tomatoes are hot.
You can also serve it with cold tomatoes on top (that's how I like it).

Sliced French Bread

Slathered with olive oil and basil pesto

Toasted and topped with cheese

And of course, tomatoes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

I am a coffee addict. I admit it. In an average week, I go through about two 32 oz bottles of store-bought liquid creamer. I switch the flavors around. One week I have Almond Joy and Cinnabon, the next it may be White Chocolate and Raspberry. Sometimes I'll go back to the plain 'ol hazlenut or french vanilla, but most of the time I experiment with new flavors. Now, in  my defense, staying up until 7am isn't the easiest without a caffeine boost, and hey, why not make it tasty in the process, right?

Well, the other day I was blog surfing (don't know if it's an actual term, but it works) and I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer at Homemaking on the Homestead! (Lots of good pumpkin recipes there too!) I have been scouring the local stores for this with no luck, for the last month! So, I gathered the ingredients and made some this afternoon. I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out, so I only made one batch at first. After testing it out with my cappuccino maker (makes some AWESOME froth!) it was a hit! I went ahead and made creamer out of the whole 32 oz of half & half that I bought. I'll easily go through it all in the 7-10 day lifespan, especially after sharing my success with my co-workers!

After realizing how awesome this creamer was, I started to wonder what else am I missing out in the world of homemade creamers? Really, if I can make it at home with REAL ingredients I'd much rather do that than look at the list on the store bought bottle and have no idea what's even in it! So I googled it! I now have an entire list of homemade creamers, that sound awesome! And I will share them with you as I try them out at home :)

So, here is the first one...

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

·         1 cup half-n-half
·         ½ cup cane juice crystals (can use white sugar instead)
·         3T canned pumpkin
·         ½ t vanilla
·         ½ t cinnamon
·         ¼ t ginger
·         1/8 t nutmeg
·         1/8 t cloves

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Heat until cane juice crystals or sugar is dissolved and ingredients are well combined. Enjoy in a hot cup of coffee. Store in refrigerator for 7-10 days.

Do you have anything that you can make better at home than store-bought? Share it! I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BBQ Chili Pasta

Since I work third shift and my husband works first shift, there is very little time between him getting home and me leaving for work. So, it's always great to find a quick meal that is quick, a little different and changes things up. Well he found this recipe on his app on his phone and has been wanting to try it. Sunday night, before I left for work he made BBQ Chili Pasta.

Now to be honest, I was a little nervous because of the name. I mean, really BBQ and chili?? Really? Well I was in for a shock. I really enjoyed it! It was pretty quick, and if you had pre-frozen ground turkey or beef, it would be even faster. We used whole wheat rotini to make it a little healthier. My favorite part was the fresh green peppers, I think that made the dish.

Since this serves 6 we had plenty left over for meals for work too!

BBQ Chili Pasta


  • 1 (8 ounce) package rotini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce


  1. In a large pot with boiling salted water cook rotelle pasta until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat, add onion and cook until onion for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add ground turkey and cook until no pink remains, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in chopped green bell pepper, corn, chili powder, dried oregano, salt, tomato sauce, and BBQ sauce. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large serving bowl, combine the turkey mixture with the pasta. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 340 | Total Fat: 7.4g | Cholesterol: 29mg Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

This is taken from the website, 
Your turn! Do you have any quick, easy meals you always turn to when everyone's hungry? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Parke County Covered Bridge Festival

Neet Bridge

Every autumn, the leaves begin to change color and fall to the ground. I start to think about the all of the bonfires that we will gather around with our friends, along with the hot chocolate, popcorn balls and candied apples.

I also start planning our annual trip to the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. Every year, thousands of people travel to central Indiana for this county-wide event. The county is full of beautiful historical covered bridges, surrounded by natures beautiful changing leaves. If you follow the routes marked with colored arrows, you can travel the countryside to see the breathtaking views of beautiful covered bridges.

This year, it was a chilly 35 degrees outside, along with a light mist. We even saw the occasional flurry while we were out about walking through the towns!

The Mansfield Bridge

Persimmon Pudding
Along with the covered bridges, there are numerous places to stop all over the county for a good bite to eat. My absolute favorite dessert to get while we are there is persimmon pudding! We arrived in Rockville only to be told that they no longer had it there. We ended up finding a couple vendors that sold persimmon pudding while we were in Bridgeton, thankfully! The persimmon pudding I had was not the same style that I normally get, although it was still delicious. It was more of a persimmon bread pudding. If you have persimmon trees at home you can easily make your own persimmon pudding, and I find it tastes even better from your own kitchen :)

In addition to the beautiful sites and yummy food, there are PLENTY of vendors. I normally don’t buy very much, but I really enjoy walking through the little towns to get a glimpse of what the local vendors have to offer. Chainsaw crafted sculptures, homemade crafts, etc. If you are ever in Central Indiana in October, be sure to check out the Covered Bridge Festival!

The Bridgeton Bridge (2009)

Do you have a favorite local event that you enjoy attending every year? Let me know about it in the comment section below! :)

Check out the Fall Harvest Blog Hop!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Natural Dyes

After my post on harvesting black walnuts, I decided to look around and see if we had any pecans. My husband and I found a few big pecan trees down the road and brought back a bag full. Now this is where the dyes come in...

Yes, I know I've read over and over to wear gloves while taking the hulls off nuts... Somehow it slipped my mind while I was hulling the pecans while reading my Managerial Finance textbook. (I'm trying to improve my multitasking skills!) So as you can imagine, my fingers and fingernails are stained a beautiful dark brown color! So, this is my disclaimer to the previous blog post, wear old gloves!

Honestly, yes it's unsightly and it will take several weeks for it to go away, but it's a lesson learned. It did get me to thinking though, about all of the great sources of natural dyes we have just laying around. Pokeweed berries (they are poisonous though, don't eat them) make a beautiful purple dye. As a kid, my sister and I would fill up quart jars of them and make dyes to draw with. We'd also draw on each other with the dyes and pretend we were Indians. I'm sure Mom appreciated that!

I got to looking around on the internet and found this neat website I thought I would share. It goes over what plants to use for certain colors, how to make the dyes, and color fixatives. It's a lot more information than I can go over in one blog post, so here's the website: Natural Dyes.

 Has anyone ever used natural dyes themselves? What are your experiences? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Black Walnut Harvest

This afternoon, we were cleaning up some trees that fell down in the horse pasture awhile back. As I was walking down by the creek I stumbled upon some black walnuts! So, I grabbed a bucket and my little brother and we set to work. We ended up collecting a couple five gallon buckets worth of nuts.

To get the hulls off the shells, I poured them into the gravel driveway. Leaving them in the there for a bit allows our vehicles to get the hulls off of the nuts. There are other methods of doing this, but I this seems to be the least time consuming way.

Black Walnuts

My brother, Josiah
 After the hulls are removed and picked up out of the driveway, you can determine if you have any "floaters" by putting them in a container full of water. The floaters are nuts that are normally not fully developed inside and do not have very much nutmeat. Before you throw them out check them and make sure though, sometimes they simply have a thin shell.

Now they will need to be stored where they can cure properly. Many people keep them in old feed sacks so they can get plenty of air circulation. They need to cure for about eight weeks or so. After curing they are ready to crack and eat! As you can see it will be a couple months before we will be able to actually use them. Compared to the retail price of black walnuts though, you can't beat harvesting your own!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Now on Facebook!

The Modern Homestead is now on Facebook! You can "like" the blog at The Modern Homestead Facebook Page. Hope to see you there! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spinach and Cabbage Minestrone Soup

I love making soups. What I like doing even more than making soup, is making my OWN recipe for it! Well, yesterday I had a recipe DH wanted me to try out. I got a little distracted and made it my own ;) It ended up turning out pretty good though. DH really liked it and so did I. Since it was, "a little of this, and a little of that" the recipe isn't exact, but you can figure it out!

Spinach and Cabbage Minestrone Soup

6 cups beef broth (I didn't have any on hand so I used more seasonings and water)
1 lb ground beef
2 small onions, quartered and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup spinach
1 can kidney beans
1 cup cooked macaroni noodles
 1/2 cup sliced carrots
Italian seasoning to taste
Onion powder to taste
Garlic salt to taste

In a pot, brown the ground beef until cooked. Drain grease. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and cabbage. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the broth, tomatoes, kidney beans, and spinach. Add seasonings to taste. Let simmer. About 30 min before serving, add the macaroni. Remember, it's not exact so experiment and make it your own :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Earlier this year I made homemade vanilla extract. I couldn't believe how easy it was, and how much cheaper it is to make than to buy it at the store! All you need are a couple ingredients and some bottles to store it in. It also makes an excellent gift!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
2 cups vodka, rum or brandy
6 vanilla beans

Cut the vanilla beans longways all the way up until about 1" before the end. You don't want to cut the entire bean because it will fall apart. In tall bottles, put 2-3 beans in and fill to the top with your choice of liqueur. Let sit for about 2 months for the vanilla to infuse into the alcohol. Since you leave the vanilla beans in the bottle, when your bottles get low just refill with more alcohol. Some people like to strain it before use, but personally I like the little specks of bean that is left in it.

Finding the Vanilla Beans
E-Bay is a great place to find food-grade vanilla beans. I got mine from this this seller on ebay and had no problems. Sometimes small specialty stores have vanilla beans for sale locally, too. It just takes some searching.

Do you have something you like to make homemade instead of buying? Let me know in the comment section! I'd love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Choices, Choices...

After some research yesterday on different apple tree varieties, I believe I have narrowed it down. I narrowed it down to Enterprise, Jonafree, and Granny Smith apples because of their hardiness in my area and their strong disease resistance. The less chemicals I have to put on the trees the better for everyone!

I am also looking at some cherry trees, persimmon and*possibly* some peach trees. I LOVE peaches, and it would be great to have them straight from the farm! We didn't have great luck with them at our last place though, so I am a bit hesitant to spend the money on them.

After measuring the area we have set aside for the orchard, I found I have room for about 10 trees. At our house, apple trees would be the most used so they will make up the majority of the trees planted. They are great for homemade applesauce (the best!), home canned apple pie filling, and fresh pressed apple cider! I may decide to put the cherry trees in other places, just so I have more room for apple trees.

Leave me a comment with your favorite apple use and why! Recipes are always welcome :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

First Blog Post!

First Post 
This is the first post, in what I honestly hope will be a long lived blog. I really enjoy writing, especially to straighten out my thoughts. It helps for some reason. It may be because I am a visual learner and things just make more since once I see them on paper (or the computer screen). I also hope this blog will be a help to others looking for information and encouragement in their homestead endeavors. So here it is...

Apple Trees
So, after being on this farm for six years now, I believe I have finally convinced my father into planting some apple trees. You see, at our last place we had a HUGE orchard. OK, so maybe it wasn't that big, but for a total of three acres it was large. We had around 15 apple trees there and it sort of overwhelmed us there. They were also standard sized trees, so pruning took a lot of time.

This time we have to plant our own. That means research! I do know that we want to plant semi-dwarf trees this time. They are shorter than standard-size trees, therefore easier to prune and take care of. They are more suited to a small homestead.

I have found a reputable dealer online (recommended from several people), and now I am researching apple tree cultivars that are suitable for my state. An indispensable site for things such as this has been Purdue Extension publications. Here you can find information galore! So, for a project such as this I found a list of apple cultivars for Indiana.