Lemon Curd Cake

0807142133a

 

We like to make our cakes from scratch. It is really not that much more work than making it from a box, and even with sugar it is a lot better for you than a cake with all the extra chemicals and preservatives in a box mix. Not to mention, you get to control your ingredients and portions. As we speak, the boys are mixing up some chocolate chip muffins for snacks this week, from scratch. If they can do it on their own without destroying the kitchen, so can you! I’ve heard complaints that homemade cakes are a lot drier than mixes. I’ve never had this problem myself, but I use recipes and ingredients that create a nice moist cake. I also bake it for slightly less time than you would expect. Try this incredible lemon curd cake, and you will never want to go back to mixes again.

1 cup butter

3 cups flour

1/2 cup lemon curd

1 t baking soda

1t salt

2 cups sugar (or 1 c honey and 1 c sugar)

6 eggs

1 c milk (or heavy cream or sour cream or cream cheese)

 

This is a bundt cake recipe, so it is an all in one, which makes things easy! Just mix all your ingredients together. Pour half the mixture into your bundt pan. Then spoon lemon curd onto the top so it covers most of the mixture. Pour the remaining mixture over the top. Bake at 325 F for about 40 minutes. Because of the lemon curd, don’t expect your knife to come out clean. Just look for a set cake that doesn’t wobble.

The lemon curd in the middle will give you a delicious saucy middle and a crisp top on your bundt. We like to top it with a glaze but you could also dust it if you prefer. Try using coconut sugar or halving your granulated sugar with honey for a healthier alternative. If you like a cheesecake flavor, add cream cheese instead of milk. Or for a more dense, moist cake, substitute sour cream. We usually buy our lemon curd as we find it at farm stands or specialty stores, but you can also easily make it if you look up a recipe.

Advertisements

Fruit Snacks

My kids love homemade. You should see Stuart’s face light up when he sees fresh bread buns on the table. But they also get excited about  prepackaged “stuff resembling food.” And why shouldn’t they? These companies have huge research and marketing budgets to create products to entice my children. And it isnt just the kids: on the rare occasion I go to a supermarket I too will sometimes reach for a pack of Pringles, or a box of granola bars. Tastebud-tempting convenience is difficult for everyone to resist.

I’m a big advocate of providing food for my family that is minimally processed. A fresh whole apple in the lunchbox is just as convenient, and must more healthy, than syrupy tubs of apple cubes or sauce. But sometimes, I like to give my kids something as exciting and enticing as the stuff they see in little foil packets. So lately I’ve been experimenting with fruit snack recipes. I’ve tried a few different ones and finally settled on something we all seem to like. Although I have put them in little molds to create fun shapes for lunches, they seem to find it most exciting when we make our own “fruit snack factory.” For this, I set the fruit snack mixture on a baking tray, and then they get to come and cookie cutter out a few for lunches or a snack when they want them. It adds a little bit of fun to it and they want to eat more when they get to cut them out themselves. Which is fine, because these fruit snacks are super healthy!
1016141600

Here is the recipe. As you can see, it is really simple and only takes a few minutes of your time.

1 1/2 – 2 cups fruit puree or juice

2-4 T honey

1/3 – 1/2 cup gelatin

Optional: other sweetener to taste

 

Mix the honey and juice/puree, warm, and then add gelatin, whisking vigorously. Pour into molds or on a tray and cool. Yup, that’s really it!

If you choose to use a fruit puree, you can make your own by heating fruit and then blending it up. Just allow it to cool for a few minutes before you add the gelatin. Since we have half a freezer full of blueberries, I have been using these. You will notice the amounts are not exact – they will vary depending on what fruit you are using. Blueberries, for example, need less gelatin because of their natural pectin, but more honey because they aren’t naturally as sweet. The good news is, if you mess it up you can just dump it into a pan and gently heat it before adding more of whatever it needs. (I did this on my most recent batch when I doubled the fruit and forgot to double the gelatin! With a little heat and stirring, I was able to add in the extra gelatin no problem.) If your family, like mine, have varying tastes for the sweet, you can always sprinkle additional natural sweetener onto the finished fruit snack, or add more to the mix. I have tried batches with more natural sweetener added in, as well as with a little sprinkle of sugar on the top at the end. Even this little bit of indulgence is much healthier than the kind you purchase in stores, and I was able to wean my kids off of the added sugar after the first time.

1016141559

I’ve really enjoyed these too as an easy, healthy snack. In fact over the last week as I’ve been nursing the flu they are one of the few things I could stomach. These three simple, healthy ingredients (yes, even gelatin has been demonstrated in numerous scientific papers to have many health properties) make a fun and convenient snack for your whole family!

Training session

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.

It’s working! All our persistence is beginning to produce results. One year, or even six months ago, today would have been a stressful, grumpy day for our family. But instead, despite spending the whole day doing hard physical work and running numerous errands for the farm, the kids were spectacular.

We had a great time. We got a ton done! Our pigs now have loads of wholesome, local organic food in storage. Our yard is stacked with wood for next year’s fuel. Our muscles are tired from a good day’s work, and our minds are filled with memories of time together.

When we went to pick up the brain, berries, and grains for our animal feed from the wonderful people at Farmer Ground, the farmer there had a child with him too. She was only a toddler but already he was showing her around, talking her through what he was doing, and spending quality time with her. I also noticed on their equipment wall hung a baby carrier. Isn’t in wonderful to see so many people who believe in training the next generation in the way they should go?

I’m so proud of our boys. They are learning that work can be fun. They enjoy spending time with their family. Today they found fulfillment in working hard together as a family, to contribute to all our needs.

When we plant and raise wholesome food as a family, we are sowing the seeds for the next generation. These boys aren’t just children, they are future leaders and husbands and fathers. And they will be some of the very best!

 

1011141554a 1011141557

Loading the bran into barrels to be stored: we hauled and shoveled and moved and stored about 900 lbs of food in all today. Sourcing our own feeds means we know what our animals are eating; who is growing what and where. It also allows us to control our expenses, and get the freshest and most wholesome ingredients for the best value.

 

 

 

 

1011141700a

Several trees were chopped down at our local church building ,and the facilities manager kindly offered them to us if we were prepared to load and move them. They have been stacked to age at the farm for next year’s fuel. We are trying to be as close to 100% wood heated as possible this year. Our home is on one level and small enough to allow us to heat pretty efficiently and affordably this way.

1011141710a 1011141719 1011141719b 1011141721 1011141727a 1011141735a

 

Our 5 and 7 year old superheroes! They worked so hard moving all the wood, without any complaints. Not once did they ask when we would be done or what it was for, because they already understood the contribution they were making to our family. They were even responsible enough to go around to the side of the truck to fill in the gaps with the logs they had, rather than dumping them on the tailgate to finish their job more conveniently. I am sure not every day will be like this – it certainly hasn’t been in getting them to this point – but it is wonderful to see them beginning to understand how valuable a contribution they make to our family.

1011141739

 

Pork in the Pasture!

Our piggies have arrived! They’ve only been here a week and are growing at an incredible pace.

1001141337 1001141341

So quickly, in fact, that this was probably the first and last time I trust my little guy to be sat ‘on his own’ with them. We like to encourage a healthy respect for our animals to keep everyone safe.

1001141409a1001141408

10021417391003140815

The pigs are loving their huge pasture, and have already rooted around and established clear ‘rooms.’

The cows are growing too, although they are nearing full size now. Soon they will be ready to be bred for the first time. Here they are next to our 5 and 7 year boys for scale.

0928141344a 0928141345

The pigs are a mix of heritage breeds: Old Spot and Duroc. They should be hearty during the winter, and are cute too!0928141808b 0928141808c 0928141810

The pork will be ready in February. Pre-orders are already sold out. Providing things go well, we will have summer pigs available to order at the start of next year. We are making all our own feed now for the pigs and chickens, using grains from a local organic mill. The pigs are loving it and the chickens are laying spectacular eggs, so we must be doing something right! The pigs are also pastured in an orchard so they can enjoy all the fallen apples too.

This week will be spent preparing for winter: it is getting cold too quickly here and we are starting to feel a real sense of urgency. Once everything is in place, we might even have time to complete some of the posts we have been working on: watch this space for helpful tips on running a small farm, delicious recipes, and even a competition to win some of our fantastic local-milled organic bread mixes just in time for Thanksgiving!