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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Planning for the Hoildays

Now that the weather is starting to cool off, I am getting excited for the Holidays. I have been purchasing some gifts all year, but now it's time to get down to business and get finished. I would like to be done by Thanksgiving so I can just enjoy the season.

It has been a really long time since I have made any handmade gifts but this year I am working on a few things. Of course I can't share them here until after I have given them to the recipients.

We are going to Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my family and I hope to have all of my decorating done before we leave. We are thinking about going ahead and putting up our outside lights while it isn't so cold. We will not turn them on until after Thanksgiving, but it would be nice to not be freezing to death while we are putting them up, and if we spread the work over a couple of weekends, maybe it will be a little easier.

I have already started purchasing baking supplies so I have what I need on hand. I already have the makings for fudge and chocolate chip cookies. I will still look for baking supplies as they go on sale. The Holiday season is the best time to purchase most baking needs and most of them can be frozen for use throughout the year.

This is also the time of year we stock up on hams and turkeys. I usually buy at least 3 turkeys and 3-4 hams. You just can't buy meat cheaper than when turkey is $.49 a pound. I will bake one several times a year. It is a lot of meat, but there are so many ways to use it. When I bake a turkey and it's not Thanksgiving, I don't usually do the dressing and gravy and all the trimmings or that would spoil Thanksgiving. But I will make mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and rolls and other things to make it a big meal. Then we have sandwiches for lunches a few days, the carcass gets made into stock, there is usually a casserole a few days later and sometimes I make shredded turkey BBQ.

Throughout the year, when I make cornbread or biscuits, I freeze the leftovers for dressing. There is a big bag out in the freezer waiting to be made into dressing. A few more loaves of cornbread should probably be made before the Holidays.

Here is my recipe for Chicken or Turkey Casserole:

2 cups chicken, cooked & cubed
1 can cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery soup (I usually use 1 can cream of chicken and 1 can cream of mushroom)
1 stick of butter
1 small package Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (I use cornbread)
2-4 cups chicken broth

Place chicken in bottom of a 9x13 pan. Mix cream of chicken soup with one can of broth (2 if you use 2 cans of soup). Pour over chicken.

Melt butter and mix with stuffing mix, add enough broth to make a moist stuffing. Spread over chicken in pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

This is actually better as leftovers to me than it is the first time you serve it.

There will be a couple of cookie recipes posted in the next few posts.

Happy Preparations!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fun Times

This week has been really busy at work. We have a program every other year that teaches school children about farms and this was the week for it. The schools go on a field trip to our old farmer's market parking lot where there is a big tent set up. Then they go from station to station learning about where their food comes from. They get to learn about dairy cows, beef cows, sheep & goats, pigs, corn & soybeans, hay, and a pizza garden. There are also tractors for display and tractors & hay wagons for hay rides up to the farmer's market where they learn about vegetables and fruit. This year I got to be a tour guide for a few of the groups. It is amazing how much some of the children knew and also how little some of them knew. It is a wonderful program and I am glad that I got to be part of it. It was a lot of fun!

I also, got to bring home 15 baby chicks. So we have added to our flock and I think we are now up to 31 chickens again. The batch we bought in July have now started laying and we are back in the egg business. It broke my heart to have to buy eggs from the store. Fortunately, I only had to buy them twice. I am so glad we are getting fresh eggs again!

I have picked green tomatoes and bell peppers from the garden and stored them for winter. I will check the garden again this weekend for anymore tomatoes. It's been so warm here this week I wish I had left the tomatoes out in the garden to ripen. But maybe there will be some more out there this weekend that are almost ripe.

I am beginning to think about the holidays and have already began Christmas shopping. My grocery needs are minimal at the moment so I am going to spend some of the extra money to stock up on baking supplies and other things that will be needed for the holidays. I would like to be done with every thing by the weekend before Thanksgiving. We will decorate our house that weekend and then head to Georgia for Thanksgiving the Monday before.

Have a great weekend!