Snow Days

Well, they are predicting a winter storm with lots of ice and snow. Some folks dread the winter weather, but we are looking forward to lots of sledding and snowball fights! There is plenty of good dry wood and the wood cook stove is fired up, there will be hot soup and cornbread to eat and lots of good books to read for the cold snowy evenings. True winter weather hardly ever happens here in Tennessee, oh it gets very cold sometimes- but we see little snow. This year however it seems like we are getting our share. The sap has been running quite well the past week and with this "Sugar Snow" coming we should be collecting lots of sap.
Here are a few pictures from our last winter storm for y'all to enjoy.

A Winter Harvest

Greetings once again, hope you all are staying warm!

It’s pretty cold today, well outside that is, inside we are very warm thanks to our wood cook stove and a stack of seasoned wood!
Just thought you all would enjoy a few posts about winter time herbal harvesting! Which I love to do. There is nothing like going out in the dead of winter and finding nutritious live food! Chickweed will grow from winter till late spring . Try some sprinkled over your salad or blend it in a smoothie! (Learn about making healthy and delicious smoothies on “The Art of Cooking” DVD.) You can read more about Chickweed in the previous blog. A few days ago I was out in the garden digging around in the dirt and I found Jerusalem Artichoke. I almost forgotten about them. Good thing I did cause those tubers have the best taste during cold months. A few folks call them sun chokes. I like the idea that they are a true survival food! You can find them growing wild along creek banks and roadsides. Jerusalem Artichokes are easy to grow and take very little care once they get going.
About five years ago a friend brought us some of the tubers. We planted them like potatoes, they grew like weeds! Come summer there stems shot up 3 to 5 feet with a small but beautiful yellow orange sunflower at the top. They can be very invasive so you might want to plant them out side your garden. We don’t start digging them till after the first frost in the fall. We dig what we need for that day leaving plenty to keep growing. We love these tubers raw sliced up in salads or sliced and stir fried in butter. Another method of preparation is scrubbed simmered in there skins in enough water to cover until tender then peeled and served either with butter and salt or with a cream sauce. Yum! You could also peel, oil and roast them. They can also be turned into pickles and pies! Wow, what a wonderful winter herb found naturally right on the homestead!
Well, I would like to get this posted and while the wood stove has the home so warm I would like to wash and hang some wool.
Happy Homesteading,

The Winter Wonder Weed: Chickweed!

“And thou shalt eat the herb of the field…” Gen. 3:18
There are many wonderful “weeds” that we can find easily in most yards, gardens, fields or roadsides that are actually very helpful, nutritious plants. A few of our family favorites are, wild violet, dandelion, horse radish, mullein, plantain and chickweed.
We would like to cover the above herbs in the blogs to come, for now we shall focus on chickweed because it thrives in the winter.
Chickweed is the most common of plants growing in all corners of the world. It is a lovely green plant which hugs the ground and has many small, heart shaped leaves.
Chickweed grows freely here in Tennessee all through winter and into early spring when the tiny white star flowers appear. Some folks think of this invasive weed as a real bother so they spend lots of energy pulling it up just to replace it with another plant which may be no more nutritious or valuable than the chickweed! (We use to do the same thing until we found out how good it was!)
Chickweed is an edible herb. When my daughters were very young they discovered chickweed while they played hard in our woods. Out behind our house, they would imagine being dainty English ladies drinking “tea” (spring water) with their pinkies poked up in the air or they were energetic Indians, whooping and running through the woods, they always made chickweed an important part of their play. When those little ladies and Indians got hungry what did they eat ? The girls would collect chickweed along with a few wild onions, wash the wild crafted herbs in the nearby spring and serve it up on cherry bark “plates”. Yum! I was amazed and grateful that they had chosen such a healthy ‘play food ‘ . Soon our whole family was enjoying this tasty free treat in our salads.
It is such a wonderful surprise that in the dead of winter you can find the lively, bright green plant growing there just waiting to serve you in food or medicine.
Chickweed can be used like spinach, some folks put it in their green drinks. You can make a nice tea with it. ( You may want to add peppermint or your favorite tea and honey to taste.) One of my favorite ways to use this versatile weed is by making a salve with it.
Although chickweed is a very safe and mild herb, it’s importance is great with many health benefits. Chickweed is rich in Vitamin C and minerals especially calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It is good for you inside and out. Teas can be made with chickweed which could be used as a wash to help acne.
The North American Chippewa and Iroquois Indians use it as an eyewash, and as we already mentioned the little ladies and Indians of the West woods, ate their chickweed.
Chickweed is very good for skin diseases such as eczema, it is both soothing and healing on psoriasis, rashes and sores. Chickweed has been used for sores in the mouth and throat. This wonder working weed is also good for burns and works at drawing out boils and splinters.
Chickweed helps any form of internal inflammation. It is used for lung conditions and great for coughs and colds. It is a blood purifier and absorbs toxins from the bowls. It dissolves plaque in the blood vessels and more. Now that’s what I call a wonder weed!
Our family counts it a real blessing to have chickweed come up all over our gardens and fields without our sowing, planting or cultivating, free for our using for our food and health! We are so grateful to our Creator for chickweed. I hope you can find this treasure of an herb soon and discover for yourself the many blessings of this wonderful winter weed we call chickweed.

Dairy Delights

Howdy Everyone!
We would like to share with y'all about making your own whipped cream! It is sooo easy I'm sure anyone can do it. Start with the chilled heavy whipping cream (about 2 cups)sometimes it helps to chill the bowl you'll be whipping in. We like to use hand cranked egg beaters (since we don't have the electric type) to whip our cream with. What you basiclly do is just beat the cream until it is like the consistitensy of cool whip or stiff egg whites. Right when it starts getting thicker and fluffy, add 1 tsp. vanilla, enough maple syrup to sweeten as you like, and a pinch of salt. The whipping of the cream is like your 15 minute farm girl work out! Sometimes we trade off and share the healthy exercise! This makes a great topping for any kind of desert or just to enjoy by itself. Here are some pictures of a No-Bake Raspberry Swirl Cheese Cake that Hannah whipped up right out of her head! She is good at that kind of thing. Hopefully this recipe will be included in our cook book coming out this spring! For more great recipes check out our newest DVD "The Art of Dairy Delights". This video includes how to make yogurt, mozzerella cheese, butter and much more!You can see it at Alright, better be going- y'all take care and have a blessed day on your Homestead!
PS: Coming up next, maple syrup season!

A Gingerbread Barn Raising

Over the holidays we spent our time building a gingerbread barn. It was so much fun! We had never made a gingerbread house/barn before so this was a great adventure for us!
Hope y'all enjoy the pictures!
The West Ladies