Lazy J Bar C

Lazy J Bar C

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday!

To ME!!

I know, I know I got my new camera recently and it was supposed to be for all major holidays for the next year! ;-) But I have been wanting a smaller, 3-quart porcelain-coated cast-iron Dutch oven for awhile now and so...I ordered one last week and it came yesterday, just in time for my birthday today! YAY!! I love, love, love my 6-quart porcelain-coated cast-iron Dutch oven but since there is only the two of us, sometimes it is just too big. Anyway, just wanted to show off share my new toy! Farmgirls are SOOO easy to please! LOL!! Here is a picture of my two Dutch ovens together so you can see the difference in size.

Happy New Year everyone! I have so enjoyed visiting your blogs this past year and I really appreciate all the comments you leave me here! Here's to a wonderful New Year in Blogger Land! :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mexican Pork and Beans

This is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes and I have been making it for several years. The original recipe is great just the way it is but I decided it needed a  "Farmgirl" makeover to use fresh ingredients, home canned salsa and our goat cheese! Here is the original recipe:

Mexican Pork and Beans

1 pound boneless pork loin cut into 1-inch pieces
1 jar (20 ounces) salsa
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Mix pork, salsa and chilies in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or until pork is tender. Stir in beans. Cover and cook 10 minutes more or until hot. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve over hot cooked rice or tortilla chips.

Pretty simple, huh? Very tasty too! Now, for the "Farmgirl" makeover.

Season the pork with salt and Seasoned Pepper and brown it in a cast iron skillet. I like to get a nice sear on the meat to enhance the flavor.

Put the meat into the slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the salsa to get up all those lovely browned bits of pork!

I don't have a pressure canner (yet) so I used some freezer salsa that I had made with corn and black beans in it and I also added half a cup of Southwest Salsa, both made using produce from our garden, to get the 20 ounces recommended. I added the salsa to the slow cooker along with half a cup of freshly roasted green chiles from the Farmer's Market. Hey, I live in Arizona, remember? We have stuff like that available year round! ;-) These particular chiles were a little on the hot side so I didn't use a full half cup.

Mix well; cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. In the meantime, cook one-half cup of dried black beans. Pinto beans would also work well.

When the pork is tender, stir in the cooked beans and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until heated through. I served this over hot cooked rice and topped it with grated Queso Blanco made from our goat milk. I had to add some Cheddar because I didn't have enough of the goat cheese. :) We also had some homemade tortillas from the Farmer's Market.

This is a very easy and tasty healthy dish either way you make it! Have you given a favorite recipe a makeover to use fresher, home grown and/or home canned ingredients? I'm linking up to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop at Deborah Jean's Dandelion House! :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I am a creature of habit and I have found that I work best to a schedule. This became very apparent this past summer with my house cleaning...or should I say lack thereof! When I was able to start baking bread to sell at the Farmer's Market again, I was home all day and figured I could clean house whenever I had some spare time. HA! As anyone who has ever worked from home can tell you, there isn't really ever any spare time! I was also blaming my lack of house cleaning on the fact that Jerry's mom was here and I didn't want to disturb her TV watching. ;-)

I already work to a schedule with my baking. On Monday, for instance, I make the loaves of bread because I can bake two at a time in the oven and I can knock out quite a bit on that one day. I also have "Cheese Bread" Tuesday when I work on all the breads and rolls that contain cheese.

When I was a stay-at-home-wife in my former life in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I actually did my house cleaning per a schedule and it worked really well for me so I figured I should probably go that route again. I have been using a schedule for cleaning for almost two months now and I am very pleased with my "cleaner" house! :) Monday is bathroom day. Cleaning the shower is my least favorite chore in the whole world but I have found that now that I do it every week, it is a whole lot easier! LOL!! I also take the dirty towels and damp mop the bathroom and kitchen floors before throwing them in the wash, keeps the floors looking nicer in between regular mopping. Tuesday is dusting day and cleaning "kitty noses" off of the windows. Wednesday is vacuuming day, especially the sofa and chair where the kitties like to sleep. Of course, EVERY day is laundry day! Thursdays and Fridays are usually pretty busy finishing up the baking for the week and getting everything ready for the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. On Monday, I check the weather forecast for the week to see which day will be nice for hanging out the sheets and that becomes bed-changing day. I have also found that since I am only doing one chore each day, it isn't so overwhelming and I will actually get it done rather than procrastinate. When I was trying to do everything on Sunday, it was very easy to find something else to do and then, guess what, nothing got done!

Schedules seem to work best for me. What strategies do you use to keep on track with chores?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


We went to Jerry's sister's for Christmas day and had a lovely time! Jerry's mom was there too and we had ham, beans, pasta salad, homemade rolls, goat cheese and crackers, and homemade pickles and deviled eggs, YUMMY! Heck, I could have gotten by on the cheese, crackers, pickles and deviled eggs! :) There was quite a bit of ham left over so everyone got to take some home. It was a spiral sliced ham and Jerry's sister and mom took the precut slices which left me with the HAM BONE!! :)

The latest issue of MaryJanesFarm magazine has several recipes using a ham bone and they call the article "Nothin' but a ham bone." I thought that was pretty cute! I got enough meat off of the "bone" for five meals for the two of us plus there is still enough meat on the bone to cook up with a big pot of beans. WOO-HOO!! I just love it when I can get frugal, especially with food!

Any good leftovers at your house?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday's Tails, #6

We said goodbye to the Barred Rock hens last week. One of our friends said he would take them when he found out that we wanted to find them a new home in the spring. He gave away his hens a couple of years ago because he was having some health issues and is now ready to have some chickens around again. Our enclosure for the chickens has already been expanded twice but it was just too small for 22 chickens! The Peeper People, at 12 weeks old, are now as big as the full-grown Barred Rocks! It was time for them to go to their new home; besides, I was only getting about six eggs a week. We ate the last four for breakfast this morning. :(

One of the two Roo boys, they are both VERY nice so far!

I did keep my Aracuna, Dolores. She was one of my first chickens. Here she is getting ready to roust the young girls out of their dust bath.

The Peeper People have not been going into the chicken coop yet. With the nicer weather Monday, Jerry cleaned out the old straw and put some new down. Their curiosity seems to be getting the better of them or maybe it just doesn't smell like the Barred Rocks anymore! ;-) 

"Are you REALLY sure we are allowed to come in here?!?"

"So far so good, maybe just a little farther in."

Here comes a third! Maybe by tonight they will all be sleeping in the hen house!

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Camera for Christmas...Birthday...Valentine's...Easter...

I LOOVE my hubby!! He indulges me occasionally and this time he did BIG time! :)

There are so many talented photographers out there in blogger land and they have inspired me to try to improve my own photography skills. To that end, I have been wanting a new camera for awhile and Teresa at Eden Hills had recently posted about how much she liked her Nikon D3100 and how much she missed it while it was away being cleaned. I did some research and found that the Nikon D3100 is considered an excellent entry level D-SLR camera. We found the best pricing locally at Best Buy in Tucson and headed out a couple of weeks ago to check it out and possibly buy one. A purchase that big I wanted to make in person as opposed to over the internet...I like to touch and see! LOL!!

It was December 15th and the store was super busy but the salesman was very attentive and really took the time with us that we felt we needed to make an informed decision. He showed us several different cameras and told us about the pros and cons of each. Needless to say, I left with the Nikon, in Candy-Apple Red no less!!, and a 55-200 telephoto lens. Since we purchased the telephoto lens at the same time as the camera there was a substantial savings.

I have been having fun taking pictures with my new camera, I used it all last week with the candy making posts. I have been playing around with the telephoto lens too and took a couple of neat pictures of the mountains to the north last week during our bad weather. They reminded me of Scotland! :)

I'm loving the macro setting too, it's more "macro-y" than my little Canon PowerShot A590. I still need to read the user's guide completely and figure out exactly what all neat things this camera can do! I'm hoping to get some cool photos of the animals and the garden as the year progresses and with the amount of winter rain we have had so far, we should get a beautiful display of spring wildflowers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

These chocolate peanut clusters are SOOO easy to make and so incredibly good! This was my dad's favorite Christmas candy and he liked them so well that he even requested them for his birthday. :) Again, this recipe makes a LOT so feel free to cut it in half, I always do and there are plenty!

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

4 cups roasted salted peanuts
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 ounces vanilla chips

Melt chips together, either in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler. Stir in peanuts. Drop onto waxed paper to harden for a couple of hours. That's it!! They are peanuty, chocolatey, salty yumminess!

I hope you all have enjoyed hanging out this week making Christmas candy! Here is a picture of one of the plates of goodies that the neighbors received.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Holiday and hope you get to share some time with family and friends!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Toffee Truffles

These were a new candy for me this year. I have made truffles in the past but never with the toffee chips in them. They turned out very good! I dipped them in chocolate and then drizzled them with the white chocolate to differentiate them from the Bon Bons but you could also just roll them in cocoa powder or chocolate sprinkles or even colored sugar. For gift giving, they look very nice placed individually in paper candy cups.

Chocolate Toffee Truffles

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2/3 cup toffee chips
3 tablespoons milk

Melt together the chocolate chips and butter, remove from heat. Stir in the powdered sugar, toffee chips and milk. Mix well until blended (go ahead, use your hands, it's easier!). Cover and chill mixture until firm enough to shape, 1 to 2 hours. Shape into 1-inch balls. At this point, either dip them in melted chocolate or roll them in cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles or colored sugar. For the white chocolate drizzle, I melted the chocolate with a little cooking oil, put it in a plastic baggie, snipped off a tiny corner and drizzled it quickly over the candies.

One more candy post left for tomorrow, the easiest one of all and my dad's favorite, Chocolate Peanut Clusters! :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Maple Fudge

Does anyone else remember when the Fantasy Fudge recipe on the back of the Marshmallow Creme jar included instructions for making it in the microwave? Well, I do and for some reason (thank goodness) I wrote it down! I have been making my fudge in the microwave ever since and it always turns out great, right consistency and never grainy. The secret is to use at least a 4-quart bowl or it will boil over, trust me! ;-) I think mine is probably a 6-quart and just barely fits in the microwave.

This is just the basic Fantasy Fudge recipe substituting vanilla chips for the chocolate chips and maple extract for the vanilla. I also use my goat milk, I haven't bought canned evaporated milk in several years.

Maple Fudge

3/4 cup butter
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
12 ounces vanilla chips
7-ounce jar Marshmallow Creme
1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract (I use a little extra just because)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts if desired

Melt butter in a 4-quart bowl in microwave on high. Add sugar and milk; mix well. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stir after 3 minutes. Mix well and scrape down bowl. Microwave on high 5 1/2 minutes, stir after 3 minutes. Add vanilla chips and stir until melted. Add Marshmallow Creme, maple extract and nuts if using; mix well. Pour into a well buttered 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares.

As an added bonus today, I thought I would share a picture of this candy mouse that the neighbor made! She makes these every year and includes them on our Christmas goody plate. The body is a chocolate covered cherry, the head is a Hershey's Kiss and the ears are sliced almonds. She "glues" it all together with a little melted chocolate. They sure are cute! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Bon-Bons

This is my favorite of all the Christmas candy recipes! I can remember as a kid, every time I would be in the kitchen, I would have to snitch one of these out of the fridge! My mom would always say "Who has been in the Bon-Bons?!? There won't be any left for Christmas!" I'm still pretty bad about snitching one every time I get in the fridge but who can blame me when you have sweetened condensed milk, coconut, pecans and powdered sugar all rolled up and dipped in semi-sweet chocolate! YUM!! They are kind of like a Mounds candy bar with pecans added in.

This recipe makes a LOT so you might want to consider cutting it in half. That is what I do now and I use the other half of the can of sweetened condensed milk to make half a recipe of Magic Cookie Bars. My mom's original recipe also calls for paraffin wax to be melted with the dipping chocolate to give it a hard, shiny shell. I still use paraffin but if you don't want to, you can use some solid vegetable shortening instead.


1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand not evaporated milk)
7 1/2 ounces shredded coconut
3 cups finely chopped pecans
2 sticks butter, softened
2 pounds powdered sugar
24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 stick paraffin wax, grated or finely chopped

Mix first five ingredients together well. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to make the dough easy to handle. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. At this point, I usually put them back in the fridge for an hour to make them easier to dip.

Melt chocolate chips and paraffin together in a double boiler or in the microwave. I use the microwave so that it is easier to remelt if it starts getting too thick. (If you use the paraffin, do be careful because it can ignite.) Toss a couple of bon-bons in the chocolate and then using a fork, take them out one at a time dragging the fork across the top of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper to harden.

I got all these from half a recipe plus half as many again that you can see in the back on the right. These candies aren't difficult to make but they do take awhile because of the chilling time.

Here's the one I snitched this morning before going down to milk the goat! ;-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle

Let the candy making begin!!

My mom always made candy for Christmas. I don't ever remember us having homemade Christmas cookies; although, sometimes we would have a tin of those Swedish butter cookies. That was okay with us because mom made some AWESOME candy! :) After my mother passed away 25 years ago, I took up the Christmas candy making tradition. Luckily, she had shared her recipes with me and I would now like to share them with all of you!

This recipe came from my mom's sister, Aunt Betty. When she first shared the recipe with us, I remember her standing at the stove, stirring the peanut brittle, talking nonstop with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth! My mom always said that the extra ashes in the peanut brittle is what made Aunt Betty's candy so good! LOL!! It is important to stir constantly once the peanuts have been added in. My grandmother used to complain that her peanut brittle tasted burnt and my mom told her it was because she didn't stir well enough after adding the peanuts in.

Make sure to use a candy thermometer to get the correct consistency and I have also found that a wooden spoon works better than a metal one. When you get all done, you will think that the candy left in the pan will never come off but just take all of your sticky spoons and things, put them in the saucepan, fill it with hot water and let it sit for about 10 minutes and the residue will just melt away.

Peanut Brittle

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Light Karo corn syrup
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups roasted, salted peanuts
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage. Add the peanuts and cook to the hard crack stage stirring constantly (you can raise the heat a bit, just make sure to stir, stir, stir). Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the baking soda. Pour onto a well buttered 10 x 15-inch cookie sheet and spread to the edges.

Let cool completely and then break into bite-sized pieces.

I have never had a problem with my peanut brittle not coming out right, even yesterday when it was raining as I was making it!

Let's see, one down and only five more types of candy to go! I will also be making chocolate fudge with walnuts, maple fudge with pecans, chocolate peanut clusters, chocolate covered bon-bons and chocolate toffee truffles. Next up, I will share the recipe for the bon-bons, my favorite!! :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Eggnog Almond Bread

Eggnog is definitely a Christmasy thing and this bread has lots of eggnog, toasted almonds and nutmeg! I made it up as jumbo muffins this time to sell at the Farmer's Market tomorrow but you could make a 9 x 5-inch loaf, three 3 1/2 x 5 1/2-inch loaves or regular sized muffins, just adjust the baking time accordingly.

Eggnog Almond Bread

1 cup chopped blanched almonds
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 egg
3 tablespoons oil
1 1/4 cups eggnog

Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, lemon peel and toasted almonds.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, oil and eggnog.

Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir just until well blended.

Pour batter into greased and flour-dusted pans or line muffin tins with paper liners.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about one hour for a large loaf, about 40 minutes for small loaves, about 30 minutes for jumbo muffins, about 20 minutes for regular muffins or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Dust tops with additional nutmeg if desired. Let cool in pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Linking up to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop over at Deborah Jean's Dandelion House! Hop on over and check out all the fun!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Horseshoes

I love dressing up Paco's old horseshoes to use as decor items! Goodness knows, we always have plenty laying around! LOL!!

This is a very easy project. I had Jerry clean up the used horseshoes for me to get rid of all the dirt and horse poop! I gathered up some fake holiday greenery and poinsettias from some tacky looking centerpieces that I had laying around, dug out the glue gun and put on my creative hat.

I think they turned out pretty nice! :)

I am linking this post up with Heidi's Virtual Christmas Ornament Swap. Be sure to stop by and check out all the neat ideas for handmade ornaments!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday's Tails, #5

When the weather is cold and damp (like TODAY), my milking doe, Madeline, is usually shivering so bad when I go down to milk her that it just breaks my heart! I keep asking her what she would do if we lived someplace where it really gets cold! LOL!! I thought about making her a goat coat or sweater but I figure it would just get wet and make her even colder.

Here is my solution, I let her wear my jacket while I milk; it just gets in my way anyway! ;-) She usually stops shivering when I'm about half way done with the milking.

"Thanks Maaa, I'm much warmer now!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Lights

We finally got the porch decorated yesterday afternoon and just in time, it has been cold, windy and rainy all day today! It is so dreary that I turned on the inside tree lights and a built a fire in the fireplace.

A little blurry but you get the idea.

This one was taken a little earlier in the evening. I like the simplicity of our decorations.

This is Jerry's favorite picture!
I hope everyone is staying warm and getting in the holiday spirit! :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Moon

This is a picture I took of the moon this morning through the branches of the Kieffer pear tree I featured last month in Autumn's Splendor at the Lazy J Bar C. I was coming back from milking and the sun was just barely peeking over the horizon.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Artisan Bread

This is one of the special breads that I make for the Farmer's Market this time of year. I think it looks so festive done up as a braid with the dried cranberries! This recipe makes two braided loaves or one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf.

Cranberry Walnut Bread
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast (If using active dry yeast, dissolve it in the warm milk before combining with the remaining ingredients.)

Mix, knead and let your dough rise until doubled using your favorite method; bread machine, manual or stand mixer. Divide dough in half and then divide each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 15 inches long. Braid the three pieces together and pinch the ends together well. Tuck the ends underneath the braid and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

 Let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Linking to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop over at Deborah Jean's Dandelion House! Make sure to go visit and see what all the other Farmgirls are up to! :)