Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls & one boy. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. Chicken and goat raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

Pass the Biscuits, Please.

“Ma hurriedly floured the breadboard, and kneaded the dough.
Then she got dinner. She was putting the pan of light biscuits in the oven when Pa came driving the wagon up the hill.”
-By the Shores of the Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Now that the November days have turned much colder and a thin layer of crispy snow has covered our land, it’s time for soup — and biscuits.

At least three times a week – maybe more –  we have a hot, homemade soup for lunch. It is a great way to stretch your food. I often cut and peel extra potatoes for soup the next day or cook up a bit of extra rice to add to chicken broth and vegetables for a rather quick, nutritious lunch for the children.
To go along with our simmering lunch, it only natural to serve bread – but what if you have not had time to make bread that morning? I believe biscuits, fresh from the oven, our a perfect choice.

To make this a little bit easier on my time,  as mornings are usually quite busy with homeschooling and morning chores, I use a homemade make ahead mix.

So, here is another mix to prepare for your pantry, if you so desire.

Buttermilk Biscuit Make-Ahead Mix:

10 1/2 cups of desired flour
1/4 cup of baking powder
2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of baking soda

To use:

Measure out 2 2/3 cups of the prepared mix. Cut in 6 tablespoons of cold butter. Use a pastry cutter or two knives, if you do not own a cutter. Add 1/4 cup of buttermilk. [If you do not have buttermilk on hand, simply add a splash of vinegar into your regular milk. Let it sit for a few minutes and you will have your buttermilk.]  Roll out on a floured surface and cut out biscuits (I use a mason jar ring). Place on tray and bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes or until golden on edges.

Because I cook only with wood, I do not follow regular heating temperatures – so I have baked this on lower temperatures and it has worked out. They will just need to bake longer. For those with regular stoves, bake at 450.

 

 

When you store your mix, it is a great idea to attach the recipe to the back of the jar or container. {I have forgotten to do this in the past and then cannot remember the recipe which I used originally!} Then when the mix is nearly empty, just use the directions to make a quick refill.

 

 

 

 

Serve hot with delicious butter – sprinkle some cheese in your dough and you will have cheese biscuits. Add a little honey and you will have honey and buttermilk biscuits, perfect for a warm, toasty breakfast on a chilly winter morning.

 

They can be served with nearly every meal – you choose. For breakfast as tea biscuits with jam, at lunch as biscuits for soups and stews and an extra side dish for those dinners that need a little something special.

 

Enjoy!

 

November 29, 2016 - 10:36 pm

Krista - I cannot wait to add this to our pantry! Do you have a pancake pre mix recipe?

November 24, 2016 - 7:38 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Yum!! I always loved having bulk mixes, ready to go when needed. Also the girls can make the biscuits, using your cute directions!! xo

November 23, 2016 - 12:39 pm

Karen Woodall - The store bought baking mixes are terrible. bland and tasteless, but making fresh mix can be time consuming on busy mornings. Love that you can just have this recipe sitting on teh shelf in bulk! thanks for the post!

November 22, 2016 - 11:43 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Oh yummy,thanks for sharing! !I have the perfect mix jar also!Hope you guys are doing well!

Making Beet Kvass [a super tonic]

The humble beet has made its way onto our dinner table so much more frequently since growing our own vegetables. Root vegetables are typically simple to grow and I am happy about that.

In previous years, beets just brought to mind pickled beets, something I am not too fond of. However, a simple dish of steamed or boiled beets is delicious and a beautiful addition to your family’s vegetable menu. So when I was planning out our winter vegetable rotating menu, I knew beets would be added. They are delicious, oh so healthy and, well, yes, they are rather pretty, aren’t they?

 

Once again, looking at this simple root vegetable will amaze you – as God packed it full of  sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamins A and C, vitamin B3, and fiber.  Beets boost the immune system and they are high in folic acid and folate content [which makes them wonderful food for pregnant women and those who hope to become pregnant]. These beautiful beets have also help prevent heart disease, stroke, and, yes,  even cancer.

 

So when a friend showed me her beet kvass fermenting away on her counter *and* told me how healthy it is, I knew it was something that would soon end up in our ‘medicinal cabinet’ option. I’m rather new to fermented foods but this one was very simple to make.

If you don’t know about beet kvass, you can read more information here and here. Loaded with probiotics and incredible health perks (see above listed), it is an easy tonic to swallow. It does not taste bad either. 🙂  This fermented drink originated in Russia and I have often read it was considered the “miracle of Russia”. Beet kvass, which can help with chronic fatigue, morning sickness, kidney stones, heart burn and more, is definitely a drink all families should have in their diet.  [This kvass will flush out toxins in your body so start your dose slowly until your body adjusts.]

To make your beet kvass, simply chop 3-5 beets up in large pieces (not too small – leave them chunky).
Place in jar.
Add 1/4 cup of whey to the jar – but if you do not have whey, that is fine. The ferment will simply take a bit longer.
Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
Fill your jar with non-chlorinated water.  Make sure the beets are sumbermged under the brine.
Cover your jar with a tea towel or place in a warm, dark location. Leave at room temperature to ferment for a few days. If you have not added whey, you may need to wait a few extra days for the fermentation.
Remember to “burp” your container or it could explode! Simple release the gas each day but quickly opening the lid.

Once it has reached the taste you prefer, strain and put your kvass into the fridge. You may re-use your beets to make a second or third batch of kvass, so don’t be too quick to toss them away!

 

Drink a little each day – give some to your children – tell your husband how good it is for him – before long, your entire family will be taking a little beet kvass daily. With a long cold winter at our doorstep, it will surely boost up their immune system.

 

November 22, 2016 - 12:22 pm

admin - No, you can leave the peels on.

November 21, 2016 - 9:39 am

MC - Do you peel the beets before you put Them in th water?

November 19, 2016 - 5:50 am

admin - Sure, Jen! I’ll put together a list. It’s not too complicated but I could see how starting out, it would be hard to know where to start. I should have posted a list of what I use but will try to put that together today. You will have fun canning. 🙂

November 18, 2016 - 7:31 pm

Jennifer Heemskerk - Hey Gillian,
This is so neat! I was trying to comment on your provision room post with this but was wondering if you could tell me what canning equipment you use? Brand name of the pot etc…I have been searching online for a canning set and have found a few but then the reviews always make me a little weary. Do you have any tips when purchasing the canning/pressure cooker?

{simple + real}

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

 

 

Lazarus is 11 months old today. Lyla prayed and prayed for a little brother and her prayers were answered in due time. She was so excited when she walked into the room, sleepy eyed and groggy, 11 months ago, and discovered a new tiny baby in our home … and a baby boy at that! She ran around jumping, screaming, laughing, saying she could not believe it and “Now we can share bedrooms and have camouflage wallpaper!!!” Well, I’m not sure if that will happen but it so sweet to see special bonds forming between the one boy and many sisters.

We cannot imagine our lives without this precious boy in our family. If he ever learns to walk, it will be a small miracle as he is carried everywhere by his doting sisters. 🙂

November 21, 2016 - 11:50 am

Heather - Oh, it’s been so long! Beautiful children! And, they’re getting sooo big! How sweet to see them on here again. I’d better not stay away too long again 🙂

November 15, 2016 - 3:56 pm

Samantha - Aw so sweet…I can’t wait to see your family Christmas photo this year!

November 12, 2016 - 4:22 pm

Claire - So beautiful!

November 12, 2016 - 12:11 pm

Lynda - The sweetness of all those sisters will surely help shape a compassionate, emphatic,personality in Lazarus, camo wallpaper or not!

Walter & Lazarus

“The day after Billy Whiskers was sold to the Biggses,
he was shut in a small yard to keep him out of mischief.
Feeling lonesome, he thought that he would jump the fence and look around a little.

He was getting cross-eyed looking through the palings of the fence which were very close together,
so suiting the action to the thought, he vaulted over the fence…”
-Billy Whiskers

 

 

Sometimes Abby questions why we keep Walter, our male goat … yes, he can escape from every pen, jump a five foot fence, he can be a bit smelly at times, he can walk a tight rope and eat all the trees in sight  but won’t clear the weeds and bush we wanted him to clear… but he is also the kindest, most gentle billy goat you will ever meet.
He jumps on the trampoline with the girls.
Sleeps at the back door like a dog when accidentally left out of the barn at night (oops).
Greets all visitors with a smelly side rub.
He’s Lyla’s animal sidekick.

And plays with babies on the grass.

 

 

 

 

Walter is supposed to be on the *other* side of this fence… ahem.

 

P.S. Having a billy goat around the house certainly has given our family lots of fun and interesting stories and memories.
So many, in fact, that it inspired us to read Billy Whiskers, a book written in the early 1900s, about a mischievous billy goat who gets into loads of trouble. He is lovable and likeable but full of bad goat-like habits. We love this series of books and it is a definite must for our home library.

 

The Provision Room

“Run down and get the cinnamon, will you, Joey?” said Polly.
“It’s in the ‘Provision Room.’”
The “Provision Room” was a little shed that was tacked onto the main house,
and reached by a short flight of rickety steps; so called, because Polly said,
“It’s a good place to keep provisions, even if we haven’t any; and besides,”
she always finished, “it sounds nice!”
-Five Little Peppers

 

 

 

With this year’s canning, it seemed time to organize the canning room, which was indeed, a scary mess of a “room” in our over 100-year-old ‘basement’. I did not mind the dirt floors (indeed, they are ideal for a basement in many cases) but the shelving and set up was quite an eyesore. The entire room was just not lovely. A bee flew into my bonnet and I began to dream of a room on the other side of the basement – a fresh start -with the jars lined up according to category (fruits, meats, vegetables, and so forth).

With much hesitation and a bit of protest, Mr. Gauthier lovingly put together all the shelves (found here – a steal of a deal). Once the shelves were established, I organized the jars and food items, carrying over hundreds of jars of pickles, preserves, beans, soups, stews and fruits from one side of the basement to the other. It took me a long time in between naps, homeschooling and life in general.

 

Mr. Gauthier also insulated this little “room” we have (really, it is a stairwell under our porch that opens into the basement) to be a cold room. We shall see how it works. I still do not have a thermometer so I am unsure of the temperature. It has a dirt floor and insulated walls. Sadly, while doing this room, Abby was sprayed by a skunk that was (again!) hiding out in this room ….. the house still stinks when you walk in from the outside! The poor thing – he also accidentally spray foamed his hands, coat and pants as the bottle exploded all over him! Let me tell you – if you have ever seen or used that stuff, it is nasty. And impossible to get off your skin. We tried everything but nothing worked in removing it. He was rendedered helpless for a day as he spent hours trying to remove and pick and scrape and cut off the spray foam from his hands. It was not a fun day for him, that is to be certain.

But in the end, the room was finished – or rather, what is to be done, was done.  I would like to clear out one side that has my photography business boxes and supplies in totes but they are still there for now.

 

We call it the Provision Room – we have just finished reading the book, Five Little Peppers, and the idea of calling such a room accordingly fit perfectly. Plus, you do indeed need to go down a flight of very rickety stairs to enter the basement!

 

 

 

Please forgive the quality of the photos. These are taken in a completely dark basement with absolutely no natural light. All I had was one tiny, ridiculous light bulb that did not give off much light.

 

 

The girls helped by hanging up the onions in netting so as to keep air circulating around them and to help avoid rot.

 

Everything is stored in a category – jams and fruit preserves, pie fillings and such along one wall. On top, other supplies for baking or such.

On the other wall, tomatoes, tomato sauces, etc. and soups and stews of all kinds. Also, some pickles and relish. At the very end, some squash and pumpkins.

On the third wall, vegetables and such.

 

 

We wrapped up four bushels of apples and pears for storing – last year, we had them outside and they froze so this year, we are trying inside in the cooler basement.

Here is the scary room-under-the-deck that opens into the house. This is where we have met many a skunk or two. It looks very scary, doesn’t it? There is no light – but the top opens (or rather, it used to open before it was spray foamed) to the side porch. Here I have potatoes, some cabbages {I want to see how well they keep whole}, turnips, sweet potatoes and lots more potatoes stored.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bins in the middle of the room hold wheat berries and oatmeal, which is bought in huge bulk bags.

 

 

 

There is bulk noodles and rice on top of the shelves, as well. I buy in bulk from a local Mennonite store, as well as a group bulk order.

I will update how storing the whole vegetables go, perhaps, in the spring.  We are hoping the room is cold enough – with the new insulation, it should not drop cold enough to freeze the vegetables.

 

There is a scene at the beginning of the Walton’s Christmas movie that I have always loved – it is right when the mother goes to the Provision Room to collect apples to make her applesauce cake for Christmas. She is humming and full of joy, even though they are awaiting the arrival of their father and husband who is late due to a snow storm – there is also a depression across the country and yet, there she was, humming happily collecting a few apples for her children to enjoy.

This scene always struck me as a picture of motherhood – it inspired me to have such a room and such joy and satisfaction in the basic tasks of homemaking.

{Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims}

 

 

November 12, 2016 - 7:07 pm

Robin North - Lovely room! This is exactly what I have dreamed of having. I never learned how to can though. It’s on my bucket list. Every year I say I am ging to try but chicken out.

November 2, 2016 - 9:18 am

admin - Lauren, I just used totes from WalMart, but the oats and barley and wheat berries that I use daily are upstairs in my pantry, stored in stainless steel garbage cans. (I would like to do this downstairs in the Provison Room but I have not yet purchased the containers. I would not choose to use plastic but since my items are still in their original bags, I guessed it would be okay.
The bulk oats/wheat berries are from a bulk ordering program, which, funny enough, is also sold at a local Mennonite store (for a slightly higher cost than the bulk ordering program). I can purchase from either, which is very convenient! I have just put in a new order for bulk dried beans and cinnamon, as we use both a lot as well. I keep bulk barley, oats, flour, wheat berries to grind flour and organic cane sugar (which I find expensive).

November 2, 2016 - 8:28 am

Lauren Mirecki - What an awesome room! Where do you get your oats from in bulk? And do you find the totes keep it air tight enough? I have huge bags of flour from Costco but I need to put it into bins and I’ve never been able to find oats since we moved from being close to a grain mill.

November 2, 2016 - 6:36 am

admin - Maike, good question! I was afraid of that! Abby removed the potatoes before he was sprayed.
Jen, yes, just open a jar, warm on the stove (they are already cooked – no need to boil), add some butter and maybe brown sugar and you are ready to serve for dinner. 🙂 And yes, you could use them for soups and stews or even making carrot cakes and muffins…

November 2, 2016 - 5:01 am

Maike - Don’t the potatoes etc take in the skunk smell?

The big room looks so nice and tidy.
I’m not sure if I could keep it that nice especially if children might be involved in bringing food upstairs. But it sure must make you feel more relieved to have that part of the house look lovely now too. It makes me feel so much as if I’m part of the Anne of Green Gables stories. 🙂

November 2, 2016 - 1:55 am

Terri Presser - That is absolutely awesome what a provision room. Thanks for sharing at good morning Mondays. Blessings

November 1, 2016 - 8:02 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom)b - Looks amazing, Gillian! Great job, Abby!!! Love the name of Provision Room. xo

November 1, 2016 - 2:41 am

Rebecca - Yay!!! Thanks for sharing! It looks so wonderful!!!

October 31, 2016 - 6:57 pm

Sarah - Wow! Your provision room is fabulous!! It does look so old-fashioned and makes me think of a Grace Livingston Hill book I read. I am sorry to hear of all that your husband went through, but I am sure he is pleased to have such a well stocked room as reward for his troubles. : )