Sunday, November 18, 2012

(the BEST) Banana Bread Recipe

I know you probably have your own favorite banana bread recipe, most bakers do and will generally defend theirs as being the best, but that's only because they haven't tried this one yet.
Each year, after volunteering at the Ironman triathlon, (you can read about that HERE ) we are blessed with an overabundance of bananas. Not wanting them to go to waste I spend the next few days baking loaves of bread and trays and trays of muffins. I did this while the kids homeschooled around it all.

I had never even thought of freezing them - DUH! This year I made bread, muffins and also added dehydrated chips and Nana Puddin (I so dislike that name!) to the list. Here's the BEST Banana Bread Recipe I've found so far:


1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mayonaise
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup mashed banana (2-3 bananas)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Combine:                                       In  Another Bowl Mix Together:
Flours                                                Mayonnaise
Baking soda                                       Sugar
Salt                                                    Bananas
set aside

Combine all  ingredients and pour into a greased and floured bread pan or muffin tin
Bake at 350 degrees
1 hour - bread
20 minutes - muffins

 Simple, easy. moist and delicious! My kind of recipe!

PS I just started  a Facebook group called HOMEMADE HOMESTEAD LIFE.  It's a place where members can post things that they make, services they offer or go to get creative ideas and gifts. My hope is to encourage one another to buy locally or from small businesses and indiviuals rather than huge congolerates. Come join us and let's turn this economy around!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crappy Things Happen on the Homestead Too

I don't want to write this. I'm only doing it because sometimes it sounds like everything is always wonderful here, and for the most part it is. New life abounds. Baby chicks peeping, beautiful baby goats being born, the garden growing new plants, buildings being constructed, horses contentedly munching hay, attempts being made to one day have a calf and milking cow on the farm... Life is beautiful...almost always. But as we all know, --it happens. It's never all roses, peace, love and happiness. There's also pain, heartache and sorrow. That's the way life is.  That's the way Homestead Life is too.

   Tuesday afternoon, around 1:00, Brindle had twin bucklings. I knew the previous day that she was ready to kid so I moved her into the birthing pen to let her get settled. I kept a close eye on her but walked away for a few minutes and missed the birth of the first baby. He was licked clean and almost dry when I got back, nice and big and healthy. There was no placenta on the ground so I assumed another was still coming. A few minutes later she birthed baby number two.

Wow! I'm in awe. It's such an amazing experience.  I've only watched two other births on the farm. Generally it happens so quickly and quietly that, for the most part, they go unnoticed. Many kids are born at night and are there to greet us first thing in the morning, but lately I've been keeping track of birthing dates and indicative signs so I'm becoming more aware and watchful. Though his mom would have, I immediately pulled the sticky, thin placental cover off the newborn's face so he could breath right away, and then his mom, Brindle, cleaned him up. I stayed with the two babies and made sure they were both nursing and that their mom was lactating, and all seemed fine.

  Three years ago, two dogs came onto our property during the night and began killing our goats. That's a another blog I have yet to write, but during this rampage, Brindle's ears were torn off and she suffered other massive wounds, one of which damaged her milk bag and teats. A teat canal was severed leaving her with only one working teat to nurse her babies, but I assumed and noticed that they both were taking turns suckling so I wasn't concerned.

To be perfectly honest with you, my initial reaction when I saw that they were both boys was disappointment. Billy goats are undesirable in that they are much more difficult to sell.  We have 8 bucks from this past spring that we have yet to sell and it's becoming critical that we do. They're beautiful, healthy, dehorned, bottle raised and friendly goats, but they cost quite a bit to feed and we have no need for them here on our farm.  We already have three breeders to keep our bloodlines pure, and, as endearing and sweet as they are, it's time for them to go! I'm afraid we'll have to take them to auction very soon.  I'm not sure why I have such a dislike for livestock auctions - I've never even been to one, but I would never buy an animal from an auction, and I dread having to bring my hand raised babies to one. Which is kind of funny because,  to be grotesquely honest with you, when I saw that the two new kids were both boys I was reminded of an article I read, in a  Homesteading How To Encyclopedia, written by a woman who stated that becuse boy goats were so undesirable on a farm, the best thing to do would be to euthanize them immediately after birth. She was quite graphic in her details which I won't go into, but for a (very) brief second the thought crossed my mind. Perhaps in a hard-core, survivalist world this would be a viable option, but upon returning a little later in the day and spending time with these snuggly tiny newborn kids, I was smitten and dismissed this cruel idea instantly. Besides, there was the ethical question of how wrong is it to purposefully breed animals to obtain a desired sex and kill the other? Nope, couldn't do it. Now, on the other hand, I am perfectly fine with the idea of killing and butchering a full grown male goat to eat,  but I couldn't purposely take the life of an infant unless it was a mercy killing. And even in that situation, Bob would have to do it.

   Yesterday, Wednesday afternoon, my friend Kira came over and we spent some time holding and loving on the babies.

 I checked their mom again and began to be a little concerned that Brindle was not producing enough milk to sustain both babies so I decided that I would begin supplemental bottle feeding the next day.  My husband had brought all that day's milk in to town to sell so I planned to milk in the morning and bring the fresh, warm milk to feed the boys. Because Brindle would not be producing enough milk to warrant my milking her, it would behoove us both to share the feeding responsibility. With any other nanny goat we would typically leave the babies on the mom for the first day or so and then separate them if we were going to bottle feed. The sooner we take the babies away the less traumatic it is for everyone. With the last few kiddings I had decided that bottle feeding was just too time consuming so we left the babies with the moms all day and then separated them at night.  That way I could milk the nannies first thing in the morning, and have milk for us to drink and make cheese, and yet there was still plenty for the babies to suckle all day long.  What I found though, was that the kids who stayed with and nursed on their moms wound up becoming skiddish and shy, while all the bottle fed babies were friendly and sweet and desired human attention, making them much more charming and easy to sell. I'll probably re-think the bottle feeding decision.

This morning before leaving for work, while I was with Dixie, our Belgian draft horse, soaking her foot, Bob took a bottle over to feed the babies. He found that they had both died during the night. I was absolutely shocked and couldn't believe that it could be so! Surely he was mistaken. Could it possibly happen that fast? How could they die so fast? They were fine last night. I had tucked them away in a warm place with their mom, knowing I would feed them in the morning.  I ran over and tried to will them to life thinking maybe it wasn't too late.  They hadn't been gone long. Bob thinks they starved to death. I'm heartbroken.  Was there something I could have done when I first got up two hours earlier? It was dark outside and they were quiet when I finished milking at 5:00am so I assumed they were sleeping, and I waited for Bob to go out with me.  Maybe if I had started feeding them yesterday... Self blame - it's not a good thing and it can't change anything.

I learned a painful lesson today, that newborn babies need food, and sufficient amounts right away. I would have never thought death from starvation could happen so quickly. I know now for next time.  Thankfully it won't be for several more months.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In The Past 10 Days...

Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you just shut down? That's where I'm at right now. Self-imposed, of course, but I haven't been able to pull it together since the Ironman. The other night my husband came home from work and there were about 5 loads of unfolded laundry on the chair, 2 cases of bananas, 1 case of oranges, grapes, boxes of cups, football paraphanalia, honey boxes stacked, waiting to be spun, banana bread in the oven, 2 dehydrators running, soap curing on the kitchen counters, and every other table top or flat surface piled high with soap wrapping material: scrapbook papers, scissors, ribbons, tape, stickers, cellophane...  When he walked in the door I was sitting at the computer. I smiled sweetly and said, "Hi honey, leave me alone I'm playing Spider Solitaire." Bob has a great sense of humor and he gets me. We both looked at each other and started to laugh. But that's how I felt. Leave it alone and maybe it will go away while I pretend it's not there.

Since Ironman, here are some of the things we've been doing around the Homestead:

Banana Breads and Muffins
Dehydrated Banana Chips

Pineapple House Addition
New Peeps
OH NO! Not again!
Loaded a total of 270 bales!
Made and debuted my homemade goat milk soaps
In individual homemade packaging
And many other variuos assorted things that I have absolutely no recollectioon of unless I take a picture! The holidays are quickly approaching which is weighing heavily on my mind because, as if all this is not enough, I've decided that this year I will not only make all our holiday cards, but any gift that I give as well. Again, self-imposed (with a little help from our lack of finances!)
The good news is, I'm coming back to life and starting to dig out. The bananas are gone - every one of them used, the kitchen table is visible, the laundry is slowly receeding, the pineapples are in their new digs (but have yet to be planted in the ground), Dixie is going to the vet for an X-ray on Friday, the family holiday card prototype is made and I have Christmas music playing to set the mood. I'm coming out of this slump.

But then yesterday...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Florida Ironman 2012

For the past 5 years or so we've been in charge of a Run Station for the Florida Ironman, typically held the first Saturday in November.  If you're not familiar with Ironman, it is an incredible athletic event in which 2500 men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes swim in the open Gulf waters 2.4 miles, then hop on bicycles and ride 112 miles after which they run a marathon - 26.2 miles. Our Boy Scout Troop mans a Run Aid Station 3 miles from the finish line, handing out water, poweraid, cola, ice, fruit and carbohydrate snacks, while cheering on these amazing athletes. It is absolutely an inspiring event to be a part of, but it entails a lot of work as well and makes for a very long, exhausting day!
  We begin setting up our Run Station at 9:00am. We share a moving truck with another station, filled with tables, cases of water, electrolyte drinks, banana, oranges, grapes, power bars, first aid kits, broth, trash cans, liners, sponges and drinking cups, which we work together to unload. Most years, at this same time, the ice truck arrives. In the past we would unload hundreds of pounds of bagged ice by hand bucket brigade style, but more recently they've begun to use a motorized lift car to move a pallet of ice at a time.

We bring Boy Scout dining flies - large canopies to cover our tables and provide some shade, and then we set up our Aid station.
 The athletes hit the water at 7:00am and we expect our first runner to pass by us at approximately 1:30. He generally leads the pack by 20-30 minutes. This is the first runner and winner of Ironman 2012..

Once the athletes begin arriving it gets crazy! For the next 5 or 6 hours we pass out drinks as fast as we can! The temperature was quite warm this race - in the 80's, so a good part of the water was used to douse their bodies to help them cool down as well as to drink. I know our volunteers went home soaked also - water, powerade and cups fly everywhere!
  This year we had a skeleton crew. We couldn't have done it without one of them, and they were the best! The Ironman organization reccommends that we have 50 volunteers on hand at the Aid station throughout the day, but with our scout troop, sometimes it's hard to judge how many will actually show up.  This race we had about twenty helpers during the entire 16 hours or so from setup to breakdown. Some came and went but the majority of our volunteers were there for the duration.
One of the most challanging and yet amusing aspects of the race is the contest for the best Aid Station. There is a $750. prize at stake for the Run Station with the best theme and who keeps their station cleanest and I'm determined to win it for our troop every year. And so we have. Some of our themes throughout the years have been:

Scout Troop 321
M*A*S*H Unit 321
Clown School 321
Santa's Workshop 321
This year we almost didn't participate. I was feeling overwhelmed and unable to come up with an easy, (and cheap) recognizable theme, and honestly didn't want the responsibility this year, but late in the game, one of our scout dads came up with a great idea to have a tailgate party. He sold it to me and I bit. I have no idea how he possibly convinced me - I think I've seen ONE football game in my entire life, have never been to a tailgate party, and don't even know the names of our college and state teams. I don't even know if there is a state football team! When it comes to sports I am totally clueless, so obviously I had some great help!  I found a few team shirts at Goodwill - my go-to store for themed attire, my daughter painted posters, my son's school loaned us footballs and jerseys, and we brought a huge grill and had burgers, hot dogs and chicken cooking all day, which probably drove the runners crazy! But I think the winning aspect of our station, and we DID win, was that we had all the scores posted for all the football games being played that day. AND, we had a TV airing the Florida / Alabama game that night.  I was shocked to see how many runners either stopped to watch the game or called out for other team scores. Here they were, competeing in the most arduuous physical race of all, three miles from the finish line (or 13 - they run the circuit twice), after having already swam and biked, yet they could not only still talk, which I find awesome in itself, but that they're such fans of a particular football team that they're willing to stop their race to watch. Unbelievable!
This was our Run Station this year:

A huge thank-you to those of you who came out to support our troop and the athletes!  And honestly, as much fun as it is to dress up, decorate and win the prize, the real thrill of the day is being there for the runners - handing them drinks, cheering them on, keeping the area picked up so they don't have to stumble through the drinking cups they drop. These hard core men and women are amazing. They have come so far and trained and subjected their bodies to the limit of physical exertion and, when they arrive at our Run Station, they are almost within sight of the finish - only a mere three miles more to go.  So many of them are so thankful and express it to us along their way. They are polite and take the time to say please and thank-you. These athletes come from all over the world and from all walks of life, and as tired and sore as I am at the end of  the day handing out drinks for 9 or so hours, I can't begin to imagine how they must feel at the end of the race - or the next morning. They truly are Ironmen.

There was one story this year that deserves more honor than just a mention here on this blog, and it was one that occurred while I wasn't there:

It was after 11pm when we saw the vehicle with the flashing lights signaling the last runner. She came by and didn't want anything (only to finish within the time limit) so we packed up our gear, loaded the truck and prepared to take it back to the warehouse to unload. Bob would drive the truck and I would follow to bring him back to the run station to pick up our second vehicle and passengers who would stay until we returned.  Just as we were leaving, another volunteer drove up to inform us that there was still one more runner on the course and would be arriving shortly. We had already packed everything for the night, but it was decided that Bob and I would leave as planned and those staying behind would put together something for the final runner. It was an "unofficial" runner - one who would not be able to make the finish line in the allotted time, yet who chose to continue the race regardless. While we were gone, this athlete made it to our station and then he collapsed. He had just celebrated his 70th birthday 3 days ago and was running his very last Ironman. He had come this far but was no longer able to continue due to sheer exhaustion. Thankfully one of our men at the station was a CPR instructor and there to assist if necessary. An ambulance was called and the very last athlete on the course was taken away for medical attention. To think that he had made it that far and was so close to completing the race was heartbreaking.
The next day Bob and I slept late and spent most of the remainder of the day working out the aches and pains as we kept busy on the farm, thinking of those Ironmen and women and how they must feel today!  That evening we were treated to a wonderful dinner outdoors for all the volunteers, and our Run Station was  awarded the first place prize, which was an absolute thrill, but the very best part of the night was the fact that, sitting at the table next to ours, was the 70 year young athlete who had collapsed the night before so close to the finish line, who had the determination and fortitude to compete in this intense test of physical strength and mental will, even for much, much younger men. And yet, here he was, surrounded by his family, happy and smiling - one of the few racers present to honor the volunteers.
In my opinion, this man was the winner of  the race!

I happened to go online this morning and saw that Ironman 2013 sold out in record time - ONE MINUTE!  Just wait until they see our theme for next year!