Welcome to The Pauley Principle!

The Pauli Principle, named for Wolfgang Pauli, deals with atoms and electron-sharing that results in new, stronger bonds. Think 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen, a shared delectable (!) electron and VOILA! Water!

Similarly, when you prepare whole food to share with family and friends, especially foods you've grown, something amazing happens. Meals become tastier and healthier. Your soul, not just your stomach, becomes fulfilled. You live life more abundantly as a result. During a shared meal, the bonds that people create grow stronger and become something new: GREATER than the sum of the parts! I give you The Pauley Principle.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting Our Ducks in a Row

Chris loves a good challenge and homesteading provides several opportunities to stretch one's physical boundaries as well as knowledge base. He has been working on both a brooder and a chicken coop for our chicks, not yet arrived, and he began thinking about ducks. When Chris starts thinking about things, watch out! He'll stay up all night long reading about the topic du jour but it continues night after night until his brain is saturated with mostly valuable, sometimes useless, information that spills over. Right now he's giving me a fact a day about ducks. I'm learning a lot from him, but I have to tell you, raising ducks is something I never thought I'd be doing. So, of course, he wants to try out his new brooder with ducklings first before the chicks arrive. It makes sense, considering the weather. We've had nothing but rain and ducks love puddles!

That brings me to one of his newly discovered and amazing facts:
Did you know that, if you raise little hatchling ducks that haven't been around their mother, they don't get her natural oil and that means that, if they go into a pond without that protective oil on their feathers, they won't swim? Their feathers will instead absorb the water and the baby ducklings will sink and drown! It takes a few weeks for their own oils to coat their feathers enough to keep ducklings afloat! I don't want to test that to see for sure that it's factual so NO PONDS ALLOWED!

Today I placed our order for a few baby ducklings, Pekin ducks from Meyer Hatchery at http://www.meyerhatchery.com. These ducks will be white as adults and I'm actually getting excited.

Part of that excitement is that I enjoy an occasional meal of duck and that gets me thinking about a glass of Pinot Grigio, which reminds me--I still would like to try growing some vintner grapes! I'm looking for just a few vinifera vines that are suitable for growing in southern Ohio's clay soil and humid climate. After all, it takes planning to produce your own meal of duck with white wine but I can imagine that this venture could be fun! Anyone know of a good source for vinifera vines in Ohio? And, please, don't mention to Chris that his "foxy" lady is planning to eat his ducks. (And yes, I mean "foxy" as in "conniving"!)

As you can see, whether ours is a marriage made in Heaven or not, Chris and I were meant for each other. We bought ourselves a beautiful and cherished calligraphy painting for our first anniversary almost 28 years ago that says it all:   I was meant for someone who welcomes a challenge!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Venison Stew, also works for beef and pork, for the crock pot

Step One:  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan. Add seasonings to flour or cornmeal. Dredge the meat and then brown in the oil.
1 pound of meat, cut into 1" cubes
2 T. butter (or 1 if using beef or pork)
2 T. olive oil (or 1 if using beef or pork)
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of pepper
dried thyme
flour or cornstarch for dredging

Step 2:  Place meat in the bottom of a crock pot. Add the following and turn hear to high. When hot, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for 6 to 8 hours.
2 stalks of celery, cut into 3/4 " chunks
3 potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
3 carrots, cut into 3/4 " chunks
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups water
You can also add chopped or pearl onions (they look so cute!) or minced garlic. Suit your tastebuds. I do it different ways depending on the people around the table.

Step 3: After all that simmering, add the following. Stir and heat through.
1 cup peas
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tsp. savory
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. of tarragon
additional salt and pepper to taste

Step 4: Add a thickening agent.
Use 1 T. butter in a saute pan and lightly brown 1 T of flour in it, then add 1/2 cup of water and stir until smooth before stirring into the crock pot
Dissolve 1 tsp. cornstarch into 1/2 cup water and stir into the crock pot.

Turn heat back on high for 10 minutes before serving.
Serving suggestion:  Fresh homebaked bread, fried mushrooms, a glass of cranberry juice. Earthy, full of flavor, and comfy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mini and Me in the Mushroom Forest

For the second day in a row, I found myself living off the grid. Actually, not so much off the grid as that the grid was off. Two days of wind, rain, and then last night's hail and I could see clearly that Nature was making a game of the grid. Forget firing up the fossil fuel generator. This was a gift! Forget chores. It meant mushroom hunting time had come and I had the additional gift of a few hours before I had to get to work!

I gathered up Mini, my calico mushroom cat, and we went to my favorite mushroom-finding place. It's not so much that she finds mushrooms as that she just loves being out stalking with me. Today, I could actually smell the mushrooms. Maybe Mini can too. I haven't asked.

After a few minutes I was dismayed that my early training in tree identification was failing me. I would head out to a tall elm tree only to find a profusion of robbed acorn shells and a scattering of oak leaves. That would be heartbreaking to my dad who was a timber buyer, purveyor of the finest in veneers. The only thing that consoled me was remembering the names of the many wildflowers I found, the wild phlox, spring beauties, yellow violets, may apples and many more. The vegetation looked like mushroom country.

Sure enough, Mini and I found some mushrooms, just nineteen, but each one excited me every bit as much as the first one. I cut the morels neatly at the ground's edge, dropped them carefully into a bread bag and felt thankful for each gift.

Throughout this hunt, my hoodie had protected me from the fine mist in the air as I kept my eyes on the ground. Mini didn't seem to mind the cool mist but, before long, she meowed loudly, that urgent sound cats make and you know that, to them at least, it's important. Not wanting the claws to come out, I pulled myself up out of my mushroom stupor, pulled my eyes up off the ground, and saw the  tree tops being whipped all around by the wind. I thanked Mini and we headed back to the house, mushrooms in tow, and our time together well spent.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

There's a Fungus Among Us!

April and May mean mushroom hunting season to many Ohioans! If all you've ever had are the button mushrooms or crimini, then you may not understand the crazed hobby of going out to find morels. The thrill of the hunt is so fun and then, wow! Eating the morel is a uniquely delectable experience that is as nutritious as it is delicious!

First of all, morels have it all over the button, portabella and crimini mushrooms for nutritional value. According to Dr. Weil on his website, these other mushrooms contain natural carcinogens. If you must eat store-bought mushrooms, he suggests you go for the shitake and enoki, both cancer fighting. Additionally, the shitake encourages the body to absorb cholesterol and sweeps it, to some extent, out of the bloodstream. But it is the morel that is the big winner for mushroom nutrition.  The morel can actually improve heart conditions due to its high levels of copper, vitamin E and potassium, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where they've performed a mushroom study and posted their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Stalking the morel mushroom for the avid hunter is every bit as exciting as finding Easter eggs for a young child but eating the morel is also a huge treat, a bit more exciting than cracking open a boiled egg.

You can prepare mushrooms and serve them in any number of great presentations but my favorite mushroom meal is a simple garden salad, freshly-caught and fried bluegills or bass, mushrooms fried with an egg-cornmeal batter, and a slice of home-baked bread with real butter. In order to do that, you have to over-indulge your senses by actually going fishing, mushroom hunting and then eating one of the best meals imaginable! If you're able to do that within a 2-day span, perhaps you've just died and gone to Heaven but I've lived to experience that triple treat and it reminds me that I am loved! Pure Heaven! It's living too rich to do it very often but when it comes together with family and friends, it's a memorable and thankful moment!

So, how does one know when the morel is out and about? I had a friend who would say, "There's a fungus among us!"  Then I'd know that all I had to do was look. I had another friend who would plop herself onto a downed tree, light a cigarette, and then, clearing her head, would smell them. Then I'd know that all I had to do was smell that wonderful mustiness that is undeniably a morel. Lacking those indicators, I keep all my senses aware, even touch. Yes, I have literally stumbled on a mushroom! But, although my father used to say he could hear them pop up out of the ground, I don't think so.

The best indicator for me that morels may be nearby is when I'm out in the woods and see the black funnel mushroom, edible but not palatable. That lets me know that conditions are also right for morels. Where does that happen? Anywhere! I've found morels under all sorts of trees: pine, ash, elm, and the biggest morel I ever saw was right under a huge white oak! I've found them in grass along the edge of the road. As my dear old daddy used to say, "Mushrooms is where you find 'em."  On that, he was right!

Ah, the elusive morel! Happy foraging!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Concerned about Home Wine Making Regulations?

primary fermenter
 Basic wine making supplies are pretty simple, but probably not what you have just sitting around the house. An excellent tutorial for wine making can found found at the link below.

An easy way to start out is to use a winemaking pulp if you start your wine out of season.
assorted chemicals, stoppers, airlocks, yeasts


I wrapped my boxer shorts around the  two carboys that are holding  my wine to keep it from losing its color from the wine cellar's window. Note the airlocks. They bubble away when gas escapes during fermentation.
If you also enjoy a glass of wine occasionally, the hobby of making wine might be something you are considering.

Basically, as long as you're NOT planning to sell your wine, but you are an adult and you want to adhere to basic guidelines, there's no need for concern. It's easy to comply with the law.  Once you begin home wine making, you'll probably want to continue and give yourself a variety of tastes and types of wines to go with your meals. Since most recipes are designed for 3 to 5 gallons of wine, going over the lawful limit of wine making should not be a big problem.

Let me know your experiences!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Chicken Coop

Building a chicken coop has been high on my husband's to-do list ever since we talked about getting a half dozen laying hens to supply our egg needs. But how much of a building does six chickens require? When he started designing it, the size and shape was dictated to some extent by what building supplies he had on hand. Whatever he had to work with, my husband promised to offer comfortable, roomy housing for the layers. He quickly changed his design, as well as his intention, when he found that he had underestimated the number of building trusses he had, trusses once meant for a garage.

I watched his drawing evolve, enlarging steadily, and I finally pulled up enough courage to ask just how many clucking chickens he thought he wanted. I'm waiting for his answer. He started telling me, in his best Foghorn Leghorn voice, how his new design offers rooms for different kinds of chickens as well as other options. His design will accommodate some chickens for meat, some laying hens, a feed room and a special area for brooding young chicks. Outside pens will allow freedom for movement, fresh air and sunshine. I began some aerobic moves, singing Go, You Chicken Fat, Go!  My husband still hasn't answered the question I put to him. He just gets this crazed look in his eyes every time I exercise.

My earlier vision of six laying hens to name, pick up and pet is getting foggier and foggier, blurred in part by an insane vision of 2000 banty roosters chasing each other about in the next pen. If I close my eyes and listen, I can almost hear the crowing competition and I just know my dear Foghorn is out there crowing the loudest of all!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Lowly Dandelion, A Regal Herb or Common Weed?

I get excited when I see dandelions! No, probably not the way most people do. In fact, if you're like most people, you might not want to live next door to me. My husband even cringes when he sees dandelions in our yard. So now I lamely try to relegate them to my herb bed but, admittedly, dandelions are a hard animal to herd!

Did you know the early colonials actually brought dandelions to America from Europe? Truly! Considered an herb, the leaf and flower were brewed for a tea to ward off respiratory infections. The leaves were desired by the colonials as greens, gathered and boiled before the flowers blossomed when the leaves wouldn't be so bitter.

Today, the peppery bite of the leaf  has now made itself a regal part of some mixed green salads.

In my opionion, however, the flower is the best part and might be considered a poor man's substitute for mushrooms. Dipped in an egg-cornmeal batter, slightly salted, then sauteed in butter, it's almost difficult to tell the difference between the dandelion and a morel prepared the same way. Many times I've consoled myself when I haven't found wild mushrooms by gathering up a few blossoms and having them as a nice little appetizer!

Yes, I love dandelions! Their bright sunshiny faces speak to me silently with a promise of deliciousness! A promise it almost always keeps. Always except for one time when I tried making dandelion wine. I won't likely be doing that again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wine Making for Fun and Pleasure!

"Wine is sunlight held together by water." So said Galileo Galilei. Yes, the same man who challenged the Church by figuring out that the Earth was not center of the universe. Incredibly smart man!

Like Galileo, I also enjoy an occasional glass of wine. I make my own SENSUOUS "sunlight" for just pennies! I have some delicious blackberry wine that is ready to bottle, and I've made grape, plum, elderberry and others. If I can make it, you can make it. Making wine is not as easy as it might sound. Nor is it difficult. Like a child or a garden, it requires careful nurturing. But what a nice treat for your labor is done! When the wine is ready to pour, it's WOW, a glimpse of Heaven!

Although I don't sell anything, not even the wine or wine-making how to, you can read my occasional wine making blogs for tips and good sources. The process is incredibly rewarding and fascinating and I'm willing to help you through it if you give it a try. Making wine is so, so fun! Even better, sharing a toast of your homemade wine with friends and family and knowing they like it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Apple Trees

If you've ever considered planting apple trees, now's the time to get them. The fragrance and incredible beauty of the blossoms add a homey feel wherever they're planted but you may need to check with any rules, ordinances or property owners before you plant. You don't want to be a rule-bender, now do you, Rusty? But, imagine having apple trees. Once a tree starts to mature, FREE FRUIT for years!!!

When we bought this land, there were trees so old that Johnny Appleseed himself must have planted them! Old-fashioned Early Harvest was one. That's a rare apple these days and we've been trying unsuccessfully to save these ancient trees. Last year I put out a couple of Fuji apple trees. They're a great apple for flavor and firmness and, great in desserts, this is the apple I suggest for the Apple Maple Walnut Salad that follows this post. I leave the speckled, finely striped yellowish-red peel on for eye appeal

Other great apples for sweetness and texture are the Honeycrisp and Goldrush, and I believe both store well. The yellow Goldrush is a favorite for pies and is one of the apples that cider-makers like to add to their batch.

Cider-makers also like the McIntosh, a smaller bright red apple that has a softer texture and is slightly tart. The mix of sweetness and tartness gives cider part of its unique flavor punch.

If you can only plant one tree and have no storage, go for a Golden Delicious. This apple tree is self-pollinating, so it can stand alone and still produce. Because its texture is not as firm, the sweet Golden Delicious is best eaten fresh and is also great for applesauce and pies.

For a tart apple, the Liberty,  looking a lot like a Fuji, is just mildly tart and very tasty. The Granny Smith may be the best green apple ever to serve with caramel or for candied apples. That contrast of tart and sweet is so-o-o good!

Those are just some of the apples you can choose from but I never met an apple I didn't like. The prettiest apple in the world just may be the Red Delicious. When I taught in a classroom, sometimes the kids would bring me nicely polished apples (and more than a few had a tiny bite out of them!) but it was a real treat when we had enough to make apple salad for the class! Ah, the memories!

I suggest planting your own trees for FREE FRUIT and wonderful memories of your own! If you don't have the land for one, you can make arrangements to plant on the shares with someone who does.

Apple Maple Walnut Salad

1 large apple, cored and diced, not peeled
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2  cup dried cranberries
1/2  cup raisins
1/2  cup chopped celery
1/2  cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. butter
1/4  cup maple syrup

On low heat, melt the butter and stir in the maple syrup. Add the walnuts. Simmer for about 2 minutes while you chop the apple and celery. Sprinkle the apple with lemon juice.

Take the walnuts off the heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes. The syrup may thicken slightly. That's OK

Combine all the other ingredients into a bowl. Salt lightly. Add the walnut-syrup mix and stir to coat all ingredients. This is great alone or served with a chunk of cheese and crackers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Plant a Zucchini and Feed the World

My husband says if you plant one zucchini you can feed the world. It's true that they're a pretty prolific plant and they're pretty easy to grow. But what if, like my husband, you think you don't like zucchini? Actually, they're pretty good in so many things as well as being good for you.

My favorite thing with zucchini is--now don't laugh until you try it--fried zucchini blossoms. Although not part of the typical American diet, wow! They should be! Fry them in butter after dredging them in an egg batter, lightly salted. 100% pure YUM!  Besides that, the blossoms are a great filler in cheese quesadillas and are often used as a diet staple in real Mexican homes. They're also a cooking ingredient in Italy and add a nice touch to baked pasta.  Zucchini, squash or pumpkin blossoms just don't fit with what we think of as Italian or Mexican food. I'm just saying give them a fair try!

The problem with mass marketing zucchini blossoms is that they are fragile. That makes the fun of growing and enjoying your own something pretty rare. When you gather them, and they will continue producing throughout our growing season, simply place the blossoms in a bowl of cold, salted water and allow them to crisp a bit. Then drain and cook. The blossoms of any variety of the squash or pumpkin families can be used.

With two to four plants, any blossoms that move on to produce fruit should provide plenty of fresh pickings for your other squash recipes. Remember that most squash varieties are versatile enough to be fried, used in an array of salads or baked into breads and cakes. The plants require little care but do best with plenty of rain or watering. Remember, plant a zucchini and feed the world!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Great Corn Challenge and the Rising Cost of Getting By

We are in dramatically historic times. Corn is joining the equation to shape the future numbers of haves vs. have-nots. You already know Americans have recently experienced a huge income or wealth gap. It's getting larger. We'll look at one BIG problem, corn futures, and then look for solutions.

Just this week Michael Sabo of Lind-Woldock, an investment firm, urges people to invest in corn futures. Why? Because a bushel of corn on the futures market is now $6 a bushel. Unheard of, unfathomable, just two years ago, and rising daily as much as the trade law allows! Why corn? Its usable protein! While the futures investment may be great for wealthy investors, it's gloom and doom for the consumer.

If you think that, with corn futures so high, farmers are putting more seeds in the ground this spring, hold onto your hat. They're actually planting 8% less corn according to the April 28 USDA crop progress report. Why less? For a 200 bu/acre corn production, it takes about 200 lb of nitrogen, the leading source being ammonia, a petroleum product. Get the picture? As gas prices rise, so does the cost of fertilizer. The farmer is hit by two rising costs right now and government subsidies may be cut as the U.S. legislature looks at where to save money.

How does all this affect consumer prices? Think of second grade social studies lessons on how things are made. Now look at corn. This simple high-protein plant is an important link in the production of anything that is made from or with corn syrup and corn oil. The list is L-O-N-G!! Corn also feeds livestock; beef, pork and even chicken will rise in price. Dairy products may also be sharply affected next fall when school food programs are back in session. And corn is a player in fuel production.

Solutions? Although I continue encouraging self-reliance with gardening, self-reliance and living well goes beyond growing corn in your garden. Since meat prices will also be rising, and I believe Americans will see historically high jumps in prices, you might consider shopping ahead for things related to corn. Also, consider the diets of cultures in which corn products and beef are not often used. Often these people are healthier than Americans. Think Meditteranean. As for me and my family, we're going to raise two different breeds of chickens on the farm, one for egg-production and one for meat. In chickens, we're considering quality over price. I never thought I'd be excited about chickens but now I am. I truly am! We can make this fun!

Prices will rise rapidly and sharply. In an earlier blog, I mentioned the price hike we will soon see in fresh produce due to recent cold spells in California and Mexico. We will also soon see the effects of corn futures that are at an all-time and historic jump. Think about your own situation. Enjoy the challenges rather than becoming a victim of the market. Don't panic. Make it fun. Come up with solutions that will work for you. What are they?