Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Double Chocolate Almond Cake

Do you need a super-easy, delicious and delectable dessert?  
Even expert bakers need a little help from from time to time.
Try our adaptations to an easy mix to create this beautiful cake.

Double Chocolate Almond Cake from One Ash Farm Recipes


1 boxed Chocolate with Chocolate Chips Quick Bread or Muffin Mix
1 tsp. pure Almond Extract

Prepare the mix as directed for muffins, adding the almond extract
Pour into a greased bundt cake pan
Bake at 350° for approx. 25 minutes
Cool for 20 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely
Place on cake plate prior to glazing

Chocolate Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2 TBS. melted butter
3 TBS. cocoa powder
1 tsp. pure Almond Extract
3 TBS. very hot water
chopped almonds, roasted or raw, unsalted

mix all except the almonds together until smooth 
spoon evenly over the top of the cake, allowing it to run into the crevices
immediately top with chopped almonds
cool before serving


    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Book Review- Stolen

    This book was a good documentary about a the story of a sex trafficking survivor. There is a lot of shared information and good lessons learned, although the book at times sounded a little like a text book.  I'm not sure I would recommend this for everyone, although if you are particularly interested in this subject it is a good option for learning from first hand experience. 

    ~this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review

    If you would like to purchase this or other books, click here to link to Amazon

    Saturday, December 13, 2014

    Bacon Bits

    Anyone who lives on a farm knows that farm life is filled with something new each day, not all of which are fun or happy.  Some days it's extreme weather changes, some days it's veterinary needs, some days it's a need for animal pasture changes, some days pipes are broken, and some sad days there is death. It has been a little sad around One Ash lately, with a lot of that last kind of day happening.  The stories of our recently lost animals are ones that our family will remember for a long time to come, and ones that will always weigh heavy on our hearts.

    But then there are the most exciting days -when God blesses us with new life on the farm.  And that happened a few days ago!  Last year we decided to purchase a boar to go along with our sows that were already maturing.  Well, we have been waiting for "Bo" the Berkshire pig to grow up enough to breed those girls.  And this week we have proof that he is indeed a big boy now.  We now have 4 adorable little piglets running around the pig pen, romping and hopping and burying themselves in the hay. And it appears that we have another sow ready to give birth any day!  We are thoroughly enjoying these little "bacon bits", as we like to call them! 
    Despite the tough days on the farm, we are always receiving Gods blessings.  He knows why things happen the way they do, and we have the faith to accept His will and goodness. He always guides us through the difficulties, bringing us to a better place in the end.  I am amazed at the healing power and hope that has come from a few little piglets.  It's times like this that keep us farming, and loving our animals for as long as they are with us.  Life on the farm is good!

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    Changing Christmas~ appreciating simplicity

    I used to be one of the women who stressed out and ran myself ragged in December. I made list after list of things to do, I stayed up late, slept too little, and barely enjoyed the Christmas season.  I was determined to create memories and believed that what I saw in ads and on TV was the way to do that.  I also worked for years in retail, and despite my best efforts to simplify Christmas each year, I always got caught up in the hoop-la and commercial gimmickry.  I over- extended myself, my finances, my family, and mostly my expectations.  

    Now that I am enjoying my second year out of that retail madness, it's the first year of truly saying, in the words of that now famous movie, "let it go". It has been a year of change here on the farm, and Christmas is no different. 
     We have learned to do for ourselves, do without, appreciate simplicity, and be thankful for every day. There is so much more to life, and Christmas, than shopping and "doing". Here is how I have changed Christmas at One Ash this year~

    ~Instead of "making a list and checking it twice" and going shopping, I am making homemade gifts or visiting my local thrift stores. If anyone receives a gift at all, it will be something they either really need or will really appreciate.  Or they may just get a heartfelt note expressing how much I appreciate them in my life. While it is better to give than to receive, there are no gifts just to give a gift this year.  
    ~Instead of having a list of goodies to bake and stressing whether or not we will have the time to get them all done, and how we will deal with the calorie intake,  One Ash daughter and I are hosting a Cookie Exchange for the women and girls from our church.  We will bake cookies once, and end up with a great variety to enjoy through the season.  But the true bonus is the fellowship time we will enjoy with our sisters in Christ. 
    ~Instead of putting up all the decorations this year, I have chosen those that just make me feel good. I spent one day and went to "the closet" and pulled out all of the decorating boxes. I looked at all of the items, pulled out what struck a deeply fond memory, and returned about 90% of it to the closet.  Now instead of having Christmas decorations crammed into every open space, I am enjoying each and every one that I have put out.
    ~Instead of scheduling a time for everyone to be able to go to the tree lot, pick through all the trees, and bring home the one that appeared "perfect", I went with a tree I already had. It isn't a big tree, and this is the first year I haven't had a live tree, but I love my little tree, and it tugs at my heart strings every time I see it.  Covered in lights and some old fashioned ornaments, this first simple tree is going to be a great Christmas memory. 
    ~Instead of covering the entire wrap around porch with garland and bows, there will be just a little bit on the gate where our dairy customers enter.  (Honestly, this isn't done yet, and I am not worried about it!).  I placed a table near the back door that we use all the time, and located it so I can see the lights of its center piece from the kitchen window at night.  We are enjoying this much more than the showy, garland covered porch.
    ~Instead of adorning my entire kitchen with my collection of snowmen (have you ever noticed how they are always smiling?), I went outside and picked magnolia leaves and hickory nuts to create a natural center piece for the island. The rest of the snowmen will have to spend another year in their boxes. 
    ~Instead of having a huge mess to clean up in January, I am using some of the time that I would have spent decorating, shopping and baking to deep clean spots in my house. While I'm not getting a whole lot done, it's so rewarding to know that I am getting a head start to winter cleaning. (we are too busy on the farm in the spring, so our deep cleaning has to come in the cold winter months!). I certainly won't be completed, but it does feel good to get some of this work done early.
    But most of all, I am spending time with One Ash hubby and daughter, spending time with my friends in fellowship either in person, on the phone or messaging, and spending more quiet time with the Lord.  After all, the best Christmas of all was when He was born.  

    "He brought peace on earth and wants to bring it also into your soul- 
    that peace which the world cannot give." - Corrie ten Boom 

    Tuesday, December 9, 2014

    Picking a Family Milk Cow - The Round-Up

    Part 2 of the family milk cow series.

    It's only reasonable that we get everybody's opinions on picking a family cow. After all, everyone has different experiences and expectations. 
    Below is a round up of several other bloggers and links to their blog & posts on picking a family cow. Enjoy!

    Cookes Frontier- "Is a Family Milk Cow Right For You?"

    Green Eggs and Goats- "Top 10 Reasons to Keep a Jersey Cow"

    The Flip Flop Barnyard- "How to Prepare for a Family Milk Cow (On A Tight Budget)"

    Idlewild Alaska- "The Must Have List When Getting Your First Cow"


    Sunday, December 7, 2014

    Soft Cheese Creations

    Making soft cheese from fresh, raw milk is not only easy, it's creative!  You can add almost anything to our basic recipe, below, to create a unique and enjoyable appetizer. Here are some of our ideas (the list could go on and on!) to create one of a kind cheese for your next party. It's mix and match, like picking toppings for a pizza, so go ahead, add what you want and be creative!

    ~Fruits and Nuts Cheeses~
    chopped dates or figs
    chopped apples
    diced almonds

    ~Veggies Cheeses~
    chopped celery
    grated carrots
    chopped peppers, such as jalapeno 
    chopped bell peppers
    chopped radishes
    finely chopped garlic 
    finely chopped onion
    chopped parsley

    crushed red pepper
    garlic powder
    onion powder
    dried parsley

    Raw Milk Soft Cheese from One Ash Farm Recipes

    1 gallon raw cows milk
    1/2 cup white vinegar, lemon juice, or a combination
    salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)

    Bring the milk just to a boil, stirring consistently to avoid scorching.  
    Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. 
     Let sit until curds develop, stirring gently.  
    Pour mixture into a cheesecloth lined strainer and drain off the whey (liquid).  
    Pulling the corners of the cheesecloth together, form a cheesecloth bag 
    around the curds and gently squeeze off the excess whey.  
    Continue this process until you have the desired moisture level 
    in your cheese, or hang your cheesecloth bag of curds to drain.  
    Pour the cheese curds into a bowl and salt to taste. 
    Add any additional ingredients and mix thoroughly with a spoon or pastry blender.   Spread on your favorite cracker, or a slice of our French Bread!

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    Make Ahead Christmas Cookies

    photo courtesy

    Christmas parties, Cookie Exchanges and Swaps, school parties, teacher gifts, church meals, frugal gifts......all the perfect time to give cookies!  But managing your time to get cookies baked for all of those events can be difficult.  This week is a great time to bake several batches and stick them in the freezer until you need them!  
    I enlisted the help of several fellow bloggers from the Homestead Bloggers Network to share their posts and recipes for cookies that freeze well.  Here is a round up of what they offered- enjoy!

    Simple Sugar Cookies with Rainbow Icing | The 104 Homestead
    Simple Sugar Cookies
    Nanaimo Bars
    Minty Naniamo Bars
    Yummy homemade cookies packed with nutrition
    Chocolate Pecan Currant Cookies
    Christmas cookies
    Christmas Cookie Favorites