Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stove-top Lasagna

Not having an oven makes it hard to enjoy some favorite comfort foods. Well, I have found a way to make one of ours without an oven. It is a hit every-time I make it. There never seems to be enough to go around. Here it is. Let me know what you think.

Stove-top Lasagna


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tablespoons each chopped fresh basil and parsley, plus more for garnish
  • freshly ground pepper 
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 8 sheets no-bake lasagna noodles, broken into small sections
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ribbons
  • 1 medium zucchini, peeled and cut into ribbons
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced


      Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; cook until golden. Add the tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, spinach, 1 tablespoon each of the herbs, and pepper to taste; cook until saucy. Transfer to a blender and puree. Return the sauce to the skillet and reduce the heat to low.

     Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, the remaining 3 tablespoons each of herbs, and cayenne pepper to taste in a bowl. 

     Place broken lasagna noodles over the sauce in the skillet. Push noodles down into sauce adding water to cover completely if necessary. Cover and cook on medium-low heat until noodles are just under done. Top with the ricotta mixture in spoonfuls. Cover and simmer until the lasagna is cooked done and the cheese melts

     Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Scoop into bowls with large deep spoon. Garnish with more Parmesan and fresh herbs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

Okay, so I figure it is about time to post a recipe. This is one of my favorite things to cook. I have adapted my grandmother's recipe. Her recipe came from my family from Italy and I have just added a couple of things to adapt to my taste. The yield is about 8 servings.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 1 stalk)
  • 1 cup diced sweet pepper ( I like yellow ones for color)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground veal
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage, removed from the casings, or ground pork, or substitute for any neutrally flavored leftover meat in the frig (chicken works good)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • 1 cup each freshly grated Parmesan, and Mozzarella

     In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned but not crisp and the fat is rendered, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, celery, peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and sausages or other meat and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
     Add the remainder of the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavors have melded together, about 2 hours. Add the cream, butter, and parsley, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

     Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with a couple teaspoons of olive oil added to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander.

     Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the each cheese and toss to blend. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed around.

For making meatballs to add instead of meat in the sauce I will add a variation later.

Herbal Remedies


 Okay so as part of my prepping I am trying to learn as much as possible about herbal and alternative medicine. I have been trying them out as necessary and feel very accomplished after the last week. My 10 year old daughter had a very nasty boil develop on her knee. It was very painful and didn't seem to want to come to a head or drain. I contemplated taking her to the hospital but then decided to try my hand at it first. So after some research and digging through my dried spices and herbs to see what I had on hand I made a rather thick poultice from Oregano, Garlic, and Thyme. All three of these have some antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Well we packed this onto a piece of clean muslin and tied it on to her knee over the boil. We repeated the process twice, keeping it warm and moist with a heat pack that I made from a rice filled sock microwaved and then wet. Well after just about 36 hours of this it came to a huge head, we were able to open and drain it and in two days it was gone. Now the only trace of it left is the open hole in her knee that is closing up rather well and quickly. I was extremely impressed at how quickly this worked and how easy it was to do.

     So has anyone else out there tried their hand at herbal or alternative medicine? How has it gone? What experiences have you had from it? I would like any advice or comments.

Our Earthship adventure: building our new home Update: 7/25

     Okay, so I figure something that a lot of people will enjoy reading a little more about would be our adventure with planning and building our new home. We have went over and over the different types of "green" building styles there are out there. In the end we have decided on an earthship home. An earthship is a passive solar type home designed by a gentleman named Michael Reynolds. They are built out of recycled materials. The main structure of the house is rooms in a "U" shape connected by a main hallway/greenhouse in front. The load bearing walls are built out of tires that are rammed full of earth. He gives some more information, photos, and plan sets on his website for Earthship Biotecture

     Because of the materials used for these homes they can be on the rather small side when it comes to cost, or they can have an extravagant cost. It really depends on where you get your materials, whether you get them free or cheap or just buy them new like a few people who are impatient about waiting to find them, also the cost depends on if you are going to be doing most or all the work yourself or hire out for someone else to do it. We are hiring out for the excavation work of course which is going to cost us around $1000 for the original layout of the house. We plan to add more rooms on later when we can afford more, but for now the house will consist of the living room, kitchen/dining room, greenhouse, master bedroom, kids' room, bathroom, mud room, and then the laundry/mechanical room. Which I will scan and add pictures of the design and layout when I have more time. Also because we plan on doing things on the cheap side we are using the trees that are to be cleared in the house footprint area for the viga and latilla roof system. We are aiming for a total budget of under $8,000 for the original house.

      When finished it will be bermed on three sides and the roof for a sort of underground feeling. Instead of buying plans from one of the several sites online that do sell them I just got all three of Michael's books, read through them, and designed my own plan. Now I have to put out there that I live in such a rural place that I do not have to deal with local building codes that force me to go through all types of loops to build this house. The basic concept of an earthship home is that although you can connect to the grid it has the ability through being built to Michael's design of being completely self contained. That means that we are going to be saving on not needing a septic system, we will be using composting toilets, won't need as much maybe no extra heating or cooling, thanks to passive solar design and mass thermal storage of the tire walls.

     Our house is going to take right around 1400 size 15 tires to complete the original house build. That is a lot of tires to stack fill and pound with a sledge hammer but we will get it done. I imagine that while the walls are still short enough to not have to be climbed I will be doing most of this myself while my husband is at work. We are planning on starting in January or February so hopefully Mother Nature will be kind and consider us building when she decides our areas weather this year. 

     This home is just one more step on our way to being able to deal with anything that happens in the future. My kids are very excited about the finished home when they will each have their own room and their own growing space in the front hall. I plan on incorporating a lot of the systems in our new home into their school work. It is important to me that they understand how the house "works" because one day they will have to be on their own and hopefully will already understand how they can live just as comfortable then as they will in it as children. 

     We have come up with some interesting ideas for the flooring in each room also. Since the base floor for each room is an earthen floor, we will just be able to add these as we can get the things. Some of these designs which I will add pictures of once we get to that stage are as follows: in the kitchen we will be using wine/bottle corks for the floor, in the laundry/ mechanical room the floor will be made from pennies, the bathroom(s) are going to have a bottle cap floor, the greenhouse/hallway area will have a brown paper bag floor, the living area will be a floor made from old recycled leather belts of all colors and sizes, the kid's rooms are going to be done in a few different things, the first one that will be built with the original house section is going to be crayons, and then i was thinking one of them could be done in playing cards, so the only rooms left are four more kids rooms and then my dining area and mudroom. Feel free to offer up suggestions if you have any. 

     I also plan on using cement and crushed glass bottles to make my counter tops and the top for my dining bar and island in kitchen. I plan on having a well done in the laundry/mechanical room or possible even the kitchen with a hand pump as a back up well in case anything happens to the main one that will be drilled outside the home. We will have a cold pantry added on to the back of the kitchen for long term food storage so I will have somewhere to put away all the food that gets canned out of the garden. I got the idea for a cold pantry after realizing that our climate just would not work for a thermal mass refrigerator like Reynold's describes in his books. I found information and even contacted and talked with Kelly Hart, a fellow green builder from her website, Green Home Building. She was very helpful with my questions, and has tons on information on her site about a lot of green building ideas.

Update 7/18/12 :
     Okay so after sharing some thoughts and ideas with a fellow green-builder in the planning process, I have decided that the front wall to the house will be a cordwood wall on a rock filled tire foundation. I think it will look pretty cool. Also I am thinking about putting our kitchen toward the front of the house as to help with the grey-water reuse and to keep as much natural light in there as possible. 

Update: 7/25/12:
      So I have decided that I want to add a rock pizza oven into the kitchen. My Mother's family was Italian, and I love to cook especially Italian foods so something like this would fit perfectly. I found a couple a pictures of ones I like will post a picture once I decide on the design... I might just draw one out myself though.

Hearts Haven Heritage Farm Donations

     We are now taking donations for the farm to help with the cost of acquiring the needed equipment and fencing to start taking in unwanted farm animals until new permanent homes can be found for them. If you are interested in making a donation please let us know that you are doing so that way we can keep you updated and add you to our list of thank yous on our donation page. 

     All donations can be made to one the following PayPal email addresses;  kdean1229@gmail.com or jdean1229@gmail.com or by texting a Green-dot Moneypak number to 318-268-6234.

Lunch by flashlight

     Well, I haven't ever had to make lunch by flashlight before but as it turns out it isn't all that easy. My hubby leaves for work at the mill at 3:30am Monday through Friday. I get up at 3:15 every morning to make his lunch before he leaves out. So, this morning he wakes me up at about 2:30 to tell me the power was out... I just said okay and drifted back off to sleep. It isn't very often that I get to sleep lol. Well we got up about 45 minutes later and still no power. Okay so light the lantern I thought, but no lighter. Phewy!! We bought it just for reasons like this, well and because the first night we stayed here we had no power yet. Just my luck so then I hold the flashlight for him to get dressed and then use it to make his lunch. It is a lot harder than it sounds to make sandwiches using nothing but a slightly bright flashlight. On top of that it kind of put a cramp in my plans to get online early this morning to get a headstart trying to find a work at home job. Oh well, my little man woke me up at about 6:30 and it was back on. I don't know when it came on or even why or when it went out but it lead to sort of a small adventure in lunch making this morning.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homemade Cleaning Products

     Okay so taking advise from a fellow blogger I made my own laundry detergent the other day. It was a hit. Worked great on everything from my little man's cloth diapers to hubby's work clothes that I was having trouble getting clean. 

     It has a natural alternative to color safe bleach. My detergent is a liquid detergent like you get from the grocery store. It is not a gel like the recipes you find online. I am selling it is Gallon and Half Gallon sizes. The gallon jugs will do approximately 64 loads at 1/4 cup or 2 oz. per load. The half gallons will do 32 loads. The 1 Gallon size jugs cost $5.00 and the half Gallon ones are $3.00. This does not include shipping I will update that price when I get an estimate on it. However, at these prices you are paying just 8 cents a load with our Gallon size and 9 cents a load with the Half Gallon size. That is a big savings when the closest comparable store brand with color safe bleach additives cost about between 13 and 15 cents a load, and if you are buying baby detergent for your little ones clothes or cloth diapers then the savings are even more considering these run from 16 to 25 cents a load in stores. It has no perfumes in it so it is safe to those with sensitive skin as well. If you would like though a scent can be added for as little as 25 cents per jug.

     Just let me know if you would like it scented and I will let you know which scents are available at that time. All of our jugs come with child resistant tops to help keep little ones out of the detergent however you should always store it somewhere out of reach to children. I will be adding to the list of cleaning items available so keep checking back to see what new items we have. If you are interested in more information about ordering please email me at heartshavenfarm.kaci@aol.com

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our furry loss

     So yesterday while outside washing clothes, I asked my six year old son to check on our billy goat, Gruff. He was not up and moving around and I wanted to make sure he wasn't tangle up where he couldn't reach his water. He was a tethered goat, but a happy goat. Well, Ashton went over and looked around then asked me where is he?? My first thought was just great he got loose and is gone. So I went over to see how he had gotten loose and found him lying in the brush dead. He apparently got bitten by a snake in the mouth. It had just happened as not but twenty minutes earlier he was up and bleating at me as I was leaving to get water and rigor-mortise had not started to set in yet. So I let the clothes soak for a few while I took him off the chain and added our poor little Gruff to the compost pile.

     I know right about now there is someone reading this going "Oh my, no don't add animals to your compost that is not safe" well if you read up enough it is you just have to compost correctly is all. It has to be through a thermophilic composting method for natural rendering that takes an extended time period. We do not waste anything on our farm. So now we are back on the market for a cheap goat to start over. I think this time I will look for a Nanny or doeling instead of a billy, I would rather get started with one that can be bred and give me milk along with clearing our 5 acres.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sock animals, cloth diapers, and baby wearing ring slings

Okay so I have decided that it is time to try and make some extra money while at home just to get our farm up off the ground and running. To do this I have decided to start making and selling online sock animals, cloth diapers, and ring slings. These are all hand sewn items, and are made using the same patterns I use to make my own that I use everyday. I will post some pictures as an update to this article when I get a chance. in the means time this is my facebook page for my sock animals. Please feel free to like it and share with as many people as you would like. Thank you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fleas!!!!! Blah I hate them...

Okay so besides there being a million more ticks up here than what we are used to in  Louisiana we are now also dealing with an almost ungodly amount of fleas. I have never in my life had fleas this bad and we don't even have carpet for them to hide in just plywood floors. It is so bad that we look like we are being eaten alive, oh yeah we are, lol. It seemed as though when we got our kitties it died back some I thought maybe it was because they had gotten on them but now over the last week they are back and worse than ever.... You can't walk through the cabin without felling them jump on your feet and legs. It is ridiculous and I have no idea what to do. I don't want to use poisons because I have children and inside pets, two kitties and three bunnies. So if anyone out there has any suggestions to get them out of the house and keep them out please let me know. I have been researching online but unable to find anything useful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


     This blog is about our life on our homestead and everything it involves along the way. I am a mother of five children. I am married to my wonderful husband of seven and a half years. We are a homeschooling and cloth diapering family.