For some reasin, December always creeps up on me.  It is obvious in ever store, earlier each year and this year, Thanksgiving seemed to have been bkown off all together. 

This time of year, I am melancholy. Each night, as I lie awake, I think of my childhood in Slovakia and Austria. There, the cold air of the fall and often early snows, helped bring the Christmas mood.

Stores would decorate their windows in elegant Christmas displays and as we walked home from piano lessons, we detoured through the mains street to see them. It brought happiness to us. The first snow made us all giddy. We sat by the window in the evening, with our lights off, so we could watch the giant snowflakes illuminated by the street lights. The next morning everything would be white. A sparkly blanket of snow covered the playground between the apartment buildings. We would make out the slides and teeter-totter under their cover of snow. All the kids would be out, dressed like eskimos in our warmest winter clothes and teams would be chosen, bunkers would be built and a snow ball fight would ensue.

Once darkness came, we would get our skates and walk to the skating rink. There we skated and chased each other, playing tag. At home, mom would wait with hot tea and delicious cookies or our favorite citronen kuchen.

Later in Austria, our village was nestled

Cooler air, fall is here

I love fall. For me, summer in Florida, is like winter in Alaska. The weather makes me want to stay inside. Every task outdoors, during summer, makes you sweat profusely. I don’t really like sweating…

Fall, in the other hand, inspires me. Bekons me to come outside, to open the windows and as the northern breeze plays with my hair, I reach for a light sweater. This means shorter days and more time spent with family in the evening. It means I will make heartier meals, it means I get to rake and gather the pine needles and leaves for the garden. 

Fall means Halloween and Thanksgiving are around the corner and, once again we get to hear happy kids having a blast at Santa’s farm, which backs up to our property. Their hay ride takes them along our back fence, where Elsie and her week old calf Bambulka graze and hang out in the shade of our live oak trees. 

Our chickens seem to prefer the cooler weather as well. They lay better and run around happily, randomly jumping in air to catch a flying bug. Our bees are doing well and with last night’s chill, Teatime our horse queen, got her cold weather coat. She is so fluffy!

I love waking up and feeling the cold air in the house. It inspires me to bake and cook comfort foods. Fresh bread dipped into a hearty stew, hot chocolate with a lovely apple strudel or traditional Strapacky, Slovak potato duplings with sauer kraut, crispy pork belly, sourcream and green onion.


4 potatoes

1 egg

1 1/2 cups AP flour 

1/2 teaspoon salt plus for water

1 bag sauerkraut

16 oz of smoked pork belky ir thick cut bacon

1 tablespoon lard or oil 

Green onion

Sour scream

Boil a large pot of water with salt keep it simmering. Cut the pork belly or bacon and sautee in a cast iron skillet with the lard/oil. Remove the crispy pork belly into a small bowl and pour some of the drippings into the bowl as well. Add the strained sauerkraut and sautee for 10 minutes. 

 Peel and wash the potatoes  puree them with the egg, until smooth. Transfer into a large bowl and add the flour and salt. Using a mixing spoon, blend all the ingredients. The batter should be thick but still pourable. If it is too thick, add a little water.

Using a spaetzle maker,  scrape the batter, one a time, into the boiling water. Always let the water come back to a boil before removing them with a strainer into another bowl. Continue until all the batter is used.

Combine the dumplings with the sauerkraut and add some of the pork belky and dripping. Mix it all together.

Serve with sourcream and chopped green onion, topping it off with some crispy pork belly. 

Enjoy!! I sure did!

With fall, all the lovely decorations come out. Chrysanthemums are everywhere, the smell of cinnamon permiates through out the house and pumpkins line front porches. The sun has a different glare to it and hot apple cider warms the soul.

 I can not wait until the day, we call a four season state our home. I dream of winter, a crackling fire place and the soft sound of falling snow. Just two more years…


Here is a link for a spaetzle maker:,store:12608680458201168326&prds=oid:13687652924374911575&q=spatzle+maker&hl=en-US&ei=SPr3WcaKI6bqjwTEvKPQBQ&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_kitchenfoodprep_local&lsft=gclid:Cj0KCQjwm9vPBRCQARIsABAIQYf6ZUQNbZ9g7PV–iHHP5JFznbhUxlF5gpe68O-kgVQiudhh3nCN7AaAvvhEALw_wcB


It has been hot, humid and rainy. I don’t usually mind, but the garden has suffered and I said to heck with it. Fall is my favorite time anyway. Over the summer we added to our little farm. 

Elsie, our dairy cow is due in October, and she is dry now, enjoying a break before her little calf arrives. We realized that she needed a friend. So, about a month ago, we got Big Butter. She is 100% jersey, just tad bigger and she is lovely. The girls became buddies from the start. This obviously, makes us very happy! They graze all day together, lay side by side in the shade or in the cow barn and they lick each others faces. It’s very entertaining!

Her milk is amazing and she is due in January. Our milking routine hasn’t changed with the new cow. Big butter want used to a stancion, but our stancion is under roof and she has the view of the farm. It literally takes 8 minutes to milk her with our machines and then she is off to enjoy the pasture. 

Before we brought her home, we were 3 weeks without milk, and let me tell you, we were a grumpy bunch of people! Haha, better planning in the future for sure!

Another addition to do farm, were our trio of breeding geese. We bought the American buff geese. What a beautiful little flock. They get to free range all day and are inseparable! They greet us each time we enter their pasture and they have become friends with all of the farm animals. 

We hope the fees will breed and we will sell and harvest their offspring. Nothing like a nice goose for Christmas. 

Our barn cat Lilly had her first and last litter of kittens.

 She is at the house with them now and Daisy,our catahoula had to take over the rat control. Leo, the male catahoula finds their hiding place and Daisy takes care of the rest. She caught a rat in the barn as it was jumping to escape. Mid jump, Daisy’s ninja skills caught it and that was the end with the rat.

We also got 10 Delaware chicks, these are large brown egg layers and we do not have any white chickens, so these beauties are a great addition to our mixed flock of Ride Island reds, Buff Orphignons, welsummers, silver laced cochins, 2 polish hens, a few red stars and 1 austrolorp. 

Chickens are a true gateway drug to any homesteader. I am telling you, all the memes are right! There is no, ok now I am done! Nope! ! Not happening!  We really do have a problem!  Lol.

Mike, has also started removing bees for people. He has removed 4 hives and 1 he couldn’t save. They were africanized and let me tell you how upset he was that he had to dispatch them. He mopped around for days. It is not something a bee keeper likes to do! Having bees has been wonderful. Not just for the obvious supply of honey, but because we have so much to learn from them. They are intelligent creatures with a work ethic like nothing on this planet. I wish people would realize their importance in our daily lives!

I have also started a group on Facebook which helps homesteaders and farmers find ways to make extra income. I post videos every week on a different topic, in hopes of helping someone out there. It has been great connecting with people from all over the world, teaching and learning as well. It is my wish, that no homesteader/hobby farmer ever have to stop what they are doing because they can not afford it. You are welcome to join our group on Facebook. Just click on the link and it will take you to one of our videos. Then, click on the title Discovering ways… This will take you to the group.

Hope your summer was great and you have plans for the fall, we are preparing the garden again… 



Because, bread…

We love bread! Yes, if you follow our FB page you can see that on all the bread posts. We bake bread for us and we bake it for customers too. 

There is nothing like homemade bread. Nothing!! Well, I lied. Homemade butter is amazing too!

Ya. So, we make sourdough from various flours, and we make bread with fresh yeast too. It is an all day thing, but bread doesn’t need to be babysat, so can go about your day. When I read complicated recipes, of any kind I am like whaaaaat?  I don’t do complicated 200 step recipes. Who has time for that? Yes, sourdough requires many steps, but only if you don’t have a starter. So, only the first time. Once you have an active and nicely fed starter, you are good to go and 190 steps closer. Just kidding. Or am I??? Haha. No seriously it’s not hard.

Or, you could just use cake dough or dry yeast. You will not get that tangy taste but that doesn’t mean anything at all! You will still get a delicious, open crumb, chevy crust bread, which you will inhale in one sitting hopefully after it cools. Hot bread equals very hard digestion!!!!!!!!!! And you will destroy the hot bread if you cut it too soon! So, don’t do it, man!!

I have a simple recipe which is amazing and can be applied, with small variations, to any flour bread you want. 

All you need is: your choice of flour, water, salt and either a starter, fresh yeast (cake yeast) or dry active yeast. For dark breads, you will need molasses as well. If you have a bread beckers Co-op near you, you can buy your organic wheat from them AMD mill it at home! I was introduced to this place by my farm friend Annette of Cassia Fresh Farm. Amazing lady I call friend! 

The only difference is the amount of water you will use. Why? Because flours hydrate differently, but once you get the touch of your dough, down, you will be able to adjust the water to your flour. It’s all about practice and feeling the dough. This will make sense once you get a hang of it and then you will have your aha moment!

Basic sourdough recipe (2 loaves)

1 cup of starter

5 cups of your choice flour

2 teaspoons salt (added after autolyse- will explain)

3-3 1/2 water (humidity plays a huge factor! The more humid it is, the less watEr you need)

If you are using rye or whole wheat, add 1 teaspoon of molasses. 

That’s it. Nothing else. 

Add the starter, flour and water (and molasses for the mentioned flours) to a bowl. Using your hands, mix it all together into a shaggy and sticky mass. Don’t worry about it being wet and sticky. Let is sit for 30-60 minutes. I have done even longer! Come back to it and sprinkle the salt evenly over the surface and knead the heck out of the dough inside the bowl. Pull dough from bottom and over the the top. The dough will be nice and elastic, it will stretch beautifully and you can use flour here and there to unstick your fingers. The dough will be soft because of the hydration and its ok if it sticks. Now take the dough out of the bowl, onto a lightly floured surface, let it rest while you wash the bowl and dry it. Knead the dough a couple more times. You can use 1/2 teaspoon of oil to wipe the bowl. I use flour. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and out it in the fridge over night or 12 hours.

Take the dough out of the fridge and remove from bowl onto a floured surface. Knead it and divide into 2 loaves. This is called final shaping. Place into a well floured basket, brottform, banetton or you can just let it rise free form on baking paper for easy transfer. The dough has to come to temperature which can take 2-3 hours. It should rise evenly and its ready when you lightly press the dough with your finger and it springs right back. 

Should feel room temp. Preheat your oven for 45 mintues to 500F with a Dutch oven in it. When ready, remove the Dutch oven carefully onto a heatproof surface and remove the lid. Gently place the bread inside and score it with a razor blade or super sharp and pointy knife. Quick slices don’t mess around, you don’t want to deflate your bread. 

Cover and place into the oven. Bake 20 minutes covered. Then, remove lid, lover temp to 450F and bake until nice and golden brown. Please let it cool off completely. Bread finishes baking after it is removed from the oven and as it cools. It is very hard to digest when its hot and it is hard to slice too!

Autolyse is hydration of dough. The time it takes for the flour to accept all of the moisture. Salt holds this process back and inhibits gluten development, that’s why it added afterwards.

Now, what if you don’t have a starter. Ok. You can substutite cake yeast, I get it at restaurant depot but you may also have luck at a local bakery. In this case, you will need 42g of cake yeast for the recipe above. Dissolve it in the water of the recipe.

For active dry yeast, instead of the starter quantity, just add 2 teaspoons of dry active yeast to the recipe and pretend its a starter in the directions. 

That’s it. Crusty bread for all. It is not hard, well not after you bake a few loaves. But I promise you will love making bread for your family. Next things you know, you will be experimenting with herbs and sweet potatoes and soaked grains and nuts and chocolate and malted barley and sprouted grains and your husband keeps asking what all those amazon packages are doing in the front yard and Daisy our dog is helping with opening  and you ask for banneton forms for all birthdays and Christmas and you break your oven because 500F is a lot on the heat element and you are happy that the back up outdoor pizza oven from ilFornino is only o few steps away. Oh, gosh, did I say that out loud???

The crazy bread baking lady


Happy Mother’s day…

My mom, or how we call her Mamička, raised us girls with love, passion, compassion, laughter and adventure. No game was too silly, no book was too long to read and no day was wasted, not even when it rained.  My sisters and I had a childhood many can only dream off. 

Growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, we spent our weekends in the mountains at a log cabin retreat center my parents were managing. We walked those hills and never ending forest and expansive meadows foraging for mushrooms, herbs and rosehips. We pretended to be like Hansen and Gretel, like partisans during the war, running from the enemies. We climbed steep mountains to discover meadows full of alpine strawberries and bathed in ice cold mountain streams. I honestly can not say we were ever bored. I wish, that we had pictures of these adventures a home movie or two. At, that time, not everyone had a camera and a video camera was mostly for professionals. 

The mushrooms we foraged would be carefully cleaned and thinly sliced. We spread them on large sheets of paper and dried them for use in winter. Morels, chantaurelles, porcine, button mushrooms and portabella like mushrooms, which we would bread and fry were just some of the varieties we found. There were so many more mushroom I don’t know their Englwish names.

Cookouts on the weekend was the norm. Our dad, the Chef, always prepared everything with us helping. He packaged meats and vegetables into foil, seasoned them and when the fire was just right, he would gently place them into the coals. He then took us and we looked for the perfect grilling branches. He carved each one with care at the tip, so the thick cuts of bacon would stay put while we grilled them over the open fire. The drippings would be wiped on thick dark slices of bread and the bacon was dipped into the best mustard. We sat in nature, ate and laughed with either family or friends surrounding us. 

In winter, the hills surrounding log cabins would be covered in snow. My oldest sister learned how to sky during her 8th grade skiing trip and so my dad and our friend Laci built us a ski lift. We spent entire days sledding and skiing into exhaustion. Mom would come to the rescue with delicious Russian tea and we made our way back to the main log cabin crossing the narrow plank over barely frozen creek, up the path and to the cabin where hot dinner was waiting for us. Afterwards, we finished our evening in the great hall with the fireplace roaring. We watched movies, played cards and watched the falling snow in the stillness of the night. 

I have no pictures of these years, but I can recall them instantly and sometimes smell the meadow with the alpine strawberries and the fresh crisp air in the dead of winter. I can feel the heat of the bonfire, I can smell the earthy scent the ground releases just as it starts to rain. The distinctive scent of drying mushrooms and the taste of the hot tea with a touch of rum.

Thank you Mamička, for giving us the kind of childhood that many dream of. Thank you for sacrificing everything, with our dad, to give us a better life than what was in store for us living in our former country.

I love you more than words could ever do justice and I hope you feel it.



A few minutes before 7pm, I walk to my garden to water it. As the sun descends, I gave it to water the pickling cucumbers.  This is the first year in seven, that is successful for me with this delicious, multipurpose vegetable. I learned yet another thing. Do not plant anything by it, it will be taken over! I shield my eyes with one hand as I hold the hose inbthe other. The sun is still relentless at this time of day. From behind the cucumbers peaks a row of my sister’s sunflowers. Some are taller than me and some are much shorter. Their yellow faces turned towards the sun. I love them. They remind me of the sunflower fields planted along narrow country roads in my former home of Slovakia. 

I am also growing lettuce, kale, chard, carrots and beets in this bed, again next year, I will know better. I am very pleased with this bed though. As crowded as it is, everything seems to thrive. Our rabbits get greens twice a day and they all come from our garden. Our composted manare is amazing!

At the end of this row I planted watermelon. A second for me, but this is actually growing. Last sreason I bought starts and they didn’t do well at all. Right next to it are potatoes.  The greens of them have already wilted and so I left them still in the ground and dig out only what I need. 

As I dig them out, I transplant my flowers starts. Wild flowers and zinnia. My wish is to have a flower garden too. But, one thing at a time.

The middle beds hold our red cabbage, which I have thinned out already, different lettuces, radish, cherry tomatoes and peas. I planted Spanish onion too, but between the grass that is invading this bed, I can’t seem to find it. This is good grass I pull for the rabbits, so I don’t mind.

This is the only bed with a bunch of grass, I will have to add a lot more manure next time to make it deeper. There are two corn looking plants in this bed, but they are not corn at all. I am not sure what they are and it looks like its about to seed, I will have take care of that!

This year I  also bought cabbage starts and planted some cabbage from seed. The starts are much smaller than the ones from seed. Interesting experiment! 

I have never had vine climbing beans. They grow to about a foot and that’s it. I get nice beans, but I would like them to climb too. These are coincidently pole beans haha. 

I planted 3 different bins just for the rabbits. Arugula, lettuce and kale. I keep cutting them back and keep growing back like crazy! Such a satisfying process. 

My tomato jungle is off the charts. We had a late freeze here in Florida and I was devastated, thinking I lost them all. But after cutting the frozen tops, the plants grew like freaks! Let’s hope my spacing issue doesn’t hinder my harvest. I need to address this, is there a I plant things too close support group? I may need to join.

Here i also planted broccoli and kohlrabi. Already harvested and eaten and cooked and frozen. There is a 2 year old pepper which keeps on giving. Good little guy! Oh and somehow, I have some violet volunteer plants here. I must have tossed them over here last year. I don’t know, I love them though. Their scent and color also remind me of Slovakia. If I could only grow Lilly of the valley and lilac, and dandelions and forsythia… Wrong planting zone I know, but one day….
Zuchinni and squash are doing well too. Well the plants are, not so much of the squashes though. I think they are lazy. They flower beautifully but so far, only a handful of squash. 
So many firsts this year! Cauliflower and broccoli from purchased startsfrom a nursery did great! The seeds I used were a Christmas gift from my younger sister. A non gm pack of many varieties of vegetables. These seeds were the best so far for me. I will certainly use them again. 

I am far from a master gardner, but each year I try and do more than the last. The reward is truly satisfying. I don’t believe I could ever not have a garden. 

After I finish watering the garden, I pick the greens for the rabbits and join Mike in the barn for our evening chores. When we finish, the sun is almost gone and we make our way back to the house. We process the milk, feed the dogs and cats and I make coffee. Our evening is done, sitting on the porch enjoying the evening breeze. 

Sow a seed and you will harvest. Such a simple and true phrase. 

What are you planting in your garden or containers?