Skillet Meal: Chicken & Macaroni

The Chicken & Macaroni Skillet Meal is an easy homestead skillet meal to make in less than 30 minutes. This meal is made with basic foods from the pantry and the fridge. Easy!

Chicken & Macaroni Skillet Meal

This hearty meal has a cream base, 2 cups of cooked chicken, and 2 cups of cooked elbow macaroni. When it has been fully assembled, feel free to add some cooked veggies like green peas or carrots. I usually add a small amount of diced sweet peppers from the freezer when I add in the chicken and macaroni to heat.

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth (1 pint canned chicken broth)
  • 1 cup milk with 1 Tablespoon flour mixed to thicken milk
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (1 pint canned chicken, shredded)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked and drained.

Over low heat, melt butter in large skillet, then add diced onion and garlic. Cook until tender.

Blend in 2 Tablespoons of flour to coat the cooked onion-garlic.

Add chicken broth and heat slowly, stirring until thickened.

Add flour-thickened milk and heat slowly until sauce becomes creamy and thick. Stir frequently.

Add chicken, cooked macaroni, and oregano. Blend well and heat thoroughly over low heat.

Serves 4.

Skillet Chicken Macaroni

 

 

Skillet Meals From The Homestead

Some of our favorite family meals are hearty skillet meals. When making a skillet meal, I reach for one of the larger cast iron or stainless skillets since most of my skillet meals serve 4-6 adults, depending upon appetite.

Skillet Meal

Our homestead’s skillet meals use ingredients from the pantry and since we’re well stocked, I can count on those food items for a meal. With my food pantry, I’m always adding to and using up foods. Our food pantry has a good supply of home-canned items as well as bulk supplies of dry foods like beans, pasta, rice, wheatberries, and sugar. Two weeks ago, we canned 3 large turkeys and last weekend we butchered our pigs, adding a large quantity of meats into the food pantry and freezer.

Canned Turkey And BrothTypically, the skillet meals I make use pantry foods like home-canned tomatoes, beans, sauces, and meats like ground beef, chunks of pork loin, or shredded chicken breast.

Canned FoodsSome of the skillet meals also use pasta or rice. Pasta or rice can be cooked ahead of time or simply added into the meal while it’s cooking — provided a few adjustments are made.

Defrosted meat can also be used in skillet meals and when I use a meat like ground pork, sausage, or ground beef, I cook the meats first and then drain any excess fat out of the skillet before adding in other ingredients.

Skillet meals offer up an inexpensive and easy-to-make dish that can be made within 30 minutes. I’ll be sharing some of our homestead’s skillet meals over the next week or so. Maybe one of my skillet meals sounds good enough to make for your family.

Quilts From The Scrap Basket

Being a quilt-maker, my home is filled with quilts — finished quilts and quilts in progress. My first full-size quilt was made when I was 21 years old and within a few years, I knew that I had found a lifelong hobby.  Like so many other quilt-makers have discovered, the process and the finished quilt is relaxing and exciting, beautiful and yet pragmatic.

A Four Square Design

My Mother was a quilter, and my Grandmother before her. My Grandfather’s twin sister was also a quilter and she made money selling her hand-stitched quilts in the backwoods of West Virginia. Two of my sons made small quilted wallhangings and now one of my Granddaughters wants to learn how to sew and quilt. Quilting has become a family tradition and since quilts have a special beauty and functionality in a home, passing the quilts and quilting tradition on through the family is a personal pleasure.

Moms Log Cabin

A useful, even beautiful, handmade quilt crafted from bits of cloth that once served another purpose can keep someone warm or comfortable when needed. A quilt might not even be made for warmth but for a design element in a decorated room. No matter what the purpose, most people are drawn to a handmade quilt. Many of us have family ties to quilting and there are family stories about gift quilts or old quilts that have been passed down through the generations.

Jacobs Ladder, Restored

Quilts are an American beauty.

Skyline Album Quilt

Quilts serve so many purposes — they can be constructed as a Summer throw, or as a quilt to ward off Autumn’s chill, or even as a thick comforter quilt to warm the body on a cold Winter night. The thickness of a quilt and the quilt’s ability to provide warmth depend upon the filler — the inner quilt batting. Batting can be cotton, a cotton blend, wool, or polyester. Quilt batting can also be made of silk, although silk is very expensive and very thin.

Quilts can also contain unusual filler material like an older, worn quilt. I have two quilts that contain older quilts and was intrigued at my discovery. But I am not interested in tearing apart the newer quilt that covers them just to find the inner quilt. Here is one of those quilts, an antique quilt made with the patchwork design known as Churn Dash:

Antique Churn Dash

Quilts were fairly common in early America but true patchwork quilts first became popular in the 1800s. This style of quilt design is still popular with quilters. Patchwork quilts were originally made as a way to use discarded and worn out clothing. These quilts were meant to be functional as blankets but their patchwork designs and beauty did not go unnoticed. Made from fabric scraps left over from sewing and gathered fabric bits, scraps and strips, many patchwork quilts became works of beauty.

Quiltmakers today still use traditional patchwork quilt designs that were popular in the 1800s. These are my own scrappy Nine Patch scrap blocks:

Nine Patch BlocksI made hundreds of those Nine Patch blocks for a large King-size bed quilt. Here is the quilt top being stitched:

Nine Patch WIPSo the large Nine Patch quilt was made with patchwork scraps — small 2-inch squares of scrap fabrics added to squares of a basic white fabric. A few of those fabrics came from blouses that I had worn in high school. Yes, quiltmakers keep fabric scraps stashed away for decades. :-)

Scrappy patchwork quilts begin with leftover cotton fabrics from the scrapbasket, or from fabrics that have been handed down or given to the quilter. Traditionally, quilts were made with scrap fabrics or remnants of cloth. Fabrics were traded among women and even remembered as once being a shirt or a dress.

Scraps of Cut TrianglesQuiltmaking goes well with frugality and a person’s interest in saving and recycling. Many quilters enjoy knowing that their art (or craft) has come from frugal beginnings.  Fabrics are also purchased for quilt-making, although most patchwork quilts have been made from scraps and leftover sections of fabrics originally purchased for clothing. This Pinwheel quilt was made with scraps and leftovers but the outer border cotton fabric was purchased:

Pastel Pinwheels

My favorite quilts have always been patchwork quilts made with scraps of fabrics. Patchwork quilts — the scrap quilts — stitched from leftover fabric scraps or bit of cotton salvaged from an old shirt or dress are the quilts I appreciate most.

Antique Patchwork Quilt Tops

Most patchwork tells a story that can include the origin of the fabrics, the choice of the patchwork designs used, or even the quilting designs stitching the quilt layers together. Antique patchwork has appealed to me so much that I have purchased quilts needing repair, unfinished antique tops, and antique patchwork blocks to finish. They have always been a real joy to stitch and there has been a sincere appreciation when repairing or completing the handwork of a quilter from yesteryear.

Nine Patch With Mourning Prints

A quiltmaker’s ability to transform fabric scraps into patterned beauty has spanned centuries. A patchwork quilt, born of necessity, provides the quiltmaker with a means to practice frugality while also enjoying the art and craft of home decoration.

Bloomery

Through women’s diaries left behind and our old history books, we learn that quiltmakers of long ago had a special connection with fabrics. Alice Morse Earle (1851-1911), the first American historian to chronicle everyday life in the Colonial era, wrote:

The feminine love of color, the longing for decoration, as well as pride in skill of needle-craft, found riotous expansion in quilt-piecing. A thrifty economy, too, a desire to use up all the fragments and bits of stuffs which were necessarily cut out in the shaping, chiefly of women’s and children’s garments, helped to make the patchwork a satisfaction. The amount of labor, of careful fitting, neat piecing, and elaborate quilting, the thousands of stitches that went into one of these patchwork quilts, are to-day almost painful to regard…

A sense of the idealization of quilt-piecing is given also by the quaint descriptive names applied to the various patterns. Of those the “Rising-sun,” “Log Cabin,” and “Job’s Trouble” are perhaps the most familiar. “Job’s Trouble” was simply honeycomb or hexagonal blocks. “To set a Job’s Trouble,” was to cut out an exact hexagon for a pattern (preferably from tin, otherwise from firm cardboard); to cut out from this many hexagons in stiff brown paper or letter paper. These were covered with the bits of calico with the edges turned under; the sides were sewed carefully together over and over, till a firm expanse permitted the removal of the papers. (1)

Hexagon Doll Quilt, Antique c.1810Quiltmaking continues now, with more interest and passion than America has ever known. There’s just something about a quilt…

Starz Of Blue
(1) Alice Morse Earle, Home Life In Colonial Days. (New York: Macmillan Co., 1898), pp. 271-272.

This New Normal

Most of us now realize that there are enormous changes taking place across America. These shifts in America have gathered momentum and although the mainstreaming media blathers on about a rosy outlook and a ‘recovery,’ those of us who are living with these changes know better, despite what we are being told by the media and the government.

The reality is that America is in a continued decline. Working Americans are living with smaller paychecks, less benefits, and higher prices. We see it all: food inflation has occurred, health insurance has been lost or the health costs have increased, and our earned dollars don’t buy what they used to. Just last week House Republicans, along with a dozen Democrats, adopted a bill that would redefine the full-time work week under Obamacare from 30 hours to 40 hours. — now, these workers would have to work 40 hours a week to be assured of coverage. Backers of the plan include business groups, not advocates for low-income Americans. Who would have guessed? (Did this story even get a mention in the mainstreaming media?)

We are witnessing a slow, steady decline and the decline is wearing on us. And aside from personal experiences, we can examine the decline through information that has been provided from alternate news sources — those not owned or controlled by The Big Six which operate in lockstep with the Federal government and other large powers.  One recent article,  Empirical Proof Of The Giant Con, gives some examples of just how we have been played by using manipulated economic data. If that article doesn’t stir-it-up for you, just remember this phrase: the collapsing economy. Yeah. Collapsing. Because THAT is what’s occurring. There is no, um, recovery.

UnempVsSnap

We all try to adapt to the many changes that have affected our lives (and livelihoods) but those changes keep coming at us. Some call this the new normal — but there’s nothing normal about any of this.  We have been manipulated into believing all is well when we know otherwise. America is in a long downward trend, a long decline. This decline has ended American prosperity, except for the exclusive group, the elite 1%. Ironic that the majority of the elite also control America through the media, government, or politics.

America is in a shifting phase — we have moved into a globalized, post-industrial, yet technical, era where human labor is being challenged by many forces.  America’s previous upward growth during the industrial era has shifted into a descent now, while the Nation faces a time of enormous transformation that many people do not yet understand. But make no mistake, these transformations are destined to affect each and every one of us.

Ron Paul wrote, “Authoritarianism has overtaken our economic system as the welfare mentality takes over at every level of government. Once the initiation of force by government is accepted by the people, even minimally, it escalates and involves every aspect of society. The only question that remains is just who gets to wield the power to distribute the largess to their friends and chosen beneficiaries. ”

People know these are extremely difficult times but few understand what we have yet to face. In general, many people have come to realize that they are losing their own financial battles. And while people are preoccupied with their own losses, or with some national sensationalism that masks the real truths going on behind-the-scenes, the Giant Con Game continues. It is very well orchestrated.

Some Americans  — including many politicians and non-profit organizations– are fighting for an alternate path for America. With this long decline in America, there is chaos and great upheaval as this alternate path is being blazed. We have become a welfare and warfare state — and we cannot afford either.

Welfare has increased drastically since 2008. The working class has paid for a large segment of American society to do nothing and not work. Welfare is no longer just an inner city problem — it is a mindset of entitlement by The Masses now, with a cradle-to-grave government-approved system to pay for, and control, a growing segment of the American population.

Cloward and Piven

There is an organized and planned movement within our political system. Many forces are at work to reshape and change America. We have all recently watched big eruptions in Ferguson, New York City, Detroit, and other cities. The protests are not local — they are organized, complete with outsiders bussed in to agitate crowds further and further until serious violence erupts. Make no mistake — the protests are not regular American citizens, they are brought about through an isolated event that is overtaken and managed by an organized group who seeks radical, even violent, changes.

Such situations are part of an organized movement to create a vast warfare and welfare state. The goal of this movement is to lay the groundwork for the government to provide more and more police powers to protect citizens. Americans will be “protected” from the bad guys — and there will be a few of those bad guys — like those in Paris who murdered the staff at Charlie Hebdo. Did I say “protected”?  I mean to say profiting … profiting from the tragedy.

And of course, the mainstreaming news won’t be mentioning any of that. They will only provide isolated stories for isolated events — and for isolated reasons. They will never admit the true enemy, those who profit from events like these, nor will they decry the War On Freedom and that it comes from within:

“The threat to our liberty, say our leaders and the press, comes from this tiny army of delusional fanatics, not from the very real armies – TSA, NSA, FBI, CIA, FDA, SEC, etc. – that pretend to suppress them.”

That is how America’s intentionally-designed militarized police force will be explained. The truth, though, is that this militarization is to protect the government from within as the system and the police-state reaches further and further into America, destroying our rights and our freedoms along the way.

Don’t believe the Federal government would do this? We need to only look at the hundreds of Federal agencies, many of them being duplicitous, to know what we, as a Nation, have become.  America has become a war machine — and it is not only a machine operating overseas. We have been lied to, bilked, and manipulated while they have increased our debt with astonishing velocity while they grow larger and more powerful.

America is in a national transition — a clear decline — and it is more and more apparent. But our politicians, our mainstreaming news, and the government will not cover the true issues. They feed us what they want us to hear. They certainly will not admit these problems, much less repair the problems we face. Charles Hugh Smith recently said, “The problem is the political machinery and the corporate media are trying to manage perceptions rather than tackle the dysfunctional reality.”

America is being reshaped and whether we accept these drastically changing times or not, they are here and they are affecting most of us. The working class is being squeezed financially and the majority of Americans are being lied to over and over again to create a confusing and chaotic state where people fear and ask for more ‘help.’ This reaction by Americans has been strategically plotted and orchestrated. Since 9/11, Americans have asked for more protection and we are now at the precipice of a police state.

The truth is, we have been lied to. We are being manipulated.  And we must stop playing into the game of devious manipulations. These intentional actions are negative and divisive. Yet those who are in control of our mainstream media and our political machine continue to organize the streaming of events that can cause a society to behave in certain ways and believe specifics that may not even be truthful. Manipulating society, as has been witnessed throughout history, pits person against person, group against group,  and the government becomes stronger because society becomes more violent.  Americans have been used to help create a police state while selling their freedom.

If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state. If we do not recognize and resist this development, freedom and prosperity for all Americans will continue to deteriorate. All liberties in America today are under siege.Ron Paul

With Obama’s invitation for illegals to come across our unprotected southern border, how long will it be before America suffers the same attacks as France has? How will terrorist attacks affect our First Amendment rights? Will we still have the ability to speak or write freely, or will we be controlled more? All crises create new legislation to regulate people into a police state even further.

Of course, many uninvolved Americans dismiss such things. Most of us have heard it before: “This is AMERICA. That would never happen here.”

Really?

MRAPIn an area not far from our homestead, there are 4 military vehicles within the local police department now. One of those vehicles is a “mine-resistant ambush protected” armoured vehicle — an MRAP.

Now, the last time I checked that County’s crime rate, there had been 0 murders and very low incidents of assault or rape. So why an MRAP? This military equipment is destined for drug crimes, terrorism, or any activity where society’s perception of a militarized police force is required. That’s what the Sheriff said: “In an era of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and mass killings in schools, police agencies need to be ready for whatever comes their way, the sheriff said.

Somehow the responsibilities of all of those DHS agencies have been apparently transferred to local County Sheriffs now. Or is that just the reason provided to the public as they nod their collective heads in approval?

Many of us are dealing with or facing household changes or radical income adjustments. Jobs have vanished, corporations have gained more control over our Nation, and our lives are forced to adapt to these losses, then adapt again. The American working class struggles to maintain their lifestyles but the efforts seem futile. We are being squeezed tighter.

We are all being challenged and rather than being discouraged or ready to quit, we can incorporate a few more changes, perhaps simplify our lifestyles a bit more and practice more frugality. But we are facing this new normal with thousands of new regulations, Executive Orders, and the mandated Obamacare.  We can only ignore a totalitarian state for so long. We can only keep our heads down for so long. If we sit idly by and we do not actively engage our political representatives to voice our concerns — or vote them out when they do not follow through with their promises — we will continue to be part of the problem, part of the decline.

While we adapt to our new normal, we may need to examine our lifestyle choices. We can practice vigilance along with resilience. How complicated freedom has become.

Many of us know to rely on ourselves as much as possible. Many of us seek a simple, ordinary life, but in the face of this new normal, we realize that we must be aware of the situations around us because these situations have changed our lives.

We really do need to hope for the best, while planning for this new normal. But how do we tolerate corrupt, even criminal, behaviors from our own government? How do we live without our unalienable rights and the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution and our Bill of Rights? How do we continue to be self-reliant and upstanding American citizens when our liberty to do so has been regulated against us?

I used to believe America was the Land Of The Free.

 

 

Keep The Home Fires Burning

It’s afternoon and the temperature is dropping outside. It’s been a cold day and the forecast says it will get colder, going down to 0-degrees tonight. We had 6-inches of snow yesterday and now we will have an Arctic blast. Weather like this is bad for livestock and with the snow here too, it makes for a really boring day for pigs — they can’t root around in the dirt when the ground is frozen.

Pigs, Jan 7 2015

Then there are all the goats. This is a lousy day for goats. Unless I’m out around them, the goats stay in their barns during days like this.

The Girls Jan 7 2015

Goats do not like wet hooves so they really don’t care for snow or ice. Mine will venture out into the snow or ice in bad weather if I’m outside, but they won’t go far unless they are following me. Two of our does are like Velcro and they follow me everywhere. Cristin likes to get up close and personal. If I happen to have a camera, she’ll pose.

Cristin Jan 7So when the weather is bad and it gets down to freezing temperatures outside, I make an extra trip or two to check on all the critters. The chicken waterer and their large pan on the coop floor will freeze up if we don’t change water out. The rabbit water crocks will freeze solid, too.

Yvonne Jan 7

Days like this create double duty, but it’s okay — we choose to look out for our critters. They’re part of the homestead life here.

Guilt runs through me during times like this. We are warm while they suffer the extreme cold. Sure, the animals all have shelter and good wind protection — they’ve even grown thick Winter fur for their Winter life outdoors. But it’s still very cold and each of our critters are special to us, regardless of their role at our homestead. It matters not if they are being raised just for food or dairy or if they are here for breeding purposes. We want to provide all of them with a safe and comfortable home, regardless. A blast of Arctic weather is stressful for the critters.

So today, we bring in more bedding straw. Layer upon layer, the straw will build up a bit more insulation to protect the livestock from the Arctic blast. Their shelters aren’t air-tight but they are good against wind, rain, or bumps in the night.

Meanwhile, in the house, we will remain warm. We use a large woodstove to heat our home. Our home has alternate heat sources, both a heat pump and individual electric baseboard heaters. But we prefer the warm, natural heat from wood.

During Winter, especially during an Arctic blast like this one, we keep the home fires burning and stay as warm as possible indoors. We use a wheelbarrow to cart in enough split wood to last for the day. By evening, the wheelbarrow has been emptied and it is refilled for another day of warming fire in the woodstove.

Today in the kitchen, two very large soup pots are heating up on the stovetop. The pots hold turkey carcasses and bones to make a flavorful broth with turkey meat. The turkey scraps are left over from a weekend canning-fest. With the discarded carcasses and bones, we will have enough turkey vegetable soup for a few meals. By the time this Arctic blast pushes through, we will have had our fill of turkey vegetable soup.

Winter is here, so I’ll stay in as much as possible. There are some seed catalogs I am anxious to order from. I’ll shop for fresh seeds, stay warm, and keep the home fires burning.

WoodStoveStay safe and warm, everyone.