Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Baked Kale Chips….Amazing July 24, 2012

Filed under: In the Garden,In the Kitchen — hattonhousedsm @ 5:05 am
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Look! Even the kids like Kale Chips!

“What the heck do you make with kale?” I asked one of my girlfriends. The plants looked so pretty at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, but I’m not (yet) a green smoothie girl and I was pretty much at a loss for what to do with all my kale. My garden has largely failed, struggling through our very dry year and suffering from being too shaded by a tree that I’m guessing was not as tall when our garden plats were laid out years ago. But wouldn’t you know it, the one thing I don’t know how to use is going great. I just stared at it for a few weeks, but then it seemed wrong to not reward the kale’s perseverance under such challenging conditions. We had to find a way to eat this stuff. So I asked my friend Rachel, who was so helpful with my peach situation.

Rachel gave me a great looking recipe for an African Vegetarian Stew that involved kale. But given the freakish heat in Iowa right now, my ears really perked up when she said “Or you could do kale chips.” Kale, olive oil, salt, bake. This definitely seemed more my speed. (I’m not really a domestic goddess, I just pretend to be one for this blog).

Pre-baking with BBQ spice.

Kale Chips are crazy easy. Hat tip to Shutterbean for the recipe I used, but basically it’s really as simple as tear up kale, toss with olive oil, salt or….get wild with BBQ spice for BBQ kale chips! I used BBQ seasoning from Pampered Chef, and must thank my consultant, Annelie for that brilliant delish idea. Bake as 350 for 10 minutes. Word to the wise, do not wander out to check the chickens….10 minutes is very fast and they will burn! Kale….now a staple in our garden!

P.S. There are plenty of blogs with gorgeous photography in pristine kitchens. That is not this blog. That’s my wood stripping box on the left, Jack Daniels and my FC Kaiserslautern wine bottle from when we moved the fridge to it’s new home. My US Soccer Til I Die water bottle…gotta hydrate. And one plum tomato. My photos are a life story, not a museum.


New Writing Partner, Thanks to the Animal Rescue League

Filed under: Family Stuff,Things We Love About Des Moines — hattonhousedsm @ 4:37 am

We decided it was time to bring a new friend into the house. We had taken in a cat that couldn’t be cared for by his previous family, and when he ran away, the kids were heartbroken, and we were missing our mouser/birder. (Sometime this year we’ll get the roof work done, but until then, the attic is one giant birdhouse.) While looking for our lost cat at the Animal Rescue League, we peeked at the cats up for adoption, and saw Pumpernickel. He was hanging on the side of his cage, seeming desperate to come home with us, and his determination paid off. We haven’t set him loose on the attic, but he does seem to be a great cat for my writing. Sleeps with me, but not on the keyboard….we’re off to a great start. Welcome, Pumpernickel. Thanks for picking us.


If you’re in Des Moines, the ARL has too many kittens and cats right now. Please consider going to see if anyone is hanging on the side of a cage, waiting to go home with you.



Chickens of the Corn July 20, 2012

imageWe are in a drought in Iowa, and I’ve almost completely given up on growing corn this year in the garden. All is not lost, as the chickens love taking their dirt baths among the (pathetic) corn and tomato plants. I’m told by one of my fellow backyard farmers that chickens like a take baths in the dirt to clean their feathers and get cool. This is definitely the place for them!


Back Lot During Cleanout 2012 July 11, 2012

Filed under: Everything Else — hattonhousedsm @ 10:22 pm

imageIn my cleanout of 2012 photos, I came across this beauty, of what was once thrown in heaps in our back lot. Someday, we will look back on this and laugh, hopefully sitting in our gorgeous garden lot!


Peach Brandy! (T Minus a Month)

imageI posted on Facebook asking for ideas for what to do with my 10 gallons of peaches, and by far, the most interesting idea in my book was “peach brandy.” I did some research online, and found a recipe for peach brandy on Cooks.comthat was as follows:

2 gallons + 3 quarts boiled water
3 qts. peaches, extremely ripe
3 lemons, cut into sections
2 sm. pkgs. yeast
10 lbs. sugar
4 lbs. dark raisins
Place peaches, lemons and sugar in crock. Dissolve yeast in water (must NOT be to hot). Stir thoroughly. Stir daily for 7 days. Keep crock or vessel covered with cheesecloth.On the 7th day, add the raisins and stir. Let mixture sit UNTOUCHED for 21 days, then bottle. (5 gallon crocks).

So my friend Rachel came over and helped process the peaches (we left skins on, because on another website I read it said it would give the brandy a rose color). I got the crock bleached, the ingredients all boiled, chopped, and covered, and it’s going.

When I stirred it this morning, it was very fizzy and smelled like alcohol, but I think it was just the yeast. The things I’m unsure of are whether or not cheesecloth is enough to keep bugs out, and if I’m supposed to cover it for the 21 days or not. Then my mother in law stopped by tonight and said if you don’t chop up the raisins, they can swell up and explode. Apparently this happened in another family member’s wine making.

So here’s your chance to voice your opinion/advice on our first brandy making venture. Save us from our inexperienced selves as needed!


A Sad Day for Urban Chickens

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:26 pm
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image  I’m starting this post with a photo of the chickens happily munching on our peach cuttings from our peach tree. They’re happy here, and I need to focus on that. It’s taken me a few days to write another post after the last one, where my nine chickens looked so happy running around our yard. A couple days after I posted that, someone broke into our fenced back yard, tore apart our chicken run, and terrorized our girls with a hack saw that the criminal(s) brought with, and a sledgehammer we’d left out from some construction. When my husband found them, our girls were still loose in the yard, two were out of the yard, and one had been either chased or beaten to death (it was during the 100+ temps heat spell, so chasing a chicken to exhaustion wouldn’t have been impossible). I can only call this devastating to all of us, humans and chickens alike. As our nine year old daughter put it “This is awful two ways, one because they look so lonely, just the six of them, and now they’re going to be harder to mother.” (Yes, I could not love that child and her animal loving heart any more).

We reported it to the police. In our city, animal cruelty is an aggravated misdemeanor on the first offense, and a felony on the second, but that only helps if we catch these people. We have our neighbors keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground, but so far, we’ve had no word on who might have done this.

The chickens are recovering slowly. They aren’t as outgoing as they once were. In my last post, you can see that they’d walk right up to me without any treats offered. They’re not as afraid of humans as they were right after the massacre, but I don’t know if they’ll ever be as loving as they once were. I’d love to add more chickens, but we’re trying to regroup and let the coop emotions settle before adding more chaos…..chicken shiva, if you will. We’ll get there, eventually.


Meet Pumpernickel, Hatton House Kitten July 6, 2012

Filed under: Family Stuff — hattonhousedsm @ 9:04 pm

imageHere’s the thing: I hate being sad. Sad sucks, and I was really sad about our chickens. It’s been a rough summer generally with my Dad and Sis both in the hospital for a while, and I had just about had it with sadness. So, we adopted a kitten from the Animal Rescue League! Meet Pumpernickel, our new 10 week old kitten! He’s doing great, still in his 2 week 1 room quarantine, but as you can see, the kids love playing with him, and the grown up sneak him downstairs for snuggles after the kids go to bed. We found out while we were adopting that the ARL is looking for foster homes for pets as well as permanent homes. So if you’re needing a little adorable kitten in your life, you can do it with or without the lifelong commitment! I highly recommend it…kitten cuteness in real life > kitten cuteness on Facebook.


Homemade Heat Wave Popsicles July 4, 2012

Filed under: Family Stuff,In the Kitchen — hattonhousedsm @ 10:22 pm
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imageWe are in the middle of an unbearable heat wave, and the kids are bugging me for anything cold about once an hour. (The Hatton House has window AC units, which are more than adequate….until the temp gets over the mid-90s. After that, it’s just hot). I really can’t stand loading them up on high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors to cool them down, since my kids tend to get hyper when they eat fake food…and no one wants hyped up kids in a heat wave!

I went back to what my mom used to do for us in the summer: Homemade Freezer popsicles. No disrespect to my mom, who would freeze orange juice in Tupperware popsicle molds and call it done, but I wanted to up the ante a bit. I got the anti-oxidant frozen fruit blend from Costco and some Stoneyfield Farms yogurt and blended it. We had smoothies right away, and the rest I poured into silicone molds and the old school Tupperware molds. The result: happy and healthy snacking kiddo! I think in the next batch, I’m going to try almond milk for my dairy free girl.


Peach Season! July 3, 2012

Filed under: In the Garden,Keep It Local,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 7:00 pm
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imagePeach season has arrived at the Hatton House! From our single peach tree, we harvested almost 10 gallons of peaches before we ran out of buckets. We’ve already frozen some, given some to neighbors, and made a peach cobbler. Still not at all sick of them. Peaches grown organically and eaten 100 degree hot right off the tree is an intensely delicious experience!