Hatton House Diaries

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

Punk Domestics New Level Unlocked – Peach Canning August 8, 2013

Filed under: In the Garden,In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 3:03 pm
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imageI have never canned before, and it is a process I previously found terrifying. It’s like childbirth, everyone has a horror story they must share. You mention you’re thinking about canning and everyone feels the need to share the story about the time their Grandmother blew up the kitchen, or that woman that leveled her house with a chutney explosion. Last year, I avoided canning entirely and made peach brandy, and then froze the rest of my peach crop.

This year, my mom bought me a gorgeous set of Weck Jars for Hanukkah, and my freezer is already full, so the pressure was on to figure out canning. I read blogs and asked friends, hinted to my mother-in-law that I might need help, but the peaches were moving past ripe and I still hadn’t worked up the nerve when one of the women on the Midwest Homesteading and Permaculture Facebook group hosted a farm swap. I brought some peaches, and while trading, talking to her about my canning fears. She said the best thing: “It’s like cooking, but with one extra step.” So simple. I can cook. So I just need to cook, and then worry about the canning step.

I made three recipes: two from my favorite food blogger, Local Kitchen, with her Honey Spiced Peaches and Maple Bourbon Peach Butter, and the rest of the peaches in simple light syrup from Frugal Living NW. I started the Maple Bourbon and simple syrup, and spent 2 days cooking and canning. Of 25 attempts, only three didn’t seal, which I’m going to call a success for my first time out. Fortunately, one jar each from the recipe batches, so I got to taste both, and they are delicious! I almost can’t wait for winter! I’ll do another canning run this weekend, but to use the weekday peaches, we made a Smitten Kitchen Peach Pie, which was heavenly, and had such an intoxicating smell, I stole a bite before thinking of photographing it. Maybe next time!

Hope you’re enjoying your peach harvest too!


Happy Pi Day! March 15, 2013

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 3:15 am

imageI have a very domestic next door neighbor. She was raised in the Midwest, and I’m pretty sure she makes dinner for her family every night, in addition to baking yummy treats that she often brings over to share with us. She does this, while bringing up her adorable 10 month old son. She’s the kind of woman I would despise for her “how does she do it” housewifing skills, except for the fact that she is so unbelievably nice and friendly, and she IS a really good baker, so I just try to learn a few things from her.

Today, I went over to her house to check out the new color she’d painted her dining room and she came over to see my newly stained kitchen woodwork. She was amazed at how much I’d gotten done, and I loved her new color, so things were going quite well. Then, I stepped into her kitchen, which, as always, smelled amazing. How does she come up with these endless ideas for tasty food? I mentioned that I had to dispatch two pounds of beef, and she suggested I check out Pinterest. AHA!! That’s how she gets all these ideas! But I didn’t even need to go that far, because something about the smell of her kitchen got me thinking….

We had onions and potatoes left over from the Thrilla in the Skillet, and my husband had left the deep freeze unplugged for three days because he needed the outlet to plug in a router in the basement (more on that later). Two pounds of thawed beef + onions + potatoes on 3/14 equals Pi Day Sheppards Pie! Bonus: I could skip making the peach pie I wanted to assign to my pie wizard husband.

I adapted from Simply Recipes version, and used two pounds beef, two onions, carrots, green beans, and Italian seasoning. I threw in beef bullion (the liquid mush kind) and salt and pepper. I used five potatoes and 2 sticks of butter and added garlic salt to the potatoes. I had enough to make a full size pie, two bowls for my impatient daughter and I, and these four little Staub pots that got their first run tonight. “But Tanya, there are only three little pots?” Yeah, well….we were anxious to sample the baked version. Baked or unbaked, it was delicious beyond expectation.

Back to the husband: There are only two outlets in our basement: one for the deep freeze, one for the chicken coop. In my mind, the chickens will let us know there’s no power on, because the coop will be dark at night. The freezer, on the other hand, will sit without power until I go shopping, which luckily, I did NOT leave for the weekend. By the time I caught it, the top layer had thawed, which meant throwing out some fish that seemed instantly sketchy, and cooking the still cool but no longer frozen beef, and cooking up some turkey sausage. Husband survived, and has promised to wire in a few more outlets. And make me a pie.


New Oven: Inaugurated February 18, 2013

Filed under: In the Kitchen — hattonhousedsm @ 5:58 am


Our daughter got the honors, with chocolate chip cookies.


Oh Hello Lover! The New Range Comes Home February 17, 2013

imageThe kitchen remodel continues, and today we hit a major milestone: the delivery of my forever stove: The Thermador 48″ Pro Harmony. We bought it after looking for months at several different appliance companies and falling in love with the Thermador star burners (no, they haven’t sponsored my blog, but I still need a refrigerator, Thermador PR!) The star burners are over a porcelain easy-clean surface, the oven racks slide out on casters, and all the controls just feel amazing.

Installing this gorgeous machine took nearly all day, so by the time it was hooked up at 7:30 PM, we really only had energy to make scrambled backyard chicken eggs, but that was enough to learn that these burners heat significantly faster than our previous stove. Nothing burned, and they really were the best eggs ever. We’ll try to bake something a little more worthy of this stove’s inaugural run tomorrow, as well as posting some back-story as to how we got the gas line in place and the stove into the house.


A Kitchen with a Refrigerator…Revolutionary! January 1, 2013

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 11:50 pm

When we bought the Hatton House, one of the first things we noticed in the kitchen is that there was no refrigerator . Worse than that, there was no space for one anywhere near a reasonable kitchen work triangle. My interior design degree would not let me stand for this. Heck, my desire to be remotely efficient cooking wouldn’t tolerate it. We’ve finally completed the move (if not the surrounding drywall) to add the fridge to the kitchen! And there was great rejoicing in the land! Now, if we could just remember that it’s there and stop walking right by it to get to the place it used to be! To see the other side of this project, check out the “Back Stairs” post.


Crustless Cheesy Egg Bake

Filed under: In the Kitchen — hattonhousedsm @ 8:51 pm
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imageOur chickens are laying about 9-11 eggs per day now, so to even come close to eating them, I’m interviewing egg recipes left and right. One of my favorites was SimplyRecipes.com’s Cheesy Crustless Quiche, but after a few attempts, I’ve reached my own adaptation of hers that I like even better than the original. I substituted almond milk for the milk because it’s what we had, and I changed the cherry tomatoes for diced garden tomatoes, because the cherries we get this time of year are so sweet, it was throwing it all off. And I cut out one of the bowls, because while I ADORE SimplyRecipes.com, I swear she must own stock in Cascade or something because boy does she go through bowls and pots! So, here you go….my adaptation:


  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or a gluten free substitute!)
  • 3/4 cups almond milk (although I suppose cow’s milk would work, just maybe shorten your bake time)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (I used lowfat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 7 eggs (I bumped it up….she used 5 and it was yummy, but I have eggs to burn and I like it with more!)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (1/3 fat didn’t hurt the flavor or consistency)
  • 6 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 5 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (We used turkey bacon, which I know…. Iowa blog, you’re not expecting. We don’t cook pork in our home, and I actually like the flavor of turkey bacon in this….but no judgement if you switch it back to pork. I have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about bacon outside my home. I’m going to assume it’s turkey bacon….do NOT tell me otherwise).


1  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour; cook, stirring until bubbly. Gradually add the milk; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat; set aside to cool, about 15-20 minutes (I used this time to do the rest of the steps).

2 Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the cream cheese, the cottage cheese mixture and the milk/flour sauce. Add cottage cheese, baking powder, salt and mustard. Once combined, fold in the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses.

3 Pour into a seasoned pie stone (Pampered Chef or similar) or buttered 10″ pie plate. Sprinkle the top with chopped green onions, crumbled bacon and diced tomatoes. Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned. A knife inserted into the center of the quiche should come out clean. Let rest for 15 minutes, serve. We never make it through the 15 minutes, but you go ahead and try.

Hope you love it as much as we do, and if you need eggs, shoot me a message, I probably have extra $4 a dozen, $7 for 2 dozen.


Guyere Cheese Ring….So Much Better with Backyard Eggs September 15, 2012

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:19 pm
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We’ve wanted to raise backyard chicken eggs for a long time, and one of the things I was most looking forward to making with our egg overstock is my mother’s Guyere Cheese Ring recipe. It’s one of my favorite easy cold weather recipes, and it’s so heavily egg based, I knew it would be amazing with the richer flavor backyard chicken eggs. It finally turned cold enough last night that I whipped this up for dinner, and it did not disappoint. Our 10 year old even said she doesn’t like it with industrial eggs, but she claimed dibs on the limited left overs with our chicken eggs! (Recipe to follow!)


#BlogElul – Counting, the Peach Brandy Results Are In August 23, 2012

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 3:49 pm
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Countless Bottles of Brandy (OK, there were 6)

I bottled the Peach Brandy I made a few weeks ago, and I’m sure I’d have something really eloquent to say about how I didn’t count the bottles well, and thought I’d run out, but had barely enough with the help of my husband digging through my basement stash of bottles I SWEAR I will turn into some awesome Pinterest project. But you should have asked before I bottled all that booze, tasting as I went. It’s good….really, really good.

UPDATE: Mighty Nest is doing a Weck Jars giveaway here (http://mightynest.com/blog/food-in-jars-cookbook-giveaway) Wish me luck winning some proper jars and bottles! 🙂


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.


Peach Brandy! (T Minus a Month) July 11, 2012

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!