Sourdough Swedish Cardamom Buns – kardemummabullar

I first tasted a cardamom bun at a new coffee shop near my mom’s house called Fika, which in Sweden is a huge tradition. Check out this article which defines it really well! It means to pause in the middle of the day for a break, a mental rest and take coffee and a pastry, cake, etc. with friends, or colleagues.

These cardamom buns are extremely popular for the fika, and I learned that cardamom is a flavor that is commonly used in baking in Sweden, while it isn’t so much in the US. These sourdough cardamom buns are soft and flavorful, and filled with delicious fragrant cardamom sugar filling, plus that sourdough tang that we love. They’re topped with a vanilla simple syrup glaze and would be perfect for any coffee break.

How to make sourdough swedish cardamom buns

Make your dough – About 12 hours before you plan on assembling your buns, you will want to prep the dough. Since this recipe is using wild yeast/fermentation to rise the dough, we need to give it ample time to do its work!

When I’m making any type of dough I usually mix up the dry ingredients first, so I mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then I will whisk together the milk, honey, sourdough starter, and egg in a smaller separate bowl. Then melt the butter and add this to the wet ingredients. Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry, and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to bring everything together into a wet, sticky dough. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.

Sourdough ingredients
Dough ingredients
Cardamom bun dough

Knead the dough – Unfortunately this is not one of those “no-knead” easy breakfast bun recipes. However, it’s worth the work! I always knead my dough by hand, and this is half out of laziness… I don’t feel like cleaning more dishes, so I don’t want to bust out the kitchen aid. The other half is because I like to feel the dough. I can tell when the gluten is really starting to develop if I have my hands in it. Plus, kneading dough can be totally therapeutic!

Flour your surface, and hand knead the cardamom bun dough for about 6-8 minutes, sprinkling with more flour whenever it gets too sticky. It’s a pretty sticky and wet dough initially, so I end up adding a pretty good amount of flour while I am kneading it. Alternatively, you can throw it into a mixer with the dough hook attachment for 6-8 minutes.

Kneading dough
Ball of dough

When finished kneading, you should be able to form it into a cohesive ball. Then return it to the bowl for the bulk rise.

Bulk rise – Cover the dough and allow it to rise for about 8-12 hours, depending on how warm your house is. You can use a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. The dough should puff up and increase in size. It won’t double but it will get bigger.

Make the filling – In the morning mix up the filling and get ready to make the buns. Combine butter with plenty of fragrant cardamom, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.

Prep the pan and roll the dough – Prep a 9×13 pan by coating it with butter. You could also use parchment paper to prevent the rolls from sticking. You can use a round pie pan or a springform pan, but I like that the rolls have more room in the 9×13. Sprinkle a good amount of flour on the countertop and turn the dough out. Sprinkle some more flour onto the top of the dough, and roll it out into a large rectangle. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the filling over the entire rectangle of dough and then you can get creative. You can make traditionally shaped buns and just roll the dough up, then use a serrated knife to cut the log into 6-8 buns. Or you can do what I did, and make it much more difficult for yourself and attempt to make braided buns….

Rolled out dough with cardamom filling

Braided dough
pan of cardamom buns

These were nowhere near perfect, but they still looked beautiful once they baked up!

Second proof – Cover the cardamom buns and let them rest for another 1-2 hours. They should increase in size again.

pan of cardamom buns

Bake the buns – After the cardamom buns have puffed up again, bake them at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. They should be golden brown on the top. While they are baking you can make the vanilla glaze.

Make the glaze and serve – These cardamom buns are brushed with a delicious vanilla simple syrup after they come out of the oven. It makes them shiny and adds a delicious flavor to the outside without overpowering the cardamom.

pan of cardamom buns
photo of swedish cardamom bun

Scroll down to find the recipe, and let me know in the comments if you made and enjoyed them!

Recipe for sourdough swedish cardamom buns

For the dough…
360g unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
160g whole milk
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
100g active sourdough starter
butter for coating the pan

For the filling…
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened not melted
1.5 tbsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze…
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions/Baking Schedule:

Make the dough: 12 hours before you plan to shape the rolls (either in the evening before bed, or in the morning if you plan to bake in the evening), make the dough. Whisk together the flour and salt, set aside. Melt the butter, and set aside to cool slightly. In a smaller bowl, whisk the milk, egg, sourdough starter, and honey. Add this into the dry ingredients along with the cooled butter, and fold it together to make a wet sticky dough. Cover this and let it sit for 30 minutes. The fancy word for this is autolyse. Basically it allows the gluten chains to start forming before you even start kneading it, making it easier.

Knead the dough: Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead by hand for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle a good amount of flour onto the dough when it becomes too sticky to continue. After this amount of time, you should be able to form it into a cohesive ball. Place the ball back into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a very damp kitchen towel. You don’t want the top of the dough to dry out.

Bulk rise: Leave the dough at room temperature to rise for 8-12 hours.

Make the filling: Soften your stick of butter and whisk the sugar, brown sugar and cardamom into it. Set aside.

Prep the pan: Prep a 9×13 baking dish by coating it with butter.

Roll and shape the dough: Flour your surface and the top of the dough ball after turning it out. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread on the filling, leaving a small margin around the edge to be able to seal it together. Fold the dough over itself by half, and seal the edges together. Use the rolling pin to flatten it once more, then use a pizza cutter or pastry cutter to slice it into six equal pieces. Slice each one almost all the way through into three sections for braiding. Braid the bottom of the dough piece and then roll it over itself. Place each one into the 9×13 pan.

Second rise: Cover the cardamom buns again and let them rest for 1-2 more hours until they puff up again.

Preheat oven and bake: Bake the cardamom buns at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until they are golden brown on top.

Make the glaze: While they are baking, make the vanilla glaze. Combine the granulated sugar, water, and vanilla extra. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then remove it from the heat.

Glaze and serve the cardamom buns: Once the buns come out of the oven and are still warm, brush the glaze over each one. Serve with a cup of coffee, as breakfast, dessert, or mid afternoon snack!

One Pot Creamy Sausage Pasta

One pot sausage pasta has become a go to weekly meal for my family. If I’m being honest… the little ones won’t even eat it. BUT it makes great leftovers for Ryan and I and to pack for his lunch the next day. The good thing is I can always pull some of the pasta to the side before throwing it into the pot, and pull out some raw peppers for the kids to have with their meal since they will eat them raw but not cooked… weird, I know.

It’s pretty easy and quick to throw together as long as you have all the ingredients on hand, and it’s super creamy and delicious with cream cheese and white wine in the mix. This sausage pasta would be great for a weeknight meal, or even for entertaining, served with a light salad.

What you need to make one pot sausage pasta

Two large pots – Ok so I know it’s called “one pot sausage pasta,” but hear me out… the other pot is just to boil pasta, so I don’t really count it.

Loose sausage of choice – To make this sausage pasta I usually use the country style loose sausage from the store or a one pound bulk package from the farm near us that does pastured pork. You can use any flavor you want. I’ve made this recipe with chorizo sausage, country style or sage sausage, and it’s delicious either way.

Vegetables & Pasta – To enhance the flavor of the sausage pasta I add onion, sweet peppers, garlic, and fresh baby spinach. My favorite shapes of pasta for this dish are bowtie or shells.

White wine – I find that adding wine always brings dishes to the next level and there is no exception here! I find the white wine elevates the flavor of the sauce and makes it feel fancy for a weeknight meal. Any wine will do, just not something too sweet.

Tomato paste – I use the Cento tomato paste that comes in a tube. It has the best flavor and so easy to store for later use!

How to make creamy sausage pasta

Prep your ingredients – There really isn’t much prep for this recipe which makes it great for a weeknight meal. Before I start cooking I just chop up half an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a whole bell pepper, and 2 cups of baby spinach. I also boil the water for the pasta. Throw the noodles in to cook as soon as the water is boiling.

Brown the sausage/sauté the vegetables – Heat a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium high heat, and put about a tablespoon of olive oil in once it’s hot. Then brown the sausage and when it’s finished remove it to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add a little more olive oil, and the peppers and onions. Cook them for about 4-5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Then add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the chopped spinach and continue cooking until it starts to wilt.

Spinach and sausage with peppers

Make the sauce – The sauce for the creamy sausage pasta is made right in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, that’s what makes it so easy. Add the sausage back into the peppers, onions, and spinach, then add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, as well as some fresh cracked black pepper. Sauté the tomato paste for about 2 minutes. Add in the white wine and mix everything together. Simmer it for about 2-3 more minutes reducing the wine a bit. Then add in the cream cheese in chunks, stirring until it melts completely. Finally add in a cup of pasta water from the boiling pasta. Let the sauce simmer for a minute to thicken it up.

Add the pasta and serve – Lastly, drain the pasta and add it all back into the pot with the sauce. Combine everything together and season with salt as needed. I always use seasoned salt. Serve it with a piece of crusty bread, or a light salad. This one pot sausage pasta is so easy for weeknight meals, and great as leftovers. Let me know in the comments if you made this and what you think! See below for a recipe card…

Creamy sausage pasta with peppers and spinach

Classic Pot Roast Recipe

This is my mom’s classic pot roast recipe and it’s the ultimate comfort meal for me. Whenever it’s rainy or cold, or just cloudy and dreary it’s the first thing I think of to make for dinner. It’s just a really warming, cozy and nourishing meal to have when it’s chilly outside.

The other thing I love about pot roast is that it always stretches into three meals at least, because you can make it into beef stew and have that for leftovers for a few days, or even hot beef sandwiches.

What do you need to make pot roast?

Meat – There are a few options of cuts you can use to make a pot roast, but I always go with a chuck roast. It has a pretty good amount of fat typically which yields a really flavorful roast. Pick one that looks nice and red and has good marbling. I try to avoid one that has a huge chunk of fat in the middle, or lots of tendons.

Veg – To go in with the pot roast we always add carrots and onions, then potatoes later. I do sometimes add celery if I have it on hand just to lend even more flavor to the meat and gravy.

Spices/herbs – I add a good amount of garlic, usually three cloves, as well as fresh thyme, bay leaves, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sometimes rosemary, and a rather unconventional ingredient, Italian seasoning. It’s the secret to a great pot roast, I’m convinced!

Stock – For a pot roast I go with beef stock or bone broth. I also add a cup of red wine. This can be any red wine you have on hand, but it’s necessary for that really rich, deep flavor.

Dutch oven – You can totally adapt this recipe to the InstantPot or slow cooker, but by far my favorite method of cooking a pot roast is in my heavy enameled dutch oven. It takes a long time in the oven, but I always feel the flavor ends up being better this way.

How to make pot roast

Prep your ingredients – The first thing I always do is get out all the vegetables, seasonings, herbs, equipment, etc. Then I preheat the oven to 325. Heat up the dutch oven on the stovetop to medium/high heat, and while that’s heating I start chopping the vegetables up. I just do a rough chop on the carrots, garlic, and onion and set them aside. Then I get out my herbs, tomato paste, Worcestershire, red wine, and beef stock so it’s ready when I need it.

Ingredients for pot roast
Ingredients for pot roast

Sear the meat – One key to a really flavorful pot roast is a nice brown sear on the meat. I liberally season each side with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then add olive oil to the pot and sear it for about 4 minutes on each side. This makes a really great crust on the meat and adds so much flavor to the dish.

Sauté the veggies – After the meat is done searing, I remove it from the pot and turn the heat down to medium. Then add in the carrots, onions, garlic, fresh thyme, and bay leaf. I cook it for about five minutes until the onions start to turn translucent and they become fragrant. After that I add in the tomato paste and continue cooking the mixture for one more minute.

Add everything else in and throw it in the oven! – After I finish sautéing the tomato paste in with the veggies and herbs all that’s left is to pour in the wine and stock, add the Worcestershire, Italian seasoning, and pot roast with all its juices, bring the whole thing to a boil and put it into the oven with the lid on. I cook it at 325 for 2.5 hours. Meanwhile, I chop up the potatoes into bite sized pieces. After 2.5 hours I take it out, add in the potatoes and put it back in for 30 minutes. I do usually try to push the potatoes down into the cooking liquid so they take on some flavor.

Pot roast in a dutch oven

Serve – To serve, I remove the meat and veggies from the dutch oven and set them aside in a 9×13 dish for serving. Then I return the pot to the stovetop to make the drippings into gravy. I add about 2 tablespoons of flour to a small dish with an equal amount of cold water, and whisk it until there are no lumps. Then whisk this slowly into the simmering drippings until thickened. We also love to serve pot roast with a crusty loaf of bread, and this super simple recipe is my favorite.

Pot roast, potatoes, and carrots on a plate.

Let me know in the comments if you made this recipe, or what your favorite comfort food is! Hope you enjoy, and see below for a recipe card.

Recipe card for pot roast recipe

Getting Started With Chickens

Since we’ve really gotten into the groove of things with our animals the past couple of years and we’ve done about 6 batches of chicks now including some we’ve hatched, I’ve had a few friends ask me how to set up for chickens! Read below to see how we typically set up for adding new baby chicks 🙂

Why add chickens to your family?

Chickens are typically the first animals someone brings into a homestead, and they’re also great for a backyard. They’re probably the most useful animal so far around our property as well. They finish off any kitchen scraps from meat, to veggies, to pasta. They’re not picky and they eat everything which cuts down on the feed bill, and providing them a varied diet ensures they will lay amazing eggs with super rich egg yolks.

They’re great at turning the compost, aerating garden beds after the growing season, and they’re just fun to watch! There is always flock drama going on which can be entertaining, and if you handle them frequently as you raise them, and handfeed them treats they will grow to love you and follow you around the yard like little dogs.

Photo of a Speckled Sussex chicken.

What do you need to start with chicks?

A Brooder – Aka a container to keep the chicks in! It could be as basic as a 50 gallon tote from Walmart, which happens to be what we are using right now, or as complicated as a hand built wooden brooder box with a screen top. We also love to use a pack and play, and I’ll post a picture of that set up below. The pack and play gives the chicks lots more room to run around, but it does have mesh sides which allows a lot of the chicken dust to escape. That’s something to think about if you are sensitive to animal dander especially if they are in your house. A pro of using the 50 gallon tote is that you can clean it out quickly with the hose. You should also have something to put on the top since as soon as chicks start to grow wing feathers, they will be able to fly out. We use old window screens and they work perfectly.

A Heater – Baby chicks absolutely need to have a heat source. When hens hatch eggs they are usually excellent mamas and will provide the chicks with a warm place to sleep and hang out until they have their feathers in. When we don’t have a mama hen we need to provide them with an alternative source of heat so they don’t get chilled.

There are two options… a heat lamp or a brooder plate. We typically love the brooder plate and this is the one we use from tractor supply. It fits perfectly in our pack n play set up. This brooder plate is pretty big and will not fit in a 50-gallon tote. The heat lamp gets the job done, but you always want to be diligent about securing it because they are known to cause fires. There are other options for smaller brooder plates available on Amazon such as this 12×12 plate. The only downside I will note about the brooder plate is that the chickens will jump on top of it and poop all over it, which can get really gross really fast. I usually will try to keep it covered with aluminum foil so I can just roll it up and throw it out when it gets gross.

Feeder/Waterer – Chicks always need to have a fresh supply of food and water. Honestly you can use any container for food, but usually we opt for the little galvanized food and water attachments they sell at farm supply stores. They fit onto a quart sized mason jar and they’re just small and easy to fit in the brooder and don’t make a ton of mess. I also have been known to just put the food into an old takeout container, but they do tend to get into it and scratch around and make a mess in the food. The actual feeder prevents this from happening as much. A plastic chick waterer also works well, but we’ve found the ones they sell at farm supply stores don’t last more than 6 months without breaking. The one in the photo below actually came from Petco, so we’ll see how long it lasts.

Food – For baby chicks you want to start with a chick starter/grower. It has more protein than a traditional layer feed because the babies grow so fast. We used to use DuMor, but recently switched all our chicken feed to Nutrena NatureWise, because we noticed our hens yolks were so much richer with this feed. The chickens all seem to love it!

Bedding – The chicks will need some soft bedding for their brooder. We always use the big bag of flaked pine bedding from Tractor Supply. You will need to get the FLAKE pine shavings vs the fine, because the chicks can aspirate the small particles in the fine bedding.

Photo of chick brooder.

Tips for starting chicks…

1. Something else you should always have on hand for chicks is electrolytes. I always keep a bag of Hydro-Hen, which is an electrolyte plus a probiotic. This is something that can be given to chicks but is also great for adult birds especially in hot weather. I honestly don’t ALWAYS use this for my chicks, but if they are super young or just seem like they aren’t doing well/having issues with pasty-butt etc, I will be sure to add some to their water. It can be the difference between a chick who lives and one that dies, which is an unfortunately inevitable at some point while raising chicks.

2. Use something to keep the food and water up off the bedding. In the picture of our brooder setup you can see we normally use a small piece of plywood. I’ve also seen people use a rolled wire mesh, as long as the holes are small enough that the chicks little toes won’t get stuck. This prevents them from getting so much of the bedding into their water and food. It especially keeps the water so much cleaner and free from bedding.

3. Keep an eye out for pasty butt. Pasty butt is a condition where the chicks vent (rear end) gets clogged with hardened poo and they are unable to relieve themselves. It really is as gross as it sounds. However… it is deadly! We’ve had chicks die within a day because I didn’t notice it and they essentially get so backed up that they are poisoned by their own waste. It happens a lot in chicks that are shipped commercially due to stress and getting chilled. Check out the Chicken Chick’s guide to treatment of pasty-butt. It really is pretty easy and we’ve dealt with it many times with no issue.

Photo of Rainbow Dixie chicken

How long do chicks need to stay in the brooder?

This really depends on a couple things. The heat outside, how cold it’s getting at night and the amount of feathers the chicks have. Generally chicks will be fully feathered at around 6 weeks of age, but usually if the temps are staying at 65 degrees consistently they should be ok to be outside a little before that. We just play it by ear. When it starts to get warmer during the day I will try to turn off the heat during the day and just keep it on for them at night, so they can gradually get used to the outside temperature.

Moving chicks to the big coop…

If you don’t have any other chickens this is easy, as you will simply move the chicks into the new coop at night and make sure you keep them in a small run for a about a week so they get used to their new home and know where to go to sleep at night. Sometimes they will need help the first few days so it’s best to keep them confined to a smaller area.

If you have an existing flock it can get a little tricky because chickens notoriously have a “pecking order” and the younger chicks will get picked on. Personally, we keep a small run inside of our big run. We will move the younger chicks into this small run for a few days to a week. That way they are exposed to the flock but still protected inside their small run. Then they can integrate with the flock without too much drama. You should move them into the coop at night, and there might still be a little scuffling around, but chickens sleep at night and won’t be as disturbed by the new additions.

Our big coop is currently not in the best condition so we’ll be expanding/updating it this summer. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips or tricks for starting out with chicks, and check back later for my post on our favorite free-ranging chicken breeds!

Easy Weeknight Roast Chicken

Ts there anything more comforting and nourishing than a lovely roast chicken? This roast chicken recipe is super simple, doesn’t require any rinsing or stuffing, and quick enough to put together for a weeknight meal.

I used to be so intimidated by cooking a whole bird. Now it’s almost the only way I cook chicken. My husband and I usually go for the dark meat leg quarters, the kids will go for the breast, and then I pick off the rest of the breast meat and store it for leftovers the rest of the week. If I’m feeling extra ambitious I will put the chicken carcass in the crock pot with some extra vegetables overnight for a really rich chicken stock. I always have some in my freezer!

The leftover roast chicken breast is so versatile, we love to use it for anything from sandwiches, to tacos, or even a casserole or soup the next night.

How to Make Roast Chicken

Prep the chicken and the pan: I love this recipe because there is hardly any prep required. First I chop up the veggies that will serve as the bed for the chicken to roast on. I typically use an onion and around 4-5 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped, then toss them with some olive oil. Remove the chicken from the packaging, either discard or save the neck/giblets if your chicken has them, and place it on the bed of vegetables. I pat it dry with a couple of paper towels.

Chopped carrots and onions

Season the chicken: Sprinkle the entire chicken with some kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and rubbed sage. Then I take some softened butter and coat the entire chicken.

Chicken basted with seasonings and butter

Roast the Chicken: Roast the chicken in a 425 degree oven, uncovered for around an hour and a half, give or take. After 45 minutes I usually take the chicken out and baste with lemon juice then return for the remainder of the time. How long you will need to roast it will depend on how big your chicken is. If I’m roasting a 4-5lb chicken it will typically take exactly an hour and a half. This chicken was a little over 6lbs and took 1 hour and 50 minutes. I always use a meat thermometer in the breast and make sure it hits 165 degrees.

Rest the Chicken: I always rest the chicken for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting into it to make sure all the juice doesn’t run out right away.

Photo of a roasted chicken

Serve: My kids love to have rice alongside the chicken with the carrots and onions on the side, or to make it even easier, I sometimes chop up potatoes and add them in about 30 minutes before the chicken is done roasting. Then it really becomes a one pot meal!

Tips for Making a Roast Chicken

Pick the right pan – Make sure the pan is big enough to fit the chicken, with some room for the air to circulate. For a smaller chicken I will use my dutch oven, that way I can just make gravy in the same pot right after. For a bigger chicken I will have to break out the 9×13.

You don’t need to baste – You really don’t need to baste the chicken, but I like to use lemon juice to baste halfway through because I like the flavor it adds.

Use a meat thermometer – Use the thermometer to test for doneness. This takes any guess work out of roasting a chicken, and you won’t have to worry about serving an under done chicken. Make sure it hits 165 degrees, and it will continue to cook as it rests.

Use the carcass! – In an effort to use the whole bird and have less waste, I almost always use the carcass to make a really rich chicken stock. After picking off all the extra meat and storing it, I pop the chicken carcass into the slow cooker, add carrots, onion, garlic, celery, peppercorns, turmeric, and salt. Cover the entire thing with water, and cook on low overnight. I strain it out the next day and store in the freezer. This makes the best chicken soup!

Recipe Card:

DIY Goat Shelter with Pallets

Anyone who has talked homesteading with me for any length of time knows that getting goats has been a huge dream of mine. Despite what everyone says about them being mischievous, getting into everything, eating everything, etc. I was still determined to get them. And this Spring my dreams have come true 😀 We had an opportunity to get two Mini-Nubian goat kids for a much lower price than they would normally be and I was somehow able to convince Ryan that this would be a good idea. After all, think of the milk, cheese, and soap!

So a few weeks before we were set to pick up the babies, I started thinking about how to go about building an easy DIY shelter for them. I had read that all they really need is a three sided shelter, or lean-to to make sure they have a wind break, and a place to get out of the rain and snow because goats HATE to be wet. I started brainstorming the most affordable option that I could DIY. Of course I had to go with pallets. I’ll break down the cost at the end of the post. I was able to source pallets from someone near me through searching on Facebook marketplace, and luckily I was able to find some with full sides so there are no big holes allowing for drafts.

Method for the Goat Shelter Build

I just stood the pallets up on their sides, then used a drill and long self drilling screws to attach them together. This makes it so that if I need to reconfigure or make the structure bigger at any point, I can easily take it apart and add more. I will need to do this by next year since we plan on breeding our doe for milk, and she will need a separate area to kid. I added 2x4s along the bottom for extra structure and in case we want to add wheels to the back and make it mobile.

In my infinite wisdom, I bought the cheapest 2x4s not realizing they aren’t pressure treated so I’m sure those will need to be replaced sooner rather than later, but they are working for now. The next step was to run additional 2x4s up the sides of the goat shelter to support the roof. I basically decided how much I should pitch the roof and marked it with a pencil. Using a tape measure, I measured how long it was then used a circular saw to cut two to that length. I cut two more to a shorter length for the other side. These 2x4s are pressure treated, and also provide additional support for the corners of the structure.

The last step was to run a couple more 2x4s along the top to provide structure for the roof. I cut them long enough that the roof would hang over the shelter on both sides and provide protection from the rain. Honestly, our drill wasn’t powerful enough to drill through the corrugated steel roofing I got from Home Depot, so I improvised and each spot I needed to put a screw, I tapped a nail through the roofing first, then followed up with the screw, attaching it to the wood. I put about 5 or 6 screws along the 2×4 on each side, putting longer screws where it needed to go all the way through and attach to the vertical 2x4s.

I really went into this with no plan and was pleasantly surprised by how well it turned out. On the inside I mounted this hay feeder that I got from Tractor Supply, as well as this mineral feeder for their loose minerals. Mounting the hay and mineral feeders on the inside ensures that the hay stays out of the rain and won’t mold.

And of course I had to include a picture with our adorable goat babies, Jam and Olive watching me take pictures from the background and wondering why I’m not feeding them treats.

Cost Breakdown for Goat Shelter:

Pallets – 5 at $10/each = $50
2x4s – 2 @ $3.35 = $6.70 / 6 @ $4.98 = $29.88
Pack of assorted outdoor screws – $12.67
Hay feeder – $54.99
Mineral Feeder – $8.49
Corrugated steel roofing – 3 @ $19.98 = $59.94

TOTAL = $222.67

We will definitely be expanding and making it more of a permanent structure since we will have more animals than just the two goats and we’ve already picked up four more of the full sided pallets to do so. But in comparison to a local builder we were considering that was about $900 for the smallest shelter I would say we saved a lot in doing this ourselves. I also love that it’s changeable, and I can adjust it to fit our needs. So if you’re considering goats or sheep, and you are able to source them, pallets are a great tool for building easy DIY goat or sheep shelters. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the build or if you would try this for your animals!

sweet potato chili

Chili with beans and sweet potatoes
Bowl of chili with beans and sweet potatoes

we’re getting into the cooler months FINALLY here in virginia, and i’m getting super excited to start getting some soups and stews on the table. i haven’t made this chili for about a year and have made some tweaks and it’s finally ready to share. i love the sweetness from the sweet potatoes to counter the spiciness from the chilis and cayenne pepper, and you can really use any ground meat. it’s great with ground turkey as well if you’re going for a lower fat option, but i’ve been making an effort to try to eat traditionally and metabolically and that includes plenty of red meat and fats. hope you enjoy it as much as we do, especially served with a buttery slice of sourdough cornbread.


1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 15 oz can rotel tomatoes with chilis (mild or hot, your preference)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
s + p to taste
sugar to taste (i used just a sprinkle)


heat a dutch oven to medium heat, then saute the chopped onion in the olive oil until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, another minute. add the ground beef to the pan and brown it off, about 8-10 minutes breaking it apart as you go. season with a pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper. if needed, drain some of the grease if it seems like too much. add the sweet potato, canned tomatoes, sauce, water, and tomato paste, as well as the spices. bring the pot to a boil, then reduce it to a low simmer and cook partially covered until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 25-30 minutes. taste and season with more salt and pepper and a sprinkle of sugar to taste. since we used canned tomatoes, i tend to like a little sugar to offset all the acidity and spiciness from the cayenne. enjoy with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, or any other favorite chili toppings. we love to serve ours with a skillet of cornbread.

sourdough skillet cornbread

Skillet of cornbread
Slice of cornbread with butter

the first time i attempted this cornbread i completely forgot the butter… a tragedy. still actually tasty though. hopefully you remember the butter and this recipe makes all your skillet cornbread dreams come true, complete with the probiotic benefits of fermented sourdough 🙂 it’s so moist it’s almost like a corn pudding and is amazing slathered with butter and served with a yummy bowl of chili.


1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup active sourdough starter
8-10 tablespoons room temperature water
1/3 cup honey
8 oz creamed corn
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk


about 8-12 hours before you plan to make the cornbread, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sourdough starter, and water. the dough should be wet, but not soupy. cover with plastic wrap and leave to ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours. you can do it overnight, or start it in the morning and bake it off in the evening. it should just about double in size. then preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and butter or oil a cast iron skillet. you can also bake this in a pie plate if you don’t have a skillet. once the ferment is complete , whisk together the honey, creamed corn, salt, baking soda, egg, and milk. add this to the ferment, whisk together until combined. pour it into the skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

hearty pork stew with carrots and mushrooms

it’s soup season! perfect stew for chilly fall nights

i’m just really really excited that it’s finally getting cool enough to be acceptable to make meals like this all the time. even though i still make them in the summer, it’s so much more satisfying to sit down with a hearty bowl of stew when it’s cold outside 🙂 i used leftover pork that i made in the instant pot, but you could use raw pork and you’d just need to adjust cooking time to make sure it gets tender. this stew would also be delicious with beef, and i’d recommend a chuck roast if you’re going to go that route.

we served it over roasted garlic mashed potatoes, but you could also serve with a crusty loaf of bread, and put potatoes in the stew. it’s so versatile, and also a great freezer meal.


1.5 lbs cooked or uncooked pork shoulder*
1 onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
5 large carrots
8-10 oz baby bella mushrooms
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil or butter
1.5 cups red wine
5 cups beef broth or stock (i love better than bouillon)
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste


cut the pork into bite sized pieces and heat a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven to medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter and start browning the pork in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. meanwhile, roughly chop the onion, carrots and mushrooms, as well as the garlic if you are using whole garlic cloves. i typically use the pre-minced garlic so that saves a step.

as the pork gets brown, transfer it to a plate. i used precooked pork that i had made in the instant pot the day before, and i still browned it in the pan just to get it a little more brown and start heating it through. turn the heat down to medium once the pork is done, and add the third tablespoon of olive oil or butter and start cooking the onions and carrots. cook until the onions become translucent, about 3-5 minutes. then add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary, and a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. cook the mushrooms down until all the liquid is released and evaporated. this took me about 8 minutes. add the pork back into the pan, mix everything thoroughly and then add the three tablespoons of flour. cook this for 2 more minutes, mixing the whole time so the flour doesn’t burn. add the red wine and boil for a minute. add the beef broth and worcestershire and bring the stew to a boil. turn it down to a simmer, and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes if using precooked pork. if you are using raw pork you will probably need to adjust your cooking time to make sure the pork gets tender, probably about an hour to an hour and a half. taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

we served the stew over roasted garlic mashed potatoes, but you could easily enjoy this with a nice crusty loaf of bread, add potatoes into the stew, etc. it’s really easy and versatile. hope you enjoy!

*for my instant pot pork shoulder, i used a large boneless pork shoulder, cut it into four pieces and removed the larger pieces of fat. then i seasoned with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, browned it over high in a large dutch oven and pressure cooked on manual with chicken broth, onions, thyme, rosemary, and garlic for 45 minutes until it was falling apart tender. i turned the cooking liquid into gravy and we had this the night before i made the stew.

chocolate chip traybake

chocolate chip traybake with peanut butter and chocolate fudge icing

Chocolate chip traybake cake
Chocolate chip traybake cake

like most people who have netflix, i am obsessed with great british bake off. i was actually obsessed with it before it was on netflix, and we also had the box set of the mighty boosh which i used to watch regularly with my brother. holla if you are familiar with this show… most people know of old greg, but have never really watched it past that. super weird, super british, absolutely hilarious, and definitely noel fielding’s best role. if you are into weird stuff or have a weird sense of humor defnitely check it out. i also have uk television shows on our cable, and will regularly relax with my glass of wine and watch antiques roadtrip, and obsessed with victorian farm. kind of on a tangent here, but you see where i’m going?

i’ve been working on my semi-homemade chocolate chip cake recipe, and for some reason i cannot make a regular cake to save my life. so this is why i always stick to traybakes (as the british call them, or a cake baked in a pan, not turned out and eaten in squares right out of the pan) or cupcakes. i feel like they are harder for me to ruin, there is no turning out the cake, trimming it, worrying about the icing looking perfect, etc. this traybaked poke cake is great because it reminds me of those tasty cake kandy kakes, but better because it’s homemade. and bigger. the fudge icing is from life above the cafe and i originally saw it on her instagram. she has the most amazing dessert recipes! definitely check out her blog. the cake recipe is modified from the wasc cake recipe from sugar geek show, and is super easy because it’s semi-homemade, and all you do is throw everything in the mixer together and turn it on. let me know if you try this chocolate chip traybake and what you think!


1 yellow box cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt – mountain high yogurt is delicious for baking or just by itself with some fruit or honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash (1/8-1/4 tsp) almond extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanut butter – i love the simply nature organic peanut butter from aldi, it has no added sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
5 oz evaporated milk
1 stick of unsalted butter


preheat your oven to 350, and prepare a 9×13 glass baking dish by spraying with cooking spray or coating with a stick of butter. in an electric stand mixer, or large bowl, combine the cake mix, flour, sugar, salt, yogurt, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. with the paddle attachment or a whisk (if you’re using a regular bowl) beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. fold in the chocolate chips. pour into your prepared pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. i checked mine at 30 minutes and it was still completely not set in the middle. i ended up adding about 12 more minutes of baking time, for a total of 42 minutes. it will depend on your oven. just ignore the instructions/ingredients on the back of the box and only use the ingredients listed here.

after the cake comes out of the oven and cools completely, poke holes all over the top of it using a straw. microwave your peanut butter for 30-40 seconds so it’s very pourable, and spread it all over the top of the cake. after this, start the icing. in a medium-large nonstick pot, whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, salt, and cocoa powder). add the evaporated milk, whisk everything together and bring it to a rolling boil, whisking the entire time. set a timer for 2 minutes and let the mixture boil for exactly 2 minutes, whisking constantly. when the timer goes off, turn off the heat and whisk in the stick of butter. continue whisking for one more minute after the butter is completely incorporated to cool the mixture slightly.

then take the hot icing and pour it over top the peanut butter and spread evenly over the top of the cake. i usually take mine and tap the bottom on a wooden surface (so i don’t break the glass pan) until i see that the fudge frosting starts to go down into the holes in the cake. wait until it has cooled completely before cutting into it! the top will become crusty and crackly and delicious and this is a perfect snacking cake. you can tell i definitely didn’t let mine cool all the way before cutting into it, but it’s so tempting when the frosting is still warm and gooey and fudgy. sooooo delicious. let me know if you try it! the method for the icing is on my reels on instagram if you want to check it out 🙂