Saturday, May 26, 2012

Maple Milk!

Many children love flavored milk... strawberry, chocolate... but, oh my...  Don't read the label!  Here is a wonderful flavored milk that you can feel good about serving to your family.  Maple syrup is rich in minerals, particularly manganese, zinc and iron.  So, drink up and enjoy! (true confession...this is my substitute for ice cream ~ just for me, you understand!)

Maple Milk

1 cup cold milk (raw is best, of course, but often hard to find)
1 Tablespoon Real Maple Syrup

Pour the milk into a glass.  Add the syrup and stir!  That's it!

This post is linked to Clever Chicks Blog Hop #16

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Pie! (Healthy Version)

I've been picking strawberries for over a week now and it's been really wonderful.  I wanted to make a fresh strawberry pie, and read several recipes, but they always seem to have less-than-healthy ingredients, so I came up with my own recipe.   Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Pie :)

  • For pie shell:
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour or sprouted wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (real butter, please)
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • Cold milk
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 cups fresh, home canned, or frozen, pear, apple, or pineapple juice
  • 1/16 teaspoon stevia extract powder or 1/4 teaspoon powdered stevia leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons organic Sucanat
  • Small pinch of unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (omit is using pineapple juice)
  • 4 cups fresh, whole organic strawberries, washed with caps removed and drained well 
  •  To make the pie shell:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter. Pulse until mixed well and crumbly.

    Add cold raw milk, a little at a time, while the processor is running. When the dough forms a ball, it is ready.

    On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate, with a little extra hanging over the edge.

    Carefully transfer dough to pie plate.

    Flute the edges and then prick the bottom of the pie shell all over with a floured fork. This will prevent the dough from puffing up when you bake it.

    Bake the pie shell for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the pie.

    To make the glaze, combine the fruit juice, stevia, sucanat, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice (except if you are using pineapple juice, omit this), and corn starch in a blender. Blend together well.

    Pour the liquid into a small saucepan, and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil.  Boil gently, continuing to stir, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Wash the strawberries and remove the green caps. Drain well. Pour them into the pie shell.

    Pour the glaze evenly over the berries.

    Refrigerate the pie and chill thoroughly.

    If you wish, you can serve this with a little heavy cream, sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. I am sharing this recipe at Simple Lives Thursday #97.
  • Also linked up at Whole Food Wednesdays! 
  • Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    Stewed Rhubarb

    I e-mailed a friend and asked her if she would have any extra rhubarb this year.  She wrote back and said I could take ALL of it.  So, I did!  Well, not enough to kill the plants, but I came home with 7 pounds of rhubarb (after I took off the leaves and icky parts.)  I really love sweetened, stewed rhubarb and enjoy having it for pancakes, waffles and toast.

    Then comes the dilemma... sugar, oh yes.  You can't do it without sugar.  The most natural kind of sugar is dehydrated cane juice, and it is very good, but I don't want my rhubarb to have such a strong molasses flavor, so I opted for Demerara sugar. (Another name is "Turbinado.")  I was able to get organic Demerara at Costco not long ago.  It is only partially refined.  You may, of course, use white sugar!

    Stewed Rhubarb

    Please adjust proportions according to how much rhubarb you have.

    7 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed, cleaned and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
    3 cups sugar

    Place the rhubarb in a heavy bottomed soup pot and stir in the sugar.  Let it sit for 15 minutes then place it, covered, on your stove, on low heat.  Let it cook until the rhubarb gets mushy.  Then you may can it or freeze it or eat it or keep it in the refrigerator for a while.

    I canned mine.  15 minutes in a boiling water bath is all it took. (Consult a canning guide, please.)

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Container Gardening

    I used to have an herb and flower garden that was 30 feet by 30 feet in size.  When our two youngest girls were still at home, we shared the work to take care of it and it was beautiful!  Then, within 6 months of each other, they married and moved away.  I tried to take care of it alone, but along with all the other garden duties, plus preserving food... well, after a few years I cut it down to just 1/4 the size and it was still lovely.  Then I got arthritis in my hands and can't do the hard core weeding I used to do, so now it's a jungle!  I love it anyway.  There is a Wisteria taking over.  It's a good thing I enjoy wild spaces.

    The point is, I wanted somewhere to grow a few herbs, so I decided to put some in containers.  There are 2 kinds of thyme, chives, aloe, lavender and Rosemary in this lot.  My gardening daughter dug up some of her herbs for me yesterday.  I went to two thrift stores and bought a few containers.  This afternoon I put together my "garden".  I know it will never make it into a gardening magazine, but I like it!

    Here are a few more pictures of the different plants.

    Chives ~

    The largest planting there is Lavender ~

    A little pot of thyme ~

    Geraniums ~

    Two varieties of thyme ~

    Another view ~

    And another.

    It was lots of fun putting this together.  I hope it works out well.  If so, I will probably expand it next year. :)

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Serendipity in the Hoop House

    2nd year mullein plant

    According to Wikipedia, “Serendipity means a ‘happy accident’ or ‘pleasant surprise’ ; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.”  Last year, at the end of summer, I found this in our hoop house ~

    1st year mullein plant

    It is a first year mullein plant.  Mullein is a very useful herb.  It has important medicinal uses ( I make a soothing ear oil from the blossoms) and also yields a very pretty yellow dye for dyeing wool fiber.  It was so beautiful, and obviously was thriving in the protected environment, so I chose to leave it in place.
    As you can see in the photo at the top, the mullein is now in its second year.  It is a biennial and is just now
    beginning to bloom ~

    Mullein blossoms

    The basic purpose of our hoop house is to grow nice hardy onions and green lovelies to eat all winter and into the spring… but it is also an environ where I enjoy the varied and burgeoning offerings of nature.
    Last fall I found this little friend living in there ~

    Spider in the Hoop House

    She left behind a beautiful egg case and I am keeping a close watch so I can see the babies when they emerge this year ~

    Garden Spider egg case

    The other day I was in the hoop house, doing a bit of weeding, and found this interesting visitor ~

    As soon as he could,  he found a way OUT.  I hope he comes back.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    Old Fashioned Waffles

    I mentioned yesterday that our daughter sent me a set of cast iron waffle irons.  I used them today for the first time and it was wildly successful!  I have had at least 2 electric waffle irons in the past that I bought used, and they were fine, but they took up so much room, and I used them infrequently, so they got re-donated...  But I LOVE waffles.  Now I'm all set.  Here is what I did ~

    Yesterday I seasoned the irons... I coated them with sunflower oil and put a piece of foil on the bottom rack of the oven, placed the irons on the rack above (the foil is to catch the drips) and baked them at 350 for an hour and then let them cool in the oven.

    Sourdough Waffles

    The night before, combine:

    1/2 cup sourdough starter
    2 Tablespoons sucanat (or sugar, honey, etc.)
    2 cups warm water
    2 cups whole wheat flour

    Cover, and let it sit all night on the counter.  In the morning, add:

    1 teaspoon salt
    2 eggs
    6 tablespoons melted butter
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Mix well.  Start heating your waffle irons (either the electric one, or like mine... which I will explain.)

    I have a propane stove.  You will have to figure out what works on your stove, but here is a picture of the flame so you can see how hot I set it:

    I am guessing that on an electric range that would be a medium/low setting.  Turn on your exhaust fan, because the fat on the pan is going to smoke a little at first.  When it is good and hot, using a hot pad, open the irons and spray both surfaces with pan spray.  You only need to do that on the first waffle of each batch.

    Here is the batter:

    You can see it is all poofy and nice after the addition of the baking soda.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter and pour it into the bottom iron.  Close the irons and set your timer for 3 minutes.  Check after a couple of minutes.  You will have to adjust the time and heat to accommodate your own equipment.

    When the waffle is nicely brown on the bottom, use a fork to pick it up and stack them one at a time on a plate.  After each waffle, flip the set of irons over so they will be more evenly heated.

     This batch made 8 nice waffles.  It takes some time to bake all of them, but once you get going, you don't have to watch them.  You can go and wash some dishes or start a load of laundry or anything you like and just come back when the timer goes off.  Here they are!

    One is plenty for me.  DH ate two.  I froze the rest.  I ate mine with butter and sweetened fresh strawberries from the garden.  :)

    Thanks, April!

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Seeing Double...


    I've been out of town for the last 8 days.  I stayed at my sister's house to take care of her kitty while she took a vacation with friends.   If you read the last post, you'll know that the day before I left, we acquired a new dairy goat ~ an American La Mancha.  There were 3 of them available, and while I was gone, my husband and I decided we should get one more and get rid of Abby.  So, I gave Abby to a friend who lives close by and my husband picked up the other doe.  Here I am with both of them this morning.  They are very sweet tempered and now all of a sudden, we have LOTS of milk.  So, first thing today, I made cheese with 4 gallons of milk:

    For Mother's Day, our son that lives locally (and his family) came out to see me and brought me a very pretty Bromeliad.  I didn't want to keep it in just the boring plastic pot, so I retrieved a terracotta pot from the greenhouse, cleaned it up and decided to use my talent (cough...) craft paints to decorate it:

    Here it is, transplanted into its new home!  :)

    Another thing I did today was pick our first batch of strawberries of the season:  Oh, heaven!  And then I promptly made some shortcake and we had strawberry shortcake with fresh cold milk on it.

    Here is a photo of my basket willows that I took today.  They are coming up nicely.  We pruned them down at the end of the winter.

     Another sweet treat from today ~ a Columbine blossom: 

    Last year, a friend let me come and dig up a yucca plant in her garden.  I was thrilled to see that it is actually getting ready to bloom for the first time!

     And see the momma barn swallow?  She is sitting on her clutch of eggs above a window.  They have been nesting there, every spring, for several years.  It's so sweet...

    The Japanese irises started blooming while I was gone.  These lovely flowers like having their feet wet, so I planted them in a low spot in the yard that collects rainwater.  In the middle of the patch is some zebra grass as well.

    My new spider plant:

    The Bromeliad  is living outside by my hens and chickens and the glorious aloe our daughter gave me recently:

     The same daughter gave me a box full of culinary herb plants for Mother's Day.  I got them all planted today.  There are also some Dahlias.  Her children wanted me to get some flowers too.  It really touches my heart when someone gives me something that is living.

     Speaking of Mother's Day, another daughter sent me some gifts, amongst which was a set of cast iron waffle irons!  I seasoned them today (and filled the house with smoke) and am going to see if I can figure out how to use them tomorrow.  I will take pictures to show you, Gentle Reader.

    So, that is what is going on around here.  I am very glad to be home.  It was a pleasant break to stay at my sister's alone, and I took walks, practiced piano, watched HGTV (we don't have television at home) and sewed 9 Little Dresses for Africa while I was there.  When I get all the fabrics used up, I'll post a picture of the final result of that project.

    I got to talk to all of my children yesterday except one, and he called, but I was in bed at the time, so saw I had missed it this morning.  It was a special day for me, not only hearing from our children, but thinking about my own mothers (I had 2.)  How I love them and miss them.

    Gardening season is upon us.  Oh my!

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Dairy goat update...

    Last year, in what we looked upon as a cost-cutting move, we sold 2 of our 3 milking does.  Then we got the little whether to keep the remaining doe (Abby) company.  Then, sadly, a few months ago, he died.  :(  Our dog keeps Abby company.  He is a herd dog and so runs the fence by the hour.  Sigh...

    Everything went alright until recently when Abby ate too much of something and became seriously ill.  She is recovered now, but we thought we might lose her, and realized the wisdom of having another goat on site just in case.  So... today we went and bought "Mary." 

    Mary is an American La Mancha, 2 years old, and this is her first freshening.  She is very sweet, but also stands up for herself with Abby, which is a relief!  In case you are not familiar with this breed, they have very small ears.  That's why she looks like she doesn't have any!

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Safety in Home Canning

    If you are new to canning, I urge you to read this article.  I am not trying to discourage you!  I only urge you to educate yourself about tested and safe procedures in home canning.  As the article suggests, and I always mention, please consult an authoritative guide to canning, such as the Ball Blue Book before you begin.  And do not make up your own recipes ~  I am not talking about the seasonings you add, but rather, the procedure.  If you are methodical and careful, there is nothing to fear.  As they state, it is advisable to boil low-acid fruits and vegetables as well as meats that you have canned before tasting them, for 20 minutes.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    "Food is not your God"

    I love this refreshing article.  I've been thinking along the same lines for quite a while now, but Stacy has expressed it so well!
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...