Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

To all of my Gentle Readers and Friends, you make my life richer and I wish you the best at this sacred time of year.  God bless you all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homemade rag rugs for our new house!

I've never made rugs before.  Our trailer house is going to have all vinyl flooring (my choice - I hate taking care of carpets) so I knew I'd want some throw rugs.  Nice ones are hard to find, I found.  :)  I have a small rigid heddle loom and although those are not designed to weave rugs, I knew I could do it if I would just beat in the weft carefully by hand.  So, with my husband's help, I warped the loom with the kind of cotton string that is used for rugs, bought some sheets at the thrift store and started to work.  Here they are.  After they were completed, I ran them through the washer and then hung them to dry, so you are only looking at half of each one.

Here are the three rugs.

They are a bit rough looking (I am a beginner) but I do like them and I think they will be very nice in our humble home. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yummy Cranberry Relish !

My sister made this wonderful cranberry relish.  I am going to be roasting a turkey that I bought at a very low price recently, so I made some of this relish today.  She uses 3/4 cup of sugar, and that seems like a lot, although it was awfully good, so I decided to play around with the amount.  Now, if you make this, add your sugar gradually and taste the relish, because some oranges are sweeter than others, and of course, your preference may be much different than mine.

Cranberry Relish

1 whole orange, including skin, but not the seeds, cut into 12 pieces.
1 bag of fresh cranberries

Process all of this in a food processor.
Begin adding sugar and stirring well, tasting as you go.

I ended up using 1/2 cup of sugar.

This is really good on it's own, and also nice in a jello salad.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Low Sugar Apple Pie :)

See that?  It's actually a Healthy Homemade Apple pie and quite delicious.  You will be pleasantly surprised!  I had several apples past their prime and wanted to use them, so I made one of these yesterday.  We really like it.

Low Sugar Apple Pie Filling

7 cups of apples, washed, cored, and sliced thinly (I leave the peelings on, but you don't have to.)
1 Tablespoon quick tapioca OR 3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk


1. Stir all of the above ingredients together thoroughly.
2.  Pour into a pie plate lined with a pie crust (refer to recipe in my last post, only this time, I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached.)
3. Cut 3 vents in the top crust and put it on top of the pie and flute the edges.  Protect edges of pie crust with strips of foil.
4.  Bake in pre-heated 350 F oven for 1 hour.  Then, insert a small sharp knife into one of the vent holes and check to see if the apples are done.  They need to be Very Tender.  It could take up to 90 minutes altogether.
5.  Cool before serving.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Salmon Pot Pie !


2 unbaked pie crusts (recipe below)
2/3 cup brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 small can mushrooms, drained
1 Tablespoon butter
1.5 cups homemade stock or broth
3 Tablespoons corn starch
14.5 ounce canned Salmon, drained
1 cup shredded cheese


1. Bring water to boil in small saucepan.  Add rice and salt.  Cover, simmer for 45 minutes.  Be sure to watch water level.  Don't let it run completely dry.

2. Preheat oven to 450 F.

3. Put one of the crusts in a 9 inch pie pan.

4. Sautee sliced onions in butter until soft, and then add the drained mushrooms and cook a little longer.

5. Mix corn starch into broth or stock, stirring, bring to a boil and simmer until thick.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Taste and see if it needs more salt.

6. Mix the thickened broth with the rice and put half of it in the bottom crust.

7.  Drain and mash the canned salmon.  Spread that in the pie now.

8. Spread the onions and mushrooms next.

9.  Pour in the rest of the rice mixture and spread that around.

10.  Sprinkle on the cheese.

11.  Add the top crust.  Trim.  Flute the edges.  Protect edges with foil or one of THESE.

12.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 F. and bake for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven.

13.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, slice and serve!

This is very very good.  :)

How I made the crust -

In the bowl of a food processor, with the metal blade, put:

2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter, cut in chuncks

Process that until the butter is cut in little pieces, then -

Turn on the processor and begin slowly adding COLD milk, a little at a time, until the dough is soft, but not sticky.

That's it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some small things I'm learning...

In preparation for moving into our new, smaller, home, we've been getting rid of a LOT of things.  As I mentioned earlier, it is embarrassing how much I had accumulated in the 20 years we've been in this house.

I used to have a enough Corelle dishes to serve 12 people.  I've paired it down to enough for 4 people plus a platter and 2 vegetable bowls:

Not all of them match, which I don't care about at all.  I also have some china that belonged to my mother.  A lot of the set broke long ago, as she really used them when we were growing up, but I love them and when we have company and need more plates and things, that's what I'll fall back on.  The Corelle is what I'm using right now in the kitchen.

How can I explain this?  ....   Since I have fewer dishes, the kitchen stays cleaner, as I can't afford to not wash the dishes after a meal.  There is not nearly so much to wash.  It's really nice! Here are dishes from one meal:
The other thing I want to show you is that I traded our HUGE microwave oven to our daughter for her small one when they moved out of our home a few weeks ago.  I needed a smaller one for our new house.  It's nothing fancy, but it is all we need!
...and it's much quicker to clean a small one that the big one.  I hadn't even thought of that.  The marks on the front are rust under the glass, not ickies from cooking.  Here is the inside with a pint jar in it so you can see the size better:
I've really fallen in love with having a tidier, streamlined kitchen.  It will be interesting (for me) to see how I put it all together when we move.

Another thing along these lines... you know how on the cooking shows they "prep" all the food ingredients and put them in little bowls and then assemble the dish?  I've started doing that, and it makes it even easier to keep the kitchen clean.  As I measure out things, then I can put things away.  If I have to cook some of the ingredients first, before assembly, then it is a quick matter to wash up the pans, bowls, utensils, or whatever I used in the preparation.  So, by the time I have it all together, nearly all the dishes are done and so after a meal the clean up is faster and much easier.  Does that make sense?

By the way, if any of you Gentle Readers have any suggestions for me concerning how to manage in a tiny kitchen, please feel free to comment and share them with me!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spaghetti Squash!

Many of you, I am sure, are at least aware that there is a winter squash called "spaghetti squash."  It gets this interesting name because when it is cooked, you can remove the flesh of the squash with a fork and it looks a lot like spaghetti.  Being a winter squash, it keeps well on the kitchen counter.  Most groceries in the USA carry it throughout the winter.  The price can vary, but it is a wonderful meal if you like it... which I do... Very Much.  By the way, it is also easy to grow in your own garden.
The flavor is very mild and slightly sweet.  It really doesn't taste anything like spaghetti, but it has somewhat the same texture and appearance.  I like to eat it with some butter and grated cheese, and also, instead of cooking pasta (which isn't really a healthy choice - too highly processed) I use it topped with my own homemade marinara sauce.

To cook a spaghetti squash, cover it with water in a pot, bring it to a boil and simmer until a knife inserted goes in easily, once you get past the tough skin.  Then, drain the squash, and let it cool for a while.  That way you won't get burned when you are preparing it for the table.

Next, cut it in half, long-ways, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, and then a fork to shred the flesh of the squash.
That's it!  Once it is ready, you can serve it immediately or refrigerate it and re-heat later.  If you want to add it to soup, just put it in when you are serving the soup, so it won't cook to mush.

If you are a lover of vegetables, give spaghetti squash a try!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! A Reminder...

5 years ago, I wrote about "A quick turkey dinner."
Just in case this might be helpful to you, Dear Reader, I will put the link here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spices... sprinkling and storing...

I made some "Deviled" Eggs tonight.  I want to show you how I sprinkle Paprika on top of them.  Here they are in all their glory:

I love lots of Paprika on top of my deviled eggs.  Here is how I do it.  My daughter gave me a really nice "tea ball." I put a little paprika (or other spice if doing something else that needs sprinkling) in the tea ball and use it like a little sifter.  It's works so nicely!
While I'm at it, I want to show you how I store my spices and herbs for cooking.  When we move to our new house, I hope I can still have a drawer for this.  It is so very convenient.  All I have to do is open the drawer and all the labels are right there.  The spices and herbs are in half-pint jars with the plastic screw-on lids and I put a label on top of each one.  
The one with the different label is actually the paprika.  It is "Hungarian" paprika, and very good.

I have to tell you a story about the daughter who gave me the tea ball.  When she was about 2 years old, one day, she and I were in the kitchen.  I made a plate of deviled eggs and put them on the table.  Then I turned around to work at the counter.  After a while I realized she was being awfully quiet, which any of you who have taken care of toddlers knows is a bad sign.  I turned around to check on her.  She was sitting on the floor under the table and had that plate of deviled eggs in her lap and was systematically squishing each one with her hands!


Leftover Soup...

Sometimes when I have a variety of small amounts of leftovers in the refrigerator, I use them to make "Leftover Soup."  It can be surprisingly good, and today was one of those days.  Here is what I pulled out of the fridge - a quart of bone broth, some oyster mushrooms that I found a week ago, leftover fried beef liver and onions, a little bit of corn, half an onion, and some mashed potatoes!  :)

First, I sauteed the onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil:
 Next I blended the potatoes with a little warm water and added that along with everything else in that first picture:
Then it was time to make a small batch of egg noodles - just one egg's worth:

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
unbleached all purpose flour

Mix until a good firmish dough forms, knead until smooth and roll it out as thin as you can:

Then, using flour so it won't stick, roll it up and cup into rounds and plop them into the simmering soup:

I added 1.5 teaspoons salt
a few "cranks" of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Oh, my!  It's really good!

As usual, this is more about method than an exact recipe.  If you have some foods about to get too old, make some Leftover Soup out of them.  You might be surprised how good it can be!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Things are changing...

Gentle Readers...

I usually post about things that have to do with homemaking, i.e. recipes, gardening, sewing, etc. but today I want to tell you what is going on in my life. 

Our home was built in 1974.  It was not built properly, given the ground conditions here, and to make a long and ugly story short, our poor house is rotting.  If someone came here to inspect, it would be condemned.  We did not realize until several weeks ago what the problem is.  Now we do.  Mold.  Wetness.  Ick.

It would be exceedingly expensive to try to have the house repaired, and then we'd still have an old house.  It really is too bad.

We are in the process of purchasing a 13 x 56 mobile home (a.k.a. "Trailer" or "Manufactured home.")  Within a couple of months, it should be installed and we will be moving in.  Then we will tear down the old house, salvage what we can, and fill in the hole and I imagine plant some grass.

So, we'll be moving from about 1200 square feet to about 700 square feet with minimal storage.  We have been very busy and working hard to streamline and de-junk.  It is embarrassing!  I didn't realize how much stuff we had accumulated!  I've purged my clothing down to 33 items hanging in the closet.  This does not include underthings, workout clothing or garden grubbies.  Here you can see what is in there:

I feel a little silly.  I know that by American standards, that's not much, but I also realize that I have a great deal more than many people in the world!  I have to say, it has made getting dressed much easier.  I have a few things to wear to church in the winter and in the summer, 4 pairs of blue jeans, 2 denim skirts, 3 blazers, and a variety of t-shirts and blouses.  Now I just go through them in rapid succession.  It's nice!

My husband has hauled off many pick-up loads of things.  We've donated, given away, and thrown away.  I've sold a few things as well.  We are not finished, but I think the bulk of it is done.  

So, say goodbye to our old house.  :'(  Here it is.  I will keep you posted as we get into the trailer and I figure out how to live a more minimalist lifestyle.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thought for the day...

"They might not need me;
but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
a smile as small as mine might be
precisely their necessity". - Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Persimmon Pudding !

Those are my Persimmon trees.  I started them from seeds a number of years ago.  This year we are getting a bumper crop!  The little tree isn't bearing yet, and that may be because I transplanted it a few years after the two larger trees.
Here, you can see, side by side, two persimmons on the tree.  One is nearly ripe and one is still green.  You do NOT want to eat a persimmon that is anything less than "dead ripe."  It will make your mouth pucker!  You have to wait until they fall off the tree and then pick them up.  You can also shake the tree gently and pick up the ones that were ready to fall.
A view up into the tree.  Loaded with fruit!!
Here is the bowl of persimmons I picked up today.
I picked off the little, hard caps...
and put the fruit in my Foley food mill over a bowl to catch the pulp.  Here is how I operate it.  Crank it 5 times clockwise, and then 1 time counter-clockwise.  Repeat until you feel that you've squished as much pulp from the fruit as possible.  Then discard the seeds (or save some to plant a nursery row of saplings.)
Some of the persimmons were quite large.
I've gathered all of the ingredients for the persimmon pudding. (Recipe follows)
The batter is all well beaten.  You must beat it very well, so it gets kind of fluffy.
Spread the batter in a buttered square baking pan.
Just out of the oven!  
Here is a photo of the original recipe I was given in 1980 by a sweet neighbor lady.  They had a large persimmon tree and invited me to come and get some.  I've loved persimmons and persimmon pudding ever since!

If you can't see the recipe very well, click on the picture and it will get bigger.  This time I cut the amount in half.  If you do a whole batch, use a 9 x 13 baking pan.  But, since it's just me and my husband here, we certainly don't need that much!  However, after it's completely cool, you can cut it in pieces and freeze them, well wrapped.  It's good, even frozen.  :)  I made some substitutions, also.  Here is what I did:

Persimmon Pudding

2 cups persimmon pulp
1 cup milk (that is twice what is called for and it turned out very nice.)
1 egg
1 cup Sucanat
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream the sugar and butter.  Add the pulp and egg and beat well.  Add the dry ingredients, alternately, with the milk, and beat very well.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to see if it's done.

Serve warm or chilled.  Fabulous with whipped cream, but really really good just plain!

Persimmons are native to where I live in Indiana.  It is an unusual fruit, and blessedly needs nothing to keep it free of insect damage.  Deer LOVE persimmons, so if you want some, you need to gather them in a timely manner or you will lose out!  There are lots and lots of spitted out seeds out there.  We have many white tailed deer in the area.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall fermentations...

I had quite a few Jalapeno peppers and just a few smallish other peppers that I didn't think I'd use up fast enough, so I decided to make a ferment. I adapted a recipe from THIS book by Wardeh at Gnowfglins.
Here are the peppers, washed and drained:

 And here they are, with the ends trimmed off and being weighed.  I had more than I really needed, but went ahead and processed them all anyway.  The chickens got the leftovers.  :)
Oh... notice what I did with the paper plate?  That makes it much easier to actually be able to read the scale. (Idea not my own.)
Here is the food processor with the narrow slicing blade attached:
Now they are all sliced up.
I did NOT remove the seeds, so this mixture is quite hot and can irritate one's skin, so I donned a protective glove so I could handle the peppers.  (See?  Sometimes I actually use my head!  My mommie would be proud.)
For the recipe, I  needed some live whey, so I poured some milk kefir into a birdseye cloth and hung it to drain.  I quickly had enough.
Here is the recipe.  Wardeh used cayenne peppers and added garlic.  I omitted the garlic (DH dislikes the odor) and used the Jalapenos and sweet peppers.

1 pound peppers
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup live whey
filtered water

Place the whey and salt in a little jar and shake it up to dissolve:
 Slice the peppers thinly.
Put the peppers into a Fido Jar (wearing a protective glove.)
Pour the salt mixture over the top.
Add enough filtered (non-chlorinated) water to cover the mixture.
Close the jar.  Set it out of the sunlight on your kitchen counter.
Ferment for 2 to 3 days.
Store in the refrigerator. 
This will be a Very Spicy condiment and the juice can be added sparingly to soups and things that you would like to add more heat to.
On to ferment #2 !!
Again, this is from Wardeh's book

I have a number of apples that are kind of mushy and my family is reluctant to eat them.  So, I was looking for a way to use some so they won't get wasted.

Perfect - "Spiced Applesauce"

3 to 4 medium apples (any type)
1/4 cup unrefined sweetener (I used real maple syrup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup live whey

Quarter and core the apples and chop them up in a food processor or blender.  You want it to be chunky:
Mix all of the ingredients together an spoon it into a Fido jar.
Put on the lid and set it on your counter.
Allow to ferment for 2 or 3 days and then keep it in the refrigerator.  It will keep for a few weeks.

Here are both jars, ready to ferment:
Now I just have to wait a couple of days and the jars can join the jars of sauerkraut in the fridge.  
Naturally fermented foods are so very good for you.

By the way, I was able to buy some of my Fido jars at a Ross store very cheaply.  You can use other jars, but this is the easiest and most reliable way I've found.  Prepare it, forget it, and put it in the fridge.  Easy Peasy!
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