Saturday, December 11, 2021

Healthy(er) Peppernuts for Christmas!

Behold the Peppernut!


 I have a very old recipe that came from my paternal great-grandmother for "Peppernuts."  The German word for that is "Pfeffernusse"  It's a kind of little cookie that is very hard, sweet and spicy.  My family recipe is also simple and it would have been something that almost anyone could have afforded to make back then.  Great-Grandmother had a wood burning cook stove with a "reservoir" on the side, which was a steel box they would fill with water so they could have hot water available.  At Christmastime she kept that full of peppernuts for the children to enjoy.

The thing to do is make the peppernuts a few weeks before you plan to eat them, because you want them to become very stale and hard. They do not taste stale, however.  They are good.  I always say when I eat one, it's nothing special, but I can't stop eating them!

I decided I wanted to make some this year, but the original recipe calls for lard and also just white flour.  Today I made a batch (actually half of a batch), left out the added fat and used whole wheat flour.  They turned out just fine and are very tasty!  Of course, they aren't dried out yet, but if the weather cooperates, they should be hard by Christmas Day.  

Here are some pictures of the progression and I'll leave the recipe I used at the end.

Here's the dough in the bowl.


You make "ropes" from the dough like this:


Then, using a pair of scissors, cup the ropes into small pieces and arrange then on a baking sheet.


Bake at 400 F for 10 to 12 minutes:


When they are done, dump them into a brown paper bag. When they are cool, close the top and let them stay in the bag until you are ready to use them.  They will get dry and hard and yummy.


Peppernuts!

Ingredients:
3 cups water
1 Tablespoon yeast (or one little package)
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
about 3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water.  Add enough whole wheat flour to make the mixture the consistency of thick gravy.  Add molasses, sugar and spices. Stir well.  Start adding more flour, gradually, and stirring until it is like stiff bread dough. Do all of this in a large bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and every time you notice it has doubled in bulk, punch it down and re-cover. After at least 36 hours, and up to 48, it is time to bake the Peppernuts

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. I used silicone mats on my baking sheets.  That works very well.  You could use parchment paper, if you like.  Roll the dough, a handful at a time into a rope and snip off pieces with a pair of scissors and arrange them on a baking sheet.  

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then dump them into a brown paper bag.  You don't want them to stay moist, so if you don't have a bag, maybe you could dump them onto a cloth and when they are cool, cover them with the cloth.  In any case, I wait until they are all cool, close the bag and let them sit for a number of days until they are hard and crunchy.

This is half the recipe that we've always made, but since I was experimenting with changing the recipe by taking out the fat and adding only whole wheat flour, I didn't want to take a chance of wasting so much. 

I did use white flour to prevent sticking when I was rolling them out.

I hope you enjoy these special little cookies as much as we do.  My aunt used to make these and send them to my uncles that served in the Second World War when they were overseas.








Saturday, November 6, 2021

This is a blog, after all.

 Only occasionally have I blogged about anything that really wasn't "homemaking" related. Something very troubling happened yesterday...

My husband had some surgery a couple of days ago.  He's fine.  Don't worry. He had to spend the night at the hospital for observation so I spent the night in a motel. Yesterday morning I left my motel and drove to the hospital to await his discharge. Just one city block from my destination, I was in the middle lane of a main road in that city. I stopped at an intersection and looked over to the right. I was surrounded by other cars. It was a busy time in the morning. I saw a man standing in the middle of the intersection road near the intersection. I thought and probably said out loud,  "Hey, mister.  Get off the road!" Then he started to walk a little and collapsed on the road. Shortly he got up and was staggering around and fell a second time. He was completely disoriented.  He came onto the road I was traveling and fell again and someone actually honked at him! He moved a little closer to the curb and sat there. I wanted to stop and help him and didn't know what to do. I hesitated and I got honked at! I concluded there was no safe way to stop, so I proceeded to the hospital parking lot and called 911 emergency services. The woman I gave the report to said they would send police to check on him. I have no idea what happened. He could have been struck by a car. I will never know. It broke my heart! I wanted to take him by the hand and say, "Hey, let's get you onto the sidewalk" and then call 911.  

I got to thinking about it later and I believe that if it had been a DOG or a momma duck with babies behind her, most people would stopped and traffic would have stopped and the dog or whatever would have been rescued.  I don't understand people.  I imagine some of them did not notice him, but a lot would have had to see him. It's tragic. 



Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Our Whole Food Plant Based diet...

 Just over a year ago, my husband and I switched to a "whole food plant based diet." Some would call it "vegan" but it is more than that.  It's not just avoiding animal products, although that is part of it.  We only eat "whole foods" such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils, etc.), nuts and seeds. We use no added oils, and only a very modest amount of added salt and natural sweeteners. (maple syrup, molasses and a little honey)  I use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil in baked goods, and flaxseed meal as a substitute for eggs. I sauté in water or vegetable broth (yes, it really works!)  I ran across some information about this on Facebook and became intrigued. 

I know that food preferences and addictions get in the way of most people when they are trying to restore and protect their health. It's an interesting thing.  After 3 weeks of eating this way, my husband said, "You know.  I don't crave chocolate anymore."  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  What that tells me is that his intense chocolate cravings were being caused by some deficiency in his diet.  

More than 2/3 of American adults are overweight or obese. This, of course, leads to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, auto-immune disease, cancer, arthritis and most of the other things we can be afflicted with as we age.  This way of eating is the only way that has been proven scientifically (and for many years) to actually reverse heart disease, cure diabetes and help to prevent all those other terrible chronic conditions. 

My husband had open heart surgery (quadruple bypass) about 6 years ago. Since then, he's had stents placed two times, so things weren't looking good. Now, he's definitely improving. The pain he used to get when we'd walk (in his legs) no longer bothers him. The swelling he used to get above his socks that he noticed when he took them off at night is gone. His blood pressure plummeted and he's currently taking much less blood pressure medicine and it's looking like he might need to decrease it some more soon. His cholesterol, which ran about 400, is now well below 200. He was able to drop another of his medications. The angina is all but gone.  This is all after only 13 months.

And here is what I've noticed with my own health.  I have much more energy.  I am 72 years old.  I can work hard outside in the garden for hours and not get tired.  Sometimes I get tired of being hot and come in for a while, but I do not get worn out.  The macular puckering in my eyes that was blurring my vision seems to be gone.  I can see clearly now and colors are more vibrant. The varicose veins in my left leg that appeared during my last pregnancy have improved and stopped advancing.  The spider veins that were appearing around my ankles are all but gone.  The osteoarthritis in my hands is some better.  I am able to knit and crochet now, which is something I could not do for a number of years.  I was able to quit taking the products I was using for hot flashes.  I still have them, but they are very mild and infrequent and not a problem anymore.  My cholesterol went from 285 to 180 in a few months.  All my other blood indicators are excellent. My blood pressure is very good.  My hair and nails grow faster.  :) 

For me, this has been easy.  I am that type of person. For some others, it may be more of a struggle, but I tell you what.... it is SO worth it.  And we no longer miss any of the foods we used to eat.  It's so strange.  There are many books written on this subject.  

I just wanted to share this will all of you just in case you might be interested in looking into it. I suggest that your read this book: The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall.

 https://smile.amazon.com/Starch-Solution-Regain-Health-Weight-ebook/dp/B007PF7MGS/ref=sr_1_2?crid=HURJT0PMHYRI&dchild=1&keywords=the+starch+solution+by+dr+mcdougall&qid=1626269626&sprefix=The+Starch+%2Caps%2C227&sr=8-2

There are also many wonderful cookbooks availabe.

I also suggest that you watch this film.  This is what got us started on this path. You will be amazed.

https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-film/

We also take a Vitamin B12 supplement daily.  That is a whole different topic that I won't get into right now.  Truth be told, everyone should be supplementing with B12.

Good luck!





Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter eggs! repost.

 


My mother grew up on a farm in North Dakota, in the early 20th century. They had chickens, but their chickens laid white eggs. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but she told me that for Easter, her mother would boil the eggs with onion skins in the water to make them be a pretty color. I always think of that. I made these hard-boiled eggs a couple of days ago and wondered what she would think. These come from the chickens of a friend of mine, and they are brown, tan, white and even blue! Araucana chickens lay blue and green eggs. There is no need for me to color them at all, but if you DO color eggs, there are ways to do it naturally and not have to use chemical colorings.

Hard boil your eggs, and allow them to cool completely. Make sure they are well dried before placing them in the dye baths. Immerse the eggs in the coloring liquid to which you have added 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar (per quart of liquid) and put them into the refrigerator. Go back from time to time and check on the color. When it is as you wish, then remove the eggs and discard the dye liquid. The longer they soak, the deeper the dye color. After coloring, be sure to store your eggs in the refrigerator!

1. Onion Skin Dye Yellow to Gold

To make dye from yellow onion skins, place several skins in your pot of water. Boil them for a little while and allow the mixture to cool with the skins in the water. Then drain off the water to use for the actually dyeing. Add the vinegar. Put the skins in your compost. Soak your hard-boiled eggs in this dye bath and depending on how many eggs you use and how concentrated the dye bath is, you can get warm tones that range from gold to a lovely terra cotta.

2. Cranberry Dye Light Blue

To use fresh cranberries, boil 4 cups cranberries in 2 cups cold water until the berries burst. Let them cool. Drain and save the liquid. Add the vinegar. For a light blue, soak only a short time. If the eggs stay in very long, they will become dark gray in color.

3. Turmeric Yellow Dye

In a quart of water, simmer 1/4 cup of ground turmeric. Cool. Strain, add the vinegar and proceed.

4. Red Cabbage Blue

About 3/4 of a head of red cabbage chopped up will make a lovely blue. Again, cook for a while, cool in liquid, strain, add the vinegar and then dye your eggs.

I am sure there are a number of other recipes you can use. These are the ones I am familiar with.

You might wonder why I'd go to the trouble...? I used to use food colorings when my children were still at home. I was not aware of the natural choices besides the onion skins. This natural method is healthier, of course, and I think a lot more fun!

You can make patterns on the eggs by drizzling them with melted wax or wrapping them with rubber bands before dyeing.

Easter is coming soon! Make your plans and have fun with this.

I have blogged about this previously, but I will mention it again here. This is the BEST way to make hard-boiled eggs. even very fresh eggs will peel easily and you won't have the unattractive green layer between the yolk and the white of the egg.

To Hard Boil Eggs

1. Bring a 3 quart saucepan half-full of water to a boil. 2. Using a push pin, poke a tiny hole in the large end of each egg. 3. With a slotted spoon, place all of the eggs in the boiling water. 4. When the water begins to boil again, set your timer for 10 minutes, and reduce the heat so the water is simmering. 5. While the eggs are cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water. 6. When the eggs are done, immediately transfer them to the ice water. Let them sit in there for a few minutes. 7. Drain and peel when you are ready!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

And so it begins....

 


In about a month it will officially be Spring!  I put sweet potatoes in jars of water this morning to grow slips for this year's garden.  It did my gardening soul good.  Happy Gardening 2021!!!  That is one thing the pandemic did not affect.  I was still able to grow food. I enjoyed it very much last year. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

It's almost winter here!

 


It's snowing a little this morning.  :)

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