Saturday, December 31, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama:

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Repurposed Bean

A vanilla bean is a special treat in my kitchen.  I do my best to be mindful of our food resources, so an ingredient that can do double duty is a true gem.  If you'll recall the Winter Solstice Brew from a few weeks back, this vanilla bean was one of the key ingredients.  After a short rinse and drying overnight, the vanilla bean was ready to be added to turbinado sugar.  It's flavor will infuse the sugar just in time for some special cookies I have planned for Valentine's Day.  Sweets for my sweet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In anticipation of a cold, hard winter...

I found the recipe here and I can't wait to try some in hot tea, coffee, or even on cake!

How are you preparing for the snow and cold?

Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama:
{this moment}
 - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama~
"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

thankful for a warm day in October

A few scenes from today~

We are still processing apples and pears.  The Italian Prune Plum Jam turned out well and tastes similar to grape jelly.

I also found these fun links for the seaon:
~ Living Locurto posted these fun Halloween candy wrappers.
~ Well Preserved shared his Cheesy Jalapeno Guinness Bread recipe that I am excited to try.
~ Handcrafted With Altitude (how could I not love this blog with a name like that?!) shared her recipe for Blackberry Habanero Jam.
~ Shannon Sews' Re-purposing:  tablecloth to an apron is just what I am hoping to create with a much loved, yet stained holiday tablecloth.
~ I am so inspired by Northern Cottage!

What has inspired you today?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Preserve: October 2011

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin
Small batch preserving of the produce we grow or purchase locally is part of my heritage.  My paternal grandmother supplied us with her amazing canned pears, frozen baked beans, hot tomato juice, and frozen pie crusts that I swear multiplied by themselves in her chest freezer.  My mother made strawberry freezer jam that I loved as a child.  Then, with busy work schedules and endless convenience foods--who cared to take the time to grow and preserve your own?

I welcome the cool fall temperatures that make it tolerable to spend most of the day tending to a hot oven and stove.

Our crop of Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins from this source did not do as well as we would have liked, so I'm making a trip to the local farmer's market for more pumpkins.

We received Prune Plums from my dad and stepmom's trees and the apples are from our orchard.  There's something about preserving with the foods we have grown or from our loved ones' hard work that makes it even more special.

Here's what I'll be preserving this week:
Roasted Pumpkin:
Italian Prune Plum Jam:
Slow Cooker Applesauce (recipe courtesy of Sheila):
8-10 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
sweetener of your choice to taste
cinnamon if you desire
Cook on low for 5-6 hours

What are you preserving this week?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


An unexpected day at home--alone--finds me:

::  making these amazing treats

::  enjoying this performance by Wilco

::  loving this canning/preserving resource

::  imagining this chai steeped in hot apple cider (locally sourced, of course!)

::  reminiscing of this weekend's great performances (and more to come)

::  feeling somewhat selfish as I relish in this "me" time and tended to my home with the candles lit....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Return to Me

A somewhat different post today.  A different way of expressing my creativity and what brings me joy.  Thankful to reconnect with friends that I have been missing and also to share my love of dance with new people.  I am mindful of the different seasons in life and glad to pull this part of me closer to the surface.
So, I shall ask--how has the changing of the seasons sparked your creativity?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Garden Brew: a spray to ward off deer and rabbits

I've never tasted a hosta leaf, but they seem to be quite a treat for the deer in our area.  These hostas pictured above were recently "mowed down" by the doe and her twin fawns.  Sigh.  I know they will return next year (the hostas and the deer), but for the remaining hostas and other plants that the deer and rabbits feast upon, it's time to spray.  We brew our own "deer scram" which is very fragrant and spicy.
Dried chilies from last year's garden join garlic for a not-so-tasty brew.

The recipe:

4 peeled garlic cloves
3 dried chilies wrapped in gauze and tied with string
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten

1.  In a saucepan, add 2 cups of water, the garlic and the chilies.  Bring to a boil and cook mixture for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture set for another 5 minutes.  
2.  In a half gallon glass canning jar (I use Ball), add the milk and garlic/chili mixture.  Add ice cubes to cool the mixture.
3.  Once the mixture has cooled, add your beaten eggs.  Fill the container with water (leaving 1 inch head space) and screw lid on slightly.  The mixture will expand, so you don't want to jar to explode.
4.  Place the mixture in full sun for at least a day.  Our garden brew is sitting in our mini greenhouse in full sun.
5.  Place the mixture in a spray bottle.  Depending on the consistency of your mixture, you may need to dilute.  Spray your plants monthly and after it rains.

I hope your garden is growing well!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

At the fair

The curious snout of our cousin's show pig.
A gorgeous calf.

My first photo entry.  That's my petite chicken whisperer in the center--thank you to the Barefoot Crofter for your encouragement.

I love how our time was spent this week and all that we were able to experience.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sea of Vines

This evening I walked through the east part of our vegetable garden and was amazed that I could barely see the earth due to the sea of vines created by both the melon and squash plants. 

This sea was punctuated by an occasional tomato or pepper plant.  I set up some tomato cages, pulled some weeds and marveled at the height of the corn in my 3 Sisters mounds. 

This corn was barely shin high just one week prior and now it towered over my head.  For the first year, our garden was the effort of all members.  The littlest gardener loves to weed and water, the older children helped with planting and mulching (and tickling!) and my husband (mainly) and I did the design and the heavy work.  Our Purple Jasper tomatoes are ripening and I was able to pick a few tonight, along with very large cucumbers that I swear were not in the garden yesterday!
One of my daughters used her butterfly net to gather the Mexican Sour Gherkins.  If you haven't tried these petite members of the cucumber family, you must--they are easy to grow and taste as if they were pickled on the vine.
I hope you're enjoying the harvest in your garden!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Garden Seating

When I'm not tending the garden, here's where I like to sit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sugar Snap Pea Garden Arch

Our peas always grow taller than the original frames that we created when we moved here years ago.  I considered creating new frames this year, but also wanted to keep the peas in reach of the small hands that like to pick them.  Our solution was adding an arch to connect the frames and I love how it looks.

The purple green beans are blooming, and for the spaces in between plants, I will be sowing parsnip seeds for our fall harvest.  Chioggia beets, Chinese Red Meat radishes, kale, swiss chard, and a few varieties of carrots are being sown in various places in our garden.
Have you started planting for your fall harvest?  What seeds are you sowing?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Growth Spurt

Growth is everywhere--the children, the plants (including weeds), the chickens, and our ever expanding view of how to nurture our family.  Here are some scenes from the garden:
Three Sisters

Marina di Chioggia

Sugar Snap Pea Bloom

Red and White Cabbage

We are lucky to have such an abundance!

Here's hoping that your garden is doing well.  I would love for you to share some photos here!

Friday, June 24, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama:

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a lovely weekend!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tickling Tomato Plants

We love tomatoes.  We have planted them in the main garden, the children's garden, the fairy flower garden, in pots and soon they will also become some of the edible landscaping in front of the house.  We have several varieties, mostly heirloom, and this year will be our first attempt at seed saving.  I recently read "Gardening by the Inch", published by Rodale Inc, in which the authors suggested "tickling" tomato plants "to help them grow strong and stocky!"  Leggy is not an attribute I strive for when it comes to tomato gardening.

Tickling the tomato plants is also (another) great way to involve my kids in tending to the garden, as they are just the right height to help me.

I am hoping for strong, stocky tomato plants with great roots.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Roasted Rhubarb with Local Honey and Sea Salt

A visit from two close friends today was the inspiration for roasting the rhubarb, though we didn't talk about how to prepare it.  We were actually discussing rhubarb's neighbor in my garden, horseradish, and how simple changes to the preparation have a big impact on flavor.  I love using our local honey, purchased from a fellow food co-op member, and the addition of the sea salt was not only to brighten the sweetness of the dish but also to add another element.  The result:  sour, sweet, and savory, with rhubarb truly the star.  I tested the rhubarb over vanilla bean ice cream, but it would make an interesting sauce to top grilled chicken.

Roasted Rhubarb with Local Honey and Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut rhubarb stalks on the diagonal, approximately 1/2 inches in length and place in a bowl.
Use only enough local honey to coat the rhubarb.
Pour rhubarb and honey onto a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Bake 10 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the rhubarb, but it is still firm (not mushy).

What new rhubarb recipes are you creating or using?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Harvesting Spring Onions

I have to admit that I don't quite remember planting onions last year.  These onions over wintered in the garden and with all the sun and rainfall, recently sent up their flower bulbs.  So they needed to be harvested, as advised by this book.  My youngest and I harvested dozens of onions--red, yellow and white.  Now, the task with be to preserve them in some fashion (those that we don't share with family and friends) as they do not keep in storage.

Onions drying on the chicken tractor.
What are your favorite ways to preserve your harvest?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Frozen *bliss*

Popsicles are required warm weather treats.  I was so excited to read the email title from Smitten Kitchen earlier this week:  Fudge Popsicles.  As promised, they were incredibly good.

The recipe is from Matt Bites new book, On a Stick!  I was glad to be introduced to this blog, his food photography is inspiring.

The next frozen treat on my list is a creamsicle.  What warm weather treats are you enjoying?

Friday, June 3, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama:
"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Finally, warm temperatures and sunshine are here.  With the exception of the perennials, our garden design changes every year to best grow our plants and maintain healthy soil. 
Newpaper and moldy straw keep help with moisture and weeds.
Last year, we used a mulching system in our garden inspired by this book, a book that truly changed my way of looking at food, gardening, and saying "yes" to raising our own chickens.  I am still mulching this vast garden of ours, just taking a break from the heat during lunch to share some views from our garden and coop.
Napoleon, who may be one of our smallest roosters, but he has such a presence.
What once was an asparagus spear...

Some of our chickens trying to stay cool in the shade of the coop.
A June-bearing strawberry plant.

Sweet peas climbing up our lovely grapevine trellis.

Garlic chives getting ready to flower.

Where do your garden inspirations come from?

Friday, May 27, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama:

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seed Starting {revised}

Every January, the most beautiful catalogs arrive in the mail and my email inbox.  Seed catalogs, that I sit with pen and paper to list my favorites.  With the best intentions, we sent up grow lights, heating pads and set tray after tray on shelves, in hopes that they will become seedings that survive.  I have hoped for better results.
Enter Kelly, our local greenhouse owner.  This winter (though not early enough), we gave her our carefully chosen seed packets.  Last night, we picked up our beautiful seedlings.  She labeled each plant set with repurposed tags and commented on the great variety that she now gets to grow.  We made sure to leave a sample of each seedling in her greenhouse.

If you are interested, I hope that you will contact your local grower to see if they can start your seeds.  Maintaining diversity in our plant life is good for our ecosystem and good for our health.

What changes are you making in this year's garden?  What new varieties will you try?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Inspired: A Party

Children and baskets of food were brought to a gathering of friends.  Inspired by the arrival of asparagus, many dishes highlighted this lovely spring vegetable. 
A small sampling of  our meal.
I am thankful to have been invited (and my camera too) as I am fast approaching my one year anniversary of leaving behind the role of family bread winner and embracing my new path.  Leaving behind wealth, in the modern sense, and arriving at the original definition of wealth: well being.  Well being for me and my family, and the land and animals entrusted in my care.  I still have one foot in the world of paychecks (just a few days a week) and the other one solidly planted in the keeping of my family and our health.  Listening and learning from a group of friends, while nourishing ourselves (and little ones) on asparagus, was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Here are the recipes and links from our feast:

Angel Hair Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Asparagus and Cheese Tart

Carolynn's Quinoa Salad
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1 red pepper cut up
3-4 asparagus spears cut up
2-3 lemons
olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt & pepper to taste
crumbled goat cheese
handful "flat" parsley

Rinse quinoa well, drain. Put in pan with 2 cups water. Bring to boil, put lid on & reduce to simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed (tip side to side to check & see if any water remains). Remove from heat & leave lid on 10 minutes more, before fluffing.  After fluffing, leave lid off so it can begin to cool.

Make vinaigrette.

About the time quinoa is finished cooking (but still resting in pan with lid on), sautee asparagus (you could easily double the amount I used in this recipe) in olive oil, with salt, pepper & juice of an entire lemon, until asparagus is bright green & tender.

Dump asparagus & any "juice" in a bowl (or straight into the quinoa if you've "fluffed"). Saute red pepper with less lemon juice, but otherwise in the same way  (you could probably do them together, I just didn't think to add the red pepper until later). When finished, add this to the quinoa as well. Chop up a handful of fresh parsley & toss it in, then add vinaigrette (and cheese if you wish -- I wasn't sure how the cheese would fare all mixed in & refrigerated so I added it afterward).  Stir it up well, then refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour to let flavors meld together nicely & make sure it was well chilled.

To make vinaigrette, whisk together:
juice from 1 lemon
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, well diced
salt & pepper

Jody's Shortbread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
3 cups flour (packed down in the cup)
3/4 c powdered sugar (not sifted)
1.5 cups salted butter softened
1 can (21 oz) strawberry pie filling
Mix flour and powdered sugar together and then cut in softened butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs or course corn meal (you can do this in a food processor).
Spread half the mixture into your pan and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes (don't turn off the oven).
Spread the pie filling over the crust then sprinkle the remaining flour/sugar/butter mixture over the top. Gently press down with a spatula.
Return to the oven for 30-35 minutes.
Cool and then refrigerate before you cut into bars.

I am excited to try Jody's recipe with our Rhurbarb freezer jam--the last one in our freezer!

Hollandaise Sauce:  (Leah)
Note: You can make the Hollandaise sauce up to a couple days ahead -- just store in fridge.
Lemons (2)
Butter or ghee, grass-fed (1 1/2 cups)
Eggs, pastured or free-range organic, room temperature (6 yolks)
Sea salt
Food processor, blender or whisk
1. Juice lemons, yielding about 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
2. Melt butter or ghee in a saucepan. Remove from heat. If using ghee, use as is. If using butter, strain off and discard the white milk solids. Set aside.
3. In food processor or blender (or use a wire whisk and a mixing bowl,) blend 6 egg yolks. If the yolks are cold, run it for a few minutes.
4. Blend in the lemon juice.
5. While whisking or blending, gradually add the melted butter or ghee in a very slow stream. Do not go to fast or you will “break” the sauce. Blend continually as you slowly add the butter. You should end up with a thick sauce with the consistency of mayonnaise. If you have trouble using a blender or food processor, use a whisk and do it by hand -- it always works when you do it by hand; it just takes longer.
6. Add sea salt to taste.