Archive for May, 2009

Recently, I suffered a small bout of insomnia and tried watching some late night TV in the hopes it would put me to sleep.  It did eventually, but I was astounded by the amount of kitchen gadgets advertised to make life easier.  Most of those gadgets are replacements of some sort for a good kitchen knife and knife skills.  Honestly, my chef’s and paring knives are used every single day and because of that they are some of my most prized tools.

When purchasing knives, buy the best quality you can afford.  I can’t stress this enough cheap knives don’t last and a good one will last you a lifetime if properly maintained.  Take your knives for a test drive before purchasing: feel them, handle them like you would cut something, make sure it feels right too you and has a good balance.

Once you find the knife of your dreams care for it properly.  Cut with the knife on a chopping board in order to prevent unnecessary damage or wearing of the blade.  Keep the knife clean and don’t allow it too soak in water – simply hand wash and dry after every use.  Most importantly, keep those knives sharp (Cooks’ Illustrated has a great tutorial).

Learning how to properly use a knife is an entirely different animal.  If you are blessed to live in an area that offers knife skill classes – take one if you’re inexperienced.  The class will save you time and frustration in the kitchen.  If you don’t live in such an area there are multitude of videos and articleson the web.  No matter what, however; you will need to practice, as in all things: practice makes perfect.

Save yourself some time and money: get a good knife or two and some skills to go with that knife.  You’ll then be able to ignore all those chopping, dicing, get it done in a second ads on TV.

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Tomato Tunnels

I planted 36 tomato plants this year…

Half again as many as I usually plant…one bed is dedicated to nothing but saucing tomatoes.

They are in three different of my 4′ x 12′ beds.  I usually put them in the ground, surround them by their tomato cages and then cover them with clear plastic to give them a good head start in our notoriously fickle Northwest weather.  I was tired of having to drain off the rain that would gather in pools on the top of the cages so I tried tunnels this year.

tomato tunnel

I used concrete reinforcing mesh.  I thought I would have to build a frame for it but it fits perfectly within the width of my beds and is held in place with tension.  The plastic is just laid over the top and held down by bricks.  I close up the ends at night and on cooler days. I take the plastic all the way off if it is going to be very warm. 

If you ever use tunnels you will find that is it shocking how fast the air temperature rises with even a little sunshine.  I put a thermometer in one of the tunnels, on a sunny day in the upper 60’sF it can but above 100F in the tunnel, so extreme caution must be used not to cook your plants.

Since it is now almost June I have removed the plastic for the season, it has been stored for next year. After looking at last year’s notes I have noticed that my tomatoes are slightly ahead of last years in maturity.  They bloomed a few days earlier and are slightly larger.  I know this could be from a difference in spring weather from last year but it could be from the cozy environment the tunnels produce.

 I will leave the wire in place through out the season and just let the tomatoes grow up through it.  When they reach the top I will have to figure out how to support them from there….hmmm I will have to think on that one!

If you have any ideas please let me know!

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Jody’s Question: I’m having a problem with getting over my squeemishness of food preservation.  I read a bit in the post about preserved lemons that really hit home with me:  the ‘modern scaredycat-ness’ bit.  As I move more and more into canning and such, I find that I really don’t know anything about storage times as I have been relying on canned food from store shelves.  I’ve actually found myself standing in front of my basement pantry, staring at my canned tomato sauces as if I’m waiting for them to sprout horns and go
‘mwahahaha!’  There is a lot of conflicting information, too.  You should boil canned jelly for 5min (according to Ball), but no one I know does.  You need to pitch everything canned after a year, but no one I know goes by this, either.  One of my coworkers keeps her eggs on the counter, not the refridgerator.  We recently bought our first jug of raw milk, and I realized that I have no idea how long it might be good for.  I’m just really thrown by all this.  Any thoughts or suggestions?

(Note: We got a little long-winded here but the information is hopefully something everyone will enjoy.)

Alan’s Answer: Great question.  We can a lot at my house. Mostly we use the Ball book or the info that came with the canner as a guide on times, pressures, and canning
methods. High acid stuff in a water bath, everything else gets pressure canned. We have never had any problems. We have had the odd jar that didn’t seal properly and things went bad, but the cause was almost always a flaw in the rim of the bottle or not wiping things down well enough before capping. We don’t keep things much longer than a year, but that is because we plan things that way. We know about how much we use of the things we can and don’t put up much more than that. If there is a bit left when the next canning session rolls
around it gets placed at the front of the shelf so it gets used first. With most things we do small batch canning. Tomatoes, for example, we will pick and save enough to can a batch of sauce or stewed tomatoes and then to one batch. That way it gets done in a short time, no one gets burned out, and we use the harvest as it comes in. Most things we grow our selves can be done this way. The three day marathon canning sessions I grew up with put up a lot of food, but things got pretty sloppy as the days wore on, and it stopped being fun. We are pretty obsessive about keeping things clean. Clean hands, hair nets (beard net for me), clean counters, sterile bottles, etc. We label and date the things we can or freeze (we freeze a lot
of stuff too). That way we know how old it is and what it is. We have never boiled jelly. If the bottles are sterile, the jelly making process should kill of everything else. We used to put wax on the top when I was a kid, but lately we have just put a lid on while things were still hot. That seems to seal it pretty well. It never stays around long enough to go bad anyway.  We keep our eggs on the counter most of the time (except in the summer when it gets too hot in our house). The eggs we sell get refrigerated after they are cleaned, but that is mostly for convenience rather than safety. I’m not sure I would do the same with eggs I bought from the store. I know my chickens are healthy, eating good food, etc. I know how old the eggs are, how they were cleaned, if the shells are cracked, etc. I’m comfortable with keeping our eggs this way and we haven’t had any problems. Some of our egg customers do the same. I
wouldn’t do this with eggs from the store. I don’t know their history, handling practices, health, etc. Same with milk. Raw milk is great, we drink it all the time, but you need to know the source.  Living in PA it is legal for dairies to sell raw milk. I’m sure there is an inspection process, so it should be as safe (probably safer) than the pasteurized milk. When I was selling raw milk in Texas the inspector would only let us hold it for 4 days. They figured people would use it in 7 to 10 days and that kept it in the 2 week safety window. At home I’ve held milk longer for cheese making and other things. I haven’t had any problems, but I always encourage people to use it in a week or less. If you don’t use a lot of milk, buy a smaller bottle and get it more often.  I’d encourage you to try some canning. It’s fun. Start with small batches of things you will use. No point in a pantry full of something you wont eat. Once you get used to the process and start enjoying the quality of home canned food then expand to include other things you grow, or can get locally. We do lots of sauces, soups, and partial meals to speed dinner prep time. It’s not much effort to can a two month’s supply of soups and sauces, and they sure beat anything you can find at the store.

Nita’s Answer: Jody, that is so funny, I am actually sqeamish about food from the store!  I agree there is a lot of conflicting information, especially on the internet. I think the most basic thing to focus on is learning what are low acid foods, and which are not. All foods can spoil, but fruits, and products made from them will look or smell spoiled. The low acid vegetables and meats and foods made from them could contain botulism (but not likely if safe home preservation practices are used) and might not be so obviously spoiled, that is why the cooking before tasting is recommended.  As for shelf life, if your canned food is stored away from light and kept at a cool, stable temperature, it would be perfectly safe to eat for many years. I am not advocating canning 10 years worth of tomato sauce, though, just saying it would be safe to eat. Over time some nutritional value would be lost though.  Freezers are a different story, best for more short term storage of food. Quality goes downhill fast in the freezer for vegetables and fruits, and a little slower for meats and fats.  As for dairy and eggs, I don’t wash or refrigerate my eggs, and during the summer I keep them in our cool basement. Our raw milk easily keeps two weeks. Raw milk from healthy dairy animals should easily keep that long, and that is for drinking, after that time the milk will sour, or clabber and just becomes a delightful cooking ingredient, adding flavor and nutrition to baked goods etc. I grew up on sour cream cake, and it tastes nothing like sour cream cake from a bakery. Homogenized milk from the store will not sour, it will spoil and not be a useable product. One thing to worry about though may be soft cheese made from raw milk, it will have a shorter shelf life and should made in small amounts and consumed. Hard aged cheeses from raw milk are safe though because they are more acidic.  Hope this helps a little bit – it sounds like you are on your way. You just need to quit listening to those sinister canning jars on your shelf! 🙂

Kathie’s Answer: The other writer’s did such a great job that I don’t have much to add, beyond make sure you have up-to-date books in your library for reference and follow their procedures and you’ll be as enthusiastic as the rest of us about home preservation.  I love the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and recommend it all the canning classes I teach, in case you need a suggestion. 

Monica’s Answer: Your question I believe will probably resonate with many readers—so as usual I have to say “great question!”.  First…let me start off with the fact that I think there are a number of issues that cause us to be so scared of our food. One of the most common is that big business has worked very very hard over the years, preying on our lack of  knowledge of how our food gets to us and other misinformation that people “acquire”, to get consumers to buy their products and not produce their own—or eat grandmas.  However, some people believe that our fetish for pasteurization can lead to complacency. Why? Because some producers of foods or products that will go on to be pasteurized are less careful about cleanliness because they feel they do not have to worry.  Some people (and rightly so I believe) feel more afraid of eating processed deli meats than of raw milk purchased from a diligent farmer.  Whatever the reason— many of us have become wary of our food.  Even those of us that produce our own food find ourselves falling into these odd traps on occasion—as mentioned in my article about the lemons.  So..here is my reply to your questions.  First…always remember that cleanliness and proper storage will do loads for keeping molds, bacterias and fungus out of your food supply.  I do not mean cleanliness in “boil everything” but common sense cleanliness of washing our produce when we bring it in and before canning it to remove any soil born pathogens, cleaning our equipment well and washing our hands. Plain ole’ soap and water does wonders.  Milk and dairy products: Raw milk IF produced in a clean manner is nothing to fear. That does not mean that the milk has to come from a white washed and cement floored barn either. Nor does the goat or sheep stand have to be made of metal—it can be wood—or that the farmer should never milk his cow over a hay floor. However…everything that touches the milk should be scrupulously clean.  All teats on the cow are cleaned really well before milking (no manure or mud chunks hanging off the cow during milking thank you very much—which I have seen in both home and commercial dairies). Goats and sheep should be trimmed so their hair/fleece does not dangle into the milk and udders washed if needed. Pails should always be cleaned and beyond that regularly sterilized with boiling water or steaming or an acid washed. Milk storage containers should be sterilized at least every few times of use—and washed very well in between.  Why do all this? Is it because raw milk is more likely to carry germs? Not any more so than pasteurized milk—though “they” would like you to believe that it does. However….as with all things we are going to eat… we should be clean during preparation of our food products.  When do you know it’s bad though:   Well, if you keep it long enough…it will sometimes taste funny or look odd.  Funny is relative since it can taste funny if the cow/goat/sheep eats something odd.  But “funny” as in garlic chives is different than kind of funny from it culturing.  Raw milk does not go bad in the same way as pasteurized milk does (which actually tastes really ICKY and is why most people say “spoiled” when speaking of it).  Raw milk actually has bacteria eating the natural sugars in the milk and slowly turns the milk into a more acidic environment—basically the start of cheese or yogurt or other cultured foods.  Just as drinking pasteurized milk gone out of date will not kill you—neither will raw. (Using common sense of course –if it has mold or something like that floating in it you won’t want to drink it) Some people even still bake with their “bad” RAW milk —it’s fine to use it like that.  Do remember also that many products now made with pasteurized milk were traditionally products that were left out for a day or two on the counter to form on their own: Clabbered milk (http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/pages/clabberedmilk) Piima, Kefir, starters for cheeses etc.  Only in this day and age are many of these products pasteurized before making instead of allowing natural airborne microbes to help out. Lastly I have kept and used store bought buttermilk for months past when it was meant to be used. As long as it does not have mold on it or smell rotten—it is fine to bake with (the only way I use it).  Canned foods.  Believe it or not home canned foods are no different than commercial canned. Except they taste better. Some common sense things are use clean jars (some people always boil them first —I just make sure their really clean and well rinsed in hot water) and clean utensils, then processed for the correct amount of time.  Of course vitamin/mineral content could fade a bit over time which is one of the best reasons to eat them by the next season for any product. If you find that you have say …too many jars of pickled figs…the clue is to can less of them the next year and maybe do more dried figs instead.  Meats generally last longer than say..green beans…but everyone seems to agree that 2 years is a good limit for canned produce—store bought or home made. Though tuna is for sure still at least 5 years later and many older people will tell you stories of eating jars/cans of items 4, 5 or more years old.  One more thing. Of course we all know not to eat from badly rusted cans or blackened jar nor do we eat “bubbly”, stinky, or slimy food items if we find that when they are opened. However…when it comes to botulism it is either there or not. Hopefully not —which is generally the case when following clean canning methods and proper treatment of food along with proper canning procedures and times—all which sound much more complicated than they are. Botulism will not all of a sudden show up in your canned item because the 12 month bell tolled. If it’s there—it was already there on day 2.  Truthfully—and I have known lots of canners—I have never yet met one that got sick from eating canned food. However…they follow the common sense of “if it looks bad, throw it out” philosophy.  Other than that if you are canning low acid foods—use a pressure canner so you don’t have to worry or wonder. And when doing higher acid foods like pickles just make sure you have a vinegar with that is labeled at 5% acid or has been tested to be at least 5% acid. Jams/jellies well…I always boil mine to thicken anyway.  Besides, I am old enough to remember when jellies and jams were capped with hot wax. I remember the occasional jar coming to the table —peeling off the wax (which I loved to do) —and finding mold. Always..my mother or grandmother scraped off the mold and we proceeded to eat it. Now…could we have gotten sick? Maybe. But we were healthy and we didn’t.  Just an example and by no means encouraging anyone to scrape mold and eat the jelly 😀   Beyond that…you can search on the subject of food storage and stocking up. Grains/flours/beans along with many other food items last years and years. Most of the survival types sites and the LDS church sites can help you determine how long most commonly used pantry items last in storage. Here is a very good link for extensive food storage information: http://www.abysmal.com/LDS/Preparedness/  The first link on this page is for a LDS Preparedness Manual download. The manual has TONS of good food storage, how to store, how long to store and what to store information.  Eggs…well we often do eggs as your co worker. Especially in the winter I will store them on the counter to save room in the fridge.  On a hot summer day when it’s 85 and I don’t have the a/c on—I’m less inclined to do that though I have heard in some countries they will last in those types temp for 6 weeks at least. Eggs are good for at least a month past when you buy them in the store and are supposedly already 2 to 4 weeks old before getting there anyway.  They will definitely last longer if collected fresh by you or a friend since you won’t waste those weeks getting them delivered.  Since we don’t eat many eggs we sometimes have them in the fridge for a long time. We sell the freshest and keep the oldest for ourselves. When it’s been a while (way over a month) since I used them and I have forgotten how long they have been in there, I crack in a separate bowl just to look at it. If by chance an egg is bad—which has never happened to me—-it would give itself away by the smell or looks. Again—nutrition wise it’s better to use sooner rather than later but….. a rotten egg gives itself away and you won’t ever forget it.  I have only ever found those in the nests that are abandoned after the baby chicks hatch. Everyone in our family hates cleaning the old nests because the stench is so very very bad—and the eggs like hot little grenades waiting to pop.  I know all this can’t completely help you decide if something is bad but maybe you will feel more comfortable trying a new technique of food storage in the future knowing that many of us “risk our necks” daily eating all that non governmental approved and non pasteurized food items 😀


Have a question for our writers?  Please e-mail your question to mtkatiecakes@yahoo.com and we’ll cover it soon.


We entered this in the Fight Back Friday Carnival.

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medicine chest

the family medicine chest is an ongoing series on the fourth thursday of each month.

a few months ago, i discussed making herbal cough drops. another step up on the ladder of herbal medicine making is making herbal lozenges and pills.

both are made roughly the same way but pills are smaller and meant to be swallowed while lozenges will be sucked on.

sometimes, using herbal pills and lozenges can be a lifesaver getting kids to take their medicine. the pills can be chewed or swallowed whole and the sweetness of the honey and slippery elm make them appealing to kids when teas and tinctures fail.

to make lozenges and pills, start with the powdered herb of choice. here is a list of herbs great for treating sore throats:

-wild cherry bark
-echinacea, roots, leaves, flowers and/or seeds (any combination of)
-pine needles or inner bark
-horehound (use sparingly as it is very bitter)
-osha root
-dandelion flowers or roots
-yellow dock root
-mullein leaf
-chicory root
-comfrey leaves
-plantain leaves or roots
-holy basil
-heal all
-peach twig or leaves
-slippery elm

slippery elm is a great herb for treating sore throats as well as makes a great binding agent and also a sweet coating agent.

start with the sore throat herbs of choice. i hesitate in adding a recipe to this as i don’t want to limit your ideas on what can and should be used. please use this recipe as an example only and use the herbs that speak to you most.

herbal lozenge mix

3 tbsp powdered slippery elm bark
3 tbsp powdered licorice root
1 tbsp powdered echinacea root and leaf
1 tsp  powdered wild cherry bark

mix the powders together and then add enough honey to make a thick, gooey mass. it takes less honey than you’d think so start out slowly with the honey. next add essential oils such as thyme, orange or rosemary, about 5-10 drops. when using essential oils always make sure they are safe for internal consumption as some can be quite strong.

roll the mass in more powdered slippery elm to coat and then roll out until about 1/4″ thick. cut the dough into quarter sized pieces, roll them into a ball and place on a cookie sheet, flattening them. as you are doing this, dip them in more slippery elm if needed.

set out to dry for about 12 hours. store in an airtight jar.

pills are made the same way but can be made for a myriad of uses. one example would be to make pills for headaches using herbs such as skullcap, valerian, wood betony, chamomile and lemon balm. a mixture of these herbs works well. again, add enough honey to make a gooey mass, roll the ball of dough in slippery elm and start pinching off pea sized pieces. roll them into balls, flatten if desired and place on a cookie sheet. air dry and store in a glass bottle.

another example would be to make immune inhancer pills using echinacea roots, leaves, flowers and seeds, astragalus and spilanthes. mix equal parts of the powdered herb, add the honey and pinch into pea sized pills. take 3-4 every hour when you start feeling under the weather.

both can be dried in a warm oven or a dehydrator as well. during the summer, it can be hard to get them to air dry because of the humidity.

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sunflower closeup2

Last year on my personal blog, I decided to put forth some questions I had, in order to see what sorts of responses I’d get from what we loosely term the homesteading community of bloggers. 

There is a wealth of wisdom to be had of the firsthand sort. In much of the future planning Jack and I are doing, though we know our efforts will be honed and personalized, we also recognize that we’d like to avoid pitfalls, learn from folks with more experience than we have, and not try to re-invent the wheel.

At the time, I was very curious about the ins and outs of how homesteaders chose to raise their chickens.  I had noticed on others’ blogs how differently each person did things, while noting some things many had in common.  I wanted to know so many things…what was the favorite type of housing? breed?  were they being raised for eggs, or meat, or both?  And so on and so on.   And so I posted a list of what I termed Homesteading Chicken Questions.

The questions were thrown out there for anyone to comment on, in part or in whole.  I was unprepared for the number of excellent responses, and was fascinated by the wide difference of choices, preferences, and advice gained. 

I’ve meant to propose other homesteading-related questions here at the NotDabbling site, and in thinking about that some more, I’d love to know if any of you have particular topics you’d love to see collective comments on?

The past “homesteading chicken questions” responses I mentioned added up to quite a lengthy comments section back then.  For our purposes here, I’d like to direct them to an email address and post the answers the following week in a post here all its own.

There’s really no limitation to the feedback, if you’d like to participate.  You don’t have to be an expert, and don’t have to answer all the questions.  If you’d like to include your name or “handle” and your blog address, I’ll include it when I post the feedback/answers the following week.  And by the term “homesteader,” I interpret that broadly and inclusively, of course.

Here are the two questions I’ll kick this off with  — one for future reference, and one to be posted next week:

Question #1 — (Go ahead and post your answers to this one in comments, below, if you’d like)

What topic, and specific questions related to it, would you love to see other “homesteaders” share their opinions, preferences, and experiences about?

Question #2 — (Please email any input to this question to my email address, and I’ll collate them.  My email is  robbynonline@yahoo.com)  Here’s what I’d love your input on for next week:

Whether you are a seasoned expert or a beginner, what was your original vision/plan for your homestead (home, garden, animals, profession), and as it unfolded, what is it now?

  • Is there a bit of key advice you’d offer to someone just starting out…things to do, things to avoid, what you’d have done differently?
  • What would you never do again?
  • If you garden, what ended up being your most reliable crops over time?
  • If you keep animals, which ones did you start with, and which ones do you have now and why?
  • What are your continuing goals and some things you’d still like to add to the plan, or do you like it As Is?
  • Do you have to rely on an off-property job for income, or do you rely on income made from your homestead efforts?

Maybe that’s enough of a list for now, but if you think of anything else you’d like to add, feel free!

I, like so many others, love this homesteading community of bloggers, and love seeing what does and doesn’t work for different ones of us.  Some differences will be hinged to geographic location, others to personal preferences, financial situations, and so many other factors.  I know Jack’s and my personal plan has worked out differently than we’d expected, and that we’ve fine-tuned several areas we initially would have invested more in, but are glad now we didn’t.

Getting back to the subject of the online homesteading community, don’t forget we have a great Yahoogroup  going…check it out to commisserate with a lot of kindred spirits and get feedback on just about any related topic!

Also, if you have a homesteading subject near and dear to your heart, or something along those lines you think others would love to know or learn, feel free to drop me a line at the above email address to discuss contributing a prospective post here.  We welcome guest writers, and love the momentum of collaboration.

I look forward to your input!

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Fly season has begun. They are always a challenge when you have livestock. Fortunately our animals don’t spend much time in the barn when it’s warm and the chickens do a pretty good job cleaning up the pasture and eliminating the flies. They still make me a bit paranoid. Growing up we were obsessed with eliminating flies because they caused so much disease and distress which resulted in lower productivity. This fear is pretty prevalentin the cattle industry. All sorts of chemical concoctions have been invented with lots of creative ways of applying them. Sprays, powders, rubs, automated misters, fly traps, scratching posts that administer the chemicals while the cow rubs against it, etc. I’ve even seen a pasture vacuum to suck up all the manure and any bugs that it may harbor. For us, beyond the chickens and careful attention to manure management, we don’t do much in the way of fly control. When I tell farmers around here what we do for flies, the first response I get is “that wouldn’t work for us.” The second thing (sometimes the first thing) that is said is “you must have a lot of problems with pinkeye.) For a lot of people that seems to be a real problem. I remember using all kinds of shots, sometimes right into the eye, powders, and glue on patches to try to treat pinkeye and keep it from spreading in a herd. I know natural beef producers who have 10 – 15% of their calves dropped from the program because of pinkeye and the treatment options they use. I’ve seen animals blinded, eyes exploded and then removed, and pinkeye that has turned into an abscess and killed the animal. It can be a huge problem, and flies are a vector for spreading it. A few years ago I managed a herd of dairy goats. We had a good, natural, fly control program similar to the one I currently use. We hadn’t had a case of pinkeye in years. One summer we planted a new field with sorghum/Sudan grass to increase our hot season forage. With in three days of turning the goats into the new pasture we had our first case of pinkeye. Several more showed up the next day. This was a problem. We were milking these goats in a Grade A Organic Raw Milk dairy. Most of the treatment options the vet recommended would make the milk unusable and the goat no longer Organically certified. Not a good option. After some more research into alternatives, we hit on cod liver oil. Two ml squirted into the eye and 10 ml given orally. We treated the goats with pinkeye and then the whole herd with oral cod liver oil. As fast as the problem appeared it disappeared. It turns out that pinkeye is an indicator of vitamin A deficiency. Most of our pastures were minerally well balanced and had a diverse mix of grass, forbs, and legumes. The new pasture hadn’t had enough work done to balance the soil, and was planted in a single crop. (I suspect the sorghum/Sudan grass isn’t as well balanced even in good soil. I’ve seen lots of problems associated with it.) Once we identified the deficiency we were able to meet the need with a suplement. The only other time I had a pinkeye problem was when I was feeding hay purchased from an “organic” farm that was not minerally ballances. Attending to the quality of the soil and the feed produced on that soil will get you much better results than waging war with the flies.


I think there are lessons to be learned here as far as human health is concerned.  Food grown in soil that is properly ballanced promotes health.  Food that is deficient in something, because it was grown in soil that was deficient promotes disease.

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A fun, healthy lunch box or picnic basket treat:

Coconut Covered Carob Balls

  • 1/2 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 1/2 Cup Carob Powder
  • 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Cup Honey
  • 1 Cup Soy Milk Powder
  • 1 Cup Sesame Seeds
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut for rolling

Mix all the ingredients (except coconut) together using a food processor or a stand mixer, until thoroughly combined.   Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls between your palms.  Roll some of the balls in shredded coconut.  Place the balls on a baking sheet covered in was paper.  Refrigerate until set.

These can get soft, so I recommend keeping them in the fridge until packing for your day or adventure.

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Berry Cordial Making

We like to experiment around my house and often times these experiments turn into wonderful gifts.  This is one such experiment: Homemade Berry Liqueur/Cordials.

Step 1:

Cut up 1 pound of Berries and place in a clean glass jar.  Pour one quart of vodka on top of your berries (use cheap vodka, no sense in spending money on something you’re not going to taste the true flavor of anyway).  Put a tight fitting lid on your jar and place in a cool dark place for one week.

Step 2:

Strain your vodka.  Put the vodka  in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Mix the berries with 2 cups of sugar and place that mixture in another clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Place both jars in a cool, dark place for a month.  Shake the jar with the berries in it occasionally.

Step 3:

Strain the berries again (serve the berries over cake or ice cream) and add the liquid to the vodka and mix well. Leave the vodka mixture sit for 4 to 6 months before consuming.  The longer it sits the better the flavor.  Pour into decorative bottles for gifts.  Enjoy – a small sip goes a long way.

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I have rhubarb taking over my kitchen not to mention my garden bed that it resides in!  At least three times a week I make something with rhubarb just to try to keep up with it.  Here is far and away my family’s favorite way to eat the stuff…

rhubarb apple2

Rhubard Apple Bake

  • 6 Cups of diced rhubard
  • 5 large apples peeled and diced
  • 6 TBSP Orange juice
  • 1 3/4 Cup Sugar (more or less according to your taste)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Mix this all together and put in large greased baking pan 9×13 or so.

  • 1/2 Cup White Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Oats (I use old fashioned but quick cook is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 cube) melted butter

Combine in bowl till crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of fruit mixture.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes or until it is lightly brown and the fruit is bubbly. 

Serve with homemade vanilla ice cream!

rhubarb apple5

rhubarb apple6

rhubarb apple1

rhubarb apple4


Into the oven it goes…

rhubarb apple7

I would have taken a picture of it done but my kids and hubby swarmed so fast when it was pulled out I didn’t have a chance!  I hope you give this misunderstood vegetable/fruit a try… it can be very delicious!

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Fresh greens from the garden or farmers market are just crying out for fresh dressing too.  Salad dressings made at home from simple ingredients everyone has in their pantry are a good way to cut out additives in our diets, and add one more recipe to our scratch cooking files.  But, if your family is like mine, everyone wants different dressing on their salads.
spring mix

spring mix

Sometimes too, it is hard to wean ourselves off of that store bought taste and familiarity.  This recipe helps make the transition a little easier.  A woman who worked in the cafeteria at the hospital where I worked, shared this recipe with me.  We both shared a love for fresh, made from scratch food, and she was Mormon and kept a huge pantry at home.  We always had something to chat about, and we got many a curious look when she would pull out a empty gallon pickle jar from under the cash register and place it on my tray.  She was a peach of a gal, and even though I know her recipe by heart, it heartens me to pull out that recipe card and see her handwriting.  Thanks Joyce!
French dressing

French dressing


medium onion, chopped
¼ cup water
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup oil
½ cup catsup
½ cup sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
½ salt
¼ pepper

Blend chopped onion, water and vinegar in blender or food processor until the onion is the consistency you desire. Add remaining ingredients and continue mixing until desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings.

If you want a mild onion flavor use a sweet onion, if you like your onion flavor strong, use a regular cooking onion.

Store unused portion in refrigerator.

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