Posts Tagged ‘scratch cooking’

If you have been reading my personal blog, by now, you must realize my love for all things “Zucchini!” Even though I have only talked about the sweet treats I make with zucchini, I must admit I could could do without the sweet things all together and go all out for savory! By far, the easiest way for us to go through zucchini fast is to simply grill it.

Back when the zucchini were ready to harvest I was leaving town so I shredded the first few and stuck them in the freezer. Those bags still sit there waiting to be used. When I returned form my trip I started using the fresh zucchini and one of the first thing I made were these Zucchini “Things.” I have no idea what to call them, so “things” was the answer.

I used a recipe I have for Zucchini “Crab” Cakes (or zucchini fritters) and started playing around. What came out of that was Zucchini “Things.” I made a few batches of these and LOVED them every time. I am not big on measuring ingredients, so each batch tasted a bit different, but that was fine.

Here is the measurements of what I did (and I hope they turn out for you too!):

  • 2 1.2 cups of shredded/grated zucchini
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
  • 2 1/2 T cornmeal

I filled the mini muffin cups full.

Bake at 350F for 17 minutes (in mini muffin tins.) You would have to vary the time if you used the regular size muffin tins. I also imagine you could forgo the muffin tin completely and just plop some scoops on a cookie sheet, flatten them a bit if you want to and bake that way.

Right now, for me, it is all about saving time, but I DO know that you can fry these in the fry pan on your stove top and have good results too.  In your hands, you can form them in to small patties or just spoon some into fry pan and flatten with spatula. Depending on the length of time you fry them, you can get a crispy crust on them.

I posted about the Zucchini “Crab” Cakes yesterday on my personal log. Head over there to get the recipe.

Other Zucchini posts:

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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This year my pumpkin vines went the way of the squash – horribly. Neither one seemed to produce any female blossoms, and so I ended up with no orange pie filling or bread sweets produced in my garden.  Instead I picked up a dozen pie pumpkins from a fruit stand (thanks, Mom!), and I’ve been busy processing them for use throughout the winter.

Not one to allow for much waste, I also baked up the pumpkin seeds to munch on for quick and healthy snacks. Again, thanks to my mom, I was given the idea to season my pumpkin seeds instead of the usual roasting. All I can say is that I find myself grabbing several spiced seeds each time I pass by the bowl, and have even found myself hovering near the bowl just for an extra munch.

sliced pumpkins

And who can roast pumpkins and not bake something with the gorgeous orange flesh. Pumpkins have tons of vitamin A, but also   Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Additionally, pumpkin weighs in at only 30 calories per cup.

Since Halloween is only the beginning of celebrating the pumpkin, I thought I’d share several recipes I’ve been working on this week. I hope you enjoy!!

pumpkin persimmon scone

Pumpkin and Persimmon Scones

Best served with clotted cream or fresh butter.

  • 1cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 6 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree divided into two portions
  • ¼ cup persimmons (dried cranberries or raisins soaked for 5 minutes in warm water can be substituted if desired)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts if desired
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  1. Heat oven to 425F.
  2. Chop butter into small bits, returning to refrigerator until needed.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together well the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, ¼ cup of the pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  5. In another small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp sugar, the remaining pumpkin and your persimmons and nuts.
  6. Using a fork, pastry cutter, or a quick spin in a food processor, combine butter and flour mixture until it resembles corn meal. Add the liquid ingredients and mix lightly until just combined. Overworking will ruin your scones. Really, 10 seconds is all you need!
  7. Dust workspace with flour and pour out scone mixture. Drop spoonfuls of pumpkin/fruit mixture onto scone mixture and gently knead. You want little surprises of gooey fruit and crunchy nuts so don’t over-mix. Form scones into a circle, no taller than about an inch. Divide into 8 pieces like a pie and place onto cookie sheet, allowing plenty of space between pieces. Alternately you can place spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet like drop biscuits. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown. Serve warm with fresh jam or clotted cream!

(If you prefer to use cream in your recipe instead of buttermilk, remove the baking soda from your ingredient list. This would be an excellent way to use up the cultured cream from preparing clotted cream!)

clotted cream

Clotted Cream

adapted from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll and litlnemo from Slumberland (thanks for the confidence!).

  • 1 pint to 1 quart heavy cream (not ULTRA-pasteurized) results in ½ to 1 cup clotted cream
  1. Heat oven to 180F
  2. Pour cream into a double-boiler and slowly bring up to 175F, stirring constantly. Pour into wide pan and cover with a lid. Allow the cream to stay warm for at least 8 hours.
  3. When you remove the pan, allow to cool a few minutes before setting it in an ice water bath. Do not stir cream yet even if it looks a little custardy.
  4. Place pan in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, strain off the thickened cream incorporating the “skin” into the mixture. You can use the reserved cream for any other application you’d normally use it for – it’s just now cultured.

clotted cream

 Spread cream onto scones, biscuits, or one of my favorite applications – pancakes!

savory seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds – Savory

  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder
    1. Heat oven to 250F.
    2. Clean pulp from seeds and allow them to soak in water overnight. Rinse the seeds well in a strainer, rubbing them gently against the container to help remove any remaining residue.
    3. Place seeds on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, then place in heated oven. After 15 minutes drizzle with oil and seasonings, then return to oven.
    4. Turn over after 30 minutes and add more seasoning if desired. Bake for 1 hour total.
    5. Allow seeds to cool before enjoying.

Roasted pumpkin seeds – Herb

  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Thyme, oregano, basil
  • Garlic powder
    1. Heat oven to 250F.
    2. Clean pulp from seeds and allow them to soak in water overnight. Rinse the seeds well in a strainer, rubbing them gently against the container to help remove any remaining residue.
    3. Combine olive oil with herbs and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
    4. Place seeds on cookie sheet, in a single layer, then place in heated oven. After 15 minutes drizzle with oil and seasonings, then return to oven.
    5. Turn over after 30 minutes and add more seasoning if desired. Bake for 1 hour total. Be sure that herbs don’t singe.
    6. Allow seeds to cool before enjoying.

sweet pumpkin seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds – Sweet

  • Walnut oil or other light tasting oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  1. Heat oven to 250F.
  2. Clean pulp from seeds and allow them to soak in water overnight. Rinse the seeds well in a strainer, rubbing them gently against the container to help remove any remaining residue.
  3. Place seeds on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, then place in heated oven. After 15 minutes drizzle with oil sugar and cinnamon, then return to oven.
  4. Turn over after 30 minutes and add more sugar if desired. Bake for 1 hour total.
  5. Allow seeds to cool before enjoying.

I hope you have the chance to take advantage of this wonderfully healthy and seasonal treat. Pumpkins can last quite a while in cool storage, but I have found it convenient to prepare a few ahead of time to keep frozen. The best part is that most of the fruit can be used and what is left over goes directly into the compost!

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life where she blargs about life with 6 chickens (yep, one more down), a frog, a fish, two cats, and her Hubby and Kid.

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Breakfast Bread


We had a couple of requests for bread recipes this past week so I thought I’d be obliging and share our Cinnamon Swirl bread. This is the bread that my daughter asks for almost every morning of the week. It’s fantastic toasted and supremely decadent served up as french toast. I’ve used both dried cranberries and raisins as a filler, but it would be fantastic with diced dates or prunes, dried apples, or any other dried fruit, and seed. I hope you enjoy!

rolled bread with honey

My recipe is based on this one published in Bread Baker’s Apprentice and shared by Smitten Kitchen. I’ve altered it to suit my family’s needs.

Makes one two-pound loaf

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp  honey
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups room temperature water
  • 2 Tbsp oil for bowl
  • 1/4 cup raisins or cranberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

I always add 1/2 cup unfed sourdough starter (the perfect way to use up “waste” when you’re feeding it). You can also substitute 1 Tbsp of whey for water.

  1. In a large bowl mix all of your dry ingredients.
  2. In your mixing bowl add honey, butter, yogurt, and one cup water. If you’re adding sourdough starter, now’s the time to add it. If you’re using a stand mixer jump to the next step. For hand mixing, make a well in your flour combination and start adding your liquids. When your dough forms a nice ball and no flour remains you’ve added enough liquid. Sprinkle a workspace with extra flour and work your dough for 8-10 minutes. The ball should be slightly tacky and springy. Skip the next step
  3. If you’re using a stand mixer you can begin adding about 1/3 of the dry mixture using your paddle. Once that’s very well incorporated switch over to your dough attachment. Continue adding flour until the dough begins to work up your hook. You’ve added enough dry mixture when the dough resembles a tornado and the sides of the bowl are clean. Allow the dough to mix on medium speed for about 5-6 more minutes.
  4. Oil a bowl (I like grape seed oil but have used olive oil as well) and roll dough in the bowl to cover with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly sprinkle flour on workspace and gently roll out dough. Very carefully pull and shape the dough to form a rectangle about 8 inches by 12 inches. You don’t want to release any of the air trapped in the dough by handling the dough roughly. Drizzle your honey all over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with your dried fruit and finally the cinnamon.
  6. toppings

  7. Carefully roll up the rectangle of dough to form the swirls and set inside an oiled bread pan. Cover pan and allow to rise for another hour or until bread rises just past the top of the pan. During the last 20 minutes of rising, set your oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake bread for 30 minutes. Turn bread around for even baking and finish baking for another 10-15 minutes or when internal temperature reaches 205 F.
  9. When bread is done baking, turn out immediately on a cooling rack and try to be patient before you cut into it. Okay, okay, 10 minutes should be okay but a half hour is even better!

cinnamon swirl

Slice off a good hunk and top with some homemade butter and, if you have a real sweet tooth, a drizzle of honey and enjoy!!

You can find Jennifer over at Unearthing This Life where she blargs about her life with one Kid, one Hubby, two cats, and seven chickens. Yes, the boys are outnumbered.

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homemade ginger ale

In spirit of those of you that have not the taste for alcoholic beverages (hic!) I’m here to share some basic recipes for making soda pop at home! What could be better than a frosty ginger ale to help cool off during these hot summer days? If ginger’s not your thing, how about a lemon-lime soda or an orange-ade? The combination is unlimited so long as your imagination is put to good use. The best part is it’s all homemade so you’re avoiding massive doses of sugar, artificial flavorings, and caffeine.

Do note that some of these recipes contain yeast, and as yeast feeds on sugars it releases alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-products. Because these recipes aren’t aged but a few days, the amount of alcohol is extremely minor. I personally feel comfortable allowing my own daughter to drink beverages made from these recipes without any worry. It should not be enough to cause intoxication for even our small samplers. If, however, you avoid alcohol for personal or medicinal purposes I recommend sticking with the recipes that don’t include yeast.

ginger pulp

Ginger Ale

Mildly sweet and spicy with a hint of lemon

(prepare 3 days prior to drinking)

  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 inch portion of ginger club, grated
  • 1 lemon, juiced and grated for zest
  • 1 small piece sassafras root (approximately 1/4 tsp) *optional*
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 gallon water
  1. Boil water. Add all ingredients except yeast and let steep for 2 hours.
  2. Once water is between room temperature and 100F, add yeast and stir.
  3. Cover liquid and let rest for one day.
  4. On the next day, strain liquid with cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
  5. Pour liquid into clean, sterile bottles and close tightly.
  6. Store in cool, dark place for two days.
  7. Chill to stop fermentation and enjoy over ice!

**sassafras contains safrole which has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats when consumed in high doses. You can purchase safrole-free sassafras extract or use the leaves which do not contain safrole if you have concerns.

Lemon Lime Soda 

Like a liquid SweeTart

(prepare 3 days before drinking)

  • 1 lemon, juiced and grated for zest 
  • 2 limes, juiced and grated for zest 
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 gallon + 2 cups water
  1. Boil water and add all ingredients.
  2. Simmer over low for one hour.
  3. Add yeast after water has cooled.
  4. Let rest overnight.
  5. Strain, bottle and cap tightly after one day.
  6. Allow to rest two days before drinking
  7. Chill to stop fermentation, then serve

Summer Refresher

Perfect for a hot day in the garden

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 lime, bruised and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint or lemon balm
  • 2 liters of carbonated soda water
  • *add fresh aloe or 1 cup aloe water for additional health benefits
  1. Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and cover. Allow fruits to remain in pitcher.
  2. Store in refrigerator and serve when chilled.

soda ingredients


Fun for the kids, best prepared over a sink or outdoors

  • 3/4  cup sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 3-4 oranges, juiced (substitute limes or lemons if desired)
  1. Boil sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Chill syrup until very cold.
  3. Stir in baking soda.
  4. Prepare room for overflow!
  5. Add sugar syrup to iced glasses.
  6. Just before serving, add orange juice to each glass. The citric acid will activate the baking soda. The kids will adore this one!

blackberry cream soda

Fruit Pop

Make with seasonal fruit

  • 2 cups fresh fruit such as strawberries (rasp-, black-, blue-, huckle-, goose-…), peaches, pineapple, or grapes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 liters carbonated soda water
  1. Boil water, sugar, and fruit to make a syrup.
  2. Strain skins and seeds through cheesecloth or a mesh strainer.
  3. Allow to cool in refrigerator.
  4. Pour syrup over ice, then top with soda.
  5. For a fun twist, add 2 Tbsp half & half and top with whipped cream.

Vanilla Cream

For those that like it smooth

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • 8 oz carbonated soda water
  1. In a tall glass, mix extracts, sugar, and cream until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add ice and stir in soda water.


As you can see, the recipes are limitless. Combine different fruits to make a beverage that you enjoy. Don’t forget to top of your soda with a nice garnish made from fresh fruit, basil, mint, or watercress.

Jennifer can be found blarging at Unearthing This Life where she rambles about her daily doings, her crazy chickens, and her quirky family.

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grilled pizzas

Dear Grilled Pizza,

Oh! How I love you so! You’re the perfect combination of char marks and melty cheese oozing between slices of vegetable and sometimes meat. I love to share my leftovers with you, especially if it’s barbeque. Chicken, zucchini, onions, ground meat (even salami!), they do compliment you so. You pair just as well with or without beef or pork, however those sweet dessert pizzas are but a mockery of your loveliness. Those crazy Westerners should keep their sweets to cobblers and tarts instead. Mild peppers are like the cherry on top. You are perfectly paired with the smokiness of the grill; the fast cooking technique. Most people wouldn’t care for your need of constant attention, but you’re one of the deserving few that actually require it to be the best you can be. I love to attend to you with mozzarella and feta, sometimes queso blanco. Fresh herbs as a garnish. Green tomatoes or sun-dried. And always lots of garlic with some sweet olive oil. I’d even give you a bouquet of broccoli or mushrooms if you so desired.

Our rendezvous every Friday evening only leaves me wanting more of your many flavors. So many people take advantage of one side of you; they waste your beauty with pepperoni and sausage. They adorn you with too many flavors to truly taste who you are (because deep inside we all know it’s the crust that matters). We Americans love you and leave you, to use up your convenience, to eat you with cheap swill. I for one can no longer do that to you – I see your importance. You bring our families together, you bind our leftovers into a harmonious flavor, you are eloquent and yet strong, simple or artisanal (and you pair well with wine or beer, and even sweet southern tea). You are seasonal and somehow you’ll always ring true of your homeland if we treat you gently. With all of these words and love from the deepest acre of my fickle heart, will you be mine this eve?

With many tasty wishes in mind, Jennifer

grilled pizza
Jen’s Pizza Sauce: (enough to cover 3-4 10 inch pizzas)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp (or more) crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pint crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste (or one small can)

Lightly sauté garlic, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper in olive oil. Add tomato sauce and paste and simmer for about 20 minutes over medium low heat. For a smoother tomato sauce you can use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the chunks of tomatoes.

pizza sauce collage

Alteration: to create a barbeque pizza sauce add 1/2 cup molasses and 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Adjust for sweet/tartness.

The Best Pizza Dough Ever recipe found at 101 Cookbooks. I slightly alter the recipe by using 1/3 whole wheat flour. I also add a cup of sourdough starter and combine dough making with my weekly sourdough feeding. Finally, I’ll sometimes substitute some whey for water and/or add some wheat germ or garlic.


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My littlest kids just loves granola…well we all do, but they do especially.  I on the other hand hate the high price of good granola.  Making your own is so simple and satisfying…not to mention less expensive!  There are so many variations you could have a different kind ever day of the week and still not run out of ideas for great granola!  Today Sweet Girl chose her very favorite, coconut with cinnamon and raisins!

For this recipe you will need.

  • 4 Cups Old Fashioned Oatmeal (not quick cooking)
  • 1 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 4 TBSP Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 5 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  • 3 TBSP Water
  • 3 Cups total extras (we used raisins and unsweetened large flaked coconut)

Note…I always try to use as many organic ingredients as possible

Extras that you could use: slivered or sliced almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, chopped pecans or hazelnuts, dark or golden raisins, dried currants, chopped banana chips, chopped dried pineapple, dried blueberries or cherries, chopped dates or mini chocolate chips

Flavorings you could use: cinnamon, ginger, almond extract, orange zest, vanilla extract

Liquid Sweeteners you could use: honey, maple syrup,  molasses

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix Oats…


Wheat Germ…


Brown Sugar…


Salt and Cinnamon…


and Coconut…


Mix it all together…


In small microwave safe bowl or small saucepan mix together…


Pure Maple Syrup…


Not forgetting of course to…


Lick the cup!


Whisk Syrup, Oil, and Water together and microwave for approx 1 minute until hot

or simmer on low in saucepan till hot.

Whisk again well and drizzle over dried ingredients…


Stir well…and place on lightly greased large cookie sheet (you may need two since you need to keep it away from the edges so you can stir it later without spilling) or jelly roll pan


Now if you are like me and like little lumps of granola instead of just loose granola here is a trick…


Taking small handfuls at a time squeeze it into little lumps and place back in the pan…


Then you will have cute little lumps of granola…ahhhh!

Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes then…


Add any dried fruit you are using, in the case raisins, mix them in and place back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until your granola is a deep golden brown.  Let cool completely and store in airtight container.  It will keep for two weeks…mine usually last about 2 days because…


Kids sure do like its crunchy yummy goodness!


So remember it is always a good morning for great homemade granola!!!


So what is your favorite thing for breakfast?

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she’s raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids…and a camel!

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We love banana bread around here, seriously dig the stuff.  I have perfected what I think is the yummiest whole wheat banana bread and it happens to be low fat too!  So if you love banana bread but want a healthy version that is moist, sweet, yummy and very bananaeee (new word, like it?) then hold onto your peels this recipe is for you!

Ingredient list:

  • 1/3 Cup Veggie Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Applesauce (I use unsweetened)
  • 3 eggs (or equivalent in egg replacer)
  • 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (this kinda varies depending on the size of your eggs and how runny your applesauce is)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 large mashed bananas (smashed, smooshed and otherwise mutilated bananas if you are cooking with a kid!)
  • Nuts are optional…I would suggest walnuts…if you don’t live with any nut-haters that is.


First you start out with a good old friend…lets all give a warm welcome to ‘the New Cook Book’  by Better Homes and Gardens…although it isn’t even close to new as it was a wedding present that was given to me by my grandma 25 years ago (again let me reiterate that I was a child bride) .   Banana Nut Bread from page 51 is the starting point for this recipe.

One…ok me…must also wonder why someone would name a book ‘The New…’ anything considering that it will soon not be new and therefore it will then be a big fat liar, just a thought


Sorry Grandma I laid your nice book on a hot burner…now this would have surprised my Grandma but since the rest of you visit here once in a while I betcha it doesn’t surprise you.  My hubby always keeps 2 fire extinguishers in our kitchen…just in case!!!!!!


Start with the oil poured by my lovely assistant Sweet Girl


Next is the applesauce


Stir, stir


Next comes the sugar, yummy


Add eggs…


Scoop up an egg…


Touch the egg,  plop it down a couple of times,  poke it,  smell it,  play with it till mama sees what you’re doing and makes you stop


Measure out baking powder, talk to mama about leavening and such…science is so cool!  Don’t forget the baking soda and salt.


Add half of the whole wheat flour…mix but don’t over do, quick breads like to be treated tenderly, they are the princesses of the bread world.  Unlike yeast breads that  like to be slapped around a little…ok I’m stopping before this discussion evolves into something sorted!


Have fun smashing the bananas!  Note, if you lick the bananas off your fingers make sure no one’s  watching!


Pour in the bananas…WAIT what is that I see a tiki hut?


Oh my goodness its a couple of Hawaiian girls and a palm tree,  you discovered my secret to super duper bread…shhhhh don’t tell!


Stir and then add the rest of the flour, stir some more, remember gently, gently…it tastes better when you stir it wearing a groovy headband!


Put into pans and then into oven,

no,…pour into pans and then place into the oven, pouring it into the oven is a bad idea.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


Fresh out of the oven…oh so pretty!  Can you smell it?  No?  Sorry just trying to torture you a little!


Most and delicious…very, very good


Moist and delicious with applesauce…even better!

This really is a great recipe and it can be enjoyed with little guilt (well unless you smother it with butter which I hear is good, I would never do that myself, not ever…really I wouldn’t!) This particular bread should  never be enjoyed alone though…go grab someone you love (or are wildly attracted to) and give ’em a big  kiss and share some homemade goodness with them…

BTW…if you don’t have a groovy Hawaiian plate to use you could put on a bikini and a grass skirt and I think it would work just as well. Aloha!

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids…and a camel!

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I cook our family’s food from scratch, every day, 365 day a year.  We don’t go out except on very rare special occasions.  I am too cheap and as a vegan to finicky to eat out most places…besides we live in the sticks!

As I covered in my last post about food storage.  Being prepared is also key to running a kitchen efficiently.  To know how you cook and organize your kitchen accordingly.  You do not need a big fancy kitchen to have one that runs will with few wasted steps.  In fact a huge kitchen can be a detriment to efficiency.

There are a few things that should be done before setting up or re-organizing your kitchen….

Get Rid of what you don’t use…

Be realistic.  Do you really need 3 waffle irons?  How about those 15 packets of gravy mix in the back of the spice cabinet?  While you are purging the unneeded look for the outdated, the broken beyond repair, and the things you hate.  For me it was getting rid of a frying pan that I absolutely hated.  I gave it to one of my older sons who are starting out and replaced it with one that worked much better for me.

If you have things that only get used during the holidays move them somewhere besides your kitchen…just remember where you put them.  Keep valuable kitchen real estate for the most used and useful items

Make sure everything in your kitchen is used frequently.

Seriously take a look at how you cook…

Are you a gourmet cook that needs lots of spices?  Do you like me spend vast amounts of time baking? Do you need lots of different pots and pans or will just a few simple ones suffice?  Are small kitchen appliances something that you depend on daily or is a really sharp knife and box grater fine for you?

When you know how you cook organize stations for these tasks…

I have 4 deliberate zones in my kitchen.  One for cooking, one for baking, another for clean up and the last for eating.  Each has the tools for that task within reach.

My Cooking zone…

In this is my pots and pans, utensils that I use for cooking such as stirring spoons, knives, spatulas, ladles, etc. My most used spices are kept near by with my more exotic kept higher in a cabinet.  I also keep my non-stick spray and cutting boards handy.

My Baking zone…

I have a 3 drawers beneath where I bake that I store everything I need for all my recipes for breads and other goodies.  All measuring cups, spoons, whisks are in the first drawer.  Chocolate chips and baking chocolate along with sugars are kept in the second drawer.  Third drawer has cookie cutters, muffin liners, and rolling pins.  All my baking spices are kept within reach of this zone. Next to these drawers is a cabinet with my wheat grinder and Bosch bread mixer. Mixing bowls are within reach also.

Clean up zone…

This includes the sink and the dishwasher and draining board.  I use the cabinet directly over the dish washer to store plates and cups that we use everyday.  This saves steps when unloading the dishwasher.  Towels and dishrags are kept in a drawer next to the sink.


We keep dishes next to the area we eat along with napkins and the compost bucket.  I also keep a small spice basket there with salt and pepper, Tabasco and sugar


These are a blessing and a curse in my house.  I love having lots of counters but also hate the stuff they attract.  Mail, newspapers, paint buckets, coats, plants (ok, like that one) etc.  It is hard not to use such convenient horizontal surfaces as a dumping ground for everything.

I have made an effort to find places behind doors for most of my kitchen things like appliances…I have found that a cluttered counter seems to attract more clutter where as a clean sparse counter seems to stay neat longer.

Waste Disposal…

Keeping small recycling bins, as well as a bucket for compost in your kitchen makes the items that are actually put in the garbage to a minimum.  It also makes clean up more efficient.


I don’t store a lot of food in the kitchen (I use my pantry for that) but what I do store I store properly.  Oils should be kept in a cabinet out of direct sunlight.  Spices should not be stored next to the stove as heat and moisture will affect their flavor.  Make sure foods are stored in areas that are appropriate to that food.

Store your most used items on the lowest most easily accessible shelves with the least used on the highest.

Working efficiently…

If you have decluttered and organized your kitchen you have taken a huge step to efficiency.  Now when you actually step into the kitchen to prepare something you can follow a few very simple suggestions to make it even more streamlined.

Make sure you have all the ingredients you need before beginning…I know this sounds like common sense but I can’t tell you how many times I have been 3/4 of the way through a recipe and found that I was missing an ingredient that I was sure I had.

Gather all your necessary  equipment…don’t waste while working by looking for the measuring spoon or the beaters for the mixer.

Clean up as you go…harder for some of us I will admit.  Have a sink full of soapy water ready even if you use a dishwasher.  As you get something dirty put it in the sink so the food won’t dry and cake on making it much harder to clean later.

Don’t let the dishes pile up on you…nothing is more discouraging than coming into your kitchen and seeing a mountain of dishes.  It does nothing to inspire you to be creative in your kitchen…in fact it might just send you out to eat, and that is not what we’re hoping for here!

Make sure your kitchen is clean before retiring for the night to the couch or going to bed...I know for me this is hard.  After dinner is done I am tired and in no mood for kitchen clean up.  But those mornings that I get up and the kitchen is clean it makes my day so much sunnier.  It also makes me inspired to come into and cook for the family…instead of running away!  So wipe the counters and load the dishwasher, put everything back in its place, you will thank yourself in the morning!

Make extra...if you are making lasagna it is just as easy to make an extra pan for the freezer since you have the mess out anyway.

Remember no kitchen set up is etched in stone…rearrange and tweak it till it works perfectly for you and the way you cook. Making the commitment to cook from scratch may seem overwhelming but  in a well organized kitchen, cooking and baking seems less of a chore and more of an adventure!

Oh and one more tip…

It saves time to have a computer in the kitchen to look up recipes or in this case write a post for NDiN…I actually made bread while writing this!

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!

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What’s for dinner?

I have to admit sometimes I don’t know until late afternoon.  I would like you all to think that I am sooo organized – menu plans, and the like.  But it ain’t true.  Sometimes, I just get too distracted to think about cooking food.  But I do like to mix things up a little.  We’re pretty boring, not scads of different recipes but lots of favorites.  Thursday is always pizza night, but even pizza gets boring.  Even when I worked off the farm, I considered pizza from scratch one of my quick meals.  Any recipe I can break the prep time into smaller increments with gaps works great for me.  I can mix up pizza dough, set it to rise and go milk or move my cows.  Raised dough is actually pretty resilient for the reluctant cook.  If I need it fast I put it in a real warm place, slower – a cooler place.

Last week, I decided to try Stromboli instead of pizza.  The ingredients are basically the same, just assembled in a different manner.  Just like pizza you mix and match ingredients to suit your families needs – making each stromboli a little different, or all alike.  And being kind of a messy assembly – it is great recipe for kids to help with.


You could use dough from the store if you are in a hurry.  And if you had the vegetables and cheese prepped the night before this is a fairly quick meal and very tasty too.  To make my stromboli fast I sauteed my sausage until brown, added a diced onion and a some diced zucchini.  When the onions were transparent I added 1 cup of marinara sauce.

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Divide pizza dough into 3 equal parts (or as many as you need.)  Roll dough out onto lightly floured board into rectangular shapes.  Spread cooked filling on the dough, sprinkle with grated cheese.  Roll up starting on the long side, place on parchment or foil-lined jelly roll or baking pan, seam side down.  Make several slashes on the top.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Delicious!  I can see endless possibilities for filling these, and I think they probably would freeze well too.

Pizza Dough              from Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 1979 James Beard edition

1 Tablespoon dry yeast dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Combine 3 cups flour, salt, oil and water and yeast mixture,  Mix well.  Turn out onto floured board and knead in remaining cup of flour.  Put in warm place to rise until double in bulk. 

This dough can be stretched or rolled out which ever you find the easiest.  With just a few ingredients this recipe is easy to remember.  Use for pizza or… Enjoy.

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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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