Saturday, September 30, 2006

Simple Fare

If you haven't noticed... most of my food is very simple. Nearly all of it is from whole and fresh foods and there are VERY few recipes that I create that have more than 10 ingredients. I grew up grabbing things out of the garden and bringing them in for my mom to make into something. I remember falls where she would make a batch of applesauce for breakfast, straight off the tree or out of the basket that was picked the day before.... we got used to eating it warm. To this day, I can't eat applesauce straight from the fridge. More days than not, my little brother and I would go and collect the eggs from the chicken coop and we would eat them that day. Although it is not possible to feed my children eggs strait from the coop living in the middle of the city, I feel as though this is the best way to nourish my family (and I do get many of my eggs from a local farm). I aspire to eventually produce at least 50% of my food. To know what my family eats and enjoys so well that I can have my garden be as efficiant as my pantry has become over time. Running out of this just as we get more, (or sicken of them from overdose) and having the rituals of our lives based around what is coming and going from Mother Earth. As an Agnostic, there are not many things that I find divine. But the ability to get nourishment from seed planting and sunlight is one of them.

Many of the foods that I ate today came from our local farms or my garden. The cabbage and the dill I seasoned it with. The applesauce the kids had for snack. The potatos and leeks for the soup. The eggs, cilantro, and tomatos out of which I made a sandwich for breakfast. There is beauty there... Eating on a 100 mile diet, buying locally, and enjoying the bounty that is all around us this time of year. I find joy in knowing where my food came from, from the ground to the table.

Potato Leek Chowder

Potato Leek Chowder
1/3 stick of butter
3 leeks
1 T Garlic and Herb seasoning
1 tsp 21 Seasoning Solute
lots of pepper
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
3 cups milk
6 med sized red or white potatoes
Pre boil potatoes cut into small cubes to tender but not falling apart. Melt butter and saute' sliced leeks and seasonings. Mix in 2 T of flour at this point if you want a thicker soup. Add stock and milk. Once boiling, drain potatoes and add them. Salt to taste. Boil for about 10 minutes to thicken. If you want a flavor variety add 1 T of fresh or 1 tea of dried dill.
Side with puglese Italian bread for best fall fare.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Phoenix


I call this Goddess Pie. That sounds kind of kinky... but how can you cook for 7 hours off and on AFTER cleaning two freezers and not have some goddessness to show for it? Blueberry/Rasberry with just enough sugar to make it super yummy... and yes, that is bought pie crust. I am a goddess, I am not crazy.

And out of the ashes...

This dish is so pretty. My family are not huge on beets OR califlower so I have never made anything like this before, but with the freezer breaking I will be making a LOT in the next couple days that I normally wouldn't have. It may be a blessing in discuise in the end. A clearing of sorts. And this is just the first... I have 4 berry pies ready to put together and set in the fridge and berry pancakes still to make, along with pizza, sausage, and a bunch more... those are next.

Beets, roma beans, onions, garlic, and purple califlower... all done with salt and pepper and butter. Yum! I will make this along with some brown rice... (and they will eat it. lol...)

Domestic Goddess Disaster!

My freezer died. Yep... the big one. Must have died yesterday morning or so... with 16lbs of blueberries in it, 5 lbs of raseberries, 6 loaves of bread, 5 bread dough loaves, 20lbs of tomatos, 10lbs of zucchini, 15lbs of green beans, 4 lbs of roma beans, 2 boxes of icecream bars, a half a pack of costco muffins, 3 organic spinich pizzas, and 3 boxes of organic yogurt squeezes. And that is JUST the stuff I am trying to save! What a blow!

I think the worst was opening it up and having berry juice go all the way down the front and splash all over me, the floor, the wall... what a mess! Then when I went to clear out room in our small freezer for the absolutly necessary stuff (like icecream and the berries and beans that were still mostly frozen) the freezer had dripped down into the bottom so the ENTIRE bottom of the thing was frozen solid. Peaches, pie crusts and all. AAaaaaaaaaaaaagh! So here I am, on my hands and knees with 4 towels, two covered in berry juice (not to mention ME covered in berry juice) with a screw driver and a measuring cup of hot water sitting next to a LAUNDRY basket filled with about half what I needed to fit in that tiny freezer...

It will be amusing one day right?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

$50 Bathroom Facelift

I spent $50 in the last three days on two things... a shower curtian and a picture frame. We painted the walls last week and I pulled a few more orange elements in from around the house. Before this bathroom had light yellow walls (terrible for my blonde pale complextion) and purple shower curtian and towels. We got the new towels for Don when he went to academy (anyone remember that?) and so when he came home I realised I really liked them. I loved the purple, but the toupe wall color I picked has a hugh of rose in it, and none of the purple looked good anymore! So this is what I did:


(sorry no before shots. I hated the bathroom before)

Taupe and the Orange. I like it, but don't know about the rick rack shower curtian. All of mine have been grown up and beautiful... not fun looking like this one.


The poster was one I have had FOREVER, but it was behind my door in the bedroom. So when I went to put it up in the bathroom Don insisted on a frame (make the man paint for a day and he turns into Martha Stewart I swear!)... I love the picture... but I am trying to decide if I like it with the shower curtian. It is a bold statement that is for sure.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Busy Fall Friend


I woke up on the first day of fall with this sweet little busy body outside my bedroom window. Happy fall to you too friend.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tiny Little Mushrooms


Tiny fairy lands are all over my yard this time of year. Delicate steps of wistful playmates, early eves and dancing. These beauties were coming up under my overzellous beans and I couldn't help but take pictures. It was like party decorations were left for me to admire... along with the tiny little clover that is so delicate with the itty bitty dew drops covering the edges of the leaves. I felt, for a moment, like I was in that Fantasia film, the one with the fairies dancing and turning everything the yellows and browns of fall. The dew fairy coming behind with her wand and carefully depositing dew drops in their exact places...






Happy Mabon everyone... Fall is offically here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It rained today



Light patter all afternoon on my bedroom wall. The kids playing in the backyard with umbrellas. Everyone wore a coat.

Fall in the northwest is filled with longing for warm soups and fresh baked breads. These rainy day moments are what a lot of us live for. We wait for the heat of summer to disapate and the cool breezes and light rains to move in.
When I went to the garden to pick tomatos for dinner I saw unimagined beauty just waiting to be captured. It is the only time since I have had this camera that I have wished for a better one. The dropplets were too intense to catch on film, the beauty to small and delicate. I tried, but I truly fail to do it justice.



Apple Crisp



Some really smart chick on these here blogs said that I should make apple pie filling with the rest of the apples off the tree. And I did... and on this first rainy night of Sept I made some absolutely decadent apple crisp.

All that was needed was french vanilla ice cream. This will be remidied tomorrow. :D

Monday, September 18, 2006

8 Goldfinch


My Aunt Barb recently sent me this picture. Apparently there is one mama who found the feeder and now, two years later, she has brought friends and children. My aunt lives on the shore of a lake about 10 miles from me. I love her house and she has done some really amazing things with it. She is dedicated (as I am) to nature, and I really enjoy it when she sends me little things like this.

Terragon Chicken


Oh man was this good! I wish I had more roast chicken but we ate with a friend and she let us keep the left overs. So I made a white sauce (a roux (ie; butter melted then added 2T of flour), chicken stock, milk, an a bit of salt) and added a handful of fresh terragon and flat leaf parsley out of the garden. Then I tossed the chicken and the sauce with penne and we ate it with a ceaser salad and freshly made (bought dough) sour dough loaf. Good grub. That is all.

My first fall project

For the last few days I have been thinking about writing to the baby. I always start about now anyway, and so I have been putting down thoughts, and things that are going on in our lives before he makes his way into the world. For this I have been making a binder. Much like my Book of Shadows and Dreams, but this one is only for 'Little'.


It says "Experience Earth".

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Gingerbread

Cyan brought home a recipe for Gingerbread people that didn't include shortening. I was thrilled as I never use shortening and this has always stopped me from making ginerbread in the past (although I could have looked on line I am sure, but just always found another cookie to make instead). Made by me, decorated by the kids.
Gingerbread People
1/2 c butter (whole stick)
2/3 c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 c molasses
2 3/4 c flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2 t nutmeg or 5 spice
Cream butter, brown sugar, egg, and molasses.
Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Roll out and form with cookie cutters or with just your hands.
This makes one large gingerbread man or 15 smaller cookies.
Lg cookie, cook 15 minutes at 375*
Sm cookies, cook 6 - 8 minutes at 375*

Friday, September 15, 2006

Decopauge

Decopauge has been a therapy for the last two winters for me. I found a bunch of blank books at Target on clearance about a year ago, and I have become addicted to decorating them with the views I see in the world. My first project was my Book of Shadows and Dreams, in which I have filed away my musings about the turning of the year, the pagan holidays, and the changes of the seasons. (Along with the sweet thoughts of my children and drawings they make of nature and her blessings) It has been a wonderful release for me and as the fall draws near and it gets colder I have been thinking about more indoor activites and this has come up again. Here are a few I have done in the past;

Some have been gifts, but many have been for me personally. I use recycled calanders and just my eye and imagination. It took so little to get started and I have enjoyed it more than any other hobby so far because it takes next to no money to maintain. I haven't even had to pick up a new bottle of decopauge.

I am thinking that I may make a few more of these for christmas gifts this year.

I also am writing a book for the baby. Called "What I Grew when I was Growing You." In it I will put my best writings, my pictures of the garden, and some other beautiful things I have found along with my birth art and hopefully Don's as well. All of our children have a book like this. In them I place my thoughts from pregnancy all the way through their preschool years in the form of letters to my children. I don't update them often, but when Cyan says something cute, or when Alex does an amazing project, I always add that to the book, along with their best art from their before school years. I just finished Cyan's and am ready to put it together.

Alex and Cyan's are in white binders with their pictures on them... they may soon be looking for new covers. ;)

A domestic goddess wrinkle in time

Both of my babies were born in the middle of the summer. Alex being July 20, 96 and Cyan being July 13, 01. So we always plan and execute their birthday party together. They love it, because they both get to be very involved and enjoy the process of picking pieces to be in control of. This year, we did the Under the Sea theme. Alex really wanted a Sea Monster cake. It took me quite a while to figure out how to create the sea monster cake, but finally this was the result.


There are 15 candles on this monster (which was about 3 1/2 ft long) 5 for Cyan and 10 for Alex. I thought it turned out really well. The instructions I ended up finding were here:

I didn't cut out the centers of the cake because I knew we wouldn't have enough for the 30 people we had here. As it was, these 2 10inch rounds and 1 7inch round of chocolate cake with creamy butter icing were gone within moments... there were no seconds to be had. I didn't even get a piece (although I had plenty trying to get it all cut out just right. ;) ) It was delicious, and definitely had the effect that Alex wanted when everyone came in and were saying

"Ooooo... that is the coolest cake!"

Here are the invitations to that same party. I made port holes out of CD envelopes. They were SO super cute! They didn't go through the mail well for anyone who is searching for ideas for a 'under the sea' birthday party. But they would be great hand delivered, or perhaps stuck in another envelope for easy shipping. They are just sea landscapes, made out of puff paint, stickers, and glitter glue with sand, and then printed on the back with the invite information. I believe (as do my friends who are also crazy about parties like me) that the invitation sets the whole mood for the party. Weeks before hand, when a child opens a birthday invite, they see what lies ahead, and from that second... the party's on!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Photographic evidence



The true test of a good recipe is if you can duplicate it. Tonight, my children asked for chili. Specifically, the "best chili ever that you made the other day". So I came here, looked up what I had done, and did it again. This time, adding some firm tofu to the mix for some protein and some texture. And it was again, the 'best chili ever' sided with WW tortilla quesadillas made with sharp cheddar cheese.

But this time, with photographic evidence. ;)

Cutest Little Thief

I went out side because the tiny, happy birds were freaking out in the sunflowers when I went to pick beans for dinner. I thought I would get a few pictures of them. I saw this little guy on my fence and snapped quick shot of him before making my way to the sunflower bed.


I went around the fence (into my neighbors front yard) to take some pics of the multi colored flowers (because the birds were now gone ) and out he comes... RUNNING down the fence.


What does he have?


A WHOLE sunflower head! lol! Obviously complete with tasty seeds.


He stops about 20 ft down the fence and starts munching away.


Cute little thief isn't he?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Strawberry Applesauce

Ingredients: Apples... I have found that it entirely depends on how big the apples are, what the bag needs to weigh to fill the 8 quart pot. For me this was 11lbs worth of tiny apples that had fallen off my dads tree (first batch). 12oz of juice concentrate. Always use 100% juice concentrate. I have used cherry/apple, apple, and apple/strawberry (which I can not find this year) with great success.
Strawberries... In fact about three cups of any kind of berries will do. I have made Marionberry/blackberry, blueberry/blackberry, cherry, strawberry, and I even tried my hand at grape one day (it was much sweeter with the grape juice) and all have turned out great!

OK... so we have 3 cups of berries, apples to fill an 8 quart pot, and 12 oz of juice concentrate. So start first things first... how to chop an apple quickly. I don't like milling out seeds. So I chop my apples to leave the core behind, like this:

The only thing you have to remember is the near halves of apples will not cook quickly (the more skin, the slower it will cook), so you have to cut that in half one more time.

Adding them to the pot.

I told you these were LITTLE apples.

When you get a full pot; start the burner on.


You will hear them start to sizzle at the bottom. Add the juice concentrate (frozen or not, doesn't matter) along with ONE 12oz can of water. This helps the apples not stick to the bottom of the pot and starts the "steaming/cooking" process.

When the apples are about half way cooked, then you add the berries (again, frozen or thawed, doesn't matter. They still have about 10 minutes to cook).

Now comes the milling. I have found that the easiest way to mill apples is to have two pots. Take laddlefulls out of the full pot and put them into the mill on top of the other pot. (This pot can be smaller as this is only going to produce 6 qts of applesauce in the end.)

Cyan decided she needed to do this part. If you cook the apples enough there is VERY little waste. (I think I got just over a cup of skins)This is the point where the taste testing is important. Call you friends and neighbors over to see if the applesauce will pass mustard. If you need a little sugar, add a little sugar. Most of the time I have found that the juice concentrate is the only sweeter we need, but with some of the varieties (like the cherry) I added 1/4 cup of sugar to the mix before canning and that brought out the 'cherry' much better than before, but added VERY little sweetness... just have fun with this part.

But becareful... it doesn't seem like it, but 1/2 a cup of sugar in this mix has been TOO much. So add slowly and taste often.

And here is the finished product. This batch passed unaltered...

Monday, September 11, 2006

First day of school

I have a knot in my stomach. My baby girl started school today. She got on the bus and everything. I know I shouldnt feel sad... but I do. I had tons planned today to keep my mind off of things but I am sitting here... feeling it. The child that uses my body as an apartment constantly reminds me that I am not alone. lol... Soon I will have him and Cyan will be used to school (and me used to her going) and it won't hurt anymore. But today I have had to hold back my instincts to go to her school just to make sure she was ok. Alex was home with me for Kindergarten... so this is all new to me. So big... why do they have to get so big?

Ok... getting off the computer and going and planting my winter peas and kale now.

Friday, September 08, 2006

After school snack

As much as I love dinners, I am a snacker at heart. Ask any one who knows me in real life, I rarely stop snakcing on something, but I never eat a lot at a time. I probobly eat less than most poeple, I just eat it through out the day. My snacks vary widely. I go through really wonderfully healthy phases, where I crave things like fresh tomato salads and spinich smoothies, and then I have my days where I crave my less than completely healthy stuff, like sharp white chedder and Tims Jalapino Chips. lol...


Today it was Hummus. I saw Laurie's hummus post a week ago or so and have been thinking about it since, and what did I find the pantry last night while looking for chili beans? Two cans of organic chick peas. Ahhh... sweet heaven! I made a double batch of the stuff, and put half in the fridge, and then added feta cheese and spinich to the other along with a couple garden cherry tomatos and we had the after school snack from heaven!

All of this with fresh carrot sticks from the CSA picked this morning. Can't get much better than that.

The Best Chili EVER.

This is what my dh and kids called last nights dinner. I have no pictures (it's a shock I know) becuase it was all gone before I even thought about posting the recipe. LOL! But here is the recipe anyway. Some of these things are guesses because I didn't exactly measure everything (Handful of this here, pinch of this here sort of cooking... you know how it is.)

The Best Chili EVER!

1 med onion
5 cloves of garlic
Grape seed oil
1/2 tea 21 Seasoning Solute (Trader Joes)
1/2 tea Basil
1 Tbs chili powder
2 tea taco seasoning
2 cans kidney beans
1 can black beans
10 cherry tomatos (or one lg tomato)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 can corn
1 Tbs butter
1/2 green pepper (I used the chili peppers out of the garden)
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

I saute'd the onion and garlic in the grape seed oil (has a high flash rate, but any unflavored oil will do) until the thin cuts of onion started to go clear... then I added the seasonings. Yes this is a strange step, but for some reason it turns up with less spice and more flavor when infused with the onions instead of the beans. Add water as it starts to get gummy.

When the seasonings are completely infused and the water is boiling, add drained beans and stir until everything boils again. Process the tomatos and the cilantro in the blender or food processer. (Have I mentioned yet that none of my family are "into chunks". lol! This step also infuses the flavor and not the texture of the tomatos with the chili.) Add this mixture and bring back to a boil. Then add the butter, corn and green peppers and let boil for at least 10 mintues.

I served with chedder, more chopped cilanrto, and sour cream over brown rice. It was SO good!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Alex's favorite hot breakfast.

Looks strange huh? Well it is creamy wheat cereal in bulk from the co-op, some dried cranberries, nutritional yeast, and a cut up organic banana. He made it for all of us this morning for brunch. It was very sweet, and pretty tasty too. :D

Musings from a misty morning...

The weather turned last night. Here in Western Washington it is offically fall. Just in time for my children to start school tomorrow. We woke to cool mist and a chilly breeze... when I looked outside the leaves were starting to fall right before my eyes. I feel honored to have witnessed the start of fall so aburptly, and so completely. Before I even got out of bed I grabed my down comforter and threw it on the bed. I will do the same to the kids beds today. The fans will be put away, and the sweaters will be put back in the closets. Cleaning and purging is starting.

Autumn has begun.

But first... my morning cup of tea. This time of year is my favorite to get outside with a hot cup of something...

and of course, my camera.





You can see the dew collecting on all of my garden bounty. Soon the tomatos will ripen in earnest and I will have more canning and freezing to do. The summer bounty is finishing up, and it is time to start planting fall crops. The large harvest is nearly over. There is a bittersweet part of me that will miss summer, but my favorite season is fall by far. As Mother Nature gets ready for her rest in winter, she sends to her children this beautful aray of color that nothing can truly duplicate. It is like the last of the Independence Day fireworks where they go out with a bang and a huge display of color explosion. It is a gift I look forward to and cherish each year.

Ah yes... I do love fall.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Winter Squash Delite

Many of you probobly feel like my husband about squash. Can't eat it, won't eat it, don't like the flavor, the texture, or anything about it. But this one will change your mind. It has an eatible skin, but it stores just like acorn squash. (Ie: forever... lol) it is mild, but can be used in anything and it is good just with salt cooked in it's own skin. What kind is it? The Delicata winter squash. It was popular in the early 20th century but was susceptibile to disease and there for went out of style for a while. It is now back with a new hybrid that helps the disease factor and the two years my farm friends have grown it they have had no trouble with disease or needs for fungicides. These somewhat normal looking squash pack the biggest flavor punch you could imagine... but are mild enough to be used in soups (savory or sweet) and are wonderful enough to just be eaten alone whole and unaltered baked in a 350* oven for 30 minutes.

I cook it split in half, upside down, with the seeds etc still inside, on a bed of mild flavored olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Then I flip it when done, take the seeds out and use it for whatever I want. I love it with a bit of cinnamon and butter. Like the picture above. :)