Migrating Onwards

I’ve combined Rediscovering Permaculture and The Deadly Nightshade into one blog…you can find it here…

The Deadly Nightshade

Tell everyone about it and come visit me. Click on the cute little sun in the header to subscribe to an RSS feed that will deliver any new posts straight to your inbox!

And if you could…spread the word!

See you there!

Advertisements

They LIVE!!!!

Yesterday I arrived home from a whirlwind trip to California, checked for the Saturday mail which was still in the mailbox, and my heart plummeted. Our order of 25 chickens (plus bonus exotic chick, sex unknown) arrived at our local post office on Saturday, the note from the post office attempting delivery was there in our mailbox. I had been gone, Dave had been out all day at college and then teaching a class and the poor chicks had no one to pick them up.

We looked at each other in dread and wondered how many will still be alive after over three days in transit? I felt sick. How could I plan on picking up these little guys first thing on Monday with Emily in tow, only to find out most if not all had perished? It cast a dark cloud over our otherwise happy return.

This morning Dave was out the door at 8:15, planning to be the first one in the door when the post office opened at 8:30. When the box came out, so did several people, including one of the warehouse workers who looked apprehensive, “I hope you don’t mind but I took them home and put them in my brooder. I figured it was either leave them here or break the law and keep them alive.”

Dave thanked him profusely. He dashed home with the box and when we opened it we discovered all 26, alive and well, peeping away. They seem willing to peck at food, although we haven’t seen any drink water yet. They are currently in a Rubbermaid storage container, down in our basement, with a heater and heat lamp close by. It turns out that Dave has already identified our lone exotic chick. It is a Belgian Mille Fleur Bantam and has feathers on its feet!

Here is Emily, still sleepy, holding one of the chicks…

Now that’s something to cluck about!

Who Knew French Onion Soup Could Taste This Amazing?

Seriously, folks. This damn fine soup.

My husband has told me several times that his favorite soup is french onion. I’ve never made it and I’ve tried it once or twice in my entire life. It was always with a shrug and a “yeah, it tastes fine, whatever.”

My decision to make it was strictly to please him. I ran across the recipe in “Gifts Cooks Love” (yes, THAT book AGAIN) and figured I would spoil him a little. Into the crockpot when eight large onions, two sticks of butter, and the last of my fresh thyme (I think I killed the plant harvesting it). I put it on Low and cooked it overnight. It smelled delectable this morning, let me tell you.

I had prepared a simple boule bread dough and it had refrigerated over night in our big fridge (the unheated garage). I made enough for four loaves and decided to bake two of them today. They looked beautiful when I pulled them out of the oven this morning but I resisted the urge to cut into them. After carving an escape route through the foot thick bank of snow in our driveway, we ran errands, including searching in vain for gruyere cheese at the grocery store.

If there is any question about my devotion to my husband, re-read that last sentence. I SHOVELED SNOW so I could go to the grocery store…that’s true love, folks.

No love in the gruyere department, so I settled for a nice hunk of Jarlsberg and headed home.

Now Dave had said he was going to probably be home early today. So by 5pm, I was absolutely convinced he was going to walk through the door any minute. So…I prepared the ramekins…I ladled the soup in, topped it with a slice of amazingly yummy boule (yes, I sneaked a piece and yes, it was very good) and then thick slices of the Jarlsberg and set two of them in the toaster oven on broil.

So we went from this…

To this…

 

And this…

He’s still not home and I’ve eaten the contents of one of the ramekins and OH…MY…GOD. It’s good, it’s really, really good. And I suddenly don’t give a tinker’s damn if he likes it or not…I’LL eat it!

So…wow…zow…and YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Don’t be jealous now. Ask me nice and I’ll send you the recipe. It’s worth the wait.

Let It Snow…I’ll Keep Baking

With the wind it is hard to tell, but it looks like we’ve gotten at least a foot, perhaps even 18 inches.

The Darling Hubby and the Princess ventured out near nightfall and had a glorious time in the snow. The drifts are high, the wind is cold, and I’m staying inside and keeping busy in a warm, well-lighted kitchen!

Here are the adventurous duo in the snow…

Meanwhile…in the kitchen…

First I put together the Apricot-Ginger Banana Bread (from the “Gifts Cook Love” book) and started that to baking.

The directions in the book only called for 45 minutes total baking. Not enough. The middle was still gooey! In the end I baked it a total of 65 minutes, but I think in the future I will cut it down to 60. Although I did not have the full amount of dried apricots, it turned out well. Dave said it was the first time he had ever had crystallized ginger in a baked product and actually liked it. I wrote it down in my recipe book, it’s definitely a keeper!

While the bread was baking I put together eight pounds of onions and the last of my fresh thyme with two sticks of butter in the slow cooker. It will slowly cook the onions overnight and then I will add the onions, some seasonings and chicken broth, top it with cheese and make french onion soup, Dave’s favorite. This is also out of the “Gifts Cooks Love” book.

As I was paging through one of my favorite bread books, “Artisan Breads in Just Five Minutes A Day” looking for the perfect bread to pair with the onion soup for tomorrow’s dinner I ran across a recipe for granola (which you can then use to make granola bread). It sounded so yummy, and easy, that I just had to put it together. Forty minutes of baking later, and I have six cups of tasty granola. I think it may have cost $1.00 to make. Knowing me, I’ll probably be doing a cost analysis in Excel later! Here it is…

Yum…it also got a stamp of approval from the Darling Hubby. I might use some of it tomorrow for a quick bite before hitting the treadmill, but I’m definitely going to try out the granola bread recipe. It has me intrigued!

And finally, I did manage to put together a simple boule bread recipe. I didn’t bother taking a picture of the dough, but I’ll try to remember to post tomorrow with a picture that shows the French onion soup and fresh baked bread in all of its pre-consumption glory.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold and wintry day then baking. Who knows what tomorrow’s adventures will bring!

 

It’s the Bees Knees…Really!

While I count the days until I can begin to plant outdoors again, I’ve been busy refining a lip balm recipe…and making some great face moisturizer. I also put together some packaging/marketing materials and here is what I’ve come up with…Take a look!

I’ve suffered from sensitive skin and acne for nearly my entire life. That is, until I made this lotion about six months ago and started using it daily. No more breakouts, and few if any pimples on my face. The lotion is made with just five simple ingredients, the main one being grape seed oil, which has antibacterial properties and is gentle on the most sensitive of skin.

Summer or winter, it seems to provide just the perfect amount of moisture without becoming overly greasy.

Then I moved on to lip balm and eventually honed it down to a mildly scented chocolate mint flavor.

So I’m calling this line The Beez Kneez, and looking forward to the day when my beehives will supply all of the necessary beeswax for the products. The name Beez Kneez is a play on my first online moniker, debeez, which some people still know me by. Dually, the bees knees is indicative of excellence, which definitely describes these products. They are made to comfort skin and lips, while maintaining a high level of quality through the use of organic ingredients. What more could you ask for?

I will be offering them for sale on my website and tomorrow I may brave the snow to go out and market them to some local shops. C’mon, you know you want them…who can resist an gentle moisturizer with subtle tones of grapefruit or a hydrating lip balm scented with chocolate mint? Mmmm….

 

Book Recommendations & Fun Recipes

Mmmm…Interesting new Jalapeno Cornbread recipe I’ve just pulled out of the oven…

I can’t say that it is my favorite, but it is definitely a change from humdrum old regular cornbread. Up next will be some Rosemary Parmesan crackers. And next week I plan on making some slow-cooker onions that will become french onion soup, my DH’s favorite soup.

These recipes are all part of a new book I’m vetting from the library, “Gifts Cooks Love”

If it has enough good recipes…and so far it seems chock full of them, then I will probably have to buy it. I’m particular about what books come to live permanently in my home…if only because there is only so much room on my bookshelves…so whenever possible I check them out at the library and then, if I just HAVE to have them, I buy them through either Half.com, Amazon.com, or Better World Books…whichever can provide me with the lowest possible price (book + shipping costs).

Another recent book purchase…

“Canning for a New Generation”

I didn’t even get a chance to make any of these recipes before I HAD to have the book. It is definitely NOT your grandma’s canning book.

If you are interested in canning, then get two books…”Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” and the one listed above. “Ball” will get you started and “Canning for a New Generation” will bring it home with recipes like Strawberry and Lavender Jam or Cherry Clafouti or Baby Artichokes with Lemon and Olive Oil….mmmm.

Another thing I really appreciate about this “Canning” book is that it is divided into seasons. Which helps immeasurably when that particular season hits and I want recipes based on what I’m growing in the yard (or getting on sale in the grocery store) NOW.

I’ll be updating later today on the Rosemary Parmesan cracker recipe…

Potatoes and Beer Bread

I’ve recently been on a “buy it when it’s on sale, and buy one hell of a lot” kick. The new chest freezer is almost completely filled with meats, pizzas, fish and butter. So is the fridge upstairs…and the pantry…and the overflow shelving in the garage…

I actually saw Dave wince when I announced I was going to the grocery store yesterday. Until I came back and showed him how I had spent $188 and saved over $95 in the process.

In any case, I have been promising him beer bread ever since I found a recipe for it in one of those books I’ve been promoting so enthusiastically. Today was the day, and one of the ingredients includes sauteed onions added to the loaf just prior to baking. When I dug into the basket of onions and potatoes I discovered that I had quite a few potatoes on the verge of going bad. Time to make potato soup and other potato-themed foods!

Here are a couple of recipes you may enjoy. They turned out well…

Potato Leek Soup

  • 4 leeks, rinsed and sliced thin (you only use the white/light green parts
  • 6 slices of bacon, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • Combination of potatoes (I used 4 russets, 1 red and 1 large sweet potato)
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 tsp Better than Bouillon chicken soup base (or use 10 cubes, doesn’t really matter)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

Placed sliced leeks, bacon, rosemary and minced garlic in the bottom of a large stock pot and cook over medium high heat until bacon is crispy and the garlic and leeks are golden-brown.

Meanwhile peel and dice potatoes. I actually leave the skins on mine, however this can result in pieces of tough skin throughout the soup. The positive is that you have more nutrition (the nutrients are focused in the skin).

Add the water and bouillon and then the potatoes. Bring to a boil and let boil for about ten minutes. Check the potatoes and if soft, remove from heat. If  not, cook another five minutes.

Blend the soup in either a blender/food processor or with a handheld immersion blender. We have a bottom-of-the-line commercial handheld and it is incredibly p0werful and handy.

Add the milk and the cream and any additional spices (if needed).

As you can seek, the skins from the potatoes are floating in the soup. This isn’t a problem for me, but if I were preparing this for a class, I would probably peel them first. Also, I used that sweet potato, which added a delicate orange hue to the soup and a sweet, creamy taste.

Yum!

At the same time I was also fixing a fried potato medley a friend had made me a year or so ago. Here is the recipe for that:

  • 1 each of red, russet, yukon gold and sweet potato (I didn’t have any Yukon Gold, so I just made it with three potatoes this time)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp of Montreal Steak Seasoning (or do your own mix of garlic, salt and pepper)
  • Olive oil

Peel the sweet potato. Dice the onion and place it in the frying pan with a touch of olive oil. Thinly slice the potatoes, adding them to the frying pan as you go, saving the slicing of the sweet potato last. (Despite their tough appearance, sweet potatoes cook faster than the other potatoes and should be added once the other potatoes are almost completely cooked.

Cook everything until well-browned, adding a tiny bit of olive oil as needed to avoid the potatoes sticking to the skillet.

Here is the finished product…

Yum!

And finally, I got around to making the beer bread dough. It is currently rising for two hours and will then be refrigerated for the rest of the day. Tomorrow it will be ready to bake!

So Much for Being Obedient

The last few months have been hell on planning. It seems like I turn around and it’s E’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now Dave’s birthday and I’ve got nothing planned, no idea what to do, and fifty balls in the air all at once in the rest of my life.

So this morning, after actually remembering to wish my wonderful husband a happy birthday, I asked him if he wanted a cake. He demurred, which meant, “Of course I want a cake! Are you in a coma?”

So I persisted, told him I was going to bake him a birthday cake and what would he like to have?

“A yellow box cake, with homemade jam between the layers, and chocolate frosting.”

Now I ask you, why in the world would I make a cake from a box when I can make one from scratch? It isn’t that hard (wow, if the past me could read those words!) and it would taste better AND I wouldn’t have to drive to the store for the mix. Besides, I can’t stand chocolate frosting in a can, it has always given me stomachaches and made me feel queasy.

So…

I altered the vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe – adding cocoa powder to it – and made the most fabulous tasting milk chocolate cream cheese frosting. I hope he likes it. If he doesn’t, well, I think I could just happily sit down and eat the entire damned bowl of frosting it tastes so good.

I then whipped together a simple yellow cake with the last of the cake flour. Here they are cooling…

And I pulled out some of the mixed berry preserves Dave canned earlier this year…

Now I’m no great shakes at cake decorating. I’ll leave the artistic tendencies up to my eldest. But here is the finished product…

The cake is moist, sweet, and full of fruity and chocolatey goodness. Which just goes to show you…I suck at being the obedient wife. But I RULE at baking!

Olive Spelt Bread – Gone In Ten Minutes

I cannot say enough good things about these two books…

“Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking” and

“Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients”

I mean, wow.

So last night I put together Olive Spelt Bread. This required a purchase of spelt flour (a type of wheat flour). I looked over the ingredients and was dismayed to find it required whole milk yogurt, which I didn’t have. So instead I substituted sour cream. I also used stuffed olives instead of just the plain green ones. This meant a mix of two types of stuffed green olives – Monterey Jack stuffed and also some garlic stuffed.

I let it rise for about four hours last night, refrigerated it overnight, set it out to rise for two hours this morning and just pulled it out of the oven twenty minutes ago. Dave lasted five minutes before he said, “That’s it, I’m cutting into the bread!”

A slice later, he announced, “I’m sorry, but I will be eating the rest of this bread.” So I finagled two slices and here is what was left five minutes ago…

We think the key to the crust is the steam bake. When I first preheat the oven, I add a broiler tray to the bottom rack. When the oven is at temp, I put the bread in and add 1 cup of hot water to the broiler tray and quickly shut the door. The crust is crunchy and tasty.

Here’s one other picture of the bread, now completely consumed by my darling husband…

All I can say for it is…yum.

When You Can’t Garden – Baking Part II

Yep, I’m STILL baking. On today’s roster is Challah bread and Sticky, Caramel Pecan Rolls.

Yum…

If you are interested in baking your own bread, easily, and literally in five minutes a day, check out the following two books:

“Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking” and

“Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients”

I even found a recipe for naan, an Indian flatbread. It will go nicely with my favorite comfort food, Chicken Tikka Masala. Here is the easy quick recipe for that meal:

Ingredients:

2 jars of Tiger Tiger Tikka Masala

two boneless, skinless chicken breasts

powdered tandoori mix (optional)

2 cups cooked rice (I make it 1/2 white basmati and 1/2 whole grain)

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Chop chicken into 1/2 inch cubes and sprinkle with tandoori mix (optional). Brown chicken in large nonstick saucepan with two tablespoons butter or olive oil. Add rice, almonds and sauce and if necessary heat on low for five minutes.

Ruthlessly intimidate anyone who wants to share this meal with you. This should make the comfort food last a few days longer. It’s wonderful reheated for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

In any case, back to the breads of the day. The recipe for the Challah bread (pronounced ‘holla’) is the base for the sticky pecan buns. I mixed the ingredients last night, let it all rise for two hours and then set it in the refrigerator to use first thing this morning. One-quarter of the Challah mixture went to make the Pecan rolls and they were baked first. The remaining 3/4 of the recipe was made into one large Challah loaf.

So here were the sticky buns in the oven…

And here was the challah, waiting for its turn in the oven…

Dave is home sick today. He had flu-like symptoms hit last night and he still feels icky this morning. I’m hoping some good old-fashioned comfort food will get him ship-shape and back to work tomorrow. Meanwhile we all get to enjoy these amazingly yummy baked concoctions!

Here are the finished products – still piping hot, straight from the oven!

Fresh out of the oven...

And if this doesn’t make you hungry…nothing will

Rockin' good!

Amazing. I’ve never made cinnamon buns before – my first attempt was an unmitigated success!

And here is the challah…

Can't wait to try this as well!

« Older entries