Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sesame Kale Chips

Can one have too many kale chip recipes?  I think not!  This makes three.  As nutrient packed as kale is, the ingredients these are coated with make them a super-super food!

Sesame Kale Chips

3 T extra virgin olive oil (xvoo)
1-2 T water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup finely ground sesame seeds
2 T tahini
1 1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tsp whole salt
1/4-1/3 cup fresh garlic, chopped
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 small (2" long) medium hot pepper, seeded
2-3 bunches kale (1-1 1/4 pounds before rinsing)

Place all but the kale in a vitamix (high power) blender or food processor, adding 1 T water at first.  Blend until very smooth, adding a second T of water as needed to produce the consistency of very thick humus.
Remove the ribs from the kale (checking for green larva as you go).  Discard the ribs.  Rinse the kale and rip into 2" pieces.  Place the kale in a large mixing bowl.  Scoop the mixture in also and work into the leaves with your fingers to coat both sides. Spread leaves out onto the dehydrating trays as shown above.  Dehydrate at 110 degrees for 10-12 hours until crispy but still green.  The actual drying time will vary, depending on the thickness of the coating. 
Let the chips cool completely, then immediately store in an airtight container or plastic bag.  (If they are left to the air for longer, they will absorb the moisture in the air and quickly lose their crispness.)

Reminder: you can 'grind' sesame seeds 3/4 cup (or less) at a time in a Vitamix blender.  Chop on high 15-20 seconds.  Remove from base, stir up, and chop on high another 10-15 seconds.  Adding ground sesame seeds to recipes affords you their added nutritional boost, but with a milder flavor than tahini.  (see blog from 10.4.14 to see an example of ground sesame seeds)  Freeze seeds before grinding to keep them from getting too warm and possibly altering the oils they contain.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tomato Harvest

October 23rd and still not a frost!  The raspberries are still ripening, the greens are going strong, and even the basil hasn't given up completely! 
When setting aside the last of the tomatoes, make sure they are free of any blemishes or breaks in the skin, the green ones have begun to lightened up, and the skin is firm and shiny.  No matter how pretty they may be, if the skin is a bit dull, into the compost it goes. 
The last couple canning seasons have been especially busy.  Instead of peeling the tomatoes and canning them whole, I have taken to liquefying them in the Vitamix, bringing them to a simmer for a couple minutes then processing them for 10 minutes.  It is SO much quicker! 
Kale, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, beets, parsnips: a few of the things worth planting to keep the harvest season going late into the fall.  Consider a simple cold frame to extend the season even farther. 
I pray your gardening is satisfying and delicious, whether it is a basil plant on your windowsill or a vegetable garden large enough to feed your whole family.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

ground Almonds, Flax Seeds, and Sesame Seeds

There are several recipes on this site calling for ground nuts and seeds.  The above photo will show you what consistency to shoot for.  Shown here are almonds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds respectively.  The beauty of grinding the sesame seeds to this degree makes their nutrients more available than the whole seeds, but with a milder flavor than Tahiti. In this manner, these little nutrient power houses can be added to recipes without the dominant flavor of Tahiti (AKA sesame seed butter.)
For review:  freeze the seeds.  Place 3/4 cup at a time in a powerful blender such as a Vitamix and close the lid.  Grind on high for 15-20 seconds.  Remove from base, stir up, and repeat, being careful not to over grind past finely ground.  (Freezing the seeds keeps their oils  from getting too hot when ground. This is especially important when grinding flax seeds.)
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fruit and Veggie Refresher

This dessert has a very light, refreshing taste, and the Agar powder does a nice job of gelling it.  It arose from fond thoughts of a gelatin salad my Mom made years ago that had a weird combination of ingredients that tasted great together.  As it was one of my favorites, so began the experimenting to replicate the recipe, albeit a healthier version.  This photo doesn't do it justice. The actual color and texture are quite attractive.  If you have family members that may not eat some of the ingredients if identified, the mixture may be chopped finer for camouflage.  It will produce a more homogeneous flavor, but is still good.

Fruit and Veggie Refresher

2/3 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped green cabbage
1/2 cup diced celery (or a bit less)
2 T maple syrup
2 tsp fresh lime juice

3/4 cup 100% orange juice
1 3/4 tsp  agar powder

-Place the first six ingredients in a blender.  Pulse on medium until veggies are 1/4"-1/8" in diameter. (This  will only take a few seconds.)
-Pour into a medium sized bowl.
-Pour the orange juice into a small cooking pot and bring to a very low simmer.
-Whisk in the agar powder and cook whisking constantly for one minute.
-Stir into the above mixture, pour into an 8" x 8" baking dish.
-Cool 5-10 minutes, cover, and chill in the fridge a minimum of six hours, and serve.  This will keep in the  fridge for several days.

-Although 1 3/4 tsp of agar powder sets this to a nice consistency, if you plan to leave this out of the fridge for more than a few minutes (but not more than an hour,) increase the agar powder to 2 tsp.
-Apple juice was tried in place of the OJ, but produced too mild a flavor.  Replacing the OJ with more pineapple juice might be good.  When tried I will let you know on this blog.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

 With their pleasing texture and flavor, these cookies are a new favorite!  The nutrient dense ingredients not only will fuel your body well, they satisfy ones sweet tooth, and keep away those hunger pangs for several hours.  (Using parchment paper and letting the cookies set before removing  from the cookie sheet are crucial steps to remember.) 

Oatmeal Walnut Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 cup xv coconut oil, softened
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla  (1 1/2 tsp for real vanilla lovers)
1 tsp chia seeds, soaked in 2 T water for a minimum of one hour

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 tsp whole salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp  guar gum powder

5 cups quick oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2-3/4 cup raisins (optional)

-Blend the first four ingredients in a stationery mixer. (A hand held one would work too of course.)   
-Mix together the next five ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually pour into the blender bowl on low speed.Once completely incorporated, beat on medium to high speed 3-4 minutes until smooth and creamy.  -Turn the mixture back to low and add the oats one cup at a time until all are just blended.  
-Add in the walnuts, then the raisins if desired.  Let the dough rest for 5-20 minutes, until a moist but dense consistency.  
-Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  
-Spoon the dough out at least 2" apart in roughly 1 1/2" clumps, and flatten with a fork (dipped in ice water to keep from sticking) to approximately  3/8" thick, and 2 1/4" wide.  
-Bake: 350 F for 8-12 minutes, until center springs back when lightly touched and edges are lightly browned.  -Place cookie sheet on cooling rack for 3-5 minutes for cookies to set, then carefully transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool and set completely.  
-Store in an air tight container: they will keep several days. If the weather is very hot, store in the fridge.
-Liquid coconut oil was tried too, but 3/4-1 cup additional oats needed to be added, which produced a drier cookie, not the moist cookie produced with soft xvco and less oats.  
-The 30-40 cookies this makes have been eaten right up, so I have not tried freezing any yet, but assume they would freeze just fine.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thimbleberry Shake

Wow, August went by very quickly.  This beautiful purple color above comes from this years thimble berries (aka blackberries.)  Also incuded was  almond milk, chia seeds, possibly half an avocado to make a creamier texture, and a little honey or maple syrup if you like a sweeter shake. The  latest addition to fruit shakes is a tablespoon or so of Tropical Traditions coconut cream concentrate, for a little extra sweetness and creaminess also.  The earlier season black raspberries (aka black caps) picked a little unripe are still delicious, but a little tart.  Thimble berries picked when fully ripe are delicious also, but if picked before their time are REALLY tart!  I remind myself when picking, walk by faith, not by sight:  God will bring good out of even bad situations in our lives, as we love Him, and love and care for His children. We only see what's happening this moment, not the full picture that is unfolding.  Off the track a bit-  the thimble berries may look ripe, but unless they fall off from the slightest touch, they aren't ripe yet.
There are two different kinds of plants: ones with thorns, and the newer thornless varieties.  On the traditional plants, the thorns are extremely hard and sharp, but the flavor of the berries is worth it.  They also tolerate the cold temperatures here in western New York State well.  The thornless variety has a flavor I don't personally care for, but others don't notice a difference, and still others prefer them.  They are wonderful to maintain and pick though, but the canes don't survive the winter quite as well.  We lose between 20 and 100% of the canes each year here. A few years back, after several years in a row of total cane loss,  I stood in front of that patch and said, "if there is no fruit next year I'm digging you up and planting blueberries here."  The next summer we had a good crop.  Talking to your plants does work!  (I'm sure we just had a milder winter finally.)  I confess, I do talk to the plants sometime while weeding, in a nicer way.  And then there was the conversations with the chipmunk a couple years ago who was causing so much trouble and even built a den under the garden between the bigger veggies.  He (or she) would pop out of the hole and look at me weeding.  I would chastise him for eating my veggies and remind him there were many other things to eat elsewhere.  He sat up, looked at me, and in a rather unpleasant tone scolded me for being in HIS garden!  We had this exchange several times that summer!
The variety with thorns we grow is Illini.  The thornless variety is Triple Crown.  I recommend trying the actual berries you choose to plant if at all possible.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sauted Lambs Quarters

When I tasted Lamb's Quarters for the first time this past fall I was an immediate fan.  They taste like spinach but heartier.  This spring and summer I have left the ones growing around the garden to get big enough to eat.  One in particular was a good three feet tall and a couple feet wide before removing the leaves.  The more mature leaves have a stronger, but good flavor eaten raw, and delicious steamed with fresh garlic, drizzled with a little xv olive oil and whole salt, as shown in the photo above.  The leaves are denser and drier than spinach, causing considerably less shrinkage when cooked. The young ones are a nice addition to salads, or for a quick snack when working outside.
Going wild can be delicious, but please remember to only eat wild plants you can identify with 100% assurance.
Happy foraging!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just a quick note:  When a recipe here calls for pitted dates, it refers to dates which are already pitted when purchased.  They are generally about half the size of a whole, un-pitted medjool date. 

Creamy Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding

For July we have had several cold rainy days that have not only watered the veggie garden, and all the other plant life, but is a good opportunity to make a hot breakfast! 
The photos above consist of  dry green buckwheat, after soaking 24 hours, and the finished pudding.  There were several attempts a while back to create a hot kasha cereal, (aka roasted buckwheat).  Personally, The taste of the green buckwheat used here is far better.  It's a nice change from oatmeal, very filling, and any left over may be stored in a covered container in the fridge to be warmed up within a few days, as it retains the same consistency very nicely.

Creamy Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding

1 cup whole green buckwheat
2 cups warm water
1/2" wide wedge of a washed, fresh lemon, sliced lengthwise

4 cups almond milk  (possibly more)
2T maple syrup  (possibly more)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium size pot, mix buckwheat and warm water.  Squeeze lemon juice into the pot, drop the remaining rind in, and stir well.  Cover and let sit for 20-24 hours.  Drain mixture and remove lemon rind.  (The liquid will be somewhat gooey, and draining every drop is not necessary.)  Stir in the almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla.  Bring to a simmer, stirring almost constantly.  Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook uncovered 15-20 minutes until mixture is creamy and the buckwheat is soft.  (Stir every 5 minutes:  if it begins to stick on the bottom, the heat is too high, or a little more almond milk needs to be stirred in.)
Add fresh fruit, a drizzle of maple syrup if you desire, and enjoy!
Yield: Approximately four cups
Option  -Forgo cooking for 15-20 minutes, and once mixture has come to a simmer: cover, turn off the heat, ( if electric stove, remove from heat) and let sit 2-2 1/2 hours for liquid to absorb. 
-If you use almond milk from the store, the sweetness may vary.  If you prefer to make your own, the recipe used here is below:

Fresh Almond Milk (for pudding)
4 cups water
1 cup raw soaked almonds (Soak nuts in water 8-24 hours in fridge)
14 pitted dates
Blend all in a Vitamix (high powered) blender until liquefied.  This will make enough for the above recipe, with a little to spare to add along with the fruit and drizzle of maple syrup if you wish. 
Option:  For almond milk to drink, start with 6 or 7 pitted dates, adding more until you find the ratio that tastes best to you.  To retain the freshest taste, drink immediately after making, or at most within 24 hours.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Roasted Veggie Medley

My daughter made these the other night.  They were so good, I asked to share the recipe... sort of.  My style of cooking is to change the ingredients and proportions an untold number of times before settling on a recipe, while writing each change down.  Her style is to never measuring anything!  So the amounts below are a best guess.  Please note, along with the maple syrup and the margarine, the onions really brought out the flavor of the veggies.

Roasted Veggie Medley

1# brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 large red onion, sliced lengthwise
1  - 2 cups broccoli tops, cut into pieces
2 medium purple haze carrots, cut in 1-2" pieces
1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled, seed section scooped out, and cut into 1" cubes

1 1/2-2 T maple syrup
1-2 T non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance)
a sprinkle of whole salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Place prepared veggies in a large bowl and set aside.
Melt margarine, whisk in maple syrup, and pour over veggies.
Toss the mixture together, and spread evenly on 2 lightly oiled cookie sheets with sides, in a single layer.
Bake:  400 degrees for, 5-15 minutes?  Basically, check every five minutes until the veggies are crisp tender, and the colors are still vibrant.
Remove from oven, lightly sprinkle with whole salt to taste, and toss veggies together. 
Serve immediately.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Maple Date Cookies

As you can see by the photos above, these Maple Date Cookies are very easy to make.  The hardest part is remembering to line your cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy removal of the baked cookies.  Without it, it takes a bit to remove them from even the most non-stick, well oiled cookie sheet.
These will satisfy your sweet tooth, as well as being very nutrient dense.  The first five photos above are actually of half a batch with just 1 T of maple syrup syrup in them to see if all the maple syrup was really necessary. They are good this way also, but the sweeter version below is the favorite.  The bottom photo consists of 1 1/2 batches, with a few missing... they are warm cookies after all!

Maple Date Cookies

24 Pitted dates (which is a little more than 1 cup, packed)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
1 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup finely ground almonds or almond flour
1/2 cup ground sesame seeds  (NOT tahini)
2 T soft xv coconut oil (barely warm liquid form is fine too)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
-Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside
-Place pitted dates into food processor and chop until fine and clumpy.  (A 14 cup Cuisinart food processor was used here.  The 10 cup size would need to make a half batch at a time.)
-Add remaining ingredients and process until dough is clumpy, sticky, and nuts are visible as tiny, 1/8" pieces
-Form the dough into 20-24, 1 inch balls by rolling in your palms in a circular motion, and place on the cookie sheet 2 inches apart
-Place a 5"x5" piece of waxpaper on the first ball, and with a large mug with a concave bottom, flatten the dough into a scant 1/4 " x 2 1/4" disc on the parchment paper.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.  Bake:  350 degrees F for 6-8 minutes until cookie springs back just a bit, and edges are slightly browned.  (A minute less for chewier cookies)
-Let cookies set on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes before removing
-Cool completely before storing in an air tight container. 
-They are fine on the counter for a few days, but if the weather is very hot, store in the fridge.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Icecream


With the hot summer days comes thoughts of ice cream!  Nutritious ice cream of course.  This is very refreshing, as well as doubling as a quick snack, with some staying power from the nut butter.

Peanut Butter Ice cream

4 well spotted bananas
5-6 T peanut butter
1/2 tsp liquid coconut oil (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Peel bananas and freeze for at least 8 hours. 
Mix together the PB, oil, and vanilla.  Set aside.
Set the freezer bag of bananas on the counter for 15-30 minutes until 30% thawed.  (Err on the frozen side.)  Flipping the bag over after 6-7 minutes seems to speed up the process a bit. 
Place bananas in unplugged food processor and chop up with a fork to 1" pieces.
Process until half whipped.
Break up any remaining chunks, add PB mixture and continue to whip until just smooth. (Over whipping will cause mixture to melt.) 
Eat as soft ice cream, or place in a sturdy freezer container for 1 hour for hard ice cream consistency.
Any left can be frozen a longer period of time, but will need to be set out for a few minutes before serving.

-Chocolate:  Place half the ice cream in a container in the freezer, and add 2 T cocoa powder or roasted carob powder to remaining half and whip until just blended. Lightly stir in reserved half for choc/pb swirl if you like.  (Use 1/4 cup powder to make the whole batch into choc ice cream, of course.)

Please note:
-Spotted bananas = creamy texture, unripe bananas = gooey texture
-It takes a couple tries to get the timing down, but it's well worth it.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Flowers in the spring, Foraging all year long

Above are a few examples of the local foliage and flowers out in early spring here.
(Top to bottom:  Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia), red and white Trillium, Daffodil, Forsythia, Myrtle, White and Blue Violets mixed with unopened Lilly of the Valley, and Trout Lilly.)  (The violet flowers and Trout Lilly leaves and bulbs are quite tasty. )
To learn more about foraging (In the north eastern part of the U.S. especially)  my favorite books on the subject are as follows:
 -'Nature's Garden' by Samuel Thayer.  It has very clear,extensive photography for identifying the plants along with text regarding description, range and habitat, harvest and preparation.  Another of his books titled 'The Forager's Harvest' has the same format with different plants.  I'm glad I purchased both, but of the two, 'Nature's Garden' has more information and photos of interest.
-'Edible Wild Plants', Eastern/Central North America, by Lee Allen Peterson.  This has very detailed drawings and concise information for identification as well as usage.  There are symbols on the side for quick reference to various uses, such as salads or teas.  Included for side by side comparison are also drawings (and information) on poisonous plants, signified with a skull and crossbones symbol next to it.
-These two books above compliment one another, and thus far are my favorites.  The clear photos and detailed drawings , and the text in different forms for cross reference of information. I would want to take both of these books to more clearly  identify prospective plant snacks.  A word to the wise: before eating any wild plants, be 100% SURE of what it is; sometimes the difference between delicious and poisonous is very slight.
-'Edible and Medicinal Plants', by Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean.  I enjoyed reading the information in this book, but it would not be one of the books I would take into the field to ID plants.  There are also attractive, artistic drawings of plants throughout the book which give a general idea of what a plant looks like, but not detailed enough for clear identification.
-'Northeast Foraging', by Leda Meredith.  It is a very nice read, the photos are very clear and helpful, and although it doesn't include as many plants as the books above, it is nice to get another perspective on the plant's usage. One thing I take exception to in this book:  Even mentioning Ginkgo nuts!  Besides being poisonous raw...The smell of the fruit is SO disgusting...words can't really describe.  For the record though: the non-fruiting male trees are very cool looking.  One of my favorites.
-'Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner's Guide", by Rosemary Gladstar.  Ok, This isn't a foraging book per say, but it contains uses/recipes for some of those plants you have successfully foraged, as well as a few of the herbs you may have growing in your garden already.
-Why forage?  For the free, organic, (check location found), nutrient dense, often very flavorful food!  And you never know when being able to find food in the wild (not to mention your own yard) may prove to be especially useful.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Quick Cardamom Rice Pudding

Quick Cardamom Rice Pudding
When I tried cardamon years ago I didn't care for it at all, until my daughter brought home some fresh ground cardamon from our local natural foods store (Lori's Natural Foods).  It was so good, I had to find more uses for it!  It complements the taste of coconut milk and vanilla (two other favorites) very nicely in the rice pudding.  Storing it in the fridge in small containers (as shown above) keeps it fresher for each serving, and easy to grab on the way out the door!
Quick Cardamon Rice Pudding
1- 13.5 oz can of coconut milk (Native Forest classic is my favorite)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cardamom powder
5 cups cooked medium grain brown rice
Whisk together briskly all but the rice in a high sided pan.  Stir in the brown rice.  Bring to a low simmer stirring constantly.  Continue to stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until a creamy consistency.  Cool, cover and store for 5-6 days in a 35 degree F fridge, or  enjoy warm.
Yield: approximately 6 cups
Fresh cooked rice for this recipe:
1 1/2 heaping cups of dry medium grain brown rice
3 cups water
1/4 tsp whole salt
Mix all in a small pot.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and reduce to low/very low heat.  Simmer 40 minutes and remove from the heat.  If there is still a bit of water in the bottom after 40 minutes, leave cover on for 15 minutes before measuring out 5 cups for the pudding.
Heaping: pouring the dry rice into the measuring cup so it mounds up but still stays in the cup.  (Visually, think mountain range, as apposed to a round hill shape, which is called a rounded cupful.)
Please note:  If it is too thick for your taste once it has cooled, stir in  (room temp) water half a teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired creaminess. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lentil Sweet potato Soup

                                                           Lentil Sweet Potato Soup

This recipe is the "One Pot Lentil Soup" recipe from the 'Comfort Food' recipe book with sweet potatoes replacing the white potatoes.  Besides producing a prettier soup, it gives it a bit more of a festive flavor.  The top photo shows the raw ingredients right after mixing together in the pot, with the bottom photo showing the finished soup.  (The organic celery used had a large amount of dark green leaves as evidenced by the prominent green pieces seen in the raw photo.)

Two things to remember regarding all these writings:  When it says sweet potatoes, it means yams, and when it says garlic powder it means garlic granules.  Why might you ask?  Simply put, My Mother always called yams sweet potatoes so the habit stuck with me also.  My friend Jen introduced me to garlic granules a decade or two ago and I never went back, but garlic powder rolls off the tongue there you have it!

Lentil Sweet Potato Soup

1/4 cup xv coconut oil
1 large bay leaf
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped (2/3 cup)
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine (1T)
1 medium carrot, chopped (2/3 cup)
2 large stalks celery, chopped (1 1/3 cups)

1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp whole salt
2 1/2 cups green or brown lentils
1/4 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp liquid lecithin
10 cups water
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes (one large)

1-2 T fresh italian flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional: try before adding)

Saute first 6 ingredients until half cooked.  Stir in the next 7 ingredients and bring to a low simmer when the lid is on.  Simmer covered for 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hours until lentils and potatoes are soft, stirring every 30 minutes if possible. Stir in the italian parsley once fully cooked.  Add more water or seasonings to your personal taste, and serve.

-Use xv olive oil in place of coconut oil.
-Lecithin may be omited, but the oil and water will separate more.
-Mix all but parsley and lemon juice in a crockpot, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring every two hours if possible.  Stir in the parsley and enjoy.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happy Easter!!!

Luke 24:6  .."He has risen!"  Easter was officially last week, but the joy and gratitude that comes with Jesus's sacrifice and gift can be celebrated every day!
Back to the continuing vanilla extract experiment:
Although the original intent was to leave the blended up vanilla for several months before trying, (see blog from 2-17-14,) we ran out last weekend so in it went. It was Delicious! The tiny specs of vanilla beans were an attractive addition too.
Please excuse the gap in blogging the last couple weeks; will write again soon.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pecan Pie Squares

Pecan Pie Squares
With the ground still frozen and the air temperature around freezing, it's a good day for baking!  The 'Pecan Pie Squares' recipe in the book calls for spelt flour.  Here it has been altered to be gluten free.  There are definitely nutritious whole foods in this recipe, but this is definitely a very sweet, gooey, crunchy treat!  Where ever I have taken these, they are very well recieved.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2/3 cup oat flour                                              1T liquid coconut oil
1/4 cup millet flour                                          1 tsp vanilla extract                           
2T green buckwheat flour                               1/2 tsp liquid lecithin
1/4 cup almond flour                                       3/4 tsp arrow root powder
2T brown rice flour                                         1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp xanthan powder                                   1 cup + 2T chopped pecans
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp whole salt
6T VERY soft soy margerine
Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Cut in the soft margarine with a pastry cutter until well incorporated.  Press evenly into a 9"x 9" baking dish greased with coconut oil.  (Take care to make sure the base is level before baking so the topping will be evenly distributed when added.)  Bake: 15-20 minutes, until puffy and springs back a bit.  While this is baking, mix together the topping, adding the pecans to the mix just before spreading over the base. When the base is cooked, carefully remove from the oven, pour the topping over the base spreading the nuts and syrup evenly over the top.  Bake an additional 15-20 minutes until very bubbly and the edges are ligtly browned.  Cool COMPLETELY to set properly before cutting into squares.  (You can use a metal spatula to carefully push down  the ridge that will form above the squares if you wish, but leave the rest undisturbed.)  In a taste test between the gluten free bars and the bars made with spelt flour, they were equally liked.  The base is a little softer on the GF bars, but other than that the taste is very similar.

Turkey Visitors

 Yesterday evening brought out Mr and Mrs wild turkey, with Mr Turkey showing off  his feathers in the bottom photo.  Not only the humans, but the local fauna (wild life) are ready for warmer weather and the spring greenery.  One of the first things to emerge are the trout lily leaves.  These are good for a quick snack while taking a hike in the woods, or tossing a few in a salad.  Mmm...
(A word to the wise: only eat wild plants you are 100% sure are safe to eat.  Remember, there are plants varieties that are almost identical, with one being edible and the other toxic.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Light Peanut Butter Cookies

                                                       Light Peanut butter cookies

These peanut butter cookies have a light peanut butter flavor, and can be made light and crispy when cooked a little more, or denser and chewier when cooked a bit less.  That really goes for most cookies, but more so for these!  There are two flour choices to choose from.  Both are good: some liked the mix with oat flour, others the one including millet.  (Remember to set aside part of the flour until all ingredients are mixed and have set for a bit before adding it in, as a little more or less may be needed.)

Preheat oven (as always) to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
4T Earth Balance margarine
1 cup 100% peanut butter (100% peanuts)
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed just enough to liquefy
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup maple syrup

Dry mix option  #1                                                Dry mix option #2
1/3 cup almond flour                                             1/2 cup almond flour
2/3 cup oat flour                                                     1/3 cup millet flour
2/3 cup green buckwheat flour                              1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 tsp whole salt                                                   1/2 cup green buckwheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda                                                1/4 tsp whole salt
1/2 tsp xanthan powder                                          3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp arrowroot powder                                       1/2 tsp xanthan powder
2T ground flax seeds                                              1/4 tsp arrowroot powder
                                                                               2T ground flax seeds (optional in this mix)

Cream together the wet ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.  Mix together either dry mix 1 or 2 and gradually blend into the peanut mixture until well incorporated.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes for some of the moisture to absorb into the flours.  The dough should be a dense but soft consistency.  Spoon onto a thick cookie sheet greased with coconut oil.  Flatten out with a fork (dipped in ice cold water to keep the dough from sticking to the fork) to approximately 1/3" thick by 2-2 1/2" wide and 2" apart.  Bake: 350 F for 8-12 minutes until the edges are lightly browned and the center springs back slightly when pressed.  Remove cookie sheet from the oven and allow cookies to cool and set 2-3 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container for several days or freeze extra cookies in the freezer for future cookie cravings!

 -Replace coconut oil with another 1/4 cup soy margarine. 
-Add 1/4 cup more peanut butter for a more pronounced peanut butter flavor:  although a small amount of extra flour may be needed, leave the fat content the same, or the cookies may be a little tough. 
Please note:  Green buckwheat flour is obtained from grinding raw buckwheat in a grain mill, or a cup at a time in a Vitamix blender.  Green buckwheat  has a much milder flavor compared with the dark buckwheat flour usually sold already ground.
Yes, some of the cookies have chocolate chips pressed into the top just before baking.
No, these cookies don't abide by the food combining mentioned in the last blog, but they are quite nutrient dense....and a sweet treat now and then is enjoyable.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Acid/Basic food

There are foods that make our bodies more alkaline and other foods that create a more acidic environment.  In a nut shell, the goal is a body that is more alkaline (aka basic).  A PH below 7 is considered acid, and a PH above 7 is considered basic, or alkaline.  (A PH of 7 is neutral.) A lot of stuff  we don't want (cancer for instance,) thrives in an acidic body, but isn't too happy about residing in one that is alkaline, thankfully.  The site has especially nice charts showing the Ph of different foods.  Not surprisingly  most vegetables are alkalizing, fresh fruits and nuts are somewhere in the middle, and meats, coffee and black tea the most acidic.  Consuming primarily basic and neutral foods is my personal goal. (FYI:  simply put, PH stands for 'power of hydrogen'.)
Another topic to consider that you may notice on that site concerns proper food combining for better digestion and subsequently better food absorption.  It is a personal decision how strictly to adhere to the food combining, but it may be worth trying for a week or so to see if your food digestion improves.
Along those lines also, it has been my experience that mixing in a teaspoon or so of fresh lemon juice in a mug of warm water seems to balance the system in general, and 2-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a warm mug of water  really eases a bad case of indigestion, including the times accompanied with bloating.  (Start with one teaspoon and work your way up to 2 or 3, it's an acquired taste!)  Also heating and eating a cup or two of plain canned tomatoes (with a little garlic powder added) between meals rights my system when I have eaten too much.  (Of course not eating too much at the next meal helps too!)  My brain still figures I can eat the same as I could in my 20s, 30s, and even 40s, and sometimes forgets less food is required in the 50s, and what is eaten digests slower. 
Every one's system is different.  In trying new ways of eating, and possibly in new combinations, you may find new tools that work for you.
When our digestive systems are happy, we are happier too!

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Around the time the veggie garden is done for the season is a good time to start sprouting seeds for fresh greens. The canning jar in the foreground above consists of a rounded tablespoon (T) of alfalfa seeds and about a teaspoon of radish seeds.  The one in the background consists of 1 1/2 T mung bean seeds.  Pour the seeds in the bottom of a widemouth Mason jar and cover with a couple inches of water. Soak for 10-20 hours.  (10-12 for small seeds such as alfalfa,radish, and mung beans;  18-20 for larger beans such as black beans.  The large beans will also need more water for soaking: pouring the larger beans into jar to a level of 2 inches will require adding water to a level of 3 inches above the beans.)  Screens for the top:  One option; purchase the widely available plastic tops that come in a set of three with different size holes.  The finest screen  of the three does not allow water to pour through easily though.  I finally gave up and cut a small hole in the top near the edge to pour water through, and then drain the water out the other side.  A second option is buying precut metal screening that fits into a widemouth lid.  A third option (the most cost effective) is to purchase a piece of stainless steel or brass window screen (one that doesn't rust) from your local hardware store, trace with a wide mouth lid and cut out as many as you need.  Place into a widemouth canning ring and you're set.  These work well for whatever you are sprouting, as the holes are small enough to contain seeds such as alfalfa seeds but water flows through easily.  On the jar in the foreground above is a plastic ring a friend gave me years ago which is especially nice because it will never get rusty as the metal rings will.  The only place I have seen a plastic ring for sale is at but have not purchased any from them.  After soaking for 10-20 hours, drain, cover  with water, let sit for 5-10 minutes, drain, and set on its side away from direct sunlight.  Do this 2-3 times a day until the sprouts are the size that taste the best to you, (approximately 3-7 days,)  At this point the jar can be set in a sunny window for a few hours to green up the sprouts and increase their nutrtional value.  Next cover with water again, drain well, replace screening with canning lid and store in the fridge for 3-4 days, rinsing and draining once a day.  (I have seen plastic widemouth caps for sale at Amazon which are nice for storing sprouts in the fridge.)
 Be sure to use seeds, grains, and beans specifically for sprouting.  (Ones purchased for food should sprout, as long as they are same season seeds, grains, and beans.  Older ones may not germinate as well.) Other seeds I have sprouted are: green lentils,broccoli seeds, and wheat.  Broccoli sprouts are especially nutritious, but I suggest trying a few at a time with other seeds, as they have a very strong flavor.  Some other options for sprouting:  rye berries, seame seeds, squash seeds, whole barley, buckwheat, celery, sunflower, chia, dill, fenugreek, pumpkin, onion, and lettuce seeds, quinoa, and any dry beans such as black beans, pinto beans, and chic peas.(all raw of course.)
Something to be aware of: in warm humid weather the risk of the sprouts molding is greater. (Being sure all components are cleaned in hot soapy water between uses will minimize this risk.) Fortunately by then there are other fresh greens available in the local farm markets or your own garden to take their place.
If you haven't grown sprouts before I encourage you to give it a try.  The nutritional boost to the diet, especially in the winter is well worth it.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Impatient Vanilla Extract Maker

Today was another good day to experiment.  Let me back up a bit.  October 2012 I delved into making Pure vanilla extract.  First there was the decade or two old bottle of bourbon my awesome Uncle Bob gave me to experiment with.  (Because of who he is, not because of the bourbon!)  Second I purchased a couple middle priced vodkas to use for a taste comparison. Third was the hunt for bottles.  The ones you see above are 8.5 oz.  There is something to be said for just taking 4-8 ounces out of a liter of vodka and dropping in a bunch of vanilla beans, but I like the convenience of the smaller size bottles.  In my research most people slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and put  3-5 beans in an 8 ounce bottle, shake it up and place in a cool, dry, dark place for 2-6 months, shaking up every week or two.  (I used five beans.)  After 6 months it was not strong enough for my taste, and after 12 months it was better, but I was hoping for a more pronounced vanilla flavor still.  Hence the two bottles above.  In the interest of getting as much vanilla flavor as possible, I individualy blended the contents of several bottles in the Vitamix blender until very smooth.  It isn't as pretty as the bottle with whole beans in it, but how it tastes is what really matters.  I'll let you know in a couple months.  Thus far on the different liquids for the extract: using either vodka would be my choice next time.  The other extract comes out as more of a vanilla flavored bourbon than vanilla extract.  (Just for the record, I have several of my baking friends do the taste testing for me.)
Made two different gluten free peanut butter cookie recipes this week.  Still waiting for all the reviews from the testers.  Will keep you posted on the results soon, along with the improved kashi breakfast bake.
Happy cooking!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coconut Cream Brussel Sprouts

Coconut Cream Brussel Sprouts
In the continuing journey of getting more cruciferous vegetables into the diet, 'Coconut Cream Brussel Sprouts' was born.  (Cruciferous being the cabbage family: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy/pak choi.)  Brussel sprouts have a certain harshness to them I have never fully appreciated.  Adding coconut oil and creamy coconut milk mellows them into a tender, savory, delicious veggie I would happily eat several times a week!  (Native Forest brand organic classic coconut milk with it's thick creamy conistency works well.)  This recipe makes approximately 4-5 cups once cooked.  The 8-9 cups raw fits nicely into a 15" cast iron pan. The garlic enhances the flavor a great deal also, and using garlic powder works well to evenly incorporate through the mixture.  ( 1 T minced fresh garlic is another option.)  A 2 pound bag of brussel sprouts will give you the 1  1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds of  trimmed brussel sprouts needed.  As the photos above show, the stem is trimmed off, along with any so-so outside leaves leaving them somewhat smaller, rounder, and ready for the food processor.

                                                  Coconut Cream Brussel Sprouts

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds (#) trimmed brussel sprouts, (8-9 cups, slightly packed)
2 1/2 Tablespoons (T) extra virgin coconut oil
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (tsp) garlic powder
1 tsp whole salt
3/4 - 1 cup creamy coconut milk

Proccess the trimmed brussel sprouts in a large food proccessor using the 4mm slicing disc.  (approximately 1/8 inch thick.)  Warm a 15" cast iron pan (or equivalent) on medium/low.  Once warm but not smoking, melt coconut oil in it and add the brussel sprouts.  Mix in the seasonings and continue to stir the mixture every 1-2 minutes for 10-15 minutes until the thicker pieces are about half-cooked.  (Veggies should simmer gently without browning.)  Stir in 3/4 cup coconut milk.  Stir and simmer another 5-7 minutes, until the thick pieces are al dente and the outside pieces are still a nice green color.  (overcooking turns the leaves yellowish and the flavor is not as desirable.)  For a creamier version (our favorite,) stir in the remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, bring just to a simmer and serve. 


Saturday, January 11, 2014


Finally!  The 'Comfort Food' recipe book is now available for sale here!  Just click on the Comfort Food tab for more information.

This week brought temps of -2 F with windchills of -35 F, and today it's 50.  As they say around here:  if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes- it will change.  There are still several Winterbor kale  plants in the garden, and they've actually made it through once again!

Soon there will be a new brussel sprout recipe and kashi recipe posted, but they need a little more tweeking.  Will get back to you on those soon.
Blessings,  Jeanne

Friday, January 3, 2014

Storing Apples

Every fall my wonderful friend Terri lets me come and pick organic Burgundy, Granny Smith, and Empire apples from her trees to distribute to many families, food pantries, and local shelters.  She is such a blessing to so many!  We first store ours in the garage with netting over them to discourage  the furries from taking them: usually chipmunks and the occasional squirrel.  Although this year our dog Jack managed to slip his nose under the netting of one basket that quickly went from convex shape to concave. For about a week his first trip out in the morning became rather desperate.  Ahh, the laxative effects of too much fruit sometimes. Apparently all things in moderation is wise for dogs as well as humans!   The next location when there is a risk of freezing, is to put the remaining apples in a couple metal trash cans that have 1/4-3/8" holes drilled in the sides and top for air circulation. (Drill inside to out so the rough edges are on the outside.  We also put a short (2-3") wood stand drilled with holes in the bottom, but not sure if that is really needed.)  Then they are placed in the basement/root cellar  away from any squash that may be down there in their own fresh food only trash cans; apparently the apples reduce the keeping time of the squash. Last night the last of the Granny Smith were enjoyed as Apple Crisp bake.  Even though they were all a bit soft with some even a bit wrinkly, they baked up as well as the fresh ones.  The Public Market (Farmer's Market) in Downtown Rochester NY is open all year round (since 1905) with (among lots of other things) local apples for sale.  They are not as perfect this time of year as the ones in the stores but are still good for eating and especially baking, at a much better price. With a little searching you may find one in your area that stays open all year round too! 
(My apologies for the delay: making the recipe book available here has taken  longer than I anticipated.   The Comfort Food recipe book will be available on this site in approximately 7-10 days.  If you would like one sooner, it is also available on Amazon.)
Have a joyous and blessed day!