Thursday, December 10, 2015

Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are full of flavor, and not only gluten free but free of any flour whatsoever.  Have a little extra quick oats on hand as the amount needed at the end will vary depending on the consistency of the almond butter.

Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

6 T water, room temperature
2 T fresh ground flax seeds
1/2 cup quick oats

1 1/3 cup almond butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix the first three ingredients together respectively, then set aside.  With a stationery electric mixer if possible, beat the next three together until creamy. Mix in flax seed mixture.  In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together well, slowly mix into the almond butter mix, then beat together well.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.  The dough should be dense enough to form into 3/4" diameter balls.  If needed, add a few more quick oats and wait another 5 minutes.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Form dough into balls and place 2-3" apart on cookie sheet.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the first ball.  Flatten down the dough (a wide mug works well) to a scant 1/4" thick.  (1/8" for crunchier cookies).  Do the same with the remaining cookies.  Bake: 350  for 8-10 minutes.  When the edges are lightly browned and the center springs back when lightly depressed, remove cookie sheet from oven and cool on a cooling rack 3-5 minutes for cookies to set.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mini Brussel Sprouts and Greens

In every obstacle there is an opportunity.  The brussel sprouts had a late start this year and subsequently, by the end of the growing season we had a lot of really small ones.  Although the leaves have always been tossed into the compost pile, adding all the leaves roughly 7 inches and smaller (about the width of my hand) into the cooking pan supplemented the brussel sprout dish well and gave it a nice, more varied texture.  After washing and ribbing the leaves they were cut into 1 1/2" square pieces and gently sauted with the baby sprouts, chopped garlic and onion, in extra virgin olive oil until about half cooked.  Season with whole salt (Redman real salt or Himalayan salt ) and fresh ground black pepper.  Pour (well mixed) canned coconut milk over it and mix in well.  Simmer on low for a few minutes until the veggies are tender but still green, and the coconut milk has reduced a bit, stirring occasionally.  The coconut milk really makes the dish.  If you have full sized brussel sprouts or would like more specific proportions, the recipe can be found in the second printing of the comfort food recipe book.  By the way, if you are making the broccoli soup recipe and you are a little short on flowerettes, substituting up to 25% with the tender young leaves is very good, and a great way to utilize the tasty young leaves.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Organic Peaches

Taking the time to trim your fruit trees to allow ample light and air circulation can go a long way in discouraging the proliferation of insects and diseases.  If you're starting from scratch, planting more resistant varieties is the first step, along with finding a location with plenty of sunlight and air flow. Cleaning up any fruit and diseased leaves or twigs and burning or bagging and discarding off the property can be helpful too. Besides planting two fruit trees when needed for pollination, planting more than one when possible is recommended to raise the likelihood of continually getting fruit each year. Some times (especially younger trees) may die for no readily apparent reason!  As challenging and unpredictable as fruit production can be, having fresh organic fruit for you, your family and to share with others is a true joy!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dried Plums And More

As with any dried fruit, the flavor is concentrated in dehydrated form, making them a tastey on the go snack you can store without refrigeration. Stanley plums (pictured) are great for drying. Notice the indented line on each plum: make your cuts parallel to this line as it will be the flat side of the pit for better slicing. With a very sharp thin knife, take an almost paper thin slice off one side about the  diameter of a dime: 1/3-1/2" wide.  This helps the first full slice dry more evenly.  Next slice one or two 1/4" thick slices (depending on the size of the plum) off each side. What is usually left are two small pieces on the edges to remove also. Place each piece on a well oiled dehydrating rack with a bit of space between. Dehydrate at 108-110 degrees F for 18-20 hours, until pliable but not swishy inside. They will solidify more when cooled. A little too dry is preferred. If there is too much moisture left they will spoil.  Remove from trays and allow to cool completely, (5-10mminutes),  and store in airtight containers filled to the top.  Two cup or one quart canning jars seal well to keep the air out.  
Another favorite is dried peaches. Peel and cut in wedges about 1/3" thick.  Dry as above checking after 12 hours. 
Regarding dried apples, some like them quite pliable, others prefer the taste of them dried longer, producing a denser Apple ring. Dried too much though, they become brittle and easily break into a lot of small pieces when stored away. The apple/peeler/corer/slicer tool is wonderful for these three tasks, with the option to leave the skin on if you are fortunate enough to have organic fruit to dry. (There is a small slicing lever that can be flipped up to leave the skin on.)  Apples are a drier fruit and the above tool produces thinner slices, needing as little as 12-14 hours to dry. 
Most any fruit can be dried. A good rule of thumb to remember:  the higher the water content, the thicker it will need to be sliced so there is something left to peel off the trays once they're dried. 
Drying times will vary depending on the dehydrator, humidity level, room temperature,varying ripeness and  moisture level of food used. 
Dried to the proper moisture level, and stored in a cool, dark dry spot, dried fruit will keep for several years, although the pronounced fruit flavor will diminish after the first year. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Growing Cucumbers

When cucumber seeds are planted, plant radish seeds a few inches away. When they are planted near a trellis as shown here, the cucumbers will climb above the radishes and flourish, while the radishes repel the cucumber beetles. 
Shown here are radish flowers in the row next to the cukes. Beautiful yet functional!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Tomato cages and broad forks

The tomato cages in the photo are 6 1/2' tall with the ends cut almost to a point for ease of pounding into the ground. All the boards are 2"x 4" boards split lengthwise. The cross pieces are 24" long. When making additional ones next year we'll put the top rung of cross pieces an inch of so below the top for a little buffer when pounding them into the ground.
Why so tall?  To accommodate the tall heirloom varieties, and for when the bottom ends rot after years of use, they can be cut back to sound wood  and we'll be able to get a few more years out of them. Thank you neighbor Jen for the idea!
In the foreground is a broad fork from 'Meadow Creature', my new favorite tool. For loosening up the soil in new areas we want to plant, as well as the garden sections that sometimes get compacted when an area is left to long without mulch. There is less damage to all the organisms living in the soil than when a tiller is used, along with being much more user friendly inside the garden sections. This is the tall broad fork. I like the longer handles for leverage, and 14" tines for deeper cultivation. Moving it a few inches  to the right and left each time works very nicely. This size is a better fit for the taller members of the family, and at 5'6", 125 pounds, it works well for me too. 
My other favorite tool is the Wilcox trowel. In my estimation the only one to ever buy. I have destroyed all other trowels, usually in a short period of time. I was given a Wilcox trowel many years ago, and it's in perfect condition still, even the rubber handle.  I found them online a year or so ago and bought three more  for a spare and as presents, hoping they were of the same quality, which thankfully, they still are!
In case you are wondering, the little metal cages in the photo are for keeping the chipmunks and woodchucks from eating the young plants.  They seem to think it's their garden!
Have a joyous and blessed day 🌻

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New veggie garden layout

The sections of the veggie garden were originally about 4- 4 1/2' squares. After 15-20 years of struggling to reach the center of those to weed and plant, an opportunity presented itself to start ftom scratch. The old black raspberry patch had stopped producing, so in the fall of 2013 the area was tilled up and the garlic was planted there, leaving the entire veggie garden open to till up in the spring of 2014.  First the majority of the weeds left from the rather hectic fall were removed and put in the compost pile. This step was not really needed, but wanted to reduce the chance of weeds the tiller might miss. Before tilling was also a good time to add composted material if available. (Till the soil down 10-12" if possible).  Next came raking it out evenly, stringing line, setting boards in place, (boards 12" wide or more if possible), put down regular thin corrugated cardboard, (or 10 layers black and white newspaper) and cover with a 3-4" layer of grass clippings. If there aren't enough of those available, old straw stays in place fairly well too, or partially decomposed leaves from the previous fall as a last resort. (They tend to blow over seedlings trying to grow. Placing the leaves where the tomato plants will be is a good spot). The new sections are roughly 3 1/2' x 8', which has worked out very nicely. Even though the garden was not ready for planting until the very end if June, it still came along quite well!
Next time there will be photos showing the new tomato cages that are really working out well. 
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fresh Chamomile Tea

Chamomile makes a wonderfully relaxing tea that is easy to grow and dry. This May, two tiny Chamomile plants were planted in full sun 18" apart with a couple tablespoons of worm castings nestled alongside the roots.  As of today the flower heads (shown above) have already been harvested for tea twice. The flower heads were dried at 105 degrees for 6-8 hours. They are pretty dry naturally, so they dehydrate surprisingly quick.  Once they are dry and at room temperature, they are sealed tightly in pint mason jars and stored in a cool, dry, dark spot in the cellar for the time when fresh chamomile is not available. 
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Garlic Harvest 2015


The first couple weeks of July in western New York is garlic harvesting time. 
The first photo is of our usual German white (best guess on what was purchased 30 plus years ago) and a small unknown red variety a kind friend gave us to try. The next photo shows all 300 bulbs stapled to 2"x4"x 9' boards hanging in the garage out of the sun, with the windows and doors open for ventilation for proper drying. (1/2" or longer staples for the staple gun work well). This is a convenient spot out of the way and affords us easy access to it.  The first couple weeks of October, it's time to plant the biggest and nicest garlic cloves, then before the first frost the remaining garlic is staggered in clumps of about 14, tied securely and hung on the front of the  storage shelves in the cellar where it is cool and dry.  The third photo shows the difference in size of one bulb that had the garlic scape (flower head) removed when it was about 6" long, and one that didn't have the scape removed. Clearly it's worth removing them soon after they appear for larger bulbs to develop, and they taste great too. 
Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Big Batch Sprouting

If you are interested in sprouting several cups of beans at a time such as pintos or green lentils, just place them in a large pot, and fill no more than 2" deep.  Cover with a minimum of 4" of water from the top of the beans and soak overnight.  Drain, rinse and drain again in the morning, then rinse and drain at least two more times during the day.  Rinse and drain at least three times per day until beans sprout.  (Let sit in the water 4-5 minutes each time before draining well). I pour the soaking beans into a collander for ease of draining, then back in the pot.  Once little sprouts emerge from 80% of  the beans it's time to cover with 3" or more of water and simmer very slowly until tender.  (50% for pintos.)  In warmer weather especially, cook as soon as begin to sprout as the beans will not stay fresh as long as they do in the colder months.  A piece of cheese cloth over the pot in the warmer weather helps keep any additional 'protein sources' from flying in.  Why only a couple inches deep to start with?  A thinner layer of beans will allow needed air flow while they sprout on your counter. (They  will almost double in volume overnight.)   Without sufficient air flow they may develop mold and need to be thrown out.  Be sure the dried beans are less than a year old when used for sprouting. If the beans are older, soak 8-24 hours on your counter, drain, cover with water, drain, cover with Several inches of water, and simmer until tender. There isn't quite the same nutritional boost of sprouted beans, but there is still the added benefit of cooking much quicker than dried beans.
Of course Small seeds can be sprouted until the 'tails' are longer, then eaten raw.  Some examples are  brown lentils, sesame seeds, alfalfa, mung, and radishes.  These mix well in salads, sandwiches, or wraps.  When sprouting a small amount of seeds, all you need is a quart canning jar and ring, (plastic ring if possible) and a piece of very fine screening made of copper or stainless steel cut to fit the ring snuggly. The smaller the seed, the fewer you'll need.  For example:  1 1/2 T alfalfa seeds, but 2 T  mung bean seeds are plenty for a quart jar.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pinto Bean and Collards Soup


Pintos and Collards Soup

5 T xv olive oil
2/3-3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine (1T)
1/2-2/3 cup celery, diced

5 cups sprouted, cooked, and drained pinto beans
1 quart (32 oz) canned tomatoes, chopped or pureed
1 cup unsalted bean juice
2 cups water
2 tsp whole salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 bunch collard greens, ribbed and cut into 3/4" pieces  (2 1/2-3 cups)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Gently saute' first four ingredients for a couple minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except collards and almond milk.  Bring to a simmer then stir in the collards.  Bring back to a low simmer and cook covered, until the collards are just tender. (1-2 hours).  Stir in the almond milk, bring back to a simmer and enjoy.

1- Add 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes with the pintos
2- replace collards with 1 large red pepper, diced
3- To thicken soup: shake together 2 T arrowroot powder with 1/4 cup room temp water.  Stir into simmering soup at the end until it thickens then remove from the heat.

Homemade almond milk:  Soak 1/4 cup or more almonds overnight in the fridge.  Remove the skins and measure out a scant 1/3 cup.  Place the almonds, 2 cups water and 4 pitted dates into a high powered blender such as a Vitamix, and blend on high until a smooth liquid.    Extra almond milk is a delicious drink all on its own.  For a little fancier drink, add just a touch of vanilla.

Have a joyous and blessed day!


Monday, February 16, 2015

The second edition of 'COMFORT FOOD' is out!

The second edition of  'COMFORT FOOD' is now available!  It now includes over 70 gluten free vegan recipes!  (110 recipes in all.)

For online shoppers, I'd recommend purchasing from

If you live near Rochester New York, you can find it at:
Loris natural foods
Barnes and Noble book store
Cooks World
American Hotel, Lima
Livonia Pharmacy, Livonia
New York Wine and Culinary Center, Canandaigua
Lavender Moon, Honeoye Falls
Touch of Grace, Geneseo
Honeoye Craft Lab, Honeoye
Edgewood Country Store, Penn Yan
Three Brothers Winery, Penn Yan
Toomeys Express, Bloomfield
Artizann's, Naples

May these recipes be a blessing to you and your family!

Fabulous Fridge Fudge

(Well, my old computer decided a few weeks ago it was tired of uploading photos.  When able to do so in the future, photos will be added.)

This is one of the recipes that a friend got from a friend... and everyone down the line made changes to suite them.  As mentioned before, adding peanut butter, or mint extract to roasted carob transforms it into a wonderful flavor.  Even the chocolate lover in our home prefers roasted carob powder over cocoa powder in this recipe!

Fabulous Fridge Fudge

1 cup xv coconut oil, just barely liquefied, or really soft and partially liquefied.
1 cup roasted carob powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp whole salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup 100% smooth peanut butter
1 T pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a small pot on very low, heat the coconut oil until JUST liquefied, or a little before.  Remove from the heat.  Whisk in the next four ingredients respectively, until smooth.  Pour half of the mixture into a 7"x 7" or 8"x 8" baking dish greased with coconut oil.  Place in a level spot in the freezer.  In a separate bowl, beat together the remaining three ingredients.  Check the bowl in the freezer.  If it has hardened, spoon the PB mixture evenly on the top, then pour the second half of the carob mixture on top and spread evenly.  (This second half of the carob mixture may need to be warmed up a bit if it began to cool and set up.) Cover and place in the fridge for 6-8 hours.  Cut into pieces, and store in the fridge for a week or two, or store in an airtight container in the freezer for several months.

Please note: If the coconut oil becomes too warm, it may partially separate from the rest of the mix.  If this happens, pour and spread each half as best you can as instructed.  You will end up with a sweet, solid coconut oil layer on top when you are done.  It may not be as attractive a dessert, but it tastes good, and the coconut oil layer on top is a tasty variation!

1- Add 1/8-1/4 tsp (non-gmo) liquid lecithin to emulsify the carob mixture.  (Creates a smoother mixture)
2- Replace the 2/3 cup peanut butter with 3/4 cup almond butter

2- The maple syrup may be reduced from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup, and the peanut butter may be increased from 2/3 cup to 3/4 cup.  This is a nice option for those who enjoy the flavor without being quite as sweet.  The one down side: the three layers may not stick together quite as well.

Have a joyous and blessed day!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Maple Sugar Candy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
One of the sweets we make for Christmas is maple sugar candy.  It is a little fussy to make, but if you are flexible with the final results, it all tastes good!

Maple Sugar Candy

4 cups 100% light or medium maple syrup
1 tsp vegan margarine (just in case)
candy thermometer
Place the candy thermometer in boiling water to check it's accuracy.  It should read 212 degrees F.   (If it doesn't, note how much it is off so you will know if you have to add or subtract from your target temp.)  There should be a clip on the candy thermometer to attach it to the inside of a high sided pot.  Pour in the maple syrup.  Be sure the end of the thermometer is well submerged (but not touching the bottom of the pot)  to accurately read the temperature.  Heat on medium/high temperature stirring occasionally, watching constantly.  As it begins to actively simmer, it will expand.  Reduce heat enough to keep the syrup at the original level.  If reducing the heat doesn't lower the level, quickly stir in the teaspoon of margarine you have ready, then adjust the heat to keep it actively boiling but not boiling over.  Continue to watch, and stir occasionally until it reaches a full 240 degrees.  (If it's only 239 or less, you will end up with maple cream or candy that loses it's shape several days later.)  It will take approximately 30-45 minutes to reach 240: the last ten degrees seem to take the longest.   Set aside without stirring, until the temperature drops to 175 degrees.  Next, stir briskly with your favorite sturdy wooden spoon until it lightens in color somewhat.  (Approximately 3-5 minutes.)  Once this happens, QUICKLY spoon into your candy molds. (Or pour out on a large piece of parchment paper, smooth out a bit, and break into pieces when completely cooled.)    Once it is ready to spoon into the molds I place it back on the stove on very very low, and if possible have someone slowly stir as I spoon into the molds.  I do this because I usually lean toward stirring a little longer, as not stirring long enough produces candy that is not as solid as we like it.  The candy to the left shows the extra solid pieces from stirring way too long before spooning into the molds!  Medium maple syrup was used for both.  Light maple syrup will produce lighter colored candy.  Once they have cooled completely, store in an airtight container.
There are always a few solidified sugar clumps left on the bottom and sides that can be scrapped off.  Once they have completely cooled, press through a Foley food mill for nice fine maple sugar, ready for baking or your next bowl of hot cereal. See photo above.
( FYI: a flour sifter is not sturdy enough for this.  With a little pressure applied as you turn the handle, the Foley food mill does a great job.)
Looking for maple leaf molds? carries them.
Four cups makes approximately 90-100 little maple candies.  Whether you end up with maple cream or candy, it all tastes great.
Have a joyous and blessed day!