Monday, March 28, 2011

Garden Planning

I am so excited to plant our garden this year.  For the past 4 years we have been in Indiana I have not been able to garden.  I did have 2 small raised beds that provided entertainment to the neighborhood children.  They would love to come and pick green beans or pull carrots up, wash them off and eat them right there.  They loved to smell the lemon balm growing and look for caterpillars on the parsley.  But that is not what I call gardening.  This year my future is wide open!  This year my dream list consisted of 39 fruits, vegetables and herbs.  We have the garden tilled and ready, seeds are bought, onion sets of red and yellow are sprouting.  What is holding us back?  Well not the weather, you can plant many things before the last frost date.  School, plans to leave on a 4 day trip to Cincinnati's Homeschool Convention, tying up loose ends to leave, making soap which I really need to slow down on!  Which reminds me if you love homemade soaps that have no harmful chemicals let me know I have a few to sell.

Broccoli Raab's first set of true leaves

Brandy Wine Tomatoes

Leeks with the seed's outer covering still attached

San Marzano Tomatoes

After much research and catalog browsing this is my best educated guess:
My list (though I probably WON'T get to plant everything this year)
basil~ genovese & sweet
green beans~ provider & strike
beets~ touchstone gold
brussels sprouts~ igor, though a crop failure has ravished this type so maybe for the fall garden
carrot~ royal chatenay, snow white & purple haze
chard~ bright lights
cucumber~ patio pickles
eggplant~ dusky
grape~ concord & interlaken
kale~ lacinto or red russian
leeks~ king richard (summer) bandit (fall)
romaine lettuce~ jericho & rouge d'hiver
red & yellow onions~ just what the garden center had
peppers~ sweet chocolate
radish~ white diakon
rhubarb~ victoria or crimson cherry
spinach~ baby leaf, catalina
squash~ green zucchini, red kuri, nutter butter, spaghetti squash
tomato~ brandywine & san marzano
peas~ green arrow
broccolini~ sautee
cantaloupe~ delicious
watermelon~ baby doll yellow

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Amon's Adventure - A Family Story for Easter

Amon's Adventure - A Family Story for Easter

(from the author's website) It's thirty years later and Jotham now has a son of his own. The smartest boy in Jerusalem, and inventor of many strange and wonderful machines, Amon has just turned thirteen -- the age a Jewish boy officially becomes a man. But is he ready for that responsibility?

Amon is torn between playing childhood games with his friends, and visiting the temple court, where only Jewish men are allowed. His life is further complicated when he must host Tamar, the daughter of his father's friend, in Jerusalem for the Passover. But Amon's life is completely ripped apart when his father is falsely accused of a terrible crime and sentenced to death. Amon thinks that only the cleverness of his mind can save his father. In the end, he must admit that he is powerless without God.

We found these books in 2000.  Tabitha's Travels, Jotham's Journey & Bartholomew's Passage.  We rotate them during Advent each year.  Now after Tabitha and Jotham have grown up they marry and their oldest son is Amon.  The character in the latest story for Easter, Amon's Adventure.  At the time of Jesus trial and death Amon's father, Jotham has been accused of stealing from the Temple. 

Joel 2:13
Rend your hearts and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Chapter 10 reflection after the story~
The they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"  Jesus answered,"The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."  John 6:28-29

Amon is nervous, having to do something he has never done before, especially a spiritual thing, in front of other people.  You and I would probably feel the same way.
But that seems to be the way God works.  He doesn't ask if we want to do a thing, or if we think we can, he just asks us to believe in Jesus and step out in faith.  He'll take care of the rest.
Are you ready to do what you must in order to do the work God requires?

Amazon has all his books and you can even look through them there.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Tilling the garden.

Finished with the tilling and rabbit deterant.  The garden plot is 41X38.  I considered making it a a square 41X41 but this is what it is.  I will be happy with it!  Now, we have seen rabbits in our yard every night.  The neighbors behind and beside us also have gardens but they have no fences.  I am rationalizing the rabbit fence as being good stewards.  The rain is coming in tonight for the next few days.  As soon as we can get back out there I have 2 bags of onion sets and pea and spinach seeds to get in the ground.

That red barn in the first picture, that is the chicken coop!  18 chicks arrive on April 8.  We are getting, Black Australorp, Plymouth Barred Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Black Laced Wyandotte, & Araucana . 

I also made 2 more batches of soap today.  An egg yolk sensitive skin and another clove.  Essential Oils came in tonight so I plan to make a blueberry bar tomorrow.  Oh how I love spring! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Proverbs 31

Are you taking note?

As I came to my time with the Lord I came not knowing what He had for me.  Really.  I just didn't even know what to read or where to start.  I mean I want to try and be deliberate about my time with the Lord.  Sometimes that means deliberately shutting up.  So as I quiet myself I feel lead to ponder Proverbs 31.  I am not sure how you feel about this famous chapter.  When I was a new christian I actually loved this chapter.  The truth is I wasn't raised in a christian home.  We weren't taught about God and creation about sin and the forgiveness of it.  That we are made in the image of God!  So when I became a christian this is what God used to teach me.  He set woman in my life as examples to what this woman looked like and I loved it.  I ate it up.  I still do, but this is not what I wanted to ponder today.  I didn't want to ponder it because if He was leading me there, there MUST be something He has to say to me about it.  You know, the refining, the chisel.  Couldn't we just read a Psalm about praise together today Lord? 

I read it.  I loved it, I pondered it.  I asked God to help me walk through my day today taking notice of this verse and how it fits into my day, TODAY.  Those are the things I have to be deliberate about.  Walking, taking notice.

I took note of breakfast and how much it was a joy to have fresh healthy food to make.  Pampered Chef stones to bake on, a real Rachael Ray knife that I use exclusively. I took note of my children being sick and how they ask me for vitamins, for water and how honored I am to bring it to them.  I took note of how God lead me to think about the next day and how busy it was going to be and so I prepared dinner for the next day too.

I took note of the warm sun trying to shine in my long, thick curtains so I went looking for the spring curtains.  Where are they?  Looked in several places but no luck. 

The truth is I can toot my horn and tell you my laundry basket is rarely full but that wouldn't be the complete story.  The complete story is I wash clothes everyday, unload the dryer, dump them on my bed, call the boys to get theirs and any towels and walk away to do something else.  When my husband gets home he usually finishes what I didn't do.  I don't feel too guilty about that, he helps me a lot.  But that day God nudged me to finish and I did.  The took his church pants, hung them on the pants hanger went to hang them up and you know what was on his shelf ?  Those curtains I was looking for! 

Obedience has it's rewards.  Are you taking note?

Marinara & Farmstand Meatballs

Spaghetti Dinner
courtesy of Food To Live By

Having a supply of marinara sauce on hand can be a great help on a busy day. In less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered, you can boil a pot of pasta and warm up the sauce. Vegetarians can add sautéed mushrooms or eggplant; meat lovers can add meatballs, Italian sausage, ground beef, or pancetta. This recipe multiplies easily, so stock up!

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup dry red wine or broth
5 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped, and juices reserved,
or 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced or crushed tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
or 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, optional

Place the garlic and carrot in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the onion and continue to pulse until minced, scraping the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula 3 or 4 times.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned, about 11 minutes. Add the wine and stir well, loosening any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Add the basil, oregano, and thyme, and let simmer gently until the flavors are concentrated, 35 to 45 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings and, if the sauce tastes too tart or acidic, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar.

If you're not planning to use the sauce immediately, let it cool to room temperature. It can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week. It freezes well, too, for up to 3 months.

About peeling tomatoes: Peeling tomatoes is easy to do if you blanch them briefly in boiling water first. The hot water loosens the skin so it slips off easily. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it close to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, lower the tomatoes into the boiling water and let them cook until the skin splits, about 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes and plunge them into the ice water, letting them soak until they're cool enough to handle. Using a paring knife, cut out the tomato cores and slip off the peels.


Serves 20 two-inch meatballs
Meatballs are a handy item to have in your freezer when you need to create lunch or dinner in a hurry. They can be baked in the oven or cooked on the stove-top. Once they cool to room temperature, place them on a tray in the freezer, and when solidly frozen, transfer the meatballs to freezer bags or containers. Defrost them in the refrigerator and add them to soups, slice them for sandwiches, or serve them with purchased tomato sauce or homemade Farm Stand Marinara Sauce for a classic spaghetti and meatballs repast.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan or Asiago cheese
1 cup dry, unseasoned bread crumbs or crushed saltine crackers
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with oiled aluminum foil (for easier clean-up); set aside.

Combine the eggs, milk, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in the cheese and bread crumbs.

Break up the ground beef and pork with your hands and add it to the bowl. Using your hands, combine the mixture until it's thoroughly blended but working the meat as little as possible. A light touch mixing and forming the meatballs guarantees they'll be tender.

Gently form the meat mixture into 2-inch round balls and place on the prepared baking tray, positioned so they don't touch each other.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F.

Pork Chili Colorado

Colorado means red in Spanish, which describes the deep color of this Tex-Mex pork stew.  Serve the red chili in a bolw over rice with fresh tortillas on the side. 

Mix and place in a small baking dish and toast in a 350 degree oven until hot and fragrant about 5-10 minutes.  Don't burn it like I did the first time! 
2tbsp sweet paprika
1/4c chili powder
1/2tsp cayenne pepper
1/2tsp ground coriander
1/4tsp cumin
1 1/2tsp sugar
2tbsp raw whole almonds
2tbsp bread crumbs (I used almond meal)

Cut a 1 1/2lb pork tenderloin into 1/2-inch dice, salt & pepper meat and brown it in a skillet with oil.  Drain on a paper towel.

Reduce heat in pan and add 1 small onion chopped and 2tsp minced garlic until soft and golden. 

Add 2 roma tomatoes chopped to the onion mixture and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the toasted spices to the skillet, add 2c broth ad increase heat to high and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and let it concentrate about 15 minutes.

Let sauce cool, transfer to a blender to puree until smooth, working in batches.

Return sauce to skillet and add back browned pork and cook another 30 minutes.

Serve over cooked rice and top with cilantro and sour cream.

California Salad & Flank Steak

This salad celebrates some of California's most popular foods: luscious avocados, chewy dried apricots, crunchy almonds, creamy goat cheese, and of course, beautiful baby greens!

When you buy dried organic apricots, you may be surprised to see that they're brown instead of bright orange. Organic apricots aren't treated with sulfur preservatives, so even though they're not so pretty, they taste great.

California Salad
Food To Live By
5-6 cups (about 4 ounces) Earthbound Farm Organic Mixed Baby Greens
1/4 cup whole tarragon leaves
About 1/4 cup Lemon Vinaigrette (or your favorite vinaigrette dressing)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled mild semisoft goat cheese or feta cheese
1/2 ripe avocado, preferably Hass
8 dried apricots, each cut into 3-4 strips

Just before you plan to serve the salad, place the greens and the tarragon in a large salad bowl and toss to combine. Add 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss to lightly coat the leaves, then taste to see if more dressing is needed.

Transfer the greens to a platter or individual salad plates. Scatter the almonds and cheese on top of the greens.

Peel the avocado and discard the pit. Cut the avocado lengthwise into thin slices. Arrange the slices around the edge of the platter or plates. Sprinkle the apricots over the salad. Serve immediately.

Myra describes the different leaves in our Mixed Baby Greens (Spring Mix) and creates a delicious salad with a variety of tastes and textures based on her California Salad recipe — it’s easy to make substitutions (for example, Myra used dried cranberries instead of dried apricots) to suit your taste or use ingredients you have on hand.

Flank Steak with Lemon Sahllot Marinade
Serves 6 to 8
•3 pounds flank steak

•1 1/2 cups fresh Meyer lemon juice*

•1/2 cup soy sauce

•6 medium-size shallots, coarsely chopped

•2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or peanut oil (optional)

1.Pierce both sides of the flank steak all over with a fork. Place the meat in a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag.

2.Pour the lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk in the soy sauce. Add the shallots and whisk in the sesame oil, if using. Pour about 2/3 cup of the marinade into a covered microwave-safe container and refrigerate it until it's time to use as a sauce.

3.Pour the remaining marinade into the bag with the flank steak and seal it, pressing out any excess air. Refrigerate the steak overnight, or up to 24 hours, turning the bag once or twice to distribute the marinade evenly.

4.When ready to cook, set up a barbecue grill and preheat it to high or preheat the broiler.

5.Remove the flank steak from the marinade. Grill or broil the steak about 3 inches from the heat source, until cooked to taste, 3 to 4 minutes per side for rare, or 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. When done, an instant-read meat thermometer inserted at an angle into the center of the steak will register 125 degrees F for rare or 135 degrees F for medium-rare.

6.Let the flank steak rest for about 5 minutes.

7.Meanwhile, warm the reserved 2/3 cup of marinade in the microwave and place it in a serving bowl. Cut the steak against the grain into very thin slices, holding the knife almost parallel to the surface of the steak and slicing it at a shallow angle. Serve the flank steak with the warm or room temperature marinade on the side for spooning over the steak.

*Or substitute 1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice. Alternately, add 1 tablespoon sugar to 1 1/2 cups lemon juice.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuscan White Bean Stew~Food To Live By

**If you look back through my posts you will see how I do our beans.  I cook them from dried beans and freeze them so I always have fresh beans on hand and I rarely ever use canned beans.  So when this calls for beans I simply pull them out of the freezer.

2 TB olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion
1-2 small carrots, cut into 1/4 in dice
6-7 small red potatoes, cut into 1/4ths
1/3 cup diced celery, cut into 1/4ths
1 TB minced garlic
3 cups organic chicken stock
8 oz tomato sauce (optional)
1 lb organic green beans, ends trimmed (optional)
2 cans organic cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 ripe roma tomatoes, diced into 1/4ths
1 TB dried rosemary
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional at the end)

Add onions, carrots, celery to olive oil in a stockpot. As they begin to cook through, add the potatoes. After another 4 minutes or so, add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, tomato sauce, green beans and chicken stock. Cover and let cook over medium heat, or until the potatoes are cooked through. For more soupy texture, add more broth until desired. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and add a few drizzles of balsamic vinegar just before serving if you prefer.

Get some nice crusty bread, real butter and enjoy the last days of winter!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cook Book Recommendations~Food to Live By

Food To Live By
Myra Goodman

This is a cookbook written by the founders of of Earthbound Organic Farms.  Here is a review of the book from their website:

In our first cookbook, Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook , Myra Goodman offers tempting recipes that combine casual style with the best ingredients in appealing recipes such as Sweet Corn Chowder, Merlot-Braised Short Ribs with Cipollini Onions, Ginger Lime Salmon, Cherry Panna Cotta, and Farm Stand Carrot Cake, to name a few.
This gorgeous cookbook is packed with over 250 recipes, plus full-color photos and information, including shopping tips, prep notes, and serving ideas, as well as useful visuals like “field guides” to produce and “Farm Fresh” information boxes.
And woven through it all are Myra’s own fascinating family stories, from the birth of Earthbound Farm and the opening of the Farm Stand and Organic Kitchen, to her thoughts about personal food choices and the way even small changes can make a big difference.

You can take a peek at each chapter by going to the website and scrolling down to the chapter highlights.

My next week selections will be from this cookbook and I am sure you will find it inspiring.  Give thanks for the good food God provides everyday.

Tuscan White Bean Stew

California Salad
Flank Steak
Roasted Asparagus

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta & Pineapple

Pork Chili Colorado

Tri-Color Spaghetti Squash
Swish Chard

Pasta Ala Mama

Merle's Beef Brisket
Fusion Coleslaw

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

I got this one while waiting on Dalton in the Orthodontist Office ;)
February 2011 Bon Appetit Magazine

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

These are some of the best brownies we've ever had—fudgy in the middle and chewy on the outside with a shiny, crackly top. The browned butter adds a rich, nutty flavor.

Makes 16

•PREP TIME: 20 minutes •TOTAL TIME: 4 hour 50 minutes (includes cooling time)

•Nonstick vegetable oil spray

•10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

•1 1/4 cups sugar

•3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•2 large eggs, chilled

•1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour

•1 cup walnut pieces


•Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

•Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Rite of Passage

The outward change corresponded to the inward, for in those few weeks Demi seemed to have grown tall, and began to drop his childish plays, not as if ashamed of them, as some boys do, but as if he had outgrown them, and wanted something manlier.

 Little Men by Loiusa May Alcott
(on my top ten list of books to read)

Thinking this is the rite of passage from child to adult, wanting something manlier.