A Kitchen Themed Bridal Shower

My beautiful daughter, Emily is getting married next month.  Her sister and I planned a kitchen themed bridal shower.  The invitation talked about how Emily loves to cook and that she will be cooking for a very long time for her growing family so we may as well make it fun!  Party goers were encouraged to bring a fun kitchen item that they love in their own cooking.

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We had the party at Shyanne’s house, since she lives closest to everyone.  My children watched Martha Stewart when it was on television every morning growing up, and it shows.  Little signs decorated the space.

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Ayla, Emily (the bride), and Shyanne

Shyanne spray painted green wine bottles gold and placed mums in each.  Balloons captured the attention and smiles of our baby, Ayla.

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I made strawberry shortcake on sweet biscuits (recipe to follow), Seven layer dip with tortilla chips, and roll ups (tortillas spread with cream cheese and topped with green chilies then rolled up and sliced).  Shyanne make cupcakes, and ricotta and peach bruchetta, and little tea sandwiches.  The table was beautiful and inviting.  Cardboard cake holders glued to sturdy plastic cups acted as stands.

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Drinks were set up on the island.  Raspberry juice and sprite in one pitcher, coconut rum and juice in another.  I brought a gallon of sweet tea.  Every one helped themselves to finger foods and drinks and met new folks and talked.  The kids were adorable playing together.

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My granddaughter, Maryjane (middle) and her best friends.

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Shyanne printed out three games for us to play.  They were all quizzes about the bride or the bride and groom.  It was a lot of fun guessing things about who kissed who first, who is the best dancer, does the bride like coffee or tea better, and so on.  Small succulents acted as the prizes since that is one of the themes of the wedding.

We had everyone write out advice for the new bride and share it.  There were some very inspirational words.  Young girlfriend’s advice as sound as the women that were married half a century.  It was a lot of fun and made us all nod and strive to be better partners.  Those went into a sweet picture album.

An Instapot, box of Corningware, breadmaker, immersion blender, knife set and cutting board, pressure cooker, and cookie sheets later, the young bride was inspired to start cooking.

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My friend, Tina, and I. This was taken by a mama with a wiggly baby on her hip!

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This is a great picture of Doug and his parents with our granddaughters.  

It was such a wonderful time with family and friends to celebrate a profound new chapter in our daughter’s life.  A wedding is an amazing event and celebrating and preparing the young bride is the community’s honor.  We are very thankful for our “village”.  To help the young couple is a pleasure and being together is always special.

Sweet Biscuits and Strawberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl combine,

1 3/4 cups of flour

2 Tablespoons of sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of olive oil (I use lemon infused olive oil for half)

2/3 cup of milk

Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Top with a sprinkle of sugar, whipped cream, and chopped strawberries mixed with a little sugar.

 

Homemade Amaretto Eggnog

20171201_182058Folks, this little festive cocktail is so delicious.  Of course, you can leave out the spirits.  What I like about the amaretto is that it isn’t as potent as whiskey or rum so it doesn’t go to my head!  And the flavors of the amaretto meld marvelously with the fresh, frothy eggnog.  Leave Santa a little of this with his cookies and he’ll be nice and warm flitting around the world.

In a blender combine well:

2 1/2 cups of fresh milk

3 farm fresh eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour 2 ounces of amaretto over ice in a high ball and add a 1/2 cup (or to taste) eggnog.  Best enjoyed while listening to the Andy William’s Christmas album.  (My all time favorite.  Even named my son after him!) Cheers!

 

The Amazing Pressure Cooker (and a nice Nordic dish)

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My goodness, I have been missing this all of my adult life.  A pressure cooker!  How come y’all didn’t tell me about this lovely contraption?  It literally takes half the time to make supper!  And for a homesteading mama, this is important.

I love whole grains.  I am a huge advocate of the healing power, antioxidant content, anti-cancer ability of whole grains.  Natural fiber and mineral foods that take forever to cook.  The same reason I do not make beans as often as I’d like; I forget to put them in the slow cooker or I don’t have three hours to wait for them to be done!

The quick release on the pressure cookers is the coolest thing I have seen in awhile (I don’t get out much.) and I do wish that our pressure canners had this feature!  This supper took no time at all to prepare.  I’m still experimenting, but the cooker makes it easy for me.

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Here I soaked 1/2 cup of navy beans for the day in doubled the water.  Came home to a full measuring cup of them.  I sautéed red onion and garlic in olive oil in the pressure cooker first then added a few chopped carrots, a chopped parsnip, and one sliced stalk of celery.  I added the drained beans and 1/2 cup of rye.  Sprinkle all well with smoked salt (or regular) and pepper, dill, paprika, and a pinch of thyme.  I poured over 4 cups of my homemade rosemary broth (though you could use any broth), put the lid on and pressure cooked it for 30 minutes.  I quick released it (so cool) and added two big handfuls of chopped cabbage and two pieces of lovely coral colored salmon topped with spices.  Another 3 minutes in the pressure cooker and wallah, supper was served.

This fabulous contraption will serve me well this year with my expansive, and God willing prolific, gardens.  Whatever veggies, spices, grains, and proteins I have on hand will make delicious, healthy, and unique one pot meals.

Do you have a great pressure cooker recipe?

Pressure Canner (homesteading necessity, chicken stock recipe, and buying only what you need)

We are slowly building our life and items we need back up.  We just purchase what we need as cash allows.  Last night we joyfully added to the cart a few imperative homesteading items.  A pressure canner (when the lid is off it’s a water bath canner), jars, stock pot, and canning gear.

First things first, chicken stock.  I am shocked at how much organic stock costs.  Here is my recipe for it should you need it from a prior blog post.

Click here for recipe

I am heading to my Great Aunt Donna’s for rhubarb this weekend.  And the hunt is on for everything I can get my hands on to can.  Rows of organic canned goods are amazing to have on hand any time of the year, goodness without listeria, E Coli, or whatever the heck else is in our food system.  Great, delicious, wonderful home grown food….oh, I am getting carried away.  Stock, that is where I was at…

My old pantry

Spring on the Farm (with surprises, fun, and a great olive recipe!)

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Yesterday was blissfully warm and inviting.  The pastures are turning so green, the flies were out, a late rainstorm hung over the mountains.

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We enjoyed much of the day outdoors.  Shyanne moved back in a month ago, or so, and I must tell you it surprised me when Emily came back the other day…presumably for a long time.  I probably shouldn’t have jumped to find such a small house!  Doug is living with four females in eight hundred square feet!  I remind myself that my grandmother lived in a house like this one, the very same size, with twelve people.  Eight siblings, her mother, and aunt and uncle.  We are blessed to have children that trust us and know they can always stay with us.

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Maryjane and I took the goats and sheep for a walk so that Papa could get the goat pen mucked.  The tall willow beckoned with all its reading nooks, the black birds, finches, and robins sang masterfully with the meadowlark in lead.

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There is nothing like the joy of a child to bring peace to the soul.  The sheep love her and she them.  She loves it out here.  My worries quelled as I took deep spring breaths in and enjoyed the warmth on my bare arms.  The ducks played outdoors and the chickens roamed about.

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The highlight was the Italian lunch I prepared that we enjoyed on the porch.  Shyanne, Doug, I, and the baby (Mama was at work) devoured homemade individual pizzas with a fast crust I put together, last summer’s preserved pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella and topped hot with cold lettuce from the greenhouse that was drizzled with truffle oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt.  A triumph, people.  A glass of great wine from Napa Valley and olives.  Oh, I love olives.  Here is a great recipe for any time.

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Combine in a baking dish a variety of your favorite olives from the deli, green olives stuffed with garlic, kalamatas, Castelvetranos, and salty black ones.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs, parmesan, a bit of orange zest, and a touch of red pepper flakes.  Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes or so.  Perfect with a great red wine on the porch in the sun with family!

Desperately Seeking Fresh Vegetables (and a fine Brussels recipe)

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I stared at the dusty jars lining the warped shelves in the basement.  They still feel like a blessing but at the moment were seeming more and more like a curse.  I swear if I have to eat one more jar of green beans…or peas…or corn…or beets…or…

I understand that hunger doesn’t care.  If I lived before grocery stores, out on an old homestead, or if I didn’t have a hundred bucks to spare, that food would be tasting real good right now.  But it is late February, too early for anything fresh, and my mind was dreaming of food that has not even been planted yet!

We have been fabulous at eating seasonally.  We ate almost all the potatoes, lots of carrots, onions, jar after jar of items I preserved, frozen vegetables and fruits.  I have been creative.  I have added fresh herbs from the windowsill.  We ate all but one pumpkin.  I need a radish.

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We picked up Maryjane and Emily (You know your life has changed when going to the health food store in town is the highlight of the week.) and off we went to Vitamin Cottage.  The pretty rows of product lulled us into a sense of summer and freshness.  I caught sight of the Brussels sprouts, as large as two golf balls side by side, and giggled like Gollum finding his Precious as I loaded up a bag.  I did a little jig in front of the ruby red orbs of radishes.  Maryjane held a piece of broccoli she had snagged as her mother walked by the green trees (what my kids used to call broccoli).  Emily pointed out various mouthwatering vegetables as we told the baby how she is going to love vegetables.  Doug walked over with crisp apples.  We put kale in our basket, Roma tomatoes, boxes of salad.  Large grapes for fresh chicken salad.  Long, elegant leeks to go into humble potato soup.  We felt like royalty.  Everything was organic, but I do not know where it was grown.  Certainly not around here.

I woke up yesterday and cut up two radishes even before the coffee was made.  I sprinkled them with a bit of smoked sea salt and popped them in my mouth.  I smothered a few with butter.  They held the crisp edge I was looking for.  They are not near as good as the earthy, spicy radishes that will come out of my garden beds in a few month’s time, but they were very suitable for a long winter of mushy green beans.  (Which tasted amazing, by the way, all through the cold winter months.)  Last night we had salad with homemade croutons and the melt in your mouth giant Brussels spouts.

Soon we will be back to frozen eggplant, and gelatinous peas (which tasted amazing, by the way, all through the cold winter months.  I need to repeat that so y’all aren’t tempted to not start canning.  It is great, and it is really fun going to the grocery store in the basement.)  I just needed a taste of spring.  I’ll be saving up for a green house!

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Melt in Your Mouth Brussels Sprouts

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in the “Vegan Soul Kitchen” by the great Bryant Terry.  He would be disappointed in me for the addition of bacon.

Fry up two slices of bacon, drain on paper towel and when cool, break into small pieces.

Drizzle pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of bacon drippings.

Trim off the end and cut in half a bunch of Brussels sprouts, enough to fill your skillet with a single layer of halves face down.  About a pound.

Sear for four minutes or so until nice and slightly blackened.

Add 1 cup of rich broth.

Cover tightly and braise over medium high heat for 12 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of white wine (I like Chardonnay) and a few tablespoons of lemon or regular thyme, fresh preferably.

Continue braising for five minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  Top with bacon.

I would show you a picture but we ate them too fast.  Sorry.

Santa’s Got a Brand New Cookie

Remember in grade school when we were supposed to bring in a recipe?  All the recipes were put together in a hand bound book and given to our parents for holidays.  I believe I gave it to my mother for Mother’s Day.  I have not seen that recipe book in years but in it held a recipe I know by heart that has been used for decades now.  I do not even know the name of it but my kids know it as the peanut butter chocolate thingies.  This year we called them Grammie’s Graham Cracker Bliss.  You can call them whatever you wish.

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It was my first go-to recipe as a pre-teen.  I took these addictive no bake bars to youth group dances.  Then as I got older they made a quick dessert that the kids loved (if I could keep from eating it all before it set).

Santa may leave Mama a few extra gifts if she leaves this dessert for him!

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Take 1 package of graham crackers. (note: the packages of graham crackers do seem smaller than when I was a kid.  Use your judgment if you need to add a few more crackers to the mix.)  Here’s the fun part.  Crush the package with a rolling pin until crumbs.  Add to bowl.

Melt 1 stick of butter.  Add.

Add 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar.

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Blend well and using your fingers or a spatula spread into a baking dish or cookie sheet.

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Melt 1/2 bag of chocolate chips.  Smear on top.  Refrigerate.

(Optionally, you can test every five minutes to see if it is set enough until you get caught by the kids.)

Cut into pieces and enjoy with coffee.  Santa is going to be up all night working and could probably use something a bit stronger than milk.  An espresso or two is in order.

Pumpkin Eating

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I love pumpkins!  I feel like Linus from Charlie Brown about now.  I will wait in my pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin because I have the most sincerest pumpkin patch of all.  Here’s the interesting thing…it’s not Halloween.  The pumpkins are not supposed to be done yet!  With all the beautiful weather we have had this summer, everything is ready to be harvested!  I’ll be taking some pumpkins to the farmer’s market this week for sure.

I picked one that was for sure ready (vine died and it just practically fell off) and brought its beautiful orange self in the house holding it in the air like I had just won a trophy.  There are a few things I can do now….

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I can eat it for dinner.  Or I might want to can it for winter.  If I cannot wait then this is my favorite way to prepare it:

Slice it in half, take out the seeds (Roast them later or give them to the chickies.) and lay them face down on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then flip over.  A few pats of butter, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, a teaspoon or so of pumpkin pie spice and maybe a few walnuts or pecans and back in the oven it goes to bake another 20 minutes.  Add a bit of heavy cream in each half and bake another 10 minutes until well done and tender.  Whallah.  Crust-less Pumpkin pie.

Or for later, bake 30 minutes on one side, 30 minutes on the other but don’t add any of the previously listed delicious ingredients.  Now stick in the fridge overnight to cool.  Scoop out flesh, put in food processor or Vitamix and puree.  Pour into pint jars leaving 1 inch head space.  Pour three inches of water into pressure canner and process jars at 10 lbs. of pressure (25 lbs. of pressure at high altitude, Colorado people!) for 65 minutes.  Now you will have jars of fresh pumpkin to put into coconut pumpkin soup, or delicious pumpkin pie, or anything else that calls for a can of pumpkin.

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I got one jar out of my medium sized pie pumpkin.  I better go out and harvest some more!