November 29, 2015

Mystery Pecan Pie

Mystery Pecan Pie
I was asked for my Mystery Pecan Pie recipe and realized I've never posted it! It's my all time favorite pie, and a favorite of many guests. I make it every Thanksgiving. I found the recipe when we were early married in a Tucson realty little cookbook. It's in my Hearth & Home cookbook and that's what I'm typing this recipe from.

Mystery Pecan Pie

1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Combine these, blending well. Spread in the bottom of an unbaked pastry shell (I use whole wheat and butter). Sprinkle with 1 1/4 cup slightly chopped pecans.

Combine these topping ingredients:
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup (which I no longer use; I'm using the healthier brown rice syrup)
1 tsp vanilla

Gently pour over pecans. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or till firm.

My pen and ink version

November 7, 2015

Green Tomato Jam

Green Tomato Jam
This is now my second year to make Green Tomato Jam. If you grow tomatoes, at the end of the season you'll have green tomatoes. I'll leave the tomatoes for awhile, for some to turn red, but eventually you'll either toss them (compost or chickens), or like me, look for uses.

Typical recipes are for a pie - supposedly similar to apple pie. It's ok. But since we don't eat a lot of desserts, I want my desserts to be our favorites. Another is frying slices, which is good. I posted one recipe along with my end of season put-up of Zucchini Potato Soup, which tastes great defrosted for winter eating! This year I tried a green tomato relish (which I need to label in my fridge, cuz I recently pulled it out thinking it a tomatillo green salsa). It's ok too, but I haven't used it much. I'm going to try it as a sandwich spread, which could be good.

I found the recipe from Splendid Table. I used to listen to that NPR radio program every weekend till our station exchanged it with another program. Instead, I now get emailed weekly recipes and can listen to excerpts or podcasts. The recipe was actually in connection with another recipe - A Green Tomato Tart, which has a bottom ricotta and mascarpone (or cream cheese) layer. I did make the tart once, and will try it again, but typically just make the jam.

Green Tomato Jam

3# green tomatoes, cored and chopped (1/2" pieces)
2 2/3 cups sugar
2-3 lemons (2 zested)
1/8 tsp salt and scant 1/4 tsp pepper
4" cinnamon stick, broken

Hmmmm, now that I type this I realize I've never cored the tomatoes! and I've made quite a few batches. I will cut them in half and sometimes make a "V" for cutting out the stem end and that'll take out some of the white core. The other 1/2" piece thing I sometimes do, not an exact measurement, but realizing there's two end results depending on your preferences. Monte and some friends like the chunky jam. I could do with less chunks. This current batch I'm in process of making, I did literally hand cut yesterday (as I was needing to "fold" my sourdough bread dough every 30 minutes four times, and I was listening to an audiobook - so it was a relaxing time).
Chopped Green Tomatoes and Sugar sitting for 24 hours

Sometimes I use the food processor to chop them. Pulse them a bit and not too much, so you DO end up with some chunks.

The tomatoes and sugar need to be mixed together and sit for 24 hours. Lots of juice will be extracted.

Add the lemons. Zest the lemons and then cut off the white pith and chop. Two large lemons are enough - three if small to medium. Add the seasoning.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes (210 degrees?). I don't take it's temperature. After awhile I'll get some jam juice on my spoon, let it cool a bit and slowly tilt back into the pot. When the drips start coming together slowly into one drop, it means it's thickened up about right. You don't want it runny. Remove cinnamon sticks.

Jar up and freeze. I haven't canned this up. My friend does. I do know, that if you leave it out, even in a cool cellar, it will develop mold. It holds up well in a refrigerator.

Now some of you are going to want the Tart recipe.

Tart Crust

1 cup (5oz) flour
2 oz almond meal
3 Tb sugar
3 oz (6 Tb) butter
1 large egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
1-3 Tb water
Mix together, cutting the butter and liquids into the dry ingredients. Chill. Roll out to fit a removable bottom tart pan. Bake at 375 with pie weights to keep crust from bubbling (I keep pie weights and a folded piece of foil in a container in my pantry) for 15 minutes; then 5-10 minutes without the weights. Cool. Then spread in -

Vanilla Ricotta Cream Filling

1/3 cup whipped cream or 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (cream cheese, replacement)
3/4 cup ricotta
3 Tb sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Puree this together and Chill.

1 Hour before serving, spread the Ricotta mixture in the tart shell. Top with 1 3/4 - 2 cups Green Tomato Jam. Chill at least 40 minutes then 20 minutes outside the fridge. Serve.

I never took a picture of the finished tart! It was good. The base tart with ricotta filling (which I used cream cheese for only because I couldn't find mascarpone in the back of my cheese drawer, which I thought I had) would be good with any topping. Monte thought layering on some thin slices of pear, which we had excess of at the time, would be good.

I gave the jam as Christmas presents last year along with home brewed Vanilla Extract.

October 20, 2015

Bear . . . Again

Treed Bear next to our house!
My first blog, my beginning of this blog, years ago . . . was posting of a bear. Every year we see bears. I've had these pictures on my desktop for awhile and figured I'd get this post done with.

Monte and his brother Mike treed this bear in September. This tree is but a number of feet from the north side of our house, out Monte's office door, and next to the chicken coop.

We might occasionally see a bear in the summer, tho usually in the fall. One year I walked out our front door and a bear stood up, right there in front of the garage door. Kinda put a damper on the rest of summer   . . . Like did any of us camp out in the meadow or the bunkhouse again?

Bear at compost bin (wood bear statue on the front porch)
Walking down to my lower garden I have to walk a bit in the woods to get to the gate (we have a 6 foot fence to keep the elk out) and thinking of a bear possibility, I did not want to scare it, so knew I needed to make noise. I decided to sing without much thought as to what - "Bears eat oats, and Does eat oats, and little Lambs eat ivy ..."

They don't seem to be attracted to the compost bins, tho this one the following day checked it out.

Usually not till the end of summer, when the bears are trying to fill up before hibernation, do we see a bear in the back yard (which is surrounded by an electric fence to keep deer and elk out). It must smell the bird suet.

I was at the kitchen counter  and out the corner of my eye . . . I was thinking . . . "that's a mighty big bird!" A bear at the bird feeder! This feeder is only a foot away from the window. A little too close!

Bear at bird feeder next to window!
I scared that bear away! Yelled at it. And it proceeded to walk over the front porch. I thought it had gone, but not long after, I realized it was out back, on the back deck, where the suet was and more bird feeders.

It had downed the suet and feeders, rolling them around to lick up all the seed. I scared it away. Going out, I saw that it had left a mess . . . along with a dump!

Bear dump and downed, emptied, old bird feeder that's survived bear for years!
I've not put the bird suet back out for a month and no return of the bear!

September 30, 2015


I'm re-posting a post I wrote in 2010. I've had several people ask me for this recipe. AND I still make it every year with surplus zucchini and freeze a bunch. 
I made this soup last night, and many times over the years. It freezes well, and tastes so good, pulling it out for a quick winter meal. (Another good use of garden zucchini surplus.)


3/4 virgin olive oil (I don't measure, just let it form a good puddle in the pan)
3 onions, sliced
2 potatoes, diced
3 large zucchini, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
juice of 4 lemons
2 bunches of cilantro (you don't really taste it, yet it adds SO much)
salt to taste
Saute onions for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Add potatoes (when organic, I wash and keep the skins on) and saute a bit more. Add zucchini and tomato paste. Barely cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low till everything is soft. Remove from heat and add cilantro and lemon juice. Puree in pan with an immersion blender, or in batches in blender. This is good hot or cold. I didn't think this would be so great without an added broth, but it doesn't need it! I like to serve it with some dollops of my homemade yogurt.


I'd mentioned earlier about wanting to fry up some zucchini flowers - the ones with the long stems are male flowers that will not produce 'fruit'. So I finally picked a few and tried them. I'd stored some extra egg mixed with milk in a little bowl in the fridge and a bowl of flour, corn meal and salt from trying fried green tomatoes, so used those same batter ingredients for the zucchini flowers. Just dip in the egg mixture (green tomatoes are 1/4" slices, and zucchini flowers kept whole), then dip in flour mixture and pan fry in a skillet with a bit of heated oil. Both were very good!
Hmmm ..... Reading my old post with the addition of the fried flowers and green tomatoes sounds so yummy!
I'm still frying the flowers, tho I have a different recipe than above, and serve with maple syrup. So good, I need to make sure I leave some male flowers for pollination or I don't get many zucchini. In fact, I planted more zucchini this year just to have more flowers! Does that sound crazy! All those jokes about zucchini's being given away . . .

July 31, 2015

July 2014

Our back deck from Greenhouse door
 Our friend Zsuzsanna Luciano and family visited again this year and these are her lovely pictures of our home. She is a traveling photography artist we made friends with several years ago. It's always fun to have them return each year.

Looking at back deck from Hot Tub

Looking at back of house and part of our yard, like spiral bed ...

Meal prep

Beyond the back deck
Photo with Zsuzsanna on our front porch (Monte and me) before they left

January 8, 2014

Cranberry-Orange-Apple Relish Ferment

"Pickled" brined sardines, Cranberry Relish Ferment

In my last post I said I had cranberries to make a ferment with. I'll give you the recipe. It's my favorite winter ferment, and while fresh cranberries are in the store ... tis the season to keep making it. I jar it up in pint-size canning jars and store it in my cool (wine) cellar. Then can keep eating it till gone. Like I just ate, finishing one up from last year. I like to mix in my soaked and dried crispy walnuts and sometimes mix it with yogurt.

I've mentioned it before, but my favorite ferment book is - The Complete Idiots Guide to Fermenting Foods. This recipe comes from it. The book has a lot of similar recipes as Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions - but a lot more, and more taste friendly to us (Sally Fallon's book has WAY MORE in another way - an encyclopedia of info, like my soaked, crispy nuts ... and why). Like I need to start another Ginger Bug for the Ginger Soda which we've been missing. The Pickled Herring (I did Sardines) is in one of the jars I'm showing you a pic of, is in the book too. I often make larger batches than she does. She, Wardeh Harmon, probably does too, but is making the book user friendly with quart canning jar sizes. So here goes with my 3 Liter size amount -

Pulse in Food Processor

Cranberry-Orange-Apple Relish Ferment

About 36oz of cranberries, rinse well
10 tangelos (usually no seeds), wash skins
4-6 apples depending on size (more is fine), washed
3/4 cup organic raisins
3/4 cup shy of sucanat
2 heaping tsp of cinnamon (I suppose I could just say 1 Tb)
1 Tb Real Salt
1/3 C Kefir or yogurt whey
1 lemon's juice to cover top of ingredients in jar

Combine first 5 ingredients, in batches, pulsing in food processor. You want to chop somewhat fine, not puree. Combine all in large bowl to mix well. I like to do all my ferments starting in a large bowl - both sugar or salt start breaking down the juices in the veggies or fruits for your "brine". Some people, like with sauerkraut will stomp and stomp with a maul, taking a lot of muscle, to break things down. As I said, I prefer the large bowl method. Plus, I'm getting older and don't like to do that, or can't do that, much muscle/ hand use! Mine turn out just fine. They do create more juices in the ferment container, so leave some head space. Also submerge whatever you're doing beneath the brine. Online shows lots of people's methods. I bought glass weights on EBay, and my Pickl-It jars came with glass weights.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

A lot of my ferments I leave out 2-3 weeks. This cranberry ferment I leave out several days to a week and then jar up and refrig or cool storage. The sardine "pickle" (it's not in vinegar, but a salt brine) was out 24 hrs and then refrigerated.

I said in the last post that I'm smoking the rest of the sardines. I did. Yum. We froze what's left for pulling out to flavor stuff, kinda like canned sardines. I like mixing with avacado and spreading on toast, having with salad . . .

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

January 6, 2014


Photo of our back deck by visiting Zsuzsanna Luciano

I'm afraid to title this 2013 cuz by now it gets tiring reading/ hearing of summing up the last year. And too New Year's Resolutions. I don't usually go there. But last year was quite a ride - mainly health wise - amongst some other things cooking wise. I want to start posting again . . . We'll see. Seems I'm too busy to write, tho writing is one of the many things I love to do.

Like today. It's January 6, Eucharist Day, Magi visited the Christ child on the Church calendar. It's my day (usually) for putting away Christmas decor. Our tree IS brown, so last night was the last lighting of the tree. BUT I also had Sardines mailed to me from I Love Blue Sea - 3 pounds. I'm going to "pickle" them, as you can with all small fish and white fish - typically herring. But I'm planning on doing more of the ferment version, without the vinegar. I still have some cranberries for my favorite wintertime ferment (I posted about it before). I'm not going to ferment all the sardines.

Garden produce ferments - sauerkraut, dilly beans, zucchini relish, and kimchi

I got an electric smoker in November, so going to smoke a lot of sardines too. We're loving the smoker. My reasoning, finally, for getting the smoker, is all the grass-fed beef we have in the freezer - 1/2 a cow! Unless slow cooked in the oven, and the ground beef is out of this world! all the steak style cooking, including grilling, has not been a good experience - it's tough - not enough marbled fat like modern beef (the last century?). So I figured a smoker is slow cooking as well as giving that luscious grilled flavor. I don't use a lot of smoke - usually just 2 feedings of pellets and soaked wood chips in the first hour. Everything has been great! Turkey at Thanksgiving (going to do 2 smaller turkeys from now on - one stuffed and in oven for good stuffing and gravy). The steaks have been awesome. Did some bacon as a trial run before getting a whole pig to add to the freezer later this month - bacon was awesome. Pulled pork, pork chops, and loved the roaster chicken. We even smoked our Swedish potato sausage we make every Christmas, instead of the typical boiling, and it was great.

Thanksgiving smoked Turkey - everyone's preferred meat!

So today - some ferments and smoking (I have a "smoking jacket" and hat which I think is so funny!). Oh, I also have some sourdough started yesterday to form into loaves and bake either today or tomorrow morning. That's the other food thing I'm in love with - making sourdough bread! And the book that transformed the whole process is the Tartine. Chad Robertson just came out with Tartine 3, hot off the press I got it, and am in love!

Sourdough bread

I did mention my health. Quite the year! Things I complained to a nutritionist friend of mine had me tested. I was diagnosed in February, big time, as Adrenal Fatigued. I researched a lot, and still occasionally read along that line and in conjunction with Candidiasis. They can have a connection. Then further testing, is not absorbing nutrients. Hard to take when living and eating so well. Primarily B12 deficient - which is another weird thing when we have chickens and eat tons of eggs, as well as all the meats in the freezers. And oh . . . also diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is not fun - when it's kicking up, it's very painful - checking that out more this year. My mantra last year was "You Gotta Keep Dancing"!!

My kitchen garden

Moving on . . . I gardened big time. I'm thinking I'm done with buying plants, unless a great deal on some fruiting tree or bush that's different from anything I have. Froze a lot of beans and broccoli and kale. Dried a lot of zucchini and tomatoes. And all this living at an altitude of 8,000 feet. Like growing corn and having enough to freeze. That's quite a feat! (Ah, another homophone to tell my grandson: feet and feat - he's collecting them!)(Oh, our 5th Grandchild was born.)

Tail end of broccoli, green beans and kale to freeze

I joined Denver's Botanical Gardens and walked around there a lot with my Master Gardener friend. We also took lots of classes together. Like greenhouse gardening and propagation and seed saving. So that's the new venture - tho that's how I've gotten tomatoes at this altitude in the first place. And I've scattered seeds forever, which is how my wildflower and perennial beds look lush. But on to improving it all and more propagating.

Photo of our sunroom/ greenhouse by visiting Zsuzsanna Luciano

So what will this next year look like? Garden planning and ordering some seeds right now, hoping to do more seed saving. We moved my studio space to a brighter and warmer room, so more sewing and weaving (which ends up involving spinning and dyeing)? Always food prep gourmet with real foods!

A large loom I'm selling - if anyone's interested!

Have a good year!

June 3, 2013

Eggs in a Sausage Nest

Eggs in a Nest
Needed something around for Monte to snack on. I'd seen this idea online without details. After seeing lots of other recipes that sounded good from the same book . . . I ordered it - Eat Like a Dinosaur. Though I don't just eat Paleo, I'd eat anything someone classified as Paleo. I've not tried anything else from the book, nor really read anything. Thumbing through ... I like the looks. So that's all I can say about it.

We get pastured meat from our raw milk dairy (can't ever eat meat from stores again - so spoiled!) - beef, pork and occasional chickens. The eggs are from our own chickens - so spoiled there too, especially since they eat a special feed that has no corn or soybeans, thus no GMO, but higher quality grains, lentils, peas and herbs, and of coarse all the household chicken scraps including fermented stuff (like old bread, soaked cereal, crepes, kefir grains, ginger from brewing ginger ale . . .). 


1/2 lb quality breakfast sausage (pastured animal best)
12 eggs
2 Tb olive oil

That's the book's ingredients. Use a soup spoon to get about a tablespoon of the sausage meat. I used my hand to start spreading thin, then finished pressing into muffin tin filling it up the sides. Next time I'm not using the silicone fillers you see pictured - they are too small and the egg goes over making a mess of the tin. Nice idea. I need bigger silicone muffin thingys - I think I'll just get a silicone muffin "pan".

You'll notice in the cooked nests that the sausage shrunk way down. So next time, with bigger muffin holes, I'll press the sausage up the sides higher. Anyway, crack the egg into the sausage nest. Sprinkle with seasoning. I used salt and pepper. Then drizzle on a bit of olive oil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes - to your liking. Let rest about 5 minutes. Use table knife to help release the nests if you didn't use silicone. And oh ... if you don't use silicone you should grease your tins.

Monte likes them!

May 23, 2013

Spring Season

Life is full, thus I've not posted. I'm going to post a string of photos to show what's happening. This is the season of new life: new chicks, garden cleaning and preparation and planting, greenhouse is full, learning the art of sourdough breads . . .

First campfire of the season

New Chicks

Is the snow done?!!!
Outside gardens cleaned up / outside greenhouse in background
Spinach and greens in outside greenhouse
Inside greenhouse is FULL!

Rock steps
Early color - Tarda Tulips and Grape Hyacinths
Hardening off cole family greenhouse starts
Mastering the Art of Sourdough bread making

April 15, 2013


My greenhouse. This house/ sink wall will get finished off this year really nice. Brick floor is set in sand.
My greenhouse is attached to our home. You walk through it from our dining area of our great room to go outside to our pergola and backyard. It should just be a nice sitting area, but this time of year it functions as a greenhouse with lots of garden seedlings getting an early start.

Planting shelf with heat coils and grow lights.

The table height shelf in the greenhouse has heat coils installed to help seedling flats get a good start, then I unplug the heat coils as the plants are growing so to get them acclimated to cooler temps. Grow lights sit on this shelf.

Seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collar greens, parsley, tomatoes, eggplant, flowers, herbs, chard . . .

We're going to dismantle the shelf this year once the Spring season of plant starts is over. I want it to be a nice room. The shelf and under it have become a storage area that I don't want to look at anymore.

Grapevine with Clematis, garlic chives, hostas, nicotiana, lilly of the valley, ferns ...
There is a sink counter on the house wall that will remain. The grape vine growing from the ground on the far end will remain. There's a nice raised brick area next to the window expanse with slatted wood top that would be pretty with potted plants on it.

Outside this window expanse is an outside greenhouse - like a tall cold frame. I've got salady stuff in there that didn't grow much over winter, but they didn't freeze and die. The plants are now taking off and we're starting to add them to our salads.

Lime tree and Fig tree, as well as Jasmine are in large pots on castors. Then there's geranium pots and herbs.
It's April 15 and snowing - 3 more days of snow to come!

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