January 6, 2016

Feast of Epiphany

This year's Christmas tree with my felted "Gift of the Magi" picture on the wall
Today, the Feast of Epiphany, is symbolized and enacted by three important men who fell to their knees, finding themselves seduced by the vulnerability of God--sleeping in straw among the animals. Epiphany is the "Self-Manifestation" of God. It is the twelfth day of Christmas.

Do you put away your Christmas decor right after New Years Day? Many do after Epiphany. There has been a year I waited until February 2, the day Jesus was brought to the temple and old Simeon recognized the baby as the "light of the world".

Pinecone decor in the windows
My decor is still up and being enjoyed. I do usually leave my pinecone adorned windows in place till Valentines Day.

My kitchen with my pinecone and fir tree greenery on the windows
My wool "bean bag" Nativity
I don't put my bean-bag creche away. We have 9-10 foot ceilings in our great room and for the rest of the year it's put on the high book shelf that runs around the room. Like Easter, Christmas and Epiphany may be a day on the calendar, but they are with me in my heart year round!

December 1, 2015

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with fruits (any Veggie actually)

Roasted veggies, fruit and bacon
Everyone raves about this brussel sprouts dish. Though I tend to make all recipes my own with my twists and variations, I rarely tweak this recipe from "The Splendid Table", an NPR weekly radio show. I subscribe to their free weekly recipe email www.splendidtable.publicradio.org/  (I have gotten a lot of great recipes from them!). I crave this dish, so I make it often.

I made it the other night. I had only 1# brussel sprouts and 1 1/2# green beans, which I cut in half. Only one apple, but 4 pears, and my onion was a red one. I also had some fresh rosemary from a Thanksgiving fresh herb pack, so used it along with the sage and thyme. Tasted great!

2 1/2 lbs brussel sprouts, halved if small or quartered if large (A key when roasting vegetables is to have a lot of the ingredients chunked about the same size) 
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 apples (any kind, I tend to use Granny Smith), cored and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 firm ripe Anjou or Comice pears, cored and cut
2-4 slices bacon, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp each thyme and sage (fresh is always best if you have it, and use more)
5-6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp spicy red pepper flakes
1 Tb brown sugar (I use Sucanat - unprocessed sugar cane)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Toss all together. (Sometimes I'll put the bacon pieces in the pan to start cooking while the oven is preheating and get it started.) Bake in a 450 degree oven in a very large shallow pan. You want the mixture to spread into a single layer. Stir it several times - baking about 40 minutes to an hour till nicely browned.

November 30, 2015

Cultured Cranberry Relish and Veggie Dippers

Fermenting veggies for serving with a dip, and cranberry relish - for Thanksgiving Day

For several years now I ferment veggies for a platter with dip, and then a cranberry mixture for Thanksgiving. I ferment them for at least 24hours. The process breaks them down a bit for easier digestion, besides being healthy for our gut.

I by organic broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber and carrots (and this year added red pepper). I slice and put them in a large bowl, along with some slivered fresh garlic. I sprinkled on about 3 Tb sea salt and occasionally stir to start the veggies juicing. I also add a couple teaspoons of pickling spices and then about 1/4-1/3 cup of liquid whey (from strained yogurt). Just make sure the veggies are covered with water, which with the salt becomes a brine. There's a glass weight in the jars to keep the veggies submerged. A brine is typically 3 Tb salt per 1 quart of water.

Pulsing cranberry relish ingredients

4 - 7.5oz containers of cranberries (around 32 ounces)
8 tangelo type oranges, skin and all (remove seeds)
3 apples
1/2 cup sucanat (dehydrated sugar cane)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/4-1/3 cup whey
1/2-1 lemon

Pulse all but the whey in a food processor. Don't puree. This mixture filled my 1 1/2 Liter and a 1 Liter Pickle-It containers, with a glass weight, and airlock on top of jar. I squeezed some lemon juice on top of both for extra submerging liquid. You can do this in a regular fido jar or canning jar with a plastic lid. But I have tasted a difference in the foods fermented with the airlocks - better tasting!

I keep on making the cranberry relish thru-out their season in the store - on into February. I store the jars in my cool cellar. I like to eat this with yogurt, walnuts, shredded unsweetened coconut . . .

Any leftover veggies can be jarred up and stored in a fridge or cool cellar as well. I've opened a jar months later and they're still fairly crisp and yummy!

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!
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