October 31, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with fruits

Everyone raves about this brussels 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 from www.splendidtable.publicradio.org/ (have gotten a lot of great recipes from them!).


I so crave this dish, that I make it often. We especially like it with grilled, smoked salmon. Monte dumps it on top of his salmon.

2 1/2 lbs brussels 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

2-3 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. Bake in a 450 degree oven on a very large shallow pan (I line it with foil). You want the mixture to spread into a single layer. Stir it a couple times - baking about 40 minutes to an hour till nicely browned.

It, like the smoked salmon, is great leftover cold on lettuce as a salad.

Grilled Smoked Salmon (&/or Chicken)

I often grill and smoke, with wood chips, a large salmon fillet. When Monte is out of town, I always grill either salmon or chicken breasts to have leftover cold on salads. I could eat this way all the time - simple, and GOOD!

After preheating the grill and getting the soaked wood chips going, I like to grill the flesh side of fish quickly on the hot grill. Then I turn it over with the skin side down, sprinkle with pepper seasoning and spread with mayonnaise. Then turn the heat down and let slow cook with the smoke flavoring it. The skin protects the fish from burning and it gets crispy.

If the fish isn't very fresh (which is most often since we don't live near fishing areas), I always do a presoak in the sink with some salt and milk and sometimes some sugar. It seems to help draw out anything 'fishy'. Then rinse (pull out any bones with needle-nose pliers, if any) and dry.

When grilling chicken breasts, I cut them in fairly thin pieces and marinate them in an Italian salad dressing for a bit (like at least an hour, or all day, or even overnight) before grilling. And brush them with the marinade while grilling, so they don't dry out.

Like I said, I will often do this just for me, but have also done it when we've got visiting scientists here for many meals. This will be one of the lunches along with bread and sandwich makings and a large bowl of salad. We usually have most of our meals buffet style with everything around the kitchen island for people to create their own plate's meal.

October 23, 2010

Halloween Costumes

Monte and me were going to be going to a birthday party - one of his geology comrades. I "Thread Painted" (free-motion machine embroidery) a Serpentinite picture for him over a photo transfer and matted it for him. But then the party was canceled, which was a good thing ... Dawson along with Splarah and her sister Abby came wanting me to help them sew their Halloween Costumes.

I can't tell you their character names: TV/Movie characters I don't know about. Dawson pretty much sewed his own. Splarah was making Christmas presents - sewing double layer fleece blankets on my sewing machine. And there's no way Abby and them could have made her costume - it was even challenging for me! and I'm an expert seamstress, having made my own clothes since I was a teenager and used to make Monte's jeans, and suits, shirts, etc.

They found a picture on the internet - Dawson blew it up to proportionately fit the front panel of Abbey's costume and we printed it in pieces and iron transferred them to material. Anyway, come evening, we got everything done. Whew!

I don't think I've taken a picture of the Serpentinite thread painted picture. This is the second one I've done - the first for Monte, which we gave to Jensimil who was returning to Norway and really wanted it - so we gifted it to him. I need to do another for Monte's partner Stan for Christmas, and then another one for Monte.

October 19, 2010

Fun Food Books

I just listened to and read some fun food reads.

Every night before going to bed I have a fun book to be reading. Sleep has never come easy for me since I was a teenager. Maybe I don't need much sleep. I've read bios of people who function quite well on little sleep and my uncle is in that category. Over the years I've tried every technique I've heard/read of. Monte thinks I'm funny, saying "my body is willing, but not my brain", a dichotomous statement! - aren't I one whole being?! Oh well ...

My bedtime book I just finished is The Butcher and the Vegetarian - One Woman's Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis. It was fun, and sometimes thought-provoking, and eye-opening. Tara Weaver (she has a blog - Tea & Cookies) grew up in a vegetarian family. As an adult, she found herself in poor health, and trying cures of every kind, a doctor finally ordered her to eat meat. This book is about Tara navigating around this foreign new world.

A fun novel I listened to is Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (I've listened to several of her books - good - love the reader). A Southern food network chef Gina Foxton ends up having to compete with a rival food network chef, handsome Tate Moody (a hunter, fisherman chef) and his dog Moonbeam - paired up by the network for spice for the network. It's packed with Southern flavor and humor.

Then too I listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life, read by the authors: primarily Barbara Kingslover (read her Poisonwood Bible), along with bits by her husband Steven Hopp and daughter, Camille. I bought the book when it came out in 2007, but wanted to listen to it. They left the sunbelt of Tucson Arizona, paddling against the then tide (not the current green tide) to Stephen's dilapidated farm in Appalachia country. It's part memoir, part journalisic investigation, and a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet. Good humored and poetic - I like her writing style. I had to laugh at the chapter on turkeys and their sex life, since we have had turkeys in the past. For one year they vowed to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it - tho each family member chose one item they couldn't live without. I've not gone to their website yet (the book's title), but want to - supposedly lots of links, recipes etc posted there.

Bleach Painting T-shirts

Painting with bleach on T-shirts - Dawson, Splarah, Sarah, and Travis
My sons just posted pics on Facebook of an activity they did yesterday. I suppose we'd have been invited too if Monte wasn't needing to work. But I'm always glad to see family togetherness. I shared the painting with bleach technique with them awhile back. I've overdyed (bleached), like tie-dying, an already painted Tee to great affect too and stamped with bleach. I sometimes use my dye thickener, sodium alginate (sp?) added to bleach. Do this in a well-ventilated space - like outside! Rinse well and wash. If left too long bleach will eat at the fibers.

October 18, 2010

Early Fall Happenings

Fall has hit. It's been an extended season this year of warmth, so tomatoes, peppers, and beans didn't freeze until the other night. I had them extended for ripening warmth with the white "floating row covers" (remay cloth), and occasionally covering with blankets on borderline nights. Other than kale, chinese cabbage, and chard, my outdoor gardening season is done. Now for mother nature to do her thing with tucking in the scattered flower seeds for new growth next year, and stronger root development for the perennials.

Torkel, my felted tree-hugging Tomte
My last color/design challenge for my class was using Tetrad colors of the Color Wheel. It was a busy month with garden harvest, readying the greenhouse for winter, and LOTS of company! Needless to say, at the last minute I decided felting was my thing I could do, producing something! ... Thinking ... I looked at my favorite sculpted needlefelted head, still needing a body and finishing. His skin colors chose my tetrad colors: blue-green, violet, red-orange, and yellow. You'd think the face is orange, green and gray, but no, not when compared with the 4-in-1 color tool. Since tetrad is a square of double complementary colors, I was thinking square - like plaid, for his coat. So I finished Torkel, my tree-hugging elf (or Swedish Tompte).

In the above picture are vased zinnias, brought Saturday by my friend Marty. We had a houseful that day. Various peoples have come to help cut wood, taking some home for themselves, so Saturday was the Johnson's day. Dawson and Splarah came, Gary, and our house guest Michael, who cooked the supper main dish (he's now in a place of his own closer to his new job). I've not gathered many flowers to dry this year, not thinking I'm making anything with them, but did gather some, so that's pictured, along with the "pumpkins?" behind (volunteer squash we don't know for sure what they are, but as I posted on my kitchen blog, I'm still roasting the seeds and using them as pumpkins).

The round circle is the broken glass.
I was just upstairs checking on my home brews and heard a crash, expecting it to be something in the greenhouse. SHOCK! The middle window in the dining area was broken - the outer one of a two-glass window. The culprit still there, most likely stunned, so not flying away. His victim lay dead. So what happened?  What I've identified as a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk was chasing a chickadee for it's meal, and they both bashed into the window. Because it was stunned it stood around for a long time for me to capture many pics!

The hawk and broken glass fallen between two-glass window
Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk?
Wood cutting. We like burning aspen - our "hardest" wood for longer burning
Cleaned the back porch corner for extra wood storage
Wood storage by front door with ore buckets, etc

October 17, 2010

Onion, Garlic, Buttermilk Dip, and Another Dip too

I was asked to write out this recipe -

1/2 C mayo
1/2 C sour cream
3 Tb buttermilk powder
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme (more tsps if you use fresh)
1/2 tsp celery seed, ground
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb chopped onion (if I've the time, I prefer to chop a whole onion and caramelize it by slow sauteing until golden brown - maybe about 1/2 hour. Let cool.)

Mix all these at least a couple hours ahead or up to a couple days. It could be thinned with some yogurt. Chives could be added or even blue cheese...

I like making things from scratch. I almost never buy herbs and spices ground, because they taste so much better ground at the moment of use. I have a wood mortar and pestle, and if a lot of spices, I have an extra coffee grinder.

Since so many young people are around our house, I've found they don't eat many fruits or vegetables. People will always eat more of them if they are prepared for nibbling before meals. And they'll eat more veggies if there's a dip (me too). There's always the typical carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, peas, and cherry tomatoes (always think 'wide variety of color' for a wide variety of phyto-nutrients). I like to parboil green beans too. And then the veggie that is everyone's favorite is to have chilled, but boiled till soft, baby potatoes (or just slice boiled small potatoes).

We had a houseful Saturday and I'd gotten some baby fingerling potatoes, so made up a dip again. But I didn't follow the above dip, I created a new one -

Cottage Cheese - was probably around 2 Cups
Chives from the garden, cut up into blender
1 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder
1/2 tsp ceyenne
1/2 tsp lemon peel
1 tsp pepper
Juice from one lime or lemon
maybe some parsley

I pureed this in the blender and needed to add a few Tb cream to help it puree.

Everyone loves the boiled, cooled potatoes the best!

October 10, 2010

Fruit Flies

Monte's been asking me questions - so I've been researching. He's been so tired of fruit flies and trying to attract them to get rid of them. I tell him every end of summer, harvest brings fruit flies. This year's infestation came with peaches.

Question 1: "How can we trap them?"

Putting old fruit in a container and then trying to lid it and take them out, doesn't work. If you'll notice, they tend to walk around the rim of the container most of the time and once the lid comes close, they fly away. I had put a small bit of wine in a glass close by for him to see that some will go there and drown. But the BEST trap I found is to put plastic wrap tightly over a bowl with some fruit in it and poke fork holes. It's amazing how many get trapped in one day! and the sound when you get close is eerie! He empties it after several days in the compost and starts over.

Question 2: "What's their life cycle? Are we just breeding them?"

Years ago when schooling the kids we did do a fruit fly experiment, but I forget the facts. I knew they have a short life span, but didn't think they grow overnight! I LOVE the internet! Diagrams, facts, tips, videos, virtual tours ... I took a movie with my little cannon elf. This is the first time trying to post my own movies! You'll notice the flies still walking the edge, so they never get back to the holes to fly out.

October 9, 2010


Monte wanted me to share his creation. We had some couscous leftover from a supper, so the following morning he simply added some egg till it held together and then dropped spoonfuls onto a heated oiled griddle or skillet, flattening them out. Cook on both sides till golden brown.

We've tried it a few times more. He's added a no-salt seasoning full of herbs. I've added some cinnamon and vanilla, and of course topping them with maple syrup.

Love the simplicity, since couscous with added hot water is done in a minute. And love the bit of crunch!


A salad we really like is with couscous. My taste buds were having quite a craving for it for awhile.

In a bowl put

1 cup couscous and 1 tsp salt.

Mix in 1 1/3 cups of the hottest tap water and come back and stir it occasionally while mixing up the rest of the ingredients.

Anything can be mixed in, but for starters, try this:

Chop 2 cups loose parsley

Mix with

1 Tb fresh lemon juice

1 Tb olive oil

6 green onions chopped (green tops included)

4 cups spinach cut in ribbons

Make dressing and add as much as you like:

2 Tb fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup half&half

I like to add cherry tomatoes

&/or roasted red pepper chopped

or mint, making the dressing of orange juice, zest and vinegar

. . . . . . .

I only use olive oil in all my cooking. I buy three kinds. The cheapest kind in a large container is virtually flavorless. A virgin kind I use for sauteing. Then I have a more expensive extra virgin kind for salads, and other times it's not cooked, and for dipping bread in - yum!!!! Good flavored olive oil with a seasoning and great whole grain bread--I crave! but can't eat a lot of or I'd be a fattened cow.

I always have a pretty wooden bowl or basket of lemons and limes. We use these ALL the time--whether just in water or squeezed onto salad alone with the good olive oil...

I also love green onions.

I love lots of things...

October 3, 2010


I was asked to write out a coleslaw recipe. But as I said in the last post, use grated broccoli and/or cauliflower stems with or in place of the cabbage.

Coleslaw Recipe

1 lb shredded cabbage (about 6 cups)
1-2 carrots shredded
4 scallions or some red onion, finely chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tb lemon juice (or whole lemon)
1/2 c yogurt
2 Tb each mayo & sour cream
1/4 tsp dijon style mustard
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
(finely sliced celery)
(finely chopped green pepper)
(1/2 tsp sugar or 1 Tb maple syrup)
(cilantro and lime juice can replace the thyme and lemon)
(vinegar can replace the lemon juice)
(I like options--depending on the 'mood' of my taste buds)
(other veggies too--like radishes, turnips, cucumbers)

Mix these all together well and serve.

October 1, 2010

Chicken Divan & Broccoli Stalk Coleslaw

Chicken Divan, Artisan Bread, Broccoli Stalk Coleslaw
We have had SO MUCH COMPANY!!!!!!! A friend emailed today asking how my hermit soul was doing?! This Velveteen House is turning into a retreat center. We've had investors and geologists overlapping with  visiting friends. Currently a couple who used to live here but are now in Florida are here. Tomorrow a family is coming to cut firewood and are bringing pizza for lunch.

I made chicken divan for supper tonight along with an artisan bread and a coleslaw made from the broccoli stocks I refrigerated when I harvested and froze all that broccoli. Did you know you can grate broccoli stalks for a coleslaw? When I don't want to slice stuff real fine for a slaw, I put chunks in the blender, cover to floating with water, pulse, so to keep it somewhat chunky and not pureed, then pour in strainer to drain off water. So I chunked the broccoli in batches, then some garden carrots and radishes, and then a batch of red onion. Mixed them all together in a large bowl and made up a sauce with homemade yogurt, mayo, a bit of sour cream we had left over with chives from baked potatoes the other night with guests when I baked meatloaf. Then just added some mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, and parsley.

Draining blended red onion - the EASY way!!
2 - 10oz packages of frozen broccoli or use fresh

2 C cooked chicken or turkey pieces

4 Tb oil

4 Tb flour

2 C chicken broth

1 egg

1 Tb lemon juice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 seeds cardamom

3 cloves

3/8 tsp whole cummin

12 peppercorns

18 coriander seeds

1/8 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

(Probably not in your typical grocery store. This is the spice that makes the curry flavor in curry spice. In fact, all the the ingredients from cinnamon down make up typical curry spice. I don't buy it, making up my own from scratch, grinding whole spices in a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder I have for spices. You could use a couple teaspoons of curry spice.)

1-2 C shredded cheese

a few slices old bread, blended to make crumbs

Arrange broccoli in a casserole dish and cook a few minutes in the microwave. Place chicken on top of the broccoli. Make a white sauce with the oil, flour, and broth - heating in microwave, stirring till thickening. Wisk egg in a little bowl and add some of the warm broth in with it, which prevents the egg from cooking, wisk, then wisk this mixture back into the heated white sauce (Most recipes just use a cream of chicken or mushroom soup can and add mayo. The white sauce and egg are creating this combo.) Add the spices and lemon juice - pour this over the chicken. Mix the bread crumbs with the grated cheese and sprinkle over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. We like the top to get browned.

Last night's was made in a larger casserole and I had 1 1/2# of broccoli and more chicken, so did a larger batch of everything. And I hardly measure anymore!

I love chicken divan. It took a long while for my kids to acquire a taste for it.

Breakfast Bread/ Challah & Sukkot

Last weekend I baked bread for gift-giving. The Jewish Fall Festivals were in my thoughts: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (click on each of those and they'll take you to posts about them on my other blog). The calendar days stories are so ingrained within me ...

In my cookbook, my Dinner Rolls recipe makes great Challah bread. It's a bread made with eggs and eaten every Sabbath and for many festivals. Original Challah has seven ingredients and it's shaped as a braid. For Rosh Hashanah it's formed into a circle. For Sukkot, as a harvest festival (what I believe the pilgrims, with the first Thanksgiving, were celebrating), raisins are often added. So I thought of my Breakfast Bread in my cookbook with soaked raisins and a whole orange pureed in the bread's warm water. So I made it and in the process decided I'd give some of the bread to some people at church. I also copied my blog posts on the Jewish Fall Festivals, ending with Simchat Torah, to give with the bread, along with a bag of Kale Chips (recipe posted here). For another Holiday - St Lucia Day, with it's traditional buns, you can add 1/4 tsp of safron threads, lightly crushed, to my Dinner Roll recipe or the Breakfast Bread recipe below. They are shaped like an 'S'.

I gave my gifts and by Sunday evening we had an invite from a Rabbi from a local Messianic Church - they refer to themselves as Fulfilled Jews. So I waited to post about all this and the bread recipe until we celebrated Simchat Torah with them Thursday evening, which ends Sukkot. I was so excited! I'd been to this church last year - where my CSA farm share was delivered each week. So I'd seen their sukkah booths in the parking lot. This year I asked to look inside. Apple tree branches, with some attached apples were hanging from the rafters and pictures adorned the particle-board walls. There was a couch, table and chairs, sleeping cots, and harvest produce as decoration (read my posts in above links). I'd given one gift to Ron, who loved my writing - so he called a Rabbi friend, and talked to him about me ... There's a book they read and pray from during the week of Sukkot, like Passover has it's book. Once that was done some old Torah's were brought out and the dancing around the room began. I was standing clapping the rhythm watching the Torahs passed around and more and more people joining the dancing. Eventually the Rabbi handed me a Torah to dance with too! They had tambourine circles with the star of David in the center and streamers and the kids started dancing with them. Many of the families had been sleeping there all week. We left talking about the impressions ingrained for the kids, and the dedication, especially in today's society.

My Bosch Bowl
Put 3 C hot water in a blender along with
1 C raisins and
1 whole orange, quartered & seeds removed (do not peel - I'd use organic)
Let these soak awhile and then puree, then pour into the mixer bowl. Add
2 Tb instant yeast (that's what I use)
1/3 C oil
1/3 C honey
4 C whole wheat flour (mine is fresh ground)
Pulse this a bit to moisten most of the flour. Then put the lid on and let sponge 10 minutes.
Then add -
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temp
& enough flour to clean the bowl.

In my cookbook I walk you through bread making. With whole wheat flour, I get the flour incorporated in, in a minute, because flour added later will make the bread dry and sawdusty. I stop the machine and feel the dough. It shouldn't be sticky but a bit tacky. Let it knead for 5-6 minutes (with whole white winter wheat - otherwise 10 minutes). Then I oil the counter top and my hands and dump the dough out, forming it into a nice round blob. Cut the dough into however many loaves you want to make and shape. This recipe can make 3-4 one pound loaves. I braided mine. Let rise on greased baking sheets.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
You could use this dough in loaf pans, or make cinnamon rolls.

Here's another link about Tashlich. And then tomorrow on the Christian Calendar is Guardian Angels Day, click and read about it - are you thankful there's guardian angels? We've passed Michaelmas Day. I should post a pic of Michaelmas daisies that bloom this time of year.
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