March 29, 2012

L'Engle Quote

It’s no coincidence that just at this point in our insight into our mysteriousness as human beings struggling towards compassion, we are also moving into an awakened interest in the language of myth and fairy tale. The language of logical arguments, of proofs, is the language of the limited self we know and can manipulate. But the language of parable and poetry, of storytelling, moves from the imprisoned language of the provable into the freed language of what I must, for lack of another word, continue to call faith. —Madeleine L’Engle 

I love this quote. I've read most everything she wrote and appreciate how she stretched my thinking and view of life and the world.

March 27, 2012

Egg Dish / Casserole / Crustless Quiche

I've been a MOPS Mentor Mom for eleven years now. I occasionally bring an egg dish. So I have paper-clipped several 3x5 cards together filed under "E" for Eggs. This dish is a combination of several recipes I like. I'll give you the basic recipe that you can add anything to really.


Put 1/2C butter in a 9x13 dish and put in your preheating to 350 oven.
Mix together-
1C milk
6 lg eggs
2 1/2C ricotta cheese (1 pt container is fine)
1/2C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Pour over the melted butter and 1# grated cheese 

This is what I do now. I pull out one of my frozen 1/4# bag of greens (typical 10oz would work fine too) I froze from my garden - so either chard, kale, or spinach. Slightly thaw it and chop. I'll add this to the butter that's melting in the preheating oven. Grate any cheese I want to use up for adding to the dish when ready to pour the mixture over.  Mix all of the above replacing the flour with Masa (a corn flour made from corn soaked in lime water before drying and grinding - I use for corn tortillas and tamales). I sometimes use buttermilk in place of the milk. And add a 7oz can of a green salsa (salsa verde). Add the grated cheese to the dish and pour this mixture over. Bake about 45 minutes till set.

You could add chopped green chilies or layer whole green chilies for a relleno. Use broth in place of the milk. Chopped or stewed tomatoes. Use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta...

March 26, 2012

Ricotta Pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes
These are high protein pancakes. I typically make only three kinds of pancakes: my sourdough crepes, my rye sourdough pancakes, and these. We don't like the typical doughy pancakes, preferring more crepe/ swedish pancake style.

I made feta cheese and then ricotta cheese from the feta's whey the other day, so these pancakes are using my homemade ricotta.

1C ricotta
4 lg eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3C oat flour (I had a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of oat and barley ground flour in the freezer bag)(you could blend this flour with the ricotta cheese or the added liquid overnight for a healthier soaked grain - better body assimilation)
2 Tb melted butter
pinch of salt
big pinch of nutmet (I have a nutmeg grinder - so very fresh)
2 Tb powdered egg whites (optional)
(I usually add 1/4-1/2C water, buttermilk, yogurt, or whey to thin them some)

Blend all in a blender. I have my large cast-iron griddle preheating while mixing ingredients together. When the griddle is hot enough, grease it. Pour the pancake sizes you like. Cook on both sides till done.

We always serve our pancakes with grade B maple syrup and homemade yogurt. Fruit too. Cook up some healthy bacon ...

March 25, 2012

Cream of Roasted Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup, Salad, and Water Kefir Beverage
I got this fresh raw dairy cream and I started craving cream of mushroom soup. It is exceptional because of roasting the mushrooms and garlic cloves!

Roasted portabellas and garlic with butter and lemon juice ready to blend with broth

Cream of Roasted Mushroom Soup

1# of mushrooms - I use portabellas
1-2 Tb fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves - I usually use more, like double!
3 Tb butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 1/2 C chicken broth
1/2 C heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a baking dish layer the sliced mushrooms (I usually cut their stem to a fresh layer and wipe tops across a damp dishcloth or paper towel). Add the lemon juice, garlic, butter and light seasoning. Bake for about an hour till juice is thick and dark. Blend with some chicken broth till smooth. Heat with the rest of the chicken broth and add the cream, cooking only 5 more minutes without boiling.

Simmering chicken broth

I had roasted some chicken breasts the day before so to debone the meat for a chicken salad. And then cooked up the chicken bones for broth. I always cover them with plenty of water and add celery, carrot, and onion chunks, then a few whole cloves, some peppercorns, a Tb of apple cider vinegar (for getting more nutrients like calcium from the bones) and some salt. Bring to a boil and cook simmering all day. Then strain the broth. I always have some handy in the fridge and freeze whatever's left.

Posted at: Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday

March 24, 2012

Early Spring Greenhouse Gardening

I went away several weeks leaving a snow mound on the north side of the house this big -

And now it's this big -

Most of the snow in sun exposed areas melted.

I need to remind you that I live at 8000 feet outside of Denver, so kinda in the mountains (tho many of Colorado mountains are over 14,000 feet and Denver is a mile high). So while most of you are starting your gardens, mine starts in the greenhouse to get a head start. And outside I do lots of tricking mother nature with creating mini-climate zones with plastic, rocks, walls-of-water ... Wish it were easier, but then I don't get bugs. Now with an electric fence I don't have the elk and deer pests, but just pocket gophers and voles. I could write my own $64 Tomato book! Lots of stories.

Hot houses on south of greenhouse
Last fall I planted salady seeds in my hot houses that were on the south side of my greenhouse and had been full of tomatoes all summer. I hooked a soaker hose to a barrel that gets the roof-run-off and ran it down the center of the hot houses. Then we covered those with another plastic hung from the roof edge for shedding snow. That plastic finally ripped off with all the extreme winds we've had this winter. But I'd left this area to do what it wanted all winter and just opened them up when we got home. Voila! lots of snow peas on the edges and clumps of salad varieties. So I separated their roots and replanted the space adding some radish seeds.

Replanted clumped lettuces

I had extra lettuces, so planted them in pots in my greenhouse. I can't start planting my outside garden with these early seeds until early May, so this will give us early salad pickings. Two winters ago I had done it all winter in my greenhouse and it was too labor intensive and expense of heating, grow lights, and watering - not worth it!

My greenhouse set up - heat coils and grow-lights

I do overwinter my deck flower pots (which I add annuals to each new summer season) and a fig and lime tree and some herbs. I've had a seedless grapevine growing in here for years and the jackmani clematis is taking off.

Lemon and Fig trees and herbs overwintered in greenhouse

Seedless grapevine with twining Jackmani clematis in greenhouse
Overwintered deck's flower pots in greenhouse - and door into our greatroom

These potato pot pics are from several years ago. Growing potatoes in pots are supposed to work great. I'll try it again this year, but did not buy seed potatoes - using what's sprouting in my pantry. And the key to my problem will be putting them where I can water them easier - thus more often. Where I had them before, I now planted blackberries, more strawberries and interplant with purslane, kale, mustard greens, and of coarse flowers.

Potatoes in bottom of 15 gallon pot. Will keep adding dirt as they grow to the top.

My greenhouse a couple years ago. There's a sink to the right.

Click here for past greenhouse post.

I have lots more seeds to plant. My youngest is getting married in our meadow this summer, with his brother marrying them, so I'm starting more flowers. BUT how to have them flowering at the time will be the trick. I'm going to research. Will most likely keep repotting to larger pots and force feeding them more nutrients. We'll see ...

Posted at Homestead Barn HopHealthy Home Economist, Food Renegade, and Gnowfglins.

March 23, 2012

Chickens Again!

I have so missed having chickens. I love fresh eggs! My boys didn't like chicken chores; Heather did. When Heather got married we stopped having chickens. Monte was traveling more and the coop was far away, and I didn't want to be doing the chores in the winter.

But I just ordered chicks. I'll be picking them up April 6. I am so excited! We've figured out a new spot closer to the house for a new coop. I go to bed dreaming of it's plan - improving upon our old coop.

My new friend has found a source for organic feed. That was another piece of having chickens that Monte and me didn't like - the typical bagged feed. A lady makes it and every 6 weeks we'll have to go scoop it into containers ... So what containers will be easiest for little 'ole me to work with? I'm only going to get 10 chicks this time ... How much feed for 6 weeks?

My start with chickens years ago is a hilarious story! A friend of mine (she had been Miss/and Mrs beauty pageant queens, and quite the city/glamour girl, and had sang for Bob Hopes' troup tours where she met her fighter pilot husband) - we ordered lots of chickens of differing kinds, including a turk chicken that had a bare neck. We drove over an hour to pick them up. I had no coup. We were still building our home and living in the downstairs. So where to put them? Why in the unfinished upstairs, of course! We stapled a ring of chicken wire to enclose them. Monte and me were sleeping in what is now our guest room, underneath them, so woke to little pecking noises.

I started building the coup in our driveway's parking area one early Sunday morning. Monte came out and said my door and windows were not square. I said, "it's only a chicken coup!" He helped me finish it. When we built our bigger coup, this one was attached to the back and became the future space for new chicks with it's own run next to the bigger coup run. It turned out to be a great idea! as the baby chicks grew up in close proximity and view of the larger chickens, so they could be introduced together with ease.

Another funny story is that we live with deer and elk always present. When it's mating season, the elk buggle. The rooster and elk would "talk" back and forth!

I'm not getting a rooster this time. Who knows, maybe we'll miss one. But then again no - they start crowing at 3-4 in the morning. When guests were sleeping in the bunk house, they did not appreciated that rude awakening. If crowing at dawn, that would be fine.

So YEAH to chickens! I can't wait!

March 21, 2012

Ukrainian Eggs

Ukrainian dyed eggs - a wax resist process
It's that time of year again. I'm just home from being gone several weeks with a new grand-daughter born. When at the little grocer I frequent the checkout gal says the fresh hams for Easter have just come in. EASTER! I've not even thought of it, let alone a meal, and who's coming our way. BUT, I also just got an email from my youngest son saying he wants to bring several groups of friends to do eggs this year. I still have the dye in canning jars from last year ... I wasn't going to buy new dye, since they can be reused. But then my other son said the same, "We want to bring some couples to dye eggs". So I'm going to order new dyes to have on hand ... just in case. Like did someone compromise the yellow last year? ...

For years I've ordered my kits/dyes from the Ukranian Gift Shop. And click here to see last years "how-to" post with lots of pics.

March 20, 2012

Raw Milk

I've joined a farm and got my first raw milk, creme, and pastured eggs today. We'll occasionally get grass-fed meat shares as well. I'm so excited! I want to make some cheese, besides eating way more nutritious foods.

March 19, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I was gone for two weeks - my daughter had her second baby - this time a girl - Bridget. What did I do the day I got home? I pulled out my Water Kefir grains and Sourdough starter from the fridge. Soaked nuts to dehydrate. Started the soaking process for Cold Cereal and Sourdough Crackers. And then got a batch begun for sourdough bread (which I'm going to have to post about). Those are now staples I always have on hand.

Bridget Lynn

March 3, 2012

Water Kefir - Best Soda Ever!

Water Kefir
I am hooked on water kefir (keh-FEER). A friend of mine gave me some fresh kefir grains about a month ago. They look like a juicy gummy candy (or some describe them as 'cauliflower looking pieces'). It comes dried for purchasing and starting - like from Cultures for Health. There's quite a few videos on youTube - like this one. Kefir is so healthy - full of probiotics (see link for list)! Here's another link with lots of info.

A basic recipe for WATER KEFIR -
In a 1/2 gallon jar dissolve -
1/3-1/2 C sucanat or organic white cane sugar -
fill to 1" of top of a quart jar with cool water (best to not be chlorinated or with flouride)
Then add -
1/4+ C kefir grains

Cap with a plastic lid - tighten and shake - then loosen the lid to breath. Then store in place with no direct sunlight for 24-48 hrs. The kefir grains will have multiplied. Taste. If too sweet, sitting longer eats up more sugar. Eventually it starts making alcohol (very slight). Strain the liquid into another jar. You'll need to eliminate some of the grains since they multiply (I give them to my chickens or throw them in with some juice). Start the process over.

Eat the extra grains. Throw them in your garden. Compost them. Share them with friends.

You can experiment with flavorings. Try adding sliced ginger. I so like the plain kefir. You can add some molasses, and vanilla flavoring. Try orange juice. Try raisins and sliced lemon. Try other fruits. But do these additions after straining off the kefir grains so you don't compromise their integrity - you could call this a second ferment. Let sit another day and strain to refrigerate.

Vacation? Your jar with sugar water and grains will keep in the fridge several weeks. Freezing works too. And since it comes dry in packets, it must be able to be dehydrated.

Added later note: I'm now making it only with organic white sugar and a tsp of blackstrap molasses and a washed egg shell - for added minerals. I'll occasionally do a second jar with the extra grains (I always keep extra grains in a small jar in the refrigerator). A couple Tb raisins, and/ or lemon could be brewed in it.

I'm now always adding a teaspoon of vanilla to the 1/2 gallon glass pitcher I keep in the fridge. It tastes like cream soda. Water Kefir doesn't need to be refrigerated, if you're a room temp beverage drinker - like me - like I prefer room temp flavored beer - I guess I'd make a good European. There's lots of flavoring ideas out there.

I've ordered Madagascar Vanilla Beans to make my own vanilla extract, and will post about it.

Since I'm going to be doing a raw milk piima culture (probably similar to the dairy kefir), I've been reading more. Just in case you are "brewing" differing strains of things in your kitchen ... Separate them by at least 3 feet, so no "cross-pollination" (gardening term). Once bottled in fridge there's no problem.

Newest note-  Am going to start making the dairy kefir too. As I've researched more, it's the only strain that will keep reproducing using raw milk. All the other cultures (Villa, and yogurt ...) require a sterile milk mother culture which requires heating milk to at least 160-180 degrees and refreshing this culture.

March 2, 2012

The Great Dance

The Great Dance--perichoresis! Perichoresis derived from two Greek words was coined to describe the relationship of the persons of the Trinity. Peri meaning "around" and choreia meaning "dance"--a God dance. The Father, Son and Spirit created the human race so that what they have together could be shared with us, so that their great dance of life could be extended to us and played out in our lives.



For several years now I've been so enamored with the Trinity, the tri-unity God. I bought this candelabra for the beautiful representation of the great dance, reminding me that the relational God who's image I'm made in, invites me to join in!

One time I had put new candles in, but one fell and broke. I was thinking I'd melt it together. As I was reading one evening I wanted to light the candles but hadn't yet fixed the one. It was lying there broken. And it HIT ME...Jesus' broken body! I couldn't light just the two candles. I imagined the tri-une God not desiring to be lit till all three could be dancing together.

Yes I did add the mended broken one and for awhile I could see the break until they melted past it. The temptation now is to always break and melt back together one of the candles as a reminder of God's reaching down to extend the circle and their great dance of life to me. Jesus stepping out of eternity into history. Jesus's brokenness to draw me into the circle of their life.

March 1, 2012

Brined Brisket -From Scratch- for St Pat's Day

I've had corned beef and cabbage for St Patrick's Day and always say, "I want to make my own corned beef". But you have to plan ahead since the brisket needs to brine for about a week.

I'll look for about a 4 pound beef brisket. From my research so far I'll be bringing to boil -
1C water
1/4C salt (salt is salt when dizzolved, so I'll use regular sea salt instead of 1/2C of Kosher salt.
1/4C apple cider vinegar (I never eat white vinegar)
2 Tb sugar (I'll use sucanat)
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
a couple cloves
(I'll partially crush the whole spices to better release their flavor)
Let this cool once it's come to a boil and add 2, cut in thirds, garlic cloves. Then add the meat. Make sure the meat is covered by the brine - maybe cutting meat in pieces if need be. This could be stored in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 6-7 days.

You could cook this by itself for a meal. But I want to cook it with the traditional cabbage, potatoes and carrots.

The meat will cook first for several hours in large pot along with an onion. Then add a cabbage head cut in wedges, 6 potatoes quartered, and 4 carrots sliced - cook till tender. Then add 1/4 C fresh parsley and a few Tb of butter. The meat should be shreddy.

Enjoy, and tell St Pat's story.
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