Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rutabaga spice cake with vanilla frosting

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O.K. I know it sounds different, but before you write it off, let me explain. 

I had never in my life heard of or thought about making a cake with a rutabaga before, as delicious as they may be. But I am so glad I decided to try this cake, not only is it very moist, it's beyond good. It tastes to me, exactly like a carrot cake, but the rutabaga is actually sweeter, and you would absolutely never know it's there. It's a fragrant moist cake with ginger and cinnamon. It's probably nice on it's own, but I added vanilla frosting to mine, which to me, made it a whole lot better. I'm telling you this is worth a try, not only is it a super simple cake recipe, you might end up liking it more than you would ever imagine! 

It will be a staple in our home from now on, especially for cold evenings to be enjoyed with a hot toddy or cup of tea by the fire. You can whip it together quickly so it's also great for emergency company or an emergency sweet tooth fix.

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For the cake:

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp each of salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda
1 cup grated peeled Rutabaga
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup of molasses
1/2 cup milk

For the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Shred your rutabaga.

In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients and then add the wet, stir until mixed well, then mix in the rutabaga. Pour into a greased 8 inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the icing, mix all ingredients well. Using a butter knife spread the icing on the cake. I added colored sugar to mine for decoration. 

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Who knew rutabagas would make such great cake! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin seed brittle

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Oh, pumpkin seed brittle... how I love thee....

It's easy, delicious, addictive, and possibly a little dangerous because if you are like me, you'll find it difficult to not eat it all at once. I think I know where the rest of my pumpkin seeds will be ending up this fall...

Recipe from, Joy of Baking:

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature.

Here's what you do:

In a large skillet, over medium heat, toast the raw pumpkin seeds until lightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Have ready the baking soda, vanilla, and butter. Also spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat bring the water, corn syrup, and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Then using a candy thermometer, bring it to the crack stage (don't stir) - 285 degrees F, or 140 C.

Then stir in your toasted pumpkin seeds, and while stirring so the seeds don't stick to the bottom of the pan, bring the temperature to the hard crack stage - 300 degrees F or 149 C. Trust me, it's super easy. I did this while sitting in a chair.

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Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda, vanilla extract, and butter - the candy will puff up so be careful. Stir until the butter is melted. Then quickly pour it out onto your baking sheet and let it run towards the edges so that it spreads out, you might need to help it by moving the pan around a bit so the candy will run.

Then impatiently sit and wait while it cools and hardens.

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I got super excited and started seeing if mine was going to lift off the pan (if it doesn't you didn't have it at the right temperatures or spray your pan well enough) and was beyond excited when I saw that it was working. It made me feel like even though I've been out of commission for a while, I haven't lost my touch. Kevin agreed I had not lost my touch but he did think I had lost a few extra screws.

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and when it's ready, crack it into smaller pieces and voila! Delicious brittle. The best brittle ever if you ask me. This would be awesome in little gift bags to give to friends, but I doubt you'll have any left to give away. You can store this for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. But you won't need to, so don't worry about it. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Making Dandelion wine

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It doesn't take someone experienced in wine making to make dandelion wine, it's a great wine for beginners. For many years farmers and pioneers made dandelion wine with simple everyday ingredients and tools. Nothing fancy required.

Here's what you need:

A couple big pots
A jug or bottles to store the wine in
a colander

6 oranges
6 lemons
8 pounds (yes, 8 pounds) of sugar - you need it
6 Tbsp traditional yeast
a whole bunch of dandelions - about 2 quarts
8 quarts boiling water

To start with, pick your dandelions and trim off the stems just like if you were making dandelion jelly.

 Then just like when you are making jelly you need to steep your blossoms in hot water, this time for 24 hours using a large stock or canning pot. Let them steep in a warm place with just a clean tea towel covering your pot.

Slice your fruit and remove the seeds... in a separate pot mix the fruit and peels with the sugar and let them sit overnight.

After 24 hours is up, then strain your blossoms out, reserving the liquid only. Then to the liquid, add the fruit, sugar, and yeast and mix very well.

Now take your pot and place it in a corner of your kitchen out of the sun and just cover it with a clean kitchen towel - do not seal the pot with plastic wrap or a lid... let it ferment. It needs to ferment for 8-10 days. I let mine go for the full 10. It will smell, you'll see the bubbles - just let it work it's magic. If it's very warm it will need less time - but no less than 8 days.

On day 10, using a big slotted spoon, scoop out all the fruit and peels and discard.

Then set up a clean pot and a colander lined with cheesecloth and strain your wine through the cheesecloth.

In the pot your wine has been fermenting in you'll have a whole lotta sugar left. (picture 5.) Discard that.

Re cover your new pot of strained liquid with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for 2 days again.

After that you are ready to bottle it.

Place cheesecloth over whatever kind of jars or bottles you are using and strain the liquid into the bottles. Seal well and then kiss it goodbye and put it in a cool dark place (like the basement) for a couple of months.

It will look a mess and the liquid will not clear for quite some time, so don't worry about it.

When it clears, in about 2 months time, open it, sit down and enjoy your delicious dandelion wine.

The best thing I can compare it to if you've never tried it, is mead. It's sweet, with honey flavors and the flavors of orange and lemon.

I'm hoping our wine will be ready to drink for the end of August... we'll crack open the jug on our 1st wedding anniversary with any luck :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pastrami stuffed Rye buns

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The past few days have involved a lot of lying down for me, in between chores. I managed to make two batches of cheese yesterday and pickle a dozen eggs to help process some of my eggs and milk which are backing up without me able to do my usual amount of cooking.

You know it's bad when I'm opening a can of soup for dinner. It takes a lot to keep me from cooking. Two days after abdominal surgery I was in the kitchen making Shepherds pie, and then roasting a whole duck, and not because I was feeling great, because I'm stubborn and I don't like to miss meals. I don't advise you to do that, but this is me... I'm happiest in the barn and the kitchen.

So today I over did it, but it's fine... I'll rest now. I made 4 batches of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, 2 loaves of multi grain bread, hot German Potato salad, a big batch of blueberry crumb muffins, and these Rye buns stuffed with Pastrami.

I made the Pastrami yesterday. Our wonderful little grocery store in the village has begun making freshly smoked meats, and for us and a few other customers they make nitrate free versions. Bacon, Pastrami, smoked sausages. It's been awesome. Kevin is deathly allergic to nitrates and it's been a long time since he's had a lot of these meats.  A while ago we bought half of a whole pastrami, so we have a few packages frozen which I pull out and steam at 275 F for 5-7 hours until it's falling apart tender. It's delicious. I wanted to try something new and fun and came up with the idea of making a Rye bread and filling it up with Pastrami. I almost couldn't sleep last night waiting to try out this idea.

It turned out really yummy. We dipped them in whole grain mustard and hot out of the oven these buns are sooo good. But this recipe adapted from a Russian Rye bread recipe makes awesome buns on it's own, and nice loaves of bread too.

If you can't get a big chunk of freshly smoked Pastrami, you can use regular sliced.

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Russian Rye Bread

5 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2-2 1/2 cups rye flour

The original recipe used all corn syrup but I  love the color, texture and taste, a little molasses gives this bread.

In a large bowl, sprinkle your yeast into your warm water and let sit 10 minutes.

Once the yeast is awake, add in your corn syrup, molasses and salt. Then add your all purpose flour and stir. Start adding your rye flour, mixing after each cup. If you need to add a little extra water, do so a Tbsp full a time, until you have a nice workable consistency. Knead your dough until it's smooth and elastic and then place it in a large greased bowl. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.

*If you'd like to make this bread in a loaf pan, or as buns not stuffed, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Shape into buns, or split dough in half and put in two greased loaf pans, cover again and let rise 1 more hour until doubled.

Then bake in the oven, for buns 15-25 minutes (depending on size) and for a loaf, 35-40.

Pastrami Rye buns

Separate your dough into smaller balls. I was able to make 9 buns. You don't want to make them too small.

Take each ball of dough and using your fingers press it into a disc shape. Once you feel it's big enough to put the filling in the middle and still seal the bun, place some of your pastrami in the middle of the disc and then start closing the circle to seal the dough. I just roll it with my hand to form a new, sealed ball, with the pastrami safely sealed inside.

When all your buns are sealed, place on a baking sheet and cover again with your kitchen towel to let double in size.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes, until nicely browned.

Serve hot with your favorite mustard for dipping.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My favorite honey whole wheat bread

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As requested by Lisa in Maine, here is my favorite whole wheat recipe - this is a honey wheat loaf, I do sometimes make straight whole wheat bread but this is my go to recipe and our favorite.

The most important thing about baking good bread is good yeast that's been properly activated and woken up. If your yeast is not active, you'll have tough, dense, flat bread. If you make sure you yeast is good and properly activated, most everything else is fool proof. 

You need:

5 tsp of active dry yeast
1 2/3 cup of warm water
2/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of melted butter
1/4 cup of honey 
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp granulated white sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour 
4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup large flake oats

Put your warm water (not scalding hot, but warmer than lukewarm, I just run my fingers under the tap until it feels right) in a big bowl. Put your yeast in there and stir one time, then let it sit for 10-15 minutes until the yeast wakes up - you'll see it come to life.

Once the yeast is awake, microwave your 2/3 cup of milk for 30 seconds and then add it to the bowl. Melt your butter, let it cool and then add it. You don't want it scalding hot, warm is OK. Then add your honey, sugar, and salt, and stir. Now add your whole wheat flour and mix until it's incorporated and then add 2 cups of bread flour. You'll be able to still mix this with your spoon. Add the third cup of bread flour and when your bread is getting too hard to mix, pull it out onto a well greased surface and start kneading it. Sometimes you need all four cups of bread flour and sometimes you need 3 1/2 for it to come together. Knead your dough until it comes together to form a nice smooth and elastic ball - about 10 minutes. 

In a clean bowl, rub some olive oil around it with your fingers, just about a tsp worth. Then place your dough inside and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Once your dough has doubled in size, divide into two even pieces. Using one half at a time, roll the dough out with a rolling pin and then sprinkle some large flakes oats in, about 2-3 Tbsp. Press the oats slightly into the dough and then roll the dough up.

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Place in greased loaf pan and repeat with your second half of dough. 

Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for another hour or so, until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 23-30 minutes until golden brown. 

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This loaf is extra yummy toasted with fresh jelly...

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And in other news... my hens finally starting laying! It's been a month since our 10 "ready to lay" hens arrived. I know it usually takes a couple of weeks for new hens to get used to their new home, but I think these girls were a little younger than ready to lay age and that's what the hold up was. Whatever it was, they are starting to lay and they are happy, using their big yard in the day, and every night they want me to pet each of them! I don't think I've ever had hens so friendly, and I've always loved my Reds for their sweet disposition but these girls are extra sweet.

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I thought I was hallucinating when I saw these first eggs in the nest box :) 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dandelion jelly...

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If you don't already know, is delicious. Trust me. 

But it takes a little effort to make. This is the probably the only time in my life I wished I had human children who I could force to pick dandelions for me. My children loving picking dandelions and would gladly help me, but they'd eat every single one!

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First you need to pick dandelions, but just the blossoms, not the stems. I picked about 8 cups. 10 would be better, but I'd say pick at least 7-8 cups.

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Next remove the stem from the blossoms - just cut them off with scissors and save your petals. If you want to get crazy, you can pick all the green parts away from the yellow petals but it will take you probably 3 days and you'll loose your mind in the process. I find that they do not affect the jelly in a bitter way at all. Even if they did, you'll add plenty of sugar and never notice it anyway.

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Then wash your hands because they will be a sticky mess...

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Once the stems are removed...

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 pour 6 cups of boiling water over your reserved petals and let steep for a few hours. The longer the better. I usually let mine go for about 3 hours. You could do this overnight if you wanted, but it doesn't need to be that long. If you are in a hurry just wait until the water comes to room temperature.

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If you've never made dandelion jelly before, now is when you'll be surprised. The dandelion "tea" smells just like honey.

Strain your steeped petals by placing a jelly strainer or colander lined well with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Pour everything through and reserve only the clear liquid.

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Now you are ready to make the jelly. 

For the jelly 

3 cups dandelion tea
4 cups sugar
1 package of powdered pectin
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Bring all ingredients to a boil for 2 minutes then ladle into sterilized canning jars.

 Process in your water bath canner for 10 minutes.. and voila!

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It's so pretty but it's also so darned delicious. It's like honey jelly. It's actually quite addicting.

In other news... Jackson was a very happy boy today...

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He got out on some grass for the first time this spring! I managed to brush him a bit but there is enough hair on him right now for me to create two other miniature horses.

I managed to plant an absolute ton of seeds, pimentos, hot peppers, sweet peppers, Poblano peppers, cayenne peppers, multiple flowers, several herbs, summer squash, tomatoes... and I'll do more tomorrow.

Kevin got the garden rototilled and also got all our hoses hooked up to the garden and on the decks for my pots.

Now, I've gotta run... tonight is the height of the meteor shower thanks to Halley's comet, and I need to go outside with my star map in hand and watch :) 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Maple syrup dumplings

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Hard to photograph, but one of the tastiest things you'll ever eat, I promise you. Maple syrup dumplings are an old time Quebec treat. Very easy to make, and you won't be sorry if you do. Fluffy dumplings cooked in sweet and sticky maple syrup, hot, soft, and sweet.

1 3/4 cups maple syrup
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup milk

Bring syrup and water to a boil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Meanwhile mix your flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in your butter until crumbly. Ideally you should use cold butter, but I've got to be honest. I've used soft room temperature butter in these before because I was having a huge craving for them at 10 PM at night and in kind of a hurry. It worked just the same. Mix your butter into your flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add in your milk a little at a time until you have a soft dough. Roll into little balls, about a tsp full of dough at a time. When the syrup reaches a boil, drop your dumplings in. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes until the dumplings are cooked through and soft.

I love these just by themselves but they also delicious over ice cream.

Perfect thing to satisfy a late night craving for something sweet. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Roasted banana crisp

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This my friends is... yummy. Period. Unless of course you hate bananas, in that case, you'll hate this. Otherwise,  It's so easy it takes no time to put together, it's an easy treat.

I was thinking of nice simple treat for dessert and I had a craving for something banana. I thought about banana pudding but as I was thinking about the pudding I was starring at a bag of oats on my kitchen counter and it dawned on me, I'll make a crisp! Roasted bananas are my new favorite thing, I can't remember eating bananas not roasted. If you are cooking with bananas roasting brings out so much of their flavor it's insane - it really brings them alive, it's worth the 10 minutes to get such a lot of extra flavor. 

Roasted Banana Crisp

6 bananas

1 cup brown sugar 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of sliced almonds

The first thing to do is roast your bananas. To roast bananas, use yellow bananas, not green ones, and not ones that are over ripe. Place them on a baking tray in a 350 degree F oven in their peels. Cook them for 12-15 minutes until the peels are blackened and the fruit inside seeps out a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. 

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl make your topping. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, oats, and almonds and then mix in the butter with your fingers until crumbly. 

Peel your bananas and place them in a small baking dish. Break them up a bit with a fork. Sprinkle your crumble topping over top and return to the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden.

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This is especially delicious with cold vanilla ice cream and I bet fresh whipped cream would be yummy too.

The new Pygmy doelings have been playing happily all weekend. My heart is so full and so big, I'm so grateful they are doing so well. They are just adorable. I don't think any of these little girls will be leaving the farm. I told Kevin I think they'd have to be pried away from me and he just said "yes, I know." :) 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Easy peasey basic white bread

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This is probably the easiest staple bread I make (I have about four staple recipes, the ones I make all the time and not the special breads or experiment ones) and also one of the only breads that I use All purpose flour for. I mostly use bread flour, wheat flour, rye flour, rarely AP. But it works in this bread. This is a yummy white bread, offering pretty much everything you want from white bread... and it's perfect for French toast and soaking up sauces. Or just for sandwiches. Or if you ask me, for putting lots of crunchy peanut butter on top of.

And really if you are new to bread making or nervous about it, you really can't go wrong with this recipe. At least, you'd have to try really hard to!

This recipe makes two loaves:

3 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar - Or Agave which works really well in this bread and I've also used honey.
6-7 cups of All purpose flour

In a big mixing bowl, put your yeast in the warm water and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then stir in your salt, sugar (or agave, honey) and slowly start adding your flour. Stir after you add every cup. When the dough starts to get too thick to stir, spread some flour on your counter and then pull the dough out of the bowl, place it on the counter and start to knead. Continue to knead until your dough is no longer shaggy but rather smooth and elastic - I usually knead mine for 5-10 minutes depending on how quick it comes together. But it usually doesn't take very long. Grease a clean mixing bowl with a little Olive oil (rub it around the bowl) and place the dough in the greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise usually an hour - until it's doubled in size, depending on how warm your house is.

Once doubled split the dough into two, and place into two greased bread pans. Cover again with the tea towel and let rise another hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake your bread for 35 minutes, until golden brown and then remove from the oven. I never can let this bread cool, it's really the best when fresh out of the oven slathered in butter.

We are getting completely blown away, again... the only new thing about it is that the wind is warm for the first time and not like ice. That's a welcome addition to the constant heavy wind April has brought us.

I tried something new with my second batch of Feta cheese. I pasteurized my milk first. I wanted to compare the two cheeses once they were both ready. Feta cheese needs to brine (when using fresh milk) for 30 days. Of course I've already tested my cheese, I can't just leave it in the fridge and not poke at it, but I will let it sit for the 30 days before I use it all. Anyway, I didn't have to wait the 30 days to compare my pasteurized cheese with my raw goats milk cheese.

Why you ask? The pasteurized milk didn't even make curds. It did nothing. It barely separated after 24 hours. So I guess that answered that question for me.

Gotta run, it's .2 seconds after the dogs usual feeding time and things are quickly becoming out of control! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ice, rain, and Sunflower seed bread

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While I was laying in bed this morning I had a pretty good idea what was happening outside. I could hear it. Ice, rain, wind.

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A little more ice and rain than I had anticipated.

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But aside from being kind of miserable, it wasn't that bad. Just a good day to stay inside. I was grateful that I had decided to unplug my electric fence last night though, because it was all weighted down with ice today.

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I had promised the chickens a day in the garden but we both agreed we should hold off on that until the weather improves. We all decided to stay indoors for most of the day.

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It was pretty outside.

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The birds were all out - probably not enjoying the ice but maybe not minding the rain.

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I was very surprised Jackson came out of his house to greet me this morning - usually on a day like today he doesn't come out even for food, he eats inside. But this morning he came out to greet me despite the icy rain.

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Flavious also greeted me.... a muddy mess! For some reason he's also been my mud dog - he loves it. Max hardly ever gets dirty but Flavious he rolls in anything every opportunity he gets.

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The ducks were out too enjoying the rain, quacking, swimming, carrying on like it was the best day ever. I put fresh straw in their house and they just looked at me like "we are not going to lie down, we are going swimming!"

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It was an icy world.

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A good day for me to head back inside and work on laundry and in the kitchen. I worked on my Feta cheese, froze some milk to use later for soap when I can afford the supplies, made some crackers and tried a couple new recipes, along with making some Creamsicles - something I wish I hadn't learned was so easy to do... I'll be making them all the time now, they are one of my favorite treats.

As blog friend Redneck pointed out I didn't share the bread recipe from my Halloumi cheese post with you guys. And I got another message today about it while I was working on this post! So as requested here it is if you'd like to make some! 

Sunflower Seed bread

2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups seven grain hot cereal mix (not the cold cereal, the hot stuff, I use Red River cereal) 
2 Tbsp honey 
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp traditional yeast
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 large egg lightly beaten

Mix your water and yeast and let that sit for about 5 minutes. Then add your hot cereal mix and your honey and let that sit for 10 minutes. 

Next, add your oil, salt, flower, and seeds. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or two in a warm place.

Once the bread has risen, punch down the dough and move it to a greased baking sheet. You can make a loaf, two small ones, or roll it into a circle. Using a sharp knife, make a few slices in the top of the bread. Cover again with the tea towel and let rise again. 

Meanwhile place a small baking dish on the bottom rack of your oven. (You need two racks for this.) Heat your oven up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When your bread is ready, beat up your egg and brush it on the bread.

Add a couple of cups (depending on the size of your baking dish) of boiling water to your baking dish that you put in the oven earlier. Leave it on the bottom rack. Place the bread tray on the rack above the baking dish, and lower your oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1/2 hour (I know it's awful.) Before slicing. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Easy homemade Halloumi cheese

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Halloumi is delicious. It's delicious on it's own, fried, in salads, on patty melts (see my recipe for patty melts with Halloumi) and with just about anything. It's also pretty darned easy to make.

Traditionally Cypriot Halloumi is made with unpasteurized goat and sheeps milk. Which is exactly what I used, but you can also use pasteurized milk if it's all you have access to, or you'd rather use it. I used a combination of recipes (all are basically the same) to make this cheese, but the one I relied on the most was Wholesome-Cook's  recipe. She came up with a great way to quicken the process of making this cheese. I found that this cheese tasted even better after aging in it's brine - it's one cheese you can eat right away and it's delicious but I liked it after it sat for a day even better.

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Here's what you need:

1 gallon goats milk
1 rennet tablet
1 Tbsp of water
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp salt

For brine:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whey
1 tsp salt

Here's what you do:

In a stainless steel pot, bring your milk to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to have a thermometer to make sure your milk is at the right temperature. Remove it from the heat.

Dissolve your rennet tablet in the 1 Tbsp of water and pour it into your milk. Stir it a couple of times and then leave the milk to sit for a 1/2 an hour.

Once the milk has set, take a spoon and using an up and down motion break up the curds and separate them a bit from the whey. Add your herbs, red pepper, and salt, and stir to combine. Let sit 10-15 minutes.

Transfer to a microwavable safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave again for 2 minutes. Stir and then microwave again for another minute. Remove from the microwave.

Set up a collander over a heavy bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Strain your whey off into the bowl. Collect your curds in the cheesecloth and hang up to drain for at least an hour. Then place the curds (in the cheesecloth) on a plate and start pressing out any whey that remains, using a heavy plate or your hands. Continue doing this until most of the water is gone from the curds.

Place the curds in a small container that they can fit tightly in and sprinkle them with salt. Mix it in, and then press the curds into the container tightly. Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Remove the cheese and cut it into chunks. You can eat it right away or put it back in the fridge and let it age a little while. When returning the cheese to the fridge to age or when putting some of the cheese away to store in the fridge (it keeps for up to a week) you need to put it in a container big enough for the cheese and the brine mixture of whey and water you made. The key to this cheese is straining it good and also letting it rest and get cold, I found that it was pretty crumbly when you ate it right away and not as tight and squeaky as Halloumi should be. But the longer it sat in it's brine, the tougher it got and the better it was for frying.

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I also like that it gets a little saltier when it sits in it's brine.

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I had made a fresh loaf of Sunflower seed bread and it went perfect with the fresh cheese!

In other news I got a little carried away today. I planted 216 Tomatillo seeds.

Anyone want some salsa? I think I may end up with hundreds of jars of Salsa Verde instead of a dozen. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Maple strawberry goats cheese pie

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Now when I say cheese, I mean soft creamy ricotta cheese. My simple fresh goats cheese is exactly the same, it has the same texture and it has a super mild flavor which goes well with whatever you might want to mix it with. As I've mentioned in the recipe, if you cannot find (or make) some goats milk ricotta, you can absolutely use cows milk ricotta. I love the way the texture of this pie turned out. It was a complete experiment using four different recipes, so I wasn't sure if it would work or not - and of course I chose to serve it to company, so it could have been a really big hit or a miss since this was the first time I made the recipe... usually new recipes need some tweaking to improve them after the first try.

This one worked! Thankfully!

Maple Strawberry goats cheese pie

Pie crust
(of course feel free to use your favorite recipe or buy a prepared one!)

2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) of butter - cold and cut into cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2-4 Tbsp ice cold water

Mix together your flour, salt and sugar. Add your cold (has to be cold!) cubed butter in and just work it with your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs. Adding 1 Tbsp of water at a time, mix the dough until it just comes together. Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.

Roll your dough out to fit your pie dish, and then freeze the crust for about 20 minutes.


 1 - 1 1/2 cups of goats milk ricotta or cows milk ricotta
1 large egg
1/2 cup of maple syrup 
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 tsp grated lemon peel
3-4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamon

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Mix together your cheese, egg, maple syrup, flour, lemon peel, and cardamon. Slice up your strawberries and sprinkle them with the sugar and let them sit for about 10 minutes to release some of their juices. Mix your strawberries into your cheese mixture and set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes. 

Remove your pie crust from the freezer and pour your strawberry cheese filling into it. 

Roll out your pie dough scraps from your crust (if you use the above recipe you have enough for 2 pie crusts, (if you have bought the pie crust prepared, just skip the lattice top and make a crumb topping) and using a pizza cutter cut into strips. Place them over the pie to make a lattice. You can decorate the pie however you'd like. This pie will be delicious with a crumb topping as well. A simple butter, brown sugar and oat crumb topping would be perfect.

If you've made a lattice top or used a double crust brush the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with cardamon sugar. Mix 1/4 cup of sugar with about 1 Tsp of ground cardamon. Sprinkle some of the sugar all over the top of the pie and then Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.

P.S. I reply to most comments by email - as time allows me. And I always reply to questions, unless I somehow miss one, and in that event, if you don't hear from me, just send me an email again! I appreciate each and every one of your comments and the time it takes you to make them.

Sometimes when blogger sends me your comments, I can't reply directly to them because you do not have your email set up in your profile so it will tell me "no-reply-email." So in that case, I can't directly respond. I do try to respond through the comment form on the blog in that case. So if you want me to respond via email - either change your blogger form so your email is there and if you'd rather not do that (I can understand) but want to speak with me, just send me a private email, there is a link to  my email at the top of the page on the right.

This is all to say, I've been catching up on some emails today, and dq had asked me a question well suited to this post - and I was unable to reply via email. So I thought I'd answer here!

Question: on average how many hours a day do you cook?

I thought it was a good question!

Answer: On average I cook 2 hours a day for regular meals. But I usually cook throughout the day - like in the morning I'll knead dough for bread, or make a batch of cheese, aside from dinner so I'm including that. Dinner always takes me a minimum of an hour. 

How long does it take you guys to prepare meals on average, of course keeping in mind some of us have jobs away from our homes, kids, things that change that.... ?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Maple syrup bourbon tarts with meringue

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Happy Easter everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. 

April has arrived in a flurry of wind, snow, and some sunshine mixed in to tease us. It is April Fools day after all right? It's also my Papa's (Grandfathers) Birthday. He always celebrated it on the 2nd of April though, because he thought no one would take him seriously being born on April 1st. It's funny someone would even think about those things. But he did. 

Yesterday I spent a great deal of time cooking in between chores, we enjoyed a big feast of roasted Prime Rib, sweet potatoes with pickled apples, pickled beets, deviled eggs, freshly baked honey rolls, and roasted tomatoes stuffed with feta cheese. For dessert, I made my favorite pie, which is saying a lot because I love pretty much all pie... but lemon meringue has a very special place in my heart and... tummy. 

I had leftover pie dough so I decided I better use it up and that tarts would be a fun thing to make. And what do I have plenty of right now? Freshly made maple syrup.

You can leave out the bourbon if you'd like but it does add a lot of flavor - and there isn't much there. I wanted to do a take on old fashion butter-scotch pudding, which of course has scotch in it. So I've used bourbon with the maple syrup in these tarts.

Maple syrup bourbon tarts with meringue 

You need to either prepare some tart shells using your favorite pie crust recipe - or you can also use store bought tart shells if you'd like.

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For the pudding:

2 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2/3 cup maple syrup
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp bourbon 

In a big bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of milk, the cornstarch, the maple syrup, egg yolks, and salt until combined. Set the egg whites aside. 

In a heavy saucepan, heat up the remaining milk until it's just about to boil (don't let it burn.) Slowly temper the egg/syrup mixture by adding a little hot milk into the bowl at a time, whisking vigorously all the time. If you do this slowly enough and while whisking enough - you'll never cook your eggs and get lumps. Once it's all combined, pour it all back into your saucepan and turn the temperature to medium. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5-8 minutes. 

Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla and bourbon. 

for the meringue:

3 egg whites
3 Tbsp sugar

Beat until you've got stiff peaks! If you are really strong you can do this by hand. I have no idea how my mother did it. I just stand back watch my mixer working and repeat: I love my mixer. I love my mixer... 

To assemble:

Fill the tart shells up with your maple pudding, and top with the meringue. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes until the meringue is nicely browned and voila!

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Then you just... Eat em!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Strawberry shortcake braided bread


I found a recipe a while ago for strawberry shortcake ice pops and I've really been wanting to try it. While I was in the barn feeding rabbits and cleaning this morning (when I do any of my "real" thinking) I was thinking about how delicious Danishes are... also how I wish I could have one with a cup of coffee. Then I got thinking about those strawberry shortcake pops and how I should make them. 

And somehow it lead me to coming up with this bread which was a complete experiment. Not quite a danish and certainly not the ice pops (yet) but delicious none the less. I was so excited when this actually came together I just couldn't wait to share it. Then I remembered I didn't stop and think about anything I was doing, so it took me a while to try and put this in recipe form, since I didn't measure. But with some brain power and tea, I was able to put it together so you can try these too if you'd like to - and also so I'll remember how I did it when I go to make them next time!

For the bread:

1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg
1 tsp salt
4 cups all purpose flour

Heat the milk until lukewarm and then add the melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Leave for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.


Then stir in the egg and salt. Gradually add flour while mixing until a soft dough is obtained. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise.

for the cookies

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine the flour, salt, butter, and sugar in a bowl. Mix in the butter with your fingers until it becomes crumbly. Mix in the egg, almond extract and lemon juice. If it's too dry add a little water, 1 tsp at a time just until the dough comes together. Shape into two balls, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerating  for at least an hour but overnight is better.

When you are ready to make the cookies, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and take your dough out of the fridge. Let it warm up a bit so you can work it.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut into bars or use a cookie cutter to cut it into shapes. You want it to be about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thickness depending on how thick or thin you want your cookies. Bake on a greased cookie sheet  for 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cookies, just until the edges are very lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the filling

1 cup Strawberries (I used frozen strawberries that I thawed since it's not the season, but you can use either fresh or frozen)
1 brick cream cheese, at room temperature
1-2 cups of icing sugar

In a blender, blend your strawberries until fairly smooth, leaving just a little bit of strawberry bits in there. Mix with your cream cheese and add the icing sugar to thicken it and sweeten it. It will always be a loose filling, but you want it to thicken up somewhat so it will hold and you can handle it.


To assemble the bread

Divide your dough into two pieces. Using one piece at a time, roll out your dough into an oval, leaving your dough about 1/4" thick. Using a pizza cutter, make slices along the sides of your oval so you can use the pieces to braid later.

Put your dough onto a greased baking sheet before you finish assembling it - you won't be able to move it once you put the filling in it.

Down the center of your oval, spread out some filling. Not too much, just enough to cover and be generous. You want it to bake into the bread and not just all come out.

Crumble up a few of your shortbread cookies and sprinkle over your filling.

Braid your bread by pulling your cut pieces along the sides of your oval across the filling one at a time.

Brush the bread with a beaten egg, sprinkle on some more crushed up shortbread cookies, some sugar (about a 1/2 tsp) and a pinch of nutmeg. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes until golden brown.


It might seem like a lot of work, but it's really not. Plus the finished product makes the effort worth it in the end.

It's time now for me to venture out in the snow and do chores again. It's cold right now, but tomorrow we start tapping maple trees. More on that later.

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! 
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