Sunday, November 13, 2011

This morning I made a batch of pumpkin doughnuts. My best batch so far. Crisp on the outside creamy, melt in your mouth inside. Maybe I'm getting better at making dougnuts. I've been trying to not handle the dough too much that makes them tougher same as adding too much flour.

Pumpkin Doughnut Dough Ready to Cut

Since the dough is still rather sticky, even after refrigeration, I dipped the cutter in flour before cutting each round.

Pumpkin Doughnuts
(adapted from Bon Appétit)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
Canola or Peanut Oil (for deep-frying)

1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
powdered sugar

1. Whisk first 9 ingredients (flour through cardamom) in a medium bowl to blend well; set aside.

2. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended (mixture will be a bit grainy). Beat in egg, then yolks, then vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk and molasses, then beat in pumpkin, in four additions.

3. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture in 4 additions, blending gently after each. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

4. Lightly flour two baking sheets. When dough is well-chilled, lightly flour a work surface. Starting with about 1/3 of dough, gently press it out to a round that is 1/2- to 2/3-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Using 1-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes. Arrange doughnuts and holes on the baking sheets as you go. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used. If dough is very sticky, dip the round cutters into flour before cutting each doughnut.

5. Line two baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet or dutch oven to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F. Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

While doughnuts are cooling, mix sugar and cinnamon. Roll doughnut holes in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Lightly dust doughnuts with powdered sugar, if desired.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sweet Potato Rolls

makes 12 to 18 rolls

1 sweet potato, baked
1 cup milk
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
3-4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bake the sweet potato for approximately 45 minutes at 375. Remove the oven and let cool.

Combine the sweet potato, sugar, and milk and stir to make a paste. Mix in 2 cups of the flour, the salt, the yeast, and the spices until thoroughly combined. Add more flour a quarter cup at a time. Mix in after each addition until you have a dough that is tacky but which you can handle with wet hands. When you hit the proper consistency, remove from the bowl and knead by hand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Set the dough aside to rise in a covered bowl for 45 minutes to an hour. Divide into a dozen or so pieces, shape, and then again allow to rise until they have roughly doubled in size, another hour or so.

I suspect they would be lovely if coated with an egg wash. I did not do so, but I may next time

Thursday, October 13, 2011




  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Powdered sugar, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter. Add the brown sugar and continue mixing. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla, then mix until well blended and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the applesauce. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf or tube pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then turn it out, and dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpin Muffins, an Autum Treat

Walt had a noon meeting with our accountant. He wanted to bring a light snack. I whipped up a batch of muffins but they were gone before I took a picture. I used a pint jar of my home canned pumpkin chunks... sweet potato can be substituted.

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins Muffins (12 muffins)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 smigeon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in muffin cups.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Friday, September 30, 2011

As we ease into Autumn, I am trying to put up and preserve the last of the gardens bounty. I picked the last few heirloom tomatoes and was inspired to make a canner-full of sauce. Luckily, a nearby farm-stand still had half bushels of canning tomatoes. I bought a half bushel of large Romas (20 lbs.) for $15 - up $3 from a month ago. Since I have cases of crushed tomatoes I bought on sale at a grocery store, I waned to make a special tomato product. Something the I couldn't easily buy. I decided upon this recipe from the Threads of Inspiration blog:

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce
2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes,
unpeeled 4 cloves garlic,
unpeeled 2 onions,
unpeeled 1 sweet red pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1tsp granulated sugar
1tsp salt
Prepare jars for canning by boiling them in a canner for about 10 minutes. Also boil both parts of the lids in a separate pan. This sterilizes the jars and lids. Leave them in canner until you are ready to fill them. Place tomatoes, garlic, onions (I halve them) and red pepper on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes, removing the garlic after 12-15 minutes or when soft. Remove remaining vegetables when they are soft and the skins blistered. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel tomatoes, being careful to catch all the juice. Squeeze garlic and onions to remove soft centers. Peel and seed pepper. Place all vegetables in a food processor, process until smooth. Place vegetable puree in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Add vinegar, oregano, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover and boil for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove hot jars from canner and ladle sauce into jars to within 1/2 inch of rim. Put lids on jars. Process 35 minutes for pint jars and 40 minutes for quart jars. *I have found that this recipe makes two pint jars and every pound and a quarter of tomatoes you add you will get another pint. Of course if you increase the tomatoes you must also increase the other ingredients proportionally.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Iv'e been canning tomatoes

Chunky Basil Pasta Sauce

-------- ------------ --------------------------------
8 cups (2 L) coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes -- (about 9-12 tomatoes or 4 lb/2 kg)
1 cup chopped onion -- (250 mL)
3 cloves garlic -- minced
2/3 cup red wine -- (150 mL)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (5 % strength) -- (75 mL)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil -- (125 mL)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley -- (15 mL)
1 teaspoon pickling salt -- (5 mL)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar -- (2 mL)
1 6-oz/156 mL) can tomato paste

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, wine, vinegar, basil, parsley, salt, sugar and tomato paste in a very large non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency, stirring frequently.

Remove hot jars from canner and ladle sauce into jars to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of rim (head space). Process 35 minutes for pin (500 mL) jars and 40 minutes for quart (1 L) jars in a BWB.

"8 cups"

Note: This sauce also makes an excellent base for a quick pizza

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Wed. 4/20/11



Outside my window
It's a cool, grey Spring Day. There is a possibility of rain. It's 44 degrees outside but with an 11mph SE wind it feel like 38. I can hear the wind howl as it occasionally gusts. When I stepped out to take a small bin of eggshells, coffee grounds and vegetable peels to the compost pile, I saw many birds around the birdfeeders.

I am thinking
About getting chicks. We took a class, decided somewhat what kinds we we just have to do it! Since we don't have a cook or anyplace to keep them warm while they are still small, we're dragging our feet.

I am thankful for
The promises of God

From the kitchen
A half loaf of whole wheat honey oatmeal flax meal bread. Must do more baking. Some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, a batch canning jars are in the dishwasher... I'm going to can some of the older potatoes today

I am wearing
I'm barefoot, and have a soft cotton blend blue print sleeveless pullover dress. I'm chilly so I will get a cup of coffee, my slippers and a sweater .

I am creating
I just finished making "carrot seed tape" . Carrot seeds are so small that it's impossible to space them far enough and I don't want to thin out little plants growing close together. Tape is easy to make. I cut a length of toilet pater into the long steps. Then I made a paste of a teaspoon of flour and a little water. Using an old paintbrush, I pained a small dab of 'glue' every inch then before it dried tried to place a small seed on each dab. easier to this on a kitchen counter than hunched over a furrow in the garden.

I am going
Maybe collecting some ramps (wild leeks) if I finish my chores in time.

I am reading
"The Victory Garden Cookbook"by Marian Morash.. anticipating a great big harvest of all kinds of veggies.

I am hoping...
That Walt will find another client and that P.K. comes through with a good contract.

I am hearing
The dishwasher.

Around the House
Several batches of laundry to fold and put away. A nice clutter of seeds and potting supplies in the Sun room

One of my favorite things
Watching and hearing songbirds while I'm doing chores in the yard.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Gardening as soon as weather conditions allow i.e. the rain stops I've already got in two rows of potatoes, two big beds of peas, lettuce babies around the garlic, spinach and radish seeds planted too. I'll try to get more potatoes in, then plant leeks, onion sets, scallions, endive, and arugula. On Thursday night, we plan to go to an information session on raising backyard chickens sponsored by our local Cooperative Extension.

Here is picture I am sharing


BLOOD ROOT - Sanguinaria canadensis, A beautiful spring ephemeral native to eastern North America, Mint-green foliage emerges in early spring, folded together in pairs like praying hands, quickly followed by white broad-petaled up-facing flowers.

You can read the daybook journals of other wonderful women here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Harvest Monday 4/18/11

I't still very early in my zone for any-kind of real harvest. I've begun some planting... several rows of peas, two rows of potatoes. I've weeded around the asparagus and started to do the same in the strawberry bed. We ordered three more fruit trees, two kinds cold hardy apricots and another pear. Every day I check the cold frame. The little lettuce plants have put out their true leaves. On the north side of the cold frame I have containers of onions. leeks, kale, swiss chard and cabbage almost ready to transplant. We did get a bit of a harvest though... I picked a generous handful of sorrels and several bunches of chives, I checked the pot of scallions that I left out all winter and have about a pound of nice ones, we dug up more than 3 pounds of potatoes that I missed last fall, also two carrots. The carrots went into the "have a heart" trap to try to lure another woodchuck. Last year I lost most of my peas and beans to critters. The potatoes scallions chives and sorrel went into a leek soup.

Other than that we've been eating what I put up last year. I am surprised at how may empty jars end up on the buffet, waiting for someone to take the to the storeroom and put them away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Garden Report 4-12-11

Yesterday was a warm (over 70 degrees) and humid day. The weather report called for rain so I went out to see what I could do in the garden before it came. My first chore was to shovel compost on the second half of the bed that I planted sprouted "Progress # 9" peas in over the weekend. After a good layer of compost was added, I made three rows and put in carefully selected 'pea brush'. The branches serves a dual purpose, a support for the pea vines as they grow and as a deterrent to the feral cats who like to roll around in fresh turned soil. Then 'Little Marvel' peas were planted.


When I finished the peas, I checked on the cold frame. opened the windows for while and placed in a few more pots of sprouted plants that were in windowsills in the house.


The next job was to top dress the garlic with compost. The garlic leaves were about three leaves high and looking good.


And while I had the shovel in my hand, I moved on to top dress the 4 rows of asparagus. Then I took a little time and straightened out the rest of the kitchen garden, picking up twigs and wayward plastic pots etc.

Walt came home for lunch. which we had (leftover potatoes, ribs and wild goose breast) on the porch. While eating, we perused the stack of Mother earth News and Hobby Farm looking for pictures of chicken coops. After lunch I raked out the flower-bed under the apartment windows. This bed has an english rose, Jackmanii Clematis, and a seven sisters rose. The rest of the bed is bare, with just a few crocus and some clumps of 'Jacob's Ladder'. We had to reset the trellises into the ground, prune and tie up the tall rose canes. Then we moved on to fill all the bird-feeders. Walt then moved on to check on the bees, watching them come and go for awhile. While I cleaned out and enlarged the narrow herb garden which surrounds the hot tub. I made two small tipis of bamboo and planted the six peas the I spouted in peat pots weeks ago. (they are now 2 inches high). I wrapped some vines around the tipis and it looks cute! We proceeded to rake some more and then the rain finally started. We picked up our tools and went inside. It was dinner time and I had spent the whole day outside and had no dinner. No worries, I pulled a few jars from my food storage and a box of pasta, and had a quick supper of shells with tomato-meat sauce

Yesterday, I noticed violets blooming, Today I also saw hepatica in the woodland garden.



Of course we also have winter aconite. snowdrops, scillia and some chionodoxa forbesii.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today I thought that i would give you an idea of a few typical days here on the homestead except there is no real typical day. But now is as good as any to chronicle life as a suburban homesteader. There are two days of chores and activities.

Wake up Get dressed, wake up teens for school,make coffee, read news paper for 10 minutes, then make buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. Kids get on school bus, I read some of favorite blogs and enjoy a cup of coffee. Next plant some seeds in pots and check on the plants under lights, water if needed, wash and hang 3 loads of laundry, check on bees and cold frame, make bread dough, rake out flower beds, kneed dough, shape and 3 loaves of bread and a pizza, do some office work, supper with family, wash dishes, sweep floor, drive Walt to camera truck for his unexpected news gig, Relax with kiddos -watching Netflix and hand sewing a cloths pin holder. Go to bed 11:30

Next day, Wake up, get dressed, wake up teens for school, make coffee, read news paper for 10 minutes make toad-in-holes for breakfast, Kids get on school bus, surfing computer and enjoy a cup of coffee, Fuss with seeds and plants under lights, Wake up Walt, check on bees and cold frame, wash and hang 4 loads of laundry - using new clothespin hanger, rake garden, make lunch for me and Walt - grilled cheese sandwiches, surf the net, check e-mail, lop some branches, rake some more, fix dinner, go to meeting.

Wake up, read paper, sort coupons make grocery list, make breakfast (french toast and bacon with orange wedges) go to chicken class, make sandwiches and lemonade, work in garden, walt build frames for bees, rake lawn, wash 1 load laundry, clean 1 enclosed veggie bed, lop blackberry bushes, find pea brush, plant peas, Grill steak for dinner...enjoy campfire at neighbors.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook 4-5-2011


Outside my window
It's a cool, grey Spring Day. There is a nice gentle rain and temperature is the low 40's. It will be warming up a little bit more tommorow

I am thinking
all the gardening and outdoor chores that have to be done
sticks picked up off the lawn
leaves to be raked
brambles pruned
more seeds planted into jugs (winter sowing method)
brick walkway laid in south side of the cold frame
Jerusalem Artichoke tubers removed from pond side flower bed
buy and plant carnation seeds
prune and root fan-tail pussy-willows

I am thankful for
The promises of God

From the kitchen
Not much yet. Ingredients and bowls are out to make loaves of sandwich bread. Beans are soaking for a pot of beans and rice.

I am wearing
a soft fushia cotton pullover house dress and my cozy slippers

I am creating
...I just finished blanket stitching around squares of old towels that I cut up to use as a paper towel substitute. There are two reasons that I blanket stitched , to keep the cut edges from raveling. the other reasons is to differeciate these towel-lets from regular rags.

I also have several yards of calico out, I'm thing about sewing a simple pullover dress to wear around the house.

I am going
Hmm... to small claims court. We have to try to collect from a tenet who still owes us. We gave them some slack when he became unemployed, but he didn't catch up after he got a new job.

I am reading
Carrots Love Tomatoes Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte

I am hoping...
That Walt will find another client and that P.K. comes through with a good contract.

I am hearing
The television ... Martha Stewart doing a segment on the Today Show a segment on making decorative pots for herb plants. Walt pouring a 2nd cup of coffee in the kitchen. Traffic driving on wet roads outside.

Around the house
It's actually pretty clean. I vacuumed yesterday, de-cluttered and picked up the bedroom. There are also several geraniums blooming to add a dash of color to a grey and cold day.

One of my favorite things
Little heirloom tomato plants that I started from seed.


A few plans for the rest of the week:
Gardening. as soon as weather conditions allow i.e. the rain stops I need to go out to finish raking the flower beds then get it some pea seeds into the kitchen garden. On Saturday, we plan to go to an information session on raising backyard chickens. Sponsored by our local Cooperative Extension.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing

Winter Aconite blossom and Honey Bee.
Notice the pollen pellet on the bee's leg. As worker bees gather nectar from flowers, tiny particles of pollen stick to their bodies and are accumulated in pellets on their hind legs. The hind legs are equipped with pollen baskets (hairs and special structures on the bees leg) to carry the pollen back to the hive. Pollen is sometimes referred to as "beebread". Pollen contains the nutrients that are converted into larval food by special glands in the worker bees which is then used to feed young larvae.

You can read about the daybook entries of other wonderful women at The Simple Women's Daybook.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Real Food Challenge-March 26, 2011

About 7 or 8 days into the Real Food Challenge we lost internet for over a week. I saw how dependent I was on my laptop for getting and sharing information. I love learning new things by reading other blogs and I have a long list of favorites. By the time we bought a new router and got back on line the mojo of posting about how we fared on the challenge was gone.

I think we did pretty good.

I baked breads. pies and cookies. I cooked all of our meals from scratch more or less. The less part refers to the few cans of ingredients I cooked with. Big cans of tomato puree ( my garden did not produce enough tomatoes to meet our needs) a big carton of chicken broth with herbs and wine that I poured into a stock-pot of chicken soup - (It needed more broth) out. and it was very good.

I reread my original post on the the Real Food Challenge. You can see it here. We'll for future eating, we put in a cold frame, I drawn out plans to expand the garden, Walt will oder more bees for a second hive and next week were going to a cooperative extension program on raising backyard chickens.

I have cooked big pots of good simple food. One of my favorite meals was Pork and Beans with Moose Bread - it was a good, very filling, inexpensive meal and it made a lot. I ended up freezing a few portions so son#2 could take to work. I found the original recipe for Moose Bread in Hobby Farms magazine, but modified it. If you make this you should also add 1 cup of milk because the recipe as written seemed too dry.

So we are continuing with this challenge and looking forward to making and eating real food. What are you eating?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Cold Frame

It's a beautiful late march day in the Mohawk Valley. 38 degrees but wind-chill makes it feel like 28. The snow is melted enough for me to make it out into the garden without putting on boots. I selected a few packages of seeds, put on a warm jacket, grabbed a shovel and garden rake and trudged out to check out the new cold frame.


Wonderful! I lifted and propped open the south-facing windows and touched the soil. Yep it was warm. I shovel in a little compost, though most of the compost pile was still under a blanket of snow. After a I raked the soil, I pressed-in a broom handle to make some furrows then I sprinkles in some seeds. I planed 'prize-leaf lettuce' a little 'white beet' and some 'cherry bell radish'. Now it's wait and see. I still have to find a thermometer - hopefully a min-max. Then in a few days, I'll plant the north side.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Simple Woman's Daybook -March 22, 2011


Outside My Window...
Grey again. Cloudy and 34 degrees. The household trash and recyclables bagged piled near the driveway waiting for the garbage truck to hall it away.

I am thinking...
About our kitchen garden and the new cold frame. Can't wait to plant spinach and lettuce seeds.. Wondering when the weather conditions will all me to do so.

I am thankful for...
All the talents that family members have. That we are also independent and like to do things for ourselves. Walt can fix broken appliances and build small structures He can do plumbing and electrical work. I know many old fashioned house hold skills. I cook, can, bake and even do a little sewing. We both garden and love the outdoors. Brian is a car mechanic and musician, Danny a creative writer, David a graphic artist, Katie is artistic and musical

From the kitchen...
leftovers: home made French bread, ham, meat-loaf, rice and two kinds of pie: peach and pumpkin.. Egg, ham and cheese sandwiches for breakfast.

I am wearing...
a simple pullover dress and a grey cotton bathrobe because the house is cold.

I am creating...
Plans for our garden, curtains for the apartment foyer

I am going...
Hopefully nowhere today. Need to stay home and tackle chores.

I am reading...
Lots of back issues of "Mother Earth News" and "Hobby Farm"

Around the house...
Tiny tomato, pepper, lavender and thyme plants growing under lights. Seed packages spread out on the desk, gardening notes and tips scribbled in an old notebook.

Saving Broccoli Seed

One of my favorite things...
Harbingers of spring... Canadian geese returning, pussy willows, robins and tiny snow drops

Pussy Willow

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Chores: today tackle laundry mountain, winter sow (or is it now Spring Sow) some tomorrow can more potatoes, check the stored apples and dehydrate or can ( sauce, pie filling?).

A Picture I am sharing:
Yesterdays snowfall ... the day after a perfect early Spring Day

Monday, March 21, 2011

Harvest Monday 3/21/2011

We were enjoying a few Spring like days here in the Mohawk Valley.

Walt and I have been talking about 'extending the season'... using gardening techniques to plant earlier than you would for your zone and conditions and harvesting food much later than you normally would of. Our first steps to accomplishing this is to build a cold frame. Walt scrounged around the homestead for materials. We had some old farmhouse windows we had stacked in the garage. Walt also found some used lumber and particle board. Our only expenses were hinges we bought at at Lowe's. So now I have a new cold frame that cost us about $10.



The cold frame was placed on a raised bed that sits over a concrete pad. This was the site of my grandfathers outdoor fireplace. The concrete was too thick to break up so we built a raised bed over it. The only drawback is that only plants with a shallow root system can be planted there. That still leaves me with lots of options. spinach, lettuce, scallions, parsley, endive. arugala maybe even small cabbages and swiss chard.

While Walt with some help from David was building the cold-frame, I prepared the soil removing the weeds and plants growing there from a few years of neglect. I pulled out two white buckets of quack grass roots and other weeds that I don't want in the compost pile. I also was able to pull out 4 pounds of Jerusalem Artichoke tubers and 3/4 pounds of Horseradish roots. So almost 5 pounds of food for our 1st harvest of the season.

I gave about half of the horseradish to my next door neighbor and grated some of the remainder to enjoy with the ham for dinner. Horseradish is easy to make. Cut as many roots as you want to use into 1 inch pieces. Pop into a blender with a little white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is OK too). Blend it until the root is grated up fine. Add more vinegar if needed to easily grate. Be careful about opening the blender jar. I suggest doing it outside. Fresh horseradish is more potent that the bottles you buy at the store.

Jerusalem Artichoke is not a well known vegetable. It is some time sold in grocery store produce aisles as "sun chokes". Jerusalem Artichoke is not an artichoke - not even related. But it is a delicious "wild edible plant". The tubers taste like a cross between carrot and potatoes and can be eaten raw, boiled, baked or steamed. I even read about dehydrating slices of the tubers and grinding it into flour. Jerusalem Artichoke, unlike white potatoes are very good for diabetics.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MARCH Chore List 2011

Nice day today. Spring is happening. The pussy willows have started bursting out about a week ago. Canadian Geese "Vs" move across the sky. Today I finally did some winter-sowing. Got out 24 containers. I swept out the deck and places some jugs against the hot-tub. Thats a nice sunny location and they are relatively safe from strong winds. The other jugs web against the south facing foundation.

This is what I wintersowed ...
Broccoli, Calabrese
Broccoli, Green Mountain
Broccoli, UNK
Cabbage, Late Flat Dutch
Chicory - Radichio Blend
Kale, Blue Scotch
Kale, Judy's
Kohlrabi, Purple Vienna
Leek, American Flag
Leek, Blau Gruner Winter
Onion, Evergreen Bunching
Onion, Lisbon Bunching
Onion, Red Burgundy
Spinach, Bloomsdale
Swiss Chard, Barese
Tomatillo, UNK
Columbine, Long Spurred
Maiden Pink
Malva, Zebra
Mexican Hat

Then I moved on to tackle the old grape vine. Grapes need to be pruned when they are dormant. I should have done this February, but the snow way so deep I couldn't easily get near it. Here's the problem... the grape vine (Concorde Grapes) is VERY old, and has been neglected for so long. I need to do a radical pruning but if I want fruit (I do) I have to keep some of lasts years growth. Grapes grow off the previous year's growth. I started by cutting out dead and damaged branches and anything smaller than a pencil in circumference. Then I studied the vines to decide what else to cut to give it proper structure. I need to remove many vines but I'm trying to keep enough so I can get a decent fruit harvest.

The next job was to prune the young fruit trees (3 apple). I cut off the suckers and a few wayward branches.

On the next nice day I will tackle the blackberry patch. I really HATE the blackberries. Oh don't get me wrong, I love the fruit ... but this is an invasive type Himalayan" Was here before I owned the place. And the lateral roots travel a distance from the mother plant causing a small patch to become a big nuisance. I'm cutting berry plants out of the veggie and flower beds constantly. Another thing... they have BIG thorns.

To punning berry bushes is easy as long as you have protective ware against the thorns. A cane has a two year cycle and fruit is produced on second year canes (last years growth). So early in the spring I cut out the canes that fruited last year. It's easy to tell... they are dead.

Internet lost, Internet found

It's had to blog without internet. Walt thought that it was the last big snow storm that fried something. At first it was slow and intermittent. We lost wireless and had internet though an ethernet connection on only one computer. Unfortunately, that computer was not mine. Besides not able to post about life here on the homestead I missed reading blogs on gardening, cooking, baking and homesteading skills. I resorted to reading old seed catalogs, back issues of Mother earth news and Hobby Farm and pulling old cookbooks off the shelves.
After many go rounds of resetting various devices and calling our ISP's customer service, we broke our no spending this month rule and bought a new router and bingo I'm back on line. YAY!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Real Food Challenge- week 1- FAIL

We don't eat much fast food. I'n fact we seldom go out to eat. The reason why is actually two fold. Not too many places come up to our standards. I'm thinking of a popular place in town. Last year was our first and only time there. The salad that came with the meal tasted like the bagged salad mixed that are common in todays grocery stores. We've all tasted this in our salads a faint plastic taste...Yuck! The other reason is money... We'd rather not spend it on a restaurant when when eat better at home. That said, I when I stopped in the office to drop something off to Walt, he asked me to stay and discuss important business decisions we needed to make. After an hour we were getting hungary and I had nothing at home that we could eat quickly. I did not even have any bread. Walt asked me to run to the Burger King down the road and pick up couple burgers so we could continue our meeting. I ordered a fish sandwich for myself and a whopper with cheese for him. we skipped the fries and soda and instead poured tea from the pot Walt almost always keeps brewing in the office "kitchen". One of our goals with the "Real Food Challenge" is to be prepared for the contingencies that happen with owning our kind of business. I need to find some food that can replace the meals that I usually fix at home .

Later that afternoon, he mentioned that it's been a long time since we had a date...and he wanted to take me out (and continue our earlier discussion) so we went off to his favorite restaurant - The Phoenician (Lebanese). At least the food there is good and all homemade: the a cucumber yogurt sauce, hummus, nice salad, rice pilaf, a vegetable stew called "worry beads', stuffed grape leaves. Except for the money we spent, I didn't feel guilty about eating there.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Not Too Late

No, It's not too late ... it's also not too early either. What am I referring to ? I'm talking about sowing seeds here in here in zone 4. If you haven't yet gotten your WINTER SOWING done, you should do it now. If you're a gardener and haven't tried it, you should try it now.

What is winter sowing ? It's a method of sowing seed in containers like plastic gallon milk bottles. The containers become mini green houses. The prepared containers or "jugs" are placed in the snow and "forgotten" until conditions are right for the seeds to sprout. It's amazing to see little spouts in jugs when there is still snow on the ground. At some point when the garden is suitable - the little plants can be transplanted in the garden. The benefits of winter-sowing are twofold... lots of plants for the price of a pack of seeds and some potting soil... and the plants, though they may be small when you transplant them are very hardy and often out-perform nursery bought plants. Not all seeds can be winter-sown, but many flowers and vegetables do well with method.

Go to the " Winters Sowing" site to learn all about it. The site owner, Trudy is doing a great job showing others how to winter-sow. In fact, they are offering free tomato seeds if you want to try winter sowing.


Jugs filled with wintersown plants. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of Jugs in the snow but an internet search is sure to come up with some.


Close up of tiny winter-sown onion plants.


This is a day's harvest of heirloom winter-sown tomatoes.

What do you think about winter-sowing?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sour Grapes

A few days ago I bought a few pounds of seedless green grapes. The price actually a good deal - 99 cents a pound. Maybe the one I tasted was good but Walt just said the grapes I gave him for snacking seemed to be not quite ripe enough. No problem... I'll put them in jars and cover them with a light syrup and that will be a nice addition to a fruit salad when I don't have fresh grapes.


An average of a pound is needed per pint. Choose unripe, tight-skinned, preferably green seedless grapes.

Stem, wash, and drain grapes. Prepare very light, or light syrup. [ very light syrup: bring to boil 10-1/2 cups water and 1-1/4 cup sugar ]

Fill sterilized jars with grapes and hot syrup, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.


So when life gives you Sour Grapes ... just put them in jars!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Fast Food" Little Homestead Style

Although the Real food Challenge has not yet officially begin ... We've started it here at the Little Homestead in the Village. This turned out to be a great real food day . Breakfast was a large pot of old fashioned oatmeal. I don't like mine sweet so I sprinkled it with some cinnamon. That a big cup of coffee started my day.

Lunch -We had a business on meeting on friday and by the time I got home we only had time for 'fast food'- Little Homestead style". I decided on making a huge pot of chili. I sautéed a large onion, then into the pot I poured 3 quarts of my homemade kidney beans, 1 quart of my canned hamburger, a quart of our whole tomatoes and a pint of chunky garden Salsa. This was seasoned with some salt. cumin, chili powder, pepper, our fresh garlic, my dehydrated basil and umm...the kids and hubby helped themselves big bowls. This was a good choice because they came in from the cold from shoveling and snow-blowing.

Dinner was a steak I pulled from the deep recesses of the freezer. I like to slice it thin, sauté it with lots of garlic and onions and add whatever vegetables I could find. In this case frozen peas. Then it's tossed with pasta and whatever herbs I feel like adding.

I wonder how the rest of the weeks meals will go,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making List - Checking it Twice - (Part 3)


These are the herb seed I have to date.

BASIL - summer-long, opal, lettuce leaf, red rubin, lime, genovese basil
DILL - fern leaf
LAVENDER munstead, english spike, lady
PARSLEY - plain leaf Italian
THYME - french, german

Do you grow any herbs?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Real Food Challenge 2011

The Little Homestead in the Village will be participating in 2011 edition of the Real Food Challenge.

Last year when we first encountered the real food challenge, I observed and participated form afar. The challenge asks you to take the next step toward serving and eating "real food" (as opposed to processed) for some it might be giving a soda for a glass of water or home-brewed ice tea, or it may be a made from scratch meal a week, or for others, it's going the distance. and becoming a locovoir. This is the comment that we posted on the "Real Food @ Not Dabbling in Normal"

"Count me in. We have a good sized garden and I put away some of the harvest. I’m going to try to double what we do – enlarge the garden, maybe get a few chickens add another bee hive or two. I hope to double the canning ,,,- I’ve run out of salsa, apple butter, spiced peaches, roasted tomato garlic soup. I hope to live out of the garden (mostly) except for bulks rice, potato, flour, cornmeal, spices, sugar, coffee and meats."


from the 2010 kitchen garden

Fast or what you might call quick foods are a problem here at the Little Homestead. Our schedule gets crazy - so sometimes I have very little time to put a meal on the table (and I'm a master of the 30 minute or less meals). Also, Danny (our second oldest) works odd hours at his job and wants to take meals from home to save his money. Sometimes we just don't have any leftovers when someone comes in very hungary - so we've been relying on canned soups and sometimes stews. I've canned a few batches of soup but need to do more. I need to fill the freezer with my burritos, and sliders and hungry manfood.

Today's breakfast -
The youngsters made Toad's in the Hole with store bought butter and eggs but home made bread.
Walt and I made some toast from the homemade bead and enjoyed it with homemade low sugar jam that I had from fruit picked from a U-pick farm in June

Making a List - Checking It Twice (part 2)

I love flowers. I love putting a few into the kitchen garden. I like having some for cutting and lots for the butterflies and bees. Here are the flower seeds I have so far.


ALYSSUM - Rosie O'Day, Maritime Tall, Royal Carpet
ASTER - Crego, Giant princess Mix
COLEUS - mix
CARNATION - marguerite
COSMO - Picotee, Sensation Mix
DELPHINUM - Pacific giants
FOXGLOVE - dwarf Foxy
GYPSOPHLIA- covenent Garden
LARKSPUR - Giant Imperial Mix
MAIDEN PINKS -Brilliancy
MARIGOLD- Scarlet Starlet, petite Orange, Disco Mix
MARIGOLD, FRENCH - "boy 'o boy"
MALVA -Zebrina
NASTURTIUM- Cherry rose
SCABIOSA - Summer Berries
SNAPDRAGON - 1st ladies Mix
ZINNIA, Giants of California


What kinds of flowers are you planning on starting from seed?

Monday, February 21, 2011


I noticed today that all of my home harvested garlic is starting to sprout despite being stored in a dark cold root cellar. I took about half of my garlic and made pickled garlic.

Blanch 2 cups of garlic cloves in simmering water for 1 minute.

Rinse with cold water and slip off skins.


Simmer 2 1/2 cups of white vinegar and 1/2 cup dry white wine.


Add the following to each of 4 hot and sterile jars half-pint jars.

1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon of dill

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon pickling salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper

1/4 teaspoon coriander

Add garlic and cover with hot vinegar, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making A List - Checking It Twice (part 1)

The recent February thaw make me and other gardeners I'm sure anxious to begin planting and getting our hands dirty. Ok, so there is still at least a half foot of snow on the ground, but it really is time to think about the upcoming growing season. Yesterday I emptied my shoe boxes of seeds and took inventory. I have seeds left over from last year and seeds that I purchased on sale in the fall. That coupled with my Artistic Garden seeds and a few new ones I bought this year makes for quite a stash.

This year, I plan on getting more serious than ever in the garden. Now that food prices are really climbing up we need to rely on our own food. But just as important to me is that I want to know what's in my food.

Here are the seeds I have so far

BEAN, GREEN -Contender, Derby, Romano Bush, Blue Lake Stringless, fresh fillet, Royal Burgundy
BEAN,YELLOW- Golden Butterwax, Cherokee Wax, Dragon Tongue
BEAN, POLE - Romano, Early Riser, Kentucky wonder
BEET - Detroit Dark red, Chioggia, White, Cylindra
BROCCOLI - Calabrese, Southern Comet, Green Mountain, Raab
CABBAGE - royal Savoy, Early Golden Acre, Late Flat Dutch
CARROT - Envy, purple haze, yellowstripe, Kaleidoscope mix, Danvers Halve Long, Scarlet Nates, Toucho, Short ' Sweet.
CELERY - Tall Utah
CORN - early Golden Bantam
CUCUMBER Armenian, Bupee Pickles, National Pickling, Sumter, Lemon, West Indies Gerkin
EGGPLANT - Long Purple
KALE - Judy's
KOHLRABI -Purple Vienna
LEEK - blau Gruener Winter, American Flag
LETTUCE - Bibb, Salad bowl, Gourmet Blend{priseleaf, Royal Oak leaf, salad Bowl, Red salad bowl. Asley{, Prize-head Early, Kagraner Sommer, freckles
Onion _ Florence Red, red Burgundy, white lisbon Bunching, evergreen bunching
PARSNIP Demi-Long Guernsey,
PEA - Wando, Little Marvel, Karina, Burpeeana Early, Wando, Progress #9,
PEA, SNOW - Mammoth Melting Sugar, snow bird, goliath
PEA, SNAP = sugar lode, super snappy
PEPPER, Tabasco, Carnival mix, Chinese Giant, Yellow Banana
PUMPKIN - Small Sugar, Amish Pie
RADISH - early Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, Red Meat
SPINACH- Baby Leaf hybrid, Minstreux de Virofaly, Giant Noble, Bloomsdale long Standing, Teragone, Satin, Geant d'Hiver
SQUASH, YELLOW- Early Crook Neck
SQUASH, ZUCCHINI -Grey Zucchini, Boston Marrow
SQUASH, WINTER - Native American Hidatsa
SWISS CHARD - Rhubarb, Bright lights
TOMATILLO - Mexican Husk
TOMATO - Rutgers, Marglobe, Marmande, Lemon Plum, Mortgage Lifter, Yellow Pear, Crimson Cushion, Omar's Lebanese, Dutchman, Djene Lee's Golden Girl, Aunt Ruby's German Green, golden sunburst, Black Russian


Do you have any seeds left over from last year?