Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lets take a walk.....

Dad and Brody in La Jolla California

get inspired....Take a walk....

We all have learned to walk by about age one, and most of us have since forgotten how. Walking is probably the greatest exercise of all. Did you know that a mile of walking burns just as many calories as a mile of running? And the walking is easier on your knees and ankles.

New York Bagel Bread.... Yummmmmm

This is the bread recipe I followed for the New York bagel bread....I mixed the bread ingredients together first, then followed the New york Bagel recipe that follows...We had this bread with dinner, and It was FABULOUS, not only did it taste good, but it was nice to look at when it first came out of the oven. It also made the house smell amazing. It was easy and made the cook look really talented.....

an easy, basic homemade bread

Yield: 1 loaf

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

3 cups flour

*1 tablespoon dry yeast

New York Bagel Bread:

Mix the dough according to recipe directions *but use only two tablespoons of oil*--either olive or vegetable oil. If the dough is too wet to handle, add another tablespoon or two of flour. Grease a large bowl. Remove the dough to the bowl and turn once to coat both sides. Cover and let rise until doubled, usually over an hour.
Prepare a large cookie or baking sheet by greasing and sprinkling with cornmeal. The sheet should be at least 20 inches long.
Turn the risen dough out onto a countertop. Divide the dough with a sharp knife into two parts, one piece twice as large as the other. Divide both the larger and smaller piece into three equals pieces so that you have six pieces of dough. Roll the pieces on the counter under your palms to form ropes about an inch in diameter. The larger ropes should be 18 to 20 inches long; the smaller ropes about 16 inches.
Braid the longer ropes together and the smaller ropes together in three strand braids as shown. Pinch the ends together to keep the braids from unraveling as the dough rises. Place the larger braid on the sheet and center the smaller braid on top of the larger. Cover with plastic and let rise until well doubled and very puffy, about another hour.
Place two tablespoons water and two tablespoons of oil in a bowl. Chop one medium onion and add it to the oil and water mixture. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to the mixture. Stir and let sit while the dough rises.
In a cup, create an egg wash by mixing one egg yolk with one tablespoon water and stirring with a fork or whisk until well mixed.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once the dough has risen, brush the loaf with the egg wash to coat. Spoon the topping on the loaf as shown. Sprinkle the loaf with course salt and place the bread in the oven.
Bake the loaf for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Turn the temperature down to 350 degrees and loosely cover the top of the loaf with aluminum foil to keep from burning the topping. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and check for doneness. If you have a thermometer, the center of the loaf should test 200 degrees. Turn the oven off and place the loaf back in the oven for five minutes without the aluminum foil cover. The last five minutes in the oven will develop a thicker crust. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

View from the front porch.....and some shared wisdom

The famous quote about frugality "Use it up, Wear it Out, Make it do, or Do Without" applies very well to reducing one's emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Everything we buy has an embodied energy cost - that is, the energy to make it contributes to global warming. It also has personal energy costs - more of our hard earned dollars means more time spent at work, or more stress over our credit card bills. Frugality and environmentalism don't have a 100 percent overlap, but often, doing the frugal thing is also doing the environmentally sound thing. Everytime we buy new, we say to that manufacturer "Make one more." One more is often too many.So how do we do this? First, we use things up - we extract every single last drop out of something. That means we scrape the pan thoroughly, so that we don't end up throwing away food. It means we use our thumbs to get the last bit of egg out of the shell - do that with six eggs and you've got the equivalent of another. Take those scraps of ratty old tshirts and make a quilt, or handkerchiefs to substitute for tissues, or cloth tp to substitute for paper, or whatever. Take the time to really get all the use we can out of things. That includes pleasure, time and love - that is, if we get all the pleasure we can from our simple lives, we won't always need more. If we make good use of all our time - rest and work - we won't be running all the time. If we make full use of the love and support of others, we might look up one day and have a community to rely on.Wear it out. That means making things last as long as possible. That means darning our socks, mending our jeans, reheeling our shoes instead of just chucking them and getting a new pair. The longer we can extend the lifespan of our things, the less we'll need to buy. And with that in mind, it is often wisest to buy things that really last, and also things that have potential for long term reuse or repair. That means wood furniture, not plastic, metal tools, good quality clothing. It isn't always frugal just because it is cheap - we need to start thinking about the whole lifespan of a object from where and how it was made to what we will do when it breaks or is worn out. A wooden bowl that your grandchildren will use is a better investment than 10 plastic bowls that won't last a decade. A wool sweater that can be felted down to fill a quilt at the end of its life as a sweater is a better investment than an acrylic one. Remember the story about the man who had an overcoat - when it wore out, he made a jacket. When the jacket wore out he made a vest. When the vest wore out he made a scarf. When the scarf wore out he made a handkerchief. When the handkercheif wore out, he made a button. And when the button was finally lost, he told the story. There's almost always a little more wear in things.Make it do. This requires imagination - what substitutes can we find? How can we use something we have, instead of something new? What can I make? What can I do? It requires living life artfully and imaginatively - much more so than saying "oh, I need a new dish drainer - off to the store." We ask children to make do all the time, or at least we used to. Don't have a train set? Use your imagination. Carve one? Make one out of a cardboard box? Pretend? We need to take the same advice we used to give children, and start finding ways to make do with what we have. Most of us have houses full of stuff. Our sense that we need just one more object to make it complete is probably wrong. Oh, there are exceptions - particularly if you've been living a fossil fueled life, and now need to power down. But most of the time, if we just imagined, we could make do with what we have. Do without. I live in a 3500+ square foot farmhouse filled with books, tools, kids, toys, etc... I've met people who live in 200 square foot huts filled with themselves and a few tools and pots. Many of those people considered themselves happy, fortunate and blessed - so if you can be blessed with 200 square feet, what is the rest doing for me? If you and I can't do without, who can? Before you buy something, ask yourself - can everyone have one? That is, if everyone had one, would it be good for the world? Did my grandmother or grandfather have one? Did they need one? If not, why do I need one? Sometimes you will need it. But surprisingly often you don't.We all need food, water, shelter, love, education, joy, clothing, some simple tools, good work to do, comfort, support, peace, security, art, imagination. More than half of these you can't buy at any price, in fact having too much can prevent you from enjoying them fully. The rest can be met 90% of the time in our present society with something used, or with less than you thought. They can be met by making things or finding things or reusing things. Doing without isn't impoverishment - it is life as art.

I can't remember where I saw this, but I believe it is important to be concious of how we are living and thought I would share.......

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Salad Anyone....

"Better is a dish of vegetables where love is Than a fattened ox served with hatred. " Proverbs 15:17

From Alissa Cohen's "Living on live food"

Italian Dressing

Jumpin’ with herbs.
The longer you let this sit, the better it tastes.
1 cup olive oil
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup dried Italian seasoning
2 scallions
2 tsp onion
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blend all ingredients in blender. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Eat Better......

It is remarkable how much we learn in school that we promptly forget. It is equally amazing how we are often never taught what we really need to know. Here's a well-kept secret: the less you spend on food, the healthier your diet is likely to be. Packaged, processed and pricey foods are the least nutritious. Read the label and marvel at the wonderful ways chemistry is used today. You can avoid those additives, save money and eat better by avoiding 95% of what is in a supermarket. Buy rice, beans, yogurt, fresh produce... and check out.
what great advice from

I wanted to share with you one of our families favorite meals.
this meal is very easy, economic, and pleasing to the palate

Black bean Tostada's

2 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
About 4 cups of cooked black beans, drained (either freshly made or 2 15-oz cans)
4 teaspoons of Chipotle Tabasco Sauce (definitely do not use regular Tabasco sauce, only the Chipotle kind)
1/2 cup high flash-point vegetable oil, such as grapeseed oil, peanut oil, or canola oil
1 dozen corn tortillas
feta cheese ( Or what you like)
1 cup finely diced fresh tomato
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radishes
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
Iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced and sprinkled with vinegar and salt
Sour cream

1 Prepare the beans by sautéing onions in oil until softened in a large, thick-bottomed skillet. Add ground cumin and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the beans, a teaspoon of salt, and a cup of water. Use a potato masher to mash the beans into the pan, until the consistency of (somewhat lumpy) mashed potatoes. Cook for a few minutes on medium hight heat until water is absorbed. Stir in the Chipotle Tabasco sauce and season to taste with more salt if needed. Remove to a warm burner out of the way, cover.

2 To prepare the tortillas, heat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking pan with paper towels and place next to the stove. Heat 5 Tbsp of oil in a small skillet on medium high heat, until the bubbles form immediately when you insert the edge of a tortilla in it. Using tongs, place a tortilla in the hot oil and let cook until golden brown on both sides, about 30 seconds per side. You can use a metal spatula to flatten down the tortilla while cooking.
Use tongs to lift the cooked tortilla out of the pan, allowing the excess oil to drip off of it, back into the pan. Place the cooked tortilla on the paper towels to absorb more of the oil. Sprinkle a little salt onto each warm tortilla. Do each tortilla one at a time this way. As you fill up a baking pan, put the pan in the oven to keep the tortillas warm.
Add more oil as needed. Carefully monitor the oil temperature. Don't let it get too hot, or the tortillas will burn, or too cool - they won't fry up crisp enough.

3 To serve, arrange the cheese, cilantro and tomatoes in separate small bowls. Put beans into a serving dish. Bring out the tortillas by batches, keeping the rest warm in the oven. Let people spread beans on to their tortillas and add sprinkle on the cheese, cilantro and tomatoes for each tostada. Optional additions are sliced lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa (though with the chipotle, you probably don't need any more heat).
Serves four.
Recipe adapted from one in Fine Cooking magazine, merged with our own way of making tostadas.

Life Lessons....

This is so cute, I thought you would enjoy....Life lessons from the hen house

Wake up early,
stay busy, Rest when you need to,
but always stay alert.
Visit your favorite places each day.
Scratch out a living.
Routine is good.
Plump is good.
Don't ponder your purpose in life - your brain is too small.
Accept the pecking order and know your enemies.
Weed your garden.
Protect your children fiercely- Sit on them if you need to.
- Take them for walks, show them the little things and talk constantly.
Make a nice nest. - Share it with friends. Brag on your accomplishments.
Protect your nest egg.
Test your wings once in a while.
Squawk when necessary.
As you age, demand respect.
Leave a little something for those who care about you.
Chase butterflies.

Just for today.....

Brody (4) Brianne (10)

Well we are celebrating another birthday today. Our Brody is turning 4. It has been a fun week of baking, sharing, learning and gifts. They say a photo says a thousand words. So I will let the ones above speak for themselves. Also "yeah" for the Chocolate Loaf Cake and thank you Nigella Lawson "How to be a domestic goddess". It was the best Chocolate cake I have ever had. My husband agreed, and since I baked two, we get to enjoy another slice with the festivities today.

I don't know about you but sometimes I loose my patience. I was pretty much an only child growing up, and I see things living with my 6 children that I had no idea went on in families. Our home on most days is pleasant, but chaotic. There are little tiny toys here and there, I feel like I pick the same ones up hourly........My son keeps peeling little tiny pieces of wallpaper off the wall as he is coming down the stairs, now mind you we live in an old Pennsylvania farmhouse and I can't say that I like the wallpaper, but I like it less half stripped off in places. There are stains on my carpets, and I literally need to mop my floors everyday. Some days I am exhausted and cranky to say the least. I yell, rant and rave as I storm through the house. Thinking that I am the only one who ever does anything. I am certainly not setting a good example. I read something recently that has given me a bit of an attitude adjustment, so I thought I would share it here with you. And I pray that it will bless you as it has done me. I am new to blogging, so you will have to forgive me. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I am still learning how to link things, so bear with me. This was written by JR Miller D.D. It is from pg. 13 of his pamphlet "Secrets of a happy home life." This pamphlet can be found at you can read it in its entirety there.....

"Patience is another lesson in learning to live happily together at home. The children of a family have not all the same tastes. It is very easy to fall into the habit of criticizing each other. We know how nearly Martha spoiled her home happiness, and her sister’s also, by criticism. Criticism never fosters affection; you never loved any one better for criticizing you. Usually the best service we can do to a brother or sister is to live a sweet, patient, beautiful, Christly life ourselves, leaving to God the fashioning of their lives. If they are true Christians, He is teaching them and putting His own image on their souls. We might mar this divine work by our criticism.
Suppose you went into an artist’s studio and saw a picture at which he had been working for months, yet unfinished; would you, not being an artist, take up his brush and begin to put touches here and there on the canvas? Each life of husband or wife, child, brother or sister, in your home is a picture which God is painting, and which is yet unfinished. Beware that you mar not His work! So let us be patient with one another at home. We all have our faults, we all make mistakes – but we can help each other more by loving patience, than by scathing criticism."

I think that is enough said. I am living today not as the artist, but as the unfinished piece of art. I too will patiently wait for God to add his divine work to my soul, so that I may live as a christly example for my children. Just for today....I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love and to believe that those I love, love me ......

Monday, July 16, 2007

Birthday Breakfast ......Brianne ordered Waffles

Every year we allow our children to plan the menu for their "B-Day". So this morning Brianne's dad was busy in the kitchen whipping up a birthday breakfast fit for a princess....It was very enjoyable and all of the children walked away with big sticky smiles. What a wonderful start to a beautiful day.

Basic Waffle recipe:

1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
Preheat the waffle iron. Sift the dry indredients into a medium sized bowl. Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites in smaller bowl. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. (If you are using an electric mixer, you can beat the egg whites first, then beat the batter without having to wash the beaters. The reverse is not true. If you beat the batter first and you have to wash the beaters before beating the egg whites.) Add the egg yolks, oil and milk all at one time to the dry indredients. Beat until there are no lumps in the batter. Fold the egg whites into the other batter using a spatula or other flat utinsel. Put a full 1/2 cup of batter in your waffle iron to make a 9-inch round waffle. This recipe makes about eight 9 inch waffles.
If this recipe makes too many waffles for one setting, try freezing the waffles you do not eat. After the waffles have been cooked in the waffle iron, put them out on a cooling rack. When they are cool, place them in a plastic bag taking out as much air from the bag as possible. Then freeze the bag of waffles. The next time you want a quick waffle, microwave one from the freezer for about 45 to 60 seconds. They are almost as good as fresh waffles.

Homemade syrup:
J, also made pancake syrup this morning. Yes I know it has alot of sugar in it....But it is homemade and doesn't have any High Fructose Corn Syrup in it, and thats a good thing....

This recipe is from

2 cups warm tap water
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)
In a three-quart saucepan combine the water, sugar and molasses. Put the pan on the stove over medium heat. Stir every now and then until the syrup comes to a rolling boil. Watch the syrup carefully because it has a tendency to foam and will boil over if your pan is too small. If this starts to happen, remove the pan from the heat and turn the heat down. After the syrup boils, cover the pot and simmer it for ten minutes over a low flame. Do not stir it for this ten minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Take off the lid and let it cool on the counter for about 15 minutes. Stir in the maple flavoring (and butter flavoring if you're using it). Store the syrup in a clean quart canning jar or a clean ketchup bottle (32 oz). I use a funnel to pour the syrup into the jar because the hot syrup can get a little messy. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Note: This syrup is remarkably similar in flavor and texture to real maple syrup. It is thinner than commercial pancake syrups, but slightly thicker than real maple syrup. The taste is clean, simple and fresh. It does not linger in an envelope in your mouth the way some commercial syrups do.

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate......

I can't believe Brianne is 10 years old. Where does the time go? I asked her if she wanted a "store bought cake" or if she wanted me to bake a cake. You guessed it....She loves her moms cooking. She is such a sweet girl. So here we go, my plan is to bake a "Chocolate Loaf Cake" I found this recipe in, How to be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the art of comfort cooking by Nigella Lawson. The recipe follows:
Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
1 C soft unsalted Butter
1 2/3 C dark brown sugar
2 lg eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. best bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 C plus 2 Tbsp boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later, and grease and line a 9x5 inch loaf pan. The lining is important as this is a very damp cake: Use parchment or one of those loaf-pan-shaped paper liners.
Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand held mixer. Then add eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to over beat. You want the ingredients combined: you don't want a light airy mass. then gently add the flour, to which you've added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the oiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squishy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.
Place the loaf pan on a rack and leave it there to get completely cold before turning it out. Don't worry if it sinks in the middle: It may do so because it is such a dense and damp cake..
Makes 8-10 slices
After the cake cools, I am adding a chocolate glaze and we will serve it with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries.....
Chocolate glaze:
8 oz semi sweet chocolate (melted)
1 1/2 sticks Butter
1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
Make glaze by melting chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup. Allow glaze to cool slightly (to about 80 degrees).
Pour over cake and cool

Sunday, July 15, 2007

easy, quick, homemade Ranch dressing.....

This is a dressing I use, if I need something quick......Mind you, It is minus all of the preservatives in Hidden Valley, and store shelve brands. I can't say it taste exactly like "restaurant ranch" but it is pretty darn close, and easy to make. Here it is.....

Homemade Ranch dressing:
1 C Mayo
1 C milk or yogurt
1 Tbsp parsley (dried)
1-2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
dash of dillweed
1/8 tsp pepper
grated parmesean cheese
I use a hand held emersion blender to mix it all up. Let it chill for a bit to blend flavors and thicken. All of the spice measurements are guesses here, as I like to just throw it all together. Give it a taste and make sure you like it. Add more or less of anything to suit your palate.

Shop at for groceries....

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