Monday, February 28, 2011

A Goat's Good Taste

At our local bread outlet store, for every $5 spent, you can choose 1 free item from the discounted shelves. About once a month, I head in and pick up 4 loaves of bread for the freezer. It's a compromise to home-baked, but sometimes using store-bought can't be helped. That's where I draw the line. If you know me, you know that I would never, ever, ever pay money for bagged cookies, so for free, I decided that the goats would enjoy a nice treat.

Or, so I thought.

Apparently, one can never truly know or appreciate the more refined tastes of a goat.

Or, can we?

Gertie being offered a Vanilla Wafer cookie

Here you go girl. 
Gertie still being offered a Vanilla Wafer

"Smells delightful, but upon further inspection, I respectively decline. What else do you have?"

A gingersnap perhaps?

Gertie starts to fall for it, but then...

...goat wisdom prevails.

"Hey farmgirl, let me tell you what I really think about your free cookies."

After further consideration, I've decided to bake Gertie some homemade gingersnaps.

Maybe next time, she'll invite the kids to join.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Since I couldn't give away the stale, slightly damp, chemically-laden, cookie imposter's, I decided to give the turkeys a treat.

Turkeys are notoriously stupid birds.
Fred & Ethel also politely declined.

I guess my turkeys are an exception to the stupid rule. Their "treats" fell victim to the rains. There are still remnants of the cookies in their yard.

As I was leaving the turkey yard, my foot hit something.

It appears that my "girls" are immune to the taste of stale cookies.

It must run in the family.

This week, I've been schooled by a goat and some turkeys.

Guess I have a lot to learn about farming.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Meal Plan for the Week of 2/27/11

Someone once said that it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind. It is one saying that I embrace freely. After giving up sugar for the month of January, I've decided life is too short to abstain from it all the time.

This week, I am planning some desserts.

With real sugar. (And yes, it is organic.)

While on our anniversary trip, we stopped by a place that was recommended by a friend on Facebook. I thought we were stopping for a latte at a funky coffee shop with decorative lawn art.

What we found was so much more. Chaps Coffee Company has more to offer than just coffee and lawn ornament eye candy. They also serve breakfast, lunch and dinners on specified days of the week. (We went back on another day and discovered just how good breakfast should always be.) The decor inside is made up of an eclectic array of antiques that do not smell like aged junk, but rather like...


In fact, exactly like Cake. That is the name of the bakery inside of Chaps. It was phenomenal. It was exquisite. It was unexpected. It was...

Here's what I learned about myself on that day. I like coffee. I like antiques and other people's junk. I  like dessert. And I really like this place.

If you're ever in the Spokane, Washington area, do yourself, your eyes, and your palette a favor and stop by Chaps.  

Just make sure you save room for Cake!

Here's what's cooking this week...

Fried eggs, fresh bacon, banana bread
Potato Corn Chowder (I'll post the recipe this week), Caesar Salad, Ultimate Lemon Cake

(Shopping day this week due to weather)
Tater Tot Casserole, Spinach Salad (mandarin oranges, almonds, bacon) w/ Orange Vinaigrette

Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/ blueberries
Baked ham, Kim's Kornbread (with blue corn!), Devilled eggs, Caesar Salad, Blueberry Peach Fruit Crisp (new)

Poached eggs, leftover ham, Sourdough English Muffins

Farmer's Casserole (new)
Chili Verde, Kim's Kornbread

Baked Eggs (new)
Brown rice Fettuccine w/ Pesto Sauce, Salmon Patties, steamed broccoli, Angel Food Cake


We're on baby watch now~our 4th grandchild is due anytime, so if she decides to make her entrance this week, we'll be eating beenies and weenies on the road.

On second thought, maybe I should have sandwich makings on stand-by instead?

For more menu planning ideas, visit Menu Mondays at the Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Black Bean Burgers w/ Corn Salsa

Dear Paula Deen,

     Thank you for making the Food Network a fun place to visit. Thank you for not going all Hollywood on us by hiring a vocal coach to overcome your sweet southern accent. Thank you for putting the sweet back in iced tea and bringing the mint back to the julep. Thank you for putting buttah back into the kitchen, even if it took me a while to figure out what buttah meant. And most importantly, Ms. Deen, thank you from the bottom of my heart for introducing me to Black Bean Burgers and Corn Salsa, even though I had to "tweak" your recipe just a tad. If you ever need a taste tester, I'm your gal.



As promised, here's my version of Paula's recipe. I hope you love it as much as I do!

*It's a good idea to make the Corn Salsa first and refrigerate. It will allow time for the flavors to mesh, and more importantly, your corn won't still be frozen by the time dinner is ready.

Just sayin'.

Black Bean Burgers

~The Players~

2 (15 oz.) cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed (or about 4 cups home-cooked)
1-1/2 cups panko (I found organic panko at Whole Foods)
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained (or roast, peel and dice an Anaheim or Poblano pepper)
1/4 cup green onion, minced
1 t. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. sea salt
oil for frying (beef tallow, coconut oil, lard)
6 organic corn tortillas
Corn Salsa (recipe follows)
Optional: sour cream for garnish

In the bowl of a food processor, combine black beans, panko, chilies, green onion, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Process until mixture is smooth.

Shape black bean mixture into 6 burgers.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the black bean patties, and cook, for 3-4 minutes per side, or until heated through. Repeat until all the burgers are finished. Set aside, and keep warm.

In the same skillet, heat a couple more tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Cook tortillas, 1 at a time, for 1 minute per side, or until lightly browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Place 1 black bean burger on each corn tortilla. Top each with Corn Salsa. Add a dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately.

~Corn Salsa~

2 cups frozen organic corn, thawed (Use fresh in the summer!)
1 cup diced tomato
1 (4 oz.) can of green chilies (or roast your own for best flavor!)
2 Tb. green onion, minced
zest and juice of 2 organic limes
1-2 Tb. fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 t. sea salt

In a medium bowl, combine corn, tomatoes, green onion, lime zest and juice, cilantro, and sea salt. Cover, and chill.

Thank you Paula Deen!


*Unfortunately, only 2 of my pictures made it to the computer. It appears that a little camera thief may or may not have deleted the rest. And yes, the case is still pending.

This post is linked to Fight Back Fridays at The Food Renegade.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Definitely NOT a German Apple Pancake!

Tuesday morning began like any other.

 After stumbling to the kitchen to plug in the coffee pot, I headed across the living room, carefully avoiding the coffee table, before settling into my recliner. For a full 13 minutes, the time it takes to perk a pot of my special blend of organic Sumatra's, I mentally kicked myself for not buying a programmable automatic-drip coffee pot. I grumbled about the coffee table being inappropriately named. I made mental notes of all of the things that were left out from the night before and I thought about how many chickens we needed to butcher when I heard the first rooster crow.

Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person?

One thing that Tuesday had going for it was the promise of the German Apple Pancakes that I was going to make.

After my java jolt took hold.

Imagine my surprise to find that the German Apple Pancakes required apples to make them apple-y.

Ummm...I probably should've checked the fruit bowl before making my menu plan.

After my panic attack subsided, I did what any experienced mother does.

I improvised.

Now I can't remember why I needed the apples to begin with.

Raspberry Peach Pancake
(an original)

~The Players~

5 large eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup, plus 1 Tb. organic sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/8 t. sea salt
1-1/2 Tb. unsalted butter
1 quart canned peaches, drained
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (I used frozen)
1 t. ground cinnamon
powdered sugar, for dusting

In a blender, combine the eggs, the vanilla, and the 1/2 cup organic sugar. Blend until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt; blend until combined.

Preheat oven to 375F. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the drained peaches and raspberries. Let fruit come to a soft boil, stirring occasionally. There will be some juice from the peaches and raspberries, this is okay. Reduce heat to medium low; add cinnamon and remaining 1 Tb. sugar. Stir together and let cook for 2 more minutes.

Pour the egg batter over the fruit; let cook on stove for 2 minutes. Remove from stove and place in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until firm.

Remove from oven and let set for 1 minute before cutting into 8 pie-shaped servings. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Maybe morning is my friend after all.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Not Your Average Chicken Pot Pie

Coeur d' Alene, Idaho

On our recent trip to Spokane, my Mister surprised me with a trip to the Mary Janes Farm Store. As an official member of the sisterhood, I was very excited to see all of the farmgirl decor. This is a very dangerous store for someone with my decorating style to be in. My Mister was aware of that fact and gave me a monetary limit.

I'm happy to report that I spent every last nickel of that limit. While I'm thrilled with my new Tufted Chenille Shower Curtain, I came away with much more than material objects. I came away feeling a kinship with a woman whom I've never met, a connection that can only be measured by similar tastes and dreams. My Mister knew it too.

Moscow, Idaho

So he took me to Mary Jane's second store. What a man.

One of my favorite recipes is one that I got in an issue of Mary Jane's Farm magazine. Originally, it was a way to use the thinnings and early baby potatoes from a spring garden. While I applaud using the recipe in the spring, really, that just isn't enough for this awesome dish. Now we use it with all kinds of veggies, at all different times of the year.

Thank you Mary Jane! ☺

(I modified this recipe just a bit to accommodate our family and pan size!)

Mary Jane Butters' Bottomless Chicken Pot Pie

~The Players~

2 C. unbleached, organic white flour
2-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. sea salt
1 Tb. chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 t. dried
1 T. fresh thyme, or 1 t. dried
1 C. unsalted, cold butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/3 C. ice water

1/2 C. unsalted butter
8 C. vegetables, cut into 1/2-inch pieces~new potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peas
1 T. fresh thyme, or 1 t. dried
2 t. sea salt
 1 t. black pepper
1/3 C. unbleached, organic white flour
2 C. chicken, cooked and cut into 1" pieces
1 Tb. lemon zest
1 C. chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
1 C. plus 1 Tb. heavy cream, divided

In a large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and herbs.

Using a pastry blender, cut butter into the flour mixture until peas-size clumps form.

Stir water into flour mixture to form dough. Using your hands, gather dough into a ball; flatten into a circle on a floured surface.

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add vegetables, thyme, salt, and pepper , and saute 10 minutes.

Add flour and stir 1 minute. Add chicken, lemon zest, stock, and 1 cup cream. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens to coat spoon.

Pour into an 8-cup baking dish. I used a 9"x13", deep-sided baking dish.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to the shape of your dish. We're not going for perfection here, just make sure it's large enough to cover the entire pie.

Fold the dough into quarters before placing on top of the filling; it makes it easier to handle.

Place dough on top of filling and press up the sides of the dish. I just one-finger crimped the crust to make sure that it was in contact with the dish. You could also use a fork if you want to get fancy. Brush the top with 1 Tb. cream. Cut 4 slits into the dough to vent. Place dish on a cookie sheet or foil to catch any spills.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meal Plan for 2/21/11

Last week's menu plan was such a hit around my house that I wanted to copy and paste it to this week's menu plan. 

According to my children, that would be cheating. 

But they encouraged me to do it anyway.

Since it is my job to be the morally responsible female role model, I decided that I would be a big girl and come up with a new plan for this week. 

Sometimes I just hate being an adult.

One of the highlights of the week was Monday night's dinner. Black Bean Burgers, Corn Salsa, Caesar salad and Tiramisu was our anniversary meal and can I just say, YUM! The Tiramisu was a recipe I found on the Williams-Sonoma website. I had to modify it into a trifle because I didn't have a dish that would accommodate it, but it turned out to be a fantastic surprise. I'll be sharing the recipes for the Black Bean Burgers and Corn Salsa later this week, so stay tuned!

Since I can't duplicate last week, here's what's cooking this week...

Banana Bread (recipe later this week)
Toe-Warmin' Chili, Kim's Kornbread

Simple Soaked Oatmeal, Banana Bread
Leftover Chili, cornbread (ended up with only 2 kids at home on Sunday~lots of leftovers!)

German Apple Pancakes (new)
Mashed potatoes, fried deer steak, gravy, Caesar Salad

Eggs Benedict (new)
Polenta, Chicken/Apple Sausage (organic), English creamed peas

Swiss cheese/green onion omelet, red potato hashbrowns
Pumpkin Waffles (never posted, but I will!), fruit salad

Steel-cut Nutty Oats, fruit
Lazy Chile Rellenos Casserole, Muffins (Mandie's choice)

Kodiak pancakes
Grilled hamburgers, baked beans

It seems that Old Man Winter has decided to grace us with his presence this week. For me, it's too little, too late, so I've taken matters into my own hands. I'm going to try a little reverse psychology by dragging out the barbecue. I'll let you know if it works! ☺

For more meal planning ideas, visit Menu Mondays at Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Caught in the Act!

Raising kids can be exhausting.

Case in point...

Mom: "Who moved my camera?"

Heather: "Wasn't it on the kitchen counter last night?"

Tanner: "Didn't you have it in the living room?"

Mandie: "Maybe in your room?"

Clearly, they weren't listening. I asked "who" moved my camera, not "where" was it moved to. A whole lot of time can be saved if the person who moved the camera is the only one to be interrogated. 

In theory anyway.

Heather: "Wasn't Dad looking for pictures of the goats?" 

Tanner: "I think I saw Dad with it last night."

Mandie: "Yeah, I'm sure it was Dad."

Unfortunately, Dad was at work so he was unavailable for comment.

Lucky guy.

While everyone was searching frantically for Mom's camera, one person was suspiciously missing.

"Anybody ask Matthew if he's seen the camera?"

"Matthew, have you seen Mom's camera?"

My dear, sweet, youngest, child replies with, "What makes you think I know where Mom's camera is?"

The good news~Mom's camera was found alive and well, only minutes after it went missing.

The bad news~We still don't know who took the camera.

The case is still pending.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preparing the Pantry for Sunny Days

As anyone who knows me knows, I like to cook. Since remodeling our kitchen last summer, I have enjoyed countless hours in the kitchen, mixing, stirring, whisking, baking, frying, sauteing, fricasseeing, broiling, boiling, and dirtying every dish we own.

Of course, all for the sake of my family.


But, when the sun comes out and brings a little heat with it, the kitchen is the last place I want to be.

No, seriously.

With spring just around the corner, my days will soon be gobbled up with outside chores. Soon, the garden, flowerbeds, fencing, firewood gathering, and mowing will be calling our names. These will be followed with haying, more mowing, weeding, building projects, harvesting and canning season. Somewhere in there will be salmon fishing, a vacation or two, birthdays, and more mowing. This does not include any extra projects such as; putting in a new drain field around the house, building a new chicken yard, adding lean-to's on the shop, repairing the blacktop on our driveway, installing gutters on outbuildings....the list goes on and on and on....

Did I mention the mowing?

Meals around here need to be fast. All hands are needed on deck, and mine are no exception. Even the most carefully planned meals can fall by the wayside when the family is in the middle of a project. Fast food drive-thru's are NOT an option for us, so we need to have things that are easy to prepare, even for the non-cook's of the family.

This winter, I put my pressure canner back into business. Currently, I am canning beans. Who doesn't have bags of dried beans hiding in their pantry or cupboards? Black, kidney, navy, pinto, and pink beans~we have 'em all. I'm not sure how we accumulated so many pounds of beans, but currently, there are about 200#'s of them lurking in every corner of the kitchen. They've even managed to infiltrate the coat closet.

Currently, the coats are throwing themselves to the floor in protest of this injustice.

Canning dried beans is pretty easy if you follow a few simple rules.

#1. Presoak the beans overnight. Add a little whey or lemon juice to help break down the protein "toots".

#2. Cover the beans with fresh water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and let cook for 30-45 minutes.

#3. Fill clean jars with hot beans, leaving 1-1/2 inch of space.

#4. Cover beans with hot water to the bottom of the neck of the jar. Add 1 t. sea salt per quart, or 1/2 t. per pint.

#5. Using a butter knife, remove air bubbles by poking the knife down the inside of the jars. Add more water if needed, but DO NOT OVERFILL.

#6. Place heated lid on jars and screw down tight. Place in pressure canner. Add 2-3 quarts of hot water to the canner and place lid on top.

#7. Bring the canner up to 10 lbs. of pressure and hold it there for 1 hour, 30 minutes for quarts or 1 hour, 15 minutes for pints.

#8. Turn off heat and wait for pressure to return to zero before opening the lid. Remove hot jars very carefully, and place on a towel in a draft-free spot to cool.

#9. Did I mention, DO NOT OVERFILL? These will go in the fridge to be used next week. Never store food where the seal could be in question. Better to be safe than sorry.

Canned beans can be used even during the hottest months for dishes such as; black bean burgers, refried beans, homemade chili (best with campfire hot dogs), tacos, and in all kinds of salads. Beans are a protein packed legume that is high in fiber. And face it, we could all use a little extra fiber in our lives.

And a lot more time outside, enjoying the sunshine.

*Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for your canner.

This post is linked to Fight Back Fridays at The Food Renegade and Homestead Barn Hop at New Life on a Homestead.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Breakfast Muffins

I cannot tell a lie.

I did NOT eat that miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

I ate three of them.

Maybe it's because I'm a girl, but there is something about the mixture of peanut butter and chocolate that catapults me into the land of giddiness.

In case you're wondering, it's next door to the land of denial, which I'm also well acquainted with.

Since January 1 and my doomed-for-failure resolutions, I have only consumed 3 of those little morsels of happiness. That's saying a lot when you consider that there was an entire pound of them left over from the holidays! But, I'm still a girl, and those cravings didn't end with Christmas.

Since I'm determined to cut the sugar consumption from my home to a bare minimum, it has become my mission to find ways to feed this peanut butter/chocolate addiction without resorting to secret meetings with Mr. Reese's. People might start to talk.

Because I consider myself an expert on the pairing of the nut and the bean, I can unequivocally confirm that these muffins are a winner.

And to make sure that it wasn't some kind of a fluke, I had 2.

You're welcome.☺

Peanut Butter Muffins

~The Players~
1 C. whole wheat or spelt flour (I use spelt)
1 C. rolled oats
1 T. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 C. natural peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1/3 C. unsweetened applesauce
1-1/2 C. milk
1/4 C. honey
 *1 cup chocolate chips
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add peanut butter and applesauce. Mix on low speed until smooth. (Unless you're using chunky peanut butter, then smooth is overrated.)

Stir in the milk and honey.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 350F. for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes approximately 20 muffins.

*1 cup of chocolate chips seemed like overkill, even for me, so the last time I made these, I dropped 5 chips into each muffin cup before baking.


This post is linked to Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Monday~The Valentine's Day Edition



Once upon a time, during a rather balmy month of September, there was a 19 year old girl who fell in love with a 20 year old boy. 2 weeks after they declared their love for each other, he proposed on a windy beach at sunset. Surprisingly, or not, if you know the girl, she screamed a rather enthusiastic "Yes!" before throwing herself at him and knocking him into the sand. The boy wanted to marry the girl right then and there, but knew if he didn't ask her daddy, there would probably be bloodshed, and wouldn't that be a shame on such a happy day? The father of the young girl warned the boy that "you don't really know her", but the boy paid no heed to the warning and declared their marriage would take place in October.

Now, as every girl knows, the colors are just all wrong for the month of October. Especially if the girl dreams in the color pink. October is clearly a brown, orange and red kind of month, which oddly enough, is the now grown girls' favorite color scheme. But I digress...

After a resounding "No!", the boy tried again with a new date, one that was a little further out than he had anticipated, but still within a reasonable amount of time for an anxious groom-to-be. November would now be the month of wedding bliss, he declared.

Silly boy. How could the girl possibly diet enough to fit into a wedding dress that would have to be the prerequisite one size too small, during the best eating month of the year?

Back to the drawing table they went, throwing out the months of December (too busy), and January (the guests would be too broke from Christmas, therefore unable to afford the good gifts), before settling on February 14, 1987. It just so happened to fall on a Saturday, and the church was available.

It was a sign.

24 years, 9 children, 3 sons-in-law and (almost) 4 grandchildren later, the girl and the boy can say...

...and they are living happily ever after.

Happy Anniversary to the man who still makes my heart sing, toes curl, and stomach do flip-flops.

(And all that other mushy stuff too!)

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Cream of Wheat Pudding, canned peaches
Black Bean Burgers, Corn Salsa (new), garden salad, Tiramasu

Chicken, Mushroom & Asparagus Strata (new)
Chicken & Dumplings (new)

Veggie Omelette's, Red Potato Hashbrowns

Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/ blueberries
Speltcakes, grapefruit
Chicken Chimichangas (new), Mexican Rice, Refried Beans  


Muffins (Mandie's choice)
Simple Supper Sunday

For more menu planning ideas, visit Menu Mondays at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lessons Learned Over the Past Week

I haven't done a post like this in awhile and quite frankly, I've got a few things on my mind.

After I share them with you, they'll be on yours too.

Then maybe we'll be able to "put them in a bubble and let them blow away on the wind."

Please allow me to apologize in advance if any of these ruins your appetite.

1. Not only do I not like low-rider jeans, I do not enjoy following a woman who is determined to fit into a pair...even if she can't fit all of her into them. It gives new meaning to the term, "Crack kills." When she bent over in front of me, I may or may not have let out a little scream.

2. A peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich has magical powers. It doesn't matter how bad a day can be going, bite into an old-fashioned PB&J and the day gets promisingly better. Add milk and lives change. Why has lunch gotten so complicated?

3. Turkeys are idiots. After setting on about 30 eggs for the past month, my "girls" smashed all of their newly hatched babies. With 1 egg remaining, my children decided to rescue it and place it in the incubator. Problem is, daddy and mommy went on an anniversary road trip for the week and the kids headed to cousin's and grandparents homes. Who's the idiot now? On second thought, don't answer that.

4. Mexican restaurant decor freaks me out a little. Not that I don't enjoy the food, mind you, but the decor really grates on my nerves. I like bright colors. I can handle the Sombrero's hanging on the radioactive orange walls. What I cannot seem to get past are the pretend parrots hanging from the ceilings. I thought it was just our local restaurants that did this, but apparently, it's the norm. This said however, real parrots hovering over my table would really send me over the edge.

5. Because we've gone away to celebrate our 24 years together, you'd think I would have shopped for  romantic, anniversary attire. Instead I bought a travel pillow, just in case the hotel pillows were not quite right. (Which they weren't...good thing I'm a planner and a doer.)

Don't worry about the Mister though. I got him one too.

Yep. I definitely feel better. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Adventure Begins...

Valentine's Day, 1987, was the beginning.

Some might say, the beginning of the end, but not me.

That was the day that I married my one true love.

While it may have been the end to some things, like loneliness, the dating scene, and being the third wheel to those friends who had found love, it was an end that I happily enjoyed seeing come to a close.

After 24 years, 9 children, 3 sons-in-law, (almost) 4 grandbabies, and countless other milestones, the adventure continues.

Starting yesterday.

This week, we are on an anniversary road trip.

Just the two of us.

And our cellphones.

And laptop.

And emergency numbers for all of the kids and family members who so graciously took our brood.

To allow us "alone time".

24 years and counting....

 Somebody might want to inform housekeeping that we're supposed to be alone.

That could've been embarrassing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Almost Sinless Brownies

You know I love chocolate. As sure as the sun is going to rise, I must have chocolate. But with my New Year's resolution to Eat Fat, Lose Fat, I had to give up my precious cocoa bean.
Me, off chocolate.

Like Smeagol from "Lord of the Rings", I must have My Precious. Except for the whole nekkid, jumpin' around the swamp and eating raw, wriggling fish, he could be my twin.

See, like Smeagol, I too have a dark side. Especially when it comes to brownies. Of course, I also have a lighter side. You may know that as Blondie's. I'm not even going to tell you about the "nutty" side.

This time.

Suffice to say, when I made my decision to commit to an entire month of low carbs, I didn't realize the person I would become. It wasn't pretty. It got so bad that my children started bringing home Reese's and Butterfingers from church, just to keep my eyeballs from poppin' outta my head.

Some would call it taming the beast.

I wouldn't go that far. But some would.

Call it whatever you will, for the month of January, I stuck to my resolution. Mostly. And because of that, I am happy to report that I lost about 5 pounds. 

To make up for the ugliness of the chocolate withdrawals, I decided to make my family some dark chocolate brownies.

Some might call that a peace offering.

Because I didn't want to go back to a white sugar, white flour, pasty, yet very delicious dessert, I've come up with a compromise. Not too sweet, with a hint of molasses, these brownies turned out to be better than I imagined. I did compromise with the white flour~my first batch, made with whole wheat, turned out to be a little too fiberous for our tastes. They were chewy in a whole new way.

Sometimes, compromise is good.

Almost Sinless Brownies

~The Players~

2 C. organic, white flour
2 C. sucanat or Rapadura* (can use white sugar, if desired)
1/2 C. unsalted butter
1/2 C. coconut oil
1 C. strong brewed coffee
1/4 C. organic, unsweetened cocoa
1/2 C. buttermilk
2 large, pastured eggs
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, coconut oil, coffee and cocoa. Stir and heat to almost boiling. Add sucanat/Rapadura and bring to just boiling; stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Pour boiling mixture into large mixing bowl. While mixer is running, slowly add the flour, scraping the sides as needed.

In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Slowly add to the mixer while it's running. Continue mixing until the batter is well mixed. Pour into a buttered 17-1/2" by 11" pan.

Bake on center rack for 20 minutes or until brownies test done in the center.

While brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

Chocolaty Frosting

~The Players~

1/2 C. unsalted butter
2 Tb. organic, unsweetened cocoa
1/4 C. whole milk
3-1/2 C. sucanat/Rapadura (can use powdered sugar, if desired)
1 t. vanilla

Before starting, measure out 3-1/2 cups of sucanat. Using a blender, blend 1 cup of sucanat at a time, until sucanat is powdery looking. You will need to remeasure the powdered sucanat as you would powdered sugar; it makes slightly more than the original 3-1/2 cups.
Left~powdered sugar; Bottom~sucanat; Right~sucanat that has been blended into powder

In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring with a wire whisk. Remove from heat. Mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until each addition is shiny and smooth. Finish with the last 1/2 cup of powdered sucanat and the vanilla.

When the brownies are done, immediately pour the frosting over the brownies, spreading it out to all of the edges.

Let the brownies cool. Cut into 30 bars.

Consider the beast tamed.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Classic Caesar Salad

First, let me just tell you, I love Caesar salads. Always have. What I don't care for is the bottled dressing that comes "fresh" from the grocery store shelves.

Second, until I started making my own dressing, I had no idea that Caesar salad dressing had anchovies in it.

As a child, I swore that as long as there was breath in my body, I would "never, ever, ever" eat an anchovy. Actually, I swore that I would "never, ever, ever" eat any kind of tiny little fish-in-a-can. Especially if it still looked like a fish. 

Well, I'm still breathing, and I ate an anchovy. In fact, I have eaten many, as this is our new favorite salad. And as anyone knows, (except me, apparently) anchovies make the dressing.

Just don't ask me to eat a sardine.

Classic Caesar Salad

~The Players~
Remember to use organic ingredients!

4 large cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 2 lemons (I used Meyer lemons)
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
6 anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil (a 2-oz. tin)
2 large egg yolks, from pastured eggs only
5 t. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C. sunflower oil (the best you can find)
3/4 C. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 romaine hearts, cut into slices (about 1/2-3/4 inch wide)
fresh ground pepper
2 cups croutons (homemade or store-bought)

Mix garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for 10-15 minutes. This helps to tone down the harshness of the raw garlic.

Pat the anchovies dry, before chopping them up.

Put anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolks and lemon/garlic mixture into a food processor.

Pulse a few times to blend it all together.

Pre-measure the oils into a pourable measuring cup.

With the food processor on, very slowly start adding the oils in a steady stream, until fully emulsified. When finished, pour dressing into a salad bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and stir it in.

Make sure that the romaine lettuce is dry before adding it to the bowl or the dressing won't stick. Toss gently to coat. Add croutons. Season with fresh ground black pepper before serving.