Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Groundhog Cookies (Note: These do NOT actually contain groundhogs!)

If you're from Pennsylvania, or if you are of German heritage you probably know that Saturday is Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day is one of our little celebrations around here.

When I got married, my mom's best friend bought me a Groundhog Cookie Cutter and gave me the recipe for Groundhog Cookies.  They're a wonderful light gingersnap type cookie - I look forward to making them every year.  Then I enjoy sharing them with the other native Pennsylvanians at school - they get this Phil thing.

Groundhog Cookies

Sift together:
2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. ginger
1 t. cloves
1 1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg yolk

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.  Chill dough for 1 hour, then roll out 1/8 inch thick and cut.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 min.

This is one of those recipes that I almost always double.  Everyone loves them. 

Go here to order you own cookie cutter.

Monday, January 28, 2013

At Home on a "Snow Day" Missing Winter

One of the best perks of teaching are snow days.  Don't get me wrong... I am not complaining about my day off.  But a day off because of ice just does not have the same magic as a day off from snow.  I've been living in the south for over 15 years now.  I think I will miss winter as long as I'm living here.  Winter is quite possibly my favorite season - and to me - winter means snow.
I grew up in the snow belt in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  The Woodsman calls my parent's farm the frozen wasteland.  My mother dreams of living in Florida for the Winter.  Most winters it starts snowing sometime in early November, and doesn't really quit until the end of March.  There is almost always snow on the ground for those four months. I love it.  I hate leaving the farm when it's so beautiful and snowy knowing that as soon as I drop down over the mountain the snow will be gone. 
I know that some of you are perfectly happy with a flake or two every now or then.  But I dream of moving North.  So, begging your pardon - but this is winter.
Sledding on the Lane

Taking the Tabogen down through the field

After the Snow Ball Fight

The Plow Mound


Real snow, Real skiing, Real Cold (10 degrees)

Suited Up and Ready to Head Out

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Seed Order

:)Super S\
Have you ordered your seeds yet?  I took about an hour today and went through the seeds I already have, looked through my garden notes and placed this year's order.  I had quite a lot of winter squash and bean seeds, but I was completly out of lettuce and greens.
I've been ordering from Pine Tree for years and I'm always happy with the products I recieve. I used to order from multiple catalogs, but it simplifies the process (and saves me on shipping) to order from one place. 
I'm not planting anything new this year, and for the most part I'm sticking with varieties I've grown before.  I've also found that onion sets are best bought locally- I've given up on starting them from seed.  So, in case you're curious... here's this year's order.

Product #: 12-PROVIDER BEAN (50 days)
Product #: 45-GYPSY BROCCOLI
Product #: 4501-WINDSOR BROCCOLI
Product #: W417-OPTIKO CABBAGE
Product #: 95-FORDHOOK CHARD
Product #: W350-RED RUSSIAN KALE (58 days heir
Product #: 190-STARBOR KALE (F1 hybrid 45 day
Product #: 21001-FRECKLES LETTUCE (70 days)
Product #: 21004-WINTER DENSITY LETTUCE (28-54
Product #: 20301-PINETREE LETTUCE MIX - 1/2 OZ
Product #: 20302-WINTER LETTUCE MIX
Product #: 21101-RED DEERS TONGUE LETTUCE (52 d
Product #: 23601-SILVER QUEEN OKRA (heirloom)
Product #: 260-TALL TELEPHONE PEA (68 days he
Product #: 264-LINCOLN PEA (65 days heirloom)
Product #: 257-MR BIG PEA (58 days)
Product #: 259-SUPER SUGAR SNAP PEA (62 days)
Product #: 120-OH SO SWEET CORN
Product #: 27301-BIG RED PEPPER (75 days)
Product #: 33001-GIANT NOBLE SPINACH (heirloom)
Product #: 333-TYEE SPINACH (F1 hybrid 42 day
Product #: 34901-CASHFLOW SQUASH (F1 hybrid 47
Product #: 414-OPALKA TOMATO (83 days)
Product #: 41401-POLISH LINGUISA TOMATO (78 day
Product #: 41602-MORTGAGE LIFTER TOMATO (77 day
Product #: 42801-OXHEART PINK TOMATO (80 days)
Product #: 41601-RUTGERS TOMATO (73 days)
Product #: 384-BLUE HUBBARD SQUASH (102 days)
Product #: 38002-QUEENSLAND BLUE SQUASH (105 da
Product #: 525-VULGARE DILL
Product #: W554-LARGE LEAF CILANTRO (45 days)
Product #: 541-FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
Product #: 27-JACOBS CATTLE BEAN (83 days he
Product #: 650-HERO MIX MARIGOLD
Product #: 677-SUNFLOWER MIX
Product #: 69801-STATE FAIR MIX ZINNIA

 Total Spent: $157.54

 It's so easy to over dream in the winter, and then to regret how much you've planted come summer - but I think I have a reasonable order here.  It will be time to plant before you know it. 
How about you?  Have you ordered your seeds?  Are you growing anything new this year? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Pot Pie Trio (Vegan, Turkey or Ham)

Pot Pie is one of my favorite winter meals.  As my son says, "This has got to be the best thing EVER!"  Making these takes some time, but they freeze beautifully. Don't be fearful of freezing potatoes.  I'm not sure why, but they freeze really well in this recipe.  No mushiness at all.  I usually make about eight of them some weekend after Christmas so we can enjoy them throughout the rest of the cold winter.

The trick to making these is to start with all of the elements ready (make your pie crust and seitan the day before, chop the vegis and make the gravy in the AM) before you want to make them.  Trying to make these from start to finish is a bit exhausting, but doing it in bits a pieces makes it fairly simple.  When you're able to pop one of these in the oven when you get home one frosty winter evening and then take the first bite of the rich, creamy, savory filling you'll be glad you took the time.

This recipe is adapted from Seven Secrets Cookbok  by Neva Brackett.  If you're looking for a book that will really help you and your family get back on track to a healthier new year then I can't recommend a better book.  We got this book from the healthiest couple we know - life long Vegans and Seventh Day Adventists.  I've used my copy so much that both the front and back covers fell off years ago.

Typically I make this pot pie vegan.  This year I had leftover turkey so I made a few of those as well.  They're both delicious.

Pot Pie (ingredients for one pie - multiply to your heart's content)


2 large potatoes - peeled and diced
2 large carrots - peeled and diced
1 small turnip - peeled and diced

Parboil for about 5 min.
Add 1 1/2 cups frozen vegtables (beans, peas, corn)
Boil 2 more min.

Protein (optional)

Use 1-2 cups of pre cooked turkey or ham, seitan, vegi burger, etc.


2 c. soaked garbanzo beans blended with 1 1/2 c. water in food processor
Add 2 T soy sauce
1 vegi bullion cube
2 T yeast flakes
1 T onion powder
1/2 T garlic powder
Mix in food processor again.

Transfer mixture to mixer and add your dough hook.
Add 2 c. gluten flour (regular flour will not work!)
Mix until dough clings to the hook.  You may need to add a bit more flour.
Knead 2 - 4 min.  Longer kneading gives a more meaty texture.

Bake for 50 min. at 350.


Put all of these ingredients in your blender and mix on high until it's not gritty (about 2 min.)
1 c. raw cashews
2 c. water
1 t. salt
2 t. onion powder
1 T yeast flakes
2 T. corn starch

Place into a pan.  Then add 1 1/2 c. of water to the blender, swish it around and then add that to the pot too.  Cook and stir until bubbly and thick.

Mix together vegis, protein, and sauce and place in a lightly greased casserole dish or deep dish pie pan.  Cover with your favorite crust.

Bake for 30 min. at 375 until crust is gold brown and the filling is heated through. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aunt J's Tortillas

I wanted to make White Bean Enchiladas this weekend, but didn't have tortillas.  So, I dusted off an old recipe and made them myself. 

I made two batches so there's a bag waiting in the freezer, and I was able to put dinner on the table using just what I have. 

If you don't count pet food, paper products and toiletries, I've spent $4.94 on groceries since December 20th.  That included one bag of brown rice (on sale - too good to pass up), one bag of barley (can't make ham barley soup without it) and one bottle of ranch dressing bought by the Woodsman.  He's OK with the limited grocery purchases as long as the house doesn't run out of ranch dressing or ketchup.

Aunt J's Tortillas

Mix 4 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sugar

Cut in 4 T Crisco
Slowly add 1 1/4 c. warm water

Knead for about 15 min. (or 5 if using mixer and dough hook).
Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 10 min.

Break off an egg sized piece, and roll into a thin circle.
Cook on a lightly greased griddle.  Flip once.

I doubled this recipe, used whole wheat flour and did everything in my mixer.

More making do went along with this recipe.  I didn't have enough sour cream for a double batch, so I used the last little bit of cream cheese.  I also didn't have quite enough beans, so some of them were bean and turkey enchiladas.  Finally, I didn't have any cilantro, or green salsa, so I used plain tomato sauce and added hot peppers to taste at the table.  Still delicious and budget friendly.  I'll make it the original way this summer. 

We ate one batch for Friday's dinner and I put one batch in the freezer for later.  I love cooking in bulk!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Working With What I've Got

Some of you have written recently about craving the simplicity of  winter following the business of Christmas.  You enjoy cleaning out the decorations and getting the house back to normal.  I enjoy that too, but one of my other favorite parts of winter is seeing how long I can go without buying groceries.

I love to cook and entertain, so I do a lot of that over the holidays.  I hosted eleven major dinner celebrations with family and friends, baked countless cookies and loaves of bread for gifts, and I splurged on items I don't normally buy during the rest of the year.  For a few weeks my kitchen was stuffed to bursting with local meats, cheeses, dairy items (oh heavenly cream), extra eggs and produce I didn't grow.  I love supporting our local farmers - but it's pricey. By the time January rolls around my wallet needs to get fatter and my waistline needs to be thinner.

One method to achieving both goals is to cook using just what I have.  At the moment I'm pretty well stocked, but I won't be replacing staples as they're used up.  I'll look for alternatives - olive oil instead of butter, etc.  I like to see how long I can keep this game going - most years I manage to buy very few groceries until Easter.  We eat what's in the freezer, in the canning cupboard and what's in the root cellar.  I'll start growing sprouts again, and later this month when I'm desperate for something green I'll go check on the lettuce under the row covers.

Some people probably think this is a crazy experiment.  I enjoy the challenge and I love watching the numbers on the VISA bill and the scale go down.  By the time the spring rolls around I'll be ready for my CSA share and I'll be back to buying butter, milk and cheese, but until then I'll hunker down and eat what I can find around here.

I'm curious.  Does anyone else do this?  How do you simplify in the winter?

Here's a sample of what's on the menu.

Savory Roasted Acorn Squash

Remove seeds and slice acorn squash (keep skin on).  Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and fresh sage.  Roast at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and honey (if desired).


Roasted Butternut Squash

Peel and cube butternut squash.  Toss with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and sage.  Roast for 20 - 30 minutes at 350.  Serve by itself, or with a mushroom sauce topping.


 Orange Beets

Cook and peel beets.  Add a similar amount of chopped oranges and about 1 T of cornstarch.  Cook until heated through and thick.

 Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 t. salt
2 c. soy milk, nut milk, milk or water
2 T honey
1 T baking powder
1 c. pumpkin puree

Mix all together and cook on the griddle.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Big Oaks Farm Maple Syrup (from Farmer Dan) glowing in the sunlight

French Onion Soup

This is how I used the last of the onions.  Delish..

Saute a slew of onions in butter or olive oil.  Cook them over a really low heat until they turn all golden and caramelized.  Add water or more butter/oil as needed. 

Add a bunch of broth (beef or vegi bullion works well) until you have enough (this will depend on the amount of onions with which you started).

Take some good bread.  Toast thick slices, then melt a slice of swiss cheese over the top (broiler or microwave works fine).  Float the cheesy bread on the bowls of soup and sigh - this is perfection.

Part of me wishes I'd waited and not used all of the onions on this soup, but the rest of me is so, so very glad I indulged.

Sweet Potato Waffles and Migas

Make your regular waffle recipe.  Add 1 c . mashed sweet potato, chopped walnuts and nutmeg. 

Migas is a Mexican breakfast meal that is fantastic all day long.

Cut several corn tortillas into strips and fry until crispy. Remove onto a paper towel to drain off the grease.  Saute chopped onions and peppers in the same skillet.  Scramble 6 eggs and add them to the skillet.  Then add a jar of tomatoes and chili powder to your taste ( 1/2 - 1 T).  If you're out of peppers and onions you can substitute a jar of salsa and a small jar of tomatoes.   Turn off the heat and mix in the tortillas.  Serve with black beans and extra hot peppers for those who like it spicy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

BFFUWD (Best Friends Forever Until We Die)

I don't know about you all, but it's the little things that make me most thankful for my family.

My kids are FAR from perfect, but one thing I can say about them is that they are best friends.  Really, they truly are.  It never ceases to amaze me, and I hope it lasts.

I'm not exactly sure what we did to foster their love for each other and their general ability to tolerate the other's small annoyances.

Maybe it's just because we live in the middle of nowhere and they have to get along, or they'll have no one to play with.

I know that some parents were glad to see their kids go back to school this week - I was not in that crowd.  I might threaten to send them away to grandma's house sometimes, but I'd want them back after a few hours.  I can't imagine getting tired of my kids.

On the tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake, RMNP

On the way to Nymph Lake, RMNP