Spring is Here : Looking Forward to Flowers and Herbs!

It is the first day of Spring and I am looking forward to the appearance of flowers and herbs. The snowdrops are up, and the robins have returned. The hyacinths are beginning to poke through the thawing soil.

Before long the violets will be blooming. I plan to gather these delicate flowers from an area of the yard that has not been sprayed with any chemicals to make candied violets. See a recipe here.

Every year I add another herb to my gardens. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that support health. Rosemary, thyme and sage all grow easily. Here is a recipe for potatoes with rosemary and thyme.

I have planted some stinging nettle seeds in a container. I hope to plant them in a corner of the yard that has little traffic. The leaves of this plant sting—similar to stinging ants. The young leaves must be harvested carefully (gloves). When the leaves are boiled they lose their sting. The benefit of this herb is the rich mineral content. Nettle tea is sold in health food stores. I first noticed a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cook book. Here is an on-line recipe for nettle soup.

In a time period when many worry about infectious disease, it is a good idea to think about ways to improve the nutritional support of our immune system. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. At one time I thought the purpose of herbs was flavor, but now I know they enrich our food.

Sharing this post with Friendship Friday

Coffee and Warm Cinnamon Rolls for the Melody of Life

On New Year’s Day we like to sip coffee and enjoy cinnamon rolls while we watch the Rose Parade on TV. I have a recipe that allows me to make the dough the afternoon/evening before, and then in the morning I shape and bake the rolls. 

My dear husband makes the coffee, flavored with cardamon. See the recipe in this post.

This year the theme of the Rose Parade was The Melody of Life. The great array of flowers, seeds, beans and vegetables used to make the beautiful floats are a testament to life created by God.

From my perspective mothers have a significant role in the melody of life and I was hoping that there would be some reference.  Towards the end of the parade a float sponsored by Mrs. Meyer’s natural household products went by.  I have used Mrs. Meyer’s lemon verbena and lavender scented dish detergents.

The ABC commentator mentioned that Mrs. Meyer, mother nine children, was on the float. I was pleased, but it didn’t dispel the sadness that we are missing so many children.

Babies and children are also part of the melody of life. Life News has reported that abortion was the leading cause of death in 2018. It is a great tragedy. Education about abortion will continue through organizations like Students for Life. The March for Life will take place again this month.

Here is my recipe for cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter (10 tablespoons)

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot mashed potatoes

1 cup milk (almond, coconut or rice milk)

1 Tablespoon dry active yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 eggs well beaten

5 -6 cups unbleached white flour (sometimes I reduce the amount of white flour, substituting one cup of spelt, barley or oat flour)

Add the butter to the mashed potatoes and mix to melt and combine. Add milk, honey and salt. Set this mixture aside and add the yeast to the warm water. Allow the yeast to begin to bubble and then add to the potato mixture (which should be lukewarm). Blend thoroughly and add the eggs, mixing well. Add flour to make a stiff dough.

I mix the dough in a large bowl and test the stiffness by kneading with my hand. If the dough is too sticky I add a little more flour. The dough should become elastic, a little sticky but holding together.

Then I place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl (with room to allow the dough to cool rise). Cover the bowl with a plate or waxed paper.

Ingredients for preparing cinnamon rolls:

1/2 cup butter

6 Tblsp. brown sugar

6 Tblsp. maple syrup

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. 

Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Roll out 1/2 of the dough into a rectangle—approximately 16” x 9”. Melt butter and spread 2 tablespoons over dough. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar. Roll up the dough, beginning with long side of rectangle. You will have a roll-up that is 16 inches in length.

Prepare three 9” round cake pans for rolls. Place 1 + 1/2 tablespoon melted butter in each pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in each pan. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to each pan and gently spread and mix.

Cut the rolled up dough into 2 inch pieces and place them cut side up in the prepared pans—about six rolls per pan. Repeat process with 2nd half of dough to fill the pans. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until rolls are beginning to brown. Turn out of the pans right after taking them from the oven. Let cool for as long as you can wait and enjoy!

Sharing this post with the Homemaking Party.


Rosemary and Tansy in the Herb Garden

Spring seems to be on hold as cold temperatures persist in Illinois. But I am beginning to think about my herb garden.

I recently read that Tansy is a deterrent for Japanese beetles. I have seeds to plant, hoping that it will help get rid of the throng of beetles I have seen the past couple years. I have also read that tansy is invasive–so I will have to plan carefully where I plant it.

Herb Garden
Tansy

My rosemary plant seems to have survived the winter in a sunny window, but it is looking somewhat listless. It needs more sunshine! I am hoping it will revive.

When we were in New Mexico in March the rosemary bushes were in full bloom. New Mexico has the perfect climate for this herb.

Rosemary Bush
Rosemary Bush

I have become particularly fond of rosemary and enjoy the legends about it. A story in Spain claims that the Virgin Mary was fleeing from soldiers on her way to Egypt. She spread her cloak on a rosemary bush and hid behind it. When she lifted her cloak the flowers had turned blue.

Rosemary flower
Rosemary flower

Fresh rosemary has many uses.   I  like to make  Rosemary & Thyme    potatoes. When ever I am adding fresh herbs to a recipe I mince them into little pieces. Here is my recipe:

Potatoes with Rosemary and Thyme

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

5 medium size potatoes

Combine the thyme, rosemary, salt, lemon juice and olive oil.

Peel potatoes and steam them until fork tender. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cut each potato into several pieces. Pour the herb & oil mixture over the potatoes and cover.  Allow the potatoes to marinade like this for 2 hours or even overnight.

Spread the potatoes on a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered at 425° for 30 minutes.

I came across this site with 39 ways to use rosemary.

Do you have a favorite recipe with rosemary? Have you had any experience with tansy?

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist and  Welcome Spring Link Party

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently I have been going through some old folders and found a copy of a recipe with a story. According to the distributor of the recipe, she paid $250 for the Neiman-Marcus Cookie recipe. Did I ever try the recipe? I couldn’t remember.

I had the ingredients on hand—well, most of the ingredients. I made a few changes (adding barley flour & raisins, reducing sugar). After softening the raisins in hot water and draining them, I chose to put the raisins and walnuts in the food processor with a portion of the oatmeal. My husband loved these chocolate chip cookies!

So here is my adaption of the cookie recipe:

1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 + ½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup barley flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 + ½ cups instant oatmeal
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add the eggs and almond extract. Beat until smooth. Then add the flours, salt baking powder, baking soda and 1 cup of oatmeal. Mix, forming dough.

Place 1 + ½ cup of oatmeal, the raisins and walnuts in the food processor and process until you have coarse crumbs. Combine the raisin & walnut mixture with the cookie dough mixture. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop a tablespoon of dough and form into a ball—place each ball 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375°

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole: A Side Dish for Fish

When we are in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, about as far north as you can go in Michigan, we enjoy getting a meal at the 4 Suns Fish & Chips. Sometimes we get fish & chips to go.

Sweet Potato Casserole: Side Dish for Fish

At other times we sit outdoors with a view of the Quincy Mine.

A Side Dish for Fish

At one time the restaurant offered a layered sweet potato bake. You could select it instead of French fries. But it is no longer on their menu. I liked it so much that I have come up with a recipe based on my memory of this dish.

Ingredients:

3 small or 2 medium size sweet potatoes

½ apple, peeled and grated

½ Vidalia onion, sliced thin

2 tsp. coconut oil

2 or 3 slices of Swiss cheese

Bake or steam the sweet potatoes until they are fork tender. Sauté the onion in the coconut oil, until translucent.

Then peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into rounds. Place half of the rounds in a small casserole. Cover with half of the grated apple, then half of the sautéed onion. Place a slice of Swiss cheese on top, and repeat the layers.

Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I like to serve it with tilapia.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Linking this post with the Homestead Blog Hop,   Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Create with Joy

Abundant Berries: a Recipe for Black Raspberry & Blueberry Pie

The berries in my backyard are abundant . . . and so are the Japanese beetles. The upper leaves of my cherry tree were eaten, just the skeleton of leaf veins left. We have the Japanese beetle bagger up and I am still picking them off foliage. So pretty but so destructive!

Japanese Beetle

I have even been up on a ladder, shaking the branches of the tree. The beetles fall like rain. It no longer bothers me when they fall on my clothes (or down my shirt). I pick them off and put them in my bowl of soapy water. My husband watches with amusement. He is content to manage the beetle bagger. (Last year we saw the amazing results of the beetle bagger.

As I walked through the yard today I realized that I have been obsessed with getting rid of the beetles. The garden needs my nurture—watering, fertilizing. I can’t just focus on the pests.

Life is the same way. It is easy to get so distracted by the bad things happening that we can forget to nurture the good.

The joy in my yard comes from the beautiful berries. The red currant bushes are laden with strings of bright red currants. The black raspberries are ripening and I am making pies with them. The combination of black raspberries and blueberries makes a nice pie. Here is my recipe:

Prepare the pastry.

Add ¼ tsp. salt to 1 + ½ cup flour. Cut in ½ cup of butter using a pastry blender. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to ½ cup of cold water.   Gradually drizzle  the  water over the flour mixture, mixing it in with a fork.  Add just enough water for the dough to hold together. Do not over mix the dough. I like to place the dough in the refrigerator, letting it rest, while I put the filling together.

For the filling:
2 cups black raspberries
2 + ½ cups blueberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup tapioca granules or tapioca flour

Combine the berries, sugar and tapioca.

Then take out the dough and divide it in half. Roll out one piece to line a 9” pie plate. Roll out the other piece to make a pie cover. I like to fold the dough for the top crust in half twice, and then make some decorative slits—it is like the way you make cuts on folded paper for paper snowflakes.

Place the filling in the prepared pie dish. Lay the top cover on the pie and seal the edges. Brush with water and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour. The pastry should be golden and the filling bubbling.

Black Raspberry-Blueberry Pie

If you enjoyed this post you may like my Facebook page.

I’m sharing this post with the Art of Homemaking

The Health Benefits of Dates and a Muffin Recipe

Dates have some surprising health benefits for expectant mothers.

Women often receive a prescription for iron during pregnancy.  During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume increases by 50% and the red blood cells increase by 30%. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen; iron is a component of hemoglobin.

Iron is a vital mineral during pregnancy. A low hemoglobin level is associated with fatigue and is a risk factor during childbirth.

I looked up iron-rich foods in my nutrition almanac and found this list:

Organ meats and meats, eggs, fish and poultry

Blackstrap molasses

Cherry juice

Green leafy vegetables

Dried fruits [including dates]

 

A research study, published in March of this year, looked to see if eating dates in the last trimester of pregnancy had an impact on a woman’s     labor, childbirth experience. The study demonstrated that women who consumed dates had less of a need for medication to augment their labor.

Here is a muffin recipe that has iron-rich ingredients, including dates. Brown rice flour or a gluten-free blend works fine.

Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 + ½ cup flour
½ cup almond meal
2 + ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup pitted and chopped dates
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup honey
3 Tblsp. unsulfured dark molasses
2 eggs
½ cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Stir the chopped dates into flour mixture until well combined.

Mix together the melted butter, molasses, honey, lightly beaten eggs and milk.

Then mix the liquid ingredients into the dry. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fill the muffin cups—I had enough batter for 14 regular size muffins.

Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Date Muffins

You can find the study about the effect of date consumption on labor here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286995

Sharing this post with the Healthy, Happy Green and Natural Party Hop,  The Art of Homemaking and Tuesdays with a Twist

Healthy Potato Salad with a Finnish Twist

Today I am making some potato salad for dinner. I read an interesting article that listed the health benefits available in potatoes and rice which are cooked and then cooled. According to the article: The process of cooking and then cooling potatoes and rice leads to the formation of resistant starch, a type of dietary fiber. The article goes on to state the benefits of resistant starch to colon health. You can read the article here.

So I am reposting a recipe that I have shared before–a Finnish recipe.

6 medium size yukon gold potatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 apple (I like pink lady for this recipe)

1 large dill pickle

2 Tablespoons of chopped chives

1 garlic clove, peeled and diced (optional)

1/3 cup whole milk yogurt

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Steam the potatoes until tender. Immediately peel them—the skin will slip off with a little effort. (I use a fork to stabilize the potato and a knife to gently remove the skin.) Chop the hot potatoes coarsely. Mix the olive oil and vinegar and add it to the potatoes. Mix. Then add the mayonnaise. Mix. A southern chef taught me this process of working with the potatoes while they are still hot to preserve the creamy quality of the potatoes.

Then refrigerate the potatoes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Peel and chop the apple, dice the dill pickle and garlic clove. Add the apple, pickle, garlic and chives to the potatoes and mix.

Make sure the potatoes have cooled down before adding the yogurt. When it is cool add the yogurt, salt and pepper.

If you make the salad a day ahead the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Enjoy!!

Healthy potato Salad with a Finnish Twist

Potatoes have these nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin B-1, Niacin, Potassium and Iron.

The Michigan Potato Industry Commission has these tips for storing potatoes:

  • Handle gently. Bumps and bruises can lead to rot.
  • Store at a temperature between 40 to 50 degrees. Storing in the refrigerator may be too cool, causing the potato starch to turn to sugar. (I don’t really have room in my refrigerator for a bag of potatoes.)
  • Store in a dark dry place. It is a little challenging to store potatoes in the summer! Any ideas?

I am sharing this post at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party

 

 

 

Spiced Cranberry Sauce for the Thanksgiving Dinner

Perhaps it was ten years ago when I came across an unusual cranberry sauce recipe in the newspaper. I tweaked it a little bit, and my family loved it. It is sweet and tart with a nice burst of flavor from the spices. It has become a requested item for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve shared this recipe before, but feel it is worth repeating.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Here is the recipe:

1 lemon
12 ounces fresh cranberries
½ cup crystalized ginger, finely diced
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced *optional
3/4 cup honey
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Grate the zest from the lemon. Peel off the white pith and discard it. Cut the lemon in half, remove the seeds and then dice. Place cranberries, lemon zest, diced lemon and the rest of the ingredients in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened. Taste test and add a little more sugar if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Thanks for visiting! Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Turkey Greeting Card courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Sharing this post with Healthy, Happy Green & Natural , Christian Blogger and Tuesdays with a Twist

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

Apples, fresh from the orchard, are one of the blessings in September. I enjoy making applesauce for the grandchildren. Each year I get a little more efficient.

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

Two appliances have simplified the process of making applesauce for me: a crock pot and a victorio strainer. What is a victorio strainer? For a complete description of this wonderful tool, click here.

I have access to unsprayed wild apples on the old family farm.   The     apples are not so great for eating fresh, but they make a good applesauce. I sort them and cut out the bad parts. Then I simply cut them in four pieces, leaving the skin on, leaving the core intact.   (If I am using   apples that have been sprayed I do remove the skin.)

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

I fill up the crock pot with apple sections turn it on high for a couple hours. Them I turn it down to low, stir and mash the apples, continuing to cook until completely soft.

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

The soft, mashed apples are put through the victorio strainer,  which    removes the apple skin and seeds.  I have nicely pureed and strained    applesauce.

I add honey and Ceylon cinnamon to taste. (Ceylon cinnamon has a milder, sweeter flavor than cassia cinnamon, as well as increased health benefits.) The sauce is then ready to be canned.

990400-044

Thanks for visiting. Enjoy this season of harvest!

Sharing this post with Thankful Thursday, Homemaking Party,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Healthy, Happy Green and Natural Party , Christian Blogger Link-upSeasons  WW at Create with Joy and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday