Sunday, November 28, 2010

Touching Base

Hello, friends!
Well... We are here on the ranch! Jeremy is working on the house like
a madman so we can move in (hopefully before Christmas) and the kids
and I help however we can. It's all happy hustle-bustle over here, but
we have yet to get Internet connection, so I'm blogging from my phone
right now (I hope it works). Hopefully, we'll be online again by
Tuesday and I'll share pictures of progress as soon as I can. I hope
your Thanksgiving was full of thankfulness. :) Love!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After the discouraging news of our escrow possibly being delayed until the beginning of December, we received a most surprising call on this Thanksgiving Eve, and were asked to drive to the ranch to claim our keys.  It was a regular Thanksgiving miracle!  Upon driving up to our new home, our eyes beheld the most spectacular housewarming gifts:


We looked outside from new windows,

discovered new hiding places,

uncovered a little 1960's goodness,

and officially.  Closed.  Escrow.

Happy Thanksgiving

Maple Surple Winner

One quart of nutrient-rich Grade B maple syrup from Maple Syrup World is headed to the mailbox of our winner, who just so happens to be (according to comment number 54:
cindy said...

I signed up for your feed

Congratulations, Cindy!  Please leave me your full name and address here, and Maple Syrup World will get it shipped off to you.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
True Random Number Generator  54Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Late Harvest Fruit Medley Crisp ~ A Recipe

I planned on blogging about being at our new ranch by now.  Only problem is... we have yet to close escrow.  There are no words.  Actually, there are, but instead of emotionally vomiting all over my dear readers, I'm going to share a recipe.  A sweet-ish one, of course.  That's what I do while in transition, remember?  Hey, at least the grains are soaked this time, emitting that crucial enzyme that enables you to absorb the nutrients in the dish instead of letting that pesky phytic acid leach nutrients from our bodies.  I love the perfectly late-autumn colors in this dish, and the spices used just taste like the season.  Step into the kitchen with me, will you?  But.. sorry.  Please sit on one of the kids' futons over there.  There isn't room for two of us behind the sink.  Get ready for healthy comfort food.  I've been ready allllll day.  Every day.

Late Harvest Fruit Medley Crisp
Prep time: 30 minutes; Bake time: 30 minutes; Serves 8-10

2 cups oats
2 cups water
3 Tablespoons cultured dairy (kefir, buttermilk, whey)
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 apples (tart ones are best in this recipe), sliced (and peeled, if desired)
2 pears, sliced (no need to peel; pear skin is thin)
2 persimmons, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
2/3 cup butter or expeller pressed coconut oil (doesn't taste like coconuts), softened.
  1. If you plan on making this as an after dinner dessert, in the morning, combine the oats, water, and cultured dairy in a bowl.  Cover and let soak 4-8 hours (the longer, the better).
  2. Once you are ready to prepare this dish, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 9x13-inch pan.
  3. Combine cranberries and dates in saucepan and cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until cranberries pop, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, set aside.
  4. Place apples, pears, and persimmons in greased 9x13-inch pan.  Evenly spoon cranberry mixture over fruit.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine oats with remaining ingredients thoroughly.  Sprinkle over fruit.  Bake 30 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is a little brown(er).  Serve warm by itself or with ice cream. (And I will shamelessly add that the leftovers make the most delightful breaky.)

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    CD Giveaway WINNER!

    And the winner of the Prepare the Way live CD goes to...  Oh the irony of it all!  Congratulations, Lovely Laura D!  Your CD (and I'll refrain from adding a lil coal since that would also have something to do with Fake Santa) will be taken to the post office today! Love you dearly!

    Didn't win this time?  Fear not! ** WIN 1 QUART OF GRADE B MAPLE SYRUP HERE!**

    True Random Number Generator  26Powered by RANDOM.ORG

    Anonymous said...

    Because it is Christmas I will leave it for Santa with his milk and cookies. I know you aren't his fan...but oh by gosh, by golly, he is yours :)

    Iam funny! Laura D (as if i had to say)

    Maple Syrup Giveaway!

    Last week, I was delighted to open an email from Maple Syrup World asking to use my article about the benefits of Grade B maple syrup  on their website!  Of course I said, well, of course, and now you can also find my article here!

    Maple Syrup World has generously offered to give away one quart of grade B maple syrup, a $20 value!

    This giveaway begins Tuesday, November 16, 2010, and ends Tuesday, November 23, 2010.  The winner will be chosen through and announced here on the blog on Wednesday, November 24, 2010.  Be sure to come back Wednesday to see if you're the winner.  You won't receive an email if you're the winner because I'm not asking you to enter your email address in your comment entry.  Who wants their email address available for all to spam, right?  So remember: check back here next Wednesday!

    There are 7 possible entries, be sure to leave one comment for each entry.
    1. Sign up for Maple Syrup World's newsletter at the bottom of the page (2 entries!  Leave 2 comments telling me you signed up).
    2. Follow me on Twitter and tell me so (1 entry).
    3. "Like" me on Facebook and let me know (1 entry).
    4. Subscribe to my feed, via Google friend connect or a sort of reader and alert me in another comment below (1 entry).
    5. Post a link to this giveaway via Facebook and say so in yet another comment (1 entry).
    6. Tweet this: @riddlelove is hosting a grade B maple syrup #giveaway from @maplesyrupworld !  (1 entry)

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Winter Veggie Melt ~ A Recipe

    Here's a new, in-season idea than can be a great side dish to take to the next potluck (or even a holiday feast).  A little side note: my kids had a much easier time eating their greens in this recipe.  It's amazing what a little cheese can do, isn't it?

    Warming Winter Veggie Melt
    Serves 8-10 as a side dish; Prep time: 40 minutes, including bake time

    5 potatoes, cubed (I used my favorite, Yukon gold)
    1 onion, chopped
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon thyme
    1/4 teaspoon cheyenne pepper
    freshly ground black pepper to taste
    2 cups broccoli
    2 carrots
    1 cup cabbage
    1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, chopped (optional)
    2-3 cloves garlic, seeded and minced
    2 cups grated cheese (we used white cheddar)
    3 strips bacon, cut into bits and browned (optional)
    Creme fraiche (optional garnish)
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put potatoes and onions in a 9x13-inch casserole dish.  Drizzle olive oil over potatoes, sprinkle in thyme and peppers, and stir to incorporate.  Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are slightly brown around the edges.
    2. While potatoes bake, if you plan on using bacon, brown it now.  Set aside. 
    3. Semi-finely chop broccoli and cabbage.  Grate carrots. Some might choose to use the skillet the bacon was browned in with a little bit of the grease reserved to stir fry the broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms.  Others might want to use a little olive oil instead of bacon grease.  Stir fry over medium/high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the veggies are the consistency you want them.  Add garlic and stir to incorporate.
    4. Once the potatoes are done, layer the stir fry, then the cheese, then the optional bacon over the taters.  Put dish back into oven and broil for 2-3 minutes, just to melt the cheese.  Serve warm with an optional dollop of creme fraiche on top to add some creamy, probiotic-rich goodness to aid digestion.

      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      A Season Ends

      We gathered walnuts today.

      Walnuts are the last harvest we bring in before everything rests for the winter.

      One season ends, another one begins.  In eight days, a new season begins for us.  As much as I can hardly wait to get my hands on our little ranch, leaving this season in the trailer is actually bittersweet.  We'll miss seeing our amazing mountain friends every day.  Going from one good time into another is a happy problem.  As I begin to let go of one season, I embrace the other.  We'll have walnuts aplenty from the season before to enjoy along the way.

      And walnut shells will make great kindling for the wood stove that sits in the center of our little cabin that will keep us snug.

      Wednesday, November 10, 2010

      Farmhouse or Fancy? A Versatile Apple Spice Cake

      I learned something important today.  I learned to never, ever cook while hungry.  Especially when preparing one's favorite kind of dish, which for me, happens to be in the form of a cake.  You know, like what I'm blogging about today.  It was all I could do to refrain from shoving my face into the batter, that's what.  I'm so glad I didn't.  I'd have missed out on the scrumptious, lightly crunchy, glazed-covered top.  Heavens, no.

      Make it into a fancy tube cake or a farmy skillet cake, it doesn't mind.  It's a laid back kinda cake, full of real, unrefined ingredients that's quick to make, and best of all?  You don't have to peel the apples.  Yes, Lord.  I'll show you both methods of preparing this irresistibly moist cake.  Readysetgo.

      Apple Spice Cake
      Yields 12-14 servings; Prep time: 20 minutes; Bake time: 50-75 minutes

      1 1/2 cups expeller pressed coconut oil (it doesn't taste like coconut)
      2 cups rapadura
      3 eggs
      3 cups spelt flour
      2 teaspoons cinnamon
      1 teaspoon nutmeg
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      3 1/2 cups apples, grated

      3 Tablespoons butter
      1/3 cup turbinado sugar
      3 Tablespoons whole milk
      1/2 teaspoon vanilla
      1 cup pecans, whole or pieces
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees if baking in a large cast iron skillet (I used a 10-inch) or 325 if baking in a tube pan.  Grease and flour skillet or pan.
      2. Beat oil and rapadura together in a mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, while beating on a lower speed.
      3. Turn the mixer to a medium to low speed and add flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.  Continue mixing until well incorporated.
      4. Add grated apples and mix through.
      5. Scoop batter into the skillet or tube pan and bake for 50 minutes in the skillet or 60-75 minutes in the tube pan, or until a knife plunged into the center comes out clean.  If cooking in the tube pan, wait about 10 minutes and turn the cake out onto a serving dish.  If preparing in the skillet, leave it be.
      6. To make the topping, combine all topping ingredients except the nuts in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Let boil for 1 minute, still stirring constantly, then remove from heat.  On a still-warm cake, immediately sprinkle the nuts and then drizzle the topping over the nuts.  Spread topping over the top of the cake.
      Farmhouse cake

      Fancy cake

      Tuesday, November 9, 2010

      Serene Autumn Afternoons

      Sitting in the forest,

      watching the kids play,

      while I work on a Christmas present.

      Serenity now!

      I'm sharing this at Wordless Wednesdays listed here, This Moment,


      Monday, November 8, 2010

      It's Gift-Giving Time: A CD Giveaway! Because I Can

      Yep, I'm definitely plugging my husband's work.  I'd write a review, but I don't think many people would give it much credit, because I'd say it's a fact that Jeremy Riddle is the world's most amazing artist.  But I will tell you that this newest album is my favorite so far.

      If you're interested in buying the album, it can be found on iTuneshere, and here.  Or... you can win it right here!

      This giveaway begins Monday, November 8, 2010, and ends Monday, November 15, 2010.  The winner will be chosen through and announced here on the blog on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.  Be sure to come back Tuesday to see if you're the winner.  You won't receive an email if you're the winner because I'm not asking you to enter your email address in your comment entry.  Who wants their email address available for all to spam, right?  So remember: check back here next Tuesday!

      There are 6 possible entries, be sure to leave one comment for each entry.
      1. Tell me if you'd keep this for yourself or if you'd give it as a gift (for who?).
      2. Follow me on Twitter and tell me so.
      3. "Like" me on Facebook and let me know.
      4. Subscribe to my feed, via Google friend connect or a sort of reader and alert me in another comment below.
      5. Post a link to this giveaway via Facebook and say so in yet another comment.
      6. Tweet this then tell me you did: Win the newest Jeremy Riddle CD @riddlelove #giveaway 
      Have fun! :)

      Sunday, November 7, 2010

      Perfectly Frothy Raw Hot Cocoa

      If you've been checking in with this blog for any length of time, you know how much I adore my weekly gallon of raw milk.  Oh, the enzymes, the probiotics, the flavor!  It dumped buckets of rain the first half of today, and round two looks like it's just around the corner.  Hot chocolate for all!  But... I don't want to overheat the precious raw milk and lose all it's goodness, so after several attempts, I am finally satisfied with this recipe:

      Raw Hot Cocoa
      Makes 4 cups.  Prep time: 5 minutes
      You don't need a Vita-Mix to make this.  I'll explain the non-Vita-Mix method at the end.

      4 cups raw milk
      4 Tablespoons raw cocoa powder
      4 Tablespoon grade B maple syrup
      1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1. Put all ingredients except salt in the Vita-Mix.  Blend on high for three minutes, or until it's warm enough for your taste, but not over 105 degrees (when the enzymes begin to die off).
      2. There will be lots of foam on top.  Ladle the foam off the top into a bowl.  Set aside.
      3. Pour the hot cocoa into mugs (or mason jars like we did, hehe) then spoon desired amount of foam on the top.
      4. Sprinkle very small amounts of pink Himalayan salt on top to add festive color and a hint of salty goodness, nourishing trace minerals included.

      If you don't have a Vita-Mix, carefully whisk all ingredients in a pot over medium-low heat, right before it gets to 105 degrees.  In any kind of blender, blend 1/2 cup of the hot cocoa on high until it's frothy.

      Trying it out on my test subjects...


      Well, almost 100% success.   Three of my four kids loved this recipe; the salt, froth and all.  As you can see, 5-year-old isn't sure.  She resolved to be a purest, and prefers her hot cocoa froth and salt-free, thankyouverymuch.  But she does like the hot cocoa recipe, sans salt and froth.

      Saturday, November 6, 2010

      Counting Down Again

      In 13 days, we will be the new owners of a mini ranch.  Pinch me!  It still feels so surreal.  This is something I've dreamt of for as long as I can remember.  We visited our future home again today, and I was reminded of the amount of love it needs.  We are going to be in the best shape of our lives, that's what.  But someday, someday there really will be sheep.

      And there really will be horses.

      And there really will be grapes, orchards, garden beds, chickens, ranch dogs, and mouser cats.

      And there will be room or my children to romp and get filthy and learn about life through this gorgeous countryside.  And we will look up and see how massively powerful and creative and artistic our Father is, and we find our spirits at peace, knowing that He is God, that He has entrusted this beautiful creation to our hands and hearts to steward, and we are filled with thankfulness.

      In 13 days, we will still be living in the trailer as we prepare the little cabin to be suitable for living in, but it will be ours.  Our homestead.  I'm still so amazed.

      Friday, November 5, 2010

      How to Make Cultured Butter and Buttermilk

      Let's just get right down to it.  No intro, no segue.  We're making cultured butter and buttermilk here, this is serious stuff.  Seriously simple.  Seriously.  Why would you want cultured butter over regular butter?  Cultured butter has good bacteria.  You know, probiotics?  Good for your gut? Supports immune system?  Trims tummy fat?  Yeah, that kinda bacteria.  The good kind.

      If you are fortunate enough to have access to raw milk or cream like I am (for $5 a gallon; not trying to rub it in... too much), congratulations!  All the needed enzymes and bacteria are still in place and you need nothing but good ol' raw cream and a jar with a lid (see above) to make cultured butter.  I skim the cream off the top of my milk every week to make our butter.  So basically, I get a gallon of raw milk and one cup of raw butter for $5.  Yes, I am trying to rub it in.  I'm feeling feisty tonight, watch out!

      If you don't have access to raw cream, I am so very sorry.  I feel really bad about bragging now.  Forgive me.  But!  You can still make cultured butter, so put on a happy face.  You will need one pint of cream (No additives.  Pure, glorious cream.  Check the label) and three tablespoons kefir, yogurt, or cultured buttermilk.  Not vanilla kefir or yogurt.  Pure, plain kefir or yogurt.  And a jar with a lid (see above again, in case you forgot what a jar with a lid looks like.  Feisty, I tell you).  This will yield one stick (8 tablespoons) butter and one cup buttermilk.  You just might want to double or triple this recipe, depending on how quickly you go through butter. You don't need to measure your raw cream, since it's the only ingredient.  But if you need some measurements, one quart raw cream should yield a half pound of butter and two cups of buttermilk.  OR... If you happen to have some creme fraiche looking for a purpose, skip the pasteurized cream and kefir and just use it (and begin at step two, below).

      Here we go.  Follow these steps for either raw or pasteurized (I'm sorry) cultured butter:
      1. Store raw cream, or pasteurized cream with kefir or yogurt mixed in (see above for amounts) in a very clean glass jar with the lid screwed on well at room temperature.  If it's raw, it only needs to sit overnight (or 12 hours if it's winter).  If it's pasteurized (I'm sorry again), keep it sitting out for 12-24 hours, depending on how warm room temperature is (less time for warm, more time for cool).  Once it starts looking thicker (swish it around a bit to test it's thickness), it's butter time.
      2. You can either churn your cultured cream with an electric mixer (if you own a Kitchen-Aid, use the whisk attachment) or a food processor.  The food processor seems to take less time, the mixer takes several minutes.  The problem I sometimes have with the food processor (mine is eleven years old, so the newer ones might work better), is that it sometimes leaks the precious cream, and that's just painful for me.  Crank the chosen appliance on.  Once you start seeing lumps, you have butter!  And buttermilk!  Ah, buttermilk!  It's all starting to make sense...
      3. Drain the buttermilk into a bowl.  Now use a spoon to squeeze any more buttermilk out of the butter and into the buttermilk bowl. 
      4. Rinse the butter with cold water and push out the water with a spoon like you did to get the buttermilk out.  Continue doing this (rinse and squeeze) until the water that you squeeze out of the butter is clear.  If you don't do this and there's still buttermilk in your butter, the butter goes rancid.  Rancid butter tastes nasty.  Rancid = free-radicals.  Free-radicals bad.  Squish the butter into a glass storage container and pour buttermilk into a glass jar (remember the picture way up at the top?  Yep.)
      And there you have it, folks!  Cultured butter for the cultured foodie.  No need to salt it; it's flavor is perfect by itself.  How long will they keep, you ask?  It depends on how fresh your cream was.  The butter and buttermilk will keep for a few weeks in the fridge if your cream was fresh.  Now go!  Make some cultured butter! Your tummy will thank you.


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