Archive for December, 2009

Sharon’s Natural Gardens – LocalHarvest

The seed catalogs are pouring in! I was looking through one this morning and I stopped myself.  Thanks to contacts and made through the Provident Organic Farms CSA, I have found a local source for organic seeds:

Sharon’s Natural Gardens – LocalHarvest.

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Recycled Suet Feeder

Onion Bag Suet Feeder

Onion Bag Suet Feeder

I have a maple tree growing up through my deck, and it’s getting quite tall.  I noticed some cold birds resting on its bare branches, and I thought I should put out  some suet for them.  I grabbed an old onion bag and some kitchen twine, and ran it through the bag around the top, to make it into a “draw string pouch”.  I had some store-bought suet that I bought over a year ago, and put it inside, and tied it to the tree. They haven’t found it yet, but they will. I just hope my cats don’t take advantage of the feeder! They are quite the mousers, but I’d rather they not eat the birds!

You can also make home-made suet from bacon fat. When you cook bacon, save the fat in a glass jar in the fridge. When you have enough, zap it in the microwave to melt it, add some bird seeds (I use a handful of chicken scratch, since it’s what I have around) and pour it into a clean cardboard milk carton.  Cool it in the fridge and it will form a nice block, and it can be sliced if it’s too thick.   The birds will thank you for it!

Liz

A Solstice Poem to Share

Know Thyself

There is no longest night, no waning dark,
The sun combusts always, somewhere in sky.
This planet, like our hearts, doth axis mark
And leaves us ever burning. Burning.

Wilt thou now burn with me, beloved one?
The winter’s cold or summer’s heat appease?
Each drawing breath we take another dawn
To waken, finally turning. Turning.

What do you wait upon? The light is heard,
You know the name of every ant and leaf
And sing the spell in every woven word,
Your chambered heart beats yearning. Yearning.

You are the light. You are the one returned.
You are the shining thing that always burns.

T. Thorn Coyle
with Solstice Blessings, 2009

Easy As Pie Crust

This Thanksgiving my mom gave us a new cookbook:  “The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008” which has a very easy “No Roll” pie crust! I’ve made about 4 pie crusts with this, and it’s delicious and easy to make! Here’s the recipe

Apple Blackberry Pie

Apple Blackberry Pie

from page 264. I highly recommend this cookbook and the TV show because it explains the “why”s of the recipes and the science behind cooking. Before I read this recipe, I had no idea why glass baking dishes were so useful! It’s so you can see how brown the bottom is!

No-Fear Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened but cool

2 ounces cream cheese, softened but cool

  1. Coat a 9 in glass pie plate with vegetable oil spray and mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Beat the butter and cream cheese in a bowl with a mixer.  Add flour mixture and blend until it forms large clumps.  (Can be done by hand with a dough blender, in fact I prefer it.) Turn the dough onto a floured surface, gather into a ball. Set aside three tables spoons of dough. Pat the rest into a six inch circle and transfer to oiled pie plate.
  3. Press dough into pie plate using the heal of your hand.  Hold plate up to light to check for thin spots. Work evenly up the sides.
  4. Roll the reserved dough into three eight inch ropes to form the edge of the pie crust. Pat into place and pinch to make fluted edge.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  5. Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat to 325.  Prick the pie crust with a fork bake until golden brown 35 to 40 minutes.  If any bubbles arise, press them down with a kitchen towel after it is fully baked.

Storage:

Baked pie crust can be stored wrapped in plastic at room temp for a day.  Pressed raw dough can keep wrapped in the refrigerator for 2 days, and frozen for one month. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Winter Sunrise

Winter Sunrise

Our Winter Solstice plans were interrupted by a beautiful snow storm. Unfortunately Daddy has to be at work in bad weather, just in case a computer conks out.  So we made the best of it, got up very early, lit a bunch of candles around the house, because in our celebration of Winter Solstice (observed, the actual date this year is the 21st) we don’t turn on any electric lights until the sun is up, and opened presents by candle light. Vincent received several electricity-free games, like Topple, Uno, and Connect Four, and one DS game called WordJong, which I thought would be a good way for him to work on his spelling.   The blueberry pancake breakfast I planned turned into a blueberry pancake dinner.  We also had to pick up our Angel Food Ministries order, which was more complicated by my children than the weather.  Thankfully a friend from church helped me get my boxes of food to the car!

Vincent has been enjoying the snow! This is really the first time in his life (he’s seven) there has been enough snow to

Snow Heart

Snow Heart

play in it! Usually when it snows, it just melts and is gone in a day.  He said to me “Mom, I’ve never made a snowman! I don’t know how!”  So I gave him the general idea, bundled him up in his warmest clothes, dug out the snow boots, and sent him outside. He’s been playing outside all weekend switching off between Rock Band (hey, at least it’s not violent) and playing in the snow. He’s desperate to have a snow ball fight.  I wish we had friendly neighbors with kids his age. (That didn’t have a dog that ate my chickens, but I suppose having two roosters makes me not a great neighbor either.) Today he and Daddy are playing in the snow and checking on the chickens together ! Church is canceled today, so I’m going to catch up on laundry and blogging!

Have a Blessed Day!

Liz

I LOVE Mason Jars!

Mason Jars

Mason Jars

My love of mason jars started  Winter Solstice/Christmas of ’08 when I decided to save money on gifts by making home made “Gifts in a Jar”. I bought a case of wide mouth quart jars, and filled them with cookie and quick bread mix. It was so much simpler than actually baking gifts, which I would have eaten half of anyway.  So after the holidays I had several jars around and I began to use them in the kitchen. They are the only container I trust to hold liquids without leaking, which is important when you usually travel with a hungry 1 year old.  My mom said I could freeze in mason jars, as long as you leave a few inches at the top for expansion. I’ve frozen several batches of soup in them this winter. I also noticed that most of the jars have measurements on the side, making it pretty easy to mix up a small batch of powdered milk in the morning for cereal. And this past summer I learned to can apple butter and grape jelly.  Sure I still have some plastic containers, mostly saved things like butter tubs, ice cream buckets, but I’ll never buy “Glad Ware” ever again. I’d rather put my money into glass containers, which are safer than plastic, and can be used for so many things.

Crocheted Winter Solstice

We have a very small  Solstice Tree since we moved the computer desk into the living room to make room for Julian.  This year I found a pattern to crochet garland for it, and it’s so cute I made a star topper to match! I used a thin white yarn with a silver thread through it for the garland.  The topper I cut out of a pie tin, poked some holes in it and outlined the star with the same yarn, and crocheted around it. To save a bit on the electric bill, I put the pre-lit tree on a timer so I don’t even have to remember to turn it on or off!  It’s perfect! I also  took some time today to weed out Solstice decorations that I don’t really need or use and passed them on to someone on FreeCycle.  Next time I’m feeling blue,  someone remind me to make a donation to FreeCycle, because it feels so good helping out a person in need!

Whatever Holy-Day you celebrate, have a Blessed one!

Liz

Mini Tree

My Mini Tree

Close Up on Garland

Close Up on Crocheted Garland