Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sweet Potato Burritos

So, this one isn't a baked good! Well, I mean, technically you have to put it in the oven. But it doesn't have chocolate or sugar or butter...oh, wait! Now I've lost your interest! Come back, it's a delicious recipe, I promise. Plus, it's super easy, and that doubles its point value in my book. I've made it twice now, although not exactly according to recipe. (I do that a lot, don't I?) Anyway, it calls for kidney beans, and I used great northern the first time. And this time I had bought a bag of kidney beans with lofty plans of beginning the soaking journey. But, then I forgot. So...I used black beans, because I had 20 cans of them I got for 16 cents. (Yes, I love the Grocery Game.) Well, I'm sure kidney beans are all well and good, but I loooove me some black beans. So, I still plan on trying the recipe as is one day, but I have a feeling I'll keep using the black beans.

I got this wonderful recipe from, which is fun. I'm always looking for new things to try. I've read the average family cooks the same 21 meals over and over again. I don't fall in that catagory... I also like,,,, and

Sweet Potato Burritos

Oh, and it supposedly freezes well too. We've got a half dozen in the freezer right now, so I guess I'll find out soon! Hope ya'll enjoy this one as much as we have :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where's the Butter?

Every Tuesday I have the opportunity to bake several desserts for the Wednesday night dinners for the church where my dad heads up the food ministry. It is so much fun to try new things! I really enjoy baking, but I don't get to nearly as often as I would like. This is a fun day for me because I can fine-tune my baking skills. I find myself discussing new recipes I've liked quite often, and I have shared them numerous times. So, I thought this might be an ideal place I could send people to when they request one.

Now, just a few explanations. Isaac and I are trying to shift our lifestyles to a healthier, more self-sustaining diet and lifestyle. I haven't bought processed food in awhile, and I'm trying to fix meals focused on whole, real food. Now this is a subject I could go on and on about, but I'll save that for another posting. Basically, I want you to know that in general, these are not low carb, low fat, low food, fake butter, fake sugar, processed baked goods. (As a matter of fact, if a recipe calls for 'Bisquick' or 'boxed mix cake' I pretty much snub my nose and keep on looking. Because really, how am I supposed to learn how to bake using those? But I digress...) My basic motto is 'everything in moderation' and I don't think real butter is what's making our nation fat - so I use it.

That being said, the church buys my supplies for their baked goods, and well, they're on a budget. So that stuff is made with the cheapest of everything, including using margarine. Therefore many of my recipes I've tried with various ingredients. I rarely have something bomb so badly I'm embarrassed to serve it though. Anyway, as you peruse any of my recipes, the modern-day person may guffaw at how fattening some of these things may sound, but in moderation, I really don't think a lot of this is as bad for you as McDonald's/Hamburger Helper/Trix/Ramen Noodles/Soda...blah blah blah.

Basically, make your own call, use whatever type of ingredients you prefer (processed or real). I've pretty much used them all when it comes to baking these recipes. In the end, I try not to let even eating healthy become an idol, but to be a way of living that brings glory to God. Now, without further ado, here are a couple recipes I tried this week:

Peanut Butter Cookies
(from Fabulous Cookies, by Hilaire Walden)
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Cup crunchy peanut butter
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In another bowl, mix the egg and vanilla, then gradually beat into the butter mixture. Stir in the peanut butter and blend well. Stir in the dry ingredients. Chill for at least 30 minutes, until firm. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 baking sheets. Spoon out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls. Place balls on the prepared baking sheets and press flat with a fork into circles about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, making a criss-cross patter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly colored. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*I thought these were awesome! This is about the 3rd pb cookie recipe I've tried, and it wins hands-down. Also, I used creamy pb instead of crunchy and they were still great.

Peach Cobbler
(Paula Deen, Food Network)

This was soooo good! Now, I haven't baked that many cobblers, but it was wonderful. It was fairly easy too. (As easy as peeling peaches gets, anyway.) This week I substituted 4 cups of mixed frozen blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. The first time I made it I had less than 4 cups of peaches, so I used a flat 2-quart rather than the 3-quart she recommends. It turned out great. Then, when I actually had the 4 cups of fruit, I used the 3-quart and it didn't cook quite right. There were too many variables to know what went wrong, but it seemed to take forever to cook. It tasted fine, but wasn't nearly as pretty as the first one in the flatter dish as opposed to the deeper one. Just an fyi.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


So after much deliberation...we placed our seed order with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I am so unbelievably excited. I can't wait to start the garden! I think we made some wonderful selections, even though this incredibly long list was so difficult to achieve because there were 4 or 5 times as many that we wanted. But without further ado:

Mary Washington Asparagus
McCaslin 42 Pole Bean (They were out of stock on Dragon Tongue - so sad)
Rattlesnake Pole Bean
Waltham 29 Broccoli
Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts
Green Macerata Cauliflower
Amarillo Carrot
Snow White Carrot
Tendercrisp Celery
Poona Kheera Cucumber
Delikatesse Cucumber
Listada De Gandia Eggplant
Thai Long Green Eggplant
Small Warted Mix Gourd (I love these little guys in the fall!)
European Mesclun Mix (So many types...I just went with a big lettuce mix)
Perkin's Long Pod Okra
Red Creole Onion
Wando Garden Pea
Emerald Giant Pepper
Orange Bell Pepper (We love bell peppers)
Quadrato D' Asti Giallo Pepper
Crookneck Early Golden Summer Squash
Zucchino Rampicante Squash (Zucca D'Albenga)
Zucchini Black Beauty Squash
Candy Roaster - North Georgia (Pumpkin)
Emerald Evergreen Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Black Cherry Tomato
Boule D'or Turnip
Basil - Genovese
Dill Bouquet
German Chamomile
Oregano, Vulgare
Petite Mix Marigold
Dwarf Jewel Mix Nasturtium

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Garden Layout Plans

Well, we finally finished! Arranging the vegetable garden, that is. Technically, we haven't even ordered the seeds yet, but we're working on it. The plan was to have them ordered by March 1st...but last week was a rough week. Caleb and I got a bad stomache bug. Twice. Jacob had it once, and fortunately, Isaac never did. But anyway, we're selecting items and will hopefully order in the next couple of days. I'll share that list with you then. :) We've decided (after much deliberating) to order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. There were several wonderful companies to choose from, but I wanted to order from one that not only supported what we believed, but actively didn't support genetic modification. They do just that, so there is no second-guessing when ordering! I know whatever we choose will be a wonderful selection that is non-hybrid (we could save seeds), non-GMO (Genetically modified), non-treated (chemical free) and non-patented (seriously, there are some crazy laws, check out the Food Inc. movie if you're ready...fair warning).

Our basic plan follows Eliot Coleman's suggestion for crop rotation, which teaches that plant families are impacted by being in the same location year after year, and by what precedes them when you do follow a crop rotation. Very interesting theory. He suggests an 8 crop rotation: potatoes follow corn, which follows cabbage - peas - tomatoes - beans - root crops - squash. And so on through a circle. Now, this is just an easy starting point of one all-inclusive rotation that works. He's very clear that you're not limited or required to have exactly 8 planting locations, but the general rules apply. Crop rotation is important in the prevention of disease. For most plants, keeping them in the same location every year will drastly increase your chances of fighting a disease and decrease your yield. There's some debate about tomatoes, as they don't show a yield reduction, and some suggest there's actually an increase when they are left in the same location. He states that he includes them because it works for him. We have chosen to exclude them from our rotation and give them their own bed with asparagus, basil and lavender. I'm including some pictures of our layout that we arranged with index cards. It made it really easy to visualize how much we had in one bed, and to rearrange to suit companion planting. (The idea that certain plants together can inhibit or encourage healthy growth.)
Now, I know that's hard to see, but I wanted you to see the big picture.
Now here are some close-ups.

I have tried to intersperse selected herbs that will complement some veggies. Chamomile seems to help everything - except other herbs! Who would've known? The onion family helps ward off harmful insects, as does mint, but mint tends to take I'm leaving it out.

As for the physical design of the beds, we're following Ed Smith's suggestion for wide rows, with raised beds to create deep topsoil which will improve the overall health and yield of your plants. We're doing nine 4' x 12' beds, and we're opting to support them with a double row of non-pressure treated landscape timbers. They will be about a foot apart. In addition, we will be using supported trellising for all vine plants, including indeterminate (continually fruiting) tomatoes. Here is the trellis system that most resembles what we'll be building. (I'll include pics of that once we're up and running here on the homestead - lol) We're still discussing materials, but it's the general idea: vertical twine.

More details to come...happy gardening!