Friday, April 17, 2015

Spinach and Radish Soup

colander of spinach and radishes posing with my lettuce and giant lima sprouts
For several days, I have been trying to find creative ways to use the beautiful, huge, plentiful spinach in my garden. I grew it, so I don't want it to go to waste. I had tossed around the idea of this soup for a while before I actually found the courage to try it with my children this evening. They tend to be funny about the way food tastes.

As the cool sprinkles fell from the sky I made my way out to the garden. I am so amazed at what peace I have come to find there...even when I have to pull some weeds. :)

With my trusty colander and scissors in hand, I cut some spinach leaves and pulled a couple of radishes I found that were ready. I had hoped to find more radishes, but it seems I will have to wait a little longer. I guess it's a good thing I had a bag of them from the store that I bought the other day.

Inside I came to wash my ingredients, and the chopping and tossing of things that sounded good into the pot began! The result was a very yummy soup that had even my children sayings, "Mmmm!" With results like that, it had to go on the blog!

So without further Adieu, I present for your palate's pleasure...

Spinach and Radish Soup

2 T butter
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package Polska Kielbasa, sliced
1 lb radishes
32 oz chicken stock
1/4 t turmeric
1 t salt
4 c spinach, chopped
1 T sugar, optional

In a large stock pot, melt butter. Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add in sliced kielbasa, and lightly brown. Add in radishes, allowing them to cook a few minutes while stirring occasionally. Add in chicken stock, turmeric and salt. Cook until radishes are soft. With a potato masher, mash the radishes lightly to break them up. Add in spinach and allow them to wilt. Add sugar to cut any bitterness if desired. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Feeling Blessed

When I was young, I learned my grandparents lost a daughter when the girl was just a baby. She was my mother's sister. Some time later, my grandparents' home burned down, and they lost all the precious reminders of the dear little one they lost. The story always troubled me so because it was so sad to me.

It was also as a young child that my grandparents built a home atop a tall hill at the base of Fort Mountain in north Georgia. Oh, the precious memories and peace those mountains hold for me still to this day! In their home hung what seemed to me as the most sad picture. I couldn't understand why anyone could want a picture of a burial of a child on their wall. I just figured it must bring sweet memories of the daughter they lost. The picture was always dim and not clear, but it was okay with me. I didn't want to inspect it, and I spent a lot of time avoiding looking at it.

Today, as I walked around my garden and yard looking at my plants, I remembered that picture.

Jean-Francois Millet’s painting The Angelus
I remember the day someone finally pointed out that picture was in fact not a burial, but a couple praying over their harvest. Oh, goodness! As silly as I felt when someone pointed out what that picture really was, I was incredibly relieved. Even still, I didn't grasp the full beauty of that picture that is not until the last few months.

For so long I have wanted a garden, a real garden. A garden productive enough to feed my family food I knew was healthy and chemical free. The trouble was that I had no clue about gardening. I kill house plants in a matter of days, my flower beds are full of weeds and ants, and my sod is dead. Can you understand my hopelessness? The only thing I am truly gifted at is growing huge, rampant weeds! Though I come from long lines of those with beautiful green thumbs, mine is as brown as brown can be. How in the world would I ever grow a nice garden?

I did what I always do when I don't know what to do. I just prayed. I asked God to show me something about gardening that I could understand, because I truly don't understand traditional garden rules, do's and don't's. It is like trying to understand Greek to me. I asked Him to teach me and guide me, and show me what to do. It was hard to not be envious when many friends talked of garden plans and what they were getting from their gardens. Yet, I chose to be patient and listen and pick up any morsels of knowledge I might gain from their conversations, like Naomi and Ruth gathering wheat that had fallen to the wayside from the harvested fields. It wasn't long before a video about the Back To Eden Gardening Method came across my path from a dear friend. The video was so beautiful to me. I felt God sent it to me, because, finally, I understood something. I got it! Also beautiful to me was the whole idea of covering streaming throughout the whole video and how vital it is to the healthy growth of the garden. Since the teaching of prayer covering was new and precious to me, the amazing way God works was just absolutely beautiful and astounding to me! How beautiful he works and teaches if we are willing to be vulnerable and open our hearts and minds to listen. His words and ways are sweet as honey! I remember crying in thanksgiving and awe while watching parts of the video. God is so incredibly good.

Still, it was another year before I could put my garden in. When I knew for certain I was ready, and it was time, I still had obstacles to overcome: Convincing and teaching my husband who became quite frustrated with me, blocking out naysayers, and finding materials. Still God has been so incredibly faithful. I never did convince my husband. I had to give that over to God. I didn't want to argue with my husband or make him feel he was wrong. I just shared a couple videos and prayed. God eventually opened his heart and mind, and he became just as excited, if not more than, me! To those who doubted or said it wouldn't work, I just had to let their comments go in one ear and out the other. Most who gave me reasons it wouldn't work were dear to me. They were very experienced gardeners with beautiful harvests each year. I had every reason in the world to listen to them, yet God whispered to keep going. I loved them dearly and respected them, so I just sat and listened with respect. You know, there were still grains of knowledge in their words from which to learn. I'm so glad I sat and listened without argument! The supplies were also tricky. I had a bit of a challenge locating all I needed and some things fell through, yet God provided as always! I was amazed that each time we were ready to put out a layer, my husband would say, "We don't have enough. It's not going to cover everything." I distinctly remember not saying a word other than we would do the best we could. I would just start praying as I started work on putting out the material. I prayed that God would bless the material and stretch it. Then I would pray that God would bless the garden that it would be in the end. I would thank God for leading me to the method I could finally understand, and I would tell Him I trusted Him to provide. With each layer of material, we would have just enough or even a little left over! That is my God!! I later told my husband of my continuous prayers through the process, and he heartily agreed that it was God who stretched our materials.

So this morning as I walked around looking at the beautiful plants growing in my garden and the tiny plants sprouting up from where I just simply scattered seeds around in different places in the field, I felt so incredibly blessed and loved. It was as if God gave me a hug. Even my cabbages that I was sure were completely lost to a frost a couple days ago were still alive! I still don't know if they will continue to grow and thrive, but even if they don't, I know God is right there teaching me something He wants me to know! When I came inside to the plants I started inside with 100% germination, the feelings of incredible love and thanksgiving continued! Those plants are huge, and there is simply no reason they should be that big and still be alive-I've already told you my history with house plants! As I marveled and questioned how in the world it was possible they were still living and thriving, my answer came. They were alive because I didn't grow them. My faith in God and His promise grew them! Wow, wow, wow!!

As I ready myself to plant the bulk of my garden in the next couple days, I have no confidence in my ability to make the garden work, to keep the weeds out, to keep the pests out, to water it well enough, etc, etc. BUT I do have full faith in God to teach me what He would have me know. My garden could completely flop, but I know my God is right there teaching and guiding! For now, I am holding to the faith that He will continue to grow my garden just as He has already started to do.

Also for now, if anyone has a copy of the picture above they are going to throw out, I would love to have it. It is now near and dear to my heart, for I get it. :)

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cranberry Orange Scones with Spiced Cream Topping

Oh, yall! Don't you just love it when you experiment in the kitchen and the recipe works the first time?! Today was one of those such days!

I have been toying around with the idea of this recipe for a while now. I found this recipe online a while back, but I can never leave well enough alone. I seem to always have to adjust it somehow, and make it mine. :) I figured if I was going to use the cranberries left in my refrigerator from Christmas before they went bad, I had better get busy! So...I present to you today my modified creation. Please pardon the poor photo quality! I was in too big of a hurry to eat to get the pictures just right! 

Before I started, I turned on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees and placed my silicone mat in my baking sheet. For the recipe, I first mixed coconut and almond flours, sweetener, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. I used softened butter in this step so that the coconut oil in the next step wouldn't immediately get hard before I could mix it in.

I stirred in the melted coconut oil. While I prepared the next ingredients, I placed this mixture in the refrigerator.

Next, I squeezed the orange, sorted one cup of cranberries, cut up cream cheese into chunks, and cracked and beat four fresh farm eggs!  Ah...I love this life! :)

Look how rich and yellow those eggs are!!

I took the mixture from the refrigerator, and cut in the cream cheese. I suppose that the cream cheese could have been done at the same time as the butter if it was softened, but that was just how it happened this morning. I forgot I wanted to add it until the mixture was already in the refrigerator. :D Lastly, I added in the greek yogurt, eggs, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and cranberries, and mixed thoroughly. The mixture was dropped by large, heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Now, I am a southern cook. By a large heaping tablespoon, I mean I went to the kitchen drawer and found the largest tablespoon I have, not a measuring spoon nor a mixing spoon, heehee! I mounded the mixture on the spoon and dropped it onto the pan. :) :)

Into the oven it went! Out of the oven and into my tummy it went!

Cranberry Orange Scones with Spiced Cream Topping
1/2 c Coconut flour
1/2 c Almond flour
2 T Sweet Blend (or 1/3 c sweetener that measures like sugar)
2 t Baking powder
1/4 t Baking soda
1/4 t Salt
1 c Fresh cranberries
1/4 c Butter, softened
2 T Coconut oil, melted
1/4 c Greek yogurt
3 oz Cream cheese
4 large Eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c Orange juice
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 t cinnamon

1/4 c Powdered Swerve
2 oz Cream cheese
1/2 c Heavy cream
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/4 t Vanilla extract
juice from 1/2 of an orange

Mix flours, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Cut in softened butter. Stir in coconut oil. Place this mixture in the refrigerator while the next ingredients are prepared. Sort and measure out cranberries, Measure out greek yogurt, cinnamon, and vanilla, Squeeze orange juice, Crack and beat eggs. Remove mixture from the refrigerator. Cut in the cream cheese. Stir in the eggs, yogurt, cinnamon, vanilla, juice and cranberries. Mix well. drop mounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until slightly golden on top. Yields 12 light and fluffy 'Scones'. :)

To make the topping, place all the ingredients in a bowl. I used my coffee grinder to turn my granulated Swerve into a powder. It works wonderfully! (I started with a 1/4 cup heavy creaming adding more until I reached a consistency I liked.) Use an immersion blender or hand mixer to blend ingredients until blended well into a fluffy mixture. Store unused topping in refrigerator.

Ugh! That stinkin' flash and photographer! I was too close, I guess! I totally apologize I don't have a better picture for you! I need more practice with the new camera!

I hope you get to try this recipe, and let me know what you think! It sounds like a complicated and time-consuming recipe, but really, it is very quick and easy! Have fun with it! Let me know your favorite changes!

Until we meet again, be blessed! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Just Like Garden Tea

I absolutely love to travel, but I cannot imagine living anywhere but where we live. I love our little community and our little church. (I have to say that loosely, because our house is actually twenty-five to thirty minutes away.) I have so many beautiful friendships there with those who encourage me and inspire me and challenge me in my faith, abilities, and gifts. They are a beautiful addition to the friendships I have had for nearly half my life.

One of my favorite things we do is get together for frolics. I was not born with the "I-love-to-clean" gene, so those frolics I really do not like, heehee, but the ones where we get together to do corngreen beans, peas, butcher chickens and pick strawberries, peaches or any other number of things just excite me!

Usually, on a big frolic day, there will be a meal. Many times at one of those meals Garden Tea will be served, and most times it is made with the herbs grown right outside the home of a wonderful woman with a talented green thumb. Sadly, I wasn't born with that gene either. :( I am desperately trying to learn to have one, though! :)

The first time I ever had this tea, I was very new to the community. I had never been to a work frolic before, nor had I ever had Garden Tea. It was a corn frolic at one of my dear friends' sister's home. I didn't know what was in my cup when I turned it up that day, but my heart simply skipped a beat at the first sip! It was so light and invigorating! It was the perfect drink for a warm day of hard work. I thought about that drink for a whole year until it was time for the corn frolic at the same home the next year! Imagine my total sadness when it was not served! Agh! What?! Sigh....Luckily, a short time later there was a green bean frolic, and my friend Mari at Patchwork Blessing had made some to serve. I had to have two cups! heehee!

Well, fast forward to just a short while ago when my friend, Catherine, introduced me to essential oils. With my first order, I received a bottle of Slim and Sassy. It took me a while to warm up to the idea of actually trying it, but alas, I did. Just by pure chance I decided to try it in my oolong tea. I had just been turned onto that tea by Mari at the green bean frolic....All these healthy habits these ladies get me into, I tell ya what!

Into my 12 oz. tea I added the four drops as the bottle directed. Imagine my utter surprise when I tasted the taste of my familiar, beloved, garden tea!! EEEK! I love the flood of memories that still come with each sip!

Just as a couple words of caution, if you are not already used to the taste of garden tea, I would start with just one or two drops and work your way up to four. Also, you will want to drink from a straw, and stir with that straw as you go.

I hope you get to try it, and let me know what you think!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sisters and Sippers

I would like for you to meet my sister, Deb. She is just one of my two awesome sisters who are doing Trim Healthy Mama with me. I wish I could say I am doing as well with it as she is! This is her helping my little girl learn to crochet. Speaking of crochet, you should the work my other sister can do. Wow! But that is another story for another day. :)

Deb came to our Christmas Eve family gathering with her GGMS in hand. I think I slipped the can of Pepsi in my hand behind my back. I told you she was good! My life got a little hectic, and I didn't take time to plan and eat or drink like I should.

She told me what was in it, and I had to have a sip! She called it Black Cherry Limeade. It was so yummy! My body honestly wanted her drink more than the Pepsi. My body gets angry with me if I go off plan and pulls off many successful revolts! I asked her today for the recipe and permission to share it. Boy was I bummed to learn I didn't have all the ingredients on hand to make it myself. Still I wanted to share it with you!  :)

Black Cherry Limeade
2 green tea bags
1 tsp fresh ginger
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 packet of True Lemon Black Cherry Limeade
Sweetener to taste

Brew tea in a two quart jar. After steeping, add other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate or serve over ice.

Since I didn't have all her ingredients on hand, I went plundering through my own cabinets to see what ingredient treasure trove awaited discovery. I didn't find that the regular green tea or True Lemon Black Cherry Limeade had been buried buy a mysterious Captain Cook, but I did find enough treasures to make another version.

Black Cherry Lemonade
2 black cherry tea bags
2 oolong tea bags
2 chunks fresh ginger
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 packs True Lemon
Sweetener to taste

Brew all the teas in a two quart jar. When tea is cool, remove tea bags, squeeze in ginger, add lemon packet(s), vinegar, and sweetener to taste. Mix well. Refrigerate or serve over ice.

My version was really good, but I can promise you, Deb's is awesome! I like the slight tartness that adds a little brightness to her sipper. Have fun with these two sippers and have a Happy New Year!

Canning Black Eye Peas

Hello again, friends! I seem to be on a dried bean canning and Good Girl Moonshine making frenzy lately!

Last year I canned and blogged about canning black eye peas without soaking first. I was also canning collards. Oddly enough it was in preparation for New Year's Day! You can read about that here.

I got so excited about being able to do those peas in such a quick and easy way, I totally forgot to sort or rinse them. I haven't eaten them. What if I bite down on a rock and break a tooth?? heehee!

Anyway, fast forward to this December. I decided to try my peas again. This time making sure they were sorted and rinsed to make sure they were as clean as possible. Have you ever imagined where your dried beans have been or what they have touched? eww! Hmm! One would think this city girl on the farm would have gotten over that by now. Give me credit! I am a whole lot better than I used to be! :D

Let's begin! Of course, I started by sorting and rinsing really well three pounds of peas. I let those soak overnight (12-18 hours is recommended). When I was ready to begin, I got my canner ready, warming the water a little and getting my broth heating to boil.

Into each quart jar, I scooped two cups of peas and a small slice of cured salt pork (Ham could also be used.) For my pints, I used one cup of peas. *

I filled my jars with a boiling broth/water mixture to one inch head space. You can use plain boiling water, straight boiling broth, or any ratio of the two. I didn't have enough broth to do all my beans so I did about half and half, maybe a little more water than broth. If using plain water, you can add 1 teaspoon of salt to quarts and 1/2 teaspoon to pints if you wish.

Lastly, air bubbles were removed and the jar rim was wiped clean. I placed warm lids and rings on the jar to seal and placed the jar into the canner. I repeated the process until the canner was full. The quarts were processed for 90 minutes at 10 psi. Pints were processed for 75 minutes at 10 psi. Make sure to adjust pressure for your altitude.

Filling the jars the way I did, this was my total yield from the three pounds of beans. *I had never canned soaked peas before, and my peas had not soaked for a full twelve hours even though I soaked overnight. I didn't want to overfill the jars not knowing how they would do. I would have been fine adding a litte more beans to the jars. You can experiment with what works best for you. Make sure not to overfill, though. This site is very helpful. As you will notice, I skipped the boiling step after soaking. That was another reason for not wanting to add too many beans to my jar. For your safety, you want to make sure the contents of the jar can heat through properly.


So, there you go, my friends! It was easy peasy! What is your favorite way to can black eye peas? If you will be trying them for the first time, let me know how it goes! Feel free to share in the comments! Happy canning!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

*Follow USDA canning guidelines to ensure safety of all home-canned foods.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Seasoned Black Beans

Seasoned Black Beans
My favorite canning recipe!
Oh my goodness, y'all! You know the yellow dog on those commercials that nearly gives out the family recipe for the famous baked beans? Well, that same company makes what used to be my favorite seasoned black beans. That family shouldn't worry about the dog anymore, because I have a recipe for you that will rock your tastebuds' world! These beans taste just like those you would buy in a store! I will forever reserve this recipe (that is now my favorite canning recipe!) for my favorite blue jars! Yes! They are really that good!!

To start, I sorted, rinsed and soaked three pounds of black beans. I let them soak in cold water on the counter overnight.

Aren't they so pretty?

The next morning, I got everything ready to go. I started by putting the broth for the beans on the stove to bring it to a boil. For one batch of broth, I used two 32 oz. cartons of beef broth, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt. Depending on the amount of beans you use, this broth recipe may need to be multiplied. I can't remember how many times I multiplied my broth. It was either three or four.

Once this was heating, I got my canner and lids and rings ready. I still heat my rings since I didn't have much luck with my jars sealing when I didn't heat them.

Next, I filled my pint jars with one cup of soaked beans. For quart jars, use two cups of beans.

When the broth was at a boil, I filled the jars to one inch head space.

Air pockets were removed and the rims were wiped clean before being sealed and placed in the warming canner. Pints were processed for 75 minutes at 10 psi. Quarts would be 90 mins at 10 psi in my area. Be sure to use proper pressure for your elevation.

This is the first batch just out of the canner! I was so worried I wouldn't like them, but boy was I wrong!

We used one jar to make black bean burritos for lunch. (One jar made three small burritos.) That was my whole purpose in making the beans to begin with. I couldn't be more pleased with the results! In a small processor, dump one jar of drained beans that have been heated. Drizzle in a small amount of olive oil. Process to desired consistency. Mmmm!

I hope you have a chance to try to the beans! If so, let me know what you think! Feel free to let me know your favorite way to use your black beans in the comments!

Seasoned Black Beans Broth Recipe
2- 32 oz cartons beef broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

Place broth in a large stock pot and add seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add boiling broth to 1 cup soaked beans for pints or 2 cups of soaked beans for quarts leaving one inch head space. Process beans in a pressure canner. Pints should be processed for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 10 psi. Be sure to adjust for your altitude. Multiply broth as many times as needed for your amount of beans.

*To ensure safe canning, always follow safe canning guidelines issued by the USDA.

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!