Homemade salad dressing

Homemade salad dressing

We’ve been enjoying lots of lettuce out of the garden. Salads everyday!

Mesclun lettuce

I planted this mesclun mix which is really nice to have the different colours and shapes in the salad.

Store bought salad dressing is made with soybean oil, it’s the first ingredient listed. Even the ones that said “made with olive oil” on the label, listed soybean oil as the first ingredient! So I’ve been venturing to mix my own salad dressing.

Karen and Drew at Herb’N Renewal make a lovely blend of herbs called Greek’n Greens, that you simply mix with your own oil and vinegar. I made theirs last week. It was wonderful! And so easy. This week I tried this recipe:

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. sucanat
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Mix well and add 2 Tbsp. to
1/4 cup vinegar (your choice) I used raw apple cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. water

I’m not a fan of the taste of raw apple cider vinegar though I do appreciate it’s benefits. Next time I think I’ll try it with balsamic vinegar.

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.

Nature walk and Rose petal tea

I took a walk around the property and found the wild roses and ladyslippers blooming. On the weekend when we were cleaning up behind the barn, my son found a bird’s nest in the tall grass. I didn’t see the mama so I don’t know what kind of birds they are, but aren’t they cute in an ugly sort of way? 😀 Can you count them… I think 4 or 5?

My grandmother taught me how to make rose petal tea. It tastes mild and is so fragrant. My researching has turned up the health benefits of the tea. It is an effective medication for the liver and enhances flow of bile, invigorates as well as purifies the liver and the gallbladder. It helps in alleviating problems related with lethargic liver like headaches and constipation. Rose petal tea is also capable of alleviating the problems of insomnia, do away with depression, drive out fatigue and also offer comfort in conditions such as irritability. Aroma therapists use the rose as a gentle sedative or tranquillizer, and an anti-depressant.

When gathering wild rose petals, be sure you are in an area that is not sprayed with pesticides. They offer their best qualities as fresh petals. Put several petals in a tea cup and pour boiling water over, and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Spoon out the faded rose petals and enjoy! You can add honey if you like, I normally add a small amount of honey in my tea but this tea is good without.

Farm fresh cream!

What’s better than farm fresh cream, so thick you have to spoon it?! I know of a farm to get it but it’s quite a distance away. I was in the area last week so was able to get some. Also got 5 lb.s of butter and 2 lbs. of cottage cheese. So good! I was a little exuberant about getting cream so I was looking for ways to use it up. I tried making homemade sour cream, it turned out really good! Also made cream of turkey soup and ice cream, which I haven’t done in a years. My ice cream maker is older and really loud so I made it outside. I add a heaping dollop of cream to my coffee every morning.

What’s your favourite way to use fresh cream?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.

Muesli, egg salad and kefir

Muesli – I tried making muesli this week.  I added raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and soaked it overnight.  I ate several spoonfuls but couldn’t finish it. 😦  I had to cook it.  Guess it’s not my thing.  We all ate the porridge, though.

Eggs – We eat a lot of eggs.  Scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled, pickled.  Hubby takes sandwiches to work for his lunch so I made him some egg salad.  I mixed in my homemade sandwich spread, salt and pepper and a little Herbamare.  If it was just for me, I’d also mix in some chopped onion. 😀

Kefir – Life got busy at the end of November so the kefir got neglected.  I’ve started it up again and am enjoying a glass each morning.  I’m using the powder, not the grains (at this time).  The little bit of kefir that was left in the fridge for several weeks smelled like sourdough starter!  It was a good yeasty smell but not bubbly.  I threw it out. I was wondering if I could have used it in baking or something?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Tuesday Twister

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Some family stuff came up and I didn’t have the mental energy to blog.  It’s been a challenge cooking real food when life gets crazy!  Don’t you find it that way?  I thought I wasn’t doing too bad for suppers.  They were very simple but still real.  It’s the other meals I sloughed off. The worst part is my hubby has been buying processed lunch foods, because I haven’t been home enough to do food prepping and cooking.  My son came down with a cold last week and has been fighting it for longer than I like.  I wonder if there’s a connection between my cooking (or lack of) and son’s health??  Well, I’m trying to get back to doing more again.  Here’s a few of this week’s real foods:

Homemade Noodles – This was the first time I tried making egg noodles with kamut flour.  It was different to work with but tasted pretty much the same to me.

Turkey Noodle Soup – Soup for the homemade noodles, of course.  I cooked turkey bones with garlic and onion to make the broth.  I added some carrots afterwards for colour and taste.  This is one of the first foods I like to cook when anyone is feeling under the weather.

Pumpkin Pudding – I’m working through my pumpkin harvest.  This recipe has lots of pumpkin flavour but is not too sweet. 

3 – 4 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup honey
½ cup flour , type of your choice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Puree the cooked pumpkin with the wet ingredients in a blender of food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Generously grease a medium pan or casserole with about a Tbsp. of butter. Spread the batter in. Sprinkle with the following combined mixture on top:
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. honey

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Kefir and Butternut Peanut Soup

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Homemade kefir

I have been looking for kefir or kefir starter for ages!  Ready to eat kefir is not available in the stores anywhere here. I finally found some starter!  Actually hubby found it when we were out together. I was so excited! I don’t have raw milk to make it with but if it’s as good as I’ve been reading, even made with store milk we should see the benefits.  Eventually I would like to make it with raw milk.  You can read here about the difference between kefir and yogurt.  I have some questions, though.  How is making kefir with the starter different than with grains?  The kefir was ready this morning, I gave it a stir like the directions said.  It looks really good, thick and smooth, but there’s no grains.  It tastes good, a lot like plain yogurt.  My youngest son likes yogurt but said ‘bleh’.  I gave him half a glass and he drank the whole thing.  Maybe first thing in the morning wasn’t the best time to get him to try it.  😀

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Butternut Peanut Soup

The other new recipe I tried was Butternut Peanut Soup. Doesn’t the name sound yummy?  I have quite a few butternut squashes from my garden this year so thought I’d try this different looking soup.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because there were a few ingredients I didn’t have and don’t normally so I adapted it to my pantry.  The recipe posted is my adapted version.  It’s very good and filling too.  I think I’ll try it with turkey stock next time.

Marg's Sandwich Spread

Marg's Sandwich Spread

I promised to share my sandwich spread recipe so here it is.  It turns out a lovely creamy-yellow colour.  Yellower than the picture. The next batch I may experiment with adding different ingredients to this base recipe.

Marg’s Sandwich Spread

2 egg yolks
½ tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. raw honey
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dry mustard mixed with a little water.

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a blender. With the blender running, drizzle in olive oil very slowly. Mix the dry mustard with a little water to make a paste and add to the blender. Keep refrigerated.

Yield: approx. 1½ cups

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Mostly poultry

Here’s a look at the real food that’s been cooking in my kitchen this week.  I didn’t realize we were eating so much poultry until I put this post together! Ha!

Roast turkey – I cut the legs and wings off one of our homegrown fresh turkeys, put them in the freezer for another time and roasted the rest, breast side down. Cooking it breast down makes it very moist. I removed the breast and sliced it for a meal and for sandwiches.

Curried turkey – We loved this! It’s also a good way to use bits of meat you get from different parts of the turkey. It can be made with any kind of leftover meat. The way I used to cook it called for canned cream of mushroom soup, but this time I made it with real ingredients only and it was so much better! I served it over brown basmati rice.

Turkey enchiladas – not pictured. This was a new recipe I tried and it was very good! Filling too and we hardly knew it was turkey. Which was nice since we’ve been eating so much of it lately. 😉

Turkey stock – The bones were so big, I had to cook it in my canner! It made lots of yummy broth.

For a turkey that had the legs and wings removed, it fed us for a lot of meals. I picked the last bits of meat off the bones, (another pound!) and froze it for another meal at another time. Hopefully that’s the end of it for a while!

Greek Roasted Chicken and Potatoes – I make this fairly often. It’s a family favourite. I especially like it because you can adapt it for feeding more or less people.

Fresh Tomato Soup – A soup made with chicken broth, from the leftover roast chicken. I used up the last of my tomatoes from the garden. The picture doesn’t show that there are chunks of tomato, green pepper and chicken. I also used up the last little bit of cream I bought earlier in the week even though it didn’t call for it.

Sandwich Spread – I won’t buy Miracle Whip anymore and mayonnaise isn’t zippy enough for my family so I’ve been experimenting with a sandwich spread recipe. I don’t want to call it Miracle Whip because I’m not trying to copy the taste but make my own. This one turned out pretty good. They’re eating it in their turkey sandwiches so I guess it’s okay. 🙂

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

There’s good news and bad news.

On goes the quest to eat more real foods and eliminate processed crap.  It’s been a week of ups and downs. Here’s a short review of what has been slicing and dicing (twisting) in my kitchen this week.

Sourdough breadMy sourdough starter was a success and I was really anxious to make some healthy bread for my family! Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. The bread is far too sour and will be croutons in its next life.  Come think of it, I’m sure I did this once before, years and years ago.  I’m so discouraged and fear this learning curve is just too steep for me.

That was the bad news, now the good news:

Gazpacho – I made gazpacho again this week for hubby’s lunches and packed it in 1/2 pint jars to-go. I changed up how I made it from last time and it turned out much better, I think. Super healthy for hubby too as everything is raw.

Tuna Noodle Skillet Dinner – this I winged. I improvised on my homemade version of hamburger helper to make a tuna helper. Tuna, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, whole wheat rotini, in a cream sauce and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. It was surprisingly good!

Tomato cucumber and onion salad – very basic, simple ingredients but so delicious! Peel and slice 3 small cucumbers thinly, cut tomatoes into wedges and slice onions thin. I use twice as much tomatoes and half the onions as cucumbers, but you can use any ratio you like. Drizzle with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and toss gently.  You can try different types of vinegar but the white wine vinegar is so good!  I may never use regular vinegar again. 😉 Refrigerate for at least an hour to blend the flavours. A lovely summer salad!

Food for thought – No matter what happens – there’s always someone who knew it would.

This post is part of Tuesday Twister hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com

Bread baking battle

breadI used to make bread for my family a few years ago. Then life got busy and I resorted to store bought.  So here I am trying to make bread for my family again. Why? For the hell health of it.  Here goes another babystep towards feeding my family REAL food.

My attempts at making healthy, moist, delicious bread have not met with success, actually they have all been just ‘edible’.  Did I lose my touch? I’m even trying my hand at making sourdough starter in attempts to create the healthiest for my family.  

I love reading stories from the pioneer days, hear how things were done back then.  Some of their struggles were a lot like mine, but some struggles I can only imagine.  If you are like me and have yet to turn out a perfect loaf of bread, I hope you find the following an encouragement:

Taken from “Come ‘n Get It ~ Favorite Ranch Recipes” by Beulah Barss.

Bread making used to require the preparation of the flour yeast sponge the night before baking. If kept warm all night, the sponge would be nicely risen by morning, no small task in houses with wood-burning stoves and fires that died out.  Ranch wife Monica Hopkins wrote: “These evenings I wrap my bread in a blanket and Billie’s fur coat, put it in one of the wicker chairs and cover all up with a travelling rug and you should see it next morning, right up to the very top of the bread pan.” Monica Hopkins, Manuscript “Log Cabin and We Two” 1909-10.

Mrs. Short arrived in High River in 1884.  There was neither yeast nor a stove available.  She baked sourdough bread every day in an iron pot with a heavy lid, a Dutch oven. “A fire was built of dry willow wood, as it died down a hole was scraped in the ashes and a covered pot containing the large round loaf was placed therein, and the hole covered with coal and ashes.  In an hour or so the bread was cook. From the diary of Lulu Short

The First Batch of Bread

We had just moved to our place near Swift Current and mother had never tried making bread before.  There she was in the kitchen, banging the cupboard doors, slamming the oven of the new Kitchen Queen, tears of frustration in her eyes, angry words on her lips.  Dad heard the commotion and came in.  He took one look at those hard, brown blocks spread out on the kitchen table and then went over and put his arms around her.

Next morning he woke us children early and motioned us to follow him to the creek bank where he had only yesterday cut steps in the moist clay.  He stopped at the first step, fished one of the dry loaves out of his bag, set firmly on the clay step, marked its size, lifted it, cut a neat hole, then fitted the loaf perfectly into the hole to form a step.  Then he embedded the second loaf in the second step and the third loaf in the third step and right down the line until the six loaves graced the six steps as if they had been made for that purpose.

Then we fetched mother to share in the admiration of our new concrete like steps leading to the creek.  Well, we all laughed so hard we hardly had strength to make it back to the house.

But mother was not beaten.  She tackled bread baking again and again and soon was able to turn out six beautiful, golden crusted loaves.  Dad while munching a sample with obvious satisfaction said it was just as well since there were no more steps to make.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays, hosted by FoodRenegade.com

Bread and tomatoes

Bread: This week I made bread and buns.  I used to make it all the time a few years ago when I was involved in the local Farmers Market. I used the same recipe but I tried soaking the flour a day ahead but I could only soak about 1/3 of the recipe as the rest I had to work in dry. Not sure how I’m going to overcome that problem. 

Sourdough Starter: I also tried making sourdough starter this week.  I think it might have worked?!  It was a really warm windy day and I set it outside. By the end of the day, it was all bubbly. 🙂  I had to put it in a larger jar.

Gazpacho: I used a recipe at cheeseslave.com but modified it a bit to suit what I had.  When we went to Spain we had gazpacho and I loved it!  My attempt at it didn’t quite taste like what we had there but it was still good.  I tried to make it smooth but turned out more like a smoothy than a soup.  Still tasted good.  It’s a good food to put in hubby’s lunchbox.

Shrimp Pasta Sauce:  This is a dish I created based on pasta dishes we would have in Italy.  Saute chopped onion in coconut oil, add sliced mushrooms, lots of minced garlic and lots basil.  When the mushrooms are just about done, add chopped tomatoes and shrimp.  Heat and serve over whole wheat pasta.  You can substitute the shrimp for any seafood.

Chokecherry Wine: Not pictured but I started a batch of chokecherry wine.  Not sure how “real” this is as I used sugar, but I did use an old fashioned recipe, the way grandpa would have made it.  Doesn’t the fermentation eat up the sugar?

This post is part of Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by GNOWFGLINS.com