Friday, October 29

Fall Recipes

I was typing these up to share with my sister and thought I'd throw them up for everyone else too! These are some of my favorite fall recipes. Enjoy!

Fool Proof Pie Crust

4 cups flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour, but you can use whatever)
1 1/3 cups shortening (I use butter)
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup water (possibly a smidge more if you use whole wheat flour)

Blend flour, shortening, sugar and salt with pastry blender. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl. Combine all with fork. Mold with your hands, chill 15 min. Makes 5 crusts. May be frozen up to 6 months.

Delicious Chicken Pot Pie

1 cup potato, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, diced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups cooked, diced chicken (I tend to use a little less and no one ever notices)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth (I use organic Better Than Bullion)
1 cup cream (or whole milk)

Saute veggies in butter 10 min (easiest if you use a wide, deep saucepan). Add flour and cook 1 min, stirring constantly. Combine broth and cream and add to veggies. Cook until thickened. Pour into pie crust, top with a second crust and vent. Bake 40 min at 400*. May also bake individual size pot pies in a jumbo muffin tin or pour mixture into pie plate and top with biscuit dough instead of pie crust.

Vegetable Pot Pie

1 potato, cubed
1 carrot, diced
1/2 head broccoli, cut
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can corn, drained
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese (I use parm or cheddar)
Pie crust

Cook potato, carrot and broccoli until tender. Saute onion and pepper and add to other veggies. Melt butter and stir in flour, whisking until bubbly. Add milk and cook until thickened. Stir in cheese. Pour over veggies and turn into pie plate lined with pie crust. Cover with second crust, vent and bake 20 min at 415*. May also bake individual size pot pies in a jumbo muffin tin or pour mixture into pie plate and top with biscuit dough instead of pie crust.

Creamy Sausage Stew

4 red potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 pint cream
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
1 lb Italian sausage, sliced (hot or mild)
1/6 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (or potato starch)

Toss potatoes, onion, pepper and sausage in a roasting pan or cast iron skillet. Combine oil and spices and pour over vegetables. Cover and bake 45 min at 350*. Add cream, stir. Cover again and bake another 30 - 40 min until potatoes are tender. Place on stovetop, stir in slurry of cornstarch and water and simmer until thickened.


1 1/4 lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 oz butter
5 oz pancetta or bacon
4 egg yolks
6 oz cream
2 oz Parmesan
salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta. Sauté pancetta/bacon in butter, 3-4 min to render. Add pasta and saute until hot. Whisk egg yolks with cream and Parmesan. Add to pasta. Cook gently, stirring constantly until sauce is heated through. Do not overheat! Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve topped with parsley.


How do you appease your wife when your business trip takes three times longer than it was supposed to?

Importing her positively sinful food is a really good start!

I wish that blogger came with smell-o-vision (thank you for that idea, Futurama) so that you could appreciate the decadent fragrances wafting out of my cabinet compliments of the luxurious imported chocolate and coffee Eric brought home for me. I should have taken a picture of the coffee before I opened it - the pressure differential in the plane sucked every last smidgen of air out of it so it was hyper compressed in a funny shape. I know; I'm easily entertained. Speaking of food, expect more recipes now that Eric's back! I don't cook much for myself when he's not here, but I intend to make good use of his time home to make our favorite fall foods and try some new ones. I'll make a point of sharing anything good!

Luckily, Eric was happy with all the changes I made to the apartment while he was gone. I really should remember to write him emails so he knows and isn't just surprised when he walks in. Note to self. Anyway, I tried to take a picture of the beautiful new lamps we picked up for our living room, but it absolutely refuses to rotate properly and load onto this post. So I will have to try again later. Suffice it to say, our living room is slowly becoming a space I'm very happy with. That may not sound like much, but it's actually quite a big deal as we've never put a lot of time, energy or money into a living room before so this is new.

Since I couldn't get that picture up, I am going to share a different one instead. Check out the two glorious prints I located to round out the fabric for my new quilt project! (They are even lovelier in person, I promise.) The quilt store here is amazing; the people are very sweet, always interested in what you're making and excellent at helping you find patterns and colors that work together if you're not sure what you're looking for. I'm also excited because I just heard that friends of ours are having a baby - which means I'll have a reason to make the adorable baby quilts in the latest quilting magazine! (What can I say? Some people are happy to hear about babies because it means they get to go shopping for adorable baby clothes. I'm happy because I get to shop for adorable baby quilting fabrics. Lol.)

Considering that we didn't know if Eric would be home, I didn't plan anything for Halloween. But I did find some incredible (and easy) tutorials online for makeup looks that anyone could do (with whatever colors they have on hand) with or without a costume. Good Fairy, Dita Von Tese, and Spider Web Eyes are my favorites. Next year I think I'll have a Halloween Mary Kay party and feature ideas like this! For something a little more discreet, check out a simple tutorial for spider web nails!

On of the best things I've read on the web all week comes from Patrice Lewis (not surprisingly). Check out the debate raging on her site over homeschooling vs. public schooling children. I know people hold their opinions on this subject fiercely but, if you can, take a couple minutes to read the post and comments. It's a very intelligent discussion, which is something to appreciate and take note of.

Today's recipe is super simple: Sourdough Pizza Dough. It was an experiment I tried last night based on a couple different online options, and it turned out well! For one small pizza (perfect for two people, about the size of a pie plate), take 1 cup of sourdough starter and one cup of flour. Mix together with a splash of olive oil and a handful of your favorite spices (I use basil, oregano, parsley and garlic salt). Knead briefly until smooth and silky, let rise one to two hours. Roll out to desired size, turning up the edges slightly (to help keep all the good stuff in!) and weight with a pie plate or cake pan to prevent the middle from bubbling (or dock if you have a pastry docker). Bake 8 min at 400*, preferably on a baking stone. Remove from the oven, brush with olive oil, top as desired and bake another 8 - 10 min. Healthy, delicious and simple - love it!

Okay, that's it out of me. I'll try to convince Eric to post some of the fabulous pictures he took in NZ soon. For now, it's back to the kitchen - there's carrot cake to be made! :0)

Thursday, October 28

Happy Happy Happy

They gave him back! :0) :0) :0)

The C-5 resisted the urge to break down in the tropics and safely delivered my handsome husband home to me yesterday afternoon.

Hopefully I'll convince him to post some of the beautiful pictures he took on his trip up here soon...

Tuesday, October 26


The modest beginnings of a new quilt! So excited!! :0)


I wanted to share some great links that I've run across this week. Enjoy!

Pray. Vote. Buy more ammo. Fun bumper stickers from Patrice Lewis.

'Airplane!' director cuts ad poking fun at Boxer for 'ma'am' exchange with general Short, but very well done. Check it out.

Antifreeze in Your Ice Cream.
Another reason why I hate the GRAS (generally recogized as safe) provision of the FDA food policies, from The Healthy Home Economist.

Proposed Jail Time for Parents Who Skip School Conferences. This is a can of worms waiting to happen!

Is College Worth It? Some interesting numbers and a debate.

Latest Food Recall: Celery

Monday, October 25

Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal

How could you not read a book with a title like this?!

This book is amazing and should be on everyone's reading list. A funny, easy to read narrative about one farmer's battles with the convoluted, illogical, politically charged and unrealistic food laws currently strangling the Real Food movement in the United States, it will change the way you look at food, farmers and the regulators who are supposedly looking out for the public.

Please go to your library or bookstore and get a copy. If we're ever going to fix the ludicrous food system in America, we need this kind of information. The author actually offers realistic alternatives and solutions instead of just complaining, so it's well worth the time to read!

(Shared on The Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania!)

PSA: Bleach Commercial

Just because it's really annoying me, I wanted to make a Public Service Announcement here about the new Clorox Bleach Commercial on tv. While I fully appreciate the use of bleach on things like clothing and floors, it is ludicrous to tell people that they can soak their children's toys or their dog's food dish in bleach, then "rinse it off" and give it back. Bleach is dangerous if not used properly and it needs to be fully washed off with soap and water!

If you're looking for a quick detox, use castile soap or peroxide. Peroxide especially is dirt cheap, readily available and completely safe. Do not believe commercials. Ever.

Thank you.

Friday, October 22

Shared Recipes

Kelly the Kitchen Kop requested in her latest newsletter that readers send her their favorite fall recipes. I submitted three of my favorites and figured since they're already typed out, I should share them here too! Check out Kelly's page to sign up for her newsletter and get more great (real food) recipes as she shares the best of what her readers send in and info from the upcoming Weston A. Price Foundation Annual Conference.

Pumpkin Bread

This is a seasonal favorite that disappears quickly in my house!

1 1/2 cups of sugar (I sub 1/2 - 3/4 cup maple syrup)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
16 oz pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Cream sugar, oil, egg and pumpkin in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 60- 70 min and 350*.

Vegetable Pot Pie
This is a fantastic recipe for cold days when you want some comfort food and can easily be made with whatever vegetables you have on hand. I have very successfully made mini pot pies out of this recipe in jumbo muffin tins for easy- to- transport lunch food. You may substitute a biscuit crust if you prefer.

1 potato, cubed
1 carrot, diced
1/2 head of broccoli, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can corn, drained
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese (I use cheddar)
Pie crust (I use homemade whole wheat)

Cook potato, carrot and broccoli until tender. Saute onion and pepper and add to other veggies. Melt butter in a large saucepan and stir in flour until bubbly. Add milk and whisk until thickened to make cream sauce. Add cheese. Mix veggies into cheese sauce and pour into pie plate lined with one pie crust. Cover with second crust, vent and bake at 415* for 20 min.

Creamy Sausage Stew
This recipe is simple, but it does take a while so start early! If you use cast iron pans, you can make this a one-dish meal. If not, you'll need to carefully transfer it from an oven-safe roasting pan to a saucepan on the stove. It's absolutely worth the effort!

4 red potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 pint cream
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
1 lb Italian sausage (mild or hot), sliced
1/6 cup oil
1/2 tbsp basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Toss potatoes, onion, pepper, oil and spices in a roasting pan. Cover with foil and bake 45 min at 350*. Add cream and stir. Cover again and bake another 30 -40 min until potatoes are tender. Transfer to stove- top. Stir in cornstarch and water slurry and boil until thickened.

Bread Recipes

After a couple unsuccessful tries, I finally mastered starting and maintaining a sourdough starter. This week I made my first loaf of sourdough bread - it had the silkiest texture! To celebrate, I want to share that recipe which I picked up I believe off of Passionate Homemaking.

I also want to share my recipe for Instant Breadsticks, which I'd almost forgotten I had until I shared it with my sister this week and remembered what a great trick it is to have up your sleeve. When you need bread in a hurry but don't want to resort to the chemical- and soy-laden store bought stuff (or it's gross outside and you don't want to have to leave the house) this is a fantastic recipe to have on hand. It doesn't last well, but fresh out of the oven it's perfect with soup or pasta. Enjoy!

Basic Sourdough Bread

1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups of water
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients and knead briefly. Do not add extra flour or you will compromise the texture of the bread; dough will be very tacky. Let rest 3 hours, deflating and folding every hour. (Or let rise in the fridge overnight.) Shape into a loaf pan or a round boule (on parchment paper on a baking sheet) and let rise one hour. Score as desired and bake 20 min at 450*, then 30 min at 400*. If desired, place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven to add steam.

Instant Breadsticks
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
3 tbsp butter

Combine dry ingredients. Add milk to make dough and knead briefly. Roll out and cut into sticks. Brush with butter and top with garlic (powder or salt as preferred) and bake 16 min at 425*. Serve promptly.

Wednesday, October 20

Snuggling in for Fall

I'm noticing a theme in the blogging world this year that I don't recall seeing before, but which fits nicely with my personal mindset: actively snugging up one's home to prepare physically and mentally for the cold of winter.

Some of my favorite finds so far are homemade door snakes (on my to-do list this week), homemade hot cocoa mix, celebrations of a good canning season, and some frugal seasonal decorating ideas from Melissa over at The Inspired Room as part of her 31 Days of Autumn Bliss series.

I've been doing a few things to snug up the apartment before winter. Arthas helped me measure and sew some fleece curtains to cover the drafty windows in the living room - as you can see, he had the very important job of keeping the fleece in place while I measured. :0)

We also dug the pile of extra blankets out of the closet so that there are plenty of warm throws draped over the chairs and soda, readily available.

I was delighted to get two bags of free quilting fabric from a lady nearby compliments of the "free" page on Craigslist, and some of the prints are going to be perfect for the beautiful quilt pattern I found online! I look forward to getting started on that as soon as I finish reading the incredible book I will regretfully have to return to the library in short order - Eat Fat, Lose Fat by the brilliant Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon (authors of Nourishing Traditions). For all the reading I've done about food, I'm finding lots of new material here and strongly recommend it - especially if you are (or know someone who is) a fan of the South Beach, Atkins, or low-fat diets.

Speaking of diets, I'm glad that I don't feel the need to have a Martha Stewart approved kitchen - it would never happen. My counter seems to be forever hosting at least one bowl of something soaking or rising. I currently have three different bowls sitting out: one with sourdough bread, in the midst of a four hour rising process, one with dough the is going to become yummy breakfast cereal, and a third with rice, being soaked as per the process explained here to improve its nutritional value before it goes into a new recipe I'm trying for Hibachi style fried rice. Sorry for the lack of fun new recipes to post - I'll start cooking again one of these days when the AF gives my husband back!

PS - Just a public service reminder that Thanksgiving (the best holiday ever, of all time) is coming up next month! If you want an organic, pastured turkey now is the time to start looking! Check out the Weston A. Price Foundation homepage or your local natural foods store for a farmer near you. :0)

Sunday, October 17


In honor of October being National Popcorn Month, I thought I'd share this little tidbit from one of the latest books to cross my desk, Poisoned Profits:

"An additive used to make [microwave] popcorn taste more buttery causes a life-threatening lung disease among workers at popcorn plants."

Add that to the list of reasons why we should all pop our popcorn in an air popper or good old stock pot and put real butter and sea salt on top ourselves.

If you have or work with children, put Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children on your reading list. It will change the way you see the world.

Tuesday, October 12


My exploration into the world of real, whole food has led to an unexpected place... fermentation. It's been headed that way for a while, I suppose, with experiments in yogurt, cheesemaking and sourdough bread, but I have discovered those things to be only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using natural fermentation to improve the taste and nutrition of food. I was very pleased to find this book, Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz. It's about the best primer there could be on the subject, and I look forward to more experimenting! If you've never wondered how to make your own yogurt, sourkraut, or kimchi then you can skip this and shake you head at my insanity. It's okay, I understand. But if you ever wanted to know what that stuff looked like before it ended up in a can on a shelf, this will be a real eye opener! Pass it on to the foodies in your life - they'll be much obliged!

PS - One of the best things about this book? The author maintains a website (here) with additional information and readily accepts questions and gives advice on readers' experiences with their own fermented cuisine!

Sunday, October 10

Croaked Croquettes and Powerful Planes

I tried my hand this week at making potato croquettes - kind of like mozzarella sticks, only with creamy potatoes inside instead of cheese. It sounded like a great idea, except that either my recipe is seriously flawed or I'm missing something. The potato mixture was way too soupy to be shaped and breaded properly - I ended up just mushing it all together and making some yummy, if unattractive, potato pancakes. :0) Anyone have any experience making these and want to offer suggestions?

I also had my first day of training to be a docent at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum. It is amazing that so many fascinating things can be packed into such an unassuming space! They have several "movie stars" - planes and an aircraft carrier (real and reproduction) that have been used in famous movies. They also have combatants - planes that actually served in war time and came here still bearing their battle scars. My personal favorite was the one shipped to them with it's giant guns still active... the ATF Bureau wasn't too happy about that and showed up to claim them! They even have their own aviation related library with collections valuable enough to be linked to by the Smithsonian's website. One of the things I was suprised to learn is that it was high tech Kodak cameras (23 of them, in fact) that they lined up in the plane pictured here (an RA-5C Vigilante) to do surveillance and recon. How did I grow up in Rochester, home base for Kodak, and never learn that? And why did my Girl Scout troops never bring us here to learn about the pioneering women in aviation? There were a lot more than just Amelia Earhart!

So, anyway, all that to say that I had a fantastic time and I have much yet to learn!

As a side note, I also found a fantastic book that I highly recommend. It was the selected reading for the online Bloom Book Club. I didn't expect to like it, but found myself extremely impressed. It avoids all the pitfalls frequently endemic to its genre, offering instead realistic perspectives and gentle truth. My library had it, so hopefully yours will too! If you read it or have any experience with the Bloom Book Club, I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, October 9

Alternate Evil

"New York to ban low-income families from using food stamps to buy sugary drinks."

It is heartbreakingly sad and tremendously frustrating to see people trying to make an impact on the social problems of this world we live in, only to have the lies they've been fed twist their good intentions into just another form of the evil they've been trying to fight.

NYC is trying to pass a law making food stamps invalid for the purchase of sugary (hfcs- filled) sodas. The catch? Purchasing the diet versions of the same products (loaded with aspartame, sucralose, and other synthetic, chemically derived sugar alternatives) would be still be allowed!

The lawmakers mean well, and I applaud their motivation to protect their city's children from the ravages of obesity and the resultant health issues. Nonetheless, it is appalling and embarrassing that they should be allowed make a public mockery of themselves with such a clear demonstration of their lack of knowledge about the subject at hand. Why does it not infuriate us that even these powerful people can been sold the bill of lies the megalithic food corporations and their associates are allowed to freely disseminate when the truth is there for the hearing? It's not as if we don't know - don't have evidence - of the dangers of alternative sugars. It's not as if there isn't ample proof of the destructiveness of the modern American diet as a whole.

People continue to suffer and die because we allow our politicians to pile up piecemeal legislation that barely scratches the surface of our nation's fractured food supply and consumption system. When will we, the people, take responsibility for what we and our children eat? When will have had enough and choose to educate and stand up for ourselves?

We deserve better than the diet of lies and poison we're being fed by the media and modern food producers. I just wish more people knew that.

Wednesday, October 6

Suggested Reading

This slim volume is one of the best reference books I've seen for easy understanding of what's in your food, where it comes from and whether or not it's safe to eat. It's user friendly with a basic glossary of terms and a quick cross- referencing set up for the list of additives. It also includes some really helpful allergy references, and an easy to read general information section. Your library should have it, and I highly recommend picking it up to flip through!

Chicken Nuggets Anyone?

This showed up on The Healthy Home Economist and Fooducate this week. Since I know a lot of people don't follow those, I thought I would pass it along. Guess what this is?

Mechanically separated chicken. After chickens have been processed, the bones are passed through a high-pressure sieve, stripping every possible scrap off of them. What you get is a foul, bacteria laden and nasty tasting paste that is soaked in ammonia to kill off the germs and then mixed with artificial colors and flavors to make it palatable. It then becomes things like bologna, hot dogs and chicken nuggets...

Anyone else wonder how different our schools would be if we were feeding school children real, responsibly raised and butchered meat instead of a chemically cocktailed meat paste every day? Ugh.

More Canning

If you'd asked me any year prior to this what my favorite fall scents were, I would have said something normal like apple pie or cinnamon stick candles. This year, I have a new favorite - the tang of brown sugary vinegar simmering on the stove in a pot full of peaches, waiting to be put up for midwinter decadence. Yum!

I love the pickled pear and pickled peaches recipes I found this year, and since both fruits were on sale for a really good price I picked up a couple pounds of each and put up a few pints. In addition, I canned four quarts of cider, a pint of mulled cider, and four more quarts of applesauce. (My kitchen looked like a war zone with pots and pans and cooking utensils piled everywhere... but I eventually got it all scrubbed down and it was so worth it!) Walking into my pantry and seeing shelves of produce canned or dehydrated from the bounty of summer and fall gives me a huge feeling of success and calm. When this unending spell of rain gives way to snow, I'll be prepared!

Of course, I was carefully supervised by my faithful nitro-puppy, who is keenly interested in all kitchen chores because they result in food... he likes food! Here you can see one of his best "Look, I'm cute - you should feed me!" grins. :0)

Sorry for the quality of the pictures. The camera, understandably, is in on the other side of the planet with my husband, so my cell phone is standing in. I'm grateful it works, but haven't quite mastered taking really great pictures with it yet!

Monday, October 4

Super Muffins

There are some recipes that you cheerfully feed people before you tell them what it is. They smile, rave about how good it is, and then look shocked when you admit what the secret ingredient was. This is one of those recipes. Sounds weird, tastes delectable and indulgent and, as a bonus, is really good for you too!

Bean Muffins (from The Crazy Makers by Carol Simontacchi)

1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 1/2 cups bean juice or water
1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat or spelt)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend the beans, juice/water, molasses, egg and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add dry ingredients to the blender and mix just until smooth. Fill oiled muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 25 min. Slather on some butter and enjoy!

Saturday, October 2


My beloved aviator is still in New Zealand, and it looks like I won't be getting him back for a while yet. Still, God is good. Eric had an opportunity to go flying over there! He even sent me some beautiful pictures; I thought I would share. Enjoy!

Friday, October 1


It feels really good to wake up to the fruit of an afternoon's labors, brightly colored and abundant, crowding the counter! (Wish it was a better picture, sorry!)

6 jars applesauce
3 jars pickled cantaloupe
1 jar plum sauce
+ 3 jars marinara sauce
= a good afternoon's work!

Finger Paint

Have any little people in your life? Want something fun to do with them? Check out this super-simple homemade finger paint recipe! :0)