Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to All!!!

what else would a 13 year old want?

Merry Christmas 

I went a little crazy with plaid this year then added some reindeer and there became my theme.

Granddaughters' hands
have a seat

Come have a seat

Stay for dinner

stuffed peppers

and stay the night in the Princess room

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Relax! Enjoy your day!

LuLu an Maverick- morning nap
soaking up the sun on Christmas Eve

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Peppermint Bark- a great Christmas treat

Peppermint Bark
Who doesn't love peppermint bark at Christmas?  Instead of cookies this is what my Denver Granddaughters made for Christmas treats this year:
mise en place
Here's the recipe:

bittersweet chocolate-1 pound- cut into 1 inch pieces
peppermint oil - 7 drops
white chocolate- 1 pound chips or slab, cut into 1 inch pieces
peppermint chips - 1/2 cup

On a baking sheet add parchment paper
In a double boiler melt bittersweet chocolate.  When almost melted add 7 drops of peppermint oil and stir. Then pour out the dark chocolate on to the parchment paper.  Move the pan and paper until the chocolate in in an even layer.  Set aside.
Now melt the white chocolate in the double boiler.  Add half (or 1/4 cup) of the peppermint chips to the melted white chocolate.  Gently pour the white chocolate mixture over the dark chocolate oval.
Sprinkle the remaining peppermint chips over the top layer and let get hard.
Break into smaller pieces and share with your family and sure to keep some for yourself.

All of these items are easily available at King Arthur Flour - a great resource for baking

Dark chocolate layer

preparing second layer in double boiler

add some teenage friends ( Ella and her friend Sophia)

maybe even some 9 year olds (Kate and her friend May)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thanksgiving muffins

Thanksgiving Muffins
These muffins have ALL the flavors of Thanksgiving and are great for breakfast or a dessert.  Yes those are white chocolate chips in the inside along with cranberries and crystallized ginger.  I have made these with all the original ingredients from the King Arthur Flour recipe and I have also made them gluten free, dairy free and rice free.....all are fabulous.  I hope you try some version for your Thanksgiving celebration:

mise en place

Winter squash harvest

Recipe:  Thanksgiving muffins

1 cup pumpkin puree - you can see I have a supply to last all year
2 large eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs molasses
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crystallized ginger- cut into small pieces- use kitchen shears
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbs sparkling sugar


for a gluten free muffin I substitute equal amounts of "cup 4 cup" flour or oat flour
for dairy free muffins I substitute 1/2 cup apple juice or cider for the milk and omit the white chocolate chips or find a dairy free white or cinnamon chip


Grease 12 wells of a standard muffin pan; or line with papers, and grease the papers.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, oil, molasses, salt, spices, milk, and white chocolate chips.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl

Whisk the four, baking powder, and baking soda together.  Stir in the dried cranberries and crystallized ginger.  Add all at once to the wet ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Cover the bowl and let the batter rest for 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 deg.F

Use a 1/3 cup  measuring cup and scoop batter into each well or paper lined well.  Sprinkle the top of each muffin with about 1/2 tsp sparkling sugar.

Bake the muffins for 20-21 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean

Remove muffins from the oven, and tilt them in their individual wells to cool; this prevents their bottoms from steaming and becoming tough.

Serve warm or at room temp.

cinnamon chips, sparkling sugar and great flours (including gluten free varieties) can be purchased from King Arthur

Happy Thanksgiving!

ready to eat

Salsa time - to save for later

This is the end of my garden harvest.  I have about 8 pounds of tomatillos- both green and purple, some ugly but tasty tomatoes, purple and green Jalapeño peppers and some onions and garlic from the garden.  Let's make some salsa; can it up and have it on a cold January day.
ready for a cold January day
I started with my tomatillo salsa

4 pounds of tomatillos- hulled, washed and chopped
1 cup onion- chopped
4 Jalapeno peppers - seeded, chopped
4 cloves garlic - minced
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup bottled lime juice- remember this is going to be preserved so we need the acid
1/4 cup fresh cilantro - chopped fine

mise en place
Combine the tomatillos, onion, jalapeños, and garlic in a large pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Add the cumin, sea salt, lime juice and cilantro.
Cook and additional 10 minutes.  Taste the salsa and add more salt, cumin, or lime juice if necessary
Ladle the hot salsa into 1 pint jars that have been heat/water processed,* leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe the rims, apply sterilized (boil in water bath 10 minutes) lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  When the processing time is up, remove the canning pot from the heat and remove the lid.  Let the jars sit in the pot for an additional 5 minutes.
Makes 4 pints

This recipe is taken from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan - a great little book for small batches of yummy processed food.


End of harvest tomato salsa:
uncooked salsa
So I had a basket of vegetables that I had picked from my garden- the end of everything,  mostly tomatoes, a variety of peppers- mostly Jalapeños,  red onions, a few tomatillos I missed , young garlic I had to dig for- you get it.  I am going to list a basic tomato salsa recipe from "Food in Jars" for the guideline of ingredients but it was basically whatever was left:

makes 4 pint jars:
6 cups tomatoes ( about 3 pounds) chopped
2 cups onions - chopped
1 cup bell pepper- chopped( 1 large pepper)
1 3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 Jalapeno peppers, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs sea salt
1 cup fresh cilantro - chopped

Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 --1 pint jars.  Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.

Combine the tomatoes, onion, chopped red pepper, vinegar, sugar, Jalapeños, garlic, lie juice and salt in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the salsa no longer looks watery.  Stir in the chopped cilantro.

Taste and add additional jalapeño, lime juice or salt if necessary.

Ladle the hot salsa into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

When the procession time is up, remove the canning pot from the heat and remove the lid.  Let the jars sit in the pot for an additional 5 minutes.  This helps to prevent the salsa from reacting to the rapid temperature change and bubbling out of the jars.

NOTE:  I live a mile high and must add 10 minutes to my procession time because of the altitude.

If your last jar is a little shy of salsa place it in the fridge and it will keep a couple of weeks - I didn't say it would last a couple of weeks

Goodbye garden 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy Halloween!!!

Getting the babies ready for Halloween.  They make great Super Heroes
Bat Girl LuLu (Eloise)

Super Maverick

No they weren't posing!  See why they make me laugh?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Goat Olympics!!!

 Have you been watching the Rio Olympics?  Of course you have.  We learn that the athletes train for years to be fabulous at what they do.  But look at these babies!!! They are 13 days old and LuLu can jump three times her height!!
high jump
How does she do it?  Just like the Olympians.  Practice

Maverick has been practicing too:

balance beam
Maverick on Sunflower

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Goat baby update

We love to watch these little guys grow

blue eyes

mastering the chair

a girl and a goat

Pickled Zucchini

Pickled Zucchini

Another great recipe from Marisa McClellan's Food in Jars book on preserving small batches of food.  We do feel like master gardeners when it comes time to growing zucchini but what do we do with all of it?  I have spiraled it into noodles, baked it with Parmesan cheese, grilled it, added it as a pizza topping.....but today I tried pickling it.  I am surprised how crisp it is...especially with the refrigerator method.  The cumin adds a great difference.  Make sure the cumin is fresh.  Here's the recipe:

3 pounds young zucchini, cut  into 1/2" rounds
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 TBS pickling salt
1 lime sliced
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes, I use chipotle

Combine the vinegar, 2 cups water, ground cumin and pickling salt in a pot and bring the brine to a boil.
Meanwhile place a lime slice in the bottom of each sterilized jar.  Divide the pickling spices among your jars
Pack the sliced zucchini in each jar
Gently pour the hot brine over the zucchini leaving 1/2 inch headspace
If canning, gently tap the jars and use a wooden skewer to release any bubbles trapped.  Wipe the rims of the jars.  Add lids and rings  Process for 10 minutes in boiling water.

If going directly to the fridge.  Let the zucchini soak up all the flavor for 48 hours if you can wait that long.
Happy summer eating.
mise en place

pickling spices, lime and a sprig of lavender

zucchini in jar

Friday, July 29, 2016

Welcome CoCo's new babies!

Well we try to plan these things but nature knows best.  After watching CoCo closely for two weeks without babies I decided to give her a rest - we adults just didn't figure out the right daddy or the right due date.  But Wednesday when I arrived home from work there were two new kids JUST born.  After just a day and a half they are out exploring the barnyard
new family



Friday, July 22, 2016

Sweet and sour pickled onions

Pickled onions on a burger

What is summer without pickles?  And why not pickled onions?
I have made pickled onions before but this is a recipe that beats the first one.  They are ready in the fridge after 48 hours or you can go through the canning process and keep them in the pantry until needed.  I started with a recipe from a book I love called   Food in Jars  Then I made it my own

mise en place

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cups sugar
2 TBS pickling salt
3 pounds red onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder ( red pepper flakes or cayenne)
3 sprigs lavender

Combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, sugar and the salt in a pot over high heat and bring the brine to a boil. 
Add the sliced onions to brine and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer briefly to soften onions.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining spices in  a small bowl and stir to blend.  Add the spice blend and the lavender sprigs in to sterilized jars,

Using tongs, evenly divide the onions among 3 pint jars.  Pour hot brine into each jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Continue typical canning directions or place in fridge for 48 hours.

Canning directions:
Sterilize glass jars and rims and flat lids for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Be careful not to touch the jars or rims with bare hands.  After filling jars and leaving headspace gently tap the jars on a towel lined counter top to help loosen any bubbles before using a wooden chopstick or utensil to dislodge any remaining bubbles.  Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes
Let these pickles cure for at least 48 hours before eating

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Channel Islands, Santa Cruz Island day trip- National Park #2

My childhood friend Dee and I have decided to visit a National Park each year.  Last year we discovered Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. This year we decided to visit a National Park unspoiled by hotels, snack shops and flushing toilets: The Channel Islands off the coast of California.  My cousin, Laurie, joined us. There are four islands in the chain that are part of the National Parks.  With the storms of Winter only 2 are reachable so we took a chance on Santa Cruz Island.  If you're lucky you can see this island on your way North on Hwy 101 from Ventura.  It's the island that Cabrillo had to navigate around to find the mainland and settle in Santa Barbara for you Californians who studied our history in 4th grade.  Our destination Scorpion Bay - 25 miles off the coast.

Boats docked in Scorpion Bay harbor
On to the skiff

The pier was out so we were forced to do a beach landing by skiff.

And off of the skiff.  Harder than it looks
hike up the trail

But when we reach the top:

There are a few species on this island that evolved away from any influence.  The island fox is adorable.  With no predators there is nothing to fear.  These guys are almost a little too friendly.  They behave somewhat like a little dog and a little like a cat.
Island fox

And the tiniest of bugs and lizards:
Golden lizard

Yes and all three of us sexagenarians survived the island too
Thanks for a fun day Dee and Laurie