Jean’s Cabbage Roll Caserole

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What do you do with cabbages like this?
Well most of it is going into sauerkraut, but I’m planning
several yummy meals of my

Homemade Cabbage Roll Casserole!

Now those are some whopping cabbages! For those of you interested in the variety, they’re Late Flat Dutch. This variety grows quite large with a flat, dense consistency and are a great storage variety!

I only use this variety to make my sauerkraut for two reasons:

  • First is because they’re ready to harvest later in the season when I’m not as busy with my other canning- convenience.
  •  Secondly, it’s very dense and tight which makes it heavier, therefore gives you more in quantity.

It also makes a mean cole slaw and my families favorite, Jean’s Cabbage Roll Casserole.  So as promised over at my Facebook page… which BTW if you haven’t been over to, click the button over to the left of this post and Like it! We have loads of fun there.

Jean’s Cabbage Roll Casserole

6 cups shredded cabbage
1 lb. raw ground beef or pork or a combination of both
1 cup white rice- I use Basmatti
1 med. white or yellow cooking onion, chopped
1 quart (4 cups) tomato juice
2 c vegetable broth or chicken is good too
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Method:

1. Chop/shred cabbage

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2. Add meat
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3. Chop onion and add into mixture.
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4. Add rice.
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5. Add tomato juice, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
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6. Mix all together with your hands thoroughly.
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7. Bake in a 300 degree oven on center rack for 3 hours, or until cabbage and rice are soft and meat is done.
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Serve with dinner buns and enjoy the flavors of fall!
Happy Day,
Jean

Fall Harvest Recipes: Squash is on the menu tonight

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Fall is filled with wonderful things… including all the winter squash we’ve harvested. We’re reaping what we’ve sown and it’s time to enjoy it on our tables.  Try some of these recipes to put some adventure into your squash cooking this season!

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Butternut squash is a fall favorite for many. My version will add a ‘zippy’ twist to it’s traditional, smooth, balanced flavor.
Zippy Butternut Squash Soup
8 c. chunked, peeled butternut squash
4 c. chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. fresh ground white pepper

Method:
Combine all ingredients into a large kettle. Bring to a boil on high heat; reduce heat to simmer and cover.
Simmer for 40 minutes. Add additional broth if needed.
Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Puree in a food processor or blender in small batches, no more than 2 cups at a time, until smooth.

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Acorn squash is an all-time favorite for many families. Here’s a really special treat that even the little ones are sure to enjoy!
Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
3 sweet apples, peeled, cored and chopped. I like Gala, Gold Delicious or Empire
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Method:
1. In a large bowl combine apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon and mix well.
2. Divide the apple mixture evenly between the 4 halves and fill the cavities.
3. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

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We love this yummy variation to squash!
Sausage Stuffed Squash
1 Sweet Dumpling Squash, halved and seeds removed
1/2 lb. breakfast sausage or Italian Sausage
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1/4 c. celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. regular bread crumbs
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. shredded co-jack cheese

Method:
1. In a large skillet brown sausage, onions and celery together; drain off excess liquid. Stir in cheeses and bread crumbs.
2. Divide the sausage mixture evenly between the two squash halves; place in a baking dish and bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes covered. Test with a knife if it inserts easily; bake the last 10-15 minutes uncovered.
When your knife slides in and out easily it is done.

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Here is a super yummy recipe to put a twist in breakfast time!
Maple Squash Pancakes
1 c. cooked and mashed squash
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. maple flavoring
2 1/2 c. biscuit mix, like Bisquick
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Method:
1. Beat the eggs and cooked squash together until well mixed; add milk, oil and maple flavoring blend in.
2. Combine dry ingredients and stir into liquid.
3. Fry on a hot, lightly oiled skillet.

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Pie is not reserved for apples… try this yummy variation to coconut cream pie.
Spaghetti Squash Pie
1 unbaked 9″ pie shell
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 cup cooked spaghetti squash
1 Container whipped topping
1/4 cup sweetened, toasted coconut
1 Tbsp. butter

Method:
1. Beet eggs slightly and add remaining ingredients except the squash, mix well; now stir in squash.
2. Pour mixture into un-baked pie shell; bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes; reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 20 t 30 more minutes, or until golden and when a knife inserted comes out clean.
3. While pie is baking toast coconut in butter, stirring constantly.
4. Remove pie to a cooling rack for half hour and refrigerate. Top with whipped topping and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
Serve chilled.

Winter squash is abounding at your local farmers markets and road side markets. Pick up a few  extra and try freezing some so you’ll have it handy all winter long.

Happy Day,
Jean

Fall Flavors: Some of my families favorite fall recipes

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I simply cannot help but cook and bake when the cool days of Autumn begin pressing relentlessly against my will.  So even though I’ve just spent many days over the last several months canning and preserving all my garden’s bounty… I still remain in the kitchen.

I love cooking for my family and I thought it would be nice to share some of their favorites with you here! So, as promised over at For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page… Some of my families favorite “Fall Flavor’s” recipes… enjoy friends.

Pizza In A Pot on page 121 in my cookbook

This recipe is in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on pg.  121. You can purchase my cookbook by coming to my Facebook page at this link https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651

Or you can purchase using PayPal by clicking this link https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/10/12/2610/  . Click on the link in the article.

1 lb. ground sausage or hamburger
2 c. (or more) stewed tomatoes
2 c. soup, kidney or black beans
1 can black olives
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T. Minute Tapioca (optional) – I don’t use this
1 T. basil
1 bay leaf
1 T. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Brown meat; drain. Transfer to a slow-cooker. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook for 8-9 hours or until slightly thick. Discard bay leaf.

2. Stir and serve over cooked pasta. Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella cheese if desired.

These recipes are just a few of my families favorites…

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Apple Crisp (this is the recipe of the photo I shared on FB)

2 quarts (8c)  of apple pie filling
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

1. Pour the apple pie filling in a 9x13x2 inch baking dish.

2. In a separate bowl add the oatmeal, flour and sugar; mix well. Pour the melted butter into the mixture and mix well until it is crumbly.

3. Sprinkle the crumbs over top of the apple pie filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

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Candied Squash
You can use any type of squash that you like with this simple yet yummy recipe…

1 sweet dumpling or acorn squash, cut in half with seeds removed
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. brown sugar

1.Place the squash with the cavities facing upward in a baking dish with sides.  Place 2 Tbsp.’s of each the butter and brown sugar into each squash cavity.

2. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes; uncover and put back in over for 15 more minutes.

3. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Scoop out the flesh carefully and put in bowl, trying not to lose any of the liquid. Mash or mix well. Discard the skins.

Brussels Sprouts photo: Brussels Sprouts brusselsprouts.jpg

Caramelized Roasted Root Veggies
This savory blend of root storage crops including Brussels sprouts, baby red potatoes, onions  and more tossed in a blend of Balsamic vinegar and olive oil is absolutely delicious.

1 quart or 4 cups of cleaned Brussels sprouts
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups baby red potatoes, halved
2 cups carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch coins
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

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Toss all ingredients into a 9x13x2 inch baking dish making sure all veggies are coated; bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes making sure potatoes and sprouts are cooked through. A knife should slide through both.

DPP_0011Pumpkin Cobbler
This is my families all-time favorite pumpkin desert…

3 eggs beaten
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 can Sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. maple flavoring
1 tsp. each: cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
1 box yellow cake mix

1. Mix all ingredients except cake mix and butter. Pour into an ungreased 9x13x2 inch pan.

2. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over batter; drizzle melted butter over top.

3. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a clean knife into center and corners. Remove to a cooling rack and serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Hope you all enjoy!
Please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

Happy day,
Jean

My Thanksgiving Day Dinner Menu

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Check out my new post at Farm to Table, Field to Plate… get some of my special recipes while you’re there!

Click this link to go right over to my new post!
Enjoy friends!

http://outdoorsexperiencejournal.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/my-thanksgiving-day-dinner-menu/

Cheesy-Garlicky Dinner Buns

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For all of you who followed me over from For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page… here’s the Cheesy-Garlicky Dinner Buns How-to recipe I promised! Enjoy friends!

This dinner bun recipe can  be found in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on page 40, the second recipe on the page by Carol Jean Shirk

Cheesy-Garlicky Dinner Buns
Yields about 12 rolls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Dinner Bun dough:
2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
4-5 c white flour

1/2 cup Shredded cheese, I used Colby jack
Oil for greasing muffin tin

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Parmesan Butter Brush On

1 stick salted butter, softened
Add the remaining ingredients and blend well.
1 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1. Mix yeast into warm water; add sugar, stir in; add oil and beaten egg, mix thoroughly; add 1 cup flour and blend.

2. Add 1 cup of remaining flour at a time mixing in until the dough feels right. It should be a bit tacky; knead for about 2-3 minute’s. Let rise for 30 minutes.

3. Form into tennis ball size balls.

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4. Using your thumb, make a hole in the middle of dough ball.

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5. Place 1/2 tsp. Parmesan Butter Brush On  (follow link below for more gobs more flavored butter recipe) into hole.
Follow this link to my article at Your Home With Karie Engels for more Brush On Herbed Butter recipes.
http://yourhomewithkarieengels.com/2013/10/11/brush-on-butter-recipes-great

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6. Add 1 Tbsp. shredded cheese into hole.

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7. Pinch dough closed being sure to seal it.

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8. Place pinched side down in greased muffin tins.

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9. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes; place in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, until rolls are golden and firm when touched, or until a knife comes out clean.

10. Remove from heat and place on cooling rack for 3 minutes; take rolls out of muffin tin and place on another cooling rack for about 2 minutes and serve hot with some yummy soup!

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So easy and so yummy!
Have a great day!
Jean

Recipes from the Root Cellar

Yesterday I promised you recipes to help use your yummy root cellar crops… here they are!
Enjoy friends!

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Roasted Carrot Soup

6-8 medium carrots, peeled & cut into 1 inch pieces
1 c coarsely chopped onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt & black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss carrots, & onion with oil to coat. Spread veggies in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender.

2. In a large saucepan combine roasted vegetables, broth, and paprika . Bring to boiling. Cool slightly.

3. Transfer half the vegetable mixture at a time to a blender or food processor. Blend or process until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan. Add lemon juice. Heat through. Season with salt & pepper.

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Poached Beets

3/4 c apple juice
1/2 c water
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 pounds beets, peeled & cut into bite size pieces
Salt & pepper
Honey
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley

1. In a large saucepan combine 1/2 c of the apple juice, the water, and brown sugar. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add beets. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until beets are tender & can be pierced with a fork, stirring occasionally. Drain.

2. Transfer beets to serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining juice over beets. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If desired, drizzle with honey.

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Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.

3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

Asian Chicken Slaw

2 chicken breasts, de-boned & skinned, cooled & diced
4 c cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 c onions thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar or regular
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp. sugar

1. in a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage and onions.

2. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend. Add salt & pepper to taste.

3. Serve as a salad or fill pita pockets

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Cabbage Strudel– makes 2 rolls

8 Tbsp. butter
1 c chopped onion
8 c thinly sliced cabbage
1 c shredded carrots
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c shredded cheese– Swiss or other
3/4 c bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley or thyme
1/8 tsp. black pepper
12 sheets frozen Phylo dough– thawed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15×10 inch baking pan– set aside.

2. in a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter and add onion; cook about 5 minutes or till tender. Add cabbage & carrots; sprinkle with salt. Cook about 10 minutes or till tender. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, 1/2 c of bread crumbs, pepper & herb

3. In a saucepan melt the remaining butter. Unroll Phylo dough, cover with waxed paper & damp towel. Brush with some butter; top with 1 teaspoon of crumbs. Repeat layers with five more sheets Phylo., melted butter & crumbs. Spread half the cabbage filling over Phylo layers, leaving a 2 inch border on one of the long sides & both short sides. Fold both short sides over filling; roll up from l long side. Place roll, seam side down, in prepared pan. Repeat to make a second roll.

4. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack; cool for 30 minutes. To serve cut with serrated knife into slices.

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Real Pumpkin Pie

1-  9” deep dish unbaked pie crust
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cup milk
1 egg white, stiffly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a blender, combine all ingredients, except egg white, and blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Pour into pie crust; add stiffly beaten egg white, folding in very carefully with spatula into pie. Small lumps are fine.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes; lower to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

Test for doneness with a toothpick to check center for dryness.

I use actual pumpkin that I can, so if you like a stronger flavor, this is a great recipe!

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French Onion Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
4 onions, sliced
3 cup beef broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. sherry (optional)
1 cup French bread, cubed and toasted
1/2 pound baby Swiss Cheese

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add onions; cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and sherry, if using.

3. Increase heat; bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Divide into 4 oven safe soup bowls; top with bread cubes, then cheese. Place under a broiler just until cheese melts.

Makes 4 bowls.

If you haven’t come and LIKED For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page, click the link on the side bar here and check it out. I give daily inspirations, photo’s and lots more recipes. You can be a part of my daily life as I share all the fun things we do at our farm.

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Hope to see you there!
Happy Day,
Jean

Starting Cuttings with Willow Water and Yummy Salad Dressing Recipes

I’m always looking for things to do to get me through the winter months… even if those things are projects that won’t happen until springs warmer days arrive! I am planning on getting into the green house this week and starting some seeds… I can’t even wait. Lavender, peppers, eggplant, leeks, onions along with a bunch of herbs to name a few.  The feel of the dirt in between my nails will be a welcome sensation… the smell of the greenhouse is like no other… that fresh, earthy aroma, blending with the scents of the herbs as they grow… the sun’s warmth brings a healing to my outdoor loving spirit that the drab, cold winter weighs down. Only 48 more days till spring… and so my countdown continues.


The last couple days have  brought heavy rains and even thunder and lightening. All of the snow has melted away and now we are mucking through gobs of mud… not so pleasant to stroll out to the greenhouse in, but better than a freezing wind smacking me in the face any day!  So I thought since I am ready to head out to my cozy greenhouse I would give all my dragonfly readers an activity to do that can be started right now… even if you don’t have a play house… oh I mean greenhouse!  Have any of you considered having an orchard or would like to plant some trees? Well you don’t have to ‘buy’ them, you can start your own with a ‘right in your own house’ tip- Willow Water! Read on friends…
This was given to me by a market friend. I don’t know the origin of it but I thought this is too good not to share.  I have adapted it and added information.  It will give you something to look forward to once the warmer days that are sure to arrive come.  Although this project can be started now.

Willow Water is terrific for starting new trees and bushes from cuttings. Willow contains a substance a lot like Salicylate (aspirin) that helps plants root quickly.  If you don’t have access to willow, you can use an adult aspirin dissolved in a couple cups of warm water.
For a 5 gallon bucket though, that would be a lot of aspirin. It’s a lot less expensive to use willow, and I am sure most of us have a neighbor, friend or family member who has one or knows someone who does. Another option is to take a drive out to the country and find a river or stream bank and find one growing in the wild.  Be sure if you are on private property you check with the owners. Any type of Willow will work.
If you live in part of the country where they don’t grow, sorry but you can use general rooting hormones which can be purchased through most good seed catalogs or found on the internet.
Here’s how:
Take 3 to 4- 3′-4′  willow branches, break or cut into 6″- 8″ pieces and put into a 5 gallon bucket of water about 3/4 way full.
Wait 3-4 days and the water will be saturated with the Salicylate-type compound. 
When taking the cuttings of elderberries, blackberries, raspberries or soft wood fruit trees like apples, cherries, pear and peach, cut them straight across the bottom of the branch just below one of the nodules that look like eyes.
Soak in the willow water until they begin to show roots and keep in a warm location- typically takes several weeks for this to happen, so be patient.
Once you have at least 24 or so 6″ to 12″ roots formed, you can plant your ‘root’ stock! 
When you plant your root stock, dig a hole about 1′ deep, fill 1/2 way will the willow water, place rooted end of branch into the hole and fill back in with the dirt. Be sure to pack dirt in well to ensure no air pockets- The air pockets will kill new rooting systems and the plant will die. Add a 6″ to 8″ deep mulch around your tree about 2′ in diameter to help hold the moisture in. 
I recommend starting this in the spring so the newly planted tree can have ample time to get well rooted and established.  Be sure to keep the new tree watered- about 2 gallons, once a week if you’ve received no or very little rain. During the hot and drier summer months, twice a week will keep your young tree spry and happily growing.

 
 
If you are attending our winter farmers market, The Old Winery, then you have the opportunity to be getting fresh from the hoop house lettuces and some other leafy greens.  Here are some yummy homemade Salad Dressing Recipes for you to enjoy while you anxiously await your own this spring. Enjoy friends!

Mayonnaise is the base for many creamy dressings… have you ever wondered how to make it? It is so easy… here is a tried and true recipe!
Mayonnaise  Yields approx. 2 cups

Blend together is an blender:
3 egg yolks
keep blender running and slowly add:
1/2 cup Canola or Safflower Oil (you’ll use 2 cups in all)
Then add:
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (you’ll need 4 Tbsp. in all)
Repeat process of oil and juice until you have a total of 2 cups of the oil and 4 Tbsp. of the juice used.
Then blend in:
1 tsp. sea salt

 
Ranch Dressing
 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
 1 cup butter milk (regular milk will work)
 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
 1/2 tsp. onion powder
 1/4 tsp. sea salt
 1/4 tsp pepper
 1/4 tsp. paprika

Blend all ingredients until well mixed. Let set in refrigerator at least one hour for flavors to blend through. Use on a garden salad, as a veggie dip, dip for oven baked potato wedges, or chicken wings.

     

Italian Dressing Herb Blend– use to make Regular or Creamy Italian dressings

1/4 cup white sugar (raw organic is best)
2 Tbsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. Pink Himalayan salt
3 Tbsp.EACH: granulated garlic, onion powder, oregano, parsley, basil
2 Tbsp. EACH: marjoram and thyme
1 Tbsp. rosemary
In a food processor, blend all ingredients until completely mixed. Store in an airtight container.

 
Italian Creamy Dressing
2/3 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Italian Dressing Herb Blend
Blend until thoroughly mixed; add 1 Tbsp. milk or water until desired consistency is reached.  This will thicken when refrigerated. Add more liquid if too thick. Let set in refrigerator for at least an hour for seasons to blend and intensify.  Stir before serving.

Creamy Parmesan Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese- fresh is best!
1 tsp. course ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
Blend until thoroughly mixed. Let set in refrigerator for at least an hour for seasons and cheese to blend together.  Shake or stir before serving.

French Dressing

Put all ingredients in blender on medium until smooth:
1 cup Canola or Safflower Oil
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Refrigerate for at least an hour for flavors to blend. Stir before serving. 

Russian Dressing

Put all ingredients in blender until smooth:
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Once well blended add:
1 cup mayonnaise.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to intensify.


 

‘Pasta Salad’ Dressing
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Blend together all ingredients and add to your boiled and cooled pasta noodles. Let refrigerate at least an hour to allow flavors to blend into noodles.
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad 1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4-5 ripe, firm Roma tomatoes
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, slivered

Mix together oil, vinegar, basil, pepper and salt.
Arrange tomatoes and cheese, alternately, on a large serving plate.
Pour oil and vinegar dressing over tomatoes and cheese. Garnish with onions.
Serve extra dressing with salad.

Happy Day,
Jean
     

     

 

A "Green" Barbeque, Vermicomposting and some Yummy Grilling Recipe’s!

 
It’s just about January now and I am already thinking about what I am going to get to start in the green house here in just a few weeks… oh it sends a chill of excitement up my spine! It really isn’t too early for all the home gardeners to start thinking about a few things as well, that’s why you are getting all those beautiful seed catalogs in the mail (see graphic). I thought today would be a great day to discuss Vermicomposting- you’ll want to order your worms here in a jiffy- yes I said ‘worms’!  A.K.A free fertilizer- not the worms- ugg! You should be thinking about seed orders now… lots of companies offer discounts for orders placed before the first of the year… check it out… every penny counts… plus those extra pennies might add up to a few extra packs of seeds!  Before you know it, you’ll be seeing all the big box stores starting to put up the shelves of seed packs, seed starting kits and all that other good stuff! Now is also the time that you might be thinking of drawing up your garden plan… I love doing that! You will also see gobs of fertilizers in both the catalogs and store shelves.  That’s where Vermicomposting is coming into play in today’s post.  You will definitly want to start now, so you will have this rich, wonderful fertilizer ready for your seedlings and garden plants… read on!

Be sure to go to my blog at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com to see all the great photos that go with this post! Enjoy friends!

 

What’s “Vermicomposting” you ask… well in layman’s terms, it is simply ‘worm poop’ or more politely speaking ‘castings’… good stuff either way, I’ll testify to that! Many home gardeners spend tons of money on fertilizer, when you can be making it yourself using everyday house hold waste, especially if traditional ‘composting’ isn’t for you.  This sounds grosser than composting, and in reality is still composting, but it is by far much less laborious, doesn’t stink (really- forget that it’s poop) and doesn’t take near the amount of space. Many people don’t know what to do with their common household organic waste material- feed it to the worms- for real, they’ll eat it!  This is an excellent way to be environmentally responsible while recycling your own organic waste to a colony of worms in a worm composter.  These wonderful little gobblers devour the waste (each worm eats up to half its body weight every day) in a dark bin and produces two natural byproducts; a top quality compost that home gardeners sometimes refer to as “Black Gold,” which you  use to condition the soil in your garden and in containers that you will plant in. Or a liquid often refered to as “Black Tea,” that you can dilute to make a superb tonic for your plants!
It is very simple to make your very own Worm Composter, using stackable plastic storage totes, wire mesh, a drain cock, and synthetic carpet for a lid, but the simplest way to get started is to purchase a ready made kit, complete with a supply of the same kind of worms that normally live in well rotted manure or compost heaps.  But for you do-it-yourselfers, here is a detailed how to!

The first thing to consider before you start your project is do you want it indoors or outdoors?
Worm composter’s are often described as ‘odor free,’ but many people find that when they lift the lid off to add more scraps, a strong earthy smell wafts out.  So, it may be a better idea to keep your worm composter in a utility room, basement, garage or outside the back door. 

 
How to Make your own:  This info was taken in part from:   http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Worm-Compost-System

Material: Rubber is cheap, easy to use and durable. Galvanized tubs are somewhat costly but will last forever and plastic cracks easily, but either will do in a pinch. Five gallon plastic buckets now for sale by most hardware stores can be used – especially if you live in an apartment. Clean the 5-gallon buckets thoroughly with soap and let them sit for a day or so filled with clean water before using as a worm bin.

Ventilation: Your bin should be well-ventilated, with several 1/8 inch (3mm) holes 4 inches (100mm) from the bottom (otherwise the worms will stay at the bottom of the bin and you may drown your worms). For example, you can build a worm bin out of a large plastic tub with several dozen small holes drilled out on the bottom and sides.

Size: The larger you make the container, the more worms it can sustain. Estimate 1 pound (0.45kg) of worms for every square foot of surface area. The maximum productive depth for your bin is 24 inches (61cm) deep because composting worms will not go further down than that.

Cover: The bin should have a cover to prevent light from getting in and to prevent the compost from drying out. Choose or make a lid that can be removed if your compost is too wet. Use a canvas tarp, doubled over and bungee-corded on, or kept in place with wood. Burlap sacks also work well, and can be watered directly.

Siphon: Purchase a drain cock from any hardward store and follow instructions for instalation. This is how you will siphon off the Black Tea concentrate.

Prepare the bedding for your worms.
The bedding is the natural habitat of the worm that you’re trying to replicate in your compost bin. Fill your bin with thin strips of unbleached corrugated cardboard or shredded newspaper, straw, dry grass, or some similar material. This provides a source of fiber to the worms and keeps the bin well-ventilated. Sprinkle a handful of dirt on top, and thoroughly moisten. Allow the water to soak in for at least a day before adding worms. Over time, the bedding will be turned into nutrient-rich compost material by the worms. When you harvest the composted soil, you’ll have to introduce new bedding into the worm bin again.

Canadian peat moss, sawdust, (rinsed) horse manure, and coconut pith fiber are also great for composting.

Avoid putting pine, redwood, bay or eucalyptus leaves into your bedding. Most brown leaves are acceptable in vermicompost, but eucalyptus leaves in particular act as an insecticide and will kill off your worms.

  Choose which worms you want.
There are several varieties of worms that that are bred and sold commercially for vermicomposting; just digging up earthworms from your backyard is not recommended. The Internet or local gardening club is your best bet for finding a worm vendor near you. A pound of worms is all that is recommended.

  • The worms most often used, Eisenia foetida (Red Wigglers), are about 4 inches long, mainly red along the body with a yellow tail. These worms have a healthy appetite and reproduce quickly. They are capable of eating more than half their own weight in food every day.
  • Another variety to consider are Eisenia hortensis, known as “European night crawlers.” They do not reproduce quite as fast as the red wigglers, but grow to be larger, eat coarser paper and cardboard better, and seem to be heartier. They are also better fishing worms when they do reach full size.
  • However, as with any non-native species, it is important not to allow European night crawlers to reach the wild. Their voracious appetites and reproductive rates (especially among the red wigglers) have been known to upset the delicate balance of the hardwood forests by consuming the leaf litter too quickly. This event leaves too little leaf litter to slowly incubate the hard shelled nuts and leads to excessive erosion as well as negatively affecting the pH of the soil. So, do your best to keep them confined!
Maintaining and Harvesting Your Compost
1. Feed your worms digestible amounts regularly. The bedding of your compost bin is a great start, but the worms need a steady diet of food scraps in order to stay healthy and produce compost. Feed your worms at least once a week in the beginning, but only a small small amount. As the worms reproduce and grow in numbers, try to feed them at least a quart of food scraps per square foot of surface area each week.
2. Worms eat fruit and vegetable scraps; bread and other grains; tea leaves and bags; coffee grounds; and egg shells. Worms eat basically what humans eat, except they are much less picky!
3. If you can process your scraps before you introduce them into the compost bin, you’ll find that your worms will eat them quicker. Worms go through smaller-sized food more quickly than they can larger-sized or whole food. In this respect, they are also like humans.
4. Mix the scraps into the bedding when you feed the worms. This will cut down on fruit flies and will give the worms more opportunities to eat. Don’t just leave the scraps on top of the compost heap.
 
Maintain your bin. Keeping your bin elevated off the ground, using bricks, cinder blocks, or whatever is convenient will help speed composting and keep your worms happy. Worms are capable of escaping almost anything, but if you keep your worms fed and properly damp, they should not try to escape. A light in the same area will ensure your worms stay put. Sprinkle the surface with water every other day. You want your bedding to have the dampness of a wrung-out sponge.

Add more cardboard, shredded newspaper, hay, or other fibrous material once a month, or as needed. Your worms will reduce everything in your bin quickly. You will start with a full bin of compost or paper/cardboard, and soon it will be half full. This is the time to add fibrous material.

 

Pay attention to some composting “don’ts”.
Composting bins are not difficult to maintain, but they do need to be looked after. Here are some things that you shouldn’t do if you want a healthy, hearty ecosystem. Don’t feed your worms too much. If your compost bin starts to smell, it could be because you are feeding your worms more than they can process. When this happens, the bedding can also heat up, killing off the worms.
*Don’t feed your worms any combination of the following. These foods are difficult for the worms to digest:
*Excessive citrus — no more than 1/5 of the total worm food
*Meats or fish
*Fats or excessively oily scraps
*Dairy products (eggshells are fine)
*Cat or dog feces
*Twigs and branches
Harvest the compost once it’s ready.*After 3-6 months, you should have a fair amount of worm compost stored up in your bin. Now it’s time to harvest. Keep in mind that you might not be able to save every worm when harvesting the compost. That’s okay; by and large, your worms have multiplied, and there should be plenty to continue composting.
*Put on rubber gloves, and move any large un-composted vegetable matter to one side. Then, with your gloved hands, gently scoop a section of worms and compost mixture onto a brightly lit piece of newspaper or plastic wrap. Scrape off the compost in layers. Wait a while giving the worms time to burrow into the center of the mound. Eventually you will end up with a pile of compost next to a pile of worms. After harvesting, you should replace the bedding and then return the worms to the bin, do whatever you want with the compost, and repeat.
*If you prefer a hands-off technique, simply push the contents of the bin all to one side and add fresh food, water, dirt, and bedding to the empty space. The worms will slowly migrate over on their own. This requires much more patience, of course. It could take up to a few months for the worms to fully migrate to the scraps-side of the compost bin.


 


Siphoning off the Black Tea- Liquid Gold!
~Use rubber gloves and store the concentreated plant food in a jar with a tight lid until you need it use it.  LABLE THE JAR, so no one accidently thinks this looks like something tasty to drink.
~Dilute it 1:10 with water and watch your plants perk up within days.

Get more great info at:
http://www.ehow.com/how_4778691_build-worm-composter.html
http://home.howstuffworks.com/vermicomposting.htm
Well now that you are super excited to get started go to it! Enjoy your homemade, free fertilizer!

 

…and now on to something a bit more ‘digestable’
The other day I asked Evan what he was hungry for… my little five year old sweetie looks up at me and says, “Steaks on the gill mom!”  “Ahhh,” I said, “Now you’re talkin’ my language!”  Grilling is another thing we just refuse to think of as seasonal at our farm stead… you gotta eat year round right? So why shut this door of goodies off to the family just because of that white stuff!  We love to grill here at our home no matter what time of year it is. Neil and the boys are all quite handy with the tuner & tongs… forget that it’s winter and have some fun!  Here is a fun activity to do over the next few days when the children are home from school- and be sure to give her a try!

Here is the how-to for making your own Green Barbeque!
You may be asking why bother when I can just go buy a regular one… well, I guess you can, but I personally think this is super cool and asthetically much more appealing than a metal one… to each there own though.  If you don’t want it, make one for a gift to a ‘green minded’ friend or relative… either way, have fun!
~First you’ll need a clay pot about 13 inches (33cm) in diameter to feed about 2-3 people, a larger one for more people
~Stand the pot on a couple bricks to allow air to circulate underneath the fire. Fill the pot half full with pebbles or broken clay pots, slightly more if it is tall.
~Line the top part with 4 layers of heavy tinfoil and heap the charcoal in the center. Light the coals.
~When the coals are glowing red and have started to turn gray at the edges, spread them out evenly being careful not to rip the foil; balance an oven shelf or grill pan shelf over the rim of the pot.
~Cook skewers of peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms,, or pieces of fish or meat, and throw a handful of rosemary, thyme, or lavender on the fire for a hint of herby flavor as the skewers are cooking. 
~Let coals cool, remove rack, carefully lift off the foil, put ashes in your garden by blueberry bushes or around peonies. Recycle the tin foil!
You’ll have to go to my blog spot at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com to see step by step photo of this… Enjoy friends!
 
Yummy Grilled Pizza!    Oh this is soooooo good!
Last summer we fell in love with grilling pizza! The children enjoyed it both in the way of having fun because they created their own masterpieces and it was absolutely delicious.  Here is my pizza crust recipe and some of our favorite toppings! 

Crust:
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 tsp. raw organic sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 cups flour, plus some for dusting

Toppings:
shredded cheese
fresh Portobello mushrooms
sweet peppers
onions
bacon, ham, sausage, ground beef or chicken
pizza sauce, ranch dressing
tomatoes
… these are just some ideas, use your favorite toppings

1. In a large, mixing bowl add yeast to water and stir gently; add sugar, salt and olive oil, stir in gently until dissolved.
2. Add 2 cups of flour, mix in until well blended; add 1 more cup flour, mix in well; and the rest of flour in 1/4 cups at a time until the dough is soft and doesn’t stick to hands.  Add a bit more flour in until the dough feels right;  Knead dough for about 2-3 minutes until all flour is mixed in well.  Form into a ball and place in bowl, cover with kitchen towel and leave on the top of stove to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
3. While dough is rising get your toppings prepared.  Sauteing the veggies is best and making sure any raw meats are cooked.
4.When dough has risen, punch it down using your hands and knead a bit more into a ball again.  On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 even sized pieces and roll out to about and 1/2 inch thick. The dough should be thicker so it doesn’t fall apart on the grill.
5. Brush the dough with Olive Oil and put on heated grill; grill on one side for about 2-3 minutes, checking to be sure it doesn’t burn; when the one side is done, remove from grill onto a cookie sheet, cooked side up; put your toppings on the cooked side; sauce, cheese, meat & veggies and add a bit more cheese; return to the grill to finish grilling- about 2-3 more minutes; put lid on for about the last minute to help melt the cheese.
Remove from grill and have your feast!

Beautiful French Taragon

 included these awhile back but I thought it would be appropriate to include with this post! Enjoy friends!
Here are some BBQ Brush On Butter Recipes along with a few more canning ones from my cookbook! Enjoy friends!

To 1 stick of salted softened butter add one of the following and mix thouroughly.  Let set in fridge for at least 3 hours so flavors blend through! NOTE: The herbs are all dried. 

Cajun Style Poultry Brush On!
1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed
1/8 tsp. thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
dash of red pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Lemon Basil Fish or Veggie Brush On!

1/2 tsp. lemon peel, finely shredded
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. basil, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Parmesan Butter Brush On!
~ great to brush on veggies or even use in pasta or spread onto bread to make garlic toast!
1 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Garlic Butter Brush On
~ great to brush on veggies or to make garlic toast
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Chive~Tarragon Brush On
~ great on red meat and veggies!
2 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon, crushed
2 Tbsp. parsley, snipped


Thyme Grilled Vegetablego back to my 12/18 blog post for this one

Happy Day,
Jean

More Organization Tips: The Office, The Daily Home Blessing and Yummy Market Fresh Sandwiches…

Our homes should be a blessing to our family… and whether we like it or not, we moms/wives/ladies can make it or break it!  We need to strive to create an environment that is welcoming, peaceful and cozy for all who enter.  A clean, well kept and organized home will make these elements much more easy to obtain.  As the ladies of the house, when things are out of order and chaotic, we too feel that and then in turn present that through our actions, attitudes and behavior… “if mom’s happy, then everyone is happy,” is too true a statement! In “Sink Reflections”, by Marla Cilley, she talks about having a Home Blessing (another Buzz word).  What this basically refers to is our Mission Statement for our home as women, wives and mothers… it our goal for what we want our home to be… what we want it to reflect. I took this very seriously because I have high expectations!  One thing to remember in all this is that even though we have routines and schedules, we must be flexible… we are not drill sergeants, even though I have been accused of that, we are still mommy and need to teach and train with a tender hand so our little helpers want to help and get excited about the process as well.  If you have children you fully understand what I am talking about… I have had some really good plans drawn up, but when the baby is puking up a storm from a sudden flu bug… zone cleaning comes to a sudden halt… so be what the Lord has us to be first… woman, wife and mommy!  Enjoy yourself in your organizational quests, otherwise it won’t last and it will be just another burden!

Here is my Daily Home Blessing…



DAILY HOME BLESSING

GOAL: To train our dear children in the Fruits of the Spirit and how to apply them to their daily life… not just our
dear children, but also myself.

  • Each day is assigned 1 to 2 fruits- 9 fruits of the Spirit in 7 days of the week.
  • That day at lunch we review the Bible verse, let them say one that they remember, how many; what book; etc.
  • Each one of us focus on one area to work on that day:  IE. Sat- Temperance/Self Control: Kyle work on self control with reading materials… devotions above hunting/sports; Ethan work on self control by doing a job even when he doesn’t feel like doing it… and so on for each family member.
  • Give each other encouragement- work together.
  • Try to create a more peaceful, happy environment~ especially for when dear husband comes home from working.
  • BREAKDOWN: Sunday- Love; Monday- Joy & Peace; Tuesday- Long suffering & Gentleness; Wednesday- Goodness; Thursday- Faith; Friday- Meekness; Saturday- Temperance/Self Control.

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy ,peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such, there is no law.” Galatians 5:22, 23.

Next to my gardens I enjoy being in my office next best… that is probably because it is garden themed and very cottagy…  There are several elements in the office that need addressing so lets dig right in!

Zone Cleaning the Office: this is my weekly schedule unless otherwise noted.
*Dust ~around all ceiling lines and down corners of the room;
~inside wall pocket as well; dust shelf and all furniture- Book shelf, desk, all file cabinets, dresser, printer, computer and computer desk, white cabinet, all pictures/frames, knick knacks, lamps.
*Wash windows and ledges; take down curtains first week of month and wash
*Clean off all table top surfaces; organize all papers that need it; put all catch all stuff in proper places; file papers accordingly; clean up bulletin boards.
*Change garbage.
*Vacuum carpet.

Here are some tips on Storage and Organization that I use in my office… now please take into consideration I do all the paper and book work for our farm: meat/egg purchases; 50 member CSA; produce purchase; organization of what my growers will produce; my fields and gardens; seed saving & ordering; I am the Market Manager for our farms Winter Farmers Market and I have over 70 vendors and all the paperwork that goes with that, write three blogs, not to mention all my household stuff… and so on and so on… so I do a lot in my office. It does get out of hand at times… especially when ‘other’ people start putting things in my office and on my desk.
*Because I technically deal with five different elements within our farm and dozens of sub-categories within each element I need to keep things separated and very organized.  I have 3 file cabinets that help me with this.
~ One is for all Household Documents- such as tax papers, appliance manuals and warranties, large item receipts of purchase, bank statements, policies, and any other things that would fall into this category.
~One is strictly for our farm- one drawer for CSA and the other for market stuff/meat.
~The other holds catalogs, and any ‘other’ paperwork that I need space for.
*I use baskets to store a lot of stuff- they are cute & decorative and very functional.  I steer clear of round baskets- they take up more space then they provide.  I like shoe box size rectangle and square baskets.  They sit nicely on shelves and look very neat.  Books stand nicely in them and most containers fit as well. I have a five shelf bookshelf in my office that holds some office supplies; reams of paper, envelopes, files, etc.~ several baskets that hide containers of stapes, pens, rubber bands, paper clips, index cards and such. 
*This shelf also houses many of ‘my’ books- mostly the crafty ones, my cookbooks and several of my scrapbooks.
*On the top shelf I have a couple more baskets that hold all my rubber stamps and stamp pads… I don’t do stamping very often and this is a good, out of the way place for me… not to mention the baby hasn’t figured out they are there yet!

*I have a couple of those really cute storage boxes too: one holds my Cricut cartridges and small supplies and the other holds what ever scrap booking project I am currently on… which brings me to another point… my office is also my Craft Supply storage room… sigh!  I dream for a craft room along with a first floor laundry and a bathroom I can do cart wheels in too some day… just to be able to set up all my scrapbook and cricut supplies is a dream… no room and too many little hands for that these days.
*On the floor under the bottom shelf I have two more of those large rectangular laundry size baskets that hold back issues of my favorite magazines… Martha Stewart Living, Country Gardens and Organic Gardening in there.  I do a lot of referencing in these for blog ideas.
*I have a really neat old drop leaf table that is painted a light tealy green… this is my desk where I do my field plans, pay bills and keep my day planner. I have several family pictures, and other containers that hold pens, and misc. office supplies on it. 
*I have a Computer table/shelf that I picked up at a garage sale… really it isn’t a desk at all… it’s actually a long (6feet), narrow (2 feet) counter with a top and middle shelf… I love it!  I have my lamp, printer, and PC on the top shelf while I keep stackable file trays on the middle shelf with other totes that hold my Trade Publication magazines… Growing For Market and Farmer’s Market Today, along with any other ‘current’ documentation that I am working on. Under the middle shelf.  On the floor under the middle shelf I keep my Cricut, a few other totes that hold my other favorite magazines… Countryside & Small Stock Journal, Mother Earth News, Acres USA, and of course Country Living… among a few others like Hobby Farm, Mary Jane’s Farms, etc. I know the FlyLady says pitch those, but I truly do reference them all the time. They often give me inspiration for my blogs… they are a part of my work!
*I have several other pieces of furniture in my office that I store crafting supplies, current catalogs, receipts and more… but I don’t think necessary to get into…
Some key tips that I like to use in my office is to keep current!  Don’t hang onto years worth of catalogs… With my seed catalogs I keep the current year and one year back to compare.  With us being a farm, I get oodles & oodles of catalogs… If I don’t shop them, I don’t keep them!  Recycle them and do everyone a favor. 
*Paper work can be so troublesome!  My philosophy is pitch anything 3 three years or older. With exception of  tax & bank documents, large purchase receipts with warranties and any thing else you will REALLY NEED!
*I have two bulletin boards: one is above my PC desk and this has any current and due bills for the farm, CSA group name list & schedules, and of course some inspirational sayings, cards and photos… it has to be cute!
*I keep a wall calender right beside my office chair which is between my desk and PC counter, I only write ‘family’ appointments on this one. I keep my day planner on my desk as well as a full size desk calender on my desk top.  I use my day planner for everything; farm related, family and personal- it is my tell all!  The full size desk calender is where I keep my hired girls hours and any other farm related appointments. on.  They are all together and can be easily cross referenced.  Day planners are a girl’s best friend!    
We are abounding with all the good stuff coming in from the fields and gardens… here are a few yummy recipe’s to help you use it up!  Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Melt
1/4 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
1 everything bagel, split
2 slices of an Heirloom Tomato
2 Tbsp. fresh Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Sprinkle half the Colby jack cheese over each bagel half; top each half with a tomato slice; sprinkle half the Parmesan cheese onto each tomato; broil on low for about 4 to 6 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.
Cornmeal Covered Green Tomato Sandwich1 1/2 to 2 cups finely ground cornmeal
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. season salt
2 large green Tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Shortening for frying
2-3 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 slices french bread, cut 1/2 inch thick if not already sliced
1. Combine the cornmeal and all the seasonings into a 1 gallon plastic bag; mix thoroughly.
2. Coat each tomato slice gently, one at a time in the bag of cornmeal mix; remove from bag.
3. Heat shortening in a large skillet over medium heat; fry tomatoes until golden on both sides; remove from skillet onto several layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil; pat dry.
4. Spread butter on one side of each bread slice; arrange 4 slices, butter side down in skillet; top with tomatoes and remaining bread, butter side up and fry each side until toasted golden on both sides.
Happy Day,
Jean

More on Organization: Creating Routines with P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify , The Kitchen & Pantry and More Market Fresh Canning Recipe’s!

Oh what a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no ‘science experiments’ going on it, the appliances are shining and the windows let in all the bright sunshine because the little paddy prints have been washed off… at least for fifteen minutes… so look fast!  After all I do have a just turned two year old that loves to stand on the kitchen chairs (… and the table…) and look at the out of doors… cry when everyone else is going ‘bye-bye’, and stand and wave at the dumpster guy pulling in the lane… yes windows are nice, but they don’t stay clean at our house for very long. The boys say why bother… I tell them can you imagine if we didn’t- think layers boys!  Well, the kitchen is the gathering place in most homes and it is at ours as well… It is where little boys get to lick the beaters and get a spoonful of homemade chocolate pudding… where soap bubble beards are made and wet towel ‘thwacks’ happen… yes the kitchen is the heart of the home… after all it’s where we nurish those we love… I will go into some more details of how I keep the kitchen and pantry tidy and organized.  Today I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple canning recipes for some of the good stuff that you are getting in your CSA shares and across our market table… an possibly out of your very own gardens!  

Today we’ll focus on the Kitchen and Pantry… read on next time for root cellar and canning room tips!  In ‘Sink Reflection’s’, by Marla Cilley I’ve learned much on keeping notes on what needs to be done through the use of my Control Journal.  She also discusses much on the concept of starting and maintaining ‘Routine’s’.  I have read that if you do anything consistantly for thirty days, it will become a habit or a routine~ that works with both good & bad stuff, so be careful!  I can testify that this is true… as I mentioned in the previous blog post, ‘Walk Through’ has become second nature in my life and that of my children’s. We have incorporated this aspect into our daily lives and now it is a ‘normal’ thing and no one looks at me with that, ‘What are you talking about?’ look!  It really is wonderful! When we write down the daily routines that we want to live by, we can visually look at these lists and see what needs to be done. It’s kinda like typing… for those of you who know how. I don’t think about where the key I need is, because as soon as I do, a mistake will inevidibly happen… I cannot even tell you right off the top of my head what letter belongs under which finger… I have to actually stop and think about how to spell a word and then I can see it in my mind… you typers know what I am saying… it’s also like walking… you don’t think each step, you’d probably trip, you just know how to walk.  Well that’s how our daily routines can and will become a part of our lives… if we are consistant with them that is!  So today lets look at creating routines! 

Creating and Maintaining Routines…
Here are a few tips from me & Marla!
*Think about yourself first… when you get up in the morning, brush your teeth, take a quick shower and be sure to put on some lovely organic face cream to make you feel fresh,  have a cup of tea or coffee and do a morning devotion to start your day out right!  If mom’s happy, everyone is happy!
*P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think… read on!  When you start your routine list, start small so you aren’t overwhelmed and don’t get a sense of failure if you don’t get all the jobs done!  I call this the positive way to look at P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify your life!  What I would recommend is writing a list of all the accomplishments you want to do, then P.M.S. your list!  From this list create your routine~ Marla recomends a morning, daily and evening routine.  Have a routine for each part of the day and for each day of the week.  I love day planners, A.K.A. Control Journals! 
*Baby steps is another one of Marla’s buzz words… she highly recomends starting small in your routine lists… I think my P.M.S. system works great along with her concept of baby steps.
Here is a sample of my Morning routine as it is written in my Control Journal…
   


MORNING ROUTINE

“She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household…” Proverbs 31:15a

Week A:

  • 5:50am~ Rise & Shine with smile & praise in my heart! Start coffee if Neil hasn’t already.
  • Swish toilet & sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.
  • Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.
  • Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee…
  • Check my email’s; read daily devotions; send any responses that need done; do blogs.
  • 6:45am~ start waking the rest of the clan up… get breakfast going.
  • Throw load of laundry in.
  • 7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast
  • 8:00am~ Assign everyone their tasks for the day; children start morning chores
  • clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.
  • 9:00am~ Think about my day; make list’s for jobs to be done; check my day planner
  • Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.
  • Everyone is on their way…
I also have routines for each day of the week written down in it so the children can see what needs to be done.  I use to keep the journal open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I have drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.  
 More on Room by Room Organization…

… so moving on here are tips from my home to yours!
*Here is my Kitchen routine as I have it in my journal.  This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.
~Wash down: *Counter Backsplash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls. Wash down counters & stove after every use
                     *Wash windows   
                     *put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge
                     *wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week
                     *sweep floor after each meal daily
                     *dust all around ceiling lines and through room
                     *wash floor carpets
~Monthly~ take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan; wash walls
~Seasonally~ Spring and Fall: wash walls and ceiling; empty out cupboards and wash; take all knick knacks off top of cupboards and wash; dust top of cupboards and wash; touch up any spots with paint.
   

Helpful Organizational tips for the kitchen…*I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars.  I don’t like to use plastic with anything more than I have too!

*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first.  I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer.  I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies. 
*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it is easier to see what’s in the bowl. 
*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans & sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don’t have to run all over the kitchen for items.
*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don’t use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.
*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers.  I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!
*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids.  This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!

I am very fortunate to have a nice size pantry right off my kitchen along with a closet in my kitchen to keep my big totes of flour, sugar & oatmeal in. I love my pantry and I get lots of compliments on how orderly and how cute it is!  Here is what I do to keep it organized…
*I have two floor shelves  and two wall shelves in my pantry. 
~On the one shelf I have four medium sized plastic totes that hold pasta, rice, crackers, small bags of flour and other grains. 
I have two larger totes that hold chips, cereals and other larger bagged items.  I made cute tag’s with stickers that spelled out the words of what is in each tote and then I laminated them.  I then hot glue gunned them onto each tote.  I also have two wooden peck baskets on the top shelf that; one hold potatoes & onions while the other holds coffee & tea.  On another shelf I have two baskets which hold linen place mats & napkins & extra table clothes and also a stack of other extra baskets for serving.  Each of these basket has a tag like the totes but they are tied on with a piece of raffia! 
~The other floor shelf is much sturdier and holds all my canned goods~ that is my jars of goodness I preserve.  I keep a few of the basics on this shelf so we don’t always have to be running to the canning room in the basement for stuff.  I also keep my larger mason jars of dry mixes, baking soda & powder, thickening agents, cocoa, along with baking supplies like Chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut on this shelf.  I used sticker labels on each jar to write what the contents are.  I have three baskets on one of the sheves that hold bread, fruit and veggies that don’t need refridgeration in.  On the top shelf I have three ‘fish bowl’ style jars that hold cookies, sugar and treats in. 
~One of the wall mounted shelves has three large ‘laundry’ size rectangular baskets; these hold extra plastic containers, party ware and miscellaneous canning equipment~ apple peeler corer, green bean frencher and such.
The other shelf has another three baskets that hold packages of jello and pectin, canning supplies and anything else that I need to put in them. 
… I love my pantry and the extra storage that it offers me.  If you have a small closet in or near your kitchen you can easily transform it into a pantry simply by adding some shelves and a little creative ingenuity!


Yummy Market Fresh Recipes…
Dilly Beans

2 pounds fresh, tender green or yellow wax beans~ make it interesting, use both
cayenne pepper
4 whole cloves fresh garlic, peeled
4 heads fresh dill or 2 tsp. dill weed
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
*wide mouth canning jars work best for this.

1. Wash beans in cold water; drain on towel; trim off the stem and tail ends, otherwise leave beans whole.
2. In clean jars put one clove garlic, 1 dill head or 1/2 tsp. dill weed and 1/2 tsp. mustard seed; pack the beans in lengthwise into wide mouth jars- they should look like they are standing up.  Trim any that are too long; Add one dash cayenne pepper to each jar.
3. Combine water in vinegar and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  Pour this over the beans, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal immediately.
4. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
*Wait at least two to three weeks before serving so the flavors have time to blend! 

Zucchini Relish
This relish is not only beautiful but no one will ever relize it isn’t cucumbers… no matter what they say!
5 cups shredded zucchini
5 cups shredded yellow summer squash
2 cups red onion, diced
2 cups yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp. sea salt
2 cups sugar (may add up to 1 cup more if you like it sweeter)
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1 each: red, green and orange sweet bell peppers, diced

1. In a large bowl, add both squashes and onions; blend well; add salt. Refriderate overnight.
2. Drain.  Run water through the ingredients several times; drain again.
3. Put ingredients into a large kettle; add vinegar, sugar, turmeric, pepper, dry mustard and mustard seed.
4. Add chopped peppers and add to squash mixture; stir gently until well mixed.
5. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Laddle into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space; be sure to wipe rims of jars to ensure sealing.
6. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Happy Day,
Jean