Archive for the ‘From The Kitchen’ Category

Two weeks ago I started a batch of lacto-fermented pickles.  I carefully followed the recipe enclosed in the fermenting jar with air lock I bought recently.  With great anticipation I’ve awaited the day they would be ready to sample.  The child in me loves good pickle!   I had great hopes my pickles would turn out delectable, delicious and crisp.  Last night enough time had finally passed, and the moment of truth had arrived.  I popped open the jar and pulled out a pickle.  The center gave way to the pressure of the fork.  It was a mushy mess.  My pickles were a bomb…not to be confused with “the bomb”.   This morning I dumped them into my kitchen compost pot.

I wish I had taken a picture of the “pickles” in the fermenting jar, but I did not.  Initially the liquid in the jar was clear.  The end result liquid was very cloudy even before I transferred them into jars for storage.  (That’s my pretty and really yummy sauerkraut in the fermenting jar to the left.)

pickle yuck 2

A mushy mess…so often bloggers share their successes.  It seems fair to share some of the failures, too.  These, my friends, were a failure.

pickle yuck

I’m sure I will try to lacto-ferment pickles again, but I will search out a different recipe.  Once was enough for this one.  In the meantime, I’ll eat sauerkraut.

Until next time…

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.                (2 Corinthians 5:18)


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This simple dish turned out really good so I thought I would share.   It is something I just “threw” together, and I wrote it down after we ate, because both my husband and I would like to have it for supper again some time.  I served it with home-canned lima beans and a bottle of cherry water kefir.

Skillet Chicken 4

Skillet Spicy Chicken Over Brown Rice Pasta

Olive Oil (Enough to keep chicken from sticking as it browns)
1 pound lean ground chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper diced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon  turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use unrefined Celtic.)

2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon stevia powder
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I use raw with mother.)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15 oz. can) diced tomatoes with juice

grated parmesan cheese

cooked gluten-free pasta (We used brown rice shells.)

In a heavy skillet brown ground chicken, onions, and peppers in a small amount of olive oil.  While browning the meat mixture, add parsley, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper and salt.

When meat mixture is cooked thoroughly and onion and peppers are tender, add remaining ingredients except for pasta and cheese and simmer on low heat for about half an hour.

Serve over cooked pasta shells and top with grated parmesan cheese.

If you try this recipe I would love to hear what how it went over at your house.

Until next time…

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  (2 Timothy 2:22)

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Fellow stitchers…if you have not commented on my Creative Stitchery Success Strip Giveaway post for a chance to win a set of your own, be sure to click on the giveaway button on the sidebar and leave a comment before noon on 8/15/13.  Don’t want to wait to see if you won…click on the link in the giveaway post and order a set from Robbie.  She has speedy service and the inventive strips are SO worth the price!

A week or so ago there was a recipe for stuffed zucchini circulating on Facebook that looked really good, and as an added bonus, it is gluten-free.  Sorting through the ingredients made it less appealing to me, because it called for ground beef.  I quit eating ground beef years ago so I substituted Perdue, lean ground chicken.  To a pound of ground chicken I added a medium chopped onion and half a diced green pepper and started browning it in a black iron skillet.  I used a little olive oil in the skillet, because lean ground chicken does not produce a lot of fat and I didn’t want it to stick.  As the chicken browned I seasoned it with Celtic sea salt, freshly ground pepper, a teaspoon of dried parsley, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and about two tablespoons of diced garlic.  (We like garlic!)

Browned chicken mixture…

stuffed zucchini stuffing

While the meat was browning I cut four zucchinis in half length-wise and scooped the bulk of the flesh out leaving a hollowed “boat” shell.  (I chopped the zucchini flesh and added it to the meat mixture.)

Zucchini cut length-wise and hollowed out boat-style…I placed the zucchini halves on a foil covered cookie sheet.  (The foil is optional…I believe in making clean up as easy as possible.)

Stuffed zucchini 1

When the meat was well browned and the onions and peppers tender, I filled each zucchini half with an ample amount of the filling and topped it with grated parmesan cheese.

Ready for the oven…

stuffed zucchini 2

I popped it into a 350 degree oven and baked it until the zucchini was tender and the parmesan was crisp.

Served with fresh corn cut off the cob and seasoned…

zucchini ready to eat

It was delicious, and my husband said it is a “do over”.  Just thought I’d share…if you try it, I’d love to hear how it went over at your house.

Until next time…

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  (John 3:15)

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I am on a mission to drop fifty pounds total.  I’m down three with a long way to go.  One thing I know for sure is I cannot deprive myself of everything I love to eat, lose the weight I want to lose and go back to eating things I deprived myself of.  That’s a definite plan for long-term failure.  Instead I am going the moderation route.  It may take longer to drop the pounds, but in the long run, moderation is more realistic.  I am giving up things loaded with empty calories and replacing them with satisfying foods with beneficial qualities.  One thing I will do is eat smaller meals more often.   Healthy snacks play heavily in this approach.  One of my favorites is maple walnuts.  Walnuts are good for you and the maple syrup appeases my sweet tooth.   They are seriously yum and must be eaten in small quantities or the benefits are sabotaged by the calories.

 I imagine maple walnuts can be bought ready-made, but they are super simple to make at home…and surely much cheaper.  Here is how you make them.  Place skillet on stove.  Pour maple syrup covering the bottom of a skillet.  (I make mine in a 16 inch skillet but any size will do.)  Add a pinch of sea salt to the syrup and stir it to blend.  Cover the maple syrup with a layer of walnut halves or pieces. Turn burner on a medium low heat setting, and gently stir the walnuts to evenly coat with the maple syrup.  Continue to stir until the maple syrup is no longer wet .  Walnuts will still be sticky, but there will be no more liquid syrup in the skillet.  Pour the walnuts onto a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Spread into a single layer and allow to cool.  The cooled nuts will not be sticky, but they will be delicious.    Walnuts and maple syrup are a perfect pair.

Now for no more oxidized apples.  A while back I saw a tip for preventing cut apples from turning brown.   This afternoon I made a healthier version of Waldorf salad and  tried the tip.  It worked beautifully.  It’s so simple and the ingredients have been a staple in my kitchen for as long as I’ve had a kitchen.  I diced my apples and covered them with about a teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in water.  I let them soak while I diced my celery and tossed it into the mix.   The apples soaked for about five minutes.  I drained them, and to make my version of Waldorf salad I added chopped walnuts and a few raisins.  Typically this salad is made with mayonnaise.  I substituted Greek yogurt, about a tablespoon of honey and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon.  It is yummy delicious and lighter than the usual method.  By treating the apples with salt water, the apples will stay white and appealing for days.

Update…Day 3 of Waldorf salad.  Still white…no icky looking brown apples.  🙂

Until next time…

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth . . . . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.  Psalm 33:6, 9

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My first-born granddaughter has been visiting this week, and to make her time with us even more special we’ve enjoyed good food.  Yesterday we worked alongside each other and made Stuffed French Toast Extraordinaire for lunch.  (This is my rendition of the stuffed French toast Nicki Lee told me she makes.)  We generously spread two slices of thick-sliced, home style,  sour dough bread with cream cheese.  A layer of sliced strawberries and blueberries was added to cover the cream cheese on one slice of bread, and the second slice was placed on top and pressed down gently to help secure the berries.  Next we carefully rolled the “sandwiched” bread in an egg/milk mixture.  (This mixture was two eggs, 1/4 cup milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.)  We rolled the egg-covered sandwich in crushed cereal.  (We used a Kashi cereal I processed in my VitaMix.)  We placed the sandwiches onto a heated iron griddle with melted butter and browned both sides until dark golden brown.  Our plan was to pour warm maple syrup onto our hot stuffed French toast and sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar, BUT our plan was foiled.  The maple syrup I bought the day before was no place to be found.  We moved on to plan B and used golden agave nectar instead.  The result was nothing less than mouth-watering yummy.

Warm and creamy, strawberry/blueberry, toasty  goodness…It’s easy to make and so good.  It really is fit for a king…or a queen.

Until next time…

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth . . . . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. 

Psalm 33:6, 9

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Yesterday I needed to make a sweet treat for my dear husband’s work lunch.  Cupcakes work great, because I can freeze them and have temptation out of my sight.  Truth be known, I could deplete the supply in no time at all.  Freezing frosted cupcakes is less than desirable.  Gooey frosting smooshes in freezer bags and is messy in the lunch box.  Frosting them one by one as they come out of the freezer is less than convenient.  After checking out the options in my pantry, I decided to make brandied fruit cupcakes.  Brandied fruit makes a delicious cake so why not cupcakes?  I didn’t have all the ingredients for the brandied fruit cake recipe I typically make, so I made one up as I went along.  I figured there was no great loss if it flopped…just the cost of a cake mix and a few staple ingredients. 

Here’s what I did…

I measured out one cup of  brandied fruit juice and one cup of drained fruit. ( The fruit is a mixture of peaches, pineapple, and maraschino cherries.  It is a fermented fruit that is fed every couple of weeks with an addition of fruit and sugar and sits on my kitchen counter looking pretty in between feedings.  It is initially started by mixing one cup of juice starter (or brandy if you don’t have access to a juice starter) with a can of drained peaches and a cup of sugar. It is stirred once each day.   On the third day a can of drained pineapple tidbits or chunks and a cup of sugar is added.  After another three days a jar of maraschino cherries and a cup of sugar is added to the mixture.  After these additions, the mixture is stirred once a day for about two weeks or until the peaches and pineapple look transparent or waxy. It is then ready to use for baking.   An addition of fruit and a cup of sugar is made every two weeks to feed the fruit and replenish your supply.  Like anything fermented, this brandied fruit has a very minimal alcohol content.  It is therefore preserved and requires no refrigeraion.)

I dumped a pudding in the mix white cake mix in my mixer bowl and added the juice, fruit, one egg and 3/4 cup of sour cream.  (Greek yogurt would work well in place of sour cream, but my sour cream needed to be used, and if my creation flopped, I didn’t want to waste my Greek yogurt.)  I mixed the ingredients for about three minutes.  The batter was fluffy and already looked yummy.  I resisted.    I lined two cupcake pans with  24 cupcake papers and popped my pans into a 350 degree preheated oven for 22 minutes. 

Just as this post title says…these cupcakes need no icing.  They are perfect without a topping.  The cake is tender and light…They stand alone.  My sweetie really likes them, so I will be making them again.  Notice they are not particularly browned on top…I guess that’s the absence of oil. 

Note…brandied fruit is a delicious vanilla ice cream topping, too.

Brandied Fruit Cupcakes

1 Pudding in the Mix White Cake Mix

1 Cup brandied fruit (drained)

1 Cup brandied fruit juice

3/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 egg

Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated and fluffy.  (About 3 minutes with stand mixer)

Divided into paper-lined cupcake pans.  Makes 24.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 24 minutes or until knife inserted into center of test cupcake comes out clean.

Eat test cupcake.

Until next time…

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  1 Corinthians  15:21-22

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This week my daughter was given the opportunity to pick field peas…lots and lots of field peas.  On Wednesday I shelled peas with her from 2:00 in the afternoon until 10:30 that evening.  In return she gave me  approximately three five gallon buckets of peas to take home and shell for our use.  Today I am canning those beautiful peas.  As I type, the first canner full is de-pressurizing.  It looks like I will get in the neighborhood of fourteen quarts.  What a blessing!  I adore field peas with a little mayonnaise mixed in them, served with a big piece of cornbread slathered with butter, and homemade sweet pickles on the side.  Nothing more is needed to make a meal!

Beautiful peas ready to bring to a boil…

All my canning needs ready and waiting…well, almost all of them.  I forgot my funnel and will definitely need it.

Ball Blue Book…the canner’s bible…when canning I always keep it close by.

Jars, sterilized and hot…waiting to be filled…

Hot lids and rings…the steam fogged up my camera lens…

Filling the hot jars with hot peas…

Pressure cooker loaded and ready to start rocking…

Out of the pressure cooker…I look forward to the lid-popping concerto…

Now it’s time  to get back in the kitchen for round two.  After the I finish the peas, I’ve got green butter beans to can.  Mmm mmm…we’ll eat good this winter. 

Until next time…

And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.  Ezekiel 34:26

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My kombucha brewing was a success.  The brewing time finally ended, and there was no colorful, fuzzy mold growing on it.  I achieved making healthy kombucha tea.   This morning I started a two new batches, one with the new scoby and one with the original.  I am not sure the old one will work again, but it was worth the tea and sugar to find out.  I am also trying to make a new scoby with starter kombucha and freshly brewed black tea and sugar in a quart jar…no scoby.   I saw where that method works and had to try. 

Here’s a picture of my kombucha prior to removing the scoby and straining the tea.

After starting the new batches, I ended up with about three quarts of kombucha tea to enjoy.  Enjoy it, I will.

Until next time…

Rejoice evermore. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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It’s been a busy few days.  My dear cousin sent me a beautiful batch of  pickling cucumbers this past Tuesday.   They spent the night in the refrigerator, and on Wednesday morning I sliced them and put them in lime water.  Thursday they came out of the lime water and spent the night in spices and vinegar syrup.  This morning I canned nine pints and two quarts of beautiful, crisp sweet pickles.  The pickles in the bowl went great with the spicy black bean burger I had for lunch.

Work on Nicki Lee’s block has begun. I’ve got a long way to go before it is finished, but here’s a peek at some of the work I’ve done on it. The flower motif is not attached, but I am pretty sure it will be.  The stitching on the lace has just begun…

This seam treatment is far from finished, but aren’t the lace butterflies pretty?  They are hand-dyed by Nicki Lee herself…but they are mine, and I can use them on her block if I want to.  🙂

And a final picture of my progress on Nicki Lee’s block…once again, this seam is not finished.  It needs a few beads to add a little bling, but all in good time.  I’m enjoying working on this beautiful block and hope to do it justice.

A heart for Pam…this picture shows only the naked block.  I have begun working on it, but I’ll share a picture of the work when it’s finished.  I love making these little crazy quilt hearts!

Here’s a picture of the first Brown Study Round Robin block I will work on. It came to me all the way from Australia.  I’m still “studying” it to figure out where I want to embellish and what I want to do to it. I absolutely love the tree fabric.

That’s about it for craftiness over the past few days…and the near days to come will be spent finishing these projects and sending them on their way.

I’m still waiting for my Kombucha tea to finish brewing.  So far it looks good.  I have high hopes for it.

Until next time…

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.  Psalm 24:10

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For quite some time I’ve wanted to make kombucha tea for my own use.  Finding a scoby and starter tea in the land of butter beans and fried chicken has proven pretty difficult…it took a long time.  But I finally happened upon someone who made the tea and had a scoby to share.  Yesterday I visited with Mrs. Betty, a delightful eighty-two year old woman who brews this beneficial tea.  Although she required nothing in exchange, I took three dozen, fresh, free-range eggs to her.  She was delighted and especially liked the fact we have roosters and our eggs are fertilized. 

Because this tea is fermented in a glass container I took this opportunity to buy a new glass jar while I was buying the distilled water I needed to get started.  (I’m a glass jar collector from way back, and couldn’t pass up the chance to add a great new fermenting jar.)  I was anxious to get my kombucha underway, so soon after returning home I brewed a gallon of strong black tea and added a cup of organic cane sugar.  The tea must be cool before the scoby and starter tea is added, and that took all night.  I checked on it at 4 A.M., and it was still too warm.  At 5 o’clock it was ready to go.  I carefully poured the tea into my clean jar and added the starter tea and scoby.  I covered it with several layers of cheesecloth and placed the jar in our bedroom closet.  It stays dark most of the time, and the temperature is more consistent than in the rest of the house.  Now the waiting begins. 

The average temperature of our house is seventy-seven degrees.  If all goes well, at that temperature, my kombucha tea should be ready in about a week.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.  I’m hoping my culture is free of harmful contaminants and my kombucha is a success.  (Of course, I am.)

Until next time…

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16


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