November 30, 2012

Cranberries and popcorn

We got out 3 needles and thread and strung popcorn and cranberries.  They were the leftovers...I baked the vegan cranberry bread (link to recipe in my previous post), which was really scrumptious!!!
 Olivia hung hers as a garland outside on the tree by our front window.
 And we gave the chickens the leftover popcorn.
Their nests...where we find eggs...just one brown egg a day now.  Hoping to see 2 brown and one greenish-blue soon!
 Behind the ladder under the deck...a favorite spot for dust "bathing."
And the cranberry & popcorn garland Hannah made is swooping on the right side of the light and mine on the can see Velvet the cat looking out the window!  ♥ 

November 28, 2012

Yarn along...

Today is the first day of the Nativity fast for us, as Orthodox Christians, who follow the old calendar.  Last year, we started a countdown and opened up a package with a (used) book each day, so my girls really looked forward to the fasting period.  We try to live simpler, eating no meat, or dairy and less television (not that we watch it much anyhow) so that we can pray more and think about the time before Christ's birth!
I'm crocheting another shawl right now for my niece, well actually just adding fringe right now.  I am reading "Everyday Saints" by Archimandrite Tikhon.  ♥
I have mushrooms and onions that I'll chop up and cook with olive oil and then serve with angel hair pasta.  We have a good supply of organic gala apples, for snack.
And I plan to bake this later today, as I have a bag of fresh cranberries in the refrigerator.

November 21, 2012


We sipped this three ginger tea, made in the UK (the English do tea the best, in my opinion) by Pukka.  My sister, her husband and 3 month old baby, Elizabeth, are now here visiting and brought me this box of tea, which I cannot find in any stores in this area.  We also had a slice of pumpkin bread.  Brekkie is Australian slang for breakfast.  ♥  It's a term we use often in our home.  "What's for brekkie?"

Pumpkin bread (this is a delicious and vegan):

2 cups pumpkin pulp (bake half pumpkin, scrape flesh from skin, then puree)
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut oil ($5.99 for a 16 oz. jar of organic virgin coconut oil at Trader Joe's)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur's)
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Mix wet ingredients in large bowl, then dry ingredients in smaller bowl, then pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix thoroughly. Makes 12 muffins and 4 small loaves (I use the Pampered Chef mini-loaf stoneware) for me... Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes (muffins are done quicker).
 After lunch, enjoying a pomegranate together....and then little Elizabeth fell asleep in Hannah's arms.
Very nice weather here...sunny and 60s.  We went swimming yesterday, indoors.  My little niece only dipped her feet in.  Olivia & Hannah puffed up their swimsuits with air. 
Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans, tomorrow!  This mouse family (by Maggie Rudy) is enjoying a roasted walnut. ♥

November 19, 2012

A morning walk with Peepaw and Grammie ♥

As many of you know, my father has had Parkinson's disease for almost 10 years now.  He uses a walker most of the time and often can't even use that, afternoons and evenings are very difficult.
We found a bunch of pretty yellow ginkgo leaves.  Thank God, mornings are good for him...and we enjoyed the beautiful weather God gave us today!

November 16, 2012

It's pumpkin roll season...

One of my favorite things to make with pumpkin, even more scrumptious that pumpkin pie!  This is the time of year when pumpkins are harvested and if you let yours sit out on your front porch like we did...don't let it sit too long, or it will freeze and then you won't want to eat it.
We're starting here with pictures of the finished product and going backwards...sliced, cooled, baked, mixed, pureed the pumpkin in my food processor, baked the pumpkin itself for a little over an hour at 325'F, opening the pumpkin...
for the cake (it's really like a thin sponge cake):
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn't have this, so used nutmeg)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pureed baked pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with parchment paper.  Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. 
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts. 
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together. Allow it to cool completely before adding filling.
for the filling:
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Refrigerate at least one hour before trying to slice, or the slices won't be a pretty swirl, rather a smooshed oval (although it would still taste good, I'm sure).
A bit of silliness.
Yes, we had a bit of fun with our was quite heavy to try to balance upon your head!

November 15, 2012

Transforming the backyard garden...

Rob tilled up the garden...we planted more lettuce and wheat.  There is still kale growing, it's green with purple undertones.  The girls each got a red oak seedling about 5 years ago at the library, they are both very pretty now...their leaves have turned a reddish hue.
Our tomatoes are ripening week of sitting on the windowsill!
P.S. We got our Christmas cards from Shutterfly (I won a $50 gift card on Jamie's blog!) and have been signing each one, address them to friends and family.  
I know it seems early, but last year I started preparing for Christmas in November, too. Get ready for your own a book-a-day countdown...we started last year and ♥ it, better and more meaningful than a chocolate calendar!

November 12, 2012

mini lemon poppyseed scones

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup milk (we get raw milk, and I used some that was slightly soured, which was excellent)
why mini?  well...I saw these cute little ones and thought it was a great idea!  while it's nice to have something sweet, in moderation, a small portion is better...we topped them with cream and raspberry jam ♥

November 9, 2012

Learning Russian in our home

Our 74 year old friend from church is teaching my daughter, Hannah, Russian.  She really wants to learn after going to camp this summer.  Many of her friends spoke Russian.  Last month we began to label items in our home, the clock, lamp, couch, living room, dining room, kitchen...
The stickers came in this book.  This workbook is geared for a tourist going to Russia, but we are customizing it to fit our needs.  So far, it is working perfectly for us!
When I was in school I studied Spanish for 5 years, Latin for 1 and then in college I took Russian for 2 years.  In my experience, learning a foreign language greatly improved my understanding of the English language.  I understood verbs, adjectives, prepositions better.  One of our favorite activities to do for fun is Madlibs, which came about in the 1950s.  I remember doing them as a child, and now I enjoy it with my own children!  We even made up our own.  Learning is fun and can be a part of everyday life!!!

November 7, 2012

Last harvest...

We may still get a little more from our garden, but this is most likely our last harvest.  I hope all the green tomatoes will ripen up on the windowsill.
 We're saving these cobs of corn, so that we'll have seed for next year.   This fall weather is perfect for hikes, climbing trees and picnics as the sun sets...
Ever since I went to Scotland with my grandma when I was about 10, I've loved scones.  I made a batch which we ate them with clotted cream and raspberry jam.  When grandma passed away 10 years ago, I got her copy of The Joy of Cooking, which I treasure.  On the same page as the recipe for scones is a recipe for biscuits with a poem by Miss Howard Weeden:
Of course I’ll gladly give de rule
I meks beat-discuit by,
Dough I ain’t sure dat you will mek
Dat bread de same as I.
‘Case cooking’s like religion is –
Some’s ‘lected, an’ some ain’t,
An’ rules don’t no more mek a cook,
Den sermons mek a Saint.
I gathered all the ingredients to make the "Election day cake" (see previous post) and baked it in the bundt pan.  It needed something, so I made a glaze using butter, sugar & a bit more brandy.

November 5, 2012

Election day is tomorrow!

Tomorrow I plan to make an election cake.  It's one that was made in huge batches 200 years ago:

"Election Cake: Thirty quarts of flour, 10 pound butter, 14 pound sugar, 12 pound raisins, 3 doz eggs, one pint wine, one quart brandy, 4 ounces cinnamon, 4 ounces fine colander seed, 3 ounces ground alspice; wet flour with milk to the consistence of bread over night, adding one quart yeast; the next morning work the butter and sugar together for half an hour, which will render the cake much lighter and whiter; when it has rise light work in every other ingredient except the plumbs, which work in when going into the oven. 
- Simmons, American Cookery, 1796."

If you haven't already figured out who you are voting for, there are many important issues and also other candidates running for jobs, other than the president in the election tomorrow.  Vote Smart is a good resource!

Yesterday I went with my mom right after church to a Parkinson's workshop.  It was really informative.  And there were wonderful stories.  I'll share one.  This man and his wife went for a walk in their neighborhood.  The man uses a walker and has difficulty with belt buckles and zippers, so now simply wears pants with an elastic waistband.  I admit I prefer those, too.  They are comfy.  Anyhow, as they are coming home, the man says to his wife "My pants are falling down."  She looks and responds "No, I can see they are just fine."  A few steps later, he says "My pants fell down."  Sure enough, they are around his ankles.  They laugh and she pulls them back up, and then see that the neighbors are standing in their yard!  Dad is like that, he uses his walker most the time and wears elastic pants, so I could completely see that happening one day.  I hope it doesn't, but if it does, it will just be a humbling thing, and that is good for one's soul, right?  My husband and girls stayed with Dad.  Then, when we got back, we all had dinner together.  ♥