Tuesday, May 31, 2011

go forth ye and make this - BBQ Nut Burgers

Being a vegetarian intimidates some people, especially when they'd like to have you over for dinner but don't know what to serve, I'm often asked, "What do you eat - other than salad?" Or "
You don't eat any meat?! not even chicken or fish?!" Nope, not even chicken or fish. And yes, I eat more than just salad. Once past the initial reaction of being vegetarian I'm usually told, with what seems like a bit of guilt on the part of the other person that, "Oh I think that's great! I don't eat much meat," or "I only eat seafood because it's an external skeleton." Yes, I've heard that! Listen folks, I'm not a 'preachy' vegetarian, I raise meat for human consumption for crying out loud, (I love the contrarian nature of that too fyi!) I have my reasons for being a vegetarian and you have your reasons for not being one, I'm ok with that. In fact if you come for dinner I'll even roast you a chicken, some say it's good enough to gnaw the bones. So in case you ever wondered what to serve a vegetarian I thought I'd post a really delicious burger recipe for you. I got the original recipe from my grandmother who oddly enough gave me the most grief about becoming a vegetarian in the first place. I have no idea there she got it so if it's your recipe let me know and I'll thank you for the delicious idea and give credit where it's due. I've made these and tweaked the recipe a bit, feel free to try it and retweak if you like. Here goes:

In a food processor add:
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup pecans

You can likely tell there are no cashews in this bowl, that's because I'm very allergic to them, so I use pecans, (which I love,) walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds. Pulse until the nuts and finely ground.
Transfer to a bowl and add:
1 cup of wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup of potato flakes

Oops! Out of wheat bread crumbs, so I used a handful on panko bread crumbs and handful of italian bread crumbs. Not quite enough potato flakes, (don't freak out, I only use them for this recipe!) so I added enough nutritional yeast flakes to make the correct amount.

You may have noticed that I tend to use a recipe more as a general suggestion guide, not so much a hard and fast rule, I find cooking to be way more enjoyable that way and less like "I have a kitchen because it came with the house."

Mix that together and add:
2 eggs beaten
2 tsp dried minced onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt

You can see that my onions are neither dried nor minced, that may have a great deal to do with the fact that I just now as I was typing this up for you realized that the recipe calls for them to be that way, not chopped fresh... Well what do you expect, see the comment above. :-) And I omitted the salt, the sunflower seeds were salted and roasted I think.

Blend all that together and form into patties and fry in an oiled frying pan for 3-4 minutes on each side. I find that when I used my electric grill they stay together much better and besides how else are you going to get those cute little grill marks on them?!

So which ever way you decide to cook them serve them with a bit of BBQ sauce, the one I use goes like this:

4tbsp raw honey
4tbsp organic (HFCS free) ketchup
2 tsp cider vinegar
2tsp molasses and
just a splash of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Serve it with some veggies, a salad or a kick in the pants! Which ever you choose it's sure to be appreciated and delicious! YUM!

*In the picture it really looks like a ton of sour cream, it's really not that much, it's just spread out over the fluffed up potato underneath... I love sour cream, just not that much!

my first attempt at liquid soap

After sequestering, it should clear up, but even if it doesn't I don't care, this stuff is awesome!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Can't beat 'em? Eat 'em!

We have been blessed with an abundance of dandelions this year! A bumper crop! We decided that picking all of them, pulling them all up, spraying with an harmful chemical ::shudder::, or closing our eyes and hoping they'll go away were not viable options we decided to eat them. A couple years ago I stumbled upon a blogger that had made some, so I thought hey, why not? I fired off an email asking how and this is what I did.
The kids and I picked a whole mess of these little beauties.

Then took some time to "run through the wishers" as Andrew calls them.

So after the running was done, I brought them inside and started making jelly. All you use is the blossom (yellow) part so just cut that off. And place those in the bowl.
Discard or rather compost these, you don't need them, they've done their job, they no longer serve a purpose.
Continue cutting the blossoms off until you have the correct amount.
place them in your pot, add water and boil.

Then you get this really beautiful, sunny, yellow liquid to which you add sugar and pectin.

And you end up with a product like this! Now you may be asking what does it taste like?! Well, it's actually very good! Light, crisp and slightly honey like. Try it sometime you'll like it!
We also have a bumper crop of these and I actually love these, so does Andrew - to eat! Sometime ago he and I were discussing why the animals think grass tastes good and I mentioned to him that there were lots of things that were good to eat in the wild (and lots that are poisonous so it's better the check it out first...) and mentioned for example violets. He picked some, tried them and loves eating them in the spring "as a snack." So when I stumbled across a way to make jelly out of those as well I knew I'd have to at least try it! So we did! (Ron's now thinking "Why are you encouraging the weirdness?!!") Here's what we did!
While finishing up the dandelion jelly I sent the kids out to pick a whole pile of violets. Washed them off, drained them and set them in a stainless steel bowl and poured boiling water on them and set them aside for a couple hours and stirred them occasionally.

Can you see the emerald green water? Don't worry, this is normal. Carry on!
After a few hours of steeping drain the violets obviously reserving the water and put it in the pot to cook. Add lemon juice and watch what happens....
Viola'!!! Violet (colored) violet jelly!
Then you add your sugar and pectin, cook it, jar it, seal it and then you have violet jelly!
I used evaporated cane juice, not the refined white sugar the recipe called for so it's a slightly darker color than if I'd used that, but Andrew is thrilled.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Thursday was the kind of day that would make even the gloomiest person to stand up and take notice of it, it was a nearly perfect day. The sun was out, which after many, many, many days of constant rain, made for a delightfully warm, bright, sunny day and then the wind! Oh the glorious wind! Wind is a necessary element for me to have a day of perfect weather, a wild, rugged and independent wind to whirl around you commanding everything living thing in it's path to bend at it's whim. It causes the tall, lush, grass in the fields to sway; the branches to bob, leaves to dance and laugh, it even causes the pine tree to exhale as it blows through it's branches. I mean honestly are there many sounds as soothing or comforting as wind in the pines? You cannot ever see it but you know it's there. There are so few days like this that it even beckons us humans to be outside in it to soak up the nearly impossible beauty and to fully appreciate the effort of a day like Thursday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

4 years ago today...

... heart of gold with a kind eye was delivered into my life and delivered me in ways I never thought possible. Not for a minute have I ever regretted making that decision and now that he has joined my life I cannot imagine my life without him.

Last year I mentioned that I had drawn a picture that hung on my wall as a child, well when I snapped this picture the other day it made me smile because it is almost exactly like the one I drew as a child - only better.
My favorite kissing place!

Thank you Garlic for being in that pen on that day and stepping into my life as gently as a summer breeze and fulfilling and exceeding my childhood dream. The other night I watched a video of your first day here and later our first ride, and it brought tears to my eyes and a flood of emotion. Thank you for being a kind and willing partner now and a patient teacher then. I love you Boz!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One row planted!

Necessity is the mother of invention...

...but what is called when your the mother of an inventor? I call it blessed. My son got the "fix-it" gene and is never happier than when he can make something or fix something. One of the nuts - a crucial piece of the sump pump (that is working overtime right now) was missing; Andrew saw this, walked over to his tool box and after a few tries found the exact size I needed and with a huge toothy grin and tousled hair looked up at me and said, "I fixed it for you Mommy!" His latest inventions are below, his version of a plow, made from the skeleton of the wheelbarrow that rusted through. The first version didn't work really well, so he kept at it and came up with this. He's happy with it and he's been using it to help in the garden, what more can you ask for?!

Andrew and his "old fashioned plow"
Andrew and his "old fashioned plow" at work

Since he's using our wether Buckley as a 4-H project he thought up, made and tried out an invention to help him learn to pull for draft work. Mind you Buckley has never been harnessed but is a very special and patient goat. If you ask him he'd rather sit in your lap and cuddle than work, but he's willing to try anything for Andrew. Andrew had worked on this for a while; thank goodness we have loads of baling twine, it comes in rather handy, then he came into the house to get me and show off his latest invention. I'm glad I had camera in hand and was able to capture the following! It's cute and went something like this...

Andrew - "C'mon Buckley, I've got something to show you!"
Buckley - "Eh- I'm not so sure about this.... what are we going to do??"

Andrew - "This is a harness Buckley, you're doing a good job! You're going to pull the cart I'm going to build!"
Blackberry - in the background... "Ah ha ha ha ha ha! Grow hair - it's a LOT easier!"
Andrew - "I'm going to hook you up to this now Buckley and you're going to pull it. It's my invention and it's going to help you train to pull a cart!"

Buckley takes a step.
Andrew is thrilled! "Good boy Buckley!"
Buckley is now slightly concerned that something is following him, but doesn't panic, he trusts Andrew.
As Buckley starts pulling - something happened and the load shifted, after all this is a first time thing and these things are bound to happen. Andrew tells Buckley to stand (he seems to remember a bit if his pack training) and goes to 'fix' it.

Buckley - "Oops! What happened back there? Everything ok Andrew? Do you need any help?"

Andrew - "No Buckley, I do not need help! I told you I was eventually ride in the cart and you were going to pull it! Not the other way around!"
Buckley - "hey riding sounds lore like fun, I think I'd quite like a ride in a cart."

Andrew - "Buckley get off! You need to pull it not ride it!"
Andrew - "Walk on Buckley! You can do it! Good job Buckley! Look Mommy he's doing it!"
Mommy, with tears in my eyes proud of his accomplishment and Buckley's willingness - "Great job Andrew! Way to go! Please watch out for the rhubarb! Andrew turn Buckley towards you and away from the rhubarb!" Watched as Buckley and paraphernalia roll over rhubarb...sigh. Investigate rhubarb - not too much damage done.
Andrew - "Oops! I'm sorry Mommy! Buckley you did great especially for your first time! I'm so proud of you!"
Buckley, with his goofy goat grin -"Aw shucks! Hey, that was fun but I still think I'd rather ride in than pull the cart."

Andrew has a birthday coming right up, I think I know just exactly the right gift for him... a driving/pulling harness from Hoeggers goat supply....

Friday, May 20, 2011

"You'll never believe this, but your vegetarian dish was actually really good!"

The kids had a 4-H meeting the other night and it was s potluck type thing with guest speakers, being vegetarians I knew what we brought would likely be the only think we could eat - I was right! Ron once told me "you gotta know your audience" after making a salad for dinner at a friends house that went over like a lead balloon... I was asked to bring a "green salad" so I made a green salad - but when I looked at it in the bowl it looked so sad, so boring, just plain green... so I 'twisted' it up! I added fresh spinach, dried sweetened cranberries, mandarin oranges, slivered almonds, and red onion I believe. Then to co-ordinate with the white bowl it was in I topped it with some goat cheese and brought a green goddess dressing. It tasted awesome and looked so beautiful! My mistake was that I was preparing this for a meat 'n taters family and stretched them way out of their comfort zone, but it was good and we had lots of left overs... So I knew whatever I made for this would likely be eaten mostly by the kids and I because I was headed into that area of meat 'n taters kind of community but I knew my audience, my children and I love this dish so I made it for us - mostly... And I made it again just the other night as we love it so much... but this time I did make some meatballs for Ron to add to his plate. What you ask is this wonderful dish!? Well, I confess, it's not exactly my recipe, I saw a similar dish on the food network a while ago and tweaked it because I didn't exactly have all the ingredients but wanted to make it anyway. Huh, did you hear that my husband and sisters heads just exploded! Eh oh well, it's my kitchen... right?!

Well, it's a slightly Asian-ish dish, tastes like Chinese food, but without the MSG. First I made the meatballs which consisted of some of our fresh (but frozen then thawed ground pork) it was supposed to be hot sausage but that was gone.... so I had to punt! I added some cayenne pepper and paprika - Ron likes it hot and spicy, I think that's why he likes me! ;-)
I added some scallions, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, bread crumbs, ginger (maybe?), and some sesame seeds - I think that's all... mashed it all together and rolled it into a small meatball.

Heated up some oil in a pan, plopped them in rolled them around until they were done and set them aside to drain and wait for the other dish was ready.
In another large pot I cooked some spaghetti, just before it was done I dumped a half a bag of frozen sweet peas in the bottom of the colander I was going drain the spaghetti in so that the heat from the pasta would thaw and slightly cook the peas but still give them a bit of crunch to them. A great tip I learned from my mother-in-law. While that was draining I added to the pot I used to cook the spaghetti in a large scoop of creamy peanut butter, garlic (pressed) a couple cloves - we like keeping vampires away, nah, we just really like garlic! Some soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, vinegar, raw honey, sesame seeds, an orange bell pepper and some scallions. You do not cook this, just mix it together then add the spaghetti and peas.
Mixed all that together. Took out enough sauce to put on Ron's plate, added his spaghetti, without peas - he detests peas, mixed it all together and set aside for a minute. Then mixed the rest of it together and it looks something like this... This is what I took to the 4-H dinner and was told, "You're not going to believe this, but your vegetarian dish was actually really good!" I smiled and said thank you, and was told that she had to actually pick out all the vegetables, as she doesn't eat vegetables so really it was just the noodles and sauce that she liked, but that that was good. Then I had several other people tell me that they really liked it as well. I'm not really sure what they were expecting, I'm fairly certain that if vegetarian food were not delicious there wouldn't be any vegetarians.... but I'm glad they enjoyed it.

This is Ron's version, with the pork meatballs, he liked it too, but he also eats it with out the meat....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

good quote

" A fact more certain than our life is our death-it comes to us all. It is within our life now while we live that we must prepare the gifts, the baton that we will pass on. What is worthy to be passed on? What is not? Which are we spending the most time on?"

Kim Meeder
Hope Rising

Monday, May 16, 2011

I can do anything for 15 minutes!

A few year ago I found a popular website who's motto is you can do anything for 15 minutes! I LOVE that because I think for lots of things I need to do that's all the attention span I have! I likely have add, but I think that's why I love my life and all that I do, if there is something I don't particularly enjoy I will usually only have to do it for a short while, then something else needs doing! Take for example the rock wall.... ugh! I swear at night all the barn animals jump out of the fencing and run down to it and deposit loads of manure along it as I cannot believe how quickly it all grows! It's one of those things that you see needs attention, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to do it all, so some things slide until they look like this.... This bugs me as it partially blocks my view, which is one of the three reason we bought this home. The barn, the view and the land. The house was just a bonus! I was especially bugged tonight because it's been raining a lot again lately which make things that need doing outside get pushed further and further back... So tonight I said screw it, I can just as easily lop in the rain as not and the bugs won't be so bad; I grabbed a pair of gloves, the new loppers I just bought for this purpose, (once again it's all about having the right tool for the job!) set my timer for 15 minutes (alright it was the alarm on my phone) and walked to the wall. What joy and satisfaction did I find in lopping this mess away tonight! It was FUN! I made a pile of lopped down brush, to haul away in another 15 minutes later.You can see why it may bug me, I'm all about privacy, (which is why I cannot figure out why I spill my guts on here?! Weird huh!?) but I cannot see out to the glorious field which lies just on the other side of that wall. So I went to town lop, lop, lop!
And 15 minutes later I has results! This was 15 minutes well spent! Instant gratification, simple pleasures, call it what you will I was pleased and will certainly do another 15 minutes soon! Look at what I got done! Alright it was 20 minutes, because when the alarm went off I set it for another 5 because I 'just wanted to get this one last....' those of you who are like me will understand that and those of you who are not....well, I'm sorry, I just had to!

Did you see the building in the first picture?! Nope! me either and I know it's there! Yikes that is a lot of brush!