Spring and Dandelion Beer

Fresh Dandelion Leaves and Roasted Roots
Fresh Dandelion Leaves and Roasted Root For Beer

With the warmer weather, I finally get to play with a recipe from Leda Meredith’s new book “The Forager’s Feast.” It’s a delightful combination of roasted dandelion roots and chopped, fresh leaves, with a hint of fresh ginger. I have been waiting for the right time to start this for weeks, since she first shared it on Facebook.

My yard is plentiful with dandelions, but my husband always insists on mowing just as things start to look good out there. Luckily, we have a lower garden where I plant crucifers that is inaccessible to his plant killing machine, and that’s where my harvest came from.

After harvesting a huge pile of leaves and roots (you need 8 oz. of chopped leaves and 1/2 an oz. of roasted root) I set the littlest helpers to work removing snails and worms and all sorts of mayhem from the clumps. They stand on the bucket of oats and flour to reach the sink, but there is nothing like a child’s delight in a job to make things go quickly.

I chopped and weighed as they washed and giggled. It made short work of things.

The above photo is the finished product before adding the ginger root and water to simmer.

The smell was amazing! I admit that I tasted a sip just to see how gingery it was, and it’s heavenly right now. I can’t imagine how good it’s going to be in a few weeks.

Have you ever fermented ginger beer? I enjoy that and kombucha regularly, so this is just an extension of yummy fermented foods in our farm kitchen. It should be delicious!

New Pressure Canning Book On The Way

Pressure Canning FoodsIf you have been reading for a while, you know that I love food preservation just as much as I love to cook. There is something about shopping in my own pantry and freezer that makes me slightly giddy with joy.  Over the years, I have written books on all sorts of food preservation: Canning and Preserving for Dummies, Canning and Preserving All in One, Fermenting for Dummies. Each one is filled with good ideas and recipes for creating homemade meals from the farm kitchen.

I never could understand why the art of pressure canning wasn’t as popular as it once was. I think it fell out of favor when people had access to frozen foods and that meant a lot less work. The rise of convenience foods meant the decline of doing things ourselves.

Pressure canning is an important part of my everyday life, and I am excited to be bringing you another book on the subject. I am working on a  book titled Modern Pressure Canning, and it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

It’s not just a traditional canning recipe book, and I will be sharing many of the fun and funky recipes that help me be creative cook throughout the year.  I’m excited to see what you think, and will be blogging my journey from recipe box to full color book. Stay tuned!

Do you pressure can anything? Share in the comments below!

Best Ever Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe

There are just some things that taste better when they are homemade. Chocolate syrup is one of those things. It’s richer, sweeter in a better way, thicker, and more chocolaty with no aftertaste than the ones sold in stores.

I like making it on a regular basis and finding ways to switch it up. The original recipe calls for vanilla, but I have added cayenne pepper or cinnamon or almond or even coconut flavors to the syrup. Really, this is just a decadent topping for anything you can think of: cakes, ice cream, pies, milk, cocoa, coffee. It’s so good and easy to make. I hope you find it useful!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1 Cup cocoa

2 Cups Sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 Cup water

1 Tbsp vanilla

Add all ingredients except the vanilla and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes (stir it all the time!) and then remove from heat. Once it’s cooled enough not to burn you, stir in the vanilla. That’s it! As it cools, this becomes a luscious syrup consistency that is so much better than the squeeze bottle you buy at the store.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup

Homemade Chicken Soup

If I had to grab just one of my kitchen appliances with a minute’s notice, it would be my pressure cooker. I use it at least two or three times a week and helps me get dinner on the table in record time. Now that it’s winter and of course everyone is sick, we eat quite a bit of chicken soup, and the pressure cooker is the perfect way to make it. This soup takes 30 minutes to make and tastes as if I cooked all day. It’s perfect.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup

Place frozen 2-3 pound chicken into the pressure cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Release pressure and set aside chicken. To the broth, add:

1/2 cup raw brown rice

Your favorite vegetables; I used a handful of baby carrots, two handfuls of baby kale, 10 Brussels sprouts cut in half, 1 cup leftover sweet corn from last year’s garden

Separate chicken from bones and return to pot

Add enough water to cover, making sure you don’t overfill (my cooker has markers on the inside, which I filled to the 8 cup mark)

Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes

Release the pressure quickly and it’s ready. The broth is rich and flavorful, the vegetables are done perfectly, and the chicken still has plenty of taste. It’s truly an easy way to make a meal.

If you save your bones from previous chicken dinners and cook them for the first 15 minutes, the resulting broth is basically free and full of nutrition. It’s another way to stretch your budget and still eat well.

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

These little gems are awesome! I never knew how easy it was to make glazed nuts, and wanted to use up the last of the nuts in the cupboard from our gluttony around the holidays. Now, we can eat these by the handful, or chop them up and top a cake or ice cream with something with a little bit of zing. I have had excellent luck getting my little chefs to eat salad with these added to the top. On to the recipe!!

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Nuts

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Stir after the first 10 minutes.
Pour baked nuts over parchment until cool.
Store in a glass jar, although they won’t last long.

Amazing 1 Hour Dinner Rolls

dinner rolls

Light and fluffy dinner rolls are perfect for any meal. These also make the best slider rolls. Once you see how easy my 1 hour dinner rolls are to make, you will never resort to plain old white bread again.  The only tip I have is not to rush the recipe. It truly does take an hour for the dough to rise and become light and airy. It’s worth every minute.

1 Hour Dinner Rolls

Makes 2 dozen

1 Tablespoon + 2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups flour

In a mixing bowl, place warm milk, yeast and sugar.

Let stand for 15 minutes.

Stir in salt, butter and flour.

Let stand for 20 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Punch down, and form into balls the size of an egg(makes 2 dozen)

Place rolls onto a greased cookie sheet for single rolls, in an 8X8 pan for soft sided rolls with brown tops.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

For soft rolls, brush with butter as soon as they are removed from the oven.

1 Hour Dinner Rolls

Super Simple GF Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

There is nothing better than a family movie night with snacks that everyone can enjoy. These gluten free peanut butter cookies are all the things you love in a good PB cookie; they are crisp on the edges, soft in the middle, sweet and nutty, and best of all? They only use 3 ingredients to pull together.

When the cookie urge strikes, it’s 20 minutes from thought to nibble. So easy!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 18

Ingredients:

2 cups peanut butter

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

Directions:

Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper

Combine the ingredients and scoop out using two spoons (I use my 1 TBSP scoop to make this fast and easy)

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Cool before trying to move the cookies. I just slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet and allow them to cool right on the paper.

Kid Friendly Salmon Cups

Salmon Cups

Quick and easy, these salmon cups can be made from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen and pantry. I was lucky enough to find cans of Wildcaught Alaskan salmon for a steal at the local grocery store, so stocked up. If I put anything in wonton cups the kids will eat it, so I wondered if I could make salmon appealing. My kids are not picky, but they are suspicious of odd looking things, and canned salmon is definitely odd looking of you have never seen it before. The fish still has some skin left on it, and the bones are included. They are very soft and so good for you, but a 6 yr old may not agree. In my experience, once they like something, the kids are more willing to overlook the oddity and embrace the taste. So, expect to take a few moments to clean up your fish for presentation. (This isn’t grape-peeling levels of prep; more like cutting the crust off bread level.)

The crispy wonton wrappers make the perfect container for picking up (when they are cooled) and add just the right crunch.  In case you are wondering, these taste great the next day as well. Enjoy!

Salmon Cups

Fills 18 muffin cups

Ingredients: 

1 package wonton skins

2 cans salmon-drained but save the juice

6 eggs

1/4 cup milk or juice from salmon

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 small minced onion

1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 Tbsp butter, melted

juice of 1 lemon

Instructions: 

Drain salmon and save the juice.

In a large bowl, Place the salmon and flake with two forks. My kids won’t eat the bones (soft and great source of calcium) so I spend a couple of minutes removing them and any large pieces of skin. This makes the dish much more kid friendly.

Add lightly beaten eggs, milk (I used buttermilk and some juice to get the right consistency), Old Bay, salt, pepper to the salmon.

Mix well. The consistency should be very loose. Add more liquid until it’s just right.

Line muffin tins with wonton wrappers, using two in each cup.

Using 1/4 measuring cup, carefully fill each wonton cup with the salmon mixture.

Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes. The cups will be lightly browned. Don’t overbake.

Remove to platter

Combine butter and lemon juice and divide it evenly over each of the cups. I use a pastry brush.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

These are so delicious and the few minutes it takes making them kid approved is so worth the effort.

Ingredients for salmon cups

Charts and Lists and Chores – Oh My!

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Every year, we have a schedule to make up for our school year. The summer months at first, seem a relief from the busy days, but honestly things run more smoothly when everyone has direction.

By everyone, I also include myself. There is something so freeing, about waking with purpose for the day. Now, I am all about having time to ponder life, just not too much time. Honestly, I ponder all I need to, when I am working on something else. I don’t need it to be quiet to do so.

So back to scheduling. I found this gem at the thrift store last week:

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At $4.00, I think I can make this work. I have never used a reward system with the children, but I do love lists. We check them off for our daily chores, class lists, meal plans, gift buying..you name it. This year, I am anxious to tighten up some areas that could use some work, i.e. some bad habits that need fixing.

I really believe that having a visible list of expectations is so much nicer than nagging, don’t you? This chart will probably become that list. The cute little magnets will end up gone, but a dry erase marker will work great.

What do you use to keep your family on track? I also found some great printable ideas:

Confessions Of A Homeschooler – This is an amazing, printable chore chart, complete with chore chart cards to print.

Growing Up Gabel – has a pretty little printable, a chore chart for us moms. Now, that is something I need! There are quite a few in her post, so you can pick and choose what works.

 

For more of a homeschool schedule chart, I am embarrassed to admit that I am sooo old school. I wrote up some basic pages years ago, and laminated them. Now, I just print out a fresh page (I like a month at a time). Here is a peek:

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A 4 day school week, for 3 kids

 

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 Our monthly calendar, for appointments, days off, etc. 

See what I mean? Not pretty. 🙁 But I have been using it for so long that it works for me. The point is, if it is written down and visual, it’s not overwhelming.

It is fun to see how the kids have progressed, and it really helps me to see that we have accomplished something, especially in March, which tends to be our burnout month. Every day is a challenge. We often take a break, just to appreciate the school schedule once again.

Well, the kids are hungry, so I had better finish up. I would LOVE to see how you organize your lives. If it is printable and free, all the better. Have a fantastic day!