December 19, 2010

Variations on a Theme...Chocolate Drop Cookies

I've had fun adapting another couple of recipes to come up with this one.  They are quick and easy.   Just be patient with them though and don't let your butter get too soft or they will spread.  But, they eat either way!

Chocolate Drop Cookies
1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1 T vanilla
1 tsp hazelnut extract
1 T finely, finely ground decaf coffee beans(or go for the full monty and use caffeinated)
1/4 c cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 -1/2 tsp salt (smoked salt is good if you have it)
2 T sugar for rolling the cookies in

Blend butter, sugar and honey.  Scrap it down and make sure the honey is fully incorporated.  Add the vanilla, hazelnut extract, and coffee beans.  Mix well.  Add flour, cocoa, soda and salt.  Blend until everything comes together. Scoop into balls (approx. 1 T) and roll in sugar.  Put on greased cookie sheet, leaving some space between them in case they spread.  Cook at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes and then finish cooling them on a wire rack.  Watch them disappear.  Makes between 18 and 24 depending on size and how much of the dough you eat!

Find more at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Additional variation (March 10, 2012)

Chocolate Drop Cookies
1/2 c shortening
1 c white sugar
1 egg
1 T hazelnut extract
1 T finely, finely ground decaf coffee beans(or go for the full monty and use caffeinated)
1/4 c cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 -1/2 tsp salt (smoked salt is good if you have it)

Basically, mix and bake as directed above.

December 6, 2010

Mocha Cookies or Brownies - One Recipe Two Treats

I was craving chocolate yesterday...okay let's be honest.  I'm always craving chocolate so when I saw a post for Delicious Mocha Cookies on another blog I had to try them.  I made them gluten free and that worked out pretty well.  As cookies, they really want to spread.  If I was lazy or in a hurry I would do them as brownies.  Either way they are sure to delight.  My co-workers seemed to enjoy them and they don't care if they have wheat or not :)

Mocha Cookies or Brownies
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1/2 c. easy gluten-free flour blend
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 T coffee ground extra fine (I used decaf and it was still great...might be better than using this much of regular)
1 T vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, melt the unsweetened chocolate, 1½ cups of the chocolate chips, and the butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth, then remove the bowl from the heat.  This took about 2-3x at 40 seconds each.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, then beat in the coffee and the vanilla. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture; fold in the flour mixture, then stir in the remaining chocolate chips. Let the batter stand for 15 minutes in the fridge.  The colder the better.
3. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray and bake for about 10 minutes, or until puffed, shiny, and cracked on top. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets.  They will spread a bit and if you get to greedy and try to put too many on the pan, they run into each other :)

If you want to cook them as brownies, use a 9x13 or 8x11 and don't worry so much about keeping the dough cold.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until they pull away from the edge a bit and the center is not jiggly.

See more great ideas at Vegetarian Foodie Fridays!

November 22, 2010

Christmas Card Etiquette...Seriously?

I read somewhere the other day that it is proper etiquette to mail Christmas cards the Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving.  Who made this up and why is this the first time I've heard about it?  Apparently, it ensures that everyone gets their card on time and no one feels like they were a last minute addition or some such junk (just Google Christmas card etiquette for more information than you really need).  Who are we kidding?  I can hardly get the cards done after Thanksgiving; much less get them done in time to be ready to mail on the 27th.   The last few years I've been making our own cards.  I distinctly remember doing last year's cards on our anniversary trip to the coast.  It's always hard for me to know who to send them to as well.  With Andrew's side of the family being so large, it can get out of hand.  A stamp is up to what, 42 cents or something like that.  Sending just 50 cards by mail can cost $21.  

That's why I'm excited about trying out Shutterfly.  They are offering bloggers 50 free cards this year.  Maybe I won't be staying up into the middle of the night on vacation trying to decide just what I want to say and what color the font should be.  

In checking out Shutterfly's site, I see a lot of great gift ideas especially for grandparents!  They also have some great deals going on right now.  I'm most interested in checking out the ability to join their Annual Print Plan.  From what I can see, I can join, get discounted prints and for the price of joining get a 8 x 11 photo book.  As I accumulate more photos of Dylan, that sounds like a great deal.  

As to Christmas cards this year, I think I'm going to go with something a little more professional than in the past.  Maybe something like this or this.  Okay, who are we kidding...I don't get cards done early because I can never decide!

Disclaimer: This post will net me 50 free cards at Shutterfly.  So, yeah, it's promotional!

November 21, 2010

Potato-Greens Frittata

I probably shouldn't be the one to write this recipe since Andrew makes this dish but I'll take a stab (I am bugging him for input).  I would share more recipes but so much of the cooking we do is pretty loose...doesn't follow the recipe or anything too closely.  We started out with the recipe from and have adapted it to our tastes and whatever is in the house.  Maybe between the two, you can figure out a dish that your family loves!

Potato-Greens Frittata

2 T olive oil
4-6 yellow potatoes, sliced thin
2 -4 c. torn swiss chard, or spinach, or kale - they are all good!
2-4 cloves garlic (smoked garlic is good too)
6-10 eggs
1/3 to 1/2 c. milk, enough to be about the same as for scrambled eggs
2-3 cubes pesto (I freeze my pesto in ice cube trays so probably about 1 T. each)
mushrooms (optional, we used chantrelles we froze this Fall)
1/2-1 c. shredded cheddar

Heat oil in oven-proof pan and saute potatoes until they are cooked through and golden.  Stir in the garlic and greens.  Cook the greens down for 3-4 minutes.  Then add the pesto stirring well and cook about 1 minute.  Meanwhile, scramble the eggs and milk together.  Pour into pan with potatoes and greens and cook on medium-low until the eggs are pretty much set (just a little runny on top).  Then, put in the oven and broil to finish cooking.  Once the eggs are cooked through, sprinkle mushrooms and cheese on top.  Return to oven to melt cheese. 

This dish is really adaptable which you quickly figure out if you do a Google search for frittata recipes.  If you don't have pesto, go ahead and used dried basil or Italian seasoning.  We've added sausage too but it's a great meal without the meat.  I like it with a nice salad and perhaps a bread.  It's also a great meal to serve when you have friends over! 

The recipe is fudgy on the amounts because it kind of depends on the size of your pan and how thick you want the frittata.  Pretty much you can't screw it up as long as you don't cook it at too high a heat.  Remember, you don't want to burn the bottom!  

See more yummies at Pennywise Platter Thursday and Vegetarian Foodie Fridays!

November 19, 2010

Easy Recipes: Sneaky or Frugal

We had leftover butternut squash fries from the other night and I don't really care for them as leftovers. We also had some white beans from our produce box I cooked up last week and an open can of re-fried beans. Smoky bean soup to the rescue!  Used chicken stock that I made to puree the squash and added it to the bean soup.  I also added a can of tomatoes and left the corn out.  Put everything in the crock-pot and let it cook all day.  Made for a tasty, quick dinner after we got home from our evening walk. So was it sneaky or frugal...or maybe both :)

Check out more yummies at Vegetarian Foodie Fridays #27!

November 18, 2010

Lasagna Soup

I adapted this recipe from $5 Dinners.  It can be as fancy or simple as you like.

Lasagna Soup

2 tsp olive oil
2 c chopped mushrooms (optional)
4 cloves garlic finely minced 
choice of meat (ground beef, Italian sausage, meatballs…) (I used 1 lb ground pork and a package of Italian sausage)
4 tsp dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried basil or 2-4 cubes frozen pesto (I freeze my pesto in ice cube trays and then pop them out and store in the freezer in a ziploc)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 c jarred spaghetti sauce (I used some from in the freezer that I made this summer)
8 c chicken broth
8 oz pasta (use quinoa/corn pasta for gluten-free)
shredded Mozzarella cheese

In a large stockpot, heat oil to medium heat and saute mushrooms.  Add garlic and continue cooking approximately 1 minute. Add your choice of meat and brown. Add spices, salt, pepper flakes, spaghetti sauce and chicken broth. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add pasta and increase heat to bring to a boil and cook for recommended time on pasta box for “al dente”. Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Mozzarella cheese.

October 31, 2010

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes

Andrew's comment was "Me Likey" so I guess these are okay :) Adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes.

Banana Pancakes
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 large banana
1 c. milk (may need up to 1/2 c more)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Puree banana in food processor; add eggs, milk and vanilla.  Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until there are no more dry spots.  Use extra milk to thin if necessary.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Spray oil to lightly coat and pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. When the pancake starts to bubble and the edges begin to set, flip the pancakes. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.

See more yummies at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday or Pennywise Platter Thursday!

October 30, 2010

Easy Gluten-free Flour Blend

Another gluten-free flour blend.  This one uses mostly readily available flours.  So far it has worked well in a chocolate cake and pancakes.

6 c. white rice flour 
3 c. tapioca flour
1.5 c. cornstarch 
1 T salt 
2 T xanthan gum

Chocolate Honey Beet Cake (GF)

This is the year to conquer some of those harder to eat vegetables in our community supported agriculture (CSA) box.  And, by harder to eat, I mean those that I can't stand like swiss chard (will cover in another post) and beets.  The fennel still hasn't been conquered.  Now, it's probably not too kosher to cover up taste with chocolate but hey, it worked!  This cake is moist and yummy and I can't taste the beets.  Better than putting them in the compost.  Since we have a bit of honey around here I adapted it to use that in place of sugar (original recipe).  Andrew didn't think it was sweet enough.  I liked it.  A compromise would be frosting or a glaze instead of just the powered sugar.  

Chocolate Honey Beet Cake

3/4 c. butter, divided (or use melted coconut oil if you want it dairy-free)
1 c. honey (spray the measuring cup with a little non-stick, makes it a lot easier to pour out) (or 1 1/2 c brown sugar + 2 T water)
3 eggs
3 oz. baking chocolate (or 1/2 cocoa + 3 T butter/coconut oil)
5 medium beets (2 c. pureed)
1 T vanilla
2 c. gluten-free flour blend (mine was 3 c. white rice flour, 1.5 c. tapioca flour, 3/4 c. cornstarch, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 T xanthan gum)
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
powdered sugar for dusting

To make beet puree, trim stems and roots off beets and quarter them.  Place in heavy sauce pan filled with water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 50 mins or until the beets are tender.  Drain off remaining liquid and rinse beets in cold water as they’ll be too hot to handle otherwise.  Slide skins off and place beets in blender.  Process until a smooth puree forms.  Let cool slightly before using in cake.  

In a mixing bowl, mix 1/2 c. butter and honey (this is where you use 1/2 c coconut oil plus the brown sugar and water if you don't use the butter and/or don't have the honey). Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt chocolate with remaining butter in the microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring each time until smooth. (Or use the melted butter/coconut oil and cocoa powder here).  Cool slightly. Blend chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture.  

Combine flour, baking soda , salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to the above mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes  or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

October 27, 2010

Sorry Girls!

With Dylan arriving at the end of August, our minds were elsewhere when we should have been removing the super (very top box) from our hive.  And, then it's just so darn easy to get sucked into baby stuff and enjoying two months off when you haven't taken hardly any vacation time all year.  So today while my mother-in-law was here with Dylan, Andrew and I took the super off.  It was kind of damned if you do or damned if you don't type of situations.  I was worried about the Girls being able to keep the hive warm enough this winter if we left the box on (about 93 degrees).  But, we've waited so long that opening the box could be a problem for them since it's about 51 degrees and it opens them up to attack.  I've seen quite a few yellow-jackets around the hive lately.  Oh well.  Time will tell.  We won't know until next spring but hopefully by then we'll have some more of this baby stuff figured out ;)

October 20, 2010

Chocolate Honey Peanut Butter Cups

Megan Telpner has a great perspective on life and posts quite interesting recipes at her blog Making Love in the Kitchen.  A couple of days ago she posted a recipe for "Chocolate Instead of Love Cups" or basically Hazelnut Butter Cups.  I have a similar type of recipe linked here for Yummy Mounds so I figured I'd like these.  However, I was too lazy to make hazelnut butter so I used peanut butter and I like stuff a little sweeter so I added more honey to the chocolate part.  Andrew thought they were a hit so I thought I'd share them here.  Be sure and check Megan's website out too!

Chocolate Honey Peanut Butter Cups

1/3 c cocoa powder
1/3 c melted coconut oil
6 T honey (start at 4 and see what you think; with everything put together I wish I had used 4 T...the peanut butter is sweet as well)

1/4 c peanut butter
2 T unsweetened coconut
1 T honey

In a small bowl mix the filling together.  In a separate bowl, pour melted coconut, cocoa and honey.  Mix until well combined.  Heat more if it isn't mixing together well.

Using small muffins silicone forms (or what any muffin or ice cube trays with pop-out bottoms; the silicone peels back easy), spoon 1 tsp of chocolate (enough to cover the bottom).  Place in freezer 5-10 minutes or until solid. 

Remove from freezer.  Spoon 1/2 tsp (or half of what you put in as chocolate) into each form.  Using fingers slightly moistened in cold water, spread the filling out evenly.  Spoon another 1 tsp of chocolate over the top and put into freezer again for 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy!

NOTE: I used mini silicone muffin forms I purchased at WorldMarket for $2.99.  They don't list them on their website but they look a lot like these on Amazon -just for cheaper! I had 12 but 16 would have been perfect.  Not sure how many you would get of the normal sized muffin forms.

Check out more yummy ideas at Pennywise Platter Thursday!

October 16, 2010

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

You must try this...immediately!  I adapted Straight From the Farm's Pumpkin Bread to be gluten-free.  Then, we took her suggestion and made French toast out of it yesterday.  Andrew didn't think it would be that great but even he thought it was pretty good.  I thought it was fantastic...and I could usually care less about French toast.  I made a few changes to this recipe because I was lazy ;)  Worked out well.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

8.75 oz gluten-free flour blend (approx. 1 3/4 c.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
1/3 c olive oil
2/3 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c pumpkin puree
1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease one large or two small loaf pans.  Set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, xanathan gum, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Mix together olive oil and sugar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Add a third of the dry ingredient mix, then a third of the pumpkin.  Continue to alternate these two until all is just combined in the batter. 

Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for an hour or until golden brown and springy to the touch.

For more yummies...check out Slightly Indulgent Tuesday over at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free or Wheatless Wednesday at Naturally Knocked Up!

October 12, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This recipe was so easy.  I hate making enchiladas with corn tortillas...even if I dip the tortillas in the sauce they seem to tear.  So, I cheat and just layer them!  I based this recipe on one I found at $5 Dinners.  Not sure why I've never thought of making my own enchilada sauce.  It was definitely an "Oh duh" moment.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

2 T butter
1 poblano chile, finely chopped
1 anaheim chile, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
2-3 pre-cooked chicken breasts - I used leftover fried chicken breasts
1/2 c quinoa cooked in 1 c. water
6 oz. tomato paste
18 oz water (three cans of water from the empty tomato paste can)
1 T chili powder
1 tsp each of cumin, garlic powder, salt and chipotle powder
1-2 c. corn (I used frozen, canned or fresh would be fine too)
18 small tortillas
1-2 c shredded cheddar (would be totally fine without it though)
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring water to a boil and add quinoa.  Turn heat down and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Melt butter and saute garlic and peppers over medium heat in large pan. In separate pan, mix tomato paste, water and spices; bring to a simmer.
  4. Add chicken; cook until heated through.
  5. Add cooked quinoa and corn and 1 c. of sauce.
  6. Spray 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Put thin layer of sauce in bottom.  Layer with 6 tortillas.  Spread with another thin layer of sauce.
  7. Spread half of chicken mixture.  Sprinkle a bit of the cheddar.
  8. Layer another 6 tortillas and sauce.
  9. Spread remaining chicken mixture.
  10. Layer remaining tortillas, sauce and cheese.
  11. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes.
NOTE: This was not was flavorful.  Add more spice or poblanos if you want it spicy. 

For more yummy recipes, check out Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet or Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.

September 5, 2010

Easy Recipes: Lamb and Spaghetti Sauce over Quinoa

With a new baby in the house, we are trying to eat well.  However, we don't always have the time for things we used to.  Thus, "easy recipes."  I had purchased a cheaper package of lamb...not sure now what it was.  Perhaps a lamb chop.  Either way, it was a couple chunks of lamb without bones.  I threw that in the crock-pot frozen and covered it with about half a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Cooked on high for 3 hours and turned it down to low until dinner time.  Andrew cooked up a batch of quinoa, we shredded the meat in the sauce and served it over the quinoa with sauteed green beans on the side.  It was tasty, easy and relatively healthy.  This would work with any meat.  It would be good over pasta, rice or a baked potato as well.

Check out more great recipes at: Pennywise Platter Thursday at the Nourishing Gourmet and the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap!

September 3, 2010

Mastitis...Making the Breast of It

Oh I know, lame joke of a only excuse is I've been married to Andrew for almost 7 years now...and lame jokes are his forte!  

Anyway, back to the issue at hand.  Mastitis...or an infection in the breast.  Seriously, I guess I had to get something after having such an easy pregnancy and labor.  I feel like it wasn't a bad case of mastitis but it did give me fever and chills on Sunday and makes nursing on the left side nearly bring tears to my eyes. And get this, continuing to nurse is one of the ways to keep the infection down. Tylenol or ibuprofen and an antibiotic seem to be making a dent in the pain.  

People make breast feeding out to be this wonderful experience.  You are providing your child with this life giving nourishment...blah, blah, blah.  It is a good thing...however, it's a lot of work.  Hard work.  So, if you see a nursing mother be sure to remember, she's doing hard work! 

August 25, 2010

He's Here...a Birth Story! (Not too gory but definitely all there...just an FYI)

I can't believe he's really here (or that I'm sharing a picture of me right after birth).  Our little boy decided to make an early appearance on Monday.  Amazing!  

I started feeling uncomfortable around 1:30 am Monday morning.  Thought I was just having digestive can come with the territory you know.  Pretty soon I realized it wasn't digestive issues.  Soon there was nothing left in my stomach or the other way and around 4 am I realized that this was probably the real thing.  I tried waking Andrew up, telling him I thought I was having contractions.  He woke up enough to ask how close they were.  I told him I wasn't sure; they just seemed to keep coming!  Naturally, he fell back asleep.  

I went back to the other side of the house and focused on contractions for a bit longer.  Then, I called Andrew on his cell phone.  That finally got him out of bed since it was in the living room.  He came and rubbed my back for a bit and I told him we'd probably better start packing.  So, he ran around getting stuff I thought I'd need, took a shower, then I took a shower, and around 6:20 we headed over to the hospital.  At this point, things were feeling really uncomfortable.  Andrew dropped me off, went to park the car, and returned to find me kneeling on the floor over an ottoman.  Honestly, it was one of the best positions.  Some guy walked by while Andrew was gone and wondered if I was okay.  Absolutely; it was so much better than standing or sitting.

After much prompting, he finally got me on the elevator and up to the labor triage nurse.  She gets me hooked up and checks me and is somewhat surprised to find I'm already 6cm dilated.  By the time they got me all checked in and up to Labor and Delivery (approximately 40 minutes) I was at 8 cm.  Keeping in mind, 10 cm is the end goal.  It was all happening quite quick...but it sure didn't feel quick enough!  

Of course, when we checked in we found out that all of our midwives were at a training for the next two days.  So, a very nice doctor who works at the hospital ended up doing the delivery...but to be honest, it's really the Labor and Delivery nurse/s that do the hard work- just don't tell the doctors that!  

Turns out I'm a very internal not touch me when I'm in labor.  I don't want you around and I surely don't want to be touched.  Our friend Kathleen got there around 8:30 ish.  Honestly, didn't do much for me but she was so wonderful for Andrew.  She reminded him to breath and was able to tell him how things were going to go.  Plus, afterwards she took great pictures for us.  So glad she could be there with us...I just didn't want to chat during the fact.

The Labor and Delivery nurse, Brenda, was awesome as well.  Really patient with me.  Asked me what my plan was...ummm...don't know.  Pretty much just want to have a baby.  Finally, she asked if I wanted to get in the tub.  YES!  That was the best plan.  The tub really helped.  When I got out of the tub, she checked me and I was fully dilated and she accidentally broke my water.  What a mess...labor is not a clean sport.  At that point, I was told I could push when my body told me to...since I wasn't on any drugs for pain I was assured I would know.  Let me tell you, you still don't really know until all of sudden and then it's like okay I'm going to push.  At 10:26 am, our little boy joined us.  What a relief.  At that point, I just felt relaxed, happy and done. And, maybe a little hungry :)

He's an 8lbs 8oz 21 inches long bundle of joy.  I've always questioned the sanity of having children, even after I got pregnant.  I'm sure I'll question it again, but for now, he's just the most perfect thing in my life.  And in no way am I upset he came 10 days early...that head was plenty big enough!  Hard to believe I was camping and kayaking over the weekend and giving birth on Monday.  He's a special boy ;)

PS. Andrew thought I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions until the triage nurse said I was 6cm dilated...seriously, I knew they were the real thing :)

August 15, 2010


There's a story I've heard many times about my great-grandpa Ray M. (everybody seems to call him that, M being for his middle name of Milton).  Anyway, Ray M. would visit my grandparents when my dad was a kid for a couple of weeks.  The house had a huge picture window with a lot of hummingbird feeders.  Ray M. took a red baseball cap and put black dots on the hat with a permanent marker. Then he would sit outside very still and quietly in front of that picture window so he could see his reflection and watch the hummingbirds try to "feed" off of that hat.  I decided to channel a bit of my inner Ray M. this morning.

I pulled up a lawn chair and a cup of coffee and watched the Girls.  I just can't believe how amazing they really are.  In what seems to be a completely uncoordinated process, they create an amazing hive.  There is no particular in and out...left side of the hive isn't incoming and right side isn't outgoing.  Inevitably, one of the Girls gets knocked ass over tea-kettle as she tries to land or take-off but she just brushes herself off and goes on about her business.  They are still bringing in pollen...some have bright orange baskets on their legs....some with light yellow baskets.  Others appear to be scouts, out looking for more.  I saw a couple others doing the job of an undertaker...bringing out a Girl who had completed her life's work...taking her far away from the hive.  It's kind of like watching a camp sit there and zone out to a certain extent and ponder the meaning of life.  Not too shabby a way to drink a cup of coffee on a beautiful morning!

August 10, 2010

Proud Mama...of a Bunch of Girls

As some of you know, this was the first year that bees joined the Jones Cottage.  And, what a year it was!  We had some crazy swarming behavior in June.  Still not sure what exactly happened there other than the Girls made a new queen. At least we are pretty sure they did...either way they have continued to produce more bees (need a queen for that) and honey.

Sunday was the day that we "robbed" the hive.  Our hive consists of two deeps or hive bodies and a super.  A super is like a deep other than it's not as deep.  Between the super and one of the hive bodies we had a screen called a queen excluder.  Basically, queens are too big to fit through the queen excluder and therefore, she doesn't lay any eggs in the super.  So, the worker bees store honey in the super and that's what we "rob."  Boy did they do a good job.  It is likely we could have added a second super had we realized just how good our hive was doing.  We are new and since the spring was so wet, we never anticipated a brand new hive doing as well as ours has done this year.  

Turns out the top deep was full of honey too.  The bottom deep appears to have mostly brood.  So, we think the Girls are set for the winter.  We pulled the super, scraped all of the honey and wax off of the frames (10 frames hang down in each box for the bees to make their wax, brood, honey, etc), and put the super back on the hive.  The Girls will clean the honey off that we couldn't get and may even start making we'll see if we get any more between now and the end of September when we pull the super off for the winter.  

Andrew has been working with all of that for the last couple of days.  The final count is approximately 9.5 quarts of honey and 1.5 cups of beeswax.  The honey tastes great and the wax smells amazing.  But then again, I'm the proud mama...I might just be a little biased!
Photos kindly taken by my friend Kathleen Thorpe
Click on the picture for a better look!  And, no, they haven't started making maternity beekeeping suits :)

July 31, 2010

I'm here...really I am!

Its been an interesting year.  One where I learned a lot about myself and my body.  In a month or so, I will be giving birth to a baby boy, a brand new human.  What a sense of responsibility that seems.  On some level, being pregnant for nine months seems like a long time; on another level, it seems totally appropriate to be pregnant for that long.  I don't exactly feel ready but I do feel more prepared and accepting of the fact that a little guy is coming to live at the Jones Cottage.  I'm comforted by the love and support we have from our families and the people in our lives.  

Speaking of's amazing how many people come from crappy families.  We've never been rich money wise but the older I get, the more I realize just how rich my family really is; how rare it is for a family to honestly like each other and want to spend time together.  And, I've never felt like it was pushed.  It just seemed to happen.  I can only hope we can continue that with the future generations. To help them develop their own family connections, whatever that may be.  

As I've traveled this path of pregnancy, I've come to realize that my child will not have the same kind of childhood that I had and that's okay.  I used to think that if I couldn't give my child the same experiences as I had then I didn't want to have children.  Now, I realize that the experiences will be different, they have to be, but maybe/hopefully they will be rich experiences filled with love and the outdoors just as mine were.  It's okay and probably better that they will be different.  Things have to change and evolve...the world isn't what it was when I was a kid and I can't expect that it should be. We'll just have to see where the adventure takes us next! 

PS. In case you couldn't tell....I love my family very much!!!!

May 24, 2010

Kala Chana
I spent my sophomore year of college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.  What a different place than Oregon!  Most of that time was spent with a roommate from India who spoke better English than I do.  I still miss you Archana!  

We also had a very good friend from Sri Lanka named Indi.  The weekend of President's Day, Archana and I visited Indi's home in Charlotte, NC.  Indi's mom cooked for us and while I had been eating Archana's Indian cooking, she did not eat her food as spicy as many Indians.  Indi's mom cooked spicy and I mean spicy!  It was the first time I had real Ceylon tea...her family would send her tea directly from Sri Lanka.  And, it was the first time I had kala chana or black chickpeas.  These little jewels are like the chickpeas or garbanzo beans we typically see except they are smaller and have a thick outer skin that's typically brown.  She made these with salmon.  I loved it!  Plus, the black chickpeas made it almost bearable to eat the salmon that was so spicy it burned my mouth. 

I loved them so much that Indi's mom sent the rest of what she had home with me.  Apparently, the rest of Indi's family wasn't too keen on the black chickpeas.  I wish Indi's mom had spoke better English...I think I could have learned lots about cooking yummy foods from her.

That was almost eleven years ago.  In February, I saw those yummy little black chickpeas in a little Indian store at Pike's Place.  I had to buy a bag.  Tonight, I finally got around to cooking them. 

Why is it that we forget how good simple food can be?  I made salmon...although in no way near as spicy as Indi's mom and the black chickpeas.  What a wonderful memory and a wonderful taste.  While, I haven't done a good job of keeping in contact with my friends...haven't spoke to Indi since I came home from NC, tonight's dinner took me right back to that great weekend and my wonderful friends.  What meal takes you back to a fond memory?

April 14, 2010

Gluten-Free Pride of Iowa Cookies

Growing up, my grandmother always had cookie dough in the freezer.  Pride of Iowa cookies were always there...I thought she called them Pride of Iowa since my grandfather is from Iowa.  Turns out, it was a brand :)  Anyway, Andrew grew up loving these cookies too. 

Gluten-free Pride of Iowa Cookies

1 c. butter or shortening (I've used both, prefer the butter)
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
2 c. gluten-free flour mix 
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c. dried cranberries

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and beat.  Sift together flour mix, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add flour mixture and oatmeal gradually to creamed mixture.  Stir in coconut and dried cranberries.  Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 8-12 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to wire rack. 

Notes: I have also used pecans, almonds or chocolate chips.  They all taste good!


April 13, 2010

Naturally Knocked Up

The title is stolen from a blog with the same name...check it out.  It's a great blog on fertility by someone who also has PCOS!
Photo taken December 19th, shortly after conception :)
Speaking of PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, I was diagnosed at 15 (as discussed before).  Within the next few years, I decided there was no way I was going to have children.  For one, I'm not terribly fond of most kids and for two, PCOS was going to make it difficult if not impossible to get pregnant.  Well, we know what usually happens when we say "never" but I digress.  I've never been fond of artificial fertility stuff either.  So, no children.  And, with poor self-esteem/body image I "knew" no guy was going to be interested anyway.

Then, I got a bit older and my cousin had her first kid.  Then, I joined the Mormon Church and everyone was having babies.  It started to not seem like such a bad idea.

Then, I got married (so much for no guy being interested) and eventually left the Mormon Church.  Married life was stressful and children again seemed like an unreasonable idea.

As we know, different things are important at different points in our life.  Suddenly, I became health, both physical and mental became important.  Over a 2 year period, I lost over 60 pounds, became physically active, ate healthier, and worked hard to make strides in my self-esteem/body image.   

The PCOS was still there...but a child seemed like a possibility again.  So, Thanksgiving 2009, Andrew and I decided we were open to the idea of a child, through natural means, but that we weren't really going to "try."  Ironically, I was pregnant by Christmas.

I still have issues.  I still have problems with poor self-esteem, eating foods that make me feel like crap, not getting enough exercise, etc.  But, most of the time I know the difference.  I know things or issues aren't permanent...they ebb and flow.

On one hand, I joke that with how quickly I got pregnant, it is a good thing I wasn't promiscuous in high school.  On the other hand, I firmly believe that without the changes I made this would have never happened.

April 12, 2010

Yummy Mounds

I'm not especially creative when it comes to recipes.  I do like adapting others recipes to my style or ingredients.  Having said that, I think this is the first recipe posted by Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet that I've tried.  She calls them Mounds but hers are really Almond Joy.  I think I would leave the almonds off myself since they seemed to have been more of a pain then anything...but I also didn't have whole almonds.  I also didn't feel like taking the time to melt honey so I used agave syrup which is liquid at room temp.  I think they came out a little different but were easy and tasty.

Andrew's reaction was "Damn, this is good."  Ed's was "You can bring this anytime," and the ladies at work all wanted the recipe.  So thank you Kimi for an awesome treat!

Yummy Mounds
1 1/3 c. unsweetened coconut flakes (seriously folks, unsweetened!)
1/2 c. of coconut oil
1/4 c. of agave syrup
1 tsp. almond extract

Muffin tin or 12 silicon muffin cups (this is what I used and they just peel back to get the Mound out).

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave.  Add the agave and almond extract.  Stir well.  Then add the coconut.  Mix well.  Use about 1 T per muffin tin and tamp the mixture down with your fingers.  Freeze for 15-30 min.

3/4 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. agave syrup (Kimi used a scant 1/4 c honey, but 1/4 c of agave didn't seem sweet enough; taste to see how sweet you want yours)
1 c. coconut oil
1 T. vanilla extract

Again, start by melting the coconut oil in the microwave.  Add the agave and vanilla and whisk in the cocoa (preferably you sifted it to get rid of the lumps). 

Once thoroughly mixed and at desired sweetness, use approx. 2 T per muffin tin.  Put them back in the freezer for another 30 min. 

These do need to be stored in the freezer because coconut oil can get soft at room temperature.  But, you won't care because they taste so darn good straight out of the freezer.  I think these will be my go to treat this summer!

April 7, 2010

Keeping up with the Joneses...All 10,000 of Them!

We have been talking about this for a few years...and it was just talk.  Apparently this year is the time to increase the Jones household.  Their plush accommodations have been waiting for  2 months.  Luckily it didn't take 9 months to bring these little babies home.

Yesterday was the introduction of honeybees.  We ordered 3lbs of them from Ruhl Bee Supply in Gladstone.  They were delayed by a day due to poor weather driving up from California but they finally made it.  We even managed to get them into the hive without either one of us getting stung!  That was even with not knowing really what we were doing and not using our veils properly...we both ended up with a couple in the veil.  No big deal though.  They are at their calmest right now.  This fall when the want to protect their honey stores...that will be a different story.

And for the question everyone, who hasn't had bees themselves, is asking..."Why bees?"  My flipant answer is always, "Why not!" But, let's be honest.  There's more to it than that.  

I do not harbor back to the land yearnings as my husband suspects.  Nor do I want to turn our small city lot into GreenAcres which he also is very concerned about.  No, neither of these things are the reason.  But, I do have agrarian needs.  I do worry about things like colony collapse and bee decline.  I am wise enough to know (I hope) that my one hobby hive is not going to be enough to stop the devastation.  

I do know though that I am setting a precedence for my children...the idea that nature is not to be afraid of...that nature is a nourishing part of our soul.  Its important to us. Important to remember that we are not healthy when we try to shut nature out of our lives.  We depend on nature and visa versa.  

I look forward to learning about my Girls, their habits, and their needs.  I look forward to teaching my child about nature and respect. Our bees will be just one little part of the natural world that can bring peace and interest into our lives.  So when people ask, its "Why not?" and so much more.

April 4, 2010

Cran-Almond Scones (GF)

When the first thing out of Andrew's mouth after taking a bite of one of these is "Oh yum!" I know I need to share.  Let me start off by saying I adapted a recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen; I didn't create it, just made a few alterations.

It's not raspberry time of year so I used dried cranberries. I grew up in Bandon, am a bit partial to the West coast varieties, and know good cranberries.   Clearwater Cranberries is making some of the best dried cranberries to be had.  They use cane syrup and a light coating of oil to keep them from sticking together.

I think Andrew and I have gone through almost 7lbs since the beginning of February.  I'll soon be featuring another recipe highlighting these wonderful gems.  You have to buy them in 25lb boxes but Scott might be willing to sell direct.  I bought two boxes in February and sold some to friends and family.  No one has been unhappy.  In fact, I need to call Scott and see about another box!

Cran-Almond Scones

1 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. cold butter
1/3 c. maple syrup
scant 2/3 c. milk
1 T. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. dried cranberries
raw sugar

Preheat oven to 425.

Sift together the dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut the butter in until it resembles coarse crumbs (I did this with butter straight out of the sure you have a good pastry cutter and works, really!)

In smaller bowl, mix together the maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and almond extract.

Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir.  The mixture will thicken a bit as it sets.  Add the almonds and cranberries.  Drop onto greased cookie sheet (makes between 6 and 8 scones).  Sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on top of each scone.

Bake 15-19 minutes.  Let cool a bit and enjoy with a cup of hazelnut coffee or whatever you want, I guess!

This was submitted to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free.  Go there for more yummy recipes!  Also posted at Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet.

March 21, 2010

First Camping/Kayaking Trip of 2010

Another furlough day has come and gone.  We got two nice days and boy did we take advantage of them!  We ended up going to River Bend County Park just above Sweet Home with some friends of ours.  Turned out to be a wonderful park (although we never did make it down to the river).  We got a RV site so I could plug in the electric blanket.  Worked out quite well since it was freezing (literally) Friday night.  Friday and Saturday were spent kayaking at Foster Lake.  

I've always thought Foster Lake wouldn't be good for kayaking because of the jet skis and motorboats.  If you stay on the east side though there are some nice arms that appear to be pretty quiet...could be because it's March but I'd be willing to do it again later in the year. Other than a bit of rain on Saturday night, it was a very pleasant trip.  Off to dry the tent out...or lets get real... Andrew is off to dry the tent out! 

February 21, 2010

Really? (Corrected location for Bailey)

Once in a while life throws you a curve ball.  Recently, Andrew and I decided we were maybe probably ready to have a child.  And, that's how quick it happened; less than a month after that pivotal discussion.  No longer will it just be our little fur babies.  Now, we'll have a real human baby.  

Wish us luck :)

January 31, 2010

Favorite All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend

Wow, is that a mouthful or what.  Anyway, I love the bread from The Whole Life Nutrition (I add eggs  and end up making three loaves) and have found that making up a huge batch of the flour mix that she uses works just about right for many of the everyday things I like to do.  I do exchange cornstarch for the potato starch.  Works and that's what I have.

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend

2 c millet flour
3 c sorghum flour
1 c sweet rice flour
2 c cornstarch
1 c tapioca starch
1 T xanthan gum

Sift all ingredients together and then whisk like crazy until they are throughly combined.  Put it in a zip lock in the cupboard for whenever you need the mix.

January 18, 2010

Raised Gluten-Free Baked Doughnuts

I'm craving doughnuts but I am not going to take the time to fry them...never have been one for deep-frying much of anything.  And, I wanted to try making some that were gluten-free.  So here goes!  Andrew said they were good.  Guess they aren't too bad.

Raised Gluten-Free Baked Doughnuts

1 c. milk
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c sugar minus 1 T
1/2 c warm water (at our house, this means the hottest it will come out of the tap)
8 1/2 tsp yeast
2 eggs
1 tsp salt

1 c. millet flour
1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. sweet rice flour
1 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. tapioca flour
2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 c. melted butter
1 T cinnamon
1 c. sugar

Heat the butter and milk until the butter is melted.  Couple of minutes in the microwave should do the trick.  Measure the hot water and add yeast and the 1 T. of sugar; let set until bubbly.  Add the rest of the sugar, salt, and eggs to the milk/butter combo.  Once the yeast mixture is bubbly add it to the milk, etc.

Measure the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl (I used our KitchenAid).  Mix together.  Add the liquid ingredients.  Mix until well combined, stopping to scrape the bowl a couple of times.  Put into a clean, greased bowl and let rise until double...about an hour.

Punch the dough down and turnout onto a lightly floured (millet flour works well) surface.  Pat out to about 1/2 inch thickness.  If you have a doughnut cutter great.  If not, use a glass or biscuit cutter with a sharp edge.  For the hole, I used an apple corer.  Transfer to lightly greased cookie sheet and let rise again for about 30 minutes. 

Brush doughnuts with melted butter.  Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from cookie sheet and cool slightly.  Dip doughnuts in remaining melted butter and then in the 1 c. sugar combined with 1 T cinnamon.

January 17, 2010

Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

Somehow life seems to be getting away from me lately.  Not sure how that happens.  But, sometimes we just need a little comfort.  A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup fits the bill quite well!

Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

1-2 T butter or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 med onion, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 cans (15 oz) petite diced tomato
1 can coconut milk or 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 T honey
6 T sherry

Melt the butter.  Saute the onion, salt and garlic on medium until the onion is translucent.  Add the spices and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, including liquid, and the coconut milk/cream cheese.  Stir in the honey and sherry.  Cook 30-40 minutes.  Blend until smooth, being careful of the heat.  Enjoy!

Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday

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