Thursday, June 23, 2011

Friday Photo

Watching the tractor.

Lots of change is happening in our busy little corner of the world. We are taking our first trip without the chickadees since, well, since we had our first chickadee. Sweet Babe who will be one year old next week is happily adjusted to a bottle. Her brothers and sisters are contentedly settled at Grandma and Grandpa's farm for the duration and a more delighted group of kiddos couldn't be found. A pool, trampoline, sandbox, rope swings, tree house, horses, cows and a calf, rabbits, kittens, an old farm dog, not to mention a billion legos. What more could a kid want. Throw in two uncles, an aunt and it's almost enough to make a kid cry. Not quite like a mama cried this morning as she drove away from her babies, but who's comparing?
The whopper of a change is coming a week after we return when we move to our first home. Our little rented home has been home in the truest sense for eight years and the time has come to move. I catch myself looking for moments like you see in this photo to remember our life here. Little brother ran out to the fence to watch our neighbor's tractor just like his two big brothers have done all these years. All our kids have grown up here, right across the street from Nana and Papa. My heart catches to think of them growing up anywhere else, even if it's just across town. It won't be the same. I know it will be good but, just so very different. If only we could get Nana and Papa to come with us, now that would be perfect!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mustard Vinaigrette

Today's Bennett Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette.

Salad dressing, why in the world should you make your own salad dressing? After all, there are hundreds of varieties of salad dressing to choose at any grocery store. If you have read this little old blog for any length of time, you will be able to guess the first reason I make my own salad dressing. Okay, you may be able to guess the first two reasons; I'm a tightwad and I'm a dork who likes to make all her own food. There are a couple of other very good reasons you might want to get out your blender (or a whisk) and a few items from your pantry and whip up your own dressing.
My sweet sister is struggling with gluten and soy intolerance. These are tough items to avoid nowadays. Once you start looking around you will be amazed at the variety of products that contain wheat and soy. It's in nearly every pre-made and processed food that is available in a regular grocery store. Not too big of a problem if you have access to a good natural foods store and are able to shop there. However, making your own dressing allows you to save time and money and best of all, you can tailor it exactly to your families needs and preferences. Do you want raw vinegar and organic olive oil? Go for it! No garlic? No problem! Sugar instead of honey? Get out that sugar bowl! That is the beauty of making it yourself, you can make it your way!

Mustard Vinaigrette

1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 to 4 small cloves garlic (your preference, I like 4)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 cup olive oil or a mix of oil (I use half olive/half peanut)

Measure mustard, vinegar, garlic, honey, salt and pepper into your blender container. Buzz it a few times to mix. I have a covered hole in the center of my blender container lid that I can uncover and pour into, you probably do too. Remove the cover of the hole and slowly pour in the oil while the machine is running. It should emulsify and thicken up immediately. You can't fail with a vinaigrette using this method. Taste your lovely concoction and see if it needs more salt or pepper. When it's just how you like it, pour it into a jar and refrigerate until you need to drizzle it over your lovely salad.

Lookey there! You just made your own salad dressing. Good job!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Photo

First bonfire of the summer!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Photo

Magnolia blossom compliments of the world's sweetest six year old boy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Liz's Almost Naughty Green Beans

I have a friend named Liz, I just love her. When our youngest sone was born she brought us a lovely dinner. There was chicken parmesan and hot buttered bread, and then there were green beans. Oh my! The next day I called her and asked her how in heaven's name she made those green beans. They were the most fabulous green beans I had ever put in my mouth. If my memory serves me, I ate them for dessert. She laughed and said, "Oh, the naughty green beans?" Come to find out, they contained a stick of real butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar! No wonder they were divine! I knew I couldn't live without those green beans in my life but I'm kind of stingy with my butter so I tweaked and adjusted to create Liz's Almost Naughty Green Beans. They have undergone further tweaking as I have been slowly removing sugar from our diet, honey makes pretty great green beans too.

Liz's Almost Naughty Green Beans

1 pound frozen green beans (look for long skinny beans, they work the best)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced

Place all ingredient in a large saucepan with a lid and place over medium heat. After the butter and soy sauce are simmering good, reduce heat to low. Cook for about half an hour until the beans are quite tender and the sauce it reduced to a thick glaze. Taste and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

You are just going to love this simple side dish. Or of course, you can have it for dessert too!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday Photo

One coconut + one strong husband + a machete = free entertainment for 7 kids and one mama. Who can beat that?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Photo

Just a-swinging.

This week brought cold, cloudy, windy days. All the same, Shortbread had her first experience swinging at the park. To say she was delighted would be an understatement. Squealing, screaming, kicking her chubby legs as fast as she could and laughing a crazy deep belly laugh, she was beyond delighted. I'll never forget swinging her for the first time. How fun to be a baby and get to swing! I hope you have a fun weekend with many new memories.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Photo

Sweet golden-haired girl.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Photo

Fog rolling in at dusk.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

French Vanilla Apple Crisp

It was a dark and storm night, only one thing could be done. Bake. Bake is the answer for many of my dilemmas. There's something about assembling ingredients, chopping, stirring and baking until golden brown and bubbly that cure a multitude of ills. You should try it.
So back to last week, when I opened my Frigidaire there were two sad apples leftover from afternoon snack. What can you do with apples with three bites missing? Make them into a crisp. These are the crisps we devoured last week, the baking and eating were mutually enjoyed.

Peel, core and chop up two or three apples. Two if they are large, three if there are bites missing out of some of your apples. Pile them into a mixing bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of vanilla, a generous tablespoon of heavy cream and a few grains of salt. Mix it up and divide between two buttered baking dishes or one larger dish if you plan to share. As you can see I used my creme brulée pans and they were lovely. We did not share.

In the same bowl you mixed the apples in, mix 3 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter until it's crumbly. Stir in 2 tablespoons each of oats and chopped walnuts. Give it a stir and pile it on top of the apples.

After it's piled sufficiently, set them in a 375˚ oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. They should settle some and be golden brown and bubbly.

It's a good idea to set them on a baking sheet to bake unless you like cleaning your oven. I do not like cleaning my oven as anyone who looks in my oven can attest to. Anyway, serve these up to the lucky participants, they would be really lucky if you topped it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Obviously, you can make this in a larger pan and double the recipe. I didn't because I was only making them for two people instead of eight. This wouldn't last three minutes with the horde. Well, actually they didn't last much longer than that as it was. I hope you try these crisps, they were trés beaucoup!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Photo

A drop of water.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cold Brewed Coffee

You know the saying about necessity being the mother of invention? Well, here is a case in point. I guess one could argue that this isn't about necessity and I certainly didn't invent this but I'm excited about it and wanted to share.
Last week was a good week with the exception of one day. I'm sure good things happened but it was one of those days where the not-so-good eclipsed the good for me. The last straw was when I knocked my beloved french press off of the dish drainer. I had already broken a drinking glass that afternoon and shattering my french press resulted in me dissolving into a puddle of tears. Weeping would be a better description. I recovered and my sweet husband cleaned up all the glass. This week is going much better but is sadly devoid of coffee. Coffee is a wonderful thing, the smell is intoxicating, it warms the soul and is an excellent conveyor of cream. Real cream. We don't drink coffee everyday but when the weather is grey and cold (like this week has been) and each day bring a thunderstorm and steady rain (like this week has), I start wanting a good hot cup of fresh coffee.
Yesterday afternoon I remembered a recipe, directions really, for cold brewed coffee made in a glass jar. Unfortunately it takes 10 to 12 hours to brew so it wasn't much help yesterday but today I got crackin and made myself some. I ground enough fresh coffee beans to measure 2/3 of a cup of grounds and mixed that in a quart jar with 3 cups of filtered water. Stirred it up good and set it on the counter to brew. It's hidden behind the vinegar and olive oil since it seemed like something my little darlings would like to explore (read: pour out all over my kitchen floor). In the morning I will be able to strain it and stir a tablespoon or so of the brewed coffee into a mug of hot water and then stir in my cream. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Bennett Salad

Today I give you The Bennett Salad. What can I say about the Bennetts. Two years ago we met a family and they have been a tremendous blessing to our family. The mother has been an inspiration to me in my homeschool and their intentionality in raising their children has helped shape our direction in raising ours. Their daughters babysit our kids, all six of them at once! In fact, a few weeks ago, when one of their daughters came to babysit she brought her salad with her, three of my kiddos who hadn't eaten the salad I had just served them lined up with plates to eat her salad. She brought a bigger salad the next week to share. We love the Bennetts.
And then there is this salad. Above you can see a Bennett Salad we enjoyed last week. Not the same salad we ate at their lovely home but a version. No recipe for it exists, only the rule of putting any fresh vegetable you have, finely diced on your fresh lettuce. There must be sprouts of some kind and nuts or seeds. Sunflower seeds always adorn their salad but I had eaten all mine so walnuts were the star of this particular salad. I loved the golden raisins on this too.
So check out your fridge, farmer's market, or garden and see what you have to make your own Bennett Salad. Really load it up. Grow some sprouts, it's easy if you have a jar and some seeds. Check out this cool website for sprouting info and even videos. You will feel healthier after the first bite!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Recipe Box...Finally!

Nearly everyday a card is added to my recipe collection. This has resulted in a recipe box problem. I've worn out a regular old plastic index card box and have been looking for a replacement ever since. If you know me, you know I couldn't just go to the store and pick up another plastic card box. No, I need something cool and preferably old. Enter this fabulous old storage container. Originally used to store your leftover meatloaf or spaghetti in the Frigidare, this baby was snagged on a flea market spree with my mom this summer. It didn't become home to my recipes until last month when I finally got fed up with trying to find my pita recipe in the tiny box I was keeping everything it. Is it not perfect?
During the move to their new home, I was caught up in the history of so many of my recipes. Nearly every one has memories attached to it, who gave it to me, who I made it for, who loved that particular thing and even who I've passed it on to. History that makes a recipe more than a mixture of butter, sugar and flour, it transforms a list and some directions into a road-map of my life. Being the emotional creature that I am, I found myself sitting at our table crying over my recipes. Funny how a splattered index card can do that to me. I thought I would share some of my favorite recipe-memories with you:

My Mom's Molasses Ginger Cookies. My family has made these cookies every Christmas since who knows when. The rolling/cutting/icing/sprinkles mess is as much a part of Christmas as decorating the tree.

Daily Bread. I have made this bread at least once a week for several years. It's one of the first bread recipes I adapted/made up myself and we love it.

Mrs. Penny's Broccoli Salad, a truly magical salad. Our dear family friend served it to us when I was a teenager and I copied down the recipe that night. I have several recipes from dinners at Mrs. Penny's house.

This is one that got me. My sister's Aunt Clara's Harvest Coffee Cake. We've been making this coffee cake for more years than I can remember and I don't even know where my sister came across it. Last year my sister move out of the country and I miss her so very much. I might just have to bake a coffee cake in honor of her. If only she could drop by for a piece and a good long chat.
So there you have it, some of my favorite recipe-memories. Now I know where to go when I'm feeling nostalgic, straight to my own glass box of history!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Photo

Sweet Gum tree in the fog.

Yesterday we had a steady cold drizzle of early spring rain. The skies cleared just in time for a beautiful sunset and later in the evening this thick fog rolled in. I love fog, how it softens everything and changes your everyday view into something new and mysterious looking.

Happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mama's Cornbread

Don't you want some cornbread? I thought so. Every southern food book I've ever read (and that has been a few, believe me) shares memories of their mama's cornbread. In the south, cornbread usually means unsweetened cornbread baked in a sizzling hot skillet. Super sweet cornbread baked in a pyrex pan was cake not cornbread. If my Mamaw had set a plate of that down in front of my Papaw he would have thrown it out to his hound dog. No offense to lovers of yankee cornbread but "real" cornbread is a serious thing in the south, impostors could be shot!
My Mama is famous for her cornbread. I love love love it and must have it at least once a week. Her crispy, buttery cornbread is one of the only things I have a deep craving for year round. It goes with everything, beans, soup, salad, butter, anything really. I make it for breakfast sometimes and there is never a crumb left. Now I make two pans of it so everyone can have plenty. Made with fresh ground cornmeal and flour, you can't beat it for a healthy quick bread.
I will now ask my Mama to look aside while I tell you that I have slightly modified her recipe to fit my cooking so it's not her exact recipe. Honey instead of sugar, fewer eggs and less butter. Okay Mama, you can look back. So get out your skillet and let's make a pan (pone as Mamaw used to call it) of cornbread.

The first step is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Set your iron skillet in there to heat up too. A hot skillet is the secret to good crusty cornbread. Measure a cup of flour, cup of cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder and a teaspoon of salt into a large bowl. Stir it to mix all your dry ingredients together.

Enlist a handy kid to mix up 1 and 1/4 cup of milk, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of honey in a measuring cup or small bowl. If there are no handy kids, just beat it together yourself. All the same and you probably have cleaner hands. I hope so anyway.

When your oven and iron skillet are good and hot, set the skillet out on your stove and melt 2 tablespoons of real butter in it (Don't you like my square pan? It was Grandma's.). Pour the wet mixture into the dry and give it a few stirs, then pour the melted butter quickly into the batter. Stir it up to mix the butter in. Be sure to not burn yourself with the skillet, it's super hot! Pour the batter into the skillet.

Can you see what's happening? Look at the edge of the skillet and see how the batter is foaming up. It is searing in the hot skillet and that is what gives you the magical golden crust. Bake it for 20 minutes in your hot oven and then flip it out onto a big platter. Flipping it out of the pan is a bit of a trick, I still catch myself holding my breath every time I turn do it. Just have faith and go for it.

Then all that's left is to cut it up and serve wedges or squares of hot golden goodness to all the lucky people sitting around your table. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolatey Honey Fudge

It's been a while since I posted a recipe, I've been cooking, believe me there's no getting around cooking at our cozy little house. What I haven't been doing is taking photographs or having a spare ounce of energy to post a recipe. We have had various illnesses going around, croup, ear infections, colds, strep throat, yikes! Once someone picks up a bug it takes a while to work through all six chickadees. This has resulted in one tired mama and a serious need for chocolate. Not serious enough to get me to pack up everyone and go buy some, my sweet husband treated me to a luscious chocolate bar when he was picking up medicine, but enough of a craving to hunt up a new fudge recipe on (three cheers for
Another development has been a gradual elimination of refined sugar in our diet. Gulp...did I just type that? Moi, lover of brown sugar in my oatmeal and a thick crust of cinnamony-sugar on my toast? We have almost entirely converted to raw honey and grade B maple syrup. Both are perfectly delicious and I have had good results using them in some of my favorite recipes. Fudge however is one of those things that needs sugar to set up properly. Cooked fudge that is.
This fudge needs neither cooking or sugar and let me tell you, it's fabulous! Check out this recipe: Stir together one cup of room temperature coconut oil, one cup of regular cocoa and one half cup of raw honey. When it is smooth, pour it into a foil lined pan and chill for an hour or two. Cut it into small squares, (it's very rich) and enjoy. Did you miss the part about candy thermometers? Boiling? Beating? Oh yeah, it's not in there! Just measure, mix and chill.
We are halfway through a batch and it's going fast. Next time I may mix in some chopped pecan and some dried cherries like my mom does in her famous Chocolate Fudge. Really anything you like in your fudge would be amazing in this, cashews, walnuts, dried cranberries and macadamia nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter, a drizzle of white chocolate. Just use your imagination! Oh, and send me some. Please?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


We went for a hike this weekend, a blissful two mile hike around a lake near our house. It was the little ones first hike and I think it was duly enjoyed by them.

Along the way we found several different kinds of wildflowers.

Brave little things to venture out so soon in the year, it's only March.

But then, our March is proving to be quite warm. A balmy 73 degrees and I can't say that I'm complaining about it. Yeah for spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Photo

Baby feet. Almost nine-month old baby feet. Look at those chubby toes and plump little legs. Her thighs are even more glorious. Sweet Babe is adored by one and all at our house. Her every feat is greeted with cheers, smiles, applause, hugs and kisses. What fun to have five big siblings to make over you and love on you every waking moment and some sleeping moments. Now that she is on the move we keep finding strange little messes. Leaves pulled of a houseplant, potting soil scattered on the carpet, paper dumped out of the schoolroom trashcan, a book cover suspiciously wet, a little trail of exploration. It makes this tired Mama smile as she sweeps up the dirt and picks up old drawings with "tasted" corners, thinking of her discovering her home in all it's wonder. From down there everything looks big and amazing. Happy exploring to you this weekend!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Photo

Busyness and general daily chaos had seriously side-railed any creative energy around here lately. Sick chickadees and sick mama, long school days, starting a big reading project and the everyday routine of cooking, cleaning and laundry sapped any idea of sewing or creating. Enter a fun new blog called Stitch Rabbit and my brain is reeling with inspiration and ideas. Yesterday, produced two new headbands for myself and a finished dress with matching headband for Big Sister. On queue for today is a bag for moi and maybe some pillow covers. I love making things! What are you making?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pantry Cooking: Mirepoix

Mirepoix. Now doesn't that sound fancy? The word is fancy, French always sounds elegant. I have an enduring obsession with all things French so I'm always happy when I cook a recipe with a mirepoix. And what you see in this photo is exactly that. Fancy isn't it?
A mirepoix is a mixture of chopped vegetables that you saute for a sauce. It always includes onion, carrot and celery. Of course, you can add other things like garlic and bell pepper, even a jalapeno pepper for a Mexican dish. This particular mirepoix was destined for a luscious Bolognese sauce, great made with beef or mushrooms. I used to make a killer meat loaf that included this combination of vegetables plus a bell pepper. Countless soups have this for a base and it is fabulous added to a pot of beans when they are almost done. Just try adding a mirepoix into a dish for your supper and see if you don't love it too!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Friday Photo

My Mamaw was a lover of figurines. Porcelain, blown-glass, wooden, all kinds, shapes and sizes filled her bookshelves and window sills. They adorned her dresser and mantel. They overflowed to her greenhouse and the building we called the pump house though it didn't contain any pump I ever knew of. When she passed away I chose from her collection this small china angel that I always played with as a child. I love that it has her name, June, on it. This week it took a spill and the tip of her wing broke off. As I was inspecting the wing I noticed it had been glued in that same spot years ago by my Mamaw. It made me smile to think of her carefully repairing the little angel and gently setting her back in her spot after the glue dried. Maybe Papaw with his years of jewelry repair helped her fit it back together just so. He had a knack for fixing delicate things. So the sweet angel sits on my kitchen window sill patiently waiting for me to dig out my glue and re-attach her wing then gently set her back in her spot. I miss my Mamaw.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Photo

Wednesday was spent entertaining our mystery guest. She was wandering around that morning looking for a friend and the kids were all happy to oblige her. A gentler more child-friendly dog would be hard to find. The next morning, she was gone. Hopefully back to her home. I do wish she would bring back Little Brother's shoe that was left outside. Oh well, I guess a shoe is a small price to pay for a day of blissful dog love. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Need I say more? Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Maple Buttercream. If you had come to my house around 4:00 in the afternoon on Valentine's Day you would have been offered one of these delights. It may have been decorated by one of the eleven children who were busily decorating cookies, which would have made them all the sweeter. These were the Valentine cookies that almost weren't though.
I made up a few trays of the cookies (heart shaped sandwich cookies with raspberry filling) for a dear friend's birthday that morning and noticed the sound of someone playing with the rolling pin. Well, that afternoon when I was ready to bake the rest of the cookies, the rolling pin was no where to be found. We searched high and low and ended up borrowing one from our neighbors. The next morning while making our bed, my foot hit something under the bed and there it was. Now why didn't I think to look under my bed?
So here is the recipe for these fabulous, search-no-more, make them every holiday cookie. The cream cheese makes them ultra rich, the sugar (try raw sugar in these) is just right, not overpowering and they rolled out like a dream. I adapted the recipe from one on They will be regular guests at all our holidays and any other occasion that may need cookies. What occasion wouldn't need cookies anyway?

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
2 cups butter
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
4 1/2 cups flour

Bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature. Cream the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, vanilla and egg. Stir in flour and mix well. Divide into two parts and flatten into disks. Wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight.
Cut one disc in half and work with one piece at a time. Rewrap the other piece and set it back in the fridge. Roll one piece of dough out on a floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch thick and cut out with a cookie cutter. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden around the edges. Cool before frosting.

This makes a lot of cookies but you can always freeze one of the discs of dough for another time. With my horde I need a lot of cookies so I baked them all. I also ate an inordinate amount of them. They are evil and destroyed the last vestiges of my self-control.
To make Maple Buttercream, use any good buttercream recipe (use real butter please!) and add maple flavoring instead of vanilla. You wouldn't want to use as much maple as vanilla so add a little and taste to see if you need more. Try not to eat all the frosting. Pipe it on your cookies with a cute decorating tip or use it to frost a cake. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Friday Photo

And we're off! Little Sweet Nutkins is officially mobile now. She skipped the army-crawling stage and is slowly but surely crawling around, I suspect looking for something to eat. Lucky her to have five messy sibling who constantly drop crumbs everywhere. Now if she could just get her mama to quit vacuuming it up! Have a fun weekend and I hope you have lots of good things to eat too!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Practical Pantry: Stocking Your Pantry

Bulk spices.

(I have changed the name of my pantry series to The Practical Pantry)

Where in the world are you supposed to find the food you are going to store? Good question, if only there was a simple answer. It's not really all that complex, there just isn't one perfect source. My food storage comes from a variety of places, some local and some not.
The first factor is considering what you eat, use your list to decide what to shop for. I try to stock foods in the most natural whole state. That means that I have buckets of wheat, bags of different kinds of rice, dry beans and staple ingredients like sugar and cocoa. For you that may mean storing flour, cans of tuna, and cake mixes. You need to store what you eat and eat what you store. One reason I store things in their whole state is that they last so much longer. Wheat berries will last forever, white flour for a couple of years and wheat flour for a few months. To use wheat though, you have to have a grinder so there are factors to storing whole food. Whatever works for you is the best for your family.
Most of my bulk food comes from a co-op called Country Life Natural Foods. You can mail order from them or get a group together to order. They will deliver to you if you have an order over a certain amount. I order every other month with a group in our area and just go to the drop-off to pick up my goodies. It is worth the effort to organize a group if you have several like-minded friends who would want to order every month. Another advantage is that you can split large amounts and save even more money. We are splitting 50 pounds of whole almonds this time. It's a significant savings over buying 5 pounds and everyone can buy the amount they want. Country Life also sells 5 and 1 gallon buckets and the Gamma Seal Lids.
My spices come from a local natural foods store that has a bulk spice section. Check around to see if you can buy bulk spices in your area. It is a great way to try a variety of spices at a super low price and you can buy as much as you need.
I buy my wheat from a local bakery that grinds their flour fresh every day and will sell you a 50 pound bag of wheat. Check with your local bakeries and see if they will sell you flour or wheat at a wholesale price. Our natural food store will order bulk for you when they place their orders and this would be a great option, especially if you have special diet needs like gluten-free or some other food allergy.
Some things I stock from a regular grocery store. Look for sales or coupons and buy enough to keep you until the next sale or longer. I found pasta we like for half price and bought everything they had on the shelf. If you eat a jar of applesauce every week and they are on sale for a dollar, don't buy 2 jars, buy 12 or as many as the store will let you. Sales usually follow a 2 or 3 month cycle so buy as much as you need to get you through to the next sale.
Most of these strategies require an initial chunk of money that may strain your grocery budget at first but will eventually make a huge difference in your budget. Several years ago I didn't have 20 extra dollars to buy 50 pounds of wheat but by cutting back on things like convenience foods, meat and dairy I was able rearrange things so that I could buy it. Now instead of buying a bag of wheat flour every week at the grocery store, I open my bucket and get out wheat to grind. It's not so much having extra money to build a pantry as it is making small changes to get to where you want to be. Believe me, having food stored away to feed my family is well worth any small sacrifices I made to make it happen!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Photo

We had some snow here this week folks, and I do mean snow. About two feet of it! My husband and I never have seen snow like this in our area and both of us grew up around here. This is our kiddos buried "yellow-top car". They luckily didn't park it in it's spot so it became our snow gauge. These cars were introduced after I was too big to play in one and I've always held a grudge against the manufacturer. Why oh why couldn't they have come up with it a few years earlier? It looks like such a fun toy. Apparently they are irresistible, my little sister got stuck in it when she was, well I won't say how old she was but it was past the recommended age of the little car.
Snow brings so much fun for little kids and they have been building and sledding and drinking hot cocoa. We had a snow-bound dinner with our neighbors and yesterday I baked some yummy oatmeal bread. I wish I had a knitting project to work on but I've been reading and drawing instead. Fun times indeed. It's kind of hard to believe that in three short months everything will be turning green and we will be planting our garden. Spring is under all that snow!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Lately we have been having snow and snow and more snow. Quite a bit of snow for our little corner of the world. I am a snow spectator, it's my belief that snow is lovelier when viewed through glass. But on Saturday the kids and I bundled up and did some fort building. The boys needed lots of "ammunition" shelves for the "ambush" they were planning for their dad when he came back from work. They are into military stuff right now in case you were wondering.

Here we usually get ice before any snow starts falling and this time was no exception. A good half inch of ice coated everything under the four inches of snow. The beautiful thing about it for me was that I didn't need a single thing from the store! We had been shopping a few days before so we had some fresh things but even without that we were prepared. I had plenty of food, batteries, candles, water, even a huge bar of chocolate with hazelnuts that our sweet neighbors brought us from their trip to Europe! What more could you want?

So we have been snowed-in. Keeping up with school and housework and doing a bit of reading. Reading with six chickadees underfoot really tests your comprehension but I am one determined woman. My little old blog has been a bit neglected of late but that how things go. More and then less, finding the ever changing balance.

We are having soup for dinner with Red Lobster biscuits. I'm washing the perpetual laundry. The big brothers are confined to their room to save the living room furniture, not to mention my sanity, from their roughhousing and now sweet babe is ready to be nursed. Fullness and plenty that is what I have lately. What is at your house lately? I love hearing snippets of your lives, so tell me about it! And check out the blog list for links to some of my new favorite blogs, I think you'll like them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Photo

Last night we had a family party for Cubbie. What a fun age this two year old boy is at! He was quite delighted with his firetruck cake. His fascination with big trucks is in full swing, the weekly visit of the trash truck is so very exciting. I do believe the trash truck is second only to his Papaw and his truck. At our house we have three birthday traditions; the birthday person gets to choose the theme of their cake, then help decorate it and everyone tells what special thing they love about the celebrated one. Simple, fun and sweet. Cubbie "listened" to everyone's favorite things about him while merrily eating all the frosting off his slice of cake before turning to my piece to eat my frosting. Sorry Bud, Mama doesn't share vanilla buttercream with anyone! Birthday or no birthday!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pantry Cooking: Hot Fudge Sauce

Looks yummy, doesn't it? Who wouldn't enjoy a nice hot fudge sundae with pecans sprinkled on top? A well-stocked pantry lend itself to cooking from scratch. Cooking from scratch doesn't mean complicated recipes that take hours to prepare. This Hot Fudge Sauce takes less than fifteen minutes to whip up and beats the dickens out of any store-bought fudge sauce you've ever eaten. In fact, once a spoonful of this luscious sauce passes your lips you will never be content with anything else. So, grab some cocoa and sugar from your nice pantry and let's make some Hot Fudge Sauce!

Measure 9 tablespoons of cocoa, 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup water into a saucepan. Watch, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons corn syrup (If you don't use corn syrup, add 1/4 cup brown sugar instead.) and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring this to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cook at a gentle boil for 8 minutes. Cool slightly before pouring over your ice cream. At least blow on the spoonful before you put it in your mouth. You don't want a scorched tongue!

That's it! A word about the corn syrup. It will make the sauce glossier and a bit sweeter than the brown sugar but I've made it either way and let me tell you, it's divine. See, from a few staple ingredients that are in your pantry you can make something that will make a grown man cry. Believe me, I seen this happen more than once!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Photo

Grandma Helen's cake keeper. One of my favorite things. It was always used to hold the famous 1-2-3-4 Cake, but this time it held a Coconut Pineapple Cake. Yummy! I hope your weekend holds sweet things for you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Practical Pantry: Containers

Ground flaxseed, whole-grain cream of wheat, Tapioca and white popcorn in Mason jars.

Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting in a high school algebra class in a small town in Oklahoma. Come on, you can do it! I know, it makes me break out in hives too. So you are sitting there with all your illustrious classmates and your slight, white-haired teacher says in his nasally voice, "BE resourceful!". You've all been waiting for Mr. K's mantra, you've heard it at least once a day since the semester began. Muffled giggles ripple throughout the room as you exchanged glances with your best friend sitting across the aisle.
Fast forward more years than you care to count and you find yourself as a youngish mother in the midst of the daily chaos that is your life. As you pour popcorn from a five pound bag into a washed out applesauce jar and place it on your pantry shelf, that old admonishment echoes out of the recesses of your memory. "BE resourceful!" Snapping the lid down on a recycled ice cream bucket freshly filled with oatmeal, you hear it again, "BE resourceful!". You pause to reflect on how funny Mr. K would find it that the one thing that has stuck with you out of your high school math class was his pet phrase, "BE resourceful!" (It's important that the emphasis is on the BE part. Draw it out a little bit to get the right effect.)
And that, my friends is the top priority when you are looking for containers for your food-storage. Be resourceful. For small amounts of things, Mason jars, pasta sauce jars or other large jars like the applesauce jar in the top photograph work great. I keep lots of thing in this size of jar. Also, I keep my eyes peeled for any size of glass jar with air-tight lids when I am perusing at thrift shops, flea markets and garage sales. One summer I picked up three or four half-gallon size clamp top jars in one day at garage sales. I regularly find the smaller pint-size clamp top jar at thrift shops. When I see one, I scoop it up. They are great for storing specialty grains or beans that you might not need a ton of. Besides, they look pretty.
Gallon size jars are perfect for storing dry beans and pasta in. The main advantage is that you can easily see what is what and how much you have. Someone gave me a gallon size glass pickle jar. The problem with these is the pickle smell in the lid. Fix this by making a paste of baking soda and water and spreading it on good and thick, then leave it overnight. In the morning, rinse it off and the smell will be gone. Get the word out to friends and relations that you need gallon size jars and you might be surprised at how easily you can round some up.

Now a little word about this photograph. I buy lots of thing in bulk either from a co-op or from our local natural food store. The problem I ran into was that a lot of things like Tapioca have the recipe printed on the box and when there's no box, there's no recipe. After a failed internet search to find the sacred recipe, I realized that I could, "Be resourceful", and tape the recipe onto the jar or lid. This trick is great with any grain or homemade mix that has special instructions.

And this thing of beauty is a Gamma Seal Lid for five gallon buckets. Every time I spin it off of my gigantic bucket of wheat to grind some fresh flour, I have a little moment of remembrance for the olden days when I had to pry the lid off with my delicate fingers and resist the urge to say a potty word. If you are going to use five gallon buckets, get one of these lids! They cost anywhere from six to eight dollars but, Honey, you are worth it!
So, there you have it. My riveting thoughts on containers. Be patient and find some free containers or reuse some of your jars. Look on Freecycle. Ask your friends. Pester your family. Do what it takes to find free food-storage containers. But whatever you do, "BE resourceful!". It would make Mr. K so proud!