Thursday, May 20, 2010

Uh Oh...

Just a quick note to say that the dates on the previous two posts got mixed up! Oops!

Oat-a-palooza should be time-stamped before Mama's Bullet-Proof Waffles. I tried to change it, but to no avail. So, in order to find the first recipe, please scroll down past Oat-a-palooza. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


In Praise of Oats

See the freshly plowed field behind my dog, Jesse? This year, Hubby planted oats in it! We eat a lot of oats in our house, and feel the healthier for it, I must say. Already, the field is covered in grass that looks like it should be mowed. But this year, we will not be mowing that field, as the grass covering it is now oats. It's a new experience, and I'm hopeful it will turn out well. At the end of the growing season, we will harvest it and thresh it, use it in the kitchen, and save some for seed.

This is my oldest son completing one of his daily chores, namely, flaking oats. You place the whole oat groats in the hopper, turn the handle, and out come flaked, or rolled, oats. Kids love flaking and grinding grain, for some reason. It's the chore my boys never mind doing. They plug into their CD players, listen to their favorite music (Smoke on the Water, or Coming Undone, or Age of Aquarius, or Vivaldi -- we have diverse tastes in this house!) and crank the volume AND the handle. Sometimes they even compete to see who can roll the most! This works out quite well for me, because I use a lot of rolled oats in any given week.

Here's a picture of the flaker, not in action. It flakes any whole grain you might want to try. In fact, it's kind of fun experimenting with different grains. Wheat, spelt, barley, rice, oats, and more can be flaked into a variety of mixes to cook for morning cereal or add to your favorite recipes.

Here's something that gets a lot of use, as well. It's the grinder. You can buy a lot heftier and more expensive grinders than this one, but it serves our purposes well for the moment. I use it to grind the varieties of grain we use in our baked goods.

This week, after getting several requests for some of my recipes using oats, I decided to devote a week of posts to them. So stop by later and look for entries devoted to three of my favorite recipes using oats. Energy Bars, Waffles, and Granola. They get rave reviews in my house, and I can barely keep them in stock.

Energy Bars



By the way, I have decided to drop the habit of closing every post with getting back to my tasks at hand. I liked the idea in the beginning, but it seems rather tired at this point. After all, I'm pretty much always getting back to my tasks at hand! How redundant.

So! On that note, I invite you to celebrate oats with me this week! I hope you'll tune in on Thursday for my first recipe, which will be presented with lots of photos. See you then! Now go and eat some oats.. or, sow some wild ones, whatever floats your boat!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mama's Bullet-Proof Waffles

When I asked my family what they thought a good name for my waffles would be, my husband came up with the best answer: Bullet-Proof Waffles. They are delicious, good for you, and I always feel nourished after eating them. I'm happy to offer these for breakfast, along with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup. I've never served them to anyone who didn't like them, and I'm pretty sure you'll like them, too. Without further ado, I give you

Mama's Bullet-Proof Waffles

Above is the recipe, so you can follow along. If you click on it, it will get larger.

Start off by dumping 4 cups of rolled oats into a big bowl. Then pour 5 cups of your choice of milk - I use soy - on top of them and let them soak for 15 or 20 minutes.

Then add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Next, crack 6 to 8 eggs into a smaller bowl and scramble them.

Pour them into the bowl along with the oats, milk, and oil.

Now's a good time to get our your waffle iron, plug it in to preheat, spray on a bit of oil if yours needs it.

After a brief stir to combine all the wet stuff, add the rest of the ingredients:

4 Cups flour
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Mix it all up, just well enough to combine. Over mixing makes for tough waffles, and we can't have that!

This is a good time to show you the salt I use. It's Himalayan Sea Salt, and is fabulous! Old, full of minerals, tasty, AND beautiful. I got it from my friend who offers it in her store.

By now, your iron should be hot and ready to go. Pour a cup to a cup and a half of batter into the center of the waffle iron and spread it out a bit.

Then close the lid and go work on...

the dishes... ugh.
Take a glance at your waffle iron and you will see a thing of great beauty, and a good subject for home school chemistry:

Ahhh, look at those babies rising and lifting the heavy lid of the waffle iron! Hmmmm... I can smell them already!

This is about the time my kids start listening for the "twee twee twee!" sound of my waffle iron. It sounds just like the noise they make right before Anthony Perkins is about to use his knife in the shower scenes of "Psycho." Oh it's not THAT bad... just kind of reminiscent, actually.

Lift the lid, remove with the assistance of a fork, and you have 4 beautiful, golden brown, waffles, steaming and ready for butter and maple syrup.

We use local maple syrup, to help support our neighbors, and because it's one of Mother Earth's nectars. If we eat it from local sources it feeds us better than, say, maple syrup from Vermont.

Enjoy! And please let me know how you like them!

Next time... granola!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's a Miter, Baby?

Another Free Pattern!

When I first started this blog back in January, I started it with a free pattern. Well, I'm happy to report that there has been big interest in my Mitered Ballband Dishtowel, so I decided to create a Mitered Ballband Dishcloth to match!

I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as the first one, and if you end up making one, please let me know by posting a picture on Ravelry.

To download a copy of the pattern, click HERE. If you don't have a Ravelry account, drop me a line and I will gladly send you the pattern.

Blogging so far has proved to be a fun and exciting adventure, and I thank you for stopping by to read my thoughts. I could write entries on a daily basis, I have so much to say. But there is a lot to do around here, so I best get back to my tasks at hand...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Good Times

Good Monday morning to all!

I want to begin by saying that the last four days have been diverse and interesting and busy! It all started last Thursday, with a garage sale Hubby and I managed to hit prior to 9am after dropping the kids at school. Fellow fabric fanatics, I lucked out. Seriously. Lucked. Out.

I was poking around in a table of stuff and saw a box of brand new, still in original packaging, fat quarters. Fat quarters are 18" x 22" pieces of 100% cotton prints that people purchase for quilting projects. They are bundled in coordinating colorways to make it easy on the quilter. They call out to us in the fabric stores, "Here! Buy us! You won't have to think about picking colors on your own!" Being terminally low on cash, and having collected a fair shake of fabric remnants and leftovers from a variety of sources and sales over the years, I, personally, have never bought fat quarters in my life. They are a thing of beauty, wondrous to behold in their crisp neatness, all tucked in together, wrapped up with ribbon.

Well, this box had packages of three fat quarters and the garage sale lady wanted 75 cents each for them. I did a quick scan in the box, wondering what she would take for the whole thing. I thought about offering her $10, thinking she'd never take a price that low. Finally I just decided to ask her what she'd take for the entire box. She said, "How about $7.50?" "Sold," said I, tucking the box under my arm.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to open them all up, lay them out on my sewing table, mix and match, sigh and admire, all the while cogitating project ideas. There are 110 total pieces of fabric. I still can't believe my good fortune!

In other sewing news, I had a chance to try Abi's Vintage Pillowcase Grocery Tote Tutorial and made a bag on Saturday. Thanks, Abi, for such a great tutorial! I encourage all of you to try it. I'm already planning on making a pile of them for Christmas gifts this year. It really was quick and easy, with great results. Since it turned out so well, I decided to take the pile of newborn baby clothes I've been saving and tuck them inside for the mother-to-be's shower gift. Not only will she get a pile of adorable clothes for her newborn, she'll get to keep the packaging for use in the grocery store.

On Mother's Day, the guys took me shopping at a great thrift store and I found a few more treasures, including another pillow case for 25 cents. It was a beautiful day for a drive, I got to knit in the car (coming up with a new design!), and I scored a vintage Pyrex refrigerator container in near perfect condition --and it's yellow-- and a porcelain coffee pot complete with filter.

Now it's Monday, and there is way too much to do in the garden, but that's okay. I'm rejuvenated and inspired by the last several days. I hope you all had a fabulous Mother's Day, be you mother, daughter, father, or son, spending it with your family doing what you love to do. I'd love to linger, but there are onions to weed, compost to spread, and beds to mulch, so for now, I'm off to my tasks at hand...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Kanten-Ease -or- Sneaky Summer Squash

Greetings, and thank you for stopping by to read another entry!

Today I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. It is particularly great for moms who are trying to feed their kids healthful desserts, so consider this my Mother's Day gift to all of you, even if you aren't a mom!

This recipe fits the bill for so many reasons! It seems to please all children, while being healthy, so that puts it at the top of my list. Adults like it, too, and it's quick, easy, and practically fool-proof. What's not to love?

We call it jello, but macrobiotics call it kanten. Once you master this easy method, I can almost guarantee you'll be pulling this recipe out of your bag of tricks all summer long. Here's what you'll need (I'll show you exactly what I use):

Grape juice - 1 to 1.5 quarts

Canned pineapple tidbits in juice - 1 quart

Agar (half a package)

To feed a crowd, I use a 4-quart, rectangular Pyrex pan. If you want to try a smaller batch, use a 2- or 3- quart dish and half the amounts.

First, pour the quart of pineapple, juice and all, into a saucepan (here's a great opportunity to use some beautiful, vintage Corning or Pyrex). Next add about a quart and a half of grape juice. Using a whisk, gradually sprinkle in the agar, all the while gently whisking it as it dissolves into the juice mixture.

(Please ignore the fact that I need to clean my stove top.)

Continue sprinkling and whisking and heating over a low flame until the mixture almost breaks into a simmer. It will begin to look a bit cloudy at this point.

Pour the liquid into your pan and let it sit! That's it. No refrigeration. Nothing special. Just let it sit on the counter and in a couple of hours it will be set!

(Notice the steam rising as it cools!)

If you eat this within a day or so (it probably will not last that long, anyway), you don't even have to keep it in the fridge. I just set mine in the oven with a post-it that reminds everyone not to preheat the oven. This reminds me of something worthy of sharing... once last summer, entertaining a crowd, I had a big pan of kanten waiting, safe from flies, to reveal to the kids after dinner. On the spur of the moment, I decided to make a quick rhubarb crisp for the adults. I came in from the garden and preheated the oven. Ooops! The jello had all turned to liquid again! Guess what? I left it on the counter and it re-set! How's that for some magic?

Anyway, once it sets, you can slice it into cubes or squares of desired size, put it on a platter, and watch it disappear. It's a great finger food for toddlers and kids.

(Please ignore the ridiculous length of my un-groomed thumbnail.)
(Thanks for the picture, Rachel!)

There are a couple of variations I regularly use. Often I just use grape juice and agar. For potlucks, I frequently use strawberries, or mandarin orange sections and pineapple chunks, or blueberries, bananas, whatever fresh fruit I might have on hand. The difference when using fresh fruit is to prepare the juice and agar alone. Pour it into the pan and then check it every fifteen minute or so. Jiggle the pan, and stick your finger in to test the consistency. Once it is beginning to set up a bit, poke the fruit in with a chopstick. You can even make pretty designs with the fruit. Another thing you can do is make the jello very thin, then use cookie cutters to cut it into fun shapes for kids' parties and such.

A word of advice about juices... I have tried this with all kinds of juice and it's more of a crowd-pleaser with grape juice or one of those all-juice blends that is supposed to taste like tropical punch. The dark red and purple juices seem to yield the best results.

One other note... you may have noticed that I used a quart canning jar of pineapple and juice. Well, I'm about to let you in on another sneaky secret! It's actually marrow squash that I home-canned in pineapple juice! Yes, moms of the world, your children will actually be eating their vegetables if you make it like this, and they will never know the difference! Today I took it to a 4-H meeting and all the kids and adults gobbled it up, thinking it was pineapple! Mwah ha ha ha...

To answer your next question, marrow squash is a firmer, equally prolific (!) variety of zucchini. I had so much in my garden last year, I tried all kinds of ways to preserve it. This has to be one of the best. I used pineapple juice, some organic dehydrated cane, and chunks of marrow or zucchini, peeled and cut into tidbit size and shape. I did it with both zucchini and marrow, but prefer the marrow, as it's slightly firmer in texture.

(A pile of marrow and zucchini from my garden.)

Well, I guess that's it for now. I hope this kanten/jello becomes one of your favorite recipes. I hope you share it with all your friends and family, because it's just too good to keep secret.

Happy Mother's Day! I have lots of ideas for blog posts, and I'm quite eager to write them, but for now, back to my tasks at hand...