Archive for the ‘Tree-hugging Tuesday’ Category

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Practicing What You Preach

There are so very many places I could go with this on this Tuesday morning in March but I won’t.  I will spare you a lecture.  I would say sermon but that would be ludicrous 😉 So this fine March day I will just say it feels good when you actually practice what you preach in relation to what you eat.  Last night our supper consisted of nothing more than what we grew here on our little property or killed locally.


Our middle son provided our meat from a deer he killed in the fall.  A fine, lean backstrap that Jerry put on the grill – and it was delicious.  The cole slaw is made from green and purple cabbages and carrots we grew.  The sliced carrots are from our garden and I sauted them with a pat of butter and sprinkled a little saffron on them – I LOVE saffron!  The asparagus is from either the 4th or 5th picking so far this season – perfect just warmed in a skillet with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper.  As with most meals while Jerry is home, it was a team effort, even the clean up 🙂

Some one asked last night over on Facebook what we plant and when.  Here is a quick rundown.

We have something planted all the time. Early Spring (now) we plant tomatoes (some I had started in the greenhouse), peppers, squash, green beans, corn, cucumbers, herbs and flowers. No later than July 4th, but hopefully before,  I need to have my pumpkins in the ground. I will probably start them mid April – first of May to give them a head start. I would like to harvest them well before I go on vacation October 16 and have them delivered to their new homes :).  All that depends on when the corn is ready. The pumpkins are planted when we pull the corn stalks. Then early September we plant winter stuff like carrots, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, English peas, sometimes radishes. And it all starts over…

I will try to snap some pictures this afternoon of Jerry’s hard work from yesterday.  He set out a couple of tomato plants I had started in the greenhouse and got beans in the ground.  We will pick up more tomatoes, bell peppers and a few herbs today while we are in the city.  Oh and our window box selections, whatever they end up being. If our top soil is delivered by Wednesday, he will get the corn planted in the corn patch.  If it looks like it won’t, then likely he will go ahead and plant anyway and we will put out top soil after corn and before pumpkins.

That’s it for this morning except for these last few photos.  I have to go do something with my hair before it revolts completely.  Can’t go to Jerry’s dr’s appt with a mop on my head!



Time to make Christmas Cakes! Recipe Redux!

It’s that time of the year again…

“Isn’t that a fruitcake?” asked Husband.  “No, people don’t like fruitcake.  These are going to be Christmas Cakes.  BIG difference.  One is edible, one is not.” I tell him.  “Oh, so it’s a different recipe?” he asks.  “No, same recipe.  Different outcome.”

You all know what I mean don’t you?  You can call something one thing and it not be good at all.  Rename it and there you go!  Success!

Anyway, I do know a few people who LOVE fruitcake.  Good fruitcake.  Not bought fruitcake.  Me being one of those people.  OH! Excuse me, I meant Christmas Cake.  I LOVE Christmas Cake.Please do not assume you don’t like Christmas Cake (or fruitcake, if you insist on calling them this!) because you don’t like the store bought variety. They are NOT one in the same. Bought Christmas cakes contain that awful candied cherry and citron mixture that not only is not tasty but hard as rocks sometimes. This recipe I am about to give you is easy as can be.

This recipe makes four 6″ cakes.

  • 12 cups of dried fruit – I used apricots, dates, blueberries, cranberries, dark and golden raisins.
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup brandy or Cognac

Chop the large fruits into 1/4 inch pieces. Put all the fruit in a non-reactive container (plastic or glass) and pour the honey and brandy over it, stirring to coat well. Cover and let sit for a day or up to two weeks, mixing occasionally.


When ready to assemble the cakes, heat your oven to 275°F. Pour your fruit into a colander set over a bowl and let it drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Generously butter and flour your pans. As I said I used four 6″ rounds. But I think two 8’s would work as well. I also like to put a round of brown paper in the bottom of my pans over the butter/flour.


Cake ingredients:

  • Prepared fruit mixture
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1TBSP coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts – coarsely chopped (I used walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup light brown, 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup dark brown)
  • 7 large eggs

ccspices.jpgAnd for the glaze you will need apricot jam, brandy and water.

Stir together the dry ingredients and then add the nuts and stir again. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer with your paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Transfer to a large bowl and using the folding method, add the flour/nut mixture and then the fruit mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the fruits.


Divide the batter between the prepared pans. These pans will be full – note you didnt use any leavening so they are going to be dense (read: YUMMY) cakes.


Cut parchment to fit around the pans and above the rim at least 2 1/2 inches. Tie with baker’s twine.


Place on pans on cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours to 2 1/4 hours. Or until cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool completely. Turn out cakes, then flip back over so top is up.


Heat 1/4 cup apricot jam, 1/4 cup brandy and 1/4 cup water until jam is liquid. Brush on tops of cooled cakes. Wrap in parchment and store in refrigerator for up to six months.


If you live in a cold climate, and you have a cool spot in your house, they can be kept in a tin or plastic container and unrefrigerated. But since many times we have the air conditioning on in December as much as July, we keep ours refrigerated.

As always look over this recipe and read completely before starting. If you have any questions or something doesn’t look right let me know. I read and reread my recipes but still miss some things.

Have a great day. I have other recipes I am working on so stay tuned!

Mine this year will be gluten free. I will let you know how they turn out.  This gluten free thing is a lot of work :/

There are some GREAT things coming up next week.  I might be scarce for a few days but things are already lined up so do stay tuned.  You won’t won’t to miss next Tuesday’s Tree-hugging post for sure! WOW…you’re going to love it!


Happy Hallowe ‘en Week!

I was just chatting with my brother and ask him if he was as fond of Hallowe’en as I am.  It holds some of my most vivid memories from my childhood.  I remember one in particular when I was in second grade and I am not sure it was so much the fact that I was so excited about the fun and decorating and dressing up and candy as much as I remember a particular lesson I learned one day at school.  It was party day.   Mom was always room mother for my class. Always.  And she never did anything half way so the parties were amazing.  We lived on the same block as the elementary school, on the opposite corner.  So I walked to and from school.  This was back in 1966 and I so wish I had all the decorations my mom had from back then.  Anyway, that afternoon was our Hallowe’en party and Mom came to the classroom and asked for me to be allowed to pick someone to walk back down to our house and bring back the drink pail.  My mom had a big black garbage can that she had iced down orange sodas for all the kids and it would take two second graders will all their strength to grab each handle and carry it back up the block.  I stood up,  walked to the front of my classroom, took my place between my teacher, Mrs. Farquhar and my mom and looked out over a sea of children out of their seats with their hands flailing about and the voices all at a fevered pitch “Me! ME! Pick ME!”.  I stood there for what seemed like forever when I noticed a little boy named Lesley sitting very still and looking out the window not saying a word.  He knew in his heart he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being picked so he didn’t even bother to raise his hand.  Lesley was the saddest little boy I had ever known.  Granted I was 7 but he made an impression on me the first time I  saw him.  My impression was not a good one.  He almost never went a day without being in some sort of trouble.  He was failing second grade which was something I found hard to accept since I got questioned about an A minus.  So there he sat.  Finally he turned his head and looked at me.  I can see this as if it were this morning.  I finally said in a very quiet voice “I pick Lesley.”  I wish you all could have seen his face.  Surprise.  Fear.  And sheer joy.  He sprang up out of his desk and come stood beside me, his chest out, the biggest grin on his face and grabbed my hand and my mom’s hand and off we went.  I remember thinking as I looked down at our hands and at him holding my mom’s hand, that is the dirtiest hands I have ever seen!  And if you only knew what a clean freak my mom was and how particular she was with me and my brothers you would know what a special moment this was.  But neither Mom nor I pulled away, we just looked at each other and she winked and smiled at me letting me know she very much approved of my choice.  We left a room full of kids talking amongst themselves, each of them just as surprised or more so than Lesley.  And me for that matter. Surprised that I had the guts to pick him.  Surprised that I had the guts to NOT pick my best friend Beth who I knew was going to be irate!  We walked all the way back to my house without a word from either of us though my mom asked Lesley questions and tried to make him less nervous.  We grabbed up the pail, one on each side and it was heavy!  The first time he really spoke was to say “I can carry it by myself.” My mom insisted we carry it together and we took off back towards the school her right behind with more goodies.  Lesley strode into that classroom, chest out, his dirty little face covered in the biggest smile.  We sat the pail down and he strutted back to his seat and plopped down so proud.

I have no idea why I did that.  I don’t know where it came from or what possessed me to do it.  I just knew it is something that was right.  And my mom and dad would be pleased with my boldness among my peers who were not kind to this poor little boy.  Ever.  He had a hellish life at home, you could tell and then a hellish life at school.  For the rest of the school year he was my shadow.  And I just had to grin and bear him handing me my fork in the lunch line.  Each time I looked at his hand, his dirty hand, and not today’s dirt but who knew when that child had been bathed, washed his hands or brushed his teeth, wrapped around my fork, I just had to swallow hard, hold my head high, accept his help and accept the comments I was going to get from my friends.  Most of whom thought I was completely crazy for having anything to do with him.  But I have always been strong willed and never allowed anyone to bully me.  And frankly, I think it might have made his life a little easier at school.  It seemed he was not in as many fights or maybe that he was trying a little harder to be likable.

Our paths crossed very little after that year.  I would see him on the playground in the lunch lines but we didn’t talk and finally went our separate ways.  I have always wondered what happened to him.  I know he was injured at school once in Jr. High when he made a volcano for a science exhibit and brought gasoline to make it explode.  Thankfully he didn’t blow up anyone else in the process.  After that I moved away and I have no idea how his life turned out.  But unless some major things changed for him, I doubt it has been very good.

Wow, where was I going with all this??? OH yeah!  Happy Hallowe’en Week and my mom could throw one heck of a school party!

Since it is Tree-Hugging Tuesday, here’s  a few  green Hallowe’en tips: if you’re the non-traditional type, try stocking up on healthy treats: organic dried fruit, granola bars, and popcorn packets all work (and come individually packaged, so even the most discerning parents won’t trash them for safety reasons). also offers a list of non-food ideas, like hair barrettes (which you could make yourself), seed packets, small toys made from recycled plastic, stickers, and soy crayons.

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