Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thrifty Fabric Recreations

One of my favorite parts about being back in the city is the plethora of thrift stores to browse. This week my friend, Rachel, with whom I've been living with the past several weeks took me to a great Goodwill where we picked up quite a few items. She is about ready to have a baby and has definitely been in the nesting mode around the house. Clearing things out and adding new additions necessary for the first child. She has been needing a bigger apron for use in the kitchen so I decided to put to use a men's dress shirt I purchased from a thrift store and an online tutorial found here. I think that it turned out great and I even put it together in just about an hour! I'm thinking about making many more with fun fabric and putting them on my etsy shop. Would you buy one or just make it yourself?

Rachel also needed some curtains for these great big windows in the stairwell. We found a perfect duvet cover at Goodwill in a nice soft grey fabric. They were perfect for cutting up and creating curtains. These custom curtains for three windows were a total cost of $7. I also got some great fabric in sheets that I plan to put into curtains for my new home. Moving day is Thursday so I'm pretty excited to start decorating my own home and making it comfortable for lots of friends to enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Casserole

Last night I had the blessing of attending our 2nd Annual Family Thanksgiving Dinner of Friends. I have some quality people in my life and although I am in the process of moving I am so blessed to continue to share life's blessings with these people in small town Kansas. We enjoyed a great feast and have so much to be thankful for during this season of fall and abundance. Although our after dinner viewing of the K-State football game was less than ideal we are proud KSU supporters. EMAW!

I've decided that if I could only have one thing on my plate at Thanksgiving it would have to be something the color orange. I really can't decide whether I like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or pumpkin the best so as long as I have something orange on the table I am satisfied. I've been eating a lot of pumpkin recently so I decided to go with a sweet potato casserole last night.

Several large sweet potatoes, baked
Pure maple syrup
Unsweetened Coconut
Brown Sugar
More butter
Candied Ginger pieces

Bake your sweet potatoes until fork tender in the oven. I used a random collection of small and large potatoes so I would guess them to be equivalent of about 4 large potatoes and baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and then peel. Alternately, if you are in a rush you can just microwave them for several minutes although I recommend using the oven over a microwave any day. Mash the sweet potatoes with several tablespoons of butter. Add a splash of whole milk, about a 1/4 cup, and a couple tablespoons of pure maple syrup. I honestly just direct poured about a tablespoon into the bowl. Sprinkle in about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and taste. Obviously you can tell that I rarely measure while cooking but the measure comes from the taste. It will all depend on the sweetness of your potatoes and don't forget some salt as that also helps bring out the sweetness. If you like it more creamy add more milk or butter or if you like plain and pure sweet potatoes keep it simple with less. Spread this into your greased dish.

For the topping combine 1 cup chopped pecans, or you could use walnuts as well, with 1/2 cup coconut flakes with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Combine  about 3 tablespoons of softened butter into this mixture. Then I added an extra special addition of about 1/4 cup of candied ginger pieces. This is totally optional as I found them in the cupboard and decided they would be a great addition, but it would be great without as well. Add the topping and bake in 350 oven for another 30-45 minutes just until brown on top.

Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin C and E for healthy skin and hair. They are also rich in manganese which helps regulate blood sugar. They are a super food of beta-carotene, an important antioxidant that can help prevent your skin from sun-damage and is excellent for eye health. They have good fiber content as well. Just eat them!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall Delight: Beet Pumpkin Soup

Today I was inspired by the baggies of pureed beets and pumpkin hanging out in the fridge. Earlier last week  a delightful beet chocolate cake was created from the beet puree but another collection was found this week in the fridge ready for use. In an attempt to make a tasty satisfying soup with the beets I decided a sweet addition of pumpkin could have great potential. I love using what I find on hand to create healthful easy dishes!

Beet Pumpkin Soup
1 T. Coconut oil
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
Splash of white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
2 cups pumpkin
2 cups beet puree
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sprinkle of cinnamon, ginger, cloves
Plain yogurt or sour cream for serving

Into the dutch oven I sauteed the onion in coconut oil adding garlic after onion is softened. I used a splash of wine to deglaze the pan and then added the chicken stock and apple cider. The apple cider was another item I found in the fridge that needed to be used. Otherwise you could just use more stock or water. I added the beets and pumpkin and cooked just until heated. Then I pureed most of the mixture in a blender. You could also leave it chunky if you would prefer. Add spices to your liking and serve with a large dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream on top.

Additionally, if you don't happen to have beet puree in your fridge I might recommend roasting them whole or chopped in the oven at about 400 until tender before adding them to the soup. Roasting beets and pumpkin before cooking brings out a natural sweetness not found when simply boiling .

This makes a great fall soup utilizing some essential fall produce items. Beets and pumpkin both contain many healthful nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins & minerals and generally cleanse the body. Consider taking an adventure in the soup department this fall. You really can't go wrong with things in a pot!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Observations of Nature in November

Our weather patterns are not normal. We've all observed the extreme weather patterns going on around us. Some of us have experienced much more drastic consequences of the cycles of weather. Today I am thankful to have escaped hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, and fires that have ravaged other parts of the worlds. Here in the Midwest we have been in a perpetual drought but have not experienced anything life threatening. But no matter where we reside we are aware that in the past several years we have experienced more dramatic weather in a smaller time frame than ever in history. This is alarming. I understand that our earth functions in cycles, but seriously, this is major. Climate is drastically changing and we are all going to have to deal with the consequences.

Being a gardener I understand that this affects our food production. The drought is undoubtedly causing a rise in food costs. It is changing the growing seasons. It's November and the past several weeks I've barely worn a jacket. I'm thankful for the nice 70 degree weather that allows me to be outside comfortably, but I know that this is not normal.

A few observations that make me ponder:
Today while planting garlic with a friend on this 70 degree day we noticed cilantro and lettuce growing beautifully in the raised beds. There are still so many trees in this city that are displaying gorgeous colors of leaves. While it's great that there is beauty to observe, these leaves should be long gone by now. However, with no rain and warm days they are staying on the trees.

What does this mean for us? It means there are going to be a lot of changes for us in the near future. Food prices are rising for one. I really believe that we are going to have to figure out drastically different methods of food production, because what we are relying on now simply won't work without water and with increased temperatures.

What do you think about these crazy weather patterns? Could they be an indicator of the end of our time on earth as we know it?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beautiful, Delicious, and Brutal

The blessings of this weekend were many. Saturday morning I arose to a gorgeous sunrise. Simply amazing to take in and so incredibly time sensitive. I caught a glimpse of the sky, ran around trying to find my camera taking apparatus, ran outside and it had already changed colors. I got this picture, went inside, put my camera away, and looked back out the window and it was completely different. God is so creative. 

I finally got some bubbly kombucha!

Breakfast delight: crusty bread, pesto, liverwurst,
farm fresh egg, & tomato!
I was having a fabulous morning drinking my bubbly kombucha, eating amazing breakfast sandwiches and doing some baking. Then I decided to make it outside to do the chores and realized that we have another issue with chickens being massacred. Except this time, it's not the whole flock all at once. This weekend both mornings I noticed just one dead chicken carcass in the pen. It appears that the deaths are happening in the early morning time, because when I get to them, the bodies are still pretty warm. This varmit is also leaving the carcass versus the massacres we've had in the past, they just take everything. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm thinking possibly a hawk? Just because the most of the carcass is still there and it's only getting one at a time. Any thoughts friends? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Adventure with Liverwurst

I've always known that liver was good for me. However, when Mom used to cook it growing up as one of my father's favorite meals, my sister and I would turn our noses up. Pretty sure we refused to eat the liver and onions delicacy that she would occasionally cook. Now I understand the nutritional powerhouse that liver is and wish that I consumed it more often. Okay wish that I consumed it ever. Yesterday as I was browsing the freezer I managed to catch a glimpse of a package of liverwurst. Liverwurst contents: liver, pork, salt, pepper, onion and garlic. Sounds pretty legit to me. I'm sure it was more legit when it was purchased and put into the freezer back in the year 2005!!! Seriously, things get lost in that freezer and I decided that surely nobody was going to miss this delicacy if I busted it out now. I figured the worst thing that could happen to me would be my liverwurst tasting like freezer. 

The large block of liverwurst looked far from appetizing and because I had no idea how it is traditionally prepared I decided to go with a little breading and frying action. I sliced off a chunk, dipped it in egg and then into a little coconut flour/spice mixture. Into a frying pan of coconut oil went my creation. It got nice a browned pretty quickly and I also realized that the consistency of this liverwurst is pretty tender and soft.

I topped my fried liverwurst with some of my homemade chili sauce. It was pretty tasty I might say and didn't taste like the freezer! Not the gross liver smell and taste that I remember from childhood. I made a great stir fry of bell peppers, kale, tomatoes and eggs to go with. It was a fabulous brunch and kept me well satisfied for the day. I can just feel my iron escalating. 

This just in. I decided to Google search liverwurst. Apparently, it is traditionally eaten cold or room temperature on sandwiches or as a spread on crackers. Woah. Not so sure I want to try that, but maybe I'll get brave and try that tomorrow with the rest of my liverwurst loaf. It is described as being nature's multivitamin. I know you're all running out to get your own now! Don't think twice, do it!