a good harvest
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« April 2013 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Education and Values
Harvest Hills Farm activity
Home Environment
Nutrition and food safety
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup
Topic: Recipes

Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup




Over the past two weeks, eight new calves have been born. The weather has turned from rainy to nearly Summer-like and I have the strong desire to plant in the garden. It's no wonder since the increased hours of sunlight and balmy breezes have that effect on you.


But even the ubiquitous mint is still asleep. Only the tiniest of little mint leaves are starting to protrude (I went out to check yesterday). And I have been burned by thinking, “this is an early Spring, maybe I should plant early this year”--only to find frost at the end of May and replanting of vegetables a second time.


It's better to stick to the rules for one's Zone and not try to mess with Mother Nature.


Looking on the bright side—here's an exotic recipe that uses root vegetables and legumes—foods you probably have around the house right now. And, it adds some exotic spices and seasonings which you may have to run out for—but won't regret having around the house for future recipes.


The original recipe “Moroccan Chickpea Soup” comes from Mary Karlin, author of "Artisan Cheese Making at Home"—a book I recommend you adventurous cooks might want to check out.

I emphasize "Chickpea and Lentils" in my title because the green (or brown) whole lentils are just as important a legume in this soup. I also made a few taste adjustments. Feel free to modify the recipe to accommodate your preferences, too. The reason the recipe is in a book about cheese-making is because the author suggests to add a dollop of yogurt cheese when serving. This can be eliminated, however with no change in the richness of the soup.


I made my own vegetable stock by cooking 1 small potato, 3 medium carrots, 1 onion, 3 stalks of celery—all scrubbed, then chopped –cooked in 8 cups of filtered water about 30-40 minutes until the stock is golden. I then drained the vegetables to yield the stock. I did not add any other seasonings or salt because I intended to adjust seasonings in the soup itself. The cooled vegetables went to the chickens as a treat.



Homemade Vegetable Stock



Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup


1 onion, chopped

2 large carrots, diced


Saute together in 3 tbsp olive oil in a Dutch Oven- cook until onions are soft, translucent.



1 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp cane sugar

2 (14.5 oz) cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and the juice

8 cups of vegetable stock


Bring this to a boil, then cut back the heat to simmer.



2 cans (15 oz) rinsed and drained chickpeas

¾ cup dried whole lentils, either brown or green


Cook at a simmer until the lentils are al dente about 25 minutes.


Add the following spices:


1 tsp dried mint leaves ( or some baby mint leaves chopped !)

1 tsp toasted cumin seeds (I toast these in a small frying pan for a few minutes)

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp tumeric


Note: you may want to prep your spices and measure in a small bowl, adding to the soup together. Here's a photo of the spices in a bowl before adding to the soup:


Cover the soup and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Then add :

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves. Adjust seasonings and salt as desired.


At this point, you can serve it—the author suggests offering Harissa, a garlic and hot pepper seasoned sauce—OR, since I will be taking this soup to a group—I elected to add ½ tsp of dried hot chili powder directly to the whole pot of soup and that gave it just enough kick—Your choice here.





Posted by Karen at 09:55 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 April 2013 09:58 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Sunday, 21 April 2013
Lemons Part 2--The Juice!
Topic: Education and Values

Lemons- Part 2

The Juice

So, now that I have zest peelings incubating with vodka and lemon oil extracted from others, I can work the juice extracted from about 50 lemons, yielding this half gallon of juice and pulp. Because I used a juicer on seeded, peeled lemons, I have some residue pulp and stuff which can easily be skimmed off or run through a strainer.


Then I have wonderful, healthy, truly organic and fresh lemon juice.

Must try a classic lemonade first. In fact, I have been craving a glass of lemonade since I woke up this morning. And you know the kitchen wisdom that says —if your body craves a particular food, it must need one of its components.



This tall glass of lemonade is made from 2 ozs. Fresh lemon juice, and 8 ozs. of pure and chemical free-water. Add your choice of natural sweetener (pure cane sugar, honey, Stevia extract, agave nectar, etc)

Proportions again are 1 part lemon juice to 4 parts water. Add in sweetener to taste.

Remember drinking my glass of lemonade above is equivalent to eating 1&1/2 lemons. I must have needed the natural vitamin C, citrus bioflavinoids, potassium and calcium that lemons have or, maybe just hydration--

Of course, last night I needed to make a Classic Lemon Meringue Pie.


I used the Fannie Farmer Cookbook recipe since I was feeling very “retro” having just worked with all that zest. But, mind you, I hadn't made anything meringue in maybe 2 -plus decades. So, I consulted the book, put the meringue on the pie and placed it under the broiler as directed. I turned the broiler on “high” and, following the directions, intended to wait for 3 minutes.

I peeked at one minute and, thank God! My meringue had just ignited and was a flaming marshmallow surface


I quickly put out the fire—only a few moments' worth of blaring smoke alarms and no witnesses.

Then, I peeled off the black skin (just like when you ignite marshmallows on a stick over a fire). I still had sufficient meringue to send the pie back under the broiler, now on “low” and several inches below the heat source. It was ready in about 45 seconds.

You know what happened, right? My double oven is electric—the last time I made meringue it was under a gas broiler whose flames were no where near as hot as the high setting on an electric one.

Moving on...

Two other great ideas for lemon juice are in marinades and salads.


Mix equal parts of olive oil with lemon juice. Whisk until emulsified and add whatever seasonings your heart desires.



Example—the marinade for Chicken Oreganato ( or Greek chicken) has dried oregano, fresh garlic and chopped onions added to the lemon juice-olive oil mixture. The chicken is then grilled.

The strip steaks from last night's dinner were marinated in lemon juice and olive oil in proportions as above, but I added fresh garlic and some Italian blend mixed seasonings.


The possibilities are endless for seasoning combinations. Use your imagination.


Mix lemon juice and olive oil in either equal parts OR 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil, according to your acidity preference in your final product. Whisk briskly! Add spices and seasonings according to your final product, salt and pepper, whisk again. Pour over your vegetables and toss forty times (never forget that rule ) so that your lemon juice-olive oil dressing is completely distributed (from the French—fatigue le salad).

Here is where true creativity really stands out—you need to use your resources and adapt according to local food availability and don't be afraid of trying the truly old grains and legumes in your final salad. Definitely, think beyond lettuce greens alone (although, no question here that chopped kale, spinach, and broccoli love lemon juice-olive oil dressings)!

We are going to a party later today. So I wanted to throw together a light, salad-y lunch for us. I made some bulgar wheat, added rinsed chickpeas, drained chopped tomatoes, my equal parts lemon juice and olive oil with garlic powder, lots of parsley and cilantro—whisked and then tossed.  Rice, quinoa, pasta noodles, beans and lentils--all LOVE a lemon juice and olive oil based dressing.


Another salad that I love to make is Cannellini Bean Salad (White kidney beans). It really goes well with grilled meats in the summer. This salad with its lemon juice and olive oil based dressing, has chopped celery, carrots, green onion in addition to the rinsed and drained cannellini beans and the seasoning besides salt and pepper is...dried dillweed--whisk into the lemon juice and olive oil mixture and toss into your vegetables 40 times. 

You can see that lemon juice and olive oil based salads, because of their high acidity, are among the safest foods for picnicking and al fresco dining. But always try to remember the food safety principle: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold—as much as possible.

And enjoy that lemon juice!

Posted by Karen at 15:36 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Lemons--Start with ZEST
Topic: Education and Values

Lemons- Part One

Working with ZEST


You know the saying—when life hands you lemons, make lemonade--


But think again—and start with the zest first. You'll get to the juice soon enough (in Part Two).


My very “organic” friend in California, Betty Cahill (delishytown.tumblr.com), sent me this huge box of organic lemons this week. She's an avid organic gardener and garden designer, sustainable ag aficionado, cook, creator of multiple products, etc—and she knew I'd appreciate the gift.




The sheer volume of these beautiful lemons allows me to try some projects I had been thinking about. Let's start with lemon zest in this post.


Lemon oil, extracted from the zest is a very interesting product. It's a beautiful fragrance enhancer, useful in aromatherapy, candle, soap making, potpourri and diffuser fragrances, facial scrubs and shampoos, combined with oil soap as a leather cleaner and softener and furniture cleaner , and further diluted useful as a wood and laminate floor cleaner. It's a natural insecticide. And diluted in a spray bottle, can be used to disinfect countertops.


Pure lemon oil, commercially extracted requires 100 +lemons to create 1 oz. of pure lemon oil. But you can extract lemon oil from peeled zest directly into olive oil and have a very concentrated lemon oil-in -olive oil final product, very intense, that can be substituted into any recipe calling for lemon oil. And you'll only use about 10-12 lemons and 1 cup of olive oil to yield 8 oz. of final product.


Please note: lemon oil is very potent and the small portions called for in recipes should be respected.


Here's a 6 hour extraction process using a mini-crockpot, 1 cup of pure extra-virgin olive oil and the zest peelings of 10-12 lemons, basically one cup of zest peelings.


Measure 1 cup of peelings, place in the mini crockpot and cover with olive oil. In the mini crockpot, it will totally cover the peelings.





Turn on the crockpot (the mini is a low setting) and cover, allowing to cook for 6 hours.


Line a colander with cheesecloth or pour over a large strainer into a bowl, capturing the oil in the bowl. Discard the peels. Transfer the oil into a glass oil bottle, storing in the pantry or cupboard out of direct sunlight. Your one cup yield will last for many, many potpourri refreshenings, fragrance projects, and cleaning/disinfecting activities.




But, maybe you'd like a totally different approach to zest.


Here's my second project from zest—and one that my friends will appreciate because I intend to bottle this up as little gifts.


Have you ever had Limoncello ???


Limoncello is a liqueur, inspired by the lemon groves of southern Italy. It's usually served as chilled “shots” in really cute little lemon colored glasses. But it's also great as an appertif over ice or mixed with tonic or seltzer or maybe an icy Limoncello-martini? —a summertime treat...


Here's an easy recipe with the proportions that can be adapted to the amount of lemons you have, and how much you want to end up with—especially note if you are thinking about giving this as a gift to friends.


I was lucky to have lots of lemons still left after the oil extraction above—so consequently, I will have lots of Limoncello to share.


First, peel the zest part of the lemons—this means minimizing the white—and place into a measure-able container . You will add 2 times as much good quality, unflavored vodka to the container.




The basic recipe I'm using calls for 10 lemons, 1 liter vodka—so if you're starting from scratch, you can us this starting point for proportions. (It's from allrecipes.com and got 4.5 stars.)


So, I had close to 2 liters of zest peelings and I am adding 2 (1.75 L vodka) or 3.5 total liters.


Cover and put in your pantry for 1 week. Nothing will grow in it—it's all alcohol.


(BTW- this wonderful, food grade Rubbermaid container with cover was purchased at Sam's Club. I don't mind referencing Sam's Club because I have purchased some of my best cooking utensils and tools --Restaurant quality and sized-- at very reasonable prices. )


One week later...


Boil together—3 cups of pure cane sugar and 4 cups of water. Boil 15 minutes and it'll be syrup-y. Let it cool.


(because of my volume, I will have to increase the amounts by 3.5 times, right?)



Stir the strained lemon-infused vodka into the cooled syrup. You can now bottle it into sanitized glass bottles and cork it, or into sterilized canning jars and seal them. The liqueur should further age for 2 weeks at room temperature. Then it can be refrigerated and served chilled.

I promise photos in a couple of weeks of the final limoncello--


Meanwhile I am off to test my lemon oil and water in a spray bottle around a barn office door to see if the box elder bugs will avoid it !  And, I admit that I did make a shampoo with lemon oil that I have to try later today (lemon oil is great for blondes, but avoid in brunettes)


And, of course--I still have about 50 lemons to juice in the refrigerator!!!



Posted by Karen at 11:01 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 April 2013 19:03 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Thursday, 11 April 2013
Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese--Part 2
Topic: Education and Values

Making Yogurt Part 2

I have some more additions and caveats about making yogurt at home.


You can maintain a warmer temperature for incubating yogurt, if you put your incubating yogurt in the oven and simply turn on the oven light. It will bring the temperature up, but not too high, as would occur with turning the oven on. You must keep temperature warm but under 112 degrees.


Try to find real milk. By law, milk must be pasteurized—but it does not need to be homogenized, which transforms the essential properties. And NEVER use ultra-pasteurized for yogurt or cheese.

Here is what non-homogenized, not-ultra-pasteurized, natural (but pasteurized) milk looks like when it's transformed into yogurt. See the beads of cream? This batch of yogurt is made from grass-fed dairy cattle milk and is higher in conjugated linoleic acid—a healthy fatty acid!




If you are stuck with pasteurized, homogenized milk—then you must add some rennet to create your yogurt. Add 2 drops (yep, that's right)2 drops of liquid rennet dissolved in a couple tablespoons of filtered water for every quart of milk. You can buy rennet on the net (my source was over Amazon). An ounce or two will last a lifetime (really).

Here's a photo of yogurt cheese made from homogenized milk.


I first made yogurt. Then put it in a muslin-lined colander, in a stainless steel bowl, in the refrigerator overnight.





Whey--yogurt --and-- yogurt cheese

Reserve that whey for another cooking project. (I'm going to make my carrot soup recipe for a sick friend and add the whey.) Refrigerate.

The lovely, creamy yogurt cheese is the consistency of a spreadable dip or soft cream cheese. You can add kosher salt and dried herbs stirred in—or try dried fruits and roasted, chopped nuts and seeds-- and spread on warm toasted English muffins or crispy crackers? If I can get through the swampy, rain-soaked side yard to my garden, I will harvest some mint and wouldn't that be nice in this yogurt cheese???

Posted by Karen at 20:00 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Saturday, 6 April 2013
Make your own Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese
Topic: Education and Values

Making your own Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese


My project today is to make a batch of yogurt. I'm using a package of freeze-dried Yogurt starter culture blend, but you can use plain yogurt with live, active cultures for your starter cultures also.

You'll need:











Now, for the instructions.


  1. Calibrate your thermometer in ice water.  (Mix ice cubes with water in a measuring cup. Adjust the thermometer so it reads 32 degrees when placed in the ice water bath. There is a twist-able screw under the display. You should do this with your thermometer before any cooking project. Adjustable thermometers for cooking are readily available in any store—look for the NSF label).

  2. Clean and sanitize your equipment.

  3. Slowly heat milk on a low heat, using a whisk to gently keep milk heating evenly. This will take several minutes.

  4. Heat until the temperature measures 116 degrees.

  5. Turn off the heat and remove from burner.

  6. Slowly stir in the starter yogurt (or sprinkle on the granules). Allow to rest about 3-4 minutes if using granules, then stir in.

  7. Transfer to a warm, nonreactive container for the yogurt cultures to grow.

  8. Cover and place in a warm part of your kitchen for at least 8 hours—up to 12 hours if you have a larger volume of milk.

  9. Drain completed yogurt into a muslin lined colander over a bowl to collect the whey. Allow to drain about 20-30 minutes.

  10. Ladle the yogurt into separate containers and refrigerate.

  11. Reserve the whey in a glass jar for separate cooking projects, or freeze, or discard.

  12. Make sure you reserve some of your prepared yogurt to keep as a starter for your next batch. You may want to store this in a smaller jar in the refrigerator so it doesn't get contaminated (or eaten!).



If you want to make yogurt cheese from your homemade yogurt...


The curd is now Yogurt Cheese and can be used as a soft cheese spread, adding herbs or chopped dried fruit, as desired. Keep refrigerated.

Posted by Karen at 14:57 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 6 April 2013 14:59 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Sunday, 31 March 2013
Happy Easter 2013

Happy Easter to All!

It's been hectic, getting ready for these last few days from Holy Thursday through this morning, Easter Sunday itself. I didn't think I'd have time to post anything this week.

I've spent alot of time in choir, between practicing at home and performing in our many Holy Week services. But, it's been a very rewarding time as well...many new friendships, beautiful music to sing and beautiful people to sing them with. Art seems to be a perfect catalyst for renewing faith.

So, I surprised even myself when I took a moment to walk out onto the front porch at the farm and watch the sun rise.

My view is below...the clouds in the west and north, the sunrise on the east landing on the dormant grasses in the front lawn--where, if you look close enough, you can see the beginnings of green.

Everything I see in front of me-- the gray and brown images of plants and trees, beaten down by the Winter--are now ready to awaken in the annual rebirth of Spring.

What a glorious metaphor for Easter and how lucky we are to witness this miracle of Nature every year...a reminder that we too can be re-born.

Happy Easter!


Posted by Karen at 13:08 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Friday, 22 March 2013
Carrot Soup
Topic: Recipes

Pureed Carrot Soup

You might think my inspiration for today is the upcoming Easter holiday and Easter bunnies...


Or even, a reminder to grow root vegetables in your garden this year...

But, it's not...

I have a cold that I want to go away immediately and thought some natural sources of vitamins may help my immune system knock it out.

So, here's my solution, freshly made, “souper” tasty Pureed Carrot Soup which comes together with little effort. And, if you agree, everything should be in your house to make this now.

Carrot Soup

4 servings

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small stalk of celery, chopped finely

Saute above in 2 tbsp. Olive oil in a heavy soup pot, until cooked through.

Add 1” peeled and minced ginger root, heat through.

Add 6 large carrots, cleaned, peeled and cut into large chunks (they will be pureed when cooked)

Toss carrots in the olive oil mixture until coated.

Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup of orange juice.

Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp of freeze-dried parsley OR cilantro, and ½ tsp red pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil, cut back the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until the carrots are fork-tender, Add back some water if you lost volume during the cooking time.

Cooking--before you puree the soup.

Remove from heat and use the immersion blender directly in the pot and puree the contents.


Serve warm!

Posted by Karen at 11:11 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Corned Beef and Cabbage--
Topic: Recipes

It will be St. Patrick's Day tomorrow--

If you've never done it before- tomorrow is the best day to make a corned beef and cabbage dinner.


Even if you think you have no cooking skills...YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Start with 1 corned beef brisket, 4-5 large carrots, 1 large onion, and a small head of cabbage. (potatoes can go in with the corned beef or served as mashed potatoes or omitted are your option).

 In a baking pan, put the brisket, cut up(cleaned) carrots, and chopped onion as shown in photo.

Add chopped fresh garlic and some basil and coarsely ground pepper over the top of the brisket.

Place 2 bay leaves along side the brisket with the carrots and onion. (As always with bay leaves, must be removed before serving.)

 Add water to half way up the brisket and cover with aluminum foil which you will crimp tightly around the edge of the pan.


Bake it at 325 degrees for at least 4 hours.

In the last half hour, cook your cabbage.

Chop one head of cleaned cabbage (discarding the core) coarsely. Place in a large skillet (see photo) and cover with water. Cook about 30 minutes until limp.

Drain off the water (but leave a little moisture in). Add butter, salt and pepper to taste to the hot cabbage.


Arrange on a pretty platter to serve. Offer Dijon Mustard, horseradish as condiments. Maybe add a little mashed potatoes with lots of parsley? And that Irish beer bread and Guiness???


Posted by Karen at 20:15 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 16 March 2013 20:36 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Irish Beer Bread (for St. Patrick's Day)


Irish Beer Bread

The date is nearly upon us...St. Patrick's Day!

You will likely cook and eat some favorite recipes that are inspired by the Irish saint's feast day.

Certainly all of us become a “little” Irish on March 17th and the enthusiasm for a Guinness and a bowl of Irish stew strikes.

Or maybe it's corned beef and cabbage or Shepherd's pie at your house.

Whatever your choice—here's an impossibly quick homemade bread recipe for you to bake . It matches up with anything you're serving

And I know, we all so rarely eat concentrated carbs anymore that this makes it an extra indulgence we can permit ourselves only on special occasions like “St. Patrick's Day.”

The following recipe makes 1 standard loaf. But another thought is to divide the bread into mini-loaves and give away some so your indulgence is constrained. That's what I've decided to do.

I am posting early so that you can be sure to look for Bread flour to have on hand. A wheat and barley combination is readily available as General Mills Better for Bread flour. Or --plan to stir in some whole wheat flour or even rye flour rather than using all white flour for more character .

Now look how easy this is:

Irish Beer Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prep a standard loaf pan or a tray for 8 mini-loaves with spray oil or shortening.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

3 cups of bread flour

1/3 cup honey (warm in microwave so it is pourable )

One 12oz bottle of dark beer (Guinness stout sounds good)


Mix the above 3 ingredients together, then put the batter into the prepped pans. If making mini loaves, divide dough evenly. Once in the loaf pans, gently press and distribute into the basic loaf shape because this thick dough needs a little nudge.

Optional rustic topping with a few flakes of rolled oats.

Before baking—in the mini-loaf pan.



Bake until browned and springs back when pressed.

During baking, not quite brown enough.


Bake about 30-35 minutes for mini-loaves, 55-60 minutes for a standard loaf.

Cool about 10 minutes. Then, using a butter knife or thin spatula, lift the firm loaf out of the pans. Should come out easily.


Ready to eat—pass the butter please.

Posted by Karen at 12:26 CDT
Share This Post Share This Post
Thursday, 7 March 2013
Cuban-ispired Pork Stew (in the crockpot)
Topic: Recipes

Cuban-inspired Pork Stew

I love to cook in the crockpot but admittedly, one can get tired of beef stew and chili. So, I always look for ways to take the flavors of different cuisines and re-invent them into a recipe that will work in the crockpot.

I also find myself looking for ways to utilize leftovers, especially when I've cooked a roast and I have half a roast leftover.

The recipe I'm including today meets both criteria—Cuban-inspired Pork Stew.

It's something different and you can make it from leftover pork roast OR fresh pork. The only difference is: cook time is 4 hours on “low” if using already cooked pork, and 8 hours on “low” if using uncooked pork.

It's spicy. Serve with some high-fiber tortillas, plus/minus a dollop of sour cream and a fresh green salad on the side.


Cuban Inspired Pork Stew

1 & ½ lbs. Pork, cut into chunky cubes (see note above)

1 can diced organic tomatoes with the juice

1 can chopped mild green chilies

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

Prep crockpot with spray-oil or a crockpot liner.

Combine above ingredients together in the crockpot.

Combine the following seasonings together in a small bowl, then stir into the pork mixture:

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Dried cilantro leaves

½ tsp (adjust to your taste) hot chili powder or cayenne pepper

1 tsp (adjust to your taste) salt

Cook on Low—4 hours if using cooked pork, 8-10 hours if using uncooked pork.



Posted by Karen at 12:55 CST
Share This Post Share This Post

Newer | Latest | Older