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Education and Values
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Saturday, 19 April 2014
From Antarctica to Ireland in a week!
Topic: Harvest Hills Farm activity

Happy Easter and Happy Spring to Everyone!

 It's amazing how quickly one week of Spring weather can turn "tundra" into greenery--I know there's much more coming, but I thought I'd shoot a few scenes around the Farm to give you an idea about it's annual renewal. 













There are plenty of goldfinches around the backyard...













 And rooster with hens in the barnyard! 














A barn interior ready for Spring! 














Lots of loafing cattle (we're still feeding hay of course, but who can resist an afternoon nap in greening pastures....)













or under some pine trees?













Zoey, our llama, seems up for a photo op!













 The Shepherds love their 'Gator rounds of the Farm














Especially when there are some surprises...


Again, the neighbor's Charolais bull invaded my herd for a one night stand... 

 But he is a cutie...Happy Spring!

Posted by Karen at 15:52 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 19 April 2014 16:03 CDT
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Thursday, 17 April 2014
Almond Pound Cakes for Adult Easter treats!

Easter is just around the corner...

If you're lucky, your refrigerator is packed with many of these...


Which means you'll be looking for a recipe that uses a lot of fresh eggs, right?

How about a spin on the old tradition of treating the children in your life with sweets and make some Easter treats for the adults by baking a batch of "Mini Loaves of Almond Pound Cake" ?

These delightfully rich mini loaves are terrific with a mug of tea, and I'm sure your friends will be surprised to get a couple of these dropped on their front porch--maybe with a couple of chocolate eggs tucked in too!


 Mini Almond Pound Cakes

(makes 1 tray of 8 mini loaves)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grind 1 cup of whole or sliced almonds in a mini food processor in divided batches to make 1 cup of finely ground almonds for almond “flour.” You can pre-toast the almonds before grinding for more flavor.

Spray-prep the mini loaf pan (tray with 8 loaf slots) with canola spray AND flour it, or cut parchment paper to line the botttoms.


½ pound (2 sticks) of butter

1 cup pure cane sugar

5 fresh eggs

1 cup of flour, mixed with 1 tsp baking powder

1 cup of almond “flour” (see above)

pinch of salt

1 tsp almond extract

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in flours, salt, and almond extract.

Divide batter between the 8 loaf sections in the tray.

Bake for about 30 minutes until cakes are done, spring back when touched, and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to rest 5 minutes in the pan before turning onto a rack for cooling.



Posted by Karen at 11:27 CDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014 11:28 CDT
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Sunday, 13 April 2014
More Umami
Topic: Education and Values

More Umami

I've kept up the quest for umami this past week, fascinated that my palate is so geared for this “taste.” Umami is supposedly linked to the amino acid glutamate. At least that's a common protein that's identified by scientists in foods that are frequently cited as having this “taste” .

Common foods or seasonings containing this are meats and seafood, soy sauce (and thus many things containing soy sauce like Worcestershire sauce or blends and marinades), mushrooms, anchovies, ripe cheeses.

According to the UMAMI INFORMATION CENTER (visit their website www.umamiinfo.com for much more information!):

What exactly is umami? Taking its name from Japanese, umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don't recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.

So, I've included a couple more recipes that I've made this week that are “heavily” representative of “Umami”:




Swiss Cheese,Mushroom, Onion and Bacon Quiche 

Saute together in 2 Tbsp olive oil: 1 chopped yellow onion, cook until translucent, add 8 oz. chopped portabello mushrooms and cook until tender.Add about 1 tsp. herbs de Provence mixture, salt and pepper.

Separately, fry or microwave 4-6 pieces of bacon until crisp, throughly drain in between paper towels, allow to cool and then crumble. (Note: the bacon can be optional in this quiche.)

Fill a deep dish, unbaked 9” pie crust with the following:

6 oz. chopped Swiss cheese

Add the mushroom-onion and herb mixture. Add the bacon pieces. 

Whisk 4 fresh eggs together in a Pyrex measuring cup, adding sufficient milk or cream to yield a total volume of 1 and1/2 cups of egg-milk mixture. Pour into the pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until fully cooked and set.

Then there's this pre-season, umami-ladened magic on the indirect grill.





Marinated Pork Tenderloin (with UMAMI inspired marinade)

For the marinade: Combine ½ cup smoky tomato barbeque sauce (prepared or your own), add 2 Tbsp. Soy sauce and 4 large chopped garlic cloves. Coat all surfaces of of the pork tenderloin (large pork tenderloin may be cut in half to fit on the grill)- allow to marinade in the refrigerator for an hour or more)

Prep your Kettle grill for indirect cooking according to manufacturer's instructions (This entails pre-starting charcoal briquets, then piling them on opposite sides of the lower grate, your grill surface placed above the briquets. The food will be cooked with the lid on, placed in the middle of the cooking surface. Heat circulates around the meat.)

May you enjoy your Umami  adventures! 

Posted by Karen at 16:46 CDT
Updated: Monday, 14 April 2014 06:49 CDT
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Friday, 4 April 2014
Mushroom Bisque--
Topic: Education and Values

Umami /uːˈmɑːmi/, a savory taste,[1][2][3] is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetsourbitter and salty).

loanword from the Japanese (うま味?), umami can be translated as "pleasant savory taste".[4] This particular writing was chosen by Professor Kikunae Ikeda from umai (うまい) "delicious" and mi (味) "taste". The kanji æ—¨å‘³ are used for a more general sense of a food as delicious.


The above is from Wikipedia and expresses exactly what my taste buds were after this afternoon! 

It's chilly, windy, soup-y kind of Lenten Friday--yes, I'm making fish for dinner, but what I really sought was a healthy MUSHROOM BISQUE

So, here it is:

Mushroom BISQUE

In a soup pot combine the following:

4 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 small carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

Cook together until the vegetables are soft, the onion, carmelized.

Add 1 lb. Portabello (or your choice) sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Toss together and cook through.

Add 3 cups of water, 1 Tbsp. dried parsley (or equivalent fresh)

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, cook 10 minutes.

Now, puree with the immersion blender.




Here are your final options to add after pureeing: 

Add 1 cup sour cream.

OR--add 1 additional cup of water

OR--add  3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sherry wine

I added the sour cream. In any case, any  option will still give you a very rich, delicious appetizer soup. Serving size as shown is 6 oz.  














Posted by Karen at 17:00 CDT
Updated: Friday, 4 April 2014 17:30 CDT
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Friday, 28 March 2014
Frozen Banana "Ice Cream" ?
Topic: Education and Values

I was talking to my sister about our niece who has "way too many" food allergies, since birth.

It just doesn't seem fair. While we were discussing her limitations, which include dairy allergy, Chris went "googling" and found an interesting recipe.

This comes from "One Ingredient Chef" for an iced dessert made from one ingredient: the (frozen) banana. 

Of course we had to try it and add a couple of items to make it "ours" and you, of course, will need to try it once you've read this and will have to doctor it to make it your own as well. (Thank you, One Ingredient Chef for the original plan!) 


  1. Allow 1 fully ripened banana per serving size.
  2. Cut desired number of bananas into 1 inch pieces and freeze overnight until really hard.
  3. Process by pulsing,  frozen banana pieces in a food processor until it looks like this:



Add a a few drops of vanilla (we used about a tsp for 5 bananas).

4. Add (and "pulse" a few times) any desired small pieces of chocolate candy, a couple of maraschino cherries and other flavorings (or not, as desired!)

5. Roll each serving into a ball, with your palms or between two spoons or in a scooper--work quickly as they get gummy in warm palms.

6 .Store servings in a covered container in the freezer.

7. You can even roll the balls into chopped nuts or coconut flakes or --use your imagination!


Here's our final product! Wait'll you taste it--honestly, like ice cream except non-dairy--all fruit with a little personal addition. (I'm wondering if this would work with other fruits, like peaches--might try it this Summer).









Posted by Karen at 16:45 CDT
Updated: Friday, 28 March 2014 21:26 CDT
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Saturday, 22 March 2014
Corned Beef Hash from St. Paddy's Day leftovers!
Topic: Recipes

I am such a lucky girl--my sister Chris is visiting and loves to cook--

and I had leftovers from a traditional St. Patrick's Day boiled dinner--

you know, corned beef, poataoes, carrots, cabbage... 

So, look what Chris cooked up!

And--here's the recipe!


 Corned Beef Hash

Requires about 1 lb. of leftover corned beef , leftover carrots and cabbage!

Start with the following non-leftovers:

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced

1/2 onion, chopped

Sauté the above

Chop the following leftovers from St. Patrick's Day:

the leftover corned beef (about 1 lb), carrots (1), cabbage (1/3) and add to pan.

(Note: adding potato is traditional BUT we're keeping this lower carb, too!)

Cook on medium high 10- 15 min.  

Add some additional pepper, fresh chopped parsley & salt lightly.



And ...don't you just LOVE this closeup? 





Posted by Karen at 12:11 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 22 March 2014 12:12 CDT
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Thursday, 20 March 2014
A Veggie Dinner from leftovers?
Topic: Recipes

A Veggie Dinner from leftovers?

Why not? Tonight I had no time, but I had a leftover sweet potato and some baked beans. I also had a frozen package of Amy's vegetarian enchiladas, a nice pre-made-for-one main course.



Of course, if you're not eating “solo” then you really should create your own “Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas” which can be done with no difficulty at all.

All you'll need is some corn (or other whole grain) tortillas, a can of enchilada sauce, and some veggies to oven-roast.

Roasted Vegetables for Enchiladas

Parchment paper to line a baking pan.

Assorted vegetables, fresh or frozen, cut into diced-sized pieces. Suggest: corn kernels, zucchini, onions, bell pepper-any color, potato, eggplant, canned—rinsed and drained—beans,

Put diced vegetables into a mixing bowl. Toss veggies with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a few cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper—until coated.

Spread vegetables on the parchment lined pan and roast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until cooked.

Remove veggies back to mixing bowl. Mix vegetables with ½ can of enchilada sauce.

On an open tortilla, place about 2 Tbsp of the vegetable mixture.

Roll the tortilla. Place in a fresh baking pan.

Cover rolled enchiladas with the remaining ½ can of enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through.


Sprinkle with your choice of shredded mexican cheese blend. Add sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Add sides—baked sweet potato, plantains, refried beans, baked beans—maybe some cooked greens or cole slaw or green salad--and similar, are all great ideas.

Posted by Karen at 17:59 CDT
Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2014 18:11 CDT
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Saturday, 15 March 2014
Vegetable Lasagne
Topic: Recipes

I am still craving vegetables and so happy to remember my home-canned foods from last Summer that remain "garden-fresh".

I've been drinking the wonderful Tomato juice cocktail (my piano teacher's recipe that's in past blogs). Last night, I made Vegetable Lasagne and used a quart of my homemade marinara sauce (that recipe is also in past blogs.)

Here's the recipe for Vegetable Lasagne!


Vegetable Lasagne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray prep baking dish.

6 lasagne noodles, cooked

8 oz. shredded Italian blend cheeses

Shredded Parmesan cheese, 2-3 Tbsp.

Saute the following together, until cooked, in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil:

2 carrots chopped, 1 small onion chopped, 4 oz. portabello mushrooms, chopped.

Add 2 oz. chopped black olives.

Open 1 quart of marinara sauce (hopefully your homemade marinara sauce!), pour about ¾ cup sauce on bottom of lasagne pan, then add remaining marina sauce to above vegetables and mix in. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl combine:

10 oz. chopped fresh spinach, which has been sauteed in 2 Tbsp. Olive oil, with 4 large cloves of chopped garlic and a couple sprinkles of nutmeg

2 eggs

15 oz. Ricotta cheese

1/2 tsp salt , 1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes

Assemble lasagne as follows:

Layer ¾ cup of plain marinara sauce on bottom of pan (see above).

Layer 3 lasagne noodles.

Layer ½ of Ricotta cheese mixture.

Layer 4 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese.

Layer 1/2 marinara-vegetable mixture.

Layer. 3 lasagne noodles.

Layer remaining ½ of Ricotta cheese mixture.

Layer 4 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese.

Layer remaining 1/2 of marinara-vegetable mixture.

Sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp. Shredded Parmesan.




Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes until set. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. 



Posted by Karen at 14:01 CDT
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Sunday, 9 March 2014
Staying with Vegetables (Lent you know)
Topic: Education and Values

You'll remember that I am very sensitive to nutrient-dense meal plans right now. My trip to Uganda remains in the foreground of my thinking, I am compiling the journal and will share when it's in a readable state. Right now, it's still an emotional state. I am still  shell-shocked and emotionally connected. 

What I've shared so far is the sad lack of diversity of crops, resulting in vitamin and mineral deficiencies...and resulting in actual deficiency syndromes in the people who are otherwise blessed by their two growing seasons!

Today, I'd like to remind all of us to ...1--remember the Ugandan people in your prayers during Lent and 2-- incorporate healthy options into our diet, especially be reminded of our vegetables during those meat-less days in Lent--


Our dinner last night--what a super Saturday night spread! Marvelous Black Bean burgers with spicy sauce, raw onions and a broccoli slaw, and carrot casserole.

 Here's the recipe for Carrot Casserole:

Carrot Casserole

Peel and chop 2 lbs. of carrots (Give those peelings to your chickens!)

Boil carrots until tender, drain.

Cook separately--1 small onion chopped, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped, in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil, until translucent.

Combine this with the carrots and 1 can of Cheddar cheese  condensed soup (alternatively, you can make 10 oz of cheese sauce),

Prep a baking dish with spray oil  and place carrot mixture in the pan.

In a skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter and saute 1 cup of cornflake crumbs (or bread crumbs.)

Sprinkle crumbs on top of carrot mixture.

Add additional shredded cheese as desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 








Posted by Karen at 14:04 CST
Updated: Sunday, 9 March 2014 14:09 CST
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Saturday, 1 March 2014
Thanksgiving Dinner
Topic: Education and Values

I'm BACK! Time for a Thanksgiving dinner...

 Thanksgiving Dinner

when you realize you're thankful for everything in your life

I just returned from 16 days out of the country, on a humanitarian mission to northern Uganda. Sometimes it takes leaving one place to recognize what you've left behind. You see things better from a distance. I can tell you the trip was life changing for me and I sincerely hope I was helpful to the people I had the privilege of serving. 

I functioned for the first week as a physician, working alongside the Medical Director of St. Luke's Angal Hospital in Nebbi District,northern Uganda.  My work involved seeing patients in their OPD (outpatient department, the emergency and walk-in clinic), the isolation ward and cholera tent and serving as a physician-mentor.

The second week I functioned in my farmer role, teaching nutrition, crop diversification to provide nutrient dense foods, food safety and HACCP methodology. My final lecture to community women addressed their greatest and immediate health threats and nutrition.

I kept a detailed journal and will share stories in future posts. But for today, I simply want to share a reminder that we all need to periodically express thanksgiving for the many blessings we have. I made a Thanksgiving dinner last night and invited friends over to do just that.

The Alur tribe, the group of people we served in this mission, is geographically located about 20% in Uganda and 80% in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were converted to Catholicism by Italian missionaries in the late 1800s, and who have stayed with the community, building their church, school, and hospital. (Interestingly, the tribe since its historical beginning in 850 AD has always been monotheist). Christianity has grounded their ethics and the basic concept of responsibility for one another. This made it easy for me to teach farmers the need for them to be the nutritionists and educate their market to the need for new crops to provide needed nutrients.

The British occupied Uganda and had taught them European farming techniques, so they all knew how to save seeds, amortize soil, do no-till gardening, etc. What they lacked, and I hope was able to provide, was the concept of a nutritionally complete diet from produce, grains, legumes-- (I'll leave the discussion about livestock to future posts.) We also addressed nutritionally vulnerable groups and food safety in detail. They “got it” and I feel confident will implement the suggestions. I was fortunate to have the minister of Agriculture and a NGO official involved in setting up community gardens send 20 trainers to my seminars. The minister of Agriculture has also taken the 120 packets of heirloom seeds and materials to start 600 new nutrient dense plants of various types and will distribute the seedlings to these farmers for the upcoming growing season to try. If they like the products, they know how to save seeds to keep them going.

My point about the Thanksgiving dinner—see how we have diverse food groups in a typical dinner? Good protein source, colorful sides. Especially note those sweet potatoes at the top. The Alur grow sweet potatoes and yams but in a sad, ironic twist, they are white and devoid of beta carotene. Consequently, the population suffers from “preventable blindness” because they have no access to orange produce. Another problem associated with vitamin A deficiency is loss of immune function due to T cell dysfunction—in a population burdened by HIV/AIDS. Needless to say, I concentrated on this nutrient, but also provided information on all essential vitamins and nutrients and what to grow for your community's health.


 For today, let me share this quick recipe for glazed sweet potatoes (though a quick microwave bake with butter, salt and pepper sounds good too!).


Clean and place about 4 lbs. of sweet potatoes in a pot to boil about 15 minutes, tender but still firm.

Discard the water, and peel the skins from the flesh of the potato. The skins should come off easily.

Cut the potatoes into quarters or wedges.

In a large skillet, melt one stick of butter. Add ½ cup of orange juice and ½ cup brown sugar.

Bring to a simmer and add the cut up sweet potatoes, turning to coat and heat through.

Posted by Karen at 10:20 CST
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