Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Salad Dressing.......

I just had to post this one! I am on fire the past two days......maybe it has something to do with me attending the gym regularly this week! Maybe my mind is getting clear from all that new oxygen being pumped into it at 5a.m.! I have decided that I want to try and make more healthy decisions in my life, something I have been thinking about doing for the past few YEARS!!! Yes, years. I have reached a point that I will not get anything accomplished unless I get my behind in gear and just do it, so I have begun. I am sure it all stems from the 100 Mile Challenge, that sense of responsibility that is required to see that task through has begun to trickle into other areas of my life and I am liking it. So, back to the best salad dressing....I had this on a spring mix salad, with toasted pine nuts and cubed Fontina Cheese and is was Divine!

Basil Dressing
5 - Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 - Cup Chopped Basil
2 - Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 - Teaspoon Chopped Garlic
1/4 - Teaspoon Salt
Dash of Pepper

Put all the ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Yummy! Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


This is just a quick post about the best soup I have made! My children devoured it and I thought I would share the recipe with you!

Very Veggie Soup

4 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of water
dash of salt & pepper to taste
2 Sprigs of fresh Dill
2 medium heads of broccoli - cut into florets
1 medium head of cauliflower - cut into florets
2 cups of baby spinach - course chop
2 small turnips - cubed
2 parsnips - cubed
2 medium carrots - cubed
1 celery stalk - chopped
1 medium potato - cubed
1 medium onion - sliced
1 small leak - chopped
1 cup of Israeli Couscous

Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium for 15 - 20 minutes (or until potatoes & carrots are cooked) Add cooked chicken, turkey or sausage if you would like.

I love making this soup when I have a bunch of veggies in my fridge to use up. I serve it with flour tortillas cut into wedges, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese then baked in the oven while the soup cooks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks & Giving......

Oh, I love this time of year. Fall is my favorite season followed closely by Winter! I love the things we do when Fall rolls around. I always look forward to the cooler days and the crisp nights filled with the smell of wood stoves, when we pull out our wool sweaters and hats. Candle lit nights wrapped in a cozy blanket with a fire in the fireplace, hearty, warm, filling meals and the anticipation of the holidays. I love sharing meals, time and conversation around the table with family. I come from a large family of nine children. Most of us now have children of our own, busy lives and are dispersed around the state, a few are even out of state so we can't get together like I wish we could. I appreciate being able to get together with my family members that are close and the holidays are the perfect time to do that. Thanksgiving just passed and I loved the preparation, the planning and just knowing that we were able to spend some time ALL together. I love the fact that I am able to share these times with my parents and that my parents are able to share them with my children. It is very humbling to see my baby interacting with my father. They have a bond that is at times hysterical to watch and brings a tear to my eye at others. These are the times we slow down to really cherish these moments. We always get a nice fresh turkey and it has to be a big one. Last year we enjoyed a 40 pound one, this year we scaled it back a bit to 35 pounds! Still a good sized turkey, enough to go around with leftovers for everyone. The day was easy and the food was wonderful. My daughters helped me in the kitchen which made it even better. Molly made the pies, Anna prepared the turkey and Emma helped with the side dishes. The conversation was light and fun as we reflected on how close we were to saying goodbye to another year and making plans for Christmas. I always look forward to this time of year, it seems to make me realize how thankful I am for all the things in my life and how lost I would be without the people who hold it all together. I love them all so very much and I wouldn't trade a minute of my crazy, busy life - not one single second!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Place to Return.......

I had mentioned in my last post that my husband and I had celebrated our 10TH Anniversary in October. We had received a gift certificate as a Christmas gift over two years ago for a Bed & Breakfast in Maine. The way time flies around here we were not surprised that it had been over two years that this most gracious gift had sat unused. We decided now that our youngest is almost two and this year was a milestone in our marriage we would put that gift to use. It has been a long time coming for some time away for the two of us. We have a pretty busy life and it is always extremely difficult to squeeze any extra time for each other. Just a little history, my husband and I are High School sweethearts, we have pretty much been together for almost 21 years! Oh my lord, that just seems crazy to say....21 YEARS!!! Sorry, back to the history. We have five beautiful children, a small farm that consists of a little flock of laying hens and a dog; my husband works an extremely demanding full time job and two part-time jobs, I am always busy with my bakery and the farmers market. These things that consume our time are more in depth than they seem, they branch out into committees, meetings, homework, reports, projects and groups that go along with them! So you see we are sparse on time! But we decided this was the year we would MAKE the time for each other, after ten years we had earned it. We have always loved Maine, especially the coast. We spent a lot of time there before we had children. We would make the two hour trip a few times a year, usually in the fall and winter months; two of our favorite seasons. It has been calling to us and every year we talk about getting back up there, to a place we strongly think we may end up living at some point in our lives. Now back to the trip, I made the reservations in August so we would have plenty of time to plan and make arrangements for the children. We were ready when the time came to leave, we were excited and we were full of anticipation. We had never stayed at a Bed & Breakfast, what should we expect? Our first impression was WOW! It was sitting up on the hill just demanding respect. It was beautiful, the lawn looked like a carpet that had just been laid out, the porch tucked into the trees and the third floor balconies peeking out from the grandeur of the roof line. The front door was just amazing, I have never seen a larger more inviting door in my life! It welcomed you into a beautiful foyer with stairs that seemed to touch the sky. There were simple touches of the season peeking out from every corner of the entry.

Our expectations were exceeded and we were excited to see what else was in store for us here. We were met by Paul who was just so relaxed and easy-going. We talked for a few minutes, as if we had know each other for years, before he showed us to our room. We had chosen Mary's Room, as we made our way up I began to think those stairs really did reach the sky! The room was so beautiful and cozy. I could just see myself spending the entire weekend right there, was there a reason to go anywhere else? The bed looked as if it were stuffed with clouds, we had a gift of delicious homemade chocolate truffles and sherry awaiting us and a balcony all our own.
The room was full of windows, a big over-sized floral recliner had my husbands name written all over it, but the pure character and charm were the most inviting. Cozy bath robes were hung neatly on chunky wooded hangers, just waiting for us to slip them on after a nice hot shower. What else can I say; the room was perfect! We decided to look around and familiarize ourselves with the place we would call home for the weekend. It is just the nicest place full of old charm and all the right little touches.
The lounge was cozy with a fire place surrounded by two cozy arm chairs, the perfect place to sit and enjoy a hot cup of coffee with a splash of Baily's Irish Cream after dinner, Yum!! Speaking of dinner, well it is hard to find the words to describe dinner at Chapman's Cottage. We chose the Prime Rib for the first night we were there and oh my heavens I have never ever seen a piece of prime rib like that in my life, nor have I ever tasted one so perfect. I swear it had to be a full two pounds of juicy seasoned perfection served with red smashed potatoes that melted in your mouth and a side of roasted asparagus that was cooked just the way I like it, still a bit of crunch! I forgot to mention the first course of jumbo and I mean Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and New England Clam Chowder. When we were finished with dinner you could barely tell we had even eaten any of it and we had a hard time not taking another bite. It was so darn good you just wanted to eat more even if you had no more room. The next evening was even better, if you can believe that. We had plump perfectly cooked Fillet with the most delicious Bearnaise Sauce I have ever tasted. I swear if I could have gotten away with ordering a bowl of it, I would have eaten it like soup. Dinner was beyond gourmet without feeling at all stuffy or pretentious. If you can imagine having a meal like that at Grandmas, then that is how it was. Now breakfast was just as good, so simple but so very good. Even breakfast was a three course event, fresh fruit then the best blueberry muffin baked in a custard cup so it took on the texture almost like that of a bread pudding sprinkled with sugar on top and then the finale of a layered mountain of yum, smashed red potatoes topped with country style sausage and then topped with soft fluffy scrambled eggs. I was so full but I just could not stop eating it was good. The following morning we were graced with fresh pineapple, blackberries, raspberries, a fall apple, pecan, cranberry strudel finished off with huge pancakes made with Maine blueberries topped with butter and real maple syrup. There was fresh hot coffee, a huge array of teas and orange juice available from 7a.m. all the way through breakfast.
We left the breakfast table completely satisfied until dinner, which we usually ate later in the evening to avoid the dinner crowd. The restaurant was open to the public until the end of October. The public loved it just as much as the house guests did, why wouldn't they; great food, great atmosphere and the most pleasant hosts. Donna always greeted us each morning with a smile and every evening with that same smile. Never once did we feel uncomfortable we always felt like we had know Paul and Donna for years, pleasant easy conversation was abundant. We spent the weekend absolutely in love with the place we stayed and we left counting the days until we could get back to this place. We plan to return next year for our 11Th anniversary, but hopefully we can steal a few days sooner to come and visit. I will leave you with a few of my favorite pictures of Chapman Cottage........

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

100 Mile Anniversary.......

I am enjoying our local eating! I find it hard to believe that it has been about a month since we started down this path. I am pleasantly surprised at how many things we did not have to "do without". I guess having our little list of exceptions has made it easier, although we really do not have too many things on that list! With a little bit of research and a great store to shop at has made this a very enjoyable venture. I think we may just continue this challenge and adapt it as our everyday. The number one thing that has made this 100 Mile Challenge so easy is the knowledge and willingness to help that I have received from our local Co-op store. Everyone there is so eager to tell you where the products come from and you can see the delight in their faces when they say "This is from a farm right here in town" or "This farm is only a few miles from here". I love how happy they are to have someone just as excited to buy those items as they are to offer them! I could not get that kind of service in my local big grocery store, even if the tag said "local". I had a hard time believing it - what local meant to them was not the same as it meant to me!! And to top it off they actually said that they sometimes stick a "local" sign there because customers seem to prefer it. Hmmmm......does that seem right to you?? I am a firm believer that the further you get from the source, the further you get from the true story! I like to hear the story of my food from the person who wrote it, thank you very much! I like the connection I have with the person who has put so much time and effort into it. So I reach this month long Anniversary of sorts with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for everything and everyone who has made me see that this such a reachable goal and that EVERYONE should attempt to at least try to incorporate one local item into their food world each week, you will be amazed at what you can find!!! I have added the recipes to go along with the photos in this post, they are so simple but so good and all ingrediants are local!
Birdsong Farm Potato's
These fingerling potatoes are my children's favorite thing for dinner. There have been many a night when they took center stage for dinner!
About 4 cups of fingerling potatoes cut into 1" pieces
2 chopped crimini onions
2 medium cloves of garlic chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Fresh cracked pepper & salt - to taste
Melt the butter in a cast iron pan. Add garlic & onions and saute for 3 - 4 minutes. Stir potatoes into the onions and garlic, cover and cook until potatoes are tender stirring occasionally. These potatoes cook so quickly when they are fresh and local, they have such a sweet buttery flavor. I sometimes will add hamburg or sausage to make a one pot meal - YUM!! Play with this recipe and add peppers, tomatoes or even summer squash or zucchini.
Hurricane Farm Sausage & Kale
I have to admit this is the first year I have cooked with Kale! I am so sad that I have missed so many years of this yummy food... My family loves spinach so they were happy to gobble this down - no complaints!
1 pound of Hurricane Farms Sausage
1 bunch of Kale
2 cloves of garlic
Saute garlic & sausage in a cast iron pan until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove stems from the kale and discard (or set aside and use to make stock) chop leaves and toss with the sausage & garlic. Cover and let the kale cook for about 15 - 20 minutes. Kale takes a little longer to wilt but is well worth the extra time. I serve this with some homemade bread and call it a meal. I have been know to make a soup out of this, I just add homemade chicken stock and some Israeli Couscous.... it is just the best.
During this journey we actually celebrated our 10Th wedding anniversary, a milestone in many ways! That will be my next post, because it will be FULL of photos!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Local Shopping....

Well, I went shopping on Friday in search of LOCAL foods for my family! I have to admit that I do not always review my food purchases quite so closely. I do on occasion read labels, usually I am looking for a handful of "bad" ingredients that I flat out refuse to have my children eat, that is another whole post in itself so when I get up the courage I will dive into that one. I was pretty amazed at all the things that are available within our 100 mile radius. I was able to purchase so many things that we usually eat. There were crackers and cookies that the children love to eat, great local cheese, milk and all things dairy. Our meat selection well exceeded my expectations and who could complain about the fruits and vegetables we could choose from. I even found a great whole grain flour from our area that is even milled close enough to home, pasta and even some yummy candies! I am making our own bread, ice cream and yogurt along with most of our household cleaning items. I am coming to the conclusion that this is the way we should always eat! Why would we look any farther than our neighbors for the food we need. I realize that there are things we just cannot produce in these neck of the woods. We can either choose to live with out those things or make exceptions and make sure we only purchase organic or all natural items from environmentally responsible companies. I am happy with the new way we are eating, even if we have to do with out some things. The things we are eating now are not only better for us but they are better for our local farmers, small businesses and our environment in general they are just BETTER! We will see how the next few weeks go and I will try and slip in a few recipes in there! Stay tuned.........

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

100 Mile Challenge.....

Okay..... so we decided to go for it! We are taking the 100 Mile Challenge, we will only eat foods produced, grown or raised within a 100 mile radius of our home. You will be amazed at how far that really is, I was. Over the past few years we have incorporated little changes here and there, like eating organic, getting most of our fruits and veggies from our farmers market, using only local hormone and antibiotic free dairy and meats, shopping at our local Co-Op and even making our own laundry soap and bread. I can't say I am satisfied with just these changes, so we decided to take it a few steps further! I figure the closer we can get our food, the better. We are going to incorporate a few exceptions to that rule only because there are things we will NEED that just cannot be located with in that area. We will have flour, grains, tea & coffee on our exceptions list, but they will be organic and/or fair trade. We are also going to try and use as much "household" items that are local or that we make ourselves, but there must be exceptions to that rule also; I haven't found a way to make toilet paper or a local company and we MUST have that!!! I think the most important lessons we will learn from this experience is to not take for granted all the wonderful food we have so close to home and by making a few simple changes in our lifestyle we can have such a huge impact on our surroundings. The benefits seem to be abundant from this challenge, I am hoping it will be life changing for my entire family. I have always said we have become so very lazy in our lives because things are just so easy to obtain. We work less at the important things than our parents and grandparents to gain twice as much, the only problem with that is we are sacrificing quality. We have inferior foods and we don't seem to mind, we are conditioned to believe that we should take a back seat when it comes to the safety of our food. We rely on big companies to supply us with the very things that essentially sustain our lives.....does this seem right? I grew up on a small farm and we always knew where our food came from. If it didn't come from us it came from someone we knew very well. We had a large garden and we ate everything from it, it wasn't a hobby it was a necessity. We had our own cows that we would faithfully milk every morning and evening, not for fun but for sustenance. We raised beef, pork and poultry, not always for pets but for food. FOOD that we took responsibility for, there was a reason behind almost everything we did. It sounds so crazy to say that was such a simpler way of life but it was, simple because we were very clear on what, where and how the very most important thing, FOOD, was coming from. We wonder why there is an alarming rate of obesity in our country, why the rate of Autism is sky-rocketing, why cancer is out of control and why our children are plagued with learning disabilities? Maybe, just maybe if we stopped and really took a look at all the things we put into our bodies we wouldn't wonder anymore. We wouldn't drink straight from the pesticide bottle, so why are we deciding it is okay to consume it on and in our foods? I think that as a society we have begun to take for granted that there will always be a plate full of "something" whenever we want it sitting there waiting for us, but is that the best we can accept "something" when there is so much better from our local farmers? We eat fruits that are picked before they are ripe so they have time to be transported cross country in the back of a truck when down the road we have a small farm that grows that very same thing in their backyard! It seems like a very elementary decision to me to choose the foods that I trust, the foods I really choose, the foods that are not laden with things that can potentially harm me, but most of all my children. We set the example for our children through the choices we make. They watch and learn from every single thing we do. I want to teach my children that they have the power to make a difference and it all starts with a choice, a simple choice that cascades across and affects far more than they will ever realize; those are the choices to make, the simple ones that in the end make the biggest impact. We have begun to take our choices to a new level or a closer level because we know that by choosing local we are in fact doing more than just eating the freshest food we can find, we are empowering our children with the courage and skills to continue to make wise choices that will make the world and their lives better. I am excited to get this challenge started and I can't wait to share our journey. I have a feeling that once we start we just won't want to stop and as far as I can see, why should we ever stop choosing the best!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Change With The Seasons....

I find it pretty funny how we seem to naturally change our food selections with the changing seasons. I know myself, that when Spring pops up I begin to crave leafy greens, sweet melons and strawberries! Summer brings with it all the endless grilled food; hot dogs, hamburgs, then all those vegetables that are making their debut in our gardens and at our farmers markets, big lush salads and don't forget the ice cream! Now that the weather is feeling cooler and the leaves are turning, I start to look forward to baking the warm bread that has turned into a daily ritual for me lately, hardy soups filled to the brim with Bruce & Abbey Potatoes (so my children have named them)! Sunday nights are just begging for a yummy slow cooked meal; like a roast with all the fixings shared with the whole family. This is the time of year that a big cup of tea and a sconce before bed are a must to help insure a cozy nights sleep. Even my choice of scents changes, take for example the lighter scents of summer - cucumber melon, strawberry fields and even fresh cut grass. Fall brings along the warmer smell of spices - Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg then the scents of Pumpkin Spice, Apple Pie and Candy Corn. I love the fact that we are ever changing, in each aspect of our lives. We mentally, physically and emotionally change with each new day and what it brings us. I personally love this time of year and all the warm cozy feelings that come along with Autumn. I tend to want to draw my children and family in closer and spend quiet nights wrapped up in a warm blanket with a fire in the fireplace sipping on some warm spiced cider......what more could you ask for? Coming soon will be the cold crisp days and nights of winter that bring with it rich hot chocolate and candlelight, scents of Oven Fresh Cookies, Christmas Trees, Citrus Spiked with Cloves and Wood Stoves. We will long for warm heavy filling foods, roasted root vegetables and thick hearty stews. Oh all the wonderful changes that come along with each season. I look forward to these changes and hope that I take the time to enjoy every single one, they only come around once a year.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to welcome Fall into my home:

Easy Simmering Spices
2-3 Whole Cinnamon Sticks or Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Whole or Ground Cloves
1 Orange - cut into quarters
2-3 Cups of water

Put all these ingredients into a medium pot and simmer on your stove. (Make sure to check the water level and keep adding more when it gets low!)

Warm Spiced Cider
3 sticks of Cinnamon
2 tsp. Whole Cloves
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2 gallon Sweet Apple Cider
2 c. Orange Juice or 2 Oranges cut into quarters

Tie cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small piece of cheesecloth. Combine with cider in a large saucepan. Simmer 15 - 30 minutes, the longer you simmer the stronger the spice flavor. Remove spice bag. Stir in orange juice & heat until hot. Pour into big mugs and use a Cinnamon Stick as your stirrer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Love My Salad!

I just have to tell you that I have fallen in love with Salad, not your typical green leafy variety. This is a rare mix of Salad; they call it "Art Salad " !
It all started a few weeks ago when we had a guest vendor at the market, Jennifer, who just so happened to be directly across from me that day. I was not able to get over to her tent to take a look at what she was offering and even if I had the opportunity I am not sure I would have been able to fight my way through the crowd. I could see a glimpse of what she had and it was very interesting, her banner was beautiful enough, I could only imagine what the "real" thing was like. Well, much to my dismay, I didn't get to experience it firsthand so I settled for a business card and a look at her website when I got home. Well was I impressed...yes it was love at first sight! How in the world was I suppose to choose?? Each one was just as nice as the next, thank goodness there were only a few pieces offered for ordering or I would still be there trying to decide!
I guess I should tell you that Art Salad is in fact the most beautiful fused glass jewelry, yes JEWELRY!

Some of the pieces remind me of candy, a piece of sweet hard candy that is too pretty to eat! I am not much of a jewelry person, I wear the traditional simple pieces; a wedding ring, a pair of pearl earrings and maybe a necklace (gold chain) if I am going out! I cannot even begin to tell you all the reasons why I needed at least one of these pendants, they are just so darn beautiful! They are the perfect size, they are simple enough to wear with a pair of jeans and a tee shirt but still sophisticated enough to wear with your little black dress to a cocktail party! They are the perfect piece of jewelry! I chose a piece I knew I would wear almost everyday, a pretty Black Sassafras Tree design. It was a safe choice for a person like me who is not very daring when it comes to jewelry.I could not wait for that package to come in the mail, it was well worth the wait, which was really only a few days! When I opened it up - oh did it ever exceeded my expectations! Jennifer you are my hero... you create the most amazing things I have ever laid eyes on. This jewelry grabs your sight and just mesmerizes you, you just can't stop looking at it. My package was packed with a special surprise that soon became my favorite, a pumpkin colored pendant that was so out of the box for me that I feel like a new person every time I wear it and I wear it - OFTEN. I can't wait for my "Jewelry Party", yes you read correct, she will actually bring these little gems to your house for you and all your friends to ogle over while you all enjoy a glass of wine and some great conversation; hopefully there won't be too much fighting over that last pair of earrings!! That will be my next purchase, a nice pair of earrings.....or two! So my advice to everyone is "Go Get Some Salad" - ART SALAD to be exact!!


Where has the time gone? Better yet where was I? I am sorry for being away for almost a month! I am making a concerted effort, almost a true commitment to write a new post at least weekly. I really have lost track of time....I thought I would get better organized after the kids went back to school, but no, I think I have actually regressed! Have no fear I am climbing back up this hill of disorganization and setting some new goals, the ones that will help me get my act together. You truly do not realize how much time has gone by until you start to look at all the things you haven't shared!
Sunday at the market I had the pleasure of chatting with Heather, from Beauty that Moves, about our blogs and how they are a way to "connect" with one another. She made a great point that when you have a business and a blog they are a wonderful compliment to each other, they put a face and a real person with the product you are offering. People really look forward to you sharing a little bit about yourself with them and sharing a glimpse inside your "everyday". I know fist hand how true this is, I love reading her blog and look forward to her photos. It makes me appreciate, even more, the beautiful things she puts her heart and soul into; those beautiful bags! When you read her blog you can see why her things are so simply perfect, they are a reflection of her life. In many ways her blog is a reference, a guide to the way I would like to live my life, and so we come full circle back to the "connection" we feel from the words and pictures that are shared. I can only hope that I can bring that sense of community to my blog and I look forward to the comments we can share.
Buckle up cause here we go......I have made so many really good meals and have some really spectacular things to share from all my Farmers Markets Finds, I may have to post a new entry each day this week just to catch-up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cooking with a Crock-Pot

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today and happened upon her latest post that was talking about Crock-pot cooking and she was asking for some good recipes,

I figured since I had been having a lot of "crock-pot" on my own mind lately I would share a few of my own. I had made a veggie spaghetti sauce Tuesday evening and chicken with potatoes, carrots & shallots for dinner this evening! I think crock-pots begin to surface again after summer grilling is reaching its end and school days are beginning; bringing with it all the busy-ness of homework and tighter schedules. I also think it has something to do with the cooler weather we have had and will be getting more of in the coming months. I know that the beginning of the new school year sends the "easy going" ways of summer to a distant place in my mind and is quickly replaced with all the worries of getting everything that needs to be done into the sacred three hours of time I have before my children need to go to bed!! Which leads me to the oh-so-easy crock-pot way of cooking dinner - put it all in, turn it on and leave it be until you are ready for it! One pot = less clean up = MORE TIME!! Those precious minutes are just that precious, especially when you have five children who all need something at the very moment you are trying to get dinner ready! I love anything that makes life easier without compromising quality and this fits that bill. I still know exactly what I am feeding my family and I have complete control over what I put into my meals, I just don't have to worry about being tied to the stove any longer than absolutely necessary. So here goes and please feel free to leave comments and your own recipes.

This is one of our favorites! It works so nicely with all the wonderful veggies from our Farmers Market! We usually will eat this as a meal with a fresh salad. I have replaced the potatoes with leafy greens and served this over rice or quinoa. I add the greens closer to the end, about 1/2 way through. I also love to throw in some yummy fresh herbs for added flavor! You could use any hard root vegetable in this simple recipe.

Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 6 hours

1 lb. sliced carrots
4 russet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1" pieces
1 onion or shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine vegetables, water, olive oil, salt and pepper in a 3-4 quart crock pot and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender. 6-8 servings

Blueberry Cobbler

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, and 2 Tbs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 Tbs coconut oil
2 cups blueberries (or berry of your choice)
1/4 cup water

In a bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, milk and oil.
Stir this into the dry ingredients until moistened. Grease the crockpot well and spread the batter evenly on the bottom.
In a saucepan, combine blueberries, water and the 2 Tbs. of sugar, bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Pour into crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours, then turn off crockpot, uncover and let set for 30 minutes before eating.

I love this recipe especially made with granola from Nate's Naturals!! YUMMY!!

Apple Granola Dessert

4 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
2 cups granola cereal
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine apples and cereal in slow cooker. In a bowl, combine honey, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg; pour over apple mixture and mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with homemade ice cream or whipped cream. 4 to 6 servings.

I hope you enjoy and I look forward to your comments!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sweet Treats

I have deiced I can call myself a "Baker". I have always loved to bake and I have fond memories of baking in our old farmhouse kitchen. It was huge and very open with the most beautiful built-in cupboard I have ever seen. The walls were lined with deep metal cupboards and a huge, and I mean HUGE double sink. I can remember my mother making cheese and hanging it in cheesecloth over that sink to drain. I think it was a Farm Cheese that she would make, whatever it was it tasted wonderful mixed with fresh herbs from our garden spread on homemade bread. I am finding as I take this walk down this new road that everything is better when it is made by hand. The less processed in any way shape or form it is, the better. I am also finding how much pleasure I am getting from taking the time to realize all of this. It makes you slow down and look for quality verses quantity. I am feeling the need for a good ole' purge of all this stuff that seems to be cluttering my life, including my baking space. I really think that it is difficult to get a good hold of this life I want when I have so much stuff to try and get in my grip! So, out it a good home of course. I am doing my best to return to nice and simple for my family, that is why I decided to stay home full time this past June and pursue starting our own little bakery. With each week I realize I am more competent than I originally thought I was. I really can whip up a new and yummy creation with my very own two hands that will eventually help support my family. That makes for a very Sweet Treat! Now back to being a baker!! I had a friend say the funniest thing to me once; I hadn't seen her in a few weeks so she gave me a hug but when she did she squeezed me a little tighter and said "Oh my goodness, you smell just like a cookie". I just had to laugh, I hadn't even been baking that day. I guess the smell of fresh baked goodies has now become a perminaite part of "Me" and the more baking I do the more I love it. I definitely think there are more sweet treats to come from this baker and her bakery so stay tuned!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beauty That Moves.....Me!

I promised I would tell you all about these beautiful little pouches I purchased at the market a few Sunday's ago, well here it is! I read in our weekly newsletter that Heather from "Beauty That Moves" would have these budget pouches available for our "Frugal Frolic Market". I absolutely love the beautiful items Heather creates. They are perfectly stitched, with perfectly sown zippers upon perfectly chosen fabrics! These are crafted in a way I could only dream of being able to do. They are exquisite, everything that she makes is. I would love to start a collection one of each please! I feel in love with the fabric and I just had to get them, even if I didn't use them the way they were intended! I would give their true purpose a genuine go, I owed it to the pouches to at least try! I had heard of this way of keeping track of where you spent your money and that it was a great way to stick to a budget. It was great, Heather had me choose what I wanted stamped on the front of each pouch, where I thought my weekly spending would most likely be going. It made the purchase even more personal, these were my pouches and they represented a huge lifestyle change - a Budget! I have somewhat of a simple budget that we work with each month, you know, "we won't spend more than $$____ on eating out or groceries" etc...... We all know how that works out, it isn't until you look back that you realize that you had spent more than planned on pretty much everything! These beautiful zippered pouches that look so sweet and innocent are a force to be reckoned with, they hold you responsible. It still seems like a very simple idea; you put the allocated amount in each pouch and when it is gone, IT IS GONE! "It Is Gone" is a very hard thing to accept sometimes, the other pouches start to look very inviting, but the same goes for each pouch - GONE. That word has gone through my mind on many, many occasions lately. You can begin to play scenarios in your mind how if you borrow this much from here you can then move this much over here to cover that and then you can make up that next week - what??? You see how these pouches work; they make you really see how you waste your money! I plan on putting this new budget in full affect in August, which is fast approaching. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I am so very ready for this change, I am just having a little bit of self-doubt. Will I be able to stick with it and obey the rules laid out in front of me? Will I be able to handle spending restrictions? Yes, yes I think I can. I am looking forward to this new set of pouch rules and the place it will lead me. I look at these pouches as a new beginning, a step towards our ultimate goal of becoming more self-sufficient and self-responsible. I think this will teach us far more than the obvious. I believe this set of responsibility all zipped up in a neat little pouch is well worth the effort and I strongly urge anyone who is looking for some sort of new start, direction or a stepping stone should get yourself a set of Heathers pouches. The craftsmanship and beauty of them is incentive enough to look forward to all the possibilities that await you! Make sure you stop by "Beauty That Moves" at , it is worth the visit.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Market: Part 2

So, this is actually part two of my previous post! I have gushed about the Coventry Farmers Market so many times before, but this time I am taking the time to really explain why I love it so very much. I had left off with Bird Song Farm and their amazing vegetables, I think I forgot to mention the name of their farm!!
I guess I will begin this post with another of my all-time favorites, Bean & Leaf! I had the pleasure of first tasting their coffee last year when they came to the market as a Guest Vendor. Well, needless to say it immediately turned into an addiction! I actually think I had more than one cup in the two hours I was there. I was at that time not yet a "vendor" so I was at the market as a "shopper" and shop I loved to do. I bought two bags of their coffee, I knew I would begin having withdrawal symptoms as soon as I got home. Thank goodness they were there again the next week and then the next....... Chris and Lani are two of the nicest people you will ever meet and the fact that they bring those bins full of deliciousness is just icing on the beautiful coffee cupcake! I now am able to get that hot cup of yum every Sunday, even though I brew my own cup every other day, it just tastes so much better coming straight from them! Like I mentioned, I would come to the market each Sunday with my children and father; we had a routine and we very rarely every changed it. It was a necessity to follow those first few steps so then we could get on with the rest of our market experience. Bean & Leaf was our first stop, no if-ands-or buts about it!! Once we had our cup of coffee we would move onto our next stop, La Petite France! I feel in love with the Cheese Stars when I was given one at a different market. They are so delicate, the tips of the star melt in your mouth then you reach the creamy center and you feel like you are floating on a cloud! That is not all, oh no...croissant's the size of one of my children filled with flaky buttery air and please do not forget the ones filled with chocolate and then there is the Sarah's Surprise: Delicate puffed pastry topped with raspberry's and a sweet cream cheese, do you all see why they are one of the first stops I had to make? I would love to spend a day in the kitchen with Roméo to witness the magic that must take place there. You will know you are in the correct spot when you are greeted by Alexandra, you simply cannot miss her. She is so petite with the largest most genuine smile I have ever seen and her voice is so full and heavy of France if you closed your eyes you would swear you were standing in Paris. We would sit on the bench under our favorite tree and enjoy our first two purchases of the day, with much anticipation of the ones that were yet to be made. Once we were finished savoring every bite and down to the very last sip we would happily continue on our venture through "Market-Ville". Next stop 18Th Century Purity Farm to see Paul. He is such a very kind sweet man, he has such a sense of honesty that emanates from him. His fruit carries on that feeling, pure honest goodness. When you eat his raspberries they taste exactly what you would imagine the picture perfect raspberry would taste like. These perfect little berries often grace the tops of my Truffle Brownie Bites that I offer at the market. I love going over to his table to see what I can top those yummy little bites with each week. Once he had the smallest, sweetest little strawberries, I just had to have them. They looked so perfect taking center stage on top of a cloud of sweet chocolate frosting. The market is full of wonderful vendors who offer such amazing things each and every week. I can attempt to mention everyone all at once, but that would be one very full post, so I will show you a little bit of all my favorites a little at a time! Next post I will share a story about a purchase I made this past Sunday at our "Frugal Frolic" from "Beauty That Moves".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Markets are a time to Wish and Enjoy....

I have the opportunity to be part of an amazing group of people who come together every Sunday for the Coventry Farmers Market. I am in awe of the things that these people create and the talent that surrounds me. I would love to be able to spend a week with each of them just to get a feel for their trade, just to learn a sliver of their knowledge, just to watch the grace and perfection that they put into everything that passes through their hands. I wish there were more hours in the day, these things I would love to learn. For now I will have to be thankful that I have the opportunity to obtain these fine items. They make me smile, they make me happy whenever I get to use them. I have my favorites that have become almost somewhat of an obsession!

Sleepy Moon Soap........ where do I begin? These bars have a scent that lures you in, your nose will lead you and you must follow. They are beautiful; almost too beautiful to use but you will use them because the temptation is just too strong. You will want to take a shower the minute you get home! They produce the perfect amount of lather and your skin feels just like the silk that Winter puts into each bar. Scents and colors that go along with the season. Each one reminds me of a yummy piece of candy. Swirls of color, smells that remind you of things close to your heart - how do you choose? I don't walk away with any less than four at a time and the ones I must leave behind, I promise I will return for you! They are, simply put ~ Beautifully Perfect!
Then there is the Pizza from Farm to Hearth........ those beautiful, rounds of crispy, cheesy goodness topped with all those crazy yummy things that just scream "FRESH"!!! Todd, how do you do it - how does that mind of yours work? I would love a look inside and see a glimpse of that creativity. I had the pleasure of eating a Pesto Pizza, I actually had to share it or actually fight over it, with my son who so graciously waited in line to get one. We had heard so many people gush over these pizzas we just had to try one, why not? Oh my!!! It was steaming hot and smelled of heaven, the spicy side of heaven, and we stood there staring waiting to taste; well worth the wait and at the same time shame on us for waiting for so long to give this a try. We had missed out on so many weeks of this wonderful stuff. Gooey salty melted cheese, nutty pesto and that crust, oh that crust! I spend most of my weekdays waiting for Sunday, just to have a slice of heaven! I will add some photos as soon as I can get some....the pizza just does not hang around long enough for a picture!

Then there are the vegetables; colorful and oh so fresh. You can rest assured that you are getting the freshest produce you can find, picked that morning and brought straight to you. If you find something that sparks your interest and you are not sure how to prepare it, just ask. I often find things I want to try but I just don't know what to do with it, so I ask Abby and Bruce. They are the best neighbors I could have ever wished for. This is my first year being part of this wonderful market, so I am learning as I go, but rest assured I look forward to Sundays because of the encouragement I get from my neighbors. They are always full of kind words, encouragement, great conversation and always a bunch of laughs! Besides all that, they have the best produce. They place their veggies in baskets spread across covered tables that look like they are straight out of a magazine page. I swear there is a taste that I get every time I have their salad mix that reminds me of being a kid again, when we would eat right out of our garden. It is a earthy crisp kind-of rain taste. Hard to explain, but I love it. I am lucky enough to be able to "barter" at the end of the market for the vegetables they might have left, they usually sell out pretty early. I am so happy when I see that they have a few things still in their baskets because I am hoping they will be coming home with me for dinner. Yum!!!
I have so many great vendors to mention, I will have to continue this one! Next up Beltane Farms, 18Th Century Purity Farm & La Petite Bakery!
Welcome! I plan on using this blog to write about my family's adventures in farming, baking and our steps toward becoming more self-sustainable. I will try to post my weekly market findings and how I will or have used them for dinner along with lots of pictures! I look forward to this journey and all the comments you can share. I'll post my first official post shortly!