Category Archives: In the Kitchen

Some God in my Gardening

The older I get, the more settled & *cough…ahem…cough* domestic I seem to become. My nightly Google searches have switched from, “what bars are closest to this bar I’m currently at” to, “easy sewing patterns…how to make a pallet dog bed…how to decorate outdoor patio using concrete, rubber bands, & beer tabs.” Okay, maybe the last one is a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea.

I’ve taken up gardening…

By “taken up gardening” I really mean, “I’ve developed an obsession for gardening…”

Thanks to Pinterest, a father who has always had a vegetable garden & a plethora of Twitter-communities where gardening is cool again, my obsession has been even more fueled. This is the first year that I’ve had a real decently thriving garden in my yard. I moved to my house about 3yrs ago; a big metropolis village of 300 people. Not that I lived in a real big city before, but a city of 100,000 compared to a village of 300 is a big difference. Trust me, I’m not complaining. AT ALL! I’m a country girl with country roots & cities are not my thing. Now I live smack-dab in the middle of the woods, with a long driveway & land for my dog to run around un-fenced. That also means I have land to plant an outdoor herb & vegetable garden.

While I’ve always had a love for gardening, it was pretty limited when I lived downtown in the city. I had no yard & my “garden” consisted of tomato plants growing in flower pots on my deck. One year my tomato’s seemed to come up missing, while I thought it was a stray raccoon or cat stealing them (cats eat tomato’s???) I later caught my neighbor plucking them off my plants…it did not end well. Another year I bought a “Topsy Turvy” plant from a

my $400 upside down tomato plant

my $400 upside down tomato plant

commercial on TV. This product was made for tight-space living; was hung upside down from a hook & tomato’s grew downward. I thought “perfect” & couldn’t wait to expand my deck garden. Well, the commercial didn’t lie! This plant took off! It grew so well & contained so many tomato’s (definitely factory-produced seeds that grew low-quality, abundant tomato’s) that one day I came home from work to find that my upside down tomato plant had grown into the gutters & the weight had ripped them down & half of my neighbors gutters. A $19.95 product ended up costing over $400 to fix. Nice!

veg1

Green onions & romaine lettuce started from seeds.

So fast-forward a few years & my 3rd season of planting at my house & the soil finally seems dense enough to support a healthy, full garden.
I started my plants from seeds back in March. March, 7th to be exact. As told by the dates I had sharpied on the egg-carton starters. My sunroom had turned into rows of seeds that rooted & bloomed into tomatoes, onions, lettuce, eggplants, dill, chives, parsley & lots more! I had containers on my fireplace mantel, Hearst & brickwork, on my fish tank, on the floor, behind the couch…you name it & it had a vegetable or herb. Ohio also had a late spring, so I didn’t get outside to plant until the beginning of June. By that time I had lost some of my vegetables & they had to be replaced with plants purchased from greenhouses. Quite the ordeal of tilling the garden, pulling weeds, planting, mulching, weeding again, watering, weeding again….and again…and again…but they’re a’growin!!!

This may seem like a huge, detailed backstory to someone who has little to no interest in gardening. But those that enjoy it will understand when I say what therapy my little garden has been. The last few years have been very hard & stressful in my personal life. While I have found ways to relieve that stress (I’m a big outdoorsy-girl), there’s a different kind of therapy that comes from working the land & watching something grow. There’s something different about getting your hands dirty, sweating, tending, & then reaping the benefits of something you’ve put your time into.

I listen to music a lot, I rarely watch TV but I always have music on. When I’m out hiking-headphones on, when I’m cleaning the house-music playing in background, when I’m running (okay, let’s be real. When I’m out one-step-up-from-walking)-headphones on. However, when I’m working in the garden…no music. I’m on my hands & knees, digging in the dirt, my dog at my feet, & I’m thinking…figuring stuff out, praying, having conversations in my head. I’m going through an especially hard time right now, making some big decisions & stressing out over what is the right path; in addition to stresses that life already has me boggled down with. Yesterday while in the middle of planting squash, the story of the Israelites popped into my head. God delivered the Israelites out of slavery from the hands of Egypt, however, he didn’t take them to the Promised Land right away. They wandered around in the wilderness for 40yrs; they couldn’t see past their own stubbornness, unforgiveness, frustrations, situations & attitudes. They never even realized how close they were to their promised land until they gave up even more control. This is me, I’m currently in the wilderness. Even though I’m delivered from the bondage I was in, I’m still “wandering” around in the desert until my promised land. Have I done anything wrong?? No. In fact, I’ve done everything right (mostly). I’ve obeyed. I’ve listened. But the reward hasn’t come yet. Is it frustrating? You bet’cha! Especially for someone like me who lives by day planners & loves schedules. Do I feel forgotten? Ignored? Un-worthy? Yes, Yes, Yes. But just like my garden, the harvest will come. The reward will come because I’ve been working the land, planting seeds, watering, & weeding. Is there an area of my life that God is trying to get me to focus on before the harvest can come??? I believe there is. I can only pray that He will reveal that to me so I can move on.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”-Galatians 6:9-

Being in the wilderness stinks, big time. But it will make the harvest that much sweeter. And all these thoughts came because I decided to plant some tomatoes.

My first tomato has arrived! Will turn into a Indigo Blood Rose tomato, black & a sweet salad tomato! Can't wait!

My first tomato has arrived! Will turn into a Indigo Blood Rose tomato, black & a sweet salad tomato! Can’t wait!

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What would your “Last Supper” be???

This question automatically sends my mind to thoughts of death row inmates. While I don’t know the future & would never even attempt to predict how my story is going to run, I’m going to guess with confident assurance & say that I’m most likely never going to hear, “Dead Man Walking” as I’m handcuffed between a bunch of men in uniform toting sidearms (unless my fantasies count *wink wink*).  I’m not real familiar with my state execution laws, does the state of Ohio even execute woman??? Let’s just stick to a quick Google-search on that one & not try to find out first hand, shall we?

Anyways, I’m choosing to look at this question & think of it in a different light.

“If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, what would your last supper be?”

A much more flattering way to look at it!

I can be pretty eccentric & extroverted, however, at my basement core I’m pretty simple. My final meal really isn’t that far off from what I eat every chance I get, which is what’s really cool about it. If you love something, stay true & loyal to it even up until the very end.

I’m a person with an addictive personality (shocking, I know!). If I love something, anything, I tend to love it hard & not waver.

Hence: TOMATOES

Specifically a Beefsteak garden tomato!

tomato

That’d be the very first thing to go on my Last Supper list.

Right now Ohio is in the beginning of garden vegetables being ready to harvest (I just love the word, harvest, don’t you?). I have eaten fresh garden tomatoes for every meal for the last four five days. I’ve had some variations, but not much. For instance, for breakfast yesterday I had a sliced tomato with garlic salt & basil…lunch: 2 sliced tomatoes with oregano & onion powder…dinner: (this is where I got creative) an Heirloom & Tomatillo tomato sandwich with vegan mayo, iceberg lettuce & garden-fresh cucumbers. (and for breakfast this morning, the remaining Heirloom & Tomatillo mixture, diced with cucumbers & mixed with Italian dressing & salt).

As you can see, lover of tomato’s here!

freshbreadFresh baked Italian bread would be next on my list. Just out of the oven, warm & smothered in fresh-homemade-sweet cream butter. Mmmmmm…don’t tell me you didn’t just drool a little.

I bake all my own bread & haven’t bought store-bought in months. You’d think I’d be sick of it by now, but again…loyal. Not even close to being sick of it! The fact that with every new loaf I bake I can taste how much better it’s getting, well that’s enough to keep me in the kitchen baking. And if you’ve never had farm-fresh sweet cream butter, I mean fresh-out-of-the-vat & onto-the-table-fresh, YOU HAVE NO I.D.E.A!

For drinks, gotta go with some hot loose-leaf green tea & a glass of Red Wine Sangria

(I’m not picky, I’d take the bottle too!)

I’m a hot green tea drinker, drink about 4-6 cups a day (addictive personality….you seeing it yet?). I don’t drink loose leaf tea very often, mainly because its time-consuming to make (not really, but usually my tea making/drinking is on the way out the door or while at work). Drinking loose leaf tea is an art form, one that I only indulge in on my days off. I use an actual stove top tea kettle to warm my water, pour it steaming hot over my tea leaves & let it steep for a perfect 5 minutes before straining.

Pure *Bliss*!greentea

Loose leaf tea drinking gives me a false sense of fancy. I drink it while reading, journaling, blogging, or doing my Bible devotions. It remains my favorite way to start my day off in a calming mood.

And red wine is my favorite way to end the day!

I’ve only recently (within the last few months) been introduced to Sangria. I’ve always loved red wine (merlots, burgundy, chardonnay) but I avoided sangria assuming it’d be to sweet for my taste buds. Wrong, very, very wrong!

wineFortunately my favorite brand, thus far, hails from a local winery in my hometown & happens to be not far from where I live now. Paper Moon Winery & Vineyards is (literally) right up the road & the wine is also sold locally at various locations.

Instant access, my favorite!

Wine drinking is an addiction that I do try to keep in check, surprisingly excessiveness (word check please) in this addiction might result in some negative consequences! And with the availability of cell phone video cameras, I try to not end up a YouTube star!

And last but not least, I’d have to round out my meal with dessert! Or maybe start, who knows! A Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake & my Grandma Martinez’s homemade pistachio muffins.

dairyqueenAn original ice cream cake (not one of those Blizzard cake nastiness) with the ooey-gooey fudge & cookie crumb center…yowza! It seems like DQ’s are fading away (at least in NE Ohio) & if that company goes bankrupt one day the United States will suffer one of the greatest downfalls of our society; right behind The Civil War & the Great Depression. Altho, now that Pinterest is around I’m sure the cake will somehow live on in pinning infamy. And may I just add that whoever at DQ headquarters that came up with the idea of the DQ ice cream cake, CUPCAKE is nothing short of a genius. My thighs & hips are grateful for the reduced caloric size because I could feasibly eat a whole cake without having a cupcake option.

My Grandma’s pistachio muffins=nom nom heaven!

pistachiomuffin

I first found these little gems while vacationing in Pinehurst, NC several years ago. My Grandma in her infinite ability to re-create dishes at home after eating them out, was able to copy these muffins. She’s not known for following recipes or writing them down, so I have yet to receive a handwritten copy of my favorite. She adds, she takes away, all depending on what she remembers goes into them. That’s okay with me because every time she makes them they always turn out divine.

*SIDE NOTE* Grandma if you’re reading this, it has been awhile since you’ve made a batch. (just putting it out there!)

So that’s my list…pretty simple & totally doable. And I can almost guarantee this would probably be the same list I’d order from room service on my first night in heaven. room serviceDo you think heaven even has room service???

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"HEALTHY" (er) easy, peasy Apple Dumplings…

I recently had dinner with my Grandma (Grandma’s are ALWAYS the best cooks! I think when you become a Grandma you’re automatically a phenomenal cook!) & for dessert she made me some ooey, gooey, apple-burrito thingy-ma-bobs (that’s the “technical term”). They were dee-lish! She even sent me home with leftovers for my next-day work lunch, which I never got to eat after I graciously gave a co-worker a bite only to have him thieve the remanding off my desk when I wasn’t looking…snake!

So I have to give credit when credit is due, the idea for part of this recipe came from her. I “veganized” it & “cleaned” it as much as I could. It does contain honey (since I no longer use refined sugar in my recipe’s).

I used a Honeycrisp Apple, since those are my absolute favorite & I keep them in constant stock on my countertop fruit bowl. I know they’re not known as being good “baking” apples, but I thought they baked up just fine! MacIntosh, Braeburn or Granny Smith would probably be even better (I just rarely branch out from Honeycrisp). Also, I don’t drink pop so its not something I keep stocked, but substituting 7up for Club Soda would give you more of a “sugary” taste in the glaze (since Club Soda is only carbonated water it doesn’t contain sugar to break down. Sauce was pretty bland, which I like, & I tasted more of the natural honey).

Its super easy to make & great for a quick fix when you’re craving something different.

Try it & let me know what you think! Smile

“HEALTHY” (er) easy, peasy Apple Dumplings

appledumplings1

*overlook the Soy Milk & pudding box in this pic. Originally I had tried to make some soy-whipped-cream out of vegan pudding to eat on top. Major Fail!*

1pkg. store bought crescent rolls (I didn’t use a vegan brand for this recipe)

1 large apple

2 TBS honey

cinnamon (however much you want, I’m generous with my cinnamon..mmmmm)

1/2 TBS soy butter (I buy Earth Balance, whipped)

2/3 c club soda

pinch of garlic powder (not salt)

 

Pre-heat oven to 350* (I actually made my batch in the toaster oven). Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. On the stovetop combine club soda, soy butter & honey, cook over med. heat until it thickens up & begins toappledumplings2 get “gooey” (doesn’t caramelize, however, if you use pop it would because of the heavy sugar content), stirring frequently, should take about 10-15min’s.

While sauce is cooking, roll out crescent rolls & separate into individual rolls. Slice apple into at least 8 pieces (one for each crescent roll), place apple slice onto crescent roll & roll up (bet’cha appledumplings3could’ve figured that part out on your own, huh?).

appledumplings4

Pour 1/2 the pot of glaze over top of raw crescent rolls, sprinkle with cinnamon & the pinch of garlic (I know the garlic is weird, but growing up my mom ALWAYS added garlic powder to our cinnamon toast. Growing up she had a 80yr old babysitter that always made her cinnamon toast like that…trust me, its di-vine!!!!). Bake for 30-45min’s. Plate & add extra glaze.

appledumplings5

 

Jump on the computer & send me a comment thanking me for introducing you to this little gem. Smile

No idea the calorie content (I don’t calorie-count anymore). But crescent rolls will run you about 200cal. for each roll. Not healthy by any standards, but healthier than homemade apple-dumplings. So contain yourself from eating the whole package in one sitting (its tough to do!).

You’re welcome!

 

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Healthy Living: In the Kitchen making some Vegan Mayo!!

I’ve had several people ask for different recipe’s that I’ve been experimenting & playing around with. Although, I can’t take full credit for this one (I’ve stolen bits & pieces of this recipe from various sources) this is what I’ve come up with & have tailored it to my specific taste buds.

The final results taste a little like Miracle Whip (which I’m not a fan of!), however, I have not found an ingredient that’s all-natural that I can add to get that “tangy zip” gone. I’ve been recently introduced to citric acid which is an ascorbic “spice” that should work, but I haven’t bought any yet to try it out.  I’ve also played around with different spices; garlic, basil, pepper, etc. to give it different tastes, but this is the base recipe that I use. The cheapest I’ve found “vegan” mayo in the store was around $7/jar, this recipe costs me about $3 & makes about 1/2 a jar (so its almost equivalent to what you’d buy in the store). So far, I’ve preferred my homemade mayo over the vegan brands I’ve tried from the store store (they seem to taste to much like Miracle Whip for my liking). Also, I let the jar sit a few hours (usually overnight) before I eat it, the taste balances out after its been able to combine together.

Keep in mind these ingredients have been tailored to my taste, you may need to play with it a little bit to suit your own taste buds.

Let me know what you think! Smile

Vegan Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

300g Silken Tofu (1pkg., if you can’t find “silken” I’ve used extra soft before, but you may need to blend it a little longer to get that creamy “mayo” consistency)

1 TBL. water

1/4tsp salt

1TBL lemon juice

5tsp brown sugar

1TBL Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

3tsp. white vinegar

veganmayo1

Directions:

add all ingredients together & hand mix, on low, until desired consistency (usually about a minute).*you probably could use a food processor. I don’t have one, but a hand mixer works just fine for me.*

veganmayo2

veganmayo3

 

Store in jar & refrigerate (really not sure how long it’s good for. Mine is usually gone before it starts to go bad).

veganmayo4

 

 

 

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