Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crumb Topping for Cauliflower

Crumb Topping for Cauliflower

For me, cauliflower was always a childhood dread.  Hours were spent at the dinner table with only these white blobs left on my plate.......OK - maybe not hours but it seemed like it at the time.
Until one day my genius of a mom created this buttery elegant crumb topping.  This addition made the horrid vegetable into a classy enjoyable side dish.

1 small head of cauliflower (washed, cut and cooked/steamed)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup Italian seasoned Bread Crumbs (a heaping 1/2 cup is best)

In a medium size pan - melt the butter and then add the bread crumbs.  Continue cooking/frying only for a few minutes until it is a golden brown color (as seen below).  It can burn very quickly - so you must stir all the time.

Add to your already cooked/steamed cauliflower and ENJOY!

It doesn't sound or look like much but trust me - try it - you'll never go back to plain cauliflower.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reap the Fruit of Unfailing Love

"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground;  for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."  Hosea 10:12

Growing fruit involves a lot of hard work.  First you must plow the ground and expose the earth underneath - bringing the nutrients up to the surface.  Then you must plant a seed or seedling in the correct way and at the correct depth.  And then you must constantly provide the correct amount of water and fertilizer and in some cases protect the tree against certain pests.  Finally growing fruit involves patience - in many cases it takes years for a fruit tree to become established and produce a single piece of fruit.

It is the same with our life.  If we are to "reap the fruit of unfailing love" we must first rototill our personality and bring up to the surface our good and righteous traits and work through the rocks that would stop us from being Christ like.  Then we must sow seeds (our actions) and do what is right in every and all situations.  Most importantly we must seek the Lord - He is our water of Life, our nutrition and protector against all pests.  Only then will we overflow with Christ-like love .......... remember Love never fails.

Let us try to live our life so that we will be like a fruit tree overflowing with the fruit of unfailing love.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flower Friday - Rose Jewelry

The necklace shown above is still available in my Etsy shop click ROSE to view more details.

Flower Friday - Rose Jewelry

All of the rose pictures that I used for these Rose Garden Gems are photos that I took from my father's Rose garden.  At one point my dad had 100 rose bushes around his house - he started all of these rose bushes himself.  He has a technique for starting rose bushes from a cutting or even from a dozen cut roses that you would buy at a florist shop (In the summer I will be starting a monthly or bi-monthly post called "Frank's Flowers" where I will be sharing these techniques and sharing some pictures of the gorgeous roses from my dad's garden).

The rose in this necklace shown above is called "Rolly" and it is still available in my Etsy shop click ROLLY to view more details.

"Eiffel Tower" is the name of the rose bud shown in these earings - I wish I could share the wonderful scent of this rose.  These earings shown above sold but If you would like to see more pictures then click TOWER .

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coconut Cocoa Cream Pie

Coconut Cocoa Cream Pie

This is another perfect marriage of flavors: Coconut, Cocoa and Cream.  The inside is a traditional Coconut Cream pie filling but inbetween the crust and cream filling is a thin layer of melted chocolate and then the entire delight is topped with cocoa whipping cream!

(heaping) 1/2 cup  sugar                                                   Printable Recipe
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil (this is solid like butter available in a health food store)
1 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)

1.  Make a single pie crust (preferably from scratch - click: The Basics of Baking - Pie Crust)
2.  Roll out the pie crust dough, place in a pie pan, flute the edges and then prick the bottom with a fork (so that it won't puff up)
3.  Bake your pie crust in a preheated 475 degree oven for 8 to 10 mintues.
4.  IMPORTANT: You must allow this crust to fully cool before filling.
5.  In a medium size sauce pan - stir the sugar, corn starch and salt until mixed.
6.  Into the saucepan - slowly pour in the milk - stirring all the time.
7.  Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and bring to a boil stirring all the time.
8.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.
9.  In a different bowl - lightly whisk the egg yolks.
10. ALSO IMPORTANT:  You will add 1/3 of the hot milk/cornstarch liquid (that you just brought to a boil) into the bowl with the egg yolks (you must stir all the time.  This will avoid any stringy cooked egg yolk) (see the picture below on the left)
11.  Now you can add this egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the hot liquid without worrying about any stringy eggs (again stirring all the time).
12.  Return the saucepan to the heat and boil for 1 minute (stirring) - see the picture below on the right.

13.  Remove from the heat and turn off the burner.
14.  Stir in the vanilla, butter, coconut oil & coconut flakes until the butter & coconut oil are totally melted (see picture below)

15.  Allow this filling to cool for 10 minutes.
16.  Melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of butter or coconut oil.  Spread (or brush) this melted mixture onto the inside of the pie crust (as seen below).  Allow the chocolate to harden in the freezer for 5 minutes.

17.  Now pour the coconut cream mixture into the pie crust on top of the thin chocolate layer (this thin chocolate layer is my mom's genius creation)
18.  Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour (I always place toothpicks in the cream filling before covering with the plastic wrap - that way when you take the cover off- it won't take 1/2 the filling with it)

Now for the final step - the Cocoa Cream topping
Cocoa Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/8 cup powdered sugar

19.  Using an electric mixer - Start whipping the cream and half way through (before it is fully whipped) add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and continue whipping until stiff.

20.  Now remove the pie from the fridge,  Take the plastic cover and the toothpicks out and then spread the top with the whipped Cocoa Cream.

Slice and ENJOY!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seed Catalogs - 5th Review

If you have ever been caught talking to your plants.......then you might just be a "Garden Nerd".

Over the next few months I will be reviewing and grading some of the seed catalogs that I have received for 2012.

Here's how it works - There are 4 categories:
A:  Variety of seeds and plants
B: Unique Items - original items that I have not seen in any other catalog
C: Visual - cover and content - graphics
D: Organization - are the items easy to find? and does the overall catalog flow well?.

The grading system:

and an extra Bonus Point for excelling in 1 area

Each category will be graded using this system making "9" the perfect score (including the Bonus point).

Please feel free to participate - if you have ever ordered anything from any of these catalogs then please feel free to comment.....good or bad.  Afterall - I am giving these companies free advertisement.  ENJOY!

Seed Catalogs - 5th Review (Johnny's Selected Seeds)

A:  This catalog has a fantastic variety of everything (except fruit trees - they only have seeds - no plants - but I was still so impressed with the vast variety of seeds).
2 points
B:  Rainbow carrots     
     Greens Harvester
     Purple Okra
     Black cherry Tomato
     Glaser Wheel Hoe
     Soil Block Makers
     Many different Seeders
2 points

C:  The photos were clear but nothing creative or original.  The cover is nothing spectacular - I would not have picked up this catalog if I had seen it on a shelf with the other seed catalogs that have been reviewing on this blog.
1 point

D: Perfect Organization.
2 points

Winner of the Greens Award - There are pages and pages of greens/lettuces - wonderful!
1 point

That makes a grand total of 8

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fruit of Righteousness

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God."  Philemon :9-11

I looked up the book of Philemon in my Bible Commentary to get some history behind this tiny New Testament book.  Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to his friend Philemon.  Philemon was the host to a church group in his house.  The Commentary also states that Philemon had a servant named "Onesimus" (it was common and acceptable in that day to have servants).

Onesimus was a thief and had stollen from Philemon and then abandoned his servanthood.  Somehow, when Onesimus was on the run, he came into contact with Paul (before Paul was imprisoned) and through Paul became a Christian.  Onesimus knew that it was his Christian duty to return to Philemon as a servant and to "right" his wrong.

Now Paul loved both Philemon and Onesimus as brothers in Christ.  The whole premise of this letter is to encourage Philemon to do what is right and forgive Onesimus and accept him as his brother in Christ.  

I'm so impressed with how diplomatic and positive  Paul's encouragement is in this letter.  You can't even tell that it is constructive criticism because Paul is so warm and loving.  There have been so many times in my life when I have said something wanting to be helpful but the way that I said it sounded negative and hurtful.  Instead of saying "Philemon you are not treating Onesimus correctly" - Paul says:  "it is my prayer that your love may abound"........Instead of saying "Philemon you are wrong" - Paul says: "be able to discern what is best".............Instead of saying "Philemon you are a disappointment and are going to have to answer for your actions" - Paul says:  that you "may be pure and blameless"............"filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ."

Let us try to be pure and blameless in our daily lives - being filled with the fruit of righteousness through Christ Jesus.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Making Cherry Jam from Frozen Fruit

Making Cherry Jam from Frozen Fruit

Near the end of winter I begin to get that "canning-itch" and it is also the time of year when I spring clean my freezer.  This year I found some sour cherries that I froze to make cherry pie but I decided to use them for making jam instead. 

Sour cherry jam is wonderful in homemade yogurt or kefir.

4 cups chopped sour cherries (frozen&thawed or fresh) (washed, pitted & chopped.  NOTE:  My cherry jam is very chunky because I just crushed my cherries - there are some whole cherries but that doesn't bother me - if you don't like this then you must chop them)
Juice from 1 lemon
1 package of fruit pectin
4 1/2 cups of sugar (I always use less sugar because in my opinion most jams & jellies are too sweet.  I used 4 cups)

1.  Gather your canning jars, lids and rings (you will need 6 or 7 half pints). 
     Canning Basics - Jar Sizes.  Also, gather all other canning supplies: Other Canning Supplies
2.  In a large stainless steel pot mix the fruit (chopped cherries - washed and pitted), lemon juice and fruit pectin - stir until pectin is dissolved.
3.  Start the water boiling for Jar sterilization:  Sterilizing Jars & Lids
4.  Bring the fruit mixture to a full boil over meduim-high heat - gently stirring all the time.
5.  Add the entire amount of sugar (again - I use the lesser amount - 4 cups) - stirring until
6.  Bring this mixture to a full boil again - continuously stirring.  Boil hard for a full minute (you will
     notice some foamy stuff on top - that is supposed to happen.  If it boils too close to the top of
     the pot then you will need to turn the heat down slightly).  Constant stirring is a must!
7.  Remove the pot from heat and skim foam off the top and discard the foam.
8.  By now your jars should be sterilized and ready to be filled.  Take the jars out of the boiling
     water (I use my jar remover and make sure that the water is drained out of each jar).  Fill
     each jar up to the threads of the jar (about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of headspace)
9.  Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp cloth making sure that any jam residue is gone (any
      residue left on the rim can stop the jar from sealing).
10. Place a sterilized lid on each jar and then tighten a ring on each jar.
11. Place all jars in a "Water Bath Canner" and process (boil) the jars for 10 minutes (make
      sure that the water level in the Canner is 1 inch above the tallest jar)
12. Remove the jars and place them on the counter or table to cool (I always place them on a
      cloth because there have been a few times when a jar cracked and then the jam oozed out
      making a mess - the cloth will help if that happens).  You will hear the wonderful popping
      sound of your jars sealing.
13. Allow the jar to cool for 24 hours and then store in your pantry or in your fruit cellar until the
      winter (or in this case the spring  ;-))  and then enjoy a little bit of summer.


Other Jam/Jelly Recipes on this blog:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Basics - Making Pita Chips

The Basics - Making Pita Chips

Pita Chips are so easy to make, which makes me wonder why "already-made" pita chips bought in the store can run close to $5.

Buy 1 package of pita bread (the very thin kind). 

 Take 2 pitas out of the package and separate each pita in half (as seen in the picture above)(you should have 4 pita halves).

Melt 1/4 cup butter (you may use olive oil instead).

Brush the butter on both sides of each pita-half.

Sprinkle with garlic salt or just plain sea salt.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Flip each pita half and bake for another 5 minutes.

Allow to cool and then break up into smaller pieces.


VARIATIONS:  Experiment with different flavors - before you spread the melted butter - try adding some dried herbs - be creative.

examples:     Italian:  basil, oregano & garlic salt

lemon pepper and dill

Cilantro & lime juice for dipping in salsa

try a sweet one:  cinnamon and brown sugar sprinkled on top instead of salt & then dip in yogurt.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Victorian Gingerbread for Valentine's Day


"Love the Lord your God with all  your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
Matthew 22:37

"Love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22:39

Victorian Gingerbread for Valentine's Day

A while back I watched a BBC show called "Royal Upstairs Downstairs."  The 2 reporters on this show followed Queen Victoria and visited the castles and manor houses that the queen had stayed at throughout her lifetime.  One of the reporters went "upstairs" to show us how the aristocracy of the day lived and the other reporter went "downstairs" showing us the life of the servants of that era. 

I was absolutely fascinated with the "downstairs" life of the kitchen staff.  There was a "food historian" who demonstrated exactly how food was prepared at that time using historically accurate utensils and techniques.  It was amazing to watch how painstakingly food was prepared over 100 years ago.

Each episode showcased 1 dish that would have been common during Queen Victoria's life.  In one episode they made "Victorian Gingerbread" - they did NOTgive a recipe - however they did give the ingredients (not the measurements).  Giving the ingredients was enough for me to try to figure it out for myself.  I am pleased with the results. 

The story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is such a romantic love story.  She spent 40 years of her life as a widow and wore black for those 40 years.

Of course, nothing can compare to God's love - afterall "God is Love."  Please take some time to read 1 Corinthians 13 (the entire chapter) - it is all about LOVE.

This recipe is available in my ebook:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Good Fruit or Bad Fruit?

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.  People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."  Luke 6:43 to 45

I am reminded of a pear tree that has been growing in my yard for years.  This tree has never looked very "good" or healthy and has only produced a couple of pears over the years.  These few pears were gnarly and unedible (I really need to cut this tree down - it is a waste of space).  If this tree was strong and vigorous and still produced distorted fruit then I would be shocked - but since it looks bad I expect it to produces bad fruit. 

It's the same with people - Good conduct can only come from a good heart.  I'm sure we've all heard that old saying "actions speak louder than words" - well, our actions show others what is truly in our heart.  Good fruit from a bad tree is the same as saying good deeds from a bad man.

Also, there is the fruit tree that produces fruit that looks perfect but when you cut it open it is mushy, rotted and unedible.  I'm also sure that we all can think of somebody who performed a deed that seemed "good" at the time but then later, when that action was cut open or tested, the true selfish motive was learned.

Through our actions our heart is open for everyone to see what's inside.  If Jesus fills your heart then only good fruit should overflow.  Let us pay attention to our actions and motives this week. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Seed Catalogs - 4th Review

You know you're a "Garden Nerd" when.......strangers start commenting about your dirt stained hands and the atrocious condition of your finger nails.

Here's how it works - There are 4 categories:
A:  Variety of seeds and plants
B: Unique Items - original items that I have not seen in any other catalog
C: Visual - cover and content - graphics
D: Organization - are the items easy to find? and does the overall catalog flow well?.

The grading system:

and an extra Bonus Point for excelling in 1 area

Each category will be graded using this system making "9" the perfect score (including the Bonus point).

Please feel free to participate - if you have ever ordered anything from any of these catalogs or just want to state your opinion- then please feel free to comment.....good or bad.  Afterall - I am giving these catalogs free advertisement.  ENJOY!

Seed Catalogs - 4th Review (R.H. Shumway's)

A:  This catalog has a decent variety of seeds.
1.5 points
B:  Bean & Pea Sheller
     Mushroom growing kits
     Fruit Picker
     Green Striped Cushaw Pumpkin
     Earth worms - composting worms
     Vegetable Brush Collection
2 points

C:  This catalog should be framed - inside and out - the back and the front - an absolute work of art.  It also has a vintage look.  It didn't matter that there weren't any real photos - the drawings are so realistic.  The size is large like a newspaper - very comfortable to hold while reading.
2 points

D: The flow was just OK - the miscellaneous items were just plopped here and there.
1 point

Winner of the Art Award - I'm just so impressed - see the pictures of the front, back and inside.
1 point

That makes a grand total of 7.5

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ricotta Almond Sugar Cookies

Ricotta Almond Sugar Cookies

I am one of those people that can eat some form of chocolate every single day.....but I know that many get sick of chocolate (especially around any winter holiday).
These sugar cookies are a good diversion from the St. Valentine's day oversweetness.  These are Plain, Moist, Simple ......and delicious.

This recipe is available in my ebook:


Monday, February 6, 2012

Seed Catalogs - 3rd Review

If you have ever asked for a "High Wheel Cultivator" for your anniversary or birthday.......then you might just be a "Garden Nerd".

Over the next few months I will be reviewing and grading some of the seed catalogs that I have received for 2012.

Here's how it works - There are 4 categories:
A:  Variety of seeds and plants
B: Unique Items - original items that I have not seen in any other catalog
C: Visual - cover and content - graphics
D: Organization - are the items easy to find? and does the overall catalog flow well?.

The grading system:

and an extra Bonus Point for excelling in 1 area

Each category will be graded using this system making "9" the perfect score (including the Bonus point).

Please feel free to participate - if you have ever ordered anything from any of these catalogs then please feel free to comment.....good or bad.  Afterall - I am giving these companies free advertisement.  ENJOY!

Seed Catalogs - 3rd Review (Farmer Seed and Nursery)

A:  This catalog has shrubs and flowering trees as well as flowers, fruit trees and vegetable seeds - However there was not a large variety in each category.
1.5 points
B: Voodoo Bulb Calla Lily           
      Brandywine - Purple Raspberry 
1 point

C:  I like the Logo and the size of the catalog but I did not like the inside layout at all.
1 point

D:  Not a good flow - very choppy
1 point

No bonus point

That makes a grand total of 4.5 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - LOVE

But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22 & 23

Today we will begin a nine part series that I call "Spiritual Fruit of the Month Club".  Have you ever seen or received a gift where you are entered into a club and once a month you are sent a box of fruit - a different kind of fruit each month?  Well, that is what we will be doing here - on the first Sunday of each month for the next nine months I will be sending you a digital box of "Spiritual Fruit."  We will study and try to use that fruit in our daily lives.

When we become a Christian we are filled with the Holy Spirit and these "fruits" (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) are the characteristics that overflow from us.

Today we will concentrate on LOVE.  I think we could spend the whole year studying "God's Love" - so many authors have written books solely on this subject.  However, we will only be spending 1 day on this subject and that's why I am narrowing it down to Love and fear.  Where there is love - no fear can exist.

"There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The man who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

The first thing that I thought of is that we must "fear" our heavenly Father - it says so all throughout the old testament.  There are many different kinds of love (eg in the Greek language - Agape, Eros etc) and I also believe that there are different kinds of fear.  I believe that as children of God, we are to respect, honor, revere and admire Him - instead of the modern day meaning of "fear" (terror, panic, dread and horror).

"Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:7

When I read "there is no fear in love" - I recalled when my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma...... I was afraid.....terrified even.  My love for him wanted to protect him but of course in my own power I was helpless.  We had to trust in God and hope for the future and in so doing we were able to persevere.  It's all about love - love never fails.

Please take some time this month to read
1 Corinthians 13 (the entire chapter) - it is all about LOVE.  Also, let us try to use this Spiritual fruit box of - LOVE in our daily lives.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Garden Preserved Beef Stew

Garden Preserved Beef Stew

Nothing says "Comfort Food" like homemade Beef Stew.

Today we will be using 3 items from my garden:

Parsnips (mulched the same way as carrots)

2 lbs beef (cut for stew)                                                                  Printable Recipe
1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
1 large celery stalk (washed and chopped)
3 carrots (peeled and chopped)
3 parsnips (peeled and chopped)
3 potatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 quart tomato sauce (preferably homemade tomato sauce)(If you are using store bought then look for a chunky sauce or a can of chopped tomatoes).
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
ground black pepper to taste

NOTE:  If you don't like parsnips then simply add 3 more carrots instead.

Prepare all of the ingredients as listed above.  Use a large casserole dish with a lid or a roasting pan with a lid.  Spray the dish or spread a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Spread the stew meat on the bottom of your dish.  Pour 1 cup of the tomato sauce on top of the meat (and reserve the remaining tomato sauce for later).  Now spread all of the vegetables (onion, celery, carrots, parsnips and potatoes) on top of the meat/sauce.  In a small bowl - stir together the salt, sugar and tapioca.....and then sprinkle that on top of the vegetables.  Finally, pour the remaining tomato sauce on top of everything.  
NOTE:  the pepper can be added now or after it is cooked on each individual plate according to taste. 

Bake in a preheated 250 degree (F) oven for 4 hours (remember to cover your baking dish).

I like to serve this stew with homemade biscuits.


© (2012)

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