Monday, February 25, 2019

Blooms & Shrooms, Two Recipes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Today, I'm going to share two recipes.  I had a request to share the vegetarian meatball recipe, and I also wanted to share the best "sweet" treat I've found so far.  I printed out the meatball recipe, and I'm sorry to say it has no identifying info.  I've not been able to find it again in a search, but will be happy to give credit to it's creator if someone knows.

Italian Vegetarian Meatballs

2 onions finely chopped (a food processor is helpful; I only use 1 onion)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 clove garlic, crushed in garlic press (or chopped)

Combine all the ingredients, mixing well.  With wet hands, form into small, even sized balls.  Fry in hot oil until browned all over.

Serve as spaghetti and meatballs by topping with tomato sauce.  The recipe can also be made into patties and served with mushroom gravy and vegetables.  Also in pita bread with salad and aioli.

I will say I only fry food once or twice a year, and this was really oily for me, though they do taste nice.  The next recipe came from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.  I've not been given a cancer diagnosis, but many family members have (3 out of 4 grandparents, my Mom, an uncle, aunt,  & cousin), so it seems wise to eat health-promoting foods, and it fits my Dr's diet recommendations.

Anytime Bars

1 cup raw pecan halves
1 cup whole raw almonds
4 tbs brown rice flour, GF flour, or coconut flour
2 tbs finely ground flaxseeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup pitted dates (preferably medjool), quartered
1 cup unsulphured dried apricots, cut in half
1 organic egg
5 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (I regularly toast nuts and seeds for recipes, and find it easier to keep an eye on them in a pan on the stove top.  I do both nuts at the same time.  Your choice).  Lightly oil a 9" square pan.

Spread the pecans in a single layer (if choosing this method) on the prepared baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, until aromatic and slightly browned.  Watch them carefully, as they can burn easily.  Repeat this process for the almonds.  Turn down the oven to 325.

Combine the flour, flax seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor and process for 5 seconds to combine.  Add the pecans and almonds and pulse 5 times to coarsely chop the nuts.  Add the oats, dates, and apricots and pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture is well chopped but still coarse.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla together until thoroughly combined. Add the fruit and nut mixture and use your hands to mix thoroughly, being sure to separate any clumps of fruit.  Spread the mixture in the oiled baking pan in an even layer and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until set and golden brown; don't overbake, or the bars will be too dry.  Let pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then cut into 25 squares.  Leave the bars in the pan until completely cool so they'll hold together when you remove them.

-use walnuts instead of pecans
-Add 1/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, raisins or currants when mixing together at the end.
-Add 1 tbs grated orange zest when mixing together at the end.
-Add 2 tbs sesame seeds when mixing together at the end.
-Add 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut when mixing together at the end.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for 2 months.

So, I use coconut flour for this recipe.  I sub honey for the maple syrup due to Dr's orders, but I bet maple syrup would be wonderful.  I use whatever dried fruit I have in place of apricots; the first batch was a berry cherry mix, the second batch tart cherries. I use my coffee grinder for the flax seeds.  These have a light sweetness, but satisfy that craving for me.  I plan to try some of the variations next time. 

Running errands after work, I saw an Aronia Berry at Tractor Supply, and purchased it.  If it's not a taste we love, apparently the birds love them.  I purchased 3 flower seed packets at Big Lots for $1 ea.  Last week, I ordered several bare root shrubs at one of the feed & seeds, which we'll pick up this weekend.  J & I discussed where to plant them, and marked the spots.  I prepared a dish of homegrown spaghetti squash and lambs quarter, and another of potatoes and rutabaga.  Bread ends were added to a pan, to dry for bread crumbs.  Eggs were boiled for the pups.  I made homemade thousand island dressing, yogurt and suet.  Our sweet potatoes were baked on a raw day, adding warmth to the house.  I used the wood stove to help melt oils for soapmaking.

future dye stuffs- sweet gum balls & magnolia pods
A pot of pine cones was simmered on the wood stove, then set outside to cool for future dyeing.  I've read about using soy milk as a mordant prior to dyeing, and pre-treated several items with this method.  It's recommended they sit a week before dyeing, so they are currently resting.  Another two cabinets were cleaned while waiting for eggs to boil... well, a bit after, but I was on a roll.  I watched one of the best picture nominees on amazon.  Honestly, I found none of the characters terribly compelling, and was disappointed in the movie as a whole.  Ah, well.  It rained all day Friday, so I caught up on all manner of small tasks.  Our laundry hampers were overflowing, so I did a load of J's work clothes, and dried them in the dryer.  I'm hoping to catch laundry up on Tuesday, when I'll be home and the weather may cooperate.

early peach blossoms
I made pasta sauce with homegrown tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, basil and rosemary.  J & I picked up the bare root shrubs on Saturday, after dropping our taxes off.  Only 2 of the 4 requested were available, but we got them planted into our soup of a ground, with homemade compost and bone meal I picked up at the Feed & Seed.  The two shrubs I received were New Jersey Tea and Sweet Pepperbush.  I hope they'll be happy here.  We're supposed to have a couple of days reprieve from the rain, before it begins again.  The ground is a mucky mess, but our cisterns are full, so I'm thankful for that.  Wishing you a lovely week, friends. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Thrifted Treasures & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you had a happy Valentine's Day.  Last week, I made my Swagbucks goal x 3, and they finally gave me credit for our September vacation, which will be enough for several gift cards.   A gallon jar of queen olives that were given to us was opened, with a quart jar of them put in the fridge and the big jar put in the basement to stay cool (low 50's).  They may be fine in the brine, as we love olives and will likely eat them quickly, but the cooler temps seemed wise.  I gathered a bucket of sweet gum balls for a future dyeing project.  I also gathered magnolia pods.  A delightful chicken canister was won at an auction at Hospice, which I'll turn into a compost crock.  This is the perfect time of year to be working on them, as people's thoughts will soon be turning to their gardens.

A new recipe for vegetarian meatballs was tried, and I'm enjoying them.   I made mushroom gravy with one of the bags of maitake I had frozen to use with them.  I haven't tried the other suggestions, with tomato sauce and in pita bread with aioli sauce, but think they'd be good those ways as well.  After delivering soap, I picked up a few groceries, and stopped at several thrift stores.  I found a very nice blue canister to turn into a compost crock at one.  It was covered with old grease, and still had flour in it, but it cleaned up fine.  Another store had some men's clothes on sale for $2.  I was able to get J a soft merino wool sweater, and a NWT Land's End shirt.  Food Lion had asparagus for $1.99, which I purchased, as it will be a month or more before we can harvest any of ours.  I dropped off two books at a little free library.

two new compost crocks
At the quilt guild meeting last week, I learned about a sewing day they have each month at the senior center.  I attended, took the bed cover I've been working on, and got the border squares tied to the backing.  It was enjoyable, and I got tips from several of the ladies there.  Afterwards, I headed to the RSPCA thrift store to drop a box off.  I found a book of embroidery stitches for .50, three packs of candlewick thread for .25 ea, and a pretty, large blue bail jar for $3.  I'd forgotten about their policy of needing a $10 purchase to use a card, and had not thought to bring cash.  I started to put things back, when the man behind me in line offered to add several of his items to mine, to add up to $10, then gave me cash for them.  Wasn't that nice?  People are good.  I dehydrated green onions and oregano.  Butternut squash crumble was made using our squash and parsley, and asparagus was steamed.   In between coats of paint for an order, I got the holes drilled in the compost crocks.  It's turned cold and damp here this weekend, the kind of raw days where it's good to take care of indoor tasks and await warmer days.  J & I watched a movie on amazon prime.  Have a lovely week, friends.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Early Flowers, Permaculture & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  We've had a mix of warm and cool days this week.  I was able to hang laundry on the line three days, including sheets which I put right back on the bed.  They smelled so good to crawl into.  I made suet and yogurt.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse, and fruit and vegi scraps were added to the compost.  A pan of dried, crushed eggs shells was added to the compost bin.  After work, I stopped at Walgreens, and bought sharpie pens BOGO, and got $4 in rewards for buying cashews.  I'd been given a couple of cords I didn't need when I bought the computer monitor at the thrift store last week.  When I dropped them off, I bought a canister to turn into a compost crock at half price.

I finished getting my taxes ready Thursday morning.  Yippee!  Every year, I learn something I can do to make it easier, and make notes for future years.  I drilled holes in the canister lid that I'm turning into a compost crock, and painted an order.  It's been unseasonably warm, and I've really been enjoying having windows open, as it's soon to turn cold again.  It's the longest it hasn't rained in a while, so after I vacuumed, I mopped the floors.  In the evening, I met a friend for an inexpensive dinner, then we went to the local quilt guild's meeting, where they had a speaker on basic sewing machine information.  We both picked up a few tips, and met some nice ladies.

After hanging laundry on the line on Friday, I worked some more on the chop and drop around the fruit trees.  I pruned the kiwis, cut and added their trimmings around two blueberries and several fruit trees along the driveway.  I then covered up the trimmings with some of the bale of spoiled hay.  It was a good workout, but I'm happy to have it done, and hope the trees will reward us with more fruit.  I baked our sweet potatoes for dinner.  The forsythia is making flower buds, and daffodils and one of the hellebores are flowering.

blackberry with chop and drop, before covering
On Saturday, I again worked on the chop and drop.  This time, elderberries were pruned and added around various berries.  A second patch of elderberries was pruned, and trimmings added around several figs.  For a year or so, I've been following a woman in Ireland who has created a beautiful permaculture paradise over 13 years.  She is in her 60's, and does almost all of the work herself, which is encouraging.  I also love the fact that she is only an hour or so from where my grandparents grew up.  If you'd like to view her lovely videos on fb, or visit her, she's at Bealtaine Cottage.  The compost crock and 5 ebay listings were photographed, shipping calculated, and then listed on Sunday.
It's turned colder and begun raining.  Soup and salad seemed in order.  I made a lentil soup, using home canned lentils and our leek and celery.  The celery was from some of the store bought bottoms I planted last year.  They're doing great in the cold frame.  Wishing you a peaceful week, friends.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Early February & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  If you've been having to deal with frigid temperatures, I hope you've been able to stay safe and warm and cozy.  Last week, I redeemed a coupon for a free can of dog food.  I made potato leek soup, using our potatoes and broth.  My new boots were sealed, and I've enjoyed hiking in them.  I worked many hours on taxes last week, and think/hope the end is in sight.  The main day I worked on taxes, I put a pot of apple cider on the wood stove, with a cinnamon stick and some cloves.  I sipped on this throughout the cold day.  A simple treat, but it helped to keep me motivated.  Scratch paper was used for notes and lists.  I made yogurt and thousand island dressing.  Our canned crowder peas and sweet potatoes were used for dinner one night.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse, and egg shells saved in a pan to dry for compost.

Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  I made carrot pineapple salad, and individually froze the remainder of the crushed pineapple, enough for 3 more salads.  Homemade yogurt was used in the salad.  I pruned several fruit trees and bushes.  I'm wanting to move more towards permaculture principles, and did what is called chop and drop, cutting up and piling the trimmings beneath each tree to break down.  We have a partial large bale of spoiled hay, and I intend to cover the trimmings with this.   I've enjoyed watching youtube videos on permaculture, and joined a permaculture fb group.  I'm writing ideas down to try as I learn them.  Even with gardening organically here for many years, there always seem to be challenges.  I know that permaculture can't fix the problem of squirrels or other critters getting our fruit, for example, but if there was more of a bounty of fruit, maybe there would be enough for everyone.  That's my hope.

hawk on windmill
Potato salad was made using our potatoes and parsley.  The hens continue to lay well, and I was able to share a dozen eggs.  I gathered chickweed, and gave them kitchen scraps.  We harvested collards, which were substituted for kale in J's allergy soup.  I made a purchase at Harbor Freight, used a 20% off coupon, and got a free tarp.  With J & I not able to have milk at present, I froze 2 quarts for the future, and used the rest for making yogurt.  I uncovered the cold frame with lettuce, chard, and celery, as there are no freezing temps in the forecast.  Though it looks like we're having a warming trend, I will keep an eye on it, and cover it back up as needed.  I had a couple of ebay sales, and worked on a number of new items to list.  Dinner was eaten by candlelight all but one night.  When I looked out the kitchen window one day, I saw a large bird on top of a non-functioning windmill by the garden.  I went out on the porch, and still didn't know what it was when I snapped a pic.  Shortly after, it took off in my direction, and I saw it was a hawk.  We often see them in February, when they're migrating.  Wishing you a good week.