Culinary Inspirations

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Just to give some forewarning, today’s post is going to be Monday-ish.  You know how Mondays are?  It’s the day when you wake up and have a million thoughts, plans and lists going all at the same time–that’s this post.  Monday-ish.

So, here we go…Give me a good book and an even better piece of produce and I am a happy camper.  Last week, I reached for two of my favorite books and some of my favorite spring-time produce, and I was off.  I have often talked about this book before in past posts, but Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is a book that will change your world.  Not only is it a beautifully crafted piece about Kingsolver and her family’s journey toward eating locally, but it is also filled with the most delicious recipes! I looked out my kitchen window to find our strawberry and rhubarb bed was overflowing with goodness, so I knew this was the book I needed.  I went with one of my favorite recipes in that book: the strawberry rhubarb crisp.  This recipe is a family favorite, using very little refined sugar, and I love cooking it up in my small stoneware baker because I can cook in it and serve from it.  This time, I chose to dish up this gooey creation in our nourish soup bowls, which I thought looked just lovely because of the matching color profiles.  The other reason I have so many of these bowls on hand is because $2 of every bowl is donated to Feeding America.

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Also growing in our strawberry and rhubarb bed is asparagus.  We didn’t have a great crop of asparagus this year, so we supplemented our own with some from the farmers’ market.  I tried a new recipe, pistachio-crusted asparagus with feta vinaigrette, from Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings to showcase this delicious perennial.  It was absolutely divine.  In fact, every recipe I have tried from this book has been a crowd pleaser.

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Now you may have noticed that when discussing the strawberry rhubarb crisp, I mentioned (and linked to) a few of my favorite kitchen essentials.  Please understand, it is not my intention to lure you to my blog with discussions of holistic living and sustainability and then try to sell you something.  Instead, I would love to share some of the kitchen items I use every day, because they help to make my life easier.  My hope is that in sharing this information, I can also help to make your meal preparation easier.

The other reason in sharing this information with you is to provide a means to contribute to my family financially.  After 3 years of debate, I have decided to leave teaching for good and homeschool my daughters.  I have wanted to homeschool ever since my eldest went off to kindergarten, but always held back because homeschooling was just too very far outside the box at that time in my life.  But as I mentioned last week, I need to do what I believe is best for my family, and for us, homeschooling is where it’s at 🙂  I have never beed more sure of a decision in my life, but the fact of the matter is that there will be a gap in our income.  I have worked (or maybe I should say dabbled) as an independent consultant with Pampered Chef for over five years, and I believe it’s business model is one that is keeping with my family’s belief structure.  It is based in Illinois (where we live), many of the products are made in the U.S., they provide funding to Feeding America and the American Cancer Society, and they allow women and men to work from home and put their families first.  So, from time to time, I will share some products that I use, and it is up to you whether or not you would like to link to them and find out more information.  I hope you understand my reasoning in doing this.

Well, if you have followed me through to this point, you have made it thought my Monday stream-of-conciousness post.  Books.  Produce.  Recipes.  Pampered Chef.  Homeschooling.  Lots of Action.

I wish you all a wonderful week, in which you can work through all those thoughts, follow through on all those plans, and check off all those items on your lists.  Happy Monday, friends.

A Year In Review

It is hard to believe that this blustery day in February marks the one year anniversary of Making of a Home.  Thank you so much to all of you who have been following my musings over the course of the last year!  I am deeply grateful for each of you.

Today I would like to share with you some of my favorite (and your favorite) posts from this past year.  Thank you again, and be on the look out for some new and exciting changes and additions to Making of a Home over the course of the next year.

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Chocolate Anyone?

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Inspiration

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Laundry Day

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Upstream

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Let Them Read

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Rhubarb Goodness

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Spring Soup

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It’s In My Blood

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Pastaless Lasagna 

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Fuasa—Italian Easter Bread

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Generational Wealth

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Farm Fresh

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Ode to the Strawberry

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Retreat

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Grandma Dit’s Carrot Cake

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Canning Day

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New Chapter

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Suburban Homestead

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Walk with Us

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Thanksgiving 2012

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Musings

Late Fall Planting

The week of Thanksgiving, we abandoned the warmth of our kitchen to do a bit of gardening.  We recently acquired asparagus and rhubarb crowns, and wanted to get them into the ground before the first major freeze of the season.  So, we took advantage of a seasonably warm afternoon, stepped into our gardening shoes, and dug our fingers into the cool, damp soil.

First on the docket was to sort through our worms from our compost.  The girls and Tyler picked out each individual wormy (as the girls like to call them), and placed them into a fresh compost bin that would be moved inside for the winter.  Then the amazing, black gold was used in the trenches that would house the asparagus roots.

The girls then helped me to separate the asparagus roots, which we concluded look just like how we imagine aliens to look, and placed them deep beneath the surface of the soil.  We did the same with the rhubarb crowns, burying them underneath the black earth in hopes they will produce delicious spring vegetation in a few months.

Spring Soup

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a bit of a crush on Jamie Oliver.  In fact, this year our Thanksgiving meal featured all dishes we gathered from various Jamie Oliver cookbooks.  I am just in love with his fresh approach to food, and that is why I find myself constantly reaching for one of his recipes time and time again when it comes to feeding my family.

My all time favorite cookbook of his is Jamie at Home:  Cook Your Way to the Good Life.  The cookbook is broken down by season, and also explains how he grows the many vegetables highlighted in the recipes.

Yesterday, when I looked out my kitchen window and saw all of those asparagus sprouts reaching out from beneath the soil, I knew it was time for my favorite spring soup.  The recipe below is an adaptation of a recipe from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver.

1 1/2 lbs. asparagus (chopped)

2 white or yellow onions (chopped)

2 leeks (chopped)

2 celery stalks (chopped)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 lb fresh spinach

3 quarts stock (You can use any stock of your choice here, depending on your preference.  The soup I made last night featured pork stock.)

salt and pepper to taste

Put the olive oil in a large stock pot and heat over medium to high heat.  Then add your onions, leeks, and celery.  Cook until the veggies are tender, but not browning.  Add the chopped asparagus and spinach.  Stir a bit more until the asparagus is warmed and the spinach begins to wilt.  Then add your stock, cover the pot and turn down the heat.  Let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Take the lid off and run an immersion blender through the soup.  Salt and pepper to taste.

I normally then poach some fresh eggs and add those to the soup once it has been dished up.

Enjoy!