Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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After finding my family’s old ice cream maker in my dad’s basement a few weeks back, I decided it was time to test it out again after over 25 years. ¬†The ice cream maker still worked great, and I was so happy to be able to find an excuse to make homemade ice cream in the middle of winter ūüôā

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cups organic half and half

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream

1 cup organic sugar

8 organic egg yolks

2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

Place the half & half and whipping cream in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. ¬†Mix the sugar into the egg yolks. ¬†Once the half & half and whipping cream have reached a simmer, temper the eggs with the mixture. ¬†Continue to stir the custard mixture over medium heat for 5-8 minutes. ¬†Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. ¬†Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate until cool. ¬†Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s instructions. ¬†Enjoy!

Variations:

Chocolate Ice Cream:  Add 1 1/2 cups organic cocoa powder to the cream mixture and then simmer.

Pistachio Ice Cream:  Replace the organic vanilla extract with organic almond extract.  Then add 1 1/2 cups chopped pistachios once the mixture is cooled.

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Kale Cubes

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Every November, we find ourselves with an overabundance of kale that gets hit with a hard frost and dies.  It always makes me feel just sick to know all of that healthy vegetation has gone to waste and ends up in the compost bin.  This year my husband came up with a great idea:  kale cubes.

When my oldest daughter was a baby, we made her baby food.  We threw a bunch of fruit and veggies in a blender with a bit of water, pureed it, and then froze it in ice cube trays.  Once the cubes froze, we popped the cubes out into a gallon-size freezer bag.  That way, at mealtime, we would just take out the cubes we wanted, heat them up, and viola…ready-to-eat baby food.  So, last week my husband came up with the brilliant idea to do this same thing with our kale!  Then that way, once winter settles in and we are longing for some healthy greens, we can pop a couple of our kale cubes into our blender to add some nutrients to our morning smoothies.

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All I did was harvest and wash some of our kale, threw it in our Vitamix with about one cup of water, pureed it until the mixture was nearly smooth, poured the puree into ice cube trays and popped them in the freezer. ¬†The next day, I popped out the cubes and put them in a gallon-sized freezer bag. ¬†Now they are all set for those February morning breakfast smoothies ūüôā

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Early September in the Garden

As fall quickly approaches, the end of the gardening season is just around the corner.  But with everything going on in our garden, one would never know it.  So, for now, we are just so very grateful for all that our garden provides for us.

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As I mentioned last Tuesday, our tomatoes are in full swing right now.  That means lots of canning is taking place around our house.  This year I am attempting something new after reading my favorite blog.  I am roasting my tomatoes and basil with a bit of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a 450 degree oven until the tomatoes begin to brown.  I then let it cool to room temperature, scoop the mixture into quart jars, and freeze them.

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On a fun tomato note, last year I grew Mexican Midget tomatoes and Green Zebra tomatoes in our school garden. ¬†At the end of the growing season, my students and I tried a little experiment. ¬†We picked about 3 tomatoes from each plant, sliced them very, very thin and left them to dry out on a coffee filter. ¬†Once the tomatoes were dry, I stuck them in my file cabinet until this past March. ¬†Then, using our class pet’s castings (Yes, we had worms as a class pet!) as a base, we placed the coffee filters (with the dried tomato slices on them) on top of the compost. ¬†We then coated the dried tomatoes with a thin layer of compost. ¬†Once mid-May hit, we transplanted the small tomato plants into our school garden and I also took some home. ¬†Above is the result of our experiment: ¬†some Green Zebras (left), some Mexican Midgets (right), and a nice cross pollinated version (middle). ¬†And the result of this cross is just delicious because it is sweet like a Mexican Midget, but also has a tang to it similar to the Green Zebra. ¬†Science is so fun!

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Our milkweed has begun to go to seed, and with my daughters’ current obsession with Little House on the Prairie, we are drying the seed pods and then plan to use the wispy, silky fibers to stuff a small doll.

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For the first time ever, we are growing pumpkins.  And they are actually growing!  I cannot express my excitement when I went out to weed the other day and found this guy nestled in among the gourds we are also growing in that same space.

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The cucumbers are currently out of control.  And truth be told, I have no desire to can pickles this year.  At all.  I am hoping my sentiment changes because I am not quite sure what do to with all of these guys that are currently sitting in the middle of my kitchen table.

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We are so incredibly fortunate to still be in the midst of our second round of berries.  This has been a truly prolific year for us and berries.  Yum.

 

 

What I’m In To

It is been a very, very long time since I have written a What I’m In To post, so I thought today would be as good a time as any to just dive right in. ¬†So, on this Tuesday following Labor Day, I’m in to

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…tomatoes.  I am literally surrounded by these ruby orbs of goodness.  They are currently covering every horizontal surface of my kitchen, and this is after I spent all of Sunday (and Sunday evening) roasting and canning over 10 quarts worth.  I always get a bit overwhelmed by our tomatoes at this time of year, but I just keep trying to keep perspective.  And I know I do love the taste of summer during those snowy February days.  So for now, I am trying my best to keep my head above the proverbial tomato-filled water.

…ordering a great deal of this coconut oil.  About 5 months back I experimented with creating a vegan cold-pressed soap recipe, and it actually turned out amazing.  In about a week we plan to whip up some more of this soap in preparation for the Christmas gift-giving season.  I cannot wait to share this recipe with you!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  Do you know how there are those rare books that hold you in their grasp from the moment your eyes hit the first page?  This is that kind of book.  Unbelievable.

…lemon verbena and lemon balm.  These two herbs are new to our garden this year and they have completely taken off.  They are fragrant and delicious, but also very beneficial for our health.  After listening to Rosemary Gladstar speak two years ago at The Mother Earth News Fair, I wanted to grow these two herbs.  So this past winter I bought her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, found so many wonderful recipes for these two herbs within its contents, and now have the scent of lemon wafting in our nostrils every time we set foot in our herb garden.

‚Ķmy husband’s new Vitamix. ¬†Actually, this statement is false. ¬†I am not only into my husband’s new Vitamix, but I am in love with it. ¬†In. ¬†Love. ¬†My girls and I have created a new smoothie that we make every morning, using this¬†new kitchen gadget. ¬†We call it the “Hulk Smoothie” because it is bright (I mean bright) green. ¬†For this smoothie we use a splash of pineapple juice, 2 oranges, a large handful of kale, one avocado, a few spoonfuls of hempseed hearts, a large handful of cilantro, lime juice, stevia and ice. ¬†Amazing. ¬†(Oh, and I also love, love, love my stainless steel straws that go perfectly with our Hulk Smoothie, or all smoothies for that matter.)

…being back in this blogging space each week.  Thank you so much to each of you for reading today, and everyday.

 

 

 

Late August In the Garden

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As summer wanes, and the expansive days of summer fade before our eyes, I am beginning to feel that same briefness in the garden.  While we still have a great deal coming out of our garden, and the tomatoes are finally beginning to come along, I feel a pull towards the space inside our home.  At this time of year, my body grows weary from all the hours spent out in the garden.  And while I still adore being in this space, I look forward to the days of nestling in with a cup of coffee, good book and some crocheting.  I often think this is why God gifted us with the seasons.  They allow us time to recharge our minds and bodies before venturing out again.

This past week in the garden has been quite bountiful. ¬†Our second round of strawberries are still coming in the door, along with our long-awaited raspberry crop. ¬†The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we have been eating them fresh off the vine, most of them never even making it over the threshold. ¬†The lemon verbena liqueur that I mentioned a couple weeks back, is now completed and I look forward to the cocktails and baked goods we can make with this citrusy elixir. ¬†More herbs are being dried, and beans frozen. ¬†But perhaps our greatest delight of the week has been our apples. ¬†As I shared before, the Japanese beetles have devoured the leaves of our apple trees. ¬†We reached a point this week that there were more dead leaves than living and I feared if we didn’t pick our apples now we may lose them. ¬†So pick we did. ¬†And pie we made. ¬†It was a great week in the garden.

In the Garden

It’s August! ¬†This means we have entered the jungle-phase of the gardening season. ¬†In order to move about¬†the garden, one¬†must weave in and out of the labyrinth of branches and vines. ¬†And while doing so, one¬†may come across our cat sleeping amongst the beans, or perhaps a groundhog¬†who has found his way into our tomatoes. ¬†(Talk about a bit of a fright when not expecting that guy. ¬†Oh boy.)

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But amongst this tangle of vegetation there is a great deal happening, and our kitchen is finding itself brimming with our garden’s bounty. ¬†The tomatoes have now grown taller than me (and standing at 5’11” that is saying something), and for the first time EVER we have been able to grow broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage! ¬†We planted ever-bearing strawberries two years ago and we are now reaping the rewards of an amazing second round of these lovelies.

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A few weeks back, as I mentioned in this post, I hung some herbs to dry.  This week my girls helped to take the leaves off these dried plants, grind them by hand, and then can them for the winter months.

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Also in the herb department, our basil and lavender are just beautiful this year. ¬†I decided to try out Ashley English’s Lavender Lemonade from her book //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1611801281&asins=1611801281&linkId=XB3HIFBW6PW65FC3&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>Quench (using stevia to replace the sugar) and it was delicious! ¬†I have also been making basil-lime water infusions and it puts a whole new face on my family’s hydration needs.

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I pulled most of our carrots this week and tried my hand at lacto-fermentation.  So far, there is a lot of fermentation goodness in the form of carbon-dioxide bubbles rising to the surface of the jars when I burp them each day.  I am very excited to taste these in a few more days.

Coming up next week, I hope to share with you some of the recipes I have been working on, which feature so much of this garden goodness.  Until then, enjoy the remainder of your week!

 

Cherry Crisp

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Last week my girls and I, along with my sister, ventured to my in-law’s home and spent the afternoon tangled up in branches and brambles. ¬†It was picking’ time! ¬†By the time the day was done,¬†we¬†ended up with two giant bowls of tart cherries and black raspberries. ¬†Simply marvelous!

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The black raspberries quickly became freezer jam, with the help of my six and eight-year old sous chefs. ¬†And the cherries, well, the cherries ended up going into an absolutely amazing cherry tart. ¬†I don’t often like to toot my own horn, but friends, it was good. ¬†Very good. ¬†Let me share the recipe…

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Cherry Crisp

6 cups pitted tart cherries (This measurement was taken AFTER the cherries were pitted.)

1 cup local honey

2 T Non-GMO corn starch

Mix these ingredients in a large bowl and pour them into a 9×9 baking dish. ¬†(I use this baking dish because then I can serve the crisp table-side and it looks as good as it tastes.)

2 cups oats

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 stick cold butter cut into cubes

Mix all these ingredients together in a large bowl (such as one of these sustainably harvested bamboo bowls) using a pastry blender.  Pour the crumbled mixture onto the cherry mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.  Allow 20 minutes to cool before serving.  Enjoy!

*A note about all my recipes: I use all organic ingredients, local when available. I use non-homogenized milk, and all of the dairy we use is from animals raised on pasture. I also use oils that are non-GMO verified. All our meat is raised locally on organic feed, and our beef is grass-fed, grass-finished. All our spices and cane sugar are fair-trade certified and purchased through a cooperative.

Pesto with a Kick

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I love making pesto with early summer greens. ¬†It just makes me feel good. ¬†It’s green. It’s a great way to pack tons of vitamins and minerals in my kids’ bodies. ¬†And, there is cheese in it, and anything with cheese is a must have in my book.

I have written about making pesto before, like in this post, where I also discuss how I preserve my pesto for those Midwestern days when there is no green growing outside. ¬†This pesto is a bit different in that I didn’t use any herbs to impart flavor. ¬†This time I used kale and mustard greens. ¬†If you have never had mustard greens, they are amazing. ¬†They are incredibly earthy tasting, but very spicy. ¬†They are also another one of those cruciferous vegetables that have fabulous health benefits. ¬†I like to think of this pesto recipe as a cruciferous cancer-fighting bomb of deliciousness ūüôā

This recipe made a giant batch of pesto, so feel free to adjust as needed.  You may also need to make it in batches, depending upon the size of your food processor.

Here’s what to do:

1. ¬†Wash and spin dry (I adore my salad and berry spinner. ¬†Summer would not be the same without it. ¬†I use it Every. Single. Day.) 5 cups of kale and 3 cups of mustard greens. ¬†(Fyi…I jam packed the greens in the cups when measuring.) Set aside.

2.  In a food processor, combine 1 cup raw walnuts and 6 cloves of garlic.  Pulse them in the processor.

3.  Add the washed greens to the food processor.  (Again, you may need to do this in batches.)

4.  Slowly add in 1/2 cups olive oil while the food processor is running.

5.  Add 1/2 pound good shredded Parmesan cheese to the food processor.

6.  Slowly add an additional 1/2 cup to 1 cup of olive oil depending on the consistency you would like.

7.  Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Enjoy!

At This Moment

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At this moment, I am…

~preparing my eldest’s Girl Scout Daisy smock. ¬†Today is her first Daisy meeting, and I am just praying her little cough from last night is better this morning so she is able to attend. ¬†She is so very excited.

~putting the finishing touches on the sleep hats I mentioned last week.  More on this to come later this week.

~frosting biscotti. ¬†It’s my Nona’s recipe from Italy, and they are delicious. ¬†No worries, more on these tasty treats later this week as well ūüôā

~wishing a few extra hours could be added to each day this week.  There is so much that needs to be done.

~reminding myself what is important this time of year, despite the above mentioned craziness that seems to be seeping into each day.

~awaiting an important day in my family’s life. ¬†Check in on Friday for more about this news.

~hoping each of you has a wonderful start to your week.

At This Moment

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At this moment, I am…

~recalling a fabulous weekend of crafting and fun.

~returning from a very early trip to the grocery store for our first round of Thanksgiving dinner shopping. ¬†A five o’clock (in the AM my friends) arrival time is a sure fire way to beat the crowds at the ole’ grocery store ūüôā

~glancing at my stack of Christmas cards, and thinking I may be able to get them in the mail on Friday.  Fingers crossed.

~looking forward to a short two days that my girls are in school this week.  I cannot wait to spend five full days with my babies!

~preparing for my favorite holiday of the year.  A day filled with family and food. What could possibly be better?

~hoping to get some sewing projects wrapped up this week.

~wishing each of you a wonderful start to your week.  Have a great Monday!