Friday, January 31, 2014

Beet Notes, Part II

Easy, make aheadable, delicious, and vey importantly...pretty.

Shredded raw carrots
Shredded raw beets
Chopped up fresh herbs, (we use mostly cilantro or parsley because we always have it on hand)
Crushed garlic
Salt to taste
Rice vinegar

No measurements, the ratio of beets and carrots depends on what's available.

Combine first five ingredients, mix with rice vinegar, enough vinegar to cover all ingredients-more can always be added. Excess vinegar can be used for bread dipping.

You see, easy! Advance prep, simple, and we love pretty makes us smile.

Mother Judith

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beet Notes

Beet season is upon us......what do you do with an abundance in the garden, seeing the delightful displays of freshly picked beets at the farmers market, or if your husband, as in our case, gets a hankering for beet juice brings home a huge box of beets......plenty.

Beets make great juice, but combine it with other vegetables because they are potent, and high in sugar content..if you don't eat allot of sugar.....straight beet juice will give you a sugar high you try to avoid.....but mix with carrots and is great.

Cheaters Beet Pickles
My favorite pickled beet pickle recipe is in Ball's Canning Cookbook.....since it has sugar I just don't take the time to make them any family eats plenty of sugar.  Some ladies at the Red Hat Society (we gave a for tea one year) raved about their "Cheaters Beet Pickles".
Boil or roast beets until tender...cut in pieces...(this is when you use your crinkle knife). Place in sweet pickle juice jar.......they claim they are wonderful...if you try it let me know.

Check back with us, more of our traditional beet recipes we enjoy at Gray's Farms soon to come. But for now, I need to start soaking flour in keifer to ferment overnight for delicious muffins tomorrow, morning chores and off to our mission field.......K.E.G.'s therapy......what a blessing, God has blessed us with another day to glorify Him.......Thank you Lord for another day to serve you.

Mother Judith

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tempting Chocolate Bacon

Bacon is defined in the Urban Dictionary as, "meat candy, a lesser-known synonym for 'awesome,' and a term used for the worlds most delectable, delighted, breakfast course."

Since bacon is so amazing, why not make the man in your life a different Valentine's Day gift? How about chocolate dipped bacon on a stick? It is fairly easy to make, here are the main supplies you need:
  • Chocolate (any variety you can melt)
  • Bacon
  • Wax paper
First you cook the bacon in a pan and drain grease. Do not make it too crispy, I found my extra crispy bacon breaking very easily under the pressure of chocolate. After cooking the bacon, engulf it in chocolate, apply the stick, add toppings, and set it on the wax paper. Let it set over night in the refrigerator.

Now the fun part of this recipe is what toppers you can put on it. Be creative! I tried cereals on mine, Cocoa Puffs looked the best. Lucky Charms would be perfect for St. Patrick's day, however, not as visually appealing. Sprinkles, pretzels, caramel candies, and salt also make good toppers. Make sure to add these before the chocolate dries.

Heart sprinkles for Valentine's.

Cocoa Puffs

Another option is to first cook the bacon, dip it in maple syrup, bake it in the oven at 450° for a minute, then cover with chocolate. Or do the same technique with brown sugar. It makes a very pretty glaze on the bacon.
Brown Sugar
For a fine culinary dessert, you can make your man (and yourself) happy on Valentine's Day with a Chocolate Bacon Éclair. WalMart has mini frozen Éclairs that work perfect. The inspiration for this was my dad's idea of Churros wrapped in chocolate bacon. You can always depend on him for creative sweets.

Please share your ideas, we would love to hear them!
Nancy Jane 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Love Endures

1 Corintihans 13:7

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things… love never fails.

God’s greatest commandment is to love, love never, ever fails-----there is no measure, gauge, or bar that allows us to discontinue love for one another.

Yet, in this society so many of the helpless are being put away and not cared for by their families due to a debilitating health issue—that leaves them helpless and alone.

As Christians, we all need to go against the societal evolution to shut people with health problems away in facilities where yes, in most places they are cleaned, fed, medicated, and somewhat cared for, but what is lacking in their lives is love, family bond, family connection---which having seen first hand is in so many cases these gifts from God react, they feel the presence of family members.

As followers of Jesus we cannot believe these people do not feel our love, compassion and care---in most cases if there is a warm hand there is a spirit that still feels our love resonate through their souls.  What are we if we cannot show complete unreserved love to those in need?

Having seen first hand evidence of this bond through our recovery journey with our daughter Katherine and recently while he did not recover, with my beloved Dad, the story of a girl we will call Rose is on my heart to share.

When Katherine was reluctantly placed in a pediatric sub-acute facility, due to a heartbreaking vehicle accident, the nearest one available was just less than 200 miles away from our home. Never-the-less, the Holy Spirit placed in our hearts that one member of the family would be with her daily.  My husband and I took turns, being there daily.  We could not in our hearts let her alone, which thankfully for an abundant reasons our presence was imperative.

One of Katherine’s roommates was Rose, a girl of 17, Katherine’s age at the time.   I have no information on what happened, that is of no importance.  But she had a pink princess television, toys, make-up and lots of material items surrounding her.  Like so many in this facility she just laid in her bed, never acknowledging anyone, her face stared straight ahead never moving just laying there alive but not showing any life.

Shockingly one morning upon entering the room, Rose was sitting up in bed with a huge smile on her face, and grunting (her special language) she had a visitor, her aunt.  Rose was like a new girl, she showed spirit, I wanted to say something to the aunt but thought it wiser to just observe.  The aunt left, Rose went stone faced again, back to just existing of having any spirit.

The second time Rose showed a little sass, my family will tell you I can bring out the sass in anyone.  Rose had a princess pink television blasting constantly in the room.  One day it was out of hand so I turned it down, my back was turned talking to Katherine and I heard a groan and the bed rails shake.  Little immovable Rose had flailed her legs and body at me.  I turned the television volume up and apologized.  But there was that spirit again.

Showing and expressing love we cannot see how it is affecting others, but they do receive and feel.  Love is such a strong force; strangers no matter how good they are at their job cannot love like family.  There is a bond God has made.  In some cases as in ours for Katherine, for a long time all we could was show her love, all we could do is love her.  We were so blessed to at least have that.

If there is a warm hand---that means life---if there is life there is hope---as Christians never give up the hope that a loved one can feel your love---it is a mighty force to be reckoned with----remember God does not set a standard when he will discontinue loving us, and God never, ever stops providing and caring for us.  Secular society will say otherwise, but we are not of the world we are of Christ.
Mother Judith

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Veggifettie Confetti

Veggifettie is defined as no veggie left behind, that way no one feels out.

What are the ingredients of this specialty? Anything and everything that is a vegetable. It is the V8 of the solid food world. It is also called stealth health additions. You can add it in salads, sandwiches (not pb&j), in soups, eggs, meatloaf, on top of meats, tacos, burritos, burgers, pizza, any savory cuisine would benefit from the stealth health addition. The sky's the limit! Maybe not a hotdog...

I always know when Mother Judith is cleaning the fridge or gleaning the gardens because veggifettie is in the works.

Today's masterpiece included, but not limited to, broccoli heads and pealed broccoli stalks, garlic, peppers, carrots, beets, collard greens, and celery.

Here are the steps for making the veggifettie. The only equipment needed is a food processor.

First we put in the bell peppers.


Added the carrots, beets, garlic, and broccoli.

Finally the collard greens.

Blended it all together, and here are the results.

You can blend it to the desired chunk size.

No order needed, just toss it in the food processor.
You are not limited to veggies, you can also use herbs. We enjoy adding cilantro and parsley to the mixture, or whatever herbs we can find in the garden.
Once you are done, toss it in your food and enjoy.

 Nancy Jane & Mother Judith
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

100% Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

My most used 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread, this has been a staple in our house for decades, the recipe is from my first electric bread maker years and years ago.  It is a nice whole grain recipe with a minimal amount of sugar and no additives. Just a few alterations were incorporated, but the foundation is from the booklet.

Options to the basic recipe, of course add any nut, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal or grain, 5 Grain cereal has been added with great success. After you get the recipe mastered experiment.

Recipe for 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened (we never use margarine or wanna be butter)
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place all ingredients in order in your electric bread maker, easiest option is bake in bread maker according to settings. We process in the bread maker dough setting and let the machine knead and raise the dough in a perfect environment. But do not bake, remove dough, cut in half and place in two standard prepared bread pans, let rise again and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. My family does not like the large loaf . The smaller loafers make the perfect size sandwiches or bread on the side with salads.

Any questions please post, we would love to hear them and comments.

(A note from Nancy Jane. This bread recipe is the family's favorite, nothing smells better than Mother Judith's homemade bread coming out of the oven).

Mother Judith

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Easy Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic is a wonderful addition to your healthy cuisine. You can squeeze it on cooked vegetables, we had it on steamed Brussels Sprouts and eggs this morning, delish! We like to make a large batch and stash it in the refrigerator for a quick add to foods. Of course it is great to use for garlic bread, mix with cooked rice or pasta. However, we have to watch our carbs around here, well at least the women do. The man of the farm can eat about everything and not gain an ounce. Yes, we are sinfully jealous. 
Here is the recipe: trim off the point part of garlic head. Place in foil drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400° for about 30 minutes, until garlic is golden brown and soft. 
Before roasting
After Roasting

Mother Judith

Friday, January 17, 2014

Garam Masala Sweet Potato Fries with Guacamole Dip

I love french fries, they are my favorite food in the world. Never offer me some of your fries, because I will eat them all (I have done that before). Sadly though they are obviously incredibly unhealthy, I wish it wasn't true.

To help stave off my cravings for the fried deliciousness the Gray family have made some alternatives. The first alternative is Garam Masala Bake Sweet Potato Fries.

The first time I ever had a sweet potato fry, it was fried and dipped in sugar. Needless to say it was scrumptious, but once again unhealthy. The baked fries are incredibly simple, the ingredients for a family of four are-
  • Olive Oil
  • Two Large Sweet Potatoes
  • Garam Masala, Punjabi Style
Garam Masala is a combination of spices common in Asian and North Indian cooking. It can be combined with other spices or used alone. This spice works great with sweet and savory cuisine. The particular spice we used we purchased from Penzeys Spices, it contains coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, charnushka, caraway, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Garam Masala is a favorite spice in this family.

To make the fries, preheat the oven to 400°. Grab a large bowl, skin and cut the potatoes into long strips. Once all cut, take two tablespoons of oil and a teaspoon of Garam Masala and pour on potatoes. Stir together until evenly covered (you can add more or less Masala to taste).

Take a cookie sheet, put foil over sheet and spray with Pam. Spread potatoes on pan. Put in oven about 20 min, or when potato edges begin to get crispy. Yummy!

I like to dip these fries into guacamole. I just get an avocado and two cloves are garlic, mix them in my mortal and pestle, easy healthy guacamole!

Nancy Jane

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nancy's Organic Yogurt

If you do not have time or desire to make your own yogurt, this brand is great (and not just because of the name). We found it at Sprouts Market. So if you are lucky enough to live close to one we highly recommend this product.

Mother Judith

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Garden Destroyer

Ginger Snap has lost her title as Gnome Nibbler. That sounds too nice, she is now the Garden Destroyer.

She has done this to my poor mushroom garden art...

I found it chewed up in my yard, the stem use to be longer.
I have a gopher problem, and Ginger decided to help me with it...
Giant hole, three plants lost.
She dug a huge hole in the middle of my cauliflower patch. I was livid, but she was trying to help me. So I could not stay mad. Plus, how can you be irritated when she looks at you like this.

She has a huge grin on her face, as if she is saying sorry.
Nancy Jane

Friday, January 10, 2014

Reine de Saba

Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking contains many lovely cake recipes. My mom tells me stories of when I was just born she would use this book to bake cakes for my dad and brother. I wanted to start learning to bake cakes from scratch for my boyfriend, and Mother Judith highly recommended this Chocolate Almond Cake.

This is a man's dessert, no frills to it but it sure does taste delicious! I was able to use fresh grown Almonds from my Grandfather’s ranch. The consistency resembles a brownie when done correctly. It was an adventure baking it, but the finish product is yummy. You can find the recipe on page 677 of the book or click here for the link. I also used the Chocolate-butter Icing suggested in her book, which can also be found on page 684 or on that previous link.  

My biggest issue was making the frosting. The technique that is used is hard to master. Mother Judith warns against making it to thin, or else the cake will absorb it. I had the problem of making it to thick and hard to spread. Eventually the desired texture was reached after much trial and error.

Here is the end result.

Reine de Saba

Nancy Jane

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Gnome Nibbler

When I get new garden art, I have to hide it in the rose bushes. Why you ask? Because this happens…


And this…


My poor gnome.

The creature that nibbled my gnome is this cute lady…
She looks super sweet, but don’t be deceived. She only eats my garden art by the way, she’s smart enough to know to leave Mother Judith’s stuff alone.

Nancy Jane

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Prayer for the Day

A Homemaker's Prayer of the Day:

Heavenly Father, while a clean well kept house is important, help us maintain our home as a Spiritual refuge.

Mother Judith

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Gardening is the Best Antidepressant

A Wintery garden scene, wishing for Spring to come.
The women at Gray’s farms grow gardens and orchards-----some work great, some can get out of hand in mid-summer-----but as any gardener knows there is always next year.

We try to keep our gardens on our farm chemical free, which is contrary to my conventional farming husband, and my daughter’s boyfriend going to school to become a PCA man (chemical adviser)----but we are committed to it for the health of the land, the foods we grow and the lasting health, building our gardens holistically and almost organic. My Dad was a great conventional farmer, and we had many lively debates about organic vs. conventional,  both my daughter and myself----

His death has been devastatingly sad and difficult to relieve the heartache I feel the tears swelling as I write.  But. I finally built up enough energy and drive and force to once again go out to my garden----one garden patch in particular had become way, way out of control and called for both a shovel and my big hoe (more detail on this tool later----but only the best hoe ever made)

Weeding and working away, clearing weeds, digging up dirt----feeling so great to see bare dirt – ready for my “Back to Eden” compost treatment-----when my husband the farmer arrives and delivers the unacceptable suggestion that he spray weed killer on the weeds----declining with I do not want toxins in my garden lecture----I let out a ‘garden laugh out loud’ (GLOL) thinking if my dad drove up right now seeing how hard I was working in this weedy garden he would first think he had the goofiest daughter in the world  (goofy was his pet name for me---other siblings got much kinder pet names in my opinion)----then he would also suggest the chemical alternative to weeding.

After a bit of hard work in the garden I feel my soul finally healing, my heart is not as heavy, oh the tears are still a regular event-----but for a while the pain subsides.  King David has become my kindred spirit as I read his psalms----how God has equipped his saints for all events in life, we are never alone----and nothing we experience is the first time in history, many saints before us have had the same trials and grief----Thank you Father in heaven for these trials, you are refining us for your purpose---I love you Jesus
Gardening is the best antidepressant….
Mother Judith

Saturday, January 4, 2014

31 Day Homemade Beauty Challenge

For the New Year, I decided to give myself a thirty-one day Homemade Beauty Challenge. What this entails is thirty-one days of not using any face moisturizer, makeup remover, and face wash products with toxins in them. What inspired me to do this project was how I do all this work to eat cleanly and take care of my body, yet I lather on all these pollutants during my beauty routine!  

Initially buying the merchandises are a tad expensive, but with the oils a little goes a long way. Some products I want to use include Aloe Vera Juice, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Lavender water, Rose Water, Witch Hazel, and Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother). I also want to experiment with oats, walnut shells (these come free to me due to my Walnut farmer connections) and different scented oils.

The first product I tested was a moisturizer/makeup remover. I found variations of this recipe throughout the internet, and created my own. I used Aloe Vera Juice, Sweet Almond Oil, and Jojoba Oil. The Sweet Almond Oil moisturizes and softens the skin. The Jojoba Oil helps fight acne, shrink pores, removes makeup, cleans and nourishes skin. The Aloe Vera helps soothe dry skin and helps with wrinkles. The reason I use juice is because it absorbs into my skin better than the gel does.

 I found a half pint jar, filled it with Aloe Vera, and then added a teaspoon or each oil. Careful to not add too much oil because it will make your face oily! This makes a nice moisturizer due to each element you are using, my skin feels fresh and smooth after applying it upon my face. For a little kick you can add a drop of Grapefruit Oil, the smell is amazing! I know some products that use grapefruit in their face cleaner and I hated it, my skin reacted weird to it. However, the Grapefruit Oil smells so fresh and invigorating. The antioxidants in the oil are also very beneficial for your skin.

Make sure to test each recipe out on a small section of your skin before you apply it to your whole face. You never know how your skin may respond.
I will keep posting my updates throughout the month along with other recipes I have experimented with!

Nancy Jane