Thursday, February 27, 2014

Purple Cabbage Salad

Before and after

The strategy to get family to eat more salad is a variety of choices.  If there are cold salads ready  to go...they are simple to top off green salads with various favors, colors and textures. 

This is one of Nancy Jane's favorites, if this was ready to go, she was a happy girl, have a piece of fresh fruit on the side and life couldn't be better....well, if I let her dog in the house maybe it could be better.

Purple Salad

  • 1 head purple cabbage shredded
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar. (vinegars are can be interchanged, so use what is on hand)
  • 1/3 cup whole cane sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water....amount depends if sugar or syrup is used, the lesser amount using sugar

Optional add-ins ...sliced onions, caraway seeds, any fresh herb you have available...we like tarragon, parsley, or cilantro.....but usually we make it solo with only the cabbage.

In large pot combine vinegar, sugar or syrup, water, salt, optional herbs...heat until simmering.  Add cabbage and optional onion.....cook until cabbage changes color a bright magenta and slightly tender....with a little crunch.

Cool a bit and refrigerate.

The best way to store is in a clear glass container with lid....when to refrigerator door is opened the salad looks so pretty and inviting.

With the vinegar this keeps for days, but it never lasts too long at our house.....

Mother Judith

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pick Up the Beat With Pickled Beets


Yes, we are still in beet mode. We just can't help it. Not only are they in season, we just plain love them. Pickled beets are one of my dad's favorite foods, so I really enjoy making them for him.
Pickled Beets (recipe from The Ball Blue Book)
Yields: about 6 pints or 3 quarts
  • 3 quarts beets (about 24 small beets)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon canning salt
  • 3 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water

First step is to clean and boil the beets. You take raw beets, remove the leafy part and place in a large pot full of water. Boil beets until soft. I tested it by sticking a fork through it.
Raw beets

I had to use two pots, a couple of my beets were huge!

After being boiled.
After the beets are boiled, set aside to cool off a bit. While the beets are cooling, combine all ingredients (except beets) in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, once boiling, reduce to simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
While mixture is simmering, remove skin from beets, and slice beets to desired size.
Once the 15 min is over, remove the cinnamon sticks from mixture. Pack beets into sanitized jars, leave a 1/2 inch headspace.   


After packing beets in, ladle hot liquid over the beets, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, add two-piece cap. Process the pints and quarts 30 minutes in a boiling water canner.

It's that easy! If you have a pickled beet recipe, please share!

Nancy Jane

Friday, February 21, 2014

Savory No-knead Pumpkin Bread

Savory, yet with hints of pumpkin pie, this bread will quickly find its way to your regular baking repertoire. It is so incredibly easy to bake, family members won't believe how you made it so quickly. However, advanced planning is needed due to the long rising processes. I typically start this bread the night before because it does take so long to rise. 

This recipe was in the Fall 2013 Heirloom Gardener Magazine. I was in the midst of harvesting my fall pumpkin crop that month and was obsessed with finding fun pumpkin recipes, and this caught my eye! The great thing about this recipe is you can interchange different ingredients. The first time I made this bread, I used white flour. Today, I used whole wheat flour. Don't be afraid to experiment, just make sure the ratios stay the same.

The BEST cinnamon to use for this recipe is King Arthur's Vietnamese Cinnamon. Seriously, you need to get this spice. You will never go back to the other stuff.

Pumpkin Bread
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour (white or whole wheat work well)
  • 3/4 cup spelt or kamut flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup puréed pumpkin or butternut squash (I have yet to try this recipe with butternut squash)
  • 3/4 cup cool water
  • Pumpkin seeds

Reserve pumpkin seeds for later use.
Combine all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Take water and puréed squash, mix together in separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula. Stir until thoroughly mixed. (The dough will not be like any other bread you've made-this will be much wetter and will not form a ball.)
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for 12 to 18 hours. (I usually do this step the night before I intend to bake it.)
Before the 12 hour rising.
After 12 to 18 hours have passed, your dough should be dotted with bubbles and more than doubled in size. Dust a wooden cutting board with bread flour and, using plastic dough scrapers, scrape dough loose from sides of the bowl and turn out onto board in one piece. Dough will be loose and sticky, but do NOT add more flour. Dust top lightly with flour and cover with a clean lint-free cotton or linen tea towel. Let dough rise for another 1 to 2 hours.
After the 12 hour rising.
Getting the dough ready for the second rising.
About 30 min before the second rise is complete, place a cast-iron Dutch oven (a 3 to 4 quart size is best, but larger size can be used) on a rack positioned in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to 450°F.
Once the oven has reached 450°F, remove the pot using heavy duty potholders (be very careful, the pot and oven will be extremely not). Sprinkle coarse meal at the bottom of the pot. Or, we put aluminum foil in our pot. 
The dough in the Dutch oven before I put the pumpkin seeds on it.
Uncover the dough and, using two plastic dough scrapers, shape dough by folding over onto itself a few times. With scrapers, lift dough carefully and let it fall into preheated pot. Dust the top of the dough with pumpkin seeds. Cover the pot with lid and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot and continue baking for additional 15 min, or until loaf is nicely browned.
After baking for 30 minutes, remove the lid.
Remove the pot for oven. With a sturdy spatula, lift loaf from the pot and transfer to a cooling rack. Do NOT slice bread for a minimum of 1 hour--this cooling time completes the process and shouldn't be overlooked! 
This bread can be served with butter or cream cheese. I also love putting homemade apple cinnamon butter on it, so delicious!!
Please share your experience making this bread.  
Nancy Jane

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two Shall be Made One

Rick and I at our wedding reception.
Mark 10:8
"And they two shall be made one flesh, so then they no longer two but one."

 Completeness, Not a Weakness

Serious gardening began the first year of our marriage, not only because we both enjoyed it, but, we had bought an old wreck of a house we were remodeling and gardening was the only recreation that we could afford.

Fun, fun years---started with a shovel . Then his Uncle gave us a used rototiller (we still use), so of course the garden expanded.   We got used grape stakes from one of my dad’s old vineyards, horse manure from his dad’s pasture,  old sinks we had pulled out of the house for seed starting, purchased cheap seeds at drug stores,  economy was a must.

But, oh did we have fun planting, always over planting…harvest, even the clean-up was fun, I remember how mad he got at me when I pushed him out of the old tomato patch to escape a wasp nest. Well, it was for his own good.

Through the years we would get extremely busy working, I would pick up the slack in the garden.   When we bought our farm, I took over the garden completely—he had to work his business & get the orchards started.

When our daughter got in a car accident he took over gardening while I cared for our precious girl.

So some years I was head gardener, others he was in charge.   But, our best gardens were when we worked together.   They are the best, the most productive and most enjoyable.

This concept applies to the rest of our marriage.   Individually we both can perform competently, but life is so much more satisfying, and far more productive working together…be it child rearing, business planning, worshipping Christ, problem solving, recreation.  When we work together by being together or dividing and conquering to get a job done, working in harmony  brings such a peace. 

Society is swinging towards young girls pursuing careers instead of marriage and mothering.  Needing another person is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of completeness.  Our creator made this plan, our young persons should lend an ear to what God has planned, not man (or woman).
What a shame, caring and nurturing is one ingredient that will keep our values, and families strong.

Two become one, a concept sadly being diminished in society.   The trend for years is to encourage our girl’s to be independent, not needing anyone, particularly a husband.
God’s plan is that we be joined, and united as one.

Mother Judith

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Let's Talk Tomatoes

Image via
Tomato, tomato

     By any other name is not the same----so many varieties

Let's talk tomatoes.
 Seasoned tomato growers have their favorite.

Mr. Moore formerly of Moores Roses in Visalia grew Ace tomatoes---and gave a plant away for each rose purchased, encouraging all to grow and eat Ace tomatoes.

Some gardeners are partial to big Beefsteak tomatoes, we lean toward tomatoes with a bit more acid, plus none of us want to wait that long to eat, and so many times the big tomato gets just right for picking….and a bird beat us to it...

 Through the many years of growing tomatoes our choices are clear and unanimous---well almost, my husband still has a prejudice towards cherry tomatoes, but he is coming around.

Our favorites and highly recommended tomatoes.

  • Cherry Tomatoes

I don’t really have a name of a favorite, as long as they are round…an inch to two inches in size and red. No mini, oval, or grape shaped, or any other color than red.

These are great to pop in your mouth in the garden, or carry in a plastic sack for travel snacks, and take to the movies (although my husband will vehemently disagree with this movie snack).

You have to pop the whole tomato in your mouth, or it will squirt juice and seeds----kids think this is funny, and be sure if you have them for a movie snack to pop the whole tomato in you mouth, or just imagine where the seeds will end up.   Mother Judith does not especially like it when the seeds end up on ceiling.

Cherry Tomato Lore at Gray’s Farms can continue for pages, but time to move on.

  •  VF Hybrid Tomatoes from Burpee.

Early producers, large crop, perfect meat and acid balance, medium size.  Sentimental at Gray’s Farms, the first tomato my husband & I grew together decades ago.  For years we could not find seeds, since they are hybrids seeds cannot be saved, but this year, well I keep checking the mail for a fresh packet.

  • Health Kicks from Burpee

A wonderful plum-like shaped tomato with a good balance ---for both cooked sauces and eating fresh.   According to Burpee, these are healthier for you, packed with 50% more lycopene---we like them because they are delicious.    Small growing bush with lots of production--- some years the company runs out of these seeds, while we can have a huge bounty of other tomatoes and my husband will lament how he misses Health Kicks…..I understand his pain, never, ever having a tomato season without cherry tomatoes, it would be a great loss for me, but for sure not a great loss for my husband.
  • Brandy Wine Heirloom (widely available)

We could easily get on the heirloom garden wagon with this variety.  The best fresh and canned tomato we have ever grown.  I do not have the talent to describe how a canned Brandy Wine Tomato not only tastes , but reminiscent of summer gardens. 

But lets not discount the pure pleasure of eating a fresh Brandy Wine tomato, the flavor, the texture,  the aroma is an entire experience it is like eating a slice of summer.

As many heirlooms, be advised they do not have constancy of as modern hybrid tomatoes.   One year we will have a bumper crop and the next pickings can be very slim.   Shapes will vary, we think this is part of the character of the Brandy Wine----part of the fun of growing them-----even with the gliches that can occur, Brandy Wine tomatoes are always on our tomato planning list.

Theses are our top four tomatoes, but each year one of us usually will try something new, usually an Early Girl due to the early harvest, maybe a Beef Steak or Ace----but that is the fun of gardens each year, enjoying the old standard must haves, and trying something new.

The most important part of any harvest at our house is our family working together, aside from my husbands unnatural adversity to Cherry Tomatoes. We have fun prepping the ground, confirming we have the correct varieties, planning the planting, weed control and water-----watching the plants grow, checking for production and problems, the traditional first tomato of the year (after the cherries, again he does not count these),  eating produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner----using our annual recipes, I can go on and on how our garden  cultivates family activity….not to mention a great opportunity to just Praise and Thank God for the bounties of this Planet.

Mother Judith

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Delicious Kale Chip



Kale chips

  • Kale
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Spices....I use dry Ranch Dressing from Penzeys  (yes another great product from this company with many uses)
Wash kale....dry thoroughly ...
Spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and chosen spices.
Place in low oven or dehydrator until crispy.
Note: these are so good, but not as good as store bought. We do not use a lot of salt on our chips....the more salt the better they taste. So if salt is not a problem for you, pour it on and experiment with spices chosen. Obviously for us the spicier the better.
This is a great snack for travel, Nancy Jane and even KEG coveted mine when we were on a long road trip through the Mojave desert. Yes eventually I shared, and yes they enjoyed every morsel. So much so we did not make one fast food trip on this road trip. We ate healthy, had energy, a lot less annoyance and tons of laughter.
Mother Judith

Monday, February 10, 2014

Make your Valentines Sweet With Some Beets: Flourless Chocolate Beet Cake


Do beets in cakes sound like an alien idea? At first yes, but once you remember how sweet that root is, the suggestion sounds plausible. Once you taste the cake, you become a true believer in beets. What can the veggie not do? The combination of chocolate and beets is delicious. And for my gluten free friends, the recipe is flourless. It is a delightful recipe, a perfect substitute for the classic chocolate cake on your Valentine Day date. The recipe can be found here at

A few tips from my attempt to make the recipe. I did not use the frosting recipe the author recommended, rather just used powdered sugar. Also, the almond flour was not available in my town, so instead I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour. Which can be found in Target's gluten free section. For the beets I used canned, since we were low on stock for fresh ones. Worked just as well.

The center will be jiggly when finished, it makes the center very moist and delectable. Don't hesitate when you pull it out of the oven and the center moves a bit.

Please let us know if you try this recipe. Are there any other gluten free dessert recipes you have tried and like to share? Write a comment and let us know, we'd love to hear them!
Nancy Jane

Friday, February 7, 2014

Framed Jewelry

I often find my jewelry box full of special necklaces given to me over the years. A very important treasure of mine is the cross I was given from my Grandma to thank me for playing the flute at my Grandfather's funeral. He passed away last fall, and was a very important figure to me. He was an incredibly savvy business man and farmer. He always gave great business advice. His work ethic was very inspiring and I hope one day to reach his level of success.  

The cross that Grandma gave to me could not be hidden away in a beautiful jewelry box, so I decided to hang it in a frame.

                             What you need to make this is:
        • A small frame. If it's too large, it overwhelms the small trinket. Also, make sure the glass can be removed. 
        • Fabric. Remnants work perfect since you are only using a small piece.
        • Ring Fasteners. Or anything you can attach jewelry with.
I found these at Hobby Lobby.

        • Hot glue gun
        • Super Glue
        • Scissors
        • Any tool that cuts metal
        • Your jewelry
        • Optional: paint
The first step (if you are opting to paint the ring fasteners) is to paint the ring fastener to your desired color. I did this because the metals did not match. I chose a nice green that blended with the floral fabric. Set that aside. I let mine dry over night.

Second step: remove glass from frame. Use this as a stencil to cut out fabric. Take a pencil and lightly stencil the shape of the glass on the back side of fabric. Cut out fabric.

Third step: Glue fabric onto the frame with a hot glue gun. If you choose to use light fabric, be careful that the glue doesn't seep through and ruin the fabric.

Fourth step: Take ring fastener, remove the attachers with a metal cutter.

Fifth Step: Attach jewelry to the ring. Supper glue ring fastener onto fabric. Here is the finished product!
I love the way it turned out. You can use this technique for any jewelry you want to show off. Mother Judith had the idea of using it to display her childhood cross collection. You can also purchase a large frame and put multiple pieces of jewelry on it.
I am planning to put my framed cross on my piano in my music room. If you have any similar ideas, please share!

Nancy Jane  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cilantro Pesto

The Ingredients for Cilantro Pesto:
  • Raw bunch ...slightly trim stems
  • Raw Garlic..1-2 cloves...depending on taste
  • Lemon juice from one lemon (maybe two again depending on size)
  • Dash of salt, to taste
Place in food processor and process
Keep Jars handy in refrigerator.
Great on eggs, omelets, salad toppings, tacos, burrito...mmmmmm getting hungry thinking about it...but great way to build nutrients in meals.
Mother Judith