Dumplings & Fruit Crisp

In spite of sending bags of food home with my daughters, there was still  a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers.  I made a big pot of turkey soup with little dumplings made from the leftover mashed potatoes.  Dumplings can be made with leftover stuffing as well.  Just take a cup or two of stuffing and make a well in the middle.  Break an egg into the well and combine it with the stuffing.  Add a little flour into the mix if it is too wet.  Drop the dumplings into a bubbling soup or stew and you’ll know they are done when they rise to top.

The rest of the turkey is cut up and frozen now along with another gallon of stock.  There were a few apples left from pie making so those are  peeled, sliced and frozen too.  I held back an apple, diced it and mixed it in with the leftover cranberry-apple compote.  I added a little extra cinnamon and put it into ramekins.  Baked in the oven with a quick crumb topping , it will make a delicious dessert.  Freshly whipped cream will make it even better.




Last week was filled with Thanksgiving preparations.The pumpkins were  all  cooked up into delicious soups, pies and breads.   Cranberry compote and apple pies bubbled away in the oven.  Winter squash and potatoes were brought up from the cellar and readied to be roasted along with the turkey that we got from a small family farm a few miles away.The house was scrubbed and shiny clean .  My girls all came home.  I had so many things to be thankful for.  This Thanksgiving in particular we were all acutely thankful for each other. Time is so fleeting and things can change on a dime.  This was a good holiday to remember to treasure the moments and those that share them with us.

Thursday’s turkey remnants are simmering on the stove.  The good stock will make delicious soups and stews  for these cold winter nights.  Christmas is coming and there will be lots of baking, decorating, sewing, and cooking, making my herbal concoctions and painting. This house is ready to be filled up with the joy and magic of the Season.


Indian Summer, Snails & Arrowroot

Indian Summer! 70 degrees in November is so unusual for us and it’s been a real gift. Somehow though, I still haven’t managed to get the outdoor chores done. I can relate to this little snail I found.
The last of the daffodils and garlic finally got planted yesterday. Why did I buy 140 garlic cloves? I got carried away at the garlic festival. I need to get out more, lol.
Arrowroot flour is a wonderful thing. I use it in equal parts to replace cornstarch in my cooking. It has a lot of nutritive value, is healing to the gut and it’s cost effective. I use it to thicken gravies and sauces and in puddings and custards. Making pudding from scratch is surprisingly easier, much healthier and more delicious than using boxed mixes. The cooking time is quicker and it sets up faster too.

Foliage, Garlic Festival & Ferments

The weekly, local  Farmer’s Markets are coming to an end.  My Dad and I went to his town’s market and I was excited to see that almost everyone there was selling organic produce .   I got some squash, giant apples and tomatillos . I never tried tomatillos before.  The lady selling them said they are very easy to grow and make a good jam or green salsa. They’re also nice just as a bit of tang in a salad.  I fermented mine with some of  the last pickings from the garden.. red peppers, green tomatoes and garlic.  I  fermented some carrots with grated ginger too.

The local Garlic Festival  was held this past weekend. I try not to miss it because I buy  my planting garlic from the same farmer there every year. Besides ordinary cloves there is every garlic thing you can imagine…garlic ice cream, pickles, breads, kimchis, oils, vinegars, cheese, relishes, spreads and jellies.  They also have vendors selling their crafts, honey, maple syrup, soap and produce.  Did I mention lots of food trucks ?  Our Garlic Festival started out with about 15 tables and a few curious people poking around.  Now it’s huge, attracts more than 10,000 visitors and even has an official Garlic Queen.

Cream Cheese, Quilts, Cars & Gratitude

Clearing through the attic last week, I found a treasure. When my girls were little I used to make their clothes. Whatever material was left was cut into patches to make simple quilts. I found a bag of these patches, wrinkled but otherwise perfect. I ironed them and sewed them together into a quilt.  I showed it to my daughters this weekend and it brought back such nice memories for all of us.  My middle daughter is the most sentimental of my 3 so I’ll do some hand quilting on this and have it done for her by Christmas.
I’ve been wanting to make my own cheese so I started with an easy one..cream cheese. It was just a matter of getting the milk to the right temperature, adding the culture and letting it sit until the whey separated. Then I set it to drain. It came out delicious.

Now that gardening season is over, I’ve been putting aside time to take walks.  There’s woods, fields and streams right outside my door and this time of year is especially beautiful.
I’m mad at myself for not taking better care of my car.  It’s 9 years old and the road treatments for snow have created a big rust problem.  I should have  rinsed it down and parked it  out of the elements but I never did.  Soon I’ll be traveling a lot to help my daughter take care of her baby since she has to go back to work.  I was hoping to trade in my jeep and get something newer but the rust has devalued it.   Lesson learned.  The money part is a problem but what bothers me most  is that I didn’t care properly for something that I was lucky to have.  Poor stewardship.  To me , that says there’s a lack of gratitude.  Not a good thing.  I started this blog for the opportunity to stay focused and thankful for all the wonderful things in this world and in my life.  It’s been  so great to see, read, learn things and make blog friends from all over the world.   Thank you all!

Family & Fall Cleaning

My college girl was home this weekend. I made a big pot of chicken and dumplings on Sunday and we ended up having a nice family dinner. My sister joined us and my other daughter came with her baby and husband.  Everybody stopped along the way at Farmer’s markets and Fall festivals and brought donuts, apple cider and pumpkin cakes, adding to the feast.

The weather had been continuously dry and hot.  The hibiscus went onto a second bloom.  Overnight, rain came and a cold snap with it.  Now, the leaves are suddenly turning  and daytime temperatures have dropped 30 degrees.  The outside plants have been brought in, cut back and repotted and Fall cleaning  has begun.  I guess that’s sort of a nesting instinct… getting things clean and snug and organized for the long, cold stretch ahead.    Curtains, walls, floors, pillows  and windows washed.  Area rugs dragged outside and damp mopped with soap and water,front and back, spot cleaned and dried in the sun.  Winter blankets pulled out of storage,  washed and dried on the clothesline.  Summer clothes put away.  All the cleaning agents I use are natural..vinegar infused with orange peels, borax, essential oils, homemade soap.  Soon my little old farmhouse will be sweet and sparkling.

Peach Butter, Sauerkraut & “Pumpkin” Bread

I had a fun day at my friend’s house. She brought home cabbage,kale, purple cabbage and lots of squash from her sister’s organic farm. We spent the morning making fermented sauerkraut with the kale and cabbages. While we were chopping and salting, we had her oven filled with baking squash..Delicatas, Hubbards and Butternuts. Once the squash were cooked and cooled we skinned and seeded them and mashed the pulp. With that, we made lots of “pumpkin” bread. She added cranberries and nuts to some of the loaves. Once baked and cooled, most of the loaves went into the freezer along with the mashed squash that was left over.
My own squash crop was dismal but I did have a volunteer vine that grew from the compost I added to the asparagus bed. I let it go and it turned out to be acorn squash that yielded a few nice little gifts.
I harvested a delicious basket of peaches from the tree my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day. After eating our fill, I made a couple of jars of peach butter from what was left. I cooked about 12 smallish peaches, pitted but not peeled, on top of the stove with a little bit of water until they were soft. Then I put the mixture through the food mill. I ended up with 3 cups of pulp and juice. I added 1 1/2 cups of sugar (2 to 1 ratio), cinnamon,allspice and ginger to the pulp and simmered it slowly and gently on top of the stove until it was thick, stirring it so it wouldn’t burn. Then I poured it into hot, sterilized jars, sealed them up and processed them in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. It came out delicious!  I think  it will be really good on fresh, warm buttermilk biscuits .

Freezing Apples, Crisp & a Happy Picture

Organic apples were on sale at our local market last week for $1 a pound. I bought 6 pounds of them and froze them for baking. They can be frozen whole but it’s a pain to peel and core them frozen or defrosted. I peel, core and slice them first, then freeze them. They aren’t good raw once they’re frozen but they are great cooked. The only thing is, they give out more liquid than the fresh ones would. I counteract that by adding arrowroot flour to the apples so the juice thickens up instead of being watery. Corn starch is another option but I prefer arrowroot. I use it to thicken gravy too.
The apples in the freezer came in handy today when my daughter called to say she was dropping by this afternoon for a quick visit. I filled an 8×8 baking dish with a mixture of frozen apples, 2T of arrowroot, 1/8 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Then I made a quick, standard crisp topping -3/4 cup brown sugar combined with 3/4 cup flour and 2t cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup butter. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients (like making pie crust) until everything is mixed together and crumbly. Scatter this over the apples and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the apples are tender. *This topping is delicious with pears and peaches too!
By the time my daughter got here, the kitchen smelled like cinnamon and apples. I made some tea and showed her the picture I finished for the nursery I’m planning upstairs. We had the apple crisp warm and I whipped up a little cream to top it off.

Americana and a Mansion

It was a beautiful day for a ride. We went through a covered bridge in Connecticut, drove up along the Hudson River and detoured for a few minutes to gawk at one of the Vanderbilt mansions.

In Rhinebeck we saw an interesting looking tavern, the Liberty Public House where we stopped for lunch. The bar was gorgeous. The decor was old Americana.  Some of it was a little creepy… as was the trip up to the bathroom, lol.

The people there were fun and friendly and the food was good.  I got a salmon burger that was the best I’ve ever had.. lots of fresh salmon, seasoned and cooked perfectly with a hint of dill and dressed with tzatziki.

Blueberry Cordial & Water Hyacinths

It’s been weeks since we’ve had rain. Temperatures have been in the 90’s for a while now. Berries shriveled on the canes, the gardens are brown and crispy. I’ve had to be careful about watering, we have a well. I’m trying to save the newly planted fruit trees, bushes and some vegetables I’d yet to harvest. That may not even be possible.

At least the water hyacinths are cheerful.  Once it gets cold, I’ll snap off a few plants and overwinter them in a basin of water in the basement.   They multiply quickly in the spring and the roots make good breeding habitat for the goldfish.
I squeaked out one last jar of fermented dilly beans. These things are delicious. Next year I’m expanding my bean plot.
I have black currants steeping in vodka for a few weeks now. Soon it will be ready to finish off and bottle for Christmas cordial. I came across a recipe for blueberry cordial in an old herbal almanac and decided to try it with some frozen blueberries. Cordials are easy to make. It’s basically a matter of crushing the fruit and totally immersing it in alcohol. I used gin for the blueberries. Keep it sealed in a dark, cool place and shake the mixture daily. In a few weeks strain it, discard the fruit and add a simple syrup (water and sugar) to the strained alcohol, to taste. At this point, bottle it up, seal in sterilized glass and set it away for a couple months. Once it’s opened, it should be kept in the refrigerator. Of course, if at any point mold shows up, (very unlikely) everything should be discarded.

Prolific Peppers & Bee Stings

I spied a particularly fat and juicy blackberry in the patch yesterday. As I reached over to pick it, a bee swooped in and stung me right in the armpit. Ouch! A paste of baking soda and water works like magic to take the pain away. Luckily, it was just a honey bee that stung me. I saw this ominous looking creature in there today and backed off. Does anyone know what this is?
This summer has been so dry here. The gardens are looking very stressed and haggard. The cucumber patch finally succumbed to powdery mildew so I cleared it out and discovered a metropolis of moles. Ugh… my nemesis. They’ve infiltrated the blueberry bushes too.
Calendulas are still plugging away. I add the dried petals to the soap I make.. they retain their color and shape beautifully. The rest of the heads, I steep in jojoba, olive or grapeseed oil. After a month or so, I strain the oil and use it as a base for skin cream.
The heirloom Napolitan peppers I had so much trouble getting to sprout earlier,ended up being good little producers. 15 plants yielded over 100 peppers. I’ve had my fill of them so I’m seeding, coring and slicing these and whatever else comes in and popping them into the freezer to use over the winter. The seeds I’ll save for next year.
It’s cool out today. I have chicken soup bubbling on the stove and oatmeal cookies baking in the oven. My kitchen smells so good. I’m going to pack it all up and bring it to my daughter.
I hope all of you are having a wonderful day! Thanks for stopping by:)

Northhampton, MA

Recently we took a day trip to Northhampton, Massachusettes.  Smith college is there, an all women college that has  a long list of well known alumnai including Sylvia Plath, Barbara Bush, Gloria Steinham, Julia Child and Nancy Reagan.  According to Wikipedia, North Hampton is the most  politically liberal, medium sized city in the U.S.  Wikipedia also says “North Hampton is known as an academic, artistic, musical and counterculture hub.”

As we walked down the Main street, we were approached by quite a few political and social activists with petitions and homeless people asking for donations.  There were also some talented musicians performing.  We happened to run into a Farmers’ Market, on our way to Thorne’s Marketplace.  Thorne’s Marketplace was  built in 1873 and was originally a dry goods store that expanded into a huge department store and was later converted into a shopping center.  It was pretty cool.   A lot of the period details have been preserved and there are lots of interesting little stores and restaurants inside.

We had lunch at Paul and Elizabeth’s.  It’s a family owned restaurant in Thorne’s that has been around since 1978.  Originally it was a vegetarian restaurant but they recently expanded their menu to include seafood. They use locally sourced and organic ingredients.  Their breads were delicious and the food was fresh and tasted like home.

North Hampton is a lot different from the other little cities and towns that I’ve been to.  I knew nothing about it until I got there.  It seems very “crunchy” with lots of patchouli wafting through the air, lol.  There was a lot of traffic but hardly any people walking around or in the stores and restaurants.  Maybe that was because I visited on a Tuesday, in the summer.  Once college starts up, it probably comes alive.

Blackberries, Dilly Beans and Babies

I stayed with my daughter for a few days, helping with her new baby.    I’d forgotten how exhausting being on call around the clock with a newborn can be.  It was good to be a mommy again, fixing  healthy meals for my daughter and pampering her a little.   Keeping her company at 3 am in a cozy nursery while she fed the baby  was special and kind of emotional.  Lots of memories from when she was little and  hopes and dreams for our new little girl.

I came home to bring my youngest back to college.  She’s all settled in and I’m catching up here.

The last of the beans, cucumbers and red peppers are picked. I made a couple more batches of pickles and dilly beans. Everything that was left, I fermented together and added garlic, onions and fennel seeds. Since my tomato crop is so sad this year, I won’t be pulling out my food mill any time soon. Any extra tomatoes I have this year, I’m just coring and freezing whole…..I learned this from my blogger friend from New Gardener Blues last year.   It’s a good tip… so quick and easy.

The blackberry crop is wonderful. I made a batch of jam and have lots of blackberries in the freezer with still more to pick on the bushes. The second flush of raspberries looks good too.
The mornings are cold and the very first leaves are starting to turn. There’s still lots of cabbage and kale in the garden. The pears are knobby but I’ll put them to good use and I might even get a few peaches.
It’s good cleaning weather. Now that everyone is gone again, I’m starting the fall cleaning and organizing. That includes tackling the attic. There’s lots of good coats and things to donate up there, before the weather gets really cold.


I’ve gotten over 20 pounds of cucumbers and they’re still coming so it’s pickle time. Last year I cultured all my vegetables using sea salt and whey. This year, I’m doing a little experimenting. I brined the whole cucumbers in a sea salt solution for 3 days and then transferred them to the refrigerator. They’re nice and crunchy. The spears I also brined in a sea salt solution and I added a starter culture… Caldwell’s. For the relish and beans, I used the starter culture as well. Everything came out crisp and flavorful. The crispiness is due to the sea salt. The starter culture supposedly increases the nutritional value and the strains of beneficial bacteria.
I prefer cultured vegetables to canned because of the nutritional benefits. They offer a lot more in the way of vitamins and minerals and increasing healthy gut microbes. A lot has been written on that subject by Dr. Mercola  and Sally Fallon. I recently read the book, ‘Brain Maker’ by David Perlmutter, MD. He’s a neurologist and also a big proponent for implementing cultured foods in the diet. It was a good read and had some interesting cultured food recipes that I’ll be trying soon.

Avery Grace

We have a new,sweet baby girl in our family. She arrived this weekend. It was a tough delivery but both my daughter and her little one are doing fine, thank God.
I’m holding my first grand baby for the first time. I still can’t believe it.

Red Currant Jam & Cucumbers

I should have made pickles today, I have loads of cucumbers. But… there was a beautiful bag of frozen red currants in the freezer that’s been calling my name. This is the first year my red currant bush fruited. It only yielded about 4 cups, not even enough to make a pie with. Still, I wanted to make something special with the berries.
I remembered making grape jelly with my Grandmother. We had an arbor in the back yard that was loaded with dark purple, thick skinned grapes. They were so delicious. Jelly day started early, picking and preparing the grapes and sterilizing our jars and lids. The kitchen steamed up and smelled all sugary, like candy. In a few hours we had rows of glistening purple jars lining the counters. That gave me the idea of making a jar of jelly.

I  found a beautiful page on the Internet :  David Lebovitz, living the sweet life in Paris , that gave  simple and perfect  instructions.

I gently cooked the currants until they were soft, then put them through a food mill.   Weighing the juice on a postal scale, I came up with 6 ounces.  The ratio between fruit and  sugar for jelly is 1 to 1 so I knew I needed 6 ounces of organic cane sugar, which I also weighed out.

I brought the juice to a boil and skimmed off the scum that came to the top and stirred in  the sugar.  Everything was then brought to a boil  for 5 minutes.  It was at the perfect jelly stage!  Everything took less than an hour.

When my daughter came home, I made us a snack.  Homemade, buttered sourdough toast with red currant jelly and a cucumber smoothie, lol.  I don’t want to waste these cucumbers!  A combination of cucumber, frozen pineapple, frozen blueberries, a squirt of lemon juice and a spoonful of honey made a  really good and refreshing drink.

Hibiscus, Harvest & Sourdough

All the hibiscus are blooming. A few  raspberries and green beans are still trickling in. The cucumbers are taking over with a vengeance. Once again, my squash succumbed to mildew and I wish I had planted more potatoes.

The sourdough starter I made last week was ready to use Monday and I baked its first loaf of bread yesterday. I stuck with the recipe from, My Sister’s Kitchen. It never does me wrong.


My husband and I took a ride through the hills. We spent the day in an artsy little town, Rhinebeck, New York.
Rhinebeck has a real vintage vibe – there’s a big, old family-owned five and dime store in the center of town along with clothing stores, unique little shops, cafés and pubs.
Lots of the shops have hand made things for sale. I really liked Nectar. It is a beautiful store and everything in there is fair trade, green or repurposed. The owner, Jenny, was really friendly and she told me she travels all over the world for her merchandise.
We had lunch outside on the patio of Terrapin restaurant. They have fresh, crusty artisan breads and handmade cheeses. Their food is sourced locally and they use organic ingredients. Everything was fresh and full of flavor… deliciousness!
The little pizza shop in town sells handmade ice cream. I couldn’t resist. I got a black currant and cream ice cream cone and it was really good.
We went off the beaten path a little bit and found a big barn/ Antique mart. It was fun to poke around in there for a while before heading home.

Sourdough & Detergent

I neglected my sourdough starter for too long and it died. I started a new batch today and I’ll be able to start using it next week. I made it the old fashioned way, following Sally Fallon’s instructions in ” Nourishing Traditions”. I ground 2 cups of rye into flour and added 2 cups of cold water. The mixture stays covered with a clean cloth and will be kept on the kitchen counter. For the next 6 days I’ll transfer the starter into a clean bowl and add a cup of rye flour and a cup of water.  It will get bubbly. Then it will settle down a bit and be ready for me to use for bread and baked goods. After that, I’ll keep it refrigerated and fed with rye flour and water . Hopefully, it will last for years, unless I abandon it again.

Two or three times a year, I make laundry detergent.  One batch makes 5 gallons.   I was getting low  so I made that too.  It took about 20 minutes and it has to stand for 24 hours.  Tomorrow I’ll fill up my milk cartons and be set for a while.

Garden Update

The days are busy picking blueberries, drying herbs, weeding and filling the house with giant bouquets of Bee Balm and Annabelle Hydrangeas. I made a big batch of sauerkraut and we have fresh garden salads every night.  The last of the garlic has been harvested and I’m keeping watch on the tiny beans, cucumbers, peppers  and squash that have set. They’ll be ready for picking soon.

I haven’t had to take any measures against bugs yet. There’s just been the normal wear and tear that goes with gardening organically. A few holes in the cabbage don’t bother me.  Everything is doing really well except……my tomatoes are dismal. The plants are sparse and spindly. I tried a new variety this year, Granny Cantrell. Last year I grew Ace..also an heirloom variety and I had gorgeous plants and was swamped with tomatoes. I’m not sure what the problem is.  Maybe its just not my year for tomatoes.


Fruit Toppings & Keeping Flowers

A few weeks ago I made strawberry topping for ice cream sundaes. There was some left so I refrigerated it used it to top the yogurt and kefir I make. It was delicious.  I decided to do a healthier version with the small amount (1 cup) of gooseberries I harvested. I mashed and cooked them down for a few minutes and then once they were cooled, I stirred in raw honey. Heat kills the enzymes in the honey. Had I been sweetening with sugar, I would’ve just added the sugar in the beginning with the berries. I’ll keep this gooseberry topping in the fridge and make blueberry and strawberry as well.

Flowers are so pretty I wish they would last forever. My cousin told me that Mod Podge preserves fresh flowers. I printed out some quotes that I like in a dimension for bookmarks. Then I decorated them with fresh flowers and glued and sealed them with Mod Podge. (Elmer’s or white glue works just as well but needs to be thinned a little bit with water.)

I posted about our losing my cousin John a few weeks ago. His daughter Stacey (she is so much like her Dad), sent me roses. I wanted to keep them so I made rosepetal beads . The link gives easy directions and a wonderful story of how they were used in Medieval times. The only ingredients were 4 cups of petals and water. They were very easy to make. I strung them on a chain that I wear with my Grandfather’s wedding ring and a few other things that are meaningful to me. Body heat imparts the rose fragrance. It’s a beautiful reminder to me of people that I love so much.

New York City

My youngest daughter is an art student. She wanted to go to the Modern Museum of Art so we planned a day in New York City. We took a train in to Grand Central and planned a walking route to visit some of the things in the neighborhood.  The first stop was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  There’s a lot of construction and scaffolding..inside and out.

Then we went to the Museum.  There was a statue with a live beehive for a head in the courtyard.

My fun cousin Stacey recommended ‘Serendipity’ for lunch. We had to backtrack a few blocks to get there but it was worth it!

Back to 5th Avenue..I wanted to look at the window displays and visit Fao Schwartz one last time before it closes on July 15

It was a great day image