Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Stretching Out

 Believe it or not, this is not a post about what you should do before and after a workout. However, you really should stretch on either side of a workout. 😉

Today was a day for me to stretch in several ways. 

The first...not my kids favorites, is stretching a meal. I have had this ginormous zucchini on the counter for awhile. I finally put it to work the past 2 nights: Last night I shredded it and added it to the crushed tomatoes I had canned earlier in the week that weren't quite enough to fill another quart jar.

Half of that zucchini shredded up and cooked into the tomatoes with seasoning nearly doubled the amount of sauce we added to our pasta. And what mom doesn't love "sneaking" extra veggies into a meal??

The remainder of the zucchini got shredded up tonight and supplemented our ground taco meat. 

Once the meat was browned, I added the shredded zucchini and cooked it until it tenderized a bit and released it's excess water. Then, I added our seasoning -I used this one from Penzey's Spices, as it doesn't have any weird ingredients that others have. Sometimes we like to use one of their other Southwest-style seasonings, but it was classic Taco Seasoning tonight. This all got cooked and simmered with the spices and served with the usual accoutrements: lettuce, salsa, sour cream, cheese, avocado, and tortillas. The zucchini didn't stretch the meat as far as it had the tomato sauce, but the lack of zucchini on my counter (unwasted) is going down as a win in my book. 

Next stretch is one out of my comfort zone, and definitely a brain stretch: I am putting together a website. Yikes!! 
I am really excited to share the final product with you! It will be an extension of this blog, with the option to make it really my own and opportunity to expand. 
While I am utilizing pre-built framework and themes for the website, there is a huge learning curve for this not-so-tech-savvy gal. It's a whole different world from this free blogging platform I have been working with, but I am enjoying the learning aspect and the experimentation. I am hoping to be able to move most of my posting from here into appropriate venues within the site, but not sure yet what that entails. We shall see! 
As soon as it is ready, I'll let you know!
Until then, keep checking back. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Quick and Easy Harvest Baking

 It's quick to put together, with simple ingredients that were already on hand, and doubles up nicely for a crowd. Did I mention that it adjusts very easily to be gluten-free AND dairy-free?

It's Northwest Apple Pudding!

This is a recipe that my grandma used to bake, then my mom, and now myself. Although the recipe suggests serving warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, I prefer it with a light dusting of powdered sugar because that is how I remember having it, and it just feels like the way it should be. 

Ironically, digging into the history of this recipe from a family perspective, my grandma came by this one from a powdered sugar box -which may be why I remember it with the powdered sugar dusting. Apparently, my grandma used to like to serve this with a hard sauce, which is kind of like a loose buttercream flavored with brandy. However, because it was to be a family-friendly dish, she wouldn't use alcohol and flavored it with nutmeg. 

Are you ready to try this?? You will not regret it.

I will note the adjustments I used to make it gluten and dairy free following the original recipe as well as any other notes I have. 

Northwest Apple Pudding

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1/4 Cup soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Cup peeled, shredded apples
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup chopped nuts
Gradually add sugar to butter. Beat in egg. Add apples. Sift together and then add: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Beat until smooth. Add nuts. Bake in a greased 8x8" pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.


  • To make dairy-free, I swap the butter for coconut oil. 
  • To make gluten-free, we swap the flour for Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free flour
  • Feel free to mix up your spices, just keep it heavier with cinnamon. I used a homemade pie spice mix that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and put in 2 tsp total.
  • Raisins also go well with this recipe and can be added in at the end with the nuts. My kids don't love raisins, so I don't often add them. 
  • Nuts: Walnuts or pecans work best in this recipe.
  • Serve as recommended, or dust with powdered sugar like me. Maybe try it like Grandma with some hard sauce, or just grab a fork and eat warm from the judgement, it's that good. 
One last picture, of the last piece with the recipe in it's published form, as seen in the St. Luke's Episcopal Church Cookbook ca.1988


Friday, November 6, 2020

Do you know Chicken Math??

 There is Good Chicken Math: The kind where you can rationalize numbers so you can get yourself more chickens OR make yourself sound like a not-so-crazy chicken lady. Or maybe you go to get 6 chicks at the feed store, but come home with 10. This = Good Chicken Math

Right now, I've got some Bad Chicken Math

Example story problem: Nancy collected 6 eggs this week. All of the eggs are white. Nancy has 6 chickens. Only one of these chickens lays white eggs. How many chickens are freeloading slackers??

This story is an example of Bad Chicken Math.

Do you know chicken math?

Answer: Nancy has 0 freeloading slackers. 1 Leghorn is working her tail off, and the other 5 are losing their tails aka: Moulting.

Moulting = sketchy looking chickens + no eggs

If you find yourself with this kind of chicken math and the feathers are EVERYWHERE, help those girls out:

  • Increase the protein your hens are getting. Dried mealworms, scrambled eggs and black oil sunflower seeds are great sources for this. 
  • Reduce stressors by not introducing new flock members, moving them, or making other significant changes to their life.
  • Don't hold them. I know this is a big one, especially if you are used to snuggling them. The new pin feathers they have coming in are very uncomfortable, and being held can be painful to them and could even break the new feathers, causing bleeding.                                   
Good news: 
When they are done moulting, the eggs will return and your girls will have amazing fluffy feathers once again. Also, moult time is a good time to find some crafts requiring feathers! 
Resume Good Chicken Math.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

F is for Fall -Part 3: Flock

 I had wanted a backyard flock for about 20 years, ever since Seattle Tilth began hosting an Urban Chicken Coop tour, and something triggered inside of me, we were, after all, home owners now. Then ( few years and kids later), I bought a recommended book about raising backyard chickens while on a visit to Powell's Books in Portland. I read and enjoyed that book, but sadly, didn't pursue the dream and eventually donated the book, giving up on the idea, distracted by the "busy-ness" of a suburban stay-at-home mom with a new baby. Though I discounted the reality of having my own flock, the dream stayed, hanging out somewhere in my brain waiting for the right moment. 

Well, two and a half years ago, my oldest texts me from school, "Hey mom, so-and-so says The Grange has a deal. For every $10 you spend, you get 2 free chicks" WHAAAAAAT? *Dream Re-activated*

 Quick refresher course that evening on starter supplies needed, how to raise and care for chickens, and getting what we had on-hand set up. Then, I just had to attempt to contain the utter excitement one feels before a dream comes true throughout my work day -which fortunately is teaching 5 year olds, so they were willing to share the excitement.  Next, was meeting up with my Mom, who, in response to her oldest child's ask, "Do you want to do something crazy with me?" was: "Of course!"  Lol! My mom is great and often up for adventures like these. With my youngest kiddo, we headed out to the Grange, spent $30 in starter supplies and were offered 6 free chicks. 

Now, here's where a dilemma arose. I had only intended to bring home 4, as our city has a limit of 6, and I wanted to diversify the flock and add more chicks next season. Well, the what-ifs began to spin in my brain; Being a new chicken tender, from what I'd read, it was very likely that at least one chick wouldn't survive until maturity, "what if" the dog got one, and "what" if one was a roo, and so on. We took all offered 6, including one that had jumped out of the shopkeeper's hand and landed on the concrete floor (I felt so bad for her and wasn't sure she'd make it even though she appeared to be fine).   

Did I mention that this all happened when my husband was on a 2 week work inspection in Hawaii?? Lol, that's what happens when Mama gets left at home to her own devices. Needless to say, he knew this was a dream I had been saving, and built the girls an awesome coop and enclosure that they could move into when they had their big girl feathers.

Here we are, two and half years later, 6 original hens (no roos), no fatal illnesses, and still getting the best of the dog. I love being a Chicken Mama!

...and, the chick that jumped and hit the concrete floor? 
There she is above! That's our Jacky, after "Jumpin' Jack Flash" -my mom chose the name. 😉 Despite the flighty description given to Leghorns, she is our easiest to catch, super tolerant of being held, and our most consistent layer. Love that girl!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

F is for Fall -Part 2: Fun

 Trick or treat! What's your favorite Halloween candy? Almond Joys for me please! Halloween is already 3 days past. How did you celebrate? 

We opted out of any trick or treating, but instead took treats to the neighbors with kiddos. It was super fun! The two youngers and I dressed up and delivered during daylight hours, and my middle kiddo got plenty of oohs and ahhs over his homemade mask. We were also really excited and thankful for the mystery neighbor that delivered paper sacks of candy for each of my kids. 

Later on, we enjoyed walking and bike riding in the gorgeous fall sunshine, then takeout pizza, treats, and the annual viewing of "Hocus Pocus". Afterwards, We set up a glow-in-the dark egg hunt for the youngers. They actually thought it was kind of spooky! All the house lights were off on that side, plus we have a big tree that blocks out the streetlight for the most part, and I didn't allow flashlights. Lol! They did collect them all pretty quickly though. Then, we headed back inside, ate candy, and started watching "The Mandalorian". Yes, yes, I know Season 2 has already started. Don't worry, we'll be caught up soon enough!

The oldest and a friend, set up a projector in the driveway, along with a fire in the firepit, and they roasted marshmallows and enjoyed a show...or several. The weather was perfect for it. 

In addition to going to the farm with the youngers earlier in the week, I got to go enjoy the Halloween festivities at the zoo with my oldest, and our favorite local fast-food burgers. I do enjoy these times with them, knowing that time flies and soon they will be flying on their own.

What did your Halloween look like this year? Did you get creative, go traditional, or skip it this year? We'd love to hear!

Friday, October 30, 2020

F is For Fall -Part 1: Farm

 I LOVE Fall! There is so much to enjoy and feel grateful about during Fall: 

Those last warm and sunny days before the cooler weather sets in for the remainder of the year. Reminding us to enjoy them like we did in Summer, or maybe, to not take those sunny Summer days for granted because they won't last all year long. We took the opportunity on a recent day like this to head to our favorite farm: Jubilee Farm

I love the gorgeous drive through the trees...

Seeing the sweet farm animals and the fields of pumpkins. Piggies and pumpkins, Oh My! Had we not grown our own carving pumpkins this year, the one pictured above, would have been my choice to bring home. This time, we were after some cooking pumpkins and quality farm time. 

The kids were willing to head to the opposite end of the fields, almost to the river, just to visit the chickens at their tractors. Normally, I feel pretty lucky to get 5-10 minutes watching the farm chickens before at least one kiddo gets impatient, but maybe they matured, or having been home more than usual, we stayed happily for "some time" as my youngest put it. 

The view at the farm is incredible too, with the sounds of the Snoqualmie River nearby, the gorgeous Cascade mountains in the background, and all of the farm's offerings surrounding us. I think this is where my farm dreaming truly began, as I can always find peace, grounding, and a smile after a trip here. 

Of course, here are the edible beauties we brought home from the farm to cook up and use throughout the season in baked goods, soups, and maybe a new recipe or two!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Frosty Apples

We had our first frost of the season, a light one, but it covered everything and made me question whether or not I had done all that I should to get the garden ready for Winter. It also alerted the spidey-senses, telling us that apple harvest time was near. Once upon a time, we were told that you should wait until after the first frost to harvest them, so that the sugars could concentrate. We have a dwarf Fuji that is about 5 years old and has been producing well the last few years. Hence, excitement for apple picking. 

 After the frost melted (it didn't take long), I headed out with a big bag and collected all of the apples that hadn't already been sampled by our local wildlife. We ended up with a nice collection of almost 40lbs of these beauties which will go into the freezer, sauce, a crisp tonight, and many just straight down the hatch. Did I mention that I LOVE apples?? Next to raspberry season, this is my favorite harvest time of the year. 

Well, I read into the "picking after the frost" method. None of the readings I found supported this idea. In fact, most articles discussed the danger of allowing apples to freeze before harvesting. Fortunately for me, apples, in general, require 28 degrees and lower for at least 4 hours to cause damage to the fruit. Ripe apples and apples with a higher sugar content (read: Fujis) require lower temperatures to freeze, closer to 24 degrees. 

I did finally find an article regarding the sugar concentration, because that really is a thing. Apparently, it is warm sunny days and cool nights that make the apples amazingly sweet. I guess we have been having just what the apple doctor ordered, because look at the inside of this apple I collected!
It didn't last very long! We've probably been through nearly a dozen apples since harvest, just eating them by the slice. I don't have a picture, but they are so beautiful when you hold these sugary pieces to the sun as it just shines through them. My youngest was fascinated. 

Here's the haul:

Alright, may you be blessed with delicious apples and a beautiful day!