Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Potpourri

Now that summer has arrived there should be some flowers blooming in your garden.  A good way to extend their beauty through the dark days of winter and early spring is to dry them.  There are many methods.  You can pick blooms that are not quite fully opened and tie string around the stems .. then hang upside down from the rafters in a warm (dry) garden shed or garage.  Or you can snip the flowers from their stems and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and put into a 100 to 180F oven for a few hours.  Be sure to prop the door open slightly to allow moisture to escape and air to circulate.

 I use the drying setting of my convection oven set at 120F with the door propped slightly. Once dry from the oven heat, leave the flowers on the tray overnight on the counter to make sure the blossoms are completely dry.   Store the dried flowers in a paper bag or box.  When you want to make potpourri, simple take a few cups of flowers and sprinkle on a little essential oil, mixing well with your hands.  Once the oils have been added, store the potpourri in a plastic zip lock bag or container with a lid.  Small amounts of potpourri can be placed in little dishes, teacups, saucers and left out in different rooms of your home for a fresh floral scent ... even in the winter. 

How to dry flowers in the oven.
How to dry flowers by hanging

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sourdough Waffles

In the past, I've started sourdough starters and have given up.  One method makes a very thick 'paste' starter that you end up throwing most of it away to keep feeding it.  (I gave up because I don't like to waste).  Another recipe called for using rye flour .. which seems to have more natural yeast on the grain.  For some reason, I gave up on this one too.  So about 6 weeks ago, I just followed this recipe here ... only I didn't have any 'starter' to start the starter :) ... I just mixed equal parts of filtered water (1 cup) with un-bleached all purpose flour, loosely covered the bowl (you want some air exposure to capture natural yeast spores) and set it on the counter.  After about a week, we had a starter growing.  Read the article in the link it gives the hows/whys of it all.

Typically, we use whole grain wheat that I sprout and dehydrate .. then grind when making bread, pancakes, waffles, etc.  A few years ago we purchased a grain mill; which we use several times a week grinding just enough needed flour at a time.  Soaking and sprouting the grain improves the nutritional value and makes it easier to digest (read here if you're interested) (and here).

wheat sprouted then dried
 When maintaining my starter, I use the un-bleached all purpose flour .. and then use the whole grain/sprouted flour along with the starter in my recipes.

Recipe for sourdough waffles (makes about 5-6 large Belgian style .. you may get more from a standard waffle maker.

The night before you make waffles:

1 cup sour dough starter
waffles freeze well .. bye-bye Eggo!
1-1/2 cups flour (I use sprouted freshly ground soft spring wheat) ... use whatever you want.
1 cup filtered water

Mix these ingredients in a large glass bowl using a wooden or plastic spoon (metal supposedly reacts poorly with the starter).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and leave on the counter.  This mixture will rise so make sure the bowl is large.

In the morning, whisk together two eggs, 1 tablespoon melted butter (or coconut oil), 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional), 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1 tablespoon sucanat (minimally refined cane sugar) in a small bowl.   Add this to the large bowl and stir well.  You want the mixture to be similar to pancake batter .. if it's too thick, add a little milk or water.  If it's too thin, add a little more flour.
additional ingredients mixed in. (yes I used a metal fork here .. it's OK to use just prior to cooking)

Lastly, add 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and give it a good mix and let the batter rest for a few minutes.
Heat and grease the waffle iron and add up to 1/2 cup of batter.  Bake as directed for your particular waffle iron.

Serve with fruit topping or a little real maple syrup.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Ramblings At Home

garden peas
Summer finally arrived on the first day of summer, imagine that!  We had a long, cold wet spring again this year.  With just a few days of warm temps this past week, the garden is taking off.

Yesterday I tackled the weeds, applied fresh (homemade) compost around some of the veggies and gave everything a drink of fish emulsion-water.  With last nights thunder-lightening storm, the charged air and metal fence surrounding the garden produced a natural nitrogen fertilizer.  

The apple trees have been thinned of excess fruit to keep the branches from breaking.  This needs to be done before the fruit gets too big and wastes energy.  We'll have enough to store and can lots of apple sauce and make pie fillings for winter.  The sour cherry tree is loaded with fruit as well.  For several years our trees were producing every other year .. and this is the second year for consecutive fruiting.  Yea!

apples getting thinned out
jalapeno pickled eggs
dried peony flowers for winter pot-potpourri
The kitchen counters are brimming with homemade sourdough starter, pickled eggs, homemade stick deodorant, flowers drying for pot-potpourri and dishes needing to be washed.  What's going on in your garden/home?

update:  here's a link to homemade deodorant .  I use a little less tea-tree oil and add a little lavender oil.   Start with the room temp coconut oil .. and gradually add up to the suggested amount in the recipe of corn starch and baking soda .. I prefer organic corn starch (minus Monsanto round up ready corn)  and organic baking soda (aluminum free).  If you live in a hot, hot climate, you might need more cornstarch .. or make it as a powder form and skip using the coconut oil and place in a small jar with a screw cap lid.  Store in a cool location during the summer.  If you make this in a cold climate during the winter, the mixing bowl needs to be warmed to help soften the coconut oil. 
'refilled' deodorant containers

Monday, June 18, 2012

Floral 'Drinks'

It's peony season and I love to cut the flowers to bring in a wonderful bouquet of Heaven's scent.  Yesterday I had to stake them up a bit.  Our weather is so fickle still.  One day nice and sunny .. then the next day rainy.  Not being one to wish for warmer weather when much of the country is having wild fires, I will be thankful we are not suffering from such events.  Still, the garden could use a good dose of heat.  Drink in the beauty of summer flowers .. enough to last until next year .. that's my strategy for surviving the long winter season. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Great Loss

My sweet Rowan passed into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father at 3:12 PM this afternoon. God gave her a beautiful day for her home coming .. perfect blue skies .. and a beautiful sunset. My how one little gift from God changed so many lives. What a privilege it has been being her grandmother. My heart rejoices knowing that hers has been made whole.  Thank you to the many readers and friends that have been praying for our little heart warrior.  She was born with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome where the left side of her heart did not form properly.  Our family will see her once again in Heaven. 
 With love from the Mac Family 
"In my Father's house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you."
John 14:2

It's A Dogs Life

Meet Ruby and Daisy; my daughter's dogs .. also known as my granddawgers.

They are semi-permanent fixtures at our home of late.  After my beloved golden retriever (Miss Holly) passed away last year, it's rather nice having the company of two adorable pooches.  But it's also nice that they will one day be reunited with their family.

Ruby (short for Rhubarb:)

The larger dog is a golden-doodle and the little one is a Cavashon; both dogs are somewhat hypo-allergenic in that they don't shed (much).  When I move, they move.  Get up .. they get up.  My shadows at large (and small).

 Both are well behaved and can run off leash around our big (unfenced) yard with some supervision.  And if they start to wander off, I just bribe them with the promise of a treat when we go inside (that's what grandma's do best :)
wild roses are starting to bloom .. time to make jelly!

cloudless .. finally

Today we wondered around in the cloudless outdoors .. it's been rather soupy of late weather-wise, so we all needed to get out and smell the (wild) roses.

Will have a baby update perhaps later.  Also, the pictures are much clearer if you click on them.  I'm having problems loading pictures on my blog (again!). 

The Story of Rhubarb a book

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Weekend Reading

sourdough pancakes
I've come across a few interesting sites today and wanted to share:

Inexpensive way to grow your own mushrooms

Homemade Rhubarb 'Champagne

Sourdough Pancakes

soupy weather with chilly nights
We've had quite a bit of rain this past week.  In between downpours, grass was cut, weeds mowed, garden beds covered and uncovered depending on night time temps.  The local mountains got a dusting of snow, and Mt. Spokane had 4 to 6 inches of snow a few nights ago.

Our dinners have included winter fare once again ... soups and stews

Here is a little video clip of my granddaughter  Rowan.  She's still recovering in the hospital from heart surgery.

Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Patina That Comes With Living

When we built our home and took occupancy in 2007 everything was brand spanking new.  Wood floors that shined and had zero scratches; walls and white trim woodwork crisp and fresh; windows that had clean screens and sashes; shiny new appliances .. sparkly new sinks and carpet that showed footprints from being brand new.

My idea of a home and life has been somewhat shaped and modeled after watching the TV series, The Waltons.  I love how there were well worn floors and painted surfaces; a homey feeling conveyed from the front door to the attic and on the screened in summer porch off the kitchen.

A newly built home suffers from not having any lackluster.  When everything is new and without life's everyday scrapes and bumps, it holds little character.

Fast forward five years .. a relatively short time and pull up a chair at the kitchen table.  You will find older furniture with little scrapes and scars from being used countless times.  My table and chairs witnessed the everyday living beginning with two newlyweds, the arrival of four children, countless birthday parties, craft projects including paints and glue, and grand children sitting in a wooden high chair used by our first born.

Time marches on and wears well on the fabric (and furniture) of everyday life.  Now we have little scrapes and dings in our wooden floors that at first were troublesome (in my silly head) and now don't seem so noticeable.  Doorways that have worn painted surfaces from countless little hands holding on for balance.  A stainless steel kitchen sink that has a well worn sheen without notice of any particular scratch.  And appliances that show we have had plenty of good meals served up by examining how many times they have been wiped, scoured and cleaned.

New homes are good for a short season .. but the best part of a home is the character that is etched on the surfaces from holding on to the memories of every day life.

Update on my granddaughter:  I believe the doctors are trying to ween her off of life support as I type.  This is her last hope of recovery.  Will keep you posted.  Any and all prayer is appreciated.  

Friday, June 01, 2012

No Knead Sourdough Bread

So I've had lots of time this afternoon to pass the time in prayer for my little granddaughter ... and I put some of my nervous energy into good use by finishing up a nice round loaf of no-knead bread that was started last night.

I took the premise for the recipe from an article in the 'Mother Earth News' on-line magazine and made it my own by using my own grind of sprouted flour, soaked 6-grain cereal mix and some sourdough starter.  Of course, I didn't use a recipe .. just followed the one in the magazine for proportions of flour and water.

Click here for recipe and instructions.
Look what transpired :)

Update on baby Rowan:  She's off the heart by-pass and almost out of surgery.  After receiving a heart 'make over' and a new valve, her heart is much happier .. along with her mommy, daddy and entire family.

Gardening To Alleviate ....

STRESS!  Hubby and I were at the hospital for a good part of the day.  Our precious granddaughter, Rowan, is having major heart surgery as I type.  After four hours we had to return home to pick up our youngest son from the bus stop.  As soon as I got in the door and let out my daughter's dogs that we're watching, I headed to the garden to dig in the dirt to plant three blueberry bushes.  I don't know about you, but I find gardening such a great stress reducer.  Now that the berry bushes have found spots in the yard .. maybe I'll go plant some pumpkin seeds as baby is still in surgery.  I just may have enough stress to finish planting EVERYTHING!