Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

Archive for the ‘Tasty’ Category

Blessings

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“Meaure wealth by the things we can afford to do without.”  From Rev. Tim Jensen’s Oct. 12th sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, Maine.

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It’s a good time to consider what I can do without.  I can easily do without a T.V.  I can do without buying CDs and new books; the library will suffice.  I can do without my favorite bottle of Australian red, though I treat myself every couple of weeks to a glass at Blue.  I can do without a car and shopping at the mall, without tanning salons and botox.  I can do without fancy meals in swanky restaurants, but I do love iton the rare occasion I have them.  Most of all,  I can do without the news.

I’ve put a moratorium on the news.  The news only reminds me of the things I can’t control, and I don’t need to be reminded of that.  I’ve known it for years.  Listening to the news makes me feel small and full of fear.  I  am none of those things.  So when I hear the news, I change the channel.  I listen to classical or jazz, anything but the news.  I’ve even been snagged by the worst country music.  Those corny lyrics make me laugh, and I can’t afford to do without that.

I measure my wealth every day, and every day I’m grateful.  I have a beautiful home in a great city, work I love, wonderful friends and family, a strong body and quick mind.  It’s more than enough to get through this life.   

So keeping today’s sermon in mind, I biked hard around the Back Cove and Eastern Promenade, because I can’t do without the sweat and breath of physical activity.  I called my parents and my brothers, because they are anchors in my life.  And I cooked and cooked until the windows steamed over, because food does more than fill my stomach.  It fills me with joy and pleasure, and who can do without that?

  

Carrot-squash soup!

 

 

Roasted beets!

 

 

Pasta sauce!

 

 

Steamed cabbage  . . .

 

 

Stuffed and baked!

 

 

Everyone’s talking about the news, measuring their losses.  But I say it’s time to count our blessings and remember just how wealthy we are. 

 

 

Maybelline says, “What me worry?”

 

Keep counting . . .

 

 

Written by Janie

October 13, 2008 at 8:38 am

Fourth of July in 5 Photos

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Never one for crowds and noises sounding like gunfire, I opted out of the typical Fourth of July celebrations and headed up to the farm with my friend PB for the afternoon.  I was happy to see how well the onion patch was doing since my last visit.

Mighty fine!

 

 

We hoed and weeded and planted cucumbers. 

The cukes enjoyed a nap in the sun.

 

 

I thought it fitting we planted the National Pickling Cucumber on the Fourth of July.   It seemed my patriotic duty to set them in the ground.

Who knew this humble vegetable held national status?

 

 

I received the first installment of my share.  

This is something to celebrate!

 

 

I started a new window to include in the “Work of the Hand” show this fall at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

The break in the amber piece going up from the left corner was a fortunate accident.  It works.

 

Mr. Baker and I took a walk in the neighborhood then came home in time for Jeopardy.

Strawberries for supper. 

 

Happy Summer!

 

 

 

Written by Janie

July 4, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Quick Bread Recipe – step by step especially for Mom

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What’s not to love?

Never mind all the hoo-ha over carbohydrates, I’ve been baking quick breads for years, and unless you spend your day at the T.V. or in front of computer (ahem) there should be no problem incorporating my delicious carbo-rich loaf into your diet.  

A fresh homemade loaf of sweet bread is perfect as a thank you token for a favor received, a last minute holiday or birthday treat, a house warming gift, great for pot-lucks or a get-well-soon happy.  When I’m traveling I freeze slices in ziploc bags and remove them just as I’m out the door.  That helps with the squish factor on the bus or plane.

This recipe is forgiving and easily adaptable.  You can substitute flours, add various fruits and nuts, and basically tweak the recipe to your tastes.  The only thing I haven’t experimented with are the amounts of baking soda and powder.  The quantities work even as I vary the other ingredients, so I stick with them.

Here’s the basic recipe:

1 1/2 C all purpose flour  You may also use 3/4 c all purpose plus 3/4 c whole wheat.  

If you’re avoiding wheat, spelt flour can be substituted in the same ratio.  In some speciality stores you can find whole grain spelt, which I prefer for its higher protein content and wonderful nutty flavor.  Keep in mind that whole grain flours absorb moisture.  If you use them, you will likely need to add about a 1/4 c of a wet ingredient – extra egg, milk or fruit will usually do the trick.  Experiment with ratios of these to find your preferred tastes.

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

dash of nutmeg or cinnamon or both

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2 large eggs

1 heaping C fruit (mashed bananas, canned squash or pumpkin, grated zuchinni — or a mix of any of these.  Banana and squash together is sublime.  In the fall I use fresh Delicata squash.  Just slice it down the center and bake in the oven.  One medium-sized Delicata will usually suffice.  The flavor lives up to its name.)

1/2 C honey 

1/2 C canola or other mild-flavored oil

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Fresh ingredients make for a healthier, tastier bread.  Buy local!

Mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet.  Fold them together just until the batter is formed.  

A gentle hand when mixing makes for a tender loaf.

If you’re like Blue Bicicletta and are harvesting your first zucchini, this would be a perfect way to use up some of your pickings.  Keep in mind that zucchini’s already subtle flavor pretty much disappears when baked, so you may want to bump up the spices in the recipe.  

Try using a portion of whole wheat flour or wheat germ in the mix.  You’ll need to add an extra egg, a little yogurt or more fruit, as those hearty grains soak up liquid. 

For this pumpkin bread I used 1C whole wheat flour + 1/2C white + 1/4C wheat germ.  I added one extra egg and a dollop of homemade yogurt to give the loaf more moisture to balance the whole grains.  Experiment!

The batter is thick but should pour easily.

Use a standard 9″ baking pan or muffin tin.

Time for breakfast!

 

Written by Janie

June 24, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Yogurt

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Okay, it’s not indoor gardening exactly but I am growing my own food.  I used a recipe online that called exclusively for powdered milk, which I feared would make a wimpy yogurt.  Instead, I substituted some powder for whole milk. I brought the milk come to a boil, let it cool, then added a few tablespoons of plain yogurt with live bacteria.  My first batch came out fine, not too sour, but a little watery.  On the next try I used the same amount of milk plus extra powder in hopes of a thicker version.  I set the mixure in a low oven for 8-10 hours with the thermometer still in it so I can check the temperature without disturbing the jar.  Apparently, yogurt doesn’t like to be disturbed when it’s growing, so I refrain from being too touch-feely.  This method worked best, resulting in a consistency much like sour cream.  Hmm.  From the photo you may notice this batch is a little warm, (the mixture should hover around 115 degrees).  No worry. If the yogurt doesn’t fully form or breaks, I’ll save the result for smoothies. The whole process is similar to the magic of sourdough baking — a culture is introduced into a warm comfy environment where it grows, reproduces, and turns its home into something a little more interesting. Like growing sprouts or baking bread, yogurt tastes best when you make it yourself.  There’s much satisfaction in problem solving and experimenting to find your signature flavor and texture.

Forget the plastic cups —

Eating from a charming ceramic bowl makes it tastes that much better.

The best batch to date.  I wrapped the jar in a heating pad, which made for a more controllable temperature.  Ultra creamy, this batch was sweetened with honey prior to setting.  Divine!

Written by Janie

June 8, 2008 at 12:52 am

Sprouts!

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Mmmm.  I feel healthy already ~

Finally, a terrific way to use those left over jars of spaghetti sauce.  These are mung bean sprouts.  I grew them under my bathroom sink.  After soaking 1/4 cup of cleaned beans in water I rinsed them twice a day for about 4 days, letting them drain each time in a shallow bowl under the sink.  I can’t believe I’ve never tried this before.  Outside of a boiled egg, I can’t think of food easier to prepare.  If you don’t mind the mildly bitter taste, which is really its appeal, you can practically substitute it for lettuce.   If you’re like me and don’t have an outdoor garden, growing sprouts gives you the same satisfaction of watching a seed push its way through soil.  

Written by Janie

June 7, 2008 at 1:08 pm