Category Archives: recipes

simple cookery: roasted red pepper soup

We sometimes stop in at this discount grocery store.  Mostly it’s full of processed food that we wouldn’t eat anyway.  And sometimes you come across completely disgusting food, well beyond what can actually be rightfully deemed “food”.  But usually there is a thing or two worth having at a decently low price.  And every once in a while an amazing find that makes it totally worth while to stop by whenever we’re in town.  Like our most recent trip where we came home with a 40 lb. box of organic bananas for $6 and an entire case of organic red peppers for $7 all in near perfect condition.  Amazing, right?  It takes a little work and hustle to get it all preserved before it has a chance to go bad, but it’s totally worth the effort.

We sliced and dried some of the bananas in the oven and froze the rest in chunks to be used in smoothies and things in the future.  Most of the peppers were frozen raw-some in chunks (to be used primarily for kabobs) and some sliced (for stir-fries and the like).  They keep quite well that way.

But first thing first, I made some soup!  A big pot of soup- some to eat and some to freeze for later.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

2 onions

1 extra large zucchini (or 2 medium, or 3 small)

3 cloves garlic

balsamic vinegar




15 red peppers

1 tsp red pepper flakes

bunch of fresh basil

bunch of fresh parsley

Slice the onions.  Saute them in oil until translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for a minute or so stirring frequently.  Add a good glug of balsamic vinegar- use care, it’s going to sizzle quite a bit!  Allow the sauce of vinegar and onion juices to thicken.  Add the zucchini* and red pepper flakes.  Add enough broth to just cover everything.  Simmer until the zucchini is soft.  While this cooks, roast your peppers.  Slice them in half.  Remove the stem. Scoop out the seeds.  Broil them on a cookie sheet until the skin bubbles and they get a bit browned.  Flip and cook the other side.  Strip the leaves of the herbs and add them along with the peppers to the broth.  Puree the whole thing, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a Vitamix to blend my soup.  If you aren’t using some sort of high powered blending device, you might want to consider peeling both the zucchini and the peppers.  You may also need to cook the peppers in the broth for a while to soften them.

We’re in the final week of summer vacation and I’m both trying to prepare and trying to say “yes” as much as possible…getting my lessons plans in order, trying to get the house set up to accommodate everything, switching out baby clothes for the next size up (yet again), wondering where everyone else’s cold weather clothing got to, trying to keep up with the garden and the harvesting and the processing of food.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working to get my homeschooling binder in order, updating our calendar and trying to wrap my brain around new schedules; work two days a week for the big boys, multiple dance classes, multiple riding lessons, other possible classes- all of the related shows and special events and the things that come and go; in the last month between us we’ve had 8 doctors appointments, most of them 45 minutes to an hour away.  That’s not counting the all day affair that is traveling to our geneticist, which took place in the last days of July.  I’m having trouble trying to figure out where to fit in all of the dentist and eye doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, amongst all of the appointments with the other doctors and specialists and how are we to still have time for anything else?  It’s all rather stressful.  So far there are only 3 appointments scheduled for September.  But that’s mostly because we’re supposed to be going away for a while, so they can’t be scheduled for a bit.  Did I mention that I’m trying to plan a trip?  Right.  There is a lot of planning for that.  And then there are the yes things…meeting friends at the pond for yet another “last swim”? Yes.  Make ice cream for the third day in a row? sure, why not.  Work on that ridiculously messy big project? go for it.  Sometimes the yeses are stressful too (for me anyway), but worth it.


Feeding Our Families ~ Summer

Breakfast sausages made with garlic scapes, mint, basil, cilantro and red pepper flakes, served with steamed greens and roasted onions.

Two months worth of a belated post!  Right now I’m trying to eat from the garden as much as possible.  Simple is best – steamed broccoli topped with garlic scapes sauteed in ghee.  Proponents of the kitchen garden always like to go on and on about the ease of eating fresh picked.  But the fact is, it’s just a big old lie!  Is it tastier?  No doubt about it.  More nutritious?  Absolutely.  Easier then cracking open a plastic bin of triple wash spinach?  ennnt. nope. sorry.    I’ve been trying to make lunches almost exclusively from the garden.  It’s a balancing act.  I want to make the most of it, but I also can’t devote what sometimes turns into hours for a single meal, every day.

If I’m being perfectly honest there have been times when growing a garden has actually caused us to eat worse.  Busy times where it was just too much trouble to harvest, wash and prep.  Instead we would end up eating whatever was available inside, which obviously wouldn’t be fresh produce, because why would I buy fresh produce when there was so much already growing outside?  So far this year we’ve managed to avoid that.

Cobb Salad

A summer slaw; finely sliced collard greens, tender young broccoli shoots, fresh mint, basil and cilantro, with a sweet and tangy lime dressing.

I’ve started season specific pinterest boards to help with meal planning inspiration: Summer Meal Planning, Autumn Meal Planning and Winter Meal Planning – spring is still far enough off that I’m not really thinking about it yet.  Because clearly the 5 different food specific boards I already had: Putting Food By, Sweet Stuff, For Baking Day, the Whole30 Compliant Recipes board I was invited to join and just plain Food, not to mention my food heavy travel board: On the Road Again, were not enough.  On these boards I’m gathering ideas that I’d like to use for our seasonal dinner meal plan, but also season specific treats and recipes for special events occurring in that season.  Party food, birthday food, holiday food, everyday food, recipes for anticipated garden surplus…anything that I come across and think I might need is right there.

Pesto sweet potato noddles with chicken and broccoli from the garden, eaten on the porch.  Pure summer.


Feeding Our Families: the art of breakfast

I am not a morning person.  This may well be the understatement of the year.  I used to think it was because I was lazy or unmotivated.  In recent years I’ve discovered that it’s not a heinous personality flaw, that there is in fact a valid, well documented, physical cause for my issues.  While I will spare you the details, the gist of it is that my body has a great deal of trouble transitioning from a waking state to a sleeping one and vice versa.  Given the current circumstances, for the time being, that means that I am the last person out of bed in my house every single morning, which is in no way my ideal.  The children actually prefer it this way since they get some time to play, read or do as they please before we start in with school work and chores.

When it comes to parenting, there are certain areas where I’m rather old-fashioned and grandmotherly.  I’m a big believer in family dinners, early bedtimes, woolen hats, children being children in general and starting off the day with a hearty breakfast.  Accomplishing that last one can be quite tricky, considering the above.  I’ve devoted a lot of time to developing a system that works for us.  We have a set rotation of seven breakfasts that we eat every week.  This completely saves the step of having to think about what to make on any given day and that is a great relief.  The selection does shift a bit with the seasons.  As the weather warms we’ll be switching out some of the hot warming meals for lighter, fresher fair.

The kids all know they can help themselves to a piece of fruit upon waking and that breakfast will be served shortly after.  And there are always leftovers about if they need something more to tide them over.  I have three main strategies that help us all to start the day off right.

The first is the crockpot.  Why the crockpot?  When I first wake up I need some very specific things….I need to pee (I do have an entire person on my bladder), to be able to move slowly, not to be spoken to and especially not to be asked questions, not to be touched, to be surrounded by complete quiet and calm and to have prepared food appear in front of me as if by magic.  With the crockpot, two of those things at least are a possibility.  If you are an oatmeal eater, try it in the crockpot overnight; it turns out amazingly rich, thick and creamy.

My second strategy is help.  I get more help with breakfast then any other meal.  More on that below.

And third I try to keep anything that’s not taken care of by one and two as quick and easy as possible.


Buckwheat pancakes, banana pancakes and bacon:

Sometimes we have orange juice as well.  Several years ago Iain and Elijah got inspired to make us breakfast and somehow the habit stuck.  Sunday mornings are their day.  The littles help out where they can and set the table.  Recently Galen was eager to learn how to flip pancakes and now he mans a pan as well.

We usually use whole grain buckwheat, the pancakes pictured above look a bit different then our norm because they were made using light buckwheat leftover from holiday baking.

Buckwheat Pancakes

3 C of buckwheat flour

3 C milk of your choice (we usually use the kind of coconut milk that comes in a carton)

6 eggs

1 T cream of tartar mixed with 1 T baking soda or 2 T baking powder

1 T lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

In a medium bowl, mix the lemon juice and vanilla into the milk and set aside.  In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients.  Beat the eggs and add them to the liquids.  Thoroughly mix the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring as little as possible.  Let the batter sit for 5 minutes.  It should bubble a bit.  Fry pancakes in the cooking fat of your choice.   

I find I do much better with little to no grains or pseudo-grains, so in recent years they’ve added banana pancakes to the mix as well.  Everyone can pick and choose as they please.

Banana Pancakes

1 egg

1 banana

1 tsp. cinnamon

splash of vanilla (optional)

Obviously this is just the proportions and you can make as many batches as you please.  Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Cook as you would regular pancakes.  These are trickier to flip and keep together.  Smaller “silver dollar” style pancakes work best.


Breakfast sausages, yams and fermented sauerkraut:

This may sounds strange, but it’s a fabulous flavor combination.

Have you ever made yams in the crockpot before?  It’s super simple.  Just rinse the yams and put them in the crockpot still damp.  Turn it on low over night and serve perfectly cooked yams in the morning.  A very filling and hearty breakfast and all I have to do is put the sausages in to cook while I set everything out on the table.

Sometimes we treat ourselves to molasses tea with this meal.  To make molasses tea, mix a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses into a mug full of hot water.  Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, calcium and potassium.


German Pancake recipe here:

Elijah has declared himself the greatest German pancake maker in the world.  Which means that he always insists on making them himself.  And who am I to argue?  Generally he gets to work when he hears me start stirring.  The others help with gathering supplies and such.  Waking up to food being made?  Quite possibly the most awesome thing in the world.  Many a time I will literally sigh with relief when I wake and realize what day it is, then I come down and kiss him on the top of the head all over until he gets sick of me.


Hot “Cereal” from the book Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes.  You can check out the book for details.  It’s basically a concoction of nuts, seeds, dried coconut and cinnamon.  It’s kind of a little bit like Cream of Wheat, but not really.  That’s just the closest thing I can think of.  I freely substitute the various nuts and seeds based on what I have and more budget friendly options.  I add in vanilla and chopped fresh apples or pears, raisins or any other dried fruit I have about.  With it I set out ghee, so people can add a pat to their bowl if they like.  And honey or syrup to be drizzled on top if desired.


Pork and Apple Bake:

Since posting about this I’ve started adding all sorts of things to it.  Pretty much whatever happened to be ripe in the garden at the time; peas, green beans, garlic scapes, green onions, chopped up radishes, parsley, spinach, kale.  We are especially fond of mixing in kale. yum.


Scalloped yams and breaded fish:

More yam-y fodder for the crockpot!  Peel and slice 5 yams, top with a couple of pats of ghee/butter/coconut oil, 1 can of coconut milk, a sprinkle of powdered kelp and lots of sage…much, much more sage then you think it will need.  Again, cook on low over night.  Sometimes in the morning I’ll turn it up to high and take the lid off to let the sauce thicken a bit, but it’s generally not needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

I don’t always make the fish.  I can’t say that it’s the healthiest thing to grace my table, but this dish is absolutely adored by three of my four children.  It starts with some form of mild tasting fish; catfish, tilapia, flounder, anything along those lines.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Prepare a cookie sheet with a thin coat of oil.  Chop the fish into small pieces.  Dredge each piece in arrowroot powder seasoned with salt and pepper.  Lay them out in a single layer on your oiled cookie sheet and bake until brown and crispy, flipping at least once.  Some sort of green as a side dish rounds out this breakfast nicely, but I honestly don’t often get to that.


Cashew yogurt:

Shown above topped with some honey sweetened peach jam that we put up over the summer.  I’ve made several kinds of nut milk yogurts over the years.  This one is by far the quickest and the easiest.  It also happens to be incredibly delicious.

Cashew Yogurt




flavoring (optional)

This one works best in a high powered blender, a Vitamix or the like.  For a regular blender you might want to try soaking the cashews first.  Pour your cashews into the blender.  Break a probiotic capsule over top.  I use one that has around 7 billion bacteria for 9 oz. of cashews.  Add water until everything is just covered.  Blend until it’s all extremely smooth.  Add more water until desired consistency.  It will thicken overnight so make it a little runnier then you ultimately want.  I pour mine into a half gallon mason jar, drape a flour sack towel over the top and screw a lid ring on it.  This way it can breath, but nothing can really get in.  Set it out some place warm overnight.  This would be by the wood stove in our house.  I sometimes experiment with adding in sunflower seeds of shredded coconut.  But straight cashew is our favorite.

Two more breakfast ideas:

Stuffed squash:

Another great crockpot option.  The kids love this one, truth be told I think it’s only so-so.  Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  For the stuffing combine any combination of chopped apples, pears, nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit.  You can add a splash of lemon or orange juice, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) and/or sweetener.  Fill the squash.  Balance and stack them upright so that the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Cook on low overnight.

Simpler option: fill the cups with a pat of some buttery substance, a drizzle of syrup and a sprinkle of nutmeg. This is a lovely way to pad out a meal.

Sausage patties and steamed or braised greens:

Though not in rotation at the moment, this has been a regular favorite in the past.  The patties are seasoned ground meat.  You can use beef, but I prefer pork or poultry.  For beef or pork you can just put it directly in the pan.  With turkey or chicken you’ll need to use a bit of oil to keep it from sticking.  They can be cooked under a broiler or fried on the stove top.

A couple of flavor combinations:

chopped onions, sage and a pinch of clove

curry and cinnamon, a bit of cardamom is nice too

maple syrup, cinnamon, clove

Italian seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes and fennel

Always include a good bit of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Mix well, form into small patties and cook.  Sauteed onions are wonderful with this.

And one other totally random food related thing: add leeks to your roasted Brussel sprouts. You won’t regret it.

Expect posts this week by:


simple cookery: chocolate “milkshake”

Okay, so maybe not “cookery”, blendery?  This is really more of a summer time type refreshment, but the other day everyone was looking for a treat and I happened to have the ingredients for this quick, easy and satisfying little wonder, so we went for it, seasonal appropriateness be hanged!

This is completely dairy free, sugar free and all that good stuff and yet still somehow manages to remind me of the Wendy’s “frosty” of my youth.


frozen bananas

full fat canned coconut milk

cocoa powder

vanilla (optional)

And that’s it!  I never measure and pretty much just make it to taste, but as a general idea for five people we used around 6 bananas (I slice them up before freezing to make blending easier), 2 cans of coconut milk, a splash of vanilla and I’m really not sure how much cocoa powder!  Maybe a 1/4 cup?  If you want it sweeter, add more banana….more chocolatey? Add more cocoa.  Thinner?  More coconut milk.  Toss it all together and blend until really smooth.

Just a reminder: the next “Feeding Our Families” series starts on Monday!  There are several new bloggers joining us this month.  It should be pretty wonderful.


Grain-Free Pie Crust Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving.  I’ve posted my gluten-free pie crust recipe before.  And I’ve posted how to adapt it to make it grain free, but I know I personally find it annoying to have to switch back and forth between two pages, so I thought I should type out an official recipe so that people have ingredients and instructions all in one spot.

Grain-free Pie Crust

1 C almond flour

1 C coconut flour

1 C arrowroot powder

2 T sugar (optional, regular sugar, coconut sugar and most substitutes should be fine)

1/4 tsp. salt

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  With a fork or pastry cutter, blend in:

1 C palm oil “shortening”

until dough forms little crumbs.  Add in:

1/2 C cold water mixed with 2 T. apple cider vinegar

If you plan on rolling the dough, let it chill in the refrigerated for around an hour.  It may need a bit of extra water kneaded in when it comes out.  If you plan on just pressing it into a pan, it can be used immediately.

The pie above was mostly made by little hands.  It’s this recipe.  Only we used honey instead of sugar.  And thinned Cashew Cream Cheese instead of sour cream.  And almond flour instead of regular flour.  And ghee instead of butter.  So I guess it’s not really that recipes at all, but only something kind of a little like it.

I also snapped a quick shot of the little shawl from yesterday’s post for people who had questions about ribbon placement.


pumpkin all around

First a Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe for you…

1 C pumpkin puree

5 C frozen bananas

1 tsp powdered ginger

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

pinch of salt

1/8 cup of honey (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or Vita-mix and serve immediately.

Some seeds for snacking on.  We’ve been loving this Pumpkin Spice Muffin recipe lately.  They taste like spice cookies!  Such a treat.  I’ve actually saved a lot of the pumpkin from our garden by baking up multiple batches of these muffins at a time and freezing them.  One of the things that I love about them is that they use roasted pumpkin, instead of pumpkin puree which saves me the tedious and messy step of straining all the juices from our fresh pumpkins.

Poor Steve in the background here!  In case you are wondering, he’s anxiously supervising Galen carving his pumpkin.  Not always a task for the faint of heart! ~I’ve been informed that he was not, in fact, watching Galen in concern in this picture, but trying to make him laugh using “eye control”.  I stand corrected!

My precocious little girl insisted on writing everyone’s name on her pumpkin, with a bit of help; Daddy, Mommy, Iain, Elijah, Galen, Mairi and Baby.

Some among us take pumpkin carving very seriously.  Like several days worth of work on one pumpkin seriously…

I’m not sure if it’s done yet even now!

And lastly a little pumpkin for baby.  Adaptation again, in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, color: Pumpkin.  This one is a size large, I’m thinking for next autumn.


simple cookery: Katherine Soup

Sorry for the not so appealing looking photo!  This is an autumn staple in our kitchen, named for an old friend who once prepared it for us.

This soup simmers together all the goodness of the season.  I start with chopping a couple of onions.  I tend to make soup in large batches and two onions is just about right for the amount I make.  We eat it for a meal, have it as leftovers, freeze some for the future.  Sometimes it’s nice to cook the onion slices up in a bit of oil, sometimes I don’t bother.  The next thing to add to your pot is squash and yams.  You want at least 4-5 different kinds of squash/yams.  For best results use ones of different colors, flavors and textures.  I don’t bother to peel the squash with soft skin, but for some varieties this may be necessary.  For the soup above I used what we happened to have from our garden: butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash, two kinds of pumpkins, etc.  Our friend Katherine used to add shiitake mushrooms.  I don’t usually, simply because I don’t usually have them on hand.  If you do, add them now.  Just barely cover the whole thing with high quality chicken stock- homemade is best.  Bring it to a simmer.  Cover and cook until the squash is soft.  Turn off the heat and add lots and lots of different greens, the more the merrier.  For the soup above we used: 3 kinds of kale, collards, rainbow chard, Brussels sprout greens, escarole, tatsoi, a bit of spinach and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting, all from our garden again.  This is the perfect use for all of those random greens left at the bottom of your CSA bag at the end of the week!  Stir them all in.  The broth should be hot enough to quickly cook them.  Serve with a dollop of light colored miso added to each bowl (this is our favorite brand).  Enjoy!


simple cookery: braised greens

This way of cooking greens was taught to me by an old friend, who I believe learned it from her grandmother.  I think she had an actual recipe, which I just kind of took the gist of and went from there.  This is very much a favorite with the kids in my house.  I’ve had people at potlucks beg me for the recipe.  And I’ve laughed at their astonished faces when I explained how very, very quick and simple it truly is.

Start with a large cast iron pan (or the pan of your choice).  Add a spoonful of coconut oil, a bit of salt and a sliced onion.  Cook until the onion starts to brown.  Fill the rest of the pan with any kind of hardy cooking greens.  Toss them with the onions and oil to coat.  Add around 1/2 C of water and a big handful of raisins.  Cover and cook until the greens a wilted and the raisins are slightly pump.  Add more salt and pepper if needed/desired.

Variation: replace the raisins with chopped dried apricots.  Apricots and collard greens in particular are amazing!


cake part II: the recipes

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup chocolate chopped- the better the chocolate, the better the cake

1/2 cup ghee- I use homemade ghee, I think that coconut oil might work as a substitute, but I’ve not tried it.  If you do, please let me know how it works!

3/4 cup sugar

 1/8 tsp salt

 2 tsp vanilla extract

 3 eggs

 1/2 cup cocoa

Heat the ghee and chocolate in a double boiler then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt , vanilla and mix together. Then add the eggs beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder mix just to combine. Spoon into a prepared 8″ or 9″ cake pan and bake 25 minutes at 375*.

Remove from oven when a thin crust has formed. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn onto a serving plate. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

 Chocolate Glaze

 1 cup chocolate chopped

 1/2 cup cream from the top of a can of coconut milk

 Heat together in a double boiler until smooth and pour over the cake and spread to the edges. Cool the cake again and enjoy.  The top can be dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

For our Vow Renewal cake we made 6 batches of the cake above divided between 3 nine inch pans and 3 six inch pans.  I think we made 3 batches of the glaze and thickened it with extra chocolate so that it could be spread all over the outside of the cake.  Once cooled it made a hard chocolate shell around the whole thing.


For the marzipan flowers I used this Paleo Marzipan recipe colored with India Tree food coloring.

For the caramel filling we used this Nut Butter Caramel recipe only cooked for less time so that it remained spreadable.

Dairy Free Almond “Buttercream” Icing

2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C soy free earth balance
1/2 C palm oil shortening
4 C powdered sugar
2 T coconut milk
1 T honey

1) Cream shortening/earth balance, vanilla and almond flavoring.

2 ) Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until it’s all mixed in.

3 ) Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (a bit more or less may be needed depending on desired consistency)

4) Beat in honey

5) Can be stored air-tight, in the fridge, for up to a month. Allow to come to room temperature and whip with mixer before using.

More on our fancy cake making experience can be seen here.


simple cookery: pork and apple breakfast bake

This is a great favorite with all of the kids right now.


2 lbs ground pork

6 apples- minus some nibbling by the kids- cored and sliced

1 onion- diced

2 celery sticks-chopped

spoonful of oil

2 T lavender flowers

sprinkle of kelp (optional, I add a sprinkle of kelp to most things I cook for the trace minerals)

1 tsp each ground rosemary, cloves and sage

pinch of crushed red pepper

salt and pepper to taste

maple syrup

Gently melt oil (I use coconut) in a skillet, add onions and celery, with a sprinkle of salt, and cook until onions are soft and translucent.  Add in pork and all of the spices.  Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until pork is cooked through.

Line a baking pan with the apple slices, there is no need to grease the pan.  Layer the cooked pork and all of the juices on top of the apples.  Drizzle the top with syrup.

Bake at 375 for approximately 25 minutes.

This is the right amount for my family.  Adjust the proportions however you see fit for yours.