Archive | May 2013

Frogs, Flowers & Photo Fun!

TreeFrogtree frogsTree FrogDSC09241Strawberry ShrubChinese Dogwood
Chinese DogwoodClematisPeonyWhite PeonyWhite PeonyCoral Iris
Peach IrisPink IrisPink PeonyPink PeonyMini IrisGarden by the patio
IrisIrisFlowering FernWolfbaneStella d'oro LilyNew Container Garden

My Flowers, a set on Flickr.

Today is day 2 of temps in the 90’s here in South Jersey and I’m no way complaining! I’ve been waiting for warm weather for sometime! So, happy its finally here!
If you’ve read my previous blog: Gardening With Buddy’s Flock you’ll know what challenges I’m up against and already know that my hubby took me to Lowes yesterday to get some flowers. It’s been cool here in NJ and I’ve been waiting for the warm weather to finally get here to get busy gardening. Well, its here! Yeah!
So, today when I went to get my garden caddy out of the garden shed 2 tree frogs popped out at the top of the doors. They were there last year, guess they’re there this year too! That’s fine let them eat the bugs! Well, what ever bugs the chickens don’t get. There were some spider in there, so I left the doors open and the girls happily jumped in to clean house. They love spiders!
I took some photos of whats currently blooming, my Irises are starting to bloom, Irises are one of my favorites. The Peonies are in bloom, also blooming are the Strawberry Shrubs, Chinese Dogwood, Clematis, the Flowering Ferns, the Wolfbane (but I’m not sure that’s what it is, if you know, let me know please) and the Stella D’Oros are just starting.
What’s blooming in your yard? And if you have backyard chickens how do you maintain peace in the garden??

Gardening with Buddy’s Flock

BuddyHen in my potContainer GardeningBuddy sideviewShowoffSassie
RIR MamaLilieFuzzieDanny BoyPool for the girlsDrinkin by the Waterfall

The Flock, a set on Flickr.

Well, I finally got a chance to be outside and start working in my gardens. My hubby took me to Lowes yesterday and he got me some plants. He got me a beautiful potted garden with a Banana tree and beautiful Mandevilla and some fern, which we brought home and replanted in our huge metal planter. I put a bird house in there along with my ceramic cherub. We also stuck rock around to hopefully deter the girls from getting in there and scratching. I generally plant inpatients in there every year, but last summer being our first true summer with the flock, the inpatients lost out.

Allot of my gardens lost out, my Hostas look like locusts have landed, last year was awful, this year, they don’t look quite as bad, but their bad!

Buddy is coming along nicely healing from his battle wounds with Reds. Reds has since been re-homed, and the flock is going great. Sassie is no longer Buddy’s favorite and her feathers are growing back. She’s still sassy though and I will never, ever, name another chicken Sassie! Danny Boy is coming up in the wings, and is doing quite well at being a young roo. His crow is coming along and he looks more like his father everyday, except for his comb!

Today was day 2 of weather in the 90’s here in South Jersey. Less then a week ago we had our heater on, now we have the air conditioner on. Strange and unusual weather this year, but now that its warm I’m a happy gardener! Yes, even though we jump right into hot weather, I’m a happy gardener! I much rather the heat than the cold. But, the flock isn’t so happy, so this year I pulled the baby pool out of the shed and put some water in it. See if they decide to get in. I’ve seen those photos on the internet of some chickens swimming, I don’t know about that, but mine do stand in their water dishes, so we’ll se how it goes. We will also be putting a fan in the hen house this year, its awful warm in there even with the window up and the door open. I don’t like to see my girls pant.

We have a new garden area by our back door where we are going to put a bubble fountain sometime this summer, but in the meantime I just planted Vinca’s around the edge to spruce it up a tad, well, before the girls come a scratching I put paper cups around the Vinca’s to try to give them a good start, we’ll see how that goes.

New Garden

Above is the new garden area, just created this past fall, below is what it looks like right now.  Bear in mind this is far from done.

New garden

I also put in a container garden just across the walkway from the new garden. The flock is always dusting there and the sidewalk get very dirty and my plants get ruined. So, container gardening it is and rocks placed in the containers to try and keep the girls out. They’re just so nosy!

In the photos below, this first photo is how my herb garden looked after my chickens changed it into a dusting arena, the next photo is where we put in the containers yesterday with some herbs, the last photo you see Miss Wuzzie dusting between the pots…. so far… so good. (you can click on the photos to have a good look)

Herb Garden
    New Container Garden Container Gardening

How ’bout you? How do you keep your flock cool?? How do you garden with your chickens?

Raw Banana Macadamia Coconut Dream Pie

Making the crustAdding Dates to the CrustThe crustThe FillingThe filling batterAdding the cacao
Chocolate filling1st banana layerWhite Layer2nd Banana layerCream ToppingCream Topping and pie
Cream ToppingCrumb ToppingCrumb topping closeupCompleted PieClose upHave a slice

This pie is well worth the time it takes to make it. Allow yourself enough time, to take your time and do it right. Make sure you have all the necessary ingredients before you start. There are basically 4 different parts to making this pie which makes it less over whelming. Part one you make the crust and put it in the freezer while you prepare part 2 which is the filling, which your going to divide in half, one half will be chocolate and the other have the “vanilla” part. Part 2 goes back in the freezer while part 3 is made and sets. Part 3 is the Cream topping and part 4 is the crumb topping.

I made this for my friends that came over on Memorial Day, as I stated in my earlier post “My one girlfriend, Pam and her hubby are doing the Hallelujah Acres diet and my other girlfriend, Cheryl and her fiancee are eating the way most folks do, but says she wants to start eating better”.

Well, they all loved this pie! It’s a definite keeper! Here’s the recipe:
Raw Banana Macadamia Coconut Dream Pie by Fragrant Vanilla Cake

Makes 1 6 inch tart (now mind you, I don’t own a 6″ spring form pan, so I figured a 9″ pie pan should work, and it did, so don’t run out to buy a spring form, use your pyrex clear glass 9″, I know you have one 🙂 )

Crust:
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cups shredded, dried coconut
1/2 cup sprouted, dried buckwheat (or additional coconut
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
8 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped

Filling:
2 cups sliced bananas
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 4 hours in filtered water and drained)
1/3 cup coconut water
1 1/2 cups young coconut meat or soaked cashews (drained)
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp raw agave nectar or raw honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
1/3 cup raw coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
2 sliced bananas
3 Tbsp raw cacao powder

Cream topping: (don’t leave this in the freezer too long, I did, its hard to spread, so I’m warning you, keep checking on it!)
3/4 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/4 cup coconut water
1 cups fresh young coconut meat (or additional soaked cashews if not available)
3 Tbsp raw agave nectar or raw honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 teaspoons vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean
1/4 cup raw coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/2 cup large flake coconut
large pinch of sea salt
1 Tbsp honey

For the crust, combine the nuts, coconut, and buckwheat in a food processor and process until crumbs. Add the sea salt and dates and process until the mixture starts to come together when squeezed. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 6 inch springform pan, sprayed with non-stick coconut oil spray. Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, combine 2 cups bananas, coconut, cashews, coconut water, agave, sea salt, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the coconut oil and process for a minute. Divide the mixture into 2 bowls, then place one back in the food processor and add cacao powder. Process until combined. Pour the chocolate filling mixture over the prepared crust, then top with sliced bananas, then the plain filling, then more bananas. Place in the freezer to set for about an hour.

Meanwhile, to make the topping, combine the cashews, coconut, coconut water, sea salt, agave nectar, and vanilla anc process until smooth. Add the coconut oil slowly with the motor running (If the mixture starts to separate and clump, the filling is too cold to emulsify the oil, so warm some of it and process again). Place the topping in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes until it firms up to whipped cream consistency. Once frosting consistency, move to the fridge until ready to use.
Once the filling has set,spread over the tart.
In a food processor, place macadamia nuts, coconut, sea salt, and honey and pulse until chopped. Sprinkle over tart, and serve! Store extra in the fridge.

Happy Memorial Day!

I  know, I know, Memorial Day was yesterday, but I was busy entertaining.  How was your Memorial Day Weekend?  Ours was very nice.  Started out cold here on the East Coast, with everyday getting a little bit better than the day before.  I decided at the last minute to have a small get together, once I knew that the weather was going to be working in our favor.  I just love to have get togethers, of any size, for various reasons, first of course for the wonderful fellowship and then of course, for me anyway, I get to use my guests as guinea pigs!  I think they’re all beginning to love to be my guinea pigs as much as I love having them!

Well, since I’ve changed my eating style/habits I don’t want to bombard my guests with all ‘good for you’ recipes, BUT, I will slip them in.  My menu yesterday, consisted of store bought UTZ Multigrain Tortillas: Whole grain corn flour, corn oil, whole grain brown rice flour, flax seeds, oat fiber, evaporated cane juice, toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, soy protein isolate, sea salt. Homemade Mango Salsa ( I made this on the whim, there’s no recipe, just use, mango, cucumber, grape tomatoes (you can use plum, but right now since Jersey tomatoes aren’t in, Grapes have the best flavor) lime juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and seasonings of choice.

I also, made bbq spareribs, I always make my ribs in the oven, you have more control over them, and I cook them low and slow,  I actually start out with my oven at 325 then half an hour later turn it down to 300 then another half an hour I turn it down to 275 and keep it there, I generally flip my slab at this time..  I use a dry rub on both sides of the slab and make a bbq sauce on the stove top and brush it on the ribs 1/2 before taking them out of the over, with turning them 15 minutes before taking them out and saucing that side.  I also make my bbq sauce as I feel and at this point I don’t give out that recipe…sorry. I also, grilled chicken legs and thighs, first I marinated them in a garlic italian salad dressing, then after they were just about done cooking added the same bbq sauce that I put on the ribs.  Baked Beans is always a must when I cook a summertime meal for guests.  I use good quality canned baked beans, I also add in a can of black beans and a can of pinto beans, then I add in brown sugar and catsup to taste,  sometimes I put sliced bacon on top.  I cook my beans in the oven set at 425 for about an hour.  We also had corn on the cob, whats Memorial Day without it!  and I also made coleslaw, coleslaw I make different every time, because I’m never happy with it.

Well, this time I used the KFC Recipe that’s been going around and everyone loved it.  So now I know how I’ll be making my coleslaw from now on! Yeah! One less thing to worry about.  So, here’s the recipe along with the link where I got it.  Enjoy. Oh, I will also be adding the ‘guinea pig’ recipes 😉  My one girlfriend, Pam and her hubby are doing the Hallelujah Acres diet and my other girlfriend, Cheryl and her fiancee are eating the way most folks do, but says she wants to start eating better.

So, I made 2 ‘raw’ desserts.  I will be putting the recipes up with photos after I finish here with the KFC Cole Slaw Recipe.  The desserts that I decided to make where: Raw Banana Macadamia Coconut Dream Pie by Fragrant Vanilla Cake and Raw Strawberries and Cream Fudge also by Fragrant Vanilla Cake. Okay, lets begin now with the KFC Cole Slaw Recipe, shall we???

KFC Cole Slaw recipe

KFC Cole Slaw recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup milk 1/4 cup buttermilk  (If your like me and you don’t keep buttermilk in the house make it Buttermilk Substitute)
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 cups finely chopped cabbage (approx. 1 head)  (I cheated, I bought the bagged stuff)
1/4 cup shredded carrot (1 medium carrot)
2 tablespoons minced onion

Directions: * Be sure cabbage and carrots are chopped into very fine pieces (a little bigger than rice) * Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in large bowl. Beat until smooth * Add cabbage, carrots, and onions. Mix well. * Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, if you let it sit over night it’s even better. Enjoy!  Let me know how you liked it!

Vegan Soul Food

Vegan Soul Food

Vegan Soul Food

Since I’ve been changing my eating habbits/style I’ve come across a lot of new recipes.  This one really jumped out at me, so I decided to give it a try.  I had never had collard greens before, but I have made turnip greens and beet greens, so I figured it couldn’t be too much different.

So lets go through the healthiness of this recipe and why you should give it a try.  Remember, once again, I am not a health professional nor expert in anything written on my blogs, I am only researching for my own health and well being and sharing the good news with you too.  You have to decide what foods you need in your life, everyone is different and has different needs and expectations, so what works for me, might not work for you.

Collard Greens:

Widely considered to be a healthy food, collards are good sources of vitamin C and soluble fiber, and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and sulforaphane. Roughly a quarter pound (approx. 100 g) of cooked collards contains 46 Calories.

Collard greens are also a high source of vitamin K (the clotting vitamin) and should be eaten in moderation by individuals taking blood thinners.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3′-diindolylmethane in Brassicavegetables such as collard greens is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer activity.

Cauliflower:

Cauliflower is low in fat, low in carbohydrates but high in dietary fiberfolate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density.

Cauliflower contains several phytochemicals, common in the cabbage family, that may be beneficial to human health.

Boiling reduces the levels of these compounds, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 75% after thirty minutes.  However, other preparation methods, such as steamingmicrowaving, and stir frying, have no significant effect on the compounds.

A high intake of cauliflower has been associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Quinoa:

Quinoa was important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. Today, people appreciate quinoa for its nutritional value. Quinoa is considered a superfoodProtein content is very high (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Quinoa’s protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats. Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein.  Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.

Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content. In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat. This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the seeds, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

Here’s the recipe which I got via email from the New Recipe of the Day: Vegan Soul Food.  You can sign up with them and get a recipe a day in your email.  They have allot of good ones.  Below the recipe you will see 1 more photo and that’s of the batch I made the other day, of course I didn’t have any cauliflower in the house, so for color I added carrots.  Remember, a recipe is only a guide, make changes as you see fit and with items you know your family will eat.  This recipe make a big pot, so you’ll have some left over and you’ll be able to use it for lunch the next day.  My hubby liked it better with the carrots, I liked it better with the cauliflower.

Ingredients:
1 bunch collard greens cut around stem and into small strips
*save the stem for a juice or smoothie!
1 head cauliflower chopped into bite sized pieces
1 ½ onions chopped finely
4 garlic cloves chopped finely
1 ½ cups rice or quinoa
5 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Himalayan(or sea) salt & and black2 cups black eyed peas (pre soaked and boiled OR organic pba-free canned)

Action:
1. Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a large sauce pan
2. Place all vegetables and quinoa in pot, reduce to medium-low and cover
3. Let it cook until quinoa is soft and most of vegetable stock absorbed
4. Add garlic powder, black eyed peas and white balsamic vinegar
5. Stir and add Himalayan salt/pepper to your liking!

Vegan Soul Food

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Fillingpie shellready to bakeJust out of the ovenReady to Eat!

Coconut Cream Pie, a set on Flickr.

Original Recipe is from Lizzie’s Coconut Cream Pie on Just a Pinch Recipes

I made no alterations to this recipe. This is Lizzie’s recipe, you can also follow the link and see it for yourself.  My filling is very yellow due to using my own free range eggs.  Free range eggs will be way more yellow then store bought eggs.

Ingredients

1 c grated coconut
1 c milk
1 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 unbaked 8 or 9 inch pie shell
nutmeg, optional

Soak coconut in milk for several hours to make coconut very moist. Set in refrigerator until ready to use.
Stir together sugar, flour, and salt. Set aside.

Beat the 2 whole eggs plus the additional egg yolk slightly. Add coconut/milk mixture and vanilla to these eggs.

Combine dry ingredients with milk mixture. Mix well. Add butter. Mix.

Beat remaining egg white until frothy. Brush this on unbaked pie shell. (This keeps the pie crust from becoming soggy.) Then carefully pour custard into unbaked pie shell. If you like shake a bit of nutmeg on top of custard. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

If you like you can cover edges of pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent them from becoming too dark.

I served this with fresh homemade whipped cream…yum!
Also, I served it warm, what was left I refrigerated and I liked it better cold and it set better.

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie

RhubarbPeeling RhubarbSlice RhubarbPie CrustStrawberry Rhubarb FillingCustard Filling
Ready to BakeStrawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie, a set on Flickr.

Here’s something you didn’t know about me, I am pie crust challenged. I have a fear of dough. I’m working through it, thanks to the Food Network Channel. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned not to be intimated by a recipe. So, I’m not going to be intimated by pie crust dough or any other type of dough. I’m going to work my way through it or should I say I’m going to kneed my way through it.  I know, you don’t kneed pie crust, you roll it out, but bread dough and pizza dough you kneed, and that I have problems with.
I haven’t made many pies, and when I do, I generally buy the frozen crusts. But, now, I’m ready to move on and make my own. I’ve made a few pie crusts from scratch (4), yes, 4. So here I am going to make 2 more… yes, 2 more. Pie crust recipes are always for 2 pies aren’t they?? Well, I guess sometime you put one on the top, but I’m not up to conquering that yet!
So, I found this Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Recipe on the web and its for 1 pie, so I’m also going to make a Coconut Custard Pie. I’ll put that recipe up next.
But of course this pie recipe only comes with the strawberry rhubarb custard part of the recipe and I had to search out a pie crust recipe. Both are below with the links where I got them from. I want to give credit where credit is due and its definitely not due here!
The pie crust recipe I made it exact and it came out well, my daughter in law Val, makes pies and she said this came out good and flaky. Flaky is important in pie crusts.
Also, the strawberry rhubarb part I changed and I will mark on the recipe where I made the changes and will keep them that way, as I try to prefect this recipe. If you look at the final photo of the baked pie I don’t think it shows in the photo, but this pie came out a little watery and wasn’t very pleasing to the eye. BUT, they loved it, they ate it all. There was not a crumb left over.
Talking over with my girlfriend, Janet, who bakes allot of pies, said rhubarb is hard to judge, it holds water, so when it bakes it gets watery and of course so does the strawberries. She said it takes some know of the fruits to not get a watery pie.
Enough said.  The pie crust recipe is easy and very good, and of course the Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie one is a keeper too.
So give ’em a try and let me know how it goes for you.

Pie Crust 102
All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough

Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.

2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold (after I cube mine up I keep it in the freezer until ready to use)

Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender (I used my food processor and pulsed it on the dough setting).

Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you’ll thank me later

Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie

Original recipe makes 1 9-inch pie
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (see recipe above)
3 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I only used 1 cup rhubarb, thats all I had)
1 cup fresh strawberries, quartered (since I only used 1 cup rhubarb, I used 3 cups strawberries, them I had)
3 large eggs (I use my own Free Range Eggs, so makes my pie look yellow)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter, diced
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
1/4 teaspoon water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place rolled-out pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl; transfer to the pie crust, distributing evenly.
Whisk eggs, sugar, milk, flour, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Slowly pour filling over rhubarb mixture until it just reaches the top edge of the crust. Scatter diced butter evenly over the top of the filling. Lightly tap and shake the baking sheet to remove any air bubbles.
Transfer pie to the preheated oven and bake, turning halfway through, until rhubarb is tender and custard is set, about 1 hour.
Mix strawberry jam and water in a small bowl; heat in the microwave until warm, about 15 seconds. Glaze the top of the pie with the jam mixture and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (I served mine warm, maybe if I had put it in the fridge it would have set up, something I’ll try next time)

I served this with homemade whipped cream. Don’t be scared, this is one of the easiest things you’ll ever make and then you’ll wonder why you buy that stuff in a can or in the frozen food isle.