A Garden on the Prairie

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I have always wanted a garden every since I was little.  I planted carrots right into the rocky, sandy soil where I grew up and was delighted when I found spindly, bright carrots growing underneath green feathery fonds.  I think I also tried to grow radishes, but I don’t remember those being as successful.

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Now that I’m an adult (When did that happen…?) and have my own house with a big back yard, I can grow my own garden!  I have set out on this adventure with no real knowledge and I have learned a lot in the process.  All I’ve learned has been from experience and from the single gardening book I bought.  And it’s been a lot of fun.

Here’s a list of things we’ve grown this year so far:

romaine lettuce I bought six romaine plants and every single one died.  I think the hot prairie sun was too much for them.  They like the cooler weather.

spinach

lacinto and curly kale

broccoli

strawberries Some animal, a rabbit, bird or whatever is out here keeps eating our berries. I didn’t get to taste a single one!

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And this is what’s in progress right now:

squash

pumpkin

egg plant

tomatoes

green bell pepper

cucumber

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Next up will be Autumn vegetables, like beets, garlic, and probably more squash.  It has to cool down a little bit for those though.

It is amazing to me that a little 4×4 raised bed has produced so much life!  When one season’s crop has finished, we pull it up and plant another one.  I thought I was going to have to buy another bed to accommodate all of our plants, but this wee one has been serving us well.  Next year, I will buy another bed and put it under the tree in our yard.  This bed will get more shade and I will plant the more fragile plants there.  But, for now, I’m pretty pleased with my first attempts at gardening.  My younger self would be proud of me.

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Broccoli regrows after you cut out the main floret! Who knew?

This has been my newest interest and occupying my time in my new-ish house.  That and my new dog!

 

I have not updated this blog since September.  We went through a very traumatic time during our wedding and it took us a while to recover from it.  If any one at all remember the last time I posted, I mentioned that I started eating a gluten free diet to help with my arthritis.  I felt pretty lost with cooking for a while.  All of this is to say that I didn’t blog for a long time and now I feel like I’m ready again.  I hope to continue to update this.  Writing about food makes me happy.  Cheers!

Finding My Way

Hello.

It’s been a minute since I posted here.  I have been feeling uninspired in my kitchen and exhausted when I get home at night.  I’ve been eating a lot of over easy eggs and toast for dinner.  No complaints here-eggs are one of my favorite foods-but it lacks creativity.  It’s been hard for me to feel creative in my kitchen recently because I decided to make my diet gluten free.  At first, I thought it was something that I would just try out and see how I felt, but after a month of not eating it, it was pretty obvious that I should stop eating it all together.

Gluten-free

I have a sickness that greatly benefits from me not eating gluten.  The symptoms associated with my sickness reduced in their severity and I started to feel the best I had felt in a long time.  I’ve been struggling for the last two months on how dine in social situations, without being that person with the food allergy.  I’ve struggled in my own kitchen, trying to recreate foods that I love but without gluten.  It’s been hard and eye opening.

This feeling of uncertainty in a kitchen is one that I am not used to.  A kitchen is one of the places I feel most comfortable in and the calmest.  A kitchen without gluten scares me and also makes me a little sad.  Most of my fondest food memories are associated with foods that contain gluten.  Cream cheese biscuits for Thanksgiving.  Coffee Cake on Christmas morning.  My mom’s perfect buttermilk scones.  Making cornbread for my dad.  Oatmeal pancakes on Sunday mornings.

I suppose this is an opportunity to rise to the gluten free challenge.  Could I make gluten free cream cheese biscuits?  Biscuits that even other family members would eat?  Almost certainly.  Could I sneak gluten free flour into Christmas Coffee Cake and no one be the wiser?  Probably.  This is also an opportunity for me and my future husband to start some traditions of our own.  As we start our lives together, we could make some new traditions that I will soon have fond memories of.

So, things might look a little different around here.  Don’t expect to see to much wheat floating around.  I’ll probably still bake things with wheat flour for others, but for myself, I will be venturing into the land of gluten free flours.  I’d like to start with pumpkin muffins.  It’s creepy pretty slowing into Autumn here (90 degrees is July weather, not September.  Get it together, Colorado!) and I’ve got spicy pumpkin muffins on the brain.  Anybody have a good recipe for gluten free pumpkin muffins?

Apricot & Coconut Granola

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Granola is one of those foods that I pass in the grocery store and pick up like I’m going to buy it, and then set it back down.  I always talk myself out of it because I know I can make it at home.  The problem is that I never actually get around to making the granola.  Making granola isn’t not complicated and the ingredients are customizable.  Get after it!  For maximum crunchiness and zero burned spots, stirring this every so often in the oven is key.  Chewy and tangy apricots meet sweet coconut and crisp almond slivers.  They’re held together by a mixture of brown rice syrup, honey, olive oil and warm spices.

More nutritious, easy and a dang good breakfast, my granola beats the pants off it’s store bought cousin.

Apricot & Coconut Granola

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliver almonds

¼ cup whole flax seeds

3/4 cup dried apricots, sliced

3 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons brown rice syrup

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

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Pre heat the oven to 400°F.

Line a 9×13 pan wil foil.  Add oats, almond and flax seeds to pan.

In a small sauce pan, combine the oil, brown rice syrup, honey and spices.  Place over low heat for 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a syrupy consistency.  Pour the warm mixture over the oats in the pan.  Mix together with a large spoon until all ingredients are uniformly coated and sticky.

Place pan in oven and stir mixture every 10 minutes to ensure even crunchiness.  The granola should take 20-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir in sliced apricots.  Allow granola to cool completely before storing in a container.

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The Journey to Five Miles

August 2010

August 2012

October 2012

October 2012

November 2012

November 2012

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December 2012.  The first mile back.

December 2012. The first mile back.

A little further.

A little further.

March 2103.  First 5k.

March 2103. First 5k.

 May 2013.  Memorial Day 5k.

May 2013. Memorial Day 5k.

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June 2013

Five.

Five.

10 months and six days (last Sunday) after a freak accident with glass and a partial ruptured left Achille’s tendon, I ran 5 miles.  I was so happy while I was running I waved at every person I passed.

I’ve missed you, running.  Welcome back to my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solo Oat Pancake

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I think I’m not alone when a week day rolls around and pancakes sound great for breakfast.  I think I’m also not alone in my time being precious in the morning.  Who has time to whip up a batch of pancakes during the week?  Between getting ready for work, packing my lunch, trying not to trip over the cat as I feed him, I’m pretty happy if I get some peanut butter and jelly toast for breakfast.

Joy’s got the solution for that midweek pancake craving though, with her Single Lady Pancake.  I mix up the dry ingredients the night before and then in the morning, all I do is add the wet ingredients.  A quick cook in a pan and I’m eating a pancake for a weekday breakfast.  For health reasons, I’ve been trying to limit gluten as much as possible in my diet, so I modified the “Single Lady Pancake” to be gluten free.  It’s worth noting that Bob’s  Redmill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour is amazing.  Almost every time I’ve used it, I’ve had great results with the final product.  It has almost the same consistency as a glutenous product and it tastes good too.

Solo Oat Pancake

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Bob’s Redmill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour

2 tablespoons rolled oats

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

pinch of sea salt

a sprinkle of cinnamon

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of unrefined coconut oil

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk

1 medium banana

Preheat a small pan over medium heat.

Combine the dry ingredients, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt in a bowl.  Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl, coconut oil and almond milk.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine throughly.  Slice banana into thin slices.  Reserve about a third of the slices for topping the pancake.  Add the remaining slices to the batter.

Add about a teaspoon of oil to your preheated pan.  Add pancake batter and spread out with the back of a spoon.  When the surface starts to form bubbles, and a quick peak underneath the pancake shows a golden brown color, flip with a spatula.  Cook until other side is golden brown as well.

Sprinkle pancake with remaining banana slices, as well as any other toppings you like.  I’m partial to maple syrup, blueberries and slivered almonds.DSC03861

If I had buttermilk like Joy calls for in the original recipe, I totally would have used it.  This pancake is perfectly light and fluffy, chewy from the oats and just all around a delicious treat.  Happy Thursday!

Lavender Gin Fizz

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Any one who knows me well, know that my drink of choice will always be a gin and tonic.  Not only is it a Steube side of the family drink, but it’s just down right refreshing.  My dad refers to them as “habit forming.”  It’s not hard to see why; sweet tonic water, a shot of smooth gin with its signature juniper flavor and a big squeeze of lime, all poured over ice cubes makes a drink that will cool off anyone on a hot day.

This summer, I’ll still be drinking gin and tonics, (especially at my aunt’s wedding this weekend!) but I’ll also be adding this drink to my go to list.  I made my sister one of these delightful Lavender Gin Fizzes yesterday evening and she had no trouble polishing it off.  The lavender simple syrup plays really well with the gin, enhancing the herbal-ness of it.  It comes together in no time and you’ll be sipping away on this Lavender Gin Fizz and wondering why everyone’s still complaining about the heat.

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Lavender Gin Fizz

makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

Lavender Simple Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons dried lavender

In a small pan combine water, sugar and lavender.  Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.  Let mixture steep for 30 minutes and then strain the lavender leaves out.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Drink:

1 8 ounce glass (Ball Jars work great!)

1 shot of your favorite gin ( I used Dancing Pine’s gin)

1 shot of lavender simple syrup

½ a shot of fresh lemon, lime or a combination of lemon and lime juice

Sparkling water

Ice Cubes

Add 6-8 ice cubes to your glass.  Pour in the ingredients, starting with gin and ending with lemon juice.  Pour sparkling water over top of mixture, until in reaches just short of the top of the glass.  Stir with a spoon and enjoy!

Oatmeal Pancakes

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My favorite cookbook growing up was Cooking From Quilt Country, Hearty Recipes from Amish & Mennonite Kitchens.  Yes, I definitely had favorite cookbooks when I was little.  The thing that made this one particularly special was the pictures in it, in addition to the recipes.  Every few pages or so, there are beautiful, full page pictures of women, men and children living their lives on their farms and cooking.  My favorite picture was of a girl that was probably 10 or 11.  She was standing in a wagon, filled with hay bales and was directing her horse to move forward.  Her lips were pursed, making a kissing noise, reins gathered in her hands and her wispy blond hair escaped from her white bonnet.  She stood there, tall and defiant on those hay bales and it made me want to drive a horse around on a wagon.  I wanted to stand tall on hay bales and cook the food this girl was eating.

My family loves this cookbook; it’s the cookbook that’s stained on our favorite recipe’s pages and the spine is cracked so it automatically opens to the most used recipes.  The oatmeal pancakes are one of the first things we made out of there, and I still request these when I go home.  They are perfectly fluffy and rise tall and proud on the griddle.  Oats make these pancakes hearty.  Buttermilk adds a nice tang.  Have lots of syrup on hand when you make these; they soak up a lot of it!

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Oatmeal Pancakes

recipe from Cooking From Quilt Country

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups buttermilk

½ cup all purpose flour

½ whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat a large, flat pan, or a griddle over medium heat.

Combine oats and buttermilk and let sit for as long as possible.  The original directions say to let these sit overnight, but we never had the foresight to do that.  A good 15 or 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients should suffice.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, eggs, butter.  Add the oat and butter milk mixture to the eggs and butter and stir.  When fully combined, add wet ingredients to flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.

Lightly grease your preheated griddle.  Drop spoonfuls, 3/4 to 1 cup of pancake batter on hot griddle.  Flip when the underside turns golden brown.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Serve with maple syrup and a steaming cup of coffee.

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