Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Honey Graham Crackers

You may have just thought you loved graham crackers! Try to imagine them made from scratch! AND without that long list of ingredients unknown on the back of a store bought box!

This recipe is actually a little flexible...which I LOVE!! I'm thinking I may just make them a little different at Christmas thyme to build a Gingerbread House! Just add a little ginger!!


1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup graham flour, or wheat bran
good pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted organic butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 to 4 tbsp. local raw honey


Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl add the butter, brown sugar and honey and whip with your mixer. 

Add the dry ingredients to your butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until it begins to lump together. Next, simply dump out your bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Squeeze it together until it forms a nice little dough ball.

Divide the dough into four parts. Take one part at a time and roll it out in between a couple of sheets of parchment paper until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a pizza cutter and cut your graham cracker squares or rectangles.

Slide the whole thing onto a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Take your tray out of the freezer and make holes with a fork, just like you see when you buy a box.

It was taking exactly 9 minutes in my oven. Not one minute more! They are still quite soft when you take them out. I simply let them cool on my wire rack and they firm the cooler they get. Although...we had quite a bit of a treat eating some warm out of the oven with a little cold milk.

This was another great project to share with my grandchildren. They just never know what to think about all that dough on their fingers. 

Happy Homesteading!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Pickled Baby Okra

This is the quick version of pickled okra. These go straight up into the refrigerator. In just about one week they should have marinated just right to start munching. 

The recipe is really just a matter of taste. I like mine spicy, but I always love just a bit of sweet to balance out those hot peppers. 

(For two or three pint jars)

Brine: 3 cups 5% distilled white vinegar to 1 cup distilled water. 2 Tablespoons of Kocher Salt.  Bring this to a boil on the stove in a stainless or non reactive pot, just until the salt has dissolved. 

In the meantime you can gather and prepare the other ingredients. Have your mason jars and lids sterilized and ready to go.

Per jar I used:
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 
1 very small dried hot petite red pepper crushed, 
Good Pinch of Celery Seed
1/2 tsp. Black Peppercorns
1/2 tsp. Black Mustard Seed
Good Pinch Organic Raw Pure Cane Sugar
Some Sprigs of Fresh Dill Weed (You can use seed too)
Baby Okra

Go ahead and put all of the above in each mason jar. Then you can begin arranging your baby okra. Make sure you have washed it and trimmed your stem a little. 

I know I don't always have exact measurements for everything I do. But like I mentioned before, it is really a matter of taste.

It always looks pretty when you can alternate the okra in the jar. Although it is not always easy when using the baby okra. 

Pour the brine over the ingredients and leave a little head space. You just want to be sure all of the okra is covered, but the brine isn't to close to the rim. 

Put your lids on and let it cool down before you place the jars into the refrigerator. 

I always enjoy putting a couple of these up in the fridge and some for the pantry too. For the pantry they will require a hot water bath and plenty of baby okra to make it worth your time. 

The refrigerated version will last up to 6 months in the fridge. But they should be long ate before all that. It's a southern thing!!

My Okra Patch

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Putting Up The Sweets Canning Watermelon Jam

Watermelon Jam

My goodness this is so Good!! I'd been searching for ways to save and preserve for quite awhile as I've watched our watermelon patch go crazy this year. Watermelons are everywhere out there and my mind was racing with thoughts of making this a valuable food source during those winter months

Of course many of you have already heard about my Popsicle craze. Let me tell you Granddaughter absolutely loves them! I got even more creative and blended dewberries in them that I had put up in the freezer from some earlier spring pickings. Then I blended some Plain Whole Greek God Yogurt in them with a little squirt of Agave Nectar. 

Now I need to buy more molds! I know I could make my own, but the Grands love the sippy straws and frankly so do I because of the melt drips. What a easy fun way to preserve summers delights. 

Sweet Jubilee 

So I decided to go a step further with canning up the watermelon jam. I found a whole bunch of recipes for making it several places, but the most trustworthy one I found at Food In Jars. After reading how they made it and all of the comments that fans had posted I felt sure I could do this.

I did not find the need to alter it in anyway what so ever. Although I kind of chuckled when I read comments from people who wasn't looking for the Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy flavor. All I could think was if I could actually achieve that candy flavor in a jar my family would be extremely happy. Who doesn't love Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy in the South? 

I'm going to go ahead and give you the run down on the basic recipe, but I did do a couple of things to try to guarantee a decent good set for this jam. 

First, make sure you have a candy thermometer or even a meat thermometer will work as long as the temperature goes up to 220 degrees. That is the peek of perfection for the jam.

I still put two saucers in the freezer. The reason for this is to test the jam before you remove it from the heat. 

Once the jam reaches the 220 degree mark, grab a saucer out of the freezer and put a spoonful in the middle of the dish. Watch what it does, if it is really runny let the jam boil a little longer. Then test it again with your second saucer. If it begins to jell up it is done.

 This was also my opportunity to taste it while I stuck my finger in it on the saucer. YUM!!

Have some fun with varieties of heirloom colored flesh too!

The Basic Recipe
Makes 5 to 6 Half pint jars

6 cups pureed watermelon (remove any seeds prior to pureeing)
5 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 packet powdered pectin

Be sure to use the powdered pectin. After all the research I did, I had seen many caners having problems trying to use liquid pectin.

You really don't want to cut back on the sugar here. That is what helps it thicken and preserve it. I made mine in 1/2 pint jars because this jam is going to be considered a treat for special occasions. I can see it making an awesome dipping sauce combined with some other ingredients to use for dipping homemade egg rolls. 


Prepare your canning jars and lids. Canning jars should be boiled and bands and lids in hot water, just to before it reaches boil.

Crack open that watermelon and start in the middle section where there are less seeds. Cut out chunks and put them in a large bowl to get ready to blend it up in either a food processor or blender. 

Make sure you take out all of the seeds as you get nearer the rind where they are usually plentiful. After it is all blended measure out the 6 cups needed into your non reactive pot.

Note: Do not double this recipe and actually the wider your stainless steel pot is the better it will cook. 

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and the pectin. Add this to your pot along with the lemon juice. 

Bring to a good rolling boil. It took mine almost 30 minutes to reach 220 degrees. It seemed as though it wanted to stay at around 117 degrees for quite awhile, but you can see the difference in the reaction of the boil when it reached the mark.Next time I probably won't need to use the thermometer after seeing what it does.

Do your frozen saucer test before you remove it from the heat. Do two saucer tests if need be. Once it has jelled on the saucer it is done. Fill your jars. Make sure you wipe the rims clean with a paper towel and then put on the lids and screw bands. 

Place the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Give this a chance to fully set. Sometimes it can take up to one or two weeks before it is fully set. So patients are needed while waiting.

Happy Gardening and Happy Preserving!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fresh Amaranth Tortilla Flatbread

Yes, it's not the lighting or the camera, the tortillas are really pinkish red in color.

I call them "Indian Summer," which is not to far off from the Hopi Red Dye Amaranth that I used to prepare them. In a previous post I shared using Amaranth Seeds ground into flour to make homemade pasta.

But here I am using the very young leaves of the Amaranth plant, also known as Indian Spinach. It is remarkably flavored just like normal green spinach you would grow in the garden. I do make the tortillas using regular spinach as well as using several other vegetables from the garden for different flavors.

Freshly harvested Hopi Red Dye Amaranth (Young tender leaves)

Most people who love to garden, also love to cook. I happen to love to bake and am always trying new and creative ways to use the harvest. 

In Texas we love our warm freshly made tortillas. I really began making my own out of desperation, and well, one thing led to another. The fact is you simply cannot buy lovely tortillas that are not made with lard or saturated fats, shortening, preservatives, artificial colors and the list goes on. 

It is indeed difficult to make them without all that bad stuff and to have them taste as good. But I searched and experimented and finally came up with a sure cure fix to an excellent homemade tortilla that frankly beats the socks off of any others. 

This recipe uses pure organic unadulterated ingredients and can be made plain or spiffed up to any flavor you desire.You won't believe how easy they are to make. This recipe makes 8 tortillas.


2 cups + organic unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp organic sunflower oil
3/4 cup organic whole milk (warm)
Steamed Chopped Spinach or Amaranth (to make one over sized cup after cooked)

A Nice Round Soft and Sticky Dough Ball


1. First, clean and wash your spinach, then chop it up. You will need to at least double up the amount used fresh, because once you steam it, it will of course shrink. Once steamed, set it aside to cool and drain of some its moisture.

2. Next, in a small sauce pan heat your milk on low, just enough to get it warm.

3. In your mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk with a wire whisk. Start with the 2 cups of flour. You may need to add a little extra once you add the rest of your ingredients. Add your oil and 1 good cup of your chopped spinach.

4. You can make this dough by hand or take it to your mixing stand and add the dough hook. Mix on the 2nd setting of your mixer and add the milk a little at a time. The dough will be sticky by should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it is still soupy add a little more flour. Start with just 1/4 cup a go from there.

5. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top of the dough and knead until a nice soft pliable dough ball forms. It should still be very soft and a bit sticky. Do not over work the dough. Doing so will cause your tortillas to become stiff instead of soft and fluffy.

6. Place dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl and turn it once to coat it. Cover it with plastic wrap and then place a towel over it. Set in a warm place and let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Dough Cut into 8 equal pieces

7. Once your dough has rested, turn it out onto your lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a tube shape of sorts and cut it into 8 reasonably equal pieces. Cover with a towel and let the pieces rest for 10 minutes. While it is resting get out your cast iron skillet, a metal spatula and rolling pin.

Rolled out dough just like a pie crust

8. The next step is to flatten out a piece with the palm of your hand, keeping it in a circle. Next begin rolling it out from the middle towards the outsides, much like you would a pie crust. Lightly dust with flour is dough becomes to sticky. Flip it over and roll from the other side. Do each piece and set them aside until they are all rolled out. The key here is roll them as thin as possible, but not so thin they become hard to work with.

9. Turn your stove top on high heat and begin to get your cast iron skillet hot. Once it is hot, you may turn it down to medium depending upon your stove.

It is fine to use a tiny bit of oil in the skillet, however I found no purpose for doing so. The cook perfectly without it. Place one of your tortillas on the skillet. Let cook approximately 20 to 30 seconds on each side.

The tortilla will puff just a little around the edges when it is done. Keep a close eye to be careful not to burn them. Set each one on a wire rack, just long enough for the next tortilla to almost be done.

 I keep a tortilla keeper handy and set each one inside stacking them while they are still just barely warm. When they are completed I put the lid on. Let them completely cool and then flip the entire stack inside the keeper to keep the bottom tortilla from getting soggy. This process keeps them soft.

 Tortilla Keeper

Of course I cannot share this recipe without a little Native American History. Since we are baking with Hopi Red Dye Amaranth in this recipe I must share. 

When a Hopi woman found a man in which she wished to marry, she would bake a special bread made of cornmeal and amaranth called Piki Bread. 

It would be a reddish colored bread. She would take her bread to the home of the man she wished to marry and leave it at the door step for the mother of the hopeful groom to be.

 If the mother brought the bread inside, then it meant that the marriage was approved. Many times a brother of the hopeful groom or a friend would bring the bread inside so the young woman would not be embarrassed. 

The mother would then taste the bread as well as the mothers sisters, aunts, grandmother...all the women would decide if the woman's bread was worthy to marry. 

There is much more to the tradition and the story but for now, perhaps for the single ladies, we should begin to bake!!  

We that with like hearts love, we lovers twain,
New wedded in the village by thy fane,
Lady of all chaste love, to thee it is
We bring these amaranths, these white lilies,
A sign, and sacrifice; may Love, we pray,
Like amaranthine flowers, feel no decay;
Like these cool lilies may our loves remain,
Perfect and pure, and know not any stain;
And be our hearts, from this thy holy hour,
Bound each to each, like flower to wedded flower.
~Joachim du Bellay "A Vow To Heavenly Venus," ca. 1500 

Happy Gardening!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Canning Crispy Deli Style Claussen Pickles

These are MY Favorite Pickles!!!

Please remind me to not skip growing pickling cucumbers ever again!! The reason they make such great pickles is because the seeds are very tiny and the skins are a little tougher than a lot of other types. This keeps them much crunchier and the flavor is perfect!

This is an older post from me that I thought needed a little updating. I actually use a pinch of Stevia to replace the tiny bit of sugar that went in the original recipe. You might find me doing this a lot with many of my recipes. :)

My new Heritage Green Vintage Mason Jars

With the fact that I still actually have fresh dill growing in our hot Texas garden and I even have some of our garlic left that we grew last fall makes this recipe all the yummier.

The problem is I have to wait at least 7 to 10 days before they are good and ready to eat! But that's okay, these are so easy to make because they go straight to the refrigerator. 

I hope you've saved some nice big pickle jars to make some of your own. If not just use some good old fashion wide mouth quart canning jars.

I'm excited, because I just got the Heritage Green Vintage Mason Jars. I thought they might make my pickles a little prettier. The important thing is to make sure you have the space in your fridge for the jars. I had to clean mine out, HA!! That's right...and not a huge surprise that it needed it too!

If for some crazy reason you have never eaten a deli style pickle...just know this...they make the most excellent pickle to go with a homemade sandwich. And since I love making my own bread, especially my French Sesame Buns, a healthy hearty sandwich makes a delicious meal with an excellent pickle..


For The Brine
(I've broken this down for you, so if you need more brine just increase the amount you are making) Remember the brine will stay good in the refrigerator for a long time to be used later as well. So if you end up making to much its really not a problem. You may also chose to use Canning Salt, but I say why? when your making kosher pickles!
3 Parts Distilled Water, 1 Part 5% white distilled vinegar and 2 Tbsp. of Kosher Salt

For The Spices and The Goodies. 
This list is for quart size measurements that would be placed in a single quart size jar. If you are using larger jars for your pickles, just adjust it accordingly.

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. fresh peppercorns
1/4 tsp. fresh mustard seed
1/4 tsp. whole allspice, or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 dill seed head, include some weed and some stems (dill seed alone can be substituted) 
A pinch of turmeric
1/4 tsp. sugar
Pickling Cucumbers, small whole or larger halved or quartered


Combine the ingredients for the brine and bring to a boil. Be sure to use a non reactive type of pot for this. Something like a stainless steel or enameled pot works great.

Put all the spices and goodies in your jar or jars. Fill them tight with your pickling cucumbers. Make sure to leave at least 1/2 inch head space from the top of the jar. Pour your hot brine into the jars. Wipe the rims and put on the lids. Let cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator. The pickles will keep for up to 8 to 11 weeks in the fridge. Ours never last that long and I bet they will keep much longer than this!

To get your pretty Heritage Green Mason Jars, take a peek in my Homestead and Garden Store. I have them in both Pints and Quart sizes. Just use the link at the top of this page. Click on Jars and Bottles: Canning & Preserving and go to pages 22 through 24!

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Making of Wildflower Mulch

Small Larkspur Patch Makes A Whole Lot of Mulch!

The reasons for letting many Wildflowers, Herbs and many other crops naturalize in the garden, is not just for all the beneficial insects and pollinators they feed and attract. It is a completely natural way to complete the cycle of needs for the organic gardener. We are giving back to the earth what it requires, improving the soil and mulching our garden.

Before the Wildflowers went to seed

Once Wildflowers seed out they lose their beauty as they begin to fade. But I have enjoyed them so very much. They have fed hoards of butterflies, bees and birds. 

The next step is easy and very rewarding. Once to seed we simply lay them all down into a nice thick mat. Underneath were Canna Lilies and Cape Honeysuckle patiently awaiting their day in the sun.

Next we bring in wheelbarrows full of compost and spread it directly over the Wildflower Mulch where the new beds are to be formed. Leaving only the mat of Wildflowers for the path that will keep the unwanted weeds at bay.

We then plant all the way down the garden path with Peppers, Eggplants and Beans.A few Heirloom Marigolds and Zinnias were added as well for a spot of extra color.

Once everything is planted, we then come in with a nice heavy organic hardwood mulch that is free of harmful dyes and chemicals. 

All that is left to do is to give it all a good soaking and let nature do the rest.

Soon we will feast our eyes on many more beneficial insects and wildlife as we wait for some lovely organic garden produce to fill our kitchen.

When spring returns the following year, the entire process will begin again. Loads of beautiful Wildflowers for you and them!

Happy Gardening!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer Savory: Health Benefits in the Southern Garden

I think summer savory is one of those herbs that many folks haven't tried. Many have never heard of it. After growing some a few years back, we've found ourselves hooked on it. 

Maybe getting hooked might be one of the reasons it is known as the "Herb of Love."

I just didn't grow enough that first year! I saved what I could by drying it. My main purpose at that time was to use it in cooking. 

We cook and eat a lot of beans. Pintos, White Beans, Black Beans and really, whatever Bean we can grow! Summer Savory has this delicate way of completely changing a pot of beans into a whole new experience. 

Once you've tried it you simply cannot get enough of! It is absolutely Delicious with a light peppery flavor.

These days, I make sure I grow tons of it. My favorite places to plant it is all in and around my bean plants. Not only is summer savory great to eat in a pot of beans, the herb is actually a companion to beans in the garden.

The summer savory helps improve the flavor of your beans immensely, by growing next to them. It also helps repel insects away from your bean plants, like the bean beetle. It's said to help improve the overall growth of bean plants. It's a companion to onions and garlic too.

I've come a long ways with this herb in using it in the kitchen. These days, I love it with so many things. Adding it to my salads, salad dressings, soups, stews and sauces. 

I've found it awesome to add to marinates for my Poultry and Fish dishes. And of course you know how I love to make bread! This herb is wonderful in my herbal baguettes!

I'm just beginning to learn of the health benefits that come with eating summer savory. More than that, I've discovered its benefits by adding it to tea.

I've listed just a few of Summer Savory's health benefits up above. For more details you might want to visit the website Nutrition-And-You

Happy Gardening!