Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fresh Pumpkin Raisin Yeast Bread

If you can find a heirloom Jarrahdale Pumpkin for this seasons baking you will not be disappointed. You will recognize it by its unique blue-green skin. It has a deep orange flesh that is perfect for pies. It has a mild, nutty, sweet flavor and is not stringy inside at all. It is actually a winter squash, Cucurbita maxima, an Australian heirloom.

Simply roast your pumpkin in the oven on 375 degrees. I cut mine in half and placed it face down. Poke it with a fork numerous times to keep it from popping in your oven. When you poke it with a fork and it is tender it is ready to come out. I roasted mine for about 45 minutes on a baking sheet and covered the pumpkin with foil.

 Let it cool and then puree it well. You can save the extra by freezing it. I placed 2 cups of puree per ziplock bag. Most recipes do not call for more than 2 cups per item. It will be easier when you take a frozen one out as you need it and it's not all frozen in one bag. You don't want to refreeze what you don't use. It's so delicious I never want to waste an ounce.

This bread makes wonderful toast with some homemade preserves spread on it or a bit of organic raw honey drizzled on top. It's also a great sandwich bread, especially with some of those holiday leftover ham and turkey's. You may also make the two loaf recipe as below and make one a loaf and the other half can be make into dinner rolls. Just decrease your baking time for rolls to 20 to 30 minutes.


1/2 cup warm water
2/3 cup warm milk
2 tbsp organic sunflower oil
2 farm fresh eggs room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed fresh pumpkin
5 1/2 cup organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic wheat bran
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic plump golden raisins
2 tbsp flax seed plus extra for topping
3 tbsp raw organic sunflower seeds

In a small mixing bowl, combine the water, milk, oil, brown sugar and raisins. Microwave for 2 minutes. Set aside and allow raisins to soak. Stir to make sure sugar has dissolved.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, yeast, flax and sunflower seeds, salt and spices, Whisk together well.

Place dough hook on mixer with dry ingredients first. Add your small bowl of liquid ingredients and begin mixing on 2nd speed, add eggs and pumpkin and continue on 2nd speed until well combined. The dough for this bread is very sticky. It allows for the bread to be moist and fluffy. Oil a bowl and place dough and cover to let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

On a well floured surface pour out dough and divide in half. Work out gas bubbles and roll into a good square and then roll up into a loaf to place in your pans. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle on flax seeds. Makes two loaves. Cover and let rise about an hour. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes. You can tell if your bread is done when you turn it out of the pan and you tap on the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.

Happy Gardening!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Simply Natural Baby Food

I have been enjoying introducing food to my baby granddaughter Elizabeth Hope. In the effort to keep her safe from pesticides and chemicals I've found that simple, plain and organic food are the best choices. With very little effort her baby food can be made from the purest and most wholesome foods. They are healthy and most cost effective. I have learned that the closer to nature the food is prepared the more vitamins and minerals will be absorbed into the body. The key is no processed foods. You can make your own baby food. It's quick and easy and a whole lot cheaper.

Since Elizabeth is 4 months old, she is still in the puree stage. This is where ice cube trays come in handy. Simply puree your vegetable or fruit. Fill an ice cube tray. After it's frozen put the cubes in a freezer bag. Label your bags and date them. Your cubes will last well for about 3 months in the freezer. Elizabeth eats 2 cubes per meal until she reaches 6 months of age. I hope you will enjoy some of the recipes I have prepared.

Apples are a wonderful place to begin. They can be combined with other fruits, vegetables and grains. Simply start with organic apples, Peel, chop into small chunks and place in the pot to cook. I add a small amount of water and a pinch of cinnamon and cook covered until the apples are tender. Spoon it out into your blender, food processor or as I use my little bullet to mix in. You may need to add a pinch more water to make it the correct consistency of an applesauce. Spoon it into your ice cube tray for the freezer.

Whole grain organic oats is another great place to begin. Instead of purchasing baby cereal which contains preservatives, just buy plain Oats..Oats are all you want the ingredients to say. I simply put the oats in my bullet and mix until it becomes a powder. I make enough to last for a least a week and just keep it in an air tight container. You can also add a small amount of flax seed and grind it with your oats.

Breakfast Smoothies are quick and easy. Organic fruits pureed with 3 tsp. of ground oats and a pinch of organic whole milk yogurt or milk for liquid. Apples, Bananas, Peaches, Apricots, Plums and Pumpkins all work well. A little pinch of cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg will add a little fun surprise.

Vegetables can be done the same simple way in your ice cube trays. Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Green Beans, Peas, Kale and Broccoli. I use what is fresh from the garden or organic from the store. Dry Beans and Lintels are also a healthy diet when mixed with just a tiny bit of milk.

Carrots, Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes and Squash are all good combinations when mixed with a little bit of those apples you saved in the freezer and a pinch of cinnamon or ginger.

The key is simple. No salt, no butter, no sugar and no preservatives, chemicals or pesticides. Simply Natural Baby Food is as close to nature as one can get. I hope you've enjoyed some of my ideas.

Happy Gardening!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wheat Bran Bread and Jamaica Jam

It's been a very busy day in the garden and the kitchen. I'm still working on the Roselle harvest. I can't believe how much fruit is on one plant. I've got a few plants picked out that will be just for seed for spring time. The jam I must say taste delish and will make a great base for sweet and sour sauce and perhaps a few other things too. I'm sure I'll find uses for it. In the kitchen today I made a couple of loaves of wheat bran bread. Boy did it smell good baking! It is chocked plum full of healthy goodness. I'm sure you will enjoy making this bread.

Ingredients for Wheat Bran Bread

1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup organic sunflower oil
2 cup organic wheat bran
3 to 4 cup unbleached bread flour
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
a half hand full of whole organic flax seed
a half hand full organic raw sunflower seed
2 eggs

Place your water, honey and oil in a small bowl and heat in microwave for about a minute. In your large warm mixing bowl add oat bran, 3 cups of the flour, salt, seeds, yeast and whisk together. Put on your dough hook and add the liquid ingredients and the eggs. Add a little more flour as needed from your remaining cup. You may not need all of it. You just want the dough to begin to pull away from the mixing bowl. Knead with the dough hook about 3 minutes or so on the 2nd speed.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and place in a warm spot until it doubles in size. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn out onto a lightly dusted surface and punch down and divide in half. Roll it out and roll it up and place into your lightly oiled bread pans. Lightly brush the tops with some egg white and water mixture. Press on oats or seeds. Cover with a towel and let rise until double in size. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes. You can test your bread by tapping on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds somewhat hollow it is done.

Ingredients for Jamaica Jam

This recipe makes 6 pints

12 to 14 cups cooked Roselle
1 cup of sugar for every one cup of cooked Roselle
1/2 of the seed pods from Roselle you are using (pectin)

Sterilize your jars and lids as recommended for canning. Peel the Roselle and reserve half of the seed pods to make pectin. Cover the Roselle with water and bring to a gentle boil for 20 minutes. Measure it out to see how many cups you have. This way you will know how many cups of sugar you will need. Always use equal amounts of sugar for Roselle jam or jelly. In a separate pot cover the seed pods with water and bring to a rapid quick boil and drain. Save the liquid and pour it into the Roselle. Gentle boil for 10 minutes. Now add your sugar and keep it at a gentle boil for one hour. Be sure to stir your pot every so often.

Now you can test your jam. Spoon out a little bit onto a saucer and place it in the fridge for a bit to cool off. Stick your finger in it and it should be jelled. If not cook for just a tad longer.

Funnel the jam into hot sterile jars. Leave at least 1/2 head space. Place on cap and band. Your finished. Let it cool in a place with no draft. Store in a dark cool cupboard.

Happy Gardening!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Homemade Hamburger Buns

This recipe can make a dozen dinner rolls or 9 buns. They come out perfect every time. They are very light and fluffy. I used whole oats for the tops this time, but there are all sorts of goodies to be used. Sesame Seeds, Caraway Seeds, Sunflower or Pumpkin seeds, all kinds of herbs like dill, thyme, oregano, basil..what ever is growing in your garden. Customized Buns and rolls to go with your meal will be a sure hit with your family and friends! The dough for this recipe is a lot stickier than the dough for a loaf of bread. This is a good thing, however you want to make sure when your dividing the dough on your work surface, to use as little amount of flour as possible. I oil my bowl for my first rise pretty good so it makes it pretty easy to work with. If you have any extras they will freeze up nicely for later so enjoy!


1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp yeast
4 tbsp organic sunflower seed oil
1 egg room temperature
2 tbsp dry powdered milk
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour or bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
seeds and herbs of choice

In your warm mixing bowl put in warm water and yeast to dissolve. Add oil, egg and powdered milk. Place on your mixer with dough hook. Add flour, sugar and salt and turn on mixer to speed 2. Add any seeds or herbs you would like to be in the dough. Otherwise save them for the tops. Mix until dough begins to pull away from the sides. About 3 minutes or so. Oil a large bowl for your dough to rise in. Place the dough in the bowl, it will be sticky. Rub your hands in a bit of flour to help handle it. Place the bowl in a warm place to rise. It will take about an hour or so. When it is ready, turn out onto a very lightly floured surface. Divide the dough for nine buns or 12 rolls. For the buns I flatten out the dough a bit and try to push out the gas bubbles with the palm of my hand for each individual bun. Place them on a well oiled jelly pan or large baking sheet. Allow a little space between each one. They will touch after they rise, but pull apart easily. Brush the tops with whipped egg white and a pinch of water. Pat and sprinkle on your seeds or oats or herbs. Place a towel over your baking sheet and place it in a warm place to rise. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until a light golden brown. Remove them soon after they are done and place them on wire racks to cool.

Happy Gardening!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple Jamaica Cranberry Bread (Roselle Hibiscus)

This is going to be my new Christmas Bread. It's light and crunchy and tart. The Jamaica of this bread is from the Roselle Fruit that I used instead of Cranberries. The flavor is remarkably similar.

If you are a southern gardener don't miss out on growing this very rewarding fruit. It will supply you with a bountiful harvest with endless uses like Tea, jam, relish, salad's, sauces and baked goods.

Makes 1 loaf


1/4 cup organic sunflower oil
1 cup sugar or substitute with Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk greek yogurt
2 tsp grated orange rind
3 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh grated cinnamon
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped organic apples
1 1/2 cups fresh chopped roselle or organic fresh cranberries
1/2 cup plump golden raisins (optional)
1/2 cup crushed walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds (optional)


Cream oil and sugar until light. Beat in eggs, yogurt and orange peel. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture and mix. Fold in fruit and nuts. Grease a loaf pan very well for baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Test by inserting a toothpick. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack.

Happy Gardening!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Empanada's Garden Style

My friend Mary shared her recipe with me for making Empanada's. I knew it was perfect from the minute I layed eyes on it. The dough recipe is absolutely perfect. I didn't have all the ingredients to make her Puerto Riccan flavored Empanada. I really wanted to give it a try and not wait. I had plenty of goodies from the garden and such that I went ahead and made an Italian Garden variety. It was so much fun to make and delicious too. Thank You Mary for your inspiration today. If you enjoy cooking as much as I do you will love making these.

I began by making the dough first. This recipe is for making 12 Empanada's.

Dough Ingredients

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup oil (saffron, sunflower)
1 cup warm water
Herbs: I used a little Cinnamon Basil and Garlic Powder in my dough

Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk it together in your mixing bowl. Place on the dough hook and add all the wet ingredients. Turn on 2nd speed for about 3 minutes or so until it is well combined and dough begins to pull away from the sides. Remove it and knead for an additional 3 minutes or so. I formed mine into a log as pictured above. I then divided it into 12 pieces.

I took off a couple sheets of wax paper at this point to lay my circles on after rolling each piece out into about a 4 to 5 inch circle. Cover with a top sheet of wax paper and set aside. Your now ready to begin the filling.

Ingredients for Filling

2 to 4 tbsp. Organic Olive Oil
1 medium onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic minced
3 to 4 sweet banana peppers (1 bell pepper will work)
fresh mushrooms chopped
black olives
spinach (fresh or frozen)
Herbs from the garden: I used Oregano, Cinnamon Basil, Thyme and a pinch of Rosemary.
garlic powder
Tomato Paste
a bit of water

I always begin by heating my olive oil a bit and then adding the onion and garlic first. It seems to really boost the flavor in the oil. After they have sauteed a bit on medium to low heat, add your pepperoni and pepper, stir, then add your mushrooms and black olives. At this point I begin to add my herbs and spinach. I like to sprinkle the top of the spinach with a tad of salt and stir it in as it cooks down. Cover while you prepare the sauce. Take your tomato paste in a separate bowl and add a bit of warm water to it with a wire whisk. You only want to bring your paste to a thick sauce. Just remember there is liquid in the pan, so you don't want to thin it down to much. sprinkle just a tad of salt and sugar in your paste, then stir it into your mixture.

Now it is time to stuff your dough and pinch the sides closed. Go ahead and heat at least a cup or so of oil in your pan to deep fry. Use about 2 tbsp. of your filling in each circle. Don't over stuff or it will be hard to close and seal. Fry on medium heat about 5 minutes for each side or until a pretty golden brown. Place in a dish with paper towels, or in my case I used coffee filters to drain on. You may need to blot the tops a bit.

These are great for putting up in the freezer to save for later. Empanada or Calzone, not sure which this is, but they are delicious. The filling has endless possibilities and I so look forward to trying more things. I hope you enjoy them as much as we are.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Roselle Harvest Texas Style

The fruit of the Roselle has been such a fascinating plant to grow here in Southeast Texas. It was extremely easy to start from seed in pots in early spring. Then transplanted to the garden when about 5 leaves or so had formed.

It withstood our droughts, humidity, rain and heat. There is so much rich history from around the world about Roselle's health benefits.

It was a little tricky for research because it goes by so many different names in different parts of the world. It's referred to as rosella (another common name for the hibiscus flower), jamaica in Latin America, karkady in the Middle East, bissap in West Africa, red sorrel in the Caribbean, and other names in other regions.

One of my biggest concerns was how to harvest the Roselle. I decided to go Texas Style and make tea out of it, just like I would any other iced tea drink.

I've found it is very easy to harvest. Pick it, peel it, eat fresh or cook it. Interesting enough was that is basically how it is done all over the world.

Rosella tea or red tea has been known in many names, Rosella tea, Hibiscus tea, Mecca's tea, and Yemen's tea. By the way the big round thing in the middle below is the seed pod. The red part (the calyx) is what we are going for.

In most countries they dry the calyx of the Roselle for preserving. This is something that I wish to do at a later time when I can replace my dehydrator.

Most countries also harvest by cutting the whole branch which is loaded with fruit.

 I read though that in China they take their time in harvesting by only cutting the ripe fruit and allowing the plant to produce more. I liked that!!

I'm in no hurry here in Texas, although I do have plenty to do. I decided to go with freezing the concentrated juice to start and then I will move on to making jams and such.

After peeling the calyx off (which really doesn't take long) I placed it in a pot and covered it with water.

I started out on medium high heat just until it started to boil and then kept it on a gentle boil on medium heat. The object is to cook the calyx down to a pulp. The pulp I will preserve with a little of the juice in the freezer for making jam later. I cooked it for about 15 to 20 minutes.

I then poured it through a cheese cloth into another bowl. I took out 3 cups of the liquid concentrated juice and placed it into my 2 quart pitcher with a cup of sugar and filled the pitcher the rest of the way with water. You could use less sugar.

I wasn't sure at first and you could also use honey or organic raw sugar. It's fabulous and it taste like cranberries and all I did was squeeze some fresh lemon in my glass.

Their are all kinds of ways to make drinks. You can mix it with other fruit like oranges or limes. Add a pinch of vanilla to it. The possibilities are endless.

As for the rest of the juice in my pot, well I poured it into ice cube trays for the freezer. I will put the frozen cubes in a zip locked bag and just keep filling it up as the harvest goes on.

This is a picture of one of the many Roselle plants growing in my garden. I plan on saving seed from it this year and so by next spring I hope to have a real big bumper crop.

Below I've listed some of the many health benefits from Roselle. It is very high in vitimin C.
Here are the benefits of Rosella Tea:
* Immune Boosting
* Lower blood pressure
* Normalize the sugar blood
* Regulate uric acid
* Lower cholesterol
* Healing coughs
* Good for skin, reduces wrinkles.
* Reduce overweight
* Protect from infections
* Contains Omega 3
* Regulates metabolism.
Happy Gardening!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Maple Oat Bread

I was very excited about making this bread. It was my first go at making flour from whole oats. I can't wait to try more things with this as a basic recipe. It's a wonderful textured bread. Very soft in the middle with a light crunchy crust. If your using the maple syrup, this is an excellent breakfast bread for toast or french toast.


1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup boiling water
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (raw honey can be used as substitute)
2 tsp. organic sunflower seed oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
Raisins (Optional)
Pecans (Optional)

1 egg white lightly beaten with a tad of water
2 tbsp old fashioned oats

First place oats in a blender or food processor. I used my little bullet for this. Coarsely chop until they become a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and add the boiling water. Stir a little and let stand allowing it to cool down to warm. In the meantime you can dissolve your yeast in your warm mixing bowl in 1/3 cup of warm water. Add the syrup, oil, salt, oat mixture and two cups of flour. Add your dough hook and mix until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place your ball into an oiled bowl. Turn it around in it a bit and cover. Let it rise until almost doubled in size in a warm place. It took about an hour on this chilly morning.

Punch down the dough and roll out and then roll it up and put it in your bread pan. Brush the top with your egg white mixture and sprinkle and pat your whole oats on the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

Happy Gardening!!