Thankful thoughts…

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and the wonder of the world.” ~John Burroughs

This is why I’m excited about a few days to kick back and enjoy free time at home with my girls. Seems we’ve been keeping a hectic pace lately, trying to cram as much into a day as possible, and missing the beautiful simplicity of life spent hanging out together here at home.

This morning we had Bible study with my parents, followed by an early lunch, and then school. After covering the basics, we got out all our card making supplies and spent a lovely hour crafting and writing notes and thank-you’s, which we then we walked down to the mailbox. We even let the six remaining puppies tag along…what a sight we would have been had anyone driven by. Six gangly, romping Border Collie babies, three red-cheeked girls and one mom cuddling a fluffy red-and-white pup named Bernard. Wish I’d taken my camera along. These temperate fall days will be but pleasant memories in another month. But my youngest has a hankering for snow…so I won’t complain.

Tonight we got supper dishes put away, gave a quick spelling test to finish up today’s schooling, and pulled out the Scrabble board…

Tomorrow Thanksgiving vacation starts, and we had our sneak peek today–enough baking and lazing to whet our appetite for more. In the morning, I’m going to revel in the brisk fall air as I crunch my way through leaves to our weathered red chicken barn. There’s something about setting the captives free that brings a summer smile to my face. When both the east and south doors of the coop are flung open, the sunlight filters in just so, and who can fail to be enthusiastic watching twenty-five chickens swoop out to conquer the world? Gets me every time. I think it’s my favorite time of day. Those chickens love me. *Grin*

Happy Thanksgiving vacation, one and all!

P.S. I’ll be posting at Writer…Interrupted on Thanksgiving Day, if you happen to be online with nothing better to do…

A family project: Pumpkin baking plus recipes!

I just pulled a batch of bran muffins out of the oven to go with breakfast, but here I am, sipping on hot ginger tea and nibbling on fresh pumpkin bread…mmm!

Yesterday we baked a huge pumpkin–one from a friend’s garden, and the filling we subsequently scraped out of it was enough for three pumpkin pies and seven mini-loaves of pumpkin bread. Yum! Hubby arrived home early, in the middle of the pureeing process, and thought we had a weird golden applesauce thing going on! Our pumpkin “filling”, yellow-gold in color, had the soft consistency of applesauce. I worried that it wouldn’t set up in pie, but it did, and looks great! We haven’t sampled it yet, saving it for tonight’s dessert…if you want more info on how to bake a pumpkin and make a pie from scratch, I used this helpful site and recipe: Organic Pumpkin Pie From Scratch. I was searching specifically for a pie recipe that included sorghum, and this pie delivers! It also uses heavy cream and alllll the fall spices! Our house smells so delicious!

Here is my recipe for Pumpkin Bread, and it’s never been this mouth-watering with store-bought canned pumpkin! This makes a great Christmas gift as a mini-loaf included with a trio of other types of quick breads, such as my Poppyseed Bread.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil (applesauce can be substituted)
  • 1 can pumpkin (or 15 oz home-baked pumpkin puree–almost two cups)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup pecans (optional)

Blend the first five ingredients and then add the rest. Bake at 350F for one hour. Make 2 loaves, or five mini-loaves. Easy, huh.

As I did up last night’s dishes after our baking spree, I couldn’t help thinking, “And people would rather their ‘family time’ be spent gathered round the TV?” Here our evening flew by, working and playing together…oldest and I working on pie crusts and fillings, youngests giggling over Go Fish games and Memory. We haven’t yet regretted our choice to go “no tv” over a year ago…in fact, I can’t believe it took us so long.

Got to go feed some hungry girls…have a blessed day!

What to do with Ginger? Homemade Ginger Tea

If you’re like me, you’ve often wondered just what all you could do with ginger root.  I had some leftover after making my Super Tonic, and there it sat on my kitchen counter until one fine–er, actually, brisk and chilly–day found me and my daughters at Farmer John’s place again. After spending a couple hours weighing and packaging broilers, we retreated indoors to warm up with hot tea. Mrs. Farmer John showed me how simple it is to make a cup of ginger tea! And is it ever tasty, or I wouldn’t be sharing it here!

She took a “hand” of ginger root and cut 5 small slices from it, peel included. These went into our mugs, followed by boiling water and a teaspoon of honey. Mmm. This tea has a spicy, fragrant taste, even my girls like it. As I was enjoying my tea, my hostess explained that these chunks of ginger are even good for another cup of tea–joy!

So today after an hour of being outdoors in 35 degree weather, we came indoors to ginger tea and cookies. We let our tea steep covered for ten minutes, and I had to test the recycling theory of reusing my ginger–yes, it worked! Now, don’t let the light color of this tea fool you, it’s rich and flavorful.

Here are some more *good things* to know about ginger:

  • Ginger can be found in the produce section of your grocery store, and you should consider checking out your health food store for the organic option. Look for smooth skins and buy the ones with the least amount of branches/knots. Your ginger root should feel heavy and firm.
  • Googling the storage of ginger gave me several options. Some sources say to store unpeeled ginger wrapped in a paper towel, and sealed in a baggie in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Others say it will be good for a week only, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. I kept mine on the kitchen counter for a week before discovering it made delicious tea…and it was a little wrinkled and less firm, but still worked just fine. I’ll probably store my future purchases in the refrigerator.
  • Ginger is said to be excellent for gastrointestinal upsets, such as morning sickness, motion sickness, and nausea. I even read at one site that Ginger tea is recommended for use in alleviating nausea in chemotherapy patients, because its natural properties don’t interfere in a negative way with other medications. And by the way, it’s safe for use with morning sickness, it won’t harm your unborn baby.
  • Farmer John and his wife, and even his apprentices (we were all “taking tea” together) overwhelmingly recommended chewing a sliver of ginger root to alleviate sore throat pain. It’s a bit spicy-hot, but not unbearable.

I just love learning new things, especially when they are simple to implement into my daily life and for the better health of my loved ones. I hope you’ll all chime in with how you use ginger, and if there is another easy-to-make, good-for-you tea, do tell in comments!

And if you want to know more, this article on how to use Ginger has some good info.

Some interesting reads for you…

I apologize for the lack of *me* around this neglected blog lately. Just for fun, here’s some good stuff:

Are you writing up your Christmas shopping lists? Mine will be simple this year, hopefully! My hubby’s family does the traditional Christmas gift exchange, while my family just gets together for the pleasure of it and the good eats! My eight yo daughter wants a Bible with larger print–she said she’d be happy if that’s all she gets. Aw. Isn’t that awesome? (Should I test that theory?)

How is everyone? I’d love to hear how things are going…

Making Super-tonic in the Great Outdoors

That’s right, super-tonic. I’ll get around to explaining it in a second.

I knew the minute my hand left the back porch door knob this morning that *this* day was going to be a hum-dinger! I couldn’t make myself go inside after letting the chickens out…thankfully only my oldest daughter was awake, so I reveled in the clear morning unfolding around me, restocking the chicken feed and cleaning/refilling their waterer, clucking right back at my beautiful hens who are sometimes giving us 19 eggs a day by noon! Ahh…the gift of living this country life.

All weekend long I’ve been wishing for time to put together this super-tonic recipe our herb-savvy neighbors gave us…but between caring for a sick child and getting some garden and yard work done, I just didn’t have time, nor all the ingredients on hand to get it done. So this afternoon, I and my older girls set up an outdoor “kitchen” complete with camp chairs, cutting boards, knives, veggie peelers, a food chopper and a makeshift “sink”. Okay, so it was just a hose with a sprayer nozzle and a bucket, but it worked! Why outside? Well, firstly, because of the gorgeous weather! Secondly, because of the fumey ingredients in this here tonic!

Here’s how it works. Oh, it’s for good health, by the way. You knew that, didn’t you? *Wink*

You take five equal parts of the following diced fine, say one cup each which is what I did:

  • horseradish
  • garlic
  • onion
  • ginger
  • jalapeno peppers or cayenne peppers or other hot pepper

My oldest scrubbed and peeled the horseradish, which I then sliced into chunks and diced fine in my food chopper. Worked slick! While she was scrubbing horseradish (and tossing the stems to her eight puppies to chew) my 8 year old nimbly broke apart garlic buds, peeled the cloves and took her turn at the food chopper. I sat and removed seeds from peppers with my rubber gloves on of course! Onions came next, and last, the ginger. Mmm, ginger smells good! I just peeled it with my knife, hoping that was the “way to do” and then into the chopper it went. By this time we had a bowl almost brimful of knock you off your camp chair strong smelling stuff! I was so glad we’d done it outside with nary a tear or sniffle from fumes. The breezes outside were extra delicious today, I soon realized exactly *how* welcome they were when I went inside to fill my gallon jar with the ingredients. Whew-ee did my cheeks burn from jalapeno osmosis or what? Anyway, onto the next important step of this recipe.

  • 2.5-3 quarts Apple Cider Vinegar, the kind from the health food store that has the “mother” in it

Once you’ve filled your gallon jar with the five chopped ingredients (or 4 quart sized jars with equal portions) take your ACV and finish filling the jar(s) to the top. Put your lids on and store in a dark place, such as a cupboard or closet. Mine are in my canner. Take the super-tonic out twice a day and shake it good. After two weeks of this, strain the liquid out and keep it in a glass jar. If you have any glass medicine bottles, the kind with the droppers, that would be an excellent keeper for easy handling. One dropperful in apple juice for a child, two for an adult. This can be used daily for a good immunity builder, or when needed for nipping colds and flu in the bud.

Our neighbors shared a bottle with us last week, and I can promise you that diluted in juice, you hardly notice the taste. But by evening, my daughter and I both had clear heads and no sniffles! Good-bye head colds. I know a good thing when I smell see it.

Do you have any home-brewed health goodies to share? Btw, this super-tonic recipe is all over the net, but my neighbor’s good instructions aren’t. Let me know if you make this!

Hat tip to my friends, Farmer John and his wife!