...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries...

Home-canned Sweet Cherries
We're very much enjoying our preserved local fruits this season.  When I'm not able to get my hands on local apples or seasonal citrus, I know that we still have large stores of canned peaches, plums, and sweet cherries in the basement pantry.  The cherries I preserve are always a tribute to my Gramma who canned sweet bing cherries every season.  I love eating a bowl of them with breakfast.  They are not pitted so part of the ritual is working the fruit off of the pit in your mouth then discarding the seed into a bowl.  Vera, especially, has grown to love these lightly sweetened (with xylitol) fruits this year though her serving requires a bit more maintenance as I have to pre-pit them.  Aside from enjoying the fruit, I am able to ration the remaining juice to use in smoothies.  We still have several more quarts each of cherries, plums, and peaches and I'm hoping they will carry us to this next season's local harvest.

Friday night we "went out."  It was actually a family outing to see an environmental film at our church.  Vera played in the nursery while Ben and I viewed Grown in Detroit with fellow gardeners and community activists from our church and beyond.  One can watch this film on-demand online.  I recommend it.  I thought it was inspirational on many levels not the least of which was teaching young people about growing food in the city.  Check out our organization's schedule of upcoming films through June.  I hope to see you there.

Yesterday I finally made time to start some seeds indoors.  I cut my egg cartons into strips, poked a large hole in the bottom and laid them all on an old sheet tray, added a bit of potting soil and the seeds, topped them with soil, marked them with variety and date, and gave them a little water before covering them with black fabric and stowing them in my bedroom storage closet to germinate.  One of Ben's task for this week is to set up the grow lights in the basement.  The brassicas I seeded--three kinds of kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and both purple and white kohlrabi--could sprout within days so he's on the clock.

This Saturday was one of the most wonderful days I've enjoyed in a while.  I have definitely felt less hectic and harried this winter and yesterday was another day towards that record.  Shockingly, I have actually found myself standing around, listless, a few times in recent months.  Wow!  I didn't know what to do with myself (of course, I completely ignored the Rainy Day List that's tucked away at my desk.)  I spent some time outside reading (in the sun!) while Vera played.  We took a walk, I curled up with a book, made a pot of chili, watched a movie and ate popcorn with my family, and BAKED on a whim.  It was fantastic.  Despite my maintained avoidance of white sugar, I still have quite a sweet tooth so it's not easy for me not to bake something regularly.  I made some cookies that were "wafer-thin"--to reference one of our favorite household movie quotes--though their thinness makes it tempting to allow ourselves to eat several at a time.  I stepped away from the cooling rack of a dozen or so and when I returned "someone" had eaten half of them.  I love that my husband appreciates my baking.  (I submitted this recipe to The Spunky Coconut's "Our Spunky Holiday" Easter recipe roundup.  Please check out this great gluten-free blog.)

SpunkyHolidayEaster2.jpg"Wafer Thin" Cashew Butter Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

Adapted from the Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free Cookbook by Karen Morgan.  The original recipe calls for chilling the dough for 1 hour before baking; this would give you a cookie that doesn't spread as much.  I preferred more of a thin "tuile-like" cookie.  These were thin, a little "greasy" (in a finger-lickin'-good way), and chewy once they cooled.

1 c. toasted and salted cashews
1/2 sweet rice flour
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. guar gum
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 c. coconut oil at room temp.
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. xylitol
1 T. egg replacer diluted with 1/4 c. water
2 1/4 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking mat.  In food processor, process cashews until finely ground.  In medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients except  sweeteners.  Stir with a whisk to blend.  In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream coconut oil, ground cashews, brown sugar, and xylitol on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in dry ingredients until blended.  Gradually beat in diluted egg replacer, scraping down sides of bowl.  Beat in vanilla.  Use a small scoop to spoon little balls of dough onto baking sheet 1 1/2-2 inches apart.  Bake 10-15 min. or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 min. before transferring to cooling rack.  Let cool completely then store in an airtight container.

"It is wafer thin."
And for some more preservation inspiration, this is my dream pantry!
Pantry 2010
My Dream Pantry (photo courtesy "Canning Across America")


  1. Hello - I am dying to know - did you can the cherries with xylitol? Canned home grown cherries are one of my favorite treats in the world, but I have got to cut back my sugar intake. I've never canned with any sugar substitutes.

    Thank you!

  2. Yes, I did all of my preserved fruits last year with xylitol instead of sugar. For my jams I either used xylitol or honey depending on the recipe. Xylitol can be directly subbed for white sugar and it holds up well under the heat of canning. Good Luck!