...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.



After a crazy whirlwind of a baking day at work yesterday I am home free to step away for a few days vacation.  Will give you the details when we return.  Sadly, I'll be missing the broadcasted events of National Can-It-Forward Day, though I promise I'm participating in spirit.  I hope to extend the celebration to Milwaukee next year.

Turnip Chips
My preservation projects continued this past week as I prepared nasturtium butter with the bounty of beautiful edible flowers in our garden.  I've been taking clamshell containers of them into work each week to garnish our homemade desserts, but as soon as I pick them, that many more show up the very next day.  I also made turnip chips in the dehydrator, a recipe I adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.  I admit that her version for baking them in the oven is likely to turn out a more crisp product, whereas the dehydrator version chewy--not the texture I want in my chips of any kind.  Though the flavor was excellent with olive oil, salt, ground chipotle, and lime juice.  Even Vera went after them with fervor.  Have I actually found a way for my child to embrace this strong-flavored root?  Hopefully, because there are a lot more where those came from in our garden.

Whipped with Butter


Ready to Freeze
Key Lim Syrup
I also came up with a huge batch of key lime syrup last night.  Limes are far from local, but let me explain my theory for purchasing them.  The grocery where I shop once a month often has discount/reduced price vegetables in the front of the store and I'm such a sucker for taking home these discarded veggies.  In a way I feel bad for them because they will otherwise end up in the garbage.  I wouldn't buy some of these things period, or at least not out-of-season otherwise because that sends the message--as I vote with my food dollar--that I like this, I want more of this, keep it coming the 1500+ miles from its source.  But it shows up on my receipt as "reduced grocery" so I know it's not scanning the original PLU to tell them I've consciously chosen it. If it's there anyway and would otherwise go to waste, I feel compelled to act.  Hence the two bags of key limes that entered my house last week.  At first I was juicing them with cucumber and lettuce to make a refreshing green drink, but as our getaway approached I realized I still had a ton in the fridge.  I sliced and seeded them all and cooked them down (with an obscene amount of sweetener!) and bottled them up as lime syrup.  I can use this for mixed drinks, marinades, soaking quick breads or coffee cake, or whatever else I think of between now and the next three years, which is at least as long as the batch of 20+ jelly jars will last.  I plan to find a great recipe or two to attach to the rim and give some of these as gifts for the holiday season.

This week I also tried a gluten-free baking recipe I'd been excited about.  Anytime I can find a recipe that uses some of the nutrition-geek ingredients in my fridge/pantry: hemp seed, nutritional yeast, bee pollen, chia seeds, etc. I am super excited.

Chia and Poppy Seed Shortbread and Pomegranate Molasses Glaze
Makes about 12 squares

Adapted from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan.  It's slightly crumblier than a bar using wheat flour, but the glaze helps bind it a bit more.  I didn't think it was very much like "shortbread" though.

1 c. millet flour
1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1/4 c. honey
3/4 c. sucanat
2 1/2 t. guar gum
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 t. almond extract
1 1/2 T. chia seeds
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
Pomegranate Molasses
Organic Powdered Sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a small jellyroll pan with parchment and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.  In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine all dry ingredients plus honey on low speed to blend.  Add butter and mix on low speed until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Add eggs and both extracts and mix on medium-high speed until dough begins to pull from sides of bowl.  Mix on high for 10 seconds.  Using rubber spatula, fold in chia and poppy seeds.  Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread evenly w/ offset spatula.  Bake for 25-30 min., or until just beginning to color.  Remove from oven, transfer pan to wire rack, cool completely.  Lift shortbread from pan by holding onto sides of parchment.  Cut into 3-inch squares and drizzle with glaze (see recipe below).  Allow glaze to set about 10 min. before eating.  Store in airtight container for 3-4 days.

Pomegranate Molasses Glaze:  Whisk together enough pomegranate molasses and sifted powdered sugar to make a paste.  Thin with water to get consistency for drizzling.  Decorate bars.

Hiding in her new sleeping bag
I've had a few good cheap finds lately at the thrift store and the curb.  On Sunday Vera and I got out of the house so Ben could do some work and our errands lead us to the thrift store where I was actually looking for a couple of things, but found a few items not on the list as well.  One was a gorgeous vintage sleeping bag with a zipper in great condition.  A slight tear didn't deter me and I purchased it to be V's sleeping bag on our next camping trip.  This morning I found a great wooden bookshelf in our alley--someone also had a beautiful shaker chair by the garbage cans with the seat busted out.  Both were definitely fit for refurbing so I walked the small bookshelf back to my garage.  I can't wait to paint it, apply a tiny bit of wood glue, et voila.  It's the perfect little bookshelf I've been looking for.

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