Archive for the ‘Food and Recipes’ Category

This recipe came from a long-time friend of my mother’s. I don’t know where she got it. My mother made it many times, and I have used it perhaps more than any other quick bread recipe, besides banana. We have served it at Christmas, at Thanksgiving, and just because, and I have never had anyone turn down a slice. In fact, I have had special requests to make this for church potlucks.

Here’s how to make Poppy Seed Quick Bread:

Using an electric mixer, or some elbow grease, beat 1 cup sugar with 2 eggs. Stir in 1 cup evaporated milk, and 1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut oil and/or melted butter. Dump in 2 cups flour on top of wet ingredients, then on top of that, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Stir thoroughly. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/4 cup blue poppy seeds.

I usually divide this into two small-ish loaves, but you can make one large one, or a sheet cake or muffins, if you like. Whatever you choose, fill greased and floured  pan(s) half full of batter, and bake in a 350* oven for 1 hour, or until top splits and a tester (tooth pick or slender knife) inserted in center comes out clean. Let set in pan(s) for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool.

This bread may be cut while warm, but for best results, cool completely before slicing. It also freezes well, and the recipe doubles just fine.

May your family have a delicious Christmas season!

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I first had this soup – a recipe my oldest sister came across – shortly before I met and married the love of my life.

Yes, a romantic tale.

We’re still in love, and ever time I have this soup, I remember the beauty of our wedding evening.


Marvelous Mushroom Soup

Saute 1/2 lb. fresh sliced mushrooms (or 8 oz. canned) in 3 tablespoons butter, with 1 large onion (finely chopped), 1 clove garlic (minced), 1/2 teaspsoon dried tarragon or thyme, and  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, until tender.

Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour until smooth.

Gradually add about 4 quarts beef broth (or 2 cans – 14 1/2 oz. each). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low, and slowly add 1/2 to 1 cup sour cream. Cook until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup half and half and 1/2 cup evaporated milk.

Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice, a dash of hot pepper sauce, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Heat through, but do not boil. Serve immediately.


This soup can freeze, and be gently reheated. Because it is rich, a little goes a long way. I recommend serving it with a wholesome, crusty bread, or simple quesadillas made with mild cheese.

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http://www.victoriana.com/christmas/plum-99.htm – several recipes

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Christmas-Plum-Pudding/Detail.aspx – a long and rich recipe, including liquor

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cake/plumpuddingTips.htm – the history of plum puddings, and other info.

http://fashion-era.com/Christmas/christmas_food_beeton_pudding_recipe.htm – a few recipes, much Victorian info.

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Here is a priority recipe again this season:

This is a picture from when I made Santa Lucia Crown bread for the first time last year. Santa Lucia Day is December 13th, but I thought I’d better post this now, and give you some time to prepare to make this. I don’t know how authentic or traditional this recipe is, but it tastes delicous! It is from a 1970-something Betty Crocker Cookbook, which I can’t seem to find for sale online anywhere. Lucky for me, my mom has  a copy.

My bread turned out a bit less “stacked” than the picture in the cookbook, but we enjoyed it anyway. Do give it a try, and tell me what you think!


Saint Lucia Crown recipe (a yeast bread)

Dissolve 2 packages active dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir into 1/2 cup lukwarm milk (scalded then cooled), a pinch of saffron (crushed). Mix milk with 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup butter (softened), and 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped citron, 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds, 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel, and enough flour to make dough easy to handle (2-3 cups all-purpose flour).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to grease all sides, then cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled – 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down and cut off 1/3 of dough for top braid – reserve.

Divide remaining dough into 3 equal parts; roll each part into a strand 25″ long. Place close together on a greased baking sheet, and braid. Shape into a cirlce and pinch ends to seal.

Divide resered dough into 3 equal parts, and roll each into a strand 16″ long. Braid as before, shape into a circle and pinch ends to seal. Cover and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 375* F., and bake both braids 20-25 minutes. When cool, make holes for 6 candles in the small braid. Drizzle braids with icing, and garnish the small one with green and red candied cherries. Insert candles, then place small braid on top of large braid.

Beautiful, yes?

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Random#25 084

This is the mudroom as it has no doubt stood for many years (minus K-10 the German Shepherd). It is a nice mudroom.

Random#25 099Only problem is, the attached kitchen is rather small. It has a nice propane stove, however, with six burners and two ovens. I would like to put our Dixie wood-and-coal cookstove in, though, as we use it most of the year, and prefer it to any other kind of stove.

With my favorite shelves added along the wall between the dining room and kitchen, and the south wall full of cabinets (hurray!) that leaves not much but a walkway from mudroom to dining room.

So…I would like to build a new mudroom. Nothing fancy; just an unheated space across the whole front of the house, about 10 feet deep, divided into two sections. On the right hand would be a space with a laundry sink, in which I could also put my wringer washer. (Wringer washers can be amazingly efficient.) There would be a place on the ceiling fitted to hoist up a deer or whatnot, for butchering or hanging. There would be a floor drain, for…messes. Will could also process all his raw dog food mixtures in here. Along the east wall (front), there would be quite a long space in which to stack a supply of dry firewood. In the other section, to the left of the front door, would be a summer kitchen/canning kitchen.

Here the old propane stove from the current kitchen would go, and I would want a wide bench, with shelving underneath, suited for processing large batches of food, and storing large cooking pots, canners, and so on. A potting bench, for the spring planting season, would also be highly desirable. Ideally, I would want windows along the north and south walls, which, if done right, could even facilitate getting baskets of produce into the house, without having to track through the front door continuously. There would be a nearly straight shot to the basement, and hence the cellar, from the front door, however.  This summer kitchen would be twice as deep as the butcher/washing section, as the house is not even across the front. This means that a winter clothes closet would fit nicely along the south wall, where it wouldn’t risk getting spattered with blood from butchering. Of course, all floors would be cement – easy clean, few worries.

I’ve introduced these ideas to Will. He thinks they sound nice. (Translated: He has no commitment to the plan, but wouldn’t mind if it magically put itself into action.)

Naturally, that would leave the old mudroom as a place to spill over from the true kitchen. This is important, as, if we choose to have electricity on-grid (not much of a probability), I will keep two refrigerators in the “mudroom”, along the south wall. One would be for household use, and one for dairy. A herd of milking does can produce several gallons of milk a week, and I prefer to make cheese in five to ten gallon batches.  At any rate,  on-grid or off, I’ll need someplace (with controlled temperatures) to deal with the milk.  Also, it would be great to have someplace to put a work table, as the counter space is limited. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Then – ahhh…at last. With these improvements, I’ll have a kitchen where I can cook without working around every project and family member in the house. Actually, two kitchens.

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Random#28 021

This was taken in the cellar my mother and I share. I don’t have  room in my home to store all of the canned goods we have put up for my family this year. A large place both dry, cool, and dark is hard to come by in a house close to a river.

We have made cucumber pickles, pickled beans and peppers and beets, wild plum jam and whole wild plums and spiced wild plums. We have made peach jam, and canned plain green beans, and applesauce, and chopped apples for pies, and 10 gallons of goat milk (in case my dad’s management of their milking periods proves less than ideal). And, of course, the salsa – tomatillo and tomato. We are just beginning on the tomato things – spaghetti sauce and tomato jam and stewed tomatoes and, if there proves enough fruits, plain tomato sauce.

Of course, at least half of most kinds of produce have been laid aside for mom and dad.

It has been a full summer. Thank God for a full cellar.

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You know that unkown nut tree on the property we hope to buy? It turns out it’s a buckeye. The nuts are maturing now, and they are beautiful.

Random#28 004

Will picked up some nuts, still in the husks, that had fallen from the tree, and days later, they split open on their own, revealing the pretty-as-jewelry nuts.

We found out the nuts are poisonous straight off the tree, and must be boiled or roasted to release their toxins, after which they can be used much like chestnuts.

Random#29 097

A-nutting we shall go…

Random#29 098

Better than a finger in the eye, ain’t they?

Random#29 100

Here is some more info on buckeye nuts and buckeye trees:




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