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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fruit and Nut Bars

These are similar to a commercial brand.  I was tired of paying $1 a bar, on sale, for Lara Bars, so I decided to make my own.  I mean the bars only have a few ingredients so I figured "how hard can it be".  And it was so easy, PLUS my boys are loving them.  The ones in the picture are apricot but you can use ANY dried fruit~really.  I also substitute the apricot with dried tart cherries, and dried apple.  My boys love the tart cherry bars the best.

-1 cup raw organic almonds
-1 cup dried apricots
-1 cup dried dates
-2 TBSP coconut spread

I do want to say that the coconut spread I just ran across and Amazing Savings is just that, organic coconut (oil, pulp and all) pureed.  That is the only ingredient organic coconut.  And we are really enjoying the flavor it adds to the bars.  If you don't have the coconut I would probably use a little less almond or add more of the dried dates.

Just add all ingredients to a food processor and let it run on high for a couple of minutes.  Line a pan, I use a small rectangular pan, with parchment paper.  Put the mixture from the food processor into the lined pan and press.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  You can then lift the paper right out of the pan and cut the cooled mixture into bars or squares.

I put them into a covered dish and leave them in the refrigerator.  They rarely last more than a day.  I want to experiment with different nuts, but my boys want the almonds so I haven't had time.  I also think shredded coconut or sesame seeds would be tasty.  

Starting the 2012 Harvest

OK so my asparagus was the beginning of my spring harvest.  But these come in second.  I have been really working this year to take advantage of what we have already growing on our piece of property.  Rather than always buying my herbs elsewhere.  I want to be more self sufficient.  So the blackberries are thriving, I starting picking blackberry leaf to dry.  Will probably harvest blackberry leaf at least 2 or 3 more times this year.  We have so much of it that I really don't have to worry about harvesting too much, but I am aware of how much I am harvesting from any one plant as I DO want blackberries later on in the season, YUM!  I am simply drying it on a screen elevated just a bit off my dining room table so the air can circulate.  Blackberry leaf is high in Vit C so a great immune system booster.  Also it is good for the digestive system.  
I also harvested some red clover yesterday.  The red clover is just starting to bloom, so I will go out again in a couple of days to harvest again.  But it is so beautiful.  Again I am just air drying on a screen in my dining room.  Red clover is great for pre and menopausal symptoms, also has a lot of anti cancer properties.

Google either of these plants and learn for yourself what they are good for!  You will be amazed at what is growing in your own backyard!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Herb Garden

It has been slow going this year.  The weather has been so erratic, one day it is 80 degrees and the next it is 30.    But things are progressing, the upper garden is all planted.  The chicks have had their fill from the lower garden and that is all tilled and ready.  We hope to plant the sorghum and watermelons in the lower garden this coming weekend.

My herb garden has had some nice organic compost added to it and worked into the soil.  My husband helped me lay out the stones and it is ready for planting.  I am hoping to get that done this week.  I am really enjoying the layout and think it will be a nice addition to my back yard.  My goal is to NOT mow the back yard, have it all bushes, shrubs, herbs and beauty!  But until then here is a current picture:

And my lucky find, in the soil.  I will have to find a special place for this.  I mean it has to mean I have chosen exactly the right spot for my herbs!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Barefoot Gardening

OK have I mentioned how much I love to garden barefoot?  I bet I have, and I bet it was just about 12 months ago.  It is just such a wonderful feeling, after being in shoes all winter, to go out in the soft, freshly tilled, sun-warmed earth and get your toes dirty!  It feels like walking on pillows.  Gotta love that feeling.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chickweed-Onion Bread

I have chickweed everywhere in my yard!  Just so much of it right now, and I don't want it to die before I have a chance to eat some.  So I made chickweed onion bread.  DELICIOUS!  I did have a piece, even though I paid for it later (because of the gluten), it smelled too good to pass up.  The boys all loved it as well and Phil said I should make lots more.

Chickweed is just so good for you, so many vitamins and minerals, with a mild taste, somewhat like spinach.  Dried it can be used for so many things and as a poultice as well, great for skin conditions, and rashes.  Good to drink a chickweed tea when you have a cold.  You can google chickweed and just see what it is great for.  I use chickweed oil for poison ivy to control the itching.  Anyway back to my bread.

I found a recipe for chickweed in an onion bread, but the bread recipe had milk in it and was not "my" bread recipe so I just used my own bread recipe and added the chickweed and onion.

2 cups chopped chickweed
1 onion diced up very small (my boys don't like to chomp on onion, they like the flavor but prefer to not know         it is there...LOL)
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
3 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP yeast
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour

In a saute pan add 1 TBSP olive oil a fry the onions just 2 minutes.  Next add 1/4 cup water, the chickweed and turn your heat back to med, cover, and let your onion and chickweed steam for another 3-4 minutes.  Set this aside to cool.  While the chickweed and onion are cooling add to a bowl (I use my kitchen aid mixer for this) 1 1/2 cups warm water, 2 TBSP Olive Oil, yeast, honey, salt and let it sit for just about 30 seconds, you will see the yeast start to bubble.  Now add in your onion and chickweed as well as your flour, start with adding about 4 cups of flour, then slowly add more as you need it.  You will know you have enough when the dough pulls away from the bowl.  With my kitchen aid mixer I let it beat for a minute or two.  If you are doing this by hand you will knead the dough for about 5 minutes on a floured bread board.  This will make two loaves if you are using loaf pans.  So divide your dough, form into your loaf pan.  Let it rise in a nice warm place, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I did not use loaf pans but instead formed it into a nice round loaf and let it rise on a cookie sheet.  This I baked at 350 degrees and it takes 35-40 minutes to cook.

The chickweed was about 4 cups before I chopped it.  All chopped up it was about 2 cups.  Here is what it looks like:

And I use this site for identifying plants, you can use it to identify chickweed in your own yard:  Eat the Weeds.  I just noticed on his site he also has a recipe for chickweed bread that is almost like mine, except he makes a smaller loaf.  So use his recipe if you are looking for just one loaf.  Chickweed must be a popular bread addition, who knew!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Herb Garden

So this year a new addition to our mini farm is an herb garden.  My hope is to fill it with medicinal and culinary herbs.  Right now it is just a thought in my head and a tilled up piece of back yard.  I would really like to have a back yard that does not need any mowing.  Right now we don't use the back yard.  There were a couple of shrubs in the middle of the space, planted by the previous owners.  So those were the first to go, one was replanted in a better spot and the other will be mulched and reused in another form ;-)

This area is near the house so it will be easy to weed and take care of.  It is beside my little patio area, I think you can see some of the edge of the patio in the picture.  I have a chair there, and really enjoy just sitting and knitting...having a cuppa chai and looking out over the mountainous backdrop.  So I think the addition of the herb garden will be a pleasing sight.  It is a pretty large circle, about 1/3 of it gets total sun and the other 2/3 gets partial sun.  I want to add some berry bushes to the sides, but that is a project for another day.