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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Bean Soup

I am trying hard to remember how I made this soup because it was such a hit.  I had friends over last week and needed something quick that would feed lots (which to me means soup...LOL)  and is gluten free and dairy free.  So I made a black bean soup that everyone enjoyed and both of my boys loved, which is unusual.

2 quarts veg broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3-14 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1-16 oz jar salsa
1 1/2 tsp cumin
S&P to taste

chopped cilantro
sour cream
cheddar cheese

I added the chopped onion and bell pepper to my sauce pot with just 1/4 cup of veg broth and let that simmer for a few minutes.  Then I added everything else to the soup, brought it up to a boil for a minute or two then backed it down to low to keep it warm.  You could add a jalapeno if you like it spicier.  Also can add any level hotness of salsa you like.  I kept it mild as one of my sons, and I, do not like it spicy.  I put the side items out for people to choose, so that the soup could be tailored to the individual, as I did this for a group.  But can I say it was so delicious with chopped avocado!!!  So don't leave that out, but add it to the bowl at the last minute so it stays nice and green.

This could also be done in a slow cooker, and you could add ground beef or chicken if you like, I would add the soup contents and meat and slow cook it on low for 8 hours (4 or 5 if you don't use meat).  If you put in boneless, skinless chicken breast you would just need to take it out and cut or shred it, then add it back to the slow cooker to serve.

Very easy, very delicious and serves a lot!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Juicing has never been my thing. I have always thought to myself that I would rather eat the fruit and veggies than juice.  Well my mind has been changed, LOL.  (yes it happens).  I had been eating gluten and dairy here and there.  Not a lot as it really plays havoc with my body.  But little bits here and there doesn't upset my stomach, so I live with the other symptoms.  I decided one day to try a juice cleanse.  I thought it would be good for my body to kind of start over.  To purge of the gluten and dairy and cleanse my system.  Jackson decided to do this with me so we both embarked on a 5 day adventure.

The juice in the photo is the Bright Pink-A-Licious juice found on the juicing blog.

We followed this cleanse, 5 day reboot.   It was one we found online while searching, and you can see the 5 day plan, it has a shopping list included as well as different recipes.  Since we were so new to this we thought it might be best to follow a plan rather than make something up.  We bought an nice juicer and were on our way.  One thing we did differently was to not juice greens, so kale and spinach go into the blender with the other juice.  Greens just don't give much juice at all and it seemed like we were wasting so much green goodness.  Otherwise we followed the plan.  Well at least I did.  By day two Jackson was having a headache so he added back in his green tea, and he also had eggs one day for breakfast.  I didn't seem to have any negative effects.

When our 5 days were over we really started taking notice of what we were eating, didn't want to ruin a great cleanse by jumping back into dairy and gluten.  After a couple of days I noticed that my mood changed.  I really felt like I was much "happier" when we were juicing.  Little things didn't bother me as much.  I feel pretty happy to begin with, but the juicing just added more positive energy to my day.  So now I am continuing to juice.  I also juice for my boys.  They love fresh apple and orange juice, so I juice that, for them, now.  So much better than the over processed juice from the store.  So in the morning I make orange juice for Phillip and apple juice for Dallen.  I then make a veggie/fruit juice for me for breakfast, and one to put in the refrigerator for my lunch.

Juicing has become a welcome addition to my daily routine.  I am feeling great!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Herbal Wishlist

Herbal wishlist for this year.  I am slowly growing my herb garden (well not all herbs are in my garden).  There are quite a few already thriving on our property, but there are some that I do need to plant, that should thrive once started.  I would like a  patch of Lavender.

Another plant that I would like more of is Yarrow.  I do have a couple of yarrow plants in the pasture, but not much at all, and I hate to harvest any at this point.  I also don't want to try transplanting it, as I don't want to disturb and "kill" it.  Would rather let the couple of plants already in existence have a fighting chance and plant some more to go with it.  

Nettle, yes nettle.  I have searched and searched and don't see any nettle on our property.  Not that I will give up searching, but in the mean time I would like to start a patch by the barn, nice fertile ground there.  

Motherwort, an herb for the heart.  Just a wonderful one to have on hand.  

And lastly a Linden tree.  I think my bees would love it and I would love to be able to harvest my own linden.  

Now that I have put my wishes out into the Universe I will be listening to me heart and moving forward, every growing!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Beauty of North Carolina

We have been living here in the foothills of North Carolina for 15 years now and I am beginning to appreciate the beauty here.  I mean I have always thought of this area of NC as beautiful but to really appreciate the beauty and not long for the scent of Lilacs wafting in my window is a challenge.

This year my son, Dallen, and I have been noticing all the flowers we have been missing.  And just the other day, as we were on our daily walk along the river, I actually said "oh wow you can smell that sweet smell of honeysuckle so strong along here."

Another flower we noticed this year was the Trillium reliquum.  Of course at the time we saw the flower, earlier in the spring, I had no idea what it was.  I asked a friend what that beautiful deep red, almost purple, flower was and he told me it was Trillium, and Trillium reliquum more specifically.  He proceeded to tell me that Trillium is not all that common any more, and that Trillium reliquum was even more rare to find.  So much habitat disruption.  There were certainly plenty along the edges of the Greenway, beside the river, in Morganton.  We did look it up on Wikipedia to find out more.  Here are a couple of the pictures we took at the time.  Just amazing.  Almost like finding a lady slipper in the woods back in Maine.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tomato Pie

Last year a friend posted that she had made a wonderful tomato pie.  OK that did not compute, I had never heard of a tomato pie and initially the thought just made my stomach turn, aren't pies supposed to be sweet.  The more I thought about it the more it sounded like something I needed to try. I decided to use a traditional pie crust but sometime I am going to try using a gluten free pizza crust mix and patting that into a pie plate and precooking it. I think that would work wonderfully. But since I do know how to make a good pie crust I decided to go with the tried and true.  I did altar the recipe to make it free of cow dairy.  Cow dairy and I just don't agree.  So this is my tomato pie.  Followed by the recipe.

~one 9 inch pie crust, pre cooked
~2 large ripe tomatoes
~1 large onion chopped
~3 cloves of garlic crushed
~3/4 cups mayo
~1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
~1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
~handful of fresh basil, chopped
~1 TBSP fresh chopped oregano
~Thinly sliced manchego cheese
~Olive Oil

Slice tomatoes about 1-1/2 inches thick, place on a cutting board over the sink and salt them just a little, let sit while you prepare everything else, this helps to get some of the moisture out of the tomatoes. 

In a skillet add just a couple TBSP olive oil, the onion, garlic, basil, and oregano.  Cook on med heat until the onion is soft and cooked, slight browned.  

In a bowl combine the mayo, goat cheese and pecorino romano cheese, and mix well. 

To assemble, take your cooked pie crust, line the bottom with the sliced manchego cheese.  Now spread the cooked onion mixture on top of the manchego cheese.  Third layer is the tomatoes, squeeze in as many as you can in one layer.  Top layer is the mayo mixture, spread it around on top.  Sprinkle just a little pepper on top and cook in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.  It will be just starting to brown on top.  Let it sit for 15 minutes, then cut and enjoy.  This will make your house smell so delicious and it tastes heavenly!  SO RICH!

To Split OR Not To Split

OK I am trying to decide if I should split my hive.  These bees are so docile, and so productive.  We have had them probably 3 weeks or so.  And they have filled one deep and one medium box.  Jackson and I added another deep between the two this past Sunday, so only a couple of days ago, and at that time I noticed a queen cell in the hive.  I have done some research and talked to my bee mentor, Teri.  I think I am going to split the hive.

Today Dallen and I went out to the hive to inspect it again, make sure there has been no swarming, and so far so good.  We took the hive down and looked into two of the boxes, and I have spotted two queen cells, and I know there is one more in there.  Here are pics of the two queen cells, the pics aren't the greatest, but my helper, Dallen, was a little freaked out.  This was his first time near the hive.

This one is really in the center of the picture, toward the right of the hive frame but not on the edge.

This one the queen cell is bottom right of the hive frame.  

I have put together another hive, finished that this morning, so I am all ready to go.  I have read a couple of sites (or 10) on splitting hives with a queen cell.  Need to do a bit more research (as this is my first time splitting a hive) about splitting with more than one queen cell.  And I think this afternoon, when Jackson is home to help, I will split my hive.  Here are a couple more pics.  No queen cells but just cool pics that Dallen took.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

More Bees

We are gearing up to accept a new nuc this spring, getting boxes and frames ready.  I am so excited, and love this time of year for many reasons.  Seems like winter has been too long this year, although we didn't see really any snow, the warm sunshine has been a long time coming and I am so enjoying it now that it is here.

This morning I have been watching a couple of youtube videos on bees.  This first one has an amazing meditation incorporating the sound of the bee.  You might enjoy this, a short little video:

Sacred Tools of the Bee Priestess, Layne Redmond

And this one is a 2 hour video, also great.  More in depth video on beekeeping, from a female, natural, connected beekeeping perspective.  Love it!

Sacred Path of the Bee with Layne Redmond and Debra Roberts


Monday, January 28, 2013

Lasagna Soup

I did not name this or come up with the original recipe, but I did adapt this to our cooking and eating style.  And yes it does taste like lasagna in a soup.

Click here for the original recipe.

We don't use canned soups generally, and when I am cooking for the whole family to eat, I don't use meat, or meat broths etc.  So here is my recipe:

(OK so yes this is the little bit that was left over, I forgot to take a picture until supper was over)


1 package crumbles (I use Quorn, not Gluten Free)
1 quart home canned tomato sauce
1 pint home canned tomato soup (if you use store bought you will probably need more liquid)
1 pint vegetable broth
1 onion chopped and cooked for a few minutes in a small skillet in about 1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper 

Add the above ingredients to a slow cooker, cook on high for about an hour.  If you start in the morning you would not have to precook the onion, and can cook on lo for 5-6 hours and be fine. 
Add about 2 cups uncooked pasta, I used spiral pasta but anything will work, continue to cook on high for another 20 minutes, until pasta is done.  Add 1 cup Ricotta cheese and stir in well, cook an addition 5 minutes.  And you are ready to serve, just sprinkle a little mozzarella on top if you like.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

I kind of made up this recipe with some left over mashed potatoes I had in the fridge.  I loved shepherd's pie as a child, but this is a bit different.  Everyone here enjoys this recipe, I probably make it at least twice a month.  Trying to get all our favorite recipes on this blog to make menu planning easier.

1 package crumbles (I use the Quorn brand , it is not gluten free)
1 carrot diced
1 celery spear diced
1 onion diced
2 cups broccoli chopped
2 potatoes diced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning 
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp tamari
2 tsp vegan, gluten free, worcestershire sauce
Mashed potatoes (I cube about 5 potatoes and boil until knife tender, then mash with a little S&P, and about 1/2 cup vegetable broth, and sometimes a TBSP Earth Balance.  

In a large saute pan, add 1 cup vegetable broth, onion, carrot and celery.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to med, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli, potatoes, poultry seasoning, and garlic, check vegetable broth to make sure the pan is not dry, add more broth if needed, cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes.  Potatoes should be knife tender and broccoli should be done but not mushy.  Add crumbles, add all except 1/2 cup vegetable broth to the pan, cover for a few minutes until the crumbles are hot.  To the last 1/2 cup of vegetable broth add the corn starch and stir.  To the pan add the S&P, tamari, and worcestershire sauce.  Last add the corn starch and stir, it will thicken quickly.  Take the mixture and add it to a casserole dish, top with the mashed potatoes.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quinoa Salad

This is a quick go to dish for me, for potlucks or anytime I need a dish to bring and have no time to cook.  Jackson, Dallen and I love this dish.  Phil isn't a fan of quinoa so this is not one of his favorite dishes.

1 carrot julienned
1 celery spear julienned
1 cucumber julienned
1 onion chopped
1 cup uncooked quinoa (cook by adding to 1 1/4 cup boiling water, decrease heat to lo, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Or if you get quinoa in a package, there should be directions on the package)
Add the cooked and cooled quinoa plus all the veggies to a serving bowl.  Add just 2 Tbsp of your favorite Italian Dressing and mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste, or more dressing if you like.  This taste very fresh and delicious.