Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: November 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

Gratitude Sunday * November 25, 2012

~ I’m once again joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition. ~

Gratitude Sunday is a time to slow down and remember those thankful moments that graced our week. One reason I love keeping a daily gratitude journal is because it helps keep things in perspective for me. Each Sunday, I open my journal and share some of those moments with you here. If you’d like to join in, just leave a comment!

Gratitude is powerful energy. I love hearing others’ gratitudes!


– Having new brakes put on my bike. Brakes are so nice to have, and now that I’m not rationing squeezes of the brake handles (I’m embarrassed to say), riding my bike feels downright luxurious. I’m also thankful that my energy level is slowly increasing so that I actually have the wherewithal to address life’s little details such as this!

– Lying outside in the sun on these warm and sunny days. And it’s so incredibly quiet out there since the season for power tools has largely passed. It’s really blissful out there, out in our yard (we have a yard wohoooooo!!!), out in the sun. How healing.

– The pumpkin pie! Remember how my post from Thanskgiving mentioned that I thought the pie had flopped? Never judge a pie by its cover evidently, because it was AWESOME! My dad left a comment on that post, and I think he expresses very well our collective impression of The Pie: “And now, the REST of the story…the pumpkin pie did NOT turn out to be a flop. It was firm, just like it should be, VERY tasty and not too sweet–but just right! The crust was not soft and almost mushy like other pumpkin pie crusts I’ve had, but almost crunchy (it was a very self-confident crust) and I liked it. It held together extremely well. I thought it was a hit!! an aside–beans were good, as usual, and cranbery sauce was excellent, with pieces of apple included to add more and different texture and flavor. Muy bien hecho…”

The funny thing is, that pie and its crust will go down as the best all of us have ever had! In fact I have never seen my Hubby go for pie (or really any dessert) like he did for that one. What a compliment! We all loved that pie… and what a great surprise that it was actually good.

– A wonderful Thanksgiving with the people I love. And then watching our annual movie, A Christmas Story, is always icing on the cake!

– Being able to walk a lot more. One year ago, it was such a different story. I was feeling so unbelievably sick, and one memory I will never forget is being hardly able to even walk across the street (a couple hundred feet) to the park with my mom and dad; I waited on the nearest bench, hardly able to sit and wanting to just lie down, while my parents walked around the park. And then walking back home again, another couple hundred feet, was an effort my body could hardly handle. I was so sick I felt like I was going to collapse and feared they’d have to carry me home — a sensation I had many, many times during that period. It was really scary. And from that vantage point, I couldn’t imagine myself ever walking much of anywhere again, which saddened me because previous to falling ill, I loved walking so much and walked everywhere. But now…NOW!!!! I am walking more and more and more! I am returning to my old self! I am now reliably able to walk to the grocery store and back — two miles!!!!! Yesterday I walked probably two or three miles, and today another two!!! I can’t even express how happy this makes me…

– Castelvetrano olives (Jeff’s Natural’s brand) — what a discovery (thanks Mom!) — they are incredibly delicious.

– The most loving, honest, heartfelt, sweet words spoken to me by my love, F. I love you so much honey…

– Working on drawing a mandala while listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio last night. Soul food!!!!


And how about you? In this week of Thanksgiving, what things are you grateful for?


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

We’re nearly ready to head to my parents’ place for dinner…with the pumpkin pie, green beans, and cranberry sauce. The pie sorta flopped… I used the organic healthfood store brand of canned pumpkin which seemed way too watery — and indeed, it was. The pie filling took forever to set, and the crust got overdone while that was happening. Now I know to always use Libby’s pumpkin! I also used electric beaters to mix the filling and I think I overmixed it and turned the thing into a bit of a souffle. I think it’ll still be good though, even if we’re just scraping pumpkin-pudding-souffle out of an overdone crust! (Who needs those crust calories, anyway.)

The beans turned out nicely — just cooked those in salted water and added a bit of butter and Penzey’s RuthAnn’s Muskego Ave Seasoning. They’re yummy.

The cranberry sauce I think will be very nice too; I started with a can of organic whole cranberry sauce, then added my own fresh cranberries and freshly squeezed orange juice, and then simmered it along with a cinnamon stick, strips of fresh orange zest (use a carrot peeler to peel off strips), and fresh ginger slices.

On the phone a minute ago, my mom and I were marvelling at how it’s the exact same food every year, but each year it seems like a totally new meal — like we’re reinventing the wheel and things we’ve made year in and year out turn out differently, somehow!

Anyway, have a happy time with friends and family!


Classic Pumpkin Pie


With an eye toward Thanksgiving this week, here’s my own recipe for classic pumpkin pie, along with my own crust recipe.

Neither recipe is the most decadent you’ll find out there because heavy, fatty things don’t agree with me. So if you’re wanting to make a pumpkin pie that’s on the lighter side, try this one. I make it every Thanksgiving. The crust is not really rich and flaky, and probably won’t wow any chefs out there, but it is humble and it does the job. I like it.


Lindsey’s Classic Pumpkin Pie

Rounded 2/3 cup of rapadura (or white or brown sugar)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp, heaping, of cinnamon

1/2 tsp, heaping, of powdered ginger

1 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup half-n-half (light cream)

1 15-oz can Libby’s pumpkin (or 2 cups cooked pumpkin or winter squash, pureed, and cooked down if too watery — the healthfood store brands of canned pumpkin are way too watery. I learned my lesson to use Libby’s!)

1 9-inch pie shell (recipe below)


Preheat oven to 425°.

Mix sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in pumpkin, sugar-spice mix, and the milk and half-n-half. Mix until thoroughly combined, but don’t get overzealous (like, don’t do what I did once and overbeat with egg beaters — it beats too much air in, and makes a souffle-type thing!)

Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 350° and bake 40-50 more minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.


Lindsey’s Not-Too-Rich 9″ Pie Crust

2 cups flour (whole wheat, or white, or a combo)

1 Tbsp sugar

Scant 1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces (salted or unsalted, either is fine)

Ice water (you’ll use about 3/4 cup)


In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in cold butter.

I like to use my fingers to rub in the butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Mix the ice water in, 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition, until a dough is formed. (3/4 cup is about 12 Tbsp.) Try not to overwork the dough. Small bits of butter will be visible — this is what you want.

When a good, workable dough is formed — not too dry, not too sticky — wrap in cellophane and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to roll out, lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.

Roll into a circle. Transferring to your pie plate is made easier by folding the dough in half and draping it over your rolling pin.

Trim off any excess dough, but leave enough extra around the edge to fold under and crimp with three fingers, as in the photo below.

If you do have a little extra dough, you could use a cookie cutter to cut out a little something-or-other (a maple leaf, for example) that you can bake and then place on top of your finished pie as decoration.


Gratitude Sunday * November 18, 2012

~ I’m once again joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition. ~

Gratitude Sunday is a time to slow down and remember those thankful moments that graced our week. One reason I love keeping a daily gratitude journal is because it helps keep things in perspective for me. Each Sunday, I open my journal and share some of those moments with you here. If you’d like to join in, just leave a comment!

Gratitude is powerful energy. I love hearing others’ gratitudes!


– The smell of fallen maple leaves.

– Receiving reiki, sent from a distance by a friend. What a wonderful gift. I loved lying in the sun outside during my session, smelling the moist earth and autumn leaves with every inhale.

– Laughing as my cat watched a video of herself that I had taken a couple weeks ago. She was so intrigued!

– Enjoying delicious, healthgiving food. I’ve been really nauseous during this detox period and my diet was not what I wanted it to be. Now that I’m slowly feeling more myself, I am so thankful for being able to eat more of the fruits and vegetables that I love so much.

– Mild weather to enjoy the sunshine outside!

– A snowy, grey day last week; I love those days.

– The sweet “help” I receive from my cat. She loves to help me with whatever I’m working on.

– Doing internet crossword puzzles together with F! We liked because they’re just the right level of difficulty to keep it fun. And part of the fun is shocking one another with really obscure correct answers. Things like WOW honey and How the hell did you know that? are repeatedly heard.

– The incredible vegetable soups that F has been making lately. One of them was particularly magical — we reckon it was because of all the garden produce in it. Thanks, garden!!

– A wonderful visit with my mom and dad yesterday. And my mom’s thoughtfulness at always having hot water ready for me when she knows I’m coming over. That always touches me.

– The way my mom always hears me, without judgment. If you can listen, and truly hear someone, with acknowledgement and without judgment, that is one of the biggest gifts you can give to them.

– Vegging out in front of my favorite cooking shows on PBS. Boy, when I’m really tired and don’t feel like doing anything at all, it is just what the doctor ordered!

– Honoring where my body’s at, and resting. Sometimes I get extremely impatient and ignore my body and totally overdo it. When I actually check in and see where my true energy level is at, and then honor that, everything turns out better!

– The early setting of the sun.


How about you? Got any good gratitudes?!



Autumny things, Leaf acquisition, and Taking it slow

Autumn evening: Mugs of tea, a sleeping cat, reading the neighborhood newsletter, soaking feet in hot water, PBS on the TV....

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. (Is Prairie Home Companion even still on? Gosh I haven’t tuned in in years… I loved that program…) Anyway, that’s been our Autumn — quiet, restful, and in keeping with the shift in season to colder weather and a reduced number of daylight hours (which I welcome!). F is still on leave from his job, resting and rehabbing his broken arm. It’s so nice to have him home here. We’re both just resting, which was so needed. I’m continuing to get weekly acupuncture treatments that are really helping to flush out my body and liver from 10 months of strong, toxic antibiotics — and probably also the megaload of endotoxins created by the Brucella bacteria itself… and probably also the antivirals I was on when this illness was still in its misdiagnosed-as-something-else phase… and probably also the narcotics from two really painful surgeries before that. Yikes. It’s an unpleasant process and I get impatient, but overall I’ve been hanging low and trying to let my body do its thing.

But let’s move on. The day before Halloween I got crazy (well, in a Bob Ross “Let’s get crazy” sort of way) and decided to make decorations for our house even though we weren’t going to hand out candy. I raided the rag box and made ghosts, and then drew a bat pattern and made a couple bats out of cardboard which I painted black. Then I wired some branches together to display my seasonal flags. I’m really happy with how the little flag pole came out! It was therapeutic to lose myself completely in a creative and totally frivolous activity.

While I was decorating, the neighbors across the street were raking leaves from their two maple trees. I watched with interest, because this past summer I ran out of autumn leaves for mulching my gardens and I really missed having them. I was determined to collect as many leaves as possible this autumn. I’ve never met these neighbors before, and normally in these situations my shyness overtakes me. But determined to break from my comfort zone, I walked across the street, introduced myself, and asked if they were going to throw their bags of leaves away (yes) and if I could have them (yes). And so by simply gathering my courage and asking, I ended up with eight bags of gorgeous maple leaves, ready for next year’s garden.


And then this past Saturday, I was whipped into action by snowflakes falling much sooner in the day than I expected, so I raked up our own maple leaves, jumping in the piles just as I did when I was a kid, inhaling their earthy sweet scent — one of the few things that hasn’t changed one bit in all these years.

Some of the leaves went into bins for composting later, and the rest went onto my garden beds for the winter.

And then the snow began to fall harder…

Time to go inside for some hot vegetable soup.

And then some hot chocolate. I’ve found a good way to do hot chocolate — something I actually rarely drink. I bought a quart of Kalona Supernatural chocolate milk, froze it into ice cube trays, and when I want a small mug of hot chocolate I pop a few cubes into a saucepan with some water (because I like it on the dilute side) and a dash of cinnamon, and warm it up until steaming. Delicious! (And don’t forget to add stale marshmallows to your hot chocolate. My bag of them, which must be at least two years old, somehow made it into the moving box instead of the trash can this summer, but now I’m glad I have them! I always did like ’em better stale…)


Later in the day, heating milk for yogurt making (I’ve learned to babysit milk, because the moment you step away from the stove it will begin to boil, rising up very quickly in the pan and spilling out everywhere)…


And now dusk. I love the blue light of winter’s dusk and the warm, homey glow from the windows.


What autumn activities are you up to?


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