Tag Archives: harvest

DIY all-natural skin care: Orange-coconut body butter

My make-the-best-of-the-sour-orange-harvest extravaganza continues.  Today the recipe is for a body lotion that’s so natural you can eat it.  And that’s a good thing since what you put on your skin goes into your body the same as if you swallowed it.  It requires just two ingredients that you may already have in the kitchen: coconut oil and an orange.  Here’s the story behind it and the instructions for making it yourself.

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Several years ago I vowed to clean up the body products we use in our home (e.g., shampoo, lotion, etc…).  I favor paraben-free, sulfate-free, etc….  But last year I went one step further and started making lotion out of edible oils, namely coconut, shea and olive.  The blend was nice: gentle, soothing, and with a texture ranging between kefir and whipped butter, depending on the room temperature.  It was fine, but not really worth the trouble, as I didn’t really care for the scent (think suntan oil and antipasto mixed) unless I added a ton (and I mean a ton) of essential oils.

This summer, rather than make a new batch of the blend, I just cut to the chase Continue reading DIY all-natural skin care: Orange-coconut body butter

Cranberry-orange bread, or What to make when life gives you sour oranges

I’m back.  Sorry for the hiatus.  There were colds, holidays, travel, life, yada, yada, yada.  Anyway, I’m back, and I have lots of ideas for new posts.  Today’s is about oranges.  And baked deliciousness.

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This time of year my mind turns to citrus.  There’s something magical about the sunshine a Florida orange or Texas grapefruit represents on your breakfast plate when the weather in your neck of the woods is dark and dreary.

Growing up in New England, we relished such treats from faraway lands.  When I was young, my great-grandfather wintered in Florida and every year he’d ship a box of grapefruits to us.  I can still picture where the case sat on the bench in our mudroom, just off the kitchen.  My mother would ration them, reminding us each time she prepared one for us (all those little cuts being a true act of love, wouldn’t you say?), that this was a treat to have them shipped to us.  I can’t explain why that makes them superior to those that had been shipped to the grocery store, but I still (perhaps irrationally) agree.

Alas, this is not a recipe inspired by exotic treats shipped from distant groves by a loved one.  No, it’s an updated version of a family favorite, busted out to use up our sadly sour oranges.

Allow me to share a bit of background.  Continue reading Cranberry-orange bread, or What to make when life gives you sour oranges

Thanksgiving side dish: Beet salad three ways

My mother has always said that the Canadians have it right: Thanksgiving should be in October.  The harvest is so much more bountiful a month earlier than American Thanksgiving.  However, there are some great vegetables that are in season this time of year.  In our area, that includes many varieties of winter squash, carrots, kale, chard, and beets.

While beets haven’t featured often in our Thanksgiving line up of side dishes, there’s no good reason for that.  Except perhaps that we have them with dinner regularly. If you do too, consider preparing them a different way for Thanksgiving (check out the three options below).  If you don’t make beets, give them a try.  My husband swore he hated them until about 3 years ago, when a good preparation won him over.  I’m still working on our son, but he will eventually join us on the bright side, too.

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I love beets for their distinctive taste, nutritional value, and flexible preparation.  Allow me to elaborate. Continue reading Thanksgiving side dish: Beet salad three ways

Rustic pumpkin custard

I’m a simple girl.  I love desserts as much as the next person, probably more, but I prefer to focus my culinary energy on getting the family fed.  If I have time and energy left over after ensuring our three squares are taken care of, I might consider making a dessert, but not often.  When I do go the extra mile, it’s usually in fall or winter, as the siren call of pumpkins and apples beckons me.

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Sure, I love to peruse beautiful recipes as much as the next foodie.  The gorgeous photography, sumptuous description of the flavors…  but they lose me after that.  I rarely have the heart to make a dessert that requires copious amount of rich ingredients.  I think my limit is about a half a stick of butter.

And while I don’t have an objection to a little cream, I don’t routinely buy it, so I rarely have some on hand.  Probably my number one (scrooge-like) rule about making desserts is that I won’t shop expressly for their ingredients.  I’m only willing to consider a recipe if I already have all of the components (or reasonable substitutes) at my fingertips.

And don’t get me started on the directions for fancy recipes.  I read one the other day that was as long as a chapter of my dissertation.  I’m tired from just reading the thing.  No longer interested in making it.  Moving on… Continue reading Rustic pumpkin custard

Lazy weekend breakfast for autumn: Pumpkin pancakes

Are you ready for the onslaught of pumpkin recipes??? Now that zucchini season is winding down my thoughts turn to pumpkins, squash and apples. I haven’t made it out to the orchards for apple picking just yet, so pumpkin it is!

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I found some beautiful heirloom varieties at the farmer’s market, which I’ll use to make a simple dessert (perhaps a custard?) in which the pumpkin really sings. And, my grocery store ran a sale on organic canned pumpkin last week so I stocked up to use in recipes where the taste of pumpkin (and possibly tin) is more muted. Think muffins, bread, and pancakes.

The first in that series is pumpkin pancakes. Continue reading Lazy weekend breakfast for autumn: Pumpkin pancakes

Stone soup. Not really, it’s Minestrone.

I had in my mind that I didn’t like minestrone. I probably got that idea from the numerous cans of it I’ve eaten over the years, with their suspicious cubed carrots and potatoes. All the chunks have the same texture, except the beans, which are mealy. And the taste of tin pervades each bite. Restaurant soup, with few exceptions, isn’t much better. It tastes like nothing more than tomato, holds no surprises, and is still a bit tinny. So I was convinced minestrone itself was deeply flawed.

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Folks, I was wrong. (See, honey, I can admit it.) Continue reading Stone soup. Not really, it’s Minestrone.

$200/month grocery challenge – Part III

This is the third installment of a 5-part series.  Missed the first two parts?  Go here and here

My family and I recently completed a 4-week long experiment in which we aimed to drastically reduce our spending on groceries and continue to eat well, perhaps even better than before.  If you’re curious, here are our weekly meal plans for the month.

Seasonal produce: A dilemma
Did we make it?  Yes and no.  Yesterday I explained the way in which we succeeded.   Today I’ll expand on how and why we didn’t.

Abundance brought on our failure.
Abundance fueled our failure

Continue reading $200/month grocery challenge – Part III

Garden update

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Today I thought I’d give you a brief update on the garden. Above are the beets I transplanted last week. They are among the few things that have taken well to the garden. The various cabbage and cauliflower seedlings I planted have been walloped by the bugs.  Seeing these tattered leaves is very humbling.  It gives me a whole new appreciation for the challenges organic farmers face, and crop losses they must endure.  It’s evident why organic is more expensive!  I certainly don’t begrudge them their prices after seeing my poor results. Continue reading Garden update

Italian-style sweet & sour zucchini

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With the zucchini harvest up to 60 pounds now, I have been scrambling to find new ways to prepare it.  They’ve all been great, and so diverse (zucchini quinoa cakes, zucchini muffins, relish, soup, stir fry).  But sometimes you just want an old favorite.  This recipe is one my mom included in the book she made for me when I went off to college, complete with adorable illustrations. Continue reading Italian-style sweet & sour zucchini

Zucchini muffins with walnuts. And another confessional.

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We are pretty hooked on muffins around here.  We eat them at least twice a week.  When I’m really on top of my game (or drowning in produce) I have three different kinds in the freezer at any one time.  Of course these days, one of those has to be zucchini.  At last check, my single zucchini plant had grown to 13’ by 9’ – completely overtaking the sidewalk.  To get the visual, click through.  Continue reading Zucchini muffins with walnuts. And another confessional.