Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner RollsLately I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with vegan cooking. I know, I know – I need to use up all of the eggs! Still, I have vegan friends to feed, and I can’t just hand over a bowl of lettuce and call it good, OK? They are my friends, I like them, and so the adventure begins….

Anyway, I stumbled onto this recipe the other day (I was looking for something else) and thought it looked kind of interesting. It’s from The New Dieter’s Cookbook of all places, but I’ve found that recipes from Better Homes and Gardens usually work really well. As a bonus, I had all of the ingredients on hand. Plus it was a great opportunity to use up something else I have a lot of: pumpkin purée. [click to continue…]


Chunky Roasted Garlic Hummus

Chunky Roasted Garlic HummusAaahhhhh winter. My hands are rough, my hair is full of static electricity, and my lips are perpetually chapped. And let’s not even get into the whole cabin fever thing. Ugh. Still, there ARE a few things about winter that are worth embracing: down comforters, hot cocoa, big comfy sweaters… And of course, there is the appeal of figuring out how to use up all of the things you grew last summer.

Lately I’ve been focused a lot on dried beans, and I realize now that I’ve been neglecting most of what we grew. Because, as you know, I have become obsessed with Hidatsa Shield Figure beans. So as a result, if you had been looking forward to finding out what I might make with all of the other beans we grew, you’ve (probably) been pretty disappointed. So today, I’ve decided to make it up to you and use some of our chickpeas in my favorite homemade hummus recipe. [click to continue…]


Quick and Easy Corn Relish

Quick and Easy Corn RelishWe are expecting beautiful weather (mid-fifties!!) in Iowa AGAIN today, and I CAN NOT WAIT to go outside. Naturally, I’ll be trying to catch up on all kinds of yard/garden/animal work, but hey, at least I won’t be freezing while I clean the chicken coop. I might even do something recreational, like throw balls around the yard. The dogs won’t retrieve them, of course, but they will chase them. Well, sometimes…

Anyway, I definitely plan on getting the grill fired up for dinner. I mean, reliving all those summer memories of grilling and eating great food is a perfect way to help you forget about winter. Burgers, brats, steaks, veggies…. Mmmmm… And summer side dishes are really important too! Which is why now is a great time to make corn relish. It’s sweet, spicy, loaded with summer flavors, and awesome with tortilla chips. Plus it’s a perfect topping for practically anything that comes off the grill. [click to continue…]


How to Make a Great Salad

How to Make Salads and Dressings This year for Christmas, Curt’s aunt and uncle (yes, that’s you Jule and Ted) gave us this great little collection of seeds from one of our favorite places, the Seed Savers Exchange. One of the seed types included in the collection was a packet of mixed lettuce seeds, which we went ahead and planted in our aquaponics system a few days after our Christmas party.

OK so just to be clear, we planted the seeds a few days after Christmas. And HELLO. The seeds practically exploded! In like 25 days!! So now we have to eat a lot of lettuce. Which is great – because it’s really good lettuce. [click to continue…]


Raspberry Biscuit Rolls with Lemon Glaze

Raspberry Biscuit Rolls with Lemon Glaze So once again, Pinterest is killing me! I pop in occasionally (OK fine, daily) just to see what people are cooking. Fine. But longer than 15 minutes and I am in deep trouble. And by “deep trouble,” I mean craving baked goods. I swear sometimes all I see is cupcakes, and pies, and muffins, and doughnuts! doughnuts! doughnuts! Next thing you know, I’m starving.

So here’s what happened: (1) I saw this recipe where The Pioneer Woman put berries in her cinnamon rolls. But I couldn’t drop everything and make those immediately because they would take too much time to make. So, (2) I took my mom’s recipe for quick cinnamon rolls, yes the very one I’ve been using since high school, and I changed it by adding berries to it. And so, (3) I broke tradition and I don’t regret it. Yep, It was AWESOME. Fine Pinterest, you win again. [click to continue…]


Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Strawberry Balsamic DressingSince I’ve been on a salad kick lately, I decided to share this recipe for my absolute favorite dressing: Strawberry Balsamic Extravaganza! OK, I don’t really call it that. But it would totally work if I did.

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of the taste of strawberries and balsamic vinegar together. It combines so many of the flavors that I love: sweet, tart, salty, savory… But I frequently seem to end up being disappointed with those salads that feature the combination. Mainly because they never have enough of one ingredient or the other. So one day I just decided to just throw caution to the wind and combine the two. And NUM! I can almost forget I’m eating a salad! [click to continue…]


Easy Corn and Bean Salad with Lime Dressing

Easy Corn and Bean Salad with Lime DressingOK, remember those salads I promised to make? Well, I decided that since we’re already halfway through January, probably I have put off going back to healthy eating long enough. So here we go! This bean salad is delish. It’s great for a quick lunch, or as an appetizer, and it’s a hit at potlucks. Is it begging to be eaten with tortilla chips? Sure it is. And a Negra Modelo would be pretty stinkin’ good with it too. Be strong.

Also, tomorrow we’re expecting temperatures in the 40s. So I guess I can’t put off exercising anymore either. Ugh. Never fear, when I don’t have weather to complain about, I can always fall back on complaining about exercise. Maybe I will have that beer after all… [click to continue…]


Quick and Easy Fried Rice

Quick and Easy Fried Rice Well, once again I’m feeling like complaining about the weather. Wind chills yesterday, well…. Let’s just not talk about it. It will just make us feel colder. One thing is true without question though: today I’m not leaving the house unless I have to. And I didn’t yesterday either! Of course, choosing to stay home for a day (OK two days) really places some limits on your dinner menus.

Luckily, I knew this was coming, and have some key ingredients on hand for a few of our favorite dishes. Dishes like fried rice! Ahhh fried rice: fast, easy, cheap, and delicious. It’s the perfect thing to throw together when you have a house full of hungry young adults. Actually, it’s pretty great no matter who’s home for diner. It works well as a side dish for practically anything. It’s great as a main dish topped with tofu, or tempura veggies, or spicy orange beef. And, just like pizza, it’s an awesome next-day breakfast. Serious! [click to continue…]


How to make rice (not sticky)

How to Make RiceRice is not a local ingredient for us.  We don’t grow it at home, and it isn’t grown commercially in Iowa.  And I know, I KNOW, that this is a blog about using things that you can grow yourself and buy locally.  Of course, if you happen to live in California, rice actually can be local, so…  Anyway, I decided to risk mission creep because rice is such a great side dish or addition to practically any meal made from garden vegetables.  And so I think it makes sense to talk about making it.

It also makes sense because making a decent batch of rice has always been a pretty serious challenge for me.  I mean, if you follow the directions printed on the bag of rice, you usually wind up with some super-sticky, mushy, tasteless blob.  Why would they tell you to make it that way?  It’s a mystery!  I understand that sometimes people want sticky rice, but not like that.  Ever. [click to continue…]


How to Make Hard Candy for Bees

How to Make Hard Candy for BeesThis past winter was a particularly difficult one for our bees. They had plenty of food and were well sheltered for winter. Despite this, we lost one hive completely, a second hive lost its queen, and the third hive took several months to recover from nosema. This year, I’ve been keeping a closer watch, and things are looking OK so far. But we have a long ways to go before spring.

It seems to me that the most important way to help your bees survive the winter is to make sure they have plenty of stored honey (though it’s no guarantee). Because our colonies were very slow to build their populations after that awful winter, their honey production was also much slower than in years past. All three of our current hives appeared to have adequate stores last fall, though none of the three produced enough honey for us to harvest (fortunately, honey doesn’t go bad, and we still have a few bottles left over from the year before). [click to continue…]