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Ah, harvest time!

Our gardening days this season are numbered: according to the data at the KSL weather center, the average first frost of the fall in Riverton (they don't list South Jordan) is September 24, and the latest first frost was October 4th.  So enjoy that produce while it lasts! 

That first one is not necessarily a killing frost.  Even if it is, there are at least two simple ways to protect your plants: cover them with a sheet, blanket, or tablecloth; or turn your sprinklers on the garden overnight.  That will form a layer of ice that protects the plants from dropping below 32 degrees.  The plants won't die at the freezing point.  How do you know if it will freeze at your house?  The rule of thumb I use is: check the temperature outside at 10pm; it will drop about ten degrees more overnight. 

So-  if it's 42-44 degrees at 10pm, plan on protecting any plants you want to keep growing.


Things you can do in the garden right now, besides keeping up with the tomatoes and zucchini (!):

-trim asparagus plants to the ground

-put mulch around your rhubarb (it'll come up a little earlier that way)

 
and don't prune or fertilize bushes or trees right now; doing that now sends the plants a message to grow new branches.  Those new ones will not be tough before winter, leading to extra winter damage.

 
 
Do you not use dry beans as often as you intend to because they take so long to cook?  I used to have a designated "bean day" once a week, but fell off the wagon a while ago.  Here's the answer...

There are ways to speed  up how fast they cook.  If you have a pressure cooker, it can take as little as 30 minutes to cook the beans. 

If you have a grain mill (or even a blender), it can be even faster
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Make bean flour with your mill; it cooks in only 5 minutes of simmering.
 
If you use your blender, put 1-2 cups of beans in the blender jar; run on high speed until powdered.  Pour the powder through a fine-mesh sieve to catch any bigger pieces; those can take a half hour to cook.

Cooked bean flour has the texture of very smooth refried beans.  They can be thinned with water, milk, or evaporated milk to the consistency of white sauce or cream soups.  White beans are recommended for these uses, though, just because you want it to look 'normal'.  Add seasonings to taste, and you can have nearly instant soup!
If you make them regular refried bean consistency, unseasoned beans can even be substituted for at least half the fat in baked foods.  You might be able to substitute them for all the fat, but try half first.  Then work up.  For that, use the recipe for 5-minute Refried Beans, below, but only use water and bean flour, not the  spices or salt.

Store extra bean flour in a tightly covered container, to keep out pests.  Its expected shelf life is 6 months; you can extend that by keeping it dark and cool, or freezing it.  It can last longer on the shelf than 6 months, as well- smell it to see if it has gone rancid.  If it smells and tastes fine, it still should be.


5-minute Refried Beans

2 ½ c. water
½ - ¾ tsp. salt
Pinch garlic powder, opt
¾ c. pinto or black bean flour
¼ tsp. cumin
½ -1 tsp. chili powder

Heat water to boil, whisk in dry ingredients.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 1 minute, until thick.  Reduce to low, cover and cook 4 minutes.  This will thicken as it cools.  Add ½ c. salsa if you want.  My family likes it best with cubed Cheddar or Mozzarella mixed in; I use 1/2- 1 c. cheese in about 1/4" cubes.
 

“Instant” Refried Bean Mix

1 ½ c. pinto or black bean flour
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. cumin
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried onion

Mix and store airtight.

Whisk ¾ c. of this mixture into 2 ½ c. boiling water.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 1 minute, until thick.  Reduce to low, cover and cook 4 minutes.  This will thicken as it cools.  Add ½ c. salsa if you like.


3-Minute “Cream of Chicken Soup”

3 c. boiling water
1/2 c. fine white bean flour
1 T. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 c. diced chicken, optional
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning or sage, optional


Whisk together water, flour, & bouillon over medium heat, stir and cook 3 minutes.  Blend 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken.


Find more recipes like this at http://realfoodliving.com/book-reviews/country-beans-by-rita-bingham  


 
 
When looking for the "Cookie and a Kiss" poem I posted last week, I ran across some excellent, related, prose.  Considering that this week is  our ward's annual "Primary Program" and I'm in charge of it, and that I'm trying to get my cookbook file sent to the publisher, here's an easy post: a list of the 'recipes' I loved:
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Recipe For Preserving Children


1 large grassy field
1/2 dozen children
2 or 3 puppies
1 brook, and some pebbles

Into the field pour the children and puppies allowing to mix well. Pour brook over the pebbles until slightly frothy, into which all are dipped at regular intervals.
When children are nicely browned, soak in a warm bath. When dry, serve with milk and fresh baked gingerbread. 
-Author unknown
__________________________
Best Cake

1 heaping portion of true love
1 heaping cup of perfect trust and confidence
1 heaping cup of tenderness (the most tender available)
1 heaping cup of good humour (a little extra won't hurt)
1 tablespoon of good spirits (the more spirited the better)

Blend with:
1 heaping cup of unselfishness
a dash of interest in all He does

Add:
1 good helping of work - to avoid this would spoil the flavour.

Mix all ingredients with a pint of sympathy and understanding combined. Flavour with loving companionship. Bake well all of your life. Frost with kisses, fond hopes and tender words.

This cake keeps well and should be served often.

_________________________
Recipe for Happiness:

Take a cup of kindness
Add a dash of charity
Mix with understanding
And a bit of courtesy
Top it off with patience
Sprinkle liberally with cheer
Serve generously to everyone
You meet throughout the year
-Author Unknown
__________________________

A housewife, no matter how big the family is can always find some time to be alone....by doing the dishes.
__________________________
Images of a Mother

4 years of age:
My mommy can do everything!
8 years of age:
My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!
12 years of age:
My Mother doesn't really know everything.
14 years of age:
Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either.
16 years of age:
Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 years of age:
That old woman? She's way out of date!
25 years of age:
Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 years of age:
~ Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 years of age:
~ Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 years of age:
~ Wish I could talk it over with Mom...

~Author Unknown~









 
 
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My husband remembered pieces of this poem from when he was little; we looked online and found this gem:

 
A Cookie and a Kiss

A house should have a cookie jar
for when it half past three
And children hurry home from school
as hungry as can be.

There’s nothing quite so splendid
In filling children up
as spicy, fluffy ginger cakes
and sweet milk in a cup.

A house should have a mother
waiting with a hug,
No matter what a boy brings home
a puppy or a bug.

For children only loiter
When the bell rings to dismiss,
If no one’s home to greet them
With a cookie and a kiss.

-Author Unknown
_________________________________


So here are some super-simple cookies:  (pictured above; the recipe is also in my cookbook)

Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. peanut butter
3/4 to 1 c. sugar (I like this better with 3/4 c.)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or spray a cookie sheet.  Mix peanut butter, sugar, and egg together in a bowl. Drop by heaping spoonful onto the cookie sheet, keeping them two inches apart.  Flatten with a fork if you like the crosshatch design that makes.  (If you use the lesser amount of sugar, the cookies don't flatten as well on their own; I recommend the fork!)  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms of cookies are browned. 

1/2 tsp. vanilla is nice to add.

Make Chocolate-Peanut Butter cookies by mixing 1 melted square of unsweetened chocolate (or1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 Tbsp. softened butter) into the dough.  Use the full cup of sugar.   Or stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips for a different form of chocolate.

Peanut Butter and Honey cookies: use 1/2 cup honey instead of the sugar.  The cookies will bake up puffier and more cakelike.

Peanut Butter Banana: Mash half a banana with 3/4 c. sugar.  Beat in egg, then peanut butter.  They'll require a couple extra minutes to cook.  These are more cakelike, too, like the honey version.
 
 
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Do you have summer squash and tomatoes coming out your ears?  This is a delicious way to use quite a bit of that summertime produce- zucchini and yellow squash baked with caramelized onions and sweet roasted tomatoes.  You can use 2 lbs of any summer squash, but the green and yellow here are pretty together.

Normally a dish like this would be soupy, since these high-water-content vegetables lose moisture as they cook.  These are salted while raw; the salt draws out water.  This makes a big difference.

Two 6-8" long zucchini equal about one pound.

Vegetable Gratin
1 lb. zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb.  yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4" thick
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (3-4 large ones), sliced 1/4" thick
2 medium onions, halved then sliced thin pole to pole
3/4 tsp. black pepper
5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp. dried)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

Toss zucchini with 1 tsp. of the salt; put them in a colander over a bowl.  Let stand 45 minutes or until at least 3 Tbsp. liquid drains off.   Put the tomato slices on paper towels or a dish towel, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt; let stand for 30 minutes.  Put another towel or paper towels on top of the tomatoes to press them dry.  Pat squash dry with a dish towel or paper towel. While the vegetables are all draining, brush a 9x13 pan with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, set aside.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook, stirring once in a while, until onions are caramelized: soft and dark golden, 20-25 minutes.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and thyme.  When the zucchini is drained and patted dry, toss the squash with half of the oil mixture.  Spread the squash along the bottom of the 9x13 pan.  Arrange onions on top, then put tomatoes on in a single layer, overlapping if needed.  Drizzle the rest of the garlic oil on top.  Bake about 40-45 minutes, until tomatoes start to brown on the edges.  Increase oven to 450 degrees.  Make the topping, below, and bake 10 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.  Sprinkle with basil and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Topping:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 slice white bread, shredded or crumbled (food processor or blender works well)
2 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (1 cup)
2 shallots, minced (1/4 c.- or use a mild onion)
 
Stir together.

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Cherry Tomato Salad

4 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-3 Tbsp. balsamic or other vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. chopped or torn fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 c. shredded Asiago or Parmesan (or use a cubed mild cheese, up to 8 oz)
2 slices good-quality bread, cubed (optional to use, and best if stale)
1/2 c. halved olives

Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and put them in a colander or on some paper towels.  Let sit 30 minutes to drain juices.  Pour them off (great added to salad dressing, soup, or cornbread batter).  Toss all ingredients together, add salt and pepper to taste. 
To meld flavors and soften the bread, it's best if it sits a couple hours in the fridge; or serve immediately.

 
 
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Yesterday as I dug carrots and enjoyed the slightly spicy aroma of the roots and greens, I started wondering if carrot tops are edible.  They smell so nice… not that scent is an indication of edibility.  Still, carrots are in the same family as parsley, dill, and fennel, and we eat those leaves.  On the other hand, a couple of other plants in the Apiaceae family are poisonous; Poison Hemlockand Water Hemlock are two that come to mind, though the whole plant is deadly with both, not just the leaves or root.  So what’s the case with carrot tops?

According to what I found from several sources online, the tops are edible.  I guess we don’t eat them much because we store carrots without their leaves, which are much more perishable.  As with almost any other food, keep in mind that you may personally be allergic to them; this may show up as photodermatitis (skin becomes red or irritated when exposed to light).  If you grow them yourself, you probably don’t have any pesticides to worry about eating; wash store-bought tops thoroughly.

One carrot farmer says he thinks the flavor and bitterness of the tops nicely balance the sweetness of the roots.

They’re said to be high in Vitamin K, as well as chlorophyll (obviously, since they’re green)

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin (you need to eat fat at the same meal- or with it- to access the vitamin) and is important in blood coagulation (forming scabs and avoiding hemorrhaging, including heavy menstrual bleeding) and bone growth and maintenance, as well as other helpful actions.

Chlorophyll appears to fight the growth of tumors, as well being as a good cleanser for lymph nodes, adrenal glands, and for purifying blood.

One article I found says a tea made of carrot tops is good for getting rid of intestinal worms or parasites, and juiced tops are antiseptic, good for mouthwash.  Mashed tops, or the carrots themselves, can be mixed with honey and applied to festering wounds.

To eat carrot tops, try them:
- as a substitute for parsley in any recipe
-added to a green salad
-chopped and cooked with other vegetables or rice dishes
-added to a ‘green drink’ or smoothie- though go easy on this
-as the base for a pesto (add some honey to balance the bitterness), or sautéed with bacon and garlic

Extra tidbits about carrots (the roots):

-The Dutch grew carrots specifically to feed to their dairy cows.  The country became famous for having the richest yellow butter as a result.
-Carrots have only been well-known in the USA since about the time of WWI.
-Carrots have the second-highest natural sugars of any vegetable, at 7% sugar.  Beets score #1.
-Carrots were included in puddings and cakes in the 1600-1800’s to sweeten them.
-Carrot tops were a fashionable hat decoration in the 1600’s, used as feathers were.  I love carrot greens and carrot flowers in arrangements in a vase, too.
-Many of the carrot’s minerals and nutrients are found in or just under the skin.  In other words, they’re more nutritious if you don’t peel them.

And that bit you’ve heard about the Vitamin A in carrots improving your eyesight?  My husband munches on carrots at work every day.  Last time he went to the optometrist, he discovered his eyesight had gone from 20/30 to 20/20.   Like everything else, though, don’t overdo it. Too much of anything can cause problems.

 
So, eat those carrots.  The tops, too!

For more information, see carrotmuseum.com,
http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/carrotops.html
wikipedia,
http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch412.html 

To read more about alkaloids and toxins in 'normal' foods:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkaloid
Natural Food Toxins
Natural Toxins in Raw Food and How Cooking Affects Them




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Just printed this week, a cookbook that may become your go-to source for  your cooking:

The Chameleon Cook:
Cooking Well With What You Have

140 pages of adaptable core recipes, frugal cooking information, rules-of-thumb, and guidelines for cooking everyday food with what you have on hand, including how to adapt to cooking without eggs, dairy, sugar (honey instead), or wheat.  It also includes an index.

  At 5½“x 8½“ it's intended to be easy to fit in any size kitchen.  Any level of cook will find it useful, from beginners to old-hat.  I recommend it especially for college students, missionaries, newlyweds, or anyone wanting to expand their understanding of how to make a recipe work. 

  It has a laminated cover for durability, full-color cardstock chapter dividers with photos, and your choice of plastic coil binding or plastic comb binding.
 
Cost is $14 if purchased through me, $14.95 if bought retail.  Copies may be purchased at John and Jennie's Bosch Kitchen Center, Not Just Copies, and the Sandy Bosch Store.  You can order by calling (801) 541-6999, leaving a comment on this page, or emailing me at singyourwayhome@comcast.net



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Chapters include:
-Introduction and Tips
-Appetizers (Snacks!) and Beverages,
-Soups and Salads
-Vegetables and Side Dishes
-Main Dishes
-Breads
-Desserts
-Cookies and Candy
-This & That

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Categories in Main Dishes include
-Beans (including cooking them from scratch, and how much is in a can)
-Eggs
-super-adaptable Red Sauce and White Sauce
(make your own Cream of Mushroom Soup and more)
-Meat, including how to make a cheap cut tender

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Sections in This & That:
-Cooking Grains

-Miscellaneous
-Dairy Foods
-Dehydrated Foods (both making and using them in your regular recipes)
-Home Remedies
-Homemade Cleaners
-Seasonings, Jam, and Syrups


Some recipes in the sections include:
-Croutons
-Edible Playdough
-Fruit and Nut Energy Bars
-Granola, Granola Bars
-Homemade "Honey Bunches and Oats"
-Brown Bag Popcorn
-Cream Cheese Spreads
-Making simple fresh cheese and cottage cheese
-Snow Ice Cream
-Sweetened Condensed Milk
(two versions- one using powdered milk, one using evaporated milk, cream, or half-and-half)
-Culturing Yogurt
-Apple Cider Syrup
(Lower Sugar Syrup)
-Five-Minute Marmalade and a dozen ways to use it
-Honey Mustard
-Honeybutter
-Quick Strawberry Jam
-Seasoned Flour
-Seasoned Salt
-Simple Syrup
and variations
-Home Remedies- Coughs, Insect Stings, Lowering Fever, Natural Deodorant
-Homemade Cleaners- Floor Cleaner, Furniture Polish, Laundry Soap, Liquid Soap, Carpet Spot Cleaner, Stain Remover, using vinegar, Window Cleaner.

If you need one (or more) shipped, I charge only the actual shipping cost plus the price of a padded envelope.

Call or e-mail today!

-Rhonda