Picking Flowers for Violet Syrup and a Tick Rant

A sea of violets…  I was so thrilled to realize my whole back yard is edible!  I’ll be playing with a dandelion recipe soon.  This didn’t keep me from being careful.  We have guinea hens on order, and are working on fencing in the back yard.  In the meantime, it’s leggings and boots for me.  I’m SICK of ticks!

Oranges & Lemons, Say the Bells of St. Clemens, and Tenderfoot Mom!

Winter’s over.  Stop hibernating. Wake up with citrus!! (It may be a bit before your time, but there was an old nursery rhyme, “Oranges and Lemons, Say the Bells of St. Clemens,” that is totally stuck in my head.  I put a link to a kids’ animation of the song below.)

oranges and lemons
One of my little artworks 🙂 … A Vicki Noble original on an old book page.

Winding down to the end of these winter doldrums, one might feel depressed, light-deprived,  and generally used up.  My remedy for this “down” feeling is using uplifting scents like the bright citrus notes of orange and lemon.  I put sweet orange and lemon oils in my homemade cleaners, and they help make the job less tedious.

I also love to make citrus-flavored desserts, combining sweetness with the pop of acidity definitely perks me up.  Recently, I have been following a blog that proves itself valuable whenever I peek over at Tenderfoot Mom‘s corner of the internet. She first got my attention with the Ultimate Chocolate Orange Cookies, and now she’s really done it with Luscious Lemon Curd Yogurt Mini Muffins !

Luscious Lemon Curd Yogurt Mini Muffins from Tenderfootmom.com
Ultimate Chocolate Orange Cookies from Tenderfootmom.com

Hayley is a creative dynamo and full time mom of two who shares original, helpful information. She shares her interviews (including a great one with Emmy Award winning artist Mark Kistler!), home school ideas and help, giveaways and more.  I encourage you to check out her blog

Here’s that old nursery rhyme I was talking about…

The Bread Recipe I Use Every Week

Above is my latest batch with this recipe.  I also use 2 cups wheat and 3 cups white unbleached organic flour, organic cane sugar, milk (sometimes almond), and butter in this recipe. I also a;ways butter the tops when they are still hot, just like my Mom taught me ❤.

~ taken from The Kitchn ~

Basic White Sandwich Bread
Makes 2 loaves

2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 cup (8 oz) warm water
2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (8 oz) milk – whole, 2%, or skim
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 – 6 1/2 cups (24 3/4 ounces – 29 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

Make sure the water is warm to the touch. If you can’t comfortably hold your finger in the water for several seconds, wait for it to cool. Pour the water into the bowl of a standing mixer or large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let this stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the milk, sugar, and salt. Pour 1 cup of flour and the milk mixture over the yeast. Stir until this comes together into a loose, lumpy batter.

Add another 4 1/2 cups of flour, reserving the remaining cup if the dough is sticky during kneading. Stir until a floury, shaggy dough is formed.

Using the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand against the counter. If the dough is bubble-gum sticky against the sides of the bowl or the counter, add extra flour a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky. The dough is kneaded when it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back when poked.

Clean out the mixing bowl and film it with a little oil. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and turn the dough out on top. Divide the dough in two and shape each half into a loose ball. Let the balls rest for 10 minutes.

Grease two loaf pans or film them with non-stick cooking spray. Shape each ball of dough into a loaf (see this tutorial for step-by-step instructions) and transfer to the loaf pans. It’s important that the surface of the loaves be stretched taut; this helps them rise and prevents an overly-dense interior. Let the loaves rise a second time until they start to dome over the edge of the pan, 30-40 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425° F about halfway through the second rise.

Slash the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife and put them in the oven. Immediately turn down the heat to 375°F and bake for 30-35 minutes. Finished loaves will be dark golden-brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove the loaves from the pans and let them cool completely before slicing.

Loaves will keep at room temperature for several days. Loaves can also be wrapped in foil and plastic, and frozen for up to three months.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a dish made with leftover meat, mashed potatoes and some vegetables. Traditionally, it is made with lamb but in America I see it made mostly with hamburger.  Here I used organic, grass fed lamb and organic vegetables.  The wine I used was a cheap Merlot.

Chop leftover meat and saute with onions and carrot coins in olive oil with a tablespoon of diced garlic. Brown for 5 minutes without stirring. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup red wine or water. I also added leftover gravy, but too much.


Grease (or nonstick spray) a deep baking pan that will fit your meat mixture and leftover mashed potatoes.
Pour in meat mixtures and then top with 1-2 cans of corn.
Spread corn in an even layer.
Add 1/4 cup Greek yogurt to the potatoes.
Add an egg to your potato mixture.
Drop mashed potatoes in dollops across the corn layer.
Don’t try to spread the potatoes yet.
Spray a spatula with nonstick or rub with oil and spread the potatoes in a nice, smooth layer to the edges. Garnish with green onions and paprika, cheese, or whatever you prefer. Make sure you put this baking dish on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.
The reason we put this on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet 🙂
Layers of amazing and yum.
Red country check ❤
I cut with a scraper.
Add cranberry sauce and some green veggies (the spacey looking veggie is Malabar spinach, one of my favorite decorative edibles).
Warms you from the inside out!