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Archive for December 29th, 2009

Some of my favorite seed suppliers almost all have fabulous collections of seeds either in single packets or groups of packets. Today I’ll highlight a few multi-pack collections.

Botanical Interests offers several gift-wrapped multipacks, including kids’ favorite seeds to grow, Italian favorites, bountiful harvest, fragrant flowers, and Asian cuisine.

Renee’s Garden’s multi-pack collections include a kids’ garden too plus easy-to-grow collections, more fragrant flowers and cottage garden flowers, and more.

Burpee has a Money Garden collection for those wanting to weather the recession.

Seeds of Change has several collections too, including a Natural Dyes collection and a White House Seed the Change collection.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has tins with giant and smaller collections.  Baker Creek has excellent ratings through garden sites, but I am wary of ordering from them after reading some negative ratings on Dave’s Garden’s  Garden Watchdog, where consumers can rate companies.  It sounds like they are a relatively small outfit that still does things the country way but have not coped well with expansion.

Dave’s Garden’s  Garden Watchdog is an invaluable resource if you want to protect yourself in online ordering!  Be sure to rate your favorite (and most disliked) sites while you’re there.

What are your favorite suppliers’ seed collections?

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Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2009, just like the rest of the blog.  
Feel free to post short excerpts with full links to this blog.

I like to mix up muffins regularly because they give us healthy, wholesome breakfasts and healthy snacks for little money.  Making muffins from scratch only takes a few more minutes than making them from a mix, and you know your scratch muffins are full of good things instead of chemicals.  This morning we had double delicious apple muffins.  I’ll talk after the recipe about how healthy they are.  Feel free to skip that if you’d rather think they’re decadent!

This recipe makes 6 muffins, perfect for a medium-sized family (or a small family who wants muffin snacks later!).  If you can get organic ingredients and farm-fresh eggs, by all means use them.  We do!

Dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain oat flour (or just use old-fashioned rolled oats, all wheat flour, or flax meal if you don’t have oat flour–remember:  use what you have!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) ground cinnamon
  • pinch/sprinkle of allspice
  • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts  (I just crush them in my hand as I’m adding them to the mix)
  • optional:  small handful of raisins or currants

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 apple (like Gala, McIntosh, or Arkansas black)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce or apple butter  (oh, yes, this is the double-delish part:  apples and apple sauce!)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk or kefir (or milk mixed with yogurt if you don’t have either one in the house, or just milk if that’s all you have.  Like I always say, use what you have!)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (brown or maple okay–or more, up to a quarter cup if you’re family is addicted to sugar–use less if you used apple butter instead of apple sauce)

Optional:  cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 6-cup muffin tin.  Get a 1-quart (small) mixing pitcher or bowl.  (Using a pitcher will make everything easier to pour into the muffin cups.)

Begin by chopping the apple.  I like to cut my apples into halves, quarters, and eighths first, so they I can remove the minimum amount of core.  Since I use homegrown or organic apples, I wash them well but do not peel them.  The peel is both healthy and pretty.  Your apple pieces should be no more than 1/2 inch cubed each.

Make-and-eat directions:  If you are going to make the muffins right away, you can mix everything together immediately.  Just start with the dry ingredients and then add your wet ingredients.  Stir well to combine but do not over-stir. Pour into prepared muffin tins.  Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar (optional).  Bake the muffins for 20 minutes.  Let them cool briefly in the pans and then turn out to cool (or just turn them on their sides to cool.)  Enjoy!

Night-before preparation, for even quicker morning baking: If you want to eat these on a school day (or get them ready for the kids to bake in the morning while you sleep in!), you can mix together all the dry ingredients separately from all of the wet ingredients.  In the morning, preheat the oven (350′ F) and grease your muffin tin.  Then combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Bake for 20 minutes and eat or take them with you!

Dutch oven directions for camping:

Follow the directions for night-before preparation to mix your dry and wet ingredients separately.  Put both in separate camp-worthy containers.  Freeze the wet ingredients if you won’t use them for a few days.  The morning you want to eat your muffins, use 6 metal cupcake “papers” in the bottom of a small Dutch oven.  Put on the lid and add coals top and bottom and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Alternatively, you can just grease the Dutch oven itself and make this recipe coffee-cake style.  Cut the finished cake into wedges.

What’s good about these muffins?

These muffins are great whether you are watching your cholesterol, concerned about high blood sugar, or trying to keep your intestines in good shape.  With both soluble and insoluble whole grains as well as a lot of apple, little sugar, and almost no fat except for the good fat in the walnuts, these muffins are wholesome health food.  Don’t worry, though; your family will never notice!

Healthy snacking: These muffins make great afternoon snacks or even a light dessert.  For a snack, try spreading two halves with some natural warm peanut butter.  (Making the peanut butter warm will help natural peanut butter spread without tearing the muffin.)

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Tonight I’m just not sure what to make for dinner.  We have few things that “have to” be eaten except for leftovers.  I thought of making turkey pot pie, but that would leave the potatoes.  I thought of making shepherd’s pie, but I’d prefer to make it with ground meat.  So I’ve decided to make Shepherd’s Pot Pie.  I can use everything that I’ve got left over, plus I can add carrots, celery, and some chopped onions.  You could substitute other leftovers for these.  How about butternut squash cubes?  How about mashed sweet potato as the topping?  It’ll all work–unless those sweet potatoes were loaded with sugar or marshmallows!

  • turkey, cubed
  • leftover green beans (cut small) with turkey bacon
  • leftover mashed potatoes, loosened with a bit of milk to make the mashed potatoes more easily spreadable
  • leftover gravy
  • leftover dressing (known as stuffing to some of you!)
  • onions, chopped and sauteed and then cooked in leftover bean liquid
  • carrots, chopped and sauteed and then cooked in leftover bean liquid
  • celery, chopped and sauteed and then cooked in leftover bean liquid

Prep the onions, carrots, and celery, beginning with the onion and adding the carrots and celery after the onions have sauteed a little while.

Then add the leftover bean liquid to help everything soften.

Cut the beans into small pieces.  Dice the turkey. Stir together everything except the gravy, dressing and mashed potatoes.  Add a little dressing to flavor the mix.  Add sufficient gravy to moisten everything. Put the mix in well-greased individual pie pans or ramekins (or in one big casserole).  Spread the mashed potatoes on top. Bake at 350-375 degrees F until the mix is warm and bubbly and the mashed potatoes are nicely browned.  Depending on how much milk you added to the mashed potatoes, you may need to broil the pies briefly to get the tops to brown.

You may also be interested in a more traditional shepherd’s pie: https://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/greek-inspired-lamb-shepherds-pie-with-ozark-grown-ingredients/

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