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IMG_4052I remember reading recently that a celebrity chef had refined his previous blueberry muffin recipes.  I pulled up the latest version and started to print it out, when I noticed the massive quantities of saturated fat and refined sugar.  No, that won’t do, I thought.  I started combing the internet for better options, but I kept finding unhealthy stuff like crumb toppings.  Back to the cookbooks I went, and then I started substituting.  The result are these high-fiber yet soft muffins, for your eating pleasure and heart health.

Blueberry Muffins: Truly tasty, healthy version
Makes 6 muffins.

Wet ingredients:IMG_4053
1 ½-2 eggs*
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup ground flax seed (meal)
6 tablespoons to ¼ cup milk (use less with the egg and a half version)
optional:  a few squeezes of fresh lemon or lime juice
Dry ingredients:
1 cup whole-grain oat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
optional:  fresh lemon or lime zest
Fruit:
½ – 1 cup blueberries (frozen will hold up well)
Topping(s):
optional: lightly chopped slice almonds (a few tablespoons)
pinch of turbinado or demerara sugar (raw sugar)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 6 muffin cups.

In one medium bowl, mix the eggs and sugar together and then add the flax meal and milk. In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and incorporate thoroughly, without overmixing. Add the blueberries.

Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, divide into the six prepared muffin cups. Drop on almonds and sprinkle a pinch of raw sugar on each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from muffin tin promptly.

Nutrition per muffin, with all optional ingredients:  176 calories, 23 grams carbs (lots of heart-healthy water soluble fiber!), 6 grams protein, 7 grams fat.
Eliminating the optional ingredient and extra egg and milk will bring you to about 150 calories per muffin.IMG_4055

*Where do you find half an egg?  I get mine from my Partridge Silkie hens.

For another blueberry muffin recipe, try this peach blueberry muffin recipe.  Are you looking for a savory blueberry breakfast?  Try this easy egg custard with sausage and blueberries!  

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Since my long run on March 6, I’ve been recovering and trying to get caught up on life.  Unfortunately, I did have a Lyme relapse, but it was manageable–and a sign that it’s just not time to stop fighting.  I also, however, received a gift that has taken a bit of my time, another microscopic form of life that’s much nicer than Lyme spirochetes.  I got a preview of the gift, a.k.a. my new pets, a week before the race when this showed up in my office mailbox:

Sourdough Bread

Isn’t it gorgeous?  It’s a huge half-loaf of homemade sourdough bread.  You see, I had to attend a weekend conference back in February, but out of that loss of my weekend I got to talk with a colleague (a lot) on four long plane flights.  We discovered that his wife and I share a love of baking.  First came the bread.  Then not quite two weeks ago I got the holy grail:  her sourdough starter, now almost a quarter of a century old.  Sourdough starter saves you from buying little packages of yeast, some with chemicals added.  You can use it to make baked goods with all organic ingredients.  Sourdough starter really is magic.

My benefactor sent with the starter her own sourdough recipe.  It looked good (and I know it tasted good, because we’d gotten the first gift!) but used handmade proofing baskets and a 24-hour rising period.  The starter also (apparently) needed to be fed once a day.  Well, you know me.  I can’t stand to throw stuff out, so I determined to test refrigerating the starter to delay feeding (which definitely works) and reduce how much starter I had and to use the starter in other ways.  Since I got the starter, I’ve made several loaves of whole-grain bread, pancakes, and even pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.  Yes, the recipes will all follow, and I promise to post them with alternatives for making them without sourdough starter.

The votes are in! Whole-wheat sourdough and whole-wheat bread are now posted here. Next up will be pumpkin-chocolate chip bread!

Do you bake with sourdough?  Did you create your own starter, or did you receive it as a gift?  How long have you kept a sourdough starter going?

Copyright 2011 Ozarkhomesteader.

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Regular readers may remember that I claimed at a December party that I was going to run the 10k (6.2 miles) at the Little Rock Marathon in March this year; then I discovered that there is no 10k.  My old, pre-Lyme disease self could have easily done the next race down, the 5 k, so instead I opted for the half marathon:  13.1 miles.  I am a woman who has fought Lyme for the better part of a decade.  I am most definitely middle-aged now, by any actuarial charts.  I am  on the chubby side, thanks to inactivity during my fight with Lyme.  I got a positive diagnosis for the infection when it was thoroughly embedded in my system from muscles to heart to brain six years ago, on March 4, 2005.  I started long-term high doses of antibiotics six years ago from today, on March 7, 2005.  I’m ready to say goodbye to Lyme.

Yesterday I completed the half marathon, running and walking, in a little over three hours.  I know I was close to the back of the pack, but my goal time was to finish in four hours, and I beat my anticipated time per mile by about 4 1/2 minutes and my total time by almost an hour.  Mr. Homesteader kindly walked to various points around the course to cheer me on.  I first realized I was doing better than my goal when I hit the 5-mile mark at 9:10.  I’d hoped to be there by 9:15 or 9:20.  I knew I was doing okay when I crossed the 10k mark.  I had planned on stopping running then but kept alternating running and walking.  When I hit the 8.5 mark where a friend was serving water, I was more than 20 minutes ahead, despite a bathroom stop with a long delay at a portapotty long about mile 7.  I really started to hurt as I got close to the governor’s mansion–my twisted ankle, my pinched nerves in my feet–so I pulled out my Ipod, up until then just used for my clock, and I inserted one earbud and listened to Harry Potter and his introduction to Quidditch.  That was enough to distract me, and within a mile I’d pulled the earbud back out and was enjoying the cheerers again.  Then we hit Chester Street.  There at Chester and 7th is Vino’s legendary pizza.  The aroma of pizza and faint scent of beer reached my nostrils.  I almost stopped.  I kept going, though, although by that point I was now down to running two minutes out of every ten.

Then I hit the lipstick stop.  It’s famous as the only one on marathon courses.  I don’t wear lipstick in my day-to-day life, much less when I’m sweating.  I thought one of the volunteers there was going to block my way until I convinced her that I really did not want lipstick.  By then I knew I was within a quarter mile of the finish line.  And when a fellow runner/walker I’d had the opportunity to chat with on the course several times told me it would be easy to run the rest of the way in (thanks, Zora!), I did.  Only I really ran it, and she jogged, so she is not in this picture.  That’s me, in the black fleece.  I’m crossing the line.  I’m not really that wide; I had my gloves and headband stuffed in the pockets of my oversized pullover.

In retrospect, knowing what I know now about how close I was to breaking three hours, I wish I’d run just a little more and somehow avoided the potty stop.  Maybe next year?

Thanks to all of my readers who provided so much encouragement and who have patiently waited as I traded adding recipes here for miles to my shoes.  I should know soon if I’ve succeeded in really, finally beating Lyme.

P.S.  Mr. Homesteader took me to Vino’s after I’d showered and changed at the hotel.  Other runners were in there wearing their medals, all from the marathon relay.  I wish I’d worn my  half-marathon medal in!  They all looked a lot younger than me, and I was so happy to know I’d run (and walked) further.  🙂

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My “track”:

Look closely; it’s there!  Yes, I ran yesterday.  Actually, I ran until the snow got too deep and I had to walk.  I got in 30 laps, until I looked like the Abominable Snowman.

My running buddy:

In fact, she shows up from the neighbors’ house, runs circles around me, begs to be petted, and then races off to chase deer, cats, birds . . . and then she catches back up with me and does it all over again.

The creek in snow:

Cold frames seems a particularly appropriate name today:

I’m not sure there’s still something growing under all that snow!

Is it delivery?

No, of course it isn’t delivery.  We can’t get delivery here in normal weather, much less when there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground.  If you missed the recipe earlier, it’s here.

So, the NWS claims we got 9-12 inches of snow.  Our thermometer read 1 degree F above zero this morning.  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

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I love cranberries, so I stock up when they appear in markets in autumn. (I’m ordering some plants for the homestead, so by next Thanksgiving I may have my own!) I, of course, like making cranberry sauce, but this year I’m not home, so I decided to use my first bag of cranberries for cranberry-gingerbread pancakes.  You may enjoy their spicy, tart taste with warm maple syrup for breakfast this weekend.

This recipe makes 6 medium-sized fluffy pancakes.  To make the pancakes a bit thinner, use a tablespoon additional buttermilk, or just use all milk instead of buttermilk, with the original measurement.

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, macerated for a few hours or overnight with 1 tablespoon brown sugar  OR 1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • OPTIONAL:  chopped pecans or black walnuts
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon buttermilk or milk (milk will make pancakes less fluffy)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour OR part whole oat flour (Oat flour will make a softer pancake with no crisp on the crust.)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of allspice
  • tiny pinch of cloves

Mix together the egg, buttermilk, butter, and molasses.  In another small measuring cup, mix the flour and other dry ingredients. (You can do these steps the night before, if you want to make breakfast really easy.) Heat a large fry pan or griddle over medium heat until  drop of water dances on the surface.  Grease with oil or a butter and oil mixture.  Mix together the wet and dry pancake ingredients and stir in the cranberries and optional nuts.  Drop pancake batter on greased griddle and immediately spread mix slightly with back of spoon. (You won’t need to spread if you used the thinner batter recipe.) Cook on one side until little bubbles start to form.  Depending on your heat source, you may need to slip your spatula under the pancakes and rotate them before you flip, if it looks like they are cooking more quickly on one side than the other.  Flip when the bubbles are even dispersed across the top and the edges start to look cooked.  Cook the other side.  You can keep cakes warm in the oven while you cook the rest.  Serve with maple syrup or a dollop of cranberry jelly.

Ingredients for a dozen medium-sized pancakes, for bigger families or bigger appetites!

  • 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, macerated for a few hours or overnight with 2 tablespoons brown sugar  OR 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • OPTIONAL:  chopped pecans or black walnuts
  • 2 medium eggs or 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk or milk (milk will make pancakes less fluffy)
  • 3 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour OR part whole oat flour (Oat flour will make a softer pancake with no crisp on the crust.)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of allspice
  • pinch of cloves

Do you have a favorite holiday breakfast?  Do tell!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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When doctors and nutritionists point to the healthiness of the “Mediterranean diet,” too many people think, “Oh, I can eat lasagna loaded with cheese and meat and be healthy.”  I do believe that there are times for lasagna, but I know that even made with whole grains and organic products or even spinach that it’s still not health food.  Still, people from the Mediterranean do know how to eat to live.  To celebrate the start of fall, we had a great Italian soup made with fresh garden ingredients:  minestrone.  I served it with crostini with pesto and garnished it with some petite Italian turkey meatballs, but you could leave those out and go entirely vegetarian instead.

Minestrone is health in a bowl if you make it properly.  I started by cooking some navy beans with garlic and a parmesan rind until the beans were al dente.

trombetta squash

  • 1-2 cups cannellini or navy beans, cooked
  • 1/2-1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-4 cups fresh, seeded tomatoes (retain and use juice) or diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth

Cannellini beans are more traditional, but the navy beans substitute just fine.  You can easily find canned cannellini beans too.  My next step was to sauté a small diced onion while I diced a carrot and minced a stalk of celery.  Then I sautéed the carrot and celery alongside the onion.  As the trio begin to cook, add a clove of minced garlic.  Next add 2-4 cups fresh or  quality canned, chopped tomatoes, seeded but with juice retained and added to the soup.  If you have any good zucchini, as we did, cut it into chunks and toss it in.  Add back in the beans with any remaining cooking liquid.  Add up to 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth.  Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

I served petite turkey meatballs on top of the minestrone.

  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 pound ground turkey (or lamb, beef, or chicken)
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole-grain bread crumbs
  • splash of broth sufficient for forming meatballs

I minced 1/4 cup onion and sautéed it in olive oil until the onion took on a little color.  I added a clove of minced garlic just long enough for the garlic to get the harsh flavor out.  Then I mixed the onion and garlic with about 2 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil), about a teaspoon of crushed fennel seed, a pinch each of crushed red pepper and salt, and 1/3 pound ground turkey.  Add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs.  Mix and add a splash of minestrone broth or chicken broth.  Using a teaspoon or small cookie scoop, form petite meatballs and cook in olive oil over medium heat, turning to brown all sides.

Minestrone

Serve minestrone in a broad bowl, placing meatballs on top, and garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese and chiffonaded fresh basil.  Add whole-grain crostini to work with the beans to increase the protein.

Fall makes me crave warm, healthy soups.  Do you crave soup as temperatures drop?  What’s your family’s favorite fall soup?

Copyright 2010 Ozark Homesteader.

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You may have figured out that I like peaches and blueberries.  I like them together.  To me, an ideal summer breakfast, lunch, or dinner dessert is a bowl of fresh sliced peaches with a big handful of blueberries on top.  My company this week apparently does not love big bowls of fresh fruit as much as I do, so I made muffins of these two special favorite fruits.  This recipe is ideal to whip up for a family breakfast and then bake in your toaster oven, so you don’t have to heat up the house.

Serves 6 (or 3 people who like two muffins a piece)

  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 1/3 heaping cup plain yogurt (yes, I’m talking about something close to half a cup)
  • 1 almost over-ripe peach, diced very fine (save the juice!  add it with the diced peaches to the recipe)
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain oat flour  (okay to use all wheat if you do not have oat flour)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries–okay, a half a cup will be okay, but a whole cup is better
  • optional:  pinch of nutmeg or squeeze of lime juice
  • butter to brush on tops

Preheat your toaster oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease the bottoms only of a 6-muffin tin.  In a 4-cup bowl or thereabouts, mix together the first three (wet) ingredients.  In smaller bowl, mix the flour and everything else down to but not including the blueberries.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Add the blueberries and optional ingredients.  Divide the batter equally among the 6 muffin cups.  Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, rotating to get even browning if necessary.  Brush a little butter on the top of each muffin if you want.  Serve warm with butter, jam, or nothing at all.And since you’ve used yogurt and peaches instead of oil, you’ve got a healthy, low-fat treat for your family!  Shhhhhh–they’ll never know.


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I told you in my previous post that we almost never do “supper in a bag,” as my mother-in-law calls it.  Today, though, we did picnic lunch in a bag.  We went to KFC.  Yep, you read that right.  Neither my husband nor I had had KFC in years (I think it was still Kentucky FRIED Chicken then), but my mother-in-law wanted it, so we got it for a picnic at a park about an hour from here.  The chicken was okay–not great, with those fishy undertones I’ve come to associate with mass-produced chicken–and the cole slaw was a bit sweeter than I like but still fine.  The biscuit was sort of tasteless and a bit gummy, with a flavor like wallpaper paste (which isn’t surprising, considering that wallpaper paste is also made from white flour).  What blew me away was the “butter” and “honey,” to which my husband said, “yes, thanks” when the clerk offered it.

The clerk put a pile of “butter” and “honey” in our bag.  Too bad all of them ended up in the trash.  The “honey” was labeled “honey sauce” and actually had never seen a bee but instead was made of high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and caramel coloring.  That was it.  The “butter” had never seen a cow either; it was labeled “buttery spread,” and, despite KFC’s bold statement on its web site that it uses no transfats, two out of four of the first ingredients (which I had to really hunt for and found on another blogger’s site) are transfats.  The other two of those first four ingredients are water and salt.  Everything else is a chemical except for beta carotene and Vitamin B.  And finding ingredients on KFC’s web site for everything else was impossible, because the “ingredient statement” had no link and just the cryptic note in parentheses “currently being updated, check back soon.”  I wish I’d packed a homemade picnic instead.  I will next time.

An old Yiddish expression is, “Don’t pee on my back and call it rain.”  I’m sorry to be crass in quoting it, but it seems so apt in this case.  Don’t give me high fructose corn syrup and call it honey, KFC.  Don’t give me hydrogenated, chemically treated oils and call them butter.

Are you and your family watching ingredient lists more carefully?  What processed foods have surprised you recently with their ingredients?  (I wrote about a few of the ones that surprised me in “Overeating Processed Foods?  Look for These Key Ingredients.”)

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  All rights reserved.

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Chive Blossoms

We’re bursting out with spring all over here, and the Ozark region’s first strawberries are coming into season.  When I was growing up, we had strawberries most often served over pound cake, which we called “strawberry shortcake.”  (I know people in other regions of the country use sweetened biscuits for a dessert by the same name.) A lot of people hear strawberries and think dessert, but unsweetened strawberries go as well with savory dishes like salads as do tomatoes.  Tonight we had a big salad of baby greens, herbs (chervilchive blossoms), and root vegetables (sliced carrots and radishes) from our garden,and sliced strawberries.  We topped everything off with a simple strawberry vinaigrette.

Here’s the salad on its own.  Can you spot the lime green lettuce called Black Seeded Simpson? the endive?  how about the little purple chive blossoms?  and the carrots and radishes?  and, of course, the strawberry slices?

Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette: about 4 generous servings

  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil (try 2 tablespoons if 1 doesn’t seem like enough)
  • 1-2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared hearty brown mustard

Blend everything until the strawberries are processed and the mixture is bright pink.  Oh, yes, this dressing is bright pink!  It might work well for a bridesmaids luncheon. My husband made fun of the color until he tasted it.  Then he ate a spoonful by itself.  And then he had another spoonful.  I think he liked it.

I served this salad with more seasonal favorites:  asparagus and smoked salmon with whole-grain penne pasta, finished with fresh local cream and a little non-local lemon zest; braised local snow peas; and for dessert more organic, local strawberries, garnished with a tiny scoop of ice cream.

What seasonal favorites do you look forward to each spring?  Do you have any family traditions for strawberries?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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We’re still polishing off the wonderful pasture-raised turkey that I got from Falling Sky Farm for Thanksgiving.  You may remember that we ate a lot of turkey eat fresh then, but I also broke it down enough immediately to freeze some in various serving sizes.  Today I’m going to use about four ounces of the turkey along with wild rice and vegetables to make a hearty, healthy entree soup that’s perfect for these frugal economic times.  I’m serving it with acorn squash, roasted and stuffed with apples, cranberries, and walnuts, for an extra kick of healthy flavor to round out the meal.  This soup and acorn squash meets the old Southern standard of “meat and three” in an unusual form, and most of the ingredients came from our land or a nearby farm.  With just 4 ounces of turkey in the whole soup, you are getting most of your protein from the frugal, healthy combination of wild rice and beans, but no one will miss a pile of meat in this meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 thin pat butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • shaft (white) portion of a leek, cut in half lengthwise to clean out the grit and then sliced across the shaft (or 1/2 sweet yellow onion)–Save the tougher leaves for a recipe you’ll puree.
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup diced celery (basically a rib)
  • 1/3 cup wild rice
  • twig (about 5 inches long, leaves attached) or two of fresh rosemary (Don’t have fresh?  use 1  teaspoon of dried rosemary.)
  • four or  more  leaves of fresh sage  (Don’t have fresh?  Use 1 teaspoon of rubbed sage.)
  • optional:  1 or 2 hot peppers, sliced thinly
  • 4 ounces of cooked turkey (about a 1/3-1/2 cup)–Yes, you could use diced chicken, even fresh, as long as you add it in the soup when you start the rice and increase your herb quantity.
  • 1/2-1 cup pole beans (a.k.a. green beans), cut into bite-sized pieces–I used a mix of green and wax (yellow) beans
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by prepping your leeks. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven.  Add the leeks, stir, and start to caramelize.  Dice the carrots.  Add those too.  Dice the celery.  Add it too. By now your leeks will be caramelized sufficiently.  Add the wild rice and a cup and a half of water and stir.Yes, that’s the wild rice–actually not rice but a grass seed.  It’s got a nutty flavor. Now lay the rosemary twig and sage on the top.  Do not stir in; we’re going to take them out later.  (Of course, stir them in if you used dried herbs.) Simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes.  Take out the herbs if you used fresh.  Add the turkey, beans, and optional chiles with 2-3 cups more water and about 1 teaspoon salt.  Be forewarned:  the rice is already cooked, but it is a very thirsty grain.  It will keep soaking up liquid, but we’ve made this soup flavorful enough that you can safely keep adding water.  Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.

makes 5-6 cups of soup

Serve this simple, comforting soup with a hearty vegetable side like our acorn squash halves stuffed with diced apples, cranberries, and walnuts seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Do you have questions about wild rice?  Do you have a favorite wild rice recipe you’d like to share?  Join the discussion in the comments section!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Tweets and short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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