A few days before we started having snow flurries we took a hike around the field. The field is about 7 acres. It provides a decent hike without even entering the woods, which can be a long and arduous hike for short legs. Autumn is on it’s way out. I’m glad to have gotten in another hike before the biting winds persuade us to stick close to home.
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Foliage season is in full swing; mornings are a frosty 40 degrees. It’s time to cook up some comfort food. Finally we can start our day with hot cocoa and oatmeal and end it with a bowl of something warm, filling and delicious. For me, that list of possibilities is prioritized something like this: homemade mac ‘n cheese, clam chowder (potato corn chowder or potato leek soup for the non clam eaters in the family), chicken pot pie, butternut squash or carrot soup, beef stew, minestrone soup, shepard’s pie, chili…you get the idea.
For some reason the majority of my family prefers boxed mac ‘n cheese (how can this be?!) so I’ve skipped right to the chowder, stews and chili. The majority of these recipes are a super simple variation of onion, potato and chicken broth with perhaps some bacon, and some milk for creamed versions. A smattering of vegetables and a few seasonings are mainly what differentiates one dish from another, yet they always satisfy and somehow they don’t feel like the same old thing, well until spring that is.
I love creating from scratch. The closer I can come to producing each ingredient myself the happier I am. So I was especially pleased this year in cooking up a batch of potato leek soup. Homemade chicken broth, fresh from the garden leeks, and a few (for this year) store brought potatoes and we’re nearly there. Here’s basically how I make potato leek soup.
Fresh Off the Homestead Potato Leek Soup
Slice and rinse grit from 3-4 large leeks (more if yours are small). Saute leeks in butter, oil, or bacon drippings until soft. Add 8 peeled and chunked (about 2 inch pieces) potatoes, and 4 cups of chicken broth (homemade will give the most flavor but you can use store brought or water if needed). Simmer until potatoes are soft. Add 1 tsp salt. Mash potatoes with the back of the spoon till the soup is as thick or chunky as you like ( if you prefer a puree feel free to use a blender). Add about 1/2 cup cow, goat or even reconstituted powdered milk. If needed add up to 2 cups of boiled water to reach the right consistency. Serve with black pepper and top with some garden fresh minced chives, scallions or dill.
This is even better reheated, especially on a chilly day!
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In Downeast Maine just about every road has a blueberry field somewhere along it. In the spring the fields are green, in the summer a sea of blue, autumn brings reds and purples until finally, they rest under a blanket of white snow.
Fun Fact: Maine produces 99% of the countries wild blueberries.
Here’s a link to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for Wild Maine Blueberries for more info on Maine’s wild blueberries and they have a short slideshow with some nice photos of the blueberry fields and a tractor harvester (blueberries are harvested by a tractor harvester or by hand depending on the field).
We love blueberries! The boys eat them everyday if they can. Last year we froze 40 lbs to get us through the winter but we ran out early even with rationing towards the end. Our favorite recipe using fresh blueberries is blueberry pie. Frozen they usually go into smoothies, muffins and of course pancakes.
Perhaps you already have a favorite pancake recipe but if you’re looking for one- especially one that incorporates real food (fresh ground flour, kefir…) and traditional methods (soaking) look no further!
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, fresh ground if possible (you can use other flours as well if you’re gluten free or use sprouted flour if you don’t want to soak the flour).
1 1/4 cups kefir (can also use yogurt or cultured buttermilk)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder (heaping) (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon real salt
In a bowl, mix together the flour and kefir; add a bit more flour if mixture seems thin. Cover with a towel and let soak overnight, 8-12 hours. In the morning when ready to prepare, whisk in the remaining ingredients; mixing well. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup of the batter on the skillet. When edges begin to bubble (about 2 minutes), flip to other side. Cook until both sides are golden brown. We serve with raw butter and maple syrup or honey.
These are delicious! I have found that the kefir can be substituted for by yogurt or buttermilk with fantastic results. I have also subbed maple syrup for the honey and almond or grapeseed oil for coconut oil in a pinch.
For blueberry pancakes I sprinkle a few on each one as I cook cause I like even distribution. If the blueberries are frozen I run them under water to help them thaw (no raw spots in the pancakes) and this also gets rid of all that blue that otherwise stains hands and the batter that not so appetizing blue-green color. This works for muffins too.
If you try these and like them please follow the link to Susan’s site and let her know how great her recipe is.