Winter Holidays = Cookies

It’s that time of year! Winter is well and truly here; winter solstice and Christmas are just around the corner. Our outdoor projects have been traded for some much-needed indoor renovations. So we’re shifting things here and there, patching walls and ceilings and generally making a huge mess. That’s right, a week ’till Christmas and we’re tearing the house apart. Not to worry though, this is just a classic example of “it gets worse before it gets better”, and we are beyond ready to be rid of these old pepto bismol pink walls!

But, as we all know, the holidays are not about whether or not your walls are pink, or if your house is spotless in time for guests, the holidays are about being together with those we love. So while we are chipping away at the piles of stuff (in hopes of fitting a tree in here somewhere) we’re also making time to bake cookies (and eat them with friends), play in the snow, craft ornaments, read, and just spend time together.

DSCN8456DSCN8458

DSCN8453The tree is by Ezra and the I is by Ishmael, of course!

DSCN8464

DSCN8459

DSCN8410On the topic of cookies, if you’re looking for a gluten/grain/nut/ egg/dairy free (AIP Compliant, Autoimmune Protocol) cookies you have to try these Jam-filled Thumbprint Cookies from Delicious Obsessions. I tried a couple other AIP cookie recipes with such dismal results I almost gave up on the idea of cookies. These are a mixture of coconut butter, shredded coconut and coconut flour which give the cookies a great crumbly cookie texture. You can make your own coconut butter by running shredded coconut through the food processor until it resembles a nut butter. It will be runny and a tad grainy immediately after processing but it will set up, like store brought coconut butter, with a little time. These cookies work best with warm stir-able coconut butter so freshly made coconut butter is perfect.

DSCN8443

DSCN8444

DSCN8445For everyone else, we made these to use with the cookie cutters. Everyone says they’re good and it’s a great recipe for kids because the dough is easy to handle and doesn’t fall apart easily. We also made these thumbprint cookies this year. They have no nuts so my kids prefer them to the traditional nut rolled thumbprint cookies. I find we make a handful of the same kinds of cookies every year plus one or two new kinds for fun.¬†Cookies are essential for the holidays – and we’re fresh out!

mossy_stone

Over the Holidays

Life has been keeping us busy! Between the prerequisite holiday fun – as evidenced below – we’ve been dealing with those little curve balls life throws at you: frozen water pipes (why do toilets require so much water!?), 13 inches of new snow, emergency doctor visits, a plow truck needing repair… you know all those things that suck up the resources of time and money. Yet in spite of the unexpected distractions the new year seems to be off to a good start. So enough with the gloom. Let’s look at the smiling faces and some of the good times we’ve been having below!

DSCN8502The holidays always require cookies!

DSCN8434 DSCN8433 DSCN8431And a trip to get a tree to decorate!

DSCN8500 DSCN8506And, of course, some sledding.

DSCN8532There were a few other fun creations going on in the kitchen too but I’ll save those for another post ūüėČ

mossy_stone

Make Your Own Rice Flour

Grinding your own flour doesn’t just mean grinding wheat berries- grains like rice and oats can be ground at home too. This is great news if you’ve gone gluten free. So many gluten free products are expensive and or full of processed ingredients I’d never bake with myself. Baking my own at home means I have control over exactly what goes in, I save us quite a bit of money and avoid all the excess packaging.

Rice flour is a common ingredient in gluten free baking. Our local stores carry a few gluten free flours (all tiny overpriced packages) and a growing section of processed goods. Last time I went there was no rice flour to be found so I can’t give a price comparison¬† but I did go home and get my grain mill out (and took it apart and gave it several very through washings).

In goes the rice. This is just white rice but type doesn’t matter you can grind brown rice or jasmine etc.

The results: A very fine rice flour. This stuff is quite dusty!

And it bakes up nicely too. We made some Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies – a recipe off the back of a package coconut flour from Bob’s Red Mill. I store the rest of the rice flour in a lidded container at room temp.

mossy_stone

Editing: I just want to add a link to this great post from The Frugal Farm Wife. Mix up your own gf flour mix using white rice, brown rice and cornstarch- and she’s worked out the savings.

this post is part of:

hearth and soul, fat tuesday,real food wednesday,gluten free wednesday,frugal days sustainable ways

In the Kitchen :: Nourishment

Each morning, after a cup of tea, I don my insulated overalls and a bundled baby in a back carrier and make my way down to the goat barn.¬† How lucky we are that each morning we can harvest a few free ranged eggs and a quart or two of fresh raw goats milk. After several months without either these basic staples they feel all the more luxurious- especially when these simple ingredients are transformed into decadent puddings, custards, french toast and omelets. Snacking on fresh homemade cheese and deviled eggs (yummy with mango chutney…) feels like a treat. And since we’re getting all that important calcium and protein we might as well indulge.

Here are a few of our favorites from the past week:

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a tall glass of milk of course)

Pudding has been a huge favorite- rice pudding and especially the leftover queen’s butterscotch pudding. I don’t have any scotch so we’ve just been adding extra vanilla. Noah has declared this his favorite.

photo from the leftover queen- click on photo to go there

It’s been exciting to be making cheese from our own goat’s milk,this one is just a simple cheese made by heating milk and adding an acid like vinegar or lemon juice.

And, while these are neither eggs nor dairy I have to tell you about these fermented fries. Oh my are they delicious. Everyone LOVED these. The hardest part is waiting the 3 days they take to ferment. We’re pretty much starting a new batch as soon as the first one is done. I don’t have any tallow right now so I’ve been frying them up in bacon drippings. Sorry no pics of the fries finished- they were devoured too quickly but here’s one of them fermenting. Notice the air lock cap, these can’t be fermented in an open crock (click on the link to go to cookingtf.com for the explanation).

Now if I could only find a ketchup recipe that actually tastes like ketchup….

mossy_stone

homestead barn hop, monday mania , melt in your mouth monday, make your own! monday,  hearth and soul , fat tuesday, traditional tuesday, weekend gourmet, slightly indulgent tuesday, real food wednesday, what’s cooking wednesday, gluten free wednesday, frugal days sustainable ways, healthy2day, simple lives thursday, freaky friday, scratch cookin, sunday school, fight back friday, friday food flick

Bringing in the Joy

The holiday season is upon us and so we decorate and plan parties. We cut, glue and write; measure, stir and wonder. Now that may sound elaborate (and it could be) but we keep it simple. In part, because the majority of the household is 4 and under but no less important is that simple also means more time for fun and helps to emphasis what it is that brings each of us joy.

And while I could show you some photos of all the cookies baked (ok we got a little bit elaborate there) decorations made, books read etc it seems more fitting to finally introduce  the newest member of the family:

Megan

She’s such a good dog! In her own way she brings each of us joy everyday. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†We love her.

mossy_stone

In the Kitchen :: Baking

During the past week there has been a lot of baking going on in my kitchen. First: Stuffed Pretzels. Farmama shared Brooke’s Stuffed Pretzels recipe a while back. She stuffed theirs with provolone and pesto with caramelized onions. Not having any pesto nor enough fresh basil on hand to make some I came up with my own variations for the stuffing.

Cinnamon and Raisin

(with sucanat)

The other half I made savory. I started with brushing on some mustard then I layered provolone cheese, caramelized onions, spinach and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Other changes I made: I did not do the baking soda dip on the cinnamon raisin nor did I salt or brush them with oil. They baked up beautifully- more of a cinnamon roll than a pretzel. I have noticed that the sucanat starts getting hard and burnt fairly easily so it’s important to take them out of the oven as soon as the dough is baked. I baked the cinnamon raisin ones first which might be why I only have a photo of the savory ones after being baked.

The savory pretzels got the full treatment- a dip in baking soda water, brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt (coarser grained salt works best- I used flakes). Baked til golden brown.

Delicious! I like reheating them in the toaster oven.

Also fresh from the oven this past week: gingerbread cookies,

and yet another pumpkin pie….to go with my gingered whipped cream.¬† I blended several pieces of crystallized ginger in with the heavy cream. Wow is that stuff good! If you’re culturing and making your own sour cream don’t forget to add a bit in with the heavy cream and make the whipped cream probiotic.

Also baked but no photos tho, chocolate pancakes with almond extract and…. chocolate cake!

For your convenience (from the link above @ farmama’s) here’s……

  Brookespretzels

You will need:

5 Cups All Purpose Flour (I’m sure you can substitute with some wheat, rye or spelt or…..)

4 tsp. Yeast (or one packet)

1 tsp. sugar

1 1/4 Cup. Warm water

1/4 Cup Sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Salt

A bit of Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Baking Soda

For the Filling:

2 TBSP. Butter

1 Onion sliced

Salt & Pepper

Pesto

Your favorite cheese (Brooke used Provolone)

Instructions:

1) Dissolve the 4 tsp. (or 1 packet) of yeast in 1 1/4 cup of water with 1 tsp. sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes.

2) Mix 5 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the middle and add about a Tablespoon of olive oil and the water/yeast mixture. If it is too dry add about one tablespoon of water at a time. Knead until the dough is smooth (about 7-8 minutes).

3) Cover and place in a warm spot for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

4)Make the filling by carmelizing the onion in the butter. To do this put the sliced onion in a pot with the butter. Cook low and slow on top of the stove until the onion is golden brown and sweet.

5) Preheat oven to 450F.

6) When dough has doubled in size, roll it into a rectangular-ish shape, about 1/4 inch thick and spread the filling evenly over the surface. Brooke also put basil pesto from our freezer and some provolone cheese in the pretzels she made us. You could use just about anything to stuff these pretzels. Lots of room to be creative! Roll up the rectangle and slice it into 12 equally sized pieces. (Brooke suggests using a serrated knife for this.) Put each slice onto a sheet tray and let the (now stuffed) pretzels rise again until about doubled.

The Dunk:

A baking soda bath is what gives pretzels their distinct flavor.

7) Mix together 1/2 cup of baking soda and 4 cups of hot water. When the baking soda has dissolved, dunk the proofed pretzels one at a time, and set them back onto the sheet tray. Brush each pretzel with some olive oil and a tiny bit of mustard, and lightly dust each pretzel with some salt (Brooke recommends Cyprus flake salt.)

8) Bake at 450F until the pretzels are golden brown.

_____________________________________________________________________

Let us know if you decide to make them, or if I’ve forgotten any important details. They really are as good as they look!

Thanks for sharing Brookie!

mossy_stone

this post is part of traditional tuesday, real food wednesday, frugal days sustainable ways, simple lives thursday, fight back friday, sunday school

Making Halloween

This year the boys are really into Halloween.

It all started about a month ago, thanks to the store displays, and they’ve been preparing ever since. Every rendering of a skeleton, witch, pumpkin, spider, bat, ghost etc must be put to use. All crafts, movies, books and play revolves around being spooky and scary and HALLOWEEN!

So we’re jumping in and enjoying Halloween to it’s full potential.

Learning about skeletons, bones, joints and muscles.

I move at all my joints.

¬†Brains too…Why carve just pumpkins?!

Very rough watermelon model of a brain.

It’s also a great time to learn about bats, owls, mice and spiders habitats and habits.

Of course we need a few around the house to give everyone a scare.

Creepy Crawly Critters

Bake some cookies and count them.

Witch fingers and pumpkins

The recipe we used is this one. Rolling out the fingers was not working well so we switched to pipette and pumpkin cut outs which worked well and bat ones which came out too puffy.

Of course we carved a pumpkin and have a few other Halloween surprises to share too but that will have to be another post.

What do you do for Halloween?

mossy_stone