Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Look what I picked!

While fall is definitely here, fall in the south is comparable to summer temperatures in the upper north. It is in the low 80's with plenty of sunshine and night temperatures in the high 50's/ low 60's. My tomatoes and squash are still going strong!

Here is what I picked this week:

My lemons on my lemon tree finally started to ripen! I still have quite a few left on the tree that are somewhat green. I am going to make old fashioned lemonade with these!

I am thrilled with the Italian summer squash I planted this year. I am up to 100 squash harvested so far, including these.

This is the second picking I had from the chili peppers. There are tons more green ones! I expect I will pick these until the first frost (probably sometime in November). The green ones in the bowl below fell off when I touched them; I will set them aside to ripen.

Carrots are doing great, and the peas and garlic are up too. (Pictures next time.) The broccoli didn't germinate, I think the seeds were too old. I will go out this week and get some new ones at the store.

I do love fall in the south! This is the best time of year to plant bushes and trees. I plan on planting two more blueberry bushes before the month is over!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cooking with Food Storage: Pumpkin Applesauce Bread

This recipe uses wonderful fall flavors to make a tasty breakfast quick bread. I have modified it slightly to use all shelf stable ingredients. You can see the original recipe hereMy modifications are listed next to the original ingredients.

I doubled the recipe to make two loaves. I gave one to the Missionaries from my church.

Pumpkin Applesauce Bread
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (I grind my own from winter white wheat berries.)
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice 
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs (Since this is cooking with food storage, I used whole egg powder.)
1 heaping cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used slightly sweetened chunky cinnamon applesauce that I made and canned myself.)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract (I made my own.)

Streusel topping
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, not packed
2 tbs butter, melted (I used reconstituted butter powder and then added 2 teaspoons of olive oil.)
1 tbs flour (I used plain store bought flour for this.)

Spray a 9 x 5 bread pan. (I used PAM.) For the bread, mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients (reconstituted eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, honey and vanilla extract.) As an alternative for the eggs, you can put the egg powder in with the dry ingredients and add the water to the wet ingredients. 

Stir all ingredients together just until combined.

Pour into a prepared pan and run a spoon over the top to smooth it out. In another bowl, mix together all ingredients for the streusel.

Sprinkle on top of the bread. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 50 minutes. Since I made two, I left mine in for 50 minutes.

Next time I make it, I am going to use two tablespoons of the pumpkin pie spice. I like the pumpkin flavor to really shine!.

Healthy, low fat and good!  Only took about 15 minutes to mix up! You should try it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October is Family History Month!

Do you know who your ancestors are?

The majority of us know our grandparents and some younger people have the privilege of knowing their great-grandparents. (What a blessing! What I wouldn't give to have had opportunity to know my great-grandparents!) But, who else do you know?

I have traced my family name back to the late 1600's. Three of my four grandparents came from German fathers and Irish mothers! The other one was pure Italian! (I have traced her line back to the mid 1700's.) 

I even have a Great Great-Grandmother named Kate! I didn't know that growing up, but I am very glad I know it now! Knowing my ancestor's connects me to them. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of them. I am very thankful that they sacrificed and endured the trip to America to give me the opportunity to be born here.

Tracing your ancestors is easy! You don't need a fancy subscription service to find them. You can do it for FREE! (Well, you do need a computer and internet service, but you already have that or you would not be reading this post.) 

Go to You don't even need to create a free account to search for your ancestors, just click on the Search button at the top of the page. If you want to save the information you find, you can either print it out, or create a free account and save it to the cloud.

Enter all the information you know about your ancestor in the search fields. Not sure of a date? Put in a range. I have put ranges up to 10 years and still found people in my family!

Give it a try!  I KNOW you will be introduced to a family member you didn't know about!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a FREE web site that you can use to help you locate your ancestors: This web site has all sorts of tutorials and on-line help if you don't know where to start. It has records from all over the world! Anyone, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, can access this site to search for their deceased family members. If you want even more help, stop by the family history center at your local church. You do not have to be a church member to use the local family history center. There are family history centers in almost every country in the world!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cooking with Food Storage: Overnight Oats

Just in time for hurricane Matthew, (last night the Weather Channel said areas in its path should plan to go without electricity for up to 2 weeks), I am presenting an oatmeal recipe that does not require cooking.

This is called Overnight Oats. Instead of cooking the oats, you soak them in milk overnight. I have never heard of this before, so I decided to try it. The original recipe comes from here.

Overnight Oats 
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup milk (reconstituted powdered milk would work well here)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used yogurt I made from reconstituted powdered milk - I added vanilla flavoring to mine. You can see how to make your own yogurt here.)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used one teaspoon. I made my own vanilla extract. You can see how to do that here.)
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons chia seeds (I omitted this because I didn't have any. I thought about added flax seeds - but didn't.)
1/4 cup sliced strawberries (I used blueberries that I grew from my own bushes.)

Place all ingredients except for the strawberries in a mason jar or bowl. Cover with a lid and shake to combine (or stir). Refrigerate overnight. (There are LOTS of alternative ways to keep this cool if you don't have electricity, but that is a post for a different day.)

When ready to serve, stir and then top with the strawberries. Overnight oats are often eaten cold but if desired can be heated and served warm. (I ate mine cold.)

There are lots of possibilities to change this up. Apple and cinnamon come to mind as does almond flavoring and chocolate chips for a topping.

While I never ate cold oatmeal before, I liked it. I did need to add a bit more maple syrup to give it flavor.  If I ever eat it again, I will cut up some apples, add cinnamon and a teaspoon or two of stivia.

Give it a try!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Time to 'Treat' the Poinsettia Plants

Do you throw out your Christmas Poinsettia plants each January? It isn't necessary, and purchasing new ones each year costs a lot of money. Also, they are not a short lived gift plant. Instead, they will last years and years if treated like a normal house plant. I have some that are years and years old. I also have some that are as young as three years old. 

The red leaves will last until about May if the plant is kept in bright light. I love the look of Poinsettia plants and enjoy looking at their red leaves all winter and spring. When the days get longer in late spring/early summer, the red leaves will drop off and the plant will start to grow new stems. (You can transplant into a bigger pot at this time if you wish.) Since this is the time the plant will grow, it will need fertilizer through the end of September. Here is one of mine. I transplanted it into a new pot in May and it lives in my bathroom.

Here is another one. This one did not loose all of it's red leaves this summer. It is in the same pot from last year.

I want them to be red for Christmas this year. So, to turn these red myself, I will 'treat' them with a forced dark period. It is super easy to do!  It takes approximately one minute per day. If you do some research on the internet, you will find that most articles will say you only need to treat them to a forced dark period for two weeks to get them to turn red. That may be true if you own a greenhouse with computerized light switches that allow you complete control over the light. When treating them in a home environment, my experience over the years is this treatment needs to continue for 60 days. However, since it only takes 1 minute per day, it is not a big effort at all.

So the first thing I do is move them to a room that will not be used at night. This is the hard part. Who wants to live in a house with rooms that are closed off at night? So, if like me, you don't really have a spot that meets that requirement, use a room that gets the least amount of use after the sun goes down. I put my plants in my guest bedroom.

Treatment takes 30 seconds at night and another 30 seconds in the morning. When the sun goes down, turn off all lights in the room and close the blinds. Shutting the blinds is necessary so the moon and/or streetlights do not shine on the plants all night. Then, as you exit the room, shut the door. This is also necessary to block the lights in the rest of the house from reaching the plants. If you need to go into that room and turn on the light later in the evening, so be it. Just be sure to turn off the light and shut the door when you leave. These 'interruptions' of light during the dark treatment is why it takes 60 days to turn the plants red in a home environment. If you can be really disciplined and completely block off a room that will not be used at night, you can reduce the number of days the plants needs the forced dark treatment.

I have noticed over the years, that the red Poinsettias are the easiest to turn. White, pink and other variations, don't do as well for me.  If I want a Poinsettia plant that is another color, I will purchase a little one at Christmas time to enjoy that color. I still keep it for a few years and give it my forced dark treatment, but my results have been less then satisfactory in getting them to turn colors. Those plants I tend to eventually toss out.

When Christmas time come this year, consider keeping your Poinsettias as full time houseplants. Turning them red for the next year, is definitely doable! No special skills or equipment needed! 

I will be sure to post updates as we get closer to Christmas so you can see the results!