Strawberry Banana Bread

strawberry banana bread

In preparation for a house full of kids, I prepared some strawberry banana bread.  My girlfriend had asked me to watch her kids for her the whole next day.  This was gone before 2 pm along with many many compliments from busy little kids.

Strawberry Banana Bread:

  • 3 lg eggs
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tbs flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs cinnamon

Mix batter together and pour into greased large loaf pan.

Mix together

  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

Drizzle on top and swirl into batter in loaf pan.

Bake 350F for 1 hour.  Place a pan underneath as mine spilled over the top just a bit while baking.

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Homemade Crackers

The cracker is a staple in every home, especially the “wheat thins”.  These taste very similar but have all the health that wheat thins are missing.  It fills tummies, goes with everything, and makes most mouths very happy.  I’ve found if we try and keep our snacks organic it gets so expensive.  And by the rate my kids eat crackers it is not cost effective… so I give in and buy and big tub of goldfish crackers.  But! if I make these, my kids eat them just as fast, with far better results both in pocket book and digestion.

homemade crackers

These dimples only show up when she’s eating. Love them!

The Cracker:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs flax seeds
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs molasses
  • 1/2 cup water

Add all dry ingredients together, then cut butter into flour.  Add molasses and water slowly ’till combined.  Place in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 20 minutes.  Roll out on floured surface to be 1/8″ thick.  (In these photos I forgot to add the flax seed and tried to roll them in… I would not recommend this.  They fall off while baking and handling.)  Cut dough into small squares, or use cookie cutters to make animal crackers.  A pizza cutter works great for cutting the dough.  Give them a light salt sprinkle on top.rolled out crackersPlace one either cookie sheets OR an oven proof wire rack.  Bake at 425F.  If using a cookie sheet bake for 8-10 minutes, then flip all your crackers to toast on the other side.  If using a wire rack bake in oven for 12-15 minutes ’till very toasty.  The time is quite loose because you’ll want to make sure it’s browning and toasting so they’re nice and crunchy.  One of my favorite blogs taught me that trick.cooling crackersLet cool all the way and store in a tub.  They’ll stay crispy for about a week.

Just ‘cuz

My husband and I went on a very last minute date with no moneys and no wheres to go… but when someone offers to take my kids so we can go on a date, I don’t give them those complaints.  So we grabbed our camera on the way out and wandered around town.  Twas a really fun experiment together!

The results:
IMG_6496 IMG_6419 IMG_6369 IMG_6353 IMG_6330

The NW Pie

Black Berry PieThis pie was made in tribute to our beautiful Pacific North West!  I love our berries especially when they’re handed to you off the roadway by a nice little bunch of bushes.  Around here, pie is for dessert that night and for breakfast the next morning.

Black Berry Pie

for the crust:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water

for the filling:

  • 6 cups blackberries
  • 2 Tbs. instant clear gel or corn starch
  • 1 Tbs. Scotch
  • fresh squeeze of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 2 Tbs. butter, cubed

Cut the butter into  your almond meal and flour.  Add salt and sugar.  Wait ’till the butter’s cut into small pea size crumble, then add your ice water (minus the ice) slowly in a stream.  The chill of the water helps the butter to not blend too fine.  Stop mixing right before it looks completely mixed… kinda hard to catch that perfect moment.  Martha has a great process that I’ve been following for years.  It seriously works!  Wrap up your pastry in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Once chilled, roll out and put into your pie shell.  The almond meal was a bit harder to work with.  I found it was way easier, once it was rolled out, to re-roll it back on my rolling pin then place over the pie shell and un-roll it on.  Kind of a good technique to know how to do.  Pies are so easy once you have your system down.

Alrighty, so the crust is the hardest part.  Mix your scotch, lemon juice, instant clear gel or cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl.  Mix ’till the starch is smooth.  Add your berries to the pie shell.  Pour the scotch yumminess over the berries.  Dollop the cubed butter on top.  Then place your other pie crust on top.  This is my favorite part.  Think out of the box a bit and play with a design, but make sure to pinch the edges to seal in the juices.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Place on a windowsill to cool and sing a lovely song… but beware of pie thief cartoon critters!

the Style of a Blackberry Picker

blkbrypkg

Harvest season is at my house and I’ve been picking, canning, and “playing” in the kitchen.  Currently I’ve got 307 pounds of peaches waiting for me to can in my garage.  Our local business sells them for super cheap and it’s a mad rush to box them and get in line.  It’s a huge blessing for us canners who can for very practical reasons.  Besides, home canned peaches are better than ANY store bought such.  I hope to show y’all the very basic of canned peaches in a later post.  There’s so much joy in preserving your own food.  But here’s what I did last week with black berries….

Here in the Pacific North West we’ve got an over abundance of blackberries.  They grow everywhere and fast.  Quite a nuisance if they get in your yard, but out in the wild they’re such a treat to harvest.  I’ve found if hard to pick with kids, as the season is hot and the bushes are pokey.  If you’ve got great aspirations to pick enough to jam or freeze, then you’ll need a few hours.  So my kids stay home ’till they’ve got the patience to pick.  I went out this year and picked with my mom.  We had such a great time!

We find a spot near water.  If the bushes are in dry fields the berries tend to be small and too much time for too little bounty.  So go near a river or lake.  The shadier the better.  Most of the big plump berries were on the north side of the bushes, where the sun doesn’t come down so hot.

Your attire really helps in how comfortable and fast you can pick.  I wear a bandana on my head ‘cuz it’s not in my way like a hat and won’t get caught in the bushes.  I go later in the evenings, so sunglasses make it hard to spot the black berries.  Bring a big stick or find one as you go out.  It helps tremendously with your need to grab branches up high or push the branches out of the way.  I even take two if I need.  Also, long plank boards are great for getting inside a bush where the berries might be more plentiful.  Ladders can be helpful but it’s gotta really be worth it to get up high and they usually grow low enough, it’s not fun to lug around a ladder.  My personal preference is to wear no sleeves.  They get snagged on everything and I’m much more careful if it’s my own skin at risk… or I really don’t care if I’m all scratched up… that berry bunch was worth it!  Another personal preference, keeping my ladies natural.  When you’re so HOT and out in the middle of nowhere, who cares if they’re perky.  Comfort and casual is my game.  Having a good pair of jeans and a heavy duty belt are essential.  DO NOT PICK IN SHORTS!  Yes it’s hot, but not worth your legs looking like zombie bait.  The belt is helpful to loop your bucket handle on so you can have hands free picking.  Save those ice cream buckets or go buy one at a feed store.  It’s no fun to pick with one hand, especially when you’ve got the other hand holding the stick, holding very thorny branches back.  And last but MOST important, good shoes.  A nice pair of hiking boots or tennis shoes are so important.  A couple times I’ve gone out ready to pick, forgetting that I had flip flops on… BIG MISTAKE!  I didn’t get very far.  Shoes with good souls are important ‘cuz many times you have to step down the branches to get to that sweet spot.  And there are many SWEET SPOTS!

Happy picking!

Rubber Band Bracelet

DottyThis post is brought to you buy my 7yr-old, Dotty.  She’s such a creative chic!  Some mornings I’ll wake up to her creativity spread out all over our kitchen table and deep in artsy-meditation with paper shreds all around her.  Today she found some extra fat rubber bands.  Our home policy for crafts is very loose.  As long as they clean up, they can do most anything that’s offered (paint and glitter excluded).  I think it teaches them great responsibilities while letting those creative juices flow.  I’ve taken away using stamp and ink pad privileges if they don’t ask or don’t follow the guide lines of craft mats underneath their work.  “Just ask” is a very common phrase out of my mouth.  And if things are knocked over, a calm “clean it up” phrase is said and THEY clean up the mess (as best they can anyways).  So the rubber bands were chosen and the crafting will commence!

gold scrollingShe found a gold pen, which has proven to not stay on very well.  If she’d have used a sharpie instead it would have worked great.

First she started making the gold scrolling all around.

black sharpieOnce the gold scrolling was done, she filled the rest in with the black sharpie.  And notice the cleaver use of a “knee-mat”.

 That’s my girl!

go girl powerShe made one for each of her sister with initials to tell them apart.  And then a club of sisterhood was declared!!

 

 

Simple Granola

the perfect granolaI have always had a hard time getting store bought granola when it’s so easy to make.  This batch took me no time at all.  The ingredients are fairly common but the flavor and crunch is all there.  The trick is in the process.

Granola:

  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole almonds (or any nuts of your choice, husbands excluded)
  • 2 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened (if large flakes, children excluded, put in the oven with your oats and nuts)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup flax seed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins

Toast the oats and almonds in a 350 F. oven for about 15 minutes, ’till the oats start to golden, stir occasionally.   I usually have two big cake pans in the oven.  The tall sides help me to not worry about dumpage when stirring.  Place the coconut, flour, wheat germ, flax seeds and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  While the oats and nuts are toasting, put the butter, coconut oil, sugar, and honey in a pan to boil.  Turn on medium high heat, stirring until it comes to a boil.  Boil for a minute without stirring.  Pull off the burner and stir your raisins in.

sugar/oil combo

Once your oats have toasted (don’t wait for all of them to toast, just the first sign of golden color) pour in the rest of the dry ingredients and your sugar/oil combo.  Stir to combine and put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.  Watch the color to make sure it doesn’t get too dark.  When it looks good, place on the counter and don’t stir.  Letting it sit ’till warm will help the oats to clump up.  Give it a light stir when it’s warm to break the granola off the bottom of the pan and to break up any big clumps.  Now, let it sit ’till completely cool and your granola will be nice and chunky.  Put in airtight containers and it will keep for a few months.  However, I make this a part of my monthly baking.

granola

It also makes for a fantastic “out of the box” gift!

Pork Short Rib’s visit to the Crockpot

roast

I very randomly shoved things in my crock pot:

  • 1 apple, cored and cut in half
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1/4 C. duck fat
  • 2 racks of pork short ribs
  • 1/4 C. bbq sauce

Surround your ingredients (except the bbq sauce) with the pork ribs.  Let simmer in the crock pot for 8 hrs.  For the last hour slather on some bbq sauce to melt into the meat.  We added a bit more once they were ready to be eaten.  I’m not a huge bbq sauce fan, but just that little bit was enough to give it some spunk!

bbq pork

Mango & Meyer Lemon Sorbet

Mango Meyer Lemon SorbetI had such great expectations for sorbet!  The mango’s were on sale, so I bought a whole bunch.  We made popsicles and chopped them up to put in small baggies to freeze.  The kids eat them frozen, right out of the baggie. (smash the bag of mango to be flat like a pancake and freeze in that shape so the kids can bite into them)  And the popsicles were a mash of blueberries, strawberries, mango and apple cider.  But to finish off our frozen treats we were going to have sorbet.

Unfortunately when organizing my garage last winter, I dropped the ice-cream maker.  “It’s fine.” I said, “It only fell on the cement.”  Well, I was wrong.  The motor only hummed a dreary tune… maybe I can get my husband to work on it?  Until then, I’ll have to do the old fashioned, fork and freezer mash.

Sorbet:

  • 3 mangos, chopped
  • Juice from 6 Meyer lemons
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar (we try and use raw sugars such as turbinado)
  • 1 Tbs Rum
  • 1 Tbs instant clear gel, dissolved in 2 Tbs. cold water

Boil your water, sugar, rum and instant clear gel, making sure to whisk constantly.  Once it comes to a boil, immediately remove from heat and let stand ’till cool.  Blend sugar solution with the mango’s and lemon juice.  If you want to add some zest from the lemons, go for it.  I personally find them interfering with the smoothness of my sorbet.  Now cool and make into sorbet according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions.  However if you’ve dropped yours… or you just don’t have one, place into a metal pan and on a flat space in your freezer.  Ever 30 minutes give it a whisk with a fork ’till it’s frozen and mashy.  Make sure to get the corners and edges as they will freeze first.  If you forget, set it out on the counter for a little while and let it soften up enough to mash, then place in the freezer and continue to check it every half hour.  It takes about 3 to 4 hours ’till it’s ready.  You can store it in a sealed container in the freezer for a couple weeks.  Have a happy summer!