Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Herb Fairies is here again!

HF-meme-herbfairies13

With Spring comes one of my favorite things to the Homestead Project blog….

Herb Fairies!

 

You may remember last year I introduced you to Herb Fairies and I’m delighted that so many of you took advantage of this great resource from John and Kimberly at LearningHerbs.  They gave me some great free stuff to share with you here on the blog and I can’t wait to show you what they have in store this year! 

You are gonna love it!

 
An Herbal Cookbook…

HF-meme-cookbook13Let’s kick this party off right with a free Herb Fairies cookbook!

  You will find 13 fun herbal recipes your kids will have a great time making and sharing with others.  This is a great way to help your kids learn about the herbs and remember their uses. 

Your kids will gain confidence in their ability to use herbs with each recipe and gain priceless knowledge about these wonderful healing plants.

I have long been a fan of Learning Herbs and the wonderful tools they produce such as the Wildcraft! board game and the Herb Mentor community.  They have taught me almost everything I know about herbs. 

This is going to be a great week of freebies and fun things to get us ready for Herb Fairies so stick around to see what it’s all about!  =)

A Soup Recipe…

We eat a lot of soup around here.  In the spring when the weather tends to be fickle and often wet and cold, soup seems like the perfect answer to combat the cold.  Here lately, I’ve been doing some experimenting with chicken soups.  Traditionally, I’ve never been real keen on chicken soup of any kind.  In fact, as a kid it was my least favorite soup.  So this new interest was a shocker to me when I found myself going back again and again to it.   

It all started when a good friend brought me some chicken soup on an afternoon that found our entire household under the weather.  Of course, I was very grateful for such a thoughtful service from my dear friend.  I heated the soup up in a pot and served it to my family that evening and was surprised at how much I really, really, enjoyed it.  Like I said, chicken soup was not my thing.  But this… this was delicious.  And perfect for all of our sicklies.  I loved the broth.  I loved the chunks of chicken.

Immediately, I began deconstructing this bowl of deliciousness so I could duplicate it and from here I became obsessed with making the perfect chicken soup.  Since then I’ve created several versions and have discovered a few favorite ingredients that give excellent results every time. 

Today I’m going to share with you my ‘must haves’ for chicken soup and give you a recipe to try out for yourself. 


The Soup

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 large leeks with an inch of green, cut lengthwise, washed, and sliced
  • 2-3 large celery stalks with the tops, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 tsp.Orrington Farms chicken broth base
  • 4 cups chicken stock  ( you can also use 8 cups of water total with 1/3 cup of broth base and completely omit the chicken stock)
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed in bite size pieces
  • about 4 ounces of Mrs. Miller’s Pot Pie Squares
  • 14.5 ounce can of peas & carrots
  • 12.5 ounce can of cooked chicken breast
  • 3 green onions

 

Melt a stick of butter in a pot over a medium flame.  The butter is favorite ingredient #1.  Don’t tell me it’s bad for you.  Don’t tell me it’s fattening.  Just put the butter in the pot and watch it melt.   This will give your soup a delicious, rich flavor and will season your veggies so well you won’t need to add any salt or pepper.  

Toss in the leeks, fave #2, and let them soften for a few minutes.  Leeks are great for chicken soup.  It’s one of those veggies that tends to be completely ignored by the American masses. That, my friend, is a real shame because leeks can add wonderful texture and flavor to soups, especially chicken soup and potato soup. 

Now, toss in your celery and let it go for another couple minutes.  Toss your garlic in and only give it a minute or two before the broth.  You don’t wanna burn it and if you don’t watch it, it’ll be brown before you realize it. 

Now here’s where the magic happens.  Put your broth base into the bottom of a large measuring cup.  You will want Orrington Farms Broth Base chicken flavor, favorite #3. You will find it in my amazon store in packs of 3, but you can probably pick it up at your local grocer.  Don’t skimp on this.  The flavor in this broth base is out of this world.  It will make your chicken soup. So anyway, stir in the amount of warm water you are using depending on your choice to use stock or not.  Either way is up to you, but the stock will give your soup a little less richness.  Some people like that.  Stir the broth base until it is mixed well with the water, then add it to the soup. 

IMG_2175Bring it to a boil.  Throw in your potatoes and the pot pie squares.  Pot pie squares – favorite #4.  Mrs. Miller’s Old Fashioned Pot Pie Squares.  I like the one inch size.  I buy these from my local produce co-op, but you may be able to find them in a store near you and, of course, in my amazon store.  Bring this all to a boil.  When you’ve got a good boil, lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook until the potatoes and noodles are tender. 

Add the can of peas, the chicken and green onions. A word about the chicken here.  I hate canned meat. With a passion.  Any type of canned soup, or any other canned food with meat in it is just disgusting to me.  You can imagine my great surprise to learn that canned chicken in this soup was actually good for eating.  I’ve learned also that the grade and brand of the chicken does not make much difference in this type of soup.  It’s the broth that does the work all the way through the soup and makes even the cheapest can of chicken taste wonderful. 

Heat this through and serve.  

 

You can take these special ingredients and pair them with a variety of veggies to make a flavorful chicken soup.  Use your imagination and share your favorite here in the comments. 

-knittingprose

Dandelion Flower Cookies…

Herb-Fairies-Logo[1]

Hi guys!  I’m back today with more Herb Fairies goodies!  Smile

Today you will get to learn how to make Dandelion Flower Cookies.  I bet you didn’t know you could eat those pesky yellow things scattered throughout the yard.  That is, if you aren’t using any pesticides nearby. 

The kids and I love dandelions much more than my husband.  He looks at them and sees yard work.  We look at them and see delicious treats.  Dandelions make the best herbal funnel cakes.  I never would have guessed my kids would happily eat weeds out of the yard and ask for more.  But, boy, those things are YUM. 

Can’t wait to try the cookies!

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If you are just joining us for Herb Fairies or you just haven’t gotten around to it yet, DO download the free activity pack for your kids to enjoy.  It has journal pages, coloring sheets, recipes and more – just a small peek into the Herb Fairies program

On Monday, I’ll share all the details of the program with you.  For now, enjoy the free projects from Learning Herbs’ Herb Fairies!

 

 

Happy Saturday!

-knittingprose

A good pot of soup…

Here in the midwest you never know what kind of weather you’re gonna wake up to.  Fourteen years ago, just before I permanently moved here, I remember waking up to snow covering everything when the week before it had been 85 degrees out.  St. Louis weather is never a disappointment when it comes to variety.  Today we’re looking at a typical winter day.  When I woke up this morning it was 9 degrees – a perfect day for a big pot of soup. 

soupI’m pretty sure my love for soup began with my great aunt Thel.  Thel made the absolute best pot of soup in the whole world.  When I was a child, every summer we travelled to the hills of eastern Kentucky for a few weeks to stay with my great aunt Thel and uncle Dewey.  They lived on ‘the ridge’ where the water ran only in the sinks, lighting came from oil lamps and going to the bathroom meant a trip out back.  Pray you didn’t have to go at night!

Since then I’ve discovered the wonders of soup of all kinds.  Chicken soups, stews, minestrones.  Once I grew ill from eating tomato-based soups every day for my school lunch.  It’s no fun being allergic to your favorite food when you’re a kid.  Sad smile  Thankfully, I grew out of that and tomatoes make it to our plates (or bowls) at least 4 times a week. 

Recently, I was asked for my recipe for vegetable soup.  As I thought about how I would write it all down, I realized I don’t have a recipe for vegetable soup.  I have a formula.  Amazingly, no matter what I put into the mix, it comes out tasting roughly the same every time. 

So here I share with you my formula for vegetable soup – as it was scribbled down by myself for a good friend this morning.

 

this is for a regular size batch. you can double and triple for large groups if you need to. When doubling, you don’t really need two big cans of tomato juice. Just add extra water and maybe a little can of tomato sauce instead. remember it’s just a formula so add or subtract whatever you need to as far as veggies go. I’d say the potatoes, carrots are your mainstays, but everything else is up to you. You can add a good dollop of butter at the end if you want a smoother, creamier flavor. Just taste it first to see if you really want it.
1 lb. ground beef
1 lg. can of tomato juice
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, whole or diced. (if you have real canned tomatoes, even better!)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 heaping tsp. minced garlic (if you don’t have it just dust the meat with garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste (really to smell. after you dust the meat with it, jut smell the pot to know if its enough. same with the garlic, really)
1 15ish oz. can each of whole kernel corn, green beans, peas, black-eyed peas
about 5 medium potatoes, diced large (yukon gold are really good and buttery) don’t dice em too small or they’ll all turn to mush. leave the jackets on them.
about 6 med. – large carrots, sliced kinda thick
1/2 – most of a head of cabbage, chopped (if it’s a small head you’ll probably use most. cabbage gets much smaller as it cooks so don’t be alarmed when you throw it in the pot)
dried parsley
celery seed (if you got it)
1) brown the ground beef and drain most of the juice. leave a little in for seasoning. just tip the pan sideways and let what’ll come out, come out. whatever’s left just leave in. Add your chopped onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the meat. Cook til the onions are clear.
2) add in the carrots and let cook for a few minutes. then add the rest of the canned veggies, tomatoes and juice. when you start to boil, toss in the potatoes. Oh, you’ll probably need to add water once you add all the veggies. Just take your big can and fill it with water. You want to have about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of liquid over the veggies in the pot. You can let that simmer as long as you want to, but if it’s gonna sit for more than an hour I would wait to put the potatoes in. If you’re an hour or less away from serving, add them then. You can add the cabbage then too. Give the top of the pot a good dusting of dried parsley, about 1/2 the top with celery seed.
3) once everything is in and boiling, turn it down to a simmer. Stir it ever so often so nothing gets too hot and sticks. Especially if you add noodles!!! They WILL stick if you don’t watch them.
*a couple notes about noodles – I almost always add noodles to my soups. Usually either spaghetti noodles, quartered or shell or macaroni noodles. Noodles are a great way to add volume to your soup without costing you a ton of money. this is great if you’re feeding a bunch of people. also I never add cooked noodles to the soup. If you just add extra water to the pot, let it get to boiling and then add your noodles, they will take on the flavor of the soup – SO much better tasting. When you first put them in, stir them constantly. They will stick most at the beginning. Scrape the bottom of the pot cause they WILL stick there when you first add them and they won’t go anywhere unless you get ’em up.
How to save a ruined soup:
too salty – throw in a large peeled potato and it will soak up the extra salt. be sure to take it out before serving.
if you burn the soup (it smells smoky): #1 rule DO NOT scrape the bottom of the pan! Stir very gently and you can maybe salvage it. Sometimes, the smoky smell/taste will dissipate if you don’t disturb the burnt stuff on bottom.  Just let it sit for a bit with the lid off.  If you need to reheat it I would transfer it to a clean pot. 

Don’t forget the cornbread!

–knittingprose

A good pot of soup…

Here in the midwest you never know what kind of weather you’re gonna wake up to.  Fourteen years ago, just before I permanently moved here, I remember waking up to snow covering everything when the week before it had been 85 degrees out.  St. Louis weather is never a disappointment when it comes to variety.  Today we’re looking at a typical winter day.  When I woke up this morning it was 9 degrees – a perfect day for a big pot of soup. 

soupI’m pretty sure my love for soup began with my great aunt Thel.  Thel made the absolute best pot of soup in the whole world.  When I was a child, every summer we travelled to the hills of eastern Kentucky for a few weeks to stay with my great aunt Thel and uncle Dewey.  They lived on ‘the ridge’ where the water ran only in the sinks, lighting came from oil lamps and going to the bathroom meant a trip out back.  Pray you didn’t have to go at night!

Since then I’ve discovered the wonders of soup of all kinds.  Chicken soups, stews, minestrones.  Once I grew ill from eating tomato-based soups every day for my school lunch.  It’s no fun being allergic to your favorite food when you’re a kid.  Sad smile  Thankfully, I grew out of that and tomatoes make it to our plates (or bowls) at least 4 times a week. 

Recently, I was asked for my recipe for vegetable soup.  As I thought about how I would write it all down, I realized I don’t have a recipe for vegetable soup.  I have a formula.  Amazingly, no matter what I put into the mix, it comes out tasting roughly the same every time. 

So here I share with you my formula for vegetable soup – as it was scribbled down by myself for a good friend this morning.

 

this is for a regular size batch. you can double and triple for large groups if you need to. When doubling, you don’t really need two big cans of tomato juice. Just add extra water and maybe a little can of tomato sauce instead. remember it’s just a formula so add or subtract whatever you need to as far as veggies go. I’d say the potatoes, carrots are your mainstays, but everything else is up to you. You can add a good dollop of butter at the end if you want a smoother, creamier flavor. Just taste it first to see if you really want it.
1 lb. ground beef
1 lg. can of tomato juice
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes, whole or diced. (if you have real canned tomatoes, even better!)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 heaping tsp. minced garlic (if you don’t have it just dust the meat with garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste (really to smell. after you dust the meat with it, jut smell the pot to know if its enough. same with the garlic, really)
1 15ish oz. can each of whole kernel corn, green beans, peas, black-eyed peas
about 5 medium potatoes, diced large (yukon gold are really good and buttery) don’t dice em too small or they’ll all turn to mush. leave the jackets on them.
about 6 med. – large carrots, sliced kinda thick
1/2 – most of a head of cabbage, chopped (if it’s a small head you’ll probably use most. cabbage gets much smaller as it cooks so don’t be alarmed when you throw it in the pot)
dried parsley
celery seed (if you got it)
1) brown the ground beef and drain most of the juice. leave a little in for seasoning. just tip the pan sideways and let what’ll come out, come out. whatever’s left just leave in. Add your chopped onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the meat. Cook til the onions are clear.
2) add in the carrots and let cook for a few minutes. then add the rest of the canned veggies, tomatoes and juice. when you start to boil, toss in the potatoes. Oh, you’ll probably need to add water once you add all the veggies. Just take your big can and fill it with water. You want to have about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of liquid over the veggies in the pot. You can let that simmer as long as you want to, but if it’s gonna sit for more than an hour I would wait to put the potatoes in. If you’re an hour or less away from serving, add them then. You can add the cabbage then too. Give the top of the pot a good dusting of dried parsley, about 1/2 the top with celery seed.
3) once everything is in and boiling, turn it down to a simmer. Stir it ever so often so nothing gets too hot and sticks. Especially if you add noodles!!! They WILL stick if you don’t watch them.
*a couple notes about noodles – I almost always add noodles to my soups. Usually either spaghetti noodles, quartered or shell or macaroni noodles. Noodles are a great way to add volume to your soup without costing you a ton of money. this is great if you’re feeding a bunch of people. also I never add cooked noodles to the soup. If you just add extra water to the pot, let it get to boiling and then add your noodles, they will take on the flavor of the soup – SO much better tasting. When you first put them in, stir them constantly. They will stick most at the beginning. Scrape the bottom of the pot cause they WILL stick there when you first add them and they won’t go anywhere unless you get ’em up.
How to save a ruined soup:
too salty – throw in a large peeled potato and it will soak up the extra salt. be sure to take it out before serving.
if you burn the soup (it smells smoky): #1 rule DO NOT scrape the bottom of the pan! Stir very gently and you can maybe salvage it. Sometimes, the smoky smell/taste will dissipate if you don’t disturb the burnt stuff on bottom.  Just let it sit for a bit with the lid off.  If you need to reheat it I would transfer it to a clean pot. 

Don’t forget the cornbread!

–knittingprose