Friday, May 30, 2014

Condensed Mushroom Soup from Nourish

I thought I'd share another recipe from Nourish this week while the giveaway is going on.

I don't use condensed soups often. When I do, I make my own homemade version of cream soup.

Recently I wanted condensed cream soup and was out of milk. I remembered this dairy-free recipe in the Nourish cookbook. It was a great chance to try it.

Again the secret ingredient in this recipe is beans. You will start to think that every recipe in Nourish has beans but that is far from true! It just happens to be the two recipes I enjoyed from this book.

The day I wanted to make this, I had no mushrooms. So I substituted some celery to make celery soup. I used this soup as a sauce for steak (in another recipe in Nourish) and also for egg stacks. I didn't tell my family and I don't think they know yet that I made a different sauce.

The ways to personalize this soup are limitless with different spices. This is recipe that is going in my favorite's file!

Condensed Mushroom Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 T oil
2 T fresh herbs OR 2 tsp dried herbs (such as sage, thyme, rosemary, or parsley)
1/2 tsp pepper (this was a little too much in my opinion)
4 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used 2 cups chopped celery instead)
1 (15 oz.) can white kidney beans, drained
1 T soy sauce
2 T nutritional yeast (optional)

Saute chopped onion in olive oil. Add herbs and pepper; saute until onion is clear. Add mushrooms and cook four minutes.

Puree in blender with beans until smooth. Add soy sauce and blend well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Black Bean Brownies from Nourish

My family is crazy about chocolate so the first recipe I tried in the Nourish cookbook had to be Brownies!

I couldn't imagine that any brownie could be good made without flour and sugar but my family happily downed these!

The secret ingredient is black beans. Until I told them, my family had no idea that these brownies contained beans. In fact, I think my husband still thinks that I am teasing. Esther said that if you let them sit for 24 hours, the bean taste disappears but we tried these warm, the first, second, and third day and there was never a bean flavor.

I cooked the beans using Esther's directions in Nourish but you can also use canned beans.

Black Bean Brownies

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
4 eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 T butter, melted
2 T oil
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 dash cayenne pepper (I didn't have any cayenne so left it out.)
1/4 tsp liquid stevia (I didn't have liquid so used stevia powder.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place beans and eggs in blender and pulse until beans are totally smooth. Pour into mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Pour into greased 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

The Nourish cookbook includes some recipes that incorporate these brownies including trifle and a yummy strawberry brownie pizza. We also enjoyed the black bean fudge cake.

If you want to enter a giveaway for the Nourish cookbook, you still have a few more days! Go to this post to sign up.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Giveaway - Nourish Cookbook

 Nourish Cookbook Cover

I don't think I have ever had a giveaway that I was so excited about.

I know many of you are trying to eat more healthful diet. Sometimes it is your own choice, sometimes because of a health crisis.

Several years ago, Esther Yoder's four year old daughter began having seizures. After medication failed to give good results, their doctor recommended they try a Low Glycemic Index Diet.

The past several years has been an adventure as Esther sought to find food that her daughter could eat on her very strict diet. With the help their dietician, Esther creatively adapted recipes that her child could enjoy. Today, her daughter is seizure and medicine free!

But Esther didn't stop there. With the goal of helping other cooks who are faced with the daunting task of completely revamping their diet, Esther compiled her recipes into a cookbook and Nourish - Recipes for Delicious, Low Carb, Sugar Free Meals was born.

I expected this cookbook to be nice, but I was still surprised by just how nice! Nourish is beautiful, with many photographs. The pictures I tried to take of this book to not give it justice. Each recipe also includes the nutritional facts. Esther shares lots of tips through the book as well as her personal experiences in adapting a strict diet for a child. The cookbook is a joy to flip through. Best of all, every recipe I have tried in the book has been tasty! And I don't even need to eat a low glycemic diet!

Esther wrote the book for other epileptic patients, but many others would benefit from the book. Diabetics, THM fans, and anyone who is trying to decrease their sugar and carbs will enjoy Nourish.

I was amazed at the variety of recipes in the cookbook. Whether you are faced with a birthday party, a school snack, or a family cookout - this book will give you ideas to make your event a success.

Here is a glimpse into the sections of Nourish.

Beverages, Hors D'Oeuveres and Snacks include cheese ball, snack mixes, and all sorts of yummy drinks like mochaccino and southern iced tea.

In Breakfast and Breads you'll find omelets, coffee cake, and almond meal pancakes.


Soups and Salads had me drooling with chicken bacon chowder and ranch chicken fajita salad. There is even finger jello for children.

Paninis, Quesadillas, and Wraps gives great ideas for quick meals.

Main Dishes and Sides has some great ideas for using the grill and the slow cooker plus classics such as barbecued chicken and Mexican lasagna.

Bake Shop Desserts is the section that blew me away. Esther really got creative here. With no sugar and no flour, she serves up chocolate chip cookies, brownie trifle, vanilla pudding, mocha cheesecake, and more. Even several kinds of frosting and chocolate glaze to put the finishing touches on your dessert.

Esther wraps up her cookbook with a Home Pantry section. I'm eager to try her sugar-free versions of ketchup and salsa this summer. She also includes marinade and some seasoning mixes in this section.

I am so excited to share Nourish with you, thanks to Esther's generosity. I hope that there is someone out there to whom this book can be a lifesaver (maybe literally).

To enter this giveaway, go to the Nourish Cookbook site and take a look around OR go to BookCentra and read a preview from the cookbook.

Then come back here and leave a comment with your email address.

Want another chance to win? Mention this giveaway on Facebook and share a link and come back here and let another comment to double your chances.

To see what others are saying about this cookbook, read  Michelle's review.


Giveaway will end May 31. Winner chosen by

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rhubarb Sauce

Our rhubarb plant is finally big enough to provide enough rhubarb for all the many ways I want to enjoy this spring fruit. One of the first from-the-garden recipes my mom made each spring was Rhubarb Sauce. Rhubarb sauce is a sort of cross between applesauce and jello. It does not jell fully like jello. My husband dislikes jello but will eat rhubarb sauce. This may be one of those family recipes that you have to grow up with to enjoy. Great with rhubarb coffee cake!


 I successfully replaced the sugar with stevia powder. I couldn't tell the difference. The rhubarb flavor hides any stevia aftertaste. Of course the jello has sugar so this isn't sugar free. I buy jello in bulk to use in this kind of recipe.

Rhubarb Sauce

2 quarts chopped rhubarb
1 quart water
2 T tapioca
1 cup sugar OR 1 tsp stevia powder
1 cup raspberry or strawberry jello

Combine rhubarb, water, and tapioca. Cook until rhubarb is soft. Add sugar and bring back to boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in jello. Chill before serving.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Carrot Planting Tip

It feels like our long winter has finally ended when we can enjoy fresh food from our garden again.

I had not got my cold frame started early like usual. (How long can I keep using the baby as my excuse for everything I am not getting done?)

But this past week or two, the warm sunshine has brought new growth. I love walking out to the garden at this time of year because every day brings changes.


And bigger weeds - but I'm working on that problem. A few days ago, the strawberry patch in the photo above could hardly be found because of the huge weeds. But an evening spent pulling weeds and throwing down some straw for mulch did wonders. Now to tackle the raspberries.

Today I realized that I could actually choose between asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, or rhubarb. Wow! Options! Maybe I'll just decide to have all of them!


We've already enjoyed several meals of quiche. My family loves quiche and I love how it will change throughout the year as various vegetables ripen.

I still haven't planted our whole garden. Didn't even get any beans in yet. But what I really wanted to write about is carrots.

I think I finally figured out how to get carrots to sprout in our heavy clay soil. For years I was discouraged about growing carrots. Even when sown heavily, very few of the carrot seeds would push through the soil crust.

A couple years ago I decided to try covering the seed with sand. It worked wonderfully. I tried again last year and again had success. I decided to try one more year to make sure that it wasn't just an accident before sharing it with you. And yesterday I spotted these tiny little sprouts - so it worked again!

First I rake a smooth level bed of soil. I make a row as wide as my garden rake. (About a foot.) Then I broadcast the seeds into this row. I don't make straight lines - just try to toss them out somewhat evenly. I try to be generous and plan to do some thinning after they grow. Then I cover the seeds lightly with sand (which I steal from my children's sandbox.)

The sand is much easier for the tiny carrot seeds to push through then heavy soil, especially if you get the pounding spring rains like we've had recently. My germination rate has been much higher.

Do you have any hints on growing carrots?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake


Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake

 When I am hungry for raspberries and pecans, this is the coffee cake I make. It’s perfect for a special breakfast. 

Note: You do not want to under-bake this coffee cake. I have had this one turn very soggy when it wasn’t baked long enough.

3 ½ cups unsweetened raspberries
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan cook raspberries and water over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice. Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into fruit mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in eggs, sour cream and vanilla (batter will be stiff). Spread half into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Spread raspberry filling over batter; spoon remaining batter over filling. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over top. Bake at 350˚ for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Combine the glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm cake. 

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Home Repair Drama

It is the curse of old vehicles and used appliances - something is always in need of repair.

This winter seemed worse than usual.

First it was the oven. Days before Christmas and a few weeks till my due date, I realized that the oven would heat but not get fully hot. After trying to bake muffins for 45 minutes, I finally decided I had a problem.

It is probably no surprise that I use my oven frequently so Ed quickly called the repairman and left a message. After a week and still no word from the repairman, Ed's sleuth work found that one oven coil wasn't working. He ordered the part, it arrived a few days later, and with a few minutes of Ed's time, I had an operating oven in time to welcome our new baby.

A few weeks later Ed spent a Saturday cutting wood. When he got home, he said he had a close call. Of course my mind conjured up visions of accidents including chain saws and falling trees. But he was smiling so I figured it wasn't too bad.

The truck's alternator, the part that charges the battery had went bad. Ed knew the battery wasn't charging well so when he dropped off the first load of wood at our house he had not stopped the truck. He didn't think it would be able to start it again if he turned off the truck. By the time he got back to the woods, the turn signal wasn't even working. When he turned off the truck, the battery was completely dead.

My brother Eric "just happened" to be cutting wood that day too. And of all my brothers, Eric is the one you want to have with you if you are repairing a vehicle. And they were cutting wood right beside a junk yard. Ed and Eric walked down to the junk yard, bought an alternator that fit, and Eric had tools in his truck to install it.

Twenty dollars and a few minutes later, they were back to cutting wood and Ed had his truck fixed. Not only did he save a large amount of money compared to taking the truck to his normal mechanic - the truck could have left him sit on his way to work or some other inconvenient time.

Next to pitch a fit was the washing machine. I think I could live without almost any appliance except a washing machine.

A stomach bug had struck and the bathroom rug was caught in the line of fire. I shoved the rug in the washer but an hour later, when I checked the washer, it was full of water. I figured something had become unbalanced from the rug and pulled it out, attempting to spin the water out of the washer. The washer feebly spinned once and quit again. I bailed out the water with a cup and tried again with no success. I gave up and emailed a friend whose husband is an appliance repairman. From a description of the problem, he dignosied the problem as a clog in the drain line and told Ed how to clean it out.

I won't pretend Ed had fun. There is an amazing amount of gunk in a washing machine drain line. (Aren't you glad I'm not sharing photos!) The clog culprit was a nursing pad. Oops! I was thankful we had not had to call a repairman for more reasons than just the cost savings.

But the laundry problems weren't over. (I suppose they won't ever be over until heaven.)  A few weeks later I went down to the basement and sniffed. Yuck. Something smelled burnt. It was not exactly a smoke smell, more like something charred. I looked around for the source and decided it was coming from the dryer. The clothes were permeated with the odor.

When Ed smelled the clothing he said it smelled like burnt hair. Burnt hair? Could a lint ball have caught somewhere and caused such a smell?

Once again Ed pulled out his tool bag. This time he had the dryer unscrewed into many pieces before he could get back to the heating element of the dryer.

And there he found a mouse.

Or what used to be a mouse. Maybe he was searching for a warm home this winter. Now he was well-toasted, crisp- fried, char-roasted. Ick!

And now you are really glad I'm not sharing pictures.

We had to run the dryer for a while to burn of the remaining odor. I was now glad my laundry was in the basement depths. At least we didn't have to smell it in our living quarters.

Maybe you don't think these stories have point. But maybe it will encourage another homemaker who is watching her appliances self-destruct.

Thank God who allowed breakdowns at perfect times to be easily fixed with minimal time or money.

And thank God for a husband who battles washer gunk and charred mouse.

(By the way, are any of you headed to the CHAP convention on Friday? I'd love to meet you, so if our paths cross, come over and say "Hi." I'll be the one with the cute baby!)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hearty-Grain Sourdough Bread


My husband likes bread with lots of crunchy seeds and grains. I've made many different variations of this bread. You can substitute various grains and seeds, this is just a guide to get you started. I use the whole wheat sourdough bread as my base but you can use many of the bread recipes, not just sourdough bread to make a heart grain bread.

I mix up the grains and seeds the night before with warm water. It is a good time to also feed my sourdough starter so it is busy and active for bread baking the next day.

Hearty-Grain Sourdough Bread

1/2 cup rolled oatmeal
1/2 cup bulgar (or steel-cut oats)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 T flax seeds
2 T poppy seeds
1/2 cup warm water
2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water 
1/4 cup oil or melted butter 
1/4 cup honey 
5 cups whole wheat flour (approximate measure)
3 tsp salt 
additional seeds for garnish

 Mix rolled oatmeal, bulgar, seeds, and warm water together. (You may add an acid ingredient if you like to soak your grains and seeds in an acid liquid.) Allow to sit overnight.

In the morning, mix all ingredients except salt for 2-3 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for about 20 minutes.

After rest, add salt and knead dough for about five minutes. If dough is too sticky, add slightly more flour but dough should be soft and not dry and stiff. Place in oiled bowl and allow dough to rise for 3-4 hours or until nearly doubled in size.

Divide dough into two pieces (unless you want smaller loaves, then divide into however many loaves you wish) and shape into loaves and place in two greased bread pans. If a free form loaf is desired, place on greased baking sheet. Spray with oil and cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Allow to rise for 2-3 hours.

When dough has risen, brush beaten egg on loaf tops and sprinkle oatmeal or seeds on loaf as desired for garnish. Carefully slash the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. For even browning, turn loaves halfway through baking time.



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