Falling Leaves


Fall Colours

Fall Colors by Russ Osborne

Happy Thanksgiving! I have been mulling over all that I have to be thankful for. Life can certainly be a challenge but as I live and breathe, I have more to be thankful for than this blog could contain. I may be disturbed some days but I have happiness and contentment.

Fall has come and gone. The leaves are gone and even though we should already have snow, we have been blessed with a few more moderately warm days. I have to admit, I was hanging on to it for dear life this year.I’m actually one of those people who loves snow and winter. Fall is still my favorite with Spring being a close second.

I’ve been foraging as usual. I picked up hickory nuts and laid them on my patio table to dry for at least two weeks. When they drop from the tree, they have a hull around them that is segmented and as it dries, it will separate and fall off or you can pry it off. It is dry between the hull and the nutshell. Once they dry outside for the two weeks then I bring them in and put them on trays and dry some more.

Juglans Nigra, Black Walnut

Black Walnut By: nipplerings72

There is two black walnut trees by the road here where I live and the green hulled nuts fall in the road and cars run over them and crack the nut shell out of the hull. Inside the green hull is a lighter brown substance (as seen in the picture below and on the right) that turns to a dark brown looking substance that Walnut Stain for furniture refinishing is made from. Once the hulls are run over a few times, the nut in its shell separates from the hull and the yucky stain that you don’t want to touch with your hands. You will be stained like a piece of walnut furniture If you don’t use rubber gloves when picking the walnuts up. These get dried for two weeks also.

Black Walnut, Juglans nigra ....#15

I have trouble cracking them but one of my sons (muscle man that he is) cracks them and puts the nut meats in Peanut Butter Jars to save for our baking needs. We love them and free is so much better than the expensive prices in the store. The baking increases in the fall which means the house always seems to have some good smells going on. For thanksgiving I made Banana Bread but not just your run of the mill banana bread…I saw America’s Test Kitchen make the Ultimate Banana Bread. Take a look on You Tube at this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=DtokStgEQKM&feature=endscreen

Here is the Recipe:

ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD ON AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN SEASON 11

ONE LOAF  BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR ABOUT 1 HOUR IN A GREASED 4 X 7  LOAF PAN. (made for Thanksgiving 2012)

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl:

ONE LOAF                                                                         TWO LOAVES

1 3/4 flour                                                                          3 1/2 Cups

1 tsp Baking soda                                                            2 tsp. Baking Soda

½ tsp Salt                                                                           1 tsp. Salt

Mix wet ingredients in one bowl :

1 Stick Melted Butter                                                      2 Sticks Melted Butter

1 tsp Vanilla                                                                       2 tsp. Vanilla

2 Eggs                                                                                   4 Eggs

¾ Cup Brown Sugar                                                        1 ½ cups Brown Sugar

5 Bananas Micro waved on High 5 Minutes         10 Bananas Micro waved on High 7  Minutes.

½ Cup Toasted Walnuts (add at the end  mix)     1 Cup Toasted Walnuts (add at end to mix)

Take Bananas (5 for one loaf and 10 for 2 loaves)and put in bowl covered with plastic wrap with holes poked in it and microwave for 5 – 7 minutes on high, drain liquid from bananas into saucepan and cook on high heat, watching and stirring occasionally till it’s reduced ( ¼ cup for one loaf and ½ cup for 2 loaves) and add back to the drained bananas and mash together till smooth. Add the rest of the Wet Ingredients to the bananas.

Mix together with the dry till there are no big  lumps but not too much so it doesn’t develop gluten.

Add ½ or 1 cup toasted walnuts and mix right at the end of mixing.

Grease Loaf Pan and add dough to pan. Peel 1 banana on a diagonal and put down each side overlapping

Sprinkle 2 tsp Sugar over the top of the loaf

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour..rotate half through. Cool for 15 min before slicing… Yum!

This is awesome banana bread.

Well there is lots of cooking going on here. My family is coming tomorrow. I love it when they come. I hope you all have an especially good day with your families. We are so blessed. Savor every moment.

I know I’m not writing as much right now but I’ll be around when I can. Stop by and visit when you can. Have special times with your family and I will see you soon.              Jan

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Grammie is happy!


Yes…absolutely! Grammie is happy! My daughter and grand-daughter came to visit from out-of-state and I am so happy. I wish I had more strength… I feel rather exhausted but I am happy. Several other grand children have been here to visit so my cup is full and running over.

First Big Fish at Age Seven

Grampie is in the kitchen making Smore Cupcakes. There is more chocolate on their faces than in the bowl. Here is the recipe from Bakingdom (http://bakingdom.com/2011/08/smore-cupcakes.html). There is not long to wait. The smell is tantalizing. Yummy!

There has been lots of swimming, drawing, movies and playing angry birds. What a bunch. Love them all. Wish all  9 could be here all at once.

Bugs Bunny

Our grand-daughter went with Grampie and they picked beets, carrots, and swiss chard out of the garden. I got it all cooked and in the refrigerator this morning ready to eat.  One other grand-daughter looked just like Bugs Bunny with the carrot with all the greens still on it. She ate it all gone. I showed them how you cut the greens off the beets, boil them in salted water till they are tender. Set them off the stove to cool and then you can just squeeze it and the skin pops off and is ready to eat. I want all my grand-children to love veggies.

I hope you all are having good summers and if you have family any distance away, I hope you are able to get together for a visit.

The Pastor and his family brought us green beans out of the church garden. I fixed enough to go with supper. Thanks so much for that.

Our whole supper was free. Everything was out of the garden and the fish was out of the Lake. I love that.

Come visit when you can. I will always enjoy it.    Jan

The Best Foraging Rules I’ve Found


On April 30, 2012, I published a blog called: Precautionary Warning! The Other Side of the Coin.

I wanted to make sure if anyone read about the foraging, that the readers were safe as they explored this area in the wild. I came across the site I’m going to show you and thought this was a more concise list that seemed more understandable. You decide. If you are going to forage, please save this list and follow the rules that are there for your safety.

May Apple Plants on the Forest Floor

The Rules of Foraging


These rules are for your own protection when investigating plants that are new to you. If followed closely, they will protect you in the field.

  1. DO NOT collect plants closer than 200 feet from a car path or contaminated area.
  2. NEVER collect from areas sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals.
  3. DO NOT collect plants with RED STEMS, or red striations or stripes.
  4. ALWAYS BE FAMILIAR with all dangerous plants in YOUR area of collection.
  5. POSITIVELY IDENTIFY all plants you intend to use for food.
  6. Take a piece off the plant and roll between your fingers. SNIFF CAREFULLY. Does it smell like something you would eat? If it doesn’t, DISCARD IMMEDIATELY. If it does, go to rule 7.
  7. Take another piece off the plant and roll until juicy. RUB the tiny piece on your gum above your teeth.
  8. WAIT 20 minutes.
  9. DOES YOUR GUM ITCH, BURN, TINGLE, SWELL OR STING? If no reaction occurs, go on to rule 10.
  10. Take another piece of the plant and put in a teacup. Add boiling water and steep for 5 minutes. SIP SLOWLY for 20 more minutes. WATCH FOR NAUSEA, BURNING, DISCOMFORT.
    If no reaction occurs, you may ingest a small amount.
  11. WAIT ANOTHER 20 MINUTES and watch for any reaction.
  12. Keep all samples AWAY from children or pets.
  13. Store all seeds and bulbs AWAY from children and pets.
  14. Teach children to keep all plants AWAY from their mouths and DO NOT ALLOW children chew or suck nectar from any unknown plants.
  15. AVOID smoke from burning plants. Smoke may irritate the eyes or cause allergic reactions QUICKLY.
  16. BE AWARE of your neighbor’s habits with chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.
  17. BEWARE: heating or boiling doesn’t always destroy toxicity.

Disclaimer


This is information about wild food. The owners of this website (www.ofthefield.com) make no claims as to the correctness, safety or usability of the data.

The information contained herein is intended to be an educational tool for gathering and cooking wild plants. The information presented is for use as a supplement to a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. The nutritional requirements of individuals may vary greatly, therefore the author and publisher take no responsibility for an individual using and ingesting wild plants.

All data is to be used at your own risk. Using the Rules of Foraging, above, greatly help to reduce that risk, but they are not foolproof.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

English: Hiking trail Soonwaldsteig

I got this information from a site called: http://ofthefield.com/

Click on the “Ongoing Information” link on the left side of the screen and below a list of  several plants that you could look for and what they are good for, is The Rules for Foraging. This list seems the best to me. Foraging is a wonderful experience as long as you are well-informed and cautious. Remember the saying, ” An ounce of prevention (or caution) is worth a pound of cure!”

One of the plants she listed is the Red Clover you read about in my blog post: Gathering Red Clover (5/27/2012). The following is what Lind Runyon has to say about Clover:

CLOVERRed Clover

When I homesteaded in the Adirondack wilderness, the intake of calcium and protein was my main interest. Reading references about wild foods became a very necessary occupation when I went to the town library.

Red clover is one wild food that is high in vegetable protein and calcium. Red clover buds are sold in health food stores as a tonic for the body.

I began by putting red clover leaves between two pieces of whole wheat bread and pretending it was cheese. After a week or so, I began to forage freely on red clover leaves and buds for my sweet candy.

Little did I know the plant would eventually supply casseroles, teas, stir-fry and flour for baking. For a few months, red clover was added to spaghetti sauce and cream sauce for a halfway normal diet.

English: Trifolium pratense, Fabaceae, Red Clo...

Red Clover
Photo Credit~Wikipedia

When foraging for any plant be sure include careful, 100 percent identification. For a complete set of foraging rules, please see below in the Dandelions section, “Rules of Foraging”. For red clover, rub the plant on your upper gum and wait 20 minutes for any reaction. If no reaction, make a weak tea then consume small sections of this new plant.

You may be fortunate to have a weedy backyard. If not, locate an access field and call to inquire how long ago the field was cultivated and what was grown there as far back as five years ago.

Most chemicals are washed down below the quick-growing weed root system and wild food roots are in the first 4 inches of topsoil as a rule. Hardy and fast-growing, these plants are the very ones the agricultural system needs to eradicate.

English: Trefoil crop in South Hams. Tramlines...

Clover Crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clover: Trifolium pratense (red clover), Trefolium repens (white clover), Legume Family, LeguminosaeTrefolium pratense (L.)

History: Throughout all cultures; a Native American vegetable.

Characteristics: Biennial or perennial herb. Red clover reaches the height of 10 inches or more, with hairy stems. Red or purple blossom with oval nectar sections; elongated leaves form trefoil with white vein when mature. White clover reaches the height of 2 inches or more. White blossoms have dozens of nectar filled sections; round leaves form trefoil at end of stem.

Location: Fields, roadsides, backyards.

Collection and Storage: Plants are most succulent in spring and early summer. Gathering a winter’s supply of clover takes only a few minutes. Clover can be frozen by placing it in a single layer on freezer wrap, folding over 2 sides to hold the clover in place, and freezing. After the clover is frozen, roll the paper to make a compact package, fasten, and label. Dry seed heads separately for an attractive potpourri.

Parts used: Leaves, blossoms, stems, roots. All can be used raw or cooked, dried or frozen.

Medicinal Value: Red clover is used as tea for cough, whooping-cough; blood tonic or purifier. Clover syrup used for chest congestion and bronchitis.

Hot Clover and Rice

1 cup milk or water
2 cups washed clover leaves
4 cups fluffy cooked rice

Add rice to a greased baking dish. Stir in clover and water (or milk). Stir again and serve hot. A protein delight. Serves 4.

Clover Sprout Muffins

3/4 cup partly cooked clover sprouts
1-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons baking powder (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey)
1 cup milk or water
1 egg (optional)
2 tablespoons melted shortening (author uses water, no baking powder or egg, and sesame oil)

Stir flour, baking powder and honey together. Add milk or water and egg. Mix well. Add sprouts and melted shortening. Bake in a well-greased muffin tin at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Serves 3.

(Medicinal remedies suggested by this column are intended to be used solely at the discretion and responsibility of the user.)

CAUTION: Always check identification of wild foods with photographic sources. Some wild foods are toxic to humans. So when in doubt: DON’T! Also be aware of the use of chemicals in your lawn and neighbor’s lawn.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wonderful information! Thanks Linda

I hope there are those out there that are opening their eyes to what is around you. Knowledge can add to our lives and bring joy as you shop in the free grocery store that is fields, your yard, woods nearby or places you may visit. Hope this is helpful.

Come and visit a bit when you can. Love to see you every time.

Jan

The Full Picture


Wild Onions~Remember These?

Remember when we found these wild onions? They were so good and fresh! Now I’m going to show you the next step.

Dried and Gone to Seed Wild Onion

Here is the wild onion gone to seed. The whole plant has dried and those ball-shaped flower heads have dried reveling many seeds for next years provision. The dried plant from flower tip to onion ball at the bottom measures 2414″ long.  We have carried these home and will plant them in a place where the can provide us with onions every year without and labor of planting. Work smarter not harder! This is the full picture of the life of a wild onion. This is so exciting. Simple Pleasures as I love life. 😉

Stemmed, Twice Washed Turnip Greens Ready to Cook

I went to church Wednesday and brought home more turnips and the greens. I am altering the way I did the greens last time since I love my hubby and want him to enjoy them too. He says things so rarely that I know that the stems left in to cook were not appetizing to him. I stripped the leaves from the stems and have contacted a dear friend that know so much. She is 94 so she has had lots of time to figure things out. I haven’t heard back from her yet. Turnip greens have a bitter taste caused by the calcium they contain. I rinsed them twice and cooked them in heavily salted water since I haven’t heard back.

When I looked online, this is one response to the question:

But not that bitter! Seasonal means after the first frost is the best time to pick the greens, the smaller leaves are better and more tender.
I never heard of cooking longer helping with the bitterness; you just have more tender greens or overcooked greens .
Cracker Barrel or country cooking serve pepper sauce consisting of small hot peppers pickled in vinegar to put on the greens so I guess vinegar or an acid helps with the bitterness. There is nothing wrong with adding a spoon of sugar or to taste–At any time in the cooking process, even the end. It definitely takes care of the bitterness.
Mustard greens have a stronger flavor than turnip greens but not an unpleasant bitterness. It’s okay to cook them together. Both cooked down much more than collard greens.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/284194   Interesting!!

I did see a recipe I would like to try:

TURNIP GREEN CASSEROLE
Printed from COOKS.COM

1 (15 oz.) can Bush’s chopped turnip or mustard greens, drained (Or Freshly Cooked out of the garden)
1 tsp. sugar
Salt, pepper to taste
1/2 of (10 1/2 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 tsp. horseradish
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Bread crumbs
Grated cheddar cheese
Blend all ingredients together except crumbs and cheese. Spoon into casserole. Cover top with bread crumbs and cheese and bake one hour at 350 degrees. Serves 6 to 8.NOTE: This dish multiplies well for a big crowd.
I figure that this is more of a Southern delicacy so I checked and found this recipe on http://www.southernliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant/turnip-greens-recipes-00417000072384/

Southern Turnip Greens and Ham Hocks Recipe
1 3/4 lb. ham hocks, rinsed
2 bunches fresh turnip greens with roots (about 10 lb.)
1 Tbsp. sugar

1. Bring ham hocks and 2 qt. water to a boil in an 8-qt. dutch oven. Reduce heat, and simmer 11⁄2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.

2. Remove and discard stems and discolored spots from greens. Chop greens, and wash thoroughly; drain. Peel turnip roots, and cut in half.

3. Add greens, roots, and sugar to dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 45 to 60 minutes or until greens and roots are tender.

So I’m learning that,

  1. These might be better picked after the fall frost and pick the smaller leaves.
  2. Vinegar and maybe some hot sauce are possible additions that help.
  3. Cooking with meat or beans is a good thing.
  4. Sweetening can be added.
In the last post, Harvest, I told how I cooked them the first time:
Here is how I fixed the turnip greens. I cooked 4 pieces of bacon till crisp. Set them aside to drain. Put the twice washed and chopped greens (8 cups)in the pan and just started frying them for a few minutes turning every once in a while. Add 1 cup water, salt (1 tsp), balsamic vinegar to taste, and a tsp honey then stir it and put the lid on and let it simmer on low till stems are tender. Crumble the crisp bacon and mix it into the greens.
I did leave larger stems on and cooked them so I changed that this time. The next day I mixed some of the greens with bean soup in equal parts and saw a definite improvement in them that way. I remembered having them that way growing up in West Virginia and served with cornbread.
Today I will take the cooked greens and make something, I hope good, out of them.
We had beet greens yesterday. They are much sweeter and very good.

Beet Green with Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Pepper, and a Pat of Butter

Darnell loves beet greens.. 🙂 Me too!
Does anyone out there have a special way you fix them? I would love to hear from you. I’m always interested in learning.
See you next time,   Jan
Fill in your Name, Email, Website if you have one, and leave a comment. I would love that.

Harvest and Sharing


Pickling Cucumber Beside Angel Wing Begonia

It rained yesterday and broke the stretch of unbearable heat.

Very Small Cucumber Started Where Flower is Brown

Heat makes me sick and I find it very hard to function during stretches of very high, unbearable heat. It’s very hard on the garden and the plants looked as frazzled as I felt. Darnell goes out right at dusk and even sometimes after dark to water the garden and our flower beds. I’m amazed at how quickly the grass looks fried when the heat doesn’t let up. After the rain the cucumber in the picture above perked right up. At the bottom of the picture at the right, see the very small cucumber where the browned blossom has died. There will be a cucumber where each flower is. Yea!! Can’t wait.

Heard from my friend and blueberries are ready. Fruits had a rough time this year because of the 80 degree weather in March and then some freezes later than usual. She got 5 pounds for between 11-12 dollars. We will go get blueberries soon because I’m not sure how much damage was done to the crop.

We have a garden at our church. Pretty good size one. Thursday the pastor and his wife came and brought me turnips with the greens, chives, peas and raspberries and blackberries. I live the farthest from the church, I think and I can’t always make it to the services. I appreciated so much that they brought things from the garden out for us to use. They know I will put it all to use and it won’t be wasted. We are trying to have 0% waste. I even take the parts of veggies that I don’t chop up and cook it to make vegetable broth for soup and other uses.

Here is how I fixed the turnip greens. I cooked 4 pieces of bacon till crisp. Set them aside to drain. Put the twice washed and chopped greens (8 cups)in the pan and just started frying them for a few minutes turning every once in a while. Add 1 cup water, salt (1 tsp), balsamic vinegar to taste, and a tsp honey then stir it and put the lid on and let it simmer on low till stems are tender. Crumble the crisp bacon and mix it into the greens. They have a bitter taste which is because of the calcium content. Vitamin content is similar to Kale so it’s very healthy. My husband didn’t like the stems and you can trim the leaves and leave off the stems. On Wednesday, Darnell made the best bean soup so I took the left over turnip greens and the last serving of the bean soup which was pretty thick and put one on either side of my bowl / plate. I ended up kind of mixing it up and eating it together. It was so tasty. I remembered then eating it that way when I was growing up with some good cornbread. That is an awesome way to eat greens like turnip or kale greens.

I can’t do peas the way I always heard you should do them.
On the side of the pea that is rounded outward, I cut the tip.

Cut a slim cut right down the side so that when you are done the pod is open and you can see the peas.

It is easy to open then and you break them from the pod into the bowl.

I got the peas out of the pods so we can have them with lunch tomorrow. I will put them in a steamer insert for my sauce pan. Only put enough water so that it doesn’t come through and touch the peas and it said to cook them covered for 2-3 minutes, but it took more like 5-6 minutes. It’s very quick. Salt if you want to and possibly melt a pat of butter in them. They will taste so fresh and good.

We washed and froze the berries.  The turnips I can wait a bit before cooking them. We had omelets with chives and cheese this morning. I just love having fresh vegetables. You know exactly whats in them especially if no pesticides are used.

I hope you are all enjoying fresh produce. It takes a little effort but the benefits are huge.

What are you growing in your gardens or picking up at the farmer’s market? Do any of you have different things you do with turnips or greens? Are you growing anything different in your garden? I would love to hear about it. We all learn something everyday if we share with one another.

Have a wonderful day!    See you next time,   Jan

The Blood Sugar Solution and More


Here is an update about the book, “The Blood Sugar Solution” by Mark Hyman, MD.

The Blood Sugar Solution
http://www.amazon.com & search the name of the book

I’ve been reading and re-reading it for some time (about 40 days). It is what I believe medicine should be. It is called Functional Medicine. In almost every case, and in every area, any system must have balance to function correctly. If you were installing a pond in your yard as a landscape element, all the elements of the pond must fit together in such a way that the pond reaches homeostasis. Homeostasis is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition of properties such as temperature or pH for ponds.

That’s one example. A car engine is composed of many parts with different functions that must be within a certain range to work in balance with one another at which point you have a fine running car. In our bodies all the parts must work together for us to be healthy and stable. Just as we should run a certain octane gasoline in our car, we need certain elements in our body in certain quantities and we need to feed it a certain quality of food for energy and nourishment. This book is not just for Diabetics. This book explains the 7 areas that need to be in balance for you to be healthy. They are 1. Boosted Nutrition, 2 Regulated Hormones, 3. Reduced Inflammation, 4. Improved  Digestion, 5. Maximized Detoxification, 6. Enhanced Metabolism, 7. Soothed Mind. There are quizzes you can take in each of these areas that will show what areas are possibly in an unbalanced state.  The quizzes check Magnesium, Essential Fatty Acids, Thyroid, Sex Hormones, Inflammation, Digestion, Toxicity, Energy Metabolism, Oxidative Stress, Stress and Adrenal Fatigue, and Diabesity. Once you take the tests, you can take your score and rate what level of imbalance you are in and then follow the plan to put it into balance. As it is in anything worthwhile, nothing is simple. Why? Why? Why? I wish something could be simple!

As you start the plan, you will give yourself a starting point by measuring and weighing.

Journal what you are doing and what changes you notice. Find out what supplements will help in this challenge. You will have to eliminate certain foods and drinks from your diet to break addictions. It gives you guidance on exercise. If you follow the plan, you have the chance of eliminating medication, reversing disease processes, losing weight, and finding a balanced healthy way of living. It will help you know how to maintain this lifestyle choice. I know that if your health is better, then you will be happier. I don’t enjoy being sick. It is a total body adjustment. You will be tuned up and energized.  I know this is a good choice for me and it is my plan to follow the directions I can and continue on the road to making a different choice about my life and my body. Change does not come easy to me. I have already been working on certain changes for the past two years. Some days I do great and other days I fall flat on my face. I get up and start again. My plan is to succeed. I don’t beat myself up. I just pick myself up and dust myself off and continue on my way. I also give myself times when I’m free to do whatever I want without reprisal or guilt.

I hope you will be interested in this book. It is of benefit to everyone no mater what disease you have, whether you are skinny or fat, and no mater what age you are. Come join with me and find your healthy balance.

One Batch of Dish-Soap

Next Update: Homemade Dish-soap

Here is an update on the making of dish soap in the last post. Psychologically it was a little disconcerting because there wasn’t any suds. We are so programmed that it must have suds that when there isn’t any we feel like it isn’t cleaning. The new washers that require the HE brands of detergent, requires that because it is damaging to the washer and not only that. It is harmful to the environment. I finished and bottled the soap. It gave me approximately 5.5 cups of dish soap.  It filled the soap dispenser on the sink and a tall instant coffee jar. I looked up on the internet what ingredient in the formula for store-bought soap makes it suds. It was phosphates. According to many sites,  among other things, phosphates are notorious for promoting algae blooms and similar, aquatic life-snuffing stunts. However, the non-phosphate brands of dish-washing soap just don’t seem to be cutting it — neither grease nor grime.  (http://supermarketnews.com/blog/no-phosphate-rule-makes-suds-dud) So the problem, phosphates are bad for the environment but we want clean dishes.

I thought about the recipe I had mixed up and felt that it covered all the bases since the soap cleans and the vinegar cuts grease and is a rinsing agent. I got up the next morning and noticed a difference with the soap I’d made. My husband did a few dished in the night (He’s a night person.) so I ask him what he had done. He added the little bit of store-bought dish soap into the mix(1/4 cup) to make it at least suds a little. So if you can live with no suds then it works but if you can’t, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup to each container of dish soap so you can see a little bit of suds. It still reduces the footprint and puts less phosphates into the environment. I thought it was pretty cool.

This was a beneficial experiment that I would definitely do when necessary. For my husband, I would have to add a little store-bought soap so he felt they were getting clean. If we didn’t have any at all then he would adjust eventually. I am interested in making my footprint smaller so I can live with it. Hope this is helpful to someone out there. I love finding solutions to everyday problems.

Come visit again…              Jan

French Onion Soup and Dish Soap?


I made French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup (Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

Here is the recipe. It will serve 2 or 3 people. 1 large onion (larger than a baseball, smaller than a softball) 1 tsp. sugar 1 TBS. margarine or butter 1 TBS olive oil 1 TBS Garlic minced 1.5 TBS Italian Seasoning 1 quart beef broth or vegetable broth Mushrooms However many you want  I just put about 5 button or crimini mushrooms, sliced French or other tasty hardy bread, 1 slice for each bowl. 1 c. Parmigiano Cheese Shredded or whatever white cheese strikes your fancy Directions: In a 12 ” fry pan, heat butter and oil til medium hot . Add onion, chopped in larger chunks and stir it for a minute or two  Add sugar, stir, then turn down to low or 2 setting and cover with a lid. Check it periodically and stir. Your goal is to brown the onions which is carmelizing it. That is the reason I added 1 tsp of sugar, to aid in the carmelizing process. When you think the onions are just about ready, add garlic and mushrooms and Italian Seasoning. Stir and add broth. simmer with the lid on and set on as low a setting as you can keep it simmering very gently for 15-20 minutes While that is finishing, put the slices of bread under the broiler and toast on both sides. When the second side is done add the cheese and melt and slightly brown. Put each slice in a bowl when done. Soup should be done by then so ladle it over the toasted, cheesy bread and serve. It was extra yummy. We added a slice of meatloaf and a salad with blue cheese dressingto accompany the soup. It was enjoyed by everyone.

Lunaria annua www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/money_plant.htm

Guess what? I discovered what the plant in the one barrel is that I didn’t recognize. This is one of the plants that Darnell foraged from the side of the road. It’s a money plant! It bloomed several times with those awesome purple  flowers and they had faded.

Lunaria_annua_flowers
Ph credit: http://www.wikipedia.org

Yesterday we went out to walk and the plant had these disks on them and then we knew what it was. I love the way the creator designed it. Those green disks contain the seeds and they eventually will turn tan and look a little papery. It is an interesting looking plant.

Lunaria_annua_seeds 
Ph cred: http://www.wikipedia.org 

      The disks are green when you first see them and then turn a silvery with a double layer of papery shell. The plant is biannual. I will re-seed itself and you can collect some of them. When you handle them do it carefully. You will remove the top layer of paper and then the seeds are exposed. Make sure you are over a table where you can let the seeds drop and then collect them. They can be planted in the spring after threat of frost is past or in the fall after it’s cold.

The “silver dollars” are the seeds and they will plant themselves or you can collect part of the coins and harvest the seeds. They can be planted in the spring after the treat of frost is done. You can plant in the fall after it becomes cold also.  There are two layers of paper in the seed pod. The outside layer you have to remove in order to reach the seeds. Do this job over a table and remove the top layer of paper to expose the seeds and some will fall to the table. Dislodge the seeds that are still stuck and let them set on a plate or tray then package and date an envelope then put the seeds in it to store.

Well, necessity is the mother of invention!

Grated Bar Soap
Dove Tangerine Ginger

We have had a lot of medical bills which on occassions causes a pinch in the budget. I am very good at penny-pinching and looking ahead so we almost always have the supplies we need. Somehow I missed backing up my supply of dish soap. When I realized it was not going to make it to our next shopping event, I started mulling over how I would wash my dishes! This is usually when I say, “Well, there must be a way to make it myself!” I head to the computer with a determined look on my face ready to search “to the death”  till I find the answer. Well…the computer never fails to amaze me and at least to give me ideas. I had to find an answer that did not require me to spend any money.

Boiling Hot Water, Bar Soap Grated, and White Vinegar

Here is what I found:  There were  three recipes. Numbers 1 and 2 required purchasing castile soap  but number 3 I could do.

Here is the directions:

Recipe #3: Solid Soap Shavings You can save even more money by making dish soap from leftover pieces of bar soap! Just be sure to chop them into very fine pieces first. 1. Place 2 cups of soap shavings into a large bowl. 2. Add 2-3 cups of hot water and let it sit overnight to soften. 3. Stir the mixture until it becomes smooth. Add more water to reach the desired consistency. 4. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar to help fight grease. 5. Shake well before using.

I made a few changes: I took a bar and used the grater to make the small pieces. I always change the recipe. I added the boiling hot water and stirred with a wooden spoon. When it was mostly smooth, I added white vinegar. I need to let is cool. It will thicken as it cools. I will let you know if this is something that I can live with. Now that I’ve started …I’m encouraged.    Just looked … it’s thickening!

http://www.diylife.com/2009/08/03/how-to-make-your-own-dish-soap/

My pictures and facts About the plant came from various resources:

http://www.wikipedia.com

http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/money_plant.

I took the pictures during the soap-making process.

The site from Illinois is awesome and lists too many to number of plants, insects, trees, and shrubs in this North Central area That includes Illinois and Michigan.I know you will enjoy this site full of information.

It’s time to close for today. I feel good about learning skills that will help me save money day to day and in an emergency. Tell me your tips for keeping on top of the things that are needed for everyday. I would love to hear about it.

Come visit again,   Jan

Shopping in the Wild


Hi, Darnell and I have been out at it again. Finding things of use that God created @ The Free Grocery Store. Darnell brought home a few wild onions and one wild carrot. Yes we progress slowly. It’s wise to do that. Haven’t done anything with the carrot but it’s in the crisper just waiting.It looks kind of gnarly, doesn’t it but I bet it will taste better than it looks.

Wild Carrot & Wild Onion

Then he went back and gathered a bunch of onions.

Bunch of Wild Onions

After they were washed, I  took the roots and outer skin off. The green parts that were tender, I chopped up, put on a baking sheet, and put in the convection oven @ 170 degrees F. and dried them for an hour. I can store them for use in cooking in the winter. The bulb part, I used to make a salad dressing.  It reminded me of Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing which I really love. Here is the recipe for my onion dressing.

Jan’s Onion Dressing

1/2 cup wild onion bulbs

1 cup olive oil

1 heaping Tablespoon minced Garlic

1 Tablespoon Basil

1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning Spice

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a blender. Pulse untill dressing is combined and the consistency is  finely minced.

Put in a jar and store in the refrigerator.

We had a salad for supper and it was so good!

The next harvested thing is the wild carrot and I am going to scrub till I remove the surface root hairs off it. I will sample a thin slice raw to see if it could be used in a salad then steam the rest sliced to see how it tastes cooked. I need to see if the center core of the root is woody. I think this is a young one so it may be tender. I will have to see.

The next found food we brought home, we found on the way home from a trip to town. We have a 55 gallon aquarium and we are going to give it to our oldest son for them to set up. I know the grand-children will enjoy it. We had about 20 fish and we had a pump crisis and lost all but 2 fish. A large Tin Foil Barb that was about 8″ long and a Spotted Plecostomus that was about 6″ long. My grand-children are going to  want to pick out the fish themselves so we took the two fish that were left to an Aquarium Store and they took them and will sell them to someone who wants that kind of fish. We have enjoyed them and I am going to miss them. The sounds from the Aquarium of water falling like a waterfall, I will miss also.  We are trying to simplify a bit and that’s good.

As we were coming home, Darnell spotted some Asparagus growing wild on the side of the road. He stopped and picked it. He didn’t find a lot but it was enough for us to add a nice vegetable to our supper and we could savor the treat. It was delicious. I washed it and put it on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven after I drizzled a little olive oil and sea salt on them and tossed them to coat it all over them. At 350 degrees F. they cooked for about 10-12 minutes. When I took them out, they were crispy tender and so fresh and good. I love it when you can cook something that has picked such a short time earlier.

Sunday is Mother’s Day! I miss my Mom but I have a wonderful Step-Mom. She is such a good Mom and I know I didn’t make it easy for her. My Mom died when I was 13 and I was pretty hurt, mad, and a few other things. I felt pretty ill prepared for her death and wasn’t ready for the changes that lay ahead. I think I gave everyone a hard time. I truly regret that. Especially when I became a Mom myself and understood what a hard job (layered with love and joy) it was. I was deeply thankful that I could turn to God for answers I didn’t have. I know He gave me wisdom many time and gave my children short memories when I made horrendous mistakes. …. and they lived through it all. They just don’t have enough training for the hardest job in the world.

I want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you have a wonderful life and I applaud your creativity. I feel honored to have met some of you. You are enriching my life. Thank you! Thanks for joining me as I journey along my garden path.  Come again soon.   Jan

Chicken of the Woods


2012.4.30 Chicken of the Woods

Laetiporus is a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Some species are commonly known as sulphur shelfchicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because many think they taste like chicken. The name “chicken of the woods” is not to be confused with the edible polyporeMaitake (Grifola frondosa) known as “hen of the woods”, or with Lyophyllum decastes, known as the “fried chicken mushroom”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laetiporus

Wow! About 23 inches and over 13 inches deep. We were so excited!

I checked to see if the was any other mushroom that looked like this that was poisonous on the internet. None!

I cut a piece of the mushroom and laid it on my skin to watch for a reaction. None!

Took pictures of this monster. I had never seen one except on the internet.

Darnell walks the dog most of the time. Her name is Miah. They walked way out back of our place and to the edge of the woods. About 4 steps into the woods he saw the mushroom, larger than life clinging to the side of a maple tree.

This is what I read at this site: http://americanmushrooms.com/edibles4.htm

David Fischer, Author of Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America (1992, Univ. of Texas Press)

SULPHUR SHELF MUSHROOMS GROWING ON ANY CONIFER TREE (PINE, HEMLOCK, SPRUCE, FIR, LARCH/TAMARACK, ETC.), EUCALYPTUS, OR LOCUST TREES SHOULD NOT BE EATEN! Also, as with a number of wild mushrooms and many other foods (e.g. shellfish, peanuts, and milk products), some individuals have allergic reactions to this particular species. (That’s why it was important to identify the tree. Oak or Maple is fine.)

Few edible wild mushrooms are considered as exciting a find as the Chicken Mushroom or Sulphur Shelf. It has a unique mushroomy flavor and a slightly grainy, meaty texture, and a single dead tree or log will often produce ten, twenty, thirty or more pounds! Because of its texture, the Chicken Mushroom or Sulphur Shelf is a fine candidate for fresh-freezing, so such a large fruiting needn’t go to waste. The trick is to cut the Chicken Mushroom or Sulphur Shelf into pieces of appropriate size for the cooking pan before freezing (blanching is not necessary) and, most importantly, when you’re ready to use some, do not thaw them first: have the cooking pan heating before you even open the freezer door!

Sauted Chicken of the Woods Mushroom with Garlic and Onion

On to cooking and the taste test:

I was doing a sample for taste testing so I kept the amounts small.

1 cup Chicken of the Woods Mushroom, chopped

1 tsp. Garlic, minced

1/4 cup Onion, minced fine

1 tsp. Chicken Soup Bullion (Paste)

Olive oil

2 Tablespoons Flour

1 cup Milk

Using a Cast Iron Pan heated to medium with a tablespoon of olive oil, add chopped Chicken of the Woods mushroom. Cook till starting to brown. Add onion and garlic and continue saulting till oil is absorbed.

Add more oil

add flour

Added chicken bullion paste

and milk and let it simmer Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. Continued to be a little  rubbery but did get a little better.

This is an experiment and I read several places and this appears to be the  common way of cooking it.  You can serve over toast or  rice or potato.

We cautiously tasted it. It tasted good but did have a slightly rubbery texture to it.

While I know I will continue my search as to how to prepare it, I know this was a good start. Darnell and I both ate what I prepared and neither of   us had any reaction. Next time we will eat a little more. From all I read, when foraging it is good to add things into your diet gradually so that is what we will do.

How to Harvest the Chicken of the Woods

This is exactly the way this went today. We harvested it without knowing how to do that. We used to say in WV, ” I got the cart, the horse before”. That is what we did. Next time we will do the harvesting right.  You are supposed to not break it from the tree with your hands which we did. Take a knife and just cut the outer rim of the mushroom. Pick the smaller sized ones. This in itself may take care of the rubbery texture since this was a very large one. Next time we will harvest the smaller one. Since they said that it could be frozen with no preparation beforehand, we froze the rim of the mushroom. I will try again another day to see if I can improve the texture either just by picking a smaller one or by how I cook it

This was such an exciting adventure!

These are the jewels of life, to get to experience things out of the ordinary.

So glad you were here so I could share the experience.

Come on over anytime.     Jan

The other mushroom you may see growing near where the Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms is growing. It is called the Hen of the Woods Mushroom. It looks like a Hen with her head tucked under her wing. It has a feathery look to it. Check out another picture of the Chicken of the Woods Mushroom. Looks like shelves on the tree.

Hen of the woods mushroom

                                                              Laetiporus gilbertsonii
Chicken of the Woods
Sulfur Shelf Mushroom

Discovery of May Apples


I am on a journey of discovery! My eyes have been reborn and as poor as my sight is,

May Apple Plants on the Forest Floor

I am seeing things I never saw before. It is an absolute delight.  We were on a stroll and came across a plant I didn’t know what it was. It had a single stem and a large leaf that looked like a patio umbrella with 8 points on it. Under it hung a little green object that I wondered if it would develop into fruit or some kind of seed pod. We cut one stem and took it home and put it in a vase.

The search began as I dug through my vocabulary to find the right words to describe it. Ultimately words must lead your direction down the search engine path to the destination that will tell you “All” things. 🙂 I tried everything I could for several days. I was feeling CRAZY! I am an information sponge and everything in me craves new information. Finally I found a site that gave up the details I was searching for, after several rabbit-trail diversions and here it is:    http://livingafield.com/Index.htm

It has headings like, edible plants, medicinal plants, etc. Under edible plants you will find May Apple or American Mandrake. http://livingafield.com/Plants_Mayapple.htm

It was listed under edible plants on this site. The ripe fruit can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into a jam or jelly. It can also be used to make a lemonade-like drink. It actually looks like a small lemon.

You may have to gather for some time to use in recipes. I’m going to try freezing them till I have enough. From this site I found some recipes   http://www.schools.lth5.k12.il.us/bths-east/mayapple.html

May Apple Plant with Single Flower

May Apple Chiffon Pie

The pie is greatly improved by first cooking the may-apple and pressing the pulp through a colander, then let the pulp stand 20 minutes. Soften 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Dissolve the mixture, add 1 T lemon juice, and a dash of salt. Chill until partially set. Fold in a package of whipped  cream, pour into a graham cracker crust and chill thoroughly.

May Apple Marmalade

Cut off both the flowering and stem end of the may-apple and quarter into a large pan. Simmer for 15 minutes and use a colander to get the pulp. For two cups of thick pulp, add 1/2 package of Sure-Jell and 2 3/4 cups of sugar. When the mixture boils and thickens, pour it into jars and seal.

May Apple Cider

A good drink is made by peeling and chopping chunks of  the may-apple into a large bowl. Add sugar and let the mixture set to draw out the juice. Mash the mixture and run it through the colander. Now, add a jigger of this liquid to a glass of lemonade for a pleasant iced beverage. Others prefer to add half of the juice to a half portion of grape.

Some more information:

The name, Podophyllum, comes from the Greek podos (foot) and phyllon (leaf), which alludes to a fanciful resemblance of the leaf to an aquatic bird’s foot: hence, the seldom used common name of duck’s foot. More often, it is known as mayapple (our native mayapple blooms in May). The beautiful but exceedingly toxic plant has several other perplexing common names that lend themselves to confusion: wild lemon (presumably because the ripened berries resemble tiny lemons), ground lemon, devil’s apple, hog apple, raccoon berry, Indian apple and American mandrake.

You can read more:

http://www.herbcompanion.com/Herb-Profiles/MAYAPPLE.aspx#ixzz1tIC2Py9N

I’m just discovering these things in nature. Do any of you out there have information that would be valuable to others about using this plant? I found this intensely interesting and am looking forward to trying to use this resource.  While it isn’t a major providing source, it brings variety into the food mix. I happen to like variety.

I’m looking forward to your comments. Thanks for letting me share my discovery with you. Stop in again soon and visit.  I am continuing my quest to find all the edible resources at my disposal. It’s awesome to discover God‘s worldwide free grocery store. Help me search and tell me what you have found. You are always welcome to come along my garden path.  🙂    Jan

NOTICE: Nothing is edible except the fruit. Handling of the plant itself should be kept to a minimum. Pick the fruit and leave the rest alone. 🙂 Want everyone to stay safe.

Mayapple fruit

May Apple Fruit

Journey Along the Garden Path

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