A Little Quilt Project

I am not a quilter. I have a home full of gorgeous quilts, thanks to my grandmother and mother-in-law, but I have never pieced anything in my life. It was time for that to change.

A friend is expecting her third baby, and a group of us wanted to do something special to welcome the little one with love. Another friend said she would put together a quilt if each of us contributed a block. She gave a few suggestions for our blocks, but since I don’t embroider, applique, or draw, I contacted my mother-in-law.

I wanted to piece a star as I thought that would have special meaning for the recipient. The square needed to be 5 inches. My mother-in-law resized a pattern, and I got my first quilting lesson. It took about an hour to choose fabric and get the thing put together. I even feel like I could make another one on my own someday!

IMG_0222It is simple, but I am pleased with how it came together. I am glad I can send a little blessing to another mama this way.

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When there is too much snow to grill…

I had boneless pork chops on the meal plan for dinner, and I did not have the energy to think of anything else to eat. I thawed the pork chops, but I had no idea how to cook them. Big Daddy had already spent hours outside raking the snow from the roof and plowing the drive. I did not want to ask him to shovel the deck so we could grill the pork chops how we normally do. So I asked Facebook what to do with my meat. Some friends were helpful but some just made smart comments about using the snow shovel 🙂

I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. I seared it in butter in my big cast iron skillet. After the chops were browned on both sides, I topped them with sliced onions and added beef broth to the pan. I covered my skillet with a cookie sheet and let things simmer for about 20 minutes. I then thickened the sauce with some cornstarch mixed with water. I still prefer pork chops marinated and grilled, but this was tasty. Our 2-year-old liked dipping his meat in the pan sauce.

I also served simple baked sweet potatoes topped with butter and roasted broccoli. My 5-year-old daughter calls this “potato chip broccoli,” and she loves it! I just toss the broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper and sometimes minced garlic. I then roast it in the oven at 425 for about 25 minutes.

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Homemade Granola

It certainly is a blustery day today! With wind chills below zero, I’ve been busy keeping the woodstove loaded and my oven going. Cold, homebound days are perfect for getting ahead in the kitchen.

Today I made a batch of homemade granola. This recipe is very flexible. I change it up based on what I have on hand. I just keep the amounts of wet and dry ingredients the same, and it always turns out.

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Mama T’s Granola

4 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup each: sliced almonds

raw cashews

pepitas

flax meal

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

raisins or other dried fruit to add after baking

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.

Melt the coconut oil with the honey or maple syrup until combined. Stir into the dry ingredients.

Line a large baking sheet or two with parchment paper (I use my big roasting pan with high sides to make for easy stirring).

Bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or so until golden brown. Do NOT stir. Allow pan to cool completely on a wire rack. (letting the granola cool before stirring gives bigger clumps instead of tiny flakes).

Stir in dried fruit and store in an airtight container. Makes about 9 cups.

This is a delicious breakfast or snack with yogurt or milk.

Church Dinner

Today we are having our annual meeting and dinner at church. Each family is asked to bring in two dishes to share. There is always plenty eat. Much of it is very good, but some of it is questionable. I like to bring things to carry-in dinners that are simple and easily identifiable. You don’t want to add something to your plate if you don’t know what it is! There will be plenty of heavy casserole and slow cooker dishes. I looked at what we had in the house and decided to make a simple tossed salad and a pan of no-knead herbed focaccia bread.

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I had plenty of veggies that needed used up, so the salad is romaine lettuce with cucumbers, red and yellow peppers, shredded carrots, and little bit of sliced red onion. I’m bringing along a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette to dress it.

I’ve been using this bread recipe from Budget Bytes for years. It is easy and delicious! I stirred the ingredients together last night and was able quickly bake fresh bread this morning before church.

Big Daddy’s Favorite Breakfast

We’ve enjoyed our winter break here on the farmstead, but as it neared its end, I realized I had not made a certain meal Big Daddy requested. He doesn’t make many requests, even when prompted, so it was important to me to make the man his biscuits and gravy.

I made whole wheat buttermilk biscuits, sausage, white gravy, and scrambled farm fresh eggs.

As you can see, he likes the whole mess in one big pile topped with cheese.

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Apple Pie on New Year’s Day

I love cast iron. For a Christmas gift, my mother-in-law surprised me with a cast iron pie pan. It was pre-seasoned, and I was eager to give it a test drive.

I made a one-crust apple pie with a crumb topping. I use white whole wheat flour for most of my baking, and this was no exception. I also used organic palm shortening in the crust rather than vegetable shortening. These substitutions help me feel like this dessert for my family is a bit more wholesome.

I was nervous that the cast iron would over cook the crust before the pie was done, but it baked up beautifully.

Apple Pie

For supper on New Year’s Day, we had black-eyed peas cooked in homemade chicken broth with kale and other veggies. This was served over brown rice. A lighter meal like that called for a nice piece of pie for dessert.