Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mary's Real Food Cookbook Adventure!

It truly has been an adventure!  
I am excited to share that my first copies have arrived!


The official ship date for those of you who purchased your 
copy (s) on or before June 26th is on or before July 16th.  
The big shocker...I ran our of books!  Yeah!  
So I placed a second order.  If you purchased 
Mary's Real Food Cookbook on or after June 27th, 
your official ship date is August 1, 2012.
I just heard from the printer and ALL of the 
remaining books are on the way!
(purchase here)

As I've said before, 10% of all pre-order book sales will be donated to Feeding America and Feeding South Florida.  Pre-Order sales are available through July 9th.  I have also donated an additional $20 to Smitten with Kittens, a no-kill, non-profit kitten rescue.

Total donations so far: 
$52 to Feeding America/Feeding South Florida (50/50 split)
*Approximately  364 pounds of food and grocery items*
$20 to Smitten with Kittens.
And I look forward to doubling those numbers (at least).

Thank you for making this dream a reality!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DIY Chalkboard Jar Labels

For my sister Michelle's birthday I wanted to make something she would be able to use and not too heavy since I had to ship it.  I thought about making these Herb Pots from Michaels using simple clay pots and chalkboard paint.  However, they are so delicate they may break during transport.  Plus, she has smaller children so they may not last very long.

Lightbulb moment!  
What about using the chalkboard paint on glass jars?  I know my sister uses jars to store some of her families food and baking supplies.  Below are the items you need to get started and instructions to get started.  The jars I used had a square etched into them.  Feel free to use any shape you would like.  Unfortunately I didn't take very good pictures the first time so I made a few jars for myself to show how it works.

You'll need:
Glass Jar
Painter's Tape
Chalkboard paint
Small paint brush


Getting started:
Tape off the area you wish to make the label.
Apply paint and brush lightly to cover the entire taped area.  Let dry (approx 1 hour).  Repeat.  I applied about 3 layers.  I waited 24 hours to be sure the paint was completely dry before removing the tape.
My sister was thrilled to receive the jars.  She had looked at something similar online but they were $26.  I didn't spill to her but I'll share now.  My jars were WAY less expensive.  2 jars at the dollar store, $2 paint, $1 brush and I already had the tape.  $5 for 2 jars and I have enough paint to make my own jars!

I store random tea bags in my jar pictured above.  I don't ever have to wash it and I don't have almost empty boxes of tea taking up space.

I would not recommend putting these in the dishwasher or microwave.  I don't think they are dishwasher safe.  I recommend filling with dry ingredients so they don't have to be washed often.

I'll post a few updates on new jar or paint ideas in the next few days.  For now I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my copy of Mary's Real Food Cookbook.  I've had an amazing response so far and had to re-order more before the first batch even arrived!  
Get em' while they're hot!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Who Inspires You?

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”  
~Henry Ford


In my life I have been inspired by several amazing women.  
My Mom (the rock) has been a very important influence in shaping who I am as a women.  While my mom and I have butted heads in the past 
I know I can always count on my mom to lift me up when I’m down and be there for me when I need her most.

My paternal grandmother (Granny) was a strong homemaker who taught us proper English manners and etiquette.  Granny was born and raised in England and moved to the States in her 20s. Granny was a big part of our lives with regular weekend visits, working in the garden, cooking and trips to the Navy base during the summer for swimming in the officer’s pool.  My maternal grandmother was a hoot.  She was a wild child of the 60s.  She was creative, liked to sew and taught us that it’s okay to be different as long as you’re having fun.

Last but certainly not least is my Great Grandmother who was the inspiration for Mary’s Real Food Cookbook.  My sisters and I would visit Grandma Peg when we were little and listen to stories of her travels around the world.  My mom told me that she was very active in her Women’s Club and even became president.  I too am active in my local Women’s Club (a local non-profit) and find it very rewarding to give back to the community with the programs were are involved in as a club.

Why Real Food?

There are many definitions of what “real food” is.  I’m not a food snob but I like healthy, simple and delicious meals.  I try to use organic ingredients as often as possible but most importantly, our meals are homemade.  I don’t always cook “from scratch” but at least I know what went into my food, how it was prepared and I can control portion size.

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Because giving back is so important, 10% of all pre-order sales of Mary’s Real Food Cookbook will be donated to Feeding America and Feeding South Florida.

Thank you so much for stopping by.  Have a great weekend!

*Back to the Basics is being featured on Eye Heart*
Be sure to check out Friday Shout-Out and Anything Goes, two awesome link parties hosted at Eye Heart.

The side-yard project
Homegrown Turnip

Homemade Key Lime Marmalade

Fight Colds and Flu

5 Foods That Fight Colds and Flu

Beat a cold by eating these power-packed foods.
When your nose is stuffy, and you can't stop coughing, the best Rx may be... in your kitchen. "Certain foods are high in nutrients that boost your health," explains Kathy McManus, RD, director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Here, five foods scientifically proven to help kick those cold and flu bugs.
Whole Grains
They're loaded with zinc, which is vital for maintaining a healthy immune system. Try whole-grain spaghetti with tomato sauce or brown rice with veggies.
Bananas
They contain vitamin B6, which helps your body fight infection. Eat your bananas sliced over whole-grain cereal and double your germ-busting power.
Cayenne Pepper
The active ingredient in the spice, capsaicin, beats congestion by thinning the mucus in your nasal passages so you can breathe freely again. Sprinkle some in soup or on a bean burrito.
Sweet Potatoes
They're one of the best sources of beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), which your body needs to make enough white blood cells to fight off infection. Eat them mashed or baked.
Garlic
Allicin, one of the active components in freshly crushed garlic, can zap viruses by blocking the enzymes that lead to infection. Use it in a Caesar salad, pesto sauce, or guacamole.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are you having trouble transplanting seedlings?

Recently, I received a question at Mary's Heirloom Seeds and I think it would be great to share.

I am always happy to answer gardening or seed questions (even if you bought seeds elsewhere).  If I don't know the answer I'll look it up!

Comment:
I've been trying to grow from seeds & they sprout fine, but, then when I replant they have been dying. Don't know what I'm doing wrong, might give these seeds a try, but, still have some left of ones I've bought.
Would appreciate any advice.  Thank u for ur time.

Response:
Thank you for your interest in Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  There are several factors to consider if your seedlings are dying after being transplanted.

Water:  Are you watering enough or too much?

Soil:  How is the quality of your soil?  Are you growing in containers or in-ground and is the soil compacted or does it have good drainage?

Roots:  Are the delicate roots being disturbed when they are transplanted?

Soil should be kept moist but not constantly soaked or puddled.  Certain plants like nutrient dense soil, others like light and airy soil.  When transplanting it is important to disturb the roots as little as possible.  For this I plant seeds in Peat Pellets.

You can read about it here:

If you have any question please feel free to ask.

-Mary

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tips for Gardening in Small Spaces

You don't need a farm or even a yard of any size to have a garden.

Do you have a balcony or patio that get several hours of sunlight each day?  Do you have a windowsill that gets several hours of sunlight each day?  Container gardening can be very simple to start herbs or flowers and even a few vegetable varieties.

First, decide what you want to grow.  Do you want an herb garden, veggies or fruit (yes fruit), maybe just a few bee-friendly flowers.  I like to make a list that way I can go back and add to it or get rid of items if I change my mind.

Second, check out each variety to be sure they will grow using the methods available to you.  Will your garden be container only?  Will you use small, large or all shapes and sizes of containers?
Carrots growing in a recycled container.
 Third, what type of soil will you use if you are using containers?  If you have a small yard, soil quality might still be an issue.  I recommend homemade compost but that isn't always an option.  I use a mix of several items from the garden center and home.  This recipe is primarily for container gardens but works well in raised beds as well.  Here’s my recipe:

4  large bags organic garden or potting soil
1 small bag Perlite (optional)
1 small bag Peat Moss or Coconut Coir (improves drainage)
1 cup organic bone meal (high in phosphorus)
1 cup organic blood meal (high in Nitrogen)
1 cup crushed eggshells (for Calcium)
Compost: 1 large bag store bought OR equivalent homemade
Do you live by the ocean?  Check out Seaweed in the Garden.

And now to get started!  When I'm ready to plant seeds I clear off a table and fill it will seed-starter materials.  You guessed it...Peat Pellets.
Each bowl is labeled so I don't confuse the seeds.
Did you choose an herb garden?  Basil is probably one of the easiest herbs to grow.  Purple Opal Basil is beautiful and flavorful and grows very well in containers.
Purple Opal Basil

On another subject...Mary's REAL FOOD Cookbook is OFFICIALLY available for pre-order sales now.  You can purchase the book at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  

I had a wonderful time putting the book together and I am excited about the positive response so far.  Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why Smoothies?

The Healthier Summer Series kicks off tomorrow at Mary's Kitchen and I've started with Smoothies!  Many of the recipes are posted "as-is" from popular sites I frequent.  Why?  Not very many people would drink my kind of smoothie.


I don't usually use fruit juices in my smoothies.  I might be considered hard-core...seriously!  

Hubby and I drink a protein shake or two a day.  Our shakes include SP Complete Rice Protein, Spinach or Celery, 1 Banana, 1 handful of Strawberries and sometimes 1 fresh mango...And 2 cups of water!

SP Complete is a product we offer in our wellness office for people who would like an alternative to the sugary, chemical-laden protein powders on the market.  SP Complete is also part of the 21- day Purification Program which we have complete several time with great results.

Standard Process (SP) is a whole-food supplement company, started in 1929 by Dr. Royal Lee.  "Dr. Royal Lee dedicated his life to finding solutions for all sorts of challenges, but his greatest passion was improving the nation's health by providing high-quality, whole food supplements and educating others about them. He devoted the majority of his life to spreading the truth about nutrition."

Why am I telling you all of this?  I believe in a healthy diet, regular exercise, whole-food nutrition supplements and occasionally falling off the wagon and eating Great-Grandma's 14 Karat Cake (or something like it).

Studies show that the "Average American" eats a steady diet full of fast food, processed and chemical-laden foods that are low in nutrients and high is refined sugar.  

It's summertime, which means I'll be posting lots of "healthy" recipes.  I try to keep the added sugars to a minimum and stay away from processed foods. 

Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The One Straw Revolution

I had the pleasure of reading and very interesting book last weekend.  The One Straw Revolution was written by Masanobu Fukuoka and published in 1975.  I'm not sure my review of this book can do it justice but I'll certainly do my best.


The One Straw Revolution should be a requirement for anyone even remotely interested in food, health and gardening.  Do you eat food?  You should read this book.  Are you interested in organic food or gardening methods?  Read The One Straw Revolution!  It was a great insight into how growing food has evolved and not really for the best.

Preface from Wendell Barry:
"Like many in this country, and sooner than most, Mr. Fukuoka has understood that we cannot isolate one aspect of life from another.  When we change the way we grow our food, we change our food, we change society, we change our values."

I usually read "how-to" garden books so this was a change.  The One Straw Revolution is one mans journey through life and the lessons he learned in life and on the farm.  Fukuoka "worked" the fields as little as possible and put back what was not edible.  It's more of a "farmer's Philosophy" book and I really enjoyed it!

Additional books by Masanobu Fukuoka:




Saturday, June 9, 2012

Real Food Cookbook

That's right...Real Food!  

Harvest recipes are some of my favorites.  If I've run out of homegrown produce, my local farmer's market is open Saturday and Sunday.  Harvest recipes include fresh veggies and are usually very simple meals to prepare.
Freshly harvested Swiss Chard

I've been working on the Real Food Cookbook for several months and I'm finally in the finishing stages.  I couldn't complete my book with out Great-Grandma's 14 Karat Cake.  

Why is this recipe so important?  My Great Grandmother was the president of her Women's Club in the 70s in California.  She helped put together a cookbook to raise money.  The book was given to my grandmother and then to my mom.  To this day my Mom still uses the cookbook even though it's in several pieces.  The 14 Karat Cake has become famous in our family and is a staple for birthday parties and family gatherings.

What is Real Food?  To me, real food means homemade.  It's simple, healthy food with an occasional decadent dessert.
Baked Falafel
As I stated in a previous post, The Politics of food,  According to bread.org 925 million people are hungry.  Please click the links for the full post.  Also at bread.org, "More than one in five children live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That's 16.2 million children."

16.2 Million hungry children! With that in mind I've decided to donate a portion of all book sales to several non-profits.  I'll include which non-profits in my official announcement next week.
*UPDATE: 10% of all pre-order sales will be donated to Feeding America and Feeding South Florida*


If you'd like more information, please feel free to comment or send me a private email.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Making Brandy at Home

Have you ever tried homemade liqueur or liquor?

Lemoncello is easy enough to make and I might post a recipe tomorrow.  Today we're making Brandy!

I found this 8 simple steps to making Brandy at wikihow.com and it's "oh so simple."  The only problem I have with the recipe is there is no specific amount of yeast.  I have NO idea how much yeast to use.

1.  Choose a fruit such as peaches, pears, grapes or nectarine. Grapes or wine is the default choice.
2.  Sterilize your receptacles (fermenting container, boiling pot). You want them to be as clean as possible. Do the same with your fruit.
3.  Remove all stems and leaves. Fill your fermenting container with over %51 percent fruit.
4.  Add %25 percent water. Your fermenting container or boiling pot should be only %75 full for safety reasons.
5.  Mash with something similar to a manual potato masher.
6.  Boil resulting concoction for five minutes stirring frequently.
7.  Return to fermenting container and add the correct amount of yeast.
8.  Cover, use an airlock, or leave uncovered, for a week or more.
After that you have %9-%15 A.B.V. wine. True brandy is made with grapes and/or other fruit with no added sugar. Brandy is the resulting liquid from distilling this wine.

Things you’ll need:
Fruit, such as peaches or blackberries
Yeast
Sugar
Something to ferment the brandy in (crock pots or large glass bowls with lids are best)
Plastic wrap

And now to solve the yeast issue!  I found another recipe at helium.com and I've added it below.  It's a much bigger recipe so you'll have to figure out how much brandy you'd like to make.


Making your own homemade brandy at home is easy, inexpensive, and an all natural choice when considering home distilling your own alcoholic beverages. All you need is a 5 gallon container, 4 quarts of berries or fruits, 10 pounds of sugar, 2 boxes of white raisins, 2 oranges, a block a baking yeast (found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores), and 4 gallons of water.

I prefer using a 5 gallon glass water bottle with a cork top that has a vent. This prevents any bugs from entering your mixture. Many use a crock and cover it with cheese cloth though.

Directions: To activate the yeast and melt the sugar, you must add warm water. Slowly stir in sugar to your water and yeast mixture. Add 4 quarts of cleaned berries or fruits. Add2 boxes of white raisins. Slice oranges into quarter and add them whole including the rhine. Stir vigorously until mixed well.

Let stand covered and stir once a day for seven days.

Let stand for 21 days, and the brandy is ready to serve.

Because brandy is a distilled product, some might debate the fact that the results from this recipe would produce wine. In fact, it does, but it is a very potent and sweet wine that will stimulate any discriminating taste bud.

If you use champagne yeast, it will result in a greater alcohol content, but it will need require unnatural ingredients added to the mixture in order to slow the process. If you do not use the additive, you end up with a disturbing type of grain alcohol that tastes horrible.

I got this recipe a few years ago, and I've made many types of brandy with it. My favorite is strawberry, but you can use blueberries, black berries, rasberries, or any type of berry that is edible even elderberries to make this delicious concoction.

It is best served cold and shared with friends. This comes with a warning though. I live in a small remote village, and when I first started making this I developed more friends. The problem was, I was responsible for keeping all my friends drunk. They loved my brandy so much that they would show up at my house all the time, and ask continually for to-go bottles.

Moderation is the key. If your friends are like many of mine, they do not know the meaning of the word, and you might stop making this recipe, and if you do make it, you will not tell anyone but your closest friends or relatives.

If you intend to make this tasty recipe, start saving empty glass bottles to store your creation. Plastic bottle explode upon opening. I do not recommend using plastic storage bottles.
http://www.helium.com/items/1119291-how-to-make-homemade-wine

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: The Doomsday Key

I had the pleasure of reading The Doomsday Key last week.  It was certainly a page turner.

A tale of murder, espionage, GMOs and a nasty, unsuccessful plot for Corporate World Domination.  I kept asking myself, "Are you sure this is fiction?" 

"James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the "top crowd pleasers" (New York Times) and one of the "hottest summer reads" (People Magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets--and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight."

I really enjoyed reading The Doomsday Key.  It's nice to drag myself away from DIY projects and read a bit of fiction every now and then.  The GMO aspect was definitely interesting.  I look forward to reading the rest of the Sigma series.