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Monday, June 29, 2020

Welsh Tea Cake

This authentic recipe for Welsh Tea Cake is exactly what you need! It is low in refined sugar, high in whole food ingredients, and simply tastes wonderful! 

Welsh Tea Cake keeps well (in the refrigerator for the long term), and can be frozen for future enjoyment. I have been baking for over 50 years, but it was not until recently, that I started weighing ingredients, for baking. The scale I use is nothing fancy or expensive, but it does have a tare setting and that makes it very easy to use! 

Traditional Welsh Tea Cake, low in refined sugar and totally delicious!

This loaf of  Welsh Tea Cake is the first recipe I have baked weighing out ingredients. A fine beginning if I do say so myself! The scale has been used for pasta and many other foods through the years, but now I have a strong desire to try my hand at more cakes and bread recipes calling for ingredients by weight. 
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Creamy Paprika Salad Dressing and a simple salad

Creamy Paprika Salad Dressing seems very simple and plain, but let me tell you, it really is good. I am sure it is the lime juice. Lime juice always makes everything just a little bit better! Break some lettuce into your favorite salad bowl, slice some tomatoes, and drizzle on this Creamy Paprika Salad Dressing for a quick, enjoyable salad, that everyone will love. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Finest Salad Dressing...

Hello, once again, and welcome to Salad Dressing Week at Scratch Made Food! and DIY Homemade Household. We are offering this unusual but mighty good recipe for The Finest Salad Dressing!


Right now our weekends are busy at camp, with campers coming and going and our need as volunteer hosts to walk through the campsite and do a bit of cleaning for the next camper. Our days "off" are needed, but honestly, I am just as busy with prepping food and doing laundry. 

No matter where you live, the truth is we still must eat. This salad dressing recipe in one of my many cookbooks. It originally caught my eye because of two unusual ingredients: bay leaves and bitters. I have a fondness for working with unusual ingredients and the bitters really are delicious in the recipe! 
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Julia's Caesar over Mixed Greens, a non-traditional Caesar Salad

How to make Julia's Caesar, delicious, freshly made, and contains no raw egg! 

This quickly composed salad is not the recipe I am sharing, no not at all! Today's recipe is for the salad dressing that you see drizzled over the greens. Julia's Caesar is a simple to make, delicious caesar dressing you will enjoy again and again! Welcome to Salad Dressing Week here at Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household.


Julia's Caesar over Mixed Greens. Deliciously different!


Often when we enjoy a salad with our meals it is not a traditional salad in a recipe sort of way. For example, what you see over this platter of salad greens is a Caesar dressing, yet there are no croutons scattered over the greens, and it is more than just romaine lettuce.

Encouraging Hearts and Home 06.25.2020

A Patriotic Flag, Fiber Feathers, Lemon Sugar Cookies, and Black-Eyed Susan Planters are this week's featured posts. 

Hello and Welcome!

We have had chilly weather at camp, but that did not stop the campers from arriving and enjoying as much as they could of the beautiful mountains and the lake! I have to admit at this point in my life's journey, I prefer comfort over adventure, but back there in the memory bank I too have stories of how I braved the cold, the wet, and the wind during a camping trip. 

There was this one day, however, that we had non-stop rain! And for the most part, the campground was empty save for our trailer and the camper of the second host. This gave me time to get my commemorative afghan completed. When we set out for Montana I began a Weather of the Day afghan for our first year in Montana. And finally, this piece has been completed! I had to take a break from knitting for a while due to a broken wrist (I recorded the day's weather for accuracy) because the first year also brought a fall on a frozen puddle during a hike one day...

But here is my completed piece, still a novice knitter, however, I enjoy the process and try to add a skill to each new piece I make. For the record, this piece is plain knit stitch. The color key I chose was blue for sun, white for snow, grey for overcast and purple for rain...


The afghan fits nicely along the bottom of the bed in our little 5thwheel while we travel, and is a great source of warmth during those cold evenings. 
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Parsley Honey and Lemon Salad Dressing

Looking for another salad dressing to make for your family? You have come to the right place, welcome to Salad Dressing Week, here at Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household. Our recipe today is this Parsley Honey and Lemon Salad Dressing.

Parsley Honey and Lemon Salad Dressing, delicious and perfect for summer.
Parsley Honey and Lemon Salad Dressing

Now that we have settled into our home in Montana, we have big plans for a raised garden, but until that is completed, we took the time to make a small potager right outside the back sliding glass door. We have Tuscon Kale, Swiss Chard, and lots of containers of various potatoes along with zucchini and tomatoes. 
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Today we have Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette because it is Salad Dressing Week here at Scratch Made Food! and DIY Homemade Household. Easily made from pantry staples, you will love the fresh flavor!

Making your own salad dressings is not as complicated as I had thought it might have been when I first decided, no more bottled salad dressing for us. And of course, I should have known, but that is what usually comes to the forefront of our thinking when we make any change. And then we realize that all the generations before us did not eat complicated food, just healthy food.

Salad dressing is in that category. The important thing to remember about salad dressing is that it is meant to bring the flavors of all those healthy vegetables together, rather than being the main flavor in the salad.
Monday, June 22, 2020

Roasted Lemon and Basil Salad Dressing

Roasted Lemon and Basil Salad Dressing is the answer if you looking for fresh ideas for salad dressing! It is more delicious than anything you could get at the grocery store? Welcome to Salad Dressing Week at Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household.

Since I believe you can never eat enough vegetables, or salads, or grilled veggies, fresh salad dressings are always on my radar! I tend to think the name salad dressing limits the use of any delicious concoction you enjoy. I now think of these wonderful creations as drizzlers (drizzled over grilled vegetables) or as vegetable sauces (to brighten the flavor of steamed chilled vegetables) or even marinades, to flavor through and through any vegetable that will be served as a "salad". This philosophy is how Roasted Lemon and Basil Salad Dressing was born. 

Last summer when it was warm and we were grilling in the backyard, on a lark, I asked my husband to grill up some of the lemons, that came in the big bag from Costco. Who would have known that the grilled lemon halves would add a bit of sunshine to or our winter meals? Yes, you did read that right, we grilled (roasted might be a better term...) lemon halves. The lemons were cut in half, and the fruity side was put down on the grill to roast to a puckery caramelized goodness, then packaged up carefully and put into the freezer.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Encouraging Hearts and Home 06.18.2020

Easy, reusable face shield, 111 Best Dad Jokes, Grilled French Fries, and A summertime Bucket List are this week's featured posts. 

Hello and Welcome!

It has been very cold from time to time at our campground. Some mornings there is a fresh dusting of snow on the mountain caps! But when the sun comes out, it is the best place to be to hear the birds sing, breathe in the fresh piney air, and see so many families having a great time with each other. 

Our tubs of Swiss Chard proved to be too easy for the ground gophers to keep out of, but they ate well until we brought them back home on our days off! I will say I am never afraid to try something new...tubs of growing vegetables was in fact something new!

We are hoping to hike around the lake to see the waterfall on the otherwise along the mountains. We have been told it is running faster than ever before, due to all the snowmelt. It will be a fun day... and a good bit of exercise, around the lake is 7 miles!
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Easy to Make Toffee, no candy thermometer needed!

Do you want to make candy? But think that it is really hard? Well, so did I until I found this recipe for Easy to Make Toffee! You will love it, so let's make Toffee, shall we?

During World War II my grandmother made candy. She knew that with sugar rationing, candy making would be a nice little cottage industry, that she could make money with and help support the family. I remember seeing a cookbook just for candy at her house one day, and she told me about her little candy making venture. 

First off, anyone having a cookbook just for candy is a great person to have as a Grandmother! But it all started to make sense to me. A homemade household makes for a happy home. Sure she could have just gone to the store for candy to give us when we visited, but she didn't. And because she did not, I got a loving lesson about my own heritage. 

Homemade Bay Leaf Seasoning

How to make Penzy's Bay Leaf Seasoning! One of the most versatile seasonings to keep on hand in your kitchen! If you love the flavor of bay leaves, you will love this seasoning mix.

Years ago Penzy's Ltd made a wonderful seasoning called 
Bay Leaf Seasoning. And then they stopped...I don't know why they stopped, but they did. Then one day when I went to the spice drawer to pull out the Bay Leaf Seasoning the jar was empty. I closed the drawer and made a mental note, to stop at the Penzy's outlet on the way home from work. 

That night after work when I got to the outlet store, I learned the sad truth. Penzy's no longer made Bay Leaf Seasoning...I went ahead and picked up the other items I needed, but a new jar of Bay Leaf Seasoning was not one of them!  When I returned home, I was glad I kept the empty spice jar, because the label listed the ingredients by weight. 

Now, I am no chemist, but I picked up some bay leaves, hoping I could re-create the blend. Using the ingredients list I set about putting together my best guess concoction of what I believed to be Bay Leaf Seasoning. Ironically when I placed my homemade mixture into the jar, the jar was filled to the top. I looked like Penzy's Bay Leaf Seasoning, and I was hoping it tasted like Bay Leaf Seasoning...

Cranberry with Thyme Vinaigrette

Different and delicious Cranberry with Thyme Vinaigrette. Homemade salad dressings are fresher and more creative than store-bought.  Welcome to Salad Dressing Week at Scratch Made Food! & DIY Homemade Household. 

Are you tired of the high price of bottled salad dressings? There is a solution, make your own. It is easy and there are so many ways to customize for flavor and the ingredients already in your pantry! 


Salad dressing is one area I have wanted to take control of in the kitchen. Purchased salad dressing is not only expensive but has ingredients I don't cook with, in my own home. The solution is to keep a couple of different kinds of homemade salad dressing in our refrigerator. Which is just as convenient as store-bought but made with our own preferred ingredients.
Monday, June 15, 2020

Fresh Tangerine Marmalade, a small batch recipe, no canning required.

If you enjoy orange marmalade from the store, you will love this delicious Fresh Tangerine Marmalade! And the best part, there is no canning. Only 5 ingredients and a bit of time, are all you need for a jar of citrus marmalade to enjoy!

Our small-batch recipe for Fresh Tangerine Marmalade cooks up quickly,  and once cooked all you have to do is cap the jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge! I look forward to the citrus harvest each year. Having fresh citrus of all kinds available is one of the bright spots of winter! And I always make a batch of this tangerine marmalade to enjoy. 

How to Make Roasted Garlic, the easy way!

How to make roasted garlic the easy way! Are you looking for the easiest method to make Roasted Garlic? Take a look here, this method is foolproof and requires no special equipment!

Who wants a foolproof way to roast garlic? Once upon a time, I had a cute terra cotta garlic roaster. It held one perfect head of garlic. But, I did not use it. Why? Well you see, it only held one head of garlic and the frugal side of me was not going to heat up the oven to roast just that one head of garlic...

Enter the muffin tin. Turns out, it is perfect for roasting garlic. You can load up the tin with 6 heads of garlic, plus they stay upright. Obviously, if you need more than six heads of Roasted Garlic, grab a 12 cup muffin tin. Roasted garlic is a delicious way to eat more garlic, which is also very good for us.

Chocolate Sugar for Mochas and Cocoa

With Chocolate Sugar for Mochas and Cocoa in your cupboard ready to go, you can skip the coffee stand for your morning mochas, save some money, and sip your morning joe in the comfort of your own home!

Every morning we have coffee together, my husband and I. It is not fancy or even a specialty blend, but it is fresh, strong, and served promptly as the "done" indicator sounds with five little beeps. My morning coffee is something I look forward to each and every day. In a big mug, with half and half, and nothing else. Some days I wake early and have to wait for coffee because my husband is not awake as yet. But trust me, at a certain point, the coffee maker is started, and I wake him up, because it is time for coffee!


How to make your own cocoa mix to make great Mochas!
My Husband's Chocolate Sugar a stir-in for Morning Mochas!

Easy Red Wine Marinade for Beef

How easy is it to get dinner on the table and all of your other tasks and chores completed? Quite easy with our Easy Red Wine Marinade for Beef! Quick to put together, and a delicious dinner to enjoy.

When time is short, often the easiest dinner is one safely tucked into the oven to cook, while you complete other chores. With so much to get done, a beef roast with this easy marinade in the oven, and a list of chores to finish, seem like the perfect pair! 

As it happens, Thyme and garlic are delicious pair, add in a bit of red wine and a splash of Balsamic vinegar and you have a very tasty marinade. You will want to let the roast marinate 24 to 36 hours (and longer will not hurt!) before seasoning liberally with salt and pepper and placing it in the oven to roast. 

Vegetable Bouillon Concentrate

Looking for more ways to add flavor to your home-cooked meals? You have come to the right place, take a peek at our recipe for Homemade Vegetable Bouillon Paste...up the flavor in your food!

I love having Homemade Vegetable Bouillon Paste in my freezer. It is right there, ready to add extra flavor to all our recipes. This is one of the best things to have in your pantry. Waiting patiently in the freezer, it will provide instant (and delicious) flavor to everything you cook. Plus it is a real space saver, no more containers of vegetable stock in the freezer. 

With spring breaking free, Farmer's Markets are opening up again. Even in our little town, we are seeing all the little markets come alive with renewed commerce coming back. It seemed like winter lasted a long time this year...and I can tell you that I am looking forward to lighter soups, stews, and dishes of all kinds, that springtime seems to inspire. 

Gouda Cheese Spread

This is not like those little pots of cheese spread you find at holiday time, no this is real food ingredients, and homemade delicious! Gouda Cheese Spread, perfect to make ahead, and just what you need to have on hand!

I have made this many times through the years and it is great to have on hand. It mellows with age, as all cheese spreads, dips, dunks, and cheeseballs do. Gouda Cheese Spread is perfect with crackers or crusty bread, spread into the open crevice of a stalk of celery, as well as with apple wedges. And it is great smeared on sauteed chicken breast pieces, where it melts into a wonderful sauce

But since I like to keep cheese tidy, it won't be a surprise that I am not a fan of the traditional cheese ball. Not because of taste, no, rather in how it looks after a few servings. Cheese balls once cut into a few times are usually a mess. But I will suggest that small balls of Gouda Cheese Spread rolled in crushed pecans or walnuts make wonderful individual cheese balls to offer...

A Simple yet Delicious Dry Rub for Meat

Are you looking forward to the upcoming BBQ season? We sure are! Make up a batch of this Simple yet Delicious Dry Rub for Meat, and you will be ready to light up the grill!

I had read many, many recipes for dry rubs. Each of them had great reviews and seemed wonderful when considering the various flavors of the ingredients. However, I kept coming back to the same thought, with so much heavy flavor from herbs and heat from dried chilies; how could you taste the meat? So I came up with my own...and it was an instant hit with our family.

For our family, it is all about flavor. I know and respect, that for many, it is about the sweet heat of the chilis. But if you are seeking flavor, over, heat I hope you give this Simple yet Delicious Dry Rub for Meat a try. It is equally delicious on chicken, as it is on beef or pork. And should you be in the sweet heat group of enthusiasts, please feel free to add more cayenne!

White Chocolate Peanut Butter

How to make White Chocolate Peanut Butter! Who (besides me!) thinks that White Chocolate Peanut Butter has got to be the best thing since sliced bread? Well, then I have good news! Presenting White Chocolate Peanut Butter, just for you (and me...)!

It is hard coming up with a new descriptive phrase different from, "this is great" or "delicious!". I wish I was as creative in the writing department as I am in the kitchen. Because I really could go on and on about how great this is. But... 

This White Chocolate Peanut Butter really is great! You know the friends and family of a food blogger eat well, but this, this is a treat! 

Actually more than great. If you were to purchase this in a specialty market you would pay a big price for something that is actually very easy to make. Plus it only has 3 ingredients, so let's bet started shall we? There you go, I thought you would agree!

Everyday Vinaigrette!

Warm weather and a plethora of salad greens are right around the corner, be prepared with your own homemade salad dressings! Everyday Vinaigrette is one we keep in constant rotation for delicious composed salads whenever possible. 

A salad is a great way to make sure you get your vegetables for the day. 
Because we are so rural at our new home, we don’t always have traditional salad greens. But we always have other fresh vegetables, seasonal greens, and homegrown sprouts to put together for a quick salad anytime. And the best part of an impromptu salad? The dressing of course!

This Everyday Vinaigrette salad dressing is so easy. It calls for basic ingredients and is perfectly delicious! It is a mild-flavored vinaigrette, especially enjoyable to those who have more pucker factor. I think vinaigrettes are overlooked due to the strong vinegar flavor found in many recipes. But this one is perfect for a custom order flavor for your family. For those that are not fans of sour food, try Rice Wine Vinegar, for an especially mild vinaigrette. 

Parsley Buttermilk and Parmesan Cheese Salad Dressing

Does your family crave creamy salad dressings over a tangy vinaigrette? If so Parsley Buttermilk and Parmesan Cheese Salad Dressing is calling out to you, why not give it a try?

Sometimes only a creamy dressing will do! Especially when offering salad to children, a vinaigrette is often too strong or "sour" if you were to ask "How is that, do you like it?" Fortunately, Parsley Buttermilk and Parmesan Cheese Salad Dressing is easy to make, tastes great and fresh parsley (one of my favorite ingredients to work with!) is available year-round.

This dressing is also a great dunk for crisp vegetables or served alongside a steamed artichoke for a first course. Parsley Buttermilk and Parmesan Cheese Salad Dressing goes great drizzled over crisp Romaine, cherry tomatoes, and shredded carrots! Out of buttermilk? No problem, feel free to substitute half yogurt and milk. I hope you give it a try, it really is perfect for those salad days ahead!

Super Fruit and Vegetable Breakfast Squares.

Presenting a delicious and nutritious recipe for Super Fruit and Vegetable Breakfast Squares. Because eating a great breakfast is always a good idea! 

This recipe is not only delicious; it freezes very well, which is wonderful for smaller families. Plus every ingredient listed is available year-round. For those that like a bigger breakfast, it is also quite fitting to serve Super Fruit and Vegetable Breakfast Squares with eggs, simply cut into smaller squares, which is so much easier than individual muffins.

Poached Rhubarb.

Do you love rhubarb? I hope you do because this easy and delicious recipe for Poached Rhubarb is just in time for the harvest! With a simple cooking technique, you get tender cooked rhubarb and not a stringy sauce...

How to Make Easy to Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs.

Do you have problems with peeling hard-cooked eggs? I do did, until I came across this wonderful process! This post is about How to Make Easy to Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs!

Perfectly peeled hard-cooked eggs have always been a challenge for me. It seems that no matter how careful I was, tiny craters were left in the egg whites while trying to get the shell off.....

Not really a big problem when you are making something that calls for chopped eggs, but for a dish where the finished look of the dish is important, those craters were a big issue. Guess who never took deviled eggs to any gatherings with friends or family. until I learned about this process?!!


How to Make Easy to Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs.
Sunday, June 14, 2020

Maple Pecan Granola

Maple Pecan Granola is another easy-to-make granola with no refined sugar. With only 30 minutes in the oven, SO why buy granola, when homemade is this easy? 

Who likes having breakfast easy enough so that everyone can serve themselves? I see, look at all of you in agreement! So it isn't just me. I love mornings, but I don't always want to cook a big breakfast. Granola is perfect for the serve yourself breakfast club. Maple Pecan Granola like our other favorite Honey Almond Granola offers variety while serving up good nutrition. 

Each flavor of our homemade granola calls for pumpkin seeds as part of the ingredients list. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium along with crunch and a delicious nutty flavor. That was new information to me when I began learning the nutritional value of the different ingredients included in our granola recipes. And it turns out magnesium is one of those minerals we need each day.  

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

If you are looking for a Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce, to take the place of jarred sauce from your local grocery store,  take a look at this recipe for Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce. Made the easy way, in your slow cooker.

Keeping a jar or two of good quality marinara sauce in the pantry, is a good idea, especially for those busy times. Because let's face it, we still need dinner no matter how busy everyone is. But the truth is I would rather make my own. 

Jars of sauce can be a bit expensive. Most commercial jars of sauce contain 2 1/2 - 3 cups in volume. This recipe makes enough for 3 packages of sauce, and for about half the price. Plus you get to control the ingredients. 

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce is delicious, and not overpowering in any way. Which is really the success with jarred sauces. And now, you can make your own!

Cafe Yumm Sauce, a copycat recipe!

Looking to save some money, but miss hitting up your favorite fast-food spot? If so, this recipe for Cafe Yumm Sauce is just what you are looking for!

This is a bit of an unusual list of ingredients, but trust me they all come together beautifully. Plus it gave me the opportunity to use nutritional yeast, which I have been wanting to cook with for some time. Nutritional yeast is a bit salty, cheesy, and delicious. I would encourage you to give it a try, it packs a great deal of flavor and does not taste yeasty at all. 

Traditionally Cafe Yumm Sauce is spooned over a Yum Bowl, which consists of rice, beans, and assorted vegetables, along with grilled meat. But don't stop there, it is great as a dip for vegetables, as a sandwich spread, and even spooned over scrambled eggs. 

You won't have to think too hard about different ways to enjoy this sauce, it is that good, fresh ideas will just spring forth, I promise!

Lemon Dill and Vermouth Mustard

Mustard fan? I hope you are because mustard is the one ingredient in cooking that can take a dish from humble to company-worthy. Why not give this Lemon Dill and Vermouth Mustard a try, you won't be sorry! 

You will find a few mustard recipes here at DIY Homemade Household, and there is a good reason for that! Commercially prepared specialty mustard like this recipe for Lemon Dill and Vermouth Mustard is often expensive. Being able to make it yourself is not only frugal but enjoyable. Homemade mustard is fairly easy to make, can include any favorite spice or essence and it makes a great gift for friends or just because you like your neighbor...

This particular mustard is great with chicken and fish. Add a touch of Lemon Dill and Vermouth Mustard to the next batch of tartar sauce the next time you serve pan-fried or deep-fried fish. Stir a spoonful into the pan drippings when frying chicken for a flavorful pan sauce to serve over your chicken, and of course, it is delicious on a sandwich of just about any variety with the exception of a PB&J! 

So, what are you waiting for, get some mustard seeds soaking...

Dessert Apple Slices, made in your pressure cooker!

Do you love apple pie? Never fear, this tasty recipe for Dessert Apple Slices will come in quite handy when the desire for pie strikes!  But it is really just a delicious bowl of fruit, healthy and so good!

I love apple pie, and that is precisely the problem, I do love it, and would eat the whole dang thing! But if I want to keep wearing my current clothes, I really don't need to can't eat that much pie. Just know, however, I would take one for the team, if I needed to…I am just the person you could call on!

But my husband is not a lover of pie, he is an ice cream guy, all the way. So that created a conundrum for me, how do I get the enjoyment of apple pie without baking a pie? Let’s see, what do I have to work with? Well, let's see, along with apples add in an electric pressure cooker, a bit of sugar, cinnamon, and four minutes of cooking time to make Dessert Apple Slices.

Apple Raisin Chutney, a fermented foods condiment

Are you looking for a delicious, easy to make fresh fruit chutney, that is also probiotic? Apple Raisin Chutney is exactly what you are needing...come and take a look right here!

Now that we are settled in Montana (well more settled, there is yard work that needs serious attention, and other things on the list!) I have been able to do a lot more cooking. One item I have wanted to expand upon is fermented foods. Known for assisting with good gut health, I try to eat or drink a serving of fermented foods daily.


Apple Raisin Chutney.


Taco Pickles!

Taco Pickles are just the thing for Taco Tuesday or anytime you want a bite of delicious flavor! Not too hot, not too spicy, they are just right!

When I eat Tex-Mex, I enjoy a spicy, vinegary condiment with my meal. Just like when we have fish for dinner, I want something with a bit of a bite to it. Something to add some excitement. For me, fish can be a little boring on the dinner plate. 

I would recommend that you tuck a spoonful of these crispy, spicy, sweet, and puckery Taco Pickles into a sandwich or anywhere else a spicy flavor is desired! 

Hmmm, can you tell I like these pickles?!
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Encouraging Hearts and Home 06.11.2020

How to regrown lettuce, Bread Vada, No-Bake Cheesecake with Rhubarb, and Tres Leches Filipino Egg Pie are this week's featured posts!

Hello and Welcome!
We have been at "camp" for a week now, and currently at home for our two days off. I had a lot to get done, with laundry, bread baking, and of course visiting here! Funny retirement seems pretty consistent with all those working years, days off simply mean a different set of chores to get done...

One thing we did differently this time for our volunteer stint was to take a couple of tubs of Swiss Chard with us. they did not take up much room in the back of the truck and so far they have provided us with a delicious side dish of cooked chard for our supper one night last week. I believe that this week the small tender leaves will provide us with a nice bowl of greens and vinaigrette to go along with one of our suppers. 

Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog Hop and Link-up 06.11.2020.

During the day they are covered with bird netting, and at night we turn a large storage tub over the top to prevent any possible Swiss Chard eating wanderers to get to our crop before we can! The cooked chard was perfect along-side grilled salmon and buttered corn...UPDATE: we still lost, they were eaten to nubs in the tubs!
Monday, June 8, 2020

Maker's Mark Honey Mustard

Sometimes kitchen experiments turn out delicious! And this recipe for Maker's Mark Honey Mustard is proof! This is a story of frugality, or "what will I do with all those mustard seeds?"

When you get to purchase matching spice racks for your kitchen on clearance, that's a pretty good day. The spice racks were pre-filled with assorted herbs and spices, but honestly, having been bought on clearance I knew that the spice in each jar would be emptied directly into the trash. No disappointment on my part. 

Each jar was opened. The herbs and spices were given the sniff test for freshness before being emptied into the trash. All went to the trash, except for the mustard seeds, the mustard seeds still smelled pungent! When emptied, all the little jars of mustard seeds filled a small bowl. Being frugal, there was only one thing to do, make a jar of mustard to enjoy...

Cabbage Salsa

This is not your usual tomato-based salsa, no this is crispy, delicious Cabbage Salsa and it is perfect with tortilla chips! If you thought salsas were just made with tomatoes, take a look at this tasty treat!

We had joined the family for dinner a few nights ago, and as luck would have it, we decided to enjoy dinner out. Once the decision was made to eat out, next we had to decide where. Quickly we all found ourselves agreeing on Mexican food.

Once there we were given the usual basket of chips and a bowl of salsa, except this, was not the usual tomato salsa, this was a delicious chopped Cabbage Salsa. Once I tasted it, I am pretty sure I ate more than my fair share, but fortunately another bowl was delivered before we could even ask!

Peppers for Cold Meats

Delicious food does not lose a place in modern times, it is simply presented again. No recipe rings more true than that of Aguste Escoffier's Peppers for Cold Meats. 

Tonight I came home and with 3 beautiful peppers in the fruit bowl on the dining room table, decided to invest in the magic process of cooking. No matter how hectic a day that one has, the tactile pleasures of working with your hands instantly removes the stress of the day reuniting you with the comfort of home, and that is the magic part! And let's be honest, we all need a bit more magic in our lives...

This recipe and others like it always come to mind. Peppers for Cold Meats does require that you reconnect with yourself and disconnect with stress. You will be gratified in many ways as you, step by step create something delicious to eat and share with those you care about. 

Whole Wheat Ricotta Gnocchi, easy make ahead and freeze!

Make dinner time a family affair with Whole Wheat Ricotta Gnocchi. The family favorite that everyone will enjoy eating and everyone can help make! 


These Gnocchi are so easy, they are also the perfect project to do with kids or the whole family. Having a batch of Whole Wheat Ricotta Gnocchi in the freezer is super handy for those busy days when you still need dinner, but you also need it to be easy on the cook. You will find the cooking directions at the bottom of the post.


Are you looking for ways to bring others into your kitchen to be a part of the cooking process? If so this recipe and other multi-task recipes like it really is the answer! Nothing about this recipe is hard, each step is easily managed, even by little hands. 

Quick Pickled Onions

If you are looking for a beautiful, deliciously fresh tasting condiment to add to your homemade pantry, there is no better recipe than this one for Quick Pickled Onions! 

Truth be told, there is nothing prettier than this jar of rose-colored bits of flavorful goodness looking back at you from a lighted refrigerator when you open the door!

Recipes like this one for Quick Pickled Onions are how I (and you!) turn out creative meals, that don't take all day. Because nobody has time for that! Condiments are the answer, my friends, homemade condiments to be exact. Quick Pickled Onions add flavor to a quick saute, sprinkled over salads, and are stirred into tuna salad for sandwiches. 

Easy Crock-Pot Dried Apricot Butter

Easy Crock-Pot Dried Apricot Butter is easy to make. Just combine the ingredients and let it cook. Plus this small-batch of Easy Crock-Pot Dried Apricot Butter freezes well and requires no canning! 

Are you a jam maker with no fresh fruit to work with? I found myself to be in that position once here in Montana. Our root cellar had many open shelves waiting for jam, but there was not a producing tree to be found! 

We do have an apricot tree in our yard, but it is very gnarled and very old. It was in dire need of a good pruning when we got here, back in June. Actually, all the fruit trees were long overdue for pruning and trimming when sadly the owners could no longer live here and continue caring for the land. 

If we were going to have a harvest, there was only one thing to do. Get busy!

Maple Orange Sherry Wine Mustard

Maple Orange Sherry Mustard is delicious! It also makes a wonderful gift for a friend. Happily, Maple Orange Sherry Mustard is gourmet in flavor, yet easy on the cook and your pocketbook! 

Have you noticed the price of flavored mustard at your local market? Yep, some of those (tiny!) jars are expensive! But I have good news for you, homemade mustard is such an easy process. All it takes is a few mustard seeds, a bit of flavor, a small amount of wait time and you get fancy gourmet mustard. Mustard that is worthy of gifting to friends. Mustard you can be proud of. 

Honey Almond Granola

Needing to think about breakfast! Think about this, Honey Almond Granola, with no refined sugar and only 30 minutes in the oven! Why buy granola at the market when it is this quick and easy to make?

We are big granola fans in this house, well OK, me more than my husband. And with oats being so versatile there is absolutely no reason not to eat them regularly. I always have a couple of flavors of Granola ready and waiting. You can put just about anything in a batch of granola, and while I want it to taste good delicious, I usually choose ingredients for their nutritional value, as well as how good they taste. 

How to make Dandelion Salve

Homemade Dandelion Salve is one of the easiest personal care products to make! Plus it can be a family project, but save some of the flowers for the bees! 

Want more control over the ingredients in your personal care products? So do we, and in our quest to remain self-sufficient we try to learn new skills on regular basis.  And now that Spring has arrived, one thing we will all see more of is Dandelions! This means now is the time to think about making your own homemade Dandelion Salve

Fortunately, there will be Dandelions all around us. Think of Dandelions as the crop you do not have to plant. The bees rely heavily upon this first flower of Spring, for their food. Therefore the best practice is to take no more than 20% of the flowers. But not to worry, with careful harvests there will be plenty of flowers for salve, and for the bees!

British style Mixed Spice for Cakes and Baking

British style Mixed Spice for Cakes and Baking will have you baking up delicious "bakes" just like they do in the countryside of Britain...making this delicious spice blend handy to have on hand!

Here recently I have taken quite a shine to British food. Especially Welsh Tea Cake, known as Bara Brith. It is easy to make, and quite delicious. I have come to enjoy my afternoon cup of tea, sweetened with a bit of honey, and lightened up with a splash of cream. And for those days that lunch is but just a memory, a slice of cake spread with a bit of butter is perfect to enjoy along with my cuppa.

How to make Jarred and Ready to use Minced Garlic

How to make Ready to use Minced Garlic, with no preservatives or additives! Just like the ready to use garlic at your favorite store, but without all the stuff you don't want or need! 

You will enjoy having this little jar of Ready to Use Minced Garlic in your kitchen. Personally, I love love, love the flavor of garlic but hate the clingy, sticky, papery skin each time you need a clove of garlic. If you feel the same way, this jar of kitchen convenience is for you! 

Convenient to have on hand, Ready to Use Minced Garlic in a Jar!

You can buy ready to use minced garlic in the grocery stores, but I don't want the preservatives associated with the commercial preparation of that product. However, I still want convenience...and it hit me one day driving home from work. Vodka was the answer! Yep Vodka. You see...

Super Simple "Easy Clean" Spray Cleaner

Yes, we are all busy! The solution? I keep a bottle of this super simple "Easy Clean" Spray Cleaner handy, and quick as can be, you can have a clean and ready work surface, once again!

So tell me, have you ever had one of those days, where you walk into the kitchen to start a meal and all the counters are covered with the remains of the day? Super Simple "Easy Clean" Spray Cleaner is just what you need, because, what you will find on the kitchen counter is..

Crumbs from getting out a few crackers. Or a bit of sugar spilled from sweetening a cup of coffee or tea. And of course, that smear left behind from a knife, telling of peanut butter and jelly sandwichs...but now dinner is waiting to be made so...get out your bottle of this easy-to-make cleaner!

It Pretty Much Cooks Itself, Irish Oatmeal

Calling all Irish Oatmeal fans for this easy to manage breakfast staple! Easy, no work, no worry method, with no special equipment needed...for Irish Oatmeal.

Do you want easy to cook Irish Oatmeal? 

We are oatmeal people. Irish oats, granola, baked oatmeal, and overnight oats. And please don't forget oatmeal cookies!... 

But Irish oatmeal was something I rarely ate due to the long cooking time. I tried cooking it in my stovetop pressure cooker, only to be met with a river of goo spurting slowly out of the valve. Not a pretty sight, and worse to clean up!

And yes there are hundreds of recipes for pot in pot cooking of Irish oatmeal in electric pressure cookers. And I could certainly cook Irish Oats in that way because there is an electric pressure cooker in my arsenal of appliances. But honestly, for me, this really old fashioned way is still the best. 
Sunday, June 7, 2020

How to make Homemade Soft Butter Spread.

Now you can make Homemade Soft Butter Spread. No more ripped holes in your bread or toast! Real butter, that is soft, made with real ingredients, and nothing artificial... 

Are you ready for real butter, that is soft and spreadable? With no artificial anything, just whole food. Because this really is butter. Great for soft bread, toast, pancakes, waffles, frying eggs, and topping your oatmeal with a little dab if you enjoy your porridge that way (we do!). 


Straight out of the refrigerator, you will need to scrape a ribbon of butter off the top (it is real food after all), but this is a soft butter spread, with no more ripped bread or broken toast.   


To be honest, we do not refrigerate our butter, actually never have. Also, we have never had an issue with it spoiling. I keep a small bowl of softened butter in the pantry right next to the salt and pepper.  

How to make Homemade Brown Sugar.

Homemade Brown Sugar is one of those pantry staples you might as well make yourself! It is easy to do, while you get to control the ingredients used.  

Are you interested in being more self-sufficient? Then you are in the right place!  Homemade Brown Sugar is very simple to make. You can also customize it for your family's preferences. I like to have both light brown and dark brown sugar on hand for cooking and baking. 

Quiet the rain, with Downspout Noise Mufflers

Downspout Noise Mufflers just might help you sleep better at night, you might not be able to stop the rain, but you can do something about the noise in those downspouts!

"Hey Honey, can you hear that? It's raining again."

 "You know Hun, as soon as it stops raining again, we need to get those downspouts fixed."

But you know how it is, when the rain stops, it's outside to get a few chores done. Usually, the ones left from yesterday!

Later you stop for some lunch and a cup of something hot, to warm up our insides. Then just as you are taking that last swig from your mug, it starts raining again!

I think you get the idea. Days like that, are why some chores don't get done!

Truthfully noisy downspouts are not a problem during the day. Everyone is busy and the noise blends into all the other activities surrounding you...

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

If you are looking for a homemade powdered laundry soap you have come to the right place! This one is easy to make, easy to use (no messy drips!), and gets your clothes clean! 

If you are looking for Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap, you have come to the right place! Easy to make with easily obtained ingredients, and a simple straightforward process. 


Want fewer fragrance chemicals in your cleaning products? Then this recipe for Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap is what you are looking for. It is not hard on your clothes, nor on your septic system. I know that current laundry guidelines call for cold water washing, but to be honest, I have never thought a cold water wash was sufficient for getting your clothes clean, and of course, powdered laundry soap does not melt completely, homemade or otherwise.

Which makes me a warm water laundress...This laundry soap has a long track record of getting our clothes clean and when hung out on the line to dry, everything just smells wonderful, naturally, no fragrance is needed! Plus line drying, now that is where to save on electricity costs.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap.
Thursday, June 4, 2020

Encouraging Hearts and Home 06.04.2020

A mess-free way to pit cherries, amazing Garlic Harvest techniques, attracting bees to your garden, and No Fuss Easy Dill Zucchini Pickles are this week's featured posts. 

Hello and Welcome!

We are heading out of town tomorrow, we will be volunteering with Montana State Parks as Camp Ground Hosts to open camping season here in Montana! I have been busy getting a few things cooked up ahead so our first few days learning our new duties! We spent a year traveling and working for the National Park System (2018-2019) as Interpretive Guides. It was a lot of fun, but now as volunteers, we just want to hike and camp! Once our duties are done for the day we can just kick back, camp, and relax! It is exciting to me that our parks are opening up once again...
Our 25 ft 5thwheel for camping and volunteering!
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Meatballs and Onions in Paprika Sour Cream Sauce

Are you looking for a rich-tasting ground beef dish that is just as good in the summer as it is in winter? If so Meatballs and Onions in Paprika Sour Cream Sauce is the dish you are looking for!

As our days fill up with tasks, and working whether at home or away, making dinner is not always foremost in our thoughts. But when you have a stash of recipes that your family loves and looks forward to enjoying again, that unplanned dinner does not have to be such a problem. Meatballs and Onions in Paprika Sour Cream Sauce is one of those good guy dishes to know about and make for the family!

This dish is easily made from your own well-stocked pantry. Sour cream may be the only ingredient that you might need to check on, some of us keep it in our refrigerators all the time, mainly because we love it so. And others only purchase as needed. Either way is fine of course, but you will need to make sure you have some, it is a prime ingredient in this Meatball recipe!