Saturday, October 15, 2016

Acorn Squash with Grapes, Cardamom and Cinnamon. Out of this world.

Acorn Squash is one of my favorite things to make.  It's so easy and so versatile.  I always make it the same way, however that gets old, so I decided to change it up.  It's a big joke in my house when asked, "what's for supper?"  
That question is usually followed by, "Is it one of your concoctions?"  
The answer to that is nearly always, "pretty much."  
My husband doesn't mind my concoctions because he says they're usually pretty good.  Not always, for instance, two weeks ago I decided to try my hand at roasting vegetables.  I didn't really know what to do, but how hard can it be?  I bought some golden beets, carrots, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions.  I called my brother about the beets, he said to boil them first before I baked them.  Good advice. Once I was ready to assemble the vegetables on the pan, I remembered one of the Chefs on Food Network, (the lady with the crazy platinum hair, can't remember her name) say to make sure and salt every new addition of vegetables.  Ok, so I did.  Well, the roasted veggies came out looking great, but tasted awful!!!!!  So salty it was so gross, it all got dumped.  I was very upset with the waste, but nothing could be saved.  Nasty.  So take from that, don't salt every new layer of veggies.  No No No. 
Back to the Acorn Squash.  I have a recipe for acorn squash on the blog, you can find it here.
I usually bake it, then fix up some baked fruit to go in the middle with brown sugar and butter.  It's really good, but, like I said I needed a change.  
Years ago I remember having some wonderful chicken cooked with grapes.  The flavor was absolutely fantastic and the grapes added a very nice taste and texture to the dish.  I thought I'd give my new idea a chance, what's the worst that could happen?  So I made up the acorn squash and along with it, cooked up some chicken with the same grapes, to tie the meal together.  My son, who tends to be on the picky side (wonder where he gets that from? Certainly not me. Insert sarcasm here) loved it.  All of it!  The taste was so delicious, we didn't need to add anything but a little pat of butter.  Really, if you all haven't tried to make Acorn Squash you really need to.  It looks so fancy when you fill it up with fruit, and serve it on the plate with your other food.  A lot of people avoid acorn squash because it looks weird and many recipes call for peeling and cutting.  No thanks.  I like the way my Mom taught me better.  

 Without any further ado here is the recipe. 


1 Acorn Squash
16 grapes 
Sprinkle of Cardamom
1/2 a Cinnamon stick 
2 tsp brown sugar (if you want, we didn't use any and it was wonderful)

Preheat the oven to 350
Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds
Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil 
Place a pile of grapes, sprinkle of cardamom and the 1/2 cinnamon stick on top of the grapes

**NOTE: go easy with the cardamom as it can easily and unpleasantly overwhelm the dish
Place the acorn squash over the grapes, making sure the sliced side is touching the foil. 
Pour water in the pan to seal up the edges of the acorn squash (this will keep the squash from burning and drying out.)
Carefully place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  
You can tell the acorn squash is ready, by touching the top of the squash, if it makes a little dent, it's ready.  If it's still hard, leave it in the oven for a few more minutes.  
By leaving the skin on the squash, you've made yourself a bowl. 
When the squash is done, take out of the oven and turn over, add the grapes, a pat of butter and 1 tsp of brown sugar, scrape the squash off the skin, mix and enjoy.

If you try this recipe or, have an acorn squash recipe you like, share with us in the comments.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler Recipe


The field behind our house is full of wild blackberry bushes.  The brambles rise up to the light, full of red berries and the ripened blackberries.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  We have 12 acres, and nearly every where you look there are blackberry bushes.  Some are surrounded by poison ivy, some right along the trails that are cut through the thick underbrush, and some just waving in the breeze among the high grass.  You'd think we would have so many blackberries, we'd be sick of them.  Maybe we could pick so many of them we could sell them at the Farmers Market.  You'd think and you'd be wrong.  Those blackberries are very sought after, and not just by us, but by the animals that live in the field.  We are nestled at the base of a mountain, altitude about 2400 feet above sea level.  
While we do not live IN the mountain, we have a plethora of wild animals to compete with for the blackberries.  One of which is a fat, black bear.  That's right, a bear.  He lives in the field behind our house, periodically breaking into our trash cans to have a feast. Last year were able to only pick one small bowl of blackberries before  he grumped at us, causing us to beat a hasty retreat.  This year, I was determined I would get more than one bowl.  If we don't pick them as soon as they turn black, the bear, deer, skunks, raccoons, possum, squirrels and a variety of birds will pick the vines clean.  I was able to pick the berries 2 times.  I got enough to freeze, which is wonderful, although I doubt they'll make it to the winter because of our love of cobbler.  A few weeks ago, when the red berries were turning black, a friend went to pick some berries.  He has been in the country his whole life of 72 years, and armed with 4 wheeler and a pistol (to scare, not harm, the bear) he went into the field.  A short time later, he came back out.  He said he was picking berries and heard something following him in the bushes.  He looked down at one point and saw a pile of bear poo.  Jumping on the 4 wheeler, clutching his prize of berries he came back to the house. Having admitted he was scared of the bear he thanked me for the berries and left.  I decided I best not go pick anymore either.  Once the berries are scarce, the bear might be a little less fearful and more aggressive since his winter survival would be in question.   
This is a picture of a Mama bear and her cub that frequent my Dad's property.  She is a black bear, the same as the bear who occupies the field.  As my child would say, "Cute, but not cuddly."  I should say so!  Nonetheless, I managed to get some delicious, fresh blackberries and made a fantastic Blackberry cobbler.  I made a video of the process.  Trying something new on my blog.  Hope you enjoy it! 


video


Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler

1/2 stick organic butter
1 cup organic milk
1 cup organic flour
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 organic egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blackberries (or any other fruit you like)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F
Place 1/2 stick of butter in 2 8x8 Cobbler pans (or 1 stick in 12x12 pan) and put in the oven as it pre-heats
Take out when the butter has melted and slightly browned
Take pan out of the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar all around the pan, especially the edges

In a seperate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and pour into the pan, on top of the butter and brown sugar.

Drop blackberries (as many/little) on top of the batter

Return the pan to the oven and bake 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly

Serve warm with a scoop of organic chocolate ice-cream

Note:  You can use non-organic ingredients and the egg is optional, you can also adjust the sugar to your liking.
To make a larger pan, just double the ingredients.
If you'd like you can add a tsp of baking powder and a pinch of salt, this will make the batter rise more.
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Calendula infused Coconut Oil with French Lavender

Mary’s Gold: I use Calendula in my super popular Healing Honey Butter.  Why?  Calendula has been used since ancient times for cooking, making clothing dye, and for medicinal use.  The earliest records claim that the tea from the Calendula Officinalis can help with women issues, gut issues, and many others.  Topically Calendula flowers were placed in open wounds to staunch bleeding, help heal and to avoid infection.  It was also used in tinctures and balms to heal the skin, treat acne, reduce inflammation, help heal cuts, scrapes and bug bites to name a few. 


Most everyone is familiar with Lavender.  The soothing scent has been used to reduce anxiety and induce sleep for ions.  It was also used as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.  I have used Lavender on my skin to help take the sting out of sunburns.  We take the Healing Honey Butter on all of our trips, especially our last trip to visit my Mom in Florida.  Where my Mom ended up with a bad sunburn.  She put on the Healing Honey butter, and while her skin remained red through the next day, she did not hurt or itch at all.  I usually burn one time a year, I know it's bad I don't mean too.  I used my Healing Honey Butter and no longer felt the sting and itching of my damaged skin. Below is a picture of my sunburned shoulder, I posted on Instagram. 
How many times have you seen a commercial that touts their Lavender product will help you sleep, will calm your child and help them sleep, will reduce your anxiety and stress levels?  There's a reason Lavender has been used since ancient times.  It works.  Not the chemically processed versions sold on tv and in commercial skin care and bath products.  Pure Lavender from the actual Lavender plant.  Distilled into pure therapeutic essential oils.  The real lavender.  True and pure lavender.  Essentially and Purely Lavender oil.  Once you smell true lavender, you will be able  to detect the imposters and reject them.  

How do I make this amazing, Healing Honey Butter?
I infuse my Organic Coconut oil with Organic, dried, Calendula Officinalis flowers and beeswax. I like to take my time when making an infusion, I want to get the absolute most out of the flowers I use.  I want to sell my Customers the highest quality product. So I start my infusion and carefully monitor it, stirring the coconut oil to allow a perfect mixture of oil to healing benefits of the calendula flower.  

Once the infusion has reached maturity I then start the process to whip it into a frothy state to keep it from hardening into a big lump that is difficult to get out of it's container.  This has to been done several times as the butter cools and hardens.  After it has cooled sufficiently, I then add the pure French Lavender Essential oil.  Blend and pour into the containers. The smell is heavenly and the result is divine.  I should have named it Heavenly Honey Butter.  

I like to add beeswax as it helps the coconut oil set up and seals in the skins moisture along with the healing power of the Calendula.  By adding Lavender, the skin healing/soothing benefits gets a real boost, plus the scent of lavender is soothing and calming.  Healing Honey Butter has a light fragrance and goes on smoothly.  Your skin will be soft and supple all day long.  Try some today, see how much your skin can benefit from this ultra moisturizing and healing butter.  I promise your skin will love you for it!

I use all the products in my line of skin care.  All of them, I wouldn't sell anything that I don't love. If you would like to make a purchase go to my website: www.essentiallypurely.com or visit my Etsy store.  

Legal mumbo-jumbo:
These Statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Avoid if pregnant. Avoid if allergic to any ingredients, or if allergic to the Daisy family.  Pictures from Wikipedia, except the one of my shoulder.  That's mine. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Frozen Fresh Strawberry Syrup with dried up Brown Sugar and freshground Cinnamon

Frozen fresh? What is that? My Dad went to North Carolina this past fall and harvested a bunch of fresh strawberries.  He brought me about 6 gallons of them.  I washed them off and let them dry. After they were dry I placed them, in a single layer, in a freezer safe container and directly into the freezer.  So, Fresh Frozen. Dad's idea and it worked beautifully.  Stored in that way, they could be used, at will, throughout the winter.  I still have some left and noticed that they were "growing" ice, which means they are going to be ruined and frost bitten.  What in the world was I going to do with them?
My son asked for waffles for breakfast.  We have gluten free, multi-grain Pumpkin spice waffles, which actually taste like gingerbread.  How to incorporate those strawberries?  Strawberry syrup.  
I have been purchasing organic Ceylon cinnamon sticks so I can grind my own cinnamon.  I have read articles that claim some cinnamon is cut with bark.  Cinnamon is bark, but I don't want another kind of bark in my cinnamon.  I prefer pure cinnamon.  How can I assure this?  Grind it myself.  I put several sticks in my coffee mill and poof, freshly ground cinnamon that I know is 100% and nothing extra added.  
Where does the dried up brown sugar come into play?  I keep my Organic brown sugar in a ceramic container, with a terra cotta bear to keep it moist.  However, not all of the brown sugar fits.  Some of it has to stay in the original container, where it dries up into a big ole' lump.  I know if you add sugar to strawberries, the strawberries released their juice so it becomes a delicious syrupy treat.  It's so good, just strawberries and sugar.  Not so much frozen strawberries and sugar, fresh strawberries.  
I capped the strawberries,  dumped the dried up brown sugar over them, and sprinkled some cinnamon on them too.  Let me tell you, it only took a few minutes to have a fresh strawberry syrup with delicious strawberries to go with it!


Skillet for cooking
Frozen Strawberries
Organic Ceylon Cinnamon sticks
Organic Brown Sugar (dried up, fresh, whichever doesn't matter)

1-2 cups frozen strawberries, cap them and place into the skillet
Sprinkle the ground cinnamon over the strawberries
Put brown sugar on top

Turn skillet on low
The heat will start to un-thaw the frozen strawberries and a syrup will start to form, 
Gently stir the berries to incorporate the brown sugar and cinnamon
No need to wait too long, the syrup will form pretty quickly 


Ladel the strawberries over the waffles, scoop out some syrup and you have your own, freshly prepared Strawberry syrup.   

My son gobbled all, but 4, of the strawberries (I saved some for myself) and his entire waffle.  Which he rarely does.  Healthy goodness I could feel good about.  Like most Moms, I beat myself up over every little thing I think I'm doing wrong.  Today it was, that I didn't think I was feeding him enough healthy things to help him grown and develop properly.  This was a good start to a great day!  



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The best Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Lentils

Ok.  Yes I said it! Lentils!  Yes, these cookies are made with Lentils. I was watching the Cooking Channel, years ago, and saw a woman making these cookies.  They looked so good.  I didn't get around to trying them until this year.  A friend of mine is opening her new Pastry shop, called Luv Berry, and she asked if I could help her find a chocolate chip cookie recipe that doesn't use white flour or white sugar.  I immediately searched for this recipe.
I modified, as I always do. Since I have a trace wheat allergy, just to whole wheat, I used regular organic flour. I joke, sort of, that I can eat white bread because it use to be wheat, but has been processed so much that it doesn't affect my allergies.  I also left out several ingredients because I don't like nuts or seeds in my cookies.  
Here is my version of the recipe from Bal Arneson via the Cooking Channel website, a link to Bal's original recipe can be found at the bottom of the recipe.
Quick note:  Let the Lentil's cool before adding the butter, I didn't and all the butter melted and I had butter and lentil soup.  I ended up having to add more flour.  It was a near disaster. 

Healthy Chocolate Chip Lentil Cookies (modified version)

1 Cup dry Lentils
2 Sticks unsalted butter
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup Organic Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup regular dried Oats
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Sweetened dried Cranberries 

Cook Lentils in boiling water for 35 minutes.  Strain and smash with a fork.  LET COOL.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or grease cookie sheet)

In a bowl, cream together the cooled lentils, butter, and brown sugar 

Add the egg and blend well

Add the baking soda, flour and vanilla extract and blend

Stir in the chocolate chips, raisins and cranberries

Drop the cookies and flatten on the cookie sheet, by the spoonful

Bake for 13 to 18 minutes 

Remove from oven and place on a baking rack to cool 

Now, try to stop yourself from eating them all.  I dare you!  

For the original recipe go to: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/bals-lentil-cookies.html


Introducing Essentially Purely™ and a recipe for making your own PureVanilla Extract.

Thank you to all of my friends for the outpouring of support for my new venture!  I started my new company, Essentially Purely™, with the intention of sharing the products God has blessed me to be able to create.  They really work, they are fantastic and I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful friends, and family who are Customers, and to have added Customers who feel like friends.

I've been making making my own deodorant for years.  I started my search for a natural deodorant about 16 years ago, after my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The lump was caught in the very early stages and thanks be to God, she is 100% ok. After the surgery and the treatments, she was told not to use commercial deodorants.  She was advised to find a natural deodorant that didn't contain aluminum or other harsh chemicals.  That really triggered a "WHY?" Response in me.  I have always been that person who needs to know why?  When I found out how some of the chemicals in our deodorants can negatively affect our health, I was appalled.  That is probably the root of why I have been so persistent in my search for natural/organic things for my family and myself.  How can the FDA approve such things to be used, when they know what kinds of awful side effects they can cause.  Serious problems, such as cancer!!!!  It's not ok.  A couple of examples:

Aluminum Chlorhydrate is found in most antiperspirants, it is used to close the pores.  Doctors have found links to that and Alzheimer's disease as well as breast cancer and other illnesses.  (Check out article: http://side-effects.owndoc.com/deodorants-and-antiperspirants-side-effects.php)

Triclosan is an endocrin blocker, it's found in deodorants, toothpaste, anti-bacterial soaps, soaps, shampoos, it's bad but it's FDA approved for you to rub on your body, and use in your mouth.  Here is an excerpt from a great artical on the dangers of the ingredients in commercial deodorants. 

"Triclosan

Triclosan is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces. Triclosan is a skin irritant and may cause contact dermatitis. Recent studies suggest this chemical may disrupt thyroid function and other critical hormone systems. The American Medical Association recommends that triclosan and other “antibacterial” products not be used in the home, as they may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics that can allow resistant strains to flourish." (http://www.naturalcosmeticnews.com/toxic-products/dangerous-chemicals-in-deodorant-antiperspirant-a-detailed-review-of-the-chemicals-research-avoidance-tips/)
I could go on and on and on! Please take time to take ownership of your health and look up what the chemicals in the products, you use everyday, are capable of doing to your body.  With that said, make sure when you find something natural/organic that you do your research on that.  Everything that claims to be natural, may be labeled natural because the FDA says it was, at one point, from nature.  For example, Artificial Vanilla Flavoring.  How can that be labeled natural and have the word artificial in it?  Here's an excerpt of an artical from Dr. Mercola (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/02/vanilla-flavored-processed-foods.aspx)
"Anal secretions from beavers, which beavers use to mark their territory, smell, ironically, like vanilla. These secretions, called castoreum, may be used as vanilla flavoring in baked goods, pudding, chewing gum and more.1
Here's the rub … you certainly won't see 'beaver anal secretions' on your food labels, and you probably won't see 'castoreum' either. All that has to be listed is vanilla natural flavor, because, after all, beaver anal secretions are natural.
It's clearly absurd that food manufacturers can describe secretions from beaver anal glands as natural vanilla flavor. This isn't a huge health issue, especially because beavers are not a bred animal, and the total consumption of castoreum is thought to be around just 250 pounds a year.2
(Refer to the article link above to see the references used)

So, this is an example of how deceptive the FDA approved ingredients can be.  I don't think they use  Beavers Anal secretions that much anymore, since I'm sure they have found a slew of chemicals to mimic the taste.  My question to YOU (yes you),  why not make your own?  I can tell you how.  And you can use it over, over and over again.  
Pure Vanilla Extract:
2-3 Vanilla Beans (you can order them organic, or not, on the web)
A clean, empty glass bottle with a lid
a small bottle of vodka, rum, or any liquor that doesn't have a strong taste.
Slice the beans on a cutting board and drop into the bottle
Pour in the vodka/rum/ To cover the beans. 
Seal tightly
Place in a cool dark place for about 6 months
After each use, refill and shake.  Store in dark, cool place, like your cabinets. 
Bam.  Pure Vanilla extract.  
Don't worry about the liquor, it gets burned off when you cook or bake with it. Doesn't add a liquor flavor if you chose one that doesn't really have a strong flavor. 
As you can see there are many reasons we should know and understand exactly what is in our beauty products, as well as, our food.  I do a lot of research to find out what organic and truly natural products, can benefit us and be used in my deodorants and body care products.  I try each of them on myself and then I have friends, who try to them as well.  I hope you all enjoy my products as much as we do.  I will be using this blog for both "Hey Paw™" recipes and for "Essentially Purely™" blog posts.  
Thanks ever so much for your support.  Please visit www.EssentiallyPurely.com and give us a try. I'm sure you will be so happy you will keep coming back again and again!
Remember! Take ownership of your health!



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tortilla Tuesday is here!

Tortilla Tuesday is here!

Who doesn't like Tacos and Tortillas?! My family loves them. For those of you that follow me, you know I try to make healthy choices and avoid GMO and GE foods at all costs. Sometimes we make exceptions which leaves me guilt ridden because I fed my family pesticides. Ugh. Sounds so dramatic, however I have food allergies and have to take every ingredient in our food seriously. I understand how, even insignificant, ingredients can cause someone a problem. 

For instance, I have a sensitivity to pomegranates, I ordered a popular protein shake made from real fruits and vegetables.  One of the mid, to last ingredients, was pomegranate powder.  I thought, "well, it's not a prime ingredient, I should be fine."  

I was wrong.  I had energy and wasn't hungry for the first few days, but then I just started feeling bad.  It's hard to explain, but mostly I just felt.... bad.  I started feeling sick and grumpy and I couldn't concentrate.  I felt heavy inside and couldn't get myself motivated to do anything but sit on the couch.  I thought back to how my diet had changed, which led me to realize it was the shakes.  It took a couple days to get all of it out of my system, but then I felt like myself again.  It's funny how one small ingredient can cause so many problems. 

That said, I believe that if we are using the foods laden with GMO/GE ingredients, and artificial colors we are hurting our bodies, not to mention the environment.  While I can't cut out all GMO's, mainly because our country does not require food distributors to disclose that information on the labels, I do try very hard to minimize our intake.  (That's why it's important to buy Organic and Non-GMO certified. Here's a link to the GMO dirty dozen.)  

All that said, we love taco's and tortilla's in our house.  Every time I get a box of taco's or bag of tortilla's I read the long list of ingredients and cringe a bit inside.  My friend Ana is from Chile and she makes tortilla's by hand, with 3 ingredients.  Yes, THREE.  I thought I'd give it a try.  We gobbled them up, they were delicious.  Hard, but good. So I modified my next batch and they were fantastic.  Soft, delicious, and good all by themselves.  



Here are a couple of tips:
Don't roll the tortilla's too thin or they will become brittle and hard.  
Adding Organic Sunflower lecithin helps them to be soft while adding nutrition and health benefits.  
To make a burrito, thin the batter with more water and then pour on the griddle. (I have not tried this yet, but Ana said it will work.)



3 cups organic flour +more for rolling dough
1 cup  hot water
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons Organic Sunflower Lecithin (optional)
Coconut oil (optional)

Mix flour and lecithin in a bowl

Heat up griddle or skillet to about 350 degrees

Mix salt and water and stir until dissolved.  (taste the water, if it's too salty, just add more water and next time cut back on the salt.  The water needs to be salty though, it will flavor the tortilla's.)

Add salt water, a little at a time, to the flour and mix until it is no longer tacky or sticky

Pinch off a golf ball size roll of dough

Sprinkle flour on board and then roll out until about 1/3" thick (you may have to just experiment a bit to get it to the thickness you like. Too thin will be hard and brittle)

You can put the tortilla directly onto the griddle as is, or add some coconut oil to give a nice golden color.

Flip when the tortilla starts to brown

Place on a plate and cover with foil or a towel to hold in heat.  I just place mine in the oven. 

These are really good.  

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