Guest Post- The Magic Of Sourdough

This post is written by my friend Valerie Miller. We’ve been besties for years and both find healthy living intriguing and necessary. Though miles apart, we still often chat a couple times a week.  A year ago she graciously sent me sourdough starter by mail. Since then my family and I happily devour sourdough bread on a regular basis. If you’ve not yet given it a try, there’s no better time than now to delight your taste buds and digestive system!

Sourdough: the rage in many a kitchen across the world. Although sourdough is a hot topic, and a popular trend these days, it’s a trend I’m very happy to subscribe to, so much so that my sourdough starter has taken the status of a pet, and making yummy, nourishing sourdough goodies has become a hobby.

Bread is Biblical! Its interesting to take note of the way bread was a staple, and necessary for physical survival in Bible times. Of course, most special of all is the fact that Jesus proclaims himself as the Bread of Life, in a spiritual sense.  Sourdough is believed to originate in ancient Egypt and remained the main method of leavening bread until bakers yeast replaced it a couple hundred years ago. In recent years, bread has become a villain because so many people have difficulty digesting it. And rightfully so. The bread you find on the grocery store shelf has been made with less than stellar grains, added preservatives, artificial flavors, and synthetic vitamins!

Sourdough bread can be made with 3 simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water. How incredible! I’d love to meet the person who discovered the magic of sourdough! 
Sourdough starter contains a mixture of lactic acid and wild yeast. During the fermentation process, these beneficial bacteria partially break down and “predigest” the starch and gluten proteins found in grains. Sourdough is not gluten free, but because of this process that has taken place, many people with a gluten sensitivity can enjoy sourdough bread. This process also puts sourdough bread lower on the glycemic index. In other words, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like yeast bread does.

Baking with sourdough isn’t hard! I’ll admit, I was intimidated by it at first. I thought it was a finicky thing that would produce only nice bread for the professionals. And I’m not a professional, so I anticipated ugly, flat bread! It’s true that I’ve had my share of flops, but those aren’t the norm. And flops are the perfect opportunity for the yummiest French toast!

Get a starter from a friend. You can also make your own starter, but its much easier to start out with an established starter. To feed your starter, you will want to feed with equal amounts of starter to flour and a little less water. It’s important to use unbleached flour, and non chlorinated water to feed your starter. My favorite flour to use  is King Arthur bread flour. It yields a robust, bubbly starter. Starter stored on the counter at room temperature needs to be fed once a day to keep it alive. Here’s the good part (and what I do): you can store your starter in the fridge if you’d like, and feed it only once a week. When you’re ready to use your starter for baking, take it out of the fridge, feed it, and after several hours, it’ll be ready to use. 
Before attempting to make bread, you’ll want to take note of how active and mature your starter is. A good rule of thumb is that it must double in 5 hours to be strong enough for a good rise in bread. The day before making your bread, feed it 3 times, morning, noon, and evening. It will be ready to go the next morning. For the recipe below, I start out with ¼ cup starter, feed it ¼ cup flour, and a little water. By noon, I have a ½ cup of starter to feed with ½ cup flour, and water. Before bedtime, its grown to 1 C, which I feed 1 cup flour, and water. The next morning you’ll have 2 cups starter, the perfect amount for your bread! (Be sure to save out a tablespoon or 2 of starter to set back and feed for the next time!)


Sourdough Sandwich Bread
2 C fed sourdough starter
1 ½ C water
2 T honey
2 T melted butter, or oil
Mix all together in your mixer bowl. 
Add: 
5 Cups bread flour
Mix for 3-4 minutes
Turn the mixer off and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Add 2 ½ tsp salt, and mix/kneed for 10 minutes
Remove the dough from the mixer, put it into a dish, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rise till double, approximately 3 hours. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into 2 loaves. Put the dough into well-greased bread pans, prick with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise till double. (Approximately 3 hours)
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Butter the tops and let the loaves rest in the pans till partially cool. This will help keep the loaves soft and prevent the bottom from getting crusty.

Sourdough pancakes
2 C fed sourdough starter
2 eggs
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the starter, eggs,butter and salt. Add the baking powder and soda and mix just until incorporated. Fry pancakes in lots of butter!



If you’re interested in making artisan sourdough bread, this is my favorite recipe. I do prefer a different baking time, 30 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.
https://littlespoonfarm.com/sourdough-country-loaf-recipe/

I enjoy selling sourdough goodies at a local Farmer’s Market

I’m Valerie Miller, wife of David and mama to Austin, Felicity, and Eric. We reside in Athens, TN. As a busy mom, with a side of homeschooling, I don’t find much time for hobbies these days. Healthy living/eating, of which sourdough is a large part, has become my “hobby”, and it’s so satisfying to know I’m fueling my family with nourishing food! You can contact me at fivesouthernmillers@gmail.com

On Eating Out And Pie

Spring hobbled in hesitantly this year with so  much huffing and puffing it sounded like it would blow the house down! The weather kept throwing cold spells at us with only a sprinkling of mature warmth. But finally. At the very end of May- Yay!!! Yay for bright sunshine, blue skies, the scent of fresh cut grass and pleasing temperatures! And its an all time triple yay for NO wind!! I’m confident its been worse this year. I don’t want to complain, but can I squeak out one negative comment? I promise to also include positivity. I love fresh air but I only wish it wouldn’t move at such an energetic speed!  When we have a day with sunshine and zero wind, it’s in order to pause and meditate on the fact. And for sure, thank the Creator of the wind that there’s no wind! 

With the arrival of Summer, we must eat out. At least, if you ask my children. And I doubt yours are much different than mine.  Eating out, but not in town. Eat in the country. In Nature. In the shade. In the grass. My children absolutely love to eat outside and I do too. It’s simply enjoyable to eat food outdoors plus it cuts down on tableside crumbs, which makes it a win win! It’s my belief that it takes minimal effort to take the food and accessories outdoors.

Here’s the method I use: First off, just cook whatever you have on your menu. You don’t have to grill or have picnic foods. A casserole or pan of pizza is fine and often more simple than grilled hot dogs or hamburgers with all the toppings.

I keep a beautiful Hearth & Hand magnolia tray that’s extra large, within easy reach. This was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband one year and I love and use it so much! On this tray I pile our food, utensils, plates, cups etc. Utilize every possible space. On top of the plates I’ll set the casserole dish or a bowl of food. Stack the cups together.  On the very top I throw on the tablecloth. There might be a pitcher of tea and maybe one or two other items to carry separately but my big tray holds 90% of things. 

This tray comes from Target
We ate meatballs, fried potatoes and broccoli cauliflower salad this time

  Then you just haul it outside. You’ll need the tablecloth first so that’s why you place it on top of everything else. Throw that on the picnic table (or grass), then set out the plates and food and voila! You’ve got an outdoor meal without making a dozen trips back and forth!

We love our grain bin gazebo Jerald built last Fall! If you’d like info on how to construct one yourself, you can read about it here

This tray method may not work as well if you have a large family.  But you could still use the same idea except you’ll need to solicit help to carry out the serving bowls of food, because obviously it won’t all fit on one tray.

Sometimes even for lunch, I’ll fix the children’s plates with leftovers then pile that along with their water cups on a cookie sheet and take it out to where they’re playing.  It’s fun for them besides it helps keep the kitchen neat! On a rainy day recently we even had an indoor picnic in their tent under the bunk bed.

When it’s only our family, there’s several reasons I prefer using real dishes and utensils for picnic eating above disposable. 1) It doesn’t blow away in the energetic air. 2) Especially for children who need stability in more ways than one, real plates are much more practical to eat off of. I use a malmac type. 3) The heavier dishes help hold down the tablecloth in the energetic air.

When I’m hosting large groups of people I do like disposables for easy cleanup.  But I’d still recommend having a couple malmac bowls if you have small children in attendance.  But if you don’t live in Nebraska this may not be necessary. 

Now I’m coming at you with that piece of pie-  a refreshing orange pie which tastes like Summer in one bite. Not hard to make. Perfect for eating out.

Mandarin Orange Pie

1 ¹/² c water- heat to boiling

5 T. Clear jel

1/2 c water

3/4 c sugar

1 pkg. orange koolaid

2 15 oz. cans Mandarin Oranges, drained.

While water heats, whisk together clear jel and half cup water. Then stir in the sugar and kool-aid. Pour this mixture into the boiling water and cook until thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the oranges. Chill.

White filling: Beat together 4 oz softened creamcheese & 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Last beat in about 3/4 of an 8 oz cool whip.

In a baked pie shell or graham cracker crust, spread a layer of the white filling then top with the orange pie filling. Last, spread with remaining cool whip. Garnish as desired. This can be served immediately or chilled for a few hours. This will make one large pie.

This week, take time to eat outside. That is, if the air isn’t too energetic.

Winter Warm Ups

Are frigid temperatures and snowy days hounding you? We haven’t had much and I’m the rarity wishing for more snowy weather. I just love me a good old blizzard! Growing up in Maryland, I remember the excitement of heaps of snow, power outages and our trusty cook stove! It kept the kitchen toasty warm and when we didn’t have other cooking options, you really could cook or bake with it! Although in that case, it took skills to a new level. I remember Mom putting a ham bone and beans on to simmer all day. The shelf above it was a perfect place for rising bread loaves …..Ah what cozy memories!!

I admit I’ve never been caught in a blizzard high up on a lone mountain. Nor have I been homeless, hunkered beneath bridges for cover from the snow. I have always been blessed to experience the comforts of home and by large, enjoy winter on the warm side of the windows. So I have concluded perhaps the reason I love winter so much is the indoor coziness of home. Winter is cold and harsh, no doubt. But it’s also invigorating air, sledding, moonlight on snow covered fields, and warmth of home after a hard day! Love of family and supper’s aroma the moment you step inside speak comfort. Add a pretty tablecloth, a good smelling candle, and China dishes. Every once in awhile it’s fun to get out that China just because! Best of all, enjoy each other’s presence together at home. Tangible comfort at day’s end. That warms the heart!

Our supper table

I also think Spring is more special after you’ve been through real winter. Isn’t that true spiritually too? After several rough months, God sends the warm sunshine and tiny shoots of green growth. We revel in that happiness all over again! Joy comes in the morning! No winter lasts forever, all ye down cast souls. Listen to this promise from God– While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

If you need a hot, nourishing supper to warm up from the freezing climate, try out this Black Bean and Pumpkin soup. I’ve made it numerous times and always hear positive things. “Mom, this is the goodest soup!” “It’s my favorite!” Jerald even suggested this would be a good soup to feed a group of men on a cold day. It’s very hearty and filling!

Don’t let the name scare you… it is for true delicious! I also advise not letting certain picky individuals hear the name, particularly the males in your household. For sure if they’re the type to presumptuously conclude on how it will taste ere they put the first bite in their mouth!

Black Bean And Pumpkin Soup

Sauté together: 2 T. Olive oil or butter, 1 green pepper diced, 1 onion diced, 3 cloves garlic.

Add in: 3 cups chicken broth, 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, (I like adding a 28 oz. can of tomatoes because it makes more soup and also because we love tomatoes in this) 2 t. chili powder, 2 t. cumin, 2 t. oregano, 2 t. salt, 2 T. parsley. Bring to a boil and add in:

2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, 1 15 oz can pumpkin (or 2 cups), 2 15 oz. cans black beans. Simmer about 10-15 minutes. Serve with corn chips, shredded cheese and sour cream. I love the convenience of having my own home canned beans. I use 2 pints for this recipe. Check out how to easily can your own here. Credits for this delicious soup go to Velma Birky.

A tip on the pepper and onion- I always like to dice the extras from the summer garden, fill little ziplock bags and freeze them flat. Later, you can neatly stack them in the freezer in a larger ziplock, for organization. When a recipe calls for peppers or onions I’m all set to grab a baggie, slice or break off what I need and throw them in!

The frozen onions and peppers

And on the garlic, I never keep garlic cloves on hand anymore since I’ve learned the convenience of fresh minced garlic I can buy. A big plus side is that there’s no garlic press mess either!! It’s super simple to add in to many dishes and it will keep in the fridge a very long time. You can also conveniently sneak in extra garlic for those health benefits!

This is what I like to use

The last time I made this soup I tried another time saver. I used my homemade taco seasoning to replace all the seasonings except the parsley and salt. It worked perfectly! I used 2 Tablespoons.

I like making a double batch of the following recipe at a time

Taco Seasoning

1/2 T. Cumin, 2 T. Chili powder, 2 t. Garlic powder, 2 t. Paprika, 2 t. Oregano, 4 t. Onion powder, 1 t. Salt.

Mix all together and store in a small glass jar in the freezer. The freezer keeps it from getting clumpy. Remember, homemade things don’t have that anti-caking junk in it! Use approximately 2 Tablespoons to replace one boughten packet of taco seasoning. I normally just sprinkle some in and kinda guesstimate. I taped the recipe on the back side of the jar. When the jar needs refilled you got the recipe right there!

Now for some dessert! If your feeling a sweet tooth craving coming on, try out these tasty crepes. They’re not that sweet but yet fit the bill! And they’re so good looking you could easily serve them for a tea party or brunch!

Gluten Free Crepes

3/4 c. Almond flour

3 T. Tapioca flour

3 T. Simple sweet- (recipe here)

1/2 t. Xanthan gum

1/2 t. Salt

4 eggs

2 T. Melted butter

1 1 /2 t. Vanilla

2/3 c. Milk or almond milk

Mix first 5 ingredients. Beat eggs and add in to the first part. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and let set for 5 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup batter into a nonstick skillet. Shake pan to flatten out as thin as desired. Cook on low for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Aim for lightly browned like this on both sides

I put a paper towel between each layer to prevent sticking. These are also fine made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.

For filling you can put in whatever you choose- yogurt, whipped topping, cream cheese or a mixture of these. I’m liable to throw a few things together but here is a recipe if you’d like.

Cream Filling

2 1/2 T. Simple sweet, 3 oz. soft Cream cheese, 3/4 c. Whipping cream, 1/3 c. Greek yogurt.

Beat cream cheese and sweetner until smooth then add yogurt. Beat whipping cream separately until stiff, then mix into cream cheese mixture. Spread this inside the crepes and sprinkle on fresh fruit or drizzle with any pie filling you desire. Used with permission from Simple Foods.

Let the drooling begin 🤤

Peach Tea

If your an avid sweet tea drinker like my man is, you really ought to try it with peaches! Maybe you love Lipton’s brand of peach tea, but with the second ingredient being high fructose corn syrup, it’s just not legal in my book. So read on if you want a better alternative.

After seeing a recipe for peach tea and trying it out, I recreated it to suit our tastes. We absolutely love this tea! Fresh peaches aren’t always available but that’s the key to this tea!! Don’t despair at the number of steps…..it’ll be worth the effort!

🍑 Sweet Peach Tea 🍑

6 peaches, 4 cups water, 2 family size Lipton tea bags, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar, or stevia to taste. Note- I use 1 1/2 cups raw sugar and 1 teaspoon stevia glycerite. Jerald doesn’t really care for only stevia sweetened tea but I hate adding a ton of sugar, but yet it really needs to be nice and sweet! So topping it off with stevia helps out and you’d never know the difference!

*Halve and slice two unpeeled peaches, laying on parchment paper lined pan. Freeze overnight or at least four hours.

*Bring water to a boil, add tea bags and steep for 12 minutes. Remove tea bags and add sugar. Peel and dice four peaches and add to the brew. Let it set for 1 to 3 hours.

*Using a slotted spoon, dip out the peach chunks and place in blender along with the lemon juice. Blend and add back into the tea brew. Stir well.

*Pour brew mix into a gallon pitcher and add enough cold water to make about a gallon. Add in about half of the frozen peach slices, but save enough for each glass of tea when serving. Chill the tea for several hours. I do not like to add a lot of ice because it dilutes the peach flavor. Also, the peach flavor becomes stronger the longer the tea sits. So if you really want a strong flavor, make it a day before you actually want to serve it!

* Just before serving, strain tea through a sieve and pour back into the pitcher. When ready to serve, place several frozen peach slices in each glass and fill with tea. Garnish the cups with a slice as well. Enjoy a glass of real peach tea without those junky ingredients! Note- if you don’t mind the peach cooties, you can totally drink it unstrained. It just looks prettier if it’s strained.

I’m decidedly partial to this gorgeous cutting board Jerald gifted me last year

This tea always looks stunning served in pretty glasses with the peach slices! It’s delicious anytime but we love it with a grilled summer supper.

Layered Cakes And Love ❤️

This post will be short and sweet. Well, actually more sweet than short. If your looking for a scrumptious dessert for a Valentine’s lunch or dinner, I recommend this Red Raspberry White Chocolate layer cake. An absolute paradise for the taste buds! Every once in awhile, I enjoy laying aside all gluten and sugar free recipes and bake up a lovely, fluffy cake! I usually take it to social functions so we have help eating it!

Assembling the cake

Red Raspberry White Chocolate Cake

Mix a white cake mix using directions on box, then melt 4 oz. baker’s white chocolate and beat into cake batter. Divide batter into 3 8” round cake pans. I first line them with wax paper then spray them well so they will release easily. Bake at 350* for 18-20 min. Flip onto wax paper lined plates to cool.

Red Raspberry Filling:

Whisk together 3 T. flour and 6 T. milk. Heat and stir over medium heat till thickened. Cool and set aside.

Cream together 6 T. Shortening and 3 T. Soft Butter, then beat in 4 T. melted red raspberry jam, 3 C. powdered sugar, 1/2 t. red raspberry flavoring and a pinch salt. Last beat in the cooled flour mixture. Beat very well.

Frosting:

Beat well 8 oz. soft cream cheese and 1 stick soft butter. Add in 4 oz. baker’s white chocolate squares, melted, and 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar and a pinch salt.

To assemble the cake, put one cake layer on platter or cake stand. (It works best to make the cake layers ahead of time, wrap individually in Saran Wrap and freeze for a day or at least a few hours. This makes them so much easier to work with when frosting and assembling!) Spread with red raspberry filling, some fresh raspberries, cut in half, then another cake layer. Repeat. Once the 3rd layer is on, frost with the white chocolate icing. Decorate with fresh raspberries and white chocolate peels as desired. Some fresh mint sprigs would look beautiful but I did not have any. Also, this is really sweet, so if you want to ice it with the ‘naked’ look, you could cut down on the sugar intake.😛 One of my friends did this cake like that for a party and it looked really pretty too!

Enjoy a taste of yum!

Now here’s another cake idea but without all that flour and sugar! This doesn’t look Valentine’sish but it still works for a healthier yum! Surprisingly it has no flour in it at all! Though it’s not a tall, fluffy cake, it is still quite tasty!

Layered Ho Ho Cake

8 eggs separated

1/8 t. cream of tarter

8 oz. cream cheese

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. simple sweet

1/ 3 c. cocoa

Beat egg whites with cream of tarter until stiff. Mix rest of ingredients together, then gently fold in egg whites. Divide batter into 3 8” round pans lined with wax paper. Bake at 300* for 30 minutes. Flip onto wax paper lined plates to cool.

Filling:

6 oz. cream cheese

1/4 c. simple sweet

1 t. vanilla

3/4 c. whipping cream

Mix cream cheese, sweetner and vanilla until smooth. Beat cream till stiff and add to cream cheese. Place one cake layer on plate or stand and spread on half of filling. Place another cake on top and spread with remainder of filling. Top with last cake.

Glaze:

2 T. Butter

2/3 c. Lily’s chocolate chips (or you can use another brand of sugar free chocolate chips if desired)

1 T. Simple sweet

1 t. Cocoa

2 T. Whipping cream

Melt butter and chocolate chips on low heat, then remove from heat and add rest of ingredients. Mix well. Cool a little before pouring over cake. Used with permission from Simple Foods.

More important than eating beautiful cakes is the love in your heart for those around you. I think this quote is so true- “Your love for God is no more than your love for the person you love the least.” When we have the Redemptive love of Christ in our hearts, He will help us love those ‘hard to love people’. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7, 8. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 A true test of whether we are really followers of Christ! In this day of social distancing and mask wearing, we can be the quiet, courageous person displaying love and kindness to all around us. There are many opportunities in this cold and fearful world. Be kind today!

Cranberries And Christmas

Isn’t the month of December such a unique month?! Always filled to the brim with all the holiday excitements of special baking, shopping, gift wrapping, food making, Christmas suppers, programs and get togethers….

We are probably too quick to take a lot for granted…. At least I am. There’s so many in this world who are extra lonely and sad right now, because they know it’s a time for families to get together and they have none. (Or maybe aren’t allowed to get together!) And worst of all, many do not know the real meaning of Christmas! They’ve never experienced the Joy of Jesus in their hearts and thus knowing the real meaning of the coming of Jesus as a baby so many years ago! Are we compassionate and showing the love of Jesus to others wherever we can?!

Recently I read a story of a family who enjoyed visiting a live nativity at a church. When the children peeped in to see “baby Jesus”, there was nothing but a few rolled up blankets! What disappointment! A lesson for us, let’s be very conscious of the fact that people are watching us as Christians and are they seeing Jesus in us or will they be disappointed too?! Are we ministering to the needy around us and thus showing Jesus?

Here’s a different twist to add to your holiday snacks…. I was super pleased when I tried this out!

Cranberry Salsa

1 12 oz. package cranberries, fresh or frozen, chopped

1 c. sugar

1 jalapeño seeded and chopped

1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

a bit of chopped onions

Mix the chopped cranberries and sugar until well mixed, then stir in the remainder of ingredients. I think 1 cup sugar is plenty but I know cranberries are sour. But feel free to experiment with less or using a sugar substitute! This gets juicy after it sets a bit. Serve with cream cheese and crackers. Yum!!

Cranberry Salsa

Here’s another recipe I just got and made very recently. Thanks to a new friend I “met” recently on a WhatsApp chat, namely, Rachel Weirich, who was so kind in allowing me to share on here!!

Cranberry Nut Cookies

2 c. almond flour (not packed)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. simple sweet or sweetner of choice

2 eggs

1/2 t. vanilla

1/4 c. melted coconut oil or butter

1/4 c. chopped pecans

1 c. fresh or frozen chopped cranberries

Mix dry ingredients together then add in remaining ingredients and stir well. Drop on to greased cookie and flatten with fork. Bake at 350* for about 10-12 minutes. Once cooled, drizzle with melted dark chocolate. I couldn’t drizzle the chocolate in a beautifying fashion so I ended up just spreading the chocolate over top!😜

Cranberry Nut Cookies

I was happy to have another yummy gluten free cookie recipe to add to my collection and especially a pretty and healthy Christmas cookie at that!

Cranberries and Popcorn String

Thread a needle, knot the end, and let your children have fun stringing together cranberries and big popcorn for simple holiday decor!

May you and yours enjoy a blessed Christmas and New year! How thankful I am for the assurance that we have the Lord to walk beside us every step of the unknown year ahead! He will not forsake his own and is so worthy of our trust!

Jerald & Violet Josie Kate- 5 Reece Edison- 16 months

It’s July- Lock Your Vehicle!

We all know we should lock our vehicles, right? But why should we especially lock them in July? To keep them from becoming loaded up with your friend’s surplus zucchini and summer squash!!

These plants seemingly either die or produce an over abundance. They certainly don’t seem to know much about moderation…..This summer ours died so we have none. Thus it was I happily grabbed up the oversized zucchini (last one in the box) on my way out the church door Wednesday evening. Somebody’s plants are over producing but thankfully they didn’t load up our vehicles! They just kindly set a big box in the church entry free for the taking! Then some summers I feel disgruntled because I can’t even give away enough zucchinis! And we end up feeding the compost pile.

I love a good old summer medley of fried zucchini, squash, onions and mushrooms! So yum and full of good nutrition! There’s so many ways to fix these veggies and likely you already have your favorites. Perhaps you’ve been diligently making those dishes with your over producing garden plants? And your tired of recipes including zucchini? I’m so sorry if this is the case and here I come loading you up with more recipes! (Hey, at least it’s not a box full of unwanted zucchinis!) I tried a new recipe the other day and was so glad I did! I actually made a double batch of them a few days later because they were so good and didn’t last long! I’d like to share this cupcake recipe with you today. Plus two more recipes that I’ve made other years that are quite tasty!

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

1 1/3 c.small chunked zucchini

4 eggs

4 Tbsp. soft butter

2/3 c. Simple Sweet

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

4 Tbsp. cocoa

3 Tbsp. coconut flour

1 c. almond flour

2 Tbsp protein powder

Put zucchini in blender and chop till almost smooth. Add remaining ingredients to the blender and blend till smooth. Pour into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350* for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and frost with the following recipe.

2 Tbsp. soft butter

3 oz. soft cream cheese

3 Tbsp. Simple Sweet

2/3 c. whipping cream, whipped till stiff

Beat first 3 ingredients until smooth, then beat in the whipped cream.

After frosting the cupcakes, store in refrigerator. You can add 2 Tbsp. cocoa to the frosting but I omitted it because I’m not a complete chocolate fan. I thought they were quite delicious and pretty with a white frosting! These cupcakes are super moist and yummy! My family enjoys them! Used with permission from Simple Foods cookbook.

Now, maybe you don’t like ‘healthy’ recipes and would rather bake with regular old flour and sugar. If so, here’s a scrumptious recipe for you!

Shredded Zucchini Bars

2 c. sugar

1 c. oil

4 eggs

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 tsp. vanilla

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. chocolate chips

Beat first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients except zucchini and chocolate chips. Very last mix in those two. Pour in a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350* for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese icing.

6 oz. soft cream cheese

1 c. soft butter

2 Tbsp. milk

4 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter then add powdered sugar and milk.

These are soooo soft, delicious, and moreish!! Musty too! (Must have more) Last summer a church friend made these for us when she brought a meal after Reece was born. Other people’s cooking is so good when your just recuperating from having a new baby and nursing besides! And so it was that I asked her for the recipe!

Recently I attempted to revise this recipe of zucchini bars, since I need to avoid gluten… I used Bob’s Red Mill brand of gluten free 1 to 1 Baking Flour in exchange for the regular flour. The dough looked a little dry, so I added in some applesauce. It was not too bad, but I tried a second shot at it before I was satisfied. I don’t normally use this kind of flour because it doesn’t seem as healthy as almond, sorghum or coconut flour. But it is handy when your in a pinch. This 1 to 1 flour can be used in exchange for one cup of all purpose flour, which is so handy, because then I don’t need to figure out the flour ratios and all that! This blend has a mix of rice flours, sorghum flour and several starches. If you want to bake those zucchini bars the healthier version, here’s what I changed: 1 cup simple sweet and 1 teaspoon stevia to replace the sugar, 2 cups gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour, to replace the regular flour. Then I added a half cup applesauce and used sugar free chocolate chips. Bake at 350* for 25 minutes. Then frosted it with the same frosting recipe I used for those zucchini cupcakes. I was pleased and they were very good! They are a bit flatter than the regular version but that’s normal when you’re not using gluten flours. Store in refrigerator after frosting.

(Some grocery stores have a health food section where you could find this flour or online. I got this at our local Fareway)

Lastly, I bet you can fool your family with the following recipe… It tastes amazingly like apple crisp! But it’s made with, well, you know what! I have not made this recipe this year so do not have a picture.

Zucchini Dessert

8 c. peeled, seeded and cubed zucchini

1 c. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

2/3 c. lemon juice

Cook together until zucchini is tender. Set aside.

Blend the following into crumbs:

4 c. flour

2 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. soft butter

Press half of the crumbs into the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 375* for 10 minutes.

Add half of the remaining crumbs to the zucchini mixture and stir. Pour over baked crust. Add 1 tsp. cinnamon to remaining crumb mixture and spread over zucchini mixture. Bake at 375* for 35 minutes. As it cools, it will thicken. This is wonderful served with ice cream! Used with permission from Stutzman’s Culinary Secrets.

Mint Tea and Custard Pie

What is Spring or Summer without delicious mint tea?!….Some call it garden tea, Some call it meadow tea, some call it creek tea. Whatever you call it tea, would you like a glass of tea with me?

Do you know what is more refreshing than a pretty glass of mint tea? A glass of mint tea sweetened with stevia instead of all that sugar!😛 I really like the Now brand of Stevia Glycerite for drinks. 2 teaspoons nicely sweetens one gallon. If you are used to having it really sweet, you can try 2 1/2 teaspoons. And there is no bad aftertaste! I do not mind my family drinking a lot of this tea because they’re not drinking sugar tea. Reece slurps his down like it’s an emergency when I fill his sipper cup!

I do not have measurements for my tea and I’m guessing most of my readers know how to make this tea too, without specific directions…. I brew a batch of tea about like this for one gallon. Fill with ice and water and sweetner. A refreshing taste of summertime!!

Jerald enjoys a good pie. One of his favorites would be Custard. A plain, simple, easy pie. I certainly can’t complain on it being too much work to make it for him! Especially when you have crusts in the freezer! I buy my crusts from our local bulk food store. I’m just not a crusty person! 😜 And when you can buy beautiful, flakey crusts at a very reasonable price, why not? It simplifies things for this mom, especially since we don’t eat a large quantity of pies.

And so it is I find myself, often on a Saturday, thinking what could I make for Sunday dessert? I like to make a dessert for Sunday because Sunday is a special day! Custard pie fits the bill at any given time. Especially if I want to surprise my man!

So this is how you make it. First, you dash out to the freezer and remove one of the pie crusts and let it thaw. It doesn’t take long, so you can immediately begin making the filling. Turn oven to 415*. Heat 2 1/2 cups of milk to scalding. While its heating, crack 4 eggs in a small bowl and whisk them up with 1/2 cup raw sugar, (or less) 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. By then the milk should be scalding but not burned yet. If you have a baby, it’s easy to forget things like heating milk temperatures, and thus you end up with burned milk. In that case, discard the milk and heat some more. Unless, of course, you like a burned flavor and black flakes in your pie, you can still use the same milk. So now add the very warm milk to the egg mixture and whisk it all up real nice. Pour it in the crust which by now will be thawed. Or maybe even over thawed because you had to change the baby’s diaper, hang out a load of laundry, and tend to your other screaming offspring. After it’s in the crust, sprinkle it lightly with cinnamon. If your young cook is helping, they will want to sprinkle the cinnamon which will get an overdose, but that is ok. Cinnamon is healthy and the pie still tastes good. If you have time and energy left, it’s lovely to drop in a few raspberries on top. (Fresh or frozen) Or even a few thin slices of fresh peaches. And oh yes I need to mention! This makes a tad more than one pie, so you just pour that extra filling into a small dish to bake. Very gently now, with no toddlers bumping you, set the pie in the oven along with the small dish of custard filling. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350* for another 25 to 30 minutes. If your unsure if it’s finished, you can slide a table knife in the center to see if it comes out clean, then it should be done. As soon as the small dish of custard is cool, sneak into the bathroom or another private room to eat it by yourself. It’s a small reward for all the effort it took to make a simple pie!!

I never knew my Grandpa Kurtz, but Mom would always say that when he ate pie he’d say “pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” 😍😍