Friday, December 23, 2011

Glühwein ~ This is why we always sleep well during the Holidays!

Glühwein is one of the wonderful things of my German roots :). I still remember the first time I was officially allowed to have Glühwein at the Weihnachtsmarkt. Cold, crisp air, roasted chestnuts, Christmas lights & decorations, pots & pans, herbs, cookies....and lots & lots of people. I looked forward to the Weihnachtsmarkt every year, and it was a bonus if it snowed!

Now, I neither have snow, nor the Weihnachtsmarkt, but I sure still have my Glühwein!

If you can't come over to have a cup, I am sharing the recipe:

1 bottle of wine
One organic lemon or orange, unsprayed
2 cinnamon sticks
3-5 whole cloves
about an inch of fresh ginger, chopped
a pod of cardamon (optional)
1/2 cup of sugar

Put the spices and sliced citrus in a pot with sugar, add just enough wine to cover. Let it simmer a bit until the liquid has almost evaporated, but make sure not to let the sugar burn. Fill up with wine, cover, and let simmer on low for about 30-60 minutes to let the spices infuse the wine.

Take a cup and sit outside with friends, or designate a driver and go Christmas light looking :).


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Settling down....

Wow...I can't believe it has been since OCTOBER that I have posted here!

I am not under a rock.

And it is not quiet here at all. I have been brewing & mixing for weeks, as the first wave of the flu hit our circle. Both of my kids caught it, and I was brewing elderberry syrup like a mad woman! Thankfully, it kept me healthy, made it through with just a little fatigue. Making your own syrup is simple, economic, and you can adjust it to taste. I add lots of cloves, cinnamon, ginger...:)..and nutmeg. Raw honey. I mix it with bubbly water and make "soda" for the kids, pour it on pancakes, ice-cream, etc.

Check out for a video tutorial.

With that thwarted, I am clearing, once again :). In time to welcome the Winter Solstice and 2012.

After a tremendous chicken trauma, we now have an Orpington (not a Leghorn), and a Silver Laced Wyandotte chicken. I say CHICKEN, because we are sure if both of our chickens are hens....Your guesses are most welcome! :) Go ahead, wager...

They are quite funny little creatures, and I keep manifesting "GIRL!!", as I would have to part with either or both. They kinda grow on you......They still live with us in the house in a kennel at night. My country life....

The garden is fairly dead. I planted a few winter veggies, that promptly got devoured by snails, and the chickens. Then the dog proceeded to "warm" them...and most of it is dead. Just spread some cover crop, and am browsing seed catalogs :).

Hope everyone is staying safe & warm.
Much love,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Harvest...for the fifth time

I have the "Little Tomato Plant that Could." :)

I keep taking 'last harvest" pics, just to go out a few days later and find hidden gems. I am starting to take down the tomato plants now, though, and will prepare the beds for either winter gardens, or clover.

The raised lasagne style beds have been fabulous. I have never had tomatoes plants that were so big and bountiful. The eggplant is still producing and ripening, the peppers are all well, and I am FINALLY getting some beans. My rasberries, highly neglected, are benefiting from my neighbors consistant watering habits.

We also have some new family members....

Already perching....

One of the tomatoes I pulled up. Look at the size of the root, vs. the height of the box. Roots went right through clay earth :).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Damn, that was good! Or, the hidden surprise in the cupboard...

Today, I cut up some cabbage to make "Mason Jar Sauerkraut". I stacked red & cabbage, just 'cuz it looks purdy :), stamped it down (great zen moment to let go of the cares of the day), added saltwater, and got ready to put it up on my "culturing shelf".

Alas! There was a forgotten jar of Sauerkraut!

It had to be at least 5 months old, it slipped behind some other jars, and I completely forgot about it.

Adventurer that I am, I opened it, sniffed it, removed the curdly white stuff (harmless), rinsed it off.....and tasted. YUM! Actually, I could not stop myself and ate over half of the jar. Left a tiny bit for the kids tomorrow. One tip for all you Sauerkraut makers: add Fennel seed! It makes it even better.

You can just Google "Mason Jar Sauerkraut" and get a zillion instructions, so I won't post the recipe (shred cabbage, put in jar, STAMP IT DOWN, sistah!!, cover with salt water...1 tsp to 1 cup of water, lid loosely, and let sit at least 2 weeks...or 5 months like me). You can see how I made sauerkraut in the crock at!/2010/08/kraut-is-making-kraut.html. I love the crock, but you have to make a lot to make it worth the "watch", plus it makes my kitchen smell like gas (we do have a funny story with that, that I will post if someone wants to know ;)...).

Enjoy, and go ferment something!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Zwetschgenkuchen ~ When a prune is blessed :).

Zwetschgenkuchen has to be one of my favorite childhood memories. Our plums were oblong, sweet, and dry. When you baked them, they would get soft, juicy, and a bit tart. Perfect for covering with sugar..........

If you are lucky enough to locate "Italian Plums", "Italian Prunes", or "European Prunes" :)....then here is a recipe for you!

You will need:
4.5 cups of flour
3 tbsp yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2.3 cup softened (not melted) butter
a few tsp of lemon juice
about 2-3 lbs of prunes
Either bread crumbs or almond meal

Warm your milk. In a glass bowl, mix half the milk, the yeast, and 1 tblsp of sugar, and 3 tblsp of flour that you have taken from your ingredients. Let that sit about 15 minutes until a sponge has formed.

In a separate bowl, mix your other ingredients. Add your sponge and beat with a dough hook (or knead by hand) until the you have an elastic ball of dough. Dust bowl with flour, put ball back in, and cover for about an hour.

Wash and pit prunes, making sure not to cut through the prune (see image below).

Pre-heat oven to 430 degrees.

Rinse & dry plums

Cut plums, but leave on side "attached" when you pit them, like a book.

Spread dough in greased sheet. Spread thin, as the dough rises alot when baking. Spread a layer of bread crumbs or almond meal before layering the plums, this helps soak up the juice while baking. Stack the plums standing up, start on the outside and go in...try to put them as close as possible.

This is the what the finished cake looks like before it goes in the oven.

Take a look at the cake after about 25 minutes. You want to make sure the middle is done, you will feel a slight resistance if you poke it with a stick :). While you cool the cake, sprinkle with some SUGAH!, cinnamon, and sliced almonds (if you wish).

Fresh whipped's just the best.

Guten Appetit!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I have dibs on the Cucumber Fairy.....

There's a little magik going on under the moon...yesterday I picked several pounds of tomatoes, and a few cucumbers. I picked all the cucs that were big/ripe enough, gave some away, and made yet another cucumber creation. This morning, I went outside, and there, right next to each other, two long, ripe Armenian cucumbers. It's magik.......:)...

I think my family is a bit tired of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and squash :). They are growing in abundance now, and are a daily pleasure in our meals. "I" can eat tomatoes every day: tomato on butter bread, tomato salad, tomatoe & cuc with mozzarella & basil, tomato sauce on my pasta, tomato straight up with some salt, tomatoes saoked with feta cheese....the list goes on. Pretty much the same menu with the cucumbers, just switch "tomato" out with "cucumber".

Any favorite tomato, cucumber, squash (if I put squash on the table one more time, there may be mutany. Any recipes that DISQUISE squash would be much appreciated!!!), or eggplant recipes? Please share!

Enjoy the bliss & bounty of summer. Some scenes from the chaotic garden :)..:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Senf Gurken ~ Quick Pickles for the spontaneous gardener.

I am a sporadic gardener, and my hopes are that one year I will actually plan out my garden by companion planting and grouping by harvest time.

This year, I planted a few Armenian cucumbers, and two other varieties. A strong hail in the spring demolished much of my garden, so I planted two more Armenians and pickling cucumber. Well, they ALL flourished, and now I have both!

With that said, my one spontaneously planted pickling cucumber produces about 2-3 ready little pickles every other day. Not really enough to harvest and do any pickling. So, here is my version of a quick, and yummy, recipe for all you other sporadic gardeners out there! I will include the "original" German version below.

Mustard Pickles, sweet/sour
About 5lbs of pickles
2 TBLS salt
1-2 cups chopped onions
2 TBLS Mustard seed
5 Bay leaves (the original says chopped, I leave my whole)
1 tsp Pepper corns, white
3 cups vinegar
4 cups water
1 cup sugar ( a little less than a cup, suit to taste)

Cut up the cucs, salt, and let stand in fridge 24 hours or at least overnight. Drain & rinse salt. Put all ingredients in a pot, cook on medium-high for 10 minutes, then fill into hot canning jars. Seal, turn upside down on kitchen towel, and let cool. Label, and let sit for at least 2-3 weeks before consuming. Onions can be omitted, if prefered.

2 ½ kg Salatgurke(n)
2 EL Salz
250 g Zwiebel(n), klein geschnitten
2 EL Senfkörner
5 Lorbeerblätter, in Stücke gebrochen
1 TL Pfeffer, weiße Körner
750 ml Essig
1 Liter Wasser
175 g Zucker

Die Gurken schälen, von Kernen befreien und in Stücke von ca. 1 cm Dicke schneiden. Mit den 2 EL Salz bestreuen und mit soviel Wasser auffüllen, bis sie bedeckt sind. 24 Stunden im Kühlschrank ziehen lassen. Am nächsten Tag abschütten und kurz unter fließendem Wasser abspülen, so dass das Salz wieder abgewaschen wird. Nun die anderen Zutaten in einem Topf erhitzen und die Gurkenstückchen darin ca. 10 Min. leicht köcheln lassen, sie sollen aber noch Biss haben.

Noch heiß in ausgekochte Gläser füllen, mit dem Sud fast bis ganz an den Deckelrand auffüllen. Sofort fest verschließen und auf den Kopf stellen (auf ein Geschirrtuch). Dann auskühlen lassen. Sind nach ein paar Wochen durchziehen zur Verkostung bereit. Wer keine Zwiebeln mag, kann diese ruhig weglassen, der Geschmack wird dadurch nicht wesentlich beeinträchtigt.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Getting intimate with your food ~ Squid

There are times in my life when I have to do things I really don't want to. Afterwards, I group some of these into "Valuable Learning Experiences".

We recently went to the Phillipine fish market. Big bins of fresh fish, lots of people, fishy smell......My son became fascinated with squid, and talked me into buying some to make him Calamari. I have fond memories of Calamari, both from Italy (Frutti di Mare), and Greece (straight out of the ocean into the pot!), so I agreed.

I realized that I have never made Calamari myself, so googled "How to clean & prepare squid". Now you are in for a treat....remove the head and the organs...dig in with your finger and pull out the slimy rest and ink sack....remove the spine....peel off the skin. This leaves you with smelly hands (they say to wear gloves, but I never do. Can't work with gloves on), an interesting biology lesson, and clean little pockets to cut calamari rings out of. Tossed them into some flour, and deep fried.

I made a marinara sauce. On the side, we had grass fed beef (not everyone was excited about squid), and a raw squash salad with basil & arugala.

That was our 4th of July dinner :). Now that I know how much work & detail go into cleaning and preparing squid, I will only eat it at home :).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Herbs that speak. Bring Magik into your kitchen......

This morning I already knew it would be an interesting day :). I am on a learning journey, and my first lessons are about letting go of what does not work in order to let in the new. But that is another post....or posts...that will go under "Journey" at the Goddess's Daily Groove :). Becoming more "aware".....

Back to my kitchen.

Two sick kids, who came back from camp with something that is a cross between a serious head/chest cold and allergies (which we don't have.). I went to the pantry to get herbs for tea, and the first thing that called me was Hibiscus. Then Rosehips, both of them fabulous for Vitamin C, and a general "feel good pick me up". Another plus is that their taste is attracting to kids. As I placed them in the pot, Nettles called me. I did not hesitate, though the combination of the fresh, tangy taste of the first two, and green taste of Nettles seemed a bit strange. As I walked by a cabinet with my standard herbs, the Cassia chips (cinnamon) called sweetly: "Add me for the grounding taste, I will take care of their blood". The magic is happening, the tea is delicious. With a dollop of raw honey, I am sure it will attack those little bacteria sweetly, but with a strong hand. The first batch is warm, but the rest will be on ice and administered for the rest of the day :).

Open your kitchen to magic and healing food. There are lots of books & courses, but I invite you to go into your kitchen at night, when it is quiet & you are alone and uninhibited. Clean it, dance with it, sing to happy in there. Turn on some candles while you work. Hang gathered herbs to dry. Only bring in food that are healthy and authentic, if possible. Kitchens are the hub of life of our houses. They nourish us, not just with food. If you don't have on yet, invite a Kitchen Witch into your home (some shameless advertising there, but my Witches truly bring laughter & good magik into your kitchen :)..).

Now you are ready to "hear" your kitchen, and its' inhabitants :). When you nourish, when you need healing; you will know which foods & herbs to choose. Be open, they may seem strange, but you can trust that your kitchen will take care of you.

Today's Healing Tea:
A big pot, filled with water that has boiled.
1 handful of Hibiscus flowers
1 smaller handful of Rosehips
1 handful of Nettle leaves
1/4 handful :)...of Cinnamon chips (or a stick if you have one, not powder)
Sweeten with local honey, raw is good.
The tea will be thick, and should be drank warm. Then you can thin out with a bit of filtered water and drink it over ice :).

Let the magik begin!
Much love,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sweet Good Bye.....Happy Hello.

Last year, I planted a thornless boysenberry in my back yard. My past attempts at any kind of berry failed, either they died of water deprivation, or because our soil is just to clay heavy. This little boysenberry that could actually almost got axed, as the thornless branches had thorns :(. I decided to let it live, and am I happy I did!

This little bush has given us bowls and bowls of succulent berries! Not to mention the pleasure of picking berries and popping them in our mouth while we worked outside. This bush has graced us without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and honestly, not alot of water that was not supplied by rain fall. Yes, we had to blow off a spider web or two....

Last night I picked what looked like the last batch of berries, saying "goodbye" to this wonderful gift. This morning, like magic, there were more :). Thankfully, I left the majority of the "shoots" to grow along the fence, next year we will be swimming in delicious boysenberries!

I love the satisfaction of growing my food, especially since I am not a great gardener. My herbs grow wild for me with not much care (but lots of love) from me, and now I have food growing in the same manner. I love going to the market and being able to pass up the little $7(!!!!) baskets of berries, knowing mine are ready at home (and organic!).

I did not have much luck with tomatoes last year, so we built a "lasagne garden" box for the tomatoes. Look at the before & now pics! If the heat does not get the blooms, we will soon be graced with all kinds of tomatoes and cucs. The first tomatoes are setting, and I can't wait for sun ripened, weirdly shaped, warm, delicious tomatoes! My favorite memory is from Greece, where the kids ran in the garden, fetched me a giant, ugly heirloom tomato and some cucumbers. We sliced them, sprinkled salt, pepper & olive oil, and ate them by the tons. Mmmmmmmm. Coming from Germany (where much of our tomatoes & cucs came from Holland and were uniform), this was a treat I now reintroduce every summer.

Send me your favorite summer tomato & cucumber recipes, as that is what we will be eating most of the summer :). Preserving recipes too :).

Hope you are enjoying the summer.
Much love,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Foraging the neighborhood

I opened the paper today to find an article about a local blogger, Hank Shaw, featuring his new book: "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast". Dig the title :). One of the recipes they shared was for Elderflower Liqueur. It is simple, right up my alley. As it is, I always have an ample amount of Vodka handy :).

I have been thinking about the elderflowers I discovered by chance last week, so I thought the article was a sign that I should go back TODAY. So I snatched up my not so excited kids, and very excited dog, and off we went. Of course, as were are driving, it begins to pour rain. One must understand, when I put my mind on making herbal medicine, there is no stopping me. We found lots of fresh flowers for the pickin', and headed back home, soaked to the bone.

Personally, I like soaking the flowers in the sink a bit, it makes the crawlies come out. I don't mind them so much when I am steeping in vodka, but I do mind them when I make fritters. You will loose some petals, but there will be plenty left.

Recipes follow:

Elderflower Fritters

Fritters, served with Mulberries from our park, and clotted cream made by accident when leaving out raw milk :).

16-20 heads of elder flower
1 3/4 cup of flour
1 egg
enough water to make a thinner batter. Think clotted cream, or thick joghurt consistancy.
1 generous shot of Grappa, or Amaretto :).

Heat up a oil, making sure you have at least 2 inches in the pan to dip. Dip the flower stalk into the batter, drip a bit, then submerge in oil, holding it by the stalk. Fry for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove and drain, you can sprinkle with some fine sugar if you wish. Serve warm.

Elderflower Liqueur (from Hank Shaw)

10 to 20 elderflower heads, cleaned
Vodka or Grappa
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Snip flowers off stalk and put in quart size Mason jar. Cover completely with Vodka. Let stand 1 month. Strain, then add sugar :). Put back in pantry and shake it from time to time until sugar is dissolved. Then it is ready to drink. Simple, eh?

Enjoy foraging in your 'hood'!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Explosive kitchen returns....

Tonight the kitchen was rockin'!

My house can be in chaos, but my kitchen has to work :). Tonight it was bustling with kids, herbs, & lots of SUGAR. Thus, the kids....

When my son asked me to take him to his daddy who was fishing this afternoon, I had no idea that I would come upon a treasure trove of elder flowers :). Unfortunately, I was not prepared, my dog was not even wearing his pack. So I packed down my daughter as much as I could, carried out as much as I could, and we will go back with a knife and bags when the rain stops.

Why am I telling you this? Because it sparked an evening of brewing.

I was looking for a recipe for elderflower wine. Found lots, yet I am not prepared. So I decided to make elder flower fritters tomorrow (something my Oma made me all the time as a kid :)...), and dry the rest of my bounty for Gypsy Tea. I did find a recipe for elder flower cordial..another yummy summer treat...that I will post below.

Instead of posting long recipes, I will post some of my favorite resources to "learn" from.

Elder flower recipes:

Fermented Beets with Ginger :)...yum!! Ok, I am posting the recipe that prompted this, yet I must admit that spontaneity means that I only had mustard seed & dill, and used whey instead of vegetable starter. Smelled yummy......

Ginger Soda! Ok, we stopped making this a while ago because the bottles kept exploding. First some in my pantry, then the fabulous soda volcano in my kitchen. Now we are back... :). You can find a recipe for ginger soda in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
, or Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Both are excellent books, a Kitchen Witch must have :). I added sarsaparilla to mine...smells like root beer!

Kombucha! Just bottled a batch. I am loving it. I am fortunate to have lots of Kombucha brewing witches in my circle, but this is an excellent resource for beginners too!
You can download a free DIY lesson, just put "Kombucha VIP" as a password.

And last, but not least, I strained the fabulous kefir made with raw milk...heaven!! My dog comes out of deep sleep when I strain, he seems to sense it :). He loves to eat the excess kefir grains, lol! That's why he is so purdy! You can get kefir grains by asking your friends, googling "Kefir exchanges", or by ordering from If you sign up for their newsletter right now you can get a free kefir recipe book!

Have fun! Let me know if you try any of the recipes.
P.S. YES! You CAN have a Kitchen Witch T-shirt!!

:) Strut that stuff, Kitchen Witches!!
Much love,

Friday, May 6, 2011

This pizza will make an Italian cringe...

Tonight, we are having PIZZA!! Making pizza is a cinch. I like to make it myself, not only because I find delivery pizza outrageously expensive, but also because I spend a lot of time searching for/buying sustainably raised food. It would be silly to spend so much time & money finding sustainably raised meat, then ingest meat that is not, since most pizza places are not on my "happy animal" path.

My Italian friends cringe when I tell them about my pizza :). If you have ever eaten a "real" Italian pizza in Italy, you know it looks a lot different than the pizza we see here in the U.S. The one I am making tonight is for my family, covered in meats, cheeses, etc. One day I will make an authentic Quattro Stagioni and post.

Basic dough recipe:

5 cups flour
1.5 cups warm water (knead with 1 cup and add more as you need it. Dough should be pliable, but not sticky.)
1 tblsp yeast
2 tblsp olive oil

Mix, knead until the dough is soft and pliable. Roll into a ball, set on a floured surface, cover with a towel. let rise for an hour or until doubled in size. This will be enough for 1 cookie sheet thick dough, or two 12 inch thinner crust pizzas.

Stretch dough over oiled pan. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500F.

Spread with your favorite toppings! Tonight we used cheddar cheese, pizza sauce, salami, ham, oregano & thyme, olives, pineapple. I also like using garlic sauce, spinach, red papppers & feta cheese :). Personally, I often cheat and use a nice organic pizza sauce out of the glass, but I grate my own cheese, and use organic & natural ingredients.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Voila! Dig in!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lemon Bliss....

I just came from a friend's house where I picked 3 big bags of unsprayed, virgin lemons!! :).

Send me your favorite lemon recipes, I will try them (if I can master them with my Simplers way of baking), and post ;).

Or, if you have a great way to preserve this bounty, please share. I have already made 4 glasses of brined lemons, so I would like some drying, freezing, pureeing tips.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Magic.....

Food is comfort :)...that is just the way it is. In our house, food comfort does not mean binging, but it does mean conjouring up certain foods to fit the occasion.

Today, it is a soup to even out the waves of disappointment. Nothing like a little kick to boost that confidence again. And it goes quick, for emergencies :).

You will need:

chopped onions (about a half of an onion, or more if you like)
Olive Oil
Seitenbacher Vegetable Broth (or something similar)
Fresh Ginger
Cheyenne Pepper
Fresh Parsley

In a soup pot, heat up a few tablespoons olive oil. Glaze onions. Add about 1 1/2 cups spelt. Fry until grain is browned (it may start popping a bit). Then add about 4-5 cups of water and simmer until grain is soft (this takes about 45 minutes). Remove about 1/2 cup of grains, and puree in a mixer. Add 3-4 tblsp of veggie broth to soup, and add pureed grains back in. Season with salt & cheyenne. Sprinkle with some fresh parsley....

Serve with love to the one who needs a little boost.

P.S. I cook via the “Simpler’s Method”, no recipes, and really, no measurements. Use your intuition, it will tell when to add more or less :).

P.P.S. Also added some Marjoran & Thyme, because when I went to the garden to get the Parsley, they told me that my special little someone needed their help. Be flexible :).

With love,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Home-made laundry detergent, Take 2

I have a (not so great) top loader washing machine. After trying several home-made detergents, I find this one works best for me.

In a large pickle jar, mix:

2 cups Washing Soda

2 cups Borax

1 cup Baking Soda

1 bar of soap, grated.

A few drops essential oil, if preferred.

Voila! You have detergent! You can try different soap. I find with my top loader the Ivory soap tends to leave soapy residue. I use Fels Naptha laundry soap. It is not "all natural"...may try Dr. Bronner's soap next time.

Add about 1/2 cup to your washer while the water runs in so it can dissolve.

Experiment! This is a great project for kids to make :). Once you start using your own detergent, you won't want to go back. I also notice that the laundry does not get that musty smell if I forget it in the washer :)....