Signs of Spring or Eating from Your Yard

by Chance on April 4, 2014

Here in Atlanta, spring has sprung! Some of the earliest signs of spring here are… allergies. Actually, we start to notice tiny flowers first. Violets are in abundance in my yard and my neighbor’s yard this year. I had read about and mentioned candying violets to my daughter in the last few weeks and at her insistence, we tried it. Violets are supposed to be a good source of vitamin C, plus they’re pretty, plus I think it’s a good idea to eat things out of your yard (as long as you know they have not been treated!). When I was a child, I remember having violet pastille candies with my grandmother.

The recipe is simple: violets, a lightly beaten egg white and superfine sugar. I used an egg from my chickens. For those of you who eschew raw eggs, you will want to buy either flash pasteurized eggs, pasteurized egg white or merengue powder. Water will not work, sorry.  I used an organic cane sugar which is so fine already that I didn’t bother with powdering it or purchasing castor sugar. It worked fine.

Leave a little bit of stem on your violets so that you have a place to hold (or not, our first ones did not have stem and I didn’t think it was any more difficult). Use a paintbrush (I tried with my finger, but the brush worked better) and paint the fronts of the petals with egg white. You want it completely coated, but not glopped up or dripping off. Flip the flower into a dish of sugar and gently press down with the dry end of the paintbrush. Carefully pick the flower up and let it rest on the index finger of the hand that is not holding the paintbrush, sugared side down. Gently paint the back of the petals with egg white and again, flip it into the dish of sugar. Ever so gently press the petals down. You want them fully coated, but you don’t want to tear up the petals. Once you have coated both sides, gently (yes, I did say gently, again!), place the flower on a sheet or parchment (or wax paper) and leave it until the flowers are completely dry. Some flowers dried very sturdily and can be picked up without the petals moving. Others, the petals are a little floppy. I suspect these did not get quite enough egg where the petals meet in the center.

The flowers can be eaten whole. You get crunchy sugar taste first (forethought and using vanilla sugar would make this awesome!) and then as you chew the petals, you get a very delicate violet flavor. Pretty cool!

I have read that these keep indefinitely, but I don’t think we coated ours enough for this to be true. If I wanted to keep them for longer than a few days, I would put them in the dehydrator so that they were completely dry before storing.


Pot of Vegetable Happiness

by Chance on November 10, 2013

**No, that’s not a picture of soup! Just wanted to show you the view of the sky in the mountains of Hiawassee where I’ve spent the last few lovely days.

The credit for this soup goes mostly to my mom. She always made vegetable soup, but it was never really my favorite thing. Dear partner and I have dramatically different food tastes. Hers tends to beef and pizza and mine has migrated even more to veggies. She has always really loved my mom’s vegetable soup, so many years ago, I wrote down the recipe while my mom made it so that I could duplicate it for her. A lot of our recipes are created and reproduced like that. They also evolve with time to become quite different, but with a shared past. I’ve come to love the soup. It’s quick, delicious, easily customizable and perhaps best, it’s a great thing to find in the fridge on a day when you don’t feel like cooking.

Personalized Veggie Soup
Yield: as much as you put in, 8-10 servings as written
Selection of veggies including but not limited to: onion, garlic, carrot, potato, parsnip, cauliflower, lima beans, celery, sweet potato, spinach, zucchini, butternut squash, mushrooms
In the winter, I tend to use more root vegetables and in the summer, I might add some watery veggies like zucchini (but they are no one’s favorite here!).

Add to your pot:
4 chopped potatoes. I like russet for their grainy texture, but you can use baby potatoes or waxy potatoes as well. They just won’t break down as much

1-2 carrots, coarsely chopped (I specify coarsely chopped here because I don’t like mushy veggies. Serving the soup the first day, the veggies can be a little more al dente and then when you reheat the soup, they don’t go all to mush.)

1-2 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
1 onion, sliced into slivers
6-8 (or as much as you like) cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

If you are using other root veggies, add them to this simmering phase. I also used parsnip (peeled because it was conventional) and sweet potato for the batch in the photos.







1 bag frozen baby lima beans (you could easily use homemade beans here as well as any variety you love, but I am partial to baby lima beans. Not having found organic ones, I’m content to use Kroger brand which are very dainty and cook quickly.)

Just barely cover the veggies with water and salt heavily, at least 1 teaspoon, perhaps more. Cover the pot and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

 Once the potatoes are tender, add your favorite form of tomatoes. I am partial to the fire roasted tomatoes pictured in the can because they add a ton of flavor. I also like the Italian tomato sauce in glass (also pictured) which has a very fresh flavor. Both are available at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market. Because my minions are weird, if I use the canned tomatoes, I have to first puree them due to their aversion to “tomato chunks”. Trust me when I say that you still want to buy the crushed tomatoes, even if you or yours suffer from the same aversion. They taste much better.

Once you’ve added the tomatoes, taste for salt. Give the soup five minutes to come together and… EAT! Growing up we ate this kind of soup with a sleeve of Saltine crackers. Those were the days! Now even saltines have soy in them. But I digress… The soup is great with warm bread, biscuits and salad.


The Tasty Horrors of Halloween

October 27, 2013

I really love Halloween. It is, hands down, one of my favorite holidays. As a teenager, I defied labels like punk or goth, but I loved black lipstick, black nail polish and snake jewelry that other people only wore on Halloween. I revel in the fact that my daughter spent her own money recently to [...]

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Simplest Summer Sorbet

September 23, 2013

At my house, we like our cold, creamy desserts. However, store bought ice cream is out of the question since we don’t “do” cow’s dairy. I know there are goat milk ice creams out there, but really, I am not willing to pay the price. We lived in Florida when the first goat milk ice cream [...]

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Makin’ Banana Ice Cream

September 11, 2013

I started this post quite a while ago. And then, well, summer happened. Summer in Atlanta this year was alternately hot and rainy. Mostly rainy. Honestly, it started to feel like we were living in the rain forest. My back yard has washed out so much that I can see bare dirt. One afternoon, I [...]

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Quick and Dirty “Soda”

July 8, 2013

In my last two posts, I’ve detailed two simple cultures that you can use to make your own homemade, probiotic-rich soda. However, I know that lots of people aren’t ready to have bacteria growing on top of their fridge. I understand. So, for you, I offer three quick and dirty sodas that you can make [...]

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Water Kefir Soda

June 22, 2013

I have lots of friends who ferment and culture lots of things. So, I am lucky to be the recipient of their knowledge and experience. And now, you are lucky to be the recipient of mine.  In my last two posts, I taught you one way to make a homemade, probiotic soda: a ginger bug. [...]

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Sippin’ on Lemon Bug and Strawberry Bug

June 3, 2013

In my last post, I taught you how to make a ginger bug. We can now use it to make homemade soda. In the picture above you can see that there are tiny bubbles around the edges. When the jar is agitated, many tiny bubbles come to the surface. I use my ginger bug differently [...]

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Need a Little Sparkly Fizz In Your Life?

May 27, 2013

You will probably be surprised to hear that in my house, we drink soda every day. Grape, Strawberry, Sassafrass, Lemon and Ginger sodas all make regular appearances in our glasses. It might also surprise you to find out that I put these beverages into the “health food” category. Why? Because they are homemade, fizzy drinks that [...]

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MSG: I Love to Hate You

April 30, 2013

In the 90′s, I really loved Erasure. Who am I kidding? I still love Erasure. They have a song and the chorus is “I love to hate you.” It’s pretty catchy, but people look at you funny when you sing it in public. I recently went on an angry frenzy through my pantry, throwing around [...]

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