Sunday, January 31, 2010

Footbridge Cove Tidbits: Response to Thomas A GROWING TRADITION on blogger. Great blog!

Response to Thomas A GROWING TRADITION on blogspot. Recommend

Hi Thomas Wonderful blog, it was great to 'google' (zone 6 and seed starting) and find you. I'm on blogger too: my simpler lives...seed starting, baking from scratch, gardening, family life and my vintage collectibles shop bringing you inexpensive (new to you) treasures from the past. I would appreciate a follow by you and your followers.

I started my seedlings successfully for the first time in 18 years last February. Meaning I used to do it in Feb (as a project) with my young children and get to the spindly seedling stage before they all wilted and died. At that time it was just a fun project and in May I went and bought my seedlings from a nursery. Well not anymore. Last year I grew my veggies from seed in my basement. A similar (but not as nice set up as yours). I used grow lights for the first time and sure enough it was a seedling jungle down there, so incredibly exciting. Of course my youngest is a teen now and the project wasn't on her priority 'to do' list so I did it much of it myself but I cannot tell you the joy it brought...meditative actually. I had just lost my mom and that was my spiritual time.

We had a VERY RAINY June last year. My tomatoes weren't as prolific as I had expectd but my herbs and lettuces were incredible. I have a small plot and I too will be blogging about my accomplishments and failures. Hopefully we can all learn from each other.

God Bless Tom, I'll be checking your blog regularly. I'm going to post this on my blog as well so new folks can follow you too.

Follow me at

Friday, January 29, 2010

Simple Everyday Solutions: Removing Chewing Gum From Clothing


I'm going to begin a section of this blog devoted to SIMPLE EVERYDAY SOLUTIONS, today we will talk about stain removal, more specifically chewing gum removal!

Think about it, we spend so much of our hard earned money on fine linens, clothing, furniture, rugs, wallpaper, home accessories, paint, etc and inevitably you will acquire stains. Some stains are easier to remove than others; but I know a lot of folks are fearful of ruining their stained item so they hire someone to get the stain out. I'm here to tell you DON'T DO IT!

You can DO IT YOURSELF and you'll be so pleased you did so.

You don't need to hire anyone, or even go to the dry cleaner. You can remove just about anything... be it white rings on wood furniture, chewing gum on clothing, oil stains, ink, blood, crayons. Yes, you can at little cost... and with much satisfaction. There are so many inexpensive, natural remedies for removing stains (or remains of something, in this case, chewing gum).

I'll try to post a SIMPLE SOLUTION to everyday issues we encounter on a regular basis.

Today's problem: a wad of chewing gum inside the pocket of a NEW NorthFace fleece coat that had been put through the washer and dryer (no not by me, my teenage least he does laundry, I guess)!

Of course the wash and dry cycles melted the gum, spread it out, embedded it deeply into the fleece, and it also seeped through to the front with a big round gum stain. We had two issues here. The hardened gum itself that was so fleece embedded it couldn't be frozen off (first quick fix solution), and even worse the gum stain on the outside, non-fleece part of jacket.

Simple Solution VINEGAR followed by MAYONAISSE! That's it, can you believe it?

And not to worry, you don't have to run to the store. Most of us have some type of vinegar on hand, you can use any kind. White, red wine, balsamic, as long as it is vinegar, it will work!

Directions: Warm the vinegar in the microwave and pour onto stain or dip stained fabric into bowl. The gum will start to dissolve pretty quickly, 1-2 minutes. Then take an old toothbrush, fork, or butter knife; and start to scrape gum off the fleece.

NOTE: The largest outside stain disappeared immediately!!! That was the only part you could see, so I could have stopped there. However, I decided to do it right the first time and remove all the gum from inside the pocket. It comes off in little clumps. Pull as much as you can off and then add your mayonnaise. Rub it into fleece, again use toothbrush and voila your messy, potentially ruined jacket is good as new. All in, it took less than 8 minutes!

~ until next time, wishing you a stain free day

Friday, January 15, 2010

Growing Hundreds of Potatoes in a small plot

First off, I must give credit where credit is due...I found this  information on a great website. I will definitely be ordering my seeds from them this year: organic potatoes, garlic and onions. I just ordered a catalog but you can find them online at

They have a fabulous idea that I plan to utlilize in my small plot South of Boston.

Check out their potato, growing guidelines: a 2x2 plot that is a couple of feet high and will yield hundreds of potatoes!

Can't wait for Spring

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Garden Article: Quick and Easy Compost, COMPOSTING IN BOSTON

I plan to compile information fom several sources on HOME COMPOSTING and put together the best recipe for my needs. I have a quick 2 week compost that takes a bit of work thatI'll share. But I'd lik to focus on my large compost bin. I am going to be starting from scratch
BOSTON info re composting:
What is composting?

Composting is a controlled process of decomposition of organic material. Naturally occurring soil organisms recycle nitrogen, potash, phosphorus, and other plant nutrients as they convert the material into humus.
Actually, the word compost derives from the word composite. It is the deliberate mixture of various materials that distinguishes composting from ordinary decomposition of organic materials. The finished product of composting is humus (the organic part of soil). Any given soil sample consist of many things, including humus, sand, alluvium, clay, stone dust, and much more. In North Cambridge, soils tend to be rich in clay. In other parts of Cambridge, higher than desirable levels of lead can be found in the soil - the remnants of insecticides, leaded paint, and leaded gasoline.

Generally, the humus derived from a well-balanced compost pile is more beneficial than ordinary humus. The leafy materials tend to provide excellent absorbency for water and air, and the food wastes and other high nitrogen materials make for an excellent fertilizer. Humus derived exclusively from leaves tends to provide absorbency and aeration but must be supplemented with additional fertilizers if used in the garden. Humus derived exclusively from food wastes is very rich in nutrients but usually lacks sufficient body.

Benefits of Composting

Composting is a convenient, beneficial, and inexpensive way to handle your organic waste and help the environment. Composting: reduces the volume of garbage requiring disposal; saves money for you and your community in reduced soil purchases and reduced local disposal costs; and
enriches the soil. Using compost adds essential nutrients, improves soil structure, which allows better root growth, and increases moisture and nutrient retention in the soil. Plants love compost!

It is both educational and fun. Children and adults alike develop a fascination (sometimes an obsession!) with their compost piles. The Compleat Recycler composts his or her food wastes and yard wastes..

What should you compost?
Yard wastes such as leaves, grass clippings, and weeds make excellent compost. Fruit and vegetable scraps, plus food wastes such as coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells can be composted. To keep animals and odors out of your pile, do not add meat, bones, fatty food wastes (such as cheese, grease, and oils), dog and cat litter, and diseased plants. Do not add invasive weeds and weeds that have gone to seed to the pile.

A System for Backyard Composting
A good system consists of a kitchen container (for storage of materials bound for the compost pile), an animal-proof and rodent-resistant composter located conveniently outside the house, a pitchfork or other tools for aerating the most active parts of the compost pile and burying in new materials, and a screening device for harvesting the humus from your pile (a milk crate with openings of an inch or less works quite well and even has handles). A leaf shredder is handy in the fall, and is best shared among neighbors.
Elements of a Good Compost Pile
With these principals in mind, you can convert your organic wastes into resources by turning your spoils to soil.

The Biodegraders
Nature has provides an army of workers who specialize in decomposing organic material. These "critters" - bacteria, fungi, molds, earthworms, insects, and other soil organisms - eat all types of organic material and in the process convert nutrients into a form plants can utilize. Without those compost critters, we would be surrounded by mountains of leaves and the soil would be barren. The process of composting is simply a matter of providing the soil organisms with food, water, and oxygen. They do the rest.

Organic Material
Organic material contains varying amounts of carbon and nitrogen which nourish the organisms naturally present in your compost pile. (Billions of bacteria inhabit the surface of every leaf and blade of grass in your yard.) The critters need both carbon and nitrogen. An easy way to provide both of these is to remember that brown, woody materials, such as autumn leaves, are high in carbon while green, moist materials, such as grass clippings, are high in nitrogen (refer to the table below).

Alternating layers of brown and green materials will yield finished compost in three to eight months. Leaves alone break down in six to fifteen months. Grass clippings or food scraps composted alone result in unpleasant odors because they contain more nitrogen than the compost organisms can use. Layer leaves or straw with green material, or let it dry until it turns brown before composting it alone.

The compost critters need oxygen, just as we do. Lack of oxygen will slow down the composting process and cause odors. Turn your pile, fluff it with a hoe or compost turning tool, or build air passages into the pile with cornstalks to provide oxygen to the organisms.
Compost organisms need a moist environment. The pile should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge, but not dripping wet. Make sure leaves are damp when you add them to the compost pile because they will not break down if they are dry. Since moisture evaporates as the pile heats up (a sign of active composting), let rain and snow replace it, or add water during dry spells. A cover helps retain moisture in hot weather.

The short rap:
Composition - Too much brown will slow it down, too much green will cause a scene.
Balance leaves and other carbon-rich materials with food waste, grass clippings, and other nitrogen-rich materials. A pile with too much nitrogen-rich materials can become anaerobic and smell like ammonia or worse. Pile temperatures can rise so high that beneficial microbes are killed. Ideal composting temperatures range from about 95 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moisture - Too dry and the microbes die, too wet and they suffocate.
Air can't penetrate a soggy pile and stinky sludge may result - a sewer-like odor.
Air - Let your nose be your guide.
A warm or hot pile is ideal, but it will consume oxygen faster. Aeration will assist the microbes, but don't overdo it or you'll reduce the temperature too much. Ammonia-like odors (too much nitrogen) or sewer-like odors (too much moisture) mean that it's time to aerate. A good compost pile will have a sweet smell reminiscent of alfalfa or rich, musty soil. Bad odors mean something is not right.

How to Use Compost
When the composted materials look like rich, brown soil, it is ready to use. Apply one-half to three inches of finished compost and mix it in with the top four inches of soil about one month before planting. Compost can be applied as a top dressing in the garden throughout the summer. Compost is excellent for reseeding lawns, and it can be spread one-quarter inch deep over the entire lawn to rejuvenate the turf. To make potting soil, mix equal parts compost, sand, and loam. You may put the compost through a sieve to remove large particles - these can go back in the pile.

Milk crates are handy for harvesting compost, if you can find one with a grid between one-half and one inch on a side. A screening device with too small a grid requires much more effort and provides little additional benefit. Consider spreading your unscreened compost out in the sun to dry a bit and allow any worms to retreat into the ground.

If you would like additional leaf compost, it is available free at the Recycling Center in the DPW Yard during the warm weather months. The quality varies depending on its source, but it's all pretty good. Additional screening is sometimes necessary to remove rocks, large pieces of wood, and debris.

Grass clippings, leaves, and woody yard wastes can be used as mulch in gardens and around shrubs to keep the soil moist, control weed growth, and add nutrients. Woody materials should be chipped or shredded. Use a mulch of pine needles around acid-loving plants. Leaves will work first as mulch, then as a soil enricher as they decompose. Grass clippings should be dried before using as a mulch. Do not mulch with grass clippings which have been treated with herbicides; composting them first, however, will break down the herbicides.

Wood chip also makes for excellent weed-free, all-natural garden paths. Replenish as needed. Wood chip from the pruning of Cambridge street trees is available for free during the warm weather months in the DPW Yard during the hours that the Recycling Center is open.

Mulching with almost finished compost can help to prevent disease in plants.

Composting Without a Yard
Composting can be done indoors using an earthworm farm Not only can you recycle your food scraps, you can also have a steady supply of fishing bait! For more information, call DEP's Solid Waste Management Program.

Composting Bins
Animal-Proof, Rodent-Resistant Compost bins
Circular design (tapered). Door at base for removing finished compost. 18 inch opening at top. Comes with bottom screen. Approx $20 from your town or city hall.

This is an excellent alternative for apartment-dwellers and office buildings. It is also a good idea for the cold winter months. For more information or to purchase redworms (red wigglers), contact David Lovler at (413)-549-4456.

How To Make a Compost Pile
There are as many different ways to make compost as there are people who do it. The following guidelines will get you started, but soon your own experience will help you tailor a method that best fits your needs.

Build or purchase a compost bin. Check to see if your community has a composting bin distribution program, or order from a garden catalogue, nursery, or hardware store. Enclosed compost piles keep out pests, hold heat and moisture in, and have a neat appearance. Or, bins can be made of wire, wood, pallets, concrete blocks, even garbage cans with drainage holes drilled in them. In urban areas, rodent-resistant compost bins - having a secure cover and floor and openings no wider than one-half inch - must be used.

Set up the bin in a convenient, shady area with good drainage. A pile that is about three feet square and three feet high will help maintain the heat generated by the composting organisms throughout the winter. Although a smaller pile may not retain heat, it will compost.

Start the pile with a layer of course material such as corn stalks to build in air passages. Add alternating layers of "brown" and "green" materials with a shovelful of soil on top of each layer. Then mix the layers. Shredding leaves or running over them with a lawn mower will shorten the composting time. Be sure to bury food scraps in the center of the pile.

Add water as you build the pile if the materials are dry.

As time goes on, keep oxygen available to the compost critters by fluffing the pile with a pitchfork or compost turning tool each time you add material. A complete turning of the pile - so the top becomes the bottom - in spring and fall should result in finished compost within a year. More frequent turning will shorten the composting time.

High Nitrogen "Green" Ingredients
High Carbon "Brown" Ingredients
alfalfa hay/meal autumn leaves
grass clippings cornstalks
blood meal straw
manure (cow, horse, chicken, rabbit) pine needles
food wastes (fruit and vegetables,
coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells) paper/cardboard
Seaweed wood chips
compiled from :

Garden Article: Quick and Easy Compost

Beware of “compost no-no’s!” When making compost, never use meat and bones, dairy products or greasy foods, dog and cat feces, diseased or invasive plants, weeds with lots of seed, unchopped wood and fruit/vegetable trimmings from the kitchen!

The most common mistake gardeners make with a compost pile is throwing in too much waste from the kitchen. Although such organic material is beneficial under ideal conditions, too much creates a pile that’s too wet. Additionally, such waste, especially if it’s not chopped well, draws flies and even small animals.


The first time you turn your pile, you might see steam rising from it. This is a good thing. With each turning, the steam will become less and less.


If you plan to chop your material with a lawn mower, lay the material out in a flat row along a wall or solid fence, a couple of feet away from the structure. Then just run your mower – without the bagging device on it – over the material.


Anaerobic: Conditions without oxygen. Bacteria and fungi that grow in such conditions produce methane and sulfur byproducts (neither of which is pleasantly defined by our sense of smell).Inoculant: The “starter”, composed of beneficial bacteria and fungi that do the actual decomposing in a compost pile.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

UPDATE Emer's Irish Brown Bread

Good Morning Folks...
It's 23 degrees, quite chilly here in worries though my oven is pre-heating for more bread baking. Nothing like a fresh piece of homemade bread and a hot cup of strong black tea!

Yesterday I made EMER'S BROWN BREAD.

Final product ~tada ~ exactly what I was looking for! Getting there though was another story entirely. I ended up tripling the time required, by halving the recipe and adjusting amounts once ingredients were partially mixed. Not to worrt though, I've made the mistake & fixed it, so this won't happen to you.

What happened you may be wondering? I began following the recipe I had been given (I will be amending the previous post). There was nothing that a little patience & tweaking wouldn't fix, though it is definitely too large of a recipe for my stand mixer (Viking 5.5qt). When Emer gave the recipe to me she reduced the size because she makes it commercially, so to speak. It was also in kg/g/liters, etc. When I made it a few years back I used whole wheat flour and did it all by hand so there was no issue.

Yesterday I used KAF (King Arthur's Flour) WHOLE MEAL FLOUR, it turns out whole meal is much puffier, light like a feather, and easily airborne compared to whole wheat!

However, once all was said and done yesterday, I couldn't pinpoint a difference in taste or crumb (interior texture) between the two. Though price is comparable, so I'll probably continue with whole meal (drawback, it's not in my supermarkets). I ordered from in VT.

Since it's the flour I used most recently for this bread, and my senses were immediately carried back to the Oh-So-Cozy Inn in Killarney... I knew this was the recipe I was looking for.

So PLEASE check below for changed recipe. I will post it later today, I need to check conversions to make it accurate.

You must remember this is not gourmet dining! It is an authentic (hardy) daily meal in Ireland.

The two ways I have seen this served and they both work for me...

1. With a cup of tea, smothered in Irish butter (I use kerrygold) and topped with strawberry preserves. Also try orange preserves. This makes a great afternoon snack. Or a satisfying evening snack if you are trying to avoid junk food, just go lightly on butter.

2. As lunch, or to begin dinner, served with a cup/bowl of Irish Vegetable Soup (recipe posted below). Dunking the dry bread slice is heavenly.

I have 3 loaves in my oven now, the house smells wonderful. Will post photos later.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's not wheat, but it's MADE FROM SCRATCH pizza dough

Good morning all
Personally I have come to only eat whole wheat pizza dough that I make from scratch. I was buying the dough for awhile and adding garlic oil, etc to make it edible; but still feeling good about eating wheat. Then voila I after a few different recipes I settled on one that I LOVE, didn't have to acquire  a taste for it and there is no need for garlic (though I use it anyway). The dough I am speaking of posted in a previous entry.

Today, however, is about white dough, partially white anyway. It was given to me by a baker friend who swears by it and whe doesn't east white bread. Sonce I am trying to convert my family I am going to be making this for them tomorrow instead of buying the wite dough.  I'll keep you posted.


from cookbook...Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant - by Anne Somerville
This basic dough is perfectly delicious made with all white flour, but we like the earthy flavor the cornmeal and rye flour add. Be sure to soak the cornmeal in the milk; it needs the moisture to soften it. The milk enriches the dough, but if you prefer to make the dough without it, use the variation at the end of the recipe.

Makes One 15-Inch Pizza Or Two 9-Inch Pizzas

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons warm (110°F) water
6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rye flour
About 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 to 3 tablespoons additional flour for rolling the dough

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside in a warm place for 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the milk, oil, and cornmeal in a 1-quart bowl. Add the yeast mixture, then the salt and rye flour; mix well. Gradually add the white flour, making a soft, workable dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling in a little flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it once so the surface is coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Prepare the topping.

Preheat the oven to 500°F and heat the pizza stone, if you're using one, for 20 minutes.

To shape the pizza, first form the dough into 1 round ball or 2 equal-size smaller balls. Roll out on a floured surface, turning it regularly to keep a round shape. It should be about 1/8 inch thick, slightly thicker at the edges. Lay the dough on an oiled pizza pan or a well-floured wooden peel. Cover with the topping you have chosen.

Bake the pizza on its pan or slide it onto the heated pizza stone.

VARIATION MADE WITHOUT MILK: We've replaced the milk by increasing the water and doubling the olive oil, which the flour easily absorbs. The additional oil makes a very soft, easy-to-work dough.

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
10 tablespoons warm (110°F) water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rye flour
About 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flow
1 to 3 tablespoons additional flour for rolling dough

Prepare and roll out the dough as directed.

TO FREEZE: Immediately after mixing the dough, form it into 1 or 2 balls and wrap tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap. When you're ready to use the dough, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, or set it in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours. Roll out as directed.

We brush our rolled pizza dough with this garlic-infused oil before spreading on the topping—the garlic oil adds extra garlic flavor and forms a seal that helps protect the crust from moist toppings. To make it, finely chop a clove or two of garlic and cover generously with olive oil. Store garlic oil in a sealed container in the refrigerator and we it to saute or season other dishes.


Sounds great.! I'll make it once as directed, and if it is a hit at home, I'll make 4 times as much and freeze for quicker meal prep.

Come on all, let's make the healthy effort to COOK FROM SCRATCH

I use this site for conversions:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Favorite Flours, Distributers and Flour Sharing

What types of flours do you all use in your breads? So far I've been using King Arthur's Flour (KAF) and Bob's Red Mill, also Hodgson Mill. Prices vary depending on where you go. And I'm trying to determine most cost efficient way to keep up my flour supply. I'd like to buy locally, KAF is in VT, their shipping prices are reasonable.

I'm aiming to bake daily (LOVE LOVE LOVE my new Viking Stand Mixer). My LAST NEW purchase- it was a Chrismtas gift from my hubby and children!
I plan to focus this entire year... and thes rest of my life on better health, buying locally, recycling, composting, I'll continue my gardening and hope for a better tomato crop this year. Last year in rained the entire month of June! On the bright side I had a never ending supply of lettuces and herbs...really bugged me to have to buy tomatoes though.
You see, I've done bits and pieces of GREEN LIVING for years but never wholeheartedly.
It's a funny psychologically seaonal feeling with me. The holidays end and I put the ornaments and decorations away, then at the same time...take my gardenig books out. My mind drifts to seedlings. Last year was my first year successfully starting from seed! :) All it took was a couple of flourescent lights from home depot!
ok going off on tangents, bursting with excitement about the days, months years to come.
Focus on appreciating every moment and your daily life wll be filled to the bring with love. My dad taught me that without even realizing it.
Finally, does anyone know if there are any food co-ops in (or around) the Boston, South Shore area? My freind in NH buys everthing from her local food co-op, she's so fortunate. You don't pay for fancy packaging, marketing, etc.

And BREAD BAKERS check out this incredible forum on all types of bread baking . My username on there is garden chef.
have a green day

Monday, January 4, 2010


I'm pleased to say I made a nice version of Old Fashioned Irish Vegetable Soup tonite. SURPRISINGLY (big caps) non-veggie eater ~apprentice~ enjoyed a cup without complaint! (She added crsuhed red peppers for some spice)

I've been looking at different versions of what seem to be similar recipes for this type of soup.. and simplified this. It's not overwhelmingly flavored of vegetables which was imperitive in my house, however, the diner may add their own seasonings... cracked pepper, crushed red peppers, course sea salt, parsley, etc.

Now from what I understand, and it makes sense, everyone in Ireland has a similar yet slightly different version. Why?  I believe this is the DAILY SOUP in Ireland (maybe it is interchanged with Potato Leek Soup, not sure). And I suspect each home-cook, chef or soup maker uses whatever vegetables they have on hand, to make their soup that day. Makes sense... certainly resourceful, and living green, plus sustainable.

Would I change anything in the next batch? Yes, add more carrots just for color and vitamins, use leeks instead of onions (because I just learned they pack a healthier punch than onions) and probably try parsnip since one Irish woman recommended it for the soup... and it also has added health benefits

Leeks are a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. And best news, they are easier to digest then regular onions! Plus leeks have the added benefits of having laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.

Their fiber content is great for digestion and their sweet taste is satisfying without being high in calories.They're high in soluble fiber, the type that helps lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar on an even keel. They're a surprising source of folic acid & B vitamins. Folic acid also plays a role in reducing heart disease, may help prevent dementia, as well, as osteoporosis bone fractures. And potassium, an aid to blood pressure, is present in good amounts. Unlike their carrot relatives, however, parsnips lack beta-carotene. Worth a try I'm sure you'll agree!
I will be making an additional pot tomorrow since I didn't make a large batch this first time. So I'll keep you posted on the addition of parsnips, more carrots and substitution of leeks for onions.
One source I found was Bob's Red Mill VEGI Soup Mix. This incorporates all of the individual ingredients that I personally would have liked to add to the soup though not all were in the recipes I received. If you can find it by all means pick up a bag...$3.89 for 28oz was worth it. This mix includes "green and yellow split peas, barley, lentils, whole wheat pasta bits, spinach and tomato" NO SPICES. I probably used 6-8oz of the 28 oz bag. This amount increasess the nutritional value of this pot of soup by 40g Protein and 35g fiber. (check out they have many wonderful products). I have found prices vary from specialty stores to supermarkets so check around.
RECIPE as I made it..this was enough for 4 bowls and we have enough left for lunch tomorrow.
In a large pasta pot
Add 5C Water
8oz Bob's Red Mill VEGI Soup Mix 
Add a good size pinch of salt and crushed black pepper
Bring to boil and simmer for 30 mins. Stir occasionally, add water if needed while simmering, to cover .
In the meantime, finely chop the following:
1 medium/large sweet onion
3 very large carrots
6 stalks of celery
After the first 30 mins of simmering, add the vegetables and return to simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until soft. Stirring frequently.
*SPECIAL INGREDIENT Add 1 Large Tbls of kerrgygold butter. Mmmmmm!
If you have an immersion blender remove from heat and blend until thick and creamy. (Otherwise let cool first and use a blender) Then add 2-3C milk for desired consistency. Season as desired and serve in a large mug or bowl. I like it just thick enough to lightly coat the spoon when stirred.
Tomorrow I'm making Irish Brown Bread.
This soup, served with the brown bread makes a Delicious, Hardy, Healthy Meal! A small teacupful is also a great snack in the evening to keep you from eating junk food. Just enough to satisfy my urge to eat anyway. :  )
When all is said and done, it seems, the inclusion of this particular soup mix follows closely to the other recipes I have been receiving from Irish home-cooks, they just used barley, peas and a can of tomatoes instead. I prefer the mix, it's a bit hardier & overall more nutritious. Looking forward to the alternate recipe (leeks, parsnips) too,  it's always fun to try new flavor profiles.
We'd love to hear what you have to say, please comment with any questions or recipes of your own.

Actually I know winter has just begun but...I start to dream

This was originally written in March 2001, I don't what it is though once January comes, I start dreaming of in-house prep gardening, seedlings, Spring and Summer. I remember this day as if it were yesterday and my children were all so very young then (ages 5, 6, 10). Time flies...this is precisely why we need to appreciate every moment! 

Winter Is Almost Over

I love all of the seasons here in New England. But once the days begin to get a little longer, the snow begins to soften to slush and you see the first sprout, however tiny, of a bulb green emerging from the still cold ground…at that point, I begin to anticipate the arrival of spring.
I was walking our new puppy in the mud and slush this morning and my mind began to wander to the shores of Maine. I skipped right by spring and into summer. Was it the white-blue sky or perhaps the bright sunshine that reminded me of the beach? When the sky is that color over Ogunquit beach, the water is a deep, bright blue, picturesque in its beauty…

… as you walk over the footbridge to get to the beach, you feel the difference in the air temperature immediately. A cool breeze hospitably welcomes you, as it blows the tall sea grass on the dunes of either side of the bridge. It is late afternoon, you smile as you descend the footbridge. This beach, has a way of mesmerizing you with its peace and beauty.

I sit in my beach chair right at the shoreline, the cold Maine water rushes over my feet. As a slight undertow buries my toes in the sand, the saying ‘happy as a clam’ comes to mind. A leaf is slightly embedded in the sand not far from where I sit, it is void of color because the water has washed over it repeatedly. The veins on the leaf enunciate its definition. It looks like a piece of artwork. This reminds me of the pottery that is common in the shops of Kennebunkport, capturing an aspect of nature that can be admired long after the season has ended.

A kite is gliding overhead. A child holds the string with excitement and seriousness, as if driving a car for the first time.

Beach walkers are getting exercise in its purest form: breathing in fresh air, walking at a brisk pace, cooled by the sea breeze. Beachcombers meander by too, in search of
ocean treasures.

A red, two-seater plane flies by, some children wave to the pilot who is barely visible. Did it dip its wing to wave back, or was that my imagination?

A woman walks by with her teenage daughter; they are clearly enjoying this time together. They wear invisible blinders to those around them, breathing in this magical air, lost in their own world.

Boys and girls play for hours on end. Sparkling eyes, sprinkles of freckles on shoulders and noses, high ponytails with wisps of hair gently moving in the breeze, and buzz cuts on boys…timeless beauty. Their laughter is contagious.

A young couple walks hand in hand. They stop and watch the gulls dive for small fish. After a few minutes he whispers something to her, they both laugh and continue on their way, savoring these moments together.

Near the shoreline, artists create sand castles, equipped with moats and towers. They work steadfastly for what seems like hours. The tide comes in too quickly and washes away their creation.

Three older women walk along together. I imagine they have been friends for years. They are smiling, chatting. They’re adding a chapter to their own history.

A middle-aged man stands at chest level in the cold water, feeling the rise and fall of the current. In front of him, the ocean seems to go on forever. He is aware of the rhythm of the sea, meditating in nature, if just for a few moments.

One family is having running races. The cool beach breeze and overcast skies enable them to ignore the warm temperatures and run, a little faster, a little further.

The sun is setting. The sky is pale pink and there is a defining edge to the horizon with the water meeting the sky.

A man comes over the footbridge carrying a metal detector, another treasure seeker.

It is low tide now; an elderly couple approaches the shoreline with fishing gear. They get settled. The woman sits in her chair, book on her lap, and the man slowly prepares himself for fishing. He dons his wading overalls, walks in the water to his waist and casts his rod. He then places the rod in the stand he has buried at the oceans edge. His wife sits silently through his preparations, gazing at him with a faint smile on her face. He ambles back, removes his overalls and sits beside her. Together they watch the line. They chat a bit, the closed book still on her lap. Several minutes later, he walks back to the rod, tugs at it a couple of times and again returns to his chair. He is not serious about the sport of fishing but he is thoroughly enjoying this process. About an hour later, he reels the line in, and he and his wife pack up their gear. With the fishing equipment, the chairs, and the book she never opened, they walk back over the bridge. They are content and satisfied with their outing.

A couple of families begin building a small campfire on the beach. The air smells of wood burning and the salty sea…

..…and then my dog barks, as two squirrels scurry by. Instantly I am back in winter with slush beneath my feet. But winter is almost over.

~cathy collins
The Milton Times, March 1, 2001


Here is one recipe that I was given, this IS NOT Potato Leek soup, many folks think of that as an everyday Irish Soup as well. I"m going to try this and another recipe I was given from an Irish mom. Will keep you posted.
3 Tablespoons Irish butter

1 onion

2 large carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 (28 once) can whole peeled tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried parley

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

2 quarts beef broth

In a a large pot over a medium heat, belt the butter.

Cook the onion carrot and celery until onion is translucent.

Stir in tomatoes with their juice, salt ,pepper, parsley, soy sauce, Worcestershire and paprika.

Pour in beef broth. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended.

Puree in blender or use an immmersion belneder until desired creamy consistancy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Emer's Irish Brown Bread

Emer’s Brown Wholemeal Bread recipe, as promised.

1 Bag (2kg) of Brown Wholemeal (or Whole Wheat) Flour
(2Kg translates to 4.409lbs so use almost 4 1/2 lbs.)

1 Cup of Bran

1 Cup of Wheat Germ

3 Tsp of Salt

6 Tsp of Bread Soda – sieved
(Baking Soda sifted , if possible)

3 Litres of buttermilk
( 3.17 Qts so use about 3 1/4 Qts)

3 Eggs - mixed together

This quantity makes 6 loaves

Mix all ingredients together until moisentened and thoroughly combined and spoon/pour into (PAM sprayed) loaf pans. I cook two pans at a time.
Bake @ 180°C for 50-55 minutes
(356 degrees farenheit) Try 350 degrees for an hour.

Once baked, remove from pan to wire rack, cooled to room temperature. To store, wrap loaf whole and freeze or I've sliced each loaf (to give to family)  2 slices per sandwhich bag... and place whole loaf in freezer gallong size bag to freeze. Then you can toast from freezer OR let rest to room temp when you wish to use it.

Our favorite butter is kerrygold from Ireland, purchase in specialty cheese or gourmet section of supermarket. And in Ireland it seems you are never served the grape jelly we Americans are so used to. But not to worry you won't miss it if you try this...they serve strawberry or orange preserves. It turns this hardy yet plain slice of bread into a dessert with the kerrygold and preserves of your choice.

I haven't made this in a few years, I look forward to trying it again. I'm awaiting a delivery of KAF wholemeal, I'll keep you posted. I've made it in the past with whole wheat flour. Curious as to whether it will taste any different?

This morning I inquired with some Irish Dance folks via message board and knew these mom's would share additional recipes. Sure enough..they have just been sent to me. Let me compare and perhaps post them as well. I'm really trying to find the daily pureed vegetable soup recipe... it is served with this bread.

For anyone interested: I use the following conversion site:

Have a good evening. Please post your thoughts, comparisons and results. Photos to follow when I make this later this week.

Happy New Year

2010 It's hard to believe how quickly time goes by. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and loved ones.

So New Years has come and gone, a time for resolutions. I don't like the word resolution, folks never seem to keep them, too much pressure.

I have my 'wish list' that I plan to work thru this year...

  • Live an even more family oriented life.
  • Walk somewhere, no matter how little, EVERY DAY
  • Really focus on living a simpler, more old-fashioned life! How? Ordering less take-out, a lot more cooking... healthy, but hardy meals, baking regulary...and EVERYONE sitting at the table together for dinner. I'm embarassed a bit that I have to work toward this, but our lives have been so busy in recent years and somehow the basics slipped away in the hustle and bustle of school, activities, and the kids growing social lives.
  • Live GREEN in more ways than I have been. I know being green is a fad these days I but feel my shop of vintage collectibles    finding new homes for precious pieces of our past has been a form of living green.
  • Sustainable, another trendy word at the moment. I am going to commit to  making my purchases locally, and order from family owned companies whenever possible.
Well that's a start. Who has wishes for their future they would like to commit to here? Please comment. It makes it seem more authentic (a little more pressure when you need to be accountable to something, even if it is a blog) when you put something in writing.

Wishing you a Blessed year.