Friday, March 25, 2011

Li'l Garden Bunny


Hello Dear Readers,

As promised in my April article in Acreage Magazine, here is the pattern and instructions for creating your very own

This little bunny is small, adorable, and can be given as special gifts to your children, your friends, your mom, or anyone who enjoys celebrating Easter with bunnies.

When seated, she is only about 5" to 5-1/2" tall.  This makes it really easy to display her on a table-top arrangement for your Easter Dinner.  Here, my Li'l Garden Bunny is perched on top of a bunch of decorative kale, with some other spring flowers and ivy for added interest.  

If you have any problems downloading the pattern, or have questions while you are making your Li'l Garden Bunny, just drop me a line at KatesOrganicLiving@Gmail.Com and I'll be happy to help you out.

Happy Easter Everyone!


Friday, March 4, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Irish Cornhusk Doll
Hello everyone!

Hang on, winter is nearly over, and spring is just around the corner. Here are a couple pictures of my Irish Cornhusk Doll that I made for St. Patrick's Day this year.  I hope you like her.

I'd also like to share with you my recipe for Irish Soda Bread.  This is something that we have at our house throughout the year, but we always have this on St. Patrick's Day.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup dried currants (or raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots)
2 cups milk

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender.  Stir in the dried fruit. Add enough of the milk to make a soft dough. Spoon into a greased 12-inch cast iron skillet you have warming in a 350 oven.  Cook for 1 hour or until top is nicely browned.

Serve hot or cold with butter.  This makes an excellent St. Patrick's Day breakfast bread with hot Irish tea!

Note: I usually use currants or raisins, but one year I had none and so substituted dried cranberries.  Delicious!  Another year I had received some dried Montmorency cherries from Michigan...a delicious variation!  Dried apricots have also been used with great success.  So...there are enough variations of this wonderful bread that you can make it for just about any occasion. 

I have made this every St. Patrick's Day morning to top off the glee my kids always experienced at discovering that the leprechauns had been to visit; their toys were lined up on the stairs, magic sprinkle powder all over the house (including on the kitties)...those leprechauns are certainly tricky little creatures.  They would often leave behind their gold coins in their haste to evade the leprechaun traps set all over the house. Fun!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peeling Ginger

Did you know you could peel ginger with a spoon?  I didn't either!  I've wasted so much ginger by trying to peel it with either a knife or vegetable peeler.  By using a spoon, you scrape the paper covering away, without wasting any of that delicious ginger. You can even get around those bumpy knobs that you may have cut off before.

Ginger is wonderfully delicious and a very healthy part of your diet. You can use it in tea, in breads, cookies, as well as in the traditional stir-fry.  Raw ginger is an excellent tonic for upset stomachs, ginger tea helps with migraines, lowers cholesterol, and inhibits the formation of blood clots.  I try to have ginger on hand most of the time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crispy Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Crispy Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Growing up, my parents made sure that my taste buds had access to a wide variety of flavors. I never had to clean my plate, but I always had to taste everything that was served. If I didn't like something, I didn't have to eat it, but I had to try it again next time. Because of this, I am not a picky eater and I love to try new food (thanks Mom and Dad!) Over the eighteen years that I lived at home with my parents, there was only one thing that I never learned to like: sweet potatoes. Each time I took that "trial" bite of baked sweet potato, I literally gagged. When I came home from college, my dad finally relented and gave in to the fact that I would never learn to like sweet potatoes. Fast forward to a few years ago when I tried sweet potato fries at a restaurant. Yum! I couldn't believe it, but I actually liked them! I started making them at home and discovered that roasted sweet potatoes are delicious. They are wonderful by themselves or in burritos (like the yummy Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas), but my favorite thing is to make my own oven fries. I have made oven fries for years with all kinds of potatoes, but sweet potatoes proved to be a bit more challenging. Because they are so dense, it is difficult to get them browned and crispy. Many times they turn out limp and soggy. After many batches, here is what I have come up with for no-fail crispy fries.

-2-3 sweet potatoes
-Cooking spray
-Hungarian Paprika (yes this is different than regular paprika--see the photo below for what it looks like--you can find it in any grocery store)
-sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 500°F.

2. Wash and peel your sweet potatoes. I like to use a "garbage bowl" a la Rachel Ray when I am peeling and dicing things.
3. Cut each sweet potato in half, then in quarters. Slice these pieces about an eighth to a quarter inch wide. This is important! The thinner the slices, the better chance you have of them turning out crispy.
4. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange your sweet potato slices onto your baking sheet, then lightly spray them with the cooking spray. This is also important. Too much oil will make your fries soggy. Sprinkle hungarian paprika and sea salt over the sweet potatoes.

5. Roast at 500°F for 15-20 minutes flipping halfway through. Be sure to keep your fries arranged in a single layer on the baking sheet. If the fries feel or look too dry while they roast, you can spray them with a little more oil. When they look nice and crispy, pull them out and enjoy! We like to eat them plain or with a little organic ketchup.

Look at that beautiful browning! As a bonus, these sweet potato fries are healthy and kids love them. If you have never learned to like sweet potatoes, give these a try and tell me what you think!

This post is from Alysa Bajenaru, RD.

Thank you, Alysa, for such a wonderful recipe.  I know many people who have converted to eating sweet potatoes when they were introduced to sweet potato fries.  Even my mom, who has hated sweet potatoes all her life, loves sweet potato fries.  Your blog is delightful and I'm happy to share you with my readers.