Saturday, May 22, 2010

Healthy, Chewy Delicious Dark Oatmeal Cookies

We eat a lot of cookies around here so I have developed a recipe that makes them fairly healthy. Although they do contain a fair amount of sugar, it is not "empty" calories.

One thing I have added is
Quinoa grain (pronounced "keen-wah").
Here is more info about quinoa:

"The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium and iron, a relatively good source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. It is exceptionally high in lysine, cystine and methionine-amino acids typically low in other grains. It is a good complement for legumes, which are often low in methionine and cystine. The protein in quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Some types of wheat come close to matching quinoa's protein content, but grains such as barley, corn, and rice generally have less than half the protein of quinoa. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein and four ounces a day, about 1/2-cup, will provide a childs protein needs for one day."

I chose quinoa as an additive because of the protein content. I can even eat some of these cookies, within reason, without suffering a carb "crash". I sometimes grab a couple for breakfast before heading out to the fields in the early morning when nothing else is available that is quick and ready to go, after the two cups of coffee, that is. No, I don't grow my own coffee...yet, but I might look at growing my own quinoa, maybe later.

I buy it from a bin at the bulk food store. Its readily available in many grocery stores, but more costly there. I also grind it before adding it uncooked to things like cookies. I have a small coffee/spice grinder that I use for that.
I love my grinder and use it to grind a lot of things!

I have started using
Demerara sugar also from a bin at the bulk food store. I use it mainly becuase of the high molasses content. I love molasses! Molasses is high in iron and a lot of other minerals and I just like the taste. I particularly like it with peanut butter on something hot, where the peanut butter melts and the molasses mixes in with it. No one else in my family shares this love of molasses, but they like the cookies.

You can use regular brown sugar in this cookie recipe, if you want to.

I use hard whole wheat flour, also from the bulk food store. We are trying our best to get away from using white flour for anything. I might even start making our own burger buns with hard whole wheat flour.

I know people who refuse to eat things from bins at the bulk food store but I shop there a lot. I am cooking these things in the oven, after all, so whatever might have been sneezed in there is going to be dead when it comes out of the oven. The bulk food store where I shop is a very clean, well manned, professional place anyway. Sure, there are people out there who will sneeze in the bins in a store, but they are few and far between. We have to be reasonable, people.

Another thing I add is ground flax, only because I have quite a lot to use up and its good for you.

The recipe makes a lot of cookies, several dozen. I make them small enough to fit into those "snack" size zip lock bags.

Recipe for chewy healthy oatmeal cookies

Preheat oven to 350F

  • 1 lb butter, 2 cups melted (I do this in a glass 2 cup measure in the microwave, 2 mins)
  • 2 cups white sugar (you can lower this for less sweet cookies)
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed into measure
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1.5 cups light weight commercial cereal (Spec K, flakes, rice)
  • 2 cups combined ground and whole grains (quinoa, flax, ground nuts, etc)
  • 5 eggs (you can add an extra egg for even more protein content)

    Mix these altogether in extremely large bowl. Then add:

  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2.5 cups your choice combined raisins/nuts/shelled sunflower and squash seeds/chips (choc,butterscotch,peanut butter)

Mix into dough. You will need to drop the spoon and use your hands at some point.

Roll into balls and bake on greased cookie sheet for 11-13 mins. Make sure your oven is baking at the right temperature.

I freeze what doesn't fit into the cookie jar. These never get hard. We even eat them frozen. I like them better that way.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Planting Corn

We LOVE fresh corn on the cob and look forward all summer for our corn to be ready. This year I am home full time, for a change, and have the time to plant the corn correctly.

Corn, like tomatoes, will grow roots up the stalk that is below ground. If you want strong corn that will withstand high winds, its a good idea to give it deep roots by planting, shallowly, in a trench. You then fill in the trench as the corn grows above the sides.

We have been through the corn that falls over during a storm or just falls over - period. Has anyone else experienced this mysterious corn toppler? Corn that is just laying on the ground in the morning for no apparent reason at all is very frustrating! At least, if it blows over in a big wind, I can put some reason to it but to just have it laying on the ground after a still and peaceful night can be maddening AND IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR! I am not going to let it.

Anyway, to make a short story long, I planted it in the bottom of a trench this year, eight rows of trenches to be exact. Each trench is about 8" deep and the corn is planted shallowly in the bottom. I would have liked to make the trenches even deeper but, well, its just me and I had a lot to plant and time is short, you know how it goes...

I plan to hill them up like potatoes, as they grow.

After I dug the trenches and planted the corn, I watered it thoroughly. We are going to be about 1.5 weeks without rain, until it rains this weekend so I am watering everything now as I plant it. We are on a well and have a lot of water. The water table is so high here that just on the other side of our fenceline is a black standing water swamp that never dries. Big machines have been running back in there lately, clearing trees and such. I think they are working out a way to drain it now that the forest belongs to the city. I hope so! It makes the mosquitoes bad here! Bats are very welcome!

Another way to keep the corn erect is to plant pole beans to climb on it. Three or four vines per stalk is enough. The beans will hold the stalk up in a strong wind and give it strength. They will also add nitrogen to the soil as they grow, giving the corn the extra nitrogen that it needs. Corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder.

(This is not my picture.)

I started three flats of corn early indoors this year to get a head start on it. I planted it out in the garden a couple of weeks ago. Then came the snow. It didn't survive. Transplanting tiny plants is a lot more work than planting seed. I don't think I will do that again.

Our corn is not up yet but I check on it daily, hoping it is tall enough to plant the pole beans that will grow on it. This is a short version of the "Three Sisters Garden" without the squash. Our squash has it's own garden. I spent yesterday planting it. Now we just wait and wait...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Storage Space

I have decided to use my veranda ceiling for stoarge. When we first moved here I had grand visions of filling it with dried herbs, sunflowers and beautiful things like that, just hanging there drying like an old fashioned farm.

I took a few days and strung the wire using U-nails. I stretched it all the way down the entire vernada roof.

I put three strands of wire across the entire lengh, skipping the part just over the front door. I figured that visitors wouldn't want things like dried herb leaves and flower petals falling on their heads. Who wouldn't want lovely smelling dried herbs and flowers falling on them?

This year I decided to use it. I hung all my grapevine wreaths and hanging pots up there when I tidied the porch. I intend to hang sunflowers and herbs up there to dry! I might also use it to dry tobacco and other useful things.

It makes a good storage space for anything else I want out of the way. I completely ignored it for two years! I can't believe I didn't take advantage of such a useful storage spot before now! I could hang all my useless junk up there and have a redneck porch...uh, maybe not.

I made this handy hook out of a mop handle. I got the idea from a Martha Stewart magazine. Can you believe that! Martha Stewart and I think alike! (No, really. You can quit laughing now.)

It just hangs up there out of the way until I need it.

I bet you thought the snow had killed me off, didn't you? It almost did!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Snow In May!

Well, I woke up today, on Mother's Day of all days, to snow on the ground! Can you believe it! Snow! In May, for Pete's sake! Never before in my lifetime have I seen snow past mid April, never!

The picture above is my beloved berry garden covered in snow :-(
I was going to pick more dandelions and cut the grass...

One would think that we would be so used to 3 feet of snow that it wouldn't bother me, but this is not the case. I think that we here in the Great Lakes snow belt have so much of it all winter, that we rejoice in its absence even more when spring finally arrives, supposedly for good. One cannot spend two weeks in bare feet and flip flops to suddenly be immersed in winter boots and coats again. ITS NOT FAIR!!!!

The pups seem undaunted by the snow. Jake ran along the ground with his tongue out, licking it up. They are still jumping and playing out there, but I have noticed that they spend more time snuggled together in their large, warm doghouse on the porch than they did in the warm weather. Great Pyranees dogs have a double coat with a down like fur against their bodies, for the coldest winters. Adult dogs will often sleep outside in the snow, but these guys are just babies and are not used to it.

This is my deck and Barbecue. It doesn't look very inviting, does it?

Last, but definately not least, is my little greenhouse. The temperature is forecasted to be at freezing tonight (0c, 32f). Will my seedlings be ok out there? Should I bring in my favourite peppers. sweet potato and tobacco seedlings? I think I will do that today. Everything looks ok in the greenhouse but I don't want to take chances with my best stuff.

The coldframe is completely buried.

We won't even go there :-(

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Gift From My Wonderful Son!

My son works for a landscaper and they are doing a major commercial planting right now. He brought all of these home for me today! He said that it is about 1/10th of what they threw away yesterday :-(

I am so thrilled!

These square pots go in those trays behind them.

These round pots go into this tray plus a stack of larger round pots!

Haven't I got a marvelous and thoughtful son??

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Asparagus

Our asparagus is finally ready!

Its really past ready as you can see. I cut it about three days ago then got busy. Oops! Looks like I am one day too late for a few of these. Oh well, I need to let 3-4 stalks grow to maturity for the health of the plant.

I did cut a good bunch today. I cooked them slightly, cut off the tips and put them in a salad for dinner. I wolfed down the bottoms. They were so good with a pinch of salt! I like cooked vegetables in tossed salad. I put all the left over vegetables in a salad the next day. Its all good!

The above photo is the older end of our asparagus bed. This is the new end. I planted these from seed three springs ago, so these are three years old.

Some have pencil sized stalks and so could be cut, but most are still too small. I moved them last summer when they were still growing, so they suffered a bit of a setback. We get a few meals worth of asparagus from the older bed anyway, I just wanted to add to it.

Seed is by far the cheapest way to grow things, if you have the time to wait for it.

The older bed was here when we moved in. It is not a wild bed because it is planted in a circle and has purple tipped asparagus. The best kind! You can sometimes find a wild asparagus bed along the sides of a country road or in a field, but they are rare here.

Fresh spring asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables! After a stale winter, a fresh picked veggie of anykind is very welcome!