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This blog chronicles the adventures I share with my husband, daughter and son. It is also a place to share what I am learning as a homemaker, gardener, book lover and homeschooling mother. Welcome.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

apple pie cookies

It is autumn. The temperatures are cool. The oven is on.
Those three sentences complement each other so well!

Last year I made apple pie cookies for the first time. They were a hit.

What's not to love about apple pie that you can hold in your hand?
I can't find the original link that gave me this idea, but it's very simple.

If you want ultra-simple then simply purchase ready made pie crust and cans of apple pie mix from the store. If you want a more handmade approach then search for an apple pie filling and pie crust that you make yourself. The latter is what I did!

All you do is cut circles from the pie crust with a biscuit cutter, or even a glass will do. Then you add a small scoop of pie filling, put another circle on top, press the edges with a fork and prick the top.

Place on cookie sheets and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Voila ~ celebrating Autumn ensues via food!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

agreeing with gladys

The color of the great sugar maples is so dazzling, 
it seems I must have dreamed it. 
The maples give forth light, 
like closer suns.
from The Best of Stillmeadow by Gladys Taber 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

weston bend state park ~ west ridge trail

Saturday morning found us up early driving north to Weston Bend State Park. The weather was perfectly autumnal, cool and overcast for a hike. Jesse and I had walked the Weston Bluffs Trail a number of years ago and we had all ridden the Paved Bicycle Trail when the kids were little (rated as easy, but with very steep inclines, not conducive to happy, young riders).

This hike found us on the West Ridge Trail. Being near the Missouri River the trails vary in height ~ ridge or valley. The trail actually began on the Harpst Trail, in the valley, and then rose steadily to the ridge overlooking the river. Wanting to hike a loop, we actually returned to the Harpst Trail by the paved bicycle path, but if you wanted too you could just double back on the West Ridge Trail. Total miles was close to three. It was mostly an easy hike, with some incline and root-y paths. After completion we drove down to the Bear Creek Trail a .2 mile walk directly to the river. Along the way we saw a bald eagle, so even though the kids were ready to go I'm glad we did this short, extra walk. Overall, it was so nice to be out when it wasn't hot and humid and enjoy a quiet morning in the woods.

Weston is a great area about thirty miles north of the Kansas City metro area. In October it is bustling with its Apple Fest near the downtown shops and Weston Red Barn Farm activities just outside the city. We bypassed any of those extras in favor of just the hike this past weekend. The fall colors are not in their prime yet, but it was nice to find color in a few remaining wild flowers and even bright orange mushrooms, a new one for me. Our calendar is fairly open on the weekends in October, so I am optimistic that we'll be out for another activity or two (or three?) to get a view of the changing colors. We're fortunate that the tree in our frontyard is a Sugar Maple that provides a blanket of golds, reds, oranges on our lawn; but it's nice to go out of the city and be submersed in the color too.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

end of september garden

This September was like every other. I want it to feel like Autumn, but Summer lingers on. This was a hot month, and we had steady rain as well, so the garden is actual green and producing well. The flower blooms are still stunning, which if anything is going to be dry, brown and crispy, you DON'T want it to be your flowers. I continue cutting flowers to bring indoors, something I love to do. I'll cherish these blooms as really we are in the final countdown until the first frost, which should come mid-October. The photo with Roone holding the watermelon is from a couple of days ago and shows that the plants are still green, colorful and thriving!

what a handsome watermelon model!

We planted one 4x4 bed with watermelon seeds saved from one we bought at a farmer's market a couple of years ago. There was only one melon that grew to be worthy of harvest, or so we hoped! From the outside it looked great, but I kept expectations low thinking I'd slice into it and it would be all white. Not the case, thankfully! It was bright red and sweet to the taste. We made it last over two dinners as a side dish. We could have eaten it in one setting, of course, but I wanted to make the moment last. Even though we only harvested one melon, that's not a big deal to us. The area given to these seeds was small, and we don't need a huge supply of watermelon. This is one of those "fun if it works" plantings.

This was a great time to add reading, writing and 'rithmetic (along with U.S. presidential studies and U.S. geography) to our days since the garden can mostly be left to itself. The tomatoes are still producing, I'm harvesting a bit of kale here and there, and hopefully before the frost I'll have a good supply of lima beans and possibly red beans, but they did not grow quickly so I don't think I'll have a very good return on them. The harvesting totals are getting higher and I doubt we'll top 500 pounds for the year, but if I'm able to consistently reap tomatoes in October it's a possibility.

Total pounds harvested thru September are 474
an addition of 98 pounds from 376 in August!

190 lbs ~ Roma Tomatoes
95 lbs ~ Potatoes
57 lbs ~ Beefsteak Tomatoes
47 lbs ~ Blackberries
27 lbs ~ Carrots
10 lbs ~ Garlic
14 lbs ~ Squash
12 lbs ~ Watermelon
9 lbs ~ Onions
3 lbs ~ Golden Beets
3 lbs ~ Green Beans
3 lbs ~ Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb ~ Cucumbers
1 lb ~ Sweet Peppers
1 lb ~ Tomatillo Tomatoes
1 lb ~ Lima Beans

Some items produces amazingly well and others did not. 
Usually we have an amazing amount of green beans, cucumbers and peppers, 
but this year did not so they really just served as garnishes for other main dishes.

However, we're so pleased that in a simple backyard with just under 1,000 square feet 
devoted to vegetables, fruit and herbs we are able to harvest this much food for our family!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

garden to table

I'd like to be one of those gardeners who takes the time to photograph the meals created using the ingredients grown in her own garden, but I'm not. I don't consistently document via camera what we eat. I actually don't enjoy taking pictures of food and think I'm better at taking pictures of the garden and our adventures anyway.

However, I did capture this side dish of potatoes, green beans and kale sauteed with onions in bacon grease. It's late September, but I'm still able to serve dishes with fresh ingredients from the garden. Although the temperatures have unfortunately risen reminiscent of Summer, I'm trying to look on the bright side. The warmer temps encourage continued growth. 

Since we've made it our standard to eat from home most of the time and since the preparation of those meals is mostly my responsibility, it is so, so lovely to be able to walk a few feet to get the fresh ingredients for the meal that day. Each time I cook with our own garden ingredients I think how frugal and healthy we're being and how tasty the food is too. 

I just realized I do have another meal picture. This is of shrimp fried rice. All the vegetables are from our garden and the shrimp is from a new local business called KC Shrimp that grows salt water shrimp on the outskirts of Kansas City. Truly, the best shrimp I've ever tasted.

Well, here's another picture ~ of pizza ~ always a winner around here. 

I'm still frequently roasting Roma tomatoes in the morning, using what is fresh and saving the leftover in the freezer. We are stocked for the winter which really makes me happy.

For the freezer, I roast the tomatoes, let them cool and then bag them for the freezer. If after roasting I use the tomatoes for a meal that day I put the cooled Romas in the blender and use the setting "chop" which makes the consistency more of a chunky (rather than smooth) puree. Just today I put together a spaghetti sauce for dinner. For this homemaker-ever-in-training, these fresh ingredients help me look like I know what I'm doing. Maybe I'm becoming like this Julia Child quotation!

You learn to cook 
so that you don't have to be a slave to recipes. 
You get what's in season 
and you know what to do with it. 
-Julia Child-