Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whole Wheat Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been craving (with a capital "C") Cookies!!  As far as I am away from even caring about processed and refined foods, I get this little bug every once in a while for a buttery, yummy chocolate chip cookie.  Usually, the craving goes away, and I don't even bother trying to come up with a solution for it, but this time, that was so not the case.

I have tried honey based cookies in the past, and they always come out too cake-like because of all the extra liquid.  It's almost like the cookies steams itself while it's cooking.  This time, I boiled the honey into a caramel first and out came a crisp yummy cookie.  Eureka...just what I was looking for!!



1/2 c. Honey (raw, local)
1/2 c. Butter (organic, unsalted)
2 Eggs (organic, farm fresh)
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 c. Whole White Wheat Flour (organic, fresh milled)
2 c. Rolled Oats (organic)
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 c. Chocolate Chips (organic, 65% or higher cacao content)
Optional (but so much better with!):
1/2 c. Walnuts (organic)
1/2 c. Raisins (organic)
Preheat oven to 350

Bring the honey and butter to a slow boil in a sauce pan on medium high heat.  Once it starts to boil, allow it to come to temperature of about 225.   Remove caramel from heat and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.  Whisk eggs in a separate bowl.   Temper the eggs by adding a tablespoon of the caramel at a time to the eggs while whisking.  Once you have added about half of the caramel to the eggs, you can go ahead and combine it with the remainder of the caramel.  Add vanilla and mix well.

In separate bowl whisk together dry ingredients.    Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine.  Your mixture will still be warm, so allow it to cool in the refrig for 30 minutes or so before you add the chocolate chips.  

Once mixture has cooled and you have mixed in the chips, spoon the mixture onto baking sheets (makes about 2 dozen).  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until just brown around the edges.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Toiling with the Land: Getting Rid of Tomato Worms

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;  Cursed is the ground because of you;  In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  Genesis 3:17-18


Part of the reason for my lack of blog posts the past few weeks is a serious case of Genesis 3:17-18.  We have been infested with worms at the community garden, and they just reared their ugly heads in the front yard too!!!   What's funny, is they are a type of worm we've never even seen in our garden before...EVER! 

"Project Rid the Garden of Worms" started during our Spring Break week.  The first day, I boiled me up a heapin' pot of garlic and hot pepper tea.  I just boiled up a pot of water, smashed about 7-8 heads of garlic with the back side of my knife, threw them in the pot (skins and all), dumped about a cup of dried, ground, hot peppers (we had some habaneros we had grown last year) and let it boil.  Once it boils, turn the water off and let it steep for up to 24 hours.  Strain it and spray it all over the leaves of the plants. 

Side Note:  WEAR GLOVES!!!!  If you a little on the slow side like me, :), you might be tempted to not heed that warning.  Believe me, it's a mistake you don't want to make.  I was holding the leaves of the plants in my hands while spraying them and not even thinking about the strength of the hot peppers in my concoction.   Lord have mercy, my hands burned so bad for an entire day straight, I was completely dysfunctional!!  It about drove me to the brink of insanity!!  The only thing that finally took the burn away (and believe me, I tried EVERYTHING)  was soaking my hands in rubbing alcohol until the burn got so intense that I thought I was going to pass out.  This is coming from a girl who actually gave birth with no drugs and still swears it didn't hurt that bad.  The moral of the story...wear gloves!!

Next step...hand pick, and pick, and pick and pick some more.   Most worms only come out in the cool weather (which means evenings and into the morning until the sun starts getting too hot for them).  So, if you're looking to get rid of the little boogers, the early bird gets the worm. 

Then, a dose of our now must-have microbial organisms gave the plants some extra fighting strength. 

With those methods, we were able to mostly rid the garden of the leave munching nuisances, but some were just as persistent as can be, so we had to hit it with a round of thuricide.  I really don't like using thuricide because of the controversial reports on it, so it is only an ABSOLUTELY, HAVE-TO thing for us. Thuricide is a liquid bacteria that messes with the worm's digestive system and makes them not want to eat.  They starve in a few days after eating a leaf sprayed with the bacteria.

After two straight weeks of work, the good news...the plants are thriving, producing and doing well...yey!!!

Through all the frustration and sweat, the whole process was an amazing reminder that we live in a fallen world, and there's nothing that we can do about it.  Believe me, those worms will be back.  The best news...Jesus has already taken care of it for us (worms and all)!!!   Even as we will toil with the soil here on earth, He is preparing a place for us where there is no worms eating your tomatoes, no diseases destroying your body, no sadness and no pain. 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:1-6

Easter may be over until next year, but Christ is still risen, He will always be the only way, and He is coming back one day to take us to the place He has prepared for us.   So, when the worms have got you down, praise God for Hope!!

Happy Wednesday!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pantry Raid #15: Pots and Pans

I've had a lot of readers ask me about what type of cooking and bakeware I like to use.  I have to admit, my selections were mostly on accident.   When I read up on it, I realized I was all good...whew!  My absolute preferred cooking surface is cast iron.  I really bucked using cast iron for years.  The hubby was raised on it, but the whole not washing it with soap and "seasoning" thing just scared the crumbs out of me.  When I finally caved, I couldn't help but wonder why in the world our generation seemed to have disregarded this amazing cooking surface.  Aside from the weight, the perks are endless.  My two favorite reasons to use cast iron--they are non-stick (when seasoned correctly) and indestructable.  I could go on forever about cast iron, but first, let's talk about what cookware options you have and which ones you may or may not want to be using if you are concerned about your health and/or the environment. 

Non-Stick:  In 1961, a new, technologically advanced cookware was introduced to the market with the claim that stuck on food was a thing of the past .  The cookware gained popularity as the "fat free" diet fad rose to its peak giving dieters a way to use less oils when cooking.  How does it work?  Most types are coated with a chemical called Polytetrafluoroethylene, which is most commonly known as the brand Teflon.  This chemical was accidentally discovered in 1938 when Roy Pluckett of Kinetic Chemicals was working on a new refrigerant using Tetrafluoroethylene. Unfortunately, when heated to tempatures above 200 degrees, the coating begins to deteriorate.  Most cookware is used at these tempatures on a daily basis.  Unpublished studies show that the deteriorated Teflon creates a by-product that has been tested to be lethal to birds and causes flu-like symptoms in humans. 

Aluminum:  Aluminum cookware can be purchased in two forms--anodized and non-anodized.  Anodized aluminum cookware has a coating that is created by placing the cookware in a bath of electrolytes like sulfuric acid and running an electrical current through the bath.  The result is a protective layer that keeps the aluminum from ozidizing which causes corrison, rusting and pitting.  My thoughts...the less chemicals the better.  Sulfuric acid is a highly hazardous chemical that, with high exposure, can cause nervous and respiratory system damage.  In regards to the environment, I give it a big thumbs down.  As far as your health, the coating (if undamaged) restricts the leaching of aluminum into your food.  Studies have shown that testing in Alzheimer's patients reveals a common link of aluminum found in their blood streams.

Stainless Steel:    Stainless Steel is deemed a safe cookware.  Look for cookware marked 18/10 stainless steel, which means 18% chromium and 10% nickel.  This type of cookware releases about 45 micrograms of chromium into each meal cooked, which is less than the published "safe" intake.  If you have a sensitivity to nickel, steering clear of stainless steel cookware is suggested.   

Cast Iron:  Cast iron cookware is made by heating iron to extremely high levels and casting it into the desired form.  When seasoned properly, it is non-stick and will not rust.  It distributes and holds heat evenly through the cooking process.  It can withstand being placed in direct flames without being damaged.  I am telling you, these pots are indestructable!!  If I mess one up, I run it though the self cleaning oven cycle and reseason it.  Cooking in cast iron can actually be healthy because it leaches additional iron into your food as it cooks.  Before aluminum cookware was introduced, cast iron was pretty much the universal choice of cookware.  All over the world, people are using cast iron cookware that is generations old, because it last forever!

Glass, Stoneware and Ceramic:  Cookware made with glass, stone and ceramic materials are all perfectly safe cooking options.

Happy Cooking!!