Ward House

Glorious raspberries

In my solitude, I have not been idol.  This evening, while Ronnie was bowling and the girls were out with friends, I went to pick raspberries with my neighbor, Pat; we each walked away with a bucket full.  Now I am back to IMG_1807 where I was a few days ago – what to do with all these raspberries.  Pat is going to use a freezer jam recipe.  I am conflicted on whether to make jam or syrup.

The recipe I decided to use is this one from Epicurious:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (1 liter) raspberries

Now here I just used 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of raspberries.  In the reviews, others found the 4 cups to be a bit much.

1. Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 15 minutes. (Warm sugar dissolves better.)

2. Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Add warm sugar, return to a boil, and boil until mixture will form a gel (see tips, below), about 5 minutes.

4. Ladle into sterilized jars and process as directed for Shorter Time Processing Procedure .

What I found most interesting is what is next. . . IMG_1808

To determine when the mixture will form a gel, use the spoon test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later — the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.

“The intensity of this jam is due to the fact that it has no added fruit pectin,” says Topp. Adding pectin helps the jam jell, but necessitates more sugar, which dilutes the natural flavor of the fruit. Making jam without added pectin requires more careful cooking (see notes about the spoon test, above), but the extra effort pays off in a deliciously old-fashioned, fruity product.

It was in the comments where someone said that raspberries have natural pectin – in the seeds. That is a claim I’ll need to research.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

IMG_1813*UPDATE*  I believe this needs to boil longer and reduce down.  Mine is a syrup, which is fine ’cause that is what I was hoping for.  Using a sieve, some of the seeds were removed and, in hindsight, more will be removed next time.  No worries though – great stuff!


July 21, 2010 Posted by | Canning, recipes | , , , | 2 Comments

Pickled Burdock

Who doesn’t have this weed herb growing in the side or back yard?  Yes, some have maticulous gardens/yards – I am not one of those.  Growing weeds herbs outside is easy, it is when I bring them inside that the challenge begins.

Anyway, I was looking for ways to take advantage of this prolific herb and found this recipe for pickled burdock!  Pickling things is easy, assuming you can wait to open the jar.


Things You’ll Need:
  • 3 lbs. burdock root
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 7 1/2 cups water
  • Saucepan
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 slices of ginger
  • Canning jars
  1. Collect your fresh burdock root by foraging for it in the wild. The root can also be found in health food stores or Asian markets.
  2. Use a sharp knife to remove the rough skin from the burdock. Slice the root at an angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Set the root pieces aside.
  3. Mix the salt and water in your pan over low heat. Let the salt dissolve, and then pour it over the burdock until it is completely covered.
  4. Let the burdock sit in the salted water for 24 hours.
  5. Drain and rinse the burdock under cold water.
  6. Sterilize jars by filling them half full with water and microwaving them long enough for the water to boil for one minute.
  7. Fill your jars with the burdock root.
  8. In the pan, slowly bring the vinegar, garlic, and ginger to a boil over low heat.
  9. Fill the jars with the brine until the burdock root is completely covered.
  10. Cover and store your pickled burdock in a dark, cool place for a month before opening the jar. Your pickled burdock can be stored for up to a year.

There are many recipes online for cooking burdock root.  If I can dig some up, I’ll show you what it looks like.  Have you used burdock root before?

July 11, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , | 4 Comments

Patty cake, Patty cake

K14 came home this afternoon and stated that she needed to make a Miss Havisham cake.  You are probably wondering, as I was, what is a ‘Miss Havisham’ cake?  As it turns out, it is the old wedding cake found in the book Great Expectations.  I’d forgotten that A16 made one last year.

Commercial cake mix is not something we keep at the house; We found  this one.  It mixed up nicely and cooked up easily. 

How to make Homemade Yellow Cake Mix:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and non-fat dry milk. Store in an airtight container or baggie. Keeps well in the pantry for months!
To replace in recipes calling for a yellow cake mix:

Use in any recipe calling for a yellow cake mix as a base (add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla to the recipe along with the cake mix as the recipe will assume vanilla was included in the store-bought mix).

Or to make a basic yellow cake, use the following instructions.

Cake mix directions:.

1 recipe Homemade Yellow Cake Mix
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs

Place Homemade Yellow Cake Mix in a bowl. Add water, vanilla, butter, and eggs. Combine with an electric mixer then beat two more minutes. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 350-degrees, using these baking times (watch carefully as your oven may vary–test for doneness using a toothpick):IMG_1204

8″ or 9″ cake rounds — 25-30 minutes
13 x 9 pan — 40-45 minutes
cupcakes — 15-20 minutes
tube/bundt pan — 45-50 minutes

Don’t overbake! You’ll dry out your cake.

This cake was baked in the wood stove and even thought it is supposed to be an old cake, we still wanted it to be eatable.  Because we ran out of butter, she used one 13×9 cake pan and then cut the cake into halves and then one half into half again to create layers.  It turned out very nicely; K14 said it tasted like a sugar cookie – and it did!  The icing was a bit on the runny side since I ran out of butter and had to borrow a stick from the neighbor (thanks Pat!)

*whew*  Project complete!

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

My fav for you!

Many many years ago I bought a cook book, Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson & Mary Beth Lagerborg.  My book looks different than the one pictured in the link and I do not know if the recipe I am going to share is even included.  I bought this at a time when boxed and canned food was the way to go.  This favorite, even for my girls, is Crustless Spinach Quiche.  There are only two forms in which my girls will eat spinach: raw and this recipe.

  • 1 – 10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 bunch chopped green onion bulbs (without greens)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 – 16 oz carton low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups grated, mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c crouton crumbs
  • Cook spinach according to the package directions, and squeeze to remove liquid.  Combine spinach, green onions, eggs, cottage cheese and cheddar cheese.  Put into a quiche pan or 10-inch pie plate treated with nonstick spray.  Bake uncovered in a preheated 325 oven for 1 hour, adding crouton crumbs the last 15 minutes.

Now this recipe is not, as written,  100-mile diet friendly.  Modify, modify, modify.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | , , | 2 Comments

It’s what for dinner

While Ronnie is traveling with his bro (on motorcycles to bike week), I am taking the opportunity to torture err to try some new lentil recipes.   This one looked tasty, easy to fix and I had everything already on hand.  *sighs*  such grand ideas.  It is my belief that I am genetically predisposed to be unable to fix a decent red lentil dish.  Leftovers are in the fridge though I believe they will end up in the compost pile.

What did turn out well is the bread pudding made from some of last week’s  stale bread.  Teresanoelleroberts over at HMWW wrote about not wasting food; she is reading Sharon Astyk’s book, Depletion and Abundance.  This reminded me that after making bread last week, I have some going stale – what a perfect solution!  Off I went to the web to find a tried ‘n true recipe.

Now that is easier said than done.  I was hoping to find one published by one of the many blogs that I read – nope.  Not saying recipes are not there, I could not find ’em.  I ended up using this recipe.

Original Recipe Yield 1 – 8 inch square pan


  • 6 slices day-old bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

along with the rum sauce recipe here:

  • Rum Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

1. While the pudding bakes, prepare the rum sauce. Whisk together 3 tablespoons skim milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in 1 tablespoon rum and 1/4 cup white sugar; bring to a boil. Slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

2.  Pour rum sauce over warm pudding. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The sauce will continue to thicken and form a beautiful glaze.

Sounds yummy yes?  It was sooo easy and made the kitchen smell of vanilla and cinnamon.  Mmmm.  I had some for breakfast this morning!

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Homemakers Who Work, recipes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A peice of history

We had a great visit with my paternal Grands yesterday evening.  It is sad to see how Granddaddy is slipping away.  =(  Grandmother is holding up well.

We talked about when she was growing up and how she would hide behind a tree so her mom couldn’t see her to call her in to make biscuits;  she hated to make those biscuits and swore that when she married and moved away, she would not make them.  And she did not until Granddaddy went away to fight in WWII and she took my dad and went back to live with her parents until Granddaddy’s return.  That biscuit recipe, by the way, included

  • flour
  • clappard (soured milk)
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • lard

There are no actual measurements for these items, she held her hand a certain way and said “this much”.  LOL  it cracks me up!

I asked her about how they stayed warm and what they wore.  She explained that they did not wear pants but skirts, and under those skirts they wore slips and cotton stockings that were held up by garters.  In her earlier years, they had cotton bloomers – still cold though.  No heat in the sleeping quarters, just a wood stove (and later coal) in the living/dining room and then wood cook stove in the kitchen.  You slept under a big pile of blankets.

When asked about making lye for soap she responded that she hated that soap and did not help her mother do anything related to it.  They did not have cattle but pigs and the lard was rendered from the pig fat.  They butchered in the fall, when it was going to be cool/cold and that way the lard would last longer; it needed to be in a cool dark place.  They had no refrigeration.

Ah, I love hearing about the ‘old days’.  Granddaddy, sadly, could not remember much and would mention several times that he was in the air force 5 years and lived on his parents farm (the Russell Farm) for 9 years.  These memories were fleeting at best, sometimes he would not remember what he just said.  =(

And I have pictures for you!  Remember the cake plates that I wrote about here?  Well, I made one.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | recipes, Recycling | , , , , | Leave a comment

Garden dirt and oven ashes

Great gardening today coupled with a short for exhilarating motorcycle ride.  In addition to the potatoes from last weekend, cabbage, yellow & purple onions, carrots, and lettuce are now planted/seeded.  I am very please with this years layout.  In addition to consulting Great Garden Companions, I found my copy of the The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch – two great books, imho.  *NOTE*  I am not being paid for mentioning these two books.

Coming into the house with garden dirt covering my feet and under my nails, it felt good to clean up and start up the cook stove.  From this stove the Broiled Perch with Lemon Mustard would be baked and carrots roasted.  Mmm, typing this out is making me drool!  Anyway, I was also searching for kefir recipes and found this post from Sondra over at Dairy Goat Info.

Here is the softest, yummiest bread. It keeps well on just the countertop wrapped in a plastic bag or tinfoil. It slices great and makes really good sandwiches:

Kefir Yeast Bread (compared to Buttermilk Yeast Bread)

4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups Kefir
2 cups whey or warm water
1 packet of quick dissolve yeast (SAF Instant)
1 tsp Rapadura sugar or regular sugar

Mix in large glass or porcelin bowl with wooden spoon. Cover top of bowl with cling wrap or a clean dish towel. Set in your oven and turn on the light. Leave until it bubbles, about 1-3 hours and the yeast and Kefir has a chance to activate.

Melt 1 stick of butter in small saucepan, cool. Remove bowl from oven, and add 1 Tbs sea salt. Stir with wood spoon. Pour almost all the butter into the dough (I pour in a corner, so if the butter is too hot, it won’t kill the yeasts, except maybe in the small corner). I stir slowly and gradually then quicker until all is incorporated, the butter.

Start adding, one cup at a time, more unbleached all purpose flour. At 4 cups, it’s thick enough to handle. I sprinkle about 1-2 cups more onto a clean counter top, and scrape dough onto top of this ‘bench flour’. I gently fold and turn the dough, until the counter top flour coats it…I gently knead this dough to absorb most of the flour, until it’s just managable and not too sticky. I shape into a ball, and let it rest while I clean up, 5-10 minutes.

Cut dough in to 4 portions. I lightly oil and sprinkle corn meal on two baking sheets. I shape each portion into a ‘log’ and place 2 logs side by side on each sheet, with some space in between. I cover them with a clean dish cloth and set in the oven again for about 30-40 minutes. I remove them from oven and preheat to 400 deg F. I brush the remainder of the butter gently over the tops of the loaves. I can fit both sheets into my oven, by placing one low, and the other shelf upper mid way. I rotate them at the half way baking point, and brush more butter if there is any left. Bake for ~28 minutes (adjust for your oven and altitude.)

If you cover the fresh baked loaves with a soft, clean cloth once baked, the crust is softer and more like store bought (good for kids). Use a serrated knife for slicing.

The dough mixed up so easily and it helped me to use some extra kefir – the girls are not eating as much of it as they used to so I must find creative, tastey ways to incorporate it into our diets.  Sondra includes recipes that use vanilla kefir; never heard of vanilla kefir before.  Do I just add vanilla extract?  For some reason I am thinking not.  Will let you know what I find.

The perch is ready to go into the oven – catcha soon!

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening | , , , , , | Leave a comment

For the love of beans!

I’d love to eat more beans.  Beans and I, though, do not get along.  Well we get along, but make it difficult for me to be around other people.  Choit’s Run’s post on the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op inspired me to try…again.  I soaked these cranberry beans a day and a half (just ’cause it started late last night), emptied the water, rinsed them and then made this.


If fresh cranberry beans are available, omit overnight soaking.
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 small yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 lbs. plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until vegetables are soft, 15 minutes. Add garlic and 1 tbsp. each of parsley and basil; cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, cook 10 minutes more, then add beans, 4 cups water, bay leaf, and sage. Simmer soup over medium heat (adding water if necessary) until beans are very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add remaining parsley and basil, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #21

So very tastey.  I am just said that the bread was not ready to crunch along.

With all the snow, we have gone through what we were able to cut last weekend and need more.  Thankfully Ronnie’s boss allowed him to borrow the tractor, so we were able to clear the drive and push a trail up to the wood.  Now those logs will be dragged down to where we will cut and stack.  This means I am home from work.  Stay warm.  I’ll be back!

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | , | 4 Comments

Hot yummy inside, cold white outside

Nope, not a pastry.  The hot yummy inside were these tastey chicken enchilada as posted by Craft Rookie and OH MY were they good.  The cold white outside was the howling wind and blowing snow outside the windows.

-6 chicken breasts
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 cup chopped onion
-1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-8oz. grated cheese (mexican mix or mozzarella or monterey jack…whatever)
-1 4oz can diced green chiles
-1/2 cup salsa
-1 cup green enchilada sauce
-3/4 tsp ground cumin
-3/4 cup whipping cream
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-12-15 7-inch flour tortillas

1) Place chicken in a pot of boiling water to cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes. (I add in some seasonings in with the chicken to give them added flavor–usually some S&P and maybe some Italian seasoning flakes or some all-purpose spice like that.)

2) Remove chicken from heat, drain, cool, and shred chicken.

3) In skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onions and bell peppers until just soft (5-8 minutes). I usually work on this while the chicken is cooling down so I can shred it.

4) Transfer to large bowl–add chicken, half the bag of cheese, green chiles, salsa, and cumin. Season with S&P to taste and mix well.

5) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12x15x2 inch baking pan. Place tortilla on flat surface and place about 1/4 c chicken mixture along edge. Roll up from filling side and place seam-side down in prepared baking dish.

6) Add green enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Combine cream and chicken broth and pour over enchiladas.

7) Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking 10 more minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Our little local, mom n pop grocery did not have green enchilada sauce so I used regular red.  Also, add the cooked green peppers and onions when you combine the chicken and such and step 4.  This definately made it into the cooking binder.  I believe we had 1.5 left and  that’ll disappear at lunch time.

It is hard to imagine seeds, soil, and gardening when the icicle outside is almost two stories tall – It started in 2nd floor gutter and is almost touching the ground.  Other than knowing what we want to plant and about where, I have done nothing else garden related – the snow seems to have paralyzed more than just the traffic!  This phase will soon pass so I am not going to worry and just wait it out.  Perhaps this is a late ‘hibernation’ for me.  *shrugs*  Growing some greens inside, though, would be nice and the trick will be what to grown them in that is not plastic <- am I making too much of that?  My worms live in plastic.  how safe is that?  Will their poo contain chemicals of which I need to be wary?

Crochet crafting continues, with the completion of another scarflett.  Yes, I’ll take and post some pictures.

Share/Bookmarka2a_linkname=”The Ward Hosue”;a2a_linkurl=”http://the-wardhouse.blogspot.com&#8221;;

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, recipes | , , | 2 Comments