Locally grown microgreens

Month: November 2013

So You Think Your Garden is Organic?

So You Think Your Garden is Organic?

When I stopped using non-organic products on my home garden I thought my garden was organic.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t the same as a “certified organic” garden but I figured that within a few years any non organic products I may have used would be […]

Time to Redefine “Good” Cooking

Time to Redefine “Good” Cooking

Does anyone doubt that we have a health crisis in this country?  Here are a few quick facts: Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese “Being overweight or obese turns out to be the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service,” […]

Easy soup is high in protien

Easy soup is high in protien


Husband discovered this recipe years ago and I liked it so much that I included it in our private family cookbook first compiled in 1999.

Ham, Bean, Bow-tie pasta soup

Number of servings: 8

Per Serving 342 calories

Fat 7 g

Carbs 47 g

Protein 24 g



  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can water, maybe more
  • 1 cup uncooked whole wheat bow-tie pasta
  • 2 cups cooked lean ham, diced


Brown rosemary and garlic and oil in a 2 quart saucepan.

Drain liquid from tomato can-save for later use.

Add tomatoes and mash until mushy. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

add beans, water and reserved liquid from tomatoes, bring to a boil.

Add pasta and simmer until almost tender.

Add ham and simmer until pasta is tender.

Add enough water to get eight 1 cup servings or just until soup is the consistency that you like.

Here are some photos to supplement the instructions:

IMG_4176I tried to get organic ingredients.  Rosemary came from the garden.  Organic whole wheat bow-tie pasta was hard to find and expensive but it was very good.  Some whole wheat pastas can be very heavy but you really couldn’t tell the difference once it was cooked.


Browning the garlic and rosemary in oil.  This is a larger sauce pan than needed.  The smell of this is AMAZING!!

IMG_4179Mashing the tomatoes, this does not have to be too thorough.


Draining the beans-this gives me a chance to show a handy kitchen gadget I discovered called a can colander.  It fits over the top of a 15oz can or down inside a tuna can to drain,  works great and under $5.

Depending on whether you simmer with the lid on or off and how high the heat is, you may need to add additional water to this soup.

Gut Bacteria is the Next Heath Revolution

Gut Bacteria is the Next Heath Revolution

I am seeing more and more articles and studies about how our gut bacteria affect our health.  I came across this excellent article today.  It is exciting to think that we can have a positive influence on everything from immunity to mood to mental health. […]

Adventures in Cheese Making

Adventures in Cheese Making

Before I started my own blog, I did a guest post on making your own cheese.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing.  I wanted to include the information for my readers as well so here is a link to that post.  While you are there, check […]

Leaf Mold = Free Soil Conditioner

Leaf Mold = Free Soil Conditioner

the geriatric dog guarding the leaf pile
the geriatric dog guarding the leaf pile


One of the great things about fall is the abundance of leaves that you can turn into a fabulous soil conditioner!  Soil conditioners are different from fertilizers (although you can have substances that do both) in that they primarily improve the texture of the soil.  Soil is made up three basic components: sand, silt, and clay.  The proportions of sand, silt and clay determine the type of soil you have.  You may also hear the term loam which is considered the “ideal” and is 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay.  Though loam is considered ideal, some plants prefer something different.

Soil texture affects drainage/water retention, air infiltration (so plant roots don’t suffocate) and nutrient retention.  You can find a good article on good soil here.  Most county extension offices offer soil testing.  Our local extension office offers free general soil testing for county residents and testing for  soil texture ($12) as well.

In our area we have heavy clay soil.  It is very difficult to work with.  If I dig in wet soil, the clumps will dry into pieces so hard you need a hammer to break them up.  Leaf mold improves the soil texture so every fall,  I try to get some started.  Leaf mold is easy to make.  All you need is a pile of leaves, moisture and time.  Leaves are a high carbon (brown) material and they can be added to a compost pile along with nitrogen (green) materials but leaf mold has value as a soil conditioner separate from the compost pile if you want to use it that way.


A common way to make leaf mold is to make a simple circle of wire or light weight fencing and pile the leaves inside. As long as you have some rain or snow the leaves will eventually break down into leaf mold.  We have a plastic surround that was obtained for free from a city or county program.  Decomposition can take up to a year or more but I’ve added the partially broken down leaves to soil in the spring and they continue to decompose and improve the soil.  You might find that leaf mold is such a great soil conditioner that you’ll volunteer to rake the neighbors leaves so you can make more!

Veterans Day and I am Invisible

Veterans Day and I am Invisible

It has become politically correct to honor veterans and it is long overdue.  Within the last 5 years people have started saying, “Thank you for your service” when they find out I am a veteran.  Businesses are rushing to provide everything from free car washes […]

How to Season Your Own Breakfast Sausage

How to Season Your Own Breakfast Sausage

  You can find out why we season our own ground meat to make breakfast sausage in my previous post here.  When I went in search of recipes I found most had the same ingredients, just in different proportions.  I like things mild and not […]

Why Season Your Own Breakfast Sausage

Why Season Your Own Breakfast Sausage

You may wonder why anyone would want to go to the trouble to season their own sausage so I’ll start by telling you why I season my own sausage.  Fisrt, I am trying to eliminate most unhealthy fat (especially trans and saturated fat) from my diet. At our house we use olive oil, organic (nonGMO) canola oil, coconut oil and small amounts of butter.  If I can choose the meat that I start with, I have a much better chance of getting a low fat sausage.  Second, I’ve been reading labels on sausage and I have found ingredients that I want to avoid.  My former favorite sausage contains added sugar in the form of dextrose, maltodextrin, artificial flavors and mystery spice “extractives”.

my former favorite breakfast sausage
my former favorite breakfast sausage

I think it’s odd that this company uses the word “extractive” and then defines it as spices.  Why don’t they just say “spices”?   There is probably a reason for that that I won’t be happy with.  Dextrose is usually made from corn, so this is a possible GM (genetically modified) ingredient.  You can find a good article on dextrose and other types of sugar here.  I found that packaged sausage seasoning mixes also contain added sugar, dextrose


So, let’s talk turkey.  Ground turkey is what I usually choose to make my sausage.  I have tried the ground turkey breast because it was very, very lean, translation: so dry you have to choke it down.  After that I just chose 93% lean ground turkey.  Here are some price points for ground turkey and sausage to compare:


Hormone free, etc        93% lean         $4.12 lb           large chain super store

Honeysuckle White     93% lean         $3.99 to 4.49/1.2lb      local chain supermarkets

Jennie o                       90%lean          $2.98lb            large chain super store


Honeysuckle White breakfast sausage (no lean% given)         $3.48/1lb roll at large chain store


From these prices you can see that it may or may not be cost effective to season our own sausage.  It might even be less expensive to start with a hormone, antibiotic free, vegetarian fed ground turkey and know exactly what is not in your ground turkey.

Another good reason to season your own is that you can get a custom flavor and make it as hot or mild as you like.  It is a very easy process and you can find a recipe and tips in my next post.

Fruit Fly Eliminator (you may not have tried this yet)

Fruit Fly Eliminator (you may not have tried this yet)

Those annoying fruit flies!  They seem to come from nowhere this time of year.  I use the quick and easy fruit fly elimination tool, otherwise known as the vacuum cleaner.  It’s true.  I set my vacuum cleaner up in the kitchen for a few days […]