I couldn't wait for the season's first outdoor signs of spring, so I decided to bring spring indoors. I first gathered tree bark that I found scattered on the ground then hot-glued it onto the sides of a basket to give it more of a woodland look. I lined the basket's bottom and sides with a piece of garbage bag then planted hyacinths in potting soil. On the very top, I layered sheets of moss that I purchased in a bag at Joanns and tucked in a vintage bunny I found at a yard sale.
The hyacinth bulbs had already been "forced" into the bloom stage by the grower. Forcing encourages the bulbs to grow and bloom early, by planting them indoors and exposing the bulbs to warm temperatures. This process brings the bulbs into bloom weeks before they would normally bloom outdoors. A few years ago, I forced paper white narcissus bulbs into bloom by first placing them in the refrigerator for about 12 weeks. In Minnesota, bulbs are generally planted in the ground in October after the warm weather has passed, so placing them in the refrigerator mimics the process that the plant would undergo outdoors in the garden. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has directions for forcing bulbs along with a chart that shows how long different bulbs need to be cooled. It's a fun way to be able to say of spring, "Bring it on!"
I ordered two stacks of these oh, so cute handmade felt pancakes from sewchicgirl's Etsy shop and piled them one on top of another. Miss Flossie tied on her most fashionable scarf for the occasion. Jessica (aka "sewchicgirl") markets the pancake stacks as pincushions. She was so sweet to work with during the whole process. If you haven't shopped Etsy yet, you're so missing out. Etsy is an online crafting community and marketplace. You can do a search if you are looking for a specific item, or just browse. You'll be surprised at the treasures you will discover for yourself or for giftgiving. Buy handmade and support our country's cottage industry.
Whiteley Creek's signature entree, "Flossie's Eggs on the Rails", was one of three other recipes chosen from statewide bed and breakfast submissions to be featured on a Minnesota Morning's instrumental CD jacket. Flossie, our most prolific laying hen, is understandably strutting more proudly these days.
Congratulations to Blue Heron, Whiteley Creek and Water Street Inn's chefs and innkeepers!!
You have all won the marketing advantage of supreme recipe and inn exposure on the jacket and insert of the new CD, More Minnesota Mornings and Beyond !
The MBBA will be using your recipes to market the new products as well in our press releases and additional copies of this insert to promote the CD and Cookbook Package. The publisher chose from the wide variety of recipes and deemed yours the most interesting and appealing for this purpose.
We are so glad you elected to be part of this exciting project. Please proof your recipe and let us know that this is OK. The CD is going to press or duplication before the cookbook. We are still hoping for the cookbook to be out before Christmas.
Again thank you for being part of the MBBA and congratulations on this exposure and honor.
Warm regards, Pam
Minnesota Bed & Breakfast Association
620 Ramsey Street
Living Green Expo
Minnesota State Fairgrounds St. Paul
May 3-4, 2008
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
60 workshops ("How to Create a Simpler, Happier Life", How to Green Your Commnunity and Make a Difference", etc.)
Food and Musicians
Rain barrels, non-toxic lawncare
Locally grown food information, Minnesota-made fabric
Solar, wind, and geothermal green builders
So much more…
I have attended this Expo for the past three years. Each event teaches and inspires me to return to my corner of the world and make a difference. This year I will be volunteering a portion of my time spent at the event manning a computer station to sign up attendees for the Living Green 365 e-newsletter and other info electronically to reduce paper waste. I will also be giving out a prize for signing up for Living Green 365.
I spied these pretty toothbrushes and I immediately thought they would be perfect tucked into my grandkids' Easter baskets. My grandkids presently number three, but the other two toothbrushes are in anticipation of number 4 due to arrive in June and number 5 in July. The perfectly gorgeous lunch tray is from a yard sale. The compartments are so fun to fill. On this day, they hold hair curlers belonging to my 1960s Tammy doll along with a pair of her pjs. I was drawn to the tube of toothpaste because of its natural sea algae and CoQ10 ingredients and its packaging... love the colors! My daughter Lisa, who is a graphic designer in NYC, knows how to snag consumers like me... just make it pretty and simple.
My very favorite cleaning products are Melaleuca brand because they are eco-friendly, they do a spectacular cleaning job, and their scent leaves a fresh clean fragrance. MelaMagic is a heavy-duty all-purpose cleaner and Sol-U-Mel is a natural solvent that is diluted or used full-strength as a stain remover, odor eliminator, and cleaning booster. I add a few drops to my cleaning bucket's water along with MelaMagic. However, when I saw this cute little "spring cleaning kit" tote with four different Mrs. Meyer's products sporting such pretty yellow packaging and labels, I couldn't resist. The set includes all-purpose cleaner, window spray, countertop spray, and dish soap. I purchased the handmade bright-colored knit dishcloth at a yard sale. Spring cleaning is shaping up to be a cheery venture this year.
These vintage child's clothespins that I scored on eBay longingly remind me of the first warm day of spring when I can resume using my outdoor clothesline. Until then I will happily use my new laundromat-style washer and dryer.
In addition to the ecofriendly attributes including low water level and reduced energy usage, my HE (high efficiency) "Energy Star" qualified front-loading washer uses very little detergent. It has no agitator as traditional washers do, so laundry doesn't show wear as quickly and delicates don't have to be hand washed. Despite the gentle sloshing in very little water, soiled laundry comes out cleaner than I have ever experienced in a traditional washer. Our dryer hadn't died yet , like our washer had, but... okay, I wanted a matching pair. We did give our dryer to a family that needed one. The cleaning cart I created uses a vintage shopping cart that was used by women in earlier days to haul their groceries and other items home when one-car families were commonplace. The carts come in different sizes. This one is a smaller one so that a dishpan fits perfectly at the top to hold my cleaning products. I hung my cleaning bucket from a detachable metal ring on the side, I clothespinned a garbage bag on the opposite side, and safety-pinned a pillowcase onto the handle to store items that need to be delivered to another part of the house. The idea is not to leave a room until you have completely finished cleaning that particular room. Presently, I have cleaning rags in a basket at the bottom of the cart. However, I think it will work better to possibly store them in the cleaning bucket hanging from the side to free up the space inside the cart to hang a laundry bag where bedding, towels, etc. could be placed. I got the idea for the cleaning cart from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield.
A perfect soup day today... I chose Hamburger Veggie Soup because I had errands to run and it's an easy throw-together meal to prepare first thing in the morning to heat later. Also, I always stock the ingredients in my pantry. I made frozen banana sundaes for dessert which take minutes to prepare. Something hot... something cold. A good combo.
Hamburger Veggie Soup Makes 4 hearty servings
1 tsp oil
1 large onion
1 lb lean ground beef preferably pastured grass-fed or ideally pastured grass-finished
1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp leaf oregano, and 1/2 tsp leaf marjoram
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp Johnny's Seasoning Salt* or your own favorite all-purpose seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.)
4 c beef stock or broth
1 bay leaf
1-14.5 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes (I sometimes sub 3/4 cup mild salsa.)
2 c mixed frozen veggies like peas, carrots, and corn combo (or use any veggie from your garden or fridge like zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potato…)
1/3 c quick-cooking 10 min. barley, brown rice, or quinoa (If using reg. barley or brown rice, just allow cooking extra time.)
In soup pot, saute onion in oil until the onion softens slightly and begins to turn translucent. Add beef and cook until almost brown. Add basil, pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce (or Bragg’s). Add beef stock (or broth), bay leaf, and tomatoes with their juice. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the barley and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the frozen veggies. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the barley is tender and the veggies are warmed and still firm like fresh-picked from garden, not mushy. *Johnny’s Seasoning Salt adds wonderful flavor to all of your dishes. I order the "No MSG" (monosodiumglutamate) variety.
To make the "raw food" sundaes, I push frozen bananas through my Champion Juicer with the blank insert in place instead of the screen that is used to make juice. It tastes just like soft serve ice cream, but you must eat it before it begins to melt or it tastes like mushed bananas. I topped it with strawberries and pineapple that I whizzed in my food processor. Note: If you don't have a Champion Juicer, or you desire less cleanup, here's a banana mikshake recipe made with a blender or food processor. So very simple.
I wanted to express my appreciation to my friend Debbie's son for paving the way towards a potential caboose aquisition to complement the 1890s railroad passenger car tea room where I serve breakfast, so I baked some chocolate cookies and boxed them up with some homemade marshmallows. To complete the gift and write a message to the recipient, I chose a card with a recipe for "The Perfect Hot Chocolate" on the card's front. My daughter, Jessica, has made this recipe six times since I shared it with her two months ago. She likes it because it's quick and it uses standard ingredients in your pantry, so the cookies are ready in a snap when the chocolate craving hits.
Triple Chocolate Cookies from the Food Network Channel's "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger"
¼ c butter, softened (I used 2 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce.)
½ c ¼ c dark brown sugar
¼ c white sugar (I use evaporated cane juice sugar.)
¼ c 2 tbsp oil (Buy "cold-pressed" organic oil. Conventional oil goes thru a caustic refining process that creates some trans fats.)
1 tsp vanilla
½ c unbleached white flour
½ c whole wheat pastry flour
¼ c cocoa (I use Ah!Laska organic non-alkaline cocoa. If it isn't sold in your local coop or grocery store, you can order it online.)
¼ tsp salt, optional
1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips (I use 1/4 c Ghirardelli brand.)
1/3 c milk chocolate (I use 1/4 c Ghirardelli brand.)
2/3 c ½ c chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, applesauce, and sugars. Add oil, egg, and vanilla. Beat until creamy. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate and pecans. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an unbleached parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack.