Category Archives: Christmas presents

December UFH Challenge – Show Us Your Stuff!

December’s challenge was an attempt to turn Christmas on it’s head – to make you stop and think about how gift giving could be done differently. Could you make all your gifts? Could you buy them all from small, local stores, or artisans?

From the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, some of the most popular gifts from days gone by revolved around something truly precious – food. From a partridge in a pear tree right on to eleven maids a milking. A legal ban on indentured servitude needn’t stop you from giving the gift of food but you’ll have to leave off the eleven maids.

Nor do you need to stop at food – but thinking of crafting something, or carefully choosing a themed combination of things, or giving someone an experience instead of something material all help out your pocketbook and your local economy and provide something even more special for the recipient.

Show us your stuff to Win!

{Note} The Bob’s Redmill giveaway is limited to US and Canadian participants – sorry!

Please share with us things you’ve made, experiences you’ve gifted or other non-commercial treasures. Do this by posting to your personal blog, a facebook page, tweeting, and leave either a link below to your blog or facebook page or comment below. Doing this will throw you in the running for either a copy of Amy Pennington’s Urban Pantry, or The Salvage Studio by Amy Duncan, Beth Evans-Ramos and Lisa Hilderbrand. And if the winner of the November grain challenge does not contact me by prize-drawing time one of you could also win the unclaimed $25 gift certificate from Bob’s Red Mill.

Please only leave one comment or link up one time since doing so is what enters you into the random drawing for prizes. I will leave this challenge open until Sunday, January 6 and then reply to commenters in this blog entry, or by email to those who linked up that won the random prize drawing. Good luck!


Portage Bay Grange – Your One Stop Urban Farm Shop

Have you been to Portage Bay Grange yet? I’ve been going in there since shortly after they opened, while the dust was still settling. Owner Kevin is fantastic – helpful, friendly, down to earth. A real urban farming kind of guy. Last Saturday Joshua and I were there signing books and making up some spelt waffles with local grains.

Kevin has an amazing assortment of stylish and functional urban chicken coops and runs.

He’s got chicken tractors and rabbit hutches.

Lacia was there with her urban mini La Manchas. She jokes whatever the occasion, she’s got a goat for it.

After you stroll past the coops and the feed and the goats you walk through this door. This amazing door.

Kevin’s got all the things any self-respecting urban farm store might have. He’s got feed and feeders and chickens. He’s even got cover crop seeds.

But what really made me weepy wasn’t so much the urban farming supplies. It wasn’t the stacks of our book he had scattered around the place. It was the fact that his lovely wife Elle had so taken the book to heart that she stocked up on all the supplies I call for in the section on personal products. She had essential oils and herbs.

She even had coconut oil, soap molds, baking soda and vinegar for cleaning and soap making. She had emulsifying blenders and lotion and salve supplies.

Now for Christmas wouldn’t you love to get some salve in a cute little tin like this one?

Perhaps this year you can give the gift of the twelve days of urban farm Christmas – complete with a partridge rock in an espaliered pear tree. Just tell Kevin I sent you.

Juicer Talk

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beet-whip1

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about my juicer so I thought it was time to give juicing it’s own entry.

I’ve juiced for many years (over 20…does that age me?) and am a huge fan. Back in the day we would get up on Saturday mornings, go run Greenlake and then come back and make a large juice while cooking breakfast. It gives you tons of healthy energy and makes you feel great. Have you ever been to a real juice bar and seen how the employees all seem to glow? I’m not talking about Jamba Juice here, I’m talking about a place where you can get something with leafy greens, carrot oranges and beet reds massacred right before your eyes.

One great thing about juicing with kids is that it allows you to get veggies into them they would otherwise go nowhere near. I’ve been writing about Chicken Little’s obsession lately with the beet whip. Last night we made a round of carrot with a touch of seasonal albeit non-local lime that tasted surprisingly like orange juice.

Chocolate shakes are a great way to hide green, orange and red juiced veggies. Berry shakes are a great way to hide things juiced beets and elderberries. Orange shakes are a great way to hide juiced carrots. These all can be made into healthy popsicles or ice cream with little to no added sugars. Beet juice can be used to color frosting or home canned cherries that otherwise turn brownish. Beet, carrot or spinach juice can be used to tint pasta or breads or mashed potatoes or soft cheese spreads. Juices can be your best friend when trying to make school lunches or picnics playful.

beet-pink-muffin

I know there are many out there who argue you lose the fiber when you juice but it does allow you to get more raw nutrients than you can get by eating vegetables. Because fruits are very high in sugars I don’t typically make fruit juice. Instead I prefer to put fruits into smoothies where you get the fiber and added fat and protein together, making it easier on your body.  So when I talk about juice here I mean juice from vegetables.

I’m on my second juicer now.  The first was a cheapo juicer from Target that put me out around $30.  The last was the top of the line juicer you could get there, an Omega similar to this one.

They are both centrifugal force juicers which have tubes allowing you to feed the veggies into a screened central chamber inside the juicer body which spins around at very high speeds and forces the juice out of the veggie through tiny holes in the screen.

carrot-beet-apple-juice1

You end up with a nearly fiber-less juice, very rich in color and true in flavor with quite a bit of foam which you can skim off the top of the glass. These juicers are very loud, difficult to clean, and require cleaning frequently if you are making more than one glass of juice at a time.

They are great entry level juicers and the most recent one has lasted me probably 15 years. But I’m moving up for my husband’s birthday.

Read below in the comments from my wonder-reader Auburn who just inspired me and spent quite a bit of time researching juicers.

I’m planning to get a masticating juicer (probably the Omega J8003 because it’s an older model and quite a bit less money.)  Auburn recently got the Omega J8006 which also grinds nuts and meat and somehow makes pasta although I’m a little confused by how.

Masticating juicers are quieter, extract more juice, don’t shake off the counter if you aren’t holding on to them, and the inner chamber doesn’t fill up with plant parts so you can continue juicing as long as you like before stopping to take the juicer apart, clean it up and then begin juicing again.

I also looked into getting a Vita-Mix Blender because they claim you can juice fruits and vegetables in the blender and then strain out the pulp to make a clear juice like a masticating juicer does. I was suspicious when I read that the blades move so fast they heat your veggies up for soup and Auburn confirmed my suspicions that they would also heat up your veggies. Plus the extra step of having to strain out the fiber has convinced me to get a real juicer.

Hopefully you found this post helpful if you are researching juicers.

I want to point out that these Amazon links are affiliate links and I hope you’ll consider using them if you were going to be shopping online anyway. It helps to fund this blog.

Any Jam and Nut Bars

any-jam-nut-bars

You may curse me for this recipe in the end because they are so addicting. But since they are such a great way to use up plum, cherry, apricot, rhubarb or any other not too sweet jam or fruit butter I’m giving you the recipe anyway. I grabbed this recipe at a Pasta & Co. store probably at least ten years ago and just found it the other day.

Perfect timing. I had bought a bag of peeled and sliced Holmquist hazelnuts at the farmer’s market in preparation for Linzer cookies which I haven’t yet found the time to make. I also have many jars of apricot jam from Rama farm apricots made the old fashioned way – without pectin so the flavor really shines. It was a hard decision though since I have quite a bit of low sugar plum jam and some crabapple raspberry jam (thanks Cindy!) and a lot of pear butter too. Any of those would be phenomenal as well.

These some together so quickly and only have a few ingredients that I just may never make the Linzer cookies! Although these are nowhere near as pretty, they ship well and stay fresh for about a week which is pretty remarkable for a cookie.

In fact I need to go eat one before starting.

Yup, still fresh and melt in your mouth good.

Any Jam and Nut Bars

  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature (8 ounces)
  • 2 egg yolks (make meringue cookies with the whites)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry or spelt flour, sifted or freshly grinding it accomplishes that for you
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, etc in pieces
  • 8 – 10 ounces of fruit butter or jam, preferably low sugar or from a tart fruit variety like rhubarb
  • Preheat the oven to 350 f.

    In a food processor or mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light, blend in egg yolks and salt and mix thoroughly, scraping down sides as needed.

    Blend in the flour and the nuts until the dough is well-mixed.

    Pat 1/2 the dough into the bottom of an 8″ square baking dish. Wrap and chill the remaining dough. Bake the dough in the pan for 20 minutes until it’s lightly tanning around the edges.

    Spread the jam or fruit butter evenly over the crust, then crumble the chilled dough over the top evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake about 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let them cool before cutting into squares.

    So if you find you made way too much jam or fruit butter and it’s time to clear some pantry space give these a go. I can’t think of a better use for homemade jam!

    Dark Days Week 5

    Much like you I’ve been all a-flurry making preparations for Christmas – some online shopping, making as many gifts as possible and baking.  While singing Christmas songs, of course.

    caramel-popcorn

    Caramel popcorn teacher gifts made from this recipe with popcorn from Oregon.

    Bath fizzy gifts made from this recipe. We scented them with peppermint essential oil in the spirit of the season.
    bath-fizzies-in-trays

    bath-fizzies

    The first time we must have added too much spray because they activated in the trays and were all bubbled out by the time they hardened so be forewarned! But what a sweet gift – peppermint fizzies and peppermint lotion for pedicures along with a candy cane. You can find inexpensive citric acid and baking soda in bulk at Zenith Supplies in Roosevelt area or bulk at PCC.

    last-turkey-sandwich

    The last turkey sandwich from my bread made with Bluebird wheat and Lentz spelt, Pastured Sensations turkey and Mt. Rainier cranberries. The tomato is actually from the farmer’s market on Saturday – the last day of the hothouse tomatoes this year!

    rockridge-cider-turkey-kale-soup

    Smoky turkey kale soup made special with Rockridge Orchards hard cider. The cider totally made the soup despite the yummy smoked turkey broth we had left from our smoked turkey. The bread is a slice of Fremont Sour by Essential Baking Company, the carrots and kale are ours and the potatoes are from Methow Valley.

    pizza-rolls-done

    Pizza rolls made with white whole wheat from Azure Standard in Oregon, Tillamook mozzarella and Skagit River Ranch Italian sausage (although Mondo Brothers make the Italian sausage for PCC locally or Thundering Hooves would also be great.)

    any-jam-nut-bars

    Any Jam and Nut Bars. Bluebird soft wheat, Golden Glen Creamery butter, homemade Rama apricot jam and Holmquist Hazelnut bars that would be equally good with homemade plum, sour cherry or raspberry jam. I wish I could have a lickable image of these for you because this picture just does not do them justice. They are crazy good and simple to make.

    chocolate-nut-biscotti

    Chocolate nut emmer biscotti made with Theo cocoa nibs, pistachios from the freezer (long forgotten about…) and Lentz emmer. These came out a little crumbly and were impossible to slice thinly but tasted great. I didn’t want to gift them in that condition so darn if I didn’t have to eat them all myself.

    And last but not least, homemade thin mint cookies which I forgot somehow to photograph before leaving the entire container of them at a party. I used Bluebird soft whole wheat and our backyard eggs to make them.

    And lots of Wardeh’s chai latte mix and homemade eggnog from our fine feathered friends in the backyard and Dungeness Creamer milk.

    That’s it for me – what have you been up to this week?

    This post is part of Wardeh’s Tuesday Twister.