Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Last Iced Coffee Recipe You'll Ever Want!

My Mom Loves Iced Coffee -

But she is very conscientious of her waistline. (sugar free vanilla syrup and fat free milk)

I on the other hand LOVE Creamy and Sweet Iced Coffee.
I HATE paying over $4 a glass for it at some fancy-schmancy coffee house!

Being the frugal gal that I am - I figured out how to make the perfect creamy & sweet Iced coffee for pennies a glass!

You have to make your coffee concentrate.
(This is the only part of the process that takes some time)
Don't worry,  the gallon of coffee concentrate you end up with will make enough to last you for a month in the fridge!

You do NOT want to brew a normal pot of coffee for your iced coffee.
You want to cold-brew it.
This leaves you with a smooth, acid-free coffee base that we all love for a refreshing cold drink.

Iced Coffee Concentrate. 

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 lb bag of your favorite rich coffee (course ground if ya can get it)
  • Coffee filters or several layers of cheesecloth
  • a fine mesh strainer.
  • a large bowl
  • pitcher (big enough to hold a gallon)
  1. Pour gallon of water into your large bowl.
  2. Dump the entire bag of coffee into the water/bowl.
  3. Stir to make sure all grounds are saturated with water.
  4. Walk away, for 12 hours or overnight.
  5. line a mesh strainer with a coffee filter or several layers of cheese-cloth, set the strainer on top of your pitcher.
  6. Pour (or ladle) your coffee mixture into the strainer. (this part takes awhile...)   If using coffee filters, you might have to replace them several times during the filtering process.
  7. Once all the coffee concentrate has been filtered, stick it in the fridge (it will last for a month!)

Sweet Cream
  • 1, 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 1, 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk

  1. mix both cans together, refrigerate. 

  1. Grab your favorite glass and fill it to the top with ice.
 2. Pour iced coffee concentrate into your glass, filling it a little more than half-full.

 3. Add Sweet Cream into the coffee/ice glass until full (or to taste)

 4.  stir to combine.

 5.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

This One's for You, Dad

My Dad loved a good bread. You know the kind that is all crusty on the outside but moist and airy on the inside. Something that your grandma (or mom) made and you could smell it baking in the oven before you walked into the house. But, my Dad was a diabetic so he had to limit the amount of carbs he consumed. I on the other hand do NOT limit the amount of carbs and absolutely LOVE a good homemade bread.
Growing up on Long Island, you had your choice of great bakeries. French or Italian. There was no shortage of the crusty loaves. But moving to North Carolina (living in a very rural SouthEast County) the closest I have come  is the WalMart Bakery. Soft and White and Bland. Something that a French Baker wouldn't waste his spit on. So I had to learn to bake my own bread. I started with Unbleached White Flour -  and it was good. Then started using Whole Wheat Flour - and it was better. And then I started to experiment with Sourdough. JACKPOT!!

It may take a while to grow the sourdough, but it is so worth it.
Growing with wild yeast

On a previous blog I explained what sourdough is and mine has been growing for a week. It was time to bake.

You see real sourdough bread does not use commercially manufactured yeasts to help it rise. It is made with wild yeast strains that are floating around. So my bread will taste different than sourdough bread made anywhere else. Unique to Honeycutt Road - which is where I live.
Rising dough

I can hardly wait. Oh Brown Betty!

If you get the chance and you feel up to a challenge, it is well worth the effort to make your own bread. Nothing can compare to a warm loaf straight from your oven.

And I'm sure that my father is looking down from Heaven on me and smiling. Waiting for a smear of goose fat with a sprinkle of salt to go with his. (It's a Czech thing)!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Ancient Antidote for Modern Maladies

 Last year at the Farmer's Market I met a couple from North Carolina who introduced me to Kefir. I guess I must have told them that I had an abundance of goat milk and needed something new to do with the milk. The next week they brought me a small water filled jar with kefir grains in it. I had to do a little research on kefir and found it to be truly remarkable.

The grains resemble a small head of cauliflower
Kefir (I pronouce it ke-feer) is a fermented milk drink that originated with shepherds of the Caucasus region. They discovered that fresh milk (probably goat milk) carried in their leather pouches would occasionally ferment into an effervescent beverage. Traditionally kefir was hung in skin bags by a doorway where it would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway This would help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. In Arabic it means joy or pleasure. And what a pleasure it is!

The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins. For the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

Easily digested, kefir cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because it is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
peaches and cinnamon

I enjoy the tart flavor (similar to yogurt) by making a smoothie type of drink. Some people like it neat (or straight up), but I like to add honey and fresh fruit to make it a little sweeter. When we had wild blackberries growing on the farm (earlier in the summer) I added them by the handfuls. YUMMY!!

The grains can be kept going by allowing them to colonize new batches of milk. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts help to prevent the kefir from spoiling but it gets very sour and fizzy.
Definately not for the fainthearted!

After straining I reuse the grains in a new batch

Monday, July 11, 2011

Farmgirl Sisterhood

I love to read about women in farming. Whether they are born into it or thrown into it by choice. One of my favorites is MaryJane Butters. Author of numerous books and magazines - (MaryJanes Farm).
MaryJane was a carpenter, waitress, janitor, wilderness ranger, entrepreneur and environmental activist. She has worn many hats and now is an inspiration for "farmgirls" of all persuasions. She says "Farmgirl is a condition of the Heart." So even if you don't own a tractor or will never plant corn, MaryJane encourages a simple, authentic, wholesome lifestyle.

Its Alive, Alive
Today I am making a sourdough starter.

I love bread, a real carboholic. Sourdough bread has that unique tangy taste that is missing from store bought loafs. Baking bread using a sourdough starter is better for you because the starter pulls in wild yeasts familiar and unique to your body from the air around you.

I started it with a whole wheat flour and added distilled water. Covered with a paper towel I will "grow" it everyday adding additional whole wheat flour and water until it is ready to use about a week from now. On the 7th day the starter will be ready. If all goes as planned it should be bubbly and smell pleasantly sour, like stout beer. It will be ready to make bread, biscuits, pancakes and more. Even if you can't use it every 7 days, you could get a friend hooked by giving them a cup of the starter.
Pass it on.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Pretty Amazing Plant

Summer blooms on my Brugmansia
When I lived on Long Island my family had a group of plants that grew in pots on our deck. Back then I knew them as Datura but somewhere along the line their name was changed to Brugmansia or Angel's Trumpet. When my family moved to Northern Virginia we left the Brug's on Long Island. You see each plant was probably 8 feet tall and extremely heavy. They survived until winter that year and I figured I would never see them again.

When I got married and moved to North Carolina, practically everyone had them growing in their landscape. Little did I know that the Angel's Trumpet is a relatively hardy plant in the south. I had to get me some.

One of my customers at the Farmer's Market gave me some branches from her plant and told me that they would root in water. I kept two branches going the whole winter in a cool back room. The roots grew. And when it was time to plant in the late spring, in the ground they went. That was 2 years ago. The first year both plants grew and bloomed. I was amazed. They were beautiful. And had the most heavenly night time fragrance. INTOXICATING!! Somewhere between Honeysuckle and Bubble Gum! Then came winter. The winter in North Carolina was long and cold. I did not given them much hope.

Early morning buds still closed
Spring arrived and to my surprise shoots appeared. They seemed to grow overnight. Both plants are about 5 feet tall and filled with blooms. The bud start out in a cream yellow color turning to a pinkish salmon. And each blossom is huge. Measuring 8" long and 6" wide. The bees love them.

Brugmansia's are native to Central and South America and are related to the Datura species. As with Datura, all parts of Brugmansia are highly toxic. The plants are sometimes ingested for recreational or shamanic intoxication as the plant contains the tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine; however because the potency of the toxic compounds in the plant is variable, the degree of intoxication is unpredictable and can be fatal.


Brugmansia are easy to grow in pots if your winters are cold. Be sure to let them overwinter inside. They also like some sun but I have read they will also do well summering outside in the shade.
Amazingly Pretty

Brugmansia are a real conversation piece that are easy to grow. If you are considering a Brug please check out
Gardens by Kasha

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Preserving Our Heritage

If you have a garden (big or small) chances are you will grow some kind of tomato. More than likely you will grow cherry tomatoes. You know the kind that seem to produce forever. Sometimes continuing to fruit into the fall. Last year I had a cherry tomato that was approximately 10 feet tall. I let it sprawl on the ground after outgrowing the cage that surrounded it.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes
But I do not grow supermarket variety tomatoes. I prefer to grow the old timey kind. You know the ones our grandparents grew. The tomatoes with incredible flavor. (No cardboard taste here). With names like Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, Pike County Yellow, Mortgage Lifter and Violet Jasper. Violet Jasper being my favorite. A strikingly beautiful violet-purple fruit with iridescent green streaks!
Violet Jasper

I grow all my veggies from seed. Starting them indoors in the middle of winter. I do NOT use any synthetic and artificial fertilizers in my garden, relying instead on my composted heap of discarded hay and straw, goat berries, chicken poop and kitchen waste. I turn my compost pile with the help of worms (who in turn leave me with their castings). Mother Nature at her finest.

I love looking through seed catalogs when it is cold and dreary out. And I order my seeds through a wonderful company based in Missouri - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Their catalog is amazing. It is expertly photographed and worthy of coffee table status. The company offers over 1,400 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—the largest selection of heirloom varieties in the U.S.A. Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties and has become a tool to promote and preserve agricultural and culinary heri­tage.

Excerpts from the Newsletter of 
Baker Creek Company Founder Jere Gettle
"Thanks to you, the local food and home gardening movements are starting to become a real food revolu­tion, and it is shaking the “dirt” from our food supply. In fact, Monsanto saw its stock plummet 40% as its profits fell steeply over the last year. Just as suddenly, Walmart has decided to go after the “green” and is jumping on the “local” produce bandwagon. Our company is dedicated to changing the way America looks at seeds, patents and life. We feel that food and life are rights that should not be controlled, manipulated and polluted by a few multi-national corporations. Genetic engineering is even start­ing to scare the farmers who grow it. Scientists are finding these manipulated genes showing up in ground animals and insects. Studies show that some strains have sickened mice and rats. Some types have gone “wild” and are now becoming almost uncontrollable weeds. Soy allergies in humans have doubled since the introduction of GE Soy. Scientists are now questioning how this might affect fish after finding living, genetically-modified genes in streams for many months after the crops’ harvest season. Sadly, we humans are the ultimate “guinea pigs” of the chemical cor­porations, who engineer many crops so farmers can spray nearly unlimited amounts of the same corporations’ own herbicides. This chemical spray kills almost everything... except the engineered crop! Remember the same compa­ny that brought us DDT and Agent Orange is now bringing us this new technology."