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zucchini Stick - baked

Zucchini’s can be very plentiful in the garden. In fact, most home gardeners harvest way more than they can consume. One particularly ambitious year found us planting six, yes six, zucchini plants for a family of two.

Talk about a green flood. After a while I couldn’t even give them away. The chickens had a field day, though.

I thought I knew every possible way to cook or prepare zucchini, but I was wrong. I recently came across a recipe that is so easy and so delicious that it has become our “go to” way of cooking the little green gems…no matter how many we have.

Zucks taste best when they are harvested at about 6-8” long and no more than 1-1/2-inches in diameter.

You’re on your own with the monster-sized zucchini’s that hide until they become so big no one knows what to do with them.

This oven baked recipe is not only healthy and addictive; it also makes for a crispy and tender zucchini stick.

 

Oven Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

 

Zucchini Stick - sprinkled

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 zucchini, ends removed, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence or Italian herbs
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a cooling rack with oil and set on top of a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl, combine parmesan cheese, garlic, herbs and salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Place zucchini spears on the cooling rack and drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to completely coat each spear, and then sprinkle with herb mixture.
  • Place baking sheet into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. The turn on broiler and broil for a few minutes until cheese mixture turns golden brown. Watch to make sure the spears don’t burn.
  • Plate up, sprinkle with parsley and serve while still warm.

Cast Iron Pan

There’s just something about cooking in cast iron that transports me back to days of old.

I’m not sure what it is…the weight, the sizzle, the smell, the feel in my hand. Whatever it is, it makes me feel a bit more comfortable in the kitchen.

I remember my mom cooked in a cast iron skillet, a big, black, deep skillet that turn humble ingredients into warm and filling meals. There were hearty beef stews, thick pork chops and dad’s Sunday fried chicken. Meals just seemed better from that skillet, tasted better.

Over the years I have used many cast iron skillets and pans. Some came from yard sales, some from thrift stores and some were given to me. And, although they were all different they had one thing in common.

They all needed to be seasoned.

Seasoning cast iron means to slowly bake on thin layers of oil to protect the cast iron from rusting and create a non-stick cooking surface. Every time you cook with oil you are actually re-seasoning your pan.

Whether you have a new cast iron piece or one that has been loved for years, seasoning it will protect it so you can continue making memorable family meals.

To season a cast iron pan in good shape…

 

  • Wipe it clean with paper towels or a cotton rag, reserved just for cleaning your cast iron. If there are crusty bits stuck on, gently scour the pan with a bit of coarse kosher salt, but NO SOAP. Cast iron is porous and the soap can get into the pores. AND NEVER, EVER PUT CAST IRON IN THE DISHWASHER.

 

  • Once the pan is clean, wipe or brush a thin layer of oil all over the pan, including the outside and the bottom. Thin is best because your next step is to wipe the oil off. It may not look like there is any oil on, but actually it has sunk down into the pores, which is what you want. Any cooking oil is fair game as long as it has smoke point higher than 350 degrees. Oils like canola, olive, vegetable or coconut will do. Even rendered Crisco or lard can be used, as long as it’s clean.

 

  • Now, take your paper towels or rag and wipe off the oil until you think there isn’t anything left.

 

  • Place your pan in a pre-heated 200-250 degree oven for 15 minutes.

 

  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely before storing it.

 

If you have serious crusty bits or rust on your pan, use a well-worn and well-oiled piece of steel wool to scour off the gunk, then…

 

  • Wipe it down – using paper towels or a cotton rag.

 

  • Oil it up – using any common cooking oil, as mentioned above.

 

  • Bake it on – in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. Place the pan upside down on the oven rack with a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil underneath to catch any oil drips. When the hour is up turn the oven off and let the pan cool down inside.

 

Once it’s cool, you’re ready to start cooking.

 

Hints & Tips:

  • Never put cast iron in the dishwasher.
  • Never use soap to clean cast iron.
  • Never put cold water into a hot cast iron pan. IT WILL CRACK!
  • Season after every use to keep cast iron in good shape.
  • Learn to cook with cast iron like ya mean it.

Alpine Bean Casserole

Years ago, we were looking for a new church to attend, friends invited us to there’s on a Sunday in summer because they were having a pot luck after the services. Our friends thought it would be a good chance to meet a lot of the congregation.

The spread was huge with lots of homemade dishes, but the one that caught my eye, and my taste buds, was bean casserole the pastor’s wife had made. She called it an Alpine Bean Casserole, which confused me, mainly because there’s nothing “alpine” about beans. Beans don’t grow in alpine conditions and most alpine countries don’t eat a lot of beans. But after I tasted them I didn’t care what she called them, they were wonderful!

Over the year’s this has been my “go to” recipe for any event from beach parties to livestock shows. In fact, I get so many requests for this dish that I wonder if people know I can cook other dishes with as much success. In the words of my dear friend Judy, “we don’t care what else you can cook, just bring the beans”. Well—if you’re going to be known for something I guess your cooking isn’t all that bad.

I’m sure once you try them, you too will agree, they’re pretty darn good. Enjoy!

 

Alpine Bean Casserole

 

INGREDIENTS:

8 slices bacon, chopped and slightly cooked, but not crispy

4 onions, quartered and sliced thin

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. dry mustard (can use yellow mustard in a pinch)

½ cup vinegar (white or cider)

14 oz. ketchup

1 14-15 ounce can of each (Do not drain)

Lima beans

Butter beans

Kidney Beans

Garbanzo beans

1 28 ounce can of beans in molasses, like S&W or Bushes.  (DO NOT USE beans in tomato sauce, like pork & beans)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in a large Dutch oven, stir to combine. Bake at 300 degrees until bubbly and thick, approximately 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally. The longer it cooks the thicker it will become.

You can also use a slow cooker set on low for 8-10 hours or overnight.

 

NOTES:  This is one of those large crowd recipes that always get rave reviews, perfect for potlucks, picnics or BBQ’s. It’s also a recipe that is hard to mess up. I have made it without cooking the bacon, used yellow mustard instead of dry, all kinds of vinegar (except Balsamic) and even added browned ground beef, and it turns out great every time.

Plants in a Red Wagon

There’s nothing I like better than getting something for free, especially if it’s something I need or really want.

As a suburban homesteader my world revolves around making the most of my little plot of land and that means green things growing; lots and lots of green things. From flowers and shrubs to trees and vegetables I use a variety of ways to get “free” plants to fill out my little farm.

If you need to fill in a garden space or start a brand new garden try these ideas to get you going, while saving a ton of money.

Earth Day – Many Earth Day celebrations give away plants and sometimes soil. Over the years I have gotten shrubs and trees for free, along with a bag of soil or a truck load of compost through City programs. And that’s not all I get. Our Earth Day features several community garden and garden club booths, many of which “give away” plant starts or started vegetables for free or for a small donation.

Local Garden Clubs & Community Gardens – Over the years I have become part of our local garden club and community garden efforts. Through these associations I have been able to get seeds, cutting, plants, divisions of bulbs and irises, and so on. Many of the community garden folks start way more seeds than they have space to plant, so they offer them up at monthly meetings.

Neighbors – Spring is prime landscaping (or, re-landscaping) time. Keep an eye out for neighbors re-doing their yard and ask if you can have some of what they are pulling out. If left up to the landscaper or homeowner, most of those plants will end up in a landfill. Better to have them adorn your yard.

Divide & Conquer – If you already have plants in your yard, see what can be divided, like bulbs or rhizomes. Or, check with friends and offer to help divide some of their plants for a few to take home. More times than not, you’ll end up with a lot more than you can use. Now you can share.

Forage for Seeds & Cuttings – Keep a watchful eye when running errands or traveling locally. Many times you’ll find seed heads ready to burst or plants that grow well from cuttings. It doesn’t have to be so local either. While traveling up north I stopped at a little market to refresh my drink and saw the most gorgeous hollyhocks coming to seed. I asked the cashier if I could have a few seed heads. After looking at me like I was nuts, she said yes. I quickly broke off a few of the dried pods loaded with seeds and wrapped them in a napkin. They became the beginning of a wonderful garden near my greenhouse.

Craigslist – The free section on craigslist is a great place to find free plants. Sometimes the ad requires that you dig up the plant, but most of the time they don’t. Even if you have to pay a few bucks it’s worth keeping track of. When my sister wanted to plant an iris garden she haunted craigslist for weeks before finding a gal who was pulling out her iris bed. Sis got 2 paper grocery bags full of irises for $5.00. When she got ready to plant she realized there were more than 100 rhizomes. Not a bad deal, even if it wasn’t free.

Trade – Gardeners love to share! If you have established plants and would like to add variety to your garden, try trading with other gardeners who have something you want.

Nursery Cast Offs – Not all plants at a nursery or garden center are sold. Some get over grown in their pots, while others get shaded out or covered up by other plants and don’t get enough sun or water. They look too shabby to sell, so they are tossed aside as “not sellable”.  Some nurseries or centers, especially locally owned one’s, will gladly give away these sad little cast offs. Think of it as a rescue for plants.

Seed Banks – Some local libraries have begun offering “seed banks”, a place where local gardeners can drop off seeds from their own harvests, and pick up seeds from someone else’s garden. The best part is…no late fees, because the seeds don’t have to be returned. The library just asks that you share what you can.

ASK – This one seems so simple, but in real life it is the least used way of getting free plants. Every time I have admired a plant in someone’s yard and asked for seeds, cuttings, divisions, etc. I have always been told yes. There’s something so gratifying about having one’s yard admired that they just can’t say no.

County Extension Office – Many counties have Cooperative Extension Offices, which are the educational arm of government programs revolving around gardening, farming, and home economic subjects. Sometimes the offices offer free seeds as a way to encourage home gardening and food production. If you don’t find seeds, all is not lost because they have a wealth of information on many interesting topics from beekeeping to livestock production to food preservation, even hunting safety and archery.

Be a Seed Company Volunteer – When seed companies change their displays the company rep often times uses local volunteers to inventory and restock the display rack. As a thank you for helping, the rep usually gives the volunteers a selection of seed packets to show appreciation. For a few hours of my time last year I walked away with dozens of seed packets, and a few new gardening friends, too.

 

Herb Ice Cubes

There’s nothing better than herbs fresh picked from the garden and used in a favorite recipe.

I have herbs inter planted with my flower beds and some in the garden to help ward off bugs. And, then there’s my livestock water trough planter that sits on my patio. That one is handy to the kitchen door and is my “go to” herb garden when I get ready to fix a meal.

The warmer months are prime herb growing season, but what is a cook to do during the dark, cold days of winter? How do you get that “just picked” flavor in the dead of winter?

First off…you start long before the cold weather begins. You start with your seed selection and planting of the herb garden, taking into consideration what herbs you use the most and which ones are well suited to being preserved.

There are several ways to preserve herbs; there’s air drying, dehydrating, making herbed vinegars, oils, butter, salt, pesto’s and even herbed sugar, given the right kind of herb.

But, the one I like best for preserving that “just out of the garden” flavor is freezing, herb ice cubes as we call them. They are easy, fast and bring life to ever dish we make all winter long.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be enjoying the taste of fresh herbs no matter what the weather is outside.

STEP ONE:  Choose full bodied, blemish free herbs. Pick herbs just before or at the beginning of their flowering cycle. This is the time when the herb oils are at their peak.

STEP TWO:  Wash herbs gently and pat dry, or let air dry.

STEP THREE:  This is where you have a few choices. You can either freeze herbs in water or oil. Also, decide what size herb cubes you want; regular ice cube tray size or larger cubes using a muffin tin. The ice cube tray will give you about 2-tablespoons of herbs per cube, while the muffin tin will give you about 1/3-cup. (I like the muffin tin size because it gives me enough herbs for several dishes, when defrosted).

STEP FOUR:  Mince your herb, either by hand or in a food processor. Be sure to keep the herbs separate if you’re freezing more than one at a time.

STEP FIVE:   Pack minced herb into an ice cube tray, about 3/4 full. (I find it easier to have one ice cube tray for each herb, or use each side of the try for one herb. That way they don’t get mixed up).

STEP SIX:  Fill each cube, or muffin tin, with boiling water. This will blanch the herbs, helping them to retain their fresh flavor and natural color. OR, you can fill each cube with neutral oil, like vegetable or canola.

STEP SEVEN:  Pop the trays, or tins, into the freezer, making sure they are level, so they don’t spill. Once they are frozen solid take cubes out of the tray, or tin, and store in freezer bags or freezer containers.

To use herb ice cubes, take what you need out of the freezer and drop them into your pot. It’s that simple!

Soil Test - Mason Jar

Soil pH is the backbone of any productive garden. Soil pH is important to know because it influences how easily plants can absorb nutrients from the soil.

But, what is pH?

Simply put, pH shows how acidic or alkaline your garden soil is. And, although some plants like and do well in acidic or alkaline soil, most common vegetables thrive on a balanced pH level.

The ideal pH level for garden soil is 6.0 to 7.0 pH. Levels below 6.0 are considered acidic, while levels above 7.0 are considered alkaline.

Garden soil should be tested before you begin gardening so you can find out how “out of balance” your soil is and make adjustments. There are soil testing kits and companies that test a soil sample you send them, but these are often times expensive and time consuming.

I much prefer a simple “homemade” test that I can do any time before planting or after the last harvest. That way I can start adding amendments to balance out the soil between planting seasons.

To test your soil at home, use this simple process.

 

NOTE:  Soil pH can vary from garden spot to garden spot. Each growing area should be tested.

 

  • Find 2 glass jars (for each growing area to be tested) and label them “Alkaline” and “Acidity” (include the garden area they came from). Example: “Raised Bed Garden – Acidity” or “Berry Patch – Alkaline”. Quart-sized canning jars work great.

 

  • Dig down a few inches and add a handful of soil to each jar.

 

  • To the Alkaline jars add ½ cup of white vinegar.

 

  • To the Acidity jars add ½ cup of water and ½ cup of baking soda.

 

Now wait a few minutes.

Reading the results…

If the Alkaline jars, with the vinegar, start to bubble your soil is too Alkaline and you need to lower the soil’s pH by adding pine needles or sulphur.

If the Acidity jars, with the baking soda mixture, start to bubble your soil is too acidic and you need to add lime or wood ash (which we have lots of coming out of winter).

Each time you test your soil you can readjust the additives to help level out the pH so your veggies and plants will grow strong and healthy. It is also a great tool to measure the soil for alkaline and acid loving plants, that don’t like a balanced soil.

 

A few acid loving herbs and veggies

Garlic

Parsley

Spinach

Peas

 

A few alkaline loving plants

Sage

Oregano

Asparagus

Artichoke

 

To find out what pH level your favorite plants will like, check out this list from The Farmer’s Almanac

Pantry Stock up

Homesteading is not just about growing a garden or raising livestock. It’s a whole mindset of having what you need to live a simpler more fulfilling life. Part of that more simple life, at least in my opinion, is to have what I need when I need it so I can 1) reduce the number of trips into town, and 2) reduce the amount of money I spend for so-called unexpected purchases. You know the one’s I’m talking about. That missing ingredient you need for a new recipe or not having enough of something you need to make a full meal. The primary place I put this thought into action is in the kitchen.

Although I raise livestock, have laying hens and have a garden, I still purchase some items from local stores. These are items that I either can’t or don’t grow myself. Things like oil and flour and spices. When you have a well-stocked pantry you have choices, choices about what to make for dinner, choices about cooking at home instead of picking up expensive take-out and choices about how to alter a recipe to fit what you have on hand. You even have the choice to hunker down at home when weather turns bad or illness strikes, making it hard to get to town.

With more and more people reclaiming the art of cooking from scratch to avoid processed foods or manage food allergies, and more people realizing the benefits of weathering a natural disaster at home, it has never been more important to create a stocked homestead pantry.

But, where do you start? Isn’t creating a stocked pantry challenging, time consuming and expensive?

NO! It’s not. And, in the end you will be able to look at your pantry with peace of mind, and choices.

Keep in mind, though, the list I’m providing isn’t your whole pantry, it will support the “whole foods” you raise, grow, preserve or buy from a farmer or CSA, foods like meat, dairy, fruits and veggies. Some of the items listed can be made at home, but I’m including them in consideration of people (like me) who do not always have time to make them from scratch. Pantry items are the components that will help you pull the whole meal together.

Many of these basics can be purchased in large quantities or in bulk so you never run out. Whether you buy in large or small quantities remember to keep track of your stock on hand so it can be replaced before you run out. I purchase multiples of some items, while others I stock up on when they are on sale. After the list I’ll give you pointers on how to fill your stocked pantry.

Wondering what the benefits are to having a well-stocked pantry? Here they are:

  • You cut down on buying expensive take out or fast food. Saving money and your health.
  • You can always make something. It may not be 5-star cuisine, but it will be warm and filling.
  • You have the opportunity to buy in bulk, saving money and creating a food safety net if a crisis keeps you at home for any length of time.
  • Your shopping trips become shorter because you’re list isn’t as long.
  • You can easily plan and cook meals knowing you have needed ingredients.
  • It just makes good sense.

 

CATEGORIES OF A WELL STOCKED PANTRY

 

CONDIMENTS

Mayonnaise

Mustard – yellow, Dijon, Honey, and any other kind your family enjoys

Catsup

Pickle Relish – if you don’t make your own

Did you know that with these ingredients you can make your own Thousand Island dressing?

GRAINS & GRAIN ITEMS

Rice – white and brown, Jasmine, Basmati, Arborio

Barley – pearled

Oatmeal – old fashioned

Rice is the main character in many casseroles, while barley is great for making hearty soups.

Oatmeal, choke full of fruit and nuts makes an inexpensive stick to your ribs breakfast.

Pasta & Noodles – spaghetti, tube, macaroni, egg, and any others your family likes

BEANS

Dried Beans – pinto, Great Northern, kidney

Lentils –yellow and brown

Split peas

NUTS

Walnuts, pecans, almonds (slivered & sliced), sunflower seeds, peanuts, and any others your family likes.

FATS

Butter

Oil – olive, sesame, coconut

Bacon grease – strain and store bacon grease to use instead of oil.

Lard

BAKING ITEMS

All-Purpose Flour – White and whole wheat, if you don’t grind your own.

Bread Flour – White and whole wheat, if you don’t grind your own.

Corn Meal

Baking Power

Baking Soda

Yeast

Powered Milk

SWEETENERS

Sugar – white, brown and confectioners

Honey – locally sourced, if possible

Molasses

Maple Syrup

OTHER ITEMS

Salt – non-iodized, fine, sea, course, kosher

Pepper – black and white, or peppercorns for each and grind your own

Vinegar – white, cider, wine, Balsamic

Cornstarch

Peanut Butter

Chocolate Chips or other cookie additions

Tea & Coffee

Dried Fruit – if you don’t dry your own

Herbs & Spices – buy from ethnic markets or the ethnic section of your grocery store where quantities are larger and prices are cheaper.

 

There you have it, the basic list for a well-stocked homestead pantry. Feel free to add any family favorites or items you use most often. Your pantry is the best place to start when creating your own list or adding to the one above. With these items always on hand you’ll be able to make any number of hearty wholesome dishes your family will love, without having to run to the store for last minute additions.

So—how do you go about stocking the pantry without breaking the bank?

You have a few choices here.

You can go ALL in and buy everything in one shopping trip if your food budget can handle it. Mine couldn’t, so I built the pantry over time. My first shopping trip was actually to price every item on my list. I compared prices at the stores I shop at most often—the ethnic market, Wal-Mart, Big Lots, Target and Smart & Final. Now I could group items depending on which were cheaper at what store. Cheaper can be deceiving, though. You’ll want to calculate the cost per ounce, or pound, to find out which store is REALLY the least expensive. (Use this formula to calculate the cost per unit: cost ÷ ounce or pound).

Over a few months I allotted a certain amount of money each week just for stock-up items. This also gave me the choice to buy larger quantities of certain items. Take white sugar for instance. I could spend a few dollars buying a one pound bag one week or I could wait and spend $3 to $4 and buy a 10-pound bag, which would last me much longer.

With the essentials taken care of more of your grocery money can be used to take advantage of sales on items that can be frozen, like meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables. Items you may not raise or grow yourself.

By having a well-stocked pantry (and freezer) I have been able to reduce my grocery shopping to just a few times a month, mainly filling in or buying sale items, and spending less than $20 each trip.

 

Final Words: I haven’t mentioned buying on-line or strictly buying organic and non-GMO items. It’s not that I don’t believe in these avenues, I just wanted to be more general. Each person can, and should, decide how best to feed their family.

Cutting Board

Cutting boards have been a kitchen necessity ever since the first lumberjack took a slice out of a felled tree. Today’s cutting boards are both utilitarian tools and works of art. Just look at the array of shapes and styles available—cows or pigs; ovals or rectangles with routered or carved decorative edges. They are worthy of being displayed right alongside other treasured pieces that adorn your kitchen.

Some people collect for sentimental reasons, some for artistic collections. No matter the reason, cutting boards are hard workers in the kitchen and should be cared for properly if they are to retain their beauty and their functionality. Following these four steps will keep your cutting board(s) both useful and beautiful.

  • Refrain from putting wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher. The heat can cause cracking of the wood.
  • Wash wooden cutting boards in warm soapy water after each use, and allow to air dry.
  • To keep your board fresh, sprinkle it with coarse salt then rub with a lemon cut in half. Rub in a circular motion to scour the board, then rinse in hot water and air dry to keep it smelling fresh.
  • To prevent the board from drying out and cracking, use a lint-free cloth dipped in mineral oil and rub well into the board. Reapply as the oil soaks in. When the oil stops absorbing, wipe the board clean and let sit overnight. Do not use food grade oils like olive or vegetable as they will turn rancid.

With these simple maintenance tips your cutting boards will last for years.

 

Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a great place to buy local produce and talk with local growers, but did you know it’s a great place to volunteer? Most vendors can’t be at all the markets they sell at, so they bring in volunteers to help man their booth and sell their product. It’s a fun way to become part of the “inner circle” of your local market, and, you may even get paid in produce. You may even get enough to can.

Check with the organizer of your local farmers market to see if vendors are looking for help.

Corn Muffins

Okay…I know what you all are thinking…who the heck CAN’T make a simple corn muffin? I would be thinking the same thing, but hear me out.

Have you ever had one of those culinary mishaps that looked like it was going to be a complete and total disaster? The kind that you think is not recoverable, but in the end turns out to be one of your best dishes ever?

Well—that was me the other night.

I had gotten off late from work and for some ungodly reason I had been thinking of cornbread muffins for most of the day. Not just a slight pang of interest, but an uncontrollable urge to scarf down an entire batch of corn muffins slathered with butter and dripping in honey. It was ridiculous, actually.

So, when I got home, dropped my gear and got into the kitchen I began pulling out the ingredients. I quickly realized, much to my horror, that I had soy milk, but not regular milk, and lots of butter, but no canola oil. (I primarily use olive, avocado or nut oils). I thought right then and there that my long craved for muffins would be just another unfulfilled dream. As I starred in the fridge at the butter and soy milk I thought, “What the heck, what do I have to lose”.  I grabbed the two misfit ingredients, melted the required amount of butter to substitute for the oil and began whipping up a batch of muffins. As I spooned the batter into a muffin pan lined with papers I tasted the batter. Not bad, I thought. I couldn’t really tell the difference. Was that a good sign, I wondered. Would all be well, I thought.

Into the oven they went. Now—I have to say cornbread muffins are a quick bread to make, usually done in about 12 to 15 minutes. I set the oven timer for 15 minutes just to accommodate the less than normal ingredients and began cleaning up the kitchen. In a few minutes I could smell the muffins. The aroma was sweet and fragrant. When the timer went off I pulled the muffin pan out. They were slightly golden, but not too golden. They had risen well and looked like every other cornbread muffin I had ever made. I gently pressed the top of one of the muffins to see if they were done and my finger went right through the top.

DANG!!! Completely mushy!!

That was it…disaster, a waste of good food, a waste of time, and I still didn’t have my longed for muffins. I was disappointed.

But, something told me not to give up. After all they looked fine. The batter tasted fine. I slid them back into the oven and set the time for another 5 minutes, then another, then another. After they had been in the oven for a full 30 minutes their tops were a deep golden brown, but not burned. A toothpick inserted came out clean and they smelled heavenly. I pulled them out to let them rest for a few minutes. The proof would be in the tasting, though.

When the muffins had cooled just a bit I pulled one out of the pan, gently removed the paper liner, pulled off an edge and popped it into my mouth.

SUCCESS!!

It was divine; light like a cake, slightly sweet and buttery. I cut the muffin in half, spread some soft butter over the top, drizzled it with wild clover honey and took a huge bit. It was heaven.

What started out with a craving, skated the edge of disaster and finally reached a wonderful end would now become my dinner.

I heated up some soup I had made earlier in the week, stacked a few muffins on my plate and nestled down in front of the fireplace for a perfect winter meal.

Not every supposed kitchen mishap turns out to be a disaster. Sometimes they turn out to be a brilliant alternative to the norm.

Check out this recipe for making cornbread muffins with soy milk and butter instead of milk and oil.

Golden Corn Bread Muffins

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup corn meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup honey

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 cup soy milk

1 large egg

¼ cup butter, melted

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients then stir in milk, egg, and melted butter. Beat until fairly smooth. (the batter will be fairly thick).

Line muffin pan with muffin papers and fill each paper about 2/3rds with batter.

Bake for about 20 minutes and then check every 5 minutes until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes about a dozen.