Category Archives: Crunchy Stuff

Brainy Sunday

We weren’t being especially smart today, but we were being adventurous and took a trip to Field Springs to look for those brainy mushrooms called morels.


We packed snacks and lunch and beverages and after a quick hunt we sat and waited for our friends to arrive.


When they arrived we headed up the trail and looked for about 20 minutes but were quickly discouraged and went with plan B


Here’s something you should know: Dan and I are very serious about morel hunting. We don’t mess around and we certainly don’t waste time.

We drove down to the entrance road and hiked.



We found so many mushrooms and the kids took turns picking them after they’d been found which was very sweet but also very time consuming (you may need to reference my seriousness about morel-ing) because I had to wait for them to hike to the discovery which sometimes took 5 minutes.

Chef Danny made morel gnocchi which rivaled both Mystic Cafe AND Lodgepole which happen to be our favorites for the dish. I wish we had a secret garden full of these brainy beauties.

Happy Sunday!


Garden Pancakes


I love the summer season for lots of reasons, but one of my most favorite things about it is the fresh produce we get from the farm.

Oh…I’m sorry…did you not know we were farmers? Well, we are. I mean, basically we are farmers by association because my dad is actually the one who plants the seeds, waters, pulls weeds, maintains and funds the farm. But we totally pick the veggies, so that counts for something.

One thing we have TONS of right now are red potatoes. Potatoes might be my favorite thing we grow because out of one potato you plant, you might get 6 at harvest time. That’s what we call, my friends, a big bang for your buck. Since everyone loves potatoes (but seriously…who doesn’t love potatoes), they are what we cook most of at our house. And roasted potatoes with a little rosemary are good and delicious and fine, but in all honesty, I’m getting board with them. Last night I did a little thinking and decided to make garden pancakes.


(1) farm fresh is the best, right? But obviously, nothing has to be farm fresh. Grab it from the store if you want! shred the (peeled) potatoes – red is my favorite – and zucchini until you have 1.5ish cups of each. Squeeze out the excess water (there will be lots!) by putting it in between paper towels and pushing it. Like so:

plum-5216-1 plum-5217-1 plum-5218-1 plum-5220-1

(2) add 1 egg, garlic, cheese, and spices and mix together.


(3) using your hands, form patties, 1/2 cup each (give or take). As you form them, continue to squeeze so you get even more liquid out. It’s okay if you feel like the egg is being squeezed out. It’ll be fine. You should have about 6 pancakes ready to go.


(4) heat about a tablespoon of butter or oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they start to brown.


(5) serve as a side dish with sour cream or, our favorite, homemade greek tzaziki sauce.




What is Perfection?


Perfection is a basket of first eggs.

It’s expecting nothing then being over-the-moon surprised by 6 somethings.

It’s watching your hard work be productive.

It’s your seven chickens finally laying.

That’s perfection.

Veggie Hash

The Tale of the Sad Asparagus

Once upon a late summer, a small and spirited child ran out to her Lala and Papa’s garden in the front of the house. Always welcomed (and encouraged) to pick that season’s produce, the young child started picking the strawberries. After that, she moved on to cutting chives. With many greens left, she cut lettuce and rosemary and finally moved on to carrots. Disappointed in the size of the carrots (basically nonexistent), she ran inside to show her Papa and Lala her findings.

“Oh…that? Yeah….that was going to be our asparagus next year….”

So here’s the thing about asparagus: it takes a season before it actually grows. And it never grows if you have small and spirited children picking any green that pops up out of the ground.

So if you have fresh, farm-grown asparagus, use it here. And the moral of the story? Kids ruin evvvvverything.


Veggie Hash:

2 yukon gold potatoes, shredded

1 medium zucchini, shredded

5 asparagus shoots

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic

pancetta, diced

4 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

1) heat about a tablespoon of EVOO in a nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes as it begins to turn translucent. Add the garlic and the asparagus (which you’ve cut into 1-2″ pieces) and cook for a few minutes more. Then add the pancetta.

2) squeeze the potato and zucchini to get as much moisture out as possible (they really hold on to a lot of water). After the pancetta is cooked to your liking, add the shredded veggies. I used a cheese grater to shred it and it took less than 2 minutes. Easy.

3) Cook like you would hash browns. Mix it all together then spread it out and flatten it down into one layer. Let it brown up a bit (cook for a couple minutes) then flip the whole thing. You’ll have to flip it in pieces, and it’s totally okay if some pieces flip and some don’t. Do this a few times until it’s just barely crispy…you don’t want it to be too crispy…just barely browned.

4) divide it into four portions on plates.

5) crack 4 eggs into the skillet (you shouldn’t have to add more oil, but if you do, just a tad will suffice) and fry until the whites are completely cooked, but the yolk is just barely still runny. Really, cook it however you like it.

6) slide the egg on the hash and plate it like a pro. Add salt and pepper. Voila.

DIY: Bird Feeders


The sun is teasing us lately. Not only is it shining on our February days, it’s warming them, too. It was 64* the other day. That’s so close to 70 which is so close to 80 which is close to 90 which means it’s basically summer.

When it’s this unseasonably warm, I have to do everything in my power to keep the young ones from putting on their swimming suits and running straight for the hose. This time, I put on my crafty pants and took a craft straight from Pinterest. This is a recipe that is ALL over and comes from many different sites…like here, here and here for example, among many others. Birdseed is incredibly cheap, especially if you buy it at Winco. The rest of the stuff you most likely have on hand (although gelatin is one of those things you have only if you’ve made something in the last year or so with it because it comes in a package of 4 envelopes).

(before we start, let’s talk about this spelling of “gelatine”….Now, I wrote it like that on the paper because that’s what it says on the package. But…I’m pretty sure it’s gelatin…am I right?? have I gone mad??)


You definitely don’t need a cookie cutter for this craft. You can totally free-hand a design or just do a ball or use something else like a jar lid or something. But I live in a house full of unicorn-animal-heart-loving girls so we just had to do it this way.

Dissolve the gelatin into simmering water. Let cool for a couple minutes then dump in the birdseed. So, I’ll be honest here and totally eyeballed the entire recipe. I think I used a little more water and a lot more birdseed. Basically, you want to make sure it’s not soupy at all. Not even stew-y.

Mix in the birdseed.


Dump it out on wax paper (more on this at the end of the post) to let cool so little hands can handle it easily.


We rubbed our hands with olive oil so the stuff didn’t stick too much to our hands and fingers. Fill up 1/2 – 3/4 of the cookie cutter and pack it down really tightly.


Fold the string in half and with the open ends, place them in a spot where the weight will be evenly distributed (so it doesn’t lean too far forward or backwards…we should have placed it in the unicorn’s head).


FIll it the rest of the way up with seed until it’s completely full and all you have sticking out is the loop of the string.

Let it dry COMPLETELY. If you do it in the morning, don’t even think about touching it until after dinner. If you do it in the afternoon, wait until the next morning. Waiting is hard.

But look what you get when you do:6 7 8

And if you decide that plain paper will work just fine, you will get this:9

The gelatin is pretty much glue. It’ll make your paper stick right to the floor. If this does happen to you, get SUPER hot water on a washcloth and wipe up as much of the paper as possible. Then, for what’s left, dab a couple drops of YLEO lemon oil on a washrag and scrub it out.



Guest Post: Penni Thorpe

I am so excited and honored to have a guest post today from Penni Thorpe: essential oils and aromatherapy guru (that’s not her official title, I totally made that up).  BUT, it is definitely official that she knows her stuff when it comes to all things aromatherapy.  I was introduced to Penni last year at my younger brother’s graduation from MIIS – she is his girlfriend’s mom.  This is when I was just starting to get interested in essential oils.  I knew practically nothing.  Penni is incredibly generous when it comes to sharing her knowledge and is a wealth of information.  I asked if she’d be interested in maybe doing a post here and she agreed without hesitation!  So, I’ll pass the mic to Penni:


I have been practicing aromatherapy for more than 20 years.  I started when my children were under 5 years old, so I learned the hard way.  It is very easy to overdose young children (and for that matter pregnant and older folks too).  So I tend to be conservative when it comes to the under 5 year old set.

Hydrosols and essential oils were created by humans to have a concentrated aromatic plant material available all year long.  When folks were “settling the west” they distilled their large amounts of collected aromatic material and saved the “waters” they distilled and threw away the essential oil that floated on top because it was “poisonous”.  Make no mistake about it, essential oils are powerful (most oils when undiltued can burn the skin and it is so easy to put too many drops on a tissue or a diffuser or pillowcase.)

Rosemary hydrosol with essential oil floating on top.

Rosemary hydrosol with essential oil floating on top.

Seventeen pounds of spanish thyme distills to  create 1 lb of thyme essential oil and 2 tons of rose petals to create 1 lb of rose oil.  So this is concentrated material that needs to be handled with knowledge and care.

For the pregnant moms and the 5 and under set I highly recommend hydrosols.  The easiest and best application for babies is spraying in the air or place a half a dropperful in a bath.  Internally I would recommend 1-2 drops of hydrosol in a sippy cup for those who are drinking out of cups until they are 3 and 4 drops until they are 5.  For those 5 -10 years old 8 drops in water and over 10 you can use a dropperful.

Three of them are my favorite:

1.Rosa Damascena.  Rose is excellent for soothing the heart center, as well as balancing hormones.  So during pregnancy this is a great headache remedy.  For a pregnant mom or anyone having hotflashes or nightsweats put 1 tablespoon of rose hydrosol (rose water) in a large pitcher of water and drink all day long.  You can also spray on the face which feels lovely.

2.  Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm)

This is an antiviral so it prevents colds and flus and treats colds and flus.  It is also excellent for cold sores and any type of herpes.  Melissa is also excellent for anything to do with unsettled nerves including ADD, ADHD, panic attacks and insomnia.

Hydrosol or 2 tsp dried leaf per cup or boiling water…apply tea to cotton pad and place on cold sore several times a day

3. Lavendula Vera (Lavender)    

Lavender is excellent for bug bites, for burns including sunburns and for calming the nerves.  Lavender hydrosol can be sprayed over a fussy baby or mommy to help them relax and fall asleep.  I had a yoga student who sprayed lavendar hydrosol over her twin babies as a bedtime ritual to help calm her and her children.

An excellent book about hydrosols is:  Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy,  Suzanne Catty

Rose water can be found in  gourmet markets, Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores and in liquor stores(some alcoholic drinks have rosewater in them).

If you are interested in highest quality hydrosols Mountain Rose Herbs is an excellent source ( as well as

Hydrosols should be stored in a cool dry place and usually need to be replaced after a year.

To contact Penni:

Okay, it’s me again.  Isn’t Penni great?  She gifted me some melissa hydrosol and I’ve been using it for anxiety when I’m just not quite feeling right, but when I know I don’t need to dive in to the really powerful stuff (the medication) I have.  I am loving it!

Thank you, Penni!

For anyone interested in oils/hydrosols/aromatherapy, check out what Penni has on her website and if you direct any questions my way, I’ll be sure to get them answered.