One of the items found in my pantry are wheat berries. Wheat berries are a true whole grain! Without these kernels there would be no flour. They are loaded with nutrients and are as easy as rice to prepare, perfect for a meal any time of the year. Did you know that raw wheat, if kept dry and free of insects, can last hundreds of years without any loss of quality or taste. Unfortunately, once wheat is ground into flour, it will last only a few days without turning rancid, which is why regular store-purchased flour is heavily bleached and full of preservatives. I started buying wheat berries more than 15 years ago even though I didn’t own a wheat grinder. I had a friend that would grind the berries for me. Eventually I purchased a wheat grinder of my own and have been happily grinding my own wheat for years.

In addition to grinding wheat berries to make flour you can also enjoy them in other ways. When they are boiled, cooked wheat berries have a chewy bite and a nutty, earthy flavor. They can be eaten as a breakfast cereal with milk and cinnamon or added to a salad or a main dish. A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron. If you Google major cooking sites like the Food Network and search “wheat berries” you’ll find at least fifty tasty suggestions that incorporate whole wheat into soups, salads, sides and main dish casseroles.

You may not be a baker but wheat berries are definitely a staple that should be in your pantry! Try serving them to your family this week. Besides grinding wheat berries for flour do you have a favorite way to enjoy them?

 

Here in the northeast fall is the time to plant daffodil bulbs. Ideally, you should plant bulbs as soon as you purchase them. I received my daffodil bulbs in the mail and decided to follow the directions and plant them right away. The day was warm and sunny and most of the snow had melted from the weekend storm, a good day to mess in the garden! You want to plant the bulbs when the soil can still be worked, this gives them time to develop roots and establish themselves before winter arrives.

The rule of thumb for planting bulbs outdoors is to set them two and a half times deeper than their diameter. For my daffodil bulbs this meant 5-6″ deep. If you want a naturalizing look to your planting, take a few bulbs in your hand, toss them gently on the ground, then plant them where they have fallen. Dig a hole in the dirt with a trowel for each individual bulb. Special bulb-planting tools are available at garden centers, they make it easy to dig neat, circular holes. Place the bulb in the hole and cover with dirt. In the spring before growth or flowering begins spread a complete fertilizer over your flower beds. The spring rains will carry the fertilizer down into the soil.

Planting bulbs requires patience because you have to wait almost six months before you can enjoy the flowers! Patience is a good virtue to practice, it involves waiting. In our society we want things immediately which is why so many people have debt problems! If we would learn to wait and save for something we want rather than “buy now, pay later” we would be much better off financially! Even stocking your party requires patience. A pantry does not become a well stocked pantry overnight. It takes months of careful planning and preparation, which is a good rule to live our life by!

So I will be patient, the bulbs are planted and I will wait to enjoy their beauty. I will look forward to the daffodil blooms come spring.

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;
it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
Gertrude Jekyll

 

I love homemade gifts! As the holidays approach I try to think of gifts that I can make myself that might bless others. One favorite idea is homemade gift jars. You can fill jars with all sorts of gift ideas – cookie mixes, brownie mixes, or soup mixes. One of my favorites is a Minestrone Soup Mix. It makes four gift packages and when presented in a jar with a cute tag makes a wonderful gift. Most of the ingredients you probably have on hand in your pantry.

Minestrone Soup Mix

Flavoring Mix;
½ cup dried onion flakes
½ cup dried celery flakes
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried marjoram
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper

½ cup beef-flavored bouillon granules
1 pound dried navy beans
1 pound dried kidney beans
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked

Combine the first 8 ingredients and divide evenly into 4 gift packages. Add 2 Tbsp of the beef flavored bouillon granules to each package. Label and seal.  Combine navy beans and kidney beans and divide into 4 gift packages. Label and seal. Place ½ cup of macaroni into 4 gift packages. Label and seal

Present one package of herb mix, one package of bean mix and one package of macaroni with a copy of the recipe for Minestrone Soup. You can layer the ingredients  in a jar or decorate a brown bag and include the ingredients in the bag. To each jar or bag attach the following recipe:

Minestrone Soup

1 pkg of bean mix
3 quarts of water
1 pkg herb mix
1 carrot, chopped
2/3 (4oz) of chopped lean cooked ham
1 (14.5oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg macaroni

Sort and wash beans; place in a Dutch oven and cover with water, two inches above the beans. Soak for 8 hours. Drain beans; add 3 quarts of water, herb mix, carrot and ham. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Add tomatoes and macaroni, cook 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender. Serve hot.

We have company coming this weekend and what better recipe to share today than my Overnight Coffee Cake. This recipe can be made ahead and just popped in the oven when you get up in the morning, it can also be cooked immediately. I love to make it the night before. Then when you are busy making breakfast you can just place it in the oven and it will be ready in thirty minutes. This is a family favorite!

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs

Topping Mixture:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or other favorite nuts)
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine first 7 ingredients, add buttermilk, butter and eggs.  Beat at low speed until moistened, beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. (I just spray with non stick cooking spray).

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, pecans and 1 tsp cinnamon (topping mixture). Sprinkle over batter. * Cover and refrigerate 8 – 12 hours. Uncover and bake 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm.

*Can bake immediately 350 degrees for 30 minutes. To reheat cover with foil and bake 350 degrees for five minutes.

Linked to: Yummy Inspirations, FlourMeWithLove, FoodieFriendsFriday, GooseberryPatch

 



Perhaps you’re like me and have some dried beans on hand that you keep forgetting to use. After all it’s so much easier to open a can of beans rather than remember to soak the dried beans overnight so they’ll be ready to use in a recipe. The solution: can your dried beans using a pressure canner. Once they are canned they are ready to use for any instant meal just like a can of beans!

First cover the beans with cold water and let them soak for 12-18 hours in a cool place. Make sure the pot is large enough to allow for expansion, when I got up in the morning the lid to the pot was raised up because the beans had really expanded! Drain the beans and then cover with at least two inches of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes, stirring as needed. While the beans are boiling have some jars heating in a water bath. Pack hot beans into hot jars, leaving one inch of headspace. Add ½ tsp of salt to pints and 1 tsp to quarts, if desired. Ladle boiling cooking liquid over the beans. Leaving one inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar clean and place hot, previously simmered lids on each jar. Screw down ring firmly. Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a steam pressure canner.

This is a wonderful way to stock your pantry with beans that are ready to use for any meal. I think I’ll use them in my Black Bean Cassoulet recipe, the perfect recipe for a cold winter night. If you’re interested in this recipe please stayed tuned! I will share it when the snow is a little deeper!

Well my intention today was to get outside and finish putting the gardens to bed. Snow is in the forecast and I really like to have everything cut back and cleaned up before the first snowfall. I worked outside yesterday in my flower beds and just about finished my work but today was going to be spent in the vegetable garden. I need to take down the blueberry net, move the garden stakes to the barn, cut back the remaining perennials and do a general clean up. However it’s raining and yes did I mention snow is in the forecast! Not exactly the type of day I want to spend outdoors, I’d much rather sit with the dogs and enjoy the warmth of the woodstove!

Instead I will soak some dried beans in preparation for canning them tomorrow. I have several jars of dried beans on hand and I want to can them so they will be ready for a quick meal. I’ve not done this before so we will be experimenting together! I will have to use the pressure canner but the process sounds simple.

For my faithful readers that would like to read about gardening today check out Prudent Living Magazine, I have written an article for this winter issue! Just click on the link on the PrudentLivingMagazine.com menu tab on the left. Hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back tomorrow with a lesson on canning dried beans.

 

 

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