Dec 122012

Applesauce CakeOne of our favorite family traditions and greatest holiday joys is receiving one of Mama Childs’ Applesauce Cakes. We’ve been known to fight over them, hide them, or do whatever it takes to claim the prize of this wonderful winter treat. This delicious cake dates back to Corey’s great-grandmother, Delpha Belle Garver Childs, affectionately known as Mama Childs. She was a true farmer’s wife, canning in the summer, raising backyard chickens, and being known for her hand–me-down family recipes. Born in 1892 she lived into her 90’s. Although Mama Childs is no longer with us, her Applesauce Cake continue to be a family tradition.


 Posted by at 11:00 am
Sep 042012

zuchinni muffins

I am not much for chaos. I know, four children right! Add to that not being the ideal morning person and well, sometimes there needs to be a backup plan from the very get-go.

When I know mornings are certain to be hectic, such as the first week of school, I like to bake a batch or two of muffins Sunday afternoon. Because these are sure to be breakfast on the go, I like the large double-size muffins that can be individually wrapped in sandwich bags. That way I can keep a basket full right on the kitchen table.

Since zucchini is still in season here, I decided on Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins, a favorite of the kids. As fall approaches I’ll make Banana Nut, Apple Cinnamon, and Pumpkin Spice Muffins too.

zuchinni muffins

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cooking oil
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium size bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl beat together the sugar, shredded zucchini, vanilla, and egg. Add oil, mix well. Stir flour mixture into zucchini mixture, half at a time.
  4. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Mix well.
  5. Spoon batter into well greased muffin tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. (It’s hard to judge these by color.)
  6. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on a rack. Place each muffin into individual sandwich bags.
  8. Makes 6 large or 12 small muffins.


 Posted by at 8:24 am
Aug 272012

buttermilkI don’t know if it is from years of growing up on a dairy farm or if I am just a milk-yogurt-cheese-butter addict, but at any given time our frig is half full of dairy products. And ever since I began making our Rosemary Cornbread you can find a large container of buttermilk in there as well.

With it always on hand, I have found tons of other uses for the thick, delicious stuff. We make pancakes and biscuits and even salad dressing.  But when I recently read in one of my farming magazines that I could make my own, I was truly intrigued.

As it turns out, it is actually quite simple. In addition to a quart canning jar or other glass container with a lid, you will need:

  • ½ cup of store bought buttermilk
  • 1 quart of milk (2%, whole, or raw)


Pour buttermilk into clean jar. If this is your first batch, I recommend ½ cup of buttermilk to get started. Then fill the remainder of the jar with milk. Secure lid and shake vigorously. Allow to sit on the counter overnight away from any direct source of heat. Refrigerate after 12 hours.

Every two weeks keep back at least ¼ cup of the buttermilk culture and top off with fresh milk. Because of the amount of buttermilk we go through, I re-culture mine every week.

You can keep this process going for every. And that gets two thumbs up from this farm girl!

homemade buttermilk

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Jun 272012

I have lots and lots of cook books… some by celebrity chefs, a full arsenal of soup & stew cookbooks, and those with irresistible photos on the covers. But truth be told, there are only six books that really qualify as my go to cookbooks. What are they?

favorite cookbooks

My most basic recipes from macaroni and cheese to apple crisp come from my Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. I can’t remember when or where I received this cookbook – I believe it was a wedding present years ago. My mother had one. My grandmother had one. If I was told to pick only one, this would be my first choice for its wholesome tried-and-true home style recipes.

I am not a big baker, I prefer recipes that can easily adjust to whatever ingredients are in season. I am definitely a dice and dump cook as I seldom measure ingredients. But even I will admit nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread. When I am in the mood for baking these are the three books I go to.

The Best-Ever Book of Bread by Christian Ingram is my all time favorite bread cookbook. I don’t know of any type of bread that is not in this cookbook. Even when I receive recipes from customers or find interesting recipes in magazines or on websites, I always compare them to recipes found in this book.

Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. This book revolutionized the way I think about cooking. It’s not so much about recipes as it is about ratios of ingredients.

Farm Journal’s Country Fair Cookbook. This is the book I turn to when looking to bake a unique cake, pie, or other sweet treat. It has an endless supply of great desserts and sweet breads. This was actually one of Corey’s cookbooks when he was in 4-H.

I love to can and preserve fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak. Whether it is jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, or preserves there is a certain feeling of self accomplishment and preservation that comes from having a cellar full of canned food. I have two books I constantly go to during the peak of the growing season.

Home & Garden’s Home Canning and Freezing. This is a hand-me-down from Corey’s Grandmother. Open it up and you will find notes from three generations of women. (By the way, if you aren’t writing in your cookbooks, you need to. I am constantly making notes about what I like and don’t like as well as changes I have made to recipes.)

Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.  This is a relatively new addition to my library. I love the new and creative twists it adds to old school jams, jellies, and relishes. Although I have only tried a few of the recipes thus far, it has twice as many as my H&G Home Canning and Freezing cookbook.

What are your favorite cookbooks?

 Posted by at 1:33 pm
Jun 142012

homemade breadThere is something relaxing about making bread, once you get past the sticky dough stage. Maybe it is the kneading or the “oh-ah” transformation as it rises or perhaps just those wonderful memories brought on by the smell of fresh baked bread.

My grandmother Hazel (better known as Ho-Ho) was an excellent cook. I never once saw her use a recipe, everything worth cooking or baking she knew by heart. Raising five sons and a daughter on a dairy farm in the mid-twentieth century may have had something to do with that. Of all the things she made, I would say her sweet rolls and sticky buns were her claim to fame. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before anyone thought to get her mental recipes on paper. To this day, I have yet to recreate her mouthwatering breads. And I have tried endless attempts.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just that reality can never match sweet memories. What I do know though is that she gave me a deep soulful, pleasure in baking bread. Right now my favorite go-to bread is a rustic focaccia topped with fresh herbs and salt.

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 Posted by at 12:47 pm