Thursday, February 21, 2013

Using last year's seeds in the garden

If you are wondering whether or not to use last year's seeds -- or some even older -- there is no reason to waste time planting them in the garden only to realize a couple weeks later that they are not going to germinate. You can check out their viability now!

I happen to have a very large bag of pea seeds that I've had for a few years. They don't have a date on them, and I don't remember exactly when I bought them, so I poured a handful into a canning jar and soaked them for a few hours, then drained off the water. I rinsed them several times a day to keep them moist, and within two or three days, I started to see sprouts!

After about five days, I poured the peas out onto a plate and started sorting through the ones that had sprouted and the one that hadn't. Since the germination rate looks like it is still very close to 100%, I'll be planting the seeds in my garden again this year!

And what will I do with the seeds that I sprouted? I'm going to continue rinsing them for a few more days and then feed the pea sprouts to my pigs as a treat!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

French toast

Although a lot of people relegate French toast to weekends, it really does not take much time to fix and could easily be incorporated into your weekday's breakfasts. To save time, you can do most of the prep the night before.

Slice homemade bread into pieces one inch thick. You'll want to use a good hearty bread that will hold up to the soaking. In fact, this is a perfect use for bread that is a couple days old and has gotten rather dry and stale.

To make six slices of French toast, mix up 3 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon vanilla in a flat-bottomed dish. I like to use a baking pan. In case you're wondering why the egg mixture is so yellow in my pictures, it's because they're from our pastured hens. Eggs from free-range chickens have much higher levels of beta carotene than eggs from confined chickens.

Dip the bread in the mixture. Flip the bread over after it's been soaking for 30 seconds or so.

Let it soak on the other side for a couple minutes to absorb more of the mixture. If you pull it out too soon, you won't get that custardy texture inside.

Place in a skillet on medium heat. I like to butter the skillet for the added buttery flavor.

Turn the toast when you see the edges browning, which will take a couple minutes.

When the second side is browned ... serve!

Another time saving tip -- To soak the bread, use a baking pan that will hold all six slices of bread. Place the bread in the pan, then flip it over, and you can go shower or do something else while the bread soaks up all of the egg mixture. Then cook them all at once on a griddle that will hold all six slices. If you don't have a family large enough to eat this much for breakfast, store left-overs in the refrigerator and reheat in a toaster oven for breakfast tomorrow or the day after.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Eggs Benedict

Today's guest post comes from Farmstead Chef

by Lisa Kivirist

Usually the most expensive item on a restaurant breakfast menu, Eggs Benedict can easily be made in your home kitchen. While perfectly seasoned sausage links or lean strips of bacon can be served as sides to most of our breakfast entrées, there’s nothing more enticing to the eye, nose and palate than Eggs Benedict, especially when made with a couple of slices of Canadian bacon and poached farm-fresh eggs with their nutrient-rich orange yolks. Closer to ham in flavor, texture and appearance, Canadian bacon is leaner and doesn’t crisp in its own fat when cooking, so it works well for this dish. Eggs Benedict is mostly a matter of assembling several distinct steps to create a masterpiece. If a spouse, friend or partner can join you in the kitchen, the tango of sharing some cooking responsibilities makes the whole process a delight.

Eggs Benedict can be easily modified to be vegetarian, which is what we serve at our B&B, Inn Serendipity, in southwestern Wisconsin. Try a bed of fresh, sautéed spinach, Swiss chard or thinly sliced avocados with fresh bean sprouts layered underneath the poached egg instead of the Canadian bacon. It can also incorporate other regional specialties, like smoked salmon or fresh crab.


• 4 eggs
• 1 lb. Canadian bacon, thinly sliced
• 2 English muffins (learn how to make your own with Farmstead Chef)
• 1 c. Hollandaise sauce
• 1 t. paprika


Fry bacon in a pan until fully browned on both sides. Drain off fat and cover the bacon to keep warm.

Poach eggs, cooking for about 2 minutes, or until the white of the egg is solid but the yolk remains runny.

Prepare the Hollandaise sauce.

Toast each English muffin, then place on the plate. Add a strip or two of Canadian bacon to each muffin half, then a poached egg on top, covering the stack with several spoonfuls of Hollandaise sauce.

Garnish with a light sprinkle of paprika. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.

Hollandaise Sauce

This rich velvety sauce for Eggs Benedict can be a fancy stand-in for pouring over lightly steamed broccoli or asparagus sides for a dinner meal. Maintain medium heat in a double boiler and whisk the sauce with easy circular stokes, avoiding overcooking (which will cause the sauce to separate). Because of the eggs, this is one sauce you’ll want to enjoy right after it’s prepared. Thanks to John, there’s never any left over in our farmhouse.


• 3 egg yolks
• ¼ c. water, simmering
• 1 ½ T. lemon juice
• ¼ c. butter (½ stick)

Hollandaise Sauce Directions:

Whisk egg yolks in a double boiler over low heat. Make sure water isn’t too hot or eggs will curdle. Stir 1 minute.

Add water, 1 T. at a time, whisking constantly. Stir 1 to 2 minutes until thick.

Add lemon juice.

Take off heat and stir in butter.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 cup

Friday, February 1, 2013

Month 2: Eat breakfast

It's February, and you know what that means? A new healthy eating goal! Last month, we focused on simply reducing the number of times we ate out. How did you do? Did you meet your goal?

This month we are going to specificially focus on breakfast. They say it's the most important meal of the day. Not only does this mean that you should not skip breakfast, but it means that you should have a good breakfast. No faux food that enters your car through a window. No time? Have a smoothie! I discovered smoothies more than twenty years ago when we lived in Hawaii. At that time, I made this smoothie with pineapple juice. Today I usually use my homemade goat milk yogurt.

This recipe is incredibly easy to use for one, two, or three servings. Just put everything in the blender, and blend!

For each serving, pour in one cup of plain yogurt
(This is two cups because I'm making two servings.)

Add one banana for each serving.

Add about 10 frozen strawberries for each serving.

Normally I'll also throw in a tablespoon of flax seeds, but I ran out yesterday! If you're used to sweet things, you might want to add a little honey or maple syrup, but I love it with no added sweetener.


And once it's blended, drink up!

What are some of your favorite smoothie combinations?
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