Honey Nut Granola

I was really in the mood for something different for breakfast today. We haven’t had cereal around for a long time but today I wanted to put my frozen blueberries on a bowl of granola. Soooo…guess it’s time to make some!

I found a pretty simple recipe online and gathered ingredients. The original recipe calls this “Healthy Granola” but I decided to call it Honey Nut Granola. The link to the original is here: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-granola-recipe/

Here are the ingredients:

And here is the recipe:

Making Granola

Step 1: I prepped a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with parchment paper and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: I measured out the dry ingredients and put them into a large bowl. (I did chop the nuts into smaller pieces.)

Pecans and Walnuts

Dry Ingredients: Rolled Oats, chopped nuts, salt and ground cinnamon.

Step 3: Mixed up the wet ingredients in a small bowl before adding them to the dry ingredients: coconut oil, maple syrup and honey (I used 1/4 cup each), and vanilla extract.

Step 4: Mixed up the granola to lightly coat “every oat and nut.”

Step 5: Poured the granola mixture into the prepared pan. I used a spatula to press the granola into the corners.

Step 6: Baked granola in 350-degree oven for about 24 minutes. (I stirred it halfway and pressed it back down in the pan with the spatula).

Steps 7 & 8: Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit to cool completely (at least 45 minutes).

Step 9: I broke the granola into big pieces with my hands and put it all into a large bowl.

Step 10: I stirred in 2/3 cup of golden raisins and let it cool some more.

Cooled granola and golden raisins.

Step 11: I dumped the granola into a gallon ZipLock bag and put it in the freezer.

This recipe is supposed to make 16 – 1/2 cup servings. We’ll see!

Tomorrow’s granola breakfast should be delicious with a helping of frozen blueberries on top! Try it yourself! Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Analyzing My Whole Wheat Bread

A cold snap in our area always entices me to make soup and homemade bread! Bert had purchased a large ham with the bone the other day and after cooking and taking off the meat, I boiled the bone and trimmings along with other vegetable scraps to make Ham soup stock. While it was boiling away, I whipped up my whole wheat bread.

Not exactly appetizing yet…but the stock will make great soups!

I wrote about this bread recipe last May, using all whole wheat that I ground myself (https://marykisner.com/from-wheat-berries-to-bread/). This time, I used up some of the flour I had ground before. I store it in the freezer to keep it fresh.

Here is the recipe again:

This time I wanted to analyze the recipe to see if it was as nutritious as I thought it was. I used the chart tool that you may have read about a week or two ago (https://marykisner.com/analyzing-a-recipe/).

While the bread was baking (and the soup stock was boiling) I pulled out a blank chart and started by listing the ingredients in the recipe. I looked up each ingredient in my little book or online.

Here is the finished chart:

The hardest part was deciding how many slices there were in a loaf…sometimes we’ll cut it thicker!

So, it looks like each slice of bread will be about 146 calories, 25.6 gm of carbohydrates and 5.5 gm of protein. It was a good reminder that it compares well with commercial bread, tastes better and has no extra preservatives or chemicals. I keep the loaf we are using in the refrigerator and freeze the extra. And of course, commercial bread from the store doesn’t make the whole house smell so good on a cold day!

Give this recipe a try! Your whole house will smell great!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Signs of the Changing Seasons

The changing of the seasons is one obvious aspect of life in central Pennsylvania. Where you live there might be different signs of the seasons or they may be more or less obvious. Mother Nature seems to prepare us in the northeast, by providing a display of color, like the maple trees…

…and the seedpods on our Japanese Dogwood trees.

I call these our “Halloween Trees” because the seed pods look like pumpkins!
One year, I tried to save them to decorate in the house, but they turned brown quite quickly. Oh well.

As a crafter, I am reminded of the impending change of the seasons by the ads for craft items. Beginning in August the craft and fabric stores have sales of the materials used to make various decorator items. Here are some examples:

Why not make new decorations for your front porch!
Baskets are a way to give a thoughtful gift that may not require any “crafting” skills.
It takes time to pull some of these projects together!
How about clever ways to decorate gifts! Start collecting appropriate items now.
Unique ornaments are always a big hit but they take time to make!
Even kids can help make clay ornaments.

And of course, there are signs in my kitchen today that let me know it will soon be soup season, so I’m cooking up a big pot of ham stock. I may have to go get a roasting chicken or two so chicken soup can be on the menu in the winter! (See how to make chicken stock at https://marykisner.com/making-chicken-stock/)

Online, using pumpkin in recipes is popular for autumn weather. Here are two I’ll be working on:

It also helps me get in the mood for fall weather to wake up to 39 degrees a few mornings in a row! After the heat of this summer, it’s really refreshing…for a while. Winter weather isn’t far behind. We really appreciate Spring when it gets here.

The changing of the seasons, no matter how it manifests in your area is a good time to renew your surroundings…whether it’s outside or inside your home. Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Analyzing a Recipe

Have you ever wondered how many calories or carbs are in a favorite recipe? It’s pretty easy if you bought that cake or package of dinner rolls at the store. But what if you make it yourself? There are no labels on your own homemade goodies. Sometimes a recipe is posted on-line and will include the various nutritional numbers, but not always.

Sunday I was motivated to make a big batch of my favorite muffins…Blueberry Banana Walnut Muffins. This is a Vegan recipe…meaning no dairy or egg involved. I had tweaked the recipe over the years so while the original may have had nutritional information now I had no idea about those values.

Recently, I found out that I’m no longer so sensitive to egg protein and wondered if adding one egg to the recipe would boost its protein level or make no difference. I figured adding one egg to a recipe making 12 muffins would also be safer for me as I tried to introduce even a small amount of egg protein to my diet.

While I was mixing and baking, I wondered if I could figure out the nutritional content of a single muffin, specifically calories, carbohydrates and protein.

It is so much easier to buy a packaged item and look at the Nutrition box on the package. I’ve been reading the information on the back of almost every package I buy, since I’ve been careful to avoid all dairy and egg products. I’m sure you’ve read them too. For example:

This information is required by law now and is very helpful if you or your family members have allergies to certain foods.

However, in my house, most everything I make is from scratch so the nutrition labels only refer to an individual ingredient, like flour or sugar. Some items have no labels:

So, I spent Monday creating a chart to include the items I wanted to know about in my muffins…like calories, carbs and protein. I could have added fiber, fat or sodium if I had wanted to track those nutrients.

The two items below were essential to make this chart…a general book listing most foods and their nutrition content…and a calculator. I also used this website: https://calorieking.com/us/en/.

I printed out the revised recipe with the addition of one egg. Of course, adding the egg meant it was no longer a Vegan recipe. If I find the egg bothers me, I know the recipe is just fine without it.

I first started scribbling on sheet of paper and finally decided to make a Table in Microsoft Word (shown below).

The first section of 4 columns is for the standard measure of the ingredient; the next 4 columns is the amount in my recipe. Once the numbers are added up (shown at the bottom of the columns, I divided each number by 12 and got the final amount for each muffin.

First, I listed the separate ingredients in the first column. Then I looked up each one to find the basic measure (like 1 cup) and recorded the three values: calories, carbs and protein.

Then I recorded the amount used in my recipe and computed the three values in the second set of 4 columns. I finally tallied the totals at the bottom and divided by 12 (muffins).

Now I could say a single muffin would provide about 204 calories, 27.2 gm of carbs and 3.2 gm of protein. Adding the egg to the recipe increased the protein a little, but I could easily leave it out if this tiny bit of egg protein bothered me.

Note: This method isn’t perfect. I can’t guarantee that every muffin has the same number of blueberries, but it’s good enough for me!

At the end, I made my table into a Template by deleting all my notes about the muffins and saved it as a PDF. I will use it when I want to know the nutritional value of any other recipes I make. If you would like a PDF of this chart send me an email at marykisner@comcast.net, or you might be able to capture it right out of this post.

You can make a table yourself like this in Word and include the categories you are interested in. I probably should find someone who knows how to set up an Excel spreadsheet Template that would let me type right into the form and add up the numbers automatically! Wouldn’t that be nice! As it is, I’m happy using a pencil or pen for now. Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Making Sun Tea on a Cold Day

This first Saturday of fall the sun is shining, but we woke up to 42 degrees! The forecast was for sunny with a high of just 65 degrees. I wanted to try sun tea, even if it took all day. I really don’t care for hot beverages but I needed the boost of green tea. So I found some at the grocery store that had added pomegranate to it for flavor. I’m sure there are many brands and flavors, but this is what I bought:

I had a 2-quart jar and filled it with cold filtered water. I pulled out 7 teabags and cut off the strings.

I put the jar on our patio table in the sun and crossed my fingers. By late this afternoon, I had green tea ready to be chilled and poured over ice!

I probably should have used a 1-quart jar!

Seemed to work just fine! I’ve done this before for Bert’s favorite tea, but never in cool weather. It seems like a good hot summer weather thing to do, but this way works too! Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Two Recipes to Cook Delicata Squash

We have been watching the progress of our first attempt to grow Delicata Squash. Bert planted seeds under grow lights back in the spring and carefully transplanted them into the garden in late May. We did not really know anything about growing or cooking the squash so this was an experiment for the season.

We planted only 6 seeds. We had no idea how big they would get, but from the size of the first few leaves, I knew they would be BIG!

We watered frequently and held our breath!

We had to keep directing the vines back into the fenced area while the squash grew. It was fun to watch.

While we waited, I did some research about when to pick them and how to cook them. Eventually the skins turned the right color and hardened. They were about 8-9″ long. They almost fell off the vines last week, so it must be time!

Recipe #1: Roasting Slices

The first recipe I found was a simple roasting of slices. The directions said to cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and slice them in 1/4 to 1/2″ slices.

The flesh was about 3/4″ thick and the skin could not be peeled off when raw.

I put the slices in a bowl and drizzled oil on them, then added salt and arranged them on a cookie sheet.

I roasted them at 425 degrees for 20 minutes; then turned them over and roasted for another 15 minutes. They were supposed to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

They tasted good but were a little hard to eat. The rind was still tough so we had to sort of nibble on the inside. They were hardly thick enough to cut off with a knife. So…moving on to another recipe!

Recipe #2: Stuffed and Baked

Bert suggested we use them like we would a sweet pepper, stuffing them with a hamburger/rice mixture and baking them in the oven.

We prepped the squash like before…cut in half and scooped out the seeds.

Then we assembled the stuffing:

1 1/2 lb. of hamburger, cooked with onion, garlic, salt and pepper

1-2 cups of cooked rice

1-2 cups of cooked tomatoes (or canned)

Italian seasoning

We mixed this all up and stuffed the squash shells:

I covered the pan with foil and baked it at 350 degrees for an hour. This made a very tasty meal! The squash was soft enough to scoop out of the shell while we ate the stuffing. I will consider this recipe a success!

Delicata squash is not as sweet as Acorn squash, but it made a pretty dinner. It would have been good with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top, before or after baking (if you can have it). Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Canning Sweet Pickle Relish

Canning sweet pickle relish is my next big project this week! I know…why not buy it? Well…I use pickle relish mixed with my vegan mayo to make my own salad dressing, which I also use as tartar sauce for fish and dips for raw vegetables. I seldom use plain vegan mayo by itself. And yes…I can buy it easily, but I have yet to find a brand that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it, or have bits of tough cucumber skins. When I make my own, I can regulate the amount of sugar and make sure to process the cucumber chunks into smaller pieces. I also enjoy the satisfaction of having a year’s worth on the shelf.

Last week I picked up a box of small to medium size cucumbers at the Amish Farmer’s Market for $18.

As I washed them, I counted 75 in total. I use a packet of relish seasoning that makes the process easier.

For each packet, I needed about 25 cucumbers, which will make 5 pints. I had three packets for my 75 cucumbers.

First I started cutting the cucumbers into chunks…the chunks filled my largest bowl…13 quarts!

Next, in small batches, I put them in the food processor to grind them up.

By the time I was done, I had about 10 quarts of ground cucumbers.

Next, I stirred in pickling salt and let the kettle sit on the counter for several hours.

Pickling salt does not have the additives that keep it from caking. Apparently, regular salt with those additives will discolor the finished product.

When the 2 hours were up, Bert helped me strain the cucumber pulp through cheesecloth to get rid of much of the extra salty water. That reduced the volume almost in half.

Then, I added white vinegar, sugar and the seasoning packets to my 12 qt. pot.

Then the cucumber pulp was added and brought to a boil.

I was able to fill 16 pint jars. They processed for 15 minutes in a water bath. Of course, I didn’t get any pictures while I filled the jars! Sorry. However, those jars will look great on my shelf all winter!

My final canning project for this summer will be tomatoes into pizza sauce (here’s the link to canning pizza sauce from last year: https://marykisner.com/time-to-make-pizza-sauce/). Small batches of just cooked tomatoes to freeze will be my end of year project. Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

A Fond Memory While Canning Applesauce

The middle of July may seem like an odd time to be canning applesauce, but actually, it’s the perfect time! This is the time of year when all my canning equipment is unpacked and ready for the tomatoes and cucumbers to ripen. While I’m waiting for other vegetables, it’s also the perfect time to work with apples. They usually have been stored commercially in climate-controlled areas since last fall and by July they are much easier to peel and are usually less expensive.

On Monday I made a drive out to the local fruit farm and picked up about 3/4 of a bushel of apples. I first picked out 1/2 bushel of the nicest Fuji apples I could find. Then I collected a peck of Ida Reds. Fuji apples are “sweet & mildly sweet” and the Ida Reds are “crisp, tangy & sharp.” As I cut them up, I chose some of each to get the benefits of both flavors.

How Much Exactly is a Bushel?

I looked up the definitions of bushel and peck, because it’s been a long time since I bought that many apples by that measure. A “bushel” is first a measure of volume. In the U.S. a bushel is equal to 8 gallons, 12 quarts, 64 pints or 4 pecks. (The Imperial Bushel, used in the U.K. is similar, but it can be used to measure dry or liquid products.)

A bushel can also be used as a measure of weight…and the government has established standard weights for each type of fruit, vegetable, nut and grain. A bushel of tomatoes, for example is supposed to weigh 56 pounds, as is a bushel of shelled corn. But if the corn is still in ears, a bushel is supposed to weigh 70 pounds. Leaves and greens take up more space with less weight.

A better way to clarify for the ordinary person like me, is to describe what you can do with a bushel of apples. For example, a bushel of apples typically holds about 125 medium apples. That’s enough to make about 15 quarts of applesauce or around 15 apple pies. That information is so much more helpful for me.

So, this week, I bought 1/2 bushel of Fuji apples and a peck of Ida Reds (shown above). For future reference, that many apples made 28 half-pints of applesauce (equal to 7 quarts) and two apple crisps with about 12 apples left over. Not sure what I’ll make now, but my hands are pooped out and I’ll have to make a decision soon. Once the apples come out of storage they don’t keep well.

A Fond Memory While Cutting Apples

I cut apples up for 3 1/2 hours on Tuesday and filled my 12 qt. pot to the brim with cut apples.

Cutting up apples is a pretty solitary job and I found myself thinking about all the times I watched and helped my mother cut apples for pies (my dad’s favorite). When I was very young, I fondly remember her singing a silly song called, “A Bushel and a Peck.” I finally took a minute to look up the lyrics and sure enough, I found them! It is really silly, but what a fond memory!

Continuing With the Canning Process

By the time the apples had cooked down, the full 12 qt. pot was filled only halfway.

Then I scooped the soft apples into the food processor and gave them a quick zap. I don’t mind the sauce being a little lumpy.

Then I put the sauce back into my smaller 6 qt. pot to simmer. I had to add a sauce pan for the overflow. At this point we tasted it and decided it needed a little sugar, so I added about 1 1/2 cups.

When divided up, the sauce filled 24 half-pint jars, plus 4 plastic containers that went into the freezer. The 24 jars went into the canner and were water-bath processed for 20 minutes. Now these lovely jars are ready for winter!

You might ask…do we really eat that much applesauce! While it’s great as a side dish for pork, I do use applesauce as an ingredient in some vegan baking, as a substitute for eggs.

Do you have any treasured memories that come up when you’re doing something your parents taught you to do? Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Canning Four-Bean Salad

Remember that six pounds of green and yellow beans I picked a few days ago? (https://marykisner.com/garden-update-july-15-2022/) Over the weekend we managed to turn them into 18 pints of beautiful Four-Bean Salad!

I wanted to show you how we did it! I will tell you, canning in the Kisner household is definitely a team activity. I could not do it without Bert’s strong muscles to handle the canner. He was always willing to help, but years ago we invested in a canner that is hard for me to lift even empty…and it couldn’t be put on our glass-top stove burners. We now have a pretty slick set up…as long as Bert is willing to manage the actual canning process.

Since we can’t use the stove burners, he uses his propane burner that he set up to melt lead for reloading. It gets almost too hot so he’s had to put extra shields on top of the burner to help regulate the temperature.

Of course, that also means we do the actual canning in the garage. I’m grateful he knows how to do all this stuff!

My job is in the kitchen getting the jars sterilized and the food prepped. Since this recipe is basically making “pickled” vegetables, which includes mostly vinegar and sugar, the canning can be done with a water bath process. However, we use the same canner, he just doesn’t seal the lid and fills it with water.

When I can, I try to make a batch that will fill the canner…no point in going to all that work for 5 pints. So, I doubled the recipe…using 6 pounds of green and yellow beans, 4 cups of chopped celery, etc. Here is the recipe I’m using:

While Bert was getting the garage set up, I ran the dishwasher with the jars to sterilize them.

First, I mixed up the pickling solution and set it on a back burner to simmer.

Next, I prepped the vegetables. I had the beans all snapped and ready to go.

Then I had to chop the celery, onion and red pepper.

I measured out the kidney beans and chickpeas and rinsed them well.

I was using my largest pot that was full to the brim, before I added the beans! There was no room to add water to boil AND I didn’t have a long enough spoon to stir the pile.

Plan B kicked in! Bert went to the attic and found his HUGE stockpot that he uses to store cookie dough at Christmas. We dumped everything into the big pot (which of course, would not fit on the stove), moved it to the propane burner in the garage, and then added enough water to blanch the vegetables. I found Bert’s GIANT wooden spoon that he used to use to mix up cookie dough and we were able to finish blanching the vegetables out there.

The next dilemma was to drain the vegetables and move them back to the kitchen so I could pack the jars. I pulled out my HUGE colander strainer to scoop the vegetables into the original pot that did fit on my stove. By then, the vegetables had softened and fit back into the pot. Whew!

While I filled the jars, Bert emptied the hot water out of the big pot, set it aside, and put the canner on the burner to begin warming the water for canning.

When all divvied up, the vegetables filled 18 jars! The canner holds 19 jars. Perfect! So, the recipe, when doubled makes many more than 10 jars!

I used the pickling solution to fill the jars and had to add about 2 cups of vinegar to top them off. Once I got them filled, Bert took over, capped them and got them out to the canner. He handled the timing and watched the burner while I cleaned up the kitchen.

I now have 18 beautiful jars of pickled vegetables that will look and taste great all year! Of course, the recipe says to wait a month before opening, so along about Labor Day, I’ll check them out.

If you want to try this recipe, check your instructions that came with your canner to get the time correct for your altitude. Be mindful when you double a recipe…it might make more than you expect!

Four-Bean Salad

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

Making Chicken Cakes for Your Backyard Chickens

Let me be clear…I do not have chickens in my backyard. I wish I did, but now that I can’t eat eggs I don’t see the point and Bert would prefer to not deal with chickens as pets. However, a friend who does have chickens in her backyard wondered if I would test a recipe for a baked seed cake recipe. I guess similar cakes can be purchased but she wanted a cake that would have wholesome ingredients with no extra chemicals or additives. Why not!

Here is the recipe:

My friend provided all the ingredients, which helped a lot. Many of the ingredients were unfamiliar since I don’t work with chicken feed, so I had to figure out which bag had “scratch grain” and which was “layer feed.”

For example, the “scratch grains” were called a “poultry treat,” but basically it was an assortment of grains.
The “layer feed” was high in protein and had pre- and probiotics.
I certainly didn’t have “chick grit” in my kitchen!

The rest of the ingredients at least sounded like things I was familiar with, like sunflower seeds, whole wheat flour and cinnamon!

I measured out all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl I mixed the eggs, molasses and coconut oil. Then I poured the wet ingredients into the pile of dry ingredients.

I was able to mix it up with a big spoon. The recipe said I could do it with my hands, but the spoon worked fine.

My plan was to use my small loaf-shaped pans so I sprayed them with oil and filled them about halfway. I needed to press firmly in the corners and along the sides to pack it tightly.

I had a small cookie cutter and cut a hole to put the string through.

Once I removed the bit of packed seed, I inserted a small piece of dowel rod and packed the seeds around the stick. I left the dowel rod in while baking.

The last cake of seed dough I divided into two baking cups, making two smaller cakes. I wanted to see how those cups worked.

I forgot to spray oil on the paper cups…big mistake! I had to practically rip the paper off the cakes.

After baking for 30 minutes at 325 degrees, I let them cool for a few minutes. While they were still warm, I was able to twist and remove the dowel rods and run a table knife around the edges of the pans. The larger cakes popped right out of the pans. The smaller paper cups should have been sprayed but the cakes were fine.

I let the cakes cool on the racks overnight so they could harden and were not sticky. I was able to string a piece of twine through the holes and they are ready to hang in the chicken house or barn. Hope the chickens like them!

In the past I’ve also been asked to try to make a chicken coat. That was a learning experience too! Check it out at https://marykisner.com/when-does-a-chicken-need-a-coat/.

Give this cake recipe a try or share with a friend who has backyard chickens! You may be rewarded with some eggs! Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.