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A Fall Surprise

November 25th, 2011

I have this lovely oakleaf hydrangea planted by my back door. It’s an elegant plant, reserved, classic, understated, yet so beautiful it almost take you by surprise. It ages gracefully throughout the seasons, every bit as beautiful in fall as it was in early summer at the height of it’s bloom season. This is what the progression of blooms looks like throughout the year. The flowers start off as a creamy green, then on to white in summer and burnishing to pink in late summer.



It never fails to amaze me each fall when the leaves turn this beautiful burgundy. I love seeing it every time I come and go out the back door.


In mid-summer this plant is abuzz with activity while the honeybees load themselves down with this pale cream colored pollen; making this plant an all around winner. When a plant is beautiful in all seasons and produces loads of pollen for the pollinators it’s a big winner for me!

Do you have any plants to recommend that are all around winners, being beautiful, care free, and beneficial to the wildlife or insects?

Quote of the Day: Little House on the Prairie

November 24th, 2011

Thanksgiving dinner was good. Pa had shot a wild goose for it. Ma had to stew the goose because there was no fireplace, and no oven in the little stove. But she made dumplings in the gravy. There were corn dodgers and mashed potatoes. There were butter, and milk, and stewed dried plums. And three grains of parched corn lay beside each tin plate.

Laura Ingalls Wilder –On the Banks of Plum Creek (Little House, Book 4)

I love the combination of what they had at this meal, simple, seasonal, and local.

One of the reasons I enjoy Thanksgiving so much, is that it’s one of the few remaining semi seasonal meals left in our culture: cranberries, turkey, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and squash. We’ll not think about the green bean casserole or the jello mold that sometimes appears on the table at some gatherings.  Whatever you happen to be eating today – enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving from Chiot’s Run.

Real Pumpkin Pie

November 23rd, 2011

It seems like you can hardly find a pumpkin pie recipe that doesn’t call for evaporated or sweetened condensed milk. Pumpkin pie is actually a fairly healthy dessert, especially if you cut back on the sugar a bit and use maple syrup instead. It’s filled with things Weston A Price highly recommends eating like eggs, dairy, pumpkin and lots of healthy warming spices.

I prefer my pumpkin pie without crust, so I bake it in individual ramekins or a one casserole dish. Real cream, whipped up with some fresh ginger and maple syrup, tops it all off for the perfect Thanksgiving or anytime treat!

I like my food with lots of flavor so I usually double the spices in any recipe I’m making; this one is no different. You will also find that using freshly ground spices really helps bring out the flavor of each spice. Freshly grated ginger tastes so much different than powdered ginger. I’d also recommend using sweet cinnamon instead of regular cinnamon if you can find it. I get mine at Mt Rose Herbs, many stores carry it in their hispanic section. The flavor of sweet cinnamon pairs much better with sweet things, it’s more mellow than regular cinnamon.

I’m not big on really sweet stuff, this recipe has less sugar than most so it won’t taste like the recipe from the back of the can of pumpkin. I reduce the sugar in mine to 1/2 or even 1/4 cup. If you like your pie on the sweeter side increase the sugar to one cup.

REAL PUMPKIN PIE

15 oz. pumpkin puree (homemade puree will yield a lighter pie)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup cream
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly ground cloves

whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsps maple syrup
1 tsp ground ginger (freshly grated is best)
1 tsp brandy (optional)

Heat oven to 325°F* In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, cream, and brandy. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves. Whisk the sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Divide the filling among ramekins (the total number will depend on the size of your ramekin, you could also use wide mouth half pint mason jars as well).

Bake until center is slightly jiggly and wet, about 1 hour. Cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving (they taste best if made the day before and are refrigerated overnight). Whip cream until soft peaks. Add the maple syrup, ginger, and brandy and continue to whip until medium-firm peaks. Spoon over pie and serve. If you’d like sprinkle some minced crystallized ginger on top for garnish and extra flavor.

*To bake in a pie shell, heat oven to 425. Pour filling in pie shell and bake pie at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and serve with whipped cream.


Pumpkin pie is my favorite thing that comes across the table around the holidays. I’ll pass up just about any other kind of sweet in favor of it (except for maybe an extra spicy gingerbread man). I always double this recipe because one batch never lasts long around here. I’ll admit to eating this for breakfast if I have it in the fridge and not feeling the least bit guilty about it. This would have to be my favorite holiday sweet.

What is your favorite holiday sweet?

My Turkey from Martha’s Farm

November 22nd, 2011

A few weeks ago I ordered my turkey from Martha’s Farm while I was at the Local Roots Market in Wooster, OH. Martha is Ecuadorian, and she has a small farm in Ashland, OH. I love buying eggs, chickens, and vegetables from her because she tends her farm using the old methods she learned while growing up in Ecuador. She was telling me that whenever she has a pest problem or one of her animals is sick, she calls her mom in Ecuador and gets a natural herbal remedy for the problem. Last Friday I was supposed to go to Martha’s Farm to pick up my turkey, but since I was sick my dad went. Sadly I have no photos of that part of the Thanksgiving day meal preparation, but I’m planning on heading over in the spring to see it.

This is one of the reasons I love eating locally. I really appreciate that Martha takes the time to raise happy turkeys that we can enjoy for our Thanksgiving feast. I also love knowing that my dollars are being spent to strengthen my community. Is there a better way to show your Thanksfulness than by sourcing your meal from your garden or local farmers? The funny thing is that I don’t really even like turkey; everyone else in the family does so it’s worth it for them to enjoy it!

If you didn’t eat turkey for Thanksgiving what would you choose instead?

Nourishing Colombian Breakfast Soup

November 21st, 2011

Many of you gave your home remedy advice on my Saturday post about feeling a little under the weather. Any of you that are friends with me on Facebook saw the photo I posted of the Nourishing Colombian breakfast soup I made Friday morning. This soup is great any day of the week, but it’s especially comforting when you’re sick.

Soup is not a common breakfast food here in America, but it is many other places around the world, including Colombia where I grew up. Serving up a bowl of this delicious soup is still one of the most warming breakfasts in our home. Mr Chiots loved it the first time I made it. There are a few different version, the one from the capital city includes milk and no potatoes. I much prefer the following version from the prairie region that I grew enjoying.

NOURISHING COLOMBIAN BREAKFAST SOUP

1 quart of homemade chicken stock
1 lb potatoes, cubed*
4 or more eggs
1 small yellow onion diced
3 cloves of garlic diced
4 Tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoon or more of sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 or 2 scallions, sliced into small discs
chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in saucepan over medium/low heat, add onions, cover with lid and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, return lid to pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes. You don’t want the onions to brown, simply to cook until translucent. Add turmeric, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Pour chicken stock into pan with onions and garlic, add cubed potatoes and cook until tender (10-15 minutes). Reduce heat to a slight simmer, break eggs into ladle and carefully drop eggs into soup, cover and cook for about 5 minutes until eggs are desired level on doneness.

Divide scallions and cilantro between four bowls. Ladle hot soup into bowls and serve. Add more salt if needed, Colombian like this soup on the salty side, I do too as I feel like it soothes the throat nicely with the extra salt when you’re sick!

*Any kind of potato will work, I prefer using potatoes that fall apart during cooking

I suppose “breakfast” might be a bit misleading, this soup would be good for any meal of the day, though I’ve never had it served to me any other time. In Colombia they serve different soups at lunch and dinner. I actually enjoy having something different for breakfast.

What do you think about soup for breakfast?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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