October 26, 2009

Christmas, Kindles, Citrus Honey Butter and Such!

Very exciting! After I wrote about the possibility of libraries someday lending Kindles, I discovered that one here in Maine - in Camden - already does this! Hopefully, this will be yet another instance of "As Maine goes, so goes the nation!"

I got a MOST unusual book order the other day, a person in Sofia, Bulgaria ordering The Frugal Family's Kitchen Book. I sent him an email asking how on earth he'd become aware of the book, and if I hear back I'll certainly share what he says with you. Speaking of The Frugal Family's Kitchen Book, it's time to order for Christmas gift-gifing. You can use Pay Pal here, order through Amazon.com or send your order to Cranberry Knoll Publishers LLC, P. O. Box 1317, Yarmouth Maine 04096.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Order now and you can get a free honey cookbook! The honey recipe book I mentioned a few weeks ago is now available HERE - Recipes for Your Honeys, an e-book. There are over two dozen recipes using honey for all kinds of dishes from meats and veggies to desserts. Lots of tidbits and interesting info too.

Cost is $2.99 and of course you can use PayPal to buy just Recipes for Your Honeys.

OR order The Frugal Family's Kitchen Book and you will be able to download Recipes for Your Honeys e-book FREE. Be sure to include your email address with your order. Click on the Buy Now button in the right column.

The Frugal Family's Kitchen BookThe Frugal Family Kitchen Book is $14.95 with FREE shipping and handling (in the continental U.S.). Please add 5% ME sales tax for books shipped to addresses in Maine. PayPal adds the $.75 sales tax to all orders.

I may have given you this honey recipe from the new book before but it's especially good on the pumpkin bread you'll be undoubtedly be making after Halloween! Or try it on the fat-free, sugar-free date muffins from an earlier posting.

Citrus Honey Butter

Combine 1/2 c honey, 1/4 c softened butter and any single or combination of 1/2 tsp each grated orange, lemon and lime peel. Use fresh or refrigerate. Flavors blend and intensify as it sets. Wonderful on waffles and pancakes too.

And now I've got to finish planting the garlic for next year as well as putting in the new lavender and catnip plants I was given yesterday. WHEN will this garden work end, I ask you!!


October 8, 2009

Harvesting Our First Soybean Crop

soybean, edamame


mushroom cap

Plus, a recipe for shrimp-stuffed portobella caps

This fall I harvested our first soybean crop; I can't imagine WHY it's taken me so long to grow them! Although I could have cooked them in the pods in salted water to just eat out-of-hand, I shelled them instead.

Then I simmered the beans - aka edamame - for about 20 minutes, dried them very lightly coated with some olive oil and roasted them at 350 for about 30 minutes. Sprinkled with sea salt and then tried to keep from eating them all at once! I will definitely grow much more next year as, like most bean, they grew easily and produced well.

Now, on to the the shrimp recipe. WARNING: If recipes that don't give exact ingredient amounts drive you nuts, turn back now!

Shrimp-stuffed Portobella Mushroom Caps

4 large portobella caps
1 can cream of shrimp soup
a whole lot of shrimp - I probably used 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag of frozen ones
Old Bay seasoning

Most cookbooks tell you not to wash mushrooms before using, just to tap to rid of any dirt. I usually wash them anyway, then remove the stems carefully, leaving all the gills. Grease a small baking pan and set caps upside down.

Thaw shrimp, remove shells if need be. Now, take some onion, maybe a half a big one, and some celery, maybe two ribs, add to the shrimp and chop. Set aside.

Cut up some leftover bread into small cubes, add to the shrimp, onion and celery and add all but a couple of TBSP of the soup, 1/2 c water, and a liberal sprinkle of Old Bay. Mush this all together to mix well. Top the mushroom caps generously, then mix the remaining soup with a smidge of water, maybe a splash of sherry and pour over the stuffed mushrooms.

I baked at 350 for almost 30 minutes so the mushrooms were nice and meaty and the stuffing had a nice crisp crust. Even filling the caps fully, I had a little stuffing leftover, and it was beyond delicious the next day made into a patty and pan-seared. YUM!

We've been pressing cider... we'll talk about that next time, plus our sweet potato harvest.


October 1, 2009

Books fall open, you fall in...

Books fall open, you fall in...
David McCord

Like so many of you, I am a voracious reader, and also like so many of you, I passionately support my local library. The past few years have seen some interesting changes, shifts in what - and how - America reads. Right now, with money still tight (no matter who proclaims this recession over), libraries are enjoying a resurgence of patonage. But, what will happen when the economy truly picks up? Will sales of "real" books rebound? Will the price of Kindles fall, and that kind of "book" capture more and more readers? No matter how libraries, books and Kindles continue to find and strengthen their niches, our reading life certainlyIS changing.

I've recently finished a delightful book called Little Heathens, recommended to me by my fellow "little heathen" from our teen years in Marblehead MA. It's a memoir set in Iowa during the Great Depression. Interestingly, I found it in the history, not biography, section of our library, but then it IS a remarkably detailed picture of a time and a place worth visiting.

Now, my son-in-law Shaun swears that I've never met a book I didn't like. Not true! Of course I can't imagine life without reading, but books themselves... ahhh, the smell, the bindings, the deckled-edge pages, the varying fonts, the sense of the person who lifeblood is inked on those pages....

And, so, I do love libraries too. I'm endlessly grateful to Mr. Carnegie, his vision and his initial support of that great egalitarian project, the everytown public library. I live in a small town, I don't think we've topped 10,000 in population yet, but we have what I consider a first-class library.

As in so many small towns across the country, our Merrill Memorial Library is housed in an old building, ours one of considerable grandeur and space. In addition to the truly eclectic book collection, there are many varied magazines, videos, and audio books plus, an incredible, multi-faceted children's program. I could not live without the garden, craft, travel and cookbooks available FREE right downtown.

There are art exhibits, evening author programs, poetry workshops, knitting and quilting groups that meet at MML, all of these well beyond the scope of Mr. Carnegie's original vision. But, this place, this heart of the community, like so much of our western civilization, all began around books.

And then there are Kindles. A number of my adult children have Kindles, the amazing reading device from Amazon.com. It IS stunning! In its size, features, capabilities, and yes, just plain practicality. For someone like me who loves to read in bed at night... well, those Harry Potter tomes can be hard to hold up, you know! And, yes, I do have a reading pyramid that I love.
The size of a slim 5x8" picture frame, a Kindle feels lighter than that picture frame with its glass. And, while I'm certainly not here to sell Kindles, I can see what it could mean to many readers. While our library has a small selection of large-print books, with the Kindle you can adjust the size of the font you're reading. As America ages, what a gift that may be.

If you travel a lot or it isn't easy to get to the library often, the accessibility of thousands upon thousands of titles, magazines, even blogs, downloadable in something like 60 seconds, is mind-boggling. And the Kindle can store something like 1,500 books for your perusal. Part of me really, really wants one, while another part of me feels disloyal at the mere thought.

Do you think there will come a time when our libraries have Kindles to borrow just as we do those audio books? Maybe we could rent Kindles from the library to take on vacations. I know our libary has been reporting increased circulation numbers in recent months, and while that may reflect this economic downturn, it is a hopeful sign that America's small towns are still reading!

Books, no matter how you access those written words, are an incredibly rich part of our daily life, and this country's library's are one of our richest small-town AND big-city resources. While a Kindle can offer the access, it will never replace the sense of community that our libraries often provide. Have you thanked a librarian today??

I'm currently hooked on Scandanvian and Icelandic mysteries... please let me know what you're reading these days!