Ostara 2017 

It’s the night of the Spring Equinox as I write this. I’m tired (in a good way) from a long and relaxed day…even though I was working in the kitchen for half of it! Yesterday, my family tidied up the porch and planted another round of seeds we had in our fridge that were getting prepped to plant. We also repotted a few babies and took note of other plants that needed new homes soon. 

Today, my husband had to work in the morning so I spent the first part of the day alone with the kids. We ate a home cooked breakfast (as usual) and then took turns taking baths and showers so we’d all be clean and fresh for the day. I even got to do a face mask while washing the kids. By the time we were done my love arrived home! For lunch I made buttery seasoned Brussel sprouts roasted with pine nuts (I usually use almonds but wanted to switch it up) and topped with a egg. Keeping with the general Ostara food themes of potentially using seeds, nuts, greens, edible flowers and eggs for the day.

I also baked pretzel rolls despite having made regular pretzels yesterday. My husband loves these and always asks me to make them.

I topped half with sesame seeds. Yum! I love sesame seeds!

I even pickled some veggies! Someone likes the liquid so…

I had other treats I wanted to make but not enough mouths to eat everything I planned. Maybe next year! This year was more than enough for my family and for offerings. 

I even tidied the kitchen altar a bit for the day. It’s very simple due to the little grabby hands in the house. 

We played outside after I was done baking. My toddler Dagmar immediately jumped into this massive puddle. What else did I expect? 

Mina seemed to enjoy the light sprinkles of water that the breeze blew from the trees. Haha! (Not our car btw)

After ANOTHER bath for the toddler I took the baby upstairs to read while the other two napped on the couch. I rarely get uninterrupted time to read so this was very exciting for me. Then this cutie decided to giggle and smile the whole time which of course I couldn’t ignore! Aw! 

All in all it was a good and simple celebration. Nothing fancy and all done using things we had. You don’t need to break the bank or go all out to celebrate the change of the seasons! Recognition and time spent with loved ones or on some self care is all you need!

Homemade Bounty Bars Recipe

Most of the time when I feel like making something in the kitchen I want to make it immediately. So I go in and rummage through cabinets and the fridge to see what ingredients I have and start from there. I wanted to make something that didn’t require too much energy so I decided on a chocolate treat with minimal work involved. I decided to make Bounty bars. For those of us in the states it is like a Mounds bar. A Bounty bar is typically found in the UK and Canada but can be found in specialty shops, etc internationally. I am lucky enough to have had them and was happy to make some at home. I also didn’t have the corn syrup and marshmallows needed to create the base for Mounds or an Almond Joy so I kinda had to go this route. 

You will need:

*7 oz bag of coconut flakes

*14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

*2 cups chocolate (I used chocolate chips but you can buy chocolate specifically made for candy)
You’ll also need wax paper and either a double broiler or a microwave for the chocolate. 
Optional: extracts for the coconut blend and sea or kosher salt for the chocolate to enhance the flavor. Though these are not used typically. 

Mix the condensed milk and coconut together. Use 1/4 cup less condensed milk for not so “milky” bars if you prefer that. 


I added 1/2 a teaspoon of almond extract but coconut or vanilla work too. They are not needed or required however. I added it for my personal tastes. 

Form into bars with your hands and set on wax paper. Freeze for 30-60 minutes. I put mine in the freezer then cleaned the house a bit. Leaving them longer doesn’t hurt them. 

Melt chocolate! Either in a microwave with a microwave safe bowl or in a double boiler. I didn’t temper mine as I had a toddler helping and forgot. You can temper yours by melting in increments before adding more chocolate and then setting the bowl or pan in cold water. Seeing as I don’t have pictures of this I would refer to a YouTube video for help if you need it. If you don’t temper it you will run into the issue of it cooling fast and making not so pretty bars. 


I used two forks to toss the bar around. Use whatever you have handy. Spoons, chopsticks, etc. I had also added raw almonds for a crunch in some pieces as you can see here.

Set to cool. Wax paper would have been best but you may get a pooling of chocolate so I went this route of using a greased cooking rack. 

Let the chocolate set for a few hours then enjoy! 

Steel Cut Oat and Honey Bread

If you have read some of my older blogs you would know we like to buy in bulk and store food in glass jars. My husband bought me the “Outlander Kitchen” (http://outlanderkitchen.com) book last year and with it a ton of oats. Then he went to sea and I had no one to cook and bake for. I was pregnant and had no appetite most of the time and even though my family loves my food I felt insecure in giving it away to others with different tastes. So I didn’t use much. I had my baby at the start of the year and decided to finally start using it up. Here is one recipe I wanted to share (not from “Outlander Kitchen” just FYI)! Steel Cut Oat and Honey bread! It’s a bit crumbly but delicious! You can easily add to it as well. Add in raisins, chocolate chips, spices such as cinnamon, etc. You can top it with a glaze, honey butter, chocolate drizzle, etc as well. I made mine “plain” to show you a good starting point. It doesn’t taste plain at all though! You can easily use this blend in muffin tins as well for individual treats. 

You will need: 

*2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

*1 cup steel cut oats (I used quick cook but both work)

*1 cup boiling water 

*1 egg

*2/3 cup milk (I used cashew)

*1/4 cup honey (at least!) 

*3 tsp baking powder

*1 tsp salt 

*1/2 stick butter (or 4 tablespoons oil of choice)

*butter, cooking spray or whatever you prefer to grease your bread pan

Take oats and add boiling water to them in a heat proof bowl. 



Let sit for an hour for quick cook or two hours for regular steel cut. 

Start to preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as the next steps will go quickly. 

Melt butter and honey on low while stirring continuously. I used a whisk (my tiny one ran off with my toddler).

When the honey and butter are fully melted and combined add the mixture to the oats and blend together. 

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients fully.

Add milk to the oat blend before dropping in the egg. Mix well. 


Add the wet and dry ingredients together.

Here I used my Kitchen Aide as my kid likes to watch it work) but you can mix with a spoon. Mix until just fully blended. Do not overwork it. 

Grease bread pan and pour in mixture. 

Shake gently and then slap against the counter to even out the dough and have it fill in any gaps. 

Bake for an hour on the center shelf. Some ovens may require a little more time. Use a knife to check to make sure the dough is baked through. 

Immediately take out of the pan to cool. You can top it now if you wish or don’t top it at all. I used salted butter as it brings out the flavor. 

Let cool fully then slice and enjoy! 

Homemade Pumpkin Purée 

Making pumpkin purée is one of my favorite things to do as a family in the Fall. Even though my husband isn’t here and it isn’t technically Fall it was still a family affair! My toddler helped pick out the pumpkin and was intensely curious and observant during most of the process. Pumpkin purée is fairly easy to make. Just time consuming! We use pumpkin pie/sugar pumpkins for ours. It tastes so much better than the canned purees…but I admit I love those as well. This purée will last about 3 days refrigerated and about 3 months frozen. Deep freezing should allow it to keep longer…but honestly…it never lasts long because there are always yummy recipes you’ll want to make with it! 

You will need: 

*Sugar pumpkin (ours said “Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin” on the sign at the farm stand when we bought it)

*Kosher salt 

Wash and dry your pumpkin! 

Cut a little bit of skin off of each side to create a flat surface to help the pieces stay upright when baking. You’ll be cutting it in half so you just need two. One of each opposite ends. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut your pumpkin in half! Careful…they can get super slippery! I cut it in sections then pry it apart. 

Scoop out the guts! Use a spoon or ice cream scooper. Save the insides to make pumpkin seeds later!

Place pumpkin halves on container of choice. I prefer glass and this one has sides if they end up slipping around when I remove them from the oven. If you use a cookie sheet or other metal pan I would cover it in parchment or aluminum foil. 

Sprinkle with Kosher salt. You don’t actually need this much in my hand. I just poured a lot to toss in with the guts to prep them for baking tomorrow. 

Bake for 30-50 minutes. It really depends on your oven, size of pumpkin, amount of pumpkins you’re baking, etc. I would start testing the meat by poking it with a butter knife after 30 minutes. When it goes through easily and smoothly it’s done! 

Remove from oven and cool completely. About an hour. 

Use a spoon to help peel all the skin off. Toss or compost skin. 

Add meat to blender to purée. You may need to do it in sections depending on your blender. Ours has a little tool to shove things down but I still had to turn it on high and push down hard to get it all puréed as I added it all at once. You do not need to add water. The meat will release moisture as you go. 

Put in a container with a lid to save or use immediately! Enjoy! 

Nectarine Jam Recipe – No Pectin Needed

Jam making is one of my favorite things to do. If I am to be honest I don’t actually care much for fruit except mostly in smoothies it in infusing drinks. I am a savory flavor person and prefer vegetables. Though, fruits are my favorite to work with. The smells and textures in my hands are so invigorating, sensual and beautiful. The variety of color and the scents they release when worked with are intoxicating. Nectarines are known to represent romantic relationships (especially marriages), fertility, abundance, longevity, love, happiness, et cetera. 

My toddler goes through food phases. She seems to eat ANYTHING if we are out or at a friends house but at home she changes her mind on things she will consume. Recently, she went on a nectarine rampage and we bought piles of them. The last few days she seemed to be “over” them so they have sat ripening more and more. I decided instead of leaving them to make jam instead. I only had three left but you can easily double, triple, etc this recipe. 

You will need: 

*3 whole nectarines 

*1 1/2 cups of sugar

*2 teaspoons of lemon juice

*a dash of spice of choice (optional)

Nectarine skin has natural pectin so don’t peel it! If you prefer not to eat the skin then you will need to add pectin to this recipe. 

Wash and chop nectarines! Toss the pits or save them for other uses.

Place into pot and add lemon juice and sugar. You can add your spices now if you wish or during the last 5 minutes. Some prefer to add it later. I used a dash of cinnamon. 

Turn onto medium heat and stir. Cook for 30 minutes and stir every few minutes.

It should look something like this when close to done. 

You can mash it up with a potato masher if you prefer not to have such big chunks (or chop smaller to begin with). I mashed mine as I may use it for a cookie filling. 

If you’re going to can the jam you can proceed as you wish. I won’t be detailing instructions for that this time around. I decided since it is a small batch that I will be using this weekend that I would just let it cool slightly then add to a container.

Do not add steaming hot jam to a cool or room temperature jar! I let mine cool a little then poured. I added the lid immediately and the little bit of heat left sealed it slightly. I then let it cool more on the counter before refrigerating. Enjoy! 

Easy Savory Artisanal Olive French Toast 

The other day my family went to “Central Market” in Poulsbo (WA) to pick up some groceries. There my husband found an olive bread that he said was just like what he had eaten when he was in the Middle East. We brought it home and never got to it. It hardened and dried. 

Most people would have thrown it away but we know how to solve this problem. Make French Toast! Back home we often would buy various artisanal breads at our favorite Farmers Market. It almost always was rock hard the next day. So we started using it to make the BEST French Toast. Never soggy and has a nice chewy quality. For regular breads you can make it similarly to the instructions below. Instead of making it like this savory recipe use your regular French Toast recipe for soaking the bread in.

I don’t have an exact recipe for this. It is mostly experimenting with what you like and how much you want to make. What I do first is whisk some eggs.

  

Then I sprinkle the mixture with different herbs and spices. Pictured here is Turmeric, Salt and Pepper, Powdered Garlic, Smoked Paprika, Creole Spice and Dill. Use what catches your fancy though then whisk it again. You can add a dash of milk or water to make it fluffy. 

  

  

Then you cut your bread into slices no wider than an inch thick and place in the mixture to soak. Because these breads are usually dried and hardened it can take a bit. 5-10 minutes per side. Less for fresher bread. 

  

  
  
Then you can fry them in butter or oil until golden brown. If using garlic like I did you may get unsightly spots when cooking. It always still tastes fine to me though. 

  
  
Serve with alone or with Parmesan cheese or crumbled queso fresco! If you want to make your own bread from scratch that is even better! 

Quick and Easy Blackberry And Chia Jam 

Blackberries grow in wild abundance where I live in Washington State. Growing up in the city in San Diego I never saw these kinds of things unless we went camping or on vacation out of state (or country). Sure, I saw farms with strawberries, pumpkins and other edibles but wild blackberries? Never. Not any wild fruit actually. We have only lived here as of last July and didn’t find out about the blackberries until the season started to wane. No wild harvested jams or pies for us this time around! I did get to eat a few fresh berries however and my baby got to try her first blackberry straight off the bush thanks to new friends here. 

The other day we went to the store and I decided to make jam since my husband didn’t have interest in the mandarin and honey marmalade I made. What does go for? Blackberries. Well, he went for them after not finding plums. Out of season but still available. Part of me wants only to support in season foods grown locally or on my own land someday. The other part of knows that even though out of season these green house grown berries will make him happy. I suspect I will have to do the same with my children if they develop a fancy for a particular food. Though, I will always encourage and educate them on eating in season. 

So today I am making jam. Blackberry and Chia Seed Jam with Honey! We tend to have an abundance of chia since my husband consumes some daily. I am usually not a huge fan (he usually will take a spoonful with just water and hold it in his mouth before swallowing it. No thank you.) but I think along with the berries it will be good! It also will boost the healthy goodness of the jam! Everything in this jam in fact is pretty healthy! A quick Google search of the ingredients will give you lists of all their amazing properties. 

This particular recipe wasn’t made for canning though I will have plenty of those in the future! It will last a week or two in the fridge depending on how often you take it out and how tight you deal it. You can even freeze it for the future though that can alter the taste and texture. This recipe can also easily be made VEGAN if you prefer (it’s also naturally gluten free of you need it to be). Just swap the honey for maple syrup! 

Ingredient wise you will need: 

1 pound of blackberries (I am using fresh but frozen is fine and generally cheaper!)

3 tablespoons of chia seeds (We got ours from Costco)

3 tablespoons of honey (we use local) or maple syrup. You can alter this to taste. We like things on the sweeter side. 

You can also add a dash (I tend to eye things but I would say this would be around a teaspoon or less) of vanilla extract.

OPTIONAL: a tab of butter (noted later)

   

 
After I took this picture I discovered my daughter is tall enough to reach onto the table. There she grabbed the honey and attacked it happily like Winnie the Pooh. I finally managed to get it back and she joyfully bounced next to me as she sucked on her hands after. Oh parenthood. 

To make the jam you will need to add your berries to a pot (I use a slightly abused enameled cast iron pictured here. I promise I clean the crap out of this thing.) and heat on low while you mash lightly (leave some chunks!). They will create their own juice so there’s no need to add anything else just yet. 

  

After mashing I keep mixing on low for about 5 minutes. You may start drooling now when the smell hits you in the face. A dish cloth can be used to sop up the mess. 

    
 

Now you can add the chia seeds and the honey (or syrup). Stir continuously (be sure to scrape the bottom) for another 5 minute or so and watch it thicken delightfully. 
If it begins to froth a tab of butter helps. You can try coconut oil if making it vegan but if I remember correctly it is something in the dairy that helps. It doesn’t harm the jam so leaving it for thing is fine. 

   

 
 

Afterwards, turn off the heat and let sit for a minute or two before adding the vanilla extract. Now, you could can this in your preferred method if you want but due to the lack of pectin, et cetera it still won’t stay much longer. I let mine cool completely before putting it in a mason jar and setting it in the fridge.

  

You can put this in Tupperware as well. For a mason jar use a ladle and if you can there are different tools to help reduce splatter and waste. 

   

 

I love easy to make treats like this. It is great for the beginning homesteader to a seasoned one. Perfect when you don’t have a lot of time and/or don’t want to wait for good eats. Plus, just because it is easy doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious.