Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve Dinner

This year's Christmas Eve dinner was the best ever! The veggie was zucchini with onions, and one of my daughters put in a late request for corn on the cob. Our dessert was a homemade version of Chili's chocolate molten cake, courtesy of my husband. Sooooo good!

As I plan the New Year's day meal, I'm thinking how blessed we are to have access to fresh, locally grown winter veggies. Rutabagas, turnip roots, onions, butternut squash, radishes, greens. Mmmmm. They will go well with a slow-cooked roast. What are you cooking for New Year's Day?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Cheesy Cream Potatoes

Every Christmas I gift my family by cooking whatever they request for Christmas Eve dinner. I decorate the dining room table, and serve a hodge-podge of favorite dishes. One year we had spaghetti with hot dogs; another year, sweet potato casserole with fried tilapia. Now that my daughters are older they are better at choosing foods that go well together. This year's menu consists of fried chicken, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce (how hard is that!), and "homemade, not the kind you add water and cook in the microwave, but homemade cheesy cream potatoes". Sounds like someone is paying attention to my food philosophy! I'm adding something green, and a dessert that has yet to be announced.

Homemade Cheesy Cream Potatoes

Wash, peel, slice and dice 6-8 medium potatoes. Cover with water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and drain. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2-3/4 stick butter. Use mixer on low speed to mix while slowly adding 1/4-1/3 cup milk, maybe a little more or a little less to get desired consistency. Transfer potatoes to serving bowl and cover with shredded cheese. Just before serving, microwave for 45-60 seconds until cheese melts.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mom's Holiday Punch

We all look forward to my Mom's Holiday Punch. It is the BEST ever! So simple to make and freeze ahead. Simply mix 2 packages lime kool-aid, 2 cups sugar, 2 quarts water, and 46 oz. pineapple juice. Then, freeze. Before serving let it thaw just a little. Pour in 1 quart ginger ale (about half of a 2 liter bottle), and chop up the ice block. Yummy and such a pretty green color, too.

Mom serving Holiday Punch

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Run, run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me; I'm the Gingerbread Man!
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without baking cookies at Grandmother's house. The grandkids sleep over and wake up to homemade doughnuts. Then, they spend hours baking from scratch. The sugar cookies and gingerbread men aren't complete until covered and decorated with homemade frosting. What a treat, and what a great memory for all. What are some of your Christmas traditions?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is right up my alley. Check out their facebook page. I say shop small, local businesses year round! :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pecans at Thanksgiving

Fifteen years ago Hurricane Fran destroyed one of my grandfather's mature pecan trees but not before a seedling had taken root in one of my grandmother's flower pots. My brother rescued the seedling when it was only 12-15 inches tall and planted it on the farm. Here's that tree now.

Producing pecans? You better believe it! Yielded a couple of buckets full. Looks like our Thanksgiving tradition of picking up pecans after lunch lives on!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dem Apples

Ok...there's apples...

Then, there's NC Pink Lady.
It's really hard to find a bad apple at this time of year. The first apple pictured above is a Gala from the local grocery store. While it is really good, it just doesn't compare to the Pink Lady from the NC farmers market. I challenge you to do a taste test at home. You will be sold! Nothing quite like dem NC apples.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Subtle Change 11

I highly recommend family dinner time together. It is a very important, and most favorite, time of day for me. Eating together keeps us close, as we use this time to turn off TV and talk about our day. We keep it real, laugh, have light-hearted conversation, and even at times serious conversation. We have had our fair share of spills and moments we will never forget at our dinner table. According to fancy, shmancy researchers family dinners promote healthier eating habits, but's that only true if the effort is made to have nutritious foods served. If you don't have family dinners, you are really missing out. I challenge to you to make this a subtle change. Begin with a few nights a week. Even if you're too busy to cook, bring home take-out. That counts, too, as Thursday night has become our Mexican take-out night. I would love to hear your comments about your experiences with family dinners. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Food Day

William and Helen Wise at NCSU Campus Farmers Market
If you grew up or still live on a farm, or with a garden in your backyard, you probably cannot imagine a diet without real food. By real food I mean fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy whole grains. Unfortunately, so much of the food our nation consumes today is overly-processed, stripped of valuable nutrients, and loaded down with salt and sugar to give it flavor. And this, I personally believe, is slowly killing us!

Food Day is an event that is storming across the country in an effort to support safe, healthy foods and to educate us about the importance of eating real food for good health. What better way to do this than to support local, sustainable agriculture. For more info about Food Day visit

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tuna Salad

Here's my recipe for tuna salad. It's quick and easy and is delicious on a sandwich with whole wheat bread, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise. I also make my chicken and turkey salad this way from leftovers.

Tuna - 2 small cans tuna in water (that's 10 oz total, or just a little over 1 cup)
Chicken - 1-2 cups leftover roasted chicken, chopped
Turkey - 1-2 cups leftover cooked turkey, chopped
Egg - I use 1 egg for every 1-2 cups meat
Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil - I have recently discovered this yummy mayo with 1/2 the fat and calories of regular mayonnaise! Absolutely cannot tell any difference in taste.
Mt. Olive sweet relish - from none other than Mt. Olive Pickle Company, a local company in Wayne County, NC.

Boil egg for about 8-12 minutes. Then, run under cold water and peel after egg cools down. Chop egg and mix with meat. Sprinkle with salt to taste, and add 1 tablespoon sweet relish per cup of meat. Mix in 2-3 heaping tablespoons mayo. May need to add a little more mayo, or a little less, depending on your taste. I like to go with a little less. :)

Say bye-bye to chips with your sandwich, and serve with fresh, seasonal fruit instead for a very healthy and delicious meal.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Reason to Drink Coffee

Not only is it my wake-me-up-gotta-get-going breakfast drink of choice, but now my morning java wards off depression too. That according to a recent study done by Columbia University. I could've saved those researchers thousands of dollars. Heck yeah, coffee makes you feel good! Thank God for coffee and thank Port City Java for importing the finest coffee beans from all over the world and roasting them in our very own state of NC.

Port City Java's headquarters are in Wilmington with franchises all across North and South Carolina and as far north as New Jersey. Port City Java shops are the only place you can get Port City coffee along with their many signature sandwiches and cold beverages. You know, going loco...I mean, going local isn't just about supporting local farmers. It's about supporting local businesses, too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seasons Change

I love it when the seasons change. It's hard to say which one is my favorite. I welcome spring with daffodils bursting forth from the earth and birds singing and building their nests all around our yard. The warm days quickly turn into hot, humid, long, summer beach days. And just when you start to get used to the heat, the seasons change again as the plant life turns into the gorgeous colors of fall. Call me crazy, but I even like the cold, wet, rainy days of winter, mixed with a little snow every once in a while.

Since I've committed to eating locally-grown seasonal foods, I now have something else to look forward to. As we bid good-by to the melons of summer, we are greeted with the fruits of fall. Apples, and pears, and muscadine grapes! Fall also brings in a new crop of sweet potatoes, pecans, greens, winter squash, and root veggies. Comfort foods for making stews, and soups, and for the "chili" nights ahead.

Here's how I make my home-made soup. Save any leftovers from a beef roast, including the carrots and onions. To that add one can of diced tomatoes, another can or two of water, and any other leftover veggies like butterbeans, cabbage, or green beans along with salt and pepper to taste. Heat and serve with grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Better than Mmmmm Good!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another First

Recently I tried tzatziki sauce for the first time at a Greek restaurant. It was delicious! I had to know how it was made and was told it was made with Greek yogurt. So, I applied my if-you're-trying-a-new-food-for-the-first-time-mix-it-with-something-you-like food rule and had Greek yogurt with strawberries. Yum! Then, with blueberries. Again, Yum! Who knew?

So, what is Greek yogurt, anyway? It's not that much different from regular yogurt in that it is filled with probiotics to aid digestion. But Greek yogurt is strained 3 times vs regular yogurt being strained only twice and that tends to make Greek yogurt a little less watery and more creamy. Delicious! Also, Greek yogurt has no artificial sweeteners and is packed with more protein than regular yogurt.

So, I challenge you...try a new food! Comment and let me know about it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Who's Your Farmer?

I watched a good movie this week. It was a love story, well kind of. The non-fiction film, "Ingredients-Who's Your Farmer", illustrated how people across the country are working to revitalize the connection between farmers and food; and featured restaurant owners passionate about food, farmers careful to preserve the soil, communities banding together to support local farmers, and schools educating the children about the importance of eating healthy.

I gleaned so much from the film, and was amused when the teacher asked the boy, "What are vegetables?" To which he replied, "Vegetables are for vegetarians." This simply reinforces that we have to educate our children! Many don't know how fresh tastes, or even what it looks like. They think peas come in cans at the grocery store. Like my brother said in the panel discussion that followed the movie, "We have a major disconnect with people not knowing where their food comes from or how it's grown."

Why does it matter? Oh...don't get me started...more to come about this event in future blogs.

I met Nancy Creamer, Director of Center for Environmental Farming Systems at NCSU

The movie was shown at Witherspoon Student Center at NCSU on 9/14 and was part of an event sponsored by The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS). Later a panel discussed what's going on in and around the University in an effort to support local farms. The panel consisted of a representative from the Campus Farmers Market; 2 local farmers; University Dining Senior Director of Hospitality Services; a grad student who is part of a team researching local agriculture, horticulture, and livestock;  and a rep from the 10% Pledge Program.

Friday, September 16, 2011

You're Eating What?

First, it was purple peppers. Now, bison. Once again, I'm trying something for the first time. I wonder if this is some kind of mid-life crisis. :)

Bison Burgers
Anyways, here's a picture of my bison burgers before cooking. Looks a lot like ground beef, huh? Bet you wouldn't know the difference until you taste. Your taste buds would come alive and say, OMG! That's the best burger I've ever had!

My research tells me that bison has fewer calories, a lot less fat, and more iron than beef. After browsing around Whole Foods, and finding bison on sale this week, I couldn't resist. Here it is smothered with fresh, sauteed green pepper and sweet onion, and oh, so good!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Color Purple

Have you ever seen a purple sweet potato? A purple pepper? Neither had I until earlier this summer. I guess you're never too old to experience something for the first time.
Sweet Potatoes - purple, orange and "ole-timey" white

Peter Piper picked a peck of purple peppers.

When a food is naturally purple (i.e. that's the color God gave it) then it is filled with wonderful flavonoids and antioxidants, or compounds filled with ammunition to fight bad cells that seek to steal, kill and destroy our bodies. The flavonoids found in purple foods help protect blood vessels, and are beneficial in ... oh what is it ... oh yeah, reversing short-term memory loss that comes with aging. Sounds like I need some purple foods!

So, what does a purple sweet potato taste like? Well, it tastes like sweet potato, so good.

And purple peppers? Well, they taste like sweet bell peppers.

Stock up on these purple foods and enjoy!

Purple Cabbage - so crunchy and pretty in a salad
Purple Muscadine Grapes - These yummies are in season now! Eat the peel for more fiber.
Dried Prunes
Dried Plums
and Red Wine - If you don't drink alcohol, then Welch's grape juice.


Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm Back

My short-lived break from blogging is over. I've had readers say they miss the blog, and I sure do miss creating it. So, if you're new to my blog, Welcome! Browse around and see what it's all about. And if you're one of my followers, Thank you! Hope you keep coming back!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blogging Update

To all my faithful followers and friends - I am taking a sabbatical from blogging on LivingWise so I can concentrate on finishing my cookbook. If you enjoy reading my blog you will definitely love my cookbook. Can't wait to get it all pulled together and in readers' hands! I'm keeping the blog open, but I won't be adding new posts. In the meantime follow me on facebook for news regarding the cookbook and when it's available.


Sunday, July 10, 2011


Finding a healthy meal to eat can be a challenge. Fried chicken, fries, it's just so good! The more of the type of food you eat, the more you crave it. Try to persuade yourself with healthy foods by eating them a couple of times. I enjoy almonds, apples and Rice Krispie Treats. Fast food is tricky because most of their food is filled wih fat and calories. When you're on a diet or trying to eat healtheir, it's important to know how many calories you're supposed to eat each day so you don't go over. Whatever you eat counts! (By: Jennifer Lait)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Cook Beets

"What is that?", people ask, as they walk by the display of beets.

"How do you cook 'em?" inevitably follows.

Well, if you can turn on the oven, then you can cook beets. It's that simple.

First, remove greens leaving about an inch of stem on the beets. Do not throw out the greens. Steam them; or add them to stir fries, soups, or stews.

Wash the beets really good - they grow in the dirt and can be quite dirty. Then, wrap them in aluminum foil and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork, much like the consistency of a baked potatoe.

Remove from oven, and let beets cool. Then, peel, cut and serve. Delicious with roasted meats, especially pork. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Days Gone By

On my walk the other day I saw something that I haven't seen in a long time. There was this house in my neighborhood with a front porch. On this front porch were chairs, and in those chairs were two couples - sittin', hangin' out, talkin', killing time. This brought back a flood of summertime memories and inspired my latest poem. I titled it "Days Gone By".

Days gone by
Hot summer nights
Barefoot and chillin'
Underneath Southern lights.

Days gone by
Front porch we're a'sittin'
Swattin' at dem flies
Fresh lemonade a'sippin'.

Days gone by
Ice cream homemade
Peach-flavored and delicious
By the oak tree shade.

Days gone by
Fireflies a'dancin'
In a little while
Couples are romancin'.

Days gone by
At a snail's pace
Much ado about nothing
No worries 'bout life's race.

yeah...those good 'ole days gone by.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

About Okra

Okra growing at Wise Farms

At the market...waiting to go home with you!

Pods washed...stems cut off...sliced into bite-size pieces.

Salted and breaded with corn meal mix from House Autry,
a local company in Four Oaks, NC.

Sizzlin' in hot cooking my fam-favorite iron skillet.
Ready to eat!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Watermelons! it's been a while. I apologize to my faithful readers. I have new farm pictures to share. Here's a couple from the watermelon patch. They are ripe and ready and at the Market now!

Sugar Babies!

Crimson, my favorite! :)

Friday, June 3, 2011


If you could have only one pan for cooking what would you choose? My personal favorite is my 10-inch iron skillet. I received mine as a wedding gift, and it is definitely the most used pan in my house. I can cook anything in it! Like women and wine, the older it gets, the better! Here it is sauteeing my yellow squash and onion.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saying Good-Bye to the Bear

Ok...I have to bid farewell to the bear. Just heard on the news that he has been hit by a driver in Zebulon and apparently didn't survive. Sad that he had to go without having found those good ole NC blueberries. Don't let this happen to you! Blueberries at the Market now! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Poor Ole Bear

"Bear sightings continued across the Triangle on Monday, with a black bear cutting through morning traffic in Durham and a bear later romping across a Chapel Hill golf course." (from

Poor ole bear! He missed the Lake Wheeler Road exit that would've taken him to the Farmers Market where he would've found his favorite - North Carolina blueberries!!!

We Want You... be our next winner of Wise Farms' weekly drawing! Pictured here are William and Helen presenting a Market Special to this week's winner. While you're at the market don't forget to stop by and register for your chance to win!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bears Like Berries

You may have heard that a black bear was on the prowl in Garner yesterday. Three local schools went on lockdown after he was spotted on the high school campus. I personally think he read my blog yesterday and was on a hunt for some fresh blueberries. Well, had he gone to the Farmers Market instead he would have found not only blueberries but also super sweet, bright red strawberries AND raspberries. Mmmmm!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blueberries are Back

The first of local blueberries are now at the market and just in the nic of time. I'm about to run out of berries in my freezer. I remember going "huckleberrying" as my grandmother Rachel used to call it. We would load up the truck with cousins and aunts and drive out to the fields where the lucious berries were so ripe and ready they would literally fall off the vine into our buckets. Those were the best blueberries ever and we would all leave with blue-stained teeth and tongues. We brought home canisters and buckets filled to the brim for stocking up the freezer. YUM!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Potatoes

New Potatoes Growing at Wise Farms

New Potatoes at the Market
Sweet and Ever So Delicious!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bok Choy

Bok Choy growing in the field...

Bok Choy prepped and ready to cook...

Bok Choy ready to eat!

My brother has all the talent for growing this good stuff...but I got the mad cooking skills. It's as easy as 1, 2 and 3.

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp minced garlic in iron skillet.
2. Add bok choy to skillet; drizzle with another tablespoon olive oil. Let it cook for about a minute or two on medium heat, stirring constantly.
3. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth, or water works fine, and simmer, covered, for a couple of minutes more.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, pour onto plate and serve!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Pictured here is corn growing now at Wise Farms. Irrigation pipes are under the plastic to control the water supply to the tender young plants. The plastic also keeps weed growth on the farm to a minimum.
The corn will grow very fast and will be ready early summer. Can't wait!

Monday, April 25, 2011

William's Pecan Tree

Here is William standing by the pecan tree he planted when he was 10 years old. "I planted two but the mule ate the other one," he laughingly remembered. This tree is now 60 years old and still produces pecans. It is on the "old home place" which is now owned by William's sister, Lillie.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tree Giveaway

This Saturday, April 23, Lowe's will be giving away, while supplies last, free trees in honor of Earth Day. So get up early and head on out to Lowe's for your free tree. When something is free it goes fast!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Thoughts for Earth Week

Whether on a balcony, or a half-acre lot in a subdivision, or a small family farm, or a thousand-acre farm, people everywhere can contribute to preserving our earth. Just start right where you are now. Clean up your corner of the world. Pick up trash even if it's not yours. Plant a few flowers. Collect and use rainwater to water those flowers. Create a compost bin. Plant a tree. Grow your own vegetables and herbs. Enjoy, appreciate, and protect God's green earth. It's the only one we have.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it; to tend and watch over it; to take care of it; to cultivate it; to till it; to guard it; to work the ground and keep it in order. (Genesis 2:15)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why I Use My Own Bags

With this being Earth Week I thought I'd share reasons why I use my own bags. The bag in the far right below is one I've had over 20 years. Underneath the word "EARTH" it reads "Every American's Responsibility To Help".

With these big bags I have fewer trips back and forth to the car to unload the groceries.

Just look at how much this bag holds...and it is not even full! Imagine cramming all this into one plastic bag, and no...the bag is not too heavy to carry.

Love this little bag. I actually have two this size. They are vinyl and perfect for meats. I help fill the bags at the store and package like items together. It helps save time putting things away when I get home.

Most cloth bags are machine washable, and vinyl bags can easily be wiped clean, making them last a really long time.

Lastly, no plastic bags accumulating in the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink, or eventually filling up the landfills. Makes me feel like I'm doing my part.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Onions

If only this picture was scratch and sniff. These fresh spring onions smell incredible! What to do with them? Roast them with your favorite cut of meat. Toss them into a garden salad. Cook them with garden peas. Throw them into a stir fry. Can't wait to taste-test!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mixing It Up

What's a mother to do when her child won't eat vegetables? Why, mix it up, of course. Simply puree a little spinach and mix it into the soup. Or, add a heaping tablespoon of sweet peas to the dinner casserole. Or, mix finely chopped green bell peppers into the pizza sauce.

I tried this trick last week by mixing cooked rutabagas into a small bowl of cream potatoes and melted cheese on top. One of my daughters actually tried the dish, even after I told her that it was rutabagas and potatoes, and admitted, "It's not that bad."

Well, it's a trick for us grown-ups too. Whenever you want to introduce a new vegetable to your diet, try mixing it with something you like. The flavors will blend together, and you just might discover that you like it. And, if you don't, that's okay. But you will never know until you try!

This week's challenge - Try a new vegetable. Mix it in your salad, stir fry, or rice. Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blue Eggs

Blue eggs? It's no April Fool's joke, and no...these eggs haven't already been boiled and dyed for Easter. Are they robin eggs? No, but they are from Robin's farm. So, I asked her, "Why blue eggs?" Here's her reply.

"I asked this very same question myself....apparently, there is a genetic abnormality in this breed of hen, whereby they only see the color blue....since they only see blue, they only forage and consume blue-hued plants, flowers and bugs. Since they only consume blue feed, the only pigment they have to lend the shells is blue. The more greenish colored consume some grasses along with the more blue feed, it would seem they may be slightly color blind. Your average brown-egg layer is not too discerning, she will consume any and all feed stuffs before her. Just like in painting, when you mix too many colors, the result is a rather drab brown. And as to the white egg layers, they are generally an albino chicken, pale in feather as well as egg - they cannot process color at all."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spinach Tortilla

Looking for something to do with 'dem eggs, spinach and onions? This recipe might be just what you're looking for. I was wary to try it, but it is REALLY good! You will need:

2 tsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
3 eggs, beaten
1 ounce grated cheese (cheddar, goat, or feta)

First, turn on oven's broiler. Using an iron skillet, saute the onion in olive oil until lightly golden in color. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Stir the egges into the spinach and onion and cook until almost set. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and put the pan under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before cutting into slices. (recipe from "The Gorgeously Green Diet" by Sophie Uliano)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How About 'Dem Eggs!

Pictured here are a few hens from Starrlight Farm in Wayne County. These lovely ladies produce 'dem eggs that are packed in our CSA produce boxes. Robin Creech, owner of Starrlight Farm, wrote this about her hens:

"My "girls" are a big part of our farm life! We started shortly after we moved here in 2002, with 2 hens that were a gift from our neighbor. We have been so impressed with fresh eggs, we no longer buy from the store, preferring to do without rather than use a lesser egg (well, we did buy a couple of dozen over the holidays, we just couldn't skip the baking!) We believe in a modified free range operation - without fences, the "girls" would quickly fall to predation. We have an open style of coop, for great ventilation, and a large fenced yard for them to forage. The yard is switched a couple of times per year to give them fresh ground to work, and the previous yard is planted in produce to our table. Then at the end of the season, the hens go through and clean up the spent plants, and weeds and bugs, all while laying in a layer of fresh fertilizer! We currently have around 50 layers, probably 30 of them in the first year of laying. At peak, we expect to produce +3 dozen eggs per day. We feed a commercial layers mash, supplemented with lots of fresh greens, fruit and vegetable scraps, and healthy bugs. We strongly believe that we need to know where our food comes from, that we have a responsibility to see that feed animals are treated fairly and humanely, and a desire to be more self sufficient. Personally, I think everyone should keep a few hens in the back yard - they provide entertainment and comic relief as they help amend the soil and provide us with the very best food! I am glad my eggs have been included in your business, and hope we can help stimulate a healthy economy!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Here are my grandparents, Ivey and Letha Wise, at Christmas, 1996. Together for over 50 years they married young, raised 4 children, were faithful to church and community, and were an ever-present force in the lives of those they loved.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Emily loves to bake, and she loves to change up recipes and experiment with what we have in the kitchen to make creations all her own. Pictured here are the most moist muffins I've ever tasted! I call them "Perfect Blueberry Muffins." Here's how she did it.

1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup strawberry yogurt (yes, strawberry, because I only had 1 cup vanilla in the could probably use blueberry yogurt, too)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups blueberries

Mix yogurt, egg, oil, and vanilla.

In separate mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, and baking soda. Remove 1 tablespoon of dry mix and mix well with blueberries.

Stir yogurt mixture into dry mix. Slowly fold in blueberries.

Pour into cupcake pan and bake at 350 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Honey to Fight Allergies?

Can eating locally grown honey combat those spring allergies? I decided to research this question and found a variety of answers from those who swear by it to those who say it's only a myth. Couldn't find any results from a scientific study. For now it seems to be just a theory, not a scientific fact.

According to this post at Mother Nature Network - "Your local bees are most likely to collect pollen from the local flowers in your area. That pollen will end up in small amounts in the honey produced. By ingesting that honey on a regular basis, the person eating the honey will build up immunity to the pollens from the flowers in their local region. It’s sort of like a vaccine taken little by little."

Sounds logical to me.

Of course those who disagree are those who have something to gain by promoting vaccines and selling antihistamines in tablet form.

What do you think? Do you suffer from allergies? Have you ever tried locally grown honey as a remedy? 2 teaspoons a day just might keep the allergies away. Worth a shot (no pun intended)...don't you think?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In Memory of Mallory

Mallory, beloved family pet, passed away this past week. She had a good life living on the farm and survived many close calls including a snake bite, a bite from a rabid animal, and being struck by a car. She was 12 years old and suffered from cancer but died peacefully in her sleep. We will miss her greeting us when we visit. Here's to you, Mallory! Rest in peace.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Grilled sweet potatoes - what a treat! And oh, so simple! These potatoes were baked at 350 for about 40 minutes. When they had cooled, I sliced them into 1/2" slices. Didn't even bother to peel the skins. Then, Gary grilled them for about 12-15 minutes more and basted them with honey moments before taking them off the grill.

If grilling raw sweet potatoes it takes about an hour to get them to desired doneness, and they need to be brushed with olive oil to keep them from cooking too dry.

We served these at the annual St. Patty's Run today in downtown Raleigh. Bagpipes. Lots of green. Men in kilts. Band music. Runners. Children dancing. Sights and sounds of vendors promoting sustainable living. Charitable event to raise funds for multiple sclerosis. All that and sweet potatoes too! 

Friday, March 4, 2011

St. Patty's Run

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, why not head downtown to the annual St. Patty's Run at Moore Square from 1:00-5:00. The Wise Choice will be joining others in this event to promote green living. We will have free samples of Gary's grilled sweet potatoes and information about our CSA program. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Barning Baccer

Pictured here is the tobacco barn that still stands on what was once my grandfather's farm. Housed under the shelter is the old harvester parked by my grandfather about 25 years ago. This stands in reminder of days gone by, those good old days of barning baccer. Now, just in case you don't about barning baccer, allow me to enlighten you. It's southern slang for barning tobacco - a process in which tobacco is cropped from the fields, tied to sticks, and hung in the barn to cure. The harvester was pulled by a tractor with the croppers on the lower level. The tobacco leaves were sent up on the big wheels where it was tied to sticks. There was a big pallet on the backside of the harvester where the tied tobacco was stacked. When the pallet was full it was lowered onto a truck and carried from the field to the barn where the tobacco was hung and cured under extreme high heat. When completely dry it was removed from the barn and packed for market. It was a hot, sticky job, but for me it was a family affair. Grandpa was gracious enough to make sure that each grandchild who wanted a summer job had a part in barning baccer. Gotta love him for that!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grandma's Garden

Pictured here are flowers in full bloom last Mother's Day in Grandma's garden. March is the anniversary month of her death 10 years ago. We miss her but still have the fruits of her labor. She was an avid gardener and had flowers blooming all year round, from the daffodils of spring to the pansies of winter. Here's to you, Grandma! We know you're in the garden of God's love where the petals never die!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cutting Back on Sugar

On Valentine's Day I decided that it was now or never. The time had come for me to cut back my sugar intake. Three factors jumpstarted this decision.
1. Type 2 diabetes runs in my family.
2. My brother told me he had dropped 20 lbs just be giving up sweets.
3. It wasn't going to happen by my just wishing for it. I HAD TO ACT!

So, I embarked on this journey. I did suffer from headaches and feelings of lethargy on days 3 and 4, but I hung in there. Cut back drastically on soft drink intake. And I mean drastically. Went from 2-3 sodas a day to 1-2 each week. Replaced them with water and added lemon when I wanted a little taste. Didn't eat from 2 batches of brownies that were baked at my house these past 2 weeks. Haven't had the first girl scout cookie, even though we had purchased 7 boxes. And the hardest thing of all - no Little Debby treats. It may be a small feat for some, but for me it has been a major milestone.

We have a weekend ritual at our house that involves waffles for breakfast, covered with that high fructose laden syrup. Not wanting to give up our family waffle time I decided to try pure maple syrup, and much to my surprise, I liked it! Who knew?! So, now if I can find a replacement for my chocolate cravings...any ideas?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Going Nutty over Acorn Squash

Okay, guys, if you've never tried acorn squash, take my word for it. These thangs are REALLY good. On second thought, don't take my word for it. Why not try one for yourself! Not only are they shaped like a nut, but they are packed with nutty flavor, and so easy to prepare.

Acorn squash ripen from a dark green color to orange, even after harvest. I waited until this one was orange all over for a sweeter flavor. This squash was roasted, uncovered, in a convection oven for about 40 minutes, and sprinkled with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Then, covered with aluminum foil, it baked another 10 minutes. After cooling for about 5 minutes or so, the skins easily peeled away revealing the golden yellow flesh inside. Yummilicious. Nutty. Sweet. Sooooo good!