Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Best Applesauce Ever

Here it is - the best applesauce ever! And, oh so easy to prepare. Just made this today with fresh apples from the NC State Farmers Market. I used a variety, including gala, red delicious, granny smith, rome, and golden delicious. Love to mix it up. Here's my recipe. If you try it you may never buy applesauce at the grocery store again!

Peel, core and dice 6-8 apples. Add to saucepan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Add 1/2 cup apple juice. I used Simply Apple brand. Then, add a heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cover and cook on medium heat 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to desired consistency. Sooooo good!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


It's been a while since I've posted to LivingWise, but there is a time to every season. A time to get up and make things happen; a time to sit back and reflect on what's happening; and a time to plan for what's going to happen. Today is a day of reflection on my 2012 gardening efforts. You know my daddy always said, "You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl." The older I get the more I can truly appreciate that. Country living is my roots, and what is a country girl without a garden! Come...stroll with me through my garden.

First stop - marigolds by the front of the house. A success! Planted from seeds in August; blooming now. Lovely!


Butterfly bushes. Bought these at Lowe's back in the spring. They have quadrupled in size, and much to my surprise really do attact butterflies. Don't know why I'm surprised; they are, after all, BUTTERFLY bushes.

Up close and personal...where the butterflies at?
Got my daisy plants at the State Farmers Market (love that place). They have already flowered but some of the plants scorched in the summer sun. This one is the only one that is still green with new growth underneath. I'm curious to see if the scorched plants took root and will come back next year.

Daisies ... he loves me, he loves me not.

My black eye susans? Another find at the State Farmers Market, but they didn't make it. I planted them too late, and they too scorched. :(

My potato garden - another success! Produced the sweetest new red potatoes. Apparently, when I dug up the plants in June, I left a few potatoes in the ground. I now have potato plants sprouting throughout; new potatoes in the exciting!

Potato Plants spring 2012
Dug these babies from one plant for supper!

New potatoes randomly coming back, fall 2012.
Zucchini and cucumbers - a total fail. Well, not totally. They did, after all, sprout into beautiful green plants and produce flowers. I was so excited because I knew that the fruit was a'comin. But the bees weren't busy, and the seed flowers didn't get pollinated. Barren! So I cursed the plants and uprooted them this week.

Something else that was a fail - I tried to root clippings from one of my camelia bushes. Not a roots! But I do have 3 crepe myrtles sprouting from the roots of a mature tree. Guess I'll dig them up and plant them where I was going to plant the camelias.

Hard to see, but it's there - a crepe myrtle about 12" tall.

My gardenia for 2012. Almost didn't make it. Woke up one day to discover it hidden under a bicycle - yes, my daughter's bicycle had fallen on the bush! Damaged it a little, but not enough to cause harm. Moved the bike; popped off the broken branches; talked to it - you know that works - and now it has new growth.

Speaking of talking to plants - Here's Stacy's family. Yep, named after a good friend who gave me these plants some umpteen years ago, and they have done nothing but multiply and produce beautiful flowers year after year. Time to divide and multiply again. I'm gonna transplant some of them to my new bird sanctuary.

Stacy i.e. daylillies
Yep, my bird sanctuary. I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing all kinds of birds - red birds, blue birds, song birds, hummingbirds...well, you get the picture. I'm going to gift these little creatures with some bird houses, sunflower seeds, and daylillies - all in in plain view of my window! Can't wait!

Well, hope you enjoyed the brief tour. Make some time to add a litle garden to your life! Don't fear year, by the grace of God, the bees will get busy and I WILL have zucchini!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Urban Gardens

I don't know if they have always been there and I just haven't noticed them, or if they are just now sprouting. As I ride through suburban neighborhoods I see them everywhere. Raised garden beds. Veggies growing amidst front yard flowers. Gardens fully tilled and surrounded by electric fencing to keep the deer away. Containers spilling over with fresh herbs. It seems that there is a swing towards urban gardening and all that it offers. The benefits of eating fresh! The joys of reaping what you have sown! The beauty that these urban gardens add to your landscape!

Zucchini growing in my garden August 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012


More ideas for those peppers and red onions. How about shish-ka-bobs. I recently discovered "Recipe Inspirations" from McCormick. These pre-measured spices and recipe card inspire and move you away from your comfort zone. 

The Mediterranean package includes -
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp marjoram leave
3/4 tsp ground mustard
3/4 tsp basil leaves
3/4 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Mix the spices together. Drizzle olive oil over your choice of meat for the ka-bobs. You can use lamb, beef, or chicken. Then, sprinkle the spices over the meat. Marinade for flavors to sink into the meat.

In the meantime prepare your veggies. I used green peppers, red onions, and cherry tomatoes to make these beauties.



Lookin' good! Can't wait to taste!

Lefover veggies sauteeing in olive oil and Mediterranean spices.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Homemade Pizza

Wondering what to do with all those fresh green bell peppers now that they're in season again? How about trying a homemade vegetarian pizza.

So easy! Just spread Prego pizza sauce on whole wheat flat bread, top with fresh diced peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Add your favorite grated cheese and bake for 12-15 minutes until done. Yum!  We tried this a few nights ago along with homemade pepperoni pizzas, and my kids even liked it. Now that's a major feat in itself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Potato Time

There's nothing so rewarding as being able to step out your back door and gather up a few items for dinner. Here's a "mess of taters" as we Southerners like to call them. So tasty Saturday nite with fresh asparagus, yellow squash, onions, green bean casserole, and fried chicken. Mmmmmm good!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Veggies

I love this time of year. The new spring veggies are as delicious as the new spring flowers are beautiful. Recently I tried kohlrabi for the first time. As I've said before, whenever I try a new veggie I like to mix with something I already like. And that's exactly what I did with kohlrabi. Here it is mixed with purple cabbage and sugar snaps.

Look at the pretty colors!

I cooked it real quick in iron skillet with a little olive oil and lime juice. Crunchy, colorful, and oh so good!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Potatoes

I'm thrilled at the progress of my potato garden. I dug underneath one of the larger plants today and found these babies! Gonna give them a little more time to get just a little bigger before I dig them all up. Looking forward to using the planter bed for a summer harvest of squash, if it's not too late to plant. I'm guessing not since our spring has been so cool...will definitely keep you updated. What about you? Are you gardening? The hardest part, I think, is getting started. The fruit of the harvest will keep you going.

Here's the potato plants 2 weeks ago.

Today...look at how much they've grown!

Monday, April 23, 2012

What is Kohlrabi?

New at Wise Farms - kohlrabi. If you're like me this is a totally new word in your vocabulary. So, what exactly is kohlrabi? Well, a loyal customer has shared this link that answers that question and links to kohlrabi recipes. Can't wait to give this new veggie a try!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Great Article

This is a great article, too good not to share. It states EXACTLY what I believe. What are your thoughts?


One of my goals for 2012 was to try my hand at gardening and, as promised, I will be sharing updates on my blog. Here's the raised bed, 8' by 4' and filled with fertile soil, ready for the planting. But first I had to clear the area of rocks, roots and weeds. What a workout!

Red Seed Potatoes

Helping Hands - She'll have loads of fun when it's time to dig the potatoes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's in Your Box?

Just thought I'd share what I did with all my goodies in my produce selection for this week.

First, spinach frittatas for breakfast using the spinach, eggs and sweet onion.

I was out of lettuce so I used spinach on my homemade tacos instead. I always substitute fresh spinach leaves for lettuce. Once, I had a bacon/tomato/spinach sandwich with mayo. Yum!

Quick lunch on Sunday was hot dogs on grill. Mine was smothered with homemade cole slaw using the cabbage.

Sliced and diced carrots into strips for snacking and for packing in lunch.

Dessert on Sunday night was strawberry shortcake. I swear those strawberries from Lewis Farms are the best! Sliced more strawberries to mix in with my vanilla Greek yogurt for a quick breakfast.

I hope I'm making you hungry. These boxes are delivered on Wednesday to NCSU and any day of the week at the State Farmers Market. Also, have a delivery site in Cary, and neighborhood deliveries in Garner.

What's in your box? What yummies did you stir up? Comment and let me know.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Daikon Radish

Yes, they look like white carrots, or parsnips, but they are actually daikon radishes, and a great complement to Asian dishes. Ever tried pickling these babies? A customer highly recommends Pickled Daikon Radish (recipe can be found on page 288 of Jennifer MacKenzie's "The Complete Book of Pickling," published in 2009 by Robert Rose, Inc., Toronto, Canada). You can also find great recipes at for pickled daikon radishes and carrots. These recipes look simple, and use only a few ingredients. Those are the kind of recipes I like! I especially like to dice a variety of roots and roast them together with the family's favorite spices. What are your favorite recipes for winter's roots? Leave your comments, and I'll post!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Farm Animals

Another area of concern for farmers today revolves around the care of farm animals. Recent allegations and arrests for mistreatment of turkeys at a local turkey farm have proven that people are genuinely concerned about how our animals are being treated. And rightly so.

One of our most requested items in our produce boxes is for cage-free eggs. Wise Farms gets all their eggs from Starrlight Farm just down the road from our family farm. Here's a past post about what Robin had to say about her hens. She says it so well I have nothing to add.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pesky Pests

I'm much afraid that some of the farming practices of big-time, mass-producing corporate farms have given all conventional farming a bad rap. Especially when it comes to spraying for bugs, worms, etc. That is all the more reason for you to buy local and build a relationship with area farmers in order to gain a better understanding of how your food is being produced today.

Truth is that all farms have some sort of pesky pests that require attention. Farmers cannot afford to turn the other cheek and let the bugs eat up their crop. There simply has to be some kind of pest control.

Many times farmers will choose to spray their crops with some form of pesticide. Yes, organic farmers spray, too. What makes all the difference is what type of pesticide is applied. At Wise Farms an all-natural spray is used, one that meets organic-approved standards. And there are many crops from our family farm that are completely pesticide free due to years of sustainable farming methods such as crop rotation and no-till farming.

More to come...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Organic vs. Conventional

Organic seems to be the buzzword for today. People often ask, "Do you sell organic?" I want to ask back, "What do you mean when you say organic? What does that word mean to you?" Because to different people organic can mean different things. Oftentimes organic standards will vary from state to state, and definitely from country to country.

A much better question to ask your local farmer is, "What are your farming practices?" You might be surprised to discover that many farms, Wise Farms included, are practicing ways of producing food that equal or even exceed organic farming practices. But to be on the same page of understanding, you must be specific in your questions, and in your answers.

This week I'm going to sit down and interview "The Farmer", Mr. Gary Wise himself, and share with my readers some of the things he's doing on the farm and his reasoning behind it. Also, I'll be comparing and contrasting organic vs. conventional. You might be surprised, as I have been, with much of my research.

So, ya'll come back now, hear?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Video Worth Viewing

I don't normally do this, but when I find something with this much value, I have to promote it. Please take 5 minutes to watch this video. It is well worth the time. As always, would love any comments.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How to Have Fresh Butterbeans in January

I've been thinking and have decided that there are 3 easy ways to have fresh butterbeans in January.

First, live in a part of the world where butterbeans are harvested in the winter months. That would NOT be NC.

Second, Grandma's Sunday Buffet where there is always an abundance of fresh butterbeans along with other yummy veggies. WAIT! Grandma's Buffet? How I miss her Southern cooking. God, bless her soul.

Third, grab a bag from your freezer and cook 'em up for dinner. You know, those beans you froze last summer. What? Too busy to freeze fresh veggies? Oh, well. Guess you'll have to look at my pictures for now. Here's the last of my freeze from last summer's goodness. These thangs are incredibly delicious, and so easy to prepare, especially when you buy them already shelled at the Market. My cost is $2.00/bag; each bag is 4-5 servings. Time spent-1 hour. So worth it to have fresh butterbeans in January. Just follow this recipe, pop 'em in your freezer, and you, too, can enjoy fresh butterbeans in January.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cherry Tomatoes

These babies are bursting with flavor! Popped a few in my salad and roasted the rest for freezing. Oh my! What a great way to keep it fresh!

Here's how it's done. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon basil and 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic. Cut tomatoes in half, and place on cooking sheet cut side up. Drizzle oil over tomatoes. Roast at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until done. Freeze and use within 6 months. Great for pastas dishes, or any recipe that calls for roasted tomatoes.

Roasted and Ready!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Look Back before Looking Ahead

It's hard to believe that I am one size smaller than I was last January. How did it happen? Magic? I think not! Like most good things in life, it required hard work, discipline, and the encouragement from special friends. Thanks! (You know who you are.) We have shared recipes and kept each other motivated with our weekly reports.

Second, I cut back on sweet cakes and pies, sugary soft drinks, and milk chocolate. This was a huge feat for me because these foods had become my afternoon buddies. The kickoff for this was mid-February followed by a diet VOID of these foods for about 6 weeks. The MOST important thing I did when I removed these food favorites from my diet was to replace them with something equally satisfying. So, I added MORE fresh fruits and veggies to my diet. These are some of my new foods - bok choy, spinach, rutabaga, turnip roots, bison, purple sweet potatoes, almonds, and greek yogurt.

NEVER underestimate the value of counting calories. I know it may sound tedious, but with the help of online calorie-counting sites (I use this task is easy to master. I enjoy the daily challenge to stay within the caloric boundaries I have set.

And, last but not least, is exercise. That dirty word. Hoping I would forget, right? Well, it is of utmost importance. When I first started I couldn't last 5 minutes on the elliptical. Now I'm going 35 minutes. Way to get that blood pumping!

And the results - oh my! When the number on the scales go down, when your clothes begin to sag, when you begin to FEEL good again, when the doctor says "Your blood work is good!", when you have MORE energy, when you gain a new confidence that this way REALLY DOES work, you are motivated to keep it going!

My goal for 2012 is to weed out more processed foods from my diet, and eat even MORE fresh! I want to cook more meals at home for even MORE control.  That way I will know what goes in every dish! And, this last food goal is WAY ambitious - to try my hand at growing a few of my own veggies. I'll definitely let you know how this one goes.

Would love to hear back from my readers. What are your special goals for 2012?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Jo-on-the-Go is literally exhausted from all the running around she does for her family. Her busy days are consumed with her full-time job, soccer practices and games, household chores and errands, church activities, and dinners on the run. Farmers Market? What is that? Jo knows the value of buying fresh produce, but at the Market she becomes more like Wanda, indecisive and unsure. Jo would benefit greatly from delivery services such as The Wise Choice that packages and delivers boxes filled with locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Placing an order for NC Goodness is as easy as logging in online. Then, all she’d have to do is slice and dice and stir fry; or slice and dice and grill; or slice and dice and roast; and save leftovers for the busy days ahead.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cindy Cooks-A-Lot

Meet Cindy Cooks-A-Lot. And I mean she cooks A LOT. She cooks in huge quantities for a large family, pretty much every day. You can spot Cindy at the Market filling up her red wagon, and making trips to her car to unload and refill - once, twice, maybe even three times. She demands fresh, buys in season, and preserves those flavors for future use. Her pantry is filled with home-canned goods; her freezer runneth over. Cindy is an avid gardener who understands and appreciates the hard work that goes into growing fresh fruits and veggies, and she never leaves the market without at least one new flowering plant or herb for her garden. Hooray for Cindy Cooks-A-Lot!
Tomorrow, Jo-On-The-Go.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Roast with Root Veggies

Here's my New Year's roast. It was sooooo yummy and easy to prepare. Leftovers will be added to canned tomatoes for a warm and satisying soup and sandwich dinner tomorrow.

Rutabaga, turnip, carrots, and onions

After roasting for a couple of hours, I added the veggies and drizzled A-1 steak sauce.

Ready to eat.

Who Shops at the Market?

There are all kinds of people from all walks of life who shop at the Market. Through the years I’ve identified four types of customers.  On any given day you may relate to one of these shoppers. Today I want to introduce to you, Wandering Wanda.

Wanda heads on out to the Market on those lazy days when she really has nothing else to do. After having lunch at one of the Market's restaurants, Wanda casually strolls around, just looking. When she spots an unfamiliar vegetable, she wonders, What is that?  How does it taste? What other foods go well with it? I'd buy it and cook it, but I don't know how. How can I use it in one of my meals? Wanda's mind is a frenzy of questions. So many that she quickly becomes both fascinated and overwhelmed. She never imagined so many foods grew here in NC. The options are great. How will she ever choose?

Unfortunately, Wandering Wanda is the shopper who often goes home empty handed. Occasionally, she’ll purchase one new item intent on giving it a try. But more often than not, she'll buy something that is familiar, a food that she has already tasted, one that she knows how to prepare, or better yet, one that can be washed and eaten as is. Can Wanda step out of her comfort zone? Does she even want to? Only Wanda can answer.

Tomorrow, I'll introduce my friend, Cindy Cooks-A-Lot.