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April 2007

March 2007

Menu Of The Week


Well with all the craziness of the past week, dinner has been a bit scary. I was so glad I had some meals in the freezer. I wanted to share my quick, easy version of Swedish meatballs. These are not as amazing if I made them from scratch but this is yummy and easy. It is just meant to be a good dinner, when you do not have time to make it all from scratch.

One of the things I keep in the freezer is uncooked meatballs. I will get the big packs of ground beef and make a huge batch of meatballs. The girls and I sit around rolling all these meatballs. Freeze them on cookie sheet (so they do not all stick together in the baggies) and when frozen transfer them to freezer baggies.

You can make this in a crockpot in the morning or in a pan on a stove. Also I do not like can cream of mushroom soup (sorry) but I have found mushroom gravy from Pacific foods. It make a nice healthy substitute.

I pour one carton of mushroom gravy in a pan, add some chopped fresh or dried dill and some fresh grated nutmeg*. Add frozen meatballs (do not defrost) cover and simmer an 1/2 hour. I cook rice in the rice-cooker while the meatballs are simmering. When meatballs are done, I pull the pan off  the heat. I gently scoop meatballs into a bowl. Then I whisk in a 1/2 carton of sour cream in gravy and add more dill. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve with rice and veggie.

For a quick dessert, sprinkle chocolate granola over ice cream.

When ever I am temped to be lazy and not cook dinner, I try to remember if I do not blow my money on bad, quick food, then I can go out to and have a proper yummy dinner down the road. This and being prepared helps me.

*About fresh nutmeg: It has a peppery quality, but dried nutmeg looses that pepperyness and is just sweet. So in savory cooking only use fresh nutmeg. If you do not have fresh nutmeg, just leave it out. 

Picture by Jean Delville

Things I Love




Things I love

These wonderful Out Of Hands, Paper Roses. I love ideas of using what I already have around my house.


Susan if you read this post, I can not tell you how much we are enjoying China Bayles' Book Of Days by Susan Wittig Albert. I like that each page is just a bite of info. Not toomuch but very interesting. I have read a lot about herbs, but am still learning things I did not know. Aubern'e is also really enjoying it. She is really like the bits of history. At the beginning of the week, we check out the book for the upcoming week. This is a really wonderful resource for our homeschool. Susan also has  About Thyme podcast. If you go to the China Bayle link, you can sign up for a free weekly e-mail that is very similar to what is in the book. Thank you Susan.


Ohh my gosh what can I say about Harry and David's Moose Munch Bars. Well except you HAVE to try one. I got mine at Target. Heaven !!!


I rented Great Scotch Whiskey  at nextflix (Although I think it is called On The Whiskey Trail, but it is the same thing) and I have to say David and I loved this video. I am not into whiskey at all but it was like a wonderful travel video of Scotland. There is also the most fascinating history. It was like a little mini-vacation. There is also one on Irish whiskey. We enjoyed them soo much, I bought them for David.

Lastly, if you bought a copy of the petite-mag and your first page is the content page and not the cover, please e-mail me [email protected] so I can fix it. Thank you xoxox


Egg Issue




Okay, wah-laa here is what I have been up to.

A petite-magazine to sell. It is a PDF file that you purchase and save. You can print it up or just read it on your computer. I will say it is very large (24 pages, all with pictures) so it can take a while to download but hopefully worth it.  I chose an egg theme, which seemed perfect for spring and a new beginning. Read below and you can see what there is in the egg issue. It is $6.25 and as I said 24 pages. If you have questions feel free to e-mail me.

Thank you Angie, Mary and Kristin helping me and putting up with my neurotic behavior this past week.

I also wanted to say please do not feel pressured to purchase my petite-magazine or to feel that you should not come to my blog because you did not purchase it. My blog is a gift for all and it can be so tricky to have a blog and sell things. But I never want to take away from Storybook Woods. So just enjoy and no pressure xoxox




No, I have not died




Well I am sure you are thinking I fell off the earth, but I am here peeking out from my dark hole (my library) to say hello. I am almost done and hopefully will be able to share my secret. I will say my brain is soo much bigger then it was a week ago. I have not had to work or think this hard in a long time. While you are waiting on me, check out this new yummy blog. Tparty I have always wanted a tea house and it would be just like your Susan. I love it and am sure you readers will too. 


Project Break




Hello ladies, I have a secret project I am working on and hopefully I will be able to do it. I am going to take a week of from the blog to work on it. I will miss all of you but hopefully I will have a productive week. Remember to do something fun and eat something yummy every day.      It is most important xoxox


Menu Of The Week


Happy Saint Paddy's day to all. My girls love Saint Patrick's day because it is the one day a year I make corned beef, even thought it is not very Irish. Actually I make the same meal pretty much each year. It is what the girls want. I do a basic corned beef in the crockpot and sever it with lots of mustard on the side. We make a soda bread and the cheesey potatoes are a must. Actually my girls will eat those cheesey potatoes everyday if I would let them. I hate cabbage cooked with corned beef it is too slimy for me. Plus I tend to like my veggies raw. So I just chop up some cabbage, sometimes add some chopped apples too and make a tangy sour cream dressing. If the chives are up in my garden I add those. For my dear hubby who brews his own beer I make my easy chocolate mousse with dark stout. I actually make a plain batch for the girls and stout one for us. You will see I add a bit of sugar to the recipe to balance out the stout a bit. If you like beer but not stout you can use an ale. Just do not use a light beer it will got lost in that chocolate.


May you be blessed with
warmth in your home,
love in your heart,
peace in your soul
and joy in your life


Corned beef in crockpot with spicy mustard on the side.

Cheesey Potatoes

Chopped fresh cabbage salad with Sour Cream Dressing

Irish Soda Bread
makes 2 small loafs

2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups white flour
½ cup rolled oats, chopped in a processor (Do not use instant oats)
½ cup sugar or sweetener
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
I tsp. anise seeds
½ cup currants
¼ cup molasses
1 stick of chilled butter
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 egg

Pre-heat oven 350°F. Combined dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in butter. Add wet ingredients to dry, mix and add currents. Scoop half on a buttered cookie sheets.
This is a fairly wet dough, so you just sort of plop it on the baking sheet.
Kind of like a big drop biscuit. Bake about 30-35 minutes until cooked in the center when inserted with a toothpick.


Chocolate Mousse with Dark Stout


I cup dark chocolate, chopped in small pieces or chips

(you can use any chocolate, I just like dark with the stout)

1 egg

pinch of  salt

¼ cup sugar

¾ cup heavy cream

¼ cup dark stout


In a blender put chocolate, egg, salt and sugar, do NOT blend yet.

In small sauce pan bring milk and stout to just before boiling point, pull of heat. Quickly pour milk over chocolate and blend one minute until is chocolate melted.

Pour into small cups and put in fridge till firm.

Frayed Flower




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I saw these amazing flowers at Miz.SmoochieLips and luckily for me she did a wonderful Frayed Flower tutorial. We had soo much fun making these. Thank you Tia for the idea and tutorial xoxo


Blackboard Sketching




Hello I do not know if anyone has worked with soft pastels but we love them. What we love is how easy they are to draw with and how wonderful they are for layering colors. I took a class a long time ago about how to get children interested in art. She recommended soft pastels. You start either with light and go darker, visa-versa. You make a basic shape like an oval and start adding to it. Lets say a  fish, add smudgy fins, face, ect. Then finally add strokes to define your picture. It is amazing how much detail there is for little effort. This is why this is good for a reluctant artist.

I love them because I love to smug all my colors together and these blend so beautifully. The soft pastels we use is a 60 box of half sticks by Rembrandt. I know they are a bit pricey but they last forever. I found them for a very good price at Blick. If you want to set the pictures so they do not smudge, spray them with hairspray. But this does darken the colors a bit.

Now to my post I found this wonderful old book Blackboard Sketching by Fredrick Whitney. He is sketching with chalk on a chalkboard but uses the same technique I was talking about. I think the soft pastels would work wonderful with this book. I found Blackboard Sketching very charming and inspiring. My favorite combo !!!


Three Citrus Cookies




I thought I should make something that did not have chocolate in, although I am not sure why :)

These three citrus cookies are divine and refreshing, especially this time of year. They are basically a sugar cookie with the zest of lemon, lime and orange. If you already have a sugar cookie recipe you love just add the zest to it. I roll the dough into logs, freeze the dough and slice off cookies to bake. As with the other recipes  I have been sharing, do not thaw. I find inserting the dough wrapped in a piece of wax paper into a paper towel tube, helps me to roll the dough. The dough is soft and easy to roll.

A couple of tips.

1 I use a fair amount of zest because remember when you freeze items they loose their flavor a bit and you want to keep that punch.

2 Make sure you really get your butter and egg mixture all mixed because when you add the flour, you want to just barely mix it till it comes together. So feel free to really mix the butter and scrap the bowl and get all those bits, so you are ready for the flour.

3 If you do not want to freeze the dough at lest chill it an hour. You want that butter to re-harden.

4 After the cookie dough has frozen make sure you wrap the dough well and always keep frozen.

5 Keep roll on flat surface till frozen, so it will freeze flat (I made this mistake !!)

6 Here is a tag (just click on it to make it bigger) for you to save in your pictures and print up. If you give a roll to a needy friend you can add the tag. Enjoy !!!


Three Citrus Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 cup all-purpose white flour (or all white flour)

1/2 cup sugar, I used evaporated cane

3 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

zest of a lime

zest of a lemon

zest of 1/2 a orange

In mixer cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Add zests, yolks and vanilla. Mix, scrap down bowl and mix again. Add flour and salt and mix till it just comes together. 

Divide dough in half. Roll  into 12 inch long logs. Wrap in wax paper and freeze on cookie sheets. When frozen cut logs in half and wrap in wax paper again. Then set rolls into freezer baggie.   

To bake, pre-heat oven 350. Slice cookies, set on greased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden on the edges.

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Chocolate Granola




Lets have breakfast. I have never made this before and I have to say it is a big hit. We call it healthy coco puffs, because it turns the milk all chocolaty. Now you will have to bare with me a minute. I can go on and on about food, but I will try not to. When I was deciding what nuts and fruits to use, I thought about a Pinot Noir. A good red wine and chocolate have a lot in common. There is the woody oak and tannins, to me hazelnuts have the same qualities. Then there is the fruit. Figs, cherries, strawberries. Also sometimes coconut, herbs, lavender. I tried to match some of those flavors in this granola. So that is why I chose the nuts and fruits I did, but any will do. Use what you love. Some versions I am planning on making are ginger or orange. If you are using nuts you should toasted them before you make granola. It will add sooo much more flavor. If you do not know how to toasted and peel hazelnuts, here is how . I keep my granola in an old glass peanut butter jar. Just pick a container that is tight.

Chocolate Granola

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup raw sunflower seed

1/3 cup wheat germ

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup unsweetened coco powder

2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup oil (I use mild flavor olive oil)

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup dried figs, cubed

1/2 cup dried currents

1/2 cup dried cherries, cut in half

Pre-heat over 300

Put in a big bowl nuts, germ, coconut, oats and coco. In a small bowl mix oil, honey, maple and salt. Pour liquid over oats and mix. If all oats do not look coated add a bit more oil, till all coated.

Spread oats on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 40-60 till oats dried. turn oats over every 15 minuets to ensure even toasting. Allow to cool before storing in container.






One thing I try to always have in my freezer are biscuits. We are big tea drinkers (12 pds a year) and I like to be able to at lest have some biscuits with our tea. They are great for desserts too. Add some sliced bananas and nutella. Of course fresh fruit and whip cream, or just jam and butter. My favorite is a piece of chocolate (dark of course :) with orange marmalade !!!

You will see this recipe (click above) uses buttermilk. I use a high fat buttermilk. Fat makes perfect biscuit. I know, I know fat. But it is better to have one small perfect thing, then a whole lots of nothing.

Also I say in the recipe to kneed 6 times. What I mean is to fold over the dough six time. You press the dough into a rectangle, fold over, turn the dough. Basically do this pattern 6 times. This will help create a flaky biscuits. It is not hard, just press gently.

Lastly I think baking biscuits frozen makes a better biscuit. Now I am not an a pastry chef and do not know a ton about the science of baking. I can not prove this but I think the texture and moistness of a biscuit that was baked off frozen is better then chilled. So I always freeze my biscuits. Boy that does not sound good does it ;)


3 Ginger Banana Muffins



 My freezer is full of unbaked muffins !!! I do not like to bake muffins and then freeze them. I find they just are not as good. So I started playing around with how to freeze the muffins unbaked. I have been doing this for several years and love it. It really only adds a few minutes to the cooking time. Every once in a while I will get a one weird muffin that does not cook like the rest but that has happened maybe 6 times.

This is what I do, I set paper cups in muffin tins and fill the cups with the batter. I set the tin in the freezer. When the muffins freeze I pull them out of the tins and put them in freezer baggie. I like that I can pull out only as many muffins as I want to bake. I just set the frozen muffin in the muffin tin and bake. Easy, easy!!

One problem I have had with freezing muffins is if the recipe has a lot of sugar it does not fully freeze. I do use several different types’ flour because I think it is healthy to eat different types of grains. But you can make this with all white, all wheat even gluten free.

Another thing, I used both oil and butter in most muffins I make. Oil adds moister to the muffins but I love the taste of butter. So I use both. I know there seems like a long list of ingredients but it is all those spices add layers and that add more depth of flavor. Also when you freeze things the spices sort of lose some of their pow, so up the ginger and cinnamon a bit.


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 3 Ginger Banana Muffins

make about 16 muffins


3 ripe bananas

2 eggs

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup sugar or evaporated cane

1/4 cup mild flavored olive oil

1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

1 tsp. vanilla extract.

3 TBL. finely chopped candied ginger

1 TBL. fresh grated ginger

1 tsp. powdered ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup oat flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven 350˚F

In a bowl mash bananas with a potato masher. Then add eggs, butter, oil, and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together, add and stir until just mixed. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups to top and bake 20-30 minutes, until center is done (remember do not over bake !)

Soda Bread with Candied Oranges and Dark Chocolate




Okay this is another one of those brilliant recipes that always turns out and always impresses. The yummy soad bread with just a hint of chocolate and orange is amazing !!!!

It makes a large loaf. What I do is make a double batch and then make four small loafs. I make the dough and set each round in one corner of a cookie sheet. I then set the cookie sheet in the freezer uncovered. When the dough freezes, I wrap each loaf individually in foil and put it in a freezer baggies. Then when wanting a loaf you unwrap it and bake frozen. It will only add 5-10 minutes more to cooking. There are 2 reasons I do this. First the original loaf is pretty big to bake off frozen. Second I am trying to controle what we eat. If I bake a lot, we eat a lot. A small loaf make 4 nice size wedges. Just perfect for my family.



Without going on and on, one of the problems with baking is there are lots of different versions of things. Soda bread can be like that. It can be very dry and bread like, it can be very moist and biscuit like. I would say this recipe is similar to a scone batter (well to what I call a scone. Again different people have different versions). One person mentioned their scones never turn out. Well without me being there I am not sure why. It could be a bad recipe. Sadly to say, there are more bad recipes out there then good ones. But here are some tricks that work for me when making things like scones, biscuits and this recipe.

1. Keep butter in the size of small peas. You do not want it blended too much. You want to feel rough pieces of butter. As you bake, those bigger pieces of butter will help create a flaky texture.

2. Make sure the butter is very cold before you bake. Let say you are making this recipe and want to bake it then. At least set your soad bread back in the fridge or freezer for 1/2 hour to rechill the butter. Cold is your friend.

3.Do NOT over mix. This is not bread dough, you do not want to knead. Use a light hand when working. When mixing wet with dry mix till it just comes together, then stop. Even when using a recipe for biscuits that calls for kneading, go very lightly.

4. Do not OVERbake. A lot of baked items I have had over the years were baked way to long. You bake till the center is done. If it is cookies you bake even less but that is another post. Do not worry about if the outside looks brown enough, just cook this soad bread till it is cooked in the center. Not a minute more. With this recipe, at 40 minutes I would start keeping an eye on it.

5. Lastly, this is not a trick but I find baked items like this cooked with buttermilk seem to be tender. So the buttermilk in the recipe will help. Get the best richest buttermilk you can get.

I hope this helps. I am no expert, just a homemaker. But over the years of me cooking, helping other, teaching my girls and friends these are things I have learned. I know with this long post it sounds hard, but it really is not. After a couple of times it will seem like old hat.


Soda Bread with Candied Oranges and Dark Chocolate

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all white flour)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup bittersweet , cut into 1/3-inch pieces or chips
1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced or zest from 2 oranges
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat to 350°F. Grease baking sheet. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter, rub in with fingertips or mix in a food processor until butter is the size of small peas. Stir in chocolate and orange peel. Add buttermilk and egg in medium bowl until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Scoop dough onto cookie sheet. Form dough into about 6-inch-diameter round, about 2 inches high. Using sharp knife, cut 1-inch-deep x on top of bread.

Bake bread about 50-65 minutes (35-45 for small loaf) till center comes clean when inserted with a skewer. Transfer bread to rack.
Makes 1 large round loaf


My no-bake cookies


   My freezer is looking pretty empty and that always makes me nervous. I love to see my basement full of rolls of toilet-paper, plenty of light bulbs, extra laundry soap and a full freezer. I want back up, extra, just in case. I am not sure what I think is going to happen but just in case. I am blessed with a 1000 square foot basement, so I can indulge this quirk!

    As much as I love to cook, as I always say I am a lazy cook. For me it is just as easy to make a triple batch, as a single batch. Then I have extras for down the road. I decided this coming week to focus on baking and desserts. All week I will be posting recipes for baked items to fill your freezer and easy quick desserts.

     My plan is each morning for this up & coming week is to make one item each day. Hopefully at the end of the week I will have plenty of muffins, scones, soda bread, cookies, etc. Not just for my family over the next few months but also for friends in need, unexpected guests. It is  lovely to be able to whip out some scones for impromptu tea parties as needed. If you are interested in doing some baking, here is a wonderful post from Dawn.  Hopefully it will help get you motivated, it did me !!

   The first recipe I am posting is not a recipe you would make ahead but this is an easy, quick no-bake cookie. It is perfect for those days when you have a house full of children (or even discriminating adults, like me :-) and you want something yummy and fast. There is a ton of versions of no-bake cookies out there. This is different for a few reasons. First this version has no peanut butter. I use coconut oil (or you can use butter) instead of peanut butter. Second there are a lot of versions with coco powder but I add chocolate too. I also cut the sugar way back. Most recipes call for 2 cups of sugar. Lastly you can use quick, regular or thick rolled oats. Just use what what you like.

My version of No-Bake cookies

1/3 cup of coconut oil or butter

1/2 cup sugar (I sure coconut sugar)

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup coco powder

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cup rolled oats

1/2 chopped toasted pecans

In a sauce pan bring to a boil coconut oil, sugar, milk, coco powder, salt. Boil 2-4 minutes until starts to thicken. Pull off heat, add chocolate and sir until melted. Then add nuts and oats. Scoop small balls with two spoons onto wax paper and let sit unti firmer.

They are stick because I cut back on the sugar and a bit cocnutty, yummm!

Art by Steff Green

March 1




IT is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field