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Monthly Archives: November 2013

St. Andrew the First Called – Geography Studies: Scotland

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While we were reading our books from the library, we discovered that St. Andrew was the patron saint of Scotland.  Coincidentally we also discovered that we began studying Scotland during a week that culminates in the commemoration of St. Andrew.  As a unanimous decision, the children declared that we must plan our Scottish meal for St. Andrew’s Day.  I believe that this meal will become a tradition for our family on this 30th day of November.

When I knew that we would be studying Scotland during the fast, I asked my Scottish friend Sophia for ideas.  Cock-a-Leekie Soup was her suggestion.  And while some recipes of this soup call for chicken, I found a vegan recipe here that I modified slightly to fit the ingredients that I had on hand.  That link also includes a vegan haggis recipe.  Even when it isn’t a fasting season, vegan haggis may be all my family could muster.

Here are a few other links from our Geography Study:

National Anthem

Coulter’s Candy

The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomand

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Coloring Celtic Knots – While we could have made kaleidoscopes or terrariums, we opted for a simpler print and color option for this cold holiday week.

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

2 Tbsp safflower oil
1 bunch leeks, cleaned, trimmed & chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, quartered & chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
4-5 cups water
1/4 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
6-8 prunes with stones removed, chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt to taste

In a large thick-bottomed soup pot heat the oil; then gently sauté the leeks in the oil for a few minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables to the pan along with the rice. Continue to sauté for another 10 minutes stirring frequently to stop the rice from sticking.

Pour in broth and water.  Bring to a boil; then simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Add prunes and thyme to the soup then simmer for another 20 minutes.

Add salt to taste.  Serve.


Vegan Hoppin’ John

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We needed a simple lunch today after using up our leftovers yesterday.  While Hoppin’ John really is best with bell peppers and a dash of cayenne, we have to omit those ingredients for Buster.  Here is my vegan and allergy friendly version.

Hoppin' Jean

If you don’t have cooked black-eyed peas, don’t forget to soak them overnight so you can cook them while you cook the rice.

Vegan Hoppin’ John

1-2 Tbsp safflower oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas with cooking liquid
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
salt to taste
3 cups dry brown basmati rice, cooked according to package instructions

Start rice cooking and prepare the vegetables.

In a soup pot over medium heat, saute the vegetables in the oil with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes.   (Or add the vegetables and herbs to the simmering black-eyed peas while halfway done cooking if you want to skip the oil all together.)

Add the black-eyed peas to the pan with the cooking water.  Sprinkle with the thyme, marjoram, and salt.  Simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes.

Once the rice has cooked, mix it with the black-eyed peas mixture until well distributed.   Enjoy!

Ruth’s Pie Crust

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I’ve been cooking up some vegan pumpkin pie today.  I mostly used this recipe for the filling.  I only made some minor changes, like regular white sugar, simple molasses, and a little fiddling with the spices to omit the cinnamon, but the flavor is still not compromised.

That cranberry sauce in the picture isn’t anything fancy. I just follow the recipe on the package.

Pumpkin Pie

I’ve been working on my pie crust for several Thanksgivings, but last year I found my favorite combination.

Ruth’s Pie Crust
(double for a pie that needs a top crust)

1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup garbanzo flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp guar gum
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup palm oil shortening
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp white vinegar

In a bowl blend all of the dry ingredients.  Cut in the palm oil until the mixture is crumbly and well blended.  Add the water and vinegar, and stir until smooth.

Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness and gently place in your pie pan.  I find that this dough is very forgiving when you have to press the inevitable tears back together.  Trim and shape the edges as desired.

For a simple shell bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Otherwise follow the directions in your pie recipe.

Ruth’s Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing

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It’s been a busy day full of cooking and sewing.  I hope you are all having a great holiday week!  I haven’t actually made this today, but I’ve baked the bread.  Tomorrow I will finish the stuffing in time for the family meal.   I’ll try to add a good picture later.

Teff Sandwich Bread

I can’t figure out where I got the millet bread recipe, so I’ll share it below.

Ruth’s Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing

1/2 loaf sandwich bread and 1/2 pan millet bread, a few days old, chopped in one inch cubes
1/2 onion, small diced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
8-10 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 tsp salt, to taste
1-2 cups broth (turkey, chicken, or vegetable)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Saute the celery, onion, and garlic in the olive oil until translucent, 5-8 minutes.   Add the sage and salt.  Saute for 1-2 more minutes.

In a large bowl mix the onion blend with the bread until evenly distributed.  Stir in the broth about 1/4 cup at a time until you are happy with the stuffing consistency.  Use less if you want a more bread-like product.  Use more if you want something closer to a savory bread pudding–whichever makes you happy.

Fill a large casserole dish with the stuffing and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with turkey and all the trimmings.


Millet Bread
This millet bread is what I use in place of corn bread.  I even use it to make millet dogs.  The kids were asking for it, so I imagine we’ll have millet dogs during the 12 Days of Christmas.

Millet Bread

1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup garbanzo flour
2 tsp guar gum
3 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup mild flavored cooking oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup water

Grease one cast iron skillet or 8 inch square cake pans. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in cooking oil, honey, and water. Stir completely until the mixture is thick and moist.

Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake 30-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

White Bean-Olive Hummus

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This week I have been keeping the meals simple since Thanksgiving is coming soon.  I’ve posted in the past about how we love hummus.  Here is another one of the flavors we make.

I used beans that I had already cooked and frozen to whip up this simple dinner after baking for Thanksgiving all afternoon.  I’ll post my stuffing recipe tomorrow.  Now the kids are in bed, and I am off to quilt until John gets home.  The little one I am quilting for was born early today at about 32 weeks.  Please keep baby John and his parents in your prayers.

White Bean-Olive Hummus

White Bean-Olive Hummus

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 can California black olives
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon golden balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups cooked white beans, drained

In a blender or food processor, add hazelnuts, olives, vinegar, salt, and olive oil.  Blend until fairly fine.

Add white beans and thyme.  Blend until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. If needed, to achieve desirable smoothness, add a tablespoon or two of water or olive oil.

Serve with vegetables and chips or pita bread.

Potato and Cabbage Soup

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A simple soup for the end of a cold and busy day.  I used some cooked beans from my freezer and added the herbs that sounded nice today.  It is particularly yellow because my last batch of vegetable broth had lots of carrots in it.

Potato and Cabbage soup

Potato and Cabbage Soup

3 cups vegetable broth 5 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 of a small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
3 cups white beans, measured after cooked
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp savory
pinch of turmeric
2-3 tsp salt, to taste

In your soup pot, heat the broth, water, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat.  Bring it to a boil while you chop the cabbage and potatoes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and return to a boil.   Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.

Sometimes I puree the soup with my immersion blender to make it creamier, but today I left it chunky.  Enjoy either way!

Second Sunday of the Nativity Fast: Pesto Pasta with Red Beans

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Today found us finishing a busy weekend.  Yesterday we visited our local monastery for the forty day commemoration for one of the nuns.  It was a wonderfully cold and muddy day.  The children all slept on the way home–the litmus test for a great time.


We finally got out the rest of our advent wreath and assembled it together.  Then we lit the blue and green candles, read our passage from The Liturgical Year for Little Ones, discussed the theme of hope, and shared a little hot carob on this cold evening.  Maybe later this week we will do some of the anchor activities (or this one), while we take a much deserved break from our regularly scheduled homeschool to prepare for Thanksgiving.

Dinner tonight was compliments of John and Buster.  I had errands to run, so they cooked the pasta, sauteed some onions, and tossed it all together with some pesto and cooked red beans.  A simple side salad accompanied this quick Sunday dinner.

My pesto sauce is quite simple.  It’s dairy free, so there is no need for cheese.  There are many combinations.  Play around with your combinations until you find what you like.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the same combination twice, because I don’t measure.


You need:
a bunch of greens and herbs (like spinach, kale, basil, and oregano; not necessarily all at once; just go with your favorites)
olive oil, plenty
salt, to taste
a handful of nuts, optional (pine nuts or walnuts)

Place the washed and trimmed greens in your food processor or high powered blender.  Add a generous pinch of salt and the nuts if you are using them.  Turn on your machine, pulse, and slowly drizzle with olive oil until your pesto looks like pesto.  You may have to scrape the sides of your container a few times to get everything incorporated.  If it seems too oily, just add more greens and herbs until you are happy.  Freeze in meal sized portions (about one cup) if you make a very large batch.  Tonight’s pesto was from last fall’s garden, but I’m hoping to make more in the spring if I have better luck with my basil in the coming year.

Hot Carob – Family Sized Recipe

4 cups hemp, almond, or coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp carob powder, to taste
3-4 Tbsp sugar or honey, to taste

Whisk together in a sauce pan and heat to your desired temperature.


Place all ingredients in your high powered blender (I use my Vitamix) and blend on high about 3 minutes or until warmed to your liking.