how to ripen tomatoes so they are as sweet as if they were vine ripened

19 Sep

We’re about to hit a cold snap and my garden is not ready for it. And I’m not sure I am, either!

I read today that we’re in for freezing/cold rain and temps in the 40s and low 50s starting Wednesday. So regardless of my emotional readiness, all those beautiful green tomatoes on the vine? They are going to be super unhappy.

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But I’m going to share a few secrets I’ve been acquiring these past few years living above the 45th parallel so that I’ll be enjoying sweet tomatoes through the first or second week of October.

First thing I did this morning after feeding, watering and releasing our chickens was pick all the yellowish and orange almost-ripe tomatoes from the garden Then I put them in a pretty bowl on the credenza in our dining room … RIGHT NEXT TO a BIG BOWL OF APPLES.

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Have you ever noticed how fast your bananas go brown when they are in a bowl with a few apples?Here’s why: Apples of nearly all variety release a hormone that will ripen almost any fruit or vegetable in the vicinity.

So I started keeping the apples in the dining room … to save the bananas because I was getting tired of making banana bread!

That’s also why we don’t store apples in the same room as our potatoes or garlic. It’s why when the avocados from the store are too hard, I pop them in a brown paper bag with a few apples to ripen them … it generally takes only a day or two to have perfect guac-ready avocados.)

It’s why when we DO store apples in the same place as any other fruit they have to be individually wrapped. But even then … those pesky apple hormones are strong. So we really DON’T store apples near other foods.

Which is why we are now storing the not-quite-ripe-tomatoes in the dining room, next to our big bowl of apples. It does wonders to the almost ripe tomatoes that will suffer most if we dip below freezing for a few days in a row. In a few days, I’ll have bright red beautiful tomatoes that will be perfect to make some of our favorite tomato sauce.

But what of those precious little greenies on the vine?

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Three days with lows in the high-freezing will NOT be good for these sweeties. I could wrap the tomatoes and hope for the best.

Or I could look at the long-term forecast and realize that this cold snap may very well be the beginning of the end of the incredible summer we were blessed with this year … in which case, it’s time to pull the plants.

But I refuse to give up on the tomatoes.

I’m friends with a lot of farmers and homesteaders. I am not afraid to admit when I don’t know something. So I ask a lot of questions.

Two years ago I got some incredibly useful advice from my friend Jenny at Sabo Ranch. She said that if the tomatoes aren’t ready to pick (aka, they are super green and won’t ripen in the bowl to sweet garden goodness), then pull the ENTIRE PLANT and then HANG THEM UPSIDE DOWN in a protected area (greenhouse, garage, garden shed, etc …). Apparently, there are still nutrients and goodness in the roots when they are pulled, and if you put the plants upside down, that goodness will travel down the stems and into the tomatoes …

I’ve never taken pictures of it … maybe I’ll do that this year and share them on Facebook or Instagram? (Not sure I’m ready to share an image of our over-crowded garage shrouded in upside-down tomato plants.)

This will be my third year following her advice and I’ll tell you this … it has increased my tomato yield by at least a third each year. Our summer is just not long enough for all the tomatoes I want to grow! And now I don’t have to let them freeze on the vine.

And that just plain makes me happy.

 

a beautycounter giveaway to get things going …

16 Sep

From now until November 5th, or while supplies last, Beautycounter is at Target in special, limited-edition sizes. In addition, there are THREE products exclusively for Target.

This partnership is going to be instrumental in raising awareness for our mission of getting safer products into the hands of EVERYONE. And if you make a $20 Beautycounter purchase this week, Target will give you a $5 gift card. Awesome, right?!

BUT … if you use your $5 gift card on my site …

www.beautycounter.com/jeannegaisford

… you will be entered into a GIVEAWAY* for a full-size Lip Conditioner (peppermint) OR a Lengthening Mascara!! Your choice!

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And if you refer a friend who uses her gift card on my site? I’ll add an extra entry for you! (send me an email and let me know who you referred!)

Let’s do this … let’s use this incredible opportunity to cleaner, safer and better beauty into the hands of the people we love! Share and tag your friends!

*Drawing will be held on November 6th, 2016.

beautycounter … because another part of my life needed a clean makeover

12 Sep

You’re here (thank you, by the way!), so you know I’m passionate about living a simple, clean, sustainable life … one that is unprocessed, free of toxins, preservatives, chemicals, poisons and additives. I’m obsessed with the food we eat (how and where it’s grown/raised/processed), the way we garden, the way we live …

But the place where I was totally letting myself (and my family) down? Make-up and beauty products. (And now maybe you’re sort of laughing because getting beauty tips from someone who uses egg-white soap and coconut oil as her skin-care regime and only wears mascara and eyeliner once or twice a month and lip-gloss only a little more frequently is kind of laughable).

I am so on it when it comes to feeding my family good food and making sure there’s no poison in our garden.  I’ve got unsprayed organic straw as insulation for our chicken coop so the pesticides to make it into our backyard eggs. I know the farmers who raise the meat for our freezer or fill our milk jugs and know they don’t spray their fields so the grass the animals are eating is all organic goodness.

But I am totally guilty of half-a$$ing it when it comes to beauty products. Sure, I buy paraban-free shampoo. I make sure if we do put on sunscreen that it’s approved by the non-profit watchdog group www.ewg.org. But I’m a complete failure when it comes to make-up. I have been totally lazy about it. With my lack of beauty routine blindly I figured I can’t be getting THAT much exposure. NOTE: It’s not like I need to be “done” in the morning homeschooling and caring for chickens.

Then I read that there are thousands of cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, potentially toxic ingredients in daily-use beauty products and only ELEVEN of them are banned in the United States (1,400 are banned in the European Union and Beauty Counter has taken things further, banning 1,500 harmful ingredients from their products).

So if at that moment in your life one of your favorite yoga teachers shows back up in your life with mascara that’s not going to poison you? And it actually works! And feels good? And does make your lashes look longer? (Thank you, Jen!) … Oh … and it’s from a company that’s partnered with and approved by one of my favorite watch-dog non-profits, www.EWG.org?

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Maybe that’s a good time to start listening … and start learning … and start sharing.

If you know me at all you know how uncomfortable I am about multi-level marketing companies. Not that I don’t like the products … I LOVE my essential oils. My sister-in-law swears by  her Keto-lifestyle. But the “selling” is really a challenge for me. I’m struggle with the idea of “building a team” or “trying to recruit you.” Because I want you to know that if we’re hanging out, it’s not because I want to sell you something, it’s because I truly want to hang out with you! I’m simply letting you know where I am on the path to create the life I want for our family.

All that said … I am going to admit that at very long last I’ve found a company that seems to reflect all the things I tout on this blog and in my life, one that encourages a clean and simple life that helps reduce the toxins in our home and does it fairly and with integrity … so without further fanfare, I’m joining a B E A U T Y + R E V O L U T I O N!

And I’m here to help you if YOU want to join the revolution, too!

So … Take a moment to consider your make-up and personal beauty products … decide for yourself if you’re exposing yourself or your loved ones to chemicals that don’t belong in your body. And if it’s time for you to switch things up … click the link, or direct message me for more information!

xo,
Jeanne

http://www.beautycounter.com/jeannegaisford

plain & chocolate mini cheesecake bites (GF, refined sugar-free, paleo-friendly)

7 Apr

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for something I can bring to a potluck that’s going to tasty AND good for you AND look cute on a serving dish. (Should I not admit that? I mean … don’t you like it when stuff looks cute?)

Listen … I am not above bringing boxed brownies on occasion because the Ghirardelli Brownie Mix at Costco is just kind of perfectly easy (I sub coconut oil and use eggs from our backyard chickens so there not as bad as they could be, I guess …)

But if I want to bring something that looks and tastes good, and my gluten-free friends can enjoy, these are my go-to.

At least they are now.

NOTE TO SELF: Apparently a little recipe testing apparently goes a long way because these Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo-friendly dessert bites don’t feel like they are missing any of the decadence of any other sugar and grain-laden dessert. And that makes me happy. Especially the plain ones. The chocolates are good. But the plain ones … yeah … I can’t be alone near the dessert table when there’s mini cheesecake bites.

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Plain and Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 1 c. hazelnut meal (or almond meal)
  • 1 TBLS pure maple powder
  • 3 TBLS melted butter

Filling: 

  • 16 oz cream cheese (two 8-ounce packages)
  • 2 tsp. stevia
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 1 TBLS raw cacau

Whipped topping:

  • 8  oz whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp. stevia
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)

Line two mini-muffin tins with 24 muffin liners

First comes the crust: Stir together all the dry ingredients and then dd melted butter. Mix until thoroughly combined

Add one heaping teaspoon to each liner and press down into the liner. (Reserve leftover crust mix to sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes (until very lightly browned).

Remove from the oven and cool while preparing the filling.

For the filling: In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and stevia at medium speed until light and creamy.  Add the vanilla and salt. Then beat in the eggs on low, until well incorporated.

At this point, using about half of the batter, fill the liners of ONE of the mini-cupcake tins with the plain cheesecake batter. If you’re only making plain cheesecakes, fill the second tin. If you’re looking for a mix of chocolate and plain, replace the bowl of the stand mixer and to the second half of the mixture add the cacau. Mix until well-blended and then fill the second tin’s liners with the chocolate batter.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes don’t jiggle when the pan is tapped. Open the oven door (at least 1 foot wide) and let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature – about 1.5 hours.

For the whipped topping, combine the heavy cream, stevia and vanilla in a clean stand mixer bowl and whip until peaks form. I load the whipped cream into a ziplock bag, cut the end off one corner and then use my pseudo pastry bag to top each mini-cupcake and then sprinkle with just a pinch of the reserved crust crumble.

Perfecto.

Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Happy pot-lucking!

j.

Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies (dairy free, gluten free)

10 Mar

banana oat cookies

I was looking to make an easy on-the-go nourishing breakfast treat to get us out the door for skiing this season because the truth is getting chores done and out the door by 7:30 am on any given Saturday isn’t the easiest for this family.

And these breakfast cookies take all of 5 minutes to mix and 18 minutes in the oven so they totally fits the bill.

(The kids can even help make these … yay! Teaching moment — fractions made easy and fun and the reward is a tasty treat when all is said and done!)

teaching moment

Also, when you eat as many bananas as we do, you’re sure to have a few over-ripe ones every now and again, so this is an excellent way to put them to tasty use.

banana oat cookies in the bowl

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 over-ripe Bananas
  • 1 1/2 c. Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 c. Raw Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Walnuts (I’ve also been known to add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and or chopped hazelnuts … so long as the nuts add up to about 1/2 cup, it’s all good)
  • 1/3 c. Dried Fruit of Choice (we used tart cherries today but I’ve also made them with dates, blueberries, apricots and raisins)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. to 1/3 c. Grade B Maple Syrup (most people like them sweeter than we do, so I figured the nutrition using caloriecount.com using 1/3 cup of syrup)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 360 degrees (F).

Mash the bananas. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well-combined.

Spoon “cookies” onto a parchment covered cookie sheet.

Makes 14-16 Tablespoon-sized cookies.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Breakfast-on-the-go … an easy snack … a treat for your next potluck. Woohoo!

banana oat cookies nutrition

changes at O’Mamas

2 Mar

Ahhhh growing pains …

We’re going through some changes at O’Mamas.

Nothing that’ll blow your mind.

We’re still committed to organic gardening, good and good for you food, simplicity and sustainability. But Abby’s spending a lot more of her time on her photography business and less time here.

She took these pics of our littles just before Thanksgiving …

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I love that Abby captures their personalities perfectly in this photo.

So if you’re local (in Montana in the Gallatin Valley or in the Dallas, Texas area) and are looking for a family photo, or your kid needs a senior casual, or your daughter-in-law is about to give birth and you want perfectly precious photos of your grandchild … you need to contact Abby. Schedule a session and mention this O’Mamas post and Abby said she’ll include 3 extra digital photos in the deal.

xo,

Jeanne

 

British style scones… easy and delicious

25 Jul

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It’s not every day that one of your favorite bloggers/real life friends ask you to guest post a scone recipe on her blog. I mean … maybe that happens to YOU everyday. It’s a rare treat for me.

But we are talking scones here. And not just any scones. Certainly not the Starbucks version of a scone … dense, sugar sweet, rock hard dough balls coated with sugar and/or glaze.

We’re talking actual British-style-all-at-once-flakey-and-moist-not-overly-sweet-but-perfectly-sweet-enough-morsels that are the perfect vehicle for clotted cream and lemon curd (or creamy homemade coconut yogurt and rhubarb mint jam made by your friend Ashley, which is how I enjoyed them this morning).

And today … I’m sharing my recipe over at my real life friend Ashley’s blog: The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm. So click on over and enjoy British-style scones in less than 30 minutes.

Happy Happy!
Jeanne

cinnamon coconut custard cake (a GF recipe review)

22 Jan

cinnamon coconut custard cake
Every once in a while I find myself pinning something and going back to it again and again and again …

and again …

and again …

… until someone gives me an excuse to make it.

Like today, when it just so happens that the husband of one of my BFFs is having a birthday and my very pregnant friend’s kitchen is mid-remodel and she can’t bake a cake for the love of her life.

Thursday also happens to be a very unscheduled homeschool day for us. No ballet. No violin lessons. No skiing or horseback riding. No piano or art. Perfect time to have school in the kitchen (measuring, weighing, blendering, baking, chemical reactions … can you think of a better way to introduce science and math to a 3-year old? Me either!!)

You see, since the New Year I’ve been working to eliminate grains from my diet. I’m not going “strict” paleo, but more paleo. Lots of veggies, some protein, good fats (like Coconut Oil and Ghee) and limited grains and sugars.

And if I’m gonna make a cake for someone, I would like it to be a cake that I can eat, too!

So this is the pin that caught my eye …

cinnamon coconut custard cake

Looks pretty moist and cake-like for a grain-free cake, doesn’t it??

Guess what? … it IS!

It’s moist.

It’s just this side of sweet perfection.

And if you like coconut, it’s deliciously coconutty goodness.

But I have to admit I struggle to follow recipes. I mean … I saw white chocolate chips in this cake and I don’t like white chocolate, so … no white chocolate. I didn’t even replace them, although I THOUGHT about swapping in some pecans or hazelnuts.

I imagine it’s because we’re at a higher altitude than the original baker, but it took at least 10 minutes longer in our oven to firm up and cook through.

And of course, I made this to celebrate a birthday, which to me means it needs frosting. So I whipped up a quick cream cheese vanilla coconut icing and sprinkled it with shredded coconut.

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy.

The hardest part of today was waiting to sing Happy Birthday!

One more time … here’s the recipe by the Holistic Health Herbalist. If you’re looking for a tasty grain-free, refined sugar-free dessert … I like it!

xo,

Jeanne

it’s not too late … to make mind-blowing cranberry sauce

26 Nov

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

We have so much to be thankful for this year … not the least of which is the opportunity to spend the holiday with loved ones …

… We are grateful to have health in our bodies …

… love in our hearts …

… and good food for our bellies.

And this year, I have three responsibilities at the dinner table:

Tarte aux Pommes

apple-apricot-tart

Goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto (I still haven’t looked up a recipe for this … I might just wing it).

And cranberry relish, which happens to be one of my favorite Thanksgiving treats.

You may recall that last year I shared with you this delightful version with ginger and tangerines.

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But this year … I’m gonna mix it up.

I made the honey ginger cranberry sauce.

But I’m also making Jalapeño-Cilantro-Cranberry Relish. Go ahead. Call me nuts. I don’t care because this relish is SO delicious. Every time I make it I wonder why I don’t make it all the time.

Just like the Honey Ginger version … this is NO COOK EASY PEASY … just put everything into a food processor, pulse and voila! Yum-o-licious side dish!

jalapeño cilantro cranberry relish sauce

Jalapeño-Cilantro-Cranberry Relish

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag of cranberries (washed and picked through)
  • 1-2 jalapeños (seeded)
  • 4 tangerines plus zest of 1 tangerine
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 bunch of cilantro

DIRECTIONS:
In a food processor, put two peeled tangerines and the honey. Pulse until it’s a golden liquid and then add cranberries. Pulse until well chopped. Add jalapeño (start with one … add another or half if you think it needs more kick) and the zest. Pulse again.

Remove from processor and stir in chopped cilantro, and the other two peeled and chopped tangerines.

Chill for at least 3o minutes and up to 3 days (it will firm up in the fridge).

WOOHOO for Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a Blessed and Joyful Holiday!

 

and now back to our original programming …

15 Oct

Jeanne here … after a few months on sabbatical with a reminder …
Los Angeles wedding photographers
Image courtesy of: SnapKnot – Los Angeles wedding photographers
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