The Best Butter Tarts Recipe From Sratch.

My all time favorite treat as a child was butter tarts.  My mom made them at Christmas and I soon learned how to make them for my own family.  There is something about the sweet, chewy raisin centres that are to die for.

 

Crust

(Makes enough for 3 pies so you can freeze what you don’t use, or half the recipe)

  • 4.5 c. white flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 lb. butter or lard

Directions for crust:

  1. Mix first 3 ingredients well.
  2. Combine egg, vinegar and 1 c. cold water in a glass measuring cup.  Mix well.
  3. Cut butter or lard into dry mixture with pastry cutter until pieces are pea-sized.
  4. Add water mixture, a bit at a time, while tossing with a fork, until dough will form a ball.
  5. Kneed a few times to make a ball.  Roll out half of the dough to about 1/4 inch thick or thinner, as preferred.  Cut into circles with large round cookie cutter or wide mouth mason lid.
  6. Press dough carefully and evenly into un-greased muffin tin.
  7. Freeze extra dough for another day.

Tart Filling:

  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. melted butter

Directions for filling the tart shells:

  1. Combine and mix tart filling ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Spoon the filling into the tart shells, about 3/4 full.
  3. Bake at 375F for 15-17 min.
  4. Allow to cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from tins carefully and cool fully.

This post has been linked to Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest #14.

Homemade whole wheat Pita Bread from scratch. Preservative-free!

Commercial pita bread, along with other bread, wraps and pizza shells, are easy to find in the grocery store.  But they are all loaded with preservatives to keep them fresh and soft.  Pita bread is actually simple to make, and if you want to store it longer than a few days, simply freeze it fresh.  With basic ingredients and a bit of time to allow for this yeast bread to rise, healthy pita bread can be made at home from scratch.

Pita bread is also perfect for quick homemade mini pizzas.  Simply top with your favorite pizza toppings, pop in the oven for a few minutes, and serve!  You can also make pita chips out of pita bread.  Try your hand at cinnamon pita chips by coating with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and then popping in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up.  You can also coat with oil and salt to make a crunchy, savoury chip.  Whatever you choose, homemade is healthier!  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1.5 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar

2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. cornmeal for dusting the baking sheets.

Directions:

  1. Combine yeast and sugar with warm water in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup (or a bowl).  Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt.  Whisk together..
  3. Once yeast mixture is active (bubbly and ‘growing’),  make a “well” in the middle of the flour mixture and add the yeast mixture all at once.  Stir gently with a spatula until it forms a rough ball.  Dump contents on floured counter top and kneed for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic-feeling.
  4. Place in large, greased bowl.  Flip once so both sides are coated lightly with oil. Cover bowl with damp tea towel and allow to rise until about double, 1 hour or more.
  5. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured counter top.  Kneed for a few minutes.  Divide into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape or roll each into a circle, about 1/8th of an inch thick.  (Like small pizzas).  Let rise on floured counter top for about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 450F.
  7. Heat pans for ONLY 2 minutes in hot oven and then remove.  Prepare baking sheets by sprinkling cornmeal on top to prevent dough from sticking.
  8. Carefully remove pitas from counter top and place on hot baking sheets that are covered in cornmeal.
  9. Bake at 450F for 6 minutes.  They will bubble up.  Remove from oven and allow to cool enough that you can pick them up and cut open the pocket.
  10. Slide a sharp bread knife inside each pocket to open them up, careful to not rip the pocket.
  11. Cool bread completely under a damp rag to help keep the pockets soft.  Store in airtight container or bread bag.

Notes:

  • Use organic cornmeal (as well as other ingredients) to guarantee they are not genetically-modified.
  • Any pitas that you accidentally rip can be used as pizzas.
  • I have yet to try this with 100% whole wheat flour but that will be my next experiment.  I’ll post it here when I try it.

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #48.

 

Simple, All Natural, Homemade Yogurt. Plastic-free, Additive-free and Sugar-free.

 

Yogurt is considered a health food.  Yogurt contains acidophilus, a lactobacteria. Among other things, acidophilus aids in digestion, helps maintain a healthy colon, can decrease yeast infections, and helps lower cholesterol.  Unfortunately, most yogurts contain sugars, fillers, artificial flavors, preservatives, color or thickeners.  For example.  Yoplait Yogurt, Made by General Mills, contains:

  • Vanilla: Skim milk, sugar, cream, milk and whey proteins, modified corn starch, active bacterial cultures, gelatine, natural and artificial flavours, locust bean gum, pectin, concentrated lemon juice, colour, vitamin D3, potassium sorbate.
  • 14 grams sugar per 100 gram serving. (that’s 3.5 tsp. of sugar).

Some types of vanilla yogurt have as much as 30 grams of sugar per serving.  That’s over 7 tsp. of sugar!  Many have ingredients such as gelatin, locust bean gum, corn starch and pectin to thicken.    And of course artificial color and flavour, and preservatives.

Another fact about store-bought yogurt that has been nagging me for years is that they are all sold in plastic containers.  I have been fighting a constant battle with plastic and this is just another example of how plastic is quietly ruling our lives.  With recent studies indicating health risks from BPA in plastics (as well as plastics made from other chemicals) I can’t help but think that “good, healthy yogurt” isn’t so good or healthy after all.

I started making my own yogurt about a year and a half ago.  I haven’t bought yogurt since.  With only 2 or 3 ingredients (depending on what product you want) this recipe is healthy, safe and easy.  SOOOOO easy.  So easy, in fact, that I felt silly I hadn’t listened to my mother years ago and made it back then.  So easy, that it takes 10 minutes at the end of the day to start it, and you have fresh, natural yogurt ready for breakfast.  I use either my own goat’s milk, or organic milk I buy in glass bottles.  This avoids plastic entirely.

Tools you will need:

  • thermometer (candy style, or digital will work)
  • large pot
  • roasting pan
  • 5 x 500 ml mason jars (1/2 quart)
  • whisk
  • oven

Greek Style, thick, creamy yogurt
Ingredients
1 L milk (1 quart)
1 L 18% table cream (1 quart)
2 tbsp. plain yogurt (from a previous batch, or store-bought)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 105F.  If your oven doesn’t maintain heat at that temperature, turn to 350 for 2 minutes and then turn off.  Check temperature.  Make sure your oven temperature is less than 115F before you put your yogurt in it.
  2. Pour milk and cream into pot.  Heat until temperature reaches 112F.  Remove immediately from heat.  Once you are sure the temperature is steady at 112 (under 115, anyway!) stir in yogurt with a whisk.  Whisk well.
  3. Pour into 500 ml. sized (1 pint) mason jars.
  4. Place filled jars in a roasting pan that has about 3 inches of warm water in it.
  5. Place roaster in warm oven.  (No warmer than 115F)
  6. Leave in oven overnight or for 8 to 12 hours.
  7. Remove from oven and serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Low Fat Yogurt
Ingredients
2 L (2 quarts) skim milk
3/4 cup skim milk powder
2 tbsp. yogurt.

Follow above directions except add skim milk powder to milk while heating and whisk very well, until dissolved.  The milk powder thickens the yogurt.  Without it, the yogurt will be quite runny.

Low Fat Yogurt without milk powder
Ingredients

2 L (2 quarts) skim milk
2 tbsp. yogurt

Follow above directions.  This will make a runnier yogurt.  You can strain it through cheese cloth, though, and this makes a thicker yogurt.  Save the whey for baking with!

Tips

  1. Some people use a heating pad instead of an oven.  In this case, you could make the yogurt in a pot, cover with a thick towel,. and place on heating pad for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Some people make yogurt with a crock pot.  I haven’t tried it but here are the instructions.
  3. You can pasteurize your milk first if you like, by bringing the milk to 165F and then allowing it to cool to 112F before stirring in yogurt.  I see no reason to pasteurize if you are using pasteurized milk.  I don’t pasteurize my goat’s milk anyway :)
  4. It is important to NOT stir in the yogurt until the temperature is less than 115F or you will risk killing the bacteria and you will end up with a product that is NOT yogurt.  If this happens, don’t throw it out!  Use it as you would use buttermilk in a recipe.
  5. Flavor with vanilla and honey, maple syrup, fruit, jam or ???

Enjoy!  Let me know how you love your homemade yogurt!!!

This post has been linked to Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #31 and The MorrisTribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #11.

 

 

Pumpkin flax pancakes from scratch.

Canadian thanksgiving has come and gone.  The turkey is eaten, the pies are done, but the remaining pureed pumpkin sat in the fridge waiting for me to make something with it.  I made pumpkin loaves last week, and so this week I pulled out the pumpkin and made pumpkin flax pancakes.  Easy, quick, fall-flavoured pancakes make everyone happy!  For once, all of my kids ate their lunch.  All of it.  I served it with homemade blueberry syrup, homemade apple sauce and locally-grown apple-pork sausage.  The left over pancakes are great frozen and popped in a toaster for a quick, healthy breakfast, or eaten as snacks with peanut butter and jam on top. 

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. organic white flour
  • 4 tbsp. ground flax
  • 4 tbsp. cane sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten free range eggs
  • 2 cups goat milk
  • 1 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. organic canola oil

Directions

  • In a large bowl combine flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda spices and salt.  Whisk well. Set bowl aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, pumpkin, vanilla and oil.  Whisk well. 
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold to combine.  Do not over-mix.  
  • Ladle onto greased griddle or frying pan.  Cook on medium heat until bubbles have popped. 
  • Flip carefully and cook for another minute or until lightly browned. 
  • Remove from pan and serve hot!
 Notes
  • Add a few tbsp of water to the batter if you like thinner pancakes. 
  • Obviously, substitute any organic ingredients with non organic, and goat milk with regular or almond/rice/soy milk.
  • This makes a large batch.  Recipe can easily be halved. 
Simple, healthy, delicious food NOT from a package!!  Taste the difference, feel good about the ingredients, and celebrate whole food!

This post has been linked up to Fat Tuesday: Real Food Forager.  Check out the links for great, REAL food!