Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tradition from a German Heritage

Lebkuchen Day 2007: the first batch out of the oven.

It’s almost here! One of the most important, exciting, cookie-filled days of the calendar! It’s called LEBKUCHEN DAY and it is:

-always the Saturday before Thanksgiving
-the official start of the Christmas season
-a time of joy and laughter
-many, many hours of baking

The Lebkuchen tradition has been in the Kiefer family (Emily’s father’s family) for generations, and we take it very, very seriously. The Day requires the availability of every surface area in the house; my parents will make about 350 cookies; my sister’s family and Anders & I will both make around 160. After the rolling, baking and glazing, they are cooled, carefully wrapped and bagged, and frozen so as to last through the season. A thawed Lebkuchen is as good as a freshly baked Lebkuchen.

Lebkuchen are German holiday cookies, as prevalent in Germany around Christmas as gingerbread men are in America. They are spicy and typically sweetened with honey, and often contain nuts and pieces of fruit. Kiefer Lebkuchen are soft, delicately spiced diamond-shaped cookies, and we suspect they have healing powers and know for a fact they have joy-giving properties.

The taste experience begins with a thin layer of sugar glaze that cracks at the first bite. You then sink into the silky texture and complex, nostalgic flavors of this heavenly holiday treat. A bite of Lebkuchen in your mouth is like the memory of all your favorite Christmas foods baking in the oven. The rich sweetness of molasses, chewy bits of dates, a rousing suggestion of cinnamon and nutmeg and subtle nutty tones compose the character of a Lebkuchen: the most heartening and satisfying cookie that will ever pass your lips.

Lebkuchen batter is made on Batterday Saturday, the week before Lebkuchen Day. The blended ingredients mellow for a week in the fridge. The batter is heavy, dark and fragrant -- currently my two huge heaps of batter are taking up quite a bit of space, and I’m ready to get them out of the fridge and under my rolling pin!

Saturday is Lebkuchen Day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

pinching pennies vol. 3

Special offer for all you Grub readers. Whoever posts a comment first explaining whether or not the last few "Pinching Pennies" have been helpful gets an envelope of pre-clipped healthy/organic coupons sent to her mailbox. Go post a comment!

More healthy food savings!!!

Coming Soon! Printable coupons from Mambo Sprouts. This will be probably one of the biggest sources of savings for people buying organic and will include coupons from many different brands.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

random: rosie the riveter

Smile. Rosie the Riveter just got prettier...

and more pregnant...

egg rolls fit for an emperor

Last Saturday I got a craving for egg rolls. They turned out particularly yummy. but like usual, I just threw stuff together without measuring. Here's my guess at what made these egg rolls extra delicious.


1 lb. ground chicken
1 med. head cabbage, chopped finely or grated
4-6 oz. bean sprouts
2 T. peanut oil
3 green onions, chopped finely
2 T. oyster sauce
3-4 T. soy sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. minced fresh ginger
2 t. black pepper
egg roll wrappers (1-2 pkgs.)
peanut oil, for frying


Brown the ground chicken. Set aside. In a large pan or wok, stir fry the ginger, cabbage, bean sprouts, and onions in peanut oil for 4-5 minutes, or until slightly cooked but still partially crispy. Add the chicken back to the veggie mix. Combine the remaining seasonings and stir into the egg roll filling. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place 3-4 T. of filling in wrapper and roll per package directions. Repeat for all wrappers. Heat oil to deep frying temperature. Fry egg rolls for a minute or two each side until golden brown. Eat with gusto.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

bean beans

Around our place, green beans tend to be the veggie side we eat the most, so I'm always looking for new ways to prepare them. Here's a great variation that tastes delicious:

Green Beans w/ Bread Crumbs


* 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Combine green beans and 1/2 cup water in a medium pot. Cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, and let beans cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well.
2. Place beans in a medium serving bowl, and mix in bread crumbs, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and basil. Toss mixture until the beans are coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Request: Almond Extract and Almond Paste Recipes

Possibly my two favorite things to bake with ... but I don't have enough recipes!

The first three recipes I get in response to this I'll make, and post about the experience. Deal?

Soft and Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

When it comes to oatmeal cookies, I want them first of all to be healthy. If I'm going to eat a salad I want to feel good about myself for doing so, and not ruin it with all kinds of dressing and bacon, right? If I'm going to choose an oatmeal cookie for dessert, I want to think of it like an energy bar.

Next, I want my oatmeal cookies to be soft, dense, and spicy; and I want to taste oats and not raisins. Here is the perfect Oatmeal Cookie recipe. But beware ... they do TASTE like they're healthy (well ... relatively healthy). You can add more sugar and substitute all white flour in place of 1 c. whole wheat flour if you prefer.

1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
3 c. quick-cooking oats

In medium bowl cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves; stir into creamed mixture. Mix in oats. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with fork dipped in sugar.

Bake 8-10 minutes; cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack.

P.S. I don't like to bite into nuts or dried fruit in my cookies (it's a texture thing), but I like the flavor. I like to add FINELY chopped craisins and walnuts, or whatever you like.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

pinching pennies vol. 2

Okay, I haven't posted here forever, but this $5 off $25 coupon is great for those of you with a Whole Foods Market in your town.

It expires October 22nd, so hurry and use it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

pinching pennies vol. 1

So here are a few websites offering coupons on their healthy and/or organic products...

Brown Cow
Horizon Organics
Smart Balance
Organic Valley

Earth's Best
Seventh Generation

Laura's Lean Beef

I'll post more as I find them!

the shortening that wasn't

For the past year or so, I've been using Smart Balance vegetable shortening for my pie crusts and other baking needs. All my crusts have turned out flaky AND hydrogenation free. Now the wonder product appears to have been wiped off the face of planet Earth, leaving no trace behind. Not only have the grocery stores here stopped carrying it, but the Smart Balance website itself seems to have obliterated the product from baking history. Maybe I should call the company, rant and rave, and end up with a few consolatory coupons.

I am aware that Crisco now is "trans-fat free" as well, although the method they use to drop the trans-fat grams off their nutrition facts is still hydrogenation (just full instead of partial). Something about hydrogenation is just yucky, so I am on the hunt for a new alternative shortening. Spectrum Organics has one, although it's only $7.99 for 24 oz (which would be enough to make 3 double pie crusts).

Bummer. Why does good stuff get discontinued?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

6 & 7 & 8 & bunch!

This is a bit of a follow-up post on "when to buy organic or not". So I've been doing more research, and there definitely is conflicting information on residual pesticides on bananas. The Green Guide had another good article on pesticides and the top ten organic purchases a consumer should make.

I went to the Whole Foods Market today, checking out prices, and trying to figure out how I can practically stay on a budget while providing my family with wholesome food. One thing I found rather confusing was the labeling of "conventional" and "organic" fruits and veggies. Why buy conventional produce at Whole Foods? A 5 lb. bag of organic russet potatoes costs $4.99. And organic yams are $2.49/lb. I wonder if I can do any better on potato prices. Buying produce in season (and on sale) definitely can cut the cost of buying organic. Cucumbers were 3/$1. I was able to get organic chicken (thighs/drums/wings) for $1.79/lb. And of course, all the bulk grains (brown rice, oats, and quinoa) are reasonably priced. I am considering adding WF to my weekly/bi-weekly grocery run.

Things I have already implemented to cut the cost of eating healthier:

  • Buying frozen veggies on sale & stocking up
  • Purchasing chicken breasts on bone, deboning, freezing, and using the bones for soup
  • Limiting processed food intake
  • Cooking/baking from scratch
  • Removing trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup from my kitchen
  • Eating ethnic foods (lots of cheap, tasty peasant foods like lentil soup, eggplant parmesan, stir fries, curries, etc.)
  • Baking my own bread
Other ideas I've been concocting:
  • Adding more whole grains to our diet
  • Making my own granola & muesli (cutting back on boxed cereal)
  • Pureeing and freezing my own organic baby food
  • Baking my own fiber/protein rich bread
  • Checking out the farmer's markets
And a few years down the road, I'd like to have my own garden, a cow, and a few chickens. Anyone else have any hints for eating whole foods on a budget?

summery salads

This recipe is from Joseph's mom and grandma... Evidently a favorite of Joseph's dad!

Cucumbers & Onions

2-3 cucumbers, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ c. water
¼ c. vinegar
2 T. sugar or Splenda
1-2 tomatoes, diced (optional)

Mix water, vinegar and sugar. Pour over cukes and onions. Refrigerate overnight.

And this one is my potato salad of choice (nix the eggs). It's a combination of a couple different recipes with some minor alterations. I left eggs in the recipe as some people prefer them in their potato salad.

New Red Potato Salad

* 3 pounds unpeeled new red potatoes
* 4 eggs (optional)
* 1 to 1-1/2 cups light mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
* 2 tablespoons white vinegar
* 1/2 cup sliced green onions
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
* 1 cup sliced celery
* 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Dice red potatoes into one-inch cubes. Add diced red potatoes, and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Place in a medium bowl.
2. If using eggs, place eggs in a medium saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Cover, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and dice.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, mustard, distilled white vinegar, green onions, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the potatoes, and mix together with the eggs, celery, and bacon. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours before serving.

Monday, August 11, 2008

when to buy organic (fruits/veggies)

Lately I've been putting my baby food processor to work as Magnus will be starting solids soon. I ran across the following helpful list regarding when to buy organic fruits & veggies (from

Buy Organic (most contaminated with pesticides)
• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

Buy non-organic (least contaminated by pesticides)
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Corn (sweet)
• Kiwi
• Mangos
• Onions
• Papaya
• Pineapples
• Peas (sweet)

Friday, August 8, 2008

back when homemaking was popular...

I happened to run across this hoot of an educational clip on YouTube, along with several other similar videos targeting teens in the 1950s, such as "Molly Grows Up" and "The Fun of Thoughtfulness". It's hard to believe how far removed modern women are from the realm of domestication! Homemaking is now politically incorrect, socially backward, and intellectually inferior. And in my opinion, that's sad!

Cantenflas Lemonade

This recipe comes from a Mexican restaurant in Greenville, S.C.
My husband had their lemonade, and it was all he talk about for a year. Finally, we returned and ordered the pitcher. It WAS delicious, and I begged the waitress to tell me how she made it as we were from faaaaar awaaay Minnesota, and I didn't think we could fly down for lemonade when he felt like it wanted it. She graciously gave instructions....So easy. Everyone loves it as it is refreshing, just tart enough, and economical to make. It is very lemony without that bitter overkill that frozen lemonade has.

Cantenflas Lemonade

1-2 lemons depending on size of pitcher.
(organic is best if you can get it, otherwise really wash well)
ice cold water
sugar, to taste. About 1 cup depending on amount.

Cut 1/4" off ends of lemons. Cut in quarters.
Place lemon quarters in blender with enough water to cover by 1 inch.
Pulse blend until pieces are about 1/4 to 1/8 inch in diameter.
Take pitcher, place colander over top of it.
Fill blender with cold water and pour through colander into pitcher.
Continue to pour cold water over lemon bits in the colander into the pitcher allowing about 6 inches at the top for the sugar.
Add sugar to taste. About 1 cup does large pitcher.
Pour over ice and enjoy.
We make Limeade with limes and it is delicious!

Enjoy, and when you make it, say a prayer for the little waitress. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the all new BFT!

This morning I was trying to figure out what to make for lunch with Karen... and I got an idea! This is different, super-easy, and another no-cook quick meal.

BFTs (Basil, Feta, and Tomato Sandwiches)

1 loaf crusty Italian or French bread
3-4 ripe, juicy tomatoes, sliced
feta cheese (or mozzarella for those feta-haters out there...)
fresh basil, torn
balsamic vinaigrette (or balsamic vinegar & olive oil)

Just assemble and drizzle the vinaigrette over the sandwich filling. Enjoy!

UPDATE: The Hubs gave the sandwich five stars! His only revision being adding a chicken breast for muscle-building protein.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

easy peasy nachos

Tonight I wasn't feeling like slaving over hot elements, and I had a garden-fresh tomato to use, so I just threw some nacho stuff in an oven-safe dish and popped them under the broiler till the cheese got bubbly. Nachos are great for using whatever you have on hand!

Stuff for nachos...

  • Tortilla chips
  • Refried beans or black beans
  • Taco meat
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro (this makes the dish)
  • Minced onion or green onion
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream/guacamole/salsa

just an idea :)

Encouragement for those meals from the store:

Because I picked up a rotisserie chicken from Sam's, popped in some of the delicious Yukon Rose potatoes (the best I'd had since my dad grew them back in my childhood days); some fresh Sam's French bread; sliced cukes & carrots with Kraft's fat free Peppercorn Ranch Salad dressing with a generous amount of dried dill for dip, and a Sam's Key Lime Bundt Cake for dessert; Cantafla's limeade...

We had time to spontaneously bring over half the cake to share with friends for a happy event in their family,
AND take the dog out for her first Boardwalk encounter
AND get to bed before 10.

Sometimes, store-bought is a HUGE blessing! How cool is that?

muffins galore

As you girls probably already know, I'm an addict. My favorite muffin recipe yet is Banana Crumb Muffins... so moist and delicious! I have subbed oil for butter as well, and they still turn out great!



* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 bananas, mashed
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 1/3 cup butter, melted
* 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon butter


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Another muffin recipe I tried recently (from is Health Nut Blueberry Muffins. Very moist, for being so healthy. I substituted flaxseed meal for the oat bran. I might try substituting applesauce for the banana as the banana flavor kind of took over the blueberries. Wonderful for breakfast!



* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1/4 cup oat bran
* 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
* 1/4 cup wheat germ
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup blueberries
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* 1 banana, mashed
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, or line with paper muffin cups.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, oat bran, quick-cooking oats, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir in the blueberries and walnuts. In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed banana, buttermilk, egg, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix just until blended. Spoon into muffin cups, filling all the way to the top.
3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.

Muffin recipe #3 from Joseph's grandma... "If you like pecan pie, you’ll love these."

Pecan Pie Muffins

1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
½ c. butter or margarine, melted

1. Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in center of the bowl.
2. In another bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Stir in the melted better and then add to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened.
3. Please foil cupcake papers in muffin pans that were sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
4. Spoon batter into cups – 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack – yields 9 muffins. Recipe can be doubled.


Another blog? Yup. This one is for all you ladies out there needing encouragement and inspiration in the realm of cooking, cleaning, and childrearing. Grub for the Hub will be a collective of recipes, hints, and ideas that we young wives are testing out for the first time, as well as encouragement and help from our wise and experienced mothers.

Here we go!