Archive for December, 2016

Wonton Soup

Thursday, December 29th, 2016


Wonton soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.  I think of it as Asian chicken noodle soup, and it’s what I want on those rare occasions when I’m sick. However, I eat it a lot, sick or not. Because I feel like crap on toast when I’m sick, I freeze trays of wontons, as well as containers of broth made from my old stewing hens, so soup can happen with minimal effort.  Everyone knows good old chicken soup is just what’s needed for a cold, but how much better, when you throw in garlic and ginger?

The recipe I give will make approximately 40-50 wontons. This is more than you will need to make a batch of soup. Freeze what you don’t use for later. The wontons can be added to the cooking broth fresh or frozen.



1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 package wonton wrappers

Combine ground pork, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil, and mix well.  Fold using any number of different folds. I use a tortellini fold, because it’s an easy fold that allows me to crank out a batch of 100 quickly. Place a small amount of pork mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper. Moisten outside edges of the wrapper with a finger dipped in water. Fold in half to form a triangle, and press the moistened edges together to seal. Pull the outside corners of the triangle towards the middle. Moisten one of the corners with a little water, and press the corners together, and then flip the main part of the wonton over the top of your thumb while pinching the corners together, as pictured.



Wonton Soup
1 quart (32 ounces) chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 to 2 cups chopped bok choy greens and stems
Salt to taste

To make the soup, place the broth, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce in your soup pot, and bring up to a gentle boil.  Add your wontons to the broth (fresh or frozen), and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chopped bok choy to the soup, and take it off the heat. The heat of the soup will wilt the greens, but they will still maintain a satisfying crunch.

This is a versatile recipe. You can use more or less broth and greens as you like.  I prefer more greens and load it up with wontons.


Handmade Vs. The Wal-Mart Mentality

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016




I finished knitting up a cowl for myself, and had uploaded this picture to my facebook page, offering to make another for the low, low price of $75.  It resulted in a conversation between a couple of my knitting friends.



The timing of the conversation coincided with my train of thought while working on a pair of fingerless mitts.  I no longer depend on income gained from handmade items.  However, I do make a living selling supplies to those who earn a living selling handmade items.  I’m very familiar with both ends of the stick.

When I first went into the handcrafted soap and personal care products business 15 years ago, the running rate for a 4 ounce bar of handmade soap was approximately $4-5 a bar.  These days, the cost of raw materials has more than doubled, but I still see some of my long time customers selling bars for nearly the same price, and it breaks my heart.  I’ll never forget an old farm wife stopping at my soap booth, looking longingly at the selection I had on display.  She told me she really wanted to buy some, but if she did she would have to hide it.  When I asked her why, she told me her husband would blow a gasket over the price, when she could buy a 10 pack of ivory soap for $2.

If I had a nickel for every person who has taken a look at one of my handmade items, and said, “That’s so cool! You should really sell your ________.  If you do, I’ll be your first customer!”,  I’d be a wealthy woman.  The cold hard truth is that makers and artisans usually struggle to get a fair price for their work. I have tried to sell some of my handmade items, and guess what?  Most of the people who told me they would buy never have.  The subject of pricing among my maker and artist friends is a hot topic. It’s not a subject taken lightly, and most agonize over it.

I have a question for you.  How much do you earn for putting in a 12 hour shift at your job?  I’m going to use my fingerless mitts as an example, although they are a gift, and not for sale. They are rather complicated, and the pair will take me approximately 12 hours to complete. If I were to charge $10 an hour for my time and the cost of the yarn, the mitts should have a minimum price tag of $120! Needless to say, I’m probably never going to use this particular pattern for selling.




Beetroot & Feta Salad

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016


Winter gardening here in Northeastern Indiana has been more fun than usual this year, thanks to an unseasonably long and warm fall. One of the tricks of maintaining a winter garden in our northern climate is careful planning so that plants are well enough established to hold well in cold weather. This year, it’s been mild enough that I haven’t had to cover anything with mulch or protective row covers. This morning’s harvest, pictured above, came out of the garden in beautiful shape.  As the colder weather of December and January move in, things won’t look quite so vibrant, but will still be perfectly good for the kitchen.

Lunch today was beetroot and feta salad, close to the last one I’ll have.  I should have planted an additional row of beets, because I’ve only got enough left for one more meal. I didn’t spend much time trying to get a picture, because I was hungry.  I’ve noticed a lot of beetroot salad pictures online, and want to know how they manage to keep their feta perfectly white?  Beetroot is messy, and colors everything it comes in contact with. I’ve got the purple fingers to prove it.



I’m not going to give exact amounts, because I only ever make this to serve one.  My husband hates both beets and feta. You can’t really mess this one up, because the ingredients are so simple.

Beetroot & Feta Salad with Parsley
A few beetroots, boiled, peeled, and cubed (about 1 1/2 cup per serving)
A big handful of parsley, chopped
Feta, cubed or crumbled
Fresh lemon juice
Olive oil, amount equal to lemon juice
A couple of garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

The easiest way to cook beetroot is with the skin still on. Trim the tops and bottoms, and boil them whole until fork tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let them sit in the pan with cold water, and they will be easier to handle.  Slip the skins off and cube.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper into a vinaigrette.

Combine beetroot, feta, and parsley. Drizzle with vinaigrette.