Posted in Culinary adventures, Homesteading

Autumn Bounty

As summer harvest winds down here in Minnesota, the old Brookes homestead still has a few treasures in the backyard garden.

Hello, Gorgeous!

Back in May this year, some friends & I were wandering around the Minnesota State Fairgrounds at a truly stunning plant sale when I stumbled across purple carrot seeds. Firstly, I had no idea purple carrots were a thing. Secondly, I’d never tried to grow carrots before. But they were dirt cheap (pun intended) and I figured, “why not!”

I’m sure carrots take their flavor from the soil they grow in, so as I continue cultivating these delightful root veggies I’ll be intrigued to discover flavor differences as our soil becomes more organic & healthy. For now, these carrots are squat, little, sassy-tasting beauties. And I am really unnecessarily proud of how gorgeous they are. All I did was poke some seeds in some dirt, water them every once in a while and wait for like 3 months. It’s not like I invented the carrot and caused them to grow.

But lookit how pretty!


And since I had such a large crop of carrots, I decided to dust off one of my favorite Fall recipes from The Soup Bible*:

Spicy Carrot Soup with Garlic Croutons (serves 6) vegan friendly!

Soup ingredients:

  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 4 c. carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp. each ground coriander, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper
  • 4 c. vegetable stock
  • salt & black pepper to taste, sprigs of fresh cilantro to garnish (if you garnish soups)

For the croutons:

  • 1-2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (I double this as I’m making the croutons cause GARLIC)
  • 4 slices bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes


Heat the oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground spices and cook 1 minute longer, stirring. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the carrots are tender. Meanwhile, make the garlic croutons. Heat oil on medium in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add bread cubes, turn them frequently in the oil and fry for a few minutes until crisp and golden brown all over. Pat dry on towels. Puree the soup in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to soup pot (if needed) to reheat. Serve hot, sprinkled with croutons and garnish with cilantro (if you garnish stuff).

Hello Autumn in a pot!


Such a joy to be part of the food process from start to finish. Who knew that growing my own food would be so satisfying! What are you growing in your garden? Anything you grow that has become a staple you just can’t live without now? Also, let me know if you try this soup recipe!





*I got my copy of The Soup Bible at Half Price Books for $2 in the clearance section. I have made over 10 soup recipes from it and each one has been super tasty. There are many very affordable recipes and a lot of great, wholesome flavor combos. I highly recommend this cookbook.

Posted in Culinary adventures, Homesteading, Word Study: "Joy"


One of the glories of having a small patch of garden is reaping the harvest. And after planting 16 varieties of hot and sweet peppers in May, we have been enjoying the fruits of our labors.


This was yield 1 of 50 bajillion. 🙂

So I did Nayt’s favorite thing and made some salsa.


It turned out SPICY. So spicy that Nayt has been using it on our homemade Chipotle-style rice bowls WITHOUT adding hot sauce. I’m calling that a victory. 🙂 Such a simple joy to make a treat for the hubs (and me! I eat salsa!) from things I’ve GROWN. Simple yet profoundly satisfying.


Thanks garden peppers! You are very tasty!

As I was lovingly staring at the broccoli/cabbage/kale/carrot bed, I noticed a small li’l cabbage is ready for picking. And I have plans for that cabbage. (Rubs hands together with glee.) Stay tuned to learn what happens to the li’l guy! 😉

Homesteader out!

Posted in Crafty madness!, Culinary adventures, Homesteading

Hard-boiled joy

Easter is upon us: a time to reflect & remember that the God I worship literally died so I’d be free. Yet while all that heart-heavy stuff is marinating, windows are opening, the sun is shining and Spring is upon us. It’s as if the world is asking us to shake off our heaviness and come play a little. “Weeping may last the night but joy comes with the morning.” –Psalm 30:5

And over here at the Brookes’ homestead, we’ve been boiling our own joy: naturally dyed Easter eggs! This tradition dates back thousands of years, and I’ve long wanted to experiment for myself. With some help from Mama (who’s in town for a visit), we boiled eggs and made dye baths. Science is fun!

So, without further ado, here are the results:

Top photo: Dye baths -top row: curry, spinach, red cabbage, beets -bottom row: onion skin, green tea, beets. Bottom left photo: turmeric with string. Bottom right photo: red cabbage with string. Loved this process! Definitely repeating!
My favorite dye bath was the onion skin. Super cool (and really cheap!!!)
Dye bath processing. Next time, I’ll double the vinegar.
This year, we did canned beets and a mix of canned and fresh spinach. Fresh is for SURE the way to go. Now I know for next year. Beets are supposed to dye eggs brilliant pink.
Super appreciate my local Co-op making these great reference sheets available! Definitely will try the red cabbage and onion skins again. Stunning color!
Posted in Culinary adventures, Homesteading


It could be the direct result of where I’m employed, but it seems like there’s a lot of talk about turning vegetables into noodles. Our cooking section at Half Price Books has a few books specifically focused on spiralizing: hand-making noodles from veg. As a person who has flirted with the Paleo diet and whose gut responds well to little or no grain, the idea intrigues me. However, Nayt & I have had serious momentum into minimalism, so accumulating another kitchen gadget to experiment with was not my ideal. Enter my friend Karyn!

Friends let friends play with their cool toys. And it turns out, when you’re a grown-up, those toys might be weird kitchen gadgets.  🙂

So, last night, I played around with turning zucchini into noodles.  Olive oil, garlic, roasted onions, dried parsley, salt & pepper, and Herb de Provence* coated my freshly spiralized zucchini. It was tasty and satisfying. I was surprised at how the texture was so similar to noodles. I will say this, don’t try to trick your veg-reluctant spouse or kids by substituting zucchini for pasta. It is obviously veg when you bite into it, both in flavor and texture. BUT very tasty, and a totally ingenious way to mindfully increase your vegetable intake.

Now that I’ve played with it, I don’t know if I’d ever use it enough to justify owning one. Still was super fun! Thanks for sharing your toys, Karyn!





*I’ve never cooked with Herb de Provence before. A 9yr old sealed jar of it was staring at me from the spice rack. Have you cooked with this dried herb? It smells really delicious, but I don’t think I used enough (granted, it’s pretty old). I had a hard time identifying it amidst the garlic and olive oil flavors. If you’ve cooked with it, what dishes have you used it in?

Posted in Culinary adventures, Homesteading

Fry bread ambrosia

Holy fry bread, y’all. I don’t know what tribe is responsible for this delectable treat but they are wonderful people and fry bread is insanely good. Imagine a savory dense cake donut. Yeah. Now you feel me.

So, last weekend I was fortunate to attend the Wild Rice Festival at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville. Half Price Books donates to this awesome park and animal restoration center, so we get a booth at this event. I was dressed as the Bookworm mascot and got to hug and high five children all afternoon.

But while I wasn’t swallowed by the neon green sleeping bag that is my employer’s mascot, I was eating Native American food. The Wild Rice Festival boasts authentic fare that blows my mind with its savory comforty awesomeness. I had a roasted ear of corn on the cob that was probably the best corn experience of my LIFE. I dunno what seasoning they put on it but MAN, it was goooooooood.

I really love supporting the native groups that are still harvesting wild rice by hand in the traditional manner. So, this year I bought a pound of wild rice, some cream of wild rice soup mix and a fry bread mix. And tonight, we feasted on fry bread, rice soup and chicken made with vegetables that were farmed in the American soil hundreds of years before Europeans settled here.

I’m full and happy. (Who wouldn’t be after eating DONUTS for dinner?) But seriously, it’s super fun to try new ethnic foods. And while I barely scratched the surface here with Native American, I am delighted with what we’ve tried so far!

Go eat adventurously!