Monthly Archives: November 2016



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Cranberries: From Bog to Table

In the spirit of the season, today’s post is all about cranberries. You know, those tasty, nutrient-dense, little red morsels … you most likely passed them (or passed them by—folks usually love ’em or hate ’em) around your Thanksgiving table last week. And maybe you’ll enjoy them again at a Christmas feast. Their bright-red hues bring a festive touch to any holiday meal.

When I think cranberries, I think New England, where many of the cranberries in the U.S. are grown and harvested. I don’t think my neighboring Washington state … until now. Turns out, Washington state is the fifth largest cranberry-producing state in the U.S. Who knew?

And cranberries are grown in a unique, almost other-worldly setting called a cranberry bog. According to, “[Cranberries] can grow and survive only under a very special combination of factors. These factors include acid peat soil, an adequate fresh water supply, and a growing season that extends from April to November. Cranberries grow on low-lying vines in beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. These beds are commonly known as bogs or marshes and were originally created by glacial deposits. Commercial bogs use a system of wetlands, uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and other water bodies that provide a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life.”

This gorgeous slideshow of cranberry production in Washington state will make you appreciate these little gems even more. And here’s a holiday-inspired recipe to get your creative cranberry juices flowing!

Day-after Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches


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Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Becky Gilson!!!

Becky Gilson (Bearprairiechick, #6695) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Gaining Ground Merit Badge!

“I read worms eat garbage. I found a worm factory on craigslist and keep it in the kitchen. I also started a compost bin for the garden.

I started with worms I found in the yard, and they are thriving and multiplying in their new home. The compost is coming along nicely, and I plan to purchase bulk worms for it from our local supplier this spring.”


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Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Whistle While You Work, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Out There Kids/Whistle While You Work Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Piper and I took our newly honed and finely tuned grass-whistling skillz to new heights.

Namely, the tippy-top of her tree, because, well, we had been threatened with bodily harm by all of our respective family members if we so much as blew another blade of grass within their hearing again.

Boy, talk about tough critics.

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Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Food Allergy Awareness, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Food Allergy Awareness Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I tackled my newfound knowledge of that lowly, insidious issue of food allergies, and wrestled it into the kitchen.

That’s right. What good is knowing things if you aren’t part of the solution, am I right? Of course I am.

I set about rewriting three family recipes with a food allergic person in mind. What if, for example, you have a loved one coming over for Thanksgiving dinner and they are gluten free? How will you serve that oh-so important and not to be neglected Turkey Day staple, the stuffing? Or, say your uncle has a craving for a slow-roasted ham, but can’t tolerate any form of sugar in the glaze? (And who doesn’t? Have a craving for slow-roasted ham, that is. I mean, come on. The day I don’t have a slow-roasted ham craving is the day you know to bury me six feet under.) I mean, it’s a pickle really.

Don’t get me started on pickle allergies. If there is such a thing then I declare, this is a world I cannot be a part of.

Anyway. I had no such uncle, nor any gluten-free friends at the moment, so I took a different approach: I pretended.

That’s me, Jane, the Great Pretender. I pretended I was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and dairy.

But, Janey, you’re saying, peanuts are a nut, you, you NUT! Nope, peanuts are a legume, thank you very much. You can be quite allergic to tree nuts and not to peanuts, and the other way ‘round.


photo by jules / stonesoup via Wikimedia Commons

Cue the melodious strains of a back-to-school special … the more you know …

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that it wouldn’t be that hard to avoid nuts (or legumes), especially if you’re doing your own cooking, but you’d be wrong. Or at least, wrongish. I reached for a bottle of Asian salad dressing as a marinade for my chicken (I was making lettuce wraps) and belatedly read the ingredients. Yep, you guessed it, peanut oil.

I was glad I hadn’t picked soy as one of my food allergy ingredients to avoid because then I really would have been up a creek without a paddle. I try to avoid soy anyway, but boy do they ever put it in everything (it’s nearly as everywhere as gluten is). My chicken lettuce wraps turned out okay, but they were missing the crunch of a few sprinkled nuts, I must say. I tossed some corn nuts in as a replacement (they were … weird).

Next, I whipped up a batch of my world-famous Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies, but with variations. I had to take out all the nuts once again (grr!) and not only that, but I had to remove the dairy as well.

Wait, is butter a dairy?

photo by Armmark via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t wanna do this anymore …

I substituted coconut oil and applesauce for the butter (if you’re going to tell me coconut is a nut, I’m going to have to slap you with a cookie), and replaced the nuts with some dried fruits and some extra oats for texture.

They were pretty tasty, although I will probably have to rename them Everything But the Kitchen Sink and Not To Mention Nuts and Butter Cookies. Which makes it a little hard to file in my recipe box, but no matter.

The third recipe I revamped was a fruit smoothie. I thought it’d be easy, until I realized I couldn’t replace the cow’s milk with almond milk, because … nuts! And I couldn’t replace the almond milk with cow’s milk, because … dairy.

So I threw some strawberries in a blender and added some tequila and called it a day.