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New Raised Beds

Over spring break our family built new raised beds. It was such a fun project, and the whole family pitched in. Our old raised beds had rotted out after about 5 years of use. They were only 7 inches tall. We decided to make the new beds 10 inches higher. Must be the old woman in me – I really appreciate not having to bend down so far. Raised beds are great in that respect.

Building raised beds is a bit of a time and money commitment. But they are so rewarding when you consider how much more produce you get.  We are hoping that the plants will be able to grow even deeper roots in the taller boxes.


Nk rotted wood


In the photos you can see the boards of our old beds. They rotted because we used plain untreated wood.  I was a bit sad to see my old garden gate getting dismantled. But I am very happy about the new beds.  The new raised beds are made of redwood.

Of course, they are not treated with chemicals either, yet they are supposed to last a lifetime. The wood was a bit more expensive but hopefully we don’t have to rebuild again in five years.

We built a total of four boxes. It cost us about $300 (for planks of redwood, new fenceposts, and screws) and three days of labor. That includes the time it took to take out the old beds.


We covered one of the beds with old storm windows we found in our basement. Now the beds work like a miniature greenhouse. On warm days we take the windows off and let the sunshine warm the bed. During the last 3 winterstorms we closed the bed up to shield our small seedlings from the cold and ice.

Jonah with tools 2

NK raised beds


The children had fun using power tools to help build them. I am looking forward to the spinach, Swiss chard, and Kale already growing. Check out our first little seedlings! I can’t wait to plant more stuff.

garden fairy 2

I am getting ready to be in a local art show. It’s been a while since I exhibited my work at Madison& Main gallery. It’s a wonderful artist coop, and if you are in the vicinity make sure you check it out. I figured my little garden fairy would go nicely with this post. Maybe she can sprinkle some magic fairy dust to make our plants grow faster. If you would like to meet this  sweet Garden Fairy in person you will find her after May 1rst at Madison & Main. Unfortunately I’ll have to miss the grand opening of this show since I’ll be traveling in Germany by then.





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Winter Oatmeal

Our family really likes oatmeal.  We eat it every day all winter long.  There are variations of it but this is the basic recipe.


For two hungry adults and two children under 5:



2 cup large whole rolled oats

2 cups water

1 big slug of of milk

1/4 cup of creamed coconut

a handful of raisins

1 banana

milk and coconut sugar for the top



The trick to good porridge is cooking it slow.  We bring the oats, banana, water and milk to a boil then turn it right down to a simmer.  Then, depending on how hydrated you like your raisins, you  add them and the coconut.  We like to chop ours into big chunks. It is fun to get a little of the unmelted coconut in your bite.

We usually let it cook on the stove, go get the kids ready for the day and set the table, and by then it is done.  Typically 15-20 minutes.  Stirring occasionally. With a sprinkle of coconut sugar and a dash of milk, or nothing at all, this breakfast is a fantastic way to start your day.  Enjoy.

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Summer Pesto

One of my favorite summer recipes is Pesto Pasta.  We live in cilantro, pecan territory.  So a cilantro, pecan pesto is in order don’t you think?  If you don’t like cilantro try it with some parsley & garlic, this recipe may just change your mind.  If you want to go traditional, use basil instead.  I interchange basil in this recipe whenever we have enough to harvest in the garden.  It’s delicious either way.  In my opinion, the pecans are a must.  They add just the right crunch.


1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley

(or 2-3 loosely packed cups of fresh basil)
1/2 c. pecans
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
salt & pepper to taste

mix in food processor & add to warm pasta

To take it up a flavor notch, add some freshly grated Parmesan or my favorite, crumbled feta cheese on top. This recipe goes well with any grilled meat or vegetable.  Add a nice white wine & Mmmmm, heaven.

This recipe freezes well.  I like to freeze it in plastic bags that are flattened like a little square pancake.  Then I can stack them one on top of the other.  Make sure you save a tablespoon of pesto for your morning scrambled eggs. Add a few cherry tomato halves thrown in and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Enjoy the flavors of the season!


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Make it Yourself: Homemade Organic Nutella

My mom seldom bought Nutella; it was (and still is) quite expensive and not very healthy (beside what they claim in their ads). We only had it when in was on sale and it was a real treat! When I started living by myself and buying what I wanted I often bought a jar; I loved it on my bagels…But soon I found that eating that often made me grumpy and weird…Too much sugar and fat intake, so I stopped buying it and said goodbye to chocolate spread, until I was at my mom and stumble upon a TV show about dessert. Here’s the recipe the guy proposed:

What you need:

  • 2 cups of Hazelnuts*
  • ½ cup of icing sugar
  • ½ cup of cocoa
  • 2 table spoon of hazelnut oil (sunflower, canola, even olive oil could work)
  • 1 table spoon of vanilla extract

What you do:

  1. On a cookie sheet, evenly spread hazelnuts and put them in the oven to roast at 400F for about 8 min. Check them often it roast fast!
  2. Let them cool and take out the shells by scrubbing them together.
  3. Place them in a robot and crush them for 5 min, until it start to look like butter.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredient and mix them for as long as it takes for you to like the texture. Some like it more crunchy, some like it more smooth.
  5. Slice a piece of bread and spread your newly made butter on it.
  6. Enjoy!

There are variation of this recipe that contains milk or dried powder milk products to make it more like the store-bought thing but I tend to make the recipe more simple. We tend to use organic ingredients.

* I had a friend make it by replacing the hazelnut by almond for her allergic daughter and they found it very good as well.  I guess any kind of nuts would work.

I suggest keeping it in your fridge since they’re no preservative. I usually double the recipe and it last us about a week.

It is SO good on toast, untoasted bread, fruits. It relatively takes no time to make and is so easy to offer in a pretty jar. The kids can help measuring and dumping the ingredients in the robot and will lick the spoon afterwards.


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No Sugar Carob Fudge

What a chalenge to find a great little ” sugary tasting”  treat for you and your family ! Well lately a friend of mine introduced me to  this special caroub fudge and what a suprise for me to find that it is Deliiiiciouuss !! I thought that  sharing this  with you would be a great idea… it is a creative recipe and soOoo easy to make !!



What you will need:

~ 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

~ 2 cups of unsweetened carob chips

~2/3 cup of peanut butter

~1/2 cup of coconut

~1/3 cup of walnuts

~1/2 cup of dry raisins

~1 tsp. of vanilla



Place the carob, peanut butter and oil in a pan at  low temperature, stirring constantly just until smooth. This will give you a great “chocolate” color…it already looks delicious !!
Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Spread out in a greased  8 x 8 square pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. Then cut in squares or as you desire.
Keep them in the refrigerator or you could also freeze the balance for unexpected sweet cravings…
**  I do find that the fudge is hard to cut in perfect square…but it is still as good 🙂 **
Note:  With the basic recipe (carob, peanut butter and oil) you can create so many different variations of this recipe…why not use your favorite nuts, some popped quinoa, cranberry or even some spices..the sky is the limit 🙂
Enjoy !!!!
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Comforting herbs/spices hot drink recipes

I don’t know if you are like me, but when autumn arrives  I loOoove to be home, cozy with my little candle illuminated in the dark night. I prepare for myself a nice, hot, herbal  drink…Mmmmmm!!! I love herbal tea, and for many years now, medicinal plants have been part of my life almost every day. I love to be able to heal myself and the ones I cherish the most with herbs that are given to us and grow freely in  nature. I find they are so precious  So, let me share with you today two of my favourite “ heart-warming” drinks.


** Chocolate spices chaï

The first drink is not really made with herbs but with spices.

Spices are great for their “carminative” effect, that being the way they help digestion to be really efficient. This particular drink is also going to warm you from  inside with the help of the natural essential oils that the spices contain. They will also re-establish a good “fire” to your digestion. It is a great idea to drink this after a meal or a walk outside. I also find that for one with a “sweet tooth” {Are you like me?? Ah!Ah!},  it can help satisfy you without going for a big dessert!


What you will need:

~Milk: Can be regular cow’s milk,  soya, rice or almond…choose the one you prefer.

~Dark hot chocolate mix: From Cocoa Camino {such a great quality of chocolate}

~Fresh spices: 2 tbs. cardamom, 2 stick of cinnamon, 2 tbs. fennel, 1 tbs. ginger and a glimpse of cayenne pepper.



The way I do it is that I put ½ water ½ milk in a 2 quart saucepan and I heat it on the stove until it is warm. Please don’t boil it ! Then, I add the spices {all of them except the cayenne pepper} placed in a little tea bag {so it’s easier to take them out afterward} that I previously grounded by hand in a mortar to open all the great flavours the spices keep inside their shells.  Keep the liquid warm and let it rest for about 45 minutes. The flavours are going to be delicately infused in the milk….so smell it, enjoy the process !! {I always take a moment to be there with my infusion and be conscious that this is for me, this is a moment where I’m creating a special space for myself…. and be happy!! Life goes by so quickly that we often don’t take the time for special moments like this one…}. Then, I remove the spices,  add the chocolate mixture and mix it up very well. You can choose to use 2 tbsp or more of chocolate… it is as you wish!!! At the very last minute, I do add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

There you go…I love to enjoy this drink while I’m wrapped up in a warm blanket after my daughter is asleep …and I knit slowly, relaxed, on the couch….


** Comforting peaceful herb tea

The second drink is an herbal tea…. one of my special blends!! I will give you a brief description of the medicinal plant characteristics. Because, we could talk for a whole day about the properties of just one of them Ah!Ah! …so, this description will only give you a brief idea of their qualities.


Herbs you will need:

~Nettle , Urtica dioica : I’m totally in loOoove with this herb. It is so special, so strong…and brings many minerals  to your body. In this way,  it is definitely one of the most nutritious plants you can use. It’s good for almost everything !!!

~Oats (green flowering) , Avena sativa : This is another nutritive herb that will particularly nourish your nervous system… and who do you know in our era that doesn’t need a little nervous support, hey?! It carries a lot of minerals also.

~Peppermint , mentha x piperita: I add this for it’s great taste, and also the fact that it helps digestion with its essential oils. It is a great plant to help open the respiratory tract {lungs, sinus…}.

~Green Anise seeds , pimpinella anisum: I add it  for taste, as it tastes a bit like black licorice {which is something I love very much}. If you are not a fan, just don’t add it. Your tea is going to be delicious anyway. You will be using the seeds that you are delicately going to grind either in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder. Please wash the grinder before using it so your seeds won’t taste like coffee in the end. It is filled with essential oils that also help digestion and gas problems.

~Holy basil , tenuiflorum ocimum: This plant is going to warm your heart and  open it. It brings Joy !!!! It will help you to see clearly when your head is in a “haze”. This herb is sometimes hard to find, so you will need to go to a herbalist to get this precious herb. You will not add as much of holy basil as the others.

The way I do it is that at night I bring my water to a boil {again in my favorite 2 quarts saucepan!!} and then turn everything off. I add nettle leaves and oats {1-2 handfuls each} to infuse for the whole night. Because they are nutritive plants, letting them infuse for 6-8 hours is going to bring out all the minerals they contain. Then,  in the morning,  I either take out the leaves or leave them in and heat it up a bit {do not boil the water} then I turn it off. I then add all the other herbs {peppermint 1 handful; holy basil 1 full tbs} and seeds {anise seeds 2 tbs. previously grounded}.  Leave them infuse for about ½ an hour with the lid on… and then enjoy !!!

Feel free to give me your feedback about those two drinks…I would love to read them !!

Wishing you and yours a beautiful autumn… and winter season!!

Warm regards,




     Julie Ouimet is from Québec, Canada. She

     lives with her daugther,  in a little town in harmony with nature.

     Creating is her passion, a way of life !!! She cultivates the earth during the warm season

     and creates lovely waldorf inspired toys the whole year long…

     You can visit her shop at FeeVertelaine.

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Best Stuffed Peppers

Please enjoy another cool recipe by NK Teammember Dria Peterson who lives and cooks in a vegetarian village in Israel!
One day I found a small book of Jewish Indian cooking. The book wasn’t written very well, and trying to figure out what the author meant was a challenge. One of the recipes was for stuffed vegetables. I have been making this recipe for years now, on every special occasion and sometimes every week with no special reason. My daughters and husband love them (In fact I made them for him on our third date).
Over the years I have changed the original recipe completely and made it Quick, easy and flop-proof!
At one period of time, my second daughter was home with me, without her elder sister, every Wednesday. She was about 2.5 and interested in cooking. Making these stuffed Peppers became our weekly activity. I used to call her “My Sou Chef”. She now makes the stuffed peppers all on her own. I only need to supply the stuffing mix 🙂

And now I share it with you, after measuring what I do, so I can write it down properly. I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do.

What you need to make this recipe:

Large Pan (I use either a deep saucepan or stock pot and stack the peppers in two layers, or use a wide shallow pan called a Sauteuse – like in the photos).

  • 8-12 bell peppers (The number depends on the size of the pan you will use and the size of the peppers you have). You can measure how many peppers fit into the pan before cutting them.
  • 2 cups of brown rice (I use round rice)
  • 3 large tomatoes or 6 small tomatoes
  • Big bunch of herbs and greens (I use whatever I have in the garden – Celery, Parsley, Coriander, Chard, Green Onions, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (optional)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Leaves from a cabbage or grape vine, to cover the bottom of the pan and prevent the peppers from burning. My daughters love eating the cabbage leaves from the bottom of the pan.

*other possibilities are to substitute some of the rice with lentils or mung beans, or add chopped almonds)*

Cook the rice with 4 cups of water. First bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Cook for about 30 minutes. Cooking the rice before hand is not the usual way to make stuffed vegetables, but this way you will not have “uncooked rice problems”, cooking is about half the time, saves energy and create an edible leftover stuffing.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the stuffing and get the peppers ready for stuffing:

Wash peppers, cut tops off and take the seeds out.

* These two steps can be made in advance*

Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan. Spread it all over with a brush.

Cover the bottom of the pan with leaves.

Put the greens, tomatoes and garlic in the food processor and chop. Pour into a large mixing bowl, big enough to mix in the rice later.

If you are using raisins chop them a little with a knife or pulse them gently in the food processor. The purpose is not to leave the raisins whole so they won’t swell up. Place the raisins in the mixing bowl.

When the rice is cooked, add it to the chopped greens mixture. Add the 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and the salt.

Mix well.

Now, Taste the stuffing. It should be delicious. If not, add more olive oil, lemon, salt or tomatoes till the stuffing is tasty.
Now it’s stuffing time! Fill the peppers up to the top (no need to leave space as in uncooked rice stuffing) and cover with the pepper lid.

Place the peppers in the pan, so they stand closely together and don’t fall over. Squeeze in another pepper if you have to.

The kids (or grownups) can eat the leftover stuffing.

Pour 3 cups of water into the pan. The water should only create a 1 inch puddle on the bottom of the pan.

Bring the water in the pan to a boil (you can hear when it’s boiling). Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 40 min – 1 hour. Listen to the pan to hear the liquid bubbling so you know there is enough water in the pan, otherwise the peppers might burn. Usually at the end of cooking there is more liquid in the pan than what you first poured in.

The peppers are yummy when hot but also when cold and even after a few days in the refrigerator. You can reheat them in the same pan with their liquid still in the pan. When we eat them cold we usually cut the pepper and pour some olive oil over it and add a squeeze lemon. A soft cheese like a sour Labaneh or yogurt also goes well with the stuffed peppers.

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A Soup to Warm the Tummy!

Finally winter has arrived in Colorado. I was afraid it would never happen. While the rest of the nation appears to have been buried in the white stuff – we have had all but two inches of snow in our town. Our family loves to eat soup when the cold hits. Nothing beats a nice bowl of soup when you come in from a day of playing in the snow. So I sure am glad that the time has come to make one of our favorite soups. Not only is it tasty and nutritious, it also has a pretty color from the red lentils. It looks super served in pretty white bowl! Unfortunately I didn’t snap a picture last time I made it. I promise you will love this great vegetarian dish that does not take very many ingredients and is easy to make!

You need:

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 big onion diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
¼ teaspoon of salt or more to taste
¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
6 -8 cups of low salt chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of red lentils
2 carrots, peeled and diced
lemon or lime juice
fresh cilantro

1. Put olive oil in a large pot to coat the bottom of the pot. Preserve the rest of the olive oil for drizzling over the soup later. Heat the olive oil in the pot until it is very hot. Add the diced onions and the garlic. Saute until golden and soft, for about 4 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste and spices to the pot and stir in with the onion and garlic. Saute for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the stock, lentils, and dices carrots. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Then cover the pot and simmer over medium low heat until the lentils and carrots have softened. This takes about 30 minutes. Add more salt and pepper if need be.

4. Puree about half of the soup with an immersion or regular blender. You don’t want to puree all of it unless you like your soup very smooth. We prefer more of chunky type of soup.

5. Right before serving the soup pour in the lemon juice, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle some cilantro on top.

6. Serve with crusty bread.

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Healthy Carrots and Apple Salad

I don’t know about you, but over here it’s about high time to lay off the sugar and get the family back on the right track after all the Christmas snacking and unhealthy eating that comes with the season. New Year is coming and with it the resolutions – plans to lose those extra pounds we put on… So if you need a recipe that is both healthy and loved by children try this one:

You need only a few items:

  • carrots
  • apples
  • raisins
  • chopped nuts or almonds
  • lemon juice
  • honey
  • apple cider vinegar
  • vegetable oil
  • pepper and salt

I am not giving any measurements here. Our kids love this salad which is commonly known as a “Rohkostsalat” = in translation raw foods salad – in Germany. They make it on their own by just throwing the above ingredients together as they please…

Of course, the apples and carrots need to be washed, peeled, and grated. But once that is done, it’s just up to the chef to add other things. Throw in a couple of handfuls of chopped nuts. If you love raisins, like we do, put in a few tablespoons of those. Add a bit of lemon juice to keep the apples from turning brown and some honey for sweetening.

This salad makes a lovely snack or refreshing side dish for any occasion! Best of all: you can tell the kids to make it on their own! That is, if they are old enough to use a peeler and grating tool!

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Make whole wheat flat bread

Today’s {delicious} recipe is from Beccijo, whose The Enchanted Cupboard”>shop is filled with handpainted wood toys and dolls.

Whole Wheat Flat Bread by Beccijo

This past summer my family made a plan to go without air conditioning for as long as we could. We made it until the very hot month parts of August and September but still used it sparingly when we did turn it on. The one downside to this plan was baking bread in the hot days of summer.

About 2 years ago, I started grinding my own wheat for our bread and baked goods. The benefits of fresh ground wheat are overwhelming and outweigh an extra work it makes for me. So now I was faced with over heating our house or giving up my baking. I was not prepared to do either and I researched other options.

When I first started my homestead, green living lifestyle I was in love with the idea that I could make anything. Our own ketchup, hamburger buns, salad dressing, and laundry soap to name a few of the things we make for ourselves. It was so rewarding to know that when we ran out of something it did not mean a trip to the grocery store. Instead, we could mix a few ingredients we already had in the pantry.

I started researching other ways to make bread-type items without the use of an oven. I checked out bread makers and bought an inexpensive bread maker that is working out nicely and is great for mixing up dough that I may use for rolls or pizzas! I also found some great recipes that are for making flat breads on the stove top. The kids and I experimented and made a recipe that works for us. It has a good bit of oil in it but it makes a nice dough that is easy for kids to roll out.


2 cups of whole wheat flour [note from Jen: organic whole wheat or whole spelt can be used here as well]
1.5 cups all purpose flour
0.5 tsp of baking powder
7 tsp of oil
1 cup very hot water

– 3 minutes of kneading
– 15 minutes to rest under wet warm towel
– then form into golf ball sized balls
– next roll out and cook on a cast iron grill or non stick pan, cooking on medium heat
– cook one side until browned and then flip


Here is a sweet painted toy, a woodland accessory set, from Beccijo’s shop!