Understanding Egg Labels 101

Editor’s Note: With the arrival of Clara, I’m taking a short maternity blogging break. I’m excited to welcome several guest writers, among them, Katie of Kitchen Stewardship. Welcome, Katie!

It brings my heart great joy to see frolicking chickens. You may think I’m exaggerating, but the chickens at my favorite farm prefer to hang out in trees and lay their eggs anywhere but the hen house, so “frolicking” is pretty accurate.

The eggs laid by these happy chickens are truly the best in my city – a deep yellow, almost orange yolk, and so much flavor it spoils me. I find other eggs almost tasteless now that I’ve experienced the product of hens who eat bugs and grass, run around, and act like the chickens God created them to be.

I’m sure going straight to the farmer is not a realistic option for everyone, so when you’re standing in front of the egg display at the supermarket, how do you choose from among the baffling number of options presented to you?
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7 Ways to Use Homemade Greek Spice Blend (Recipe: Stuffed Peppers)

Written by Shaina of Food for My Family.

Spice blends can be great timesavers in the kitchen. Ingredient lists for a single dish can shrink by eight-plus items just be replacing it with “____ spice blend.” Aimee demonstrated how the possibilities on creating your own spice blends are endless. Still, you may be thinking, “How often am I really going to use that spice blend?

If you’re anything like our family, you might not eat the same meal more than a few times a year, so you may be wondering if you’d ever use the store of spice blends in the freezer. The answer is that it is entirely possible, even without eating the same meal on a weekly or even monthly basis. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s not always the spices that need to have variety.

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Spices of Life: A Round-Up of Homemade Spice Blends

A year or so spent working for a fine spice merchant left me with a lifelong appreciation for spices and their place in the kitchen. The series I’ve done here on Simple Bites on subjects such as sourcing quality spices, storing spices, and options for grinding whole spices, are a testament to my love of fresh spices.

I’ve been cooking with homemade spice blends for as long as I can remember, flavoring my rice pilaf with a spoonful of garam masala, deepening the flavor of French Toast with pumpkin pie spice, tossing blends onto meats for grilling, just to name a few ways.

Once you have the ingredients on hand, spice blends are quick to mix up, easy to store, and make unique and thoughtful gifts. They lend themselves to creativity in the kitchen, and as long as you are using fresh, whole spices, are pretty hard to mess up.

The advantages of homemade spice blends are many. Here are three as well as a roundup: [Read more…]

How Does Your Garden Grow? (Q&A)

I can’t be the only one dreaming about getting my hands into some warm soil this coming spring. Although there is still snow piled a foot high on my raised beds, I’m making plans to exercise my green thumb and start a few seedlings.

Since my gardening space is limited to four 4×12 plots and a few containers, I’m being very selective about what I plant this spring. I’ve made my list; have you?

I’m choosing from herbs and vegetables that are typically easier to grow and don’t need much maintenance. With a brand new baby to care for on top of my usual daily activities, I know gardening time is going to be limited.

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Vegetables In Season: February

A quick look around food blogs, Pinterest, and bakery window displays might lead one to believe that dark chocolate and marshmallows were in high season right now, and in a way, they are, peaking tomorrow in a blaze of sweetness. But what about the rest of the month? What is good eating in February?

In her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver called February ‘The Hungry Month’, and if you are living off the land, indeed it is. Most of us, however, have access to markets that carry a selection of good winter fruits and vegetables if you know what to look for.

Embracing cool-weather eating can take some adjustment, but it is better for the budget and for the environment, as you are buying what is local and in season. Of course, what is in season in February will vary with your location. For example, I’m in Eastern Canada and my sister is in South Texas. Produce that is cheap for me is often far pricier for her and vice versa.

Listed below is a broad range of beautiful vegetables that are available right now, as well as tips on how to prepare them. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to skip the peas and corn in the frozen section of the grocery store and pick up one of these seasonal vegetables instead.

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