“Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Friday, 24 March 2017

Vanilla Crumb Pie


For those that know me well, its common knowledge that I love the Amish/Plain people. I distinctly remember the very first time I stumbled upon a book about the Amish people. It was around 25 years ago while at the library, looking for a book for a project one of my children was working on. I picked that book of the shelf so fast and my eyes just lit up. I didn't know such people even existed and reading about their lives was a real revelation to my heart. I found it hard to believe that people still really lived and dressed like them.

I was not a Christian at that time, but still even as a young woman I loved homemaking and old fashioned ways. Most woman I knew growing up all either worked outside the home, or desired to and were not interested at all in being at home with their children full time. I can remember felling quite odd that I did, and when other woman would ask what I did? as in where did I work, I responded with "I am a full time homemaker". Often they became uninterested and walked away or simply shrugged and then said, "So, what else do you do", inferring that there was something lacking or not 'full-ime really' in being a homemaker..sigh.
So I can't even begin to say what it meant to me to know there were still woman in this modern world that lived such simple lives. They inspired me then and even now influence a lot of my ways.

That initial interest spread to all Plain People - Mennonite, Shaker, Quaker, Old Order Brethren, Hutterite etc etc. although the Amish & Old Order Mennonite/ Mennonite remain my main interest still.  Now I have quite the library of fiction and non-fiction books about their lives. So far as I know, there are no Amish or Mennonite people living in New Zealand.

Often people will ask me "What is it that interests you about them? " .To be honest, I can't give a simple answer, other than that they seem to give me a feeling of peace.
I know I deeply respect their values, their simplicity of lifestyle, their hard work and humble faith in God. I admire the way their lives are lived in submission to God, loving and serving their families and church community.

The Amish have a sort of code of conduct (the Ordung(, which they adhere to, which I'm not sure is necessarily written down, but it seems to dictate along with their bishop what they can and can't do/wear etc. These guidelines/rules are there to protect their identity or 'Amish-ness', the family unit and to live lives avoiding opportunities for pride to develop.  Humility appears to be valued and sought above all else.

When it comes to theology, there are things I don't agree about, but that is by and by for as far as I'm concerned, as I see so many things in their lives that are of great value and seem to work for them. In comparison there is a great lack of values and morals in our world today and in comparison, I believe the Amish are richer for there 'rules'. (Just my thoughts). They somehow are able to still remain uniquely 'themselves' amongst all the insanity in this world today,and be in the world (as many of them have jobs amongst the 'english', but yet they are not off it... and that in itself is deeply inspiring (and worthy).

~  ~  ~  ~

Just recently I finished reading one of my Amish books. It was a Novella  'An Amish Second Christmas'  The last story in the book was about a mothers prize winning, secret recipe, which she hands down to her daughter. The recipe is 'Vanilla Crumb Pie' .The story made the pie sound so delicious I checked to see if they had included the recipe at the end of the book (as they often do), and they had ! So once I finished the story I decided to make it, and it was very good. I doubled the recipe and made two pies and invited family around to share it. Everyone loved it !

This pie was even nicer after it had been chilled overnight. The filling was set more and the crumb topping just a little bit softer. Recipe below is for one pie.

Vanilla Crumb Pie

1 x Pie crust

3/4 Cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 Cup light corn syrup
1 t cream of tartar
Pinh of salt
3 teaspoons Vanilla
2 eggs beaten
1 1/4 Cups Water

Crumb Topping:
3/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of salt
90 grams of butter (3/4 stick)

1. Preheat oven to 350 C degrees. Lay the pastry in the pie dish and flute the edges.
2. In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, flour, corn syrup, cream of tartar, salt, vanilla and eggs. Slowly stir in water and cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture boils and rises. (I stirred it until it was thickened too.)Remove from heat.
3. In a medium bowl, mix crumb topping ingredients until crumbly. Pour cooled brown sugar mixture into the crust to 3/4 fill the dish There may be some mixture left over. 
Note: Their was for me, so if their is any extra pastry a mini pie could be made too.
4. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top. 
5. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and set.

~ ~ ~ ~

Early Autumn

Hello again,
ahhh Autumn..just the very word is lovely..
..before I know it, the rose bushes are looking bare, leaves are falling, mornings are cooler and there's a definite nip in the air. We've even had the wood stove lit on a few cooler days. This is all good news to me, as I love Autumn !! I start to get a 'hibernating' sort of feeling..stocking up the larder...planning soups and meals we'll be eating as the cold weather creeps closer. I saw a lady in the supermarket and she said "It'll be soup weather soon"..I had to laugh, as we've already had Potato & Broccoli soup twice !.

But for now my thoughts are turning to the firewood situation..do we have enough? As its our main source of heating for this big old house, its always a bit of an obsession for me. There's nothing that makes me feel all tucked up cozy for winter than seeing that stack of firewood grow higher and higher...and hearing my husband outside stacking wood or splitting it. ~ a true blessing :)

 Garden Update: In our little orchard, the summer stone fruits are all finished and now we're enjoying fruit from the apple & pear trees. Well I should say I am enjoying the apples :) I planted old fashioned varieties (Cox's Orange Pippin, Granny Smith & Sturmer). The Cox Orange is sweet-ish, with a tang. My husband thinks it's not sweet enough and the other two varieties are intended for cooking I however love a tart apple, that makes my face screw up a little bit :o) I think they're especially delicious eaten with some slices of cheese !  So I think I really need to plant at least one other sweet eating apple for my husband, so he too can be excited about the apple season. I'm sure he'll appreciate the apple pies though! being the sweet tooth that he is.

Here's a recipe for Apple Gingerbread, an old favorite of mine in Autumn.

'Cox's Orange Pippin' ~ sweet blossom in the Spring'

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Apple Gingerbread

This is a lovely light and moist spicy loaf.
I normally double the recipe to make 2 loaves.

Heat oven to 180 C.
 1 x Granny Smith Apple (peel, dice small)
 60g soft butter
 2/3 rd cup brown sugar
1 x egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ Cup Buttermilk (or regular milk with 1 t white vinegar stirred in)
2 cups plain flour
 1/2 t salt
1 & 1/2 t baking soda
 1 & 1/2 t Ginger & cinnamon
 1/2 t mixed spice
90g chopped walnuts (optional)

1. In a good size bowl - beat the butter and sugar to a nice soft cream.
2. Add the vanilla essence & the egg and beat again until fluffy.
3. Sift all the dry ingredients. 
4. Add the apples, buttermilk & creamed mixture to the dry ingredients. Add walnuts if using and mix all gently until well combined. 
5. Spoon into a largish, lined loaf tin. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes. Test with a skewer.  Serve thickly sliced and buttered. 
Note: This can also be served as a lovely Winter pudding. Bake in a round dish. Serve warm with custard and ice cream.

                                                     and delicious with a cup of tea :)


                                                                                ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Another meal that we enjoy during late summer and early Autumn is Enchilada's. These are made with re-fried beans, cheese, extra beans and a fresh salsa. I took pics of the recipe as I made it and hope you'll try it. Its very very delicious and quite economical too. We find one can of re fried beans, a cup of cooked beans, salsa, cheese and the tortilla's will make at least 8 good size enchiladas. I roll them up, lay them in the oiled dish, and spoon over extra salsa and grated cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes at 180 C. Serve with a salad.

this is not included in the recipe ..but my husband said "Why don't you take a picture of the book I'm reading out loud to you, whilst you cook?" and I said "Go on then :) " We enjoy Paul Washers teachings ..anyway back to the recipe. 

Recipe: Enchiladas with Salsa Picante

1 x Can Refried Beans
Cheese - Edam, Tasty  & Parmesan - mix
Cooked Black Beans - 1 1/2 Cups (or Pinto etc)
Salsa Picante - recipe below or Jar salsa

Salsa Picante

1 medium onion - diced small
1 Green Pepper - dice small
6 - 7 tomatoes - chopped
1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
3 - 4 T Cider Vinegar
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped Parsely
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce (Ketchup)
1 - 2 Sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Prepare the Salsa Picante and assemble the enchiladas. Bake at 180 C (moderate oven) for around 40 minutes. Serve with a green salad. A perfect summery meal !

~ ~ ~ ~

Above is a picture of some soaps I've made over the last couple of weeks. They're all cut and curing now. 2 days ago I made one of my favourite soaps: "Lavender & Lemongrass Goats Milk Soap" - big fat chunky bars. I cut those today. Now my curing shelves are full. I have a market coming up in a few weeks time, so they'll be many busy days and nights wrapping soap and preparing products.

I hope everyone who reads this will gather something from this post to refresh a desire to cook or bake something delicious for yourself or your family. Blessings to all ~ Linda

Thursday, 2 March 2017


Hi again,
I just wanted to pop on quick and share a few things. I've been packaging up soap today and I'm very happy with the results. Its the Lavender Honey Soap, that' s shaped like honeycomb.  I shared a few pics of it a few posts back..Here's a pic of it all packaged up.

Plus a few other things and thoughts to share..

This year has been a busy year for several reasons - just over a year ago we were just about to redecorate a spare bedroom and then our middle son asked if he could move back home for a while. As it was all so sudden we didn't get around to doing any painting..and so the tin of paint sits :) Anyway having Lou home with us again was great news, as we didn't get to see a whole lot of him or  his son Alex (our grandson), who comes to stay every second night. This all meant quite a bit of adjustment for all of us (them included). As for me, it meant more cooking, cleaning, laundry etc..but so much joy along with it all. So its been about a year or so now, and our son is planning on getting his own place again soon-ish :) We will miss them all terribly when its time for the next chapter in their life !!

Little Alex (about 3 years)

When I was down in the garden today, picking yet more tomatoes..so many in fact I had to go back up to the house and get a container.. (You may think - "Oh no, here she goes, on about those jolly tomatoes again"!!! :) but its true, there were so many tomatoes, I couldn't fit them in my hands. So as I was on my way to get the container I passed the plum tree, which I had assumed had no more plums..but lo and behold there were still more !!! so I picked a few..and as I got to the end of the row I saw 2 beautiful scented roses - a lovely deep red. They were well opened and the petals about to fall, so I just gathered them all in my hand and went and put them in the dehydrator. I love to use the petals in face masks, bath bombs, soaps etc


Our apples and pears are beginning to ripen and fall from the trees.


Anyway as I was picking those tomatoes I was reminded of the whole story behind this summers abundance. For the past 3 years I had not been able to grow very many tomatoes and would end up having to buy enough to make Salsa for bottling. The tomatoes either didn't yield much or they got some sort of disease. I was so discouraged by it all that I even considered not planting any this year. 

So one day while I was out in the garden sighing and trying to think what to do..I felt the Holy Spirit guide me and suggest planting them down the back of the section by the church shed, where nothing but weeds, an Elderberry and a Sturmer Apple tree were growing. 

Now some may think this is a bit 'kooky' ...being guided in the garden !!! well its not the first time, so I know to listen as the results are always good. So even though I doubted that it would make much difference with the tomato problem, I chose to be obedient and went ahead and purchased several different varieties. 1. A Yellow Beefsteak. 2. A no acid pear shape one. 3. A couple of different sort of Cherry tomatoes. 4. One other sort :) which did okay up on the top section area, even though the plants themselves look somewhat stunted. 

All summer I've been able to see that garden by looking out my kitchen window. I noticed a large amount of green tomatoes growing very well in the new spot..so I was pleasantly surprised !! Now that summer is coming to it's end they continue to ripen and I have managed to make everything I ever wanted to from those plants - salsa, relish, some for freezing and maybe even some pasta sauce. 

 As I was picking them today and feeling so blessed by the abundance, I remembered the Lord comforting me a few years back when money was a  bit lean. He assured me then that everything I needed was close at hand. I was to be reminded of that promise time and time again. as I was able to do quite a lot of foraging and preserve food that grew very close to home.  And this Summer has been no different. So I just wanted to share this little story about abundance and the Lord's leading. He also placed this scripture on my heart a month or two back. 

Proverbs 3: 5 - 6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct your paths.

In sharing this story of his leading, I feel I am acknowledging Him and giving Him the glory, as so often my trust and faith is dependent on what I can 'see', what I 'think' will happen and not leaning on HIM !! where I should be resting.

Bye for now ~ Blessings to anyone who read this (Linda)

P.S. My magazine Bruce brought me as an extra little gift for our anniversary. Its my favorite and I have been saving it for well over a week without reading it. Its too special to read - silly I know. I love these magazines, because they don't really date. They have wonderful recipes and are full of gardening tips and pretty cottages..just perfect. I'm waiting for just the right moment, when I know I can read un-interrupted  with a cup of coffee and a slice of something yummy, hopefully this weekend!!!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Happy Moments

It was a lovely day today for several reasons, but two in particular stand out :)

1. We  got underfloor insulation !!! yeh !!! We live in a big OLD villa (137 years to be exact). In the winter (and early Spring & Autumn) if it wasn't for our wood burner we would freeze. Normally in the winter I stuff a cushion under my feet to stop the cold air coming up through the floor and making my legs ache....so hopefully this little extra insulation will help keep the drafts at bay.

and now the star moment...

2. Today our Coes Golden Drop Plum tree gave up its first and only plum. I think we planted it about 2 years ago... I've been keeping a careful eye on that plum and I actually picked the plum, rather than let it fall, because it felt softish and I didn't want the pesky birds to get in first!! Its a lovely shade of yellowy/green. I brought the tree to cross pollinate with the Greengage Plum and help it fruit better, but the Coes has been so slow itself that I've been skeptical we'd ever get a good harvest of greengages. Hopefully next year we'll be able to pick more fruit from both trees. So now I eagerly await the one plum ripening up a bit more over a couple of days and see what the flavours like  :) I have a recipe for Greengage and Vanilla Jam filed away somewhere...just the sound of it makes me lick my lips !!! Bye for now :)
Blessings to all ~ Linda

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Two-Berry Jam

Hi everyone,
    Its a busy time here at the Little Homestead, both our red plum trees are laden and dropping fruit daily. The greengage plums have finished, and only had a small yield again. I have a recipe for Greengage and Vanilla Jam which sounds so lovely (if I ever get enough fruit) !!
We're also having a wonderful harvest of tomatoes for the first time in quite a few years. I planted them in a different spot this year..down in the lower garden by the church shed next door.. The sheep are no longer in that paddock as the area has been landscaped and native plants put in. (I mush preferred listening to the sheep and going  down the back to visit them :) plus feed them anything that was about to go to seed..they loved it too !

Back to the tomatoes...(I do tend to go chasing rabbits in my mind)...Maybe the heat coming off that old shed, coupled with shelter has really improved the growing conditions? either way I've been able to make some Tomato Relish and today I made x 9 jars of Salsa. We've also had lots of summery meals where tomatoes have been just about the main feature :) pizza, lots of salad etc...wonderful !

I've bottled a lot of plums - x 18 1 litre jars and x 9 smaller jars..so we'll have plenty of plums to decorate the porridge all winter  long :) The next fruit to be ready in the garden are the apple and pear trees..followed closely by Feijoa's. So they'll be no rest in the canning department for this girl.
now a little bit about the jam. I wanted to write a little post about Frozen Berry Jam and share the recipe, because its got to be the quickest easiest jam in the world to make. I wish I'd known about it sooner + its delicious !!!. and as I had some Raspberries and Boysenberries in the freezer and only half a jar of  jam left in the house, I knew it was time to get busy and churn some out. Good quality jam is quite costly these days..anywhere up to $5.00 !! for an average size jar...so its definitely worth while making it yourself.

Frozen Berry Jam

1 kilogram frozen berries (raspberries/boysenberries)
5 Cups sugar - about 1 kilogram
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon butter

Place the frozen berries and sugar in a larg-ish, deep pan or jam pan. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved, then add the butter. Boil fast on a medium heat unti the mixture starts to thicken - about 15 -18 minutes. Add lemon juice, boil 2 more minutes. To tell when the jam is ready, simply pour a teaspoon or two into a small dish. I then place it in the freezer for a minute or so. Then remove it and a skin will probably form when it is pushed with the edge of a teaspoon - now your jam is ready. Its most important not to overcook this sort of jam. It will set up firmer over a couple of days. Pour into hot steralized jars and seal.

I added in a some lemon juice  to add a little extra pectin..one recipe recommended that. Look at the size of that lemon - wow our tree's doing great this year !

pouring the jam - the hot messy part.....and oh my.. the kitchen smelt divine :)

The finished product all dressed up & ready to share 3

After I finished up with the jam I did a little bit of baking - 'Peanut Crunch', with a twist. I made 1.5 x the normal recipe, but left the sugar just the regular amount and I thought the finished product needed a little something more, so I added a butterscotch icing :) now its morphed into Butterscotch Crunch Slice. Yum...well at least that's what my husband and son thought :) Its also a great recipe because its easy to change it up and make different variations eg. add some cocoa powder and a chocolate icing, and there you have chocolate slice etc etc...the possibilities are endless. I think I originally got this recipe from my friend Paula ??? 

   Paula's Peanut Crunch :)
(Original Recipe + Icing)
In a saucepan melt  - 2 dessertspons golden syrup and 150grams butter. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons vanilla essence.

In a bowl mix: 
1 Cup self raising flour
3/4 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw peanuts - smash them up a little
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup cornflakes

Add the butter mixture to the dry and mix well. Bake at 170 C for around 30 minutes, or until golden.
Optional Icing: (this goes on the slice as soon as it comes out of the oven) 1.5 Tablespoons golden syrup, 50g butter, 1.5 cups icing sugar. Melt butter and syrup together. beat in the icing sugar, and put back on the heat a little until the sugar melts some and the mixture just gets easier to spread. Remove from the heat and spread over the hot base. Cool and cut into slices/squares. Enjoy with a cuppa :)

Other things: as I meditate over this past week, and dealing with pain in my back, I'm so very thankful to have a husband who is so caring to me and helpful in the home, especially at the moment..what a blessing :)  This scripture also comforts me..

Blessings to all who stop by ~ Linda
(me in the garden a couple of years back)

me October 2016 with our newest grand daughter Poppy Mae - such a sweet wee girl

* and to close, a pretty rose bud from our garden *

~ ~ ~