Simple Autumn Apple Dip Recipe

Do you love apples? I do! I enjoy many different varieties!

With September here, it’s back to school time, Autumn is just around the corner!  That always makes me think of apples! 

Apples for the teacher, applesauce making, and bobbing for apples are just a few fun Autumn Apple activities. But apples are just perfect to hide in a pocket or sack for a healthy snack, dessert or breakfast. 

What goes well with apples? 

Of course, this Simple Autumn Apple Dip!  Thanks for asking!  

For added nutrition, I love to make my Simple Autumn Apple Dip–in fact, I make it almost every day for breakfast! I’ve been making this dip for years now, and never tire of it. I love to eat this dip with Pink Lady apples–they’re my absolute favorites, but you pick your favorite!

Simple autumn Apple dip

Get the recipe at Ridge Haven Homestead


Melon Freeze—A Refreshing Summer Treat

Simple Homestead Recipe–Refreshing Melon Freeze!

(Boys Can Cook Series)

Refreshing Melon Freeze

I don’t usually do random recipes, but this one hit the spot so well last Sunday that I just had to share my son’s SIMPLE RECIPE! The Refreshing Melon Freeze will cool you off FROM THE INSIDE OUT–exactly what you want on a hot summer day!

We like to work together as a family, and when the heat cranks up, we still keep going, misery or not! My husband is accustomed to working outdoors. But I am not! I’m a pitiful redhead, who’d prefer the indoors when it’s so crazy hot out there! Ugh! 🤣

Refreshing Melon Freeze.  Simple and Satisfying

So when my boys and I had a day I’d weeding out in the hot sun, we came in all sticky and sweaty.  We needed something to eat, but heavy food was out of the question!

Andrew whipped this up in no time, and how thankful we all felt!

Please click the link for the full post and recipe!

Simple Edible Play-Dough – Lessons…and lessons

Edible Play-Dough!! Simple, All-Natural, Gluten-Free

Let’s make some Edible Play-Dough!

During our early years of home educating, a friend shared the simple recipe for edible play dough with me. We have made it many times over the years, altered it a bit at times, but the basic simple recipe has remained.

Simple, Natural, 3 Ingredient, Edible Play-Dough

I have recently seen plenty of recipes for edible play dough, but few of them use normal, natural, readily available ingredients. I consider NORMAL to be stuff I’d normally buy at Walmart or the grocery story. Not filled with words I can’t pronounce. Not expensive. Normal.

For children, especially, and for all of us, I hate to use artificial flavorings, food coloring, and fake ingredients (like artificial sweeteners). Yet, many play doughs use these as a staple.

When our oldest son was little, we saw a direct connection between artificial food colors and flavors and his hyperactivity and acting out. We made a commitment to follow the Feingold Diet, which eliminated these things, and preservatives as well.

You may read about the Feingold Diet here. Interestingly, when my husband was young, his parents also put him on the Feingold Diet, something I didn’t know until our son had been on it for awhile.

Article continues, please click to keep reading!

— Read on

A Little A’s Taffy Pull! Sweet Learning!

We are loving A2’s math this week! Overall, I had been very pleased with our choice of a math curriculum for all of the boys. It emphasizes gentle learning experiences for the early years, and incorporates many hands-on projects, especially at this age, which is second grade.

My idea of hands-on projects for boys are real-life, practical experiences that will relate to useful knowledge. So, this week as he’s been focusing on temperatures, he’s been taking temperature readings all around the house, in various places! We found out that under the lamp in his bedroom, it gets up to 111• F! We now know the freezer temperature, plus how cool it is in the windowsill, under the bunkbeds, and several other locations. This is really the type of learning that he thrives on, and I enjoyed watching him take his measurements! Seeing someone love to learn is very encouraging! (And it doesn’t always happen, so we gladly take it when the spark comes on!)

Today was more temperature measurement fun! We borrowed a candy thermometer so we could measure water temps. A2 was really anticipating this–pretty simple–the parent was to boil the water while we measured the rising temps. We actually found out that the rather ancient candy thermometer registered out water boiling at 115•F! Oops!

Little A2 noticed the next part of the project gave instructions for salt water taffy–a recipe to make together!  We didn’t have all of the ingredients for that, and I wasn’t sure I could find non-GMO corn syrup, so I thought we’d skip that part.  But we found a substitute, with ingredients that we had!   And I loved the reference to this taffy being made in the book, Farmer Boy, which we will read when we’re done with Little House on the Prairie.

I found the very simple recipe that we patterned ours after on a site called, but right now it doesn’t seem to be working.    There are hundreds of recipes out there, all similar.

We have trouble following a recipe exactly, because it’s always fun to add things–like PEANUT BUTTER!   So we did!

Here’s how we made ours, anyway.  *****disclaimer*****this made WAY MORE taffy than I thought it would, considering that you can’t eat much at a time.  You might want to cut the ingredients in half.   I just got tired trying to snip all of the candy into little pieces.

1 cup blackstrap molasses   (it’s what we had)

1 cup honey

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 or so peanut butter

3 T Earth Balance margarine

We put all ingredients into a saucepan and brought it to a boil.  We let it rise to 145 degrees F and cooked it there until it made a soft ball in cold water.   This took 15 minutes or so.  Then we poured it onto a shallow pan lined with a silicone cookie sheet (or a oiled platter) for it to cool.  It was snowing outside a little, but we put ours out on the railing and watched it.  When it had cooled enough to handle and not burn, we started pulling!

The pulling was the funnest part.  Everyone got a blob and pulled!  You’re supposed to pull it until it changes color and feels like, well, taffy!  The boys said it was like edible silly putty!  I have to agree.  The taffy really does feel like and stretches like silly putty.  From the pictures, you can see that the boys tasted a bit of the taffy before it was quite all the way done.  A messy face tells many secrets!  😉  In the olden days, two people would take a side of the blob and pull together, stretching it across the room.  We tried that too, but with energetic taffy stretchers, that can get out of hand kind of quickly, resulting in floor taffy, which nobody wants to eat!  😦

Ultimately, we ended up with LOTS of delicious, rich, peanut-buttery candy, slightly reminiscent of caramel or something I can’t quite put my finger on.  Everyone here likes it.  Banana Man wasn’t too sure it looked edible when he got home and saw the taffy log sitting there, but once he tried it, he was a believer!

We ended up with so much that I finally gave up snipping and wrapping each piece individually (did I mention that I’m lazy?) and wrapped the remaining log in saran wrap and stored it that way.  We can snip as we need it!  My hand was getting tired, because it’s pretty stiff taffy.

So….math can be fun.  It was this week!  Just ask Little A2!   And while we need the days of more routine math instruction and drill, these kinds of projects are the moments that will stand out in our homeschool memories.  Definitely sweet learning!

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Wonder what our curriculum for this year looks like?  It’s called Math Lessons for a Living Education.   This project was taken out of book 2.


Eating like Africans


It started with the paddle. A gift from Aunt Alison, who wanted to introduce the boys to the missionary expedition experience. We called it a spoon, but, as you can see, this is quite a bit larger than most spoons that you might find around most kitchens. Aunt Alison told the boys that this special paddle is for making Nshima, a traditional Malawian staple food. This dish frankly sounded a lot like good ol’ Southern grits to me, but what do I know?

For the last two or so months, we have looked at the big spoon, which we placed in a conspicuous place atop the piano, until we decided to use it. The boys found “other” uses for the large paddle, but soon got it confiscated for that kind of activity.

Finally, Action A asked me when we were going to try making “that African cereal that Aunt Alison told us about”. Today was the day.

I decided that since you can pretty much find anything on the internet, it wouldn’t be a problem to find a recipe online. I wasn’t disappointed. I found lots. I thought about using a picture from the web of what it should look like, but found this link that will not only show you nsima prepared, but also some beautiful children eating it, and how they make it in Malawi.

The recipe I found was one of many. Apparently, in Malawi, making nsima is kind of like making biscuits–everyone has their particular method and technique, but to make good nsima (or nshima) is the ultimate in culinary expertise.

Here’s what I did:


1 lb corn meal or maize meal
2 qt pot
large, heavy-duty spoon (gotta have the spoon)

Place 2 cups cold water in pot, along with 2 heaping tablespoons of flour/meal.
Add hot tap water to fill pot. Cook 5-10 minutes until mixture resembles porridge. Lower heat and very slowly, slowly, slowly add the rest of the meal, stirring constantly, until mixture is very stiff. Remove from heat.

Use the wooden spoon, rinsed in cold water, to dip out portions of the nsima. If you use metal, the mix will stick.

Eat with traditional “sauce”, gravy, vegetables, or meat (for us, soy curls or tofu :-))

Recipe credit

This recipe took me a long time to get right. I religiously pinched in the corn meal, stirring all the time. When it got quite thick, I still had half of the corn meal left! And by then, I had a very hard time stirring and sprinkling without the pot jumping all over the stove. I have no idea how they do this over an open fire! My pot would be in the ashes and coals! I finally had to have Action A come to hold the pan while I stirred and sprinkled. The stirring also had to be done with both hands near the end. I guess I am just not as strong as the native Malawians. 😦 Whew! I feel like I definitely got an arm workout, just making breakfast! It probably took me a good thirty minutes! I was thinking that the women in Malawi must become more efficient than I was, or they just spend a lot of time making this dish!

When it was all said and done, we dished up portions, and I will admit that I hadn’t realized that I should have made sauce for the top of it, so we just ate it with Earth Balance and salt. Honey would have been yummy, too! But I could totally see making a vegetable sauce to go over it. We occasionally make a recipe that I found one time in an old Adventist Frontiers Magazine that is a tomato and peanut-butter-vegetable based sauce, that, while it may sound weird to our Western palate, is surprisingly good over rice. That will be for another meal. Today, we all enjoyed the nsima as a breakfast dish.

Action A thought it tasted a lot like very thick grits. 🙂 I thought that might be the case!
Little Acorn liked them, and ate them with milk.
Little Ambulance Man snarfed his up.
They are much more substantial than grits, in my opinion. I will probably try them again, using the traditional masa flour, and sauce. But, for now, we were pretty content to eat a little like Malawians for part of a meal.



Buckwheat-Ginger Cookies (Vegan and Gluten-free)

The other day my eldest son, Action A, asked me a question.  “Mommy, why don’t you ever make cookies?”

Me:  “Huh?  I don’t know; I guess I just never think about it.”

Honestly, when I began to think about it, he was right.  I haven’t made any cookies in a long time, and the reason is pretty simple–I often am at a loss for what to make in the way of baked goods, since for him, we do gluten-free cooking and baking.   And vegan.   Many of my attempts at baking have been a reasonably good success (meaning my family eats them, and seems to like them), but cookies are a little tricky to make gluten-free/vegan.  They typically taste dry to me.  I generally stick to no-bake creations, like balls you can make with peanut butter and honey and carob powder.   But, cookies?   That got me thinking…

I would classify our family as a low-budget gluten free family.  Meaning, I don’t often splurge for the high-dollar specialty flours.  I have, by trial and error, gotten into kind of a system of making baked goods with a combination of rice flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, and corn flour, all of which we grind ourselves in the grain attachment of our Vita-mix blender.   We eat GF out of necessity, and buy bulk foods out of necessity too, since our crew are heavy eaters!  So, we usually buy a 50-lb bag of rice, millet, popcorn, and a 25-lb bag of buckwheat.   This supply will last us for several months.   I’ve found that by grinding the grains ourselves, we can eat quite well, and we don’t have to pay so much, because eating GF can get to be pretty pricey with all of the specialty items.

But back to the cookie story…

I started to look through what ingredients I had on hand and what recipes I could come up with.  A friend of mine just loaned me a copy of the Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, so I thumbed through that book and came across the recipe that I decided to try.

images allergy

Buckwheat Ginger Cookies

2/3 cup agave nectar or honey

1/3 cup Spectrum Spread or canola oil

1 1/2 Tbs fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups white buckwheat flour

3/4 cups unroasted buckwheat groats

1/3 cup tapioca starch flour or arrowroot (I actually used non-GMO cornstarch)

3/4 tsp baking soda (I subbed Featherweight baking powder as I didn’t have soda.  It worked fine.)

3/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the agave nectar or honey, spread or oil, ginger, and water in a blender and process for 3 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Add the honey mixture and mix just until combined.

Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until light brown and firm.  Remove to tacks to cool.   Serve immediately or store in a paper bag.


Now my notes:   I used some organic sugar in place of some of the honey, and added a little water to compensate.  The batter, when made according to the above recipe, was kind of runny.  I placed a couple of spoons on the cookie sheet and they spread out fairly thin.  So, I added probably a half-cup more of flour to thicken the batter.  The cookies made with the runny batter turned out more crispy, while the other ones were more soft and cake-like.  In retrospect, I would probably have just let them spread out and not have added the extra flour.  It just depends on how you like your cookies–soft or crispy.

The buckwheat groats are pictures in the measuring cup above.  They can be bought bulk at any health food store.  Adding them whole to the recipe was unusual for me.  But, they added a pleasant crunch, sort of like nuts.  We liked the texture they created.    It should be noted that there are two kinds of buckwheat groats available–the unroasted, and Kasha, which is toasted groats.  The Kasha gives a very strong roasted flavor that some people like.  This recipe uses the unroasted groats, which are milder in flavor and lighter in color.   I personally like the unroasted ones;  they make good biscuits, too.

The general consensus was five votes for this recipe.  We all liked the cookies, and I will make these again.  They are only mildly gingery.  I am actually not a huge ginger fan, but I think that they could use a bit more the next time.

With a glass of cold soymilk or almond milk, these really hit the spot!  And I’m hoping that my Mommy ratings will improve…


Carrot Top Pesto

Today I found an ingenious recipe!  I am so proud of this, because it really is smart!

I was digging up some more carrots for lunch, and remembered that many years ago, I had read in a cookbook about using the carrot greens for soup–carrot top soup was the actual name of the recipe.  I thought that was a great idea to use some of the greens that way, so I chopped up quite a few and threw them into the black bean veggie soup that I was cooking.  More nutrition!

I still had a bunch of greens, so curiosity led me to google what other people do with the carrot tops.  I came immediately across dozens of recipes for carrot top pesto.    I had not even dreamed of anything like that to do with the greens!   I wasn’t scared to try, since just a couple of weeks ago, I had sampled some pesto made from kale, which was wonderful!  I figured that carrot greens made into pesto would probably be similar to the kale pesto.

So I started chopping, and didn’t bother to tell my family what I was experimenting with yet.  I just would let them try the finished product, because I knew I’d get some wrinkled noses.    I loosely followed a recipe, making my own vegan adjustments for parmesan cheese, and adapting what we had on hand.    The results were yummy!  A bright green pesto that, unlike basil pesto, stays green!   I didn’t take a picture, because it pretty much looked like any other kind of pesto I’ve ever seen.  We ate it with carrot sticks as a dip, on crackers or bread, and mixed into brown rice.  The whole family ate heartily, so I knew that the carrot top pesto was a great success!

And I am very glad, because, at least for now, we have quite a few carrots growing outside, and so, until the tops freeze back (which Banana Man says will happen soon–boo!), I plan to make good use of these tops.  And to think that we’d been just chunking them into the compost heap!  Shame on us!  As a side note, carrots and parsley are in the same family, and although the carrot greens don’t taste quite like parsley (actually, they are much milder), they sort of look like it, and would make a nice substitute for parsley as a garnish.

Here’s what I put in our pesto:

Carrot Top Pesto

1/2 cup raw cashews (could use walnuts, pine nuts, maybe almonds, or pumpkin seeds)

tops of 4 carrots, chopped (probably about 4+ cups–filled about half of our blender)

3 garlic cloves

2 T Nutritional yeast flakes

sea salt to taste

1/3  cup, more or less, olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

handful of garlic chives, chopped

Blend in blender or food processor on a low-medium speed while pushing everything down.  Process until chopped well, and the consistency of pesto.


I would have added fresh basil if I’d have had some.  That would have been really great, but this was great as it was too!

Hope I don’t forget to make some more!