From the Griddle: Gluten-Free Fried Corn Cakes with Jalapeno-Lime Pinto Beans


When we have grocery stores lined with everything imaginable and the ability to buy many of these things, it’s hard to imagine a culture who couldn’t afford wheat flour for bread, or who might simply choose not to buy it. Instead, the independent people of Appalachia subsisted on mostly homegrown foods with a few staples brought in.

One of those foods is cornmeal, and many of these folks, according to the Foxfire books, grew that corn themselves. And so, cornbread and muffins and cakes became the staff of life for them. Called corn cakes, johnny cakes, hoe cakes and more; these fried cakes are mixed together in a single bowl and fried in home-rendered lard. For that reason, this griddle bread has a place at our table frequently.

I like to serve them alongside a pot of flavorful beans, but they work just as well as pancakes for breakfast or topped with a fried egg for lunch. And because the mixture only contains cornmeal, and no wheat flour, they are also gluten-free.

And these beans… they are a humble, frugal food kicked up with just a couple of delicious ingredients. They also happen to marry quite nicely with the rich corn cakes. I’ve been cooking beans in my solar cooker lately, but you could also make these in a crock pot on a deck to cut down on the heat in your kitchen.

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From the Griddle: Griddle Scones


It’s just about the hottest part of the year for all of us, isn’t it? And I don’t know about you, but I am not turning my oven on if I have a choice in the matter. That said, we still need to eat and for those of us who consume grains, homemade is always preferable. So, I’ve been cooking up baked goods on our griddle in fast and easy batches to feed my growing family.

It’s so easy for me to fall into these ruts in the kitchen. Sometimes I just fall back on what’s easy and familiar, and that’s okay for a time. Sometimes I create a blind spot and think “It can’t be done!” in cases like it’s-too-hot-to-bake-bread. And then I come across ideas like griddle scones and I wonder how I didn’t think of that. Of course you can “bake” breads on the stove top.


If you think about it, many breads like pancakes and griddle breads were probably made out of the need for breads when one does not have wood-burning or electric stoves. In my limited experience, it is easier to work a fire for stove-top cooking than it is for baking.

So, I’ve been griddle-top baking, and I thought I’d take you along for the ride. From the griddle today we have scones, one of my very favorites.

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New Feature: Prep Notes on Recipes

As you head into the kitchen you realize that you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer last night, which means that you don’t have the main ingredient thawed for tonight’s dinner, which means that you have no idea what you are going to serve. You bring your hands to your head in frustration crying “Ugh! If I’d only remembered!”

Well, forget no more! Plan to Eat introduces Prep Notes, which is a handy little tool to remind us of the ingredients needing our attention for future meals. Here is how it works:

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Some Tips for Lacto-Fermenting Your Harvest


When I discovered lacto-fermentation seven years ago now, my mind was blown. What do you mean I can make delicious pickles without boiling everything good out of them and heating up my kitchen?! Not only that, but they can have more of the benefits of a raw, living food.

I felt like my whole life up to that point was a lie… at least the part where I canned pickles.

I’ve shared some thoughts here before about preserving food without canning, but I am so passionate and excited about utilizing lacto-fermentation as a means of food preservation, that I thought I’d share some of the tid-bits that have made this method work for our family over the years.

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Sausage, Lentils, and Greens with Herbed Tomato Salsa


I headed out to the garden before the hot summer sun could fully take its toll. I found our Swiss chard standing high, begging to be picked. Between the beets and beans, the former peeking their roots out from the soil and the latter preparing to flower, I bent down and plucked the stems one by one until the fists of my two middle children – two and six – were full. I turned and plucked some leaves from the sweet potato plant, an underused green if you ask me.


Her name was Charlotte. We visited her when she first arrived and my children told me fond stories of her from their trips down our dirt road for the nightly goat milk pickup. She was a friendly pig, they said, and much excitement surrounded her stay on our neighbor’s homestead, even up until her final days. When our little man – nearly eight now – returned with the usual three quarts of fresh milk, he also presented me with two fat rolls of Charlotte sausage. She had served her purpose, it seems.


Earlier that day I had put a pot of lentils in our solar oven. It wasn’t supposed to be much more than a Simple Lentil Salad, but the days findings – fresh sausage from a pig we knew, greens standing tall in the garden, a few “wipe ‘maters” (as my toddler calls them), and a big handful of garden herbs demanded otherwise. We don’t eat like this everyday here on our homestead, but when we do it reminds me of how much of an appreciation for food one has when you know all that truly goes into it – the seeds, the sweat, the toil, and yes, the blood.

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Where do you get your recipes?

A few weeks ago we posted a question on Facebook asking where you get your recipe inspiration. It was fun digging through the blogs that are new to us. Below is a handful of ideas that you sent in.

But we’d still like to know – where do you get your best recipes? What blogs make you want to get in the kitchen? Leave a note below and let us know about it.

Here’s a little inspiration sent in from the last time we asked (with a little 4th of July emphasis):  Continue reading

Ten (gluten-free) Things You Can Make With a Bag of Masa Flour


We eat a lot of tacos. And by a lot I mean almost every day. More often than not I make them with homemade corn tortillas made from a bag of masa flour. While we love tacos, and no one has gotten sick of them yet, it’s nice to have a few other dishes I can make from that bag of masa I like to keep around.

From a tasty wrapper for a spicy filling to dessert to bread to drinks, this list has a little bit of everything. It isn’t exactly exhaustive, but it ought to get you started with a few more gluten-free ideas for your next meal.

Or, it gives you a way to use it up, just in case you actually do get sick of tacos.

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Feeding the Growing Family: Cleanup


If you’re anything like me, then you could happily cook all day long without complaint. Three meals a day? No problem! Homemade everything? Sure! Dishes? Hmmm…

I know there are some families in which the cook does not become the dishwasher, but when you have four small children I’m not really sure how one works that scenario. So, all of our dishes are done by hand nowadays and mostly by me.

That used to grate on me a bit, and some days when I’m very behind I still cringe when I look at the piling dirty dishes. But now I’ve figured out what works for us in this stage of life. It’s not always pretty, and the dishes aren’t always done, but it’s working. Which is enough for this stage in life.

Here’s how we do it.

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Where do you get your recipes?

A few weeks ago we posted a question on Facebook asking where you get your recipe inspiration. It was fun digging through the blogs that are new to us. Below is a handful of ideas that you sent in.

But we’d still like to know – where do you get your best recipes? What blogs make you want to get in the kitchen? Leave a note below and let us know about it.

Here’s a little inspiration sent in from the last time we asked:  Continue reading

Our Journey to Eating Real Food, and a recipe for Paleo Curry Rubbed Salmon

It wasn’t very long ago that I was making dinner with taco kits, pasta nights, frozen perogies. The convenience was something that fit my life at the time and I was uneducated as far as what a healthy diet was. I grew up in the generation of processed convenience foods. TV dinners seemed like a good thing when they first came out and now…I’m pretty sure if I ate one, I would be very sick afterwards.

The first chapter of getting healthy began 3 years ago leading up to my wedding. I joined a boot camp and for the first time in my life I started to learn how diet and exercise go together. After our workout, everyone in the class was sitting in a circle stretching. The trainer would go around the circle and ask what we usually ate for breakfast. Some ladies would say egg whites and oatmeal, a green smoothie. Then it was my turn, “if I even eat breakfast” (trainer cringes), “I have one piece of whole grain bread toasted topped with sugary peanut butter and a banana cut on top and a grandé pumpkin spice latte….extra sugar, extra whip!” I actually thought I was pretty healthy with my whole grain toast, but all of that sugar and the lack of protein in the morning was no good. We would eventually go through all of our meals and I soon learned that my diet was lacking in big ways.

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