A Handmade Life Part 12–Sourdough Cookies, or Herman’s Babies

For those who have followed the saga of Herman, he’s had children.

They’re sweet little things, fat and fluffy.

Now, before you think “what in the world is she talking about!!!”, let me explain.

Herman is a sourdough starter made from a cup of flour and cup of water and fed well.  He’s very prolific.

Herman has been in my home now for nearly 3 weeks.  He’s so far made 12 loaves of bread, 110 cookies, went to visit a new home and made bread and cookies there too.  He’s filled the refrigerator freezer and also lives in the chest deep freezer.  And he’s half way filled a stock pot in the fridge.  He’s a growing boy.

Herman’s children here are cookies.

Now, I’ve never been good at making cookies.  Mine always looked like sweet tortillas.  Flat bread at the most.  Never ever ever a cookie.  So, when I started on this project, I expected it to be a sweet sourdough tortilla.  Hint: use parchment to bake on!!!  It works!

To make these, I stirred up ol’ Herman and got him all bubbly and happy.  Then I put his part (the 1 cup) first into the mixer bowl, followed by all the other ingredients, and mixed him all up.

Herman in the stock pot all happy and bubbly

Herman got along very well with his friends Baking Soda, Powder, eggs, vanilla, etc.

 He even behaved while I rolled him out and cut him into rounds.

I used a biscuit cutter and made lots of rounds, and put them on a pizza pan covered in parchment.  I then put some butter on them and sprinkled them with sanding sugar.

They went in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, and came out looking like sugary biscuits.  I evidently didn’t roll them out flat enough, as they poofed.  Or it could have been the water pan I keep in the oven full of water to help things rise well.

They tasted like a sugar cookie tho!  Light, fluffy, sweet, YUMMM!

I did find that with this recipe, the little Hermanites will puff, so space them a ways apart to let them spread and poof.  If you don’t want them to look like biscuits, break out your cool cookie cutters!

I LOVE how they taste, and hubby had a bunch of them despite his intestinal issues.

My friend Jennifer took some of Herman and made sourdough oatmeal/almond/chocolate chip Hermanites.  They are SO GOOD!!  Take an oatmeal cookie recipe, substitute a cup of Herman in for a cup or so of flour, adjust your liquids a little, add in nuts and chocolate chip and you’ve got a winner!!

Can you tell I liked them?

Below is the cookie recipe, with credits.  Enjoy!

via Cultures for Health

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Rapadura or Sucanat (I used good old cane sugar)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Fresh Sourdough Starter
  • 2 tbsp. Water

Preheat   the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and the   vanilla extract.  Gently mix in the water and sourdough starter.  In a   separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Combine the wet and   dry ingredients.  Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Drop the dough   onto a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the cookies with cinnamon and sugar if   desired.  Bake for 12 minutes.


Shared Joyfully with:

A Mama’s Story


A Handmade Life Part 11–Preparing for Winter

It’s still July here in Southeast Kansas, but here at the Abella household, we’re preparing for winter!


We won’t have the garden in the middle of a Kansas winter.  The beautiful herbs and veggies won’t be there to pick fresh each day for meals.  So, we must prepare early.



Our garden has tomatoes, zukes, eggplants, basil, parsley, stevia, thyme, sage, and chives.  It’s a small plot, maybe 5 feet at the most, and a square.  Not a lot, of course, but it’s enough for our family.  It provides extra veggies and fresh herbs, which is fine by me!


God has provided a wonderful bounty of tomatoes, and with 4 plants, I’ve harvest upwards of 80 in less than 5 days.  We are in tomato heaven!

So what are we doing with all those tomatoes?

This got a little tricky.  See, those ‘maters have seeds and skin.  Hubby is not allowed seeds and skins on veggies/fruits for the time being due to some nasty gastrointestinal issues.  I love full tomatoes in all their glory, seeds and skins included.  Throw them on a sandwich with some bacon and/or lettuce and I’m good.  Shoot, it doesn’t even have to have bacon, just a tomato on bread with mustard, lettuce, and pickles, and I’m a happy camper.  Hubby loves his seeds and skins too.

So to help hubby be able to have his homegrown tomatoes without the pain, I’ve taken to processing them into a thick juice.  I have been blessed with a father in law who has all the processing equipment to can just about anything you can think of.   Hubby and I borrowed some of his equipment, like the cool strainer collander thingy on a tripod.  I LOVE it!


This last week, I went through a bunch of tomatoes, cleaned them from the crop dust (we believe in only organic Sevin LOL).  Then, took the core out, and put them in a stock pot with enough water that they cooked but didn’t boil over.


Then, they were spooned out and into a different pot to cool a bit.  Seriously, hot tomatoes don’t feel good on fingers.  After they cooled a bit, they were put into the collander/strainer thingy on 3 legs.  Using a wooden plunger (no, not the toilet kind–more like the mortar/pestil kind on a much larger basis), the ‘maters went through the strainer’s tiny itty bitty holes to leave behind only seeds and skins.  This took a long long while, or it seemed like it, but those stingy tomatoes gave up all the meat in them.  The seeds and skins I put aside into a big bowl for later use (like soup–there’s plenty of tomato taste left).


After allllll the tomatoes were put through the strainer thingy (don’t you love the scientific language here?? LOL) I had a good size pot of thick juice.  That thick juice simmered for a while in a pot, thickening up a bit.  When that cooled, I put it all into freezer bags.


Why freezer bags?  We’re planning a canning party with hubby’s dad, making lots of thick yummy sauce for pastas and such.  Papa has a lot of tomatoes too, so when hubby and Papa are ready, off to canning we go, using up all the things we’ve frozen in the meantime.  Between Papa’s canner and mine, we can whip up a lot of jars of sauce in no time once we get plenty between us to use.

Just another day at the Abella house!

Stay tuned for upcoming Hand Made Life series on preserving fresh herbs, including stevia, basil, and so on!

Sourdough In The Making


I have never had the notion to make sourdough.  Honestly, I don’t like the store bought sourdough, had no desire to taste it homemade.

A couple weeks ago, I ran across a starter recipe that looked really easy, and hubby said he liked sourdough, so I figured, why not?

So, I put together 1 cup of wheat flour and 1 cup of white flour, and 2 cups or so of water into a bowl.  The first night it set, it stunk to high heaven.  It was brown, bubbly, smelled of grain alcohol combined with something dead, and just plain yucky.  After a couple days of feeding, the smell started getting better!  By day 5 it smelled kinda like regular bread dough.  Day 7, we have this:

Sourdough Starter “Herman”, day 7


To feed “Herman”, I used a couple cups of flour a day, with 1 to 2 cups of water, and lots of stirring.  Herman grew from his bowl and into a stockpot.  Now, he has 3 bags and a bowl in the freezer, and a little brother “Norman” in the fridge, plus he’s still growing after baking about 1/3 of him.  He’s a very prolific little thing.

I made some dough with him, enough to make 4 loaves of bread and some flat bread things that taste like saltines.

sourdough mix on the first rise


The loaves were near satin and beautifully elastic in handling!


Then baked at 400 degrees until they were extra golden brown.  I put a pie pan full of water in as well to keep humidity going.  I LOVE how the water works in there when baking breads!


I love how these have turned out!  And as prolific as Herman is, there will be lots lots more!


Substitutions for Liquids and Fats

I had this come to my email inbox, and thought I’d pass along.  I’m actually familiar with Cass County, MO, as I lived in the area just south of Cass Co (Harrisonville) in Bates County. 🙂


• For 1 cup beef or chicken broth, use 1 bouillon cube, or 1 envelope
of powdered broth base dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
• For 1 cup butter, use 7/8 cup fat and 1/2 tsp salt or 1 cup margarine
• For ½ cup salted butter, use ½ cup unsalted butter + ½ tsp salt
• For 1 cup catsup, use 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp
• For 1 cup chili sauce, use 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar,
2 tbsp vinegar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and dash of
• For 1 cup coconut cream, use 1 cup light cream
• For 1 cup coconut milk, use 1 cup skim milk + 1 tbsp flake coconut +
¼ tsp almond extract
• For 1 cup corn syrup, use 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup liquid or 1 cup honey
• For maple syrup, use equal amount of corn syrup
• For 1 cup half-and-half cream, use 7/8 cup milk and 1/2 tbsp butter
or margarine OR 1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
• For 1 cup heavy cream, use 3/4 cup milk and 1/3 cup butter or margarine
• For 1 cup light cream, use 3/4 cup milk and 3 tbsp butter or
margarine OR 1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
• For 8 oz of cream cheese, use 8 oz cottage cheese blended with ¼ cup
• For 1 cup ricotta cheese, use 1 cup cottage cheese + 1 tbsp skim
milk, blended until smooth
• For 1 cup sour cream, use 1 cup plain yogurt
• For 1 cup buttermilk, use 1 cup plain yogurt
• For 1 cup sour milk, use 1 cup minus 1 tbsp of milk and 1 tbsp of
lemon juice or vinegar (allow to stand 5 minutes)
• For 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, heat the following
ingredients until sugar and butter are dissolved: 1/3 cup and 2 tbsp
evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, and 3 tbsp butter
• For 1 cup plain yogurt, use 1 cup sour cream OR 1 cup buttermilk
• For 1 whole egg, use 2 yolks and 1 tbsp water OR 2 1/2 tbsp of whole
egg powder and 2 1/2 tbsp lukewarm water OR 2 egg whites
• For a 3 ounce package of flavored gelatin, use 1 tbsp of plain
gelatin and 2 cups fruit juice
• For 1 cup honey, use 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup liquid
• For 1 cup mayonnaise, use 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1/2 cup mayo or 1
cup sour cream or pureed cottage cheese
• For 1 cup melted shortening, use 1 cup cooking oil
• For 1 cup solid shortening, use 1 1/8 cups butter or margarine
• For 1 oz semisweet chocolate, use 1 tbsp cocoa + 1 tbsp sugar + 1
tbsp shortening
• For 1 oz of sweet chocolate, use ¼ cup cocoa + 1/3 cup sugar+ 3 tbsp
• For 1 oz of unsweetened chocolate, use 3 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 tbsp
• For ¼ cup cocoa powder, use 1 oz of unsweetened chocolate
• For 1 tbsp tomato paste, use ½ cup tomato sauce minus ¼ cup of
liquid in recipe OR 1 tbsp ketchup

Source : Susan Mills-Gray, Regional Specialist, Nutrition and Health
Cass County, Missouri University of Missouri Extension
via SusansDailyTips mailer at

This Handmade Life Part 8: Homemade From Scratch Bavarian Cream

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh doggies!  I love Bavarian cream almost as much as sweet milk chocolate!  (sorry, had to let my former Southern side out)

Bavarian cream is the absolutely heavenly cream found in bismarks, cream horns, danish, etc.  It’s a pudding consistency, and I am sooo addicted to it, I only allow myself some once every few years so I won’t overindulge.  Yes, to me, it’s that addicting!!

I just learned how to make this wonderful treat, while testing out recipes to make fried pies.  I just have to share!!

I didn’t get pics while making my own, but thought I’d share the process!  Yes, the pics are borrowed.

Ok, down to business!

First, grab yourself some milk.  You’ll need 2 cups at first, then another 1/2 cup.

Put the first 2 cups in a sauce pan.  Then, sprinkle over it 1/2 cup (or more if you like realllly sweet) sugar.  I personally put the heat on low, as I use a gas burner, I set the fire on pretty low.  This gives time for the rest of the steps and doesn’t scorch the milk.

In a bowl, put the 1/2 cup of milk in, add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.

Whisk it into the milk until there’s no lumps.

Then, add 3 tablespoons of butter.  Your choice on kind.  Margarine works, real butter is nice, I used spread (it’s what I had on hand).

Blend it all together and then pour into the pan with milk and sugar.  Add in a cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of vanilla.

Then add in 2 eggs, and stir or whisk well.

Let all this good stuff come to a boil.  I cranked it up to high flame and let ‘er rip.  When it starts boiling, turn the heat down low and stir stir stir.  It will start thickening and you also don’t want the whole thing to burn.

Turn it off and move it off the heat to a different burner.  Let it cool a bit.  I stirred a while just for grins.  I’m odd that way.

It will thicken up nicely, and when cooler, take a taste. 🙂

To make this chocolatey, add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of chocolate powder (I used Hershey’s), and an extra half cup of sugar, and follow the same directions when preparing.

The kids are drooling, as I made this in chocolate and vanilla.  Then, I took some limes I froze (in the skin), boiled them, took the juice and flesh along with some cornstarch, and added some vanilla bavarian to it, and created lime bavarian.  YUM!  Oh…add some more sugar if you do that!!

This ends another segment of “This Handmade Life”!
Linked to:PhotobucketTip Junkie handmade projects

This Handmade Life Part 7: Meatloaf Burgers aka Budget Stretchers

It is time again for the next segment of “This Handmade Life”!  (listens to the thunderous applause)

Today, we are doing Meatloaf Burgers.  I also like to think of them as budget stretchers.  You’ll see why in a minute.

I discovered this a year or so ago, when my hubby wanted meatloaf but the kids won’t touch it.  Go figure–kids not wanting something that the parents think is good…and budget friendly.  So, I tricked em.

I used the same fixings (minus the ketsup), and whipped up these burgers.

In a bowl, add in burger (I use something called “Boston Burger” from our local non-chain grocery store, which is a combination of beef and pork), crackers (or bread or oatmeal or whatever you have that will suffice as a filler–I’ve used all 3 mentioned and all of them turned out just fine), and 4 or 5 eggs (this is for 3 pounds of burger).



From there, I added in to this batch a spoon full of Spanish paprika.

A spoon full of dill weed.


A spoon full of ground rosemary.

Mix this all together, using a wooden spoon or your hands or whatever.  I prefer hands, as it’s easier to get all the ingredients mixed into the meat.

Break out a large frying pan and spray it down with pan spray or a bit of oil, as this will stick due to the crackers soaking up fats.  Brown them like you would regular hamburgers.

Serve like regular hamburgers, with all the ketsup, mustard, pickles, etc that you like!

I like doing these rather than full meat hamburgers, as with the cost of meat going up, and with kids to feed, one has to find a way to make the meat stretch a little farther.  By doing this, I can make a family package of meat, at $2.59 to $3.59 a pound depending on the type of ground meat,  stretch to last up to 2 meals instead of 1, with everyone able to have seconds at the first meal as well.  Pair this with a tater tot or veggie and you have a nice filling meal. 🙂


 Tip Junkie handmade projects

This Handmade Life-Part 6–Made From Scratch Biscuits

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm the smell of a fresh, made from scratch biscuit right out of the oven and buttered….mornings don’t get better than this!

I don’t know about you, but I was brought up on those canned nasty cheap biscuits that explode and fly across the room.  Can I hear an “eeeeewwwwww”?  Momma wasn’t much into baking, especially from scratch, but I had an aunt and cousin who showed me how rewarding (and tasty) it is.  Now, my family enjoys (well most of the time) the yummy hot from the oven breads and biscuits.

If you’d like to try out my “cloud” biscuits, which rise very well and make excellent monster sized very filling biscuits, keep reading!

First, grab yourself a good ol’ mixing bowl.  Doesn’t matter if it’s plastic, metal, wooden–whatever suits your fancy.   Then grab a heavy duty wooden spoon or a metal one that’ll hold up well.  No wimpy ones here!!  Locate a baking sheet of some kind.  I use my 16″ pizza pans and fill em up!  Then turn your oven on to 350 to 400 (your choice, I use both).

Then, put in at least 2 cups flour into your mixing bowl.  Add in a tablespoon sugar (yes, you read it, sugar), and a tablespoon of baking powder.  Add 2 tablespoons of fast acting dry yeast (I’m not sure how that translates to packets, as I buy mine in by the pounds at a Mennonite shop).  Then, I add in hot tap water, just enough to make a sticky dough (1 to 1 1/2 cups generally).  You will see foam from the yeast loving it some sugar…this is a good thing!  Then add a half cup of shortening (your choice of kind) into the mix and blend it up well.  The hot water helps tremendously in melting down the shortening or at least softening it up to make it easier to work with.

Turn this sticky mess out on to a very well floured surface.  I use my dishwasher top (it’s portable and has a butcher block top and a dough board I keep on it as well).  Add as much flour as you need to make this a firm and pliable dough, and knead 1o times, folding and pushing down each time.  The dough will rise as you do this.  Or at least mine does, and grows like I fed it miracle grow and steroids.

Pat out your dough, and grab whatever you want to use to cut out your biscuits.  I use anything from cookie cutters (I have given away numerous Christmas tree biscuits, angels, snowmen, etc), to glasses.  My favorite is a plastic tumbler about 4 inches in diameter.  I pat out my dough to about an inch thick, give or take.  Then I cut out as many biscuits as I can get out of the dough.  Whatever scraps are left at the end make a wonky biscuit and tastes just as good.

They will rise as you cut and place them on your baking sheet.  If your oven is warm or your kitchen is already warm, they’ll grow faster.

Place them in the oven and let them bake.  I allow a good 20 to 30 minutes due to the size.  I also place water in the bottom of the oven, usually in a cheap pie pan or bread pan or something that can hold a lot of water.  The moisture helps the baked goodies rise higher and nicer.  It works well with these yeast biscuits too!

When they are golden brown (as in the first picture), pull them out and butter them.  If they look like the picture directly above, they’re only half done.

My average biscuit runs around 3 to 4 inches in diameter with a 2 to 4 inch height.  No joke!!  One is a filler, especially when baptized with some homemade gravy (or the powdered mix–my favorites to make).  Pull these apart, jelly them up, cover em with syrup (like a pancake), make monsterous bacon/egg biscuits, etc–these will definitely fill you up!

This is definitely a goodie to learn how to make!

Once you get the basic recipe down, you can tweak it to make cinnamon raisin biscuits (think Hardee’s type), or any sweeter treat for a surprise!  My son helped make some over Christmas, and we iced them with chocolate frosting for a very delish breakfast. 🙂


A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-HomeTip Junkie handmade projects