Coffee Mug Brownies

This recipe was inspired by our neighbor Chirley, who always has gobs of coffee cups on her garage sales. She has so many cups that she is forever trying to send a box full of them home or to the General with me when I stop by. For that reason, I'm constantly trying to think of uses for those poor mugs without a home. I kept seeing these microwave coffee mug brownie recipes pop up all over the blogosphere as I was looking for inspiration for simple homemade Christmas gifts. So...I thought, why not combine Chirley's orphaned mugs, a simple recipe and some great ingredients for a deliciously yummy gift. For those of you that don't live down-the-road from Chirley, it's a great use for any old mismatched or tired mug lurking in the back of your cabinet.

4 T flour
4-6 T raw sugar (depending on how sweet you like your chocolate)
1/8 t baking soda
2 T cocoa powder
2 T vegetable oil
1 T butter
3 T milk
dash of vanilla
pinch of salt

1 Microwave safe coffee mug approximately 8-10 oz.
measuring spoons
fork or small whisk

whisk together dry ingredients
mix in wet ingredients
microwave 1-2 minutes depending on your microwave strength. Ours is a small 700W and I do 1:30 so the mixture is still slightly liquid at the bottom somewhat like a lava cake. There's no egg, so no worries about perfect doneness.
As a gift, package the mug and dry ingredients with instructions on adding the wet ingredients and cooking.

Interested in fancying it up a bit? Add a T of dried cherries or cranberries, nuts, peanut butter, caramel, chocolate chips or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

P.S. I'd love to post a pic of the one Ella and I just devoured, but I can't find my phone.


Ball Jar + Chicken Feeder Light Fixtures

Hardware store and garage sale parts. 

I drilled a hole in the chicken feeder and ran the electrical through it, then screwed the jar into the feeder. 

I drilled a few extra vent holes to the jar doesn't get to hot and used a CFL.

A couple of screws through the bottom of the feeder attach the fixture to a galvanized electrical box.

What a  great porch light for less than $10.


Easy Peasy Pumpkin Brownies

Boxed Brownie Mix (my favorite is Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
1.5 cups pumpkin puree, home-made or 12 oz. can, store-bought
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 T cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water

spatula or wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
two mixing bowls, at least 2 qt. size
oiled brownie pan (whatever you typically make brownies in; I use a 8x8 metal pan)

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 F.

In the first mixing bowl add one egg, whisk in 1/4 cup sugar and 2 T cinnamon.
Add pumpkin puree and continue whisking until ingredients are combined and a bit airy.

In the second mixing bowl add one egg, 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup oil; whisk together until frothy.
Add brownie mix and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour brownie mixture into oiled pan.
Using spatula or spoon, dallop pumpkin mixture over brownie mixture; lightly swirl to combine and make a pretty pattern.
Bake according to brownie box directions.

Enjoy! I like mine as-is with a big cup of coffee; Ella prefers hers with a big glass of milk.
For an extra decadent holiday treat, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.


Reflecting on Riverbluff Farm: I

As the Farmhouse Kitchen renovation continues; we have been living a cycle of cleaning, sorting, moving, assembling, dissassembling, reassembling, reflecting, crying and laughing in no specific order. Most of the appliances are now in place and the layout has been finalized. The countertop installers have taken a template and the soapstone has been ordered; therefore, we should have a working kitchen again in 2-3 weeks.
Expanding the kitchen forced us to move our office workspace to another area of the farmhouse. And, as everyone who has moved an office before knows, moving an office requires a lot of paper sorting. While paper sorting is not at the top of my fun-things-to-do list, reading my mom's old newsletters and short stories about life as a novice farmer with a full time job and growing family is. Along with the stories and sketches that Mom has put on paper since she and Dad brought us to live on Riverbluff Farm in the summer of 1986, are the articles from various publications featuring the work of our family's farm. The following article is the first in the "Reflecting on Riverbluff Farm" series in which I will share our collection of stories.

For those of you that notice details...
Our farm sign is dated 1985 since Mom and Dad had the farm little over a year before we moved here.



combining 3 gallons of milk into one pot
letting the cream rise
skimming the cream--the thickest, richest cream ever!

traces of milk after skimming the cream
cream in the mixing bowl 
(approx. 2 qt. from 4 gal. milk)
churning the cream 

I had the mixer set a little high
turned it down to the "stir" setting

"stir" setting works great
you can hear the butter slosh in the buttermilk when it's done

butter draining in a muslin lined colander on top a pot to catch the buttermilk
drained butter
squeezing the excess buttermilk out

smaller second batch 
all the cream didn't fit in the mixing bowl 

Next time I think I'll try some cultured butter. I can't wait for herbed butter this summer! 
Now, it's on to making some cheese and yogurt from all the milk I still have in the fridge.


Farmhouse Kitchen Update

Here are a couple photos of the latest change to the Farm Kitchen.

A magnetic blackboard wall! We love it already.


Labelling Soap

We (my mom, daughter and I) just finished labelling a batch of soap for one of the local B&B's gift shop and my sister's massage clients. I thought I would share with you some photos of the process and product.