Sprouting at Home

 Hello Friends,

Sprouts are the germinated seeds, young plants on their way to full growth. They provide great nutrition, flavor and crunchy texture to salads, soups, sandwiches and dips.

 You can find sprouts in grocery stores and farmers markets. Sprouting at home is easy, economical and a fun project to satisfy that gardening bug when the weather isn't agreeable to gardening outside.

 I use organic seeds from reliable sources ready for food safe sprouting.  You can find wide varieties of great seeds at some bulk food stores or on line sites.  I keep an assortment of single variety and mixes -  Mung beans, alfalfa, adzuki, cabbage, chives, red clover, beet, fenugreek, garbanzo, lentil, mustard, peas, radish, wheat and black sunflower.  Find a supplier that offers a variety starter pack so you can try various sprouts and determine your flavor favorites -  mild, peppery, spicy, crunchy, colorful - quality suppliers will offer the information on each type.

It is important to follow good hygiene practices.   Be sure to clean all equipment with hot soapy water or run them through the dishwasher and of course, clean hands and work area are important. 

You can make your own sprouting jars with fine mesh screens, cheesecloth, plastic canvas or even punching holes in a metal lid.  I have lids that fit wide mouth canning jars. During the sprouting process you want to keep the jars upside down with raised lids or on an angle so any excess moisture drains off. Using quart canning jars are good because they are long and wide giving lots of room for the seeds to sprout with air circulation. Avoid a small jar where all the seeds are cramped together.

  In you use clean quart jars, place one to two tablespoons of seeds in the jars.  If you want more you will need larger jars. To start, rinse the seeds well and drain. Then cover the seeds with about 2 inches of room temp water.  You always want to use room temp water, too hot or too cold may cause issues.  

The seeds need to be soaked in water for about 8 to 12 hours first to hydrate the seeds and encourage the start of the germination process. After the first soak, keep the jars in a light and airy spot during the sprouting process, but not in direct sunlight. Sprouting works best somewhere cool and with consistent light levels, such as a north facing window sill or counter out of the sun.  

Multi grain bread, grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, onion and alfalfa sprouts with a side of pickle.

 Once you’ve soaked your seeds, rinse and drain them several times.  Then you will rinse and drain them 2-3 times a day to keep them moist but not wet. It is important that you rinse and drain your sprouts frequently to help avoid bacteria build-up.  Growing sprouts should be kept at cool room temps of 65 to 70 degrees because the temperature needs to be high enough to encourage germination, but not too high to cause bacteria or mold to grow. 

Note how the seeds are distributed along the sides of the jar.  This keeps them from bunching up together at the bottom which allows good air circulation and avoids problems with too much moisture causing the seeds to spoil.  The jar that is tilted contains larger peas and beans so they don't stick to the sides of the jar so I shake it to spread them out as best I can and store tilted.  I do this each time I rinse and drain - 3 times a day.

Keep the seeds relatively spread out by shaking the jar allow the seeds to spread out and allow good airflow.  When draining, be sure to shake and tap your container to remove as much excess water as possible and spread the seeds around the surface of the jar.

Spicy ramen with lentil, green pea, mung bean and wheat sprouts.

Day two, sprouts are germinating. 2 tablespoons of seeds like alfalfa, clover, broccoli can yield the quart jar filled while large legumes like peas, beans and lentils will sprout and expand a little but not fill the jar.

Home-grown sprouts such as peas, beans and lentils will be ready to eat in around 3 to 4 days, when a small shoot is just visible. Sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, beets, broccoli or radish are generally harvested when about an inch long and will be ready to eat in around 4 to 6 days.  You can test the sprouts through the process to see the stage you like best.  If you prefer the sprouts to "green up" a little you can provide brighter light on the last day or so.  You can allow the first tiny "leaves" to develop before harvest but don't let them go too long, just test them to see what you like best.

To harvest, give the sprouts a final rinse and drain thoroughly on muslin, tea towel or paper towels.  Then, put them in a salad spinner or pat them dry before transferring them to the fridge.  I like to store them in glass dishes with tightly sealed lids. Sprouts should not be stored wet.

Whole grain toast points with cheeses, meats, veggies and asst. sprouts.

Home-grown sprouts that are ready to eat will last up to five days if properly stored in the refrigerator. If your sprouts start to discolor, look brown, or smell off they should be discarded. 

Ham, provolone, campari tomato croissant sandwich homemade pickled dill cauliflower & carrots.

Spring mix orange walnut salad with lentil, adzuki, pea & mung bean sprouts, simply dressed with balsamic, olive oil, sea salt and cracked peppercorns. Snickerdoodles, too. 

I hope you'll give sprouting a try, easy, delicious and nutritious. 

Thanks for visiting,



                    Lemon pepper grilled haddock, alfalfa, clover and bean/legume sprouts                                       with lemon poppy seed dressing.                    

From the Cleveland Clinic:

 "What are the benefits of sprouts?

Sprouts are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, varying from sprout to sprout. Sprouts carry essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and are a great source of antioxidants. For instance, Broccoli sprouts will be loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid and they are a really good source of the powerful antioxidant sulforaphane. Sprouts can also carry other nutrients like B vitamins and minerals like phosphorus and magnesium. Plus, they’re low in things like fat, sodium and calories.

There’s also the appeal of what they can bring to your meal.  They bring a variety to your salad, wrap or sandwich, They can add a crunch and even a different flavor besides those health benefits. And that makes them appealing to a lot of people."


Soapsmith's Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

 Hello Friends:

Another recipe to share, bacon cheeseburger soup, yummy!  You can easily adapt the recipe using steamed broccoli, cauliflower in place of the meats, use sausage, shredded chicken or ground turkey instead of the beef.

Soapsmith’s Cheeseburger Soup

From scratch version:  I don’t measure but these are approximate amounts, easy to adapt to your taste

Pound of ground beef (bacon, sausage, turkey - your choice)
Small diced onion
Shredded carrots one cup or so
Finely diced celery one cup or so – optional parsley, basil, spiced like paprika, peppers etc.
Salt and pepper to taste approx. 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper
Combine and brown well, drain off excess fats

Add box of chicken or vegetable broth – about 3 cups (you can use beef broth but the final soup may be brownish)

Simmer a few minutes until the veggies soften a little then add about 3 to 4 cups small diced potatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes more for potatoes to soften but not too much because they will continue to cook as you finish the soup.

Make a roux with 3 tbl melted butter, blend in ¼ cup flour and cook a minute or so until thick.  Salt and Pepper to taste, slowly add 1 ½ cup milk and blend well, return to a boil stirring until it thickens.

 Blend in 3 cups cheese of your choice (I use Cooper. Clearfield or Kraft Deli Deluxe American because they melt nicely but any cheese will work – most recipes call for Velveeta if you prefer) and add to soup. Return to a simmer and it is ready to serve.

Add optional toppings like steamed broccoli, cauliflower, crumbled bacon, bacon bits, chopped tomatoes, sour cream – whatever you like.

Quickie version – the bulk food stores have bacon cheeseburger soup mix. Super easy just follow the directions on the package.  You can make it with or without the ground beef, add extra potatoes, broccoli or whatever you like.   I usually make it thinner by adding a little more liquid if I am adding beef, turkey or chicken, potatoes, broccoli etc.  Locally you can find it at Zimmerman’s or Village Pantry.  It is very good for a quick dinner.

Serve with a nice salad, some fresh fruits, homemade croutons, garlic bread or even in a bread bowl. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting,


Beeswax Belsnickles, Nativities, Father Christmas

Hello friends,

  Today I want to share my beeswax ornies and belsnickles. 

  The age old craft of casting wax into holiday treasures has been handed down through the generations. German chocolatiers and bakers took great pride in their beautiful molds. They wanted to display their chocolate in the windows to attract customers but the heat melted the chocolate so they cast them in beeswax which has a high melt point. 

  Over the years, they created beeswax ornaments using their intricate hand carved chocolate and cookie molds. Beautiful examples 300 years old, can be found in museums in throughout Europe. Beeswax figures dating over 3000 years have been found in Egypt. The beeswax still carries the honey fragrance and remains pliable.

  Your Allegheny Hearth handmade beeswax ornament should last a lifetime. The beeswax often develops a "bloom" a whitish dusting, this is a natural process. Some enjoy the rustic bloom and leave it develop or you can remove it with gentle buffing, light application of heat from a blow dryer or wash it away - just be careful, not too hot or you will melt the detail.

Exquisite presentations of Father Christmas and holiday images captured in pure natural beeswax. These intricately detailed figures will grace your holiday decor with charm and a delightful light honey kissed scent that emanates from the natural bees wax, no fragrance added.

Traditional German Style Belsnickle Santa

The Belsnickle is an old tradition of a stern Santa who delivered coal and switches to all the naughty children, thus the muse for these pieces.  An old world custom is to rub the belsnickle with dark spices like clove, allspice and cinnamon. This creates a dark black belsnickle and adds another fragrance profile to the honey scent.

Pere Noel

Utilizing pure golden beeswax direct from local Amish bee keepers, these hand cast ornament are reminiscent of beautiful European antique chocolate molds. Inspired by the work of the bee. A bee visits 10 flowers to gather a drop of nectar. It takes 10 drops of nectar to yield a drop of honey and 10 drops of honey for every drop of wax. The bee gathers nectar from 1000 flowers to produce just one drop of this precious beeswax

Exquisite Nativity Scene Beeswax Springerle

 Magnificent natural beeswax manger scene is hand cast in a reproduction old world German Springerle cookie mold.  The naturally fragrant Amish beeswax varies in shades of light golden tan to a deep rich brown depending on the wax of the bee.  

 This beautifully detailed  rendering of the sacred Nativity features St. Joseph, Mary, the Child Jesus, the Magi, shepherd, cherubs and sheep and comes with a wire easel stand for ease of display.

The true spirit of Christmas is captured and recreated in warm, fragrant pure beeswax. A lovely adornment to grace your mantel or entice visitors to a quiet little corner table. 

Beeswax ornies make charming, unique gifts when you want to present a little something that will impress everyone. Great idea for grandparents, teachers, choir directors, pastors, cherished friends and family.

I offer a  full selection of Old World beeswax Belsnickles, Father Christmas, Pere Noel figurines and more, all cast with locally harvested beeswax from the Amish farms of the Cove area of Central Pennsylvania.


Thanks for visiting,

Soapsmith's Black Raspberry Cream Pie

 Hello Friends,

Early July always means foraging for wild black raspberries.  I love them fresh, so sweet and juicy.  They make great jelly and jams and here is a delicious black raspberry cream pie with crumb topping. These are black raspberries, not blackberries - two different berries.  

My childhood memories are dominated with gleaning the fields, woodlands, farms and pick your own orchards of wild strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, pears, tomatoes, corn and potatoes.  While the wild harvested berries are much smaller than the garden variety tame berries, the flavors are brighter and worth effort.  They often carry a tartness that adds to the flavor profile but you can certain get good results with purchased berries instead of traipsing the woods and fields in search of the fruits provided by mother nature. 

My Dad would often discover stand of the berries on his fishing expeditions and the next day take us along to fill our pots. We would come home, sit at the kitchen table and carefully clean and prep the berries for Mom's jelly.  I also remember how much the scratches stung when taking my bath those evenings... ouch! I am lucky enough to have them growing in my own yard along the border of the woods so it is easy picking.

Black raspberries are easy to spot as they tend to favor the edges of woodlands and the canes often stretch out to catch the sun. The canes have a dusty, light green color and stand out.  They are quite thorny so be prepared for some scratches for your efforts. 

Look at these beauties, free for the picking!

Soapsmith's Raspberry Cream Pie

1 unbaked pie shell 
You can make your own from scratch, or use a purchased shell  

Crust recipe:
3 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup lard or sub vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
up to 1/2 cup ice water

Combine flour, salt and fats with pastry cutter until evenly crumbly.
Mix the vinegar and water and add drizzle it over the crumbs.
Combine just until it comes together, don't overwork it.
(You can also do these steps in a food processor, pulsing to combine)
Split it into two flattened rounds and chill
Roll out on a floured surface
This makes two bottom crusts or one top and bottom crust.

Gently transfer to your pie and flute the edges. If you are baking
the shell empty, prick the entire surface and bake at 400 degrees
until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  

Crumb topping

I use this recipe for all of my fruit pies

1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup flour

Cut with pastry cutter or food processor until crumbly.

Note: you can add spices like cinnamon, lemon zest,
sub 1/2 cup brown sugar for half of the white sugar etc.

Blackberry Cream Pie Filling

4 to 5 cups fresh cleaned black raspberries  
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 cup sugar (more or less to your taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Optional:  lemon zest, nutmeg

Combine the cornstarch, flour, cinnamon and salt
mix well and dust the berries with the dry mixture
fill the unbaked crust.

Pour the heavy cream into the dusted berries.

If necessary, gently move the berries to distribute the cream evenly.  

Top with the crumb topping and bake at 375 until bubbly and golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Note: this pie often overflows so I always bake my fruit pies
 on a drip catcher.

Cool completely before cutting and enjoy!

Thanks for visiting,


Blackberry Sage Shea Butter and Silken Therapy Cream
Smells wonderful!

Strawberry Time!

Hello friends,

Our local farms offer pick your own strawberry fields, I can't resist. Each June, my Mom and I took my sons to pick berries fresh from the farm. My Mom is no longer able to go but I still enjoy the experience. Nothing can beat that sweet juicy tangy aroma and taste. These are such a treat compared to the flavorless supermarket berries that are shipped in from other states.

Acres of fields of glossy red beauties, filling the air with fragrance,
shining in the summer sun ready for harvest.

I picked 16 quarts, it only took a little while. I was home by 10 AM.

We always have homemade strawberry shortcake with sweetened biscuits and fluffy mounds of freshly whipped heavy cream enriched with pure vanilla which is the perfect foil for the rich aromatic berries. This dessert was a favorite of my Father-in-law along with my homemade butterscotch and./or apple pies. When I picked the berries, I would let him know and he would come up for dessert which we enjoyed on the terrace. Pap, Tom and Tommy liked theirs with ice cream , the rest of the family preferred fresh whipped cream as the only adornment.
I always think of Pap when we savor this seasonal delight.

Here is the recipe for shortcake.  You can also do a quicker version using Bisquick, the recipe is on the box and tastes very good, too.

Soapsmith's Strawberry Shortcake
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg
1/2 cup cold half-and-half, whole milk, or buttermilk

whipped cream topping
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and 3 Tbs. sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter until crumbly. Combine egg and half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Lightly blend with a fork to form large clumps. If needed you can add a little more half-and-half to the bowl if dough won't come together.

Drop into large dollops about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. It is best served warm, you can reheat leftovers in the microwave for a few seconds.

Hull and slice fresh berries with sugar in a bowl; let stand until sugar dissolves. Beat cream to soft peaks, gradually adding 1 Tb. sugar at a time then vanilla.

Split each cake crosswise; spoon a portion of berries over each cake bottom, then a dollop of whipped cream over berries. Cap with cake top and serve immediately.

We have installed a new strawberry planter this year.  Hopefully it will keep the berries out of the reach of the rabbits and deer.

The remaining berries will be processed into strawberry jam to preserve the summer sun for the deep dark winters.

 Wild strawberries make the best jam, they are tart and flavorful - of course they are tiny and require much more effort than tame. You need to locate fields and spend time gathering enough, but the rewards are a fantastic jelly.  Many hours of my childhood were spent gleaning the fields of wild berries of all sorts for my Mom to turn into tasty jellies and jams.  

Soapsmith's Strawberry Jam

5 cups prepared fruit (about 2 quarts fully ripe strawberries)
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Hull and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time using the bottom of a canning jar to mash the berries. I like my berries to be lightly mashed so the fruit maintains some texture but you can do whatever you prefer. Measure 5 cups of the mashed berries into 6 quart saucepan.

Stir sur jel pectin into prepared fruit in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. The water much cover the jars by 1 to two inches, you can add boiling water if needed.

Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. If the lid springs back, it is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.

Too bad local strawberry season is so short...up next pick your own cherries from the orchard, yum!

Thanks for visiting,


These were the first two berries I harvested from my planter this morning.  The biggest ones I ever had.  Look at that glossy, deep rich color - so sweet, juicy and delicious and the fragrance is divine.

Reader's Comments

By Guest on 01/14/2013 @ 09:59pmJust found your blog. Pictures are great, and the recipe sounds wonderful for strawberry shortcake. Now I'm wanting some, and can hardly wait til June. Think I'll do desert crepes with strawberries and cream this week. That's yummy too!

By Guest on 06/22/2012 @ 02:29amLooks so good!