3 Rustic DYI Herb Crafts: Wreath, Dried Soup Gift and Tea Swags

Herb Wreath DIY Craft Rustic Home Decor Herbal Tea Free Tag Printables_Little Rusted Ladle_Jena Carlin Photography_FBWM2

Growing up my mom and I would be into all sorts of crafts. For a while we would make dried flower wreaths which inspired this blog post on dried herb crafts. Jim has an amazing herb wall where we gathered the herbs and started planing our creations: a home decor wreath, dried soup gift with mini wreath and tea swags.
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Start by gathering all of your herbs and cut string to ten inches long. For this wreath I made six bouquets, but you can add more for a fuller wreath. Take about two strands of each herb and go from largest to smallest, back to front to make each bouquet. Tie it together and hang upside down to dry. Continue until you have the desired amount of bouquets for your wreath. Let dry for two weeks. Make a circle out of thick wire. I used a jute wire from Jo-Ann Fabrics. Use a thin wire, like floral wire, to attach the bouquets to the circle. Keep overlapping the bouquets until you go all the way around to complete your wreath.
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Next, for our dried soup gift we made a mini herbal wreath to tie to the front of the jar. The mini wreath is meant to be used in the soup itself. For this mini wreath we used six tiny bouquets that included basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Follow the same instructions above but only using one piece of each herb. The jute wire circle should be about the size of a quarter. Click here for free printable tags for the dried soup gift.
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Lastly, our herbal tea swags are a mix of lemon verbena, lavender, mint and rosemary. Bundle and tie 1-2 pieces of each together. Tie the tags to the tea swags. Hang them upside down to dry for two weeks or use fresh. Add to hot water steep for 3-5 minutes and enjoy! Click here for free printable tags for the herbal tea swags.
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Now go out an decorate your kitchen, give a edible gift or have a tea party! Don’t wait until a special occasion, create one!


Lana Barnabo-Knaack - thanks for the wonderful ideas :)

Grace Natoli Sheldon - Beautiful Jena…you are amazing!!!

Tailgating – Friends, Food & Fun in a Parking Lot

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Tailgating is as much a national past time as baseball, hot dogs apple pie or Chevrolet.  As a matter of fact, you’ll usually find all of those things at a tailgate party.  However, make sure not to forget the beer.  For those of you who have spent your life being raised by wolves in the jungle, “tailgating” is the excuse sports fans use to get to a ballpark hours before the scheduled game, so we can eat, drink and be merry before we eat, drink and be merry in the stadium.  Think of it as a pitcher warming up in the bullpen.  Is it really a coincidence that the person who throws the ball in a baseball game is also a vessel used to hold cold beer?  I doubt it.

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            Not really needing an excuse to have a party, we decided to take LRL on the road to a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game at Miller Park.  No tailgating party is complete without a handful or two of fellow tailgating friends to add to the frivolity of the event.  Tailgating is really a simple concept.  Pack your favorite foods and beverages into coolers, dress in your best sports team attire, then drive to the stadium, park, and party till the game starts.  Then take your seats and party some more.  One must be careful not to be an overly enthusiastic partier, for fear of spending a few innings in the stadium jail.  Yes, they have one, and yes, I’ve seen it.  That was a long time ago and I was innocent, but that’s another story.  In reality, tailgaiting can sometimes be a much bigger endeavor.  For example, with this game, we had about 15 people attending and Jena and I were providing the food.  Ham sandwiches or even basic brats would have been fine.  Add some chips and plenty of beer, and everyone would have been happy, including Jen and I.  Apparently that wasn’t a challenge enough for yours truly, so I decided to take it to crazy town.  Oh sure, there would be the traditional Johnsonville brats simmered for hours in a spicy chile beer broth with onions and peppers.  However, I decided to add sassy sambal baby back ribs with fennel slaw, grilled Jamaican chicken satays, smoked morel cheese spread with crackers, fresh herb dip, homemade pickles, fresh veggies and assorted chips, pretzels and condiments.  Needless to say, there were too many options and too many recipes to post for this article, so I’ll stick to the ones that I thought worked the best.

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We were fortunate to have some great co-workers from Kohl’s photo studio join us.  A talented group of people who enjoy attending parties as much as we do. The challenge with hosting a tailgate party at Miller Park is time.  We arrived when the gates opened at 4:15.  From there it’s a mad dash to get the vehicle unloaded, the food cooked, the people fed and then repack the cars and get into the game before the game starts in less than three hours.  Knowing this, we did take steps to help make things easier.  The brats, ribs, pulled pork, sauce, pickles, dips and veggies were all cooked or cut up the day before.  I would recommend that for anyone hosting a lot of people.  When it comes right down to it, it really doesn’t matter if it’s brats on the grill, sub sandwiches or steak and lobster.  Tailgaiting is about having a ball before the ballgame with friends who have the same goal.  Watch their sports team win another one for the gipper, or in this case Jena and Jim & the rest of the hooligans with us.  In the end, we got what we wanted.  A Brewer victory.  We had a great time, at a great stadium, with great people.  Next time I’ve got the chips.  As always, remember to cook with love and live to cook.


Sassy Sambal BBQ Ribs
These smokey barbecued ribs have some kick to them thanks to red chili sauce. They taste better smoked after they have been cooked in the oven, but they can also be grilled slowly over lower heat as well.
Cuisine: Far East
Recipe type: Meat
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ Cup Light brown sugar
  • ¼ Cup Paprika
  • 2 Racks Pork baby back ribs, cut in half
  • 1 Can Beer
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • ½ Cup Onion, chopped
  • ½ Cup Yellow Pepper, diced
  • 2 Cups Ketchup
  • ¼ Cup Sambal Chili Sauce
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Teriyaki Baste & Glaze with honey and pineapple
  • 2 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. For rub, combine paprika and brown sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Place ribs on a jelly roll pan lined with foil.
  4. Sprinkle mixture over both sides of ribs and let rest at room temperature for one hour.
  5. Pour beer around ribs, cover pan with foil and carefully place in oven and cook for 90 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, add oil to a medium saucepan and turn heat to medium.
  7. Add onion and pepper, then saute for 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  8. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or until sugar has melted and sauce has thickened slightly.
  9. Brush sauce liberally over cooked ribs, then place ribs on grill away from the heat. Cover and let cook for 10-15 minutes or until ribs are tender and sauce has baked on to ribs.
  10. Serve with additional sauce on the side.
Add wood chips to hot coals if using charcoal to add a nice smokey flavor to ribs.
Salsa Brats
Brats are a staple food in Wisconsin. This version combines the tradition of cooking brats in beer, with mexican ingredients to add some zip.
Cuisine: German/Mexican
Recipe type: Meat
Serves: 5
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • Cooking liquid:
  • 1 Can(7 ozs.) Chipotle salsa
  • 1 Can (7 ozs.) Salsa verde
  • 2 Bottles (12 ozs.) light beer such as Corona
  • 1 Lime, quartered
  • 1 Fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 14 Ozs. Water
  • 1 Medium Onion, sliced
  • ½ Ea. Sweet red and yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 5 Bratwurst sausages such as Johnsonville
  • 5 Pretzel buns, split
  1. In a large saucepan, combine all cooking liquid ingredients.
  2. Add brats to liquid and turn heat to medium low.
  3. Simmer brats for 30 minutes or until brats are cooked through.
  4. Transfer brats to a plate and set aside.
  5. Turn heat to medium high and cook remaining liquid for 30 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate mixture until needed.
  7. Grill brats over medium hot coals until nicely browned.
  8. Transfer brats to split pretzel buns and top with cooled pepper and onion mixture.
  9. Serve.


Fennel Slaw
Nothing goes better with barbecues ribs than creamy cole slaw. This version adds the flavor of fresh fennel and the sweet taste of clementine.
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Vegetable Side Dish
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • Dressing:
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh clementine juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Sour cream
  • ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • 2 tsp. Sciracha hot sauce
  • ¼ tsp. Chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 Bag Cole slaw mix, washed and patted dry.
  • ½ Head fresh fennel, cored, and finely chopped
  • 1 Bunch Fennel fronds from above, chopped
  • ½ Sweet yellow bell pepper, chopped
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for dressing.
  2. Whisk until smooth, then add remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve


Fresh Herb Dip
The intense flavor of fresh basil, tarragon, chives and parsley shine through with this tasty dip. Try it on chips or veggies.
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 /14 Cups Sour cream
  • ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
  • ¼ Cup Fresh herbs such as Basil, tarragon, chives and parsley, chopped
  • ½ Cup baby spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. Blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve


Fiery Goat Cheese Rollups

Little Rusted Ladle - Jena Carlin - Jim Rude-White Chocolate Mascarpone & Watermelon Dessert Recipe

What is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word “dairy”?  Cheese, milk, farm, cows?  Ask Nicole Opie of Opie’s Goats that question and she would agree on all of those.  However, she would probably start with the word “goats”.  As we wind down another June Dairy Month and the celebration of dairy in Wisconsin, let us also acknowledge a rock star of the dairy family known as the goat.  There are more and more products available nowadays  that use goat milk.  Milk, cheese, lotions, and even soap, like my friend Nicole Opie makes.

Nicole owns and operates an organic goat milk soap company called Opie’s Goats on her farm in Beloit, WI.  She hand milks her goats, then uses the milk to make artisan soaps.  She recently spent three weeks in Africa teaching local farmers  modern techniques to care for their herds.  Nicole knows her stuff.  Her goats feed off the land on her farm.  Unlike large commercial farms that often use feed, she lets them feed themselves.  They eat leaves, shrubs, grass or just about any other kind of vegetation.  Things that help their digestive system, not destroy it.  This method not only helps the goats, but helps clear the farm of unwanted brush and things we call weeds.    It also gives the goats the nourishments to produce incredible milk.  If your looking for a natural farmer that is doing things in a responsible, sustainable way, she’s your gal.

I know what your thinking.  Jim, I thought this was a food blog?  You can’t eat soap!  Actually, many parents would disagree with that statement.  Why else would they ask their kids if they want it whenever bad words are uttered from their mouths?  “James, would you like me to wash your mouth out with soap?”  If I had Nicole’s cured goat milk soap at the ready, I might have said “sure mom”.  You see, the soap that Nicole makes from raw goat’s milk is completely edible, however, I’m not recommending that you eat it.  She uses all natural ingredients like homegrown berries, cinnamon, green tea, orange peel, coffee, ginger and a host of other organic herbs and spices.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.  Her soaps are great, and you can buy them at a number of stores across the country, but I was interested in the milk her goats produce for this article.  As a matter of fact, let’s get to the other wonderful uses of goat milk, such as cheese.

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Little Rusted Ladle - Jena Carlin Photography Goat Milk Soap- Fiery Goat Cheese Rollups 9 96WM
            Knowing Nicole for a long time, I knew she has experimented with many recipes using goat milk, so I asked her for an easy goat cheese recipe.  Her answer was Labneh.  Labneh is basically yogurt cheese.  It is made by mixing yogurt with salt, then letting the whey drip out through a sterile cloth by hanging it over a bowl.  It’s really that easy.  You can use store bought yogurt, or do it the way Nicole does, and use raw, un-pasteurized goat milk, and make your own yogurt by adding culture, or yogurt you already have and letting it thicken.  For an easy description of how to make yogurt from scratch, check out the food blog Chef in Disguise.

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(http://chefindisguise.com/2012/04/01/make-your-own-homemade-greek-yogurt/).  Hers is made using cow’s milk, however, for this article, we used raw goat milk, which due to regulations, is not available for sale in Wisconsin(yet).  To learn more about the health benefits of raw goat milk, check out an article in Natural News at http://www.naturalnews.com/031586_raw_goats_milk_health.html .  If you think about it, the best milk for babies is raw mothers milk.  Why then wouldn’t the same be true of all milk?  Just something to ponder.

Back to Labneh.  We made a batch of this creamy, goat cheese by adding 1 tsp. of sea salt to 1 quart of goat milk yogurt.  Feel free to use greek yogurt if you like.  Let it drain for 24 hours in the refrigerator.  The next day it was put it in a container and stored until we were ready to make something with it.  Creating recipes is not always easy.  Especially when you need to document everything.  This was the case with the Labneh.  I can’t very well add salt to yogurt and call it a Little Rusted Ladle recipe, so even though it tasted great on it’s own, it needed to get a boost.  Jena and I went to her local grocery store for inspiration.  Thirty minutes later, we came out with avocados, limes, baby cucumbers, and habanero peppers.  These were to be used for our Fiery Goat Cheese Rollups.  Thin slices of cucumber are spread with a mixture of the prepared labneh, fresh herbs, fresh lime juice and zest.  I used a ziplock bag with a small hole cut out as a way of applying the cheese spread.  Simply rollup the slices like a pinwheel, then lay them on their side and add a small sliver of habanero pepper.  Be sure to wear gloves when handling habanero peppers.  You may substitute jalapeno peppers, or eliminate the hot peppers all together.  The combination of the tart, creamy cheese, garden fresh herbs, and avocado are the perfect muse for the crisp cucumber slices.  The pepper adds a burst of fiery heat that is quite invigorating.   The mixture is great just on crackers. You can also eat the plain Labneh mixed with fresh herbs.  Either way, goat cheese is a delicious dairy delicacy that may well leave you taking a second look at the wonders of goat milk.  I know Nicole Opie would appreciate it, as would any other hard working goat farmer in the country.  To find out where you can buy Nicole’s goat milk soap, go to her site here.  Remember to cook with love and live to cook.



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Fiery Goat Cheese Rollups
The basic spread this recipe makes is a breeze and goes<span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family: Georgia, ‘Times New Roman’, ‘Bitstream Charter’, Times, serif; line-height: 21px; “>great on crackers or pita chips. The rollups require a little more patience, but are a delightful appetizer for your next summer party.</span>
Cuisine: Southwest/Lebanese
Recipe type: Dips and Spreads
Serves: 12
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 1½ cups prepared Labdeh
  • 1 Avocado, halved, scooped and mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped such as chives, tarragon, cilantro, burnet, etc.
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Habanero pepper, cut into thin slices.
  • 6 Baby cucumbers, or 1 large seedless cucumber, cut into slices with a peeler, then patted dry with paper towels.
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine labdeh, avocado, herbs, and lime juice until smooth. Spoon into a resealable plastic bag. Cut bag at the corner to make a ½” opening. Squeeze mixture lengthwise onto cucumber slices. Roll up like a pinwheel. Top with a small piece of pepper and serve.








Summer Dessert Recipes! – White Chocolate Mascarpone and Watermelon

Little Rusted Ladle - Jena Carlin - Jim Rude-White Chocolate Mascarpone and Watermelon Dessert Recipe-KW

Summer is officially here in Wisconsin, and it’s party time.  “Party time” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.  What is certain, however, is that in Wisconsin, dairy is usually on the menu.  Whether it’s the go to ice cream or custard, or cream puffs at the state fair, dairy is a must have.  Since June is dairy month, what better way to celebrate the wonders of Wisconsin dairy products than with a recipe that combines both summer and June dairy month?  Who out there doesn’t remember sitting at a picnic table and chomping on some wedges of fresh watermelon, then spitting the seeds as far as you could?  The memories I have of eating watermelon as a kid made such an impact, I make sure to always include it in my summertime festivities.  Watermelon and dairy is a pretty incredible combo?  As I write this, I’m drinking a watermelon freeze from a local ice cream place called Frostie Freeze.  A watermelon freeze is a simple combination of a watermelon slushie blended with soft serve ice cream.  Delicious!

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I decided to take a recipe that I developed for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s online magazine called Grate. Pair. Share, and prepare a couple variations from it to show how simple it is to change a recipe. For those of you unfamiliar with the magazine Grate, Pair, Share, it is worth checking out.  Lots of great articles and recipes about you know what, dairy.  Sometimes people think that just because a recipe gives specific directions, it cannot be altered, or that the original is so good, it shouldn’t be changed.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is o.k. to just let your freak flag fly and do whatever you want with food, as long as it’s legal anyway.  For their summer issue, Jena and I developed and photographed a recipe called White Chocolate Mascarpone Watermelon Cups

.  It’s a combination of watermelon, whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, white chocolate, fresh spearmint, lime juice, toasted coconut and some feta cheese.  It’s a play off the semi-popular combination of watermelon salad with lime and feta.  If you would like the recipe, click on the recipe name.  To read the latest article of Grate. Pair. Share, including our recipe on page 63, click on Grate. Pair. Share above.

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To mix it up I prepared it as a parfait with the addition of mango and some granola mixed with the coconut and as a frozen dessert, which freezes the mascarpone and whipped cream mixture, and tops it with a watermelon and mango salad.  These two variations use identical ingredients, but by presenting them differently, they take on a completely different feel and taste.  The rich sweetness of the cream and mascarpone are offset by the fresh tartness of the lime, the slight taste of mint, the tropical flavor of coconut, the wonderful fresh sweetness of mango and to finish it off, the salty flavor of feta.  It’s a nice summertime treat that hopefully will leave you remembering those hot summer days of old, while enjoying your hot summer days of new.  Until next time, remember to cook with love and live to cook.


Mia Lampe - Uhmmm… YUMM! I will definitely try this :) Would be perfect for the nice warm summer we are having in Bergen at the moment!

Artisan Baguette

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Bread, does it get any easier than that?  I mean ingredient wise silly.  Flour, water, yeast and salt are all you need.  You can add butter, sugar or any multitude of additions, but in general, it’s pretty simple.  That is unfortunately where the simplicity of bread ends and the anxiety begins.  Ask your coworkers when was the last time they made yeast bread from scratch.  They may very well tell you never.  As a matter of fact, before this whole bake for good thing started, I can honestly say that I avoided yeast breads like brussel sprouts(my kryptonite).  It kind of goes back to baking class in culinary school.  I never quite mastered it.  Then there was the “incident” with a magazine I worked on for years called Taste Of Home.  I had to make a triple braided bread for a shoot.  Three doughs made with three kinds of flour.  Well, let’s just say that when I was done, my triple braided bread could have been used as a weapon, but never as something you’d put in your mouth.  Amazingly, I wasn’t given a lot more yeast breads after that.  Enter bread anxiety.

Fast forward twenty years, and you have a different situation with me.  I actually enjoy making bread now.  As someone once said, “If you can read, you can cook”.  Wise words.  Kind of takes the anxiety out of it.  After all, I can read, so I should be able to cook, or in this case make bread.  The mission this time was to make French baguettes using King Arthur Flour’s French Style Flour.  I simply followed the recipe on the back of the package.  You can find the recipe Here.  The only thing I changed, was adding flax seed per Jena’s request.  O.K., let’s go to crazy town and start messing with the recipe.  After all, what could go wrong?  (Enter triple braided bread flashback).  Actually, I just added the flax seed with the flour, yeast and salt, and it worked out just fine.  In this case, it was two tablespoons of flax seed to the original recipe.

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The process of making French baguettes is pretty much the same as with the bread your grandma makes or used to make.  Get the yeast up and running by combining some yeast, flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add the water and mix it till you have soft dough.  Let is rise for about thirty minutes, then knead the dough with a little more flour until the gluten forms.  Gluten?  It sounds a little like a character in a Harry Potter book, but it’s really just the flour and yeast being worked until it springs back when pressed with your finger after being kneaded for 7-10 minutes.  Then comes the moment of truth, waiting the excruciating sixty to ninety minutes to let the dough double in size.  It doesn’t matter how many times I have made dough, I always love seeing how big the dough is after it’s risen.  It’s like watching a child grow up before your eyes.  Actually, it’s nothing like that, but it is pretty cool watching science at work anyway.  Cut the dough into three parts, form into whatever long shapes you want, such as baguettes or braids, then sprinkle with herbs, cheese or even olives.  Let the dough rise again and then bake until golden brown.

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We were fortunate enough to use a baker’s couche, which was an easy way to get that nice baguette shape.  The last step was enjoying the bread.  I was not able to enjoy the breads of my labor due to time constraints, but Jena and Brandon enjoyed them anyway with some flavored olive oils for dipping.  Lucky.  So, the next time you hesitate making bread, remember, the worse thing that can happen is you end up with a rock hard baguette, but at least your house will smell awesome.  Don’t add too much flour and you’ll be just fine.  If you’re feeling really brave, try using that rarely used lace napkin as a stencil for some creative designs on the baguettes after they are done baking.  With tarts and baguettes under our belt, I think I’m in the mood for a little chocolate to cap off this Bake For Good extravaganza.  You will want to make this one, I promise.  There will also be an opportunity to win some great King Arthur gifts as well, so check back on our next article.  Double chocolate brownie cake with salted caramel and boiled cider bourbon frosting.  Till next time, remember to bake with love and love to Bake For Good.


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Sun Diego Eats - Amazing pictures and the final product looks fantastic as well. I think you can now consider your bread phobia conquered. Brussel sprouts up next?

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