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Pleasant Hill Grain Blog

Helping you achieve your culinary dreams.

Planting an Heirloom Garden Indoors

Planting an Heirloom Garden Indoors featured image

It may be chilly outside but it’s not too early to begin your garden in the comfort of your cozy house. Your sunny south window is the perfect place to grow your garden plants until warmer days arrive!

Did you know Pleasant Hill Grain carries a variety of seed collections? They aren’t ordinary seeds either, they’re a collection of heirloom seeds that produce delicious fruits, vegetables and herbs.


The Secrets to a Very Green Thumb

Planting a seed may seem like a no-brainer task, but what we sometimes fail to realize is that winter plays a huge role in preparing seeds for a good summer growth. Winter takes seeds through a process of soaking, freezing and thawing that ultimately sets the seeds up for a successful germination process. So let’s create a “winter” in your house by using a simple soaking method.

Soaking the Seeds

Step 1

Sprinkle the seeds across a paper towel and thoroughly soak the seeds and the towel with water.

Step 2

Soak a second paper towel and place it on top to fully cover the seeds.

Step 3

Allow the seeds to soak for up to 12 hours. Check the seeds every now and then to see when your seeds begin to swell. Add water to the towels as you notice them drying out. Once the seeds are double their original size, go ahead and plant them according to the package instructions.

If warm weather hasn’t arrived in your neck of the woods yet, go ahead and plant your seeds in small disposable containers that are easy to label and keep them in your house. This allows you to closely monitor each plant, then easily transfer them to your garden once the last frost has passed.

Choose your heirloom collections today and get a jump-start on your garden!

Browse our gardening books for more helpful tips to produce your dream garden!

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Grandma’s Welcoming Beef & Dumpling Soup

Grandma’s Welcoming Beef & Dumpling Soup featured image

Each Christmas, after a long (and sometimes treacherous) nine-hour journey up north, I loved running into Grandma and Grandpa’s arms for a warm hug. After all the bags, pillows, and gifts were carried in Grandma would sit my family down at the kitchen table for a big bowl of hot beef and dumpling soup. The proper way to make this soup is to never be stingy with your dumplings and only make them fresh for each reheat, but most of all, always start with a made-from-scratch bone stock. Of course, at that age I didn’t realize those were the secrets that made Grandma’s soup so perfect… all I knew is I had to have at least five dumplings in my first bowl!

Beef Barley & Dumpling Soup


Beef Stock


  • Half stock pot of water
  • 2 beef shanks or 2-3 beef necks or 5 beef bones
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 4-5 celery stalks, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, whole
  • dash of thyme
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves


  1. Fill stock pot half full with water. Then place choice of beef bone in and turn to a medium-high heat and simmer.
  2. Wash and chop your vegetables.
  3. Skim the top of your water to remove beef fat.
  4. Place the chopped vegetables in the stock pot and add the spices. Once the water is up to a rolling boil, bring the heat down and set lid on the pot tilted. Let simmer for 4-5 hours. Continue to skim as needed, and stir every so often.
  5. Once 4-5 hours have passed, pull the stock pot off the heat, strain your broth, collect all the meat from strained off vegetables and spices, then add the meat back to the broth.



  • 5-6 stalks celery, chopped thin
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped thin
  • 3/4 rutabega, peeled and chopped into squares
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup barley
  • 1 can, chopped tomatoes (16 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water



  • 2 eggs
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions for Soup & Dumplings

  1. Place stock pot of beef broth and beef chunks back on medium-low heat. Wash all vegetables and chop, then add them to beef broth.
  2. Turn heat up to medium-high, until soup begins to boil. Add spices, then turn down heat to simmer soup for 1-1/2 hours.
  3. After soup has simmered for 1-1/2 hours, return it to a rolling boil and add barley.
  4. As you wait for the barley to cook, whisk eggs, pepper, and flour together.
  5. Take two spoons to scoop a glob of dumpling batter, then hold in rolling broth while scraping the dish of each spoon until the dumpling is formed. (This takes practice, so have patience.) Continue until dumpling batter is gone.
  6. Allow dumplings to puff up on top of boiling soup for 10-15 minutes. Turn heat down to low.
  7. Serve soup hot with bread and butter or crackers.

Here are products from PHG that are great for this recipe:

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Gift Guide for the Cupcake Baker

Gift Guide for the Cupcake Baker featured image

Check out all the goodies we’ve collected into a list below for making batch after batch of delicious cupcakes or muffins! Click the photo captions below to shop for paper liners to fit any occasion; cupcake pans for jumbo, standard or mini treats; kitchen scales to weigh your ingredients for accurate measuring; and many other quality baking tools and ingredients.

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Gift Guide for the Healthy Gourmet

Gift Guide for the Healthy Gourmet featured image

Surprise the Healthy Gourmet in your life this Christmas with a gift from our list of ideas below!

Skeppshult Grill PanSkeppshult Cast Iron Cookware from Sweden

The Skeppshult cookware line reflects Sweden beautifully through its cast iron cookware that is available with a variety of functional and attractive handle options, ranging from stainless steel to wood. Skeppshult pans are nearly impossible to wear out, so they can be handed down to future generations. Click here to browse the entire Skeppshult line, which includes fry pans, stovetop waffle makers, pancake irons, egg pans, salt bowls, and pepper mills.

Komo_Christmas_PK1_1200KoMo Grain Mills from Austria

Wrap up a KoMo grain mill this Christmas season for your beloved baker. Delicious baked goods made with home-milled flour will come from their kitchen in no time after this gift is given! The KoMo line is impressive in its good looks, fine workmanship, power, and durability. It’s our go-to mill in the test kitchen and we’re proud to stand by it. Pleasant Hill Grain is the U.S. importer of the KoMo grain mill line and we’re happy to help our customers with questions and concerns they have. So give the gift of a quality grain mill, along with quality service they can trust.

Nesco_Digital_American_Harvest_FD-1020_1200Food Dehydrators

Bring the bounty! American Harvest Nesco dehydrators are high-performance machines with a great amount of food drying space. Put this unit to the test each year with endless garden crops and orchard fruits, then enjoy snacking on these healthy treats all winter long.

duralex-lys-stackable-bowls-lids-round-storage-glassware-1200Durable French Glassware

Combine the beauty of glass with strength not often found in glassware, and you have French-made dishes and storage containers from Duralex. Clink, clank, and drop these on the floor—they’ll tough it out. Here at PHG we’ve been quite impressed with the durability and strength of each tabletop piece Duralex offers.

Berard_90080_Mortar_Pestle_lifestyle_1200Olive Wood Treasures

Give the gift that will add a warm touch to any kitchen and choose an olive wood product from Berard. Made on the northern African coast in Tunisia, these kitchen tools will be treasured for many years to come. The skilled craftsmen at Bérard build each gorgeous tool with care and great attention to detail; they’re proud of their priceless olive tree resource, and we’re sure anyone would be proud to use and display their products in a home kitchen.

Chia_seed_breakfast_oats_600Organic Chia Seeds

Help the healthy gourmet in your life expand his/her hot cereal or dessert recipes by adding organic chia seeds to their pantry. Chia seed is an ancient food that’s become very popular for its nutritional properties. Gel these little berries in homemade juice, fresh whole milk, or creamy Greek yogurt for a tongue tingling snack. Our Chia seed is sproutable, but most people eat it as-is.

einkorn-cookbook-9781592336425-175Einkorn Recipes

Glean knowledge and inspiration from The Einkorn Cookbook. This book unlocks mysteries behind the ancient grain, einkorn, and offers several family-friendly recipes to make at home. Any cook exploring the culinary world will be glad to get their hands on this helpful guide to a tasty, nutritious grain that’s been overlooked for years. Make the gift complete with a pail of organic einkorn berries from Pleasant Hill Grain!

redmond_RealSalt_Organic_Seasoning_Gift_Box_747RealSalt Seasonings

Seasoning is everything to the gourmet cook so quality ingredients is the only way to go. Spruce up their spice shelf with this practical, but attractive gift-packaging of RealSalt seasoning flavors.

Mexican Vanilla Extract

Mexican Vanilla Pick out the right size bottle of our tasty Mexican vanilla. This vanilla extract gives rich flavor to every dessert and is sure to please a well-trained palate.

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The Ice Cream Lover Gift Guide

The Ice Cream Lover Gift Guide featured image

We think everyone can agree that homemade ice cream is irresistible so we’ve compiled a list of ice cream tools and treats to help you make the most delectable desserts all throughout the year!

Electric Ice Cream Machine

Mix the creamiest gourmet ice cream in just 25 minutes with the Cuisinart ICE-30 BC. This compact unit is well insulated for a consistent salt-less quick freeze process and is powerful enough to keep turning as the cream continues to firm up. If you plan to make two flavors of ice cream, simply pop out your full freezing bowl, and place a second Cuisinart freezing bowl into the machine to mix your next ice cream flavor. We love using this Cuisinart ice cream maker in our test kitchen!

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

Waffle Cones

What could make homemade ice cream even better?! Homemade waffle cones! Fill your home kitchen with that warm sweet vanilla waffle smell by rolling cone after cone with the Chef’s Choice Wafflecone Express. Don’t sweat finding the best recipe for batter when you could whip up a batter of the delicious Chef’s Choice waffle cone mix. I recently had the chance to watch someone make waffle cones (and to taste them afterward), and I have to say it’s way too easy and delicious to make just once. Be sure to get the handy Gourmet Cone Holder to avoid a sad scene of shattered sweetness all over your floor. This stand displays each cone beautifully and ensures a delicate and sturdy foundation.


The Scoop

Grab an anti-freeze scoop or spade to unlock the secret to perfectly shaped ice cream scoops without getting a sore arm. These smart scoops have defrosting fluid sealed within the handle that allows you to glide straight through your ice cream with no strain.

Dish It Up Fancy

Pick up pretty Duralex Gigogne dessert dishes to serve treats in at you next party. These elegant pink pedestal dishes present any dessert beautifully, while keeping portions just the right size for the occasion. Duralex formed the Gigogne dish with strong, shock-resistant glass so you can scoop or pour any hot or cold dessert without shattering glass.



Tips & Tricks from Jeni

Let Jeni, a creative entrepreneur with an ice cream business, guide you as you create delicious go-to ice cream recipes for your home, friends, family and acquaintances. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams made its mark as a big-time ice cream company in 2002 and continues to offer melt-in-your-mouth frozen creams across the nation. Let Jeni wow you in your own kitchen with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home book!


Cold Stones

Mix it up with a beautiful ice cream stone set! This is a fun and clean way to keep your ice cream firm, while stirring in delicious sweet treats that bring another dimension to each bit of ice cream. Our natural marble stone comes with two anti-freeze spades for scooping and mixing. Don’t limit it to ice cream though… chill your famous fudge on this board and then cut the fudge into neat cubes for serving.


Ice Cream Storage

Store your finished product in 4 or 6 ounce Duralex Lys Stackable Bowls with a tight sealing lid so they’re ready to go for a quick dessert! These bowls will take the cold like a pro and are also perfect for mixing ice cream bases in.


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