Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Kombucha Tea

I have been reading a lot about the health benefits of Kombucha tea and was interested in trying some. I purchased a bottle of the raw Kombucha tea and really liked the flavor but not the price. One bottle is $2.65 but I wanted to make sure I liked it before starting on the adventure of making my own. Fermented foods are highly prized to have amazing health benefits, unfortunately I don't care for sauerkraut, or other fermented veggies. I've been looking for DIY fermented foods and so I came upon Kombucha. Komucha tea has tons of probiotics, enzymes and organic acids that are healthy for the colon and because of the acids formed in the tea it is very cleansing. It is a fermented black tea and sugar drink that is an overall body detoxifier. The caffeine from the tea and the sugar are almost completely gone from the fermentation process. The organic acids bind to toxins in the body and are removed through the kidneys.

So, I decided to give it a try. I bought a Kombucha culture aka scoby or mother mushroom and started my first brew. Black tea always has to be used in the fermentation process because of its tannins but you can use green tea with it. Herbal teas are not recommended  as they can damage the scoby. The first brew I did just black tea and organic evaporated cane juice. I didn't want to use  bleached white sugarbut, white sugar has to be used. You add some starter tea that you can get with the scoby or white vinegar to bring the pH down so the culture stays healthy and no bad bacteria forms. It is supposed to culture and brew for seven to thirty days. I liked it after the first week. It gets stronger and more like apple cider vinegar the longer it ferments. The recipe is different based on how much you make at a time.

Basic Recipe:

4 bags of black tea
2/3 c starter tea
1/2 c sugar
3 quarts water

The water is heated to a boil and then shut off, the tea is added and steeps 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the sugar and stir till mixed in. Let cool to room temp. put in a glass jar add starter tea and scoby. Cover jar with tight weaved cloth and rubber band. Let this sit in a 70 degree area or so undisturbed,  for a week. There will be bubbles starting and a white film over the top, this is the new scoby forming. The longer the culture ferments the thicker the culture will get. If the mother and baby adhere to each other you can leave them that way or separate them after the brew is done and use the new scoby for another batch. The mother can be used forever if kept healthy. The recipe also includes a higher amount of starter tea because it doesn't take as long to ferment then. I usually have a new scoby in 5 days instead of seven.

The dark areas on the sides here and there are just thin areas where the tea is showing through. The mother should stay a nice beige color. Pink or grey is mold and the culture and tea should be thrown away. Also, you will see some strands of brown or beige in the tea.  These are normal and are just beneficial yeasts. The mother never needs to be washed or rinsed just make sure the containers and your hands are clean. When making a new batch just remove the scoby with your hand and place in the next container. The finished tea can be strained of the yeast strands if desired.

After I made the first small batch I knew I wanted bigger amounts so I bought a 2 gallon glass container from Walmart for $9.99. The scoby will also form to the size container you culture your tea in. I now have two of these containers going and plan on buying another container at the end of the month. So my cost is closer to five dollars for this amount of Kombucha instead of $25.00+. When I make the larger amounts I do a concentrated tea with the sugar in 1/2 gallon water on the stove and let it cool a little.  Then pour that mixture in the container on top of the other gallon of water, it usually is then cool enough to add the starter tea and scoby. With this process you don't have to wait for the concentrated tea to cool for several hours and it only then takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to make Kombucha.
FYI the only containers that kombucha should be fermented and stored in is glass just to be on the safe side. The acids can leech metals and toxins from other containers. The lids I used above never come in contact with the tea; I leave a good head space. The tall containers are from the other kombucha's I bought and  saved the bottles for this use. Also many people do a second ferment of the tea to get more bubbles etc. You have to be sure the container you seal it in won't burst under the pressure. Then you let it ferment in the new container another day before refrigeration. I don't do the second ferment just to be on the safe side.
Homestead tip: Look for someone in your area making Kombucha since they will have a baby you can have instead of purchasing one. Many places sell them if you can't find a person to help you out. Cultures for Health, Amazon and even E-bay sell scobys.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

1 Chicken Three Meals

I happen to be one of those weird people that like to cook but not everyday. So sometimes when I cook on the weekends I'll do several meals at once. I think since  I'm going to be at the stove anyway why not make more of a bang for my buck with what I'm cooking. So today I used one chicken to make three meals. I start off with an organic chicken. Now if you have never bought one they are pricey but the flavour is so different than a conventional chicken I have a hard time buying a regular one now. I also think since I use it in more than one way most of the time it is totally worth it.
To start off I filled a huge stock pot with water and added 2T grey Celtic sea salt and couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. There are a lot more minerals in Celtic sea salt. The apple cider vinegar is used to pull the minerals from the chicken bones and the flavor is pretty much gone by the time you make your soup etc. Start off with cold water and start the water heating on medium. The lower the temperature to start the better the chicken tenderness will be, also the organic chickens don't tend to get so rubbery. I let this boil at med-high for 4 to 6 hours. Start off with a lot of water and let it boil down. Remove the chicken carefully because it will start to fall off the bone and put it in a dish to cool. Taste the broth, if it's too watery let it reduce more also add more salt to taste. It takes more salt then people realize to get a nice flavorful broth. Once it gets were you like it pour half in another stock pot. Once the chicken is cool remove the breasts and set aside. Divide the rest of the chicken between the two stock pots. 
For the first stock pot I do a basic chicken vegetable soup.
1. Large onion diced
2. One to two parsnips, peeled and diced like a carrot (try to get larger ones)
3. Three large carrots
4. Four ribs of celery sliced
5. Two bay leaves
6. Two tablespoons of coconut oil (the flavor will decrease when cooking)
7. Half a cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
I let this cook for a couple hours more developing the flavors and adding more water as needed.
For the second stock pot I did a Chicken Tortilla soup.    
1. In a saucepan put 4 T olive oil and heat, add 1 large onion, saute 5 min.
2. Add 2-4 T Cumin (if you love it add 4)
3. Add 2 T Paprika and sugar
4. Add 2-3 T Chili Powder mix into onions and continue to cook 15min
5. Add couple shakes of Garlic salt and 4-6 large diced tomatoes stir and cook.
6. Put all ingredients into stock pot and add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro cook 15 minutes more. Taste an adjust garlic salt etc. Serve bowls with diced avocado and tortilla chips, top with desired shredded cheese. I use what I have on hand.

For the third dish I made inside out Chicken Empanadas.
1. For the empanadas use the above ingredients except use 2 onions and only two tomatoes with the shredded chicken breasts. I cook it 20-25 minutes and add a little chicken stock from the tortilla soup to make a nice sauce about 1/2 c or so.
2. Instead of making a dough I pick up some bread dough from my grocery store in the bakery dept. and I pinch off a handful and stretch it and fry it in a little oil on both sides over medium heat. Top it with the meat and shredded cheese and a little cilantro. Then use whatever other toppings you want, guacamole or sour cream. I like it with just the meat and cheese. Most empanadas have green olives but I like it without.

The left over bread dough can be fried up and topped with butter and a little sugar or stevia. My husband loves these for dessert. I add cinnamon to mine.

I usually take a quart jar and take that amount out of each soup and let it cool, refrigerate then freeze the next day for a fast meal for a night when I don't want to cook.

Homestead tip:

When using the soup from the quart jars let it thaw then remove it to pan to heat. Don't thaw and heat it in the jar in the microwave. Microwaving a canning jar changes the glass and it can not be used for canning later and can also make the glass unstable for freezing the next time you want to use it.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Master Horticulture Classes, New Books I ordered

I am so excited, there are some Master horticulture classes being offered at the University next year. You can do volunteer work for them and get the classes at half price. I've been talking to my husband about it and am thinking I will take them. I'll write more about them when it gets a little closer. For now, I ordered a Medicinal Herbs and Wild Edibles book. I am going to start building a better library for myself. The next book will be on wild mushrooms. I have been watching a couple YouTube videos on wild edibles.

 I was shocked that I had the ornamental version of gout weed in my garden. It's edible and is best mixed with other greens in a salad etc. There are a couple people doing videos on wild edibles so I've been watching when I can. It is amazing the information you can find out now. I am a real visual person and enjoy the videos.
The next book I bought was on how to survive economic collapse of the country. I know a real upper huh! But we live in uncertain times and so many people are completely unprepared. We are heading into a time when the only things that will be grown in the USA for the most part is corn, wheat and soy. What happens if we go into another world war or have economic collapse and can't get our food shipped in etc. What if the dollar continues to devalue? A lot of people that are experts in economics say we aren't going to recover, we will never be where we were. I don't want to be a Dolly Downer but, I'm starting to prepare so if things get worse we are better off than we are now.
I also bought another book on Homeopathic self-care by Robert Ullman. I checked it out from the library and really liked it. I've used several recommendations from the book and have had great success. I will be buying different books every month to build my knowledge and become more self-sufficient.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saving Lettuce seeds

As the season starts to wind down I have been letting my lettuce bolt and flower. To get seeds you have to let the flower mature and turn into what looks like a dandelion ball. You pull the pods free and separate the seeds.
The seeds are really small, but each seed pod will have 15 or more. I have saved a lot because I wanted to start some new plants to get baby greens now and for next year. When I plant next year, I plan on planting more successively. So every week or two I will start some new plants. Some plants won't sprout in weather above 80 degrees so you have to start very early in the spring.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall Already?

I can't believe the season is almost over boo-hoo! The mornings are starting to get really chilly and it's not getting very hot in the afternoon.This is one of my biggest heirloom tomatoes, it was delicious. I'll miss my tomatoes when the seasons done. They've been great in my V8 juice.
 After my apples were done for the season I aggressively pruned my tree. I want more apples next year not a bigger tree. I did the same thing to my peach tree last year and we got an enormous hall this year. When the leaves on my grape vines start to brown I will do the same with them. I'm already talking to my dear husband about ripping up the front yard for more room to grow veggies. He has never been open to it before, but now he is yea! We talked more about wanting to move,  but may decide to stay were we are planted a little longer. I told him I was going to make some big changes really soon.
At the end of this month I'm going to start looking for a cherry and a pear tree and maybe more fruiting bushes. I would like some raspberries and maybe choke cherries. When we have the money I'm going to start calling some nurseries and start the hunt. Fall is a great time to plant new trees and bushes. They tend to adapt better and have a nice growth spurt.
I'm also gonna call tree services and start having wood chips dumped in my R.V. parking. I watched the "Back to Eden" film recently and also saw a video of a woman that started using wood chips and I am convinced! She had the biggest kale leaves I have ever seen and is completely organic. They were even bigger than with compost. If you have the chance watch the film for free at www.backtoedenfilm.com off to the right is the button to watch it for free.
My kale was nice, but I want bigger leaves for juicing next year.

Homestead tip: If you don't have a garden but want to start one next year save the seeds from organic produce that you're buying and store it for next year. Seed Savers Exchange has tips on seed saving and storage.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Still Juicing My Days Away

I'm loving my juicer and using up a ton of my produce from the garden. I think I'll do this every year to help use up produce. In the past some things have gone bad before I could use them or I would get so much at once I would have to give some away. I've used up a ton on zucchinis and cucumbers juicing. The above picture is of my Armenian cucumbers. They get huge but stay nice and soft. When I juice these I slice them down the center and for the really large ones I scoop out the seeds. I can slice these in thirds and it equals about one large regular cucumber.

A great juice is lemon, cucumber, zucchini and pineapple. I thin it with water a little and add stevia to sweeten. It is so addicting.

Homesteading tip:

Pour fresh juices into popsicle trays for a sugar free, healthy alternative to store bought popsicles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Juicer

I think I mentioned in a post that I was having a birthday.  Well,  it came and went this last weekend. I am (boohoo) forty one. Anyway without wallowing further, I decided to get myself a new juicer with all the cash I got for my birthday.

 I have an Omega 8002 masticating juicer that is over 10 years old. Yeah amazing huh, that anything last that long anymore. I really like it but it doesn't do great on some things. It does a great frozen fruit sorbet and of course greens. I've been doing a lot of research on new juicers and decided on the Omega Vrt 350 HD. This is a masticating juicer, which means it chews and extracts the juice. It leaves a pretty dry pulp and doesn't oxidize the juice the way centrifugal juicers can.
 I watched videos on you tube with all kinds of demos. I found it at Bed Bath and Beyond and with the 20% coupon got it cheaper than I've seen it anywhere. I've used it five or six times and am still a little undecided.
I like to do green juices and all of the greens need to really be cut up to stop it from backing up.  That is a little bit of a pain and the same goes for any herbs, celery etc. Even cutting them up to 1/4 inch they can still block the pulp port.  The other down side is that after about 25 ounces it starts to back up if you do any sort of softer fruits or veggies. The bonus is that if you want to make a lot of juice and keep it you can with this juicer. The RPM's are so low that the juice can stay fresh, the manufacturer states for 72hrs. I think that is too long and just about every time I juice I drink it immediately.
I like a couple different greens, cucumber, apple, a couple carrots and zucchini. All from the garden. I also add grapefruit sometimes to aid in fat loss. I have to add stevia to all of my drinks to sweeten the taste up, otherwise I can't tolerate the taste. This also will keep you from using too much fruit in the juices.  My  3 year old son will also drink these.
I always switch up the greens which is highly recommended due to oxalic acid in spinach and kale etc. This can cause kidney stones. So it's recommended to use a different green everyday. I grow, two different kinds of kale, Swiss chard, parsley, stevia, spinach and different kinds of lettuce, along with pac choy. You can also do the tops of carrots and beets.
 I always change up the juice but, the base is usually the same. Zucchini and cucumber give a lot of juice that can be flavored with other fruits and veggies. I did see a fruit juice on YouTube today that sounds so good. It was pineapple, lemon and apple. When I start juicing, I tend to start craving it. Never in a million years did I think I would love kale! Hello! But with some beet root, carrots and cucumber it is so good. I highly recommend juicing but, you will have to go to the bathroom more and you will get a little buzz from the juice!
Homestead tip:                                                                                     
When you have those huge zucchini and cucumbers in the garden juice them. The yield is really high and then compost the pulp.                    

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I've recently watched a webinar on Homeopathy. A webinar for those that don't know is a seminar on the web. I live in a town that doesn't get much in the way of DIY information and homesteading, being self reliant etc. So I do searches for the information and try to take webinars when I can or listen to pod casts. Most these are free to everyone. I was shocked at what I learned and inspired to take more of my health into my own hands. The webinar had a class and texts you could buy but they were way out of my range for now. The next best option was this book that many people rated pretty highly. I really like how the information and index is layed out and have been able to use it easily several times.

Its funny how much information you really don't know until you or a loved one becomes ill. I think doctors are excellent for trauma, but really lack nutritional and health education. Too much of Big Pharm funds the universities and there curriculum.
The side effects of antibiotics and pharmaceuticals is really scary and affects people in ways for years to come without them even knowing. Anyway, homeopathic treatments don't have any side effects, usually work faster and make future occurrences much more mild. They can also be used to prevent epidemics. High doses can cause provings which is from what I understand like detox sort of, still learning.
There are many hospitals in Europe etc. that use homeopathic treatments and have successfully for a very long time. There were many hospitals  here too until the pharmaceutical industry was created.  Homeopathy has a long history of proven treatments.

There are even homeopathic treatments for Septic infections, Small pox, Anthrax,  Cholera and Yellow fever. You can buy whole kits that have most of what you would ever need or buy individual treatments. By the way, these never expire and most treatments can be used for multiple problems because homeopathy is based on symptoms not just specific conditions. There are several remedies that can be used for the same problem, so if one doesn't work, you can try another. You don't have to know the specific name of the ailment just know the symptoms.

These remedies can also be applied to animals. This is something I experienced just a couple days ago. My dear sweet Shih Tzu had a very swollen face. I looked around on the Internet and deduced she was having an allergic reaction or had been bitten by something. I gave her a treatment of Apis Mel which is used for swelling, allergic reactions etc. It worked a little but after several treatments I wasn't satisfied. So I used Rhus Tox for redness, swelling and the swelling was down half within twenty minutes. Then after another treatment completely gone. Everything on the vet sites said it was and emergency condition and take the pet to the vet immediately and with treatment it would take days for the swelling to be gone. I love my dog dearly and would not have waited if I thought she was in jeopardy. As I learned from the professional homeopath that I took the webinar from a lot of scare tactics are used to pressure people into the direction the doctors want you to go. Most remedies work faster and better than antibiotics without them result in enormous side effects that can show up later in life.

 I think the last statistic was that over 100,000. people die a year do to just drug interactions. That is a travesty! We have a better option with homeopathy, that can solve a multitude of problems and relieve a lot of pain and suffering. If you're interested in taking some of your health issues into your own hands look up Joette Calabrese and her website www. homeopathyworks.net. She does do consultations and has a home course you can buy. She also has a wonderful and informative blog www.homeopathyworks.wordpress.com 

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Love of Cheese

Hello, did you know I'm Italian? So no figure I loooovvveee cheese. I spend a very limited time clothes shopping, but can spend a couple hours in a cheese shop.
Which is exactly what I did today. I'm still on a high and am probably now constipated TMI(to much information).
My husband called about ten minute's into my euphoria and asked what I was doing. I told him "well I decide to check out that new cheese shop that opened up.
" He paused and said "happy birthday then", I said "hey I won't spend more than a hundred" (in total jest). So I only spent $17.35 then the lady told me "today's curd day Thursday" which means I found out, that you get 1/2 pound of Wisconsin curds when you spend $20.00. Well you know I had to, so on the total went chocolate cheese fudge.
Totally for my husband,
 except that I already ate almost half of it.;) So you may have already guessed my whole lunch was cheese, well cheese and fudge.
Did I mention before I like to make my own cheese? But there are some hard rind cheeses I can't make, yet! Give me some property and I'll get a nice little cheese cave up and running.
 If you're like me you should check out the Cheese Nun video. I found it at the library and sat down to watch it one day with a nice raw goat cheddar. She ends up going abroad to learn about cheese caves etc. I loved it. It did take a little to get into it at first, but was so interesting once it got going.

I do love me some goat cheese, I have to say I grew up on it though. The semi-hard and the ricotta style. I'm trying to instill that love with my son. He seems to love it most of the time. If you've never had semi-hard goat cheese you should try it. Warning though, it's kinda like cheese curds because it squeaks on your teeth. I don't really notice it much but, a lot of other people do. It's great in scrambled eggs with mild Anaheim chile's. YUM!!!
This is ricotta cheese, homemade from Organic whole milk.

Homemade ricotta is so fabulous on homemade bread, made into garlic toast with fresh garden tomatoes and drizzled extra virgin olive oil.
Hungry Yet???

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peaches Galore

I finally harvested the rest of my peaches today for the season. I had been taking 10-20lbs off at a time and when they were ready. I kinda wanted to be done with them and move on to something else, so I harvested everything.  I ended up with about 90lbs today so around 130 to 150lbs total. It was my best crop yet. I always keep the peaches organic and work around the bug and bird bites. I have cut up a ton for freezing and dehydrating. I was surprised at how much my son and husband love them dehydrated. I have never done that before with peaches.
 I have been doing peach fruit leathers or "roll ups" too. I did one banana and 6-8 peaches depending on the size and blend till smooth, adding stevia to sweeten if needed. I poured them out on the teflex sheets that you can buy with the Excalibur dehydrator and smoothed them out to about 1/8 -1/4 inch. I just dehydrate overnight and check them in the morning. I peel them from the sheet and roll them up on parchment paper then cut them into 4ths.
 I put a little tape in place to hold them closed and put them in zip lock bags to store. You could also wrap them in plastic wrap. These are great snacks for your purse for snacks or school lunches. I plan on doing other fruits also, especially apples and cinnamon.
The fruit roll ups you get in the store are full of  tons of chemicals and sugar. These are wonderful alternatives and don't take much time to make and store.
Homesteading tip:
If you over dehydrate the roll ups and they're too brittle leave out until they rehydrate some moisture from the air and are pliable again. You can also boil a little water in the kitchen to help the moisture along.  Also, when fresh fruit isn't available thaw some frozen fruit, blend and dehydrate.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Herbs

I started a lot more herbs this year than I usually do because I was afraid some of the seeds wouldn't take and I tried to get some plants going in various stages. I do most of my herbs in pots, they tend to be more fragile but the weeds are easier to keep down and I don't have to worry about other plants growing over the herbs.
I planted stevia this year for the first time and I really like it. Sometimes while I'm out in the garden I'll just take off a couple leaves and eat them. They have a very nice flavor with no after taste. I use this mostly in my smoothies, but I also juice it for a mean green juice. I'll start harvesting it more and blending it up and freezing it in ice cube trays for later use. You can also make up some simple stevia teas to use when sweetener is needed.
I have a lot of chives. I love chives on eggs in the morning and I use it in my Mexican meals, salsa, salads etc.
This year I ended up with a ton of basil, usually I have a couple plants and at least one croaks. This time I have 6 or 7 pots full. We use basil in our lettuce wraps, in Italian dishes in salads.
Our favorite is fresh sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil leaves stacked. Then I mash a couple cloves of garlic in olive oil with S&P and pour it over the tomatoes. Soooo good. I also grow parsley for soup and smoothies, thyme, rosemary, cilantro for salsa. Since the season is coming to and end soon I plan to start dehydrating everything for the winter.

Homesteading tip:

Once herbs are dehydrated remove them from the dehydrator immediately and put in air tight jars out of the sun. When herbs are left in the dehydrator when it's off they can rehydrate partially and mold.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pork Loin Chops and Cinnamon Peach Tart

I wanted to post this recipe because I know people love a super tasty, easy dinner and this is one. I love pork chops but buying a pork loin whole is sometimes half the price. So I buy a whole pork loin and cut it in half and freeze them separately. I don't cut up the chops until I defrost the loin to reduce the chance of freezer burn. I cut up the loin into 1 inch chops.  This is easily done if you leave the loin a little frozen. One of the best seasonings I have ever found is Herbes De Provence. I've bought several brands and they're all usually the same. The next thing I use is garlic salt. Now, not all garlic salts are the same. I can go through a bottle of garlic salt a month but it'll just sit on the shelf if it's a bad brand. I like the California style garlic salt from McCormick's. NOT the regular one. It is one of maybe three things I still allow that is still a "processed" type of food.  I make this dish with a veggie or salad. I love creamed cauliflower that is mashed like potatoes.

Garlic and Herbs De Provence Pork Chops

2-3lb pork loin cut up into 1 inch chops
California style McCormick's Garlic salt
Herbes De Provence
Extra virgin olive oil
butter or ghee

Coat chops pretty well in garlic salt and then crush the herbs in your palm and really coat the chop. The herbs are mild and won't be overwhelming.  Heat the pan a little above medium. Add the olive oil but wait till you can smell the olive before adding the chops. When you add the meat let it stay where it is. People start poking at it and moving it around and it won't get a lovely crust or pull up easily. I usually let it sit 5-8 min then flip and cook the same. If you over cook them they'll be dry and hard to chew. If you tend to get chops like that increase the heat and reduce the cooking time on each side. Pull one off and check it. If done remove the rest to a plate and let rest 5 min before serving. I put a little butter on the top of each one and fresh garlic salt sprinkled lightly. It's a simple recipes but everyone thinks these are fabulous.

The cinnamon peach tart is a sugar free, grain free paleo dessert but can be primal if you add a little whipped heavy cream with stevia.

8-10 peaches peeled and stones removed, sliced
1/8 tsp cinnamon
couple dashes cardamon
2T ghee or butter
Stevia to desired sweetness


1 1/2 c soaked, dehydrated, ground almonds (don't over process)
3T softened honey
3T ghee or butter chilled
1/2 tsp stevia
couple dashes cinnamon if desired

In a food processor grind the nuts down making sure not to over process and make almond butter. I soften the honey in either the microwave or dehydrator before adding  it to the nuts. Mix well then chop up the butter and add to processor. It will gather in a slight ball. On a cookie sheet place parchment paper and press this into an oval about 12 inches long 8-10 inches wide with the sides a little thicker. Bake 325 pre-heated oven for 20 min or more. I like it a little more toasted but make sure it doesn't get too brown. Remove from oven and let cool. This crust crumbles easily so be careful after it cools and move it to a decorative platter.

Meanwhile, put the filling mixture into a pan and saute till desired tenderness about 10 minutes and this will help the juices to thicken. Taste and adjust for desired sweetness. Remove this to a bowl and let cool. Assemble right before serving. I whip the heavy cream for 2 min with my blending wand in a jar with some stevia and top it with cinnamon.

Homestead tip:
You can also make up lots of this filling and freeze it in individual containers to make this in the winter for a taste of summer. Most of my peach bounty will be sliced then frozen on a cookie sheet then placed in zip lock bags for smoothies and desserts.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Peaches, Cherries, Tomatoes Oh MY!!!

I decide to relieve my tree of about ten pounds of peaches this morning. My punky is loving the peach tree this year and is eating about 2-4 a day. I'm going to try making dehydrated peach slices like the apple slices I did the other day and see if we like them. We also love fruit leathers and I plan on doing some of those with the peaches also and see how they turn out. Maybe mixing some other fruits in with the peaches and a little stevia. The store bought kind are full of sugar and unpronounceable chemicals. Bonus they'll be free!

These are called ground cherries although they're kinda more like a tomato.

They have these adorable little paper sheaths around them kinda like a Chinese lantern. The sheath stays green until the fruit is ripe then turns paper like and brown. Sometimes they just fall to the ground and sometimes they stay on the plant and can be picked off. The shell protects the fruit when it falls to the ground and keeps it from going bad for a couple days. They have seeds like a tomato but aren't in the gelatin coating that has to be removed for saving. I got these as a plant from Seed Savers Exchange this year. I missed some of the fruit when it fell and it started a new plant. So I think they'll be easy to start next year inside before the last frost.
Above is the plant, it grows to about 4 feet wide so leave some room if you plan to grow these babies. They also grow close to the ground so they are aptly name "ground cherries." 

Homestead Tip:
Start saving seeds midway through the summer so you don't forget.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dehydrating our Bounty and Smoothie Recipe, tips

So today I started storing some of our bounty. I sliced some tomatoes and dehydrated them for "sun dried" tomatoes. I cut them 1/8 inch thick for the first batch but think this is too thin once they shrink down. I did some apples also that we had picked last week at a "pick your own" farm. They're a little pliable still which I like and the punky boy loves them. I also did the rest of the grapes for raisins, so we are done for the year with them. Punky loves raisins and the are a staple in my purse for him along with soaked, dehydrated almonds. He also loves these pouches that I get for him. I use them for emergencies, they're organic fruit and veggies pureed. I don't want to stop at a fast food place because I'm unprepared for snacks.  He is a typical 3 year old and doesn't eat as many veggies just by themselves so I sneak them into his food. Last night for "dessert" we had a green smoothie. He never balks at a smoothie and it's a great way to get greens and veggies in him.

Green Smoothie:

1/2 bunch kale (about 6-8 leaves if you grow your own)
1 peeled zucchini rough chopped
1-2 cups mixed frozen fruit
1-2 frozen banana's
2 cups water
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 handful of almonds
1 T stevia powder or more to taste

When you go to make one of these put in the water first, then the ingredients as they are listed. This way the greens get blended really well and everything moves nicely. I have a Vita mix and you really do need a high powered machine for really smooth, creamy smoothies. It was one of the best investments I have ever made hands down. We use it daily and sometimes several times a day. I do a frozen strawberry, cream and stevia ice cream in 3 minutes that beats any strawberry ice cream easily. I also use it for making almond milk and soups etc. My husband and I pooled our money from Christmas one year that everyone had given us and then we used the Vitamix as the present for both of us from eachother too.

Homestead tip:

Use zucchini and other veggies in smoothies with the fruit. Also an important tip,  you have to use either a banana or avocado to make a smoothie creamy and smooth that stays together and won't seperate. Compost the peels.

Bonus tip: I saw on a blog the other day but can't remember who's sorry, freeze blended kale in ice cube trays for the winter if you can't use up fast enough.

My Tiny Homestead

Well, I call it a homestead but we are still in town and we are far from self sufficient. We are in the planning stages to move and that is always so exciting. Anyway, as for right now we grow some of our food.

I started grapes when I first bought the house and raspberries that turned out to be mismarked and were blackberries. My husband has hacked those poor blackberries to death. I understand why, they have thorns and scratch you when ever you walk by and sprout up everywhere in the lawn. We had a huge harvest on just the two grape plants this year. I estimate around maybe 45lbs or more.
 I started to dehydrate them and they're a little sweet tart and a lot smaller than what you get at the store but, they're homegrown and organic. We also have an apple tree that had an underwhelming harvest. The birds were terrible and pecked at most if not all of the survivors. But one of the largest apples was 5 inches wide and 4 inches tall.  We have a lovely peach tree that is drooping all the way to the ground.

I had removed a ton of the blossoms to get a larger yield but we still have a ton. One of the branches finally cracked under the pressure so I went around the tree and removed about 20lbs but it doesn't even seem like I harvested any. I want to let them get a little more ripe and soft. They're brightly colored but once picked they'll get soft but not sweeter. There has to be around 100lbs or more on the tree. I'm planning to weigh everything out as we pick to keep track of the yield. We also have rhubarb but I made the mistake of planting my yellow zucchini to close and it took over the whole area, so the rhubarb stopped growing. I may cut the zucchini back a little later so I can get a fall harvest from the plant. The only other perennial edibles are mint, lavender and lemon balm. I'll go into the garden on another post.

Our only animals are three shih tzu's right now. We have a male Frasier and female Ashley that are about 11 years old and another female Madison that is 7. We always used to talk about having a Shih Tzu farm (in jest). When we move we're thinking about chickens. Layers and broilers and maybe a cow for milking but we're not sure on the cow. I was thinking about goats for milking and cheese but my husband doesn't like the cheese and doesn't think he'll like the milk. I grew up on goat cheese and love it. But, it may be easier to just get the milk through a share program.

Homestead tip:  
Plant trees and edible perennials when you first move into your homestead. It takes a while to reap what you sow. I love going out and eating from the garden and seeing my harvest all stored up.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

About Me

Where to Start:

I'm a lover of DIY! In almost every area of my life I like to do it myself, much to the dismay sometimes of my patient husband. I like to research almost everything and then research it a little more then take a whack at it. Most of the time everything turns out peachy. I've reupholstered furniture,  painted furniture, tiled a kitchen, done plumbing, a lot I never thought I would, but never doubted I could. I figure if someone else can learn to do it I can. In the last 12 or so years I have become a determined cook. I like to go as far as making my own cheese if I feel like it. It's funny how people look at you a little sideways when you mention you made this or that yourself. Sometimes I think they're shocked other times I'm positive they think it was a little crazy or unnecessary. Fortunately a lot of people are turning back to DIY in so many areas of their lives. This has prompted me to start documenting some of this to help others and sometimes to receive help where I can't do it on my own.

I think DIY is a lot more than just repainting furniture or making it from scratch. I like DIY food, jewelry, repairs, demolition etc. I have become a gardener and never, ever thought I would be. I hated pulling weeds as a child, HAAATED! Now I find pulling weeds relaxing. Go figure. It took me almost all of my life to realize I am an outdoor person. I am just not happy if I can't be outside at some point during the day and sometimes most of the day. My husband comes from a family of "pay someone to do it". I come from a back ground of  "I have to do it myself"  because I've been on my own for most of my life. We have little clashes in this area. Well maybe "little" is not the right word sometimes. I'm frugal most of the time but do realize you have to pay a little more for some things to get things that last. But, I have also been a dumpster diver, again to the shock of my husband. I have to say I was blessed to find him. We are each others opposites sometimes. My weaknesses are his strengths and his weaknesses are my strengths for the most part.

So I'll be getting into almost anything,  but focusing more on backyard homesteading aspects. Right now we live in town on a regular plot of land. I bought this house before we got married and started the whole nesting thing. I'm learning as I go about homesteading and trying to get more self sufficient. I know when people talk self sufficient a lot of people start envisioning a back woodsman living in a shack. But I think that point of view is changing greatly with all kinds of people starting to realize we depend too much on, stores, our government the stock market etc. Things seem to be staying the same or getting worse as far as the recession and I think people are just plugging away and not really grasping how the situation is now.

I think as a society we can do a lot more for ourselves and stop being just consumers. I have started to get a passionate about healthy living and all that it entails. Taking the responsibility for knowing what I put into my body.