Saturday, December 28, 2013

Balsamic Pot Roast


This pot roast is a savory alternative to traditional pot roast and of course your can make it in your crock pot.


Balsamic Pot Roast

3 pounds beef or venison roast (thawed or frozen)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 potatoes, chopped (keep the skins on)
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place roast into the center of the crock pot. Pour broth, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce over roast.
Place chopped carrots, potatoes and onion around pot roast.
Sprinkle roast with onion powder, garlic powder and pepper.
Cook roast in crock pot on low for 8 hours if thawed. If the roast is frozen, cook in crock pot for 6 hours on high.

Serve the roast by pulling the meat apart and with a side of the vegetables.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from Sustainable Blessings!


In the words of the verses my children had to recite for their Christmas program last night...
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. - John 3:17
Praying that you enjoy many blessings with your friends and family. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

This the easiest crock pot chicken ever! Not only does this chicken taste just like a rotisserie chicken but it is the entire chicken cooked in the crock pot. Yes, the whole chicken!


Crock Pot Chicken:

1 whole chicken, thawed (any size that will fit in your crock pot)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil

Mix together in a small bowl the above spices. Set aside.

Roll several pieces of aluminum foil in small balls and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. (I used 4 balls.)


Rinse chicken and rub with olive oil. Rub the spice mixture all over chicken. (I put some inside the cavity and also under the skin covering the breasts.)

Lay chicken on aluminum foil balls in slow cooker, breast-side down.  Aluminum foil should prevent chicken from actually touching the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cook on high in crock pot for 5 hours.

Adapted from Crockin' Girls.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks Be.

Happy 392nd Thanksgiving!

In 1621, Thanksgiving was a time for prayer and to thank God for the bounteous harvest that sustained the Pilgrims through the winter months. Today, I will be praying that God continues to richly provide for us all with his many blessings. We hope you have a wonderful day enjoying your many blessings.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dryer Sheet Replacement



In the pursuit to eliminate extra chemicals from our environment... I started using just a tin foil ball to soften and eliminate static in our dryer.

This could just be the easiest thing you do to eliminate a list of chemicals and save your family money.

All you need is a piece of brand-new tin foil that is about 2 feet long. Then let your kids crumb it up into a ball. Place the ball in the dryer with the wet clothes and set the dryer as you always do.

DONE!

You can make several of these dryer balls but one will do the trick. It can't get any easier than this!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Nothing says October like pumpkin carving. But do not just throw out those
jack-o-lantern seeds. You can easily roast them for a healthy snack.


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

seeds of one large jack-o-lantern pumpkin (about 2 cups)

Salted Seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Seasoned Seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sweet Cinnamon Seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 325 ° F.
Clean any pumpkin pulp off the seeds. I fill my sink or a large bowl with water and sort the clean seeds into a strainer.
Let the seeds drain most of the water off.
Place seeds into a bowl. Place the ingredients from your selected recipe in the bowl. Stir until well mixed.
Pour seeds onto a parchment paper or foil lined baking pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Remove seeds from pan and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

Additional Activity:
We love to guess the number of seeds that will be in the pumpkin and then count them to see how close our guess was.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Brownies


Healthy brownies? Could it be? Not only is this recipe beyond easy, it eliminates the oil, eggs and butter. And is still delicious.


Pumpkin Brownies

1 - 19.5 ounce box brownie mix
1 - 15 ounce can pumpkin
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, used regular and mini sized)
sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 ° F.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.  In a large bowl, mix together only the powdered brownie mix and pumpkin until combined.  Add chocolate chips if you want.


Spread batter into prepared pan. Add sprinkles at this time if you choose to.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. This recipe does not rise like a cake. So, no you did not do anything wrong.

This recipe makes a fudge type of a brownie. It does not make the cake type of brownie. But it is yummy and you don't feel guilty eating more than one!

Adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff recipe.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Applesauce

Our wonderful neighbors have surely blessed us with the invitation to any fruit from their apple and pear trees. So we filled several bushels!


Applesauce

13 pounds apples (used Granny Smith)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups water

Hot water canner
Large sauce pan or soup pot
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Lifter
Jars, lids, rims
Peeler and Knife / Apple Peeler Corer / Food Mill

Wash apples.

Peel and core apples if you don't have a food mill. You can use an apple peeler corer to make quick work.
Place apples in a very large pot with the water. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Cook on high for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium for 35 minutes. Stirring often. If there are any remaining large pieces of apples remaining, you can use a potato masher to crush them.

Food mill directions: Cut apple into quarters. No need to remove peels or seeds. Yippie!!
Place apples in a very large pot with the water. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Cook on high for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to medium for 35 minutes. Stirring often.
Run apples through a food mill with the apple screen in place. And out comes applesauce.

If you are new to Boiling-Water Bath Canning, I recommend reading my tutorial on this type of canning.

Get your jars ready. Jars should be clean, can run through the dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water. Place funnel on top of the jar and fill with hot applesauce, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims of jars clean with warm wash cloth. Place hot lids on jars and tighten with rims.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars with jar remover carefully. Place hot jars on level surface. I cover my counter top with a double layered kitchen towel and place jars on top. Using a hot pad or glove, check that the rims are tightened.

As the jars cool, you will hear a "ping" when the lid seals. Make sure all of your jars have sealed. They are sealed if the button in the middle of the lid in depressed. If you have any jars that have not sealed, you can reprocess them or store the jar in the refrigerator for use.

Makes 10-11 pints.

Please check with your local extension office for any changes due to altitude for times or temperatures. 

Above instructions are for elevation 1000 feet or below.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

Save some of the heat from your garden by making pickled jalapeño peppers. These spicy additions can add bite to any dish.


Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

40 jalapeños, approximately
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
5 cups vinegar
2 cups water
garlic cloves, 1 clove per half pint jar

Gloves
Hot water canner
Large sauce pan or soup pot
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Lifter
Jars, lids, rims

Chop or slice the jalapeños with gloves on. Let me repeat... wear gloves when cutting jalapeños, as the oil in the peppers will make your hands feels like they are burning. Place jalapeños in jars.  If you include the seeds, the pickled jalapeños will hotter.  Include 1 clove of minced or chopped garlic to each half pint jar.

Get your jars ready. Jars should be clean, can run through the dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water.

In a medium saucepan; bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. This is the brine or the liquid for pickling. Fill jars with hot brine, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

If you are new to Boiling-Water Bath Canning, I recommend reading my tutorial on this type of canning.

Wipe rims of jars clean with warm wash cloth. Place hot lids on jars and tighten with rims.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars with jar remover carefully. Place hot jars on level surface. I cover my counter top with a double layered kitchen towel and place jars on top. Using a hot pad or glove, check that the rims are tightened.

As the jars cool, you will hear a "ping" when the lid seals. Make sure all of your jars have sealed. They are sealed if the button in the middle of the lid in depressed. If you have any jars that have not sealed, you can reprocess them or store the jar in the refrigerator for use.

Makes 9 half pints.

Please check with your local extension office for any changes due to altitude for times or temperatures.
Above instructions are for elevation 1000 feet or below.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Quick Homemade Applesauce

Nothing says fall like the smell of freshly cooked apples. This recipe is so easy that you can make it quickly to be a side with dinner tonight.


Quick Homemade Applesauce:
4 apples (used Granny Smith variety)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/4 c water

Wash your apples. Peel and core apples. Cut apples into small pieces, about 8 pieces per apple. Or you can use an apple corer for quick work. We have a Norpro apple peeler / corer, that works great.

Place apples into a large microwavable bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon and water. Stir apple mixture.
Microwave covered for 5 minutes on high. Stir and microwave covered another 5 minutes.
Stir applesauce one more time. No need to mash as the apples should not be chunky.

Makes about 6 servings.

I think this applesauce tastes like warm apple pie filling. Who wouldn't love dessert as a side dish with dinner?

Coming up will be my recipe for canning Applesauce. Yum!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back Yard Wildlife

One of the many reasons we purchased our house was the yard. Our yard is a great mix of mostly wooded, some sun and is positioned on a river. We have been blessed with a wide variety of Wisconsin wildlife. Here is a glimpse at what we can find in our yard.

White Tailed Deer Fawn
Great Horned Owl
Cardinal
Broad-Billed Hummingbird - Female
Monarch Butterfly
Cottontail Rabbit
The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.  - Isaiah 43:20-21

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mulberry Syrup

After discovering a mulberry tree in our yard, I have pounds of mulberries that need a use. There is only so much jam you can make and eat. One alternative to using up these berries is homemade berry syrup.


Mulberry Syrup:
6 cups mulberry juice, or any berry juice of your choice
9 cups sugar

Hot water canner
Large sauce pan or soup pot
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Lifter
Jars, lids, rims

Send berries through a food mill to remove seeds and excess pulp. The type of berry you choose will depend on the amount of juice you get. For example the mulberry has a lot of pulp and seed versus the strawberry that does not.

Combine mulberry juice and sugar in large sauce pot. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Skim foam off the syrup and discard.

If you are new to Boiling-Water Bath Canning, I recommend reading my tutorial on this type of canning.

Remove from heat and fill jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Wipe rims of jars clean with warm wash cloth. Place lids on jars and tighten with rims.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars with jar remover carefully. Place hot jars on level surface. I cover my counter top with a double layered kitchen towel and place jars on top. Using a hot pad or glove, check that the rims are tightened.

As the jars cool, you will hear a "ping" when the lid seals. Make sure all of your jars have sealed. They are sealed if the button in the middle of the lid in depressed. If you have any jars that have not sealed, you can reprocess them or store the jar in the refrigerator for use.

Makes about 6-7 pints.
Please check with your local extension office for any changes due to altitude for times or temperatures. Above instructions are for elevation 1000 feet or below.

Looking for a great sturdy food mill? I love my Squeezo Strainer / Food Mill.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Deadheading in the Garden

As summer winds down, the yard clean up begins. After your beautiful blooms are done your garden is left with spent flowers. Here is a how-to for rejuvenating your plants.


Deadheading... is not what you think it is in the gardening world. But you can rock out to the Grateful Dead and wear tie dye in the garden if you want to. Deadheading in the garden and yard is removing those unattractive spent flowers. Not only will this make your garden appear neater but it helps to strengthen the plant also.

Almost all annuals and some perennials will continue to bloom if the plant is deadheaded.

Daylilly, Columbine and Echinacea.
 
Deadheading can be done by pruning the ended flowers or even by pinching them off with your fingers. Or my favorite method is to let the stem dry out and just snap or pull the stem out of the plant. For plants with a lot of tiny flowers it is easier to deadhead by cutting back the whole plant. If the stem of the flower has leaves on it, try to prune it back so the cut stem is hidden by the rest of the plant. If the stem has no leaves on it like a Daylily, then trim the whole stem to the ground.

You definitely do not have to deadhead your plants. Your garden should be unique just like you are. Columbine is a great plant that if you let go to seed, there will be more plants next year to love. Then you can just move the new baby plant to another area or let the plant fill the planting bed more. I love leaving the Echinacea for the birds to snack on in the winter and the seeds that drop to the ground just make new plants in the spring. Whatever you preference your garden is a labor of love, so just make it your own.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Late Summer Harvest

It’s late August and back-to-school time is upon us, so we decided to escape the pressures of shopping and head out to the garden to see what’s ready for picking.

The kids learned a lot about gardening and responsibility this summer, so it made us really happy to see them enjoy the fruits of their labor (and ours)!


Looks like the Sugar Daddy snap peas are coming to an end for the season. And yes… we up-cycled an old mattress frame as our trellis. It was free and worked great!



Picking snap beans is a lot easier when you have four sets of hands. This is our second harvest through these plants and we hope to get several more. There’s plenty of blossoms and young beans out there.











“Hey dad… beat this one!”























We were happy with how well our sweet corn variety turned out. This particular variety seemed to have two suckers on some plants. This is common in sweet corn and won’t affect the plant’s yield.















According to Iowa State University, suckers are common on some sweet corn varieties and should be left alone. Another recent study showed that with the right fertilization, these little guys actually benefit the yield, but if removed, can negatively impact yield.

Crazy huh? So put down those knives!

Also, stay tuned for an upcoming post on the benefits of Compost Tea to maximize the yield potential of your crop.

We also learned that standard sweet corn cultivars may lose 50 percent of their sugar within 12 hours of harvest if not refrigerated. So get those guys from field to fridge as quickly as you can.




Unhusked sweet corn can be stored in the refrigerator at 32° F for 4 to 8 days. New high sugar varieties are slower to convert sugar to starch and may be harvested over a longer period of time. The high sugar types also have a longer storage life. Sweet corn may be canned or frozen for year-round use.

This information and more (such as growing baby corn for salads) is available in this free PDF Iowa State University Horticulture Guide – Home Gardening Sweet Corn. We love the simplicity of the research they shared. After all, these guys know their corn!


And finally… our youngest was thrilled that our watermelon plants are coming along nicely as well. This is just one of the 15 melons we have so far. Grow baby, grow!

The kids have been naming each melon, but I think we’ll need to come up with something better for this one. “Fatty-bo-batty” simply won’t due.

As we left the garden, we made one last check to ensure that the electric fence was re-hooked up properly… oh, no need. Rufus our guard dog was having a heart-to-heart with his big watermelon-eating brother Chester.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Marinara Pasta Bake


This recipe is a great way to have a meatless meal and be frugal. And it is easy easy!


Marinara Pasta Bake

1 pound pasta of your choice (used radiatore)
1 quart jar of Sweet Spaghetti Sauce or tomato based sauce of your choice
2 cups mozzarella or Italian blend cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese 
parsley
optional fillings: 1 cup cottage cheese, spinach, onions, green peppers

Preheat oven to 400 ° F.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Cook until al dente (the lower time suggestion) and drain. Pour pasta in 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Combine pasta with Sweet Spaghetti Sauce, stir well. Mix in any optional filling at this time.
Top with shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese starts to lightly brown.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cream of Asparagus Soup

This soup is your answer to your garden's asparagus. It is wonderfully creamy and easy to make. 


Cream of Asparagus Soup

3 cups asparagus, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
6 tablespoons milk or cream
Salt
Pepper
Combine chicken broth, butter, asparagus, garlic powder and onions in a stock pot; cook over medium heat until onion is tender.
Add milk or cream. Use a submersion blender to blend the soup smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with croutons and shredded cheese if desired. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finding Contentment



My husband and I were just discussing whether or not to sell our slowly dying car or "ride it out" a little longer. This discussion happened on the way to church.

During one of the lessons at church this Bible verse was read:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  - Philippians 4:12-13
As if a ton of bricks hit me, I realized once again how God truly blesses us. He provides for our needs and according to his own plan, some of the wants as well. The hardest part is trusting that he's in control.

I was ready to go out a buy a car that day but my husband was not. These words spoke to us, told us to carefully consider what God has placed us as stewards of. So at this time we are saving as much money as we can for the new-to-us car and considering our options for selling the car to get the most benefits from what we have.

"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need."
- The Rolling Stones

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Homemade mashed potatoes are easier than you think. The taste is incomparable to instant potatoes. Make this easy recipe for your next family gathering.


Homemade Mashed Potatoes:

6 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 11 medium sized potatoes)
1/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Optional Add-Ins:
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced and cooked
1/2 cup yellow or white onion, diced fine and cooked
4 ounces cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Optional Toppings:
shredded cheese
crispy bacon, broken into small pieces
sour cream
diced chives

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and continue to heat for 25 minutes at a rolling boil. Strain potatoes and return to pan. Mash potatoes with potato masher or fork. Add butter to potatoes, stir until melted and combined. Add any add ins at this point. Pour in milk and whip vigorously.
Add any toppings and enjoy! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

We love watching the hummingbirds. We placed our feeder right by our kitchen window so we can watch them as we eat.

Mr. Hummingbird is feeding at the back station. Hello.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

4 cups water
1 cup sugar

  • Bring water to a boil in medium sized saucepan.
  • Add sugar to boiling water and remove from heat.
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Let cool.
  • Fill the hummingbird feeder or place in container. 

Store unused mixture in the refrigerator, but use within 1 week.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mulberry - Rhubarb Jam

God has surely blessed us. Both the rhubarb and the mulberries were growing at our property when we moved. I love this jam even more for what we were provided with. And... It is delicious too!

Mulberry - Rhubarb Jam:
Hot water canner
Large sauce pan or soup pot
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Lifter
Jars, lids, rims

Liquid pectin version:
5 cups mulberries
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup water
12 cups sugar (yes, you read right!)
2 pouches liquid pectin

Combine mulberries and rhubarb in large sauce pot. Smash the mulberries and rhubarb, we use a potato smasher for this.
Add water and sugar.
Bring to a full rolling boil.
Add liquid pectin and stirring constantly bring back to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and fill jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.


Wipe rims of jars clean with warm wash cloth. Place lids on jars and tighten with rims.

If you are new to Boiling-Water Bath Canning, I recommend reading my tutorial on this type of canning.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars with jar remover carefully. Place hot jars on level surface. I cover my counter top with a double layered kitchen towel and place jars on top. Using a hot pad or glove, check that the rims are tightened.

As the jars cool, you will hear a "ping" when the lid seals. Make sure all of your jars have sealed. They are sealed if the button in the middle of the lid in depressed. If you have any jars that have not sealed, you can reprocess them or store the jar in the refrigerator for use.

Makes about 12 half pints.
Please check with your local extension office for any changes due to altitude for times or temperatures. Above instructions are for elevation 1000 feet or below.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Harvesting Mulberries

Much to our surprise we found not one but two mulberry trees on our property. We have lived in our house almost three years! These trees are over 30 feet tall which can make harvesting difficult. Here are out tips to get most mulberries off the tree and into your kitchen.


Make sure the mulberries are ready. Our trees are black mulberry trees, so the fruit is dark purple when ready to be harvested.


Get a old clean sheet, tarp, or plastic drop cloth. We used an old flat sheet. We tried the tarp method but thought the sheet was a softer landing for the berries. If you use cloth make sure you don't mind it getting stained. The mulberries will leave some dark purple stains on your sheet.

Spread out the sheet under the tree or bush.

Now this is the fun part! Shake the branches directly over the sheet. All the ripe berries just fall off and onto your sheet! We also used a 6 foot ladder to reach some of the higher branches.


Gather the corners of the sheet and slide all the berries into the middle. Then gently slide the pile of berries to the edge of the sheet and pour the berries into a large bowl.

Repeat the process going around the remainder of the tree or bush.

Be sure to sort and wash your berries. You will get some small twigs and leaves with this harvesting process.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Roasted Chick Peas


Roasted chick peas are a healthy way to satisfy your need for a crunchy snack. Our whole family was munching on them today. They are high in fiber and have the same texture as nuts but much cheaper!


Roasted Chick Peas

1 can (15.5 ounces) chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 ° F. 
Drain the chick peas and rinse.
In a small bowl; mix together the chick peas, olive oil, seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper.
Spread mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. For easy clean up you could line baking sheet with foil.
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes.

Be creative with your seasonings: think Cajan, Italian, Indian.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Freezing Rhubarb

One of the most rewarding things about summer is enjoying what you have grown. Currently my rhubarb has been harvested but there is barely a strawberry in site to make Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. So here is my tutorial on how to enjoy your rhubarb harvest throughout the year (when the strawberries are ready to be picked).



Here is what you will need:

rhubarb
knife
cutting board
plastic freezer bags

Remove the leaves from the stalks by pulling off or cutting. The leaves of rhubarb contain Oxalic Acid which is poisonous and should never be consumed. The leaves are safe to be placed in the compost bin.
Wash rhubarb stalks with your preferred method of cleaning fruits and vegetables.
Some varieties of rhubarb have a tough outer skin that should be peeled off at this point. This skin comes off easily.
Chop rhubarb into small (amount 1/2 inch) pieces.
Measure rhubarb out by the cup.

Place the desired amount of rhubarb into plastic bags. Try to remove as much of the air from the bag prior to freezing.


Label with name, amount of rhubarb and date.
Lay flat in freezer until frozen then can be stored standing up if needed.




Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Homemade Ketchup

I found myself over hauling our condiments in an effort to remove high fructose corn syrup and hopefully all corn syrup from our diets. I recently bought a bottle of "natural" ketchup without high fructose corn syrup for over 4 dollars a bottle for 32 ounces. I thought "I know I can make this and cheaper."

 

Ketchup

13 1/2 cups tomatoes or 111 oz can of tomatoes (sauce, pureed or diced)
3 - 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup salt
1 cup sugar or honey
1 onion chopped
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
additional optional spices: allspice, mustard seed, cinnamon, celery seed

Hot water canner
Large sauce pan or soup pot
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Lifter
Jars, lids, rims
Blender or Immersion Blender
Pour tomatoes to large sauce pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in tomato paste, salt, sugar or honey, onion, vinegar, paprika, and mustard. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove the mixture from heat.
Blend sauce with immersion blender or place hot sauce in blender until smooth.

If you are new to Boiling-Water Bath Canning, I recommend reading my tutorial on this type of canning.

Get your jars ready. Jars should be clean, can run through the dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water. Place funnel on top of jar and fill leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims of jars clean with warm wash cloth. Place lids on jars and tighten with rims.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 30 minutes. Remove jars with jar remover carefully. Place hot jars on level surface. I cover my counter top with a double layered kitchen towel and place jars on top.Using a hot pad or glove, check that the rims are tightened.

As the jars cool, you will hear a "ping" when the lid seals. Make sure all of your jars have sealed. They are sealed if the button in the middle of the lid in depressed. If you have any jars that have not sealed, you can reprocess them or store the jar in the refrigerator for use.

Makes 10 pints or 5 quarts.

You can buy a large can of tomatoes at any warehouse store or check your grocery aisle for bulk foods.

Please check with your local extension office for any changes due to altitude for times or temperatures. 
Above instructions are for elevation 1000 feet or below.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Harvesting Rhubarb

Just like anything you grow in the garden, harvesting at the right time and the right way will go a long way. Rhubarb is not only easy to grow but extremely easy to harvest.


Rhubarb is a plant that provides you a great harvest without a lot of work. But you do need to be patient and here are some do's and dont's before eating this tangy plant.

Do not harvest your rhubarb the first year, give it time to establish a strong root system. The second year you can pick only a few stalks (stick to 2 larger stalks per plant.) But come the third year... it is harvest time!

The best time to harvest rhubarb is late spring all the way through summer.

To select a stalk for harvesting, look for one that is dark pink to maroon in color. The stalk should be 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter and firm.

To harvest rhubarb all you need is your hands. Hold the stalk as close to the ground as you can and gently twist the stalk until it is broken free. This twisting method of harvesting triggers the plant's roots to grow more. Never cut the stalk from the plant as you won't be encouraging future growth.

Continue to harvest the larger stalks until you have harvested only about 1/3 of the plant. Limiting your harvest will avoid shocking and stressing the plant.

Remove any flowering stalks from the plant. By doing this you re-focus the plants energy back to the root system.


Remove the leaves from the stalks by pulling off or cutting. The leaves of rhubarb contain Oxalic Acid which is poisonous and should never be consumed by you or your animals. The leaves are safe to be placed in the compost bin.


Watch for some tips on preserving and tasty recipes coming in the near future!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

English Muffin Bread


This bread is not only super easy to make but it really holds true to its name. The inside of the bread is perfectly moist just like English muffins.


English Muffin Bread
makes 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups warm water
3 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 Tablespoons salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar (or raw sugar)
5 1/2 cups flour (used 2 cups whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 bread flour)

By hand mixing method:
Mix together all ingredients in a stand mixer or by hand with a spoon. Cover bowl with a cloth and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled (skip this step if using rapid rise yeast).

Bread machine mixing method:
Place all the ingredients in the bread machine. Turn the bread machine on the dough setting. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Remove dough at this point if it has doubled in size.

Punch down and spoon dough into two well-greased loaf pans (dough will be extremely sticky). Let dough rise again in pans until it reaches the top of the pans, took about 20 - 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 ° F for 40 - 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven. Brush with butter if you would like.
Cool completely before cutting. Best served warm or toasted with butter and jam/jelly or honey.

To freeze: Let loaf cool completely. Put in an airtight plastic freezer bag and place in freezer for up to six weeks.

To thaw: Take loaf out of the freezer and allow to thaw for at least 3 hours prior to use.

Recipe adapted from Money Saving Mom.

Friday, May 24, 2013

S'more Bars


Are you looking for "that" dessert recipe to bring to your next gathering? Look no further.
Under no circumstances are you to make these and without the knowing that these are incredibly fabulous and you will eat more than one! My husband actually was going to get out of bed the other night just to eat another one.


S'more Bars
Crust:
1 1/2 cups honey graham crackers, crushed (one sleeve)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows (a little more marshmallow... sure)
3/4 bag chocolate chips
1 Hershey Bar

Preheat oven to 350 ° F.  Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and 3/4 sugar.  Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cream butter, shortening, sugar and brown sugar together.  Blend in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in flour, salt and baking soda.  By hand mix in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Spread over the graham cracker crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Top with broken pieces of Hershey Bars.  Return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Recipe adapted from  The Hungry Runner Girl

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dandelion Jelly

Surprisingly, this unique recipe creates a delicious golden jelly that tastes very similar to honey.


Dandelion Jelly
Scissors
Hot water canner
Large sauce pan or soup pot
Ladle
Funnel
Jar Lifter
Jars, lids, rims

First you need Dandelions. Actually you only need the yellow part of the Dandelion so just pick the blossom off.
Next, snip off the green base so you only have the yellow petals remaining. You could also try twisting the petals out of the base, but I found the scissor method easier and faster. If you have a few pieces of green mixed in, it is just fine. You need to have about 4 cups of petals.
Place petals in a saucepan. Pour 3 cups boiling water over the petals and stir. Let mixture sit for at least 8 hours. You are brewing the dandelion tea. The end result is brown-yellow in color.
Strain the tea through a coffee filter or wire strainer to remove all the petals. Add any additional water to measure the correct amount for your selected version of the recipe.

Powdered pectin version:
3 cups dandelion tea
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 box powdered pectin

Add dandelion tea, lemon juice, 1 box of pectin and sugar into large saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue boiling 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and fill jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Liquid pectin version:
3 1/2 cups dandelion tea
7 cups sugar (yes, you read right!)
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 pouches liquid pectin

Combine dandelion tea, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add liquid pectin and stirring constantly bring back to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and fill jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Wipe rims of jars clean with warm wash cloth. Place lids on jars and tighten with rims.

If you are new to Boiling-Water Bath Canning, I recommend reading my tutorial on this type of canning.

Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars with jar remover carefully. Place hot jars on level surface. I cover my counter top with a double layered kitchen towel and place jars on top. Using a hot pad or glove, check that the rims are tightened.

As the jars cool, you will hear a "ping" when the lid seals. Make sure all of your jars have sealed. They are sealed if the button in the middle of the lid in depressed. If you have any jars that have not sealed, you can reprocess them or store the jar in the refrigerator for use.

Makes about 8 half pints.

Please check with your local extension office for any changes due to altitude for times or temperatures. Above instructions are for elevation 1000 feet or below.

Recipe adapted from Simply Canning.
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

How To: Plant Outside

You may be thinking that it can't be too hard to plant a plant. There are a few tips that can make your purchase, transplant or gift last and thrive.


Know what you are planting. Each plant has it preferred climate, soil and sun exposure preference. Often times these details are located on the plants marker. This will help guide you to where you should place the plant.

  1. Using a spade shovel, remove any grass or mulch from the surface of your location. Dig a hole that is 2 times bigger in diameter and depth then the container the plant is in. By digging a bigger hole you are breaking up the compacted soil around the roots and they can grow outward easier. Place the soil removed off to one side of the hole.
  2.  You can mix in compost to the removed soil at this time if you wish. This will add nutrients to the plant.
  3. Gently squeeze the plants container if possible. Hold the container upside down with one hand and place your other hand at the base of the plant. Gently pull the container off the plant. 
  4. Gently break up the roots if root bound.                                                                                         
  5. Center the plant in the dug hole. Check that the surface of the plants soil matches the surface of the ground. You will need to add some soil back into the hole until it is level. You can lay a piece of wood or the handle of the shovel across the hole to check this.
  6. Fill the the soil surrounding the root ball. Push down on the soil surrounding the plant to remove any air bubbles.
  7. Water the plant thoroughly. Slowly add water to the base of the plant until the water pools on the surface of the soil and does not absorb with in seconds. 
  8. Replace any mulch to the surrounding area of the plant. Remove the excess soil and grass from the area. 
Stand back and enjoy!!

Any extra soil could go into your compost pile.
Any extra grass could be add to a bare spot in the lawn.
Continue to water your newly planted plant daily for the next week. Then weekly for the remainder of the planting season for the first year.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Freezing Spinach


Just recently I got a great deal on a few bags of spinach from Aldi's but we can't eat that much spinach in a few days. So I decided to freezing the spinach for my next lasagna or quiche.

Here is what you will need:

Spinach
large pot
large bowl
slotted spoon
strainer (wire is prefered)
water
ice
plastic freezer bags

Wash spinach leaves.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Place next to stove if possible.
When the water is boiling, put 3 large handfuls of clean spinach leaves or a large store-bought bag into the boiling water. Keep them submerged for about 15 seconds.
With a slotted spoon, remove the spinach from the boiling water, and place spinach into the ice water. Keep submerged in ice water for about 10 seconds.
Drain spinach into strainer or colander. Press spinach down into the colander to remove additional water.


Place spinach into plastic bags.
Label with name and date.
Lay flat in freezer until frozen then can be stored standing up if needed.