Category Archives: DIY

Make Your Own Homemade Flavored Vinegar From Fresh Herbs

Hello Lovelies,

It has been a long time!  Our family has been dealing with some health issues, but God is great! We are healing and on the up and up.  About a month ago, I started drying most all of the herbs that we grew in our garden.  I couldn’t let them to go to waste, but couldn’t use the fresh version up in enough time.  Due to lacking freezer space, I tried another alternative such as making flavored vinegar.  After the herbs were cut down to just stems, the purple basil started regrowing leaves and eventually flowered.  But what I didn’t know, was that you can use the entire plant and make flavored vinegar!  I had heard about it in books and online, but never gave it a try.  It is a great way to use most all of the plant to get the most out of it.  Here is how to make it.

Purple Basil Vinegar

-Cleaned and drained basil leaves and flowers

-Sterilized Mason jar

-White Distilled Vinegar

20170729_190942Fill the bottom of the mason jar with freshly cut leaves and flowers of whatever herb you are wanting.  In this post, it is purple basil.

20170729_191210_001Pour over white distilled vinegar and cover tightly.  Shake gently and put in the refrigerator.  Let it sit in the refrigerator and in two weeks you will have flavored vinegar.  Simply strain the leaves and flowers and keep in the fridge.

20170814_15241520170814_152437

You can make any flavor you’d like with any herb you’d like.  The vinegar has a pretty strong fragrance and can be used in so many recipes for a boost in flavor.  First thought that comes to mind is spaghetti sauce and chicken! Other ways to incorporate vinegar is in sauces, canning, or even in pickled vegetables.  The two pictures to the left and right are what the vinegar looks like after two weeks.  It smells soo good ya’ll!

 

Other Flavorful Ideas

  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemongrass
  • Combinations such as a sprig of rosemary, basil, and oregano

Total Cost:  An estimated .50 cents for the vinegar to fill a quart jar and my 3rd round of basil.  Store bought version on average for flavored vinegar is $5-$6 with no guarantee it is made from fresh herbs.

sig

 

7 Easy Steps to Make Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Fermenting food is a lost art, but gaining momentum recently.  It is one of the original ways of preserving food.  Yet most do not realize that we already eat some fermented foods.  Coffee, olives, and soy sauce to name a few.

Vegetables though, are fantastic when they are fermented.  Why? The nutrition within that vegetable is kept, enhanced, and preserved by the fermentation process.  It allows some of the nutrients to become digestible when they would not be raw.

Natural bacteria produces vitamins and enzymes that are very beneficial for digestion and a variety of other things.  But I am not a doctor or a fermentation expert, so I cannot tell you all it can do, but I can tell you this…PROBIOTICS! The best natural bacteria ever. It is found in supplements and more commonly within yogurt, but eating naturally fermented and or cultured foods, gives the highest level of probiotics and is more beneficial than store bought remedies because of the natural process. Everything is better homemade!

Basic fermentation is nothing more than a brine of filtered water and salt.  We know that salt draws out moisture, but it also aids in the development of lactic acid, the main component of fermentation. One of the easiest foods to get started with is sauerkraut.  It is tangy, vinegary, cabbage goodness that you can put on hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches like hot reubens, or eat on the side.  In my opinion, the homemade version tastes nothing like the stuff in a jar.

Making sauerkraut is ridiculously easy!  Trust me!  It takes less than 10 minutes to start and 4 weeks to finish.  What is easier than that? This recipe is tailored for a quart jar.  A rule of thumb is for every 5lbs of vegetable, you would use 3 tablespoons of salt.  So adjust it according to the vessel you are using.

20170618_152346

Step 1: Take a head of cabbage, any will do, and shred it into bite size pieces.

Step 2: Take 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt and sprinkle over the shredded cabbage.

Step 3: Smoosh, squeeze, squish the cabbage and the salt together. This releases a lot of the natural water within the cabbage itself creating its own brine.

Step 4:  When the cabbage is wilted enough (not smooshed so much that it looks like overcooked cabbage) transfer into a quart glass mason jar.

 

 
Step 5:  With the back of a wooden spoon, pack in the cabbage as tightly as you can! Keep pushing!  Pack it some more.  As you pack the cabbage you are eliminating air bubbles and pushing out all of the water still left within the cabbage.



Step 6: Get a sandwich size ziplock bag and fill a quarter of it with water.  Zip it tight and push into the opening of the mason jar pushing it down over the cabbage.  You should have enough brine on top of the cabbage to completely submerge the cabbage.  Push the baggie into the brine creating a barrier.  This will keep the cabbage submerged so oxygen cannot get in causing it to spoil. Oxygen is the enemy in some fermented foods, sauerkraut is anaerobic.  Meaning without oxygen.

Step 7: Leave the cabbage out of the sun and in dark corner somewhere. As it ferments, more water will be released possibly overflowing your jar, so be sure to check on it frequently.  The process takes about 4 weeks, but if you like the flavor stronger, you can ferment it longer.  Taste as you go and as it ferments because you may like it at 2 weeks.  Some like it at over a month or two.  The longer it sits, the stronger it will be.

After a few days you will start to see bubbles forming and rising to the top of the jar.   The bubbles are releasing carbon dioxide. This is completely normal and proof that it is working.  When the mixture starts getting a little cloudy,  this is what is called lactic acid. It is the main component in this type of fermentation.

Note: Watch out for any mold on the surface as that is caused from oxygen.  Scoop it off and rinse the baggy, and reposition over the cabbage. If a little mold is on top and you can’t get it all, do not worry. It is safe, just mix in the sauerkraut as once it is below the surface it cannot live.  It will die from lack of oxygen.  Too much mold, throw the batch away and start again. This means you didn’t completely submerge the cabbage and mold developed or you went too long before checking it.

Total Cost: $.89 for a head of cabbage.

sig

 

DIY Brick Outdoor Rocket Stove for Less than $50

Hello Lovelies,

One of my favorite places is outdoors!  Cooking outdoors bring a whole new meaning to to the word “cooking”.  There is something so very rewarding about cooking with fire, that you created, and coming up with something yummy that you truly made yourself. What better way to reuse old materials than to build an outdoor rocket stove and the possibilities and design are endless.

Wh14264847_1210957648926211_5468490531987005512_nat is a rocket stove?  It is a structure that is built with a hollow middle that uses combustion and wood to cook. No electricity needed! It costs less than $50 to build including the metal grates (we are in Texas so pricing may vary). You can use any metal grate whether you purchase one to fit the diameter of the stove or just a used grate lying around.

To make your own rocket stove, simply create a base so that it doesn’t destroy your lawn or patio. We used flat cinder blocks, but you can use additional bricks or lay directly on the patio or cement pad if you wish.  Create each row with bricks until the desired height by lining up the bricks in a square. Make sure you leave an opening at the base to feed the wood through or your stove will not work correctly.  The next row, overlap the bricks making it sturdy.  Be sure you do not have a row of seams causing it to become unstable. See picture.  Once your stove is complete, testing begins!

To feed your stove, gather sticks, twigs, branches, or wood and put in the bottom opening.  The easiest way to get the fire started is by using a toilet paper roll filled with used dryer lint.  The best part is, that part is free.  So be sure to keep saving toilet paper rolls and dryer lint! It is highly flammable and will ignite quickly.  Next, put a log or solid piece of wood in the center from the top to create a vacuum and to increase the temperature of the heat.  Once the fire is good and started, you are ready to cook! We did not reinforce the bricks together because we currently rent our home.  It is movable so you can bring it with you or move to another location.  If you desire, you can cement the bricks together to create a more permanent structure. The number one safety rule I cannot stress enough is to make sure your bricks and bonding agent if you choose to make it permanent are fire safe.  

This stove is fantastic for cast iron pans and cooks really well.  It will boil water and cook just about anything.  A little tip:  This is not ideal for holding pressure if you would like to use this for canning.  You would have to build a much bigger stove to generate more constant and consistent heat.

Happy Cooking!

sig

 

DIY Worm Spray Home Remedy For Your Garden

Hello Lovelies,

Worms, pets, gnats, you name it, are quite bothersome and most annoying in a home garden.  After all, it takes effort and planning to garden and is not an easy feat to get rid of what ails it. Pests come and go and there is every chemical on the market to get rid of them.  What is hard to comprehend, is why put a chemical on your garden when if you are like me, your garden is organic and made with homemade compost.  It defeats the purpose.

Most recently, it was discovered that cabbage worms have made their beds among the baby brussel sprout plants.  Here is how to make your own inexpensive “Worm Spray”.

You will need:

  • Small plastic spray bottle (what is shown is travel size)
  • Fish Oil Capsules
  • A pin to pierce the capsules
  • Garlic Water/Juice
  • Water

20170427_084609Take an empty spray bottle and fill 3/4 with water.

With a teaspoon, measure two teaspoons of juice or water from your minced garlic jar. To make a homemade version if you don’t buy jarred garlic, mince a clove of garlic and add water letting it infuse in the fridge for a few days.  That garlic acts as a deterant for the butterfly so they don’t land on the leaves to lay eggs.  Pierce a few fish oil capsules and empty in the bottle. I would highly recommend wearing gloves for this because the fish oil smell lingers on the skin. Yuk! Two liberal applications emptied the spray bottle so there is no waste depending on the size of the area you are spraying.  I had just four plants.

Shake and spray!  It is that easy.  It smelled like fish, but was very effective.  It took about two applications within a week avoiding watering the leaves, but rather let the water run near the stem to not wash off the mixture.  It has been about two weeks and the plants show no signs of new eggs or new worms.  I’m not sure if this remedy will work on all plants.  But for brussel sprouts it worked like a charm.  Cabbage worms seem to love really green veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts.  Best part is most people already have the ingredients in their home making it a very affordable option.

Total cost for this little project was .50 for the travel size spray bottle.

Happy Thursday!

sig

Moveable Raised Garden Bed for Less than $75

Hello Lovelies,

I’m so damn excited to finally have our raised garden bed built! I’ve wanted one for quite some time now and finally got around to doing it. Our soil is very poor where we are and mainly solid clay. After two years of failed in ground attempts, opting for a raised garden bed was the best option. Plus, we moved the garden to another more desirable part of the yard. Our prior garden was in the direct Texan sun for about 12hrs a day and burned everything planted. Now, as the sun sets, a shadow is cast from the house leaving about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. 

We built the bed 4ft x 8 ft out of untreated Cedar wood. Cedar is a good insect repellant. 

You will Need:

  • Six 8′ long 6″ wide boards of any untreated wood (cedar is the more pricey option)
  • Two 2″x 2″ x 8′ boards

Lowes offers wood cutting services to any size. So no need for expensive tools. Yay!

Cut the following measurements:

  • Leave four 8′ x 6″ boards for your long sides. 2 boards on each side so that your long side walls are 12″ high. 
  • Cut two of those same boards to 4′ lengths for the shortest sides and 12″ high. 
  • Cut the 2″ x 2″ 8′ boards in 4′ lengths. 
  • Cut one of the 2″ x 2″ 4′ boards into 1′ pieces. These will be your corner pieces. One piece per corner. 

Take one 2″ x 2″ x 1′ piece, one 4′ board and one 8′ board and screw or nail together making two holes in each board. This will strengthen the corners. Do this to the other three corners to create a box. 

Now do the second level, drilling into each corner 2″ x 2″ x 1′ piece. Now you have a 12″ high 4′ x 8′ raised bed. 

Take two 4′ 2″x 2″ boards and screw in the very middle to make two 4′ x 4′ wide sections. This will stabilize the bed and help prevent bulging sides. 

This took the following to fill 3/4 of the way up:

  • 22 bags of soil
  • 1 bag pebbles
  • 1 bag mulch

Total cost with tax was less than  $75 to build. We chose untreated cedar wood and cut all of the wood for free. We had screws already and chose screws because we are still renting our home.  We can move this later. 

Total build time about 30 minutes with an electric drill. 

We found this to be a much better way to do a raised bed.  A lot of the online kits we looked at were extremely expensive and were flimsy looking or didn’t get rave reviews for being durable. This way, we built ourselves, built it strong, and learned a new skill.