Category Archives: Frugal Living

It’s Flu Season! How to Make Homemade Herbal Cough Drops

Hello Lovelies,

It has been some time!  I very much missed writing, but after all of the holiday chaos, we now have all had the flu.  One by one we were attacked by sickness.  We battled the dreadful flu by using herbal medicine and herbal remedies.  One of the ways we dealt with the annoying and never ending cough is with homemade cough drops.  These drops are so yummy and super easy easy to make.  They contain natural properties that quickly suppress the urge to cough and soothe inflammation in the throat.  Combined with other remedies, the bulk of the flu only lasted about 3 days for each of us.   Don’t get me wrong, we have residual symptoms still, but the heart of it didn’t last long.

You Will Need:

  • 1 tbs Peppermint Leaf
  • 1 tbs Chamomile
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbs Ginger Root
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Raw Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Tapioca flour or Cornstarch

You can use teabags if you don’t want to spend additional money by buying loose leaf.  Just simply break them open.  The ginger root you can substitute with ground ginger, just be sure to use a little less as it can be very potent.  In my opinion, using grocery store, cheap honey isn’t a big deal because this mixture will be cooked and heated.  Any good properties in the honey will be killed during the cooking process.  So why waste the money?

Combine the peppermint leaf, chamomile, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl with 3/4 boiling water.  Steep for 10-20 minutes making it a medicinal infusion versus what one would consider a light tea.

img_1374Strain and pour the infusion into a small pot.  Add 3/4 cup of raw local honey and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Do not stop stirring or the mixture will burn.  This is not yummy.  I used a laser thermometer but you can certainly use a candy thermometer.  Basically, you are caramelizing the honey and making it into candy.  Bring this mixture up to 300 degrees while stirring the entire time.  A whisk works perfectly.  As the temperature increases, the mixture will thicken and get darker. Once the mixture reaches 300 degrees, pull it off the heat and let cool for a few minutes stirring occasionally.  It will resemble warm caramel.  As it cools it will resemble warm taffy.

Lay out a piece of parchment paper and drop dollops of the mixture and let cool slightly.  You still want them pliable as you want to roll them into balls.  In a plastic container, add 1/2 tsp of Tapioca flour or Cornstarch and roll the cough drops in the flour to avoid sticking.  This will also keep moisture away from the drops.  As they cool, they harden.  Store in an air tight container and use as needed.

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They taste like a strong caramel and really strong honey.  They will keep as long as stored in a cool dry place completely sealed.  You can experiment with different herbs, but this recipe for my family works the best and it was what I had on hand.  We try to be as natural as possible staying away from processed sugars and synthetic chemicals.  Especially when you are fighting an invader in your body, why would you add something that is practically the same thing back in?

 

Each ingredient serves a purpose.  Ginger is very warming to the body and great if you have chills while peppermint has a numbing effect.  It helps with that aching body feeling and can really help break up mucus and phlegm. Chamomile boosts the immune system while relaxing the body from all of the work it is doing to heal itself.

Time to Make:  About 30 minutes 

What are you doing to combat the flu?

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A Powerhouse, Nutrient Rich Carrot Soup

Hello Lovelies,

With Fall in full swing and temperatures dropping fast, we have embarked upon…Soup Season! Yummy, delicious, warming, thick, creamy, good for the soul soups.  I had numerous carrots in the fridge that needed to be used and I already have plenty of canned chunky carrots.  I canned 11 lbs last year and truly do not need anymore.  With all of the homemade broth we make, carrots are still a staple on our grocery list.  Even with all of the planning in the world, somehow we always end up with something leftover, something missed, or something forgotten. Seeming there was a good bunch of carrots left and I was getting the itch for some soup, what better way to use them up than putting the two together.  I did can this recipe for use throughout the winter season and got about 5 pints and 1 half pint plus our dinner.  This recipe is absolutely delicious!

You will need:

  • A bunch of washed carrots with skins on, chopped in chunks
  • Water
  • A small bunch of celery
  • A few garlic gloves minced
  • 1 Large diced onion
  • Butter
  • Chicken bouillion
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Stick blender or regular blender

Wash the carrots thoroughly and keep the skins on.  In the skin there are an enormous amount of good vitamins and medicinal properties, so we don’t want to throw that way. Dice the carrots into chunks. This soup simmers for about 30-40 minutes so thicker chunks are perfectly fine as you will puree them later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large pot, combine carrots and water as well as the rest of your ingredients.  Spices and herbs are purely on personal taste and I rarely use measurements.  Be sure to taste as you go and remember that the taste will change as the soup simmers.  Flavors will develop and mingle creating a very nice rich, slightly spicy flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

The herbs and spices within this soup were chosen on purpose.  Fall and Winter seasons come with nasty colds and the dreaded flu.  By using certain herbs and spices, you can create a powerhouse soup that has many health benefits further aiding your symptoms.

  • Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Red pepper flakes are full of capsaicin and have strong analgesic, and pain-relieving qualities and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Garlic can combat the common cold and boosts the immune system.  It is very rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
  • Ginger is very good for helping with nausea, reducing muscle pain and soreness, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Carrot is full of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.
  • Rosemary can aid in bad breath, stimulates blood flow, anti-inflammatory, and is slightly diuretic.

Much of this information is available online and is much more in depth.  I’m not a healthcare professional, but in our homestead we do use foods for their benefit. Always, as with anything, do your own research.

After your soup has simmered, let it cool.  It was still warm to the touch when it was pureed because we use a stick blender.  If you are using a glass blender, please let it cool down completely.  Blending hot food can pop the top of the blender and you will get a nice carrot facial.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Some add milk or cream, but it truly isn’t needed because this soup is very creamy on its own.  Milk or any dairy causes phlegm and mucus and defeats the purpose of this soup.  If you choose to can this soup, process at for 20 minutes for pints with a pressure canner.

Total Cost: A bag of carrots $.99 plus pantry staples for a small batch.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

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How to Make a Chaste Berry Tincture

Hello Lovelies,

DISCLAIMER:  I have a few male readers, so if you are male, this post isn’t for you.  Sorry guys 😉

Often times women have female issues, whether it be balancing, or even some support.   In researching, I have found the amazing Chaste Berry.  It is said to be great for PMS, PMDD, PCOS, and numerous other ailments and symptoms.  Chase Berry goes by a few names, but one common name is Vitex, which is popular among those trying to conceive.  I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional, so please do some research before trying. In my case, I bought the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine which you can find on Amazon. It is a fantastic book and very informative!

Per the American Family Physician website at www.aafp.org,  Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), or monk’s pepper, is the fruit of the chaste tree. It is native to western Asia and southwestern Europe, and is now common in the southeastern United States.  It has been used for more than 2,500 years to treat a variety of conditions. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, it was used for many gynecologic conditions.

With our homesteading venture, we have made many changes to how we live and heal ourselves.  People often tackle a few changes but are those changes really worth the trouble if you only change a few things?  It is like exercising everyday expecting big results and not changing your diet.  It is counter intuitive. Recently, we have made the decision to add Herbalism to our skill set.  An act of producing your own medicine for common ailments such as colds, flu, burns, and wounds to name a few.

Out of all of the ways to use Chaste Berry, I chose to make a tincture.  An herbal extract of the berry.  Chaste Berry tinctures do not work overnight.  They must be taken over a period of time.  A tincture is an alcoholic infusion which extracts medicinal properties of plants, herbs, roots, berries, and flowers, basically the entire plant. Any part of that plant can be used and may be used for different uses.

Here is what you will need:

  • Glass pint jar with a lid
  • Whole Organic Dried Chaste Berry
  • 90 or 100 Proof Vodka (some use Brandy)

With a mortar and pestal, grind the berries coarsely to expose as much surface area as you can.  This makes sure that all of the goodness of the berry is extracted. Fill the jar half way with the berries and fill the jar up with Vodka.  As it sits, you may have to top off with more Vodka because the berries will reconstitute and absorb the alcohol.

 

Shake well and store in a cool, dark place upside down. Let sit for 2-3 weeks, then strain the berries.  Put the berries in a food processor and puree them.  This ensures that you are getting every possible property out of the berry.  Add back in your jar and let sit for another 2-3 weeks.  Then strain and compost the berries.  For my own purposes, I use 1 tbs twice a day in the morning and at night.

Herbs, berries, and roots can be found at the Bulk Herb Store or any natural health store.  I am not sponsored in any way, this is where I got a lot of the herbs and berries that we use. In natural food stores, I found they were kept over by the bulk spice section and not within the supplement section.

Total Cost:  Estimated $6.25

For the books I have purchased and the many methods of herbal extraction please visit the Herbalism Page.

Quick, Cheap, & Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Hello Lovelies,

Tonight, I wanted something different.  And by different I mean something Babydoll won’t eat.  He is very anti mushrooms and well…I love them!  I had some large caps that needed to be eaten so I decided on the fly to make stuffed mushrooms.  They were absolutely delish! You can use whatever ingredients you wish.  This dish is completely versatile so use what you have and improvise!

You Will Need:

-2 good size Portobello mushroom caps

-1/4 cup chive cream cheese

-2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

-1 tsp minced garlic

-1 piece of toasted bread (in my case leftover grilled burger buns)

-1 tsp butter

-Seasonings to taste (I used thyme and rosemary)

-Salt and pepper

In a small pan, drizzle a little olive oil.  Saute herbs and garlic until browned lightly.  Add a small pat of butter with a splash of water and scrape the bottom of the pan getting all those herbs to release their oils.  Add toasted bread in small pieces and stir until all the oil and butter is soaked in the bread mixture.  Lastly, dice the stems of the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two.  I waste nothing so I add stems.  It is good flavor! 

In a baking dish, spray with PAM or coat with oil so the mushrooms do not stick.  Fill each cap with your bread mixture and spread evenly.  

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and Parmesan. Mix to combine.  Spread cheese mixture over the bread mixture and top with a sprinkle of more Parmesan.

Be sure to put a splash of water on the bottom of the baking dish so the mushrooms become tender. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

This was so yummy and took less than 25 minutes to make.  It is great way to use what’s left in the fridge and play with different flavors.  I have a lot of freshly dehydrated herbs from my garden, so I used rosemary and thyme.  You can mix up different herbs and use different flavored cream cheeses to make a unique variation of stuffed mushrooms every time.  My caps were rather large so cooking times will vary. When you don’t really feel like cooking a huge meal, this is perfect.  It is a great meat substitute and cooks rather quickly.

This serves two people.

Enjoy!

Fall Madness, Projects, and Cleanup

Hello Lovelies,

I haven’t written in what feels like an eternity!  A lot has been going on here at our little homestead and a few projects are in full swing.  I’m pretty much the only one who does most of our homesteading and among daily research, I’m always adding to the “to do” list.  Needless to say, Babydoll has been a trooper!  Did I mention that I work a 9-5 job too?? Amidst all of the chaos, Fall is here!  I love everything about Fall and even though Texas doesn’t have the beautifully colored leaves or the crisp, fireplace aroma in the air, I’ve come to enjoy the little things. From the seasonal food, the Yankee Candles I have an addiction too, down to the way the air smells.  Being born and raised in New England, I love the smallest things about the season and it just makes me happy.  It also makes the perfect season for projects!

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So much has changed over the past month or two.  Babydoll changed jobs and went back into the oilfield. After all, we have a future homestead to save for! With this decision, some big projects were left on hold.  I don’t think I will ever get used to him being away for weeks on end, but that is the life we chose.  For the first time in our lives, we have goals.  Those goals are at the forefront of our minds in everything we set out to do and or purchase.  Having that common ground is what makes a homestead successful.  Many times you hear about families that homestead where it is very one-sided.  We have been blessed with a common mindset and it makes things much easier.  With more free time on my part lately,  many projects are able to get started nonetheless.

The Garden: The garden needed some attention such as harvesting, getting plants to grow, weeding, and transitioning from Summer to Fall plantings. The garden was coming along perfect when all of a sudden, we had no more fruit! It was as if “POOF!” they were gone. With a fenced in backyard, I couldn’t figure out what was eating them.  It ended up being squirrels and baby rabbits. We came up with a quick remedy of stapling chicken wire around the perimeter of the raised bed and covering the top with a bird cover mesh.  This did the trick nicely although made it tricky to harvest and weed.  After tackling this twice, it finally worked and we now have fruit! Now if only the butterflies would leave my brussel sprouts alone.

Harvest: Our harvest was much smaller than anticipated, but when compared to all of our mistakes in the past, we finally have more of a grasp on it.  Jalapenos and green bell peppers were what we got the most of.  Our tomato plants were falling over and really big, however didn’t produce much because by the time we caged the bed, it was already September.  Besides cooking with our harvest and the fact that it was small, we also made flavored vinegar’s, as well as used other techniques such as pickling, fermenting and dehydrating.

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Greenhouse: We desperately needed a greenhouse not only for seed starting, but to grow plants over the winter in an effort to grow year round.  In Texas, summers are hot and winters are cold, but they are still doable.  In researching greenhouses, we definitely have one in mind for our future homestead, but for now we’ve decided to opt for a smaller one in the meantime.  It wasn’t that expensive at around $30 shipped, so it was affordable because we are still learning.  We then needed to create a space for seed starting and growing winter plants.  To do this, we reused what we already had.  This is the best kind of shopping and saves a ton of money.  Reusing things such as tables and bins, made it easy to create a potting table and an old bin now used for amending soil.  Our seed order has been placed  from Baker Creek and now we wait.  I apologize for the dark pictures.  They were taken inside of a garage, but you get the idea.

Compost: Our compost that was started late last year and is just about broken down.  We used grass clippings, shredded paper from our shredder, and kitchen scraps such as food, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  It is such a beautiful dark brown color.  This will help get seeds get started for spring.  A new bin has been started and will take another year to break down.  We just don’t have the space to create the compost pile we are hoping for, but this does the trick.

Cooking:  Food storage has been on the agenda most of this year.  Buying in bulk, growing what we can, and saving what we can , further enabled us to grow our canned food stock.  This year, we added fermented food like Kombucha, sour dough starter, vinegar, carrots, pickles, and sauerkraut.  We are still not where we need to be, but next year will be even more than this year.

It has been quite a busy start to the season and so much more to accomplish with the holidays coming.  It feel like an endless process, but it is so very rewarding.

What goals and projects have you set for Fall?  I’d love to hear about what you have going.  Inspire me! and who knows, you may inspire someone else!

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