Category Archives: Preserving Food

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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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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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.

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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.

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No Bake Pie & Growth

20161221_203956.jpgHello Lovelies,

I wanted to share with you a highly popular dessert my mother always made in our household.  I made this no bake pie during the holidays and it is such a hit! It is super easy, can be made in a pinch, and requires no baking! It’s so delicious especially when the berries are really in season and are plump, sweet, and juicy.  Now, in March, berries are out of season and most farmers are beginning to plant seeds or starting to plant starters depending on where in the world you are.  But in these off months, I buy whole strawberries frozen.  Thaw them out and cut into pieces and it works like a charm.  I’ve tried raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries and mixed.  The best part of this recipe besides the no bake factor, it is cheap! You can make every other ingredient besides the berry from scratch.

You will need:

  • Graham Cracker Crust or a Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 box Vanilla Pudding
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Container/Can of Whipped Cream or 3 cups homemade whipped cream
  • 1tsp Vanilla or Homemade Vanilla Extract

My favorite recipe for homemade whipped cream:  20161221_200152.jpgpour heavy whipping cream into a bowl or mixer and add a pinch of sugar, and 1tsp of vanilla extract.

20161221_200600.jpgWhip until light and fluffy.

To make homemade vanilla extract:

vanilla-extractGet a glass container or bottle with a tight fitting lid. I got a really inexpensive bottle from Ikea.  Get one bottle of good but inexpensive vodka and four whole vanilla beans.  Cut each vanilla bean lengthwise without cutting it in half. Simply fill a jar or bottle with vodka and the vanilla beans. Store in a cool, dry, dark place. When it turns the traditional amber color and your desired strength it’s ready!  Mine took about 60 days to get a good Vanilla flavor and deep amber color.

My recipe for a graham cracker crust:  Combine finely crushed graham crackers with cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter until it is slightly moistened.  Press mixture firmly in a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.  This will ensure that the filling doesn’t make the crust mushy.

If you are using boxed ingredients: Make the vanilla pudding according to package instructions.  Combine the pudding and sour cream together and mix until smooth. Put a layer of the pudding mixture at the bottom of the graham cracker crust, layer sliced berries (in my case strawberries), then a layer of whipped cream, and so on. Finish with a layer of whipped cream and decorate with any leftover berries. Put in the freezer for an hour if you are close to serving.  It freezes really well and defrost on the counter an hour or two prior. It doesn’t contain high fat ingredients and overall is a low fat pie!

*Due to the berries containing water, this pie will get liquidy the longer it sits at room temperature or if kept in the fridge for more than a day.
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Now that the chaos of the holiday is long gone and the start of the New Year is in full swing, we embark on Spring.  Growth will be abundant in the upcoming weeks as Mother Nature awakens and I cannot be more excited.  Not only do we grow each year personally, but our skills continue to grow, our goals continue to grow, and so does our To Do List!  I haven’t been really good at setting goals and sticking to them primarily because these past two years have thrown us some major twists and turns making it difficult.  This year though, is showing us that we need to slow down further and really hone in on the goals we’ve set not only for ourselves, but as a family.  I redid our goal lists this year and made it much more attainable.  It is so easy to be really eager and then create goals that are just too ambitious.  So this year we are focusing on growing.  Perfecting the skills we have, making more use out of skills we do know, and getting a handle on my ever dreaded gardening.  Stay tuned for a step by step tutorial of building a raised garden bed.

We have seeds to plant, raised beds to make, and lots of prep work ahead.  I worked all winter feeding our DIY compost bin so I’m hoping to have some really nice composted soil to use when we get our garden ready.  The seeds have been started and are coming along nicely.  They are nice and cozy. No nasty little flies this time, you can read my seed fail from last year here.  Or our planting too early post here.  Thankfully, I canned my heart out all last summer for this past winter and am now running low on key staples. You can find canning information here or some of my recipes from the Canning Menu.  I did find that I didn’t do enough of one thing and overdid another. Canning and food prep is very much a learning experience through trial and error in regards to “how much” you stock.  I did can up 3lbs of potatoes last night and still have 3lbs to go. I will to can more pinto and black beans this week as well.  I’m hoping to get some good use out of our homemade rocket stove this year for some canning as we come into the season of yummy produce.

I’ve been a busy bee making soap and getting that side business off and running. I’ve cut back some DIY projects for the house as we’re concentrating more outside.  Babydoll is trying so hard to be home more, helping with the garden, and yard work.  So much to do and the time is upon us.  Time to get crackin!

How are you doing this time of year?  What are some tasks on your agenda? I’d love to hear!

 

Winter Prep and Football

Hello Lovelies,

I have had the best few weeks! My auntie came to visit us for 10 days and my Lord we never stopped. Canning, building our rocket stove pit,  baking, you name it. I think i gained a few pounds 😮. My son started football as a defensive line man and is in his 8th season of soccer as a goalie so needless to say this mama’s busy. I have to say watching him play football is really unbelievable. At his first game, I was at the bottom of the bleachers and spotted him on the field and yelled “Oh my God he’s beautiful!!” Just a little too loud. Thankfully HE didn’t hear me. But seriously, I cannot believe how old that moment made me feel when I finally sat down. 18 years ago, I was standing on the field in the same school colors cheering my heart out, feeling the rush of excitement as our boys ran on the field.  I did get a ton of video though and even my dad got excited watching them and going over the play with my son telling him where he went wrong. It made my heart smile. In my family, my sister and I were very involved with school especially cheerleading. We both helped coach the Pop Warner girls when we were in high school and for me I cheered nine years! Pop Warner, high school, and college.  Our dad played in high school and coached Pop Warner football so it was in our blood. Now, I’m on the other side of the fence. The funniest part of this, is that I can remember most of their cheers haha.

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I managed while my aunt was here to teach her how to pressure can. It was so much fun and I think I even raised an eyebrow once or twice! Ok! I call my pantry gorgeous and I jump with delight when my jars pop okay! 😊 I’ve gotten our pantry and fridge stocked with nearly 200 jars of jams, pickles, beans, meats, sauce, veggies, potatoes, soup, butters, and pickled veggies. We also dehydrated minced onions and bell peppers. It’s amazing how much water content is actually in peppers because the end result of a 6 bell peppers yielded less than half a cup dehydrated.

Winter’s coming shortly and we still have a ton to do. My fall decor is finally up! Fall is my most favorite season and reminds me a lot of home. Pumpkins, apple spice, pies, squash, soups, chilis, fire pit, and hot apple cider. Heaven on earth. So because the weather is cooling a bit or at least enough so the heat doesn’t kill us, we need to get ready for winter. The bushes need to be trimmed down, lawn needs edging, weeds pulled, sticks gathered for the fire pit, then there is inside. Canning, dehydrating, rug shampooing, and out comes all my cinnamon and candles! Yankee Candles of course. 

My auntie went home this weekend and already our home feels a little less full. Thankfully, babydoll is still home. My son had great saves as goalie of his soccer team yesterday during their first game! He was so pumped, it also made my heart smile.  He is truly beautiful and I feel so blessed. My son’s accomplishments,  my aunts visit, Fall is here, and life abundant.  
Happy Sunday Lovelies