Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tasty Tuesday! Roasted Brussels Sprouts ... YUMMY!

I really, really like roasted Brussels Sprouts, so today I decided to show you how I make them. In the photos below you'll see some carrot slices in there as well ... that was because at that particular meal I did not have enough Brussels Sprouts to feed all the eaters, so I supplemented with carrots. They complement each other well, but I prefer to leave them solo.

And just to let you all know, I did not care much for Brussels Sprouts UNTIL I tried them this way. Now I just look forward to whenever I can find them at a good price and I really hope to grow some this coming year.

Cut off bottoms, cut in half, and peal the off-colour leaves.

Place in baking dish and toss with plenty of olive oil and salt.

Bake at 500 degrees till you see some brown/black spots.

You may squeeze fresh lemon juice over all when done, however it tastes fine without it too.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hand-Extracting Honey

Our bees produced enough honey this past year to hopefully feed them through the winter. This was our first year with them so we expected it to go this way :)

However ... a woman at the bee meeting asked if we would like to extract some honey for her and said she would give us half. I got on youtube and saw a video right away about using two five-gallon buckets and a five-gallon bucket paint strainer -- it looked super easy, so we went to Lowe's immediately and got a few new buckets (didn't feel like cleaning out nasty old ones) and the strainer (found in the paint department; they also have a 1-gallon size, which seems like it would be great for cheese making).

At home we took the cleanest old bucket we had and sawed off the bottom half of it. The half-bucket sits quite nicely right on top of the whole bucket, and this offers elevation for the strainer so it does not get in to the honey that's dripping down. It got a little heavy, so we used binder clips and clothes pins to help it stay in place.

(the pictures were not very good ... sorry! I might look and see later if Brianna has better ones on her camera as all of these are from my phone)

So, the process was:

1) Scrape the caps off the comb. Our handy "Back to Basics" book suggested using two large knives kept warm in a bowl of hot water. Wipe the knife dry before using it!

Corban scraping the caps off with a warm knife.

2) Scrape the honey and comb off the frame. We have a baker's scraper that worked perfectly for this!!! Also, it really helped that 5 of the 6 frames had a plastic base. The other one was not as easy to scrape off.
Baker's scraper :)
3) Squish the honey out of the comb as best as you can. The guy in the video I watched did this by hand. We actually forgot to do this step so we are going to do it later with what is left after straining it.

4) Pour the scraped and squished honey and comb into the prepared net/strainer.
Binder clips and clothes pin help hold it in place.
  5) Pour the strained honey in to jars.

We are so thankful for the free honey!! This was pretty easy work ... and we learned a lot too. In all we got a gallon or so of honey off of 6 smaller frames; the woman only wanted a small jar but we gave her a quart.

Now we are hoping our bees produce enough honey for us to have some next year. We lost one hive because of pesticides :( :( but the other one seems really strong. We are hoping they make it through the winter and all the dangers it can bring.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How to make whole grain / whole wheat bread using a wood cookstove

For this 'frugal friday' post I would like to share a video I did about making homemade bread. Of course we all know homemade bread is healthier than the store bought stuff (even more so if you are able to grind your flour fresh at home), but many may not know that even homemade bread made with the highest quality ingredients is CHEAPER than the store stuff!

I hope this video is a blessing to someone.

This post was featured on Heritage Homesteader's Blog Hop :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Feeding an old sourdough starter

I hear a lot of sourdough users say it is so hard for them to keep their starters going. After a little conversation I discover they are maintaining a large amount of starter and feeding more often then needed. Yes, you DO need to feed a new starter daily, sometimes twice a day, for about three weeks to get a good starter going ... however after that you can keep it in the fridge when not in use and feed it weekly or every other week after that. Strong starters can last even long without being fed - as is the case in the video I share.

(see the 'sourdough' label for more posts about sourdough!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Frugal Fridays: Homemade Ear Infection Relief (Garlic Oil)

It really does work.

I have a bad right ear that is very prone to getting infected. Usually I am able to just ride it out, however sometimes I have to doctor it up. In fact, that was the case today and the inspiration for this post.

I used to make a garlic poultice and put that on my neck behind my ear (do up a fresh one 3-4 times a day till the earache is gone). This was the only thing I knew and while it worked well enough I did not care to go around smelling like garlic for days! Also, it took several cloves of garlic a day. Then my mom told me about hydrogen peroxide. She said whenever her or her siblings would get an ear infection their mom would simply dump some peroxide into their ears and that would clear it right up. Well ... I REALLY do not like putting anything in my ear, especially my right one, but when I was very desperate I would resort to this instead of smelling like garlic. Yes, this worked too, but it was quite uncomfortable and sometimes it would get caught in there somewhere and cause me to hear double for a day or two or three (not fun).

And then I discovered garlic oil. It's very simple and actually soothing instead of harsh and, in general, is not stinky.

I've looked at several sites and blogs and they all have a little different variation of the recipe, so apparently this is not a set-in-stone-super-special-exact-formula! All start with one clove of garlic. Some crush it, some chop it in small pieces, some in larger pieces. The point is to expose the juices. [I chop it or crush it] This goes into a glass dish. All of them cover it with olive oil. Some use just enough to cover the garlic, some double and some even a little bit more. [I use a little more than what is needed to cover it - and of course the size of dish will cause you to use more or less too.] Some start with gently heated oil (warm, not hot). Some use cold oil. Some soak it for 15 minutes, some over night. [I soak over night and use cold oil] ALL strain it. DO NOT get the bits in your ear!! Only use the OIL. Some put only a few drops into the ear; some use 1/4t. [I put in enough to feel it.] Some gently warm the oil and some put it in cold. [I warm it by placing the dropper bottle of oil into a bowl filled with hot water] Some leave it sit in the ear for a few minutes while some suggest a half hour. [I lay my head on the table or just lay down for about 5 minutes.] It stays in best if your head remains tilted. When done, place a little cotton in your ear and continue on with your day; it will drain out into the cotton. Repeat 3 or more times a day till the infection or ache is gone. (I like to do it a day past just in case.)

I have heard of this being used on babies and smaller children too but have not tried it on mine because I heard about this a few years ago (mine are far past the baby or toddler stage!). Also, I have read in one place that it's not good to use this if you have a ruptured ear drum.

So, as you can see, there are many variations!! This is a very cheap and effective way to handle an ear infection. Many people go to the doctor and get an antibiotic, however most ear infections are just a virus and will go away on their own. Of course, I am not a doctor and I am sure this method is not approved by the FDA, so use at your own risk! That is my disclaimer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: "Road Trip Biscuits" or meal-in-a-biscuit

A few weeks ago I made a 'frugal fridays' post about meals and snacks that were good for travelling. A commenter mentioned an all-in-one savoury muffin, and while I've done something similar I never thought to make it a complete meal. The other morning I decided to make some all-in-one biscuits (or, 'meal-in-a-biscuit') and they turned out great. To keep things simple, I dropped the biscuits onto the pan instead of rolling them out; when I make biscuits this way I will either brush melted butter over the top or we'll each butter our own on the bottom (a flat surface).

4c flour (I like to do half unbleached white and half whole grain)
2T sweetener
2T baking powder
2t onion powder/granules (mincing a small onion would be yummy too but I did not have time for that)
1t EACH: cream of tartar, salt, garlic powder/granules [may sub one fresh clove], and thyme
1/2c fat
1 1/2c liquid (I used broth but water or milk will work too)
1/2c parmesan cheese or 1c grated cheese of your choice
1/2lb cooked meat in small pieces
1lb cooked veggies in small pieces

Combine the dry ingredients (everything listed before the fat) and mix well. If you are using solid fat, cut the solid fat into the dry ingredients. If you are using liquid fat, measure out the fat with the liquid. Add the liquid (or liquid/fat mixture) to the dry mixture and stir gently. Do not mix all the way yet. Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently till combined. Drop onto greased sheets and bake at 450 till done.
Brush tops with butter/butter garlic or spread butter on the bottoms. May also sprinkle extra parmesan cheese on top before serving. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frugal Fridays: Reuse what you have ...

For today's 'frugal fridays' instalment I would like to share a post from a blog I subscribe to: HOW TO REUSE EVERYDAY OBJECTS. I especially appreciated the cereal box magazine holders (you can use cardboard instead for something studier and put cookbooks in them) and the old book bookshelves.

I would like to add "uses for mason jars" to the list. We use mason jars for many things ...

- Bulk spices
- Leftovers
- Organizing small objects (we each have our own in the bathroom cabinet for our toothbrushes, floss, clippers, and other small bathroom-type things)
- Organizing not-so-small objects (also in the bathroom I have quart size jars with different things in each jar: extra bars of homemade soap, flossers, q-tips, cotton balls, and so on)
- Storing smaller amounts of grains (the end bits of bulk packages of rice, oats, etc. go well in a half or full gallon mason jar)
- Drinking glasses (everyone has their own with their name written on it)

There are so many things you can do with mason jars!! I am sure I missed a few but maybe you have some suggestions? 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Learn how to Knit!

A few weeks ago I visited some family in MN and my s.i.l. was learning how to knit. I know how to crochet but never did learn how to knit.

Cold + Wool Socks = Motivation

The other day I sat down with a book from the library and learned in a half hour of so how to cast on and do a basic knit and purl stitch. The next day I watched a video my s.i.l. recommended and thought it probably would have been easier to just start with that :) but sometimes I just do not feel like looking at a screen and that was one of those times. I appreciate the way this woman teaches: slow and easy. Also, I like her voice - a good teaching voice in my opinion.

If you want to learn how to knit, here are the first few videos. If you'd like to go further than that, you are on your own!

I shared the videos above because I like the simplicity of the teacher, however I found I prefer to use one needle when casting on. I did a little research and found this video that shows two ways of casting on using only one needle.

My plan is to practice and eventually learn how to knit wool socks. Maybe I'll have some for next year? We'll see.

Do you have a good 'learn-to-knit' resource? If so, please share!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Frugal Fridays: The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Meat and cheese are SO EXPENSIVE - and I feed a crew that especially appreciates meat (cheese is nice, but really it's all about the meat). I used to always hope to find some meat marked down because of the expiration date however it seemed to not happen very often UNTIL I started shopping at 5:30 in the morning.

It happened by accident the first time. I was in need of something and not able to get it the day before so I decided to leave first thing in the morning. When I got to the store I saw the meat department guy marking down the soon-to-expire meat. I followed behind him and had first pick for the first time in my life. Now, much more often than not, if I show up at about 5:30 there is usually a good selection of marked-down meat. It was always there ... I was just too late.

Here are some examples of my recent early-morning shopping trip to two different stores.

There were a lot of sliced cheese packages about to go out of date. What was even better, there was a sale running too! These cheese slices were on sale and then they EACH had a $2 off coupon for the soon-to-expire date. I brought them home, opened them up, put pieces of waxed paper between each slice, put them back in their bags, and placed them in the freezer. The individual waxed paper sheets allow for me to take out as many slices as I need at any given time. These will probably be used for our breakfast sandwiches (fried egg, cheese and meat of some kind). They are just the right size for us: not so thick that they overpower the sandwich or cause a belly ache (some of us are a bit sensitive to dairy) yet not so thin that you cannot taste them.

Sirloin steak was marked down 30% - which brought it to the price of the cheaper cuts. Two of the steaks (partially shown on the back left) are marinating 24+ hours and will be grilled for supper. One of the steaks (the right) got diced up and is also marinating 24 or so hours ... I will portion it out for my lunches and store in the freezer till needed. The final pack in the middle was very thin sliced sirloin. I cut the sirloin in to sandwich-size slices, added a marinade and put it in the freezer till needed. This will be used for breakfast sandwiches or some kind of meal on the go.

In case you were wondering, the marinade was 1/3c evoo, 2T acv, 2T braggs, 2T worcestershire sauce, 1T dijon mustard and several crushed garlic cloves (about 2T). This is enough for a few larger steaks.

Not pictured was a 10lb bag of chicken leg quarters. I put those right into a large pot, covered them with water and set them on the wood cook stove to slow cook for several hours. When done, the meat was removed from the pot to cool and then separated from the bones and skin. The scraps were put back into the pot with the cooking water, a few whole carrots and onions, and several ribs of celery WITH the leaves. More water was added and it was simmered for 24 hours or so on the wood cook stove. I plan to can some of the stock and use the rest for chicken and dumplings. YUM. The meat was portioned out and placed in the freezer.

Because of the expiration dates you must deal with these items right when you get home, so make sure to allow time to do that!! Be creative!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Turkey Sausage, Homemade Fried Corn Mush and Homemade Pancake Syrup

I try to plan my meals 2 weeks at a time; each monday is usually spent getting a few things ready for the upcoming week or weeks, depending on what is needed. Every 2 weeks I make a batch of homemade turkey sausage ... YUM!!! It's very simple.

Homemade Turkey Sausage
3lb ground turkey
1T ground ginger
1T salt
2T sage
1 1/2t cayenne pepper
2T maple syrup

Place the ground turkey in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl mix the spices till combined. Add the spices to the turkey and mix/knead with your hands till well incorporated. Add the maple syrup. Mix will. Fry as is (turkey sausage crumbles) or form in to patties and fry. Portion out and freeze till needed. Note: the spiciness of your sausage will depend greatly on the quality of your spices :) and your personal preferences. Try it as-is the first time but note any needed changes on your recipe card for next time.

We like to use the crumbles for savoury dishes like homemade pizza rolls, biscuits and gravy, pizza soup, white bean and sausage soup, and so on. We like to use the patties for fried egg sandwiches.

Homemade syrup is really quite easy and there are so many different recipes out there to choose from. I have been experimenting with different recipes trying to find one we like ... and the newest try was really good! 2c brown sugar, 1c water, 3/4c brown rice syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 8 minutes till it begins to thicken a little (it will still be pretty thin though).
Remove from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon each: vanilla, maple flavor and salt. Cool.
Transfer to a container (a used ketchup bottle works great) and store at room temp. 

Last, I'd like to share a super simple, cheap, healthy and tasty breakfast meal: Fried Corn Mush. It's basically just a polenta recipe ... or a 3/1 water to cornmeal/grits/polenta ratio with some salt and butter (I put in a little buttermilk powder too for flavor). It's easier to put 2/3 of the water to a boil first and save back the remaining third to whisk the grains. This makes it a lot easier to add to the pot!!

Pour the just-cooked polenta/cornmeal into greased bread pans.
Refrigerate over night.

Invert and cut in to slices.
This batch was a bit runny but that did not matter.

Fry in plenty of butter. It might take a while!
We like this best with molasses - it sure makes a nice breakfast!