Ahhh..our very hardworking ladies and their sweet nectar! My amazing 88 year old grandmother who very much wanted to see what happens in the hive. She asked the best questions that day and had been doing her own research … Continue reading
Last year when we butchered our first batch of pigs, we kept the ham fresh because the butcher used nitrates in curing and that is something that we don’t want in our food so we decided that we’d cure it ourselves.
It was a BIG ham and we’d never done anything like that before. Long story short, because it was so big, the cure didn’t penetrate through the whole thing and only the outer 3 inches tasted like ham, the rest like a delicious pork roast. No harm, no foul…it was still delicious. Just not “ham” as we know it.
Fast forward to this year with a new butcher (still nitrate curing) and fresh ham steaks vs. a whole ham. 2 of the ham steaks I threw in the crock pot with apples and onions and they were good, but drier then I’d like. This week I pulled out the last 2 steaks and decided to try curing them, again.
For 2 steaks about 3/4 inch thick
In a large shallow baking dish for the brine:
1.5 qt of water
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1/3 cup organic maple syrup
1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla
Mix it all up until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Put in the ham steaks in and made sure that they stayed submerged (you can weight it down with a plate if you need to).
Place it in the fridge for about 24 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
After 24 hours, rinse the brine of well. Dry off the ham steaks very well. Pan sear the steaks in a frying pan with some butter or even better bacon fat!!! Mmmmm..
When they are browned on both sides, place the pan (make sure it is oven safe) in the oven for about 20 minutes. Depending on the thickness of the steaks, it may take longer or less time to cook. Make sure your pork is 145 degrees in the thickest part.
Pull out of the oven and let rest for a few minutes…then eat!! Yummy!!
I served this with sliced potatoes roasted in bacon fat and sea salt and steamed cauliflower finished in the oven.
It felt like a frontier meal to me (minus the cauliflower of course). 😉
The kids gobbled it up and the hubs was in awe of the impromptu ham experiment.
All in all a great meal and the leftovers of ham and potatoes made an excellent breakfast skillet the next morning. 🙂
Sunday Mornings around here are usually a slower pace, or we try to make them that way after the CRAZY busy year that we’ve had.
We always sit down to breakfast together and one of our favorite additions to breakfast is the potato pancake.
Easy, buttery goodness! Not from a box or a mix it takes minutes to make and is a great sunday morning comfort food.
(Organic if possible)
Medium Peeled Russet Potatoes ( you can use what you have, but russets work best and don’t brown as fast)
Salt and Pepper
Put a large skillet on medium and add a tablespoon of butter. Shred the potatoes 2 at a time into a bowl.
Once the skillet is warm and the butter melted, grab about 1/3 cup of potato shreds and put it into the skillet. Flatten with your hand. Repeat until the skillet is full or until you need to shred more. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion powder. Cook until nicely browned, flip and cook until browned again. You can hold these in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve them.
Voila! Easy-peasy potato pancakes! No fillers, no crap… Just delish!
Make extra and freeze ’em! The freeze great and reheat in an oven or in a skillet super quick!!
These would be a great side to any meal as well, not just breakfast! You can add rosemary and roasted garlic or jalapeño and cheese…the combinations are endless!
Give ’em a try and let me know what you think! 🙂
Quite a bit has been said lately about bone broth ( I call it stock) and it’s health benefits from keeping the immune system healthy to remineralizing teeth!!
I make stock at least once a week. Usually from chicken, but sometime from beef. Stock is an amazing way to use up veggies and bones from other meals like roasted chicken or beef short ribs. If I am pressed for time (who isn’t), I usually throw the ingredients in a crock pot on low before bedtime and strain it in the morning. The recipe below is for a stove top simmer, but if you are pressed for time or want a great meal when you get home from work, just throw it into a crock pot in the AM and set it to high. When you get home, strain it and add some veggies, beans, rice, tomato paste…so many options!
Slow Simmering Stock
Please us organic ingredients if at all possible. Sometime I use whatever I have on hand to make a stock. Leeks, red onions…whatever herbs I have around as well. The Recipe below is a standard recipe to follow.
- A 4 pound chicken
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
- 4 ribs celery and tops, cut in 1/2
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 to 10 peppercorns
- 8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 gallons cold water
So….I’ve embarked on this gluten-free journey and so far so good!
I have been so tired with a general feeling of crapiness for such a long time now, that I figured it was time to try something different. Years ago, when the low carb craze hit, I did it and felt great (of course, I was a lot less fluffy then *wink, wink*)…but I remember feeling great.
We eat great quality foods. We eat organic foods with no preservatives or GMO. We eat lots of fresh produce and meats that we raise ourselves (organically) or that we buy from friends who also grown organically. We cook almost all of our meals at home, so we know what goes into them. We don’t use chemicals in our home and use homeopathy as a means of getting ourselves well and food based remedies as well. We eat raw garlic and I make a bone broth (stock) at least once a week. Why in the world am I so tired and icky?? I’ve been feeling that wheat/gluten is the culprit for a while but haven’t made the jump until now. You see….I LOVE bread! It is what I eat when I don’t feel good, it is what I eat when I do feel good, some form of flour is always being eaten here at home as a meal or with a meal.
I thought that the transition would be harder, but honestly, it hasn’t been!! I feel better, have more energy (I’m not ready to run a marathon yet…) and am not craving the bread like I thought I would. Yay!
Sooo…as I embark on this journey I will create new recipes, I will try new recipes and let you know how they turn out!
My first official GF recipe is a Roasted Apple and Onion Pork Shoulder. You could easily use a pork roast or tenderloin too!
4-6 lb Pork Shoulder (Pasture or organically raised if possible)
Bacon Fat saved from breakfast (you can use olive oil and butter or coconut oil)
5 Cloves of sliced Organic garlic
2-3 Medium Organic Onions, sliced
2-3 Organic Apples, sliced (skin on)
16 oz (or so) of organic chicken stock (homemade would be best)
1.5 Tbl Organic Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbl Organic Maple Syrup
3 Tsp Organic Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Put about a TBL of bacon fat into the Dutch oven on the stove on a med-high heat and sauté the onions and garlic. Once they are beginning to brown, add the apples, cinnamon and the balsamic vinegar. Cook for a few more minutes then remove from the pan. Add about a TBL of bacon fat to the pan. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the pork shoulder. Sear all sides of the pork to create a beautiful brown crust. Once all sides are browned, add the chicken stock (should come about 1/2 way up the pork) and scrape the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all of the yummy splatters into the sauce. Add the onions, garlic, apples and maple syrup to the pot. Cover and place in the oven for 2.5- 3 hours or until the roast is easily pulled apart with a fork.
Remove the roast (or roast pieces as it will probably fall apart) from the pan and set aside. With an immersion blender directly in the pot, buzz the juices, apples and onions together to create an amazing gravy. I may have splashed a bit of maple syrup into the gravy before buzzing… 😉
Crock pot Option: I would assume that you could throw all of this into a crock pot, put it on low, go to work and return to an amazing dinner too!!
Although I did not get any pictures of it, I served this with organic carrot sticks roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper and with roasted organic acorn squash.
Roasted Acorn Squash:
Halve the squash carefully as they have a tough skin
Scoop out the seeds
Add a small pat of butter to each half of the squash
I added a teaspoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper to the squash
Roast for at least an hour at 350 degrees or until very tender. Spoon the juices from the middle of the squash over the squash and scoop out onto the plates.
The kids LOVED this entire meal…I thought the Hubs was going to dive into the pan, he was nuts over it. I’m glad that I wrote it down!
I have a confession to make….I HATE being sick. I am sure that no one likes being sick, but I HATE it. I am a giant baby when I am sick and I tend to panic, which makes things worse, way worse.
I will do ANYTHING to avoid being sick which is nearly impossible when you have little petri dishes walking around touching everything and then touching their faces, eyes, mouths, each others faces, my face. I’ve even turned my head a time or two only to have a tiny hand shoved in my mouth, because suddenly a 4 year olds hand is an ice cream cone that “Mom just has to try!”. Ahhh…boundaries.
Anywho, I found this recipe last year for this super tonic hailed “Master Tonic” because I was looking for natural ways to keep us all from getting sick. We take our vitamins, drink our elderberry syrup, I made stock often, we were eating organic, but we were still getting sick. I happened across this article from Heal Thyself and we’ve been making it ever since. You have to think ahead enough to make it for when you need it as it takes a couple of weeks to steep. We take it at the hint of a throat tickle or if anyone else is sick, we double, triple up. It is a little hard to take at first and it may run right through you, but it gets easier every time and actually I enjoy the taste now, well most of the time anyway. 😉
1 part fresh chopped organic garlic cloves
1 part fresh chopped organic white onions
1 part fresh grated organic ginger root
1 part fresh grated organic horseradish root
1 part fresh chopped organic Cayenne peppers, jalapeño, Serrano, Habanero, African bird peppers….any combination of the hottest peppers available
**Please use fresh and please use organic ingredients
There are many versions from rough chopping to putting everything in the food processor.
Wash all ingredients. Chop and fill a glass jar (or 2 or 3) 3/4 of the way full with the ingredients. Fill the remainder of the way with Organic apple cider vinegar. We use Bragg’s, but any OCV with the mother will do fine.
Cover and shake. Move all of that vinegar around to fill air bubbles. Top off the jar with more vinegar. Seal and wait.
You should shake it when you walk by, but at least once a day.
You can put herbs in it as well. I’ve been cooking with turmeric lately, so I may just throw some in there. Fresh thyme would be good as the essential oils in thyme are packed with anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-rheumatic, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties.
It is recommended that you make it with the new moon and strain it on the full moon (about 14 days). While I try to follow this, I don’t always. Sometimes you just need it quicker. 😉
On the 14th day ( or round about there) strain your tonic into glass jars and keep in a dark place. I keep one on the counter in a darker jar and the rest go in the cupboard. The last batch (the 2 large jars) yielded about 4-5 pint-sized jars of the tonic. Some folks save the strained out parts for soups and stocks. I think I might do that the next time too!
Be wary of smelling it when making it…it WILL clear your sinuses.
The very first time I tried it, it was a strange feeling, I took a swig and felt it go straight down into my tummy warming along the way. An odd feeling to say the least, but it works! Knock on wood, everyone around me has fallen to some sort of cold/flu already multiple times this year. I am still standing. 😉 Sometime I get a very miniscule versions of what others have, but so far, never a full blown cold/flu.
There you go…Master tonic! Make, drink, stay healthy!
Want to know more??
Here is a little bit more information on why this all works…something to read while you wait 2 weeks for your tonic. 😉
Horseradish Root: From the same family as the mustard and cabbage family and has anti scorbutic and expectorant properties. The root reportedly cures tonsillitis and is a natural treatment for rheumatic and respiratory disorders. The root is also laden with a potent amount of vitamin C and B complex, minerals, potassium, calcium and iron as well as enzymes. It is a natural antibiotic which can kill bacteria in the throat that cause bronchitis. Horseradish heats up the body and has a cardiotonic effect (strengthens the heart). The glucosinolates found in horseradish are thought to increase resistance in humans to cancer. These glucosinolate compounds are only found in plants which are in the mustard family such as horseradish, mustard, broccoli and cauliflower. They have powerful anti-oxidant properties. It is interesting to note that a study in 2005 showed that glucosinolates increase the liver’s ability to detoxify and eliminate carcinogens. Horseradish contains an enzyme that aids in the breakdown of the glucosinolates which makes it easier for the human body to benefit from its therapeutic properties.
Ginger root: The ginger root is actually an underground stem. It may have blood thinning properties and cholesterol lowering properties. Compounds found in ginger known as gingerols have analgesic, sedative, anti-pyretic (lowers fever) and anti-bacterial properties. They also have anti-fungal properties that supposedly are effective against even athlete’s foot. Ginger contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, choline, folic acid, inositol, manganese, pantothenic acid, silicon and a small amount of vitamin B3. Ginger has good properties for menstruation problems, and many say that it is good for settling and upset stomach.
Garlic: Garlic contains antiseptic properties and it helps to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, is an appetite stimulant and is good for the hair! Garlic is known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic as well as a blood purifier. There are recipes for treating tuberculosis, whooping cough, rheumatism, ringworm, pneumonia, wounds and ulcers, parasites, asthma, high blood pressure, digestive problems and acne. A cut garlic clove rolled on pimples several times a day will make the blemish disappear without a scar. Rubbing garlic over ringworm will burn out the infection. The skin falls off leaving healed skin behind. When cooking with garlic, by chopping or crushing the garlic clove and letting it rest for a few minutes before adding it to the dish you are cooking gives the anti-cancer properties a chance to form so that they are transmitted into the food even after it is cooked.
Onions: Onions contain phytochemicals called flavanoids. One flavanoid called quercitin may inhibit tumor growth and keep colon cancer at bay. A newly discovered compound in onions may actually inhibit bone loss in menopausal women. Onions contain vitamin C and chromium, B6, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B1 and K, and healthy sulfur compounds as well as enzymes. They also have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic properties and are a source of fiber.
Peppers: Red peppers contain lycopene which protects against cancer and heart disease. Peppers contain large amounts of phytochemicals that have antioxidant capabilities such as chlorogenic acid, zeaxanthin and coumeric acid. Hot peppers also stimulate blood flow in the body, but cayenne pepper is also good for helping to stop bleeding. I have applied some to a cut finger before, and it helped stop the blood flow.
Raw apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apples in a wooden barrel. It contains calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, malic acid, acetic acid, pectin, potassium. Pectin is good for the colon, regulates blood pressure and also removes bad cholesterol. Malic acid is good for fighting infections, as it is anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal.
Information above from Fair Hill Farms. Thank you!!
I am a mom and Chef by training…not a medical professional. Everything posted on this blog has been used by myself and my family and is for informational purposes only. That being said…I do hope you try it and let me know how it works for you!
Bacon and Sausage everywhere!! After the processing of the pigs, it is always bacon and sausage time. With each of the 8 bellies weighing about 9 lbs and about 100 lbs of ground pork, we were in for a busy weekend.
We started by curing the bellies with a traditional salt, sugar, molasses and herb dry rub for 7 days. On day 3 of the cure, we drained the liquid that had been purged and re-rubbed with more cure. Using salt as a cure allows us to NOT use pink salt ( sodium nitrite/nitrate).
After day 7, we smoked the bacon with apple, pecan and cherry wood and froze the whole bellies and were ready to slice!
Once it was frozen, we sliced and packaged the bacon…maybe we ate a bit too. I’ll never tell!
Homemade bacon from organically raised pigs is so different from store-bought bacon. It’s flavor is so concentrated that you really only need to eat a few slices to get your fill. Even the most carnivorous of folks get their fill after a few pieces.
There is something so amazingly cool about making/growing your own food. Actually it is not all that difficult and mainly requires a time commitment. There are plenty of folks out there that do it and work a full-time job outside the home..it is entirely possible to do, if you really want to. 🙂
The sausage…it really is the stuff that dreams are made of! Last year we went to a different butcher and for some unknown reason, the ground pork that we got wasn’t the best as it had hard chunks in it…gross sounding, I know. The really unfortunate part was that we didn’t realize until it was too late and we had made 100 lbs of sausage with it and sent it off to our family and friends. 😦 We always taste test the sausage before we stuff it, but didn’t find anything odd in the samples that we tried. That was last year…this year a different butcher and AMAZING Sausage! We played around with maple syrup in the sausage, but found that it often burned when cooked, as pure sugar will. I was poking around Amazon and found this maple syrup powder and thought we’d give it a whirl.
The stuff is amazing and was perfect for our maple breakfast sausage!! We used quite a bit to get the flavor that we were looking for. It turned out so yummy! One word of caution..it is a very fine powder so it will get everywhere if spilled or mixed to fast.
We also made an italian sausage, neither sweet nor spicy…just in the middle and oh so yummy with fresh garlic, rosemary, fennel and other spices!!
For the past 2 years of sausage and bacon making, we look at each other and say “we are not doing this again next year!” I am not going to lie…it’s a lot to add to our plate, especially this year. But, when we get the feedback from those who eat it and want to order again already for next year…it all seems worth it!
There is a really great feeling that happens when feeding those you care about great, wholesome food.
**sigh** I do love doing this. 🙂
Ps…I wanted to add a picture of us making the sausage…but I couldn’t seem to take one that wasn’t terribly phallic. 😉
Beans! Beans! Beans!
From blazing saddles to kids songs, if you are a man or under the age of 14, beans usually bring one thing to mind..
That is what we call a gaseous emission around here, well mostly. My son is 6 so anything related to the bum is hilarious AND the talk of it is never-ending. 😉
Now, if you are an old mom like myself, you think of the nutrition a value of beans. Cooked, dry beans are low in fat, high in fiber and packed with protein. Dry beans provide a rich source of vitamins and minerals as well as plant phytochemicals.
So, take that Fluffies!
The other good thing is that my kids love them and I love serving the babes beans, that is until all of the BPA in metal can linings appeared. When I found out about BPA, I went out and bought a ton of dried beans knowing that I could get around it all this way. Except that you need to soak dried beans overnight if you want to eat them without breaking your teeth and who has time for that!?! I am usually the one pulling frozen beef out of the freezer 30 minutes before dinner. Organized for meal times, I am not!
So, since I am still afraid of the pressure canner that we bought and I had a closet full of dried beans and a husband that is willing to try anything, we set off to can some beans.
I had read how to do it and even asked a very helpful Facebook friend but was still leery about how they would turn out. There were opinions about soaking first, not soaking, partial soaking, blah, blah, blah. We were feeling lazy and impatient so we just put the dried beans in the jars.
We canned black, kidney and garbanzo beans
Black bean were treated to Mexican inspired spices, Kidney beans were left plain for soups and garbanzo got an assortment of herbs.
We topped some with stock and some with water. Some with herbs and some with spices. Capped them all and into the pressure cooker they went. After about 1 hour, we began to smell the spices and I was convinced that one had busted inside that was going to set off a chain reaction of events that would send the pressure canner careening into the air taking off like an inflated balloon that you’ve mistakenly let go of while blowing it up, zipping around the ceiling until it crash landed in the middle of the kitchen.
Well, thankfully that did not happen. 🙂 Phew!
All of the jars were sealed, none broken and we had lots of fast and convenient organic beans to grab for any meal. The best part, they are less than half the price of the already canned beans at the store and it took us less than 15 minutes to prep and a little over an hour to process, set it and forget it style (unless you are like me, cowering in a corner waiting for the explosion).
Pardon the goo on the jars, they were the bottom row in the water…
Now we have a closet full of beans, ready to eat! I feel like I go to them more as an option for dinners because they are ready to go, easy and done. I’ve even popped open a jar of chick peas to munch on… They are soooo good!
This is how we did it.
In each of the 12 oz jars we put 1/2 cup of beans, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and whatever herbs or spices that you want in them and filled the rest of the way (leaving 1 inch at the top for expansion) and give a quick stir. Cap those babies and set them in the pressure canner. Follow the directions on the canner for water levels. Start ‘er up and let ‘er rip for about 70 minutes. Then let your canner de-pressurize naturally.
Pull those bad boys out (with canning tongs of course) set them on a clean dry towel to rest over night. In the morning put them away. Simple as that!
We’ve flown right through the jars that we made, so it’s time to do it again!
** I found that in the 12 oz jars, I would put a little less beans, the really sucked up the liquid. I might also try a really quick par boil before too…I bet that would help in pre-sucking up the liquid. 😉
I’ll keep ya posted…
Wheat pizza with salsa, cheese and a can of our beans with frozen corn added to it.
Quick and yummy Mexican pizza!!
I am not afraid to admit when I can’t do something.
I CAN’T make pancakes!
Even after working in restaurants for all of my working years, 4 years of culinary school and owning 2 food service businesses and I still can’t make pancakes. Normally they turn out too runny, flat, undercooked or just plain burnt. Whether a mix or not, the only way the I ever got pretty griddle brown pancakes was opening a box of pre-made, pre-beautifully browned pancakes. If you know me at all, you’d know that I am very anti-processed and pre-made foods, so doing this to satisfy my kids want for pancakes really hurt my heart.
That is until now!
This is the recipe that saved my kids from years of therapy that would eventually stem from my pancake incompetence.
Wahoo!! Fluffy AND hard to burn…for whatever reason.
Bonus is that they contain sprouted wheat!
A bit about sprouted grains…
Sprouting grains changes the composition of starch molecules, converting them into vegetable sugars, so the body recognizes and digests sprouted grains as a vegetable
In sprouted grains enzymes are created that aid digestion, complex sugars are broken down which can eliminate painful gas, and vitamin and mineral levels increase.
Sprouting neutralizes potent carcinogens and enzyme inhibitors, as well as an acid that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
You can grab sprouted wheat flour
at just about any grocery store, check out the natural and organic sections or here on Amazon !
Health Benefits abound and the kids were none the wiser !
Without further adieu..
Sprouted Wheat Pancakes
1 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour
1.5 Cups Organic Sprouted Wheat Flour
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Farm Fresh Eggs
2 (+) Cups Organic Whole Milk
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup (more or less to taste) Local Honey
Apples, Blueberries, Bananas, Coconut…any thing that you’d like to add
1. Mix together flours and baking powder
2. In separate bowl beat together egg, milk, salt and honey .
3. Stir in flour until just mixed. Add fruits or nuts
4. Pre-heat griddle or pan over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter or coconut oil pan.
5. Ladle small amount of batter, cook until bubbly. Flip and repeat with the rest of the batter unit you have a stack of golden brown pancakes.
Freeze what isn’t eaten and voila! fast breakfast on a busy morning.
Balance… The dictionary defines it as “a state of equilibrium”
As one can plainly see, I have not quite struck the nail on the head with this balance thing for the past few months. This blog is very important to me as it is a written history of our journey, a journey that we begun just about the time that I started this blog. This blog is for me, it is for my family, it is our past, present and future. It’s purpose is to be our story. If along the way we help others along their journey with a quick tip, recipe or nudge to do something that they thought was impossible, or even a laugh…that’s great! Yay!
So…Back here I am. I seldom get quiet time with all of the happenings around here, but when I am blogging, people seem to leave me alone.
I’ll take it! 🙂
My friends…this has been our busiest season yet for our businesses and being so, I got pulled away from much that I do. There was less time for homemade items and new recipes. Our Christmas was a little lighter on the homemade gifts this year, but fun none the less. My dreams of sitting near the fire reading (with all of the down time that winter should bring) hasn’t happened yet….but it is good to have a busy business! With the business, balance is harder to come by though…balance with the kids homeschooling, balance with our farm (thankfully only 15 chickens are hanging out with us this winter), balance in our family life and marriage, balance with the household, balance in general. I am beginning to find balance again…through routine and schedules. I am NOT a routine person…let me say that again. I am NOT a routine person. I much prefer to just do what comes, however with all that is coming at me lately, I’ve decided to try the routine route and see what come of it. Sticking to it will be the hard part…but I believe that it will make my life easier…at least I hope it will.
All said and done…we had a wonderful Holiday albeit busy. Hope yours was wonderful too<3