Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit…..

Beans!  Beans! Beans!

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From blazing saddles to kids songs, if you are a man or under the age of 14, beans usually bring one thing to mind..

The Fluffies!

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. ūüėČ

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.

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We canned black, kidney and garbanzo beans

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Black bean were treated to Mexican inspired spices, Kidney beans were left plain for soups and garbanzo got an assortment of herbs.

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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. ūüôā 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).

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¬†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. ūüėČ

I’ll keep ya posted…

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Wheat pizza with salsa, cheese and a can of our beans with frozen corn added to it.

Quick and yummy Mexican pizza!!

The Perfect Sprouted Wheat Pancakes…

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.

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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

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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

INGREDIENTS:

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.

This Moment…

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo -no words – capturing a special moment. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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A little late…but here none the less. ūüôā

*Idea courtesy of Soulemama ‚̧


Balance…

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! ūüôā

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.

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All said and done…we had a wonderful Holiday albeit busy. ¬† Hope yours was wonderful too<3

Bacon, Sausage and Lard…

Phew… we’ve had quite the busy week!

2 – 30 lbs hams curing and waiting to be smoked.

13 pints of lard rendered and canned just waiting for pie crust.

100 lbs of sausage (breakfast and Italian) made, stuffed and packaged.

Almost 70 lbs of bacon cured in molasses and maple for 5 days then smoked, sliced and packaged.

~Blueberry Maple Sausage

~Sweet Italian and Blueberry Maple

~Getting a little Maple Yumminess..

~Rubbed and curing for 4 days

~Resting an hour before the smoker

~Smoked for hours and ready for the oven!

We still have so much to do…I must have 80 lbs of fat left to render, but the majority of the hard work is done.

Rendering fat….

Thankfully a friend rendered fat from a pig that she purchased earlier this month and warned of the odor and being very sensitive to odor myself, I am glad that I decided to cook the fat outside on the porch in slow cookers…It definitely had a certain smell to it. ¬†Outside it wasn’t bad, actually we were cleaning up the yard in anticipation of hurricane Sandy and my son yelled “it smells like potato chips!”, which it did. ūüôā ¬†That being said, when all was said and done I had the whitest snow-white lard I’ve ever seen. ¬†Because our pigs spent their lives outside in the sun, their fat is chock full of vitamin D, second only to cod liver oil! ¬†Can you imagine?? ¬†Have you ever tried to stomach cod liver oil? ¬†Not my favorite by any means. ¬†Good to know that my pastries and morning eggs will have serious amounts of vitamin D…perfect for the winter. Yay!!

Anywho, here is how I did it.  You can literally set-it and forget-it!

~Sunny day rendering a little lard

Cut your fat into small pieces, the smaller the better, the more lard you will render out.

Place it all in a crockpot

Add 1 inch of cold water to the bottom of the pan

Set the crockpot on the lowest setting

Cover and forget for about 6 hours

You’ll see the fat shrink and the lard will begin to fill the pan. ¬†When the fat (which will become cracklings) begins to brown, it’s time to strain, strain through cheesecloth in a strainer. ¬†This will be the whitest of white lard. ¬†Perfect for baking. ¬†Pour hot lard into sterile jars and top with sterile lids. ¬†They will self seal and be shelf stable.

Place the fat pieces back in the pan and continue to render.  When the cracklings resemble bacon pieces, you can strain it a

gain and this straining will be a bit darker and have ¬†a little bit of a bacon/pork flavor, perfect for breads and frying. ¬†Anything that you want to have a little more of an in-depth flavor. ¬†Some people save the cracklings and add them to salads or anywhere else you’d want a little crunch. ¬†I can imagine that a chicken breast coated in panko crumbs and cracklings would be AMAZING!

I, however ended up tossing them as it was really late and I was kinda tired of them…if I’m being completely honest. ūüėČ

~lard, glorious lard

Here is the dream shot, although not a great one…

Our goal….

~Our own eggs AND bacon!!

From the very first egg gathered from our backyard chicken house over 3 years ago we said “wouldn’t it be great to have our own bacon to go with it!”…

¬†Much to the nay-say of others and many thinking that we are nuts….we did it!

We did it!!

And we will do it again, next spring.

 It has been so much more than a learning experience, it has really made me more aware of where my food comes from and where I WANT my food to come from.

I do have to admit that I can’t wait until next year to have little piggies running around outside…they really are such neat creatures. ‚̧

If anyone local is interested for next year….let me know. ¬†We would love to share our home grown food. ūüôā