Gluten Free Sunday Morning Potato Pancakes…

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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.

Ingredients:

(Organic if possible)

Medium Peeled Russet Potatoes ( you can use what you have, but russets work best and don’t brown as fast)

Butter

Salt and Pepper

Onion powder

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Put a large skillet on medium and add a tablespoon of butter.   Shred the potatoes 2 at a time into a bowl.

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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.

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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! 🙂

Bone Broth aka Stock… So good for you!

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!!

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Crock-Pot Stock

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!

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Slow Simmering Stock

Ingredients:

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

Directions

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer.  Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. After about 2 hours, remove the chicken, pick off all of the meat and return the bones to the stock for additional simmering.  Allow the meat to cool and use in the finished soup, shred and season for chicken burritos, chop chilled chicken and mix with mayo, lemon juice and thyme for chicken salad….so many options!!
Back to the stock…Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids (or eating them as a warm snack..yum!!). You can finish the stock by making into any stock based soup of your choice or cool immediately in  a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid (you can keep the fat to sauté in or freeze it for use in roux) and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Use as a base for soups and sauces.

Gluten Free Eating and Apple and Onion Roasted Pork…

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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!

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Ingredients:

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!

Here we are…A New Year!

Whoa!  As wonderful as 2013 was for us, it was by far the busiest I think we’ve ever been in our business and in our personal life.  It isn’t until we look back that we see exactly where we’ve been and what we’ve done.  I am so very thankful and feel very fortunate that we were able to accomplish all that we have this past year…without any mental breakdowns (although we were close!)

This New Year, my goal is to visit here more…to write more, for me and for the kids.  To really put forth a great effort and push on their schooling as we have a bit to catch up on and the allow them to be kids through it all.  I want to have more field trips, less craziness and more calm.  One can hope at least. 😉

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Before…

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During…

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After… (Play Area)

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After… (School and Office Area)

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After…(School Area with Magnet Wall)

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After…(Office)

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After…(New Stairs)

We’ve finally finished (well, mostly) our new school/play/office and added a bathroom.  It was a ton more work than we thought it would be, I blame HGTV for that.  They can redo and entire house in an hour…why can’t we put an addition on our house in 3 weeks…seemed like a no brainer to us!  As we found it, it doesn’t work that way and I thank the contractor that raised the roof, so to speak, for not laughing out loud in our faces for even suggesting it.  His portion was done in 2 weeks which left us to do sub-floors, wiring, framing,  bathroom, floors, insulation, sheet rocking, taping, sanding, mudding…blah, blah in a week.  Well, lets just say that 6 months later we are just finishing up.  We had some family help along the way.  My father in law was with us for a 2 week stint that turned into 5 weeks. I do believe that him being here saved our marriage from ruin as the Hubs and I don’t do projects together very well, or we didn’t until this rather large project came to be.  His knowledge was invaluable and I learned so much!

So here we are!  The best part of all of this, was that it all happened so fast that there wasn’t much time to think “what the hell are we doing, we don’t know how to do that!”.  I watched a lot of you tube to learn and the rest we figured out.

 We haven’t planned any big projects for this year, thankfully,  but may add a little something to the farm…at least we are talking about it any. 😉

Master Tonic..it’s for all that ails you!

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. 😉

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Master Tonic!

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

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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.

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Cover and shake.  Move all of that vinegar around to fill air bubbles.  Top off the jar with more vinegar.  Seal and wait.

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You should shake it when you walk by, but at least once a day.

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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!

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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!!

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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!

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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!!

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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. 🙂

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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. 😉

Chocolate Covered Bananas!

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As we were planning our latest shopping trip to the “big city”, the kids asked if we could pick up some  chocolate covered bananas that their grandmother had bought for them once.  I agreed to bring a big cooler so that I could buy them these treats and travel the hour ride home.  Then I realized that if I did buy them these frozen treats, that I wouldn’t have enough room in the cooler for the salted caramel gelato that is my crutch, what with the hecticness of life lately. Salted caramel gelato is the only reason that I don’t have a frequent flyer card to the looney bin (that’s a whole other post!).  Plus, they weren’t necessarily organic, so it wasn’t solely a selfish reason.  Not wanting to disappoint the littles, I remembered my days working in a local ice cream shop where we made these yummy treats.   Although the ingredients in the store bought stuff aren’t horrible, they aren’t great or organic.  Besides,  you can easily make your own at home and it is super yummy!!

We grabbed some organic bananas at the store, the rest I had in the cupboard already.

This is super easy, super fun and the kids LOVE them!

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Ingredients:

Grab some bananas

Popsicle sticks (or craft sticks)

8 oz Organic Chocolate Chips, dark, white, milk…

2 Tbl Organic Coconut Oil

Any toppings that you like!!

Directions….

Step one:  Peel, stick and freeze bananas.  We froze them overnight.

Step two:  Melt the chips and coconut oil over low flame in a small pot.  Once it’s cool to room temp, put into a jar or taller container so that you can dip.  Dip away!!  You have to move fast, one at a time as the chocolate hardens pretty quickly.

Then roll into what ever you choose for toppings:

Nuts

Graham Crackers

Coconut

Chocolate

Organic Candies

Throw ’em back in the freezer for a bit.  Then wrap them individually.

I am happy to give these to the kids for dessert or as a special treat.

 It always helps if they are involved in the process. 🙂

Enjoy!

Ohhh…and by the way, this chocolate shell is AMAZING on Ice cream or anything frozen!!