Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wild Cranberries!

This past Wednesday, Mike and I decided that we were going to go for a nice hike with our dog, Klaus.  We found a lot of surprises along the way, including a bog teeming with wild cranberries! 
I collected a nice little handful of them and ate them on the walk back to the car. 

Here are a couple more photos of our excursion:
cranberry plant sans berries

pitcher plant (carnivorous)

would I be able to spin with this plant material?? 

Michael and Klaus

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Raw Homemade Eggnog

Just in time for the holiday season (literally "just in time"), a recipe for homemade eggnog! Super easy to make and even better to drink, this eggnog is made with the tastiest of ingredients.
Note:  This recipe yields more than a blender-ful of eggnog! If you'd like a smaller batch, just cut all of the ingredients in half. I am taking mine to a party, so I am thinking I might need a lot. :)

Raw Homemade Eggnog

6 c. cream from pastured animals (set aside 2 cups), preferably raw
2 c. milk from pastured animals, preferably raw
8 egg yolks (save whites for other uses, like meringues!)
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder
3 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
pinch cloves
pinch cinnamon
pinch sea salt
3/4 c. good whiskey, bourbon, or brandy (optional)

Add all ingredients to blender (except remaining 2 c. cream and optional booze) and blend until thoroughly mixed and egg yolks are assimilated.  Pour into large container (I used an 80 oz. glass jar) and add remaining 2 c. cream and 3/4 c. optional alcohol.  Whisk until combined.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Enjoy this delightful holiday beverage with family, friends, and all else you care to share your love with.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

soaking & sprouting nuts (how-to)

Soaking and sprouting nuts is very important in making them digestible. When they are not soaked or sprouted, all seeds (which is what a "nut" is) contain enzyme inhibitors to prevent the seed from germinating and turning into a plant.  This is very beneficial for mother nature, because it gives the seed a better chance at survival.  For humans, however, the enzyme inhibitors prevent the same thing, germination, but with a cost. When they are not soaked or sprouted, your body has a very difficult time digesting them because it has to draw on its own store of enzymes to digest them rather than using the enzymes that could be available in the nuts if they were sprouted.    The enzymes in the nuts are only available if they are soaked or sprouted.  The addition of water to the nuts also neutralizes phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of many different important minerals.  So you get a double plus when you soak and sprout your seeds:  better absorption of minerals and easier digestion!

Thankfully, soaking and sprouting is super easy.  All you need is a little time and patience, and you will be rewarded with a delicious, flavorful, and extra-good-for-you nut.
What you'll need:

Unblanched, whole almonds (outer shell removed)
filtered water
glass container

Pour your almonds into your glass container.  Cover with filtered water about 2/3 full and cover with a cheesecloth so insects and dust cannot get in.
Soak almonds overnight and then pour off the water.  Rinse the almonds, and then lay your jar on its side.  Rinse 2-3 times per day, and within approximately 3 days you'll notice your almonds growing a little tail.  Congratulations! Your almonds are sprouted.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

grain mill II + the common cold

...and that being said, we've now chosen a different appliance.  Multi-purpose, not as pretty, but definitely useful, we've ordered the Champion Juicer as our Christmas gift.  We have also been looking for a juicer, and we found that this appliance seems to not only be high quality, but also to be multi-purpose, as it has a grain mill attachment available for it. I am very excited to open the package when it arrives!

On a separate note, I am beginning to have an immune response to some sort of "cold-symptom" inducing virus. My symptoms include a runny nose, congestion, lots of sneezing, being very sleepy and sluggish, and being a little bit dizzy.  It seems to have begun a couple of evenings ago with a couple of coughs here and there.  The coughing has since subsided, but has been replaced with the above symptoms.

As supplementation to my diet, I include 2000 mg of cod liver oil and 2000 mg of vitamin C per day.  Now that I am beginning to feel a little under the weather, I am also adding the following to my daily protocol:

40 drops each of astragalus and echinacea tinctures, morning and night (80 drops total of each per day)
an extra 1000 mg of vitamin C for a total of 3000 mg (divided) per day
a nightly castor oil pack on my chest with 5 drops eucalyptus oil added in to relieve congestion
the use of homemade throat lozenges to relieve the scratchy feeling in my throat
2 tsp of elderberry syrup 4x daily (recommended amount for acute use)

Here's to natural health! Hope you're all staying healthy this season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

thoughts on a grain mill


There isn't any snow here, and it is truly hard to get into the holiday spirit without it. As I walked the dog this morning, I was secretly cursing the sky for not producing the white stuff.  That's when I realized that I will make it and live to see another day if it doesn't snow.  I know, hard stuff to think about. ;)

Anyway, Michael and I are considering the purchase of a grain mill as a holiday gift to ourselves.  There is so much to think about when it comes to the purchase:  price, appearance, quality of materials, etc.  We are looking at the Komo Fidibus Classic, which seems to be a nice, high quality mill.  Not to mention that it will match my German knives (oh geez...).  Having a grain mill (or some other appliance that will turn your grains into flour) is a must-have when it comes to cooking traditional foods, since flours you purchase from the store are typically not sprouted, soaked, or fermented.  The only way that grains become truly "digestible" is if they're soaked and sprouted, or best of all, fermented.  From there you can dry the grains accordingly and then run them through your mill to create a lovely, easily digested flour to bake with.  Dr. Weston Price found that the healthiest cultures around the world sprouted or fermented all of their grain before it was used.  Sounds like those cultures have it right, since we Americans suffer from all sorts of gastrointestinal disorders due to eating improperly prepared grains.

So you see now why the purchase of a grain mill is important.  Now I just need to do a little more research and bite the bullet.  I am guessing that it will definitely be a very, very useful purchase! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My favorite broccoli "dressing"

I like broccoli a lot, but with this dressing on it, it almost becomes more of a special treat. Super easy, super yummy, and oh yeah, you'll be eating a lot of broccoli with this on top! I haven't got any pictures, unfortunately, because I wolfed my lunch down before I even thought about it. Anyway, here's the recipe.


1 large head broccoli
1-2 Tbsp capers (I always use 2 Tbsp 'cause I really like capers.)
1 Tbsp grass-fed butter
1-2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I always use 2 Tbsp, but you may use more or less to your liking)


Cut broccoli into florets and give the stem to your rabbits discard into your compost.  Set in steaming pan and steam until crisp tender.

While the broccoli is cooking, slowly melt butter in a separate pan.  Once butter is melted, add capers (including the juices they're packed in) and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Pour over the top of your crisp tender broccoli florets and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discovery of the day!

...a sea turtle! I am pretty sure this is a green sea turtle, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

We had a great time swimming near him. He was so graceful in the water! Dancing, whirling, can only imagine what a sea turtle thinks about. I hope that I dream of turtles tonight.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A little smattering of photos

This vacation on St. John has been utterly amazing thus far. I have seen things that I have only dreamed of seeing one day, and now it is a reality. I have tried one new food, and that is conch.  It is sort of rubbery like calamari, and it has a great flavor.

Yesterday we went on a deep-sea fishing trip.  Our captain estimated the depth at where we were fishing to be around 1,800 feet deep. That is incredibly deep! Our "hundreds of feet deep" Lake Michigan pales in comparison to that depth. Anyway, we caught several "rainbow runner" fish and one yellowtail.  Though it was fun catching the fish, it was completely miserable for my husband and I.  Poor Mike got sick six times and though I didn't actually vomit, I was very close to it! It was a mutual decision that we never go on a boat again in a place where there could potentially be big waves--we're sticking to kayaks and canoes down the river from now on. ;)

Anyway, I would like to share a couple of photos with you from the trip so far.
Overlooking the waters of Coral Bay

Pretty blue flowers

Spiny pod with a nut inside

Urchins are omnipresent here...I even stepped on one! Thankfully, my husband removed the spine.

Donkeys are also omnipresent on the roads.

Our special discovery of the day--a stingray!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the changing of seasons

I have no recent pictures.  I have done nothing noteworthy.  I have just been living and not blogging and I am sorry for that.  Michael and I leave on vacation in two days--this Friday at 6:25 am, to be exact.  We are going to a place I can only hope to return to again one day, but with the lifestyle that I am trying to create for myself, that may very well never happen.  To say the least, I am going to try and savor this.  I am going to try very hard. St John in USVI will be a paradise, and I am excited to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey.  I will probably have pictures in a couple of days, so please bear with me.

For now, here is an assortment of pictures that represent my loves, my life, and my soul.
black swallowtail larva

lion's mane fungus

black swallowtail larva

seed-filled pod

praying mantis

Have a great day, everyone! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red Flannel Hash

Super easy and fast, this hash is SO yummy!
Lightly adapted from Cooking Light


2 tsp pastured bacon fat or lard
8 oz pastured ground beef
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded purple cabbage (I used 3 mini heads from the garden)
5 small to medium sized beets, roughly chopped (I used chioggia, but any beet variety will work)
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I used Braggs)
1/4 pastured yogurt
2 Tbsp freshly chopped dill

Here is a picture of one of the three mini heads of purple cabbage to give you an idea of how much I used:

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat and add bacon fat or lard.  Once fat is melted, add ground beef and crumble and cook until there isn't any pink left.  Add onion, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic.  Saute until onion is translucent, around 5 minutes or so.  Add shredded cabbage, beets, water, and vinegar and stir to combine.  Cook until cabbage is wilted and the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Spoon your yummy red flannel hash into a bowl and top with pastured yogurt and chopped dill.  The hash is also delicious on top of a bed of mixed greens.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup


2 Tbsp pastured butter
2 small onions, chopped (or 1 medium, chopped)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 butternut squash, chopped and seeds removed (save seeds for roasting--yum!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large russet potatoes, chopped (do not peel--those skins have vitamins!!)
1 fresh sprig of thyme, finely chopped
6 cups homemade chicken stock (I used 16 homemade stock cubes plus water)
2 tsp coarse sea salt (add salt to taste if using a more fine salt)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup pastured milk

black sesame seeds
raw pumpkin seeds


Melt butter over medium heat in a stockpot.  Add onion and saute until translucent.  Add stock to pot along with your chopped squash, potatoes, celery, garlic, and thyme.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce to medium and simmer, covered for approximately 20 minutes or until squash and potato chunks are fork tender.

Once squash and potato chunks are tender, add soup in increments to a blender and puree.  It is helpful to have an extra bowl on hand to transfer your pureed soup into.  Once all of the soup has been pureed and is smooth, add it back to your stockpot.  Add salt, freshly ground pepper, and milk and stir for a couple of minutes to fully incorporate and to let the salt dissolve.

Garnish with black sesame seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, and a thyme sprig.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saving tomato seeds

I don't know about you, but I definitely have favorite tomato types.  My four favorites are green zebra, roma, yellow pear cherry, and cherry tomatoes.  Given that I don't like to buy new seeds every year, it is sort of a "must-know-how" type of thing for when it comes to saving my seeds.  I was a little afraid of saving tomato seeds because it seemed like a daunting task.  However, it was not scary at all and I highly recommend it to all of you other frugal seed-savers out there.

For saving tomato seeds you need:

jars (one jar for each type of tomato)

First, squeeze out the innards of your tomatoes into their respective jars.  Add a tablespoon or two (more if you're processing more tomato seeds) of water into each jar and then stir up the contents.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean dish towel and secure with a rubber band to ensure that insects do not get in your mix. Stir once or twice a day for around three days or so.  Mold may grow on top of the contents, but not to worry, that mold is beneficial! It eats the gelatinous coat away from the seed, which in turn makes that tomato seed able to sprout when you are ready for it to sprout.  After 3 days or so, fill your jar with water and wait 'til the majority of the seeds sink to the bottom.  The seeds that float to the top are immature and can be discarded. Pour out the water mix, leaving only the seeds that initially sunk.  Continue rinsing the seeds in this way until your rinse water is clear and clean looking.  Lay your seeds onto a paper towel, blot to take away the most of the moisture, and then leave in a breezy/sunny area to continue drying.

Store in a cool, dark place until ready to plant.

Happy seed-saving!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My favorite ice cream

Ice cream is one of my favorite things...unfortunately, there are very, very few stores that offer somewhat healthy ice creams.  The best solution is, of course, to make your own! DIY! <--one of my favorite acronyms.

This recipe is not only loaded with healthy fats, but it's also chocolate flavored! What could be better than that? 
Gently modified from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions

3 egg yolks from pastured hens
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 TBS homemade vanilla extract (there is a recipe in one of my previous posts)
1 TBS corn starch
3 cups cream from pastured cows (raw if possible, but NOT ultrapasteurized)
1/4 cup cocoa powder

In medium bowl, beat egg yolks together until smooth.  Blend in next four ingredients.  Once blended, remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and place in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk until completely incorporated.  Place cocoa mixture back into original bowl and combine.

Next, follow the instructions on your ice cream maker and within no time you'll be eating a decadent, chocolate-y treat! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prepping the garden for winter

There is still a ton that needs to be done in the garden, even though there isn't much left to harvest. I am talking about threshing seed heads, cleaning up weeds that are undoubtedly setting seed, and finishing up the bits and pieces left of the harvest.  I picked about 20 tomatillos the other day, which isn't bad for a "volunteer" plant. We didn't even plant tomatillos this year and they still came up! There must have been some viable seed in the compost from last year. I've also got (I'm guessing here) about 30 green cabbage heads that need to made into sauerkraut.  On top of that, the rest of the potatoes must be dug, two kinds of corn kernels must be removed from their ears, the raspberries and strawberries need to be transplanted, dry beans must be threshed, ... and the list goes on and on...

Looks like I've got my week cut out for me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Raw milk!

Milk is SO good for you! I will specify and say that milk from the grocery store (which is pasteurized, homogenized, and from grain-fed confinement cows) is absolutely not good for you, but raw milk from pastured cows definitely is! It truly is nature's perfect food. I love milk.  I never used to even "like" milk, but now that I know the health benefits of drinking real milk, I can say that I truly enjoy the rich flavor. 

Part of the reason I couldn't enjoy milk to the fullest capacity was because of the onslaught of typical lactose-intolerant type symptoms it brought with it.  Growing up, my mum always bought skim milk and I was always hassled to "drink my milk". At some point or other I developed a distaste for milk and then only drank it on occasion. When I moved out of the house, my then-boyfriend now-husband pushed me toward buying 2% milk which is what his mum fed him. Finally having the choice of what milk to buy, I bought organic 2% milk.  This milk was expensive though, and I didn't know much about the company that was producing it nor where it came from. That's when I found out that our local health food store sold local milk! This milk also seemed expensive, but it seemed worth it to me to support a local farm that fed their cows grass. With this discovery, we began drinking whole, grass-fed milk.  As I learned more and more about the benefits of drinking milk from grass-fed cows, I found that there was a farm nearby where I could purchase a portion of the cow herd and receive whatever my portion of the herd produced.  Of course, this included the cow's milk.  The best part of this operation was that I could obtain unpasteurized (raw) milk legally and gain even more benefits from the white, liquid gold. The beauty of raw milk is that it contains all of the enzymes necessary for pretty much digesting itself. This makes it much easier for your body to digest, since your body doesn't have to produce as many digestive enzymes--they're already in the milk! Furthermore, cows raised on pasture are healthy and happy.  They are eating what they are meant to eat and get to be outside all day to boot. When cows are happy and healthy, this also means that their milk is healthy too.  Cows that are fed grain, however, are not happy and are certainly not healthy.  A cow is only able to successfully digest grass and when they are fed grain it makes them sick.  When the cow is sick, it is injected with antibiotics which are then excreted in its milk.  Does a big glass of milk from unhappy, sick cows plus a splash of antibiotics sound good to you? I certainly hope not.  Back when I was buying organic 2% milk, I was purchasing the brand "Horizon" organic milk.  I thought that because the milk was labeled as "organic" that the milk was coming from happy, healthy cows.  The reality is that the majority of the farms that provide milk to Horizon are confinement operations where the cows are always enclosed in tiny pens and, guess what, are only fed grains.  Yes, the grains that are fed to the cows are certified organic, but organic or not, those grains make the cows sick.  It is much better for you and for the cows that are producing your milk to be grass-fed or pastured. If you live in MI and a cow share program to obtain raw milk is not something that you are interested in, at the very least please try to find yourself a source of milk that is grass-fed or pastured. Again, better for the cow and better for you. 

Need more information on raw milk before you make the leap? Here is a little article on raw milk and it's benefits. Also, request "The Untold Story of Milk" by Ron Schmid, ND at your local library.  It's a really, really eye-opening book with tons of great information and history on raw milk and its health benefits. 

Here's to happy milk drinking! 

It's been awhile...

Hey there, folks! It's been a little while since my last post, and I am blaming it all on extreme busy-ness. There has been so much to do around here. I finished canning all of my tomatoes for salsa, picked and thrashed the lettuce seed heads, finished one Christmas-related knitting project, washed and scoured blue-faced leicester fleece as well as half of a fleece of polypay, and started a new knitting project for myself. Among all of that fun stuff that I did, I also wiped myself out with a week-long bout of gastroenteritis from (I am guessing to be) a stomach virus. So yes, I've been very busy.

I am now only working three days a week, which leaves lots of time for doing soul-preserving tasks like baking more, spinning, and knitting.  Boy, have I ever needed it! After a summer of extremely stressful waitress work, the cool weather has brought along the "slow" season and I am finally able to work less. Spinning has brought about a new excitement for me as well:  dyeing! On one of the days that I was feeling moderately well during my sickness, I went out in the rain and collected a huge bucketful of poke berries.  Good thing it was raining too, because my hands were quite the shade of purple when I finished! Tonight I plan on mordanting my washed/scoured polypay fleece and then tomorrow I'll get to dye it.  Michael is currently outside in the dark mashing the poke berries into juice for the dyeing adventure.

I am wishing I had some pictures right about now, because I did a TON of baking and cooking today.  The list consists of:  cinnamon swirl bread, peanut butter pie, shortbread (I swear this list isn't entirely sweets...), cauliflower soup, and a tomato tart. The tomato tart holds the last bit of this year's tomato crop, and I am feeling a little bit down about that. I was also less than thrilled to see how ridiculously puny my leeks were for my cauli soup.  They were probably a centimeter in circumference. Oh well. It was my first year growing leeks (ha, yes, an excuse!).

Well, I am off to start the mordanting process.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Knitting fever...

This summer weather sure has been great and all, but truthfully, I am ready to be wearing my wool again. The Michigan Fiber Festival was (of course) a successful "shopping" trip, and I have plenty of alpaca fleece to spin up and to knit with. Not to mention Elise our angora bunny, as she has been pumping out lots and lots of angora fleece for spinning with too.


Now if I can only finish putting up all of my food in a timely manner...perhaps I'll have some knitting/spinning time in the near future.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

putting up pears

So...remember those pears that I was telling you about? Well, Michael and I went back and picked another 20 lbs or so. That makes for approximately 30 lbs of pears that we picked from our neighbor's tree. We've been letting them ripen in our basement because as I understand it, pears do not ripen well on the tree (or at least not in a timely manner).

Here are the pears in the basement after putting up 14 pints:
Preparing pears for canning takes a lot of work. Michael and I sat outside with 1/3 of our harvest and peeled, cored, and halved the pears. Given that the pears were not treated with any pesticides, some of them had larvae living in them so we had a lot of cleaning to do with them. Once the pears were prepped for canning, we made a light syrup out of sugar, honey, and water. I made a double batch of the syrup ('cause we got a ton o' pears) with 12 cups of water, 2 cups of honey, and 2 cups of sugar. From there we cooked the pears for five minutes in the syrup and then packed our clean, sterilized jars with the pears. You can then fill up to the fill line with the syrup, slap a lid and screw top on, and toss 'em in the canner for 20 minutes (25 for quarts).

A little of our finished product:
Yummy! Keep putting up your goods--winter is around the corner!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Even now as I type, I can hear the satisfying "tink" noises of my salsa jars sealing. Yesterday I learned my Grandpa Kuzniar's secret salsa recipe, and now I have done something with it. We canned several jars yesterday and then canned several more today.

Here is a picture of the bubbling salsa "soup" prior to canning.
Yummy! It is very spicy and positively perfect to be dipped into with salty tortilla chips.

Must keep cooking...

Friday, August 26, 2011


Oy! It has been one busy month here on our less than an acre plot. The garden has been producing SO much food for us. Of course, it can't be eaten all at once, so that's where the "busy" part comes in. I've been canning lots of tomatoes, and have been freezing lots of broccoli, cauliflower, and beans.  Not to mention the amount of dry beans I've had to thresh out of their!  It is amazing just how much there is to do even on such a small plot of land!

As it happens, our neighbors have a pear tree that they are not picking from. Naturally, we asked if we could keep the pears for ourselves when they were ripe and they said "yes". Yesterday we picked about ten pounds of pears from the tree, and we plan to get a ladder and get the remaining, higher up pears on Sunday. From there I'll preserve them in a honey syrup.

Although "putting up" food for winter is a lot of work, it is definitely worth it. You can save so much money by just preserving your own fruits and vegetables! Of course, it does help if you grew the edibles yourself instead of buying them from the grocery store or from the farmer's market.

I'll try to write a "more fun" post soon...'til then, happy summer!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homemade ginger ale and candied ginger

Upset stomach? Sweet tooth? Ginger fanatic? If you have or are any of those, then the following recipe is right for you!

Homemade ginger ale:
2 cups sucanat plus 1/4-1/2 cup reserved (I used my remaining white sugar, but using sucanat is better)
2 cups water
1 large piece of ginger (mine weighed about 6 oz before peeling) peeled and thinly sliced
Soda water or sparkling water
Combine sucanat and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sucanat has dissolved. Add sliced ginger and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn temperature down to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how gingery you would like your syrup. Once the consistency of the syrup has become thick and the ginger slices are tender, take the syrup off the heat and strain into a bowl to cool. 

The now-cooked ginger slices can be tossed in the remaining 1/4-1/2 cup of sucanat and then set aside to dry. Once dry, you have a tasty candied ginger treat to enjoy!
Once syrup has cooled, you may add 1-2 Tbsp to a glass and top with club soda or sparkling water. Stir and enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

How does your garden grow?

...with no silver bells or cockle shells, but we have a lot of vegetables!! This summer we've had the absolute best weather for our garden. Everything is growing really well with little to no true pests.

Sunny sunflower:
Sweet dumpling:
In addition to all of those squash-types, we have items like this lovely cotton plant with a bud:
...and a baby eggplant:
Lastly, there are the wonderful insects that patrol the area. This lovely little fellow is looking back at the camera...
Stay green! :)


Yesterday we went up north to Frankfort to pick tart cherries at this orchard. It was a lovely day for it--not too hot, and not too humid. Michael and I picked 50 lbs of cherries and then had a lovely chat with one of the orchard owners. She asked us if we had ever had "cherry bounce" before, and we said no. Next came the mason jar filled with "cherry bounce". 
All I can say for that is to enjoy (it's delicious!) and be very, very careful. ;)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Busy July...

Whew! July has been a very, very busy month! Michael and I purchased a half of a cow share through Green Pastures in Coopersville, and we receive 1.5 gallons of luxurious, raw cow milk each week. With our unpasteurized milk we have made yoghurt, ice cream, and, best of all, curds and whey. We let the milk sit out for three days before it had separated significantly, and then we strained out the whey from the curds. Those chunky little curds got all smooshed together to make cream cheese and the whey was set aside for lacto-fermenting veggies later on. To be honest, I was pretty nervous about eating the cream cheese that was made only by letting the milk sour. We spread the cheese on some homemade crackers and topped it with some of last summer's red jalapeno jelly and oh boy, was that good! I didn't think twice about devouring the last of the crackers with some cheese.

If you have some form of access to raw grass-fed cow's milk or raw goat milk, I highly recommend you  take the opportunity. So many people are terrified to drink unpasteurized milk, but the reality is that before the late 1800's when pasteurization was "invented", everybody drank or used raw milk. Not only does raw milk taste better, it is also better tolerated by those folks who are somewhat lactose intolerant. Raw milk contains the enzyme lactase, which helps digest the milk sugar lactose, which in turn helps those who cannot digest lactose to actually be able to consume it and have little to none ill-effects. That being said, if you are lactose-intolerant, try drinking raw milk in very small amounts to see how it affects your body first rather than consuming lots and assuming that you will be free of side effects.

There will be more talk here of milk, of that I am sure, but there will also be talk of fruits and veggies as well. Tomorrow Michael and I are going to Frankfort to pick organic tart cherries and enjoy a picnic lunch. My hope is that we can pick 50 lbs of sour cherries for drying, freezing, and juicing. I am very sure we can reach that goal...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dilly beans!!

...So I usually don't care for canned beans--that includes the home-canned ones. They always end up too mushy and flavorless. In fact, I still have several jars of canned green beans from two years ago, and I doubt they'll be eaten.

While I was complaining about canned beans last night at work, my friend Karlee asked me if I'd ever had dilly beans. The answer to that is "no", but it just so happens that I love dill, garlic, vinegar, and pickled things in general, so...why would I dislike dilly beans? Given that we have an abundance of green beans and wax beans,
I decided that I should pickle some of them. I picked just about 2 lbs of greens/waxes for pickling.
Here they are, all packed in jars and ready to be processed.
Following their 10 minute boiling water bath...
Thanks for the idea, Karlee! I can't wait to taste them!!

On another exciting note, I picked our first cucumber of the season today. 
So many good things to eat!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

making your own vanilla extract

While looking through the recipe archive of one of my favorite blogs, I came across this fantastic recipe. Homemade vanilla extract? Yes, please! An INEXPENSIVE homemade vanilla extract? Double yes, please! The vanilla extract that I usually purchase is the "Simply Organic" brand, and it ranges from $9.99 to $10.99 for four ounces. I was very excited to find this particular recipe because it will cost about the same amount for me to make eight ounces of vanilla extract as it would as if I had just purchased the four ounce bottle--that's double the extract for half of the price! Not only is it less expensive to make your own vanilla extract, but it is also very easy.

The tools that you need to make your own vanilla extract are:
Mason jar with tight-fitting lid (I like the "Ball" brand plastic, screw-top lids)
3-4 vanilla beans
1 cup measure
1 cup alcohol (I used rum)
Slice vanilla beans lengthwise to reveal seeds. Once sliced, chop them into 1 inch pieces. Look at those tiny seeds!!
Put all of the chopped vanilla bean pieces into your mason jar.
Add one cup of your alcohol of choice.
Screw your lid on very tightly and shake 'er up!
Store in your cupboard until the vanilla bean goodness has been fully extracted! Ann Marie of CHEESESLAVE, the author of this recipe, suggests storing your vanilla extract for at least eight weeks before using.