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Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

I went to my first swap this past April. I had heard of swaps but didn’t find one in my area until a friend found this one on a MeetUp page and told me about it.

Swap July 2013

Swap July 2013

The organizer set up a few guidelines and the rest is history. She holds it once a month.

There were a few guidelines to follow:

  • No money was allowed – this is all about the trade and bartering with what you have for what you want/need.
  • Items should be sustainably-minded. Something you have grown in your garden, something you conned/cooked/brewed/baked/preserved/dried, etc. Something your animals made (goat milk, hen eggs, lamb wool, etc.) Something you sewed/knitted/re-purposed, etc. Items to do with sustainable interests are also good (Mother Earth News magazines, cookbooks, cooking/camping gear, etc)
  • The items you should leave at home: this is not a garage sale, items should be about sustainability. Leave the knick-knacks at home.

Once we set up, we were allowed 15 minutes to walk around and check out the items other people brought so we could see what we were interested in.

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Each month I have been posting about the swap over on my personal blog. About a month ago I realized that I hadn’t posted about the July swap and I thought it would be a good topic to post here. I have known the swap and barter system is out there and alive, and I realize that there may be others out there that are interested, but don’t know were to look or even how to get started.

Here are the other swap posts I have done”

Here are a few places to look to find swaps in your area: Note: I will add additional information to this post as I find it or as people comment. (updated 19 Sept 2013)

Would you go to a swap if you had one in your area?
Are you participating in a swap in your area?

Please use the comments to let others know about how to find a swap. If you out there participating in a swap, please comment with the general area you are in and add a link to the swap information.

Sincerely, Emily

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I have been looking around for a different cookie recipe to take to a cookie exchange that I am going to next week. In the process I came across a recipe for Pecan Pie Bars. My husband is a big fan of pumpkin pie and pecan pie, and my neighbor usually makes the pecan pie and I usually make an apple cranberry thingy. Well, this year, for Thanksgiving, I completely dropped the ball on desert and Wednesday night by husband asked if we were having pumpkin pie…. ahhh, no.

I did get him to agree to help me with the pecan pie bars and boy, they were great!

Pecan Pie Bars

Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. crust: combine flour, powdered sugar and salt. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until your mixture is course crumbs. Pat the crumb mixture into an ungreased 11×7 baking dish. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until it is a golden brown.

“Pie” filling
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup agave syrup
1T cornstarch
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

While you crust is baking, mix together eggs, pecans, brown sugar, agave syrup, 2 T melted butter and vanilla. Spread this mixture over your baked crust.
Bake for 20 minutes (350F/180C). Cool before cutting.

We cut our bars rather large (15 bars). I know I will be making these bars a few more times through December and will cut them much smaller (24 bars).

When I found this recipe, I didn’t have light corn syrup on hand, so I turned to our resident baker here at NDIN (Emily at Tanglewood Farm) about using a substitute and she recommended trying agave syrup. After I mixed the “filling” it seemed a bit thin and runny so I decided to add 1T of cornstarch to the mix. I have NO idea if this helped or not. All I can tell you is the “filling” was firm and came out fine.

When I decided to try this recipe I was looking forward to using my Vitamix to make the powdered sugar. Before I got started, I looked up in the cupboard, waaaaay in the back, just to make sure there wasn’t any store-bought powdered sugar still lurking up there. OH, MY! I found A LOT of powdered sugar up there. I can’t tell you when the last time was that I used any powered sugar, but I can also tell you that even though I gave away a ton of food before we moved to Texas (4+ years ago), somehow this powdered sugar came with us. Crazy! I can also tell you that this stuff in OLD. I probably would have bought this when I was taking cake decorating classes when we lived in Palm Springs. That was about 10 years ago. YIKES!

If any of you are from California, you will also laugh, because one of the packages is from Lucky (grocery store) and another box I found is from Stater Brothers. Lucky closed many years ago, but Stater brothers is still around out there.

What kind of treats are you baking this time of year?

Sincerely, Emily

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Is this really true?  Pinch me? Am I really writing here with all these other wonderful contributors? What an honor.

My husband and I have been living north of San Antonio on the edge of the Hill Country for almost four years. When I arrived here I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. When we left Palm Springs, CA I had a business beading and selling jewelry. I did a market every Thursday night in downtown Palm Springs and on weekends would travel around doing other shows usually in the LA and San Diego areas, but I would go as far as Tucson and San Francisco at times. Initially, I thought I would continue along the path of beading. Beading definitely took a back seat once the garden was in and my perspective on things was changing fast.

Mooakite Necklace

I laugh as I think of all the changes I have gone through to get to where I am now. I was a high school exchange student in Tasmania. I went to college and have a degree in Art and Interior Design. I worked in that field for a while. I then started taking flying lessons. At the same time I started working part-time at the flight school as a receptionist and secretary. That soon turned into a full-time job and I continued on with flight lessons working my way up to holding my commercial license and also flight instructing. I met my husband at that airport. He was flying and maintaining vintage airplanes at the air museum next door. My husband and I then moved to Kenya for a year. He flew tourists around Mt Kenya in an open cockpit bi-plane (think Out of Africa, complete with leather headset playing the music from the movie, leather jacket and white silk scarf) and I helped run the business from the ground and occasionally flew for fun. When we returned to the states we headed out to Palm Springs, CA for ten years, and now we find ourselves in Texas.

Within the first year in Texas, we put in a large vegetable garden with raised beds and my mom showed me how to make no-knead bread. That was one of the turning points for so many things for me.

Cheddar Cheese

I realize that nothing happens overnight, although there are times I wish it did. There are also set backs along this path and I realize that I can change some of those things, but others are in the hands of Mother Nature. As I look back on the past few years I see that I really have accomplished a lot. We have 1300 gallons of rain water collection set up and after this year of drought I realize I really need to increase that by A LOT if I want to continue to grow more of the food we eat. I have increased the amount of vegetable growing space and increased other flower and herb gardens with plans to do more. I have learned many new things from making soap and pasta to making hard cheese and I look forward to learning more things like making lotions.  Recently I have taken a few classes to be able to read knitting and crochet patterns and have take some sewing classes to brush up on reading those patterns too. Right now I am in the middle of a personal challenge to knit scarves for the 2012 Special Olympics Scarf Project.  I love herbs. I love growing them, cooking with them and learning about them.

Dill

I can remember when I was a little girl and making gifts. I am sure there was a macaroni necklace in there somewhere, but I have progressed a bit from that. Even though I am not beading full-time anymore, I still find time for some beading and other creative and crafting things like sewing, making cards, crafting, knitting; some of which I will share during REAL Holidays at NDiN as I make my holiday gifts this year. I always seem to have a long list of things to do or try. I look forward to sharing some of those things with you as I learn along the way. The holidays will be here before we know it.

I am very excited to be here at Not Dabbling in Normal. I will be posting here every other Saturday, and if you have the time, stop by my blog Sincerely, Emily to see what else I am up to.

Sincerely, Emily

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First let me clear up that unprocessed for me means not processed in a factory, doesn’t come in a bag/box, and is as close to the way it was harvested as possible. Cooking, canning, fermenting, and freezing are all ways of processing foods, but for this challenge we’re not using the term for these methods. So a fried egg for me in unprocessed, even though technically it’s a processed food. I’m guessing this is the way you are all thinking processed as well. When you’re trying to make a choice, choose the least processed. For example, if you’re looking at cheese, buy a real cheese instead of something like Velveeta or American cheese. If you can, find a local raw milk cheese or an artisan cheese made with old-fashioned methods.

Snacking is probably the hardest area to go unprocessed. Often you’re out and about and you have to do some preplanning to avoid the packaged granola bars, bags of chips, and bottles of juice. Here at Chiot’s Run we follow the Nourishing Traditions parameters for eating, and we try to fit our snacking within those parameters. When I snack I prefer salty, protein rich foods, instead of grain and sugar based snacks. What kids of snacks will you find me eating at home, and when I’m on the road? olives (I brine my own), fermented pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, hard boiled egg, yogurt, kefir, artisan raw milk cheese, toast with lots of butter, sauteed seasonal vegetables, a fresh salad, a glass of raw milk, a raw milk latte, a small cup of custard, pumpkin pie, etc.



We actually don’t snack much around here, once we switched a Real Food diet of minimally processed foods, the less we felt like snacking. I think it’s because we’re eating more fat and our bodies are being nourished. I believe that feeling hungry and snacky between meals usually means you’re not eating enough at meals (especially healthy fats) or that your body is undernourished and needs some vitamins and minerals. Along with trying to transition to healthier snacks, try to add more nutrition to your meals by: adding more herbs and spices, consider taking a fermented cod liver oil supplement, include some kind of fermented food with each meal to help your body absorb more from your food.

What are some of your favorite unprocessed or homemade snacks?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at You Day Magazine, Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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apple swirl

Having recently prepared apple cider and frozen apple slices, it occurred to me that I should give brewing cider vinegar a whirl. After all, I’ve brewed plenty of wine and soda pop and both could unintentionally turn into vinegar… why not do it on purpose?

Cider vinegar has been touted for its health benefits. Years ago, I recall my great-uncle consuming it every day to help with his cancer therapy. My father-in-law takes a capful each morning to help with his IBS. It’s claimed that cider vinegar can help with everything from acne to yeast infections. It helps make hair shiny, it can be used as a cleanser, and it adds a great tang to salads.

So I looked into multiple recipes. Some called for adding sugar, others yeast. Wanting to keep my vinegar as organic, natural, and healthful as possible, I avoided those recipes and combined two recipes to suit my needs. The originals can be found at wikibooks.org and at Ultimate Money Blog. So you may ask why did I change the recipes? For simplicity and for eating “nose to tail” so to speak. I’ve had so many apple scraps that are happily going to my compost pile (and in turn into my chickens’ bellies as they scavenge) but I’d rather make a better use of them for immediate consumption. Also, Autumn apples have plenty of sugar to spare. Finally, I want to capture a “wild yeast” instead of using a winemaking or bread baking yeast in order to keep it as beneficial as possible. So this is what I came up with:

apple scraps

 

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Apple scraps: peels, cores and flesh – cleaned and removed of dirt and bruised areas.
  • Chlorine-free water to cover fruit, preferably filtered or boiled.
  • Food-grade plastic, stainless steel, or glass containers. Vinegar can corrode some metals.
  • Campden tablet (optional)
  1. Put fruit scraps into your containers and just cover with water. Add a campden tablet if desired to kill any bacteria or yeast that could interfere with your desired wild yeast. Leave plenty of air space to encourage circulation and give room for bubbling. Cover with some cheesecloth or another fine cloth to keep fruit flies out, yet allow fresh oxygen (and wild yeast!) to enter. Keep your container out of sunlight and in room temperature (about 65F to 70F).
  2. Encourage the fruit to break down and fermentation to work its magic by mixing the solution every day for two weeks. After two weeks, remove the fruit scraps.
  3. Allow fermentation to continue. Once the bubbling slows down siphon the solution into a clean container, avoiding the sediment and foam. This may need to happen the day after you remove the fruit scraps depending on how quickly the process is working for your individual solution. Don’t do it the same day as removing the fruit scraps will stir up any sediment – give it a day to settle.
  4. Let this second container do its work for another 2-3 months. It should develop a white film on top – the vinegar mother. You want to keep this mother so you can continue to brew vinegar year round! You can now remove up to two-thirds of your vinegar for use. Refresh your mother with fresh, clear cider and you will have another batch of vinegar ready in about two to three months.

Please note that unless you can verify the acid levels (5% acetic acid) you should not use this vinegar for preservation, especially in canning. Canning goods requires a specific acid level in order to keep out harmful bacteria and keep food fresh.

Over the next couple of months I’ll update my progress with my first batch of vinegar. Have you ever made vinegar before whether intentionally or not?

You can also find Jennifer at Unearthing This Life where she blargs about living in rural Tennessee.

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fall foods

This year we’re making an extra effort to put up as much local food as possible while it’s at its peak ripeness. In most parts of the country, apples are in big demand. Orchards are packed and picked and farm stands are offering their very best. While my intention for apples was primarily to freeze, I couldn’t pass by a great deal on “juice apples” that a nearby farm stand had – $12 for a bushel. Juice apples are basically slightly bruised or barely overripe fruit. It’s best to combine several varieties of fruit to balance out sweetness, brightness, and tartness.

Once I got the apples home, I had to put my brain to work debating the best way to make cider without a juicer. Simple was key for me. My first experiment was fun… and messy.

First I lined the interior of a large box (conveniently the lid from one of my bushels) with aluminum foil. Next I set my heavy-duty cutting board inside (a piece of plywood would also work) and covered it with aluminum also. Once everything was juice-proof, I made a curtain of sorts out of wax paper and cut a slit down the middle.

lined box for apple cider

lined box for apple juice

Now for the fun part. I used my meat tenderizer to smash the apples to bits! I found it beneficial to turn up the foil at the bottom edge so that any juice didn’t pour out over the floor. This would be a great project to get kids involved, or to take out any frustrations.

whack-an-apple

apple mash

I finished up by squeezing the apple pulp, by hand, with some good cheesecloth into a container and quickly gulped it down. It had to be the best cider I’ve ever had.

Of course having a second bushel of apples to deal with meant I didn’t have much time or energy to play “Whack-an-Apple”, so I figured out the cheaters version of making cider.

grater

Quarter apples and send through the grater attachment on your food processor. When you get through all of your apples, allow them to sit in large bowls overnight in your refrigerator. The next day wring the grated apples through cheesecloth and strain the final product if needed. Letting the apples rest overnight allows more juices to naturally release from the fruit, making your job that much easier.

The best part is that you can freeze any cider that you can’t immediately consume for later use! How about some warm cider on Christmas Eve? If the cider wasn’t so good as it was, I would even consider making some apple jack! (hic)

What’s your favorite thing to make with apples?

****

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing This Life where she blargs about her adventures with her Hubby, the Kid, and their life in rural Tennessee.

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Breakfast Bread

slice

We had a couple of requests for bread recipes this past week so I thought I’d be obliging and share our Cinnamon Swirl bread. This is the bread that my daughter asks for almost every morning of the week. It’s fantastic toasted and supremely decadent served up as french toast. I’ve used both dried cranberries and raisins as a filler, but it would be fantastic with diced dates or prunes, dried apples, or any other dried fruit, and seed. I hope you enjoy!

rolled bread with honey

My recipe is based on this one published in Bread Baker’s Apprentice and shared by Smitten Kitchen. I’ve altered it to suit my family’s needs.

Makes one two-pound loaf

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp  honey
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups room temperature water
  • 2 Tbsp oil for bowl
  • 1/4 cup raisins or cranberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

I always add 1/2 cup unfed sourdough starter (the perfect way to use up “waste” when you’re feeding it). You can also substitute 1 Tbsp of whey for water.

  1. In a large bowl mix all of your dry ingredients.
  2. In your mixing bowl add honey, butter, yogurt, and one cup water. If you’re adding sourdough starter, now’s the time to add it. If you’re using a stand mixer jump to the next step. For hand mixing, make a well in your flour combination and start adding your liquids. When your dough forms a nice ball and no flour remains you’ve added enough liquid. Sprinkle a workspace with extra flour and work your dough for 8-10 minutes. The ball should be slightly tacky and springy. Skip the next step
  3. If you’re using a stand mixer you can begin adding about 1/3 of the dry mixture using your paddle. Once that’s very well incorporated switch over to your dough attachment. Continue adding flour until the dough begins to work up your hook. You’ve added enough dry mixture when the dough resembles a tornado and the sides of the bowl are clean. Allow the dough to mix on medium speed for about 5-6 more minutes.
  4. Oil a bowl (I like grape seed oil but have used olive oil as well) and roll dough in the bowl to cover with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly sprinkle flour on workspace and gently roll out dough. Very carefully pull and shape the dough to form a rectangle about 8 inches by 12 inches. You don’t want to release any of the air trapped in the dough by handling the dough roughly. Drizzle your honey all over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with your dried fruit and finally the cinnamon.
  6. toppings

  7. Carefully roll up the rectangle of dough to form the swirls and set inside an oiled bread pan. Cover pan and allow to rise for another hour or until bread rises just past the top of the pan. During the last 20 minutes of rising, set your oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake bread for 30 minutes. Turn bread around for even baking and finish baking for another 10-15 minutes or when internal temperature reaches 205 F.
  9. When bread is done baking, turn out immediately on a cooling rack and try to be patient before you cut into it. Okay, okay, 10 minutes should be okay but a half hour is even better!

cinnamon swirl

Slice off a good hunk and top with some homemade butter and, if you have a real sweet tooth, a drizzle of honey and enjoy!!

You can find Jennifer over at Unearthing This Life where she blargs about her life with one Kid, one Hubby, two cats, and seven chickens. Yes, the boys are outnumbered.

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