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Posts Tagged ‘make your own’

As it warms up in my area, I am already starting to notice fruit flies in the kitchen. I certainly don’t miss having hem around in cooler winter months! They aren’t out in full force yet, but I know it won’t be long.

I understand the temptation for them with all the fermenting experiments on the count, so it isn’t like I a surprised they are around, but it just gets hard when you do to take a drink of something like ginger beer  and find a fruit fly floating in the glass AGAIN!

Last summer I tried a few experiments to try to control their numbers. This is the one that I found that worked best.

Fruit fly trap

Fruit fly trap

I took a smaller sized mason jar and put some ginger beer in it (you can use anything sweet and tempting to a fruit fly – even cut up fruit.) Then I covered the jar with a piece of paper and secured it to the jar with a rubber band making sure that it was tight around the jar (no gaps at all). Next, I poked holes in the top with a larger needle. The holes needed to be big enough for the fruit flies to get in, but not get out.

I tried this with plastic wrap at first but if I poked a hole to big that was non productive and I also noticed that after a few fruit flies were trapped in there, that was it, no others seemed to try. That is why I switched to paper, thinking the fruit flies on the outside couldn’t see the ones on the inside and still try to get into the trap. The paper seemed to work really well.

Fruit Fly trap 1The only downfall I have noticed is, that once you have a ton of fruit flies in there, how do you kill them and get them out without taking the paper off (the lies one fly away!) I managed to shake up the jar enough to get them all wet and then empty it at the sink where I could rinse everything down with water before they had a chance to dry off and fly away. Another option is to set the jar outside and forget about it (yup, I did that) until they all die, then take the paper off and clean out your jar.

I had more than one trap going in the kitchen at a time and switched them out often for a fresh one. I realized that I needed fresh ginger beer in their to keep attracting them into the trap.

Have you made a fruit fly trap that works well for you? Please share you experiences in the comments.

Sincerely, Emily

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When we moved to Texas I was thrilled because we had a big backyard and lot of space to put a garden in. Before I did anything out back I waited to see what was growing back there in the “flower” gardens. The previous owner had said, “oh the back gardens are beautiful with so many blooming things,” so I waited and watched. Hmmmm….. looked like a huge unkempt mess to me, all over the property, and after waiting and watching, that is mostly what it was – a mess. As  I slowly made my way through the mess I also started planning the vegetable garden. Lots to do.

When it came time to put tomatoes in, I got out my old tomato supports – you know, the galvanized support that is round and bigger on top, then tappers done to 3 or 4 spikes to anchor it in the ground. They had served me well in the past, but after using them here, they just weren’t big enough or heavy-duty enough to support the tomato plants.

A roll of galvanized wire

A roll of galvanized wire

My neighbor showed me the cages he made. They were made from reinforced concrete mesh. It is really rusty, but it worked. So I picked up some hog rings, borrowed my neighbors bolt cutters and a special pair of pliers (that he modified to secure the hog rings) and I was ready to make my own tomato cages.

The tools I use

The tools I use

These cages have worked great for all of my tomato plants, and I even use them for some of the pepper plants like Anaheim and bell peppers that tend to get real tall. The other peppers I plant (banana, cubanelle, jalapeno, Serrano, cayenne get bushy, but so seem to need the support of the cage so I just don’t cage them.

If you do a quick search on the internet for “tomato cage images” you will see 1000′s of examples. The cages I make and use are just one example.

Originally, I bought a roll of the concrete reinforced mesh and I still have those original cages today. A few years ago I bought a 300′ roll of galvanized wire and have been using that roll as I needed more cages and other things around the yard.

The supplies I use:

  • Sturdy wire mesh/fencing
  • Bolt Cutters
  • Hog Rings
  • Hog Ring pliers or tool
  • Gloves

I usually do this kind of stuff on my own, so to keep the unrolled section of fencing from rolling back on top of me and (biting me as it springs back,) I take two rocks (see photo above) and to anchor the ends down as I unroll the fence just enough to make one cage at a time. I count the squares off and stand on the section of fence that makes up the cage. I have found that using bolt cutters cuts the wire so easily for me. You can use a wire cutters, but since I struggle with tendon issues in my hands the last thing I want to do it aggravate that, so I use the bolt cutters – no problems. Cutting off the raw endsMake sur I am have picked them all upOnce I have cut my section of fence, I cut off the the exposed, raw ends.  You can use those ends to wrap around and secure your cages with those end, I just don’t want those rough ends – I tend to scratch myself up on them while picking tomatoes.  Before I finish my tomato cage, I pick up the raw ends I just cut off. I count them each time to make sure I didn’t miss one. The last thing I want to do is run over one of those with the lawn mower!

How I keep it togetherNow, it is time to connect the ends of the wire fencing to make the tomato cage. I use three hog rings per cage. You can use more if you want, that is up to you. I get one hog ring ready in the special pliers. My neighbor cut notches in a normal set of pliers so the hog rings wouldn’t slip out as he was using it. I think you can buy a set of pliers specifically made for this tasks, I am just using the tools that my neighbor has. I start by securing the middle section of the cage first, that way I don’t have one end of the wire gaping and flopping around ready to scratch me up. I roll the wire fencing into a tube and hold the two ends together near the center. My other hand is ready with the hog ring. Then is is just a matter of securing the two ends.

doneDone.

Your cage may be a bit out of shape. Just roll it and push down on the wire to get it formed into a nice circular tube.

These make very study tomato cages and they will last for many many years. My neighbor just started replacing a few of the cages he made using the reinforced concrete mesh that he made 15-20 years ago.

What do you use to support your tomato (or pepper plants)

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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This is a post I had started over on my personal blog a few years ago, but it just kept getting pushed further down the posting list until it was out of sight. Alexandra commented on my post last week about getting the recipe…. just the push I needed I guess.

I found this recipe back in 2010 over at Living on a Dime and I have been making them ever since then. This is what my husband has for breakfast every day. They make a great snack and they freeze well.  I always grab a few to take with me when I head out to run errands for the day. Having them with me keeps me from making a bad decision (fast food drive-thru) when I start to get really hungry.

I stack them in a pint canning jars to take in the truck.

I stack them in a pint canning jars to take in the truck.

The base of the recipe is great and then you go off in the direction you want to with your special ingredients. I substitute honey for the granulated sugar in this recipe. I know honey still has calories just like granulated sugar, but I am not focusing on calories here, I am focusing on my ingredients and where they come from along with the benefits of the things I add to them. Also, I think I am getting a healthier granola bar then the ones in the store that are full of additives and preservatives that I am working so hard to stay away from.

mixing up granola bars

Homemade Granola Bars           Adapted from website Living on a Dime

Cream together (I use my stand mixer or hand-held mixer)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

Add to mix (use electric mixer)
2 Tbsp. honey or corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Peanut butter (optional)

Add to mix (I still use that mixer)
1 cup flour
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Stir into mix

Add dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Add to mix
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal (I use an organic puffed rice or puffed millet)

Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. (I use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into pan.)

Bake at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes. (looking for golden brown – but not crispy

The bars will firm up as they cool.
Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting.
Makes 24 bars.

Here is what I add to mine:
Ground flax seed
Sunflower seeds
Peanuts
Coconut
Raisins or died cranberries or dried apricots

Granola Bars - done

A few of my notes:

  • I don’t tend to measure the ingredients when I am making these up, other than there is always a 1 cup measure in each jar of flour that I have and 1/4 cup measuring cup in both my oatmeal and my puffed millet. I have found when using honey in place of the granulated sugar that I need to add more flour to the mixture. Since I am not measuring, my granola bars can come out either quite chewy gooey or quite firm and crunchy.
  • Another thing to keep in mind when using more honey in these bars, is that if you bake them at 350F like the original recipe calls for, they will brown and burn more quickly and the bars won’t be completely cooked, so I turn down the oven to 300F to bake them slower and a lower heat setting. They still brown up more, but they don’t burn as quickly.

I cannot count how many times that I have passed on this recipe and everyone that has made them has been thrilled with the results.

I make two batches at a time and always keep them in the freezer.

Do you make your own granola or granola bars? Feel free the share your recipe or a link to it in the comments.

Sincerely, Emily

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Over the past few months I have helped a some friends start making up liquid laundry soap. Now that they have seen how easy it is they are asking more questions about additional recipes. One that keeps coming is is Dishwasher Detergent.

Dishwashing powder

My journey to the current dishwasher detergent recipe that I use has been a long one. Mainly that of trial and error. And then more trial…

The original basic recipe that I saw over and over was this:

  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 1/4 cup Washing Soda (not Baking Soda)
  • 1/8 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 cup Citric Acid

Use 1 T per load in detergent compartment.
You can see some discussion on this during the Real Clean Roundup over at Not Dabbling in Normal from May 2011. Same recipe as you see listed above

Well, that basic didn’t seem to work for me and there are several variables that seem to make this either; sort-of work, work really well, or not work at all. I have been through all of them.

The Big variable is the water. It is amazing how much difference there is in water. We all know about soft water and hard water, and then there is everything in between. All those “everything’s” are huge variables, apparently, in making your own dishwasher detergent.

In all my trials, what it came down to was the amount of citric acid in my recipe and the amount of homemade detergent that I actually put in my dishwasher each time. Here is the recipe that is working for me.

  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 1/4 cup Washing Soda (not Baking Soda)
  • 1/8 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 cup Citric Acid

1 T per load in the compartment (no more, no less)

If my silverware and glasses come out cloudy – that usually means I got carried away and added to much detergent mixture. If it happens, I am more careful about measuring it out next time I do the dishes.

For a Rinse Aide:

I use regular white vinegar in the rinse air compartment or a citrus infused vinegar (made by taking the peel (no rind) off any citrus and letting it sit in vinegar for several weeks.

Now that I have been making my own dishwasher powder for a few years, there is still one more things I have struggled with; the mixture getting hard in the the jar.

chipping away at itEvery time I wanted to run the dishwasher I would have to chip away at the jar of dishwasher powder to get some of it out. I am a pretty patient person, so I didn’t get too worked up about having to chip away at it, but the final straw was when I couldn’t get it broken up with a spoon like I normally did and I used a knife.

Not only did I chip away at the dishwasher powder, but I took a big chunk of glass out of the bottom of the canning jar it was in. Opps! This patient person reached her limit. Time for a change.

My quick fix to this problem was just to keep the ingredients separate. Ya, that means opening four jars to just get the ingredients out, but each ingredient isn’t clumping up anymore. No chipping away at it. It is working great.

Now instead of 1T out of a big jar I measure out just shy of 1 teaspoon of each ingredient per load and things are working great. No more clumping. No more chipping away. yes, I have to open four jars, but I still think that I am ahead of the game when it comes to frugal and environmentally safe.

Do you make your own dishwasher detergent?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Lately I have been taking an appetizer to several different meetings. In the effort to make things easy on myself I just keep taking the same herbal cheese spread over and over. I don’t have to think about it, just make it and take it.

This spread is also great on toast and has been breakfast for me a few times over the past few weeks too.

Herbal Cheese Spread

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 4T or more sour cream
  • 1 T dried basil
  • 1 T dried dill weed
  • Chopped walnuts (optional)

Let cream cheese and blue cheese stand at room temperature until soft
Blend two cheese until smooth.
Adjust the amount of sour cream to reach the consistency that you want.
Add basil and dill weed
Mix thoroughly and put into your serving bowl
Top with walnuts (optional)
Chill until serving
Makes 1 1/4 cups of cheese mixture

In place of the cream cheese you can use the farmer’s cheese that Jen posted about here at NDIN a few years ago or you can use a yogurt cheese. I didn’t find a post here on NDIN about making yogurt cheese so I will post about that in the next few weeks. Using the farmer’s cheese or the yogurt cheese changes the consistency of this herbal cheese spread, but it still works.

You can use what ever blend of herbs you like. Play with it. Have fun with it.

Do you have a favorite appetizer that you tend to make a lot?

Sincerely, Emily

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Like many things, I have wanted to start brewing kombucha since I started hearing  about it a  few years ago. Well, I finally met the right person; someone to get a scoby from and I was off and running. I was getting my photos ready (ahh, 4 weeks ago) and started writing up my post over on my personal blog when I read Miranda’s, “Who’s your Mother?” where she talked about making vinegar and a mentioned kombucha. I figured I would follow her lead and post about my kombucha experiences here instead of over at Sincerely, Emily

With my new scoby in hand I was ready to get started. I better back up a bit… what the heck is a scoby? You may remember from Miranda’s post about vinegar and its mother; it is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast  or scoby, and it turns a simple brew of tea and sugar into an amazing beverage. Kombucha is one of those wonders of the world I think. Chalk full of great stuff like beneficial enzymes and probiotics. Amazing things that will help with your entire body. Seriously, it is that good for you!

I am not the first at NDIN to write about kombucha. You can read a great post about it called “Kombucha” that was posted back in August of 2008. I encourage you to read that post, it is full of a lot of the details and benefits about kombucha so I won’t repeat it. Even though I had read a lot about it, I still had questions, so I wanted to share with you about the things I didn’t find in the books I read.

My friend handed me the smaller jar like you see in the above photo with an odd looking “thing” inside with some liquid. That “thing” is the scoby. The liquid is there to keep the scoby moist and alive, but that liquid is also used to start your new batch of kombucha. I didn’t go home with much more information. All she said was keep the scoby in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it (slows down the growing process.) Brew some strong black tea with sugar, let it sit over night and once it is at room temp you can add your scoby. How much tea? How much sugar? What do I put it in?

Kombucha – Day 6

When I have seen scoby’s advertized on Craig’s List most of them come with and a gallon glass jar (the kombucha will react with metal and it will absorb things from plastic, so always use glass), so I had already figured out I need the jar, now I needed to figure out what recipe to use. I have two books that touch on kombucha, but both have very different recipes in them.  Here is the recipe I use:

  • 3 quarts of filtered water
  • 1 cup of sugar (I use organic cane sugar) everything I have read advised against using honey
  • 4 scoops of black tea (I use organic loose tea, but you can use 4 tea bags also)

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add tea. Let steep until liquid is at room temperature. Remove loose/bag tea and pour liquid into gallon-size jar. Add your 1/2 cup of kombucha that your scoby came in (or from your previous batch), place scoby on top of liquid and cover with a cotton dish towel. You want your towel to do two things; cover the opening in the jar to keep dust and critters out, yet allow it to breath and also to keep the entire glass jar covered and the contents in the dark.

Brewing your batch can take anywhere from 7-10 days. I initially went with 10 days, but after 2 batches I realized that 7 days worked much better because of the amount of heat in our house. I found that brewing it for 10 days the outcome was a very sour, vinegary tasting kombucha, while the 7 day brew was a bit tart and tasted much like a tart apple cider or apple juice and had quite a bit of fizz that had developed. I imagine as the fall temps start creeping in I will need to increase my brew time.

Kombucha – Day 10

So, I set out and brewed my tea liquid and was ready to start the following morning.  Some of my loose tea escaped through my tea ball so I strained the liquid as I added it to the jar. Next was to get the scoby out of the smaller jar. I wasn’t prepared for the feel and texture of it. It was much firmer than I expected, and spongy/fleshy (sorry). I was trying to gently get it out of the jar with out damaging it. I thought it was a tender, delicate “thing.” My brain kept telling me “it’s alive” and I as I was nervously laughing, I had to keep saying out loud, over and over, “it’s ok, you can do this” like it was going to suddenly move or wiggle. I finally got it into the larger jar and it looks like a big flat pancake in there (just like Miranda’s Mother), although this one looked like it had been used for a few batches (and that ok) and was sort of frilly around the edges.

On day 9 I brewed up another batch of tea/sugar and let it cool overnight. When day 10 came along, I was ready. I had peaked on and off at the kombucha brew as the 10 days went by and I could see the new baby “mother” forming. It was very white and creamy compared to the darker tan on I started with. I started by trying to separate the baby from the original scopy while it was still in the jar. I have since figured out it is easier to get it out, place it in a bowl and do the separating then. I poured the brewed kombucha into bottles and set them in the refrigerator to cool down. I washed my gallon jar and was ready for my second batch. I poured in the tea/sugar mixture and then set out to separate the two scobys. That first time was interesting. The were still quite attached to once another and it took me a few seconds to get them separated. My new baby scoby came off with a hole in it about the size of a quarter. I still used it and placed it in the new liquid helping it to lay on the top and then added some of my newly brewed kombucha. The older mother I placed in a jar along with addition kombucha and placed it in the refrigerator. I needed to make another batch of tea/sugar and then I could use that mother too.

Kombucha – separating the new scoby

I checked on the new baby after a day and noticed it was not floating horizontally on top of the liquid, but it was completely submerged and floating vertically. Vertically! What?! I think that happened because of the hole in it. The batch still formed a new scoby horizontally at the top of the liquid. It was so perfect and smooth that is was amazing looking.

I also now stagger my batches or I run out of empty bottles to use and run out of room in our refrigerator.

Brewing your own kombucha is easy, very affordable and very healthy.

  • Cost: One 16 oz bottle of kombucha in the store is anywhere from $4-5. I can brew 4-16 oz bottles for the price of 4 tea bags and 1 cup of sugar.
  • Scoby: You can buy a scoby online or get one from a friend. I was thrilled to find a scoby from a friend. Now I have a several scoby’s in my refrigerator just waiting to go to new homes. I will keep a few in there as back up, but the rest go into the compost pile.
  • Vacation: after you brew a batch, just place your scoby in a glass bowl w/lid or jar and cover it with kombucha. Store it in your refrigerator. It will be waiting for you when you get home.
  • How long does a scoby it last?: The scoby can be used for many, many batches. If you start to notice any black spots or the entire scoby turned black, it is time to discard it because it has become contaminated. Your newly developed scoby is so white and creamy in color, but it be more brown after your first batch with it, that is normal. If you batch isn’t souring properly, it is also time to toss that scoby and start with a new one.
  • How long does the kombucha last once you have bottled it?: I haven’t tested this yet. We drink the kombucha withing 3-4 days.

If you get a scoby from a friend or order one to get started, I hope you have fun with it. Even though you can buy kombucha in most health food stores (in the refrigerated section) you will find that making it yourself, at home, is very inexpensive and easy to do.

I think making ginger beer will take a back seat to kombucha in our household. They are both super easy to make at home, but I think, once you have a scoby, kombucha is so much easier and I think the benefits far out weigh those in ginger beer.

One book I read cautioned about allergies noting that some people may have a reaction to kombucha. With anything new (and fermented), it is always best to go slow. Try a bit and see how you feel and how your body reacts before you jump in head first. I remember an experience when I was younger that involved homemade sauerkraut. Eating too much right away lead me to spending a bit of time in the bathroom. So….  start with a little and work y our way up to more. Your body will appreciate you thoughtfulness.

Have you made kombucha before? Do you have anything you’s like to share about your experiences with it?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Growing up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I am no stranger to rhubarb. I have wonderful memories from both my mom and my Gram of cutting stalks from the plants and going inside to dip the end in sugar and crunch into it.

Mom’s Rhubarb May 10th, 2012

Here in South Texas, I am still working at growing rhubarb of my own. Three years ago I brought transplants from my mom’s garden in Minnesota. They came up, then quickly lost energy. Our summers are just to hot, but since then I have learned that I can grow it as an annual here. So, last fall I planted four plants that I happened to stumble across at a locally owned nursery. We had a very mild winter, but I was sure to cover them on the nights we had frost. Long story short… they didn’t make it. I did everything I could, but the ants built nests in the heart of each plant and by the time I noticed it, they were doomed.

Mom to the rescue. When my mom got back to Minnesota this spring she wanted to try to mail some cut rhubarb to me. She cut fresh rhubarb stalks on Monday, packed it into a UPSP Priority box and shipped it off to me. It arrived on Thursday; safe and sound. By Saturday afternoon I was sipping on a cool Rhubarb Fizz.

Many of you are in areas that are still enjoying the bounty from your rhubarb plants. Making Rhubarb Fizz is one more recipe to add to you recipe box and a great refreshing way to enjoy rhubarb!

Rhubarb Fizz Sept 16th, 2011

I did not create this recipe, I found over at Savor-the-Rhubarb. Head over there for other great rhubarb recipes and a wealth of other great “rhubarb” information and uses.

Rhubarb Fizz (Non-alcoholic Rhubarb Champagne)

4 cups finely chopped rhubarb
4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 lemon finely sliced
25 cups water

Combine all ingredients and let stand in a pail for at least 2 full days.

Strain out fruit and residue and bottle.

Store in the refrigerator.

We keep our house pretty warm in the summer (around 80F) and even with the little bit of vinegar in the above receipt, it is not enough to keep mold from starting to form on the top of the mixture. I tend to keep an eye on it and strain it after 1 ½ days to be on the safe side.

This is meant to be consumed reasonably soon, as the mixture could become quite pressurized over too much time.

Rhubarb Fizz & Tiger Tail May 14th, 2012 (much more pale in color)

The color of our Rhubarb Fizz will vary depending on the color that comes out of your rhubarb. I have made this where it turns out a deep pink color and other times it is on the pale side.  The darker shade seems to have a deeper flavor and a bit more tartness to it while the batch I made with my mom’s spring rhubarb was very light in color and had a very light flavor. Both are very good.

The first time I made this I saved the rhubarb from the mixture and used it to bake a cake. Aaaahhhh, that didn’t go so well. The lemon in the mixture really didn’t help the flavor of the cake at all. My thoughts were that it was coming out of a mixture that was so so good, wouldn’t the left over rhubarb be good in a cake. Nope! Lesson learned. It was more useful out in the compost.

If you have a hard time keeping up with the ever-growing rhubarb plants, be sure to chop and put some in the freezer for using later. When ever I take a trip to visit my mom I come home with as much rhubarb as I can fit in my suitcase so I can stash it in my freezer (in 4 cup measurements) and make more rhubarb fizz.

If you have access to any rhubarb at all you should really give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

I have had a lot of fun chatting about the different refreshing summer drinks that I make. If you missed them, you can read about making your own Ginger Mojitos and Ginger Beer.

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Mr Chiots is a HUGE ice cream fan. We have a local dairy that makes ice cream from their own pastured cows. It’s not made from raw milk, but they lightly pasteurize their milk and it’s non-homogenized. When he wants some ice cream that’s our go-to spot. They make good ice cream to be sure, but it doesn’t even come close to homemade, especially when we make it with raw milk from the local farm and local pastured eggs. We love using the old hand crank ice cream maker that’s been in my family for years, it even made it to my Friday Favorites at Chiot’s Run.

My recipe is whipped up on the spot and includes, raw eggs yolks, vanilla beans, maple syrup, cream, whole milk, and a dash of salt. Sometimes I add cocoa, sometimes fruit juice. If you’re not into being quite that creative I’d highly recommend looking into Dave Lebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments.  Last week we made vanilla cinnamon ice cream and topped it with homemade maple caramel and walnuts.  Mr Chiots was in heaven!  If you’ve never made homemade ice cream I’d highly recommend it.  Not only is it way better than anything you can get in a store or ice cream shop, it’s much cheaper!   I also love that there’s no wood pulp or weirdness in this ice cream, just REAL ingredients!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Have you ever made ice cream at home?

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On Sunday I made a big batch of pet food using the recipe for Spot’s Stew from The Whole Pet Diet. The recipe is filled with fresh vegetables and real meat, including organ meats, which is all very healthy for your pets. It looked good when I was cutting up all the ingredients, fresh organic carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini and celery. I didn’t have enough fresh garlic to add a whole cup to the double batch I made, so I used some garlic powder from the pantry. I must admit, I have been using fresh garlic for so long I forgot how strong powdered garlic was. The smell was awful, way to weirdly garlicy. The house smelled terrible and the food as an overpowering fake garlic smell. I threw the powdered garlic into the compost pile and I might omit the garlic in the next batch. The cats wouldn’t touch the food, I’m guessing the overpowering garlic smell turned them off. Even the garage cats wouldn’t touch it. Lucy thinks it’s the greatest thing ever, she gobbles it down and licks her bowl clean. I did change the recipe a bit adding a few extra things I thought would make it healthier, I added those to the end of the recipe directions.

SPOT’S CHICKEN STEW
(recipe as listed in The Whole Pet Diet, my changes listed in description)

2.5 lbs whole chicken, including bones, organs, and skin, preferably organic pastured
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
1 cup organic green peas (I used 1/2 cup dried split peas)
1 cup coarsely chopped organic carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic sweet potatoes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic zucchini
1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic yellow squash
1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic green beans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic celery
1 Tablespoon of kelp powder
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
11-16 cups filtered water

For dogs only: add 8 ounces of whole barley and 6 ounces of rolled oats, and adjust water content to total 16 cups or enough to cover ingredients (grains not recommend for cats).

Combine all ingredients in stock pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, turn down heat as low as possible, and simmer for 2 hours (the carrots should be soft). Remove from heat, cool and debone chicken. Put all ingredients back in pot and blend with an immersion blender (or you can blend in batches in a regular blender or food processor). Distribute into containers, meal sized serving are very convenient.

I put mine in wide mouth pint jars and will be giving Lucy 3 of these per day along with some yogurt. I have been putting the next meal’s jars on the counter to warm when I feed her. So before bed I put out her breakfast and when I feed her breakfast I put out her dinner portions. This way she’s never eating cold food straight from the fridge, which is not recommended for animals.

Changes I made: Since the chicken didn’t come with the heart and liver, I added a cup of venison heart. I included 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar to help bring minerals from bones (I always do this when making soups & stocks) and 1/4 teaspoon of real sea salt for minerals. I added all zucchini in place of yellow squash and green beans since I didn’t have either of those and I had a zucchini in the pantry. I also added 1/4 cup crushed egg shells for added calcium, 1/4 cup of molasses for added minerals and iron, 1/2 cup of beef tallow for some added healthy fat, and 2 Tablespoons of Vita-Blend tea mix from Mountain Rose Herbs for added vitamins & minerals. I didn’t add the grains in the mix since I was hoping the cats would eat it, but they won’t.

Serving sizes for dogs:
up to 10 pounds – 1 to 1 1/2 cups daily
11-20 pounds – 2 to 3 cups daily
21-40 pounds – 4 cups
for each additional 20 pounds add 2 cups
Adjust according up or down according to your dogs activity level.

Cats will eat about a cup of this stew each day.

I must admit I was a little less than impressed with this stew when it was finished and I pureed it. It looked just like canned dog food, only slightly more watery. It looked great while I was chopping it all up, fresh and delicious. I think I’d rather feed raw, which we do sometimes. I just need to read up a bit more and start looking for good sources of local pastured meat for the pets. Although I do think this is much healthier than store-bought food and it was actually very easy to make. The double batch I made will last about 2 weeks for the dog, not much work involved and it is cheaper than human grade pet food. I think this will cost about half the prices of store-bought food (if you’re buying a good brand like Wellness or EVO). I probably spend about $90 a month on pet food for the 6 pets living at Chiot’s Run. The one thing I do love about making homemade food is that I can make it organic, the brand of pet food we buy is good quality, but it’s not organic. By making the food at home our pets can get organic for less that conventional and I know exactly what’s in it. Making pet food will also encourage me to grow a few more vegetables in the garden which will drastically reduce the price of the food and save even more money!

Have you ever fed raw? How much do you typically spend on your pet food per month?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Here at Chiot’s Run we use only butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. We use mostly butter since I can find fresh local butter from pastured cows, in the summer it’s a deep golden yellow, and tastes heavenly, the pale white supermarket butter doesn’t even come close to the grassy goodness of pastured butter. Some of this butter is made with unpasteurized milk here at home, some is lightly pasteurized and purchased from a small local dairy. Our homemade raw milk butter is used on toast and anywhere it’s not going to be cooked so we can take advantage of all the good cultures in it.

I try to stock up on butter when I know the cows are out feasting on fresh juicy grass. I freeze some and I make a few quart jars of ghee to get us through the winter until the grass is green again and the cows are making rich yellow butter. Ghee is basically clarified butter or pure butter fat. Because the milk solids have been removed it has a higher smoking point (won’t burn as easily as butter) and it is shelf stable, so it keeps much longer than butter. It’s super easy to make and it’s a delicious addition to many dishes, and it’s especially great for making popcorn.

To make ghee you need unsalted butter, you can use fresh homemade butter or store bought butter. I’d recommend finding some good quality local pastured butter of course, but you can use the regular stuff from the grocery. The final flavor and color of your ghee will depend on the quality of your butter. I use at least a pound of butter, usually two. Generally two pounds of butter will yield a quart of ghee. Put the butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, it will sputter a bit so you want some extra room and a taller pan. Then place the pot on medium heat and melt the butter without stirring.

When you first melt it, foam will appear. The butter will sputter a bit, this is the water boiling out of the butter. Gradually as you boil the butter the foam will disappear and you’ll end up with a beautiful golden liquid that smells wonderfully buttery! Keep an eye on your ghee, you don’t want to end up with browned butter ghee. It usually takes between 20-30 minutes depending on the temperature and the amount of butter you’re melting.

It’s time to remove from the heat when you see golden brown milk solids on the bottom of the pot. You can use a spoon to move some of the foam aside to keep an eye on the milk solids. You want to remove from heat before the milk solids become too brown. Pour through a strainer fitted with some several layers of cheesecloth to strain out the butter solids (which our pets love). Then pour the ghee into a jar or container of your choice, I prefer a wide mouth mason jar.

You’ll end up with the most beautiful golden liquid. This liquid will harden when it cools becoming opaque. Depending on the temperature of your home your final product can be between the consistency of a thick liquid that you can pour to a scoopable thickness. Your ghee does not need to be refrigerated, but you can if you want to. You can use ghee like you use oil, for frying eggs, making popcorn and sauteing veggies. It makes a wonderful addition to just about any dish.

Have you ever had or made ghee?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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