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Are you inspired by all the great handmade gifts our writers have been making? We like to cook things for the ones we love as well! Here’s some handmade recipes for holiday giving!

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Of course, sweets are the mainstay of homemade holidays, but this year I decided to go savory. Every year I grow tomatillos, make pints and pints of salsa verde, and then it sits on the shelf because no one eats it. Naturally, this year I decided I’ll make it in half-pint sizes, and then use it for gifts. I made 20 half-pints. When I went to check for this photo, I was down to 11; I think my husband has been eating it because of the nice small sizes. I used Rick Bayless’ wonderful recipe, and grew everything myself except the limes. By the way, this stuff is great on pizza!Salsa

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Well, Xan has me drooling over her salsa verde.

With the successful zucchini growing season this fall, I (Sincerely, Emily) knew exactly what some people were going to be getting this year for gifts! Zucchini Relish!  I started making this recipe back in the fall of 2009 with a few zucchini from my garden (before the nasty borer got to it!) and more from the farmers market. Now I am thrilled I can use all of my own, homegrown zucchini for the recipe. I have not harvested my horseradish yet, or I would have used that too!) I found the recipe over at Homesteading in Maine and I also have the zucchini relish recipe posted (with permission) over at my blog too.

Zucchini Relish 2We love this relish on sandwiches in place of mayo.

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No doubt you’ve realized by my lack of posts that it’s been a really busy spring at Chiot’s Run. It would be nice if blogging was my full-time job and I could do it all day, but alas, I’ve got bills to pay just like you all do. In case you don’t read my daily blog, here’s an update: This spring has been especially busy since we’re getting the cottage and gardens ready to put them on the market. We’ve made one exploratory trip up to Maine looking at houses, we even put an offer on one, but that didn’t work out. Yep, we’re planning a move to Maine. Why? Because it seems like the right time and they have a great local food network. And WHY NOT?

Now that the Dark Days are over (was that challenge a little too long for everyone else like it was for me?), I’m excited to talk a little about non-local food. I’ve never wanted to be a 100% local eating gal, I like tropical food too much. You see I grew up in South America, right on the equator, so the foods of my youth were mangos, papayas, avocados, citrus and all things tropical. We had a banana plant in the front garden and a big papaya tree in the back. I’ll choose a mango over an apple any day, hands down! These things will always hold a special place in my diet and I will never give them up simply because I live in the North. About 95% of my diet is local, much of that homegrown, the remaining 5% is tropical. That being said, I’m not running out to my nearest grocery store to pick up a mango when I want it. I’m searching the internet to find small organic farms that sell through LocalHarvest or on their own websites.

My most recent score was a box filled with beautiful avocados and another filled with blood oranges. They were both from Trethowan Organic Farm in Rainbow, California. We’ve been enjoying avocados with every meal, even breakfast. If you’ve never have a fried egg smothered in fresh guacamole you haven’t lived! Who can resist a quick snack of a half an avocado dusted with sea salt & freshly ground pepper. It’ll keep you full until the cows come home, or at least until the dinner bell rings!

I’m also enjoying the last of the Rio Red grapefruit that I got from G & S Groves in TX. This year I joined their fruit of the month club. As a result I’ve been enjoying a grapefruit every day, some mornings I even bake them. If you’ve never had baked grapefruit you’re missing out. Here’s how I do it.

We can feed our hunger for connection by eating seasonally and also by buying directly from small farmers at the farmer’s market. Forming relationships with the people who grow our food, and taking up opportunities to visit their farms, is a healing practice. It is important for the farmers as well. The majority of small farmers are not in it for the money – farming is no longer lucrative. They do it because they have a love of independence, because they love working with the land, and often because they believe in building a food system that is based on relationship. They get immense satisfaction when their customers take an interest in their farming practices and in how and why they grow their produce.

Jessica Prentice – Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection


Even if you do enjoy things that aren’t local, I’d like to encourage you to still find them as seasonally and as sustainably as possible. Not only will you be enjoying the healthiest product you can have, you’ll be building a rich network of small farms around the country. You’ll be helping a small farm survive to provide food to it’s own immediate community.

If you had to choose one non-local fruit or vegetable as your favorite which would it be? Have you found a small sustainable source for this item?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping and more; Eat Outside the Bag blogging about all things food & cooking; Your Day Magazine and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Last week we talked about Why you wouldn’t just eat an egg?, instead of a processed bowl of cereal full of sugar and GMO ingredients. I mentioned that we eat custard for breakfast or snacks and a few people requested recipes. The custard we eat is a bit different than what you may be used to since I make mine barely sweetened (it is breakfast after all). Most people view custard as a sweet treat, but it can be made very nourishing with a few tweaks. It is the ultimate simple nourishing breakfast, if made with eggs, milk, spices and the tiniest bit of natural sweetener. If your family members are sweet lovers, you can always give them an extra spoonful of maple syrup on top of the custard, but really do try to wean them off eating sweets for breakfast, even of the natural kind. If you simply like things sweeter, double the amount of maple syrup or honey in the recipe below.

Custard couldn’t be easier to make, it mixes up in a flash and then spends the majority of it’s time in the oven while you can do other things (like read blogs). I often mix mine up in the evening pulling it out of the oven right before bed to cool
overnight.


There are a few different options for making this custard. If you want to make it super quick, simply whisk all ingredients together, pour in dish or cups and bake. If you want extra flavor and nutrition, steep milk with vanilla beans and true or sweet cinnamon sticks*.

BASIC NOURISHING CUSTARD
(recipe is easily halved, but believe me, you’ll be wishing you hadn’t)

6 eggs, from pastured chickens (or ducks which have larger yolks & make creamier custard)
1/4 cup organic maple syrup or local raw honey (double this for sweeter custard)
2 teaspoons organic vanilla or 2 vanilla beans**
4-6 sticks of true or sweet cinnamon*
5 cups whole raw milk
dash of salt
organic ground nutmeg or cinnamon for top if desired

Preheat oven to 325 F for dish or 350 for cups.

If you want extra healthful and flavorful custard, steep milk with vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks (see below for sourcing for these). Whisk eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla if using in bowl, stir in milk. Pour into a glass baking dish or six custard cups. Sprinkle top with nutmeg or cinnamon if desired. Set the baking dish(es) in a pan of hot water, as you can see by my photo, I use 6 small Pyrex Rectangular Glass Containers nested in a rectangular glass baking dish for large single servings. Bake large dish at 325 degrees for 1 hour; bake cups at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Custard is done when a knife inserted off-center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold, add an extra drizzle of maple syrup if you want it sweeter.

You can also make this even more healthful by adding some pumpkin to make pumpkin custard. Essentially all you need to do is swap out half the milk for pureed pumpkin. What a wonderful way to get a serving of vegetables first thing in the morning.

What’s your favorite nourishing breakfast?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping and more; I also blog at Eat Outside the Bag blogging about all things food & cooking. You can also find me at Your Day Magazine, Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

*true or sweet cinnamon is different than the regular cinnamon you buy at the store (unless you have access to a hispanic store), it’s much sweeter, less cloying, and blends so much more beautifully with sweet dishes like this one. You can buy organic true cinnamon from Mountain Rose Herbs for a great price, I always have a big bag on hand. Cinnamon is a healthy addition to your diet, containing lots of manganese, calcium and iron. It also contains trace minerals that help regulate blood sugar. Here’s some great info on the health benefits of cinnamon.

**Vanilla beans can be quite pricey in the grocery store, but if you buy in bulk from Saffron.com it’s very nicely priced. Vanilla is also a healthy addition to your diet adding a wide variety of minerals and vitamins, it’s a natural anti-depressant and it help you relax (good for nighttime beverages). Here’s a great article about the health benefits of vanilla. You can also rinse and dry vanilla beans after using them in this recipe and throw them in your sugar crock to impart flavor. Or add to a bottle of brandy, bourbon or vodka to make your own vanilla.

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We used to live in Cincinnati when we were younger and I always thought it was interesting that there would be a run on the grocery stores before a big snow storm.  People would snatch up all the bread and milk. I always thought it was funny, I always wondered what exactly people were going to be using the bread and milk for if they were snowed in, make french toast?  Mr Chiots and I now live in NE Ohio and we have a few winter storms each year that make it difficult for us to get out.  We live in a rural area, so the roads around us are not on the top of the list for clearing.  It’s not that we get snowed in for weeks and can’t go anywhere, but every now and then we choose to stay home for a few days while things clear up rather than risk heading out.

It’s nice to know that we could be snowed in for weeks and still be fine because we have; a freezer full of venison, vegetables & fruit, a pantry full of home canned goods, homegrown potatoes, and a nice stash of rice, wheat berries, and other staples. No running out to the store to be prepared for such an occasion. Truth be told we could probably survive for almost a year on the supplies we have squirreled away in the basement pantry.

If you live in a cold climate it’s always good to be prepared for cold weather related events, keep some extra food on hand and emergency heat source. If you live in an area with other natural disasters it’s wise to keep some grab and go emergency supplies so you can evacuate quickly and have the supplies you need, like: food, water filter, first aid kit, blankets, clothing, etc. Chances are you’ll never need your emergency supplies, but it sure provides peace of mind knowing you are ready!

Do you keep food and emergency supplies on hand for such occasions? How long do you think you could last on the food in your home?

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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Nothing is as essential to being self-sufficient as food production and storage of food.  Today I’m going to touch on some ideas for stocking the basic must have pantry.  My goal in my pantry stocking is to have enough of the staples put up so that in the case of emergency I am set at least for a few months…or if my older boys all descend at once I have plenty of food at least for a week or two!

When I designed our house 15 years ago our boys 4, 6, and 8 and I knew that in the teenage years I would need some major food storage capacity.  My pantry is good size but you don’t need a designated room for food storage.  For many garden vegetables a cool garage is great.  Spare bedrooms, hall closets, many different places can be use for food.

I think food storage is a matter of priorities.  I have heard from many people that they just don’t have the room for keeping extra food.  Yet their closets are overflowing with never worn clothing, or cabinets full of appliances they seldom if ever use.  I don’t have a problem with these things but I would not give up perfectly good storage to keep them when I could keep an extra bag of wheat in there.

When I started our pantry from scratch I took the time to keep a journal for a couple of months of what we ate.  I did not want to purchase a lot of things that I would seldom use.  I came up with a basic list of ‘must haves’ at all times from that journal and then fleshed the pantry out from there when I added new recipes and needed new ingredients.

Here is my list of staples. With this I know that now matter what happens I will have something for dinner or in case of prolonged power outage or outbreak of sickness I know we will not go hungry.

Home Canned

  • Canned tomatoes, sauce, and paste (soup base, base for most pasta sauce)
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Fruit Sauces, apricot, peach, and apple
  • Fruit Syrups (we eat a lot of pancakes and waffles)
  • Vegetable Stock

Bulk Grains (purchased in 25# and 50#)

  • Wheat (both white and red for fresh whole wheat flour)
  • Oat Groats (for grinding into flour)
  • Barley
  • Rolled Oats (cookies, oatmeal, crisps, bread)
  • Cracked Wheat (breads)
  • Spelt (flour for bread)
  • Quinoa (cereal and bread)
  • Rye
  • Corn (for cornmeal)
  • Brown Rice

Oils

  • Olive Oil (breads and cooking)
  • Canola Oil (breads)
  • Sesame Oil (Asian/Indian cooking)

Baking Supplies

  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Yeast
  • Salt
  • Molasses
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Egg Replacer
  • Vanilla
  • Spices especially cinnamon

Dried Beans and Nuts

  • Lentils
  • Yellow and green split peas
  • Navy
  • Small white
  • Black
  • Garbanzo
  • Kidney
  • Walnuts (snacking, breads, trail mix)
  • Almonds (snacking, trail mix)
  • Cashews (cashew milk, trail mix)
  • Peanuts (trail mix)

Misc.

  • Raisins (granola, pie, cinnamon rolls, bread, trail mix)
  • Canned Pineapple (smoothies and pizza)
  • Coconut Milk (smoothies and chilled pumpkin soup)
  • Rice Milk
  • Wild Rice
  • Tea (mama needs her tea)
  • Honey (baking, granola, tea)
  • Popcorn
  • Nutritional yeast (vegan sauces, popcorn, toast)
  • Mustard (beans, salads, sandwiches)
  • Shredded coconut (breads and granola)
  • Dried cranberries (trail mix, granola, snacks)
  • Various dried whole wheat pastas
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Balsamic Vinegar (dressings and flavorings)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cornstarch (thickener)

Frozen

  • Peas, corn, green beans, pureed pumpkin and squash, spinach
  • Freezer jams
  • Ice Cream (husband’s indulgence)
  • Roasted Peppers (breads and pizza)

Water

  • Enough for each person to drink and cook with for 1 month (this takes some planning and some room)

This looks like a long list but for us these are the things, along with fresh vegetables and fruits, are what I have come to know are the basics for what I cook.  With the exception of my bulk grains most don’t take up much room even when purchased in larger than usual quantities.  I also try to store in glass as much as possible.  It is easy to clean and doesn’t leach chemicals over long storage periods…not that I’m sure that Tupperware does but just in case.

A few tips for  getting started stocking you pantry…

  • Buy in quantity when you find a good sale.
  • Look at the dates when possible and buy the freshest.
  • Don’t buy more than you can reasonably use before its past its prime.
  • Make sure you have a spot to properly store (example cool dry dark for grains)
  • Don’t over buy if that means kicking spouse out of bed to use it for storage!  Moderation in everything…
  • Rotate your pantry…put the items you just bought at the back of the shelf and use the oldest first.
  • Check things like flours and grains for moth or mice infestation…take care of promptly before they get into the rest.  Better yet  store in varmint proof containers.
  • Start slow…take the time to know what you really need and use.

Remember to just smile when your friends and family tease you about being Noah stocking up for the flood…cause you know who’s doorstep they’ll be standing on when the next disaster hits!

So do you have any tips on food storage…what’s in your pantry?

 

Come back Monday when we can talk about how to store in glass, where to find it…and how to paint on it!

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids…and a camel!

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