Friday, April 18, 2014

Fermenting Garlic

Last year, I grew a beautiful bed of garlic! I mean is was gorgeous! I was so proud. Around here, garlic does best planted in the fall and harvested around June or so. It was very satisfying to me to grow my own garlic. I had planted several times in the spring and did not have success... so for me, I will continue to plant in fall! 

Even if you don't get to plant your own, you can easily find organic garlic at farmers markets and in some grocery stores, or through bulk suppliers like Azure.
Fermenting your garlic takes your already super healthy garlic and intensifies it's properties, but mellows the pungent boldness of the garlic flavor! 

All you have to do is pop the garlic out of the peeling. It takes a little time, but it's not hard at all. Let the kids help you. Sit around the table and talk while you do. Just enjoy the togetherness. Taking something you planted and harvested and are now preserving... well, that is a special thing. Doing it with your kids, that makes it even nicer. 

Anyhow, just take your garlic out of the skins and drop into a clean quart jar. Once your jar is full to the neck. Add a Tablespoon of good salt and if you like a Tablespoon or two of whey (optional), and spices (again optional). The only thing you have to have is salt, garlic and water.... You CAN add the whey and spices. I've made it both ways. They both work, so it is up to you!!! Fill your jar full of water. Put a lid on it and let it ferment for several days up to 3 weeks before you put it in cold storage. It's very easy, and it's very good!

Once your garlic is ready, use it as you would fresh in any of your cooking or savory baking. We also use garlic for sickness. When a cold begins creeping in, we take a clove and mash it up and take a spoonful to ward off the problem before it escalates! If your kids are not fond of the garlic-iness ;) Add some to a little honey to make it easier to swallow. I've also heard eating a couple of raw almonds helps get it down without any harsh taste at all!

One MAJOR reason to make your own, if you ever have purchased preserved garlic in your supermarket you are cheating yourself. Not only is it heated to highly, which kills off garlics wonderful properties, but it also is preserved with formaldehyde. Another one of the absurdities of big market companies who care NOTHING about the health of our people.

Make your own! It's easy!
Here's to your health!

Have a great weekend friends!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sourdough Waffles

Say it with me now...
"I'm makin' waffles"
 I say this in Donkey's voice every. time. I. say. it. 
I can't help myself.

But it's true! I came up with a great sourdough waffle recipe and we all LOVED it!
I hope you do too!

So this is what you need to do. IF you are going to make them in the morning, today, get  out your sourdough starter and feed it. Let it set out and get nice and bubbly. Then this evening you will pull off part of it and mix up the first part of this recipe. 

Sourdough Waffles
(I'm makin' WAFFLES-Donkey from Shrek)
1 cup of sourdough starter
2 cups of milk kefir, milk, or buttermilk (I used kefir)
2 cups of flour (white, wheat, or mixture)
Stir til just mixed, cover and let sit all night on the counter til ready to make breakfast the next morning.
In the morning add:
2 eggs
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp oil (I used olive)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
Again, mix gently til just mixed.
Heat your waffle maker and make your family HAPPY!
Serve with butter and syrup... or your favorite fruit if you like.
I think these would be very good with blueberries in them! YUM!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Veggie Soup

Sometimes you try something and it flops. Sometimes you try something and it ROCKS! This was the case in my Roasted Vegetable Soup! One night for supper I made a LARGE pan of roasted vegetables to go with our chicken for supper. Everyone ate well, but there was a goodly amount of leftovers! I got to thinking about the leftovers and didn't want to really serve them as-is again, so I thought about what I could do with the excess.
I decided to use them as well as the bones from my leftover chicken to make this delicious soup. 
Here's how I did it!
Also, there is not a lot of exacts in this... do it up your way!
Here we go...
I began walking around the kitchen grabbing any and all veggies that I thought would be tasty in this roasted veggie medley.

Daikon Radishes

You could add any of these, all of these or only one or two of these, more of one, less of another... whatever you like! The point is, fill your pan.

I cut them up into pieces, I plopped them into a 9x13 baker.
Drizzle them a little with olive oil (Maybe 4 Tbsp, give or take)
I sprinkled a couple of Tablespoons of 

A good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Toss them in the oil and spices so they are all coated.
Cover the pan.
Put in oven and roast at 400* for about 30 minutes. 
Take out and stir
Put them back in for another 10 minutes or so.
You want them tender, but not mush.

As for my chicken. I left whatever wasn't eaten in the crockpot. I then filled the crock back up with water and put it on low to cook for a few hours. Probably around 4-5 hours.

I pulled off any stock and meat from the crockpot and added it a little at a time to my finished vegetable mixture. I added a stick of butter and using my stick blender, I pureed until smooth. Continue adding chicken broth until you get a slightly thick soup. Depending on the amount of veggies you have, you could use more or less broth. I ended up using all of what I had in my crockpot.
Again, do what suits you.
I even had enough room for about a cup of cream to finish it off.
Serve this soup very warm, but not hot. 
You don't want to curdle your cream.

We had heaping ladles-full with a large dollop of sour cream.
So, so, so, soooooo good and nourishing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring is here, 2014

Spring is really showing up around here. With the change of the seasons, comes birth, growth, and a time to refresh some chores that are usually only done once or twice a year.  
My Nannie Red's irises are blooming along the side of the house. They are so beautiful and they are such a deep purple, truly reminding me of her... Purple was her favorite color.
The task of cleaning up the front flower beds is always a chore to be done when spring shows up. Pulling out stubborn weeds that actually made it through the weed barrier and laying down another layer of barrier and a thick layer of mulch. It looks so nice when it is finished! 
I don't know if it is the same where you are, but our closest Lowe's has mulch for $2 a bag. 

Next on tap will be cleaning out the deep litter in the chicken house. We let it build through the fall/winter as it creates a heat to help keep the house a bit warmer for the hens. Because we layer the shavings, the poo actually breaks down through the winter. Composting while in the coop.  That way when spring comes along with nice weather, we clean it out and it is ready for use! 

The garden clean-up is beginning (well, not today... it's raining). I have big plans about rearranging the garden beds. Putting down a MUCH stronger weed barrier under the beds and putting the beds closer together so they are more uniform. I also want to move things around a little so I also have a garden spot to plant directly in the ground this year. We will try to get as much done as we can, in hopes to get as much yield as we can from the garden. 

We are excited and hoping to add some new animals to the homestead in the coming weeks/months. I will let you know if it pans out. I'd hate to say they are coming and then it not happen... but it's something I'm hoping for!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nannie Black's Banana Pudding

Growing up there were a few things that my Nannie Black (my Dad's mom) cooked that NO one could compete with. 
Her biscuits... I still can't make them as good as her... 
Egg Pie... my mouth waters thinking about it...
Banana Pudding... I have succeeded in that recipe though! Woot!
Most of the time when you go to church dinners, pot-lucks, or such, banana pudding makes an appearance! Although it is good, it is cold. 
Not the way my Nannie used to make it.
Not the way I make it today.
(Btw, you may be asking, Why in the world does she call her Nannie Black??? When I was a little girl, I was the only grandchild on both sides of the family. I called both of my grandmother's Nannie. To distinguish the two, I called one Nannie Red, because she had red hair, and my other Nannie Black, because she had black hair. True story.)

This is our way.

1 box of Nilla Wafers
1 box of shortbread cookies
1 bunch of bananas (about 4-5)

The pudding
4-5 egg yolks (I tend to use 5 mostly)
1.5 cup sugar
4 cups milk, cream or a mix of the two
2 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
1/4 cup arrowroot powder

Reserve egg whites to make meringue for top of pudding.
Once whites are stiff spread on top and broil til just browned.

The way my Nannie said to do it is to put ALL (except vanilla) pudding ingredients in a blender. Then blend til smooth and the blender is full. She did not give me any measurements at all.
This is the closest measurements I can account for, they are pretty exact and honestly, it is not going to make a huge difference if you use 4 eggs or 5. I like the pudding rich and creamy and we have a TON of eggs right now, so why not add 5!?!?!

Like I said, Nannie just put everything for the pudding in the blender, blended it and poured it into a pot to cook til thick. I don't. That is one step I do differently. For me, it was just another dish to clean... And I surely don't need any more of those. 
I just add everything to a pot and whisk the dickens out of it. I also keep stirring til I have a nice thick pudding. It will take a little bit and you don't want your mixture to stick, so hang with it.
 It's worth it, for realz.

Layer your wafers, cookies and bananas in a big bowl until everything is used. Once your pudding is ready pour over your cookie/banana mixture. 
If you like, top with meringue and brown.

This recipe makes my memories FLOOD back. It makes me think of dinners at Nannie and Popa's house. I guess with Easter coming, it really hits home. Both of my Nannie's have gone on to be with Jesus. It makes me miss my family and my grandparents and it makes me want to make memories with my family all-the-more...
I hope you enjoy it and it becomes a family favorite for you too!