Coming Full Circle…

Rosie2_June Masog

When I was a little girl living in Hawaii my parents sent my brother and I on an airplane, alone, to spend summers with my grandparents in Northern Minnesota.  I dreaded those summer getaways… all I could think of was spending my summer with “old” people, out in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely nothing to do.  It was time spent in the garden, stealing apples from old man Marco’s apple tree, dirt road rides in search of wild critters, hanging out at the lake diving for clams, and walking down the street to the corner store to buy penny candy.  Oh, and, yes, going to the annual polka festival.  A night out to eat was to the local Bonanza, where all I longed for was the lollipop at the end of my meal.

To top it all off, I was somehow taught, led to believe, that growing your own food or buying local was embarrassing, going beneath yourself.  I vividly remember my grandfather coming home one day with local strawberries.  All I could do was laugh at the thought that Minnesota strawberries were so much better than a strawberry from elsewhere (like I was some expert that strawberries from a tropical island were so much better).   I also remember being so critical over a fireworks show in town, thinking how could such a local celebration be so much better than seeing one in a huge city like New York City?

As I write this blog I am amazed at how much I disliked those times.  How could I not have appreciated and enjoyed all that I did, and learned?  It’s so sad.

Here I am today living in a simple home, with a few acres, out in the country in Maine.  The life I have today is actually is no different than my grandparents.  Gardens, fruit trees, fishing, hunting, buying local, and supporting community efforts.  I have come full circle.  Everything old is new again.  The passion I have for this lifestyle, for me and for my family is deep.  It is important to myself and to my husband.  Shouldn’t our kids know that locally grown food is so much better than food grown thousands miles away?  Shouldn’t our kids know the importance of where our food comes from?  Shouldn’t our kids know basic outdoor skills?  Shouldn’t our kids experience green trees and fresh air?

I wish I could go back in time and enjoy my Minnesota visits more.  I wish I could tell my grandparents how much those visits influenced who and where I am today.  I only hope that both are looking down at me from above smiling… and, of course, shouting, “I told so”‘!

Bob1

Advertisements

This Week’s Project Download…

Happy Sunday!  It’s snowing at the homestead this morning.

This week I had one focus… derby car.  We’re slowing making progress!

IMG_20130218_144653

IMG_20130218_144603

IMG_20130224_075322

I was able to make a quick batch of homemade vanilla extract.

It’s so simple… vodka & vanilla beans.  Just add 6 – 7 vanilla beans (split down the middle and cut in half) to about 4 cups of vodka.  Store for 2 – 3 months and that’s it!  I purchase my vanilla beans from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I paid $23 for 4 oz of vanilla beans (about 25 – 30 long beans).  That is a lot cheaper than my local grocery store.  They had ONE bean in a glass jar for $11!

Pure vanilla extract.  Not that imitation stuff!  And they’ll make fantastic gifts for the holidays!

135-800x533-615x409

3659432326_8810c6730b

This week I also started (and finished!) another book borrowed from my daughter’s teacher.  This was a great book!

cover

This Week’s Project Downloads…

Happy Sunday Folks!

Here is a quick run-down of the recipes I completed this week:

Homemade Chick Stock

Homemade Chick Stock

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Crock Pot Granola

Crock Pot Granola

Head on over to my Facebook page to get the refried bean recipe and granola recipe and read about how it turned out!

And I finally finished the book my daughter’s teacher so kindly let me borrow.  “Three Times Lucky” is an excellent book for young readers.  It was such a treat for me to read.

556133_292317964185422_272218639528688_667024_412677593_n

Next week I have a few projects in mind.  It’s winter break so my fingers are crossed the kids drive me too crazy so I can complete them!

Homemade Elderberry Syrup…

379369_4993061577660_1616874775_n

A few posts ago I wrote about my phobia of germs.  As we were at the height of flu and cold season I really needed to find something to ease my paranoia of the whole family getting sick.  My research led me to elderberries and elderberry syrup.  It is sold at health food and vitamin stores, and most grocery stores.  A small bottle can cost up to $11, and will last my family less than a week.  As you can see, the price can quickly add up.

A fellow high school alum read my post about elderberries and decided to make her own syrup.  I patiently waited for her to post the results of her concoction before I took the leap in to making my own (her syrup turned out great, by the way).

You can find various recipes online. Here is how I made mine:

  • 1/3 cup dried elderberries
  • cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • Tbsp of fresh chopped ginger
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup wild honey (I used raw honey)

Combine everything except the honey. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to half. Strain. Use spoon to squeeze juice out of the berries. Mix in honey. Enjoy!

My family takes one tablespoon every morning.  My kids love this syrup more than the store bought versions.

My love of elderberries continues.  I was lucky to receive two jars of elderberry jelly from my awesome mother-in-law, and recently purchased some local elderberry wine.  Seeing how much I have fallen in love with this berry my husband recently went on one of his crazy splurges.   Wondering what it is?  See the picture below.

A post on this latest project will follow soon…  stay tuned ya’ll!

  • 487911_4991633341955_500592028_n
      This post was featured at the

Homestead Barn Hop

Barn-Hop

The Latest Craze… Juicing.

juicing omega juicer review1

Alert: there is a juicing craze out there!

Okay, so maybe I’m behind the bandwagon a bit… I am just now realizing the fascination America is having with juicing. From time to time I’d stumble upon a Facebook post on someone’s latest juicing recipe, followed by a colorful Instagram picture of the scrumptious juice in a tall glass. So this got me thinking… maybe I should be yet another follower and check this curious phenomenon out. I mean, I like juice. My kids like juice. However, I hate the price of juice, the ungodly ingredients in juice, and the fact that it takes a picture of the American flag to let the consumer know the fruit in the juice is actually grown in the U.S. And, yes, I did watch “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and “Hungry for Change” on Netflix. If that doesn’t motivate someone I don’t know what will.

After much research I found a juicer that would fit my family needs best, an Omega brand. It’s not the most expensive model out there. However, it is pricier than other models you can purchase in the box stores. The Omega juicer is said to extract the most amount of juice, and works well with greens. You can find many reasons as to why you should juice. And there are just as many reasons out there why you shouldn’t. Each person differs. For me, the primary reason was not to fast or put myself on some crazy juice diet. I just wanted to be able to make fresh, wholesome juice. And to combine a couple of carrots, a celery stalk, or even a beet in my juice.

I also like my Omega brand because the model I purchased allows me to make my own nut butters, baby food, and even pasta! On top of that it homogenizes and even grinds coffee beans! The grinding of coffee beans means a lot in this house. Not because we are huge coffee drinkers (which we are) but because last summer my husband’s military duty to his country took him to South America. That trip to South America landed this household with 40 bags of coffee beans… from Columbia. Folks, we have a lot of coffee!

Juicing has gone well so far. My daughter has really enjoyed it. She even drank a spinach, pineapple and carrot juice I made the other day. My son, on the other hand, sticks to just plain orange or apple juice. When he’s not looking though I throw in a carrot or two. We’ve also made pasta which turned out really well and my son LOVED. I think he had three helpings of spaghetti that night.

Down the road I look forward to making some baby food with this gadget. Spring is around the corner and soon the garden will be thriving. I can’t wait to make some jars of baby food for the newest addition to our family!

Cheers!

Juice

Waging war… against the unbeatable…

finn_germs

It’s that time of year… an all out declaration of war. The war on germs. They’re everywhere right now!

I am a germaphobe. A REALLY BAD ONE. I’m the kind of person who will lysol a room when you’re walking out of it. I’ll have my kids use hand sanitizer after they’ve hand sanitized. I’m the first in line to get a flu shot. Yes, crazy doesn’t even begin to describe it, I know. Oh- and, yes, I am one of those self-diagnosing people who frequently visits WedMD.

Despite my irrational behavior towards germs I am proud to say that I do not over medicate… unless you consider a vast amount of chicken soup, Vitamin C, rest and water as over doing it. I try to focus primarily on wholesome foods and vitamins… with a little spritz of sanitizing agent (insert hand slap). But guess what: I’ve now found elderberry, specifically elderberry syrup.

elderberries

Elderberries are amazing for flu and cold fighting. They are rich in antioxidants, the highest concentration of antioxidants of any berry in the world. Elderberries are an immune system booster as well as an agent in lowering cholesterol, improving vision and heart health, and fighting off bacterial and viral infections.

Here are some of the most noteworthy properties of elderberries:

  • antioxidant (inhibits oxidation which can be damaging to living organisms)
  • diaphoretic (induces sweating)
  • diuretic (causes increased urination)
  • laxative (helps evacuate the bowels)
  • immune-boosting
  • anti-inflammatory

The kids and I take a teaspoon a day. The kids don’t like the taste much, but oh well. They just chase it down with water or juice. Me, I think it tastes like a combination of prune, blueberry and grape.

In the end, I don’t know if my crazy habits will ward off the super germs that circulate this time of year. But one thing I do know… nothing beats some good ole’ TLC.

This post was featured at the Homestead Barn Hop!

Barn-Hop

 

Ghee Whiz!

GheeDo you know about ghee?

Ghee is the pure butterfat left over after the milk solids and water are removed from butter. It’s used widely in Indian cooking, and the word ghee is the Hindi word for fat. It is made by melting butter, cooking off the water and separating the clear, golden butter fat from the milk solids. Ghee has a high smoking point so it can be used in high-heat cooking, much better than butter. It also has a longer shelf life that butter and, when stored in an airtight container, can be kept at room temperature almost indefinitely.

Ghee lacks hydrogenated oils and is a popular choice for health-conscious cooks as well. Additionally, since all the milk proteins have been removed during the clarifying process, ghee gains further nutritional value because it’s lactose free, making it a safer alternative for those who are lactose intolerant. It is said to have nutritional value, helping in digestion. In addition, it is rich with antioxidants and acts as an aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals from other foods, serving to strengthen the immune system.

Now that you know all the wonderful stuff about ghee let me tell you how I was introduced to it. Enter my first husband belly rubbing of 2013…

I return home day to find mason jars full of a yellow, buttery substance. I asked my dear husband what said substance was his response was, “ghee”. Ghee? Ghee What?

Husband: “It’s ultra clarified butter, dear.”

Me: “Well, golly ghee, deary, I have no idea what it is but I’ll take your word for it and go with your crazy new find.”

Another educational mission for me. I did research and, low and behold, found a lot of information on ghee. I do not think it is widely known so, in a baby step to spread the word, our Christmas gifts to our neighbors not only included homemade jam and truffles, but a pint jar of ghee.

Ghee is very simple to make. All you need is a 1 lb stick of butter (organic or not as you desire… or twenty 1 lb chunks if you’re husband!). Next, follow these steps:

  • Using a medium saucepan, heat butter on medium heat.
  • Allow butter to melt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. You will notice that the oil will separate itself. The top will begin to froth; remove froth.
  • Allow the oil to become clear where you can see the milk solids in the bottom of the pot. Once they start to brown you are close to being done. Once the ghee is clear and and stops “crackling” you are done. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  • Strain ghee through 3-5 layers of cheese cloth (my husband used a colander to hold the cheese cloth) into a separate pot then pour the finished product in to canning jars while hot (ensure you wipe the top of the glass where it seals).
  • Once they are full cap your jars with you canning lid and tighten down your rings until they are snug. As the ghee cools the air in the jar will cool as well and create a vacuum seal.
  • Then you can just throw it in your pantry or basement for a long, long time. However, once opened it lasts for about 6 months in the refrigerator.

Ghee Whiz! That was easy! Now enjoy!

ghee2