Thursday, August 26, 2010

Here a Can, There a Can, Everywhere a Can Can!

This is only part of the peaches
Have you guessed I've been canning. 80 pounds of peaches to be exact. Yep I'm crazy. But boy oh boy will those beautiful canned and frozen peaches chase away those winter blues, or at least I hope so after all that work. Anyway, as I was canning I was thinking about last year.  I had no idea what I was doing (not that I do now) especially when it came to planning what I wanted to can. So I thought I would share a few very small pieces of wisdom about canning that I have learned in my one year of experience.

First thing is don't be scared it is actually a lot of fun and it is a great satisfaction to know that out of 80 pounds of peaches I have 6 jelly jars of peach syrup, 8 pints of peach salsa, and 8 quarts of sliced peaches, 3 5-gallon bags of sliced frozen peaches as well as 5 small bags of mashed peaches for ice cream all waiting for my family to eat. (This doesn't mention the 3 cobblers and the endless snacks of peaches we have eaten.)

Second: plan, plan, plan. Last year I made so many jams and butters that I still have some. For some reason I thought that canning jams and jellies was a must if you where going to can. Even though they are tasty, my family doesn't eat that much jam, maybe one jar a month or so. So that means that if I wanted homemade jam for my family for the year that would only be 12 jars of jams plus maybe a few for gifts. That means not every fruit that comes into my home needs to become a jam, jelly or butter. This year I really paid attention to what my family ate and about how much. I know that we go through a jar of tomato sauce every 2 weeks. So that means my goal is to can at least 26 cans of sauce. We drink a lot of smoothies so I froze a lot of the fruit that I have gotten in bulk locally.

The third thing I want to say is your local farmers are your best friends in eating raw organic produce for a price you can afford and preserving is the best way to take those in season prices and make them last all year. Eating in season is really the best way to go, it's when the food is the most nutritious and it's when it becomes affordable.

There are different types of preserving (freezing, canning, drying, fermenting, etc.) so do some research and find the best way for you I guarantee that you will love knowing that you have put up healthy, organic food that will make your family happy all winter and it's all with in your budget.

If there is anyone with wisdom for a newbie canner like myself please share.
Happy canning!

Monday, August 9, 2010

These Cookies Are So Good!!!

Honey chocolate chip cookies

Before I started eating "real food" I loved to bake. I have not stopped loving to bake as much as I am still learning how to adapt and find recipes that are yummy but still not so bad for you. My latest quest is to use honey as my main sweetener. Honey has many benefits one of which is especially important to me and that is that it is found to be easily digested and absorbed by the body. I have blood sugar problems and so I thought I might see if my body reacts better to the honey rather then other sweaters. Here is some information I found at the WHFoods website that explains honey better.

"Experimental evidence indicates that consumption of honey may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to other sweeteners. The body's tolerance to honey is significantly better than to sucrose or glucose alone. Individuals with greater glucose intolerance (e.g., those with mild diabetes and Type 1 diabetes) showed significantly better tolerance to honey than sucrose. In addition, the antioxidants in honey, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, frequently by a larger factor than can be explained by their actual amount, may be beneficial for diabetics and help to improve endothelial function (the function of the cells that make up the lining of our blood vessels) and vascular health.
In a year-long animal study comparing the effects of sucrose, honey and a low glycemic index (GI) sugar-free diet, rats on the honey-based diet showed: reduced weight gain and percentage of body fat, decreased anxiety, better spatial recognition memory, improved HDL cholesterol (15-20% higher than rats fed sugar or sucrose diets), improved blood sugar levels (HA1c), and reduced oxidative damage." (

I made a honey cake from Heavenly Homemakers, that was good you should hop over and give it a try. But I wanted a good cookie recipe so I tried this recipe from I tweaked it so that it fit into our life and here it is, some very yummy sort of healthy chocolate chip cookies.

Pre-heat oven to 375
1 cup butter (you could probably us 1/2 coconut oil depending on how you like your cookie)
1 cup sucanat
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour ( I used half white wheat pastry flour and spelt)
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz dark chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and sucanat.
2. Add honey and the eggs one at a time.
3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl then mix into the sugar and butter mixture.
4. Then add the dark chocolate.
5. Drop cookies onto a prepared cookie sheet and cook for 10-12 min.

This recipe does not use honey as it's main sweetener but I will keep looking and tweaking. Do you have any good recipes that uses honey as the sweetener? Please share. Thanks.

This post is part of Monday Mania.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Storing and Grinding Your Own Grain

We have been grinding our own four since November 2009 and I have had no regrets. There is a few things you need to figure out though with grinding your own flour. One is where do to get your grains. Second what do you do with your 5, 10, or even 25 to 50 pound bag of grain. Third what do you do with the flour after it's ground. Then you get to decide what flour to use for what type of baking, but we will save that one for another post.

Where to get grain:
 I get mine from Azure if you have not heard of them you should really check them out. You can buy small bags of wheat berries from Bob's Red Mill or even the bulk bins from places like WinCo but for me Azure had the best price for our family of four and I could get it Organic.

Storing your grain:
Since I have no basement, and a garage that is not handy I was left with my laundry room / pantry to store my grain. I had done my research and knew that the grain needed a cool, dry, and dark place and I had read that you could go to your local donut shop and get FREE 5 gallon food safe buckets. So I called up a donut shop got my free 5 gallon food safe buckets brought them home and started filling them up with my 25 pound bags of  wheat. At the time I had hard white wheat, soft white wheat, hard red wheat and oats. If I was thinking straight and not about all this great grain I was going to be making into tasty treats and breads for my family, I would have realized that unless you have a lot of space to store stakes of 5 gallon buckets it's really not going to work. Soooo I put on my thinking cap and started looking at the situation logically. My first thought was a bunch of Ziploc bags, then thinking I wished they had big Ziploc bags, then thinking THEY do have huge Ziploc bags. I was so excited I went to target right away and got one box of the 10 LB bags and another of the 50 LB bags. Then I went to my favorite place to get organizing things IKEA and I got some stackable boxes that you can get into while still stacked(does that make since). I put the bags into the boxes, filled each bag, labeled the boxes stacked them in my pantry and now I have my grain where I can get to it. 

The best way for me to grind is to do large batches and then store the flour in the freezer. I think I have mentioned this before but I have to two small children and I don't really have the brain power in this season in my life to do a lot of thinking ahead. So as to not get stuck when it's nap time and wanting to make something but having to grind flour (bye bye nap time). I grind 5 gallon Ziploc bags of flour and keep them in my freezer to lock in the nutrients, save time and keep my sanity . I guess that is thinking ahead a little, maybe I'm getting better. 

I hope this was helpful. In another post I will share what I've learned about baking using all whole grain flours.

How do you store your grain?

This post is for Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.

My Newest Sewing Projects!

We are expecting our newest little nephew in about a week, so I decided he needed a blanket. I've made one for each of my other two nephews so he needs one too. My sister trains and loves dogs so I decided that the baby needed a doggy blanket. Here is a picture of how the blanket turned out.

I decided to also make my sister a nursing cover. I got the pattern from here. The only thing I changed was that I lined the back with some thin fleece so it would be softy for the baby and I didn't put the corset bonding in (to lazy).

 I enjoy sewing but I am not great or even that good at it, but these two projects show that practice makes better. Because you really should have seen what my other poor nephews ended up with. You should also know that it only took me two nights (after the kids were in bed) to finish both of these projects.I hope that you enjoyed these projects and encourage you to give them a try.

What kinds of projects have you been working on?