Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

Thyme, mint, and Basil OH MY! ….. (but mostly Basil)

 

 

 

We survived hurricane Irene without a hitch. It was the first time our area had been threatened since Max was born and truth be told I was very anxious. We prepared as good as we knew how and hunkered down. I am so thankful that we had no real damage, nor did we lose electricity. We were truly blessed.

What was left of my garden fared nearly as well, the peppers are still standing and promising to give me a few more before calling it quits for the season. I had grown basil between my tomato plants and when the tomatoes were finished and removed, the basil took over. It was waist high and resembled a shrubbery rather than an herb. It did not weather the high winds quite as well as the rest of us. Upon going out and assessing the damage I found the basil laying on its side. I had meant to harvest it for some time so now was as good as any.

Have some basil....

Preserving herbs is very easy and very rewarding during those winter months when everything outside is brown and dry. The more hardy herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano) do well tied into bunches and hung to dry. Once all the moisture is gone seal them in an airtight container and they will keep for up to a year. The more delicate herbs (basil, mint, tarragon) do best frozen. You can place whole or chopped leaves in a ice cube tray, cover with a little water and freeze. Once frozen pop out of the tray and place in freezer bag, thaw as you need.

My favorite way to preserve Basil is homemade pesto. I love being able to add that summertime freshness to meals in the dead of winter.

All the measurements are approximate. This recipe should really be adapted to you personal taste. Remember, I was working with an ungodly amount of basil, so you may have to adjust the portions according to however much you have.

Homemade Pesto

yummy

8 cups washed basil leaves, stems removed. (makes about 2 cups chopped basil)

1/2  cup pine nuts

1/2 cup Olive oil

1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

4  medium cloves Garlic

salt to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulse basil and olive oil in food processor until coarsely chopped.

Add Pine nuts, Parmesan, Garlic, and Salt.

Process until desired consistency.  If it seems dry, add more oil.

At this point TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. Make needed adjustments, I always end up adding more salt and cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoon into ice cube tray and freeze.  When frozen, remove and place in freezer safe bag.

Now you have homemade pesto in convenient portions that will be approximately 1 oz. each.  Ready to used to season chicken, accompany pasta, or spruce up sauces.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bet you’re wondering what I did with all the left over basil (yes, there was left over basil). Turns out it makes a very fragrant, if not colorful centerpiece!

Thanks for reading:)

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Cuckoo for Coconut Oil

I really am, I love the stuff. If I could get away with slathering myself with it on a daily basis I would. But alas, until my financial situation improves I’ll have to stick to using it in more…. conventional ways.

Why coconut oil you ask? What makes it so great? Truth is the more I learn about it the more impressed I am with all its properties. Nutritionally, it’s made up of whats called a Medium-chain fatty acid. Yes I know I said the “F” word, I’m even going to add the “S” word too. Truth is these are actually Saturated Fats *gasp*. Now before you get all pseudo-nutritionalist on me, these are not the same fats that McDonald’s was using to expand our waistlines. The fatty acid in Coconut oil actually is proven to help kick start your metabolism, and in moderate amounts can help you work off those french fries. It is also known to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and help decrease LDL (bad cholesterol). Try getting that out of a stick of butter! It’s high in vitamin E, and is naturally anti-microbial and anti-fungal, that’s why I use it when I make Max’s baby wipes. (I have also been known to use it as a moisturizer myself from time to time)

It is solid until about 75 degrees and it’s smoking point is about 350 degrees making it great for cooking. I use it instead of butter to scramble eggs, deeelish! I don’t recommend using it in dressings or marinades due to the fact that it solidifies at relatively high temperatures. It can however, be used as substitute for butter or shortening in most baking recipes. A good rule of thumb is a 3/4 to 1 conversion although I have used a 1 to 1 conversion without any problems.

Here is a simple cookie recipe that is out of this world!

Coconut Oil Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil and sugar until smooth.

Beat in egg and vanilla.

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden.

Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

When finished dust cookies with a little extra sugar.

Variation- Consider adding 1/2 tsp lemon zest to batter, or dusting with a flavored sugar like vanilla or rose.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading:)

Eating fresh vs. the Magic Spatula

I really wanted to eat healthier, no, not diet, the “D” word is not allowed in my house. Just healthy, REAL food. However, like many I fell into a cycle of unhealthy habits. First, I loooove food, I love to cook it, I love to eat it, I love to look at pictures of it, I pretty much love everything about it. Second, my darling Hubby only eats a total of 5 vegetables, and that’s if you count potatoes and corn as veggies. That doesn’t sound so bad you say, if I love food so much I could just wave my magic spatula in the air and

*poof*

*poof* there will appear an endless supply of meal ideas consisting of a protein of some sort (meat, fish, occasionally the unfortunate chicken) and a combination of one or more of the 5 allowed vegetables. For the most part you would be right. With the Internet at my fingertips and the guts to attempt almost any dish, we ate like kings! Food was rich, swimming in butter and cream topped with cheese and washed down with gravy. Nightly dinners were bacon wrapped and smothered in béarnaise (as proven by our waistlines).

Then I got pregnant (reality check) then I lost my job (reality punch in the face). Suddenly it was super important that I eat fresh and healthy, super important that I become one with the produce aisle………… $2.50 for a single green pepper!!?!!! Holy smokes!! It seems that sometime during my years of ignorant bliss ( and disposable income) the price of food skyrocketed! Now that both of those things are gone (well, the ignorance still reappears now and again) I find myself in shock of what the cost of fresh food is. How is a family to eat healthy with out having to auction off their kidneys?

Time to get creative.

Turns out there are several options when it comes to produce that not only are better for your wallet, but also our bodies, and the planet!

Find a local Farmers Market (or road side stand if you’re in a rural area). Many urban areas will have them at least once a week, and some run daily. Find out what’s in season in your area and try to purchase those items. If vendors have had items shipped in, find out from where, and when the produce was harvested. Remember, buying local produce means it hasn’t spent days or weeks getting to you, and therefore more of its nutrients are alive when it reaches your table. The reduced travel also means less greenhouse gasses into the ozone (it’s a win-win:)

Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I have only recently become aware of this option and while I haven’t tried it out myself yet I can’t wait to give it a go. A CSA is a group put together by one or more farms from whom you buy a “share” of their harvest. Meaning once a week you go pick up a box of whatever produce they are growing right then, a lot of times the items were just harvested that morning! I first learned about them from this blog. Each group will vary greatly so take some time picking the right one for you and your family. Some you will pay for monthly others a lump sum for the whole season. Others have work requirements, most (in my area) do not. To find out what’s available in your neck of the woods check out localharvest.org, along with a list of participating farms they also have tips on finding one that will suit your needs.

Last Summers Garden Heart<3"

Grow your own!!!!! I LOVE this!! Before you blow this idea off as taking too much work, time, space, ect. ect. Trust me, as a former apartment tenant and someone who currently rents her home, it’s not as daunting as it appears. Many vegetables and herbs thrive in containers or small spaces with minimal upkeep. Need more motivation? Remember that green pepper that was $2.50 at the local grocery store? Well, I was able to get three plants for $1.97! Not to mention it is deeply satisfying to eat foods that you have grown yourself.

So, we’re trying to eat healthier. I still Looooove food, in fact I love it more. While Hubby still only eats 5 veggies I no longer let that stop me from preparing others for myself and the children. I am understanding food better, I don’t need to drown it in sauce to make it delicious. Its time to let the fresh flavors of meals shine on their own,  to do that you have to start with fresh ingredients. It May take a little effort but I promise it will be well worth it!
Thanks for reading:)

Never use a serrated knife to cut paper towels: a how-to & how-not-to on baby wipes

“We’re out of baby wipes.” says my darling husband. I take a deep breath, I had just come in from a long day at work and had absolutely no intention of leaving the house again that night. Well, I’ll just make my own. How hard can it be?

Now, I had reason to be optimistic, I had been making my own wipe solution for sometime. The thing is, hubby and I see things differently when it comes to reusable diaper supplies. I believe in them, he doesn’t. He, being the primary care giver, generally gets the last say. On this though we compromise, and by that I mean he buys disposable wipes that he uses and I use cloth wipes in a homemade solution. I had thrown around the idea about making my own disposable wipes for quite a while but I could never find the time or motivation. The thing is, that same morning after I stumbled out of bed to change snuggle bugs diaper I happened to be out of cloth wipes (laundry not being one of my strong points). What I didn’t realize was overnight a blister on my thumb had burst. I reached for the generic store bought wipes, bleary eyed and half comatose, Holy searing pain Batman!!! I threw it down.  What the heck is in these things, hot acid?!? No wonder the kid didn’t like having his diaper changed.  So later when I got home and learned we were out of the skin eating, scream inducing baby wipes, my decision was made.

Ok, here is the recipe for my solution, I have tried a couple different ratios and this is the one that I like the best:

2cups boiling water
2tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (or olive oil)
1tbsp Castile soap (I like the tea tree or rose scented)

Easy enough, easy to double if making a larger batch, AND will NOT sting even if used on an open sore. On top of that both coconut oil and tea tree are naturally anti-fungal and super good for baby’s skin.

Now, what to use for the actual wipes. As I  previously stated I have used cotton wash cloths soaked them in the mixture and stored them in a wipes warmer. Works like a charm. But what about those who want disposable wipes? I had read somewhere that you can use paper towels. To do so you need:

1 roll heavy-duty paper towels
Some sort of sharp object
Empty round wipes container (the center pull out kind)

Let’s see, first things first.  Cut the roll of paper towels in half with afore-mentioned sharp object. Well of course i started with the obvious choice, heavy duty scissors…… Not so heavy duty after all, barely left a mark. Hmmmmm it’s just paper, maybe I could slice through it with my razor sharp chefs knife!…………. Well that got through all of about four layers. *scratches head* Paper is made out of wood and you use a saw to cut wood, (can you see where this is going?) let’s see…… A saw has teeth, this serrated knife has teeth…….. it will be perfect! (insert goofy grin here) ………. Well, it cut, or rather shredded it’s way through the roll. Half way through you would have thought I had taken up shearing sheep in my kitchen. By the time I finished I stood knee deep in a winter wonderland of fluffy  paper towel snow. But at least I had the roll in 2 halves. Victory is mine!

The next two steps are to soak one of the paper towel roll halves by setting it upright in a bowl with wipe solution. Then set it aside and let cool. Once cool the cardboard center should slide out. Gently squeeze excess solution out and place in round container. You should be able to grab the end of the roll from the center (where the cardboard used to be). TaDa you have homemade chlorine and alcohol free wipes for your little persons bum.

On a side note I have so far been unable to find the round wipes containers and so have been forced to unroll the entire roll of towels and refold to fit in a standard rectangle wipes container. It works but is a bit more time consuming.

Thanks for reading:)

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