With a bonanza supply of dehydrated tomatoes put by, I made this delicious spread that we’ve always called just “tomato stuff.” It’s like a tapenade, although without anchovies. I use it by itself to spread on thin slices of baguette or water crackers for an elegant appetizer and also use it by the big spoonful for enrich a pasta sauce instead of tomato paste, make a quick pizza, add body to a vegetable soup, add big flavor to a vinaigrette dressing, dress a plain dish of spaghetti, and put a bit of zing into a bland stew.
Years ago, a friend who once lived in Italy described a sandwich she had prepared for a picnic. Adapted to foods we can buy locally, it works well for late-summer suppers after a sweltering day in the gardens. It’s a lifesaver for days when I just don’t know what time dinner will happen until it happens.
Fermented sauerkraut not only gives us digestive enzymes and probiotics, but the process itself makes all the vitamins and minerals present more bio-available. And it's delicious! We needn't eat a lot of it either. Condiments are vital go-alongs with our meals.
Recently I came across a spate of comments about “humanure,” or the composting of human waste. I thought I would share the experiences of our friend, Gus, in California who has been creating humanure compost for over 5 year
This is the sixth blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers an understanding of what horticulture is and why it is important to homesteading. You'll find reading recommendations, information on plant selection, garden planning, plant propagation, seed saving, and food security.
Our travails continue with the head-on collision of our aesthetics and the Village Council. Read this blog post to discover more about how personal opinion tries to trump Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
I used to think of soap-making as one of those cool things I’d love to try someday, but for a long time it seemed too complex and intimidating. Then, one day it so happened that I had all the necessary ingredients – namely, a box of lye crystals and a bottle of non-food-grade oil I had absolutely nothing else to do with. I took a deep breath and dove in. Even a beginner soap-maker can produce simple, multi-purpose, natural soap at home.
Have you wandered the aisles of your local home improvement store trying to determine what you need for your home’s air conditioning or furnace? If you are unsure about what is wrong with your equipment, get a professional’s opinion or you could be spending money unnecessarily.
Learn what the catalyst was behind the huge leap from corporate drones to becoming organic farmers in Puerto Rico — despite knowing nothing about farming, not speaking the language and knowing only a handful of people. Although family and friends thought we were crazy, it was the sanest decision we ever made, and we couldn’t be happier with the way our life has turned out. Amid animals being dropped off to us, frequent power and water outages, and being separated from our family, we are truly happy for the first time in our lives.
Back when I was a child, my Mom used to occasionally buy a jar of mixed pickles. I loved the cauliflower, but there was usually just one small piece in each jar, and sometimes I didn’t even get that. Now make my own with nearly all cauliflower and onions — just a few cucumber chunks. A bowl of these is a perfect accompaniment when cold meat sandwiches are the menu.
Mammalian garden pests can do serious damage to your crops in a short period of time. Humane live traps such as those made by Havahart are a practical answer to this situation, but outwitting the animal can also be frustrating. Properly setting, baiting, and managing these traps can increase your success in removing problem animals from your property.
Forestry and climate change are complex and emotionally charged issues. In this post, we focus on the forests themselves and how they can contribute to global cooling when forest management practices are adjusted through the incentives in the multi-billion dollar carbon credit programs being launched.
These pickles have won a blue ribbon each time I entered them in the State Fair. They’re quite sweet with a spicy tang. We use them mostly on sandwiches and burgers. Here is my award-winning recipe for sweet pickles with bonus recipes for relish, tartar sauce and sandwiches.
This yummy loaf is a little darker than regular oatmeal bread, due to the molasses, which also gives it some sweetness. Once again, I’m using home ground hard red wheat flour, which gives an indescribable flavor. No flour mill? No problem, just substitute regular whole wheat flour and all purpose white, respectively. The blend of whole wheat and white flour makes a lighter loaf than if made from 100% whole wheat.
Not only is recycling your used wooden pallets helpful for the planet, but it can help you stay young in brain and body by encouraging you to learn new skills. You can also have great fun as a family working on wooden pallet recycling ideas.
Canning is a humbling production. I scribble a note onto my recipe page: Do not quadruple batch. It is easy to get overzealous, lured by the harvest and the jar count at the end of the day. I get excited about bounty and forget about endurance, every year.
Learn about harvesting winter medicine, seed saving, wild-food foraging, and garden preparations for August from Wild Abundance, plus a recipe for making elderberry syrup by Wild Abundance Director Natalie Bogwalker.
As the pickling season approaches, it is very helpful to have everything you’ll need on hand. Here are some notes that will help you get started pickling, from choosing the right vinegars and where to find spices, to hints for using pickling equipment well.
Recent scientific studies suggest that the widely used antibacterial substance triclosan is not as harmless as we thought it was. It has significant health effects on different systems of the human body, while toxic intermediate can form easily once it is released in the environment.
Folks here mostly cook purple hull peas with quantities of fatty pork. Although this is similar to the way we Yankees bake beans, I wanted to try something healthier, more Mediterranean. I came up with a pea salad they call “Texas Caviar” and developed my own version of this healthy, nutritious dish.
A commercial pectin recipe for this preserve calls for 4 cups of fruit to 7 cups sugar. I use about ¼ of that: at least twice as much fruit and half the sugar, so my jams and preserves taste of the fruit instead of sugar and have half or less calories. As well as the usual breakfast toast spread, try adding your own homemade preserves to plain yogurt.
You can easily make your own glace cherries for fruit cakes and your Christmas stollen. The cherries you do yourself will be a darker red instead of that false neon color and will be made with only cane sugar and very little or no GMOs. These will actually taste like sweet cherries, with no odd chemical aftertaste. You’ll also save money.
Making fruit jellies without a lot of added sugar is easy when you let chopped apples supply the pectin your fruit lacks. A simple test of jelly on a cold plate tells you when the jelly point is reached.
The pieces have all come together. Proper restraint has been shown and I managed to put together a pretty darn good homemade (all but the cheese) Reuben sandwich. However, it is not without some consequences and revelations of a none too proud family tradition.
I never much cared for gazpacho, and that’s probably because I lived in Colorado and Alaska most of my adult life. You must have great tomatoes to make great Gazpacho. After I tasted gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes like 'Cherokee Purple', 'Brandywine', 'Marmonde' and others from my garden, I realized what I had been missing.
Meet some of our outdoor family members as I work to comply with the lawn ordinances being forced upon us. Hopefully, more of them are still alive and are adapting to something more akin to cave dwelling than open-forested lands.
My little toaster oven does a great job baking eight or 10 cookies, uses very little electricity itself, doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and saves the air conditioning. The variety is endless — see some flavor ideas below. Start with the basic dough and add to it, such as for these Toasted Almond Cookies. They’re buttery, tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.
Most forests are working forests. They are cut regularly for lumber production and other uses. Only 12.7% of the earth's forests are protected. Wood is carbon. Carbon volumes sequestered in the woods need to multiply to significantly contribute to global cooling. Without this, the carbon credit market is mostly wasted as a tool for significant global cooling. We still have time to save our forests.
Beekeeping is a fun yet rewarding experience. Not only you can produce a sustainable, nutritious natural sweetener, but you can also benefit the environment by keeping bees in your backyard. This post will help you get into beekeeping.
There is a growing, sometimes contentious movement afoot: traditional lawns vs natural landscaping. Two years ago, we came up against Ohio’s laws regarding lawns and weeds and were heartbroken to have to mow our luscious long grasses. Last year, we enjoyed a reprieve and the serenity of our natural garden. This year, the grasses back!
Blueberries are a superfood — one of the fruits highest in lycopene and antioxidants. Take advantage of their season and stock up. They do very well in the dehydrator and make scrumptious preserves to dollop on plain yogurt, slather on toast, or to fill quick little tartlets. This is a very thick, low-sugar preserve, very different from the Sure-Jel type.
What needs to happen is a change in attitudes. Such a change is not coming soon enough to your favorite grocery store. If more of us buy imperfect-looking produce, grocery stores will be able to change our dependence on harsh chemicals used to grow perfect-looking fruits and veggies. It’s up to all of us to support the imperfect produce movement and bring back taste, nutrition and a healthier planet. How will you vote?
Two years ago, I bought this little toaster oven, and I think it paid for itself the first year in energy savings just to bake up a pizza, a potato, or small casserole. And I discovered that it does a fine job baking fresh bread. The day before, I stir up some simple dough, enough to bake up my choice of a pizza, burger buns, or 2 ficelles (mini baguettes), a small fougasse, or ciabatta or focaccia — all without heating up the kitchen.
This article highlights four herbs that repel mosquitoes naturally and you’re probably already growing them in your garden: 'Creeping Lemon' thyme, Rosemary, Mint, and Lavender! All these mosquito-repellent plants are easy to grow, do well in containers, and actually attract beneficial birds and insects.
This is the third blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers ideas for starting an edible landscape on your homestead including: soil improvement, cover crops, perennials, attracting beneficial insects, and home-based food production.
Apricots are easy to work with, as they don’t need peeling and the pits are easily removed. This jam has a much lower percentage of sugar than the usual recipes. Learn to make homemade, French-style Apricot Preserves for use as a base for a sweet and hot glaze and in Apricot Bread Pudding.
Here is a primer on specialty mushrooms. Exotic mushroom varieties are daunting to most consumers. They ought not be intimidated by these strange but tasty morsels. There are several sources for recipes including the Mushroom Council, my website, or by using search engines. Mushrooms deserve a place at your table due to taste, availability, and purported health benefits.
Rye bread is a challenge for many bread bakers. So many “hockey puck” disasters. This recipe works! With tiny amounts of sugar and fat, this is a very low-calorie, high-fiber bread that is also delicious.
I had every intention of writing a DIY Reuben Sandwich post this month and, while I did manage to make some sauerkraut and corned beef, I hit a bit of a glitch at the end. The effort was there, but my execution - or better still - will power, failed me. However, in the end, I had a great batch of sauerkraut and a tasty, if short-lived, corned beef to show for my efforts. With a little planning and some time, corned beef and sauerkraut are both easy to make and great tasting.
Many people believe they can grow anything anytime when they just got their own greenhouse. You can, but that’s not always the case. Sure, it depends on what you’re planting in the first place. But, it also depends on the greenhouse itself and how you plant it.
If people knew how easy and delicious homemade salad dressings can be, store-bought dressing sales would plummet. You, too, can make your own salad dressings without having a culinary school degree or cooking experience. Learn to make Oil and Vinegar with Tarragon and Homemade Ranch with Roasted Garlic here.
I gave you five things you should consider when building your chicken coop in the first part of this blog series. Here are the remaining few points that you should take into consideration when building your fluffy chicken friends their perfect home.
“Golden” will be the first word to enter your mind when you see the roots, rhizomes and dormant buds of Hydrastis canadensis. You’ll understand immediately why the common name is “Goldenseal.” This very useful native woodland plant will not only charm and entertain you spring, summer, and autumn — it can even heal you.
If you’re a homeowner weighing your renewable energy options, you already know that thorough research is the best way to find the right system for your home. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of residential wind vs. solar power so that you can make your decision with confidence.
European breads are frequently made with an overnight starter, called “Poolish” or “Biga”. A super-easy way of developing dough I learned from Peter Reinhart (author of The Bread Bakers Apprentice) has helped me to quickly put together some delicious, full-flavored sandwich breads. Here’s how.
There is nothing like growing your own veggies and canning the excess. A good place to start your search is your local farmer’s market. Ask one of the veggie farmers if you can come out and help on their farm and see where it goes from there. All it takes is a couple hours every week or two to learn the basics.
Beautiful salads are a festive choice for special days. Make the Marinated Shrimp Salad for a Mothers’ Day luncheon, and then a variation with chicken and freshly picked snap beans for a hot summer day. Both salads are made well ahead and then marinate in the refrigerator until serving time.
Technically a berry, soap nuts are considered to be an environmentally conscious alternative to chemical detergents and soaps. The berries come from a prolific tree that grows well in degraded environments where little else can grow. They are safe for allergies, free from any additives, and can be used to clean just about anything.
Pepperidge Farm was the bread we always had at home. Years later, remembering their jingle, “The bread that tastes like breakfast, with honey, eggs and milk,” I started trying to duplicate that iconic bread. Finally, here is the recipe I developed with today’s flour and yeast.
Building a chicken coop is a big deal. It is something that will remain on your property for years to come. It is the beginning of turning your yard into your own ‘starter homesteader.’ But wait — there are a few things you should take into consideration before you break ground on your new friends’ home.
If you’re going to get all the ingredients out and make a mess, you might as well bake a lot of bread. There are several breads I like to make, starting with the “whitest” and proceeding through to the darkest dough. Here are recipes for a basic white potato bread, a whole-wheat potato bread, and an oatmeal bread. Each recipe makes two loaves in a standard 9-by-5-inch pan.
After you grow your own organic greens, it’s hard to go back to grocery store crap. The good news is that greens are easy to grow in a multitude of environments. If you are short on space, try building a salad tray and grow your own greens on a patios or balcony. If you have a small patch of ground, do what I did and install a raised bed.
My freezer is full of beef fat and I finally rendered tallow for cooking oil. We raise some pastured beef for our family, and while we enjoy the grass-fed beef, we have been slower to learn the art of cooking with homemade oil. That's changing. Read how and why I learned to render oil from beef fat to make homemade cooking oil (tallow).
Bake some delicious rustic breads — Cranberry-Pecan, Apple, and White Chocolate Apricot — and stock the freezer for special breakfasts and “high tea.” All the fruits in these breads give the loaves a craggy surface that’s wonderfully crunchy. These all keep for months wrapped well in the freezer. If you get them out the night before, they’ll be ready to slice for breakfast, toasted or not.
Agricultural use of sludge is not only detrimental to human health, but it also damages the social fabric of rural communities all across the country. Federal and state regulations are ill prepared to address medical, social and environmental consequences of this disastrous practice.
Polypodium virginianum aka the "Rock Polypody" is native to just about every state east of the Mississippi, Alaska, almost every province in Canada and all the way north up to Greenland and Iceland. To grow it requires no master's degree in gardening or landscape architecture or any particularly colored thumb. It's really quite simple! This is the perfect fern for any shade garden or along the path of any shade border.
Cymophyllus fraserianus is the perfect Hosta replacement for any native plant garden or any shade garden, especially if you have a deer problem as this is one plant that isn't on Bambi's menu or wish list.
In February the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR went to Texas. Many people travel long distances to attend these Fairs. As long as you are making the trip, get the most out of it as you can. Read the schedule of speakers ahead and plan your weekend. Also, take time to enjoy the sights in the surrounding area. Here is a bit about my time in Texas for the FAIR.
There is wild fruit nearly everywhere, free for the picking. This spring, as soon as leaf buds swell in your area, go looking for blooms. Take a ride, get somebody to drive for you, so you can search roadsides and fields, along railroad tracks, in power line right of ways, and maybe even an abandoned homesite, looking for brushy shrubs, brambles, vines and trees with white flowers.
Farmers opting for biosolids applications on their farmland believe that this is a safe and natural way to fertilize the soil. Oftentimes they see local anti-biosolids activists as the adversaries, not realizing that the truth is quite the opposite. There is a mounting body of scientific and medical evidence that the practice of biosolids land application is detrimental to human health and constitutes an environmental factor contributing to many chronic conditions. Farmers, their families and neighbors are often first to suffer the consequences.
How do you talk to young children about caring for the environment without loading them with guilt? Here are five environmental education suggestions that create natural opportunities for kids to learn about what they can do to be immersed in nature and help our planet.
Native to 35 states and 3 provinces of Canada east of the Mississippi, Partridge Berry is rarely seen in the trade. I fail to see why, as it's very easy to propagate by rooting cuttings or from seed. In fact, it forms adventitious roots as it gently winds its way around the garden. It could never, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered aggressive or invasive.
The first year fair in Belton, Texas was a huge event and by all accounts, a success. I was super busy at the DIY Showcase the entire fair and had over 300 people attend my presentation on the GRIT Stage.
When you have become a good enough gardener that you are producing more than your family can eat, it is natural to think about selling some of your bounty. Here are some tips about making that jump from a homestead garden to a market garden.
If you’re questioning, from a food safety standpoint, whether the meat you have is safe to eat or truly rotten meat, you need to understand the proper cooking temperatures for meat and how they work to eliminate most meat spoilage bacteria.
I hate putting chemicals on my skin, so I use an essential oil spray that has proven to be very effective for preventing mosquito and other bug bites. In the past couple years in the garden, none of us have been bitten. Even at a riverside campground in Louisiana, there were no mosquito bites.
A good snowfall now and then helps to test the limits of our resources. You never know if you are prepared for disruptions until you are disrupted. Here are some hints to help things go smoothly when there are real possibilities that they might not otherwise.
This is my go-to recipe for making our weekly bread. It provides consistent, crusty results, uses only three (ish) ingredients, and takes about 40 minutes of active time. It’s also 100 percent whole-wheat/whole grain, which is the rule for bread in our house. Don’t be put off by the 7 hours of time required — most of that is passive time while you wait for your bread to rise.
At Wild Abundance, reconnecting with the land means living and working in sync with the cycles and seasons as they unfold. Here is a guide to the very beginnings of the East, when the earth is waking up, and moving from the slowness of winter into the flurry of action of spring: Harnessing the Maple Moon of February and the New Growth Moon of March on your homestead.
Making your own glace citrus peels is easy. You can save the peel from lemons, oranges, grapefruit and pomelos as you eat them. Just toss the peel into a zipper bag and keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days. I used Jacques Pepin’s method as guidance here.
This pastry dough recipe can be made in 10 minutes and rest overnight in the refrigerator. It’s simple and easy to work with as you bake up your choice of American or European pastries, including Italian Panettone, Cinnamon-Pecan Sticky Buns, and Brioche Raisinee. Dough and pastry recipes included.
Parasites catch a bad rap. Often feared and maligned, we tend to overlook the fact that they play an integral role in the ecological health of our ecosystems. Though animal and microbial parasites are most familiar, there are parasitic plants as well. What follows is a brief overview of the nature of parasitic plants.
You always hear about making your garden plan ahead of time, but part of good garden planning should include evaluating that plan at the end of the season. Take time now to write yourself a letter about how last season went. Include the good and the bad and how you felt about everything. This will become your annual garden report.
Not many people in our sphere of influence drink goat’s milk, so we have a great opportunity to educate those we come in contact with about the benefits. These are our four main reasons why we drink goat's milk.
Buying a half-pig directly from a farmer ensures quality and well-raised pork, although it will cost more than supermarket pork. Understanding how to fill out a cut sheet guarantees you get what you paid for.
Back in the early 1950s, my family moved to northern Kentucky. We had the great fortune to live just down the street from Louella Schierland, one of the contributing authors of the iconic Joy of Cooking. Mrs. Schierland gave my mother this recipe and I remember that these bourbon balls were stored in a coffee can in the refrigerator. I’ve made some changes to the original to avoid today’s GMOs. Makes about 40 treats.
Learning to do things for yourself at home is empowering. You don’t need a degree in home economics, although it helped Cindy, to get started. She even makes her own blue jeans! Just as important to her are projects such as making a bench grinder stand, which you can learn more about here.
I found a recipe in the King Arthur Cookie Companion that I developed a little so that I can now gift my gluten-intolerant friends with delicious cookies. Homemade almond paste is best here, but store-bought will do. Freshly made, these cookies have chewy texture; after a few days, they become airy and crunchy. Just as delicious either way. This recipe makes about 30 two-inch cookies.
Wyoming's Food Freedom Act is a game changer for cottage businesses everywhere. The WFFA eliminates regulations for the sale of eggs, raw milk and poultry. Will it encourage other states to do the same?
My favorite, best cookie recipe just happens to actually be pretty healthy and a good choice for after-school snacks. I used to keep a tin in my office, available to anyone who hadn’t had time for lunch. They have enough protein, iron and whole grain to make them guilt-free. This recipe makes about 60 two-inch cookies that freeze well.
Learn how to make Rosemary Gladstar's original Fire Cider recipe and chutney to help keep your immune system healthy, and to ward off infections. Also learn about the Fire Cider controversy, and why it should matter to you.
It would seem that most people don’t pay any attention to plants unless they are pretty or useful in some way. I reject this reality outright. From the smallest duckweed to the tallest redwood, the botanical world is full of wonder. I am here to defend that.
Indoor air is polluted by volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These gases are emitted into the air from products like pesticides, air fresheners, cleaning products, paint and paint remover, personal care products, appliances, furniture and building products, including carpet and pressed-wood floors, and more. Learn several steps to take to guard against indoor air pollution and how indoor air quality monitors can help.
I love classic New Orleans food! Sometimes, though, the chefs are absolutely reckless with the butter, so I adapted this rich and very savory, New Orleans-style mushroom ragu for a healthier diet. I use portions of this Marchand de Vin sauce to enrich beef stews, other sauces, and in the version of Eggs Benedict called Eggs Hussarde. A dollop of this makes a plain meal into something really special.
As we enter into the cold and flu season, it is the perfect time to be thinking about your immune system and practical ways to help boost it. Here are 10 tips to stay your healthiest this season and all year round. These tips are our tried and true suggestions for increasing immunity and maintaining good health all year long.
I love to ferment vegetables in gallon glass jars, which I leave on the kitchen counter so I can watch the colors mellow. A mixed-vegetable pickle is not only a thing of beauty and an adventure to eat; it’s also a practical use for homegrown produce. Here are complete instructions for making fermented pickles in a gallon jar, with suggestions for varying both the vegetables and the aromatic ingredients.
Winter signals a retreating indoors for a slower speed in lifing — one filled with thoughtful reflection, the finishing up in processing of the foods my garden has gifted me, and returning to my arting. As a preview to my forthcoming cookbook, I have included my favorite, beer-infused honey mustard recipe below.
Hunting isn’t for everyone, but what I would like to do is share with interested readers, hunters included, how hunting and fishing helps me provide my own food and move a step closer to a sustainable life here on my farm.
Making your own hand and body cream is not difficult. Just be sure you can work for 30 minutes or so with no interruptions. Be very sure that the essential oils you choose are actually pure essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, lemongrass, etc. Quantities needed for a both a single 4-ounce jar and a large batch of nine 4-ounce jars are given.
If you fall asleep or can't think straight at holiday gatherings, don't blame it on the turkey (or your relatives)! Research indicates that carbon dioxide is not only a greenhouse gas, but elevated levels of it are detrimental to human health and cognition. Learn how improving your indoor air quality will increase your health and stamina during holidays.
So you finally took the leap and installed a home wind turbine. Congratulations! You’ve just taken a big step to make your home energy generation more sustainable and secure, but what comes next? Wind turbines require maintenance and this post will outline some wind turbine maintenance essentials to consider.
There are many ways to sell your extra honey and other products of the hive. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain a few easy ways to sell all of that extra honey, including how to sell honey online, at work, at a roadside stand and more!
Mincemeat is one of the best ways to preserve an abundance of fall pears. This delicious conserve makes a New England traditional spicy holiday pie. But it’s not just for pie — the chef of a Bon Appetit Top 50 Restaurants asked me for a quart of this to use as a garnish for a very special dinner. Consider a spoonful to garnish any pork or game entrée.
There are five main areas of the home responsible for wasting the most energy. At the top of that list is windows, and one of the most effective ways to decrease your home’s carbon footprint is by replacing old, drafty windows with new, air-tight Energy Star-qualified windows.
It’s easy and very economical to make your own almond paste. You’ll use this to fill pastries, cakes and your special Christmas Stollen. This makes 2 pounds, 2 ounces — as much as six of those pricey little cans — and you control the quality.
If you have a garden, then you have garden tools and supplies and you need a place to put them. Carefully evaluate what you have and what kind of space you need to store them. That allows you to choose (if you are buying) or to build a garden shed special to you.
Starting with gentle livestock breeds is key to success for new homesteaders. Scottish Highland cattle and Dorper/Katahdin cross sheep proved easy-to-handle and good producers for a retired Missouri couple.
Shelling corn by hand will soon put blisters on your thumbs. You can acquire a corn sheller to help you do the job. Learn how to make a sturdy box to mount your corn sheller on to make your work easier.
After the first of the crisp fall apples have started to soften, I love to have a sip of this for dessert on a cold winter’s night. This homemade apple cordial tastes like the absolute best apple pie you ever drank! Here is how I preserve the goodness of apples laced with sweet spices.
The emergence of the long-lasting flowers of 'Uvularia grandiflora' is something I really anticipate every spring. And every spring, my robust stand of ‘Large-Flowered Bellwort’ slowly opens their large, pendulous, bright golden yellow flowers that resemble inverted flowing candle flames. Learn how to grow and where to find this ornamental native flower.
Fig Salami is a unique substitute for the usual cured sausage on a cheese plate; because it’s fruity, it works as well before or after dinner. It takes minutes to make, but plan ahead so it has time to set up and “cure” four or five days — after that, it will keep weeks in the refrigerator.
No matter how many pounds of vegetables you are working with, a good tasting result is guaranteed if you ferment in canning jars because the ferments are never exposed to the airborne yeasts and molds that result in off-flavors. As fermentation gases build up, loosen the screw bands on the jars and allow the brine to overflow onto a saucer. In this way, gases leave the jars, but air does not flow back in.
Growing plants to produce fiber for textiles can be an adventure. If your climate permits, you could grow cotton in your garden—even in your flower bed. Most climates can support flax that you can turn into linen fabric. Plan for that now when you plant cover crops so your garden beds are ready for cotton and flax when planting time comes around.
Twenty-five years ago, my daughter and I treated ourselves to New Orleans' famous Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. One dish impressed me so much, I begged for the recipe. Our server took my plea to the kitchen and the chef actually sent down a copy! I have made some minor changes and offer it here that you, too, can enjoy this comforting eggplant dish.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the amount of energy lost annually through windows costs consumers $35 billion. Heat loss and heat gain through and around windows accounts for between 10 and 25 percent of our heating and air conditioning usage, the largest consumer of energy in a modern home. Here are some ways to make sure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible.
Ramps, aka Allium tricoccum, are really wild leeks. They combine the taste of garlic with the taste of onion, although that's really somewhat of an oversimplification as the taste of ramps is bursting with other — so many other — flavors and nuances that they leave their actual essence difficult to verbalize.
Back in the 1950s, there was a restaurant in Stamford, Conn., named The Hamburger Den that was a local favorite, not just for pretty good burgers, but for pots of delicious relish on each table. Later, in the 90s, I decided I had to make that relish I so loved and finally came up with what I remembered to share here.
Test the acidity of your batch for water bath canning to ensure that you are meeting requirements for a high acid food. Testing acidity is a great way to understand the role it plays in canning safety. This is an educational tool and not a license to change lab-tested recipes.
Further expand your awareness and interaction with your environment by adopting the conscious attitude of moving Toward a destination instead of going To a destination. This post describes how the author's mentor was always prepared to further enhance the landscape by making any general improvements using the caretaker's attitude.
Freezing, fermenting, and using a steam canner can reduce the amount of time it takes to preserve foods. Some vegetables can be blanched without freezing, and some can be cooked in a finished dish to make efficient use of your time while the weather is still hot.
Cover crops will build your soil and provide compost material. The time to plant is this fall, but you need to know what the next crop will be when deciding just which cover crop to plant where. Think through your garden plan for next year to make the best choices.
Not to be confused with Italian sofrito, which is a mix of sautéed vegetables used as a sauce base, this Cuban version is a pungent mix of raw herbs and vegetables. Cuban sofrito is used to add freshness, herbal notes and zing to many Cuban dishes.
There are probably over 100 reasons that you should be growing shade-loving and native ‘Tasslerue’ Trautvetteria caroliniensis, but the main reason that you aren't growing it is because you've probably never heard of it, let alone had someone offer to share some with you. All that's about to change.
The white part of watermelon rind makes a delicious pickle! Be sure to take a little time to make some for a garnish on sandwiches or as a key ingredient in Red Pepper Relish. The recipe below has won several ribbons in State Fairs over the years.
Dogs may have had nothing to do with the naming of the season, but they, like us, will most likely desire some respite from the heat. Here are several cooling herbal recipes for your furry friends to try at home!
Tomatoes and peppers are plentiful in backyard gardens and at the farmers markets right now. Preserve this bounty in the form of salsa with your water bath canner and you can enjoy the goodness the whole year.
If you are lucky enough to come across some Hatch chili peppers and favorite variety of basil, here is a pesto recipe with a friendly amount of spice. Try it atop a Southwest chicken salad and transport yourself to New Mexico. (If you can’t make the festival, you can still make the pesto and dressing.)
Here, I share this very simple method for rendering beeswax that will take you from sticky mess to wonderfully fragrant disks of clean beeswax ready for your crafts and beauty products while costing very little of your time and precious energy. Your bees will actually benefit from it!
A 150-mile transmission line project proposed in 2012 costing up to $1.3 billon is a “dinosaur” that is still haunting the Hudson Valley. But rooftop solar energy, battery storage, and community microgrids can replace the ancient, costly, and vulnerable centralized generation and transmission electricity system that has dominated New York and the entire nation — and advanced little technologically — for over a century.
Every summer, I make sure that I get plenty of pesto made and put up in little tubs in the freezer — enough to get me through the winter. There are three different kinds I like to have on hand for use in various dishes: Italian Pesto, French Pistou, and Hatch Pesto. They’re easy to make, freeze well, and make an ordinary meal into something special.
If your tomato crop is like mine, right now you have just enough ripe fruit for salads and sandwiches with none left over for canning. Here’s a homemade barbecue recipe sauce you can make without waiting for the end-of-season tomato tsunami.
Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins have turned Minto Island Growers into a multifaceted farm that features a tea plantation, vegetable CSA, u-pick berries, food cart, farm stand, and more. Now they’re finding that growth brings many new challenges.
Have you thought about selling your extra honey and beeswax products at a fair or festival? In Part 1 of a three-part series, Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss how to get started in selling your products of the hive.
There are so many ways to dry herbs: in an oven on low heat, in a dehydrator, in the sun. However, overr time under well ventilated conditions, herbs will dry all by themselves with no additional encouragement.
An abundant harvest of cherry tomatoes can be roasted to make a tomato preserve called tomato confit. The recipe is simple, and the tomato confit can be used to make tomato tarts and tomato bruschetta.
Is your kale patch infested with insects? It may be time to mow it down and start a fresh patch for fall. But, don't worry: Here’s a chard variety to get you by in the meantime while you wait for your fall kale to come up.
Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins have turned Minto Island Growers into a multifaceted farm that features a tea plantation, vegetable CSA, u-pick berries, food cart, farm stand, and more. Now they’re finding that growth brings many new challenges.
Once your onions are harvested you need to store them so they will last as long as possible. Here are some tips for hanging your onions to dry and for braiding for storage. Also, learn about some of the health benefits of eating onions. They should be an important part of everyone's diet.
I've had limoncello that was thick and tasted of lemon candy. The recipe shared here is lighter and has a more pure lemon flavor. No stovetop or heating is involved making for a quick-hit summer spirit that you can enjoy with steeping alone.
Ripping apart old clothing and other rags to remake into useful items takes more time than purchasing new fabric, but the rewards – reducing landfill overload, reviving an old-fashioned skill, conserving a treasured memento and saving money – are worth the extra trouble.
Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid function, and iodine deficiency can lead to some serious health complications. Learn where this nutrient comes from and whether you need to use iodized salt to get enough of it.
Everyone has a dream, and although we are lucky enough to have had ours come true, our homestead lifestyle required time and work to make a reality. I invite you to follow us in our dream through this blog to learn DIY projects, gardening, water and energy conservation, a few clever “Homestead Hacks,” and how to use what you already have to fill a need.
Using the sun to dry our clothes naturally is part of a permaculture lifestyle. Learn tips for drying your clothes both outside and inside your house, allowing you to get rid of your clothes dryer and opening up space for other things, such as crocks for fermenting.
Before commercial pectins, our grandmothers made jam by cooking down fruit, slowly, slowly to keep it from scorching. Pectin is what makes a jam or jelly gel. A little known fact: Which brand of commercial pectin you buy matters in terms of taste, texture, and how fast you are likely to get in and out of the kitchen.
Assembled in China from native bamboo and recycled 6160 aluminum tubing gussets, this bike frame seemed the perfect complement to the ZeHus motor. I not only ended up with one of the most beautiful e-bikes Iʼve ever seen, but it also turned out to be one of the lightest. Learn how you can reserve a future production version of the e-bike.
The principles of intercropping apply also to undersowing cover crops in existing vegetable crops. This article lists the advantages of undersowing cover crops, gives some examples that work for late summer and fall vegetable crops, distinguishes suitable and unsuitable situations, and provides links to several useful resources.
Some experts recommend replacing pillows every two years. That would have cost me more than $1,000 over the past 10 years! Don't throw out old pillows in order to opt for expensive new ones. Instead, this post will teach you how to effectively hand-wash old pillows to remove stains and kill bacteria.
If your garden is becoming a bit overwhelming this summer it might be because your paths have become overgrown with weeds. Getting (and keeping) your paths under control will make less work for you overall, and a more enjoyable experience in your garden. Here are some ideas for working with your paths.
Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.
People who decide to leave the rat race to move toward full-time homesteading or farming face a unique set of challenges. Homesteaders must accept certain sacrifices their peers will never face. This post explores some of these issues, as seen in the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally experienced in my family's ongoing transition.
Summer with children can be exciting. It is an opportunity to spend time with your children like never before. Here are some ideas for putting your children to work in meaningful ways that will benefit everyone.
Forging metal means a lot of time standing over the fire, holding the metal – with tongs, obviously – in just the right place to get the proper amount of heat, and withdrawing it at just the right moment. Too much heat and it sparks and disintegrates, too little and no amount of hammering can budge it. Movie blacksmiths look like bodybuilders slamming white-hot metal with sledgehammers; the reality involves a lot more frantic and often delicate tapping, as the smith has only a few seconds to make the right changes before it cools again.
Planting seedlings from large garden centers often delays production as plants must overcome neonicotinoid insecticides, hormones, and chemical fertilizers when planted in your garden. Learn more about the toxins used by large growers and then support small producers for a healthy garden.
The information and ideas presented in this post are from teachings and skills Tom Brown, Jr., learned from the Lipan Apache Shaman and elder Stalking Wolf, who mentored Tom a decade. We can learn to develop a relationship with the Earth that becomes an ongoing communication and a form of mutual healing. The lessons and skills of nature awareness, wilderness survival and a philosophy of living with the Earth focus on how to cultivate a caretaker approach.
The previous installment focused on the benefits of small wind turbines for homeowners who are grid-tied, off-grid, or have battery backup systems. In this short episode, we’ll go over the main terminology associated with small wind turbines.
Calendula flowers make a lovely floral component for an organic vegetable garden. Plus, they pull their weight in terms of productivity: The petals are edible and can be used in skin-healing salves and balms.
Here's 5 of the basic steps to how we created our small organic home orchard/edible landscape. It's a permaculture designed area that has been created with a natural landscape as inspiration, with the least amount of human input. It will host not only heritage apples but several other fruits and berries, herbs and medicinal plants.
When building a new home, be sure to check into what home construction insurance coverage you need. For this homesteading couple, not having liability insurance would leave them feeling as unprotected as not having sandbags to prevent downhill ditch runoff and sedimentation.
Many of us are familiar with Echinacea and yarrow as antimicrobials, wild cherry bark for a cough, ginger for nausea, and a host of other herbs used in acute situations to restore health. Herbs can be very effective used in this manner, but herbs also shine when used as daily building and strengthening tonics!
In our first installment, we covered the basics of electricity generation and the process by which a wind turbine creates power. This time, we’ll look at the benefits of adding a wind turbine as a source of clean power for your home.
Concrete is not a green or natural building material, but one home-building Kansas couple decides the built-in storm shelter, root cellar and custom greywater system they intend to include in their concrete basement will make using the material worthwhile.
For many, home construction requires financing from a bank. So how does it work after signing and finalizing home construction loan papers? Here’s the standard process for accessing the funds within the loan account. Just one more step in the process of building a dream house and homestead!
Practicing good husbandry skills is extremely important to ensure healthy and happy animals on your homestead. But it doesn't just mean making sure everything is "clean and tidy." Here are a few more things that you might not realize help pull together the "art" of good husbandry.
As one couple plans their homestead-to-be, they spend time learning the lay of their land. One happy fringe benefit: They used this time as an excuse to go morel mushroom hunting. The results of their efforts were delicious.
Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough.
The steps involved in receiving a building permit require some advance planning and paperwork. If you’re hoping to build in the future you’ll want to review the building permit requirements in your area several months before your planned construction start date.
I used this tried and true method of preventing a valve from freezing. There was no electricity as a back-up crutch for this mission critical valve and I kept it open through the coldest February on record.
Rabbits are a fabulously healthful, economical and ecologically sound source of meat, and they don’t have to be kept in hanging cages. Rabbits can be raised on pasture to produce food for your family while improving the quality of your land.
Compost piles don't have to be relegated to an out of the way bin. If your compost-making materials are being produced in your garden, as they are following biointensive methods, the best place for the compost piles are in rotation right on your garden beds.
This entry departs from our treatise on purely financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle to explore issues that can be leveraged to reduce other "costs," such as time, labor and maintenance requirements. Up for discussion this installment are homestead location and layout, equipment, and free natural raw materials.
Not all green building materials are fancy, engineered products. One couple explores the saved-from-the-landfill options at local Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Hard to beat preventing waste, supporting Habitat for Humanity’s mission, and finding great deals on materials for a new-home construction in one fell swoop.
Any other year in March, the homesteading chores are back in full swing after the winter break. This year, winter lasted longer than ever and it wasn't until the end I could even conceive of getting any of the usual stuff done. Here's the list of what I normally do.
In order to secure a building permit to construct a new home, many counties require a septic system inspection and approval. Here’s how one couple had a successful “perc” test done at their future home site, along with a quick explanation of what a perc test is.
These two structures for creating a sustainable homestead are not often associated, but with the right planning they can be integrated into a single multi-use structure that enhances both environments. A greenhouse/chicken coop becomes a year-round food-producing machine, giving you a bounty of fruits, vegetables and protein all in one.
If you want to build a passive solar house, you’ll need to spend time upfront carefully considering your house plans. Here’s how one couple worked with a contractor and a designer to draw up and then finalize their small home plans with energy efficiency and lifestyle in mind.
One of my best pieces of advice to those wishing to establish a homestead is to reach out to the community. Happy neighbors are a big part of a happy homestead and for us it was not only a way to drum up support and engagement for our project, but it was also transformative for our experience and for our business.
This entry continues our lightening-speed survey of key financial considerations for people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle based on our family's ongoing transition. In this installment, we discuss children's self-run businesses and other kid-related costs.
Please don't let the common name mislead you. Virginia Bluebells are native to just about the entire eastern half of the U.S. and Canada, and there are 18 different species of “Mertensia” in the U.S. alone!