‘Tomato Stuff’: Tapenade-Style Tomato Spread for Sauces, Dressings, and More

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.

Italian-Style Pressed Sandwich Recipe

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.

The Many Benefits of Refinishing Old Furniture

In context of furniture, “refinishing” refers to applying a protective coating to a furniture item that has lost its original or previous protective layer. A typical furniture refinishing involves sanding, staining, sealing, and application of protective layers. Here are five reasons to take on the task.

Sweet Mixed Pickles Recipe with Cauliflower and Onions

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.

Make Blue-Ribbon-Winning Pickles (with Homemade Condiment Recipes)

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.

Fig Preserves: Gulf-Coast Favorite Making a Comeback

The backyard fig tree seemed to fade away throughout the 1980s and 90s, but they are reappearing in backyards everywhere along the Gulf Coast. With their resurgence, we are seeing refrigerators and shelves filled with jars containing some dark brown goodness. This “old-fashioned”, yet easy recipe for fig preserves will show you how to get in on the excitement.

Healthy ‘Texas Caviar’ Southern Pea Salad Recipe

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.

Homemade Nectarine Preserves Recipe

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.

How to Make Glaceed Cherries

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.

The Elusive DIY Reuben Sandwich and Family Secrets Revealed

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.

Cookies from the Toaster Oven

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.

Make the Most of Blueberry Season with Blueberry Preserves and Dehydrating

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.

Baking Bread in a Toaster Oven

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.

Homemade Peach Jam Recipe

We are still learning about our little peach tree. Last year, our first real crop delighted us but in no way prepared for an almost doubling of the crop this year. However, friends had given us peaches in the past, and I took the opportunity to learn how to make peach jam. That effort and the tree seems to have each paid off and our shelves are now loaded with a new inventory of peach jam. The recipe is simple and straightforward and a great starting point for that bumper crop you have this year.

French-Style Apricot Preserves Recipe

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.

Baking Rye Bread Using a Starter

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.

How to Dehydrate Fresh Spinach

It seems spinach is a feast-or-famine kind of vegetable — it's gloriously prolific when it grows, then BOOM! Gone for the season. I wanted to preserve this spring goodness to enjoy later in the year, so I decided to dehydrate it. Learn how to dehydrate spinach here.

The Homemade Sauerkraut-and-Corned-Beef Reuben Sandwich that Almost Happened

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.

New Orleans-Style Crawfish and Shrimp Boil

For this huge celebratory feast, invite a dozen or more of your best friends. Stock up a supply of your favorite beverages, including iced tea, lemonade and some adult drinks, and get ready to party!

Baking Sandwich Breads (and Pizza Crust) Using a Pre-Fermented Starter

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.

Why We Fence-Line Wean Our Calves and Why You Should, Too

Spring is a common time to wean calves, but as any animal caregiver knows there's more to weaning than just separating the calf from its dam. When we wean calves, our preparation tasks must start several weeks earlier. We fence line wean to lower their stress and give calves a healthy start.

Baking Sandwich Breads: Basic White Potato, Whole-Wheat Potato and Oatmeal Bread

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.

3 Artisan Sweet Breakfast Breads

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.

Visit to Texas and the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

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.

Stalking the Wild Fruit: Foraging Local Fruit by State

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.

The First MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Texas

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.

Preserving the Bounty: Dehydrating Cubed Potatoes

It's often much cheaper to buy a large bag of potatoes than to just pick up a few or buy a smaller bag. So when I see that large bag go on sale I grab them! But how to get good use of all those potatoes in that mammoth bag? I dehydrate them!

After the Storm, Getting Back on the Horse

Sometimes life’s events get in the way of our goals and aspirations in homesteading. This story is about how events in 2015 derailed our homestead activities and how in 2016 we’re trying to “get back on the horse”. We welcome your comments and advice.

Grow Your Own Artichokes

Yes, you can grow your own artichokes! If you have a growing season of 90 warm days.

Make Your Own Candied Citrus Peels

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.

Refrigerator Dough for American and European Pastries

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.

6 Easy Ways to Live a More Zero-Waste Life

You're recycling as much as you can, but have you ever wished to lower what goes into your recycling bin while reducing that landfill-bound trash, too? Here are 6 simple ways to live a more zero-waste life.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls Recipe

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.

Bake Chewy, Gluten-Free Almond Cookies

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.

Make the Best Oatmeal Cookies

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.

How Self-Reliance and Voluntary Simplicity Equals Power

Don't buy into the hype telling you that you aren't capable of doing it yourself! Learn the simple things you can start right now and build on it as you gain confidence. You may find, like me, that the difference you make in your life can be game changing!

The Holiday Charcuterie Platter

The holidays are here and you want to put together a charcuterie platter for your next party. Make it an impressive feast of the eyes with your own cured pork belly and duck prosciutto. With some pink curing salt, kosher salt and a few common household herbs and spices, you can serve up a delightful and delicious tray of home cured meats and pickles that your guests will love, but beware, they may ask you to make something for their next party.

Hunting for Food

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.

Make Your Own Hand and Body Cream (with Bonus Beeswax Hand-Saver Recipe)

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.

Pear Mincemeat Recipe for Water Bath Canning

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.

Make Your Own Almond Paste

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.

The Benefits of Outside Games for Kids: Boost Physical and Mental Health

Given a shift towards being indoors instead of out, engaging with technology instead of nature, and sitting instead of moving, what exactly are kids missing out on? Research shows that children’s physical and mental health are both taking a toll. Encouraging outside games for kids is important in promoting their health and well being.

Smoked and Cured Salmon: Things that Make You Say 'Mmmmm'

This smoked salmon will impress your friends, family and yourself. The process is simple but requires a little time. With a nice salmon filet, salt, brown sugar, dill, vodka, a stove top smoker and a few days, you will create something better than anything from the store while saving money as well.

Make Homemade Spiced Apple Cordial

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 Real Cost Of Food Waste

The world's population is growing but we're wasting much of the food that's being produced. There are protections in place for those donating edible food, and there are many things you can do in your own home to reduce food waste.

Fig ‘Salami’ with Figoun Infused Red Wine Recipes

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.

‘Court of Two Sisters’ Eggplant Casserole Recipe

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.

Sweet Red Pepper and Watermelon Rind Relish Recipes

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.

Taste of Fall: Easy Slow-Cooker Homemade Applesauce

I made and preserved homemade applesauce and it's super easy to do. Whether you enjoy eating applesauce as a healthy and natural sweet treat or use it as a replacement for some of the oil used in baking, making your own applesauce is a definite score for the environment as well as your food budget!

Cuban-Style Sofrito Recipe

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.

Pickled Okra, A Southern Standard

Okra should be a staple of every Southern garden, but most folks don’t grow it because they have no idea what to do with it. If you have a basket full from the garden or want to experiment with a few pounds from the store or the farmers market, give this pickled okra recipe a try.

Waste Not, Want Not with This Watermelon Rind Pickles Recipe

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.

Sugared Pistachio Cookies Recipe

With a dough mixed entirely in the food processor, these salty-sweet, chewy-crisp pistachio cookies are as easy to make as they are to devour.

Southwest Hatch Chili Pesto Dressing Recipe

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.)

Pesto Three Ways

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.

Why Recycling Might Not Be Enough

Recycling is an important step towards a cleaner, healthier environment. But recycling alone is not the most effective way to reduce landfill-bound trash from your home. PREcycling stops much of that packaging waste from coming into your home in the first place!

Preserve Summer for Winter with This Strawberry Jam Recipe

Strawberry jam just tastes like summer. I look forward to preserving that summer sweetness so I can enjoy it on a cold winter day or next month on a piece of warm bread. And there is an added bonus when you can give strawberry jam away as a gift and put a smile on someone's face.

A Texas Rancher Shares Homestead Inspiration

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.

Homemade Lime Curd Recipe

This oozing mixture of sugar, limes, eggs, and butter adds a bright, fresh acidity and craveable sweetness to anything it touches.

Tostones Plantain Recipe

Tostones, or twice-fried plantains, are a crispy and delicious taste of the tropics.

Haywire: Devices Break Down

Mechanical and electrical devices break down sometimes. Can you fix them or will you pay to have them replaced or fixed? My take on how to tackle the problem.

Buffalo-Chicken-Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Stuffed with blue cheese, chicken and celery and simmered in a spicy Buffalo-inspired sauce, these petite peppers pull double duty as hearty entrée or delightfully sloppy hors d’oeuvre.

Pumpkin-Spice Granola Recipe

From the familiar fall flavors of pumpkin, pecans and oats to the warm and welcoming spices perfuming the air as the mixture bakes, this pumpkin spice granola recipe truly embodies the season.

Late-Season Garden Vegetables

Keep those vegetable plants growing for a second harvest late in the year. Organically-grown, heirloom varieties will survive with a little help.

Hand Sanitizer Dangers

Keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer at the ready can come in handy in situations where you can’t access soap and water, but using it too often can come with some risks.

Going, Going, Gone...Off-Grid

How to go from buying everything at Wally World to growing organic vegetables, raising livestock, building an efficient home, and a Do-It-Yourself, self-sufficient lifestyle.

The Dangers of Sitting Too Long

Anyone who spends prolonged periods of time sitting, regardless of their overall activity level, is at risk for the dangers associated with sedentary lifestyles.

Avocado Fudge Pops Recipe

Beat the heat with a healthier chocolate treat! Avocados, cocoa, and honey create fudge pops or pudding with fewer than five minutes prep.

Finishing the 'Barndominium': Final Stages of a 3-Year Project

We started our adventure of building a barndominium on our Texas property while still in Australia. The past year has been spent finishing and enjoying the house. As we've learned, finishing the house is only the first step in developing the homestead.

Homemade Wind Generator

Build your own wind generator for use with 12-Volt systems. Charge up batteries for lighting, fans, tools and more.

No-Bake Cherry-Vanilla Snack Bars Recipe

With six simple ingredients, these easy, no-bake, cherry-vanilla bars are a wholesome alternative to over-processed and over-packaged supermarket snacks.

Nut Butter Cups Recipe

Two-ingredient nut or seed butter cups are a satisfying alternative to the typical chocolate treat.

Fresh Chevre Cheesecake Recipe

Made from creamy chevre (fresh goat cheese) instead of the typical cream cheese, this surprising cheesecake is sure to please cheese lovers and dessert lovers alike.

Curried Pinto Beans Recipe

Indian-inspired curried pinto beans are a fragrant, flavorful, and filling vegetarian main dish that's light on both the wallet and the waistline.

Books for a New Beekeeper

Finding the right book for yourself is hard. Even harder if you are trying to learn something new. A BeeWeaver beekeeper, Emerson Arehart, read many beekeeping books and came up with a short list and summary to help you get started learning about bees.

The Beekeeper's Calendar: Maintain A Productive Warré Hive

This summary of a Warré Beekeeper’s regular seasonal activities gives you both a general idea of what this method entails in the long-term if you are considering adopting this method, and to provide you with a beekeeping calendar that you can use as a guide after you have gotten started.

The New Beekeeper's Calendar: Getting Started Warré Beekeeping

This overview of the yearly activities of a Warré beekeeper is for people trying to decide if they have the time to become beekeepers and experienced beekeepers who are curious about the Warré method. It also serves as an index of the many of the main topics that will be covered in depth by this blog.

8 Natural Bee Sting Treatment Options

To get fast relief, here are eight natural bee or insect sting treatment options you can use at home. You likely have what you need in the kitchen cupboard!

Finishing the Barndominium: Almost Ready to Move In

After three years of trying to build the barndominium in three-week-per-year spurts, Jim has relocated back to Texas to complete the build while Julie remains in Australia to finish her work there and transfer to the United States.

An Incredible Pest: Any Good Suggestions?

After three years of trying to build the barndominium in three week per year spurts, Jim and Julie have relocated from Australia to Texas and are building out the barndominium. However in growing gardens and potential fruit plants for use in future years, we’ve encountered a horrible pest and want to share it in hopes of ideas from the Mother Earth News community.

Finishing the Barndominium: The First Steps

After three years of trying to build the barndominium in three week per year spurts, Jim has relocated back to Texas to complete the build while Julie remains in Australia to finish her work there and transfer to the US.

Australia to Texas - Framing the Exterior of the Barndominium

We have few opportunities during our stay in Australia to fly home and do work ourselves on the property. This blog features a set of planned activities that we wanted to be personally and directly involved with. When we left, we were very happy.

Australia to Texas: Beekeeping - Part II

As part of my education on how to be more self-sufficient when we make our move back to Texas, I've been taking classes while here in Australia. One of the more enjoyable classes was in beekeeping. This is our class practical exercise.

Stung by Heat and Drought in Texas

During the exceptional heat & drought in Texas this summer BeeWeaver worked hard to just keep hives alive... no honey, no divides.

Australia to Texas - Drilling the Well

One of the first steps to building our homestead in Texas was to get water and electricity on the property so we had the basics from which we could build. This blog discusses how we implemented the first phase of our utilities.

Australia to Texas - Learning Cheesemaking Skills

In order to build skills for our move from Australia to Texas, we have been taking various classes and workshops. Recently, we took a weekend workshop at an excellent cheese factory close to where we live on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne.

Australia to Texas - The Land

Our process of buying the land for our homestead had little to do with logic and a lot to do with emotion. For me, it was a chance to return to the plains where I grew up and be close to family.

Australia to Texas - The First Step

Jim and Julie are starting their homestead in Texas while still living in Australia. Managing the project by remote control is the challenge, and they are learning as they go. This is an adventure of faith and confidence.

Bee-ginnings

Laura Weaver has managed BeeWeaver Apiaries, along with her husband, Danny Weaver, for nearly 2 decades. She has seen the bee industry and the public image of the bee change, as well as their own family bee business.