Oatmeal-Raisin-Nut Cookies

Try your hand at baking this delicious, slightly chewy, slightly sweet, but oooh-sooo-yummy oatmeal cookie! The world needs this cookie recipe.

From the Ravages of Fire Come Berries

'Tis the season for harvesting. Specifically, for me at least, the abundant blueberries and cranberries that are in quantity and free for the taking. How we take advantage of prior devastation from forest fires to pick our yearly supply of blueberries and cranberries.

Dark Molasses-Oatmeal Bread

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.

Transforming Precambrian-Shield Soil into Rich Garden Loam

Being above the 56th parallel, we are in Zone 0, the harshest zone per Ag Canada. We're faced with a short, fickle growing season where frost can occur at any time during the summer months. We were faced with the daunting task of improving the poor boreal forest soil. Here is how we transformed the shallow, poor soils of the Precambrian Shield of our wilderness homestead into a rich garden loam.

A Cool-Sipping Summer Honey Cocktail

This cocktail makes use of honey simple syrup, and simple to make it is. It’s just a 50/50 concentration of honey and water, simmered together. (Regular simple syrup is just water and white sugar, same ratio. Try it for sweetening ice tea.) The recipe calls for Ungava gin, and if you can’t find it, use any high quality gin that’s readily available, although Ungava would be preferred for its unique flavor.

Turn Unreturnable Bulk Bags into Potato Planters

When I first started building my garden and raised beds, I ordered several bulk bags of garden loam and bark mulch. The bags are made of a sturdy, heavy-duty fabric, and I didn’t want to just throw them away, so I had to give some thought as to how I could use them. I decided to recycle the bulk bags into flexible raised beds in which I could grow potatoes and carrots. What this gave me were three extra raised beds with very little effort.

Solar-Energy Incentive Programs are Your Friends

Installing solar panels for your home is becoming more and more affordable. In addition to the generous federal investment tax credit of 30%, there are over 900 financial and regulatory incentive programs across the United States. Combined with falling solar costs and rising electricity prices, these programs are helping to make solar panels an investment that can save you money in the long run.

Buckwheat Corn Muffins with Blueberries

Milling your own flour is a delicious way to add nutrition and flavor to your recipes. Want maximum taste? Mill your own buckwheat for these Blueberry Corn Muffins.

How to Build Raised Beds for Next to Nothing

Building raised garden beds for your garden does not need to be expensive. Here is how I built a number of raised beds in my garden for the cost of one box of wood screws.

Build a Hotbox for Cool-Weather Gardening

Who says inanimate objects can’t talk! The well-used tractor tire that washed up on the beach during an early winter storm had been pleading with me for months for a chance to prove its worth. Learn to build a hotbox from an old tire for season extension using permaculture techniques.

Off Grid and Free: The Terror of Forest Fires, Part 1

Since moving to our isolated piece of heaven in 2000, we've had at least four serious forest-fire scares. One doesn't hear much about these fires in the north unless they threaten a community like Fort McMurray, Alberta. But the fires that have burned around us were equally as vicious and consumed over ¾ million acres. This 2-part blog series will look at the terror of forest fires and how to survive them.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Switching to Solar Energy

Making the switch to solar energy for your home is a big decision. It pays to spend a little time and effort researching your solar options, whether it be how to finance your system, deciding which installer to hire or which size system to install. Avoiding the most common mistakes will help you through the process so that you can make the most of your investment.

Build a Mini Root Cellar that Actually Works

Got a basement “cold room” that doesn’t keep your fruits and veggies properly? You can make things better. A few simple modifications can turn that disappointing space into a reliable spot to store food without electricity and boost self reliance.

The Power of Pulses

Pulses are tried and true — people in temperate climates have been growing and eating them for more than 10,000 years. Pulses are still the most essential part of the diets of billions of people worldwide. Learn to grow and eat this nutritional powerhouse.

Off-Grid and Free: Living With Wolves and Remote Communications

They're back. The wolves. During breakfast one morning this past week, we heard a chorus of howling. Racing down to the shoreline, we saw 3 wolves in the center of the lake about a mile away. The wolves are a symbol of our wilderness location. Learn how we live with them and stay in touch with civilization.

Off-Grid and Free: The Dangers of a Slush-Covered Lake

Living remotely is wonderful but it does force us to evaluate our actions knowing that we are ultimately responsible for our own safety. Taking the precautions outlined here is just one example of how we try to cover all the bases. Safety is paramount and slush on a lake can become a safety concern.

Solar Backyard Chicken-Coop Building Plans

A community of smaller portable chicken coops are better than one, big, stationary one. Download building plans for a solar heated design that’s also great in hot climates.

Choosing the Right-Sized Solar-Energy System for Your Home

Choosing the right size solar photovoltaic system for your home depends on where you live, how much electricity you use, the specifications of your roof, as well as the policies in place at the state, municipal and utility level. By optimizing your system, you can make the most of your solar investment.

Answers to Your Most Common Solar Energy Questions

Solar energy is growing in popularity! But installing rooftop panels is a big investment, so homeowners naturally have a number of questions. By answering some of the most common questions, I hope to set your mind at ease and help you discover the many benefits of solar energy. Before long, you could be producing your own clean, green electricity.

Top 5 Reasons to Go Solar Right Now

With favorable legislation in the form of a generous tax credit, along with low interest rates and stabilizing costs, switching to solar energy has never made more sense for homeowners frustrated by rising electricity rates and/or wanting to help the environment.

Running a Successful CSA

Cam describes how much he has learned after running a CSA for 5 years and offers a workshop for those interested in learning from his experience.

Breaking Down the Broadfork

Learn what to look for in order to select the best broadfork for your farm and garden tilling needs.

Top 10 Places to Go Solar in the United States

Determining the best places to go solar is not just about finding the sunniest places, but also about the economics of going solar. That means taking a look at electricity prices and available financial incentives as well.

Pan Lebkuchen Recipe

Let’s go to Germany for great lebkuchen (aka, gingerbread)! Aside from great beer and sausages, you will find that this is one of the country's ancient but addicting Christmas treats.

The Chicken Cabana Room

At Sunflower Farm we strive to provide our chickens with the best accommodations!

Sane and Sustainable Homesteading, Part 1

Many people in the world long for a life in the country, lived on their own terms, close to nature, honest and hands-on. But too many of these people find that homesteading is harder, less fulfilling and more painful than they imagined. Learn how to thrive on the land without burnout, despair and failure.

Shortbread Hearts with Cranberries

If you love shortbread — and a lot of people do — this is the cookie to make. The colorful cranberries make them really pop at Christmas time. This delightful recipe comes from "Christmas Cookies: Dozens of Yuletide Treats for the Whole Family" by Monika Römer.

My Utility Bill Keeps Increasing: What Are My Solar Options?

With rising utility rates, more and more homeowners are considering solar energy for their home. In a number of states, the cost of electricity from rooftop solar panels is the same or cheaper than electricity from the utility. A brief look at historical trends in utility rates across the U.S., is followed by an explanation of the available solar options.

Kefir Crème Fraîche

Kefir culture can be used to start a broad range of dairy ferments. This recipe shows how kefir grains will culture cream into delicious creme fraiche - a tasty, healthy alternative to whipped cream. Part 2 of a series of articles explaining how to use traditional cultures for cheesemaking.

Harvest Vegetable Soup with Naughty Garlic Bread Recipes

The beauty of this soup is it makes use of what ever vegetables you have on hand, is completely vegetarian (unless you want to add chicken or beef), and cooks up pretty quickly. This is a crowd-sized recipe, and I have already cut the recipe in half for you. If you’re feeding two armies, by all means double it.

Healthy Chocolate Silk Pie with Gluten Free Macadamia Crust

This is a chocolate pie unlike any others I have made. It starts with a crumb crust consisting of granola and macadamia nuts ground together, and bound with melted butter, like an extravagant graham cracker crust, only better. The filling consists of silken or extra soft tofu with over half a pound of chocolate.

Cooking with a Big Green Egg

It could well be that you have never heard of the Big Green Egg, a lot of folks haven’t, so this is where this blog comes in. Big Green Eggs originated in Japan, a number of centuries ago, and at that time they were called Kamado cookers. Learn how to cook with a Big Green Egg for the ultimate outdoor cooking experience.

Institutional Food

Hospitals traditionally are famous for their terrible food. A recent experience shows it has not changed much.

Commercial Tortillas

What do you have when chemicals and preservatives are added to a simple tortilla?

'Life Off Grid'

In this blog post we describe the choices we made in producing and editing our film, "Life Off Grid."

Artificial Sweeteners

What is the true nature of artificial sweeteners? Are they safe? Read on and find out the latest on these questionable products.

Life. Off the Grid.

This initial blog post tells the story of how Phillip Vannini became interested in off-grid living and how he began — together with Jonathan Taggart — to do research on the off-grid lifestyle in Canada.

Why I Really Love My Rural Life

Almost 30 years ago I made one of the best decisions ever when I began my homesteading adventure. It's no "Little House on the Prarie" but you can see it from there.

Gourmet Garlic: Artichokes

The last of my series of posts discussing the different types of gourmet garlic will explore Artichokes, the giants of the garlic world!

Movie Review: The Seeds of Time

Modern, industrial agriculture as we know it today is running out of time, and it's much later than we think.

Gourmet Garlic: Turbans

Is your growing season a bit too short for gourmet garlic? Turban garlic cultivars may be the solution!

Gourmet Garlic: Creoles

Originating from Spain, Creole garlics can be difficult to grow but are highly regarded for their delicious taste!

The Chickens Have a Sleepover

Homesteader Cam Mather describes integrating new backyard chickens into his existing flock and the wonderful life his "ladies" lead.

Gourmet Garlic: Asiatics

Asiatic garlic cultivars may be difficult to find, but their great taste and easy-growing nature make them a great choice for garlic lovers and growers alike!

Gourmet Garlic Curing

Garlic will keep for months if properly cured, allowing you to enjoy it all winter long!

Gourmet Garlic: Harvesting

It's that time of year again! In this post I discuss how and when to harvest your garlic.

Community Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia

When traveling, consider checking out the community gardens in the area. You can meet local people who are passionate about gardening and learn about the climate and crops that may be different than yours.

Gourmet Garlic: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scape season is nearly here. Learn how and when to cut the scapes to maximize the size of your gourmet garlic bulbs, and also how to use them as a delicious and versatile vegetable!

Gourmet Garlic: Rocamboles

In the second of this series of blog posts, I'll be discussing what are arguably the caviar of the garlic world: Rocamboles!

What is Gourmet Garlic?

Often at a farmers market you'll see garlic designated as 'gourmet.' But what does this mean? Is it a marketing gimmick? Or is there actually something special behind the name?

Gourmet Garlic: Black Garlic

In the last few years, gourmet black garlic has become an in-demand culinary ingredient. But what exactly is it? And what can you do with it?

Cream of Mushroom Soup

After trying this super simple recipe, you'll never open a can of Campbell's again.

Garlic Oil

If you eat raw garlic for its health benefits but find it difficult to consume, garlic oil can be an effective alternative. You can even make it at home!

A Sunroom for My Chickens

Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!

Jan Hagel Cookies Recipe

These are buttery, not too sweet Dutch cookies with a yummy cinnamon sugar and walnut topping.

Preserving Gourmet Garlic: Dehydration

Learn how to dehydrate gourmet garlic so you can enjoy it year-round.It takes only a few simple steps to turn fat, juicy bulbs into crunchy, golden chips!

Due to Spills, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Shuts Down … for a Day

A TransCanada Keystone pipeline was shut down by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, due to two spills in May. Though it lasted only a day, the suspension raises bigger questions about the risks of TransCanada’s current piping of tar sands oil, as well as the company’s proposal to build an even longer pipeline, the Keystone XL.

St. Patrick's Day Wholemeal Irish Bread

This bread hearkens back to a time when Irish soda bread was a more rustic, country affair — not all gussied up with mostly white flour. We're talking about a somewhat large, delicious, nutty tasting loaf made with wholemeal flour and yes, a little bit of white flour to lighten up the texture. Get your St. Patrick's Day celebration off to a great start with this authentic, Irish Wholemeal Bread.

What's Green?

Canada is helping define "green" products for its advertising industry.