Thursday, June 26, 2014

Grow Your Own Food

Have you seen the movie "Back to Eden"?

For those of you who haven't, it's all about how to take care of your garden the way the Lord designed it.

I watched it for the first time a few weeks ago with my daughters, and we learned A LOT.

Like, I had no idea that soil being exposed makes it dry out. It makes perfect sense but it's just not something I had ever thought of.

I really love that with every concept Paul Gautchi speaks of, in the film, he has a scriptural reason as to why. I truly believe that the Bible has an answer for everything, so this was right up my alley.

The approach that is taken is definitely refreshing and something we plan to try when we are able to set up our garden. If you'd like to watch it for free you can watch it on vimeo.

Also there is a GREAT opportunity to hear Paul Gautschi from Back to Eden speak during the Grow Your Own Food Summit. This free summit has a a great line up of speakers, like Joel Salatin from "Food, Inc.", and best of all it's free!

I'm really looking forward to learning some great things so that when we're able to grow our own food we'll be starting off on the right foot.

Here is a quick video from the founders:

So hop on over to the Grown Your Own Food Summit website and reserve your spot today.

**Just a heads up this post contains affiliate links and if you decide to purchase something then I will get a commission. This is at no additional cost to you and you are not obligated to buy.**

So are you planning to register for the summit?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Flavoring Kombucha

I have some good news ya'll.... 

I have successfully kicked my soda habit! 

How, you ask?

With kombucha!

It's a been a few months and I don't even have a desire to drink soda. We've been out and there has been soda available but I opted for water or juice. I had soda once or twice in the past few months and it just didn't do it for me. I'd much rather have a glass of pineapple kombucha!

I thoroughly enjoy plain booch, but adding flavors just kicks it up a notch. So far we've tried mango, pineapple, pomegranate, strawberry, and blueberry. Pineapple is our favorite. 

It's super simple to do, and you can have all the same carbonated bubbliness of soda with out the harmful added ingredients. 

First thing you do is brew a batch of kombucha. You need a scoby to do this but if you don't have one you can read my post about how to grow one here. 

After your booch is to the point you like it then you need to bottle it up. Add fruit or fruit juice to your bottles then add the kombucha. I know some people say bottle it while it's still sweet, but I like to get mine pretty vinegary before doing a second ferment. 

I leave the bottles on the counter for a day or two, then enjoy. A trick I've learned is to use smaller bottles. With a big bottle once you open it the fizz dies down. So every time you go to drink from it, it will be less fizzy. Much like a big bottle of soda.

The best kind of bottles are the flip top bottles, because they give a good seal which will give you the best bubble production. The ones you see in the picture above I found at my local arts and craft store. I was looking for something else and when I saw those. Of course I had to buy some :o) 

So what about you, do you have a soda habit you need to kick? Would you make flavored kombucha? 

linking up at: Homestead Barn Hop, Mostly Homemade Monday, From the Barn

Monday, June 9, 2014

Super Simple Sour Dough

I didn't add a recipe to my reasons to make sour dough post because I figured there were already tons of recipes online. But since I've had a few requests I decided to go on ahead and share my recipe/process. 

It's so simple and very rewarding.

First thing I do is clean one of my quart size mason jars making sure to rinse them in really hot water. 

Then I mix together equal parts rye flour and water, and fed it 2 times a day with equal parts water and rye flour. You're supposed to transfer it to a new container each time, but I may not do that each time. I at least aim for doing it after I've fed my starter twice. Changing it helps to cut down on your chances of mold. 

Once my starter got bubbly I started feeding it once a day. It took about a week for it to get good and bubbly.

Doing equal parts definitely makes it easier to not mess up the measurements. If I added too much flour I could easily just add more water ;o)

When I baked the bread I just used half, or more, of the starter and then added flour water and salt. If you are the type to measure things out specifically then the recipe below will be helpful. But if you're like me then just add flour and water until it's a slightly sticky dough.

My first few loaves didn't come out as well as my more recent ones, but the longer I keep my starter going, the better of a rise I  get. I also switched to unbleached all purpose flour because my family didn't care for the taste of the rye bread.

You could store your unused starter in the fridge. But since I bake a loaf once a week, I keep mine out and feed it once a day with about a 1/4 cup of flour. (sometimes I forget and it still does well)

Super Simple Sour Dough Starter Recipe   
(adapted from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook)
1 cup rye flour, 1 cup water, tight weave cloth, 
3 1/2 cups rye flour, cold water
Mix the one cup rye flour and 1 cup water in a large glass bowl or jar. Mixture should be soupy. Cover with cloth and let sit for a day. The next day "feed" your starter by adding 1/4 c of flour and enough water to keep the soupy consistency. After 12 hours "feed" your starter  again. Repeat this process every 12 hours for 7 days. After the 7th day you should be ready to bake. 

note: if you are running out of room for your starter in your jars, pour out half and then feed what's left. It's not about having a lot but getting what you have cultured. By the end of this you should have about a quart of sour dough, more if you didn't dump any out. 

Super Simple Sour Dough Bread Recipe
1/2 quart (2 cups) of sour dough starter, 3 1/4 cups of flour (I use unbleached all purpose), 1/2 tablespoon sea salt, 3/4 cup water 
Pour your sour dough starter into a bowl, then add your flour, and salt. Mix together gradually adding water until you have a smooth slightly sticky dough consistency (add more flour if needed). Then cover mixture and put it to the side to rise for 12 hours. 
Before baking preheat oven to 350*. Then shape your loaves either in a loaf pan or by hand. Bake for about an hour.

This recipe gave me 2 good sized loaves. 

After you finish preparing your loaves to bake you can feed your starter again. At this point I began using unbleached flour to feed mine. 

Make sure if you are fermenting anything else that you keep your starter at least a few feet away. A whole seperate area would be best. I keep my kombucha on the counter and my sour dough on the table. 

Do you make sour dough? Will you now that you have a simple recipe?

linking up at: Homestead Barn Hop, Mostly Homemade Monday, Backyard Farming Connection, Simple Life Sunday, From the Farm

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Laundry on the Homestead

We have been using plain white vinegar as fabric softener for about a year now, and it has been great! Before we just didn't use anything and I was always frustrated with how our laundry came out. I'm sure having to use the laundry mat didn't help that any. 

When we moved into where we live now, we were blessed with a washer and dryer! Once we were finally able to do laundry at home I started researching more natural ways of completing this chore, and using vinegar for softener was the first thing I did.

I found countless detergent recipes and I wanted to try them all. But my husband wasn't as convinced. That was until I used his 5 favorite words.....

It will save us money!

After that he was all for it. So I went out to the store to hunt down the ingredients needed. 

When I got to the store I searched high and low for washing soda. But it was no where to be found! My husband had already told me they didn't have it, but I was determined not to come back home empty handed. Like he did, ahem...

So I started reading all the packaging to see if I really needed both baking soda and washing powder. I decided since the Zote is a laundry bar, and people use just that to do their laundry, that I would give it a try without the washing soda.

I dumped the whole box of borax and all 3 boxes of baking soda in a bag. Then I grated up the Zote.

Ok, ok I got my husband to grate up the Zote. Lol, that bar is BIG! I managed to do about a quarter of it before I decided to call in reinforcement. He breezed through it like a BOSS. Love my man! 

Once everything was all grated up I tied up the bag and mixed everything around, so it could be evenly distributed. Then I put it in this awesome green waste basket I found at the store for $1.99! 

So now this, my vinegar, and a bottle of essential oil (to sent the vinegar) sits on my dryer. 

I've used this detergent for probably 10 loads now and I love it. After doing some googling I learned that leaving out the washing powder isn't a big deal and that my recipe is actually better for cloth diapers! Which I am hoping to switch to soon.

I use 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup), but my husband uses like 8 scoops! I can't even call the tablespoons. He goes crazy on the soap, always has. Thankfully he only does laundry sometimes lol.

Even with his excessive soap use, we've barely even made a dent in our soap stash! It cost me about $8 to make this and works out to be around $0.11 per load. Normally we spend about $0.20-$0.30 per load. So this particular batch didn't save me as much as it could have. But I know for a fact I over paid for the baking soda. I'm confident I can get it down to $0.08 per load. If we did liquid detergent I could probably get it down to $0.05 per load but storing a big 5 gallon container kind of makes it not worth it for us right now. 

I know we are counting pennies here but over time it adds up. As a friend used to always say "pennies make dollars". Plus I feel better knowing what's going into my detergent and being able to control it. 

What about you? Do you make your own detergent? Would you ever consider making your own?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Making Sour Dough Ya'll

So in my quest to "ferment all the things" (kombucha, carrots) I learned about making sour dough.

At first I was a little intimidated but once I got going I realized it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. The only thing that gets rough is remembering to feed it daily.

But with just a little bit of dedication it's possible to make healthy bread for your family!

Why is sour dough healthy you ask? Let me count the ways!

1. It breaks down the gluten in the flour making it more tolerable to those with gluten intolerance. This one is a biggie for us because along with the many allergies my little bit has, the doctor also thinks she may have a sensitivity to gluten.

2. It's easier to digest. The combo of the natural yeast and bacteria work to sort of "pre-digest" the dough making it much easier for our systems to digest.

3. It doesn't cause an insulin shock. Even if you aren't a diabetic this is a great thing! When we eat something that is high in sugar or starch our bodies tell our pancreas to release insulin. A whole host of other things happen but ultimately the stimulation from the insulin causes your body to store fat. And who wants that?

4. Breaks down phytates/phytic acid. Ok this is another big one around here. Phytates are a found in the hulls of nuts, grains, and seeds. They bind to important minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Then as they leave our system it takes these minerals with it. But by using the sour dough method, instead of modern quick rise yeast, the enzyme phytase is released which helps to break down the phytates.

5. Provides B vitamins. Sour dough is a source of vitamins B1-B6 and also B12. As well as niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and selenium.

And those are just some of the reasons to enjoy sour dough. It's really not that complicated and it is a real treat. Especially with some homemade butter slathered on it! mmmhm...

Want to know how I make my starter and my bread? Check out this post.

Have you tried making sour dough bread? Are you considering it now?