Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Get Your Salad On with Warm Bacon Dressing!


Summer is here and it’s salad time! We love salads anytime of the year but Summer just sings salad. Whether it’s a spinach salad, a romaine salad or a combination of spring greens, salads are a great way to get your veggies in.

I know not all family members are privy to salads so that’s when I whip out my secret to get picky eaters eating salad. My secret is ….. (drum roll please) … bacon! Yep … I said bacon. Everyone loves bacon that’s for sure. If you get a little lonely in the kitchen and crave some family attention (especially of the male persuasion) all you need to do is start frying some bacon and they will come! This theory is proven in my house. It works every time … try it yourself you’ll see.

So, what do you do with that bacon you’re frying? When the bacon has finished browning drain on a paper towel and reserve the bacon drippings by putting it in a small saucepan.  When the bacon has drained completely crumble or chop to use as a topping on your choice of salad greens and chopped veggies but reserve just a little bit.

Now, here comes the best part, make a Warm Bacon Dressing! I know a warm dressing on a cold salad seems a bit oxymoronish but it is simply fabulous! Warm Bacon Dressing is one of those dressings that are salad specific particularly for Spinach Salad. While it is wonderful on Spinach Salad I found it to be especially wonderful on any salad you create. However, a word of advice, if you are using delicate spring greens make sure to let the dressing cool just slightly and dress your salad lightly with dressing so the delicate greens do not wilt. It’s really a simple procedure and the reward of getting picky salad eaters eating salad well …. just plain makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside!

Here’s how simple it is:

Ingredients: 
  • Bacon drippings from 6 to 8 slices of bacon
  • 2 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sucanat or honey (I usually use honey)
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon or Course Grain Mustard (Course Grain Mustard is our fav)
  • Reserved chopped bacon
  • A pinch of sea salt and course ground black pepper 

Directions:

In a small saucepan on low heat, whisk in all the ingredients above with the exception of the chopped bacon. Season with salt and pepper, give it one more whisk and add the reserved chopped bacon, give it a stir.

Add the dressing to your prepared salad and toss. Top salad with crumbled/chopped bacon and voila! Now wasn’t that easy? 
Note: You might think this will not make enough dressing for the entire salad. Don’t think like that lol … remember bacon drippings are a fat and a little fat goes a long way so do not over dress your salad you will end up with a greasy, wilty mess on your hands, trust me, experience talking here lol!

Do you have a secret ingredient for getting your picky eaters to eat salad? Let us know in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page!

This post shared on Real Food Wednesday


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homemade Pimento Cheese! Ooohhh Yeah!


One of my favorite things to snack on or have as a quick, light lunch is Pimento Cheese. I have loved this since I was a kid. I use to buy the containers of cheese spread found in the grocery store until I decided to make it homemade a few years ago. Ooohhh man … once you make a batch of this you will never look at Pimento Cheese the same again! You can serve it on homemade flatbread, crackers or on Boston lettuce leaves or endive. It also makes a great appetizer next to deviled eggs!

The best part is you can adjust this recipe to fit your family’s tastes and come up with your own family favorite recipe.

I had bits of cheese and a few veggies that I needed to use up and came up with this recipe. 
Note: This is yet another recipe where the measurements are not set in stone. You can add or adjust to your tastes. Experiment and make this recipe your own! 
  • 1 cup raw milk sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup gouda cheese, shredded
  • 4oz organic cream cheese, brought to room temperature
  • ½  organic red pepper, roasted and diced
  • ½ small organic sweet onion, diced
  • 2 TB fresh parsley
  • 1 TB fresh dill
  • 1 clove organic garlic, minced
  • 2 TB homemade mayonnaise

 Instructions:

To roast your red pepper: If you have a gas stove top you can put the red pepper directly on the grid, turn the flame up to about medium low and roast the pepper directly on the flame by turning it every few minutes until the skin is charred.

If you do not have a gas stove, you can use your oven or convection oven and put the red pepper directly on the rack at 400 degrees. Turn the pepper every few minutes until skin is charred.

Once roasted, but the pepper in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. This allows the steam to get under the skin so that it is easy to peel. Once cooled, simply peel the skin off the pepper and dice.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and gently mix. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Do you have a recipe perfect for using up bits and pieces of cheese and veggies? How about a great, quick and easy appetizer? If so, please share in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page!



This post shared on Fat Tuesday


Monday, June 25, 2012

A Case of the Golden Beet!


Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia


This weekend while doing my weekly grocery shopping I spied this beautiful bunch of golden beets. While we are not usually beet eaters, these golden beets sang to me and I just had to pick up a small bunch and give them a try.  We have tried the typical red/purple beets and found we didn’t really like them.

Now, I know the nutritional value of beets. The pigment betalain is a key constituent and acts as an antioxidant, exhibits anti-cancer activity and is a free radical scavenger, just to name a few. A virtual powerhouse I might say. 
Note: Beets have been consumed and used for health benefits since 8th century BC Mesopotamia, wow!
The golden beet has a sweeter taste than its red/purple counterpart and a beautiful buttery texture sure to convert any non-beet eater! Like us!

In my opinion, the best way to prepare these golden jewels is a simple roasting and sprinkled with sea salt and course ground black pepper. You do not want nor need to cover up that wonderful buttery texture and taste.  
Note: While from a nutritional standpoint beets should be consumed raw it is possible to retain their value by cooking for a very short period of time. If you boil them do not exceed 15 minutes of boiling time. If roasting, do not roast any longer than an hour. Cut your beets up to shorten the time that is required for cooking. The quicker the better. 
While you can eat the beet greens (cooking technique, taste and texture is similar to that of Swiss Chard) I did not use them this time but shared our beet greens with our chickens … we only had a small bunch to play with so I decided I’d spread their nutrients to the chickens as well LOL!
Note: You're in luck! The peak season for Golden Beets is June through October.
 I am very excited to find, yet, another wonderful addition to our real food arsenal and I’ll be serving these beauties often. They are additive, satisfying and incredibly delicious!

I’m always on the lookout for new veggies to serve my family and beat the “same ole, same ole” blues. What new veggies have you discovered on your journey? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook Page!

This post shared on Monday Mania

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Holy Moly Chicken Man! It's a Condo!

 

 Today I just had to share our progress in chicken farming. My girls have become young ladies … it’s kinda sad to see them grow up so quickly … they are getting very close to laying age so Big Daddy has been working diligently at building their new coop. Well … it’s actually more than a coop, by the time he gets finished it will be a chicken condo LOL! I told him next time we fuss that I’m not sending him to the dog house I’m going to the chicken condo LOL!


I’m getting ready to switch the girls from a starter feed to a laying feed, Non-GMO, of course, everyday they get a plethora of organic kitchen scraps, their favorites being spinach, radish greens and strawberries from my garden, a bowl of whey and I let them out of the pen to forage for bugs and other chicken delicacies. They are happy, happy girls!!! 


A foraging who go!
 
NOTE: An interesting bit of information I picked up from a fellow farmer. Did you know that besides a healthy all natural diet, sunlight is one of the keys to getting those beautiful orange egg yolks? Yep … if you pull an egg that has been in a nesting box or barn and compared it to an egg that was laid outside in the pen area where it is subjected to sunlight the outside egg yolk will be a rich, deep orange color and the inside egg will have a lighter egg yolk.

Two stories? Yep I did say condo
They are getting their personalities and are just the sweetest little girls ever! I visit them quite a bit throughout the day to check on them. They come right up to me and let me hold them and rub their heads. It’s sooo sweet.

I really can’t express how much joy these little girls have brought to us. Big Daddy is just as enamored as me. I’m sure you can tell by the condo he’s building for them lol!

I know you're not laughing at my
re-purposed laundry basket. My girls love it! 
The condo will even have staircases!
NOTE: All the wood that Big Daddy is using is re-purposed wood from a job site he was on. They tore down the temporary structures and saved the wood for us. Ultimately, we would like to use siding on the outer exterior and hopefully it will be leftover siding from that which we will buy to replace some boards on our house. If that doesn’t work out I am looking in to a non-toxic sealer and paint. Reuse, re-purpose, re-invent is the motto around here LOL!

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
We have definitely caught fowl fever because Big Daddy and I have been discussing our next additions. Last night he found a local breeder with whom we may use to purchase our rooster. This breeder also has White Pekin Ducks and after a little research I’m sold! I must have a few LOL! The nutrition base for Duck is wonderful. The duck fat alone would be worth it not to mention the eggs. I’m excited!! Have you see the price of duck lately? Geeezz … this would be the only way we could afford it!


We are also discussing a few four legged critters but really haven’t decided on any thing specific. I’m kinda thinking sheep over goats but I really have to do more extensive research to see which would be a good fit for us.

Do you have four legged farm critters? If so, which ones did you find a good fit for your homestead and why? I would love to know what others have chosen! Please let me know by commenting in the section below or on our Facebook Page !

This post shared on Simple Lives Thursday


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Easy Homemade Bread & Butter Pickles


I love Homemade Bread & Butter Pickles! Something about them just screams “Grandma” and I loved my Grandma dearly before she left us to be in heaven. Well, of course, I still do but today our relationship is more on a spiritual plane and not a physical one. I do really miss her hugs though.

So, every year I make small batches (this is another thing Big Daddy will not eat so it’s just me) of homemade pickles with the abundance of cucumbers that I buy or grow in the summer. This year I was especially excited because I found a new way to eat these delicious little morsels. My new way of eating them every day is with Chicken Liver Pate just like I did in France.

I love to spread some pate on a leaf of Boston or Butter Lettuce, top with a couple of Bread & Butter Pickle slices, roll it up and enjoy! I also love to use the same method on a piece of freshly grilled Flat Bread. It all depends on what I have on hand at the time. This makes a delicious and easy lunch or midnight snack! 
Before I share my recipe with you, I have to tell a little story. Yesterday, I dug out  a copy of a 1893 edition of a cookbook called The Epicurean that I had put away. I love old, old cookbooks I think they tell a story as to how “real food” is supposed to be prepared and the cooking techniques that were used. Remember I am very vintage LOL! The history of food fascinates me. Well, while perusing through my cookbook I found a recipe for Gherkins (a/k/a Cornichons) which was, ironically, the same recipe I have used for the past few years! It goes to show in 119 years things haven’t changed too much!  There is much I want to share with you from this cookbook so get ready … it might the topic of quite a few posts in the future.

Anyway, enough blah, blah about my food history and on with the recipe!

Homemade Bread & Butter Pickles 
Note: You do not have to follow this recipe to a tee you can adjust the spices to meet you family’s taste. You can also reduce the amount of Sucanat, add a another star anise and another clove, if you prefer a more tangy pickle. 
  • 2 large organic cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick (just the regular cucumbers)
  • 1 medium organic sweet onion (like Vidalia), thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • Just a little less than ½ cup of Sucanat
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 organic clove of garlic (peeled and smashed but left as whole as smashed can get)


In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. This promotes a  nice, crispy pickle.

In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool.

You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge. So go ahead and make a few jars at a time if your family loves pickles. They will taste pickly (I know it’s not a word but I like it!) in just a couple of hours.

You see it’s just that easy!

Do you have an easy, no canning required, recipe you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comment section below or on our FaceBook Page.

This post shared on Real Food Wednesday


Chicken Liver Pate


I have read many articles on the internet concerning the health benefits of organ meats. Now, it’s not that I wasn’t aware of the nutrient density of organ meats as I have always loved organ meats especially those found in chicken and grew up eating them. In fact we used to fight over them when I was a kid LOL. Big Daddy, well, he’s not much of a fan.

So, I was faced with a dilemma on how I can incorporate these into my weekly diet without Big Daddy having to quickly swallow with a chaser of milk and that’s only if I could convince him to even make it that far.

I purchase an organic whole chicken weekly that still has the organ meats but I know that the small handful I was eating was not sufficient enough. I was lucky and found a pack of organic chicken livers in the freezer meat case at Earth Fare and scooped them up and decided to give a try at making chicken liver pate. The last time I ate pate was while I was in France years ago and I remember I totally loved it! In France, they serve it with a crusty French Bread and Cornichons (a/k/a Gherkins) and the contrast is amazing! 
Note: When consuming organ meats organic is the only way to go. This keeps you safe from left over toxins (found in conventional chickens). So always make sure you purchase organic. 
I used a recipe I found at Cooking Traditional Foods and I have to say this is probably the only time I ever followed a recipe to a tee LOL! But, I wanted to get it right since I have never made pate before. I’m glad I did because it is delish! This recipe can be frozen and I know that for fact since before writing this post I wanted to take my second jar out of the freezer to make sure I still had the same yumminess I got when it was made fresh. Yep, it is still yummy even after being frozen.

Here’s the recipe I followed verbatim:

Easy Pate 
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 Tbs butter or coconut oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional but tasty, yep I agree)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chicken livers
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs mayo (I used homemade mayonnaise)
  • Scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


In a heavy skillet, fry the bacon until barely crispy. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving the drippings in the pan. Turn the heat to low. Add the butter and saute the onions and mushrooms for 15 minutes, or until completely limp, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Add the chicken livers, return to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

In a food processor, pulse the drained chicken livers until ground. Add the bacon, onion and mushroom mixture, and remaining ingredients, and pulse until well combined.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nature Has All Answers: Homemade Cleansers to Homemade Toothpaste!


There is one thing I have noticed when making a real food transition … once you get in the habit of reading labels you just can’t help but read the label of every product you bring in your home. I mean EVERY label … from cleaning products to skin care products to bug repellents … EVERY label … and what do you find a bunch of “yucky stuff!” Words you can’t pronounce … chemicals identified as poisons … yep you have become so conscience about ingredients contained in your food you now start thinking about your home and hygiene products … after all … you spend a lot of time choosing, storing and preparing your “real foods” to keep you healthy you take a good look around to see what else is killing you in your house and what you find is not pretty.

In my post White Vinegar and Baking Soda, Two of My Favorite Friends! I shared some ways you can use these two natural beauties to replace the unhealthy cleaning products you are so accustom too … and in my post White Vinegar and Coconut Oil, a Lesson Taught by Poison Ivy! I shared how I was using white vinegar as a bleach and stain remover alternative in my laundry trying to eliminate the use of bleach. So far so good right … well not until the other day when I was preparing supper and used turmeric in a dish and my dish towels, well, turned yellow from the turmeric … I really hate stained dish towels I mean really hate … and when the stains didn’t come out after they were laundered I was stumped. Yeah, I could have just stuck them in the utility towel pile (you know that pile of towels you use for messy household projects or cleaning because they don’t have to look good lol) but my frugal side said, “whaaattt, dish towels are expensive … and you just bought these!” Then a bell went off! I remembered reading somewhere where hydrogen peroxide can be used as a bleach alternative! Eureka! I just purchased a large bottle of 3%, which I always keep in the house for first aid purposes, so I decided to put it to a test on my yellow streaked dish towels and used it as a pre-soak for the stains. Because my hydrogen peroxide was 3% and my dish towels are white I wasn’t concerned with fading any color other than the yellow turmeric streaks. I just poured a little on the stains, let it sit for a minute or two before throwing into the laundry, to which, I also added about ¼ cup (omitting the vinegar, I was a little leary to use both at the same time as my lovely little washer has been around for quite awhile and I’m not really into replacing her yet LOL) into the washer and voila! Extremely clean whites and no more streaked dish towels! Whhheeeeeewwww!

Now, when I think of hydrogen peroxide, I also recall many years ago my dentist suggesting that I use it as a mouth rinse. I kept biting my lip and found that it wasn’t healing up as fast as I would like because I kept biting it, accidentally, of course, lol! I know we’ve all been there so don’t laugh … okay go ahead and laugh … laughter is good medicine all on its own! But it did work at speeding up the healing of that stupid lip bite … now I’m thinking oral care … wow is there no end to all this thinking!

But this brings me to my post An Update to My Coconut Oil Science Project! where I have made coconut oil a science project for skin care and healing. I have read many, many things about homemade toothpastes and using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth and have been very interested in incorporating some of this knowledge into my regular routine. Geeeezzz more thinking!

However, I was spared by a Dear Reader of ours and for just a few minutes took my thinking cap off … and stomped on it for good measure … just because LOL! She was very, very kind to share with me and you her recipe of homemade toothpaste! You can check out the comment section on our Facebook Page for the whole conversation I had with her.

Here is what she does:
“I'm glad to share the recipe.. I use a measuring teaspoon. It's 5 parts calcium carbonate powder, 3 parts baking soda, 3 parts xylitol, 3 to 5 parts coconut oil, few drops mint essential oil, 5 to 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract. I just mix it all together and keep it in a tiny mason jar. Sometimes I add 1/2 part myrrh powder or clove powder or just use those essential oils instead of the peppermint. They are good for oral health. Also want to say that I really enjoy your posts!”
Well, that sounds pretty easy! I am definitely going to give it a go! I bet if I used this toothpaste recipe when I bit my lip I would have been spared the gagging reflex brought on by the bubbling hydrogen peroxide! Coconut Oil is amazing stuff! Thank you Cindy for sharing your recipe and also for the wonderful compliment!

I love writing this blog and love to hear feedback as to how I’m doing. Most of all I love all our readers and hope this blog touches your life in a positive way and helps you to make better choices for your family!

Do you have a skin care, household, first aid recipe that replaces a commercial bottle of ‘yucky stuff?” We’d love to hear about it so make sure to post it in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page !

This post shared on Monday Mania


Thursday, June 14, 2012

An Update to My Coconut Oil Science Project!




It’s been a few weeks since my post White Vinegar and Coconut Oil, a Lesson Taught by Poison Ivy! So I thought I’d pop in and post an updated to my Coconut Oil science project.

If you remember, I was using Coconut Oil to help relieve and heal the lesions and scars left by a recent bout of poison ivy. So far, what I have observed the most was the healing rate increased on my right leg and right arm (the treated areas) and the healing rate on my left leg was a bit slower (the untreated leg). As far as helping with the scarring left … well I haven’t really noticed too much difference in the lighting of the scars on the right leg versus the left leg but this still might take some time as the scars left are pretty deep.

I also decided to experiment with using Coconut Oil as a facial moisturizer especially around the eye area. I have had puffiness and dark circles my entire life and I was hoping this little experiment of mine would help alleviate those. What I have observed is the Coconut Oil is a wonderful facial moisturizer and doesn’t leave a heavy goopy feeling on your face. It is also very good at treating the puffiness under my eyes and helps to diminish the small fine lines. As far as the dark circles … well I do see a slight improvement on some days and some days not but because I have had these dark circles my entire life I think it is safe to assume that it will take more time to completely lighten them up and even if they weren’t completely gone just getting them to a lighter shade makes me a happy girl!

A few other observations I think that are worth mentioning here are: 
  • Coconut Oil is an excellent hand moisturizer; 
  • It helps to relieve the itching and swelling of mosquito bites (we get a lot of that here in the country) 
  • It speeds the healing of small cuts and abrasions (well between farming and cooking I get alot of those too lol) 
  • It is a great cooking oil and imparts such a clean, fresh taste to foods (you really notice a difference in the oil taste … which totally surprised me … you don’t really realize how dirty certain oils taste until you use Coconut Oil) 
  • It is tremendously healthy for you (with just using it in my weekly cooking you can almost feel a difference … it’s kinda funny the things you realize and actually feel by eating real foods) 

Therefore, in summary … Coconut Oil is one of the most amazing things on the planet … if you don’t have a jar … make sure you pick one up and give it a try I’m sure you will agree with me … it’s one of the most versatile oils that can be used for multiple things from cooking, to hair and skin care and to bites, stings and healing. Wow! All that from 1 jar … simply amazing!

Have you tried Coconut Oil yet? If so, what are the everyday things you rely on your jar for? Please let us know in the comment section below!

This post shared on Simple Lives Thursday