Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

If you haven’t already received your stack of seed catalogs, get online and order yourself a bunch!! I have a bunch gathering dust as I am *gulp* not buying seeds this year. I might get around to reading some just for recreation later in the season.

So, yeah. I’m not buying new seed, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be trying any  new varieties. I’ve got a couple newbies waiting in the wings, don’t worry. The reason? With a new baby I’ve got to streamline my life. That means working with what I’ve got and just growing the basics. And only growing what I can handle, which is a lot less than I’d like probably.

But on the other hand, that doesn’t mean less produce. In fact, we’ll be rolling in produce cause I just bought our family a CSA subscription! Wheeee! This is the first year I can afford it, and luckily I remembered before they were sold out. In case you don’t know what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture and basically means you prepay for a share of veggies (and sometimes fruit, eggs and poultry), grown by a local farmer and pick up your said produce weekly. Sound good? Look here for one near you.

I’ve signed us up for this one. It is a great farm that I’ve been ogling for 1 or 2 years already. It’s about a half-hour away but I can pick up my share of goodies at our local farmer’s market. Bring on the variety! They grow tons of stuff I have had no luck with like broccoli and carrots. Plus I’ll be able to make delicious organic vegetable purees for my baby in lots of different non-store flavors like parsnip, eggplant, and kohlrabi. And try lots of new recipes!

This farm also does fun farm activities too, which are included in the cost of the share. So Corin’s birthday will be spent having a fun hayride! They also do canning classes and bonfires/camping. And the farm owners have a baby boy only a few months older than my daughter. They could have farm related play dates 😉

CSAs mean everyone wins! It helps the farmer financially, and gives the client the benefits of gardening without the work. And it’s organic. 🙂

A friend's CSA share from mid-season.


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Homemade pizza sauce from homegrown tomatoes. It's superb!

This sauce is deliciously spicy and thick, making a great backdrop to a balanced pizza or pizza-baked spaghetti. It is easy to make for canning, as you get 2 full pints plus some extra to use right away! If you are using plum or paste tomatoes, you can use 5 cups otherwise, use 6 cups or about 2 pounds worth.

Don’t omit the “secret” ingredient of fennel seeds. You can substitute anise or caraway as they all taste similar. This will give the sauce that distinct flavor and say to your tongue, “I am not just spaghetti sauce with extra herbs.”

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 to 6 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
4 tsp dried italian herbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp ground pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel, anise or caraway seeds

In a large sauce pan, saute the onion, celery and garlic in the oil until soft and transparent.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until smooth.

tomatoes, tomato paste and onions/celery in the pot.

Measure out the seasonings,

The seasonings

then stir them into the other ingredients and bring to a simmer.

pot with tomatoes, tomato paste, onions/celery and seasonings

Simmer for 45-60 minutes. Puree with a stick blender (or in batches in a blender). Spoon into pint jars or put back on the stove for added cooking time. Rule of thumb is to simmer it until no liquid pools when you make an indentation on the surface of the sauce. When canning, add ¼ tsp citric acid per pint to ensure adequate acidity.

Finished pizza sauce. 2 full pints plus a generous cup to use tonight.

Can in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes.  Yield: about 2 1/2 pints (5 cups)

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Unlike other recipes that call for coating in flour or breadcrumbs and deep fat frying, this recipe is a great lower fat alternative and can be made on the grill as well.

The prep is a lot simpler as well, so you don’t have to make poppers for hours on end. And you can make as many or as few as you want, leaving no extra ingredients (such as prepared filling or batter, etc). Just freeze left over bacon for later use, and refrigerate any unused cream cheese.

jalapeno peppers
bacon (I prefer turkey bacon): one slice for every 2 whole peppers
cream cheese (can use low fat neufachel), chilled

Cut bacon slices into quarters so as to wrap 4 pepper halves with one total slice of bacon. First cut in half, then slit lengthwise. Set aside.

Prepare your peppers by slitting them from stem to tip (lengthwise). My purple jalapenos will turn green after cooking. Leave the stems on, if possible. De-seed and de-rib using a grapefruit spoon, or a small tongs.

Salt the open pepper halves sparingly. Fill the pepper halves with straight cream cheese using a spoon.

Then wrap with a quarter-piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Fry in a frying pan or grill on low heat. Start with the cream cheese side, then flip to the jalapeno side. The cheese will not come out as it is chilled when you start and you flip them before they can start melting. Flip them when the bacon is starting to crisp on that side. Alternatively, you can broil these. Put in a broiling pan and cook on high heat until the bacon is crisp, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat when bacon is crisp on both sides. Let cool slightly and remove the toothpicks. Remind your guests to avoid eating the stem.

For a hotter popper, leave some ribbing and/or seeds behind. Otherwise, these should taste deliciously mild. You can also use extra thick onion dip or flavored cream cheese spreads instead of plain cream cheese for a different flavor profile. Have fun experimenting but keep it simple or you’ll never make them again 😉

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Being pregnant has really changed the way I cook and eat. Mainly, everything I put into my mouth has to have protein in it as I am required to get at least 60 or more grams per day (which is a lot!)

Now that our strawberries are finally coming in, I am able to make a homegrown organic strawberry smoothie packed with twenty-two grams protein! Woot! And no added sugar (just sweetened from the yogurt).

1 cup ice, crushed
6 oz any flavor yogurt (strawberry!) (5 grams protein)
6 oz milk (5 grams protein)
1/2 -1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp plain whey protein powder (12 grams protein)
1 tsp potassium powder (optional–potassium boost is great since pregnancy really drains your minerals)
1 -2 tsp soluble fiber powder (optional–fiber boost is great to stay regular, of course. This should add about 4 grams fiber)

Smoothies are so popular, if you haven’t yet tried making them at home, you really should. First crush the ice in your blender or food processor.

Then add in the strawberries and blend smooth.

Then add in the yogurt, milk, and extra powders.

Blend smooth. Pour into a huge glass with a wide straw.

Makes about 3 cups, but is still considered ONE serving, so don’t dare share it 😉

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For those who caught on, this picture of me inspecting our bare root tree order also shows me with a foamy bucket and some sticks (trees) sticking out. This is the magic formula for soaking your bare root plants prior to planting out.

Why should you soak your bare root plants prior to planting? Well, The roots are dormant and have been out of the ground for an undefined amount of time. Soaking helps them get soft and tender again, and tells the plant to get ready to wake up and start growing! It also washes off any chemicals or water retention pellets they may have been packed with. It also helps kill any mold that may have accidentally started to grow on the roots (I found mold on my strawberry and asparagus roots back in the day–not pretty). All in all, soaking is a healthy habit to start if you are ordering bare root plants.

Soak for anywhere from 2 to 24 hours prior to planting.

1-2 gallons warm water
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp dish soap
1 tsp bleach

Combine ingredients in a bucket, being careful not to splash any bleach back onto your clothes. Be sure to use warm water, not hot. Add your bare root plants, being careful not to overcrowd. I don’t recommend immersion of the whole plant, just the root portion, so adjust the water level accordingly.

Soak for 2 to 24 hours prior to planting, then plant as usual. The same or next day, water your new plants with some Transplant Water.

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This recipe is to spray on your plants and acts as a spicy slug deterrent, not a pesticide. Makes 2 cups

1 bulb garlic
½ a medium onion, preferably not a sweet onion
1-2 whole habanero peppers
2 cups water
1 tsp dish soap

In a blender or food processor, add in garlic, onion, and pepper with water and puree. Let steep for 1 hour or longer. Then strain into a clean container and stir in the dish soap. Pour into a spray bottle.

Spray onto affected plants, making sure to get the undersides of the leaves as well. Let dry. Repeat after a rain or as needed. Store any unused (and clearly labeled) mixture in the fridge.

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Why make homemade Dishwasher Detergent? If you make your own laundry soap, you will already have most of the ingredients on hand, so it’s no additional cost. You know what’s in it, so there’s no added chemicals or harsh detergents. It’s safe and easy.

These bowls held sloppy joe mix and were left to air dry. Very crusty stuff.

After using this recipe for a half year or so, I’ve found that it works best if you run the “Normal” cycle instead of the gentler “Light Wash.” It tends to leave a film if run with Light wash. Pour straight white vinegar in the rinse compartment to ensure a clean rinse and no lingering odors in the dishwasher. Makes 40 loads.

1 cup borax
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup washing soda
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp citric acid powder

Combine ingredients. Store in a resealable zipper bag or plastic tub. Use 1 tbsp per load. Remember to add white vinegar to the rinse compartment.

The same bowls after being washed in the dishwasher on "Normal" cycle. Squeaky!

Breakdown of Cost (using Amazon prices. If you buy in a local store, you can get them even cheaper):

$1.05/7 oz____20 Mule Team Borax, 76 oz_________$11.49
$0.26/1/2 cu Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 13.5 lbs____$13.71
$0.73/4 oz____Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 55 oz___$9.99
$0.16/2 oz_____Kosher Salt, 3 lb_________________$3.84
$0.43/2 oz____Citric Acid, 1 lb__________________$3.44
$2.63/batch or $0.07/load

$0.10/load (50 loads) Finish/Electrasol Powder, 50 oz____$4.99

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