Let's try this.

Friday, May 2, 2014

I canned, we ate, and we didn't die!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I tweaked a meat recipe, then pressure canned it.  Well, we pulled a jar of it out, heated it up, added the missing ingredients, and VOILA!  Dinner!

So, here is the original recipe for Ground Beef Stroganoff.  It's excellent! It's super easy to double and freeze, but I live in an apartment and have very limited space in my freezer.

I tweaked the recipe for canning like so:

  • 2-4 TB of ghee or coconut oil (depending on your cooking vessel and meat), divided
  • 3 lg Onions, diced (I use the gargantuan ones from Costco)
  • 24 ounces of sliced mushrooms (I use Baby Bellas)
  • 6 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tsp dried rosemary
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 cup beef stock (I use the organic canned in tetra pak from Trader Joe's)
  • 1.5-2 tsp of sea salt (probably more if using grass fed beef)
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
In a skillet, melt half of the ghee or coconut oil. Add the mushrooms and onions, and saute until slightly softened and browned around the edges. Remove to a plate.


If you're using fatty ground beef (mine is), then no need to use the other half of your cooking oil. If you're working with very lean meat, then use the other half of your cooking oil and brown the meat.  Return meat, onions and mushrooms to pan. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, herbs and garlic. Saute’ for about 3 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Reduce heat to medium. Add beef stock and stir to mix in.  No need to simmer it...you're getting ready to simmer the CRAP out of it in the pressure canner.

Ladle this mixture into jars, use additional broth if you need to cover the meat and veggies and leave one inch of head space.  Pressure can for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  You MUST pressure can this.  Do NOT try to water bath can meat.  It's a low acid food.  You'll die from botulism or something. ;-)

Wait!!  You're not done!  When you decide to crack one of these bad boys open, you have to add the missing ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
Whisk together the coconut milk and arrowroot powder, then add it to the stroganoff and simmer until it thickens. 


Pour it over spaghetti squash or cauliflower rice!  Here's a crappy iPhone picture:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The backyard homestead and roasted veggies.

I now have so much stuff planted on my concrete back patio that I seriously can't tell you everything that's back there right now...I can try though...let's see: Zucchini, cantaloupe, green pumpkins, and orange pumpkins that I snuck into some dirt in a common area. TONS of herbs, carrots, cabbage, onions, watermelon radishes, Thai chilis, Pasilla peppers, romaine, and TOMATOES, of course. Here's a peek at my window sill with Farmer John hard at work!
I'm going to share with you an EXTREMELY versatile dish that you can make on the weekend and eat all week.  It's a delicious timesaver...Asparagus, sweet potatoes, and celery root. Super easy...check it out:
1. Make at least 3 veggies into bite sized pieces.
2. Pour a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil, bacon fat, or ghee on top, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
3. Roast for 15 minutes on 425.
4. Remove from the oven and stir.
5. Roast another 15 minutes.
For the rest of the week you can eat these as follows:
1. With an egg or two on top.
2. Side dish with dinner.
3. Put into a food processor with cream cheese (if you do dairy) for a super tasty spread.
4. Puree with broth for soup.
5. Add meat/fish/poultry, mix it up for a main dish.
6. YOU be the chef and come up with something. :D

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

So many recipes and announcements, and so little time!!

Sooooo, The Pickle learned how to turn chicken legs into a drumstick and a thigh:

I turned perfectly good brussel sprouts and zucchini into mold and mush (here's what they started out looking like):
I won't torture you with an "after" pic, but you should know...my whole kitchen smelled like a fart factory for the rest of the day after I dumped the end product into the garbage disposal. *sigh*
I started several seeds in my very own homemade origami-ish seed pots:
I wanted to do something a little different than the "wrap newspaper around a can" seed pots, and found this fun video on YouTube.  I had T bring home a bunch of free newspaper from the "Rubber" newspaper thing they have at Sharks Ice.  Free, fun, and I can plant them without causing an trauma when it's time! The Pickle and I sat in front of the TV and cranked 'em out.
I tweak everything, y'all.  I can't follow a recipe or anyone's advice to the letter.  I MUST experiment.  I got the Ball Canning book and a pressure canner for Xmas and I was DYING to use it.  I got a wild hair last weekend, found one of our favorite meat recipes (Ground Beef Stroganoff), and pressure canned 10 pints of it.  I tweaked the recipe to make it "pressure canner friendly", tripled the recipe, and went after it.  I'll have to report back later on this...
I have a bunch more to blog about when it comes to my new gardening (and homesteading!)adventure...did I plant my onions outside too soon?!  Are my radishes going to make it?! Hmmm....I hope the anticipation of my next blog post on all of this doesn't cause you to lose sleep...hehe.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Easy sweet curry cashews and the beginning of a homestead...

Okay...most exciting news first...I just put a deposit on 40 acres of land in Wyoming. Oh. My. Goodness.  I'm going out there in a couple of weeks to look at it!! 40 acres, y'all.  My head is spinning with plans, but they're gonna have to wait as it's probably going to take me 10 years to pay off the land before I can afford to put anything on it. *sigh*

Okay, next!

Sweet curry cashews!  These are a little bit weird to make...the sugary stuff slides off of the cashews, so you have to do a lot of spatula work...but , MAN are they worth it!

I actually adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart's recipe!

Sweet Coconut Curry Cashews

  • 2 tablespoons butter/ghee
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups unsalted roasted cashews (9 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in curry powder, and cook until toasted, about 1 minute. Stir in sugar, water, honey, and salt. Add cashews and coconut, and toss to coat using a rubber spatula. The sugar mixture will slide off, but we'll work on that later.
  3. Transfer cashew mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet (you're going to hate your life if you don't remember the parchment paper, so DON'T FORGET!), and spread into a single layer using rubber spatula. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Bake another 8 minutes, stir, then bake 8 more minutes...watch that the edges of the sugar mixture don't burn.
  5. Once you remove the nuts from the oven, you'll want to stir them a lot while they cool to get the good stuff to stick to the nuts! Once it's too hard to stir, just give up. Haha...let them cool completely before you try to eat some or you'll pull out a filling. (They harden as they cool.)


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent

As a little experiment, I made this last year and started using it on the first of January.  We have gone OVER one year now and we still haven't even used HALF of what I made!  Keep in mind...there are 3 of us, so if there are 6320937 people in your family, you might use it a teensy bit faster. ;-)

This recipe is all over the internet and I couln't possibly tell you where it originated or I would try to give someone some credit here:

Powdered Laundry Detergent of the Homemade Persuasion:

1 Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Box of Borax
1 Box of Pure Baking Soda
2 bars of Fels-Naptha
1 container of Oxy-Clean
Essential oils (optional for fragrance)

1. Grate the bars of soap.
2. Dump the entire boxes of everything together in a giant bowl with the grated soap.
3.  Mix it up. :D
4.  Divide among two 1-gallon containers.  I used 2 of THESE.  If you use two 1-gallon containers, you're not stuck lugging around 2 gallons of soap all year. ;-)

When doing your laundry with this soap, you literally only use about 1-1.5 Tablespoons per load. 
I put the soap in first, close the lid, let HOT water in for a few seconds to start soaking the soap (I'm not even sure if this is totally necessary), then put in the clothes, close the lid again and run it on whatever temp I want the clothes washed in.
My GF says that her black shirts fade a little too quickly, but I haven't noticed. 
My daughter spilled curry soup on a brand new pair of WHITE denim shorts. She cried the whole way home.  As soon as she got home, I went to work...  I rinsed out what I could with cold water, sprinkled this soap on top, rubbed it in, then let it sit overnight.  The next day, I sprayed Resolve (yes, I cheated, but I'm convinced my soap was the best place to start) on the stains a few times, then proceded to machine wash them. 
The stain didn't come out after the first wash, but that was the only time I ever treated the stain.  It was barely visible, but it was still there...over the next couple of washes, it came completely out.  CURRY soup, you guys.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Afraid you will miss PASTA?!

Here's the thing...everyone says they love pasta.  Pasta is just an almost tasteless vehicle for the sauce though!  When you eat pasta, you feel like a lot of things...mostly like a nap...and REALLLY full.  Did you eat a salad as an appetizer?  No?  Then chances are, you're not going to be getting a serving of veggies with dinner.

In our house, we knock out two birds with one stone...figuratively speaking. :)  We started off mostly using spaghetti squash in the place of pasta.  It's excellent...if you cook it right!  Once you get the hang of it, you realize that it's actually super good all by itself.  The Widget actually loves it with a little grass fed butter and salt as an after-school snack!

Add some pesto, crumbled bacon, and leftover chicken and you've got a family favorite! Srsly...the girls ask for that one constantly.

Edited to add: Thanks to my friend Autumn, it was brought to my attention that not everyone may know what spaghetti squash IS or how to cook it!!  Here's what I had to say:

A spaghetti squash is just an oblong yellow squash and it's always called a spaghetti squash, so people usually know what you're talking about. If you have a "produce place" near you...one that sells mostly produce, that's the easiest place to start. They also have them at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and most grocery stores this time of year since it's a winter squash.

This is my favorite method of cooking it:

1. Poke it a few times with a knife (the skin is hard), then stick the whole thing in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Check it by poking at it with your knife and pull it out when it pierces the skin.
2. Wear an oven mit and cut the stem end off, then cut it in half. It's still HOT, so take your time.

3. Scoop out the seeds and slimy stuff, then wait a while for it to cool before using a fork to separate the strands and scoop it into a bowl.

This sounds way harder than it is, lol. If you're not a fan of it the first time, don't give up...it may take you a few times before you decide how "done" you like it...if you like it a little crispier, then cook it less time, if you like it mushier, then cook it more. I leave it on the crispy side, then saute it in the pan with whatever sauce I'm putting on it until it's the texture that I like.

Cabbage!  ..............Wait!  Come back!  I'm serious!  Listen...buy a giant cabbage, cut it in half, then thinly slice half, and put the other one away for a later date (trust me, you'll want to make this again). 

Heat a pan on "screamin' hot"(HIGH), but a dollop of coconut oil in the pan and toss in the cabbage.  Season with salt, pepper, and whatever spices compliment what you're going to put on top...my favorites are Ras al Hanout, tandoori, and garam masala.

Let it get a little charred before stirring it up...trust.  Don't let it get mushy...leave it a little crispy. Here's a pic of one of my lunches...the cabbage with caramelized onions and a yummy chicken thigh.

NEXT:  Put stuff on it.  I could seriously do this daily.  I think I even mentioned it in another post here: My wannabe homesteader post.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Paleo seems so easy now...

I feel like it has been an eternity now since we've made the full commitment to become a Paleo household!  I have forgotten all of the uncertainty that comes with giving up your absolute favorite foods....before you realize that you don't have to!!

Look!  Cookies!

There is much controversy in the Paleo community about many things...is this ingredient Paleo? Do I have to start wearing weird shoes to be accepted into your cult?  Do I have to start doing Crossfit...it's so scary?!! 

Look...I have come to the realization that everyone has their own "Paleo".  There is a framework to help you guide your way and the sooner that you can recite what you CAN EAT, then the less emphasis everyone will put on what you CAN'T eat (not that it's any of their damn business).  "High quality and sustainable meats, veggies, eggs, fruit, nuts, healthy fats (NO, for the love of all things sacred, canola oil is not a healthy fat), and natural sweeteners like honey, dates, maple, and coconut sugar."

It's not a DIET.  Yes, people tend to lose a lot of weight when they commit to eating this way, but that's not WHY you should eat this way.  You CANNOT half-ass this or it won't work.  If you think that you can eat strict Paleo all day long and then eat a bowl of cereal for dessert, think again.  If you understand the science behind the way grains affect your body, then you'll understand what I mean.  Read "Wheat Belly".

In my next post, I'm going to give you the tools you need in order to start the transition to a healthier way of life!  Pasta will be the first in the series!  It's so EASY...seriously.