Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Love Jars!

Mason jars are one of my favorite things! I just love them!  Here are some ways to use  jars besides canning:                                  

Awsome centerpiece.
Love love love this
Mason jars

I love Mason jars! This is so simple but beautiful.
Simpilicity at its best-- Beautiful!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whole Foods Pantry Journey!

Well, last week my $10 purchase was dried milk powder.  That makes beans, rice, and dried milk powder  that has been added to my wfp.  I have considered getting a grain mill and buying wheat but right now I do not think that would be feasible.  If I were a stay at home Mom/wife I would do this in a heart beat, but I work full time and have a disabled husband that requires lots of care so I really do not think I would use the grain mill enough to justify buying it. One of these years I may change my mind but not now!
So what else can I stock up in my wfp?  Natural sweetners!  I want to try Agave Nectar, and sucanet.
Honey, an old stand by,  is also on my list! I still have some refined white sugar but in the future I will be buying natural sweetners.
What have you stocked up on this week?


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chocolate Strawberry Decadence

Today I tried something I haven't tried before--Chocolate Ganache.  As some of you know, I bake and decorate cakes however I have never made chocolate buttercream or chocolate ganache.  Well here is my first effort for my son's friends birthdays.
It is not perfect as I let the ganache get too cool, but not too bad for my first try!

The ganach recipe is so easy!

9 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup of heavy cream.

Heat cream in small sauce pan until just boiling. Add chips and stir until all melted and smooth.  You can add a teaspoon of rum flavoring if you would like.  Wait till ganache has cooled off to pour over cake. Too easy!  Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Soap!

On Sunday,  I was able to make a batch of cold process soap. I intended to make lavender soap but I didn't have enough lavender essential oil, so I made a batch of oatmeal milk and honey.  Let me tell you, my house smells wonderful. In the past I have erred on the less is more side, but this time I wanted  highly scented bars of soap and I think I accomplished that!  I am not comfortable teaching anyone how to make soap(as I am still a beginner) but I can highly recommend Millers Homemade Soap.  The link is : 
If you are overwhelmed by that site you can order the Homesteade Blessings The Art of Soapmaking DVD available from Franklin Springs Family Media. The DVD makes it  very easy to understand the whole process. I just love their DVDs. Simple and straightforward.  The site is:

Good luck if you decide to make your own cold process soap! It is so much  fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whole Foods Pantry Journey

Last week’s pantry purchase was $10 worth of rice. This week’s purchase ( I am building my whole foods pantry using $10 a week) is going to be dried milk.  I will be buying $10 worth of dried milk for my pantry stash. I now have Pinto beans, Brown rice, and dried milk powder in addition to the  quart jar of dried organic mushrooms, and 10 containers of oatmeal I had before starting this whole foods journey. I do have 20 regular jars of peanut butter stocked up—it’s not natural whole food PB, but I have to use what I have!  
Here are my purchases so far in my WF Pantry Stash! 
Today I am cooking a huge pot of northern beans for two meals to serve this week.  My family loves White Chicken Chili and  Bean Soup.  I have the recipes for both posted in the recipe tab if you are interested.  Since I am cooking my beans first, just sub the beans for the canned beans in the chili recipe and I am not using the crock pot for the bean soup--just cooking the bean soup on the stove top.   These recipes are very easy to adjust to your family's tastes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Since I have decided not to purchase so many processed foods , I am having to find homemade recipes for may things my family loves to eat.  One of the things I have learned to make is Buttermilk Ranch salad dressing.  A favorite of my husband,  ranch dressings cannot be cut out of our diet so here is a quick way to make this old standby favorite:
Buttermilk Ranch

1/3 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp  salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp dried dill

Just mix in a pint mason jar and shake.
Makes one cup of dressing.  If you would prefer, you can sub mayo for the plain yogurt.
Thyme or basil can also be substituted for the dill for a different flavor. Do not be afraid to substitute!
 Mmmm......My family loves it! It is delicious and has no preservatives! This is a fast fresh way to stop using the processed dressings.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Whole Foods Pantry Journey

This week I want to add rice to my pantry stash.  So I’ll be buying $10 worth of brown rice.  Before I buy super large quantities of any one thing, I want to have a small variety of foodstuffs in case of an emergency happening sooner than later.  So rice it will be this week. 
 I must admit this journey is taking a huge amount of change in my shopping habits.  I am staying out of the middle aisles more and in the dairy and produce more.  Coupons have been a way of life for so long, it’s hard to stop but I still check the ads for personal things like feminine supplies, razors, and toothpaste.  I know the investment in whole foods will pay off for our health but I think I am still in the sticker shock part of it!
I have been making yogurt, and drying some foods to store.  I really like making the yogurt—it is so very good and I know exactly what is in it.  My first attempt at drying foods was to dry mushrooms that I found reduced at the grocery.  It went very well. I see lots of uses for my dehydrator in the future and will post on many of those.
All in all, my whole foods journey is progressing very well.  I am still using the processed foods in my pantry (cannot afford not to) but the transition is slow.  I think that is a good thing—introducing whole foods little at a time isn’t such a big change for the Hubby and kids.  We definitely are eating more fresh veggies and fruits.
One thing I want to try this week is yogurt cheese—I understand it is close to cream cheese.  Then I will be able to use the whey collected to ferment other foods!  I am in the middle of reading Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions and am very excited to try some of her ideas! I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to improve the way they eat!
Well, I would love to hear from anyone else about making or eating more fermented foods!
Comments are encouraged and very welcome!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness From the heart

I saw a story on tv about a man who is blogging about his quest to perform a random act of kindness every day of this year—366 days (remember it’s Leap year).  
He has taped a dollar to a vending machine to pay for a snack, given away tickets to a basketball game, paid for an ex coworkers bus pass for 3 months, and many other things that cost him little or no money.
What makes this more special is that he is not a rich man. He works 5 days a week and has his own family.  He is just an average Joe. He only hopes that others pay random acts of kindness forward!
His generosity made a big impression on me. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone did a little something extra for a fellow human being?
I am going to do a random act of kindness daily. It doesn’t have to cost anything; A compliment to a stranger on her clothes, or a hug for a family member for no reason, or helping a neighbor with her groceries.  Little things mean so much!  Can you make someone’s day a little better with a little Random Act of Kindness given straight from the heart?  I am going to try!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mother’s 73rd birthday. She has been the best Mother any girl could ask for. If I need anything she helps out without a word.  She has been so strong  dealing with losses that would flatten most.  She has lost her parents, 2 husbands, a son, and 7 brothers and sisters. Even though she is the baby girl of her family, her siblings always ask her opinions on most everything. She is the caretaker, mediator, and  pillar of strength to her family.
One of the most important things I have learned from her is to tell the people I love that I do love them.  She has set the example of this all of my life.  I have never doubted her love and I have let my loved ones know how much I love them also.  My Mom can do anything she sets her mind to.  She is so talented in so many ways and has taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it.  My Mom is the best!
So Happy Birthday to one of the most important people in my life—Love you Mom!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quote of the Week

If you want to be loved, be lovable.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Herb Chart

If any of you are like me, you wonder which herbs can be used for what foods.  I did a little research and found an herb chart. 

Beans (dried)cumin, cayenne, chili, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme
Beefbasil, bay, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Breadsanise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme
Cheesebasil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Chickenallspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger lemongrass, mustard, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Cornchili, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme
Eggsbasil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fishanise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, marjoram
Fruitsallspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint
Lambbasil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme
Potatoesbasil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Salad Dressingsbasil, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme
Saladsbasil, caraway, chives, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Soupsbasil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
Sweetsallspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary
Tomatoesbasil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo file, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

This is an invaluable tool for me!  Hope it helps you as well!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Making Yogurt

Yogurt making is not very difficult at all. It just takes milk and  yogurt starter or a 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with active cultures.  You can then add sweetner and flavor or fruit after the yogurt is completed.

Here is what you will need to make your own yogurt:
Yogurt Maker, crock pot, or insulated cooler, milk, quart jar and lid, pan, thermometer, and yogurt starter or culture.  I  have the Salton Yogurt maker and I really like t.  It came with a plastic insert, but I like to use a quart jar because I store it in the same jar.

First, measure out a quart of milk and put into a pan and heat on medium until it reaches 185 degrees.

When it reaches 185 degrees, place pan in a cold water bath to cool it down to 110 degrees.  Once it cools to 110, add your yogurt or yogurt starter and stir well.  Put the lid on and place jar into your yoghurt maker, crock pot(on warm)or into a cooler with warm water and leave it sit for 8 hours.  It needs to stay as close to 110 degrees as possible for the 8 hours. For this reason, I like the Salton yogurt maker--no worries about temps.
After the yogurt has incubated for 8 hours, take about 3/4 cup out and save the plain yogurt for your next batch.  Now you can add your sweetener of choice--sugar, honey, splenda, or maple syrup.  Then you can add vanilla flavoring or add fruit.  I added Slenda and frozen raspberries to mine. You are only limited by your imagination!
Now refrigerate and enjoy the next day!  Thats it, easy peasy!  Mmmmm, I cannot wait to have my raspberry yogurt for breakfast in the morning!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Garden Dreaming!

Went shopping Saturday and perused the seed counter for ages!  Garden dreaming has begun!
Have you started planning your garden yet?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Valentines Day Garland

I made this garland to hang up for Valentines Day.  It is so easy!  I used my Cricut but you could just cut out 4 large hearts out of red, burgundy, or pink cardstock. Cut 4 smaller hearts out of white card stock.  Use a hole punch to put holes in the sides of the large hearts. Glue the smaller hearts onto the larger ones.  You can cut out letters, stamp, or write l-o-v-e on the hearts and then string them onto a piece of twine, rope, or ribbon and you have a great decoration for Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Growing Sprouts

       A wonderful way of growing nutritious greens, in the winter, or anytime for that matter, is sprouting!
      You can order a sprouter, or use a canning jar with a piece of screen on top in place of a lid.  If you use a canning jar, just make sure the screen is tightened down with a canning ring. With the jar, you must must must ensure you drain the sprouts well.
       I ordered my Easysprout and seeds from The Sprout people.
They offer a great selection of sprout products and seeds.

       Sprouting seeds is so easy. The most important thing to remember is to clean your sprouter or jar well and to rinse with a bleach water solution(1T bleach to a pint of water) between each use. 
                                            1. Rinse your seeds until the water runs clear.
                                            2. Soak seeds in your jar or sprouter for 12 hours

Day one-soaking

3. Drain well--very well and let sit out of sunlight

Day 2-rinsed 2 times

                                        4. Rinse every 8-12 hours and drain well for the next 4-6 days

                                                                   Day 6--All done!

That is it.  So easy!  If you want to get the hulls off, just soak sprouts in a bowl full of water.  Break up mass of sprouts and skim hulls off of top.  Drain and let dry before putting into fridge. Make sure they are very dry!  There you have it--a fresh nutritious green sprout in just 4-6 days.

Hope you are inspired to try this easy way of providing fresh greens for your family!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quote of the Week

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
                                                   -Ronald Reagan

Who can you help toaday?