Here’s What We’re Up To On The Homestead…
Each year we try to learn more about wild plants we can use in our own backyard. This year we’ve been nibbling on our edible Basswood tree leaves and even the kids think they are delicious. We found a DVD at our library called The Forager’s Harvest which was very helpful, but is not always available online. You can check out other books available from the same author, which receive good reviews. As always, do your own research or seek out an experienced forager to se sure before you eat. Personally, we plan on taking a foraging class this fall to really expand our knowledge.
The Misses is all about the Einkorn flour right now, and here is another creation: easy homemade crackers made with einkorn flour, olive oil, water, and sea salt. Tasty and so much better for you than store-bought. Get the recipe here.
This is an update on the dandelion “jelly” (see below). Based on the amount of pectin we used (1 tbspn per cup of dandelion tea), the consistency was more like honey or a thick syrup, which we actually like. It can be drizzled over biscuits or even pancakes. The flavor is quite good, a little bit like honey. It was a fun experiment for the Misses.
The month of May means dandelions, and since we don’t spray our lawn, we’re trying to harvest them for use. There is a lot of info out there about eating and using dandelions so we’ve been adding some greens to salads, making salve, and this year, trying dandelion jelly. First step is harvesting the petals and making them into a tea that seeps overnight. After straining, we will add fruit pectin, lemon juice, and sugar to the heated tea and use our pressure canner as a water bath canner to process in pint jars (read your manual to make sure yours doubles as water bath canner). Supposedly, the dandelion jelly will taste like honey…we’ll see.
It’s supposed to be spring here, but the cold, rainy weather makes it feel almost like fall. So, we baked up some ginger cookies from Mama’s new Einkorn Cookbook (see below) while we wait for the sun to come out. Any day now…
I (Mother of the Homestead) received this great cookbook from my friend at Point Drive Music. This book contains recipes and tips for using Einkorn Wheat; the only ancient and nutritious grain that has not been hybridized. Many people with gluten sensitivities can eat Einkorn wheat with no ill effects. (You can read more about it here). So far, I’ve made a couple of dishes and they turned out great. I highly recommend it.
SPROUTED MUNG BEANS
While we’re waiting for the outdoor growing season to pick up, we’re making a lot of sprouts to keep us going. In addition to Alfalfa and Broccoli, these Mung beans are a popular option, especially for stir fry. Check out our sprouting article for more information.
DIY GLASS CLEANER RECIPE
We shared this glass cleaner recipe on Instagram a while back and it’s still what we use. We don’t buy cornstarch anymore so we substituted arrowroot powder, and couldn’t tell the difference. The starch is supposed to reduce streaks. We use these microfiber cleaning cloths from Amazon that we bought 2 years ago. They’ve held up well and the assorted colors help us keep our cloths separate for different jobs. Hey, cleaning is not fun but it helps to have the right tools.
DIY GLASS CLEANER:
-1/4 Cup White Vinegar
-1/4 Cup Rubbing Alchohol
-1 Tbsp Cornstarch
-2 Cups Water
*Shake Before Using
Planted some seed trays and indoor herb pots this week. These chalkboard labels we have for pantry goods work great for plant labeling, too. We also use old protein powder scoopers to fill up the trays. How are your garden plans going?
Looks like the garlic we planted in October survived the winter. I don’t know about you guys, but we are ready to get outside and start spring projects and gardens. In our northern growing zone, this is about the time to start seeds indoors so we’ll be doing that this week. Just getting some last minute supplies like these kids garden gloves that the Mrs. really likes for our helpers. We need all hands on deck around here! Can’t wait to break out the BCS Tiller soon…
We got hit with spring colds this week so our go-to was homemade chicken soup. Whenever we make soup, we throw the bones into our crockpot w/some veggies to yield 5 quarts of dense bone broth. This saves money on buying store-bought broth (inferior, in my opinion), and has lots of health benefits. We were in no mood to pressure can our broth, so we froze it right in the mason jars. Did you know you can use these storage lids for freezing, too? We use them for everything (except canning). Check back for more information on making your own broth in a coming article. Stay healthy!
THE HANDIEST CORDLESS VAC
This is a shop vac but we use it for home cleaning as well because it’s so handy and powerful. It beats any Shark cordless vac we’ve had. We’re using it a lot right now as we start our spring cleaning. The extensions that come with the vacuum are very helpful for getting more reach. The best part is, the vac operates with the same rechargeable 18 volt lithium batteries that we use for a lot of our other Milwaukee tools. We like the simplicity of having tools with interchangeable parts. Don’t forget the charging station; we have this multi-voltage model that supports both 12 and 18 volt Milwaukee batteries. Now that’s synergy!
MAKING CIDER VINEGAR STEP #2
After letting our apple scraps soak in a sugar & water solution for two weeks, we removed the fermentation weights, strained out the apples, and poured the liquid into a sterilized mason jar. This will sit in the back of the pantry for 4-6 weeks. When finished, we’ll store the vinegar in a regular air tight container (like an old Bragg jar). We should be able to save some of the “Mother” that forms and use it to jump start future batches. So far so good!
WATER HEATER REPLACEMENT
It’s never a good time for something to break on the homestead, but some things are unavoidable. We weren’t surprised when our old water heater started leaking all over the floor, so we drained the water into the sump crock with a hose and got busy finding a replacement. This 50 gallon gas water heater was recommended by a family member and our local Home Depot had a good price on the unit plus installation. They secure a local participating plumber who brings the new unit, installs it, and hauls the old one away. For us it worked out because many plumbers will only install their units (from dealers they purchase from) not something you buy yourself. What repairs are you expecting to do on the homestead this year?
EASY HOMEMADE ROLLS
This recipe was adapted from an old Instagram buddies’. We quartered it to make a small batch & made the rolls a bit larger for cheeseburger sliders. Eight fit just right in this small pyrex baking dish but if we want smaller “dinner” rolls (16) we would put them in a large dish and cut the cooking time in half. Here was our recipe:
-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-3/4 cup warm water
-1/4 cup oil
-3/4 tsp salt
We preheated the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then mixed together the yeast, warm water, honey, and oil and let it rest for 15 minutes. Next, whisked together the flour & salt. Added 1 whisked egg to the flour along with the liquid yeast mixture. Kneaded the dough for 5 minutes. Shaped into 8 rolls and baked in greased pan for about 18 minutes until done. (They were also really good the next day toasted w/butter & jelly for breakfast).
MAKING APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
These new glass fermentation weights fit great inside wide mouth mason jars. They keep your solids below the liquid line to prevent mold growth. This is our step #1 to making acv (should we do an article on this? click here to request!). These weights could come in handy for Mama’s cold infused oils, too. Once you spoil a batch, you get smarter!