Raw Milk Yogurt

Raw Milk Yogurt.

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Winter Eggs

Winter Egg Production
Winter Egg Production

Chickens will not lay eggs without the proper amount of light. This is why they molt in the fall and stop laying eggs in the winter. Their hormone system cycles works with the cycle of the sun. Chickens need 12 hours of light to kick the egg laying hormones into action. This year is the first time in the last 4 years I’ve used a light to kickstart my chicken’s egg production. The past three years I let the chickens rest through the winter. Most of my flock are spring hatched and their reproduction system doesn’t need a vacation. This winter I wanted to try the farmers tip of setting up a light in the chicken’s house. I waited till all the older hens had molted and fully feathered out. They had stopped laying eggs in August and started molting in September. I increased protein intake during molting to help with feather growth. The older hens look sleek and healthy by the end of November.

Three weeks ago I was getting one egg five days a week. I ran an outside electrical cord from our house to the pen, set up a barn light with a hundred watt bulb. I turn it on 5-8am, turn it off when the hens start free ranging around 9am. I turn the light back on from 4:30pm until around 8:30/9pm. Two weeks went by without any extra eggs. My Husband thought nothing was going to happen. I stressed patience, the old timers tips are based on actual production. A couple of days ago an extra egg was in our laying box, the next day 2 more eggs, today 8 eggs.

If you do want your hens to produce extra eggs in the winter, give them a break for molting, increase protein, let them have a month-long rest. Increase light to 12 solid hours a day. It really doesn’t matter when you start in the morning. Just make sure they get 12 solid hours of light. I have Fourteen hens, Buff Brahmas, English Cuckoo Marans, and a few mixed breed Bantams.

Perfection After a Gazzilion Failures

Hand-milled fresh wheat flour is very different from the flour we buy in our grocery stores, even if it is organic and whole wheat. I will go into the differences when I post my recipes. I spent hours hand grinding grain just to have my freshly milled grain products turn into hockey pucks or a gooey lump. Why not buy an electric grinder? I didn’t want to spend $400 to $800 dollars for an electric grinder. What if the electricity goes out? Plus I am frugal, that’s a lot of money. Bonus, hand-milling is an upper body workout, no need to go to the gym if you grind your own grain! You will burn off all the calories you take in from the bread you are going to eat.

Today I made perfect bread and buckwheat lemon bars for Thanksgiving.

I will share the recipes after Thanksgiving. I’m still cooking as I write this. I needed to show off two years of practice! I saw an article online about lining bread pans with parchment paper. Hand ground wheat products are fragile and delicate. I crumbled so many loaves of fresh bread trying to break them out of the pan. Now all I have to do is lift them out of the bread-pan, no extra lubricant!

Fall Cooking Adventures

Every evening I steam a bunch of squash for part of our chickens food called mash, which I make the next morning. I mash-up the steamed squash and add dinner leftovers plus grain. I set the grain in water for two hours, rinse and let sit overnight. This starts the process of sprouting and is easier for our chickens to digest. The chickens also free-range for their greens and protein, grass and bugs are their favorite food. I’ve never had a healthier bunch of chickens. Much of the food my chickens eat is free from our garden and lawn. I buy bulk grain from our local organic farmers and share it with my chickens, buying bulk saves a lot of money. When it starts snowing I will also share our garden greens. Chickens need greens as much as humans do. We also use squash and pumpkin pulp for stews, soups, noodles, bread, cookies, and biscuits.

I read that squash and pumpkins are a super food because of the orange color, fiber, micro nutrients and minerals. I think this is why our chickens are so healthy for the last 3 years. My first year, out of the 4 years I have raised chickens, I lost many chickens to the flu. I did some research and found their food sources have become polluted just like humans with herbicides and pesticides that kill gut bacteria. Gut bacteria, yeast, fungus help break down the food we eat, this is the same for any animal including my chickens. Their immune system is in their gut just like humans. I haven’t lost a chicken to illness since I started feeding them organic and from my garden.

Once a week my Husband and I take turns grinding grain for bread, biscuits, and cookies. He will grind grain without complaining for cookies. I think it’s an excellent trade! I am still figuring out the proper ratio of yeast and other ingredients that will make a great yeasty bread. I found adding fruit pulp, vinegar, yogurt really help the yeast thrive and helps the flour soften and stretch when kneading. Making bread from fresh hand milled flour is different from store-bought flour. I think the difference has to do with the extreme processing factory flour goes through. All the nutrients are stripped out through chemical processing and the grain is ground very finely, so fine that the flour will turn into cement like goo in our digestive system if we can’t digest it. Also fresh ground grain will go rancid within a few hours if left at room temperature. If I have any wheat flour left over I pop it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer. I also make flour from buckwheat. It is much easier to grind and sift, plus the flour does not go rancid like wheat. Although the buckwheat flour will mold if it has any moisture. I usually place buckwheat flour in a jar or bag and store it in the fridge if I don’t use it right away. It also makes a great thickener for sauces, stews, and soups.

Still working on perfecting a pizza. My husband loved this one made with sausage, peppers, tomato paste, garlic, onions, mozzarella and cheddar cheese. I strained out all the liquid from some steamed canned tomatoes and made a lovely tomato paste. Our Garden tomatoes came in a variety of colors. The paste and sauces aren’t bright red like store-bought tomato products. After I add all the spices the end product taste better than the factory processed item.

When Will This End?

I am still canning my garden’s tomatoes! Canning hot spicy salsa from our tomatoes and peppers. October 14th my husband and I had picked all our tomatoes. Green tomatoes were cleaned with vinegar and water, dried, set aside to ripen slowly. I’m down to the last canning batch. What’s left over will be eaten fresh. With the long keepers I could have pulled the plant, tomato and all, hung the plant in a cool dry storage area. I read with luck and proper storage you can eat fresh tomatoes through the winter. Unfortunately I don’t have the proper storage area.

Next to the deep sink I have pickling and salad cucumbers I’m seeding for next years crop. The Armenian cucumbers seem to keep really well in my cool storage room with the squash.

Tomatoes ripened inside. Picked October 14th
Tomatoes ripened inside. Picked October 14th
Last of the tomatoes. We will have fresh tomatoes through the end of November!
Last of the tomatoes. We will have fresh tomatoes through the end of November!

Recipe can be found here.

Thank You Nature

Nature has blessed us with a lovely garden, wonderful chickens, and warm, misty, rainy, mushrooming weather. Found some more yummy wild mushrooms to add to our chicken soup. Our winter garden is coming along fine. The slugs love this weather as well! We go through the garden and squish them. With nice neat rows it is pretty easy to spot the little buggers.

Fall and Winter Workout

Banish fatigue, mental fog, fat, and stiffness through using your body as the gym! No need for a gym during the winter weather here in rural Oregon. No need for fancy equipment either, use what you have.

For cardio Jillian Michaels workout videos are my favorite. They are short and intense. In my thirties and early forties I was a long distance runner before I hurt my back and lost the use of my right leg. I am slowly working my way back to running. By next year I will be hitting the roads. It’s been a ten-year journey figuring out how to heal my back and get back into shape while dealing with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. I think chronic fatigue, fibro, and my back injury happened because of a chronic lack of nutrition caused by my medicine, fast and processed foods and genetically modified foods present in processed and fast foods. Eating healthy and healing my digestive system has been my primary focus. Without a healthy gut I can’t absorb all the healthy organic food I’ve been growing. Without proper nutrition the body cannot heal and protect itself. This also takes a toll on mental health and cognitive functions.

Everyday, five days a week, I do a workout for at least a hour. Once a month I change my cardio for a new routine to avoid boredom and my body getting used to the routine. I will still work in the gardens weather permitting. Mostly weeding, the weeds never stop here!

When the spring comes and I start planting the garden I will be in fighting shape! Benefits gained, saving money on healthcare. Staying active I don’t get the flu or colds or if I do, sickness last a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks. I avoid depression and fatigue, I am speaking from experience here. It seems being creative I walk the edge of emotional highs and lows. Working out evens my physical body and emotions out. Also I feel really good about myself. Through the month I go through high energy days and low energy days. I craft my workouts to fit into this monthly cycle.

I am in my mid-fifties and want to find out what it means to be fifty and in great shape as a fifty year old. I don’t want to look young and sexy. That’s exhausting from what I remember. I will be posting another article on my detox program. Everyone is different so will your nutritional needs, workouts, and detox program. I am sharing mine with links per request from a friend.<3

Banana Squash and Other Stuff

Today’s task list includes painting, canning, and hand milling grain for bread products. You see my very first banana squash, it weighed 15 pounds, grown in my garden. Banana squash is a heritage breed with a long history here in Americas. Most large heritage squash and pumpkins have become rare, to almost extinct because of size. Now that quality nutritious food is becoming so expensive growing large squash to feed family and livestock may bring the bigger squash back to our gardens and farms.

I will post my Pumpkin Gnocchi recipe after a couple more practice runs. It’s not that easy to make. My first two tries the gnocchi ended up tasting like rubbery dumplings…yuuuk! This last try was perfect! Now I have to get the visual down. My husband ate the rubbery ones anyway, but he is Dutch and they don’t waste time being polite or politically correct. He said, “This gnocchi taste like rubber!” I’ve never eaten gnocchi so this Redneck is pretty clueless.

Banana squash can trace its origins back to South America. Seeds from an archeological site in Peru matched the distinct identity of today’s banana cultivar. It would be traded and traveled to other regions within the Americas, yet maintain its identity as a true New World crop.

Link To Article

DIY Probiotic For Your Health

Do it yourself fermented foods have not only restored my gut health, they have also chased away my fatigue and cognitive fog/depression I’ve battled with for years. Most important, gut health is immune system health. With rising costs of healthcare and strange illness our immune system does not know, showing up through our open border policy, we need a healthy immune system. Here is the secret about why probiotic from naturally fermented foods are little miracle workers.  

“Within this one side dish there are 12 strains of Lactobacillus acquired through the fermentation process- and all 12 were “able to survive gastrointestinal conditions simulating stomach and duodenum passage”. Furthermore, these strains had a higher adherence to the gut than a Lactobacillus strain (rhamnosus GG) that’s already being used commercially as a probiotic. >>Click here for my feature in Total Beauty Magazine: Believe in Bacteria<< Though L. rhamnosus isn’t a slacker strain, as all 7 of its sub-strains proved to have good survival rates in simulated gastric and duodenal digestion. Kimchi’s strains weren’t just able to survive however; they all showed antimicrobial capabilities to numerous food borne pathogens and have even demonstrated the ability to lower cholesterol in at least 2 separate studies. Kimchi related strains have also been found to combat obesity and improve allergic dermatitis induced by chemicals in mice. It’s basically a super food- and there’s no guarantee a supplemental equivalent would be able to provide as many benefits as one serving of this Korean staple. No wonder they eat it as frequently as they do! The health benefits are well worth it. Link to Article

Top Probiotic Foods You Are Not Eating
If yogurt is the only probiotic food you’re eating, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of anti-inflammatory fermented foods out there. Link To Article
 

Kimchi recipe has been posted. If you want my refrigerator pickle recipe just ask for it! I moved all my refrigerated fermented foods into my winter-cold-room. It stays cold but not too cold throughout the winter. I don’t need to take up space in the refrigerator with all my fermented foods.

Fall & Back In The Garden

Working on the garden today as I did yesterday as well. Winter garden is almost finished. I still have to set the poles for row covers. I made really yummy chocolate lemon bars yesterday. My own recipe which I have produced consistent results 3 times. I post the recipe this week.

Roasted Squash & Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted squash and pumpkin seeds taste better than popcorn! Also they have more protein, super good fats, minerals, and vitamins than corn.

I like to boil my seeds after washing them off. Strain the water off, stick them in a bowl, add some butter and salt, stir up, and eat them this way. It’s really easy to squash the seed out with your teeth after boiling them for 30 minutes. After I eat my fill of boiled seeds I stick the leftovers in an oven at 350 degrees until they are crispy. Usually 20-45 minutes depending on the seed and how many you are roasting.

You can crack the seed and just eat the kernel or you can eat shell, kernel and all. My husband had never eaten pumpkin or squash seeds and was very reluctant. He is ruled by his nose…with the salt and butter the seeds smell just like popcorn. They crunch just like popcorn and taste better than popcorn. You can also make carmel covered seeds. My husband requested the carmel covering, it’s his favorite type of popcorn. He figured the seeds would also taste yummy. I will report back on this next project.

If you are looking for good fats like the omegas these seeds pack a lot in a small package. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3141/2

Boiling seeds http://www.gardenguides.com/79877-hull-pumpkin-seeds.html

Baking seeds http://allrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-pumpkin-seeds/

Pumpkin and Pepper Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 Tsp of salt or salt to your taste. I like salt, it makes everything taste better.
  • 1 medium sweet white or yellow onion diced
  • 3 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 Jalapeño peppers
  • 2 Tsp. of curry powder
  • 1/2 Tsp of ground ground cumin
  • 1/4 Tsp of cinnamon
  • 6 cups of baked pumpkin, one medium pumpkin should be enough
  • 1 quart of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt (the thick stuff)
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

Cut in half and seed pumpkin removing all the seeds and stringy meat. You can cut the halves in quarters if you want. Add some water to the baking pan and place pumpkin skin side up. Place peppers around the pumpkin if you want. I like my peppers roasted to a dark brown color. Roast pumpkin until soft at 350 degrees. I think that takes less than an hour. You can use a fork to poke through the pumpkin skin to see how soft it is.

Tasks

1 Melt coconut oil, add diced onions, salt, and spices. Watch the onions turn translucent. Scope out the baked pumpkin meat and set aside.

2 Have your blender ready and add pumpkin in batches with baked peppers, onions, and spices. Blend until smooth with your chicken broth.

3 The last batch of pumpkin add your yogurt, sugar, garlic, and molasses, blend until smooth and transfer to a soup pot

4 Cook on medium low until the soup is at the temperature you like, don’t boil or you will curdle the yogurt. Plate up with your favorite kind of tortilla.

If you wanna be fancy you can add a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle more more peppers or pumpkin seeds.

My husband said please remember this recipe. He said he could eat this soup once a week. The tortillas are made with our hand milled red wheat, stuffed with cheddar cheese and pickled sweet peppers, topped with Salsa Verde made from our own tomatillos! I’m so happy I could grow most of this meal in my backyard. The wheat was bought from one of our areas local organic farmers. I wash the grain and dry it before hand milling. I find if I don’t wash organic grains I still have an allergic reaction that mimics gluten intolerance symptoms. I am guessing something is sprayed on the grain to dry it out and inhibit fungus and mold.  I have no allergic reaction to wheat when I make my own organic wheat products.

It’s Pepper Canning Time!

I’ve never grown peppers. Back in 2013 I saved a lot of seeds from the peppers I bought from our local organic grocery store. Sprouted the seeds this last spring, planted the sprouts and prayed over them all summer long and this is what I got! Lots and lots of sweet, hot, spicy, yummy peppers. So far I’ve made salsas. With this last batch I am going to make pepper jelly and pickled peppers. Let’s get our canning on!

Update On The Garden

I’ve been super busy with the gardens and haven’t been inside much to post to WordPress. I am going to make a huge effort to post at least once a week during the height of garden, canning, and harvest season. Miss reading everyone’s post as well.

Update On Gardens June-27-2014

It’s raining out today. Took some pictures to update my garden blog. I used to hate rain in the summer since it rains all winter here in Oregon. Now I am so thankful for the rain! No need to water my gardens. I will be planting more herbs in my front herb garden. It’s cleaned and pruned ready for more seeds! The rest of my day will be full of finishing water-color painting projects. Hope you all have a great weekend.

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Cheap Healthy Homemade Juices.

Savory to sweet juices. Super easy to make and super cheap.

Oregano and Lemon Balm

Dryingherbs

Oregano and Lemon Balm Herbs almost dry ready to be stored in glass quart Mason jars. I strip the leaves off and stuff them in nice clean mason jar. I use the herbs for seasoning, teas, and make a mix for home-grown tobacco cigarettes. Yes I occasionally smoke herbs, but not marijuana. I can’t handle pot, makes me feel very sick. But I can smoke my home-grown tobacco and herb mix, which has no pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals that commercial products are laced with! Also I am making Oregano oil. Super easy to do, I will post the process once the oil has been filtered. People say it is really difficult to cure and dry tobacco for smoking. It’s not that difficult. I will post a blog this fall about curing tobacco.

Oregano Oil as antibiotic and anti-inflammatory agent.
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/oregano-oil/

Lemon balm is most commonly used for digestive issues, insomnia, anxiety and immunity. It can be taken in the form of infused teas in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 grams of lemon balm taken two to four times daily. It can also be taken in a tincture of 2-3 mL (roughly 20 drops) three times daily. Many others choose to steep 2 to 4 tablespoons of the crushed leaf in a cup of boiling water.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/042942_lemon_balm_health_benefits_antioxidants.html#ixzz35mmTP4p6

Preparation of Herbs into Palatable Smoking Mixtures

A number of factors contribute to making a palatable smoking mixture. First and foremost is the way you cure the herbs. If you take fresh Tobacco and dry it like any medicinal herb, it becomes an unpalatable obnoxious smoke that the most hard-core smoker couldn’t stomach (or lung, as the case may be). Tobacco is semi-dried slowly, allowing for chemical changes, and is never dried to a crisp. It is packaged slightly moist in air tight containers. If it dries out, the smoker adds an apple slice or sprays it with water. Dried out Tobacco is harsh.
http://www.botanicalstudies.net/herbalism/smoking.php

Last Years Backyard Garden Dent Corn

I made corn tortillas from scratch. I mean really from scratch! I grew the corn myself. Dried the cobs, pulled the kernels from the cob. Now that’s really from scratch. Growing corn to feed a family of two is just too much work. I need a bigger corn bed and someplace to dry the corn. From start to finish corn takes a lot of work. Potatoes are much easier to grow and store here in the Oregon Cascades.

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I found out through research you need to do several things before you start grinding the corn. One, you need to soak the corn in quicklime. If you don’t you will get a horrible tasting flour that makes really brittle nasty baked goods. I found out the hard way. Secondly, the quicklime process releases important life saving nutrients and vitamins. If the majority of your calories comes from corn and you don’t use quicklime or another alkaline substance for Nixtamalization you will suffer from Pellagra. It’s a horrible condition in which one’s body slowly falls apart and one’s mind goes crazy. This condition can be brought on through other types of poor nutrition, genetic problems, and drinking too much booze.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellagra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization

I Love Lemon Balm!

My first harvest of lemon balm I tie in bundles and hung in my dark, cool, drying room, which is also my laundry room. Perfect for drying my herbs. I hang the bundles from my drying rack. The smell of drying herbs chases negative vibes out of our house and lightens the spirit with it’s divine scent.

This bunch of herbs I will dry for tea and cooking spice. The next harvest will be this August and used to make lemon balm oil.