Friday, February 9, 2018

What is going on on the homestead.

As you know folks my blog is not just a home cooking blog, although over the colder months cooking is the main focus. Homesteading is slow and there is not much going on outside, the garden is dormant and the animals all cosy in their lodgings.

The two kitty cats

Home sweet home

This morning was one of those beautiful days when the sun is shining and there is a dusting of snow on the ground.
We have one tentative tap in one of the big old Maples, still a little cold bit it is starting slowly. We had a about 2 1/2 litres. This weekend more taps will go in and the sugaring will commence.

A refreshing nourishing drink

One tap in

I thought it was well worth sharing :)

The garden

The orchard

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Super saver sausages

Despite the title these sausages contain no meat whatsoever. They are a real frugal and cheap recipe with breadcrumbs as the main ingredient. What makes them even better is they taste fantastic, in fact they taste so good I would easily choose them over the meaty variety.

Here is what you need - (I would recommend doubling the recipe as they are so good)

For the sausages
4 oz strong cheese, cheddar style grated
4 oz fresh breadcrumbs
1 small onion,, finely chopped
1 tsp mustard
1 tbsp parsley, use less if using dried
Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
2 small eggs
Salt and pepper

For the breadcrumbing
1 large egg, beaten
Breadcrumbs for coating

I have a bag in the freezer that I add the bits of older bread, and leftover bread like toast, a great way to use them! Whizz them up and you have great breadcrumbs

You will need two mixing bowls. In one bowl mix the eggs with the herbs, mustard and seasoning.
In the other bowl mix the cheese and breadcrumbs together. Then combine the egg mixture into the breadcrumbs and mix well. You should have a sort of come together mix that will shape into sausage shapes, if nor add a tiny bit of water until you get to that stage. Once you have them all formed put them in the fridge to chill for about an hour or so.

After chilling dip the sausages in the the beaten egg and roll them in the breadcrumbs. Fry gently until brown and crispy on all sides. These meat free sausages will blow your socks off, they taste that good! I think I will be making quite a few of these, it is a great way to use up bits and bobs of bread.

A bad bird day

A few days ago we had a rather bad bird day. On occasion it happens, that is homestead life or death as in this case. It is a part of running a self reliant lifestyle and a part that never gets any easier. My number two lavender orpington became sick and sadly so sick we had to put him down. I now have only one remaining rooster of that breed so lets hope he stay's healthy to father this years lavender young.
The same day upon morning chores we noticed our 'special hen' was missing. She is special due to the fact that she can rotate her head almost completely around, hence the name Owl! Luckily my daughter Laura later found her scrunched in hole in the barn, we have absolutely no idea how she managed to get in there. She was close to death and hypothermic.

We quickly brought her in a wrapped her in warm clothes, put the hair dryer on her gently and gave her a drink of warm water with molasses. We did not hold much hope.

She made a full recovery, partly due to our quick actions. She is now happy out and about once again. And, yes folks we blocked the hole!

'Owl' the next day

Friday, February 2, 2018

The cost of convenience

In a world where convenience is way to convenient I scratch my head at the huge amount of pressure we place on the earth by the act of simply and way to often grabbing a take out coffee from one of those franchise giants! The few times I have admittedly gone that route I often find the coffee quite gross and wonder why folk bother. I think it is more the fact that everyone see's everyone do it and so follow suit, the sheep effect!
Those little paper cups that many see as recyclable, laden with a plastic liner and absolutely not recyclable. Sold in the millions they are a huge polluter and easily rid of if we make our own coffee to go. It really takes not time at all!

I like mine milky

Take a jam jar with a screw lid and fill it with deliciously hot freshly made at home coffee, pop it in the jar, screw on the lid and there you have it. A coffee to go! Yes folks, it is so simple and if you don't like coffee tea works great too.

A peasanty kind of meal

As you know folks it is important to me to create tasty interesting and nutritious meals that embrace either a waste not want not philosophy or using ingredients that are more frugal. A couple of items I had in the freezer were some not very meaty beef ribs and a few rooster wings. The rooster wings came from 3 old roosters so I knew to begin with they would be like shoe leather. The beef ribs would provide little meat but lots of flavor. 
I created a wonderful and tasty peasant style dish using the beef ribs, the wings and whatever veg I had to hand.

Here is what I rooted out -
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
Whole jerusalem artichokes I had frozen after harvest
3 carrots
300 ml of carrot water that needed using up (water or other stock would do)
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp dried parsley
A good pinch of dried thyme
Plenty of black pepper and salt

I cut the veg in large chunks, to give the meal a bit of a bite. I mixed the mustard and herbs into the carrot water and warmed it up in a pan. 
In my slow cooker I put a layer of the mixed veg, the beef ribs, another layer of mixed veg and then finally on top the rooster wings. I have to say that the slow cooker was pretty packed! The carrot water went over the top of it all. The slow cooker did its stuff on low for 8 hours until all the veg was cooked. 

Even after all that cooking the wings were like belt straps, I simply salvaged as much of the meat of them as I could and added it too the stew. The small amount of meat on the ribs was tender but soggy. I removed the meat the next day and fried it in some bacon fat until crispy. The wing skin and bones went into a pan along with the stripped beef bones and boiled for several hours. They created a wonderful broth. Again, waste not want not. 

The meal itself was not much to look at to be honest. However, back in the days this type of meal was served to fill hungry bellies and provide optimum nutrition to hard working folk. It tasted awesome:)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Blogging dates

A quick note folks to say that my blogs on here and my sister facebook page, link below, will be posted on a Tuesday and a Friday. I think it makes it easier if you know when they will be published. Thanks folks :)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pasta Spaghetti Bake

To some folk leftover pasta, of any description, is less than appealing. Cold and sticky it would at first glance look like it should head to the compost or even worse the garbage. That is my opinion is a cardinal kitchen sin, wasting anything is a BIG no no. 
A meal of simple tomato spaghetti proved too much for one meal and recently I had a leftover conundrum. Not to worry as I resurrected the sorry lump of  stuck together spaghetti's and turned them into a delicious pasta bake. Alongside the pasta in the fridge was a bowl of potato water that needed to be used up also. 

All I did was cut up the spaghetti with a knife and seperated it as best as I could. I then added a few large spoonful's of potato water, water is fine too as it is more to stop the pasta from burning. 
With a topping of grated cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan the dish was a delight.

Baked for 40 minutes on 350 degrees until hot and bubbly. 

Waste not want not folks, even pasta can be re-invented :)

Friday, January 26, 2018

House clean, breath clean and be clean!

Just a quick post to re-birth an older blog I had made a good while ago on natural cleaners for our home. Many folks fill their homes with in my opinion bad and fake smelling cleaners that are full of chemicals and false ingredients that can quite literally make you sick.
We all like a nice clean home but at what cost? Don't do it folks, make your own that is easy, natural and does not cost the earth in more way's than one.

Try this simple all purpose cleaner that can be used anywhere -

Lemon and orange rinds (mixed together or on their own), I usually buy organic and not waxed. Save them in the freezer until you have a few if you do not use a few lemons or oranges at a time.
White vinegar
A glass jar, I use a litre jar but my last batch was a half litre jar

Simply place the peels in the jar and cover with vinegar, let it sit for two weeks shaking it every now and again. Then, sieve into a spray bottle and clean to your hearts content happy knowing that not only did you use the peels that may have been discarded but your are using a completely gentle and natural cleaner.

Used in conjunction with baking soda this cleaner is a powerful stain remover for bathrooms and kitchen worktops.

Smells lemony!
Essential oils also make a fantastic cleaner for areas that need a less harsh approach. The best oils I use are Tea Tree, Lavender, any Citrus essential oils and Peppermint. Fill a spray bottle with water, add a little drop or two of dish soap (natural of course) and add to that several drops of your chosen essential oils. You will learn what mixes you like to use.

Lets get to the bottom about dried beans with an Easy Peasy Beany Bake!

'Beans, beans good for the heart, the more you eat the more you ..........  yeah yeah we all know the end!' Beans do have that effect on us and sometimes it can be rather unpleasant. However, beans are a fantastic food. They are full of protein, iron and vitamins. So they are well worth adding to your diet. The problem some folks have is they do not know how to deal with dry beans or use them. It is easy.

Here is a simple to make recipe using dried beans and pulses -

Easy Peasy Beany Bake

A selection of beans and lentils, brown rice, pearl barley. About 1 cup
1 medium carrot, chopped into small dice
1 small onion, chopped into small dice
1 cup of breadcrumbs, fresh or dried
2 eggs
1 heaped tsp of garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp of paprika
1 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of dried mint
1 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp of celery seeds
2 tbsp of ground kale powder or finely chopped fresh kale

The night before soak the beans, lentils, and brown rice. There is no set amount of each or the type of beans or lentils used, I just threw in a bit of yellow split peas, red lentils, pearl barley, brown rice and two different types of dried beans (ones we grew on our homestead)

The next day cook the beans and pulses until tender, do not worry if some go mushy as they will be getting mashed anyway.
Once the beans and pulses are cooked and cooled fry the onion and carrot until slightly browned.
Mash the bean mix with a potato masher, you want to leave some of the beans whole for texture.

Add all the ingredients to the bean mix and stir it all together until well incorporated.

Place in a suitable sized baking dish and bake on 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until firm and cooked through.
Serve with what you like. A good cheese sauce goes wonders with it :)

I have a great leftover dish for the any remaining bean bake, zip across to my Facebook page and take a look. That recipe will be there shortly, link below.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Healing Turmeric milk

At the first signs of illness the one thing we should all grab is the jar of turmeric and make a turmeric milk or golden milk as it is often called.
Turmeric has long been used not only as a spice but as a healing and preventative treatment for many ailments and disease.
So folks next time you feel the sniffles coming on give it a go. It really works.

This is what you need -
1 cup of milk
1 tbsp of turmeric powder, make sure it is good quality folks
3/4 tbsp of cinnamon
1/2 tbsp of honey
1/2 tsp of ground black pepper

The pepper is needed for a good reason. The piperine in the pepper helps the body easier absorb the curcumin in the turmeric at a higher level than if pepper was not used. 

Simply add all of the ingredients into a pan and gently boil for about half an hour.

It may not be the prettiest picture but it is in itself a natural germ fighting machine. Let it cool slightly and drink hot.

My recipe is tailored to our taste, however you can change it up or down to suit you as long as no ingredients are missed out!

Where did all the snow go?

Believe it or not folks a day ago we had a pretty good covering of the white stuff. Today, apart from a few lumps here and there it has all gone. The reason for this overnight transformation was rain, and lots of it. It washed all the snow away.
What a good time to have a little stroll to see what was going on.
Baxter our Springer Spaniel decided once again to run after a resident grouse that calls the top of our tree line home. I don't think he will ever catch it!

Two of the big old maple tree's look so majestic even at this time of year, I bet they could tell some tales of times gone by.  In a couple of weeks they will be producing beautiful sweet sap that we will be making syrup with.

The garden looks, well, like a wash out but there is some life already. The chives and oregano are showing signs of life.

Can you spot the scarecrow who lost a fight with the wind?

I have a big pot of fruit boiling to make jelly out of last years pick of chokecherries, haw berries and small wild blackberries with a few apple cores thrown in to help set the jelly.

All is well on the homestead.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Steak Marinade

Those folks who follow my blog and Facebook page will know that we raised and butchered a beef steer last year. Grass fed this beef is beautiful and flavorful and made even more so by the fact we knew exactly what he ate and how he ended his days, all here on our homestead.
The beef can easily stand alone with a bit of seasoning and is delicious simply cooked. However, I thought I would ramp it up and make beef marinade.

Here is what you need for the marinade (it may need downsizing or upsizing depending on the amount of steak-
Beef steak, enough to meet your requirements (I used 3 small rump steaks)
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp of english mustard or the like, not the yellow stuff you put on those dreadful hotdogs
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp paprika
2 heaped tbsp of brown sauce, I use homemade (See below for more on brown sauce)

Marinade the steaks in the above for at least 6 hours, overnight is best
When it is time to cook, take the steaks out of the marinade and fry until browned on both sides. The steaks are to be braised more than dry cooked. 

Ingredients for the rest of the dish - 
1 medium onion, sliced
As many mushrooms as you like, sliced
Salt and pepper

Once the steaks are slightly cooked take them out of the pan and fry the mushrooms and onion until soft and brown. Now pour in the saved marinade and add about 3/4 of water. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. You are looking or a thickish sauce so you may need to add a bit more water.
After 10 minutes add the steaks back into the pan and cook until desired tenderness. Again, add a little more water if needed.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy :)

Brown Sauce - You can buy this in most stores in the UK and in some here in Canada but if you use brown sauce I would suggest making your own as it is much easier and healthier. 

The recipe I used was from a good friend of mine, the link is below

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Maple syrup and bee hives

Well folks once again time seem's to be flying on our homestead. The weather is milder than it was this time last year and it looks like we may be able to start tapping our maple tree's two weeks early. Favorable conditions for the flow of the maple sap is when the nighttime temperatures are below freezing and the daytime temperatures are above freezing.  It can be a bit of a juggle to get it right, but this is our second year and we know what we are doing. I have three more tree's lined up for this year so we should get a good harvest.

One day's worth of sugaring last year in 2017

This year we will be introducing bee's to our homestead, FINALLY! Yes, folks we have the hives and now we await the bee's. We will not be getting the little buzzers until the warmer month of June. They will be the smallest livestock we have raised but they will be treated with the same respect and care as the rest of the critters here. They will provide essential pollination services for our flora and fauna and in turn provide delicious honey in a year or too once established.

So folks, watch this space.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jack and Jerry Cake

This is a fantastic looking cake and tasty too. It is also a Nova Scotia recipe so all the better! I have adapted the original recipe slightly.

This is what you need for the main cake mix-
3 cups of all purpose flour or self raising
1 tsp baking powder (omit if you have S.R flour)
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of butter (melted)
1 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla, the real stuff folks!

Mix all of the above together until well combined
Divide the mixture into two parts

To one of the halves add -
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp of molasses, again the real stuff, preferably unsulphured organic

Place the dark mix on the bottom of a cake pan, round or square. I use a 10 inch round pan.
Then put the light mixture on the top and bake on 350 degrees until cooked. Cooking times vary but mine was cooked after 40 minutes.

Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee is you prefer :)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Medicinal Milk

Two of my favourite go to medicinal drinks are molasses milk and golden milk. Although I tend to lean on them more when there is sickness in the household they are both an enjoyable and soothing drink.
Today I feature molasses milk, I shall do a blog on the health benefits of golden milk in one of my next weeks blogs.

Molasses milk is super easy to make folks, so easy I am surprised it is not more widely used. Take a cup of milk and in a pan gently heat until warm, add a tsp or so of molasses or to your individual taste. Heat until hot but do not let it boil.
Enjoy with a sprinkle of mace or nutmeg if you prefer :)

Molasses is stock full of goodies. It contains Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B6, Magnesium and Zinc so it is quite the lesser known powerhouse.

It is essential that you use good quality molasses as some of the cheaper brands can be adulterated with less than beneficial additives. I use organic unsulphured molasses. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The great bulb, Garlic

You either love it or hate it, there is rarely an inbetween. We love it in our household, well, the adults do! I will eat it in mass amounts, cooked and even raw. In fact slices of raw garlic on a cheese sandwich is just a marriage made in heaven.
Garlic is a huge health booster in more ways than can be listed here. It is a free radical fighter, a cold and flu killer, antibacterial and an antiseptic. It is a must that should be included as part of our daily diet.

Here is a quick way in which to enjoy this wonderful bulb -

Roasted garlic is mild and aromatic and easy to do, put whole bulbs of garlic in a cooking vessel and drizzle with olive oil. Cook on 350 degree's until soft to the touch and browned. It can be mashed into potatoes, added to soups or one of my favourites is simply spread it on hot toast.

Foraging for wine

I love to forage, foraging is super way to get outside and be with nature. In the spring and Summer we forage for wine, there are many main wine ingredients growing all around us. Oak leaves, Beech leaves, blueberries, blackberries .............. the list is long. Some may sound a bit different but they do actually make superb wine. And, the added bonus is you know exactly what is in it, no sulphites and no chemicals. All natural.
With the weather being a bit snowy we had a spare bit of time to rack the wines we currently have on the go. They shall bottled over the next few weeks.

Goldenrod, parsley and rosehip are happy clearing in the kitchen. The goldenrod and parsley was picked right here on our homestead and the rose hips came from wild rose bushes growing like weeds next to one of the local beaches. These are just a few of the many varieties of wine we make.

From left to right - goldenrod, rosehip and parlsey wine

Folks, if you would like recipes on the above or ask more about wine making with nature shoot me a message and I can include them in a future blog or two or even three :)

Monday, January 15, 2018

A pot of heaven (Bone broth)

One of the best tasting foods in my opinion is bone broth. Bone broth is just so fulfilling, it is hot, tasty, extremely beneficial for us, versatile and plain old satisfying even on its own. So when combined with the left over meat that came from the bones, a few vege's and some noodles it is surely in the top five.
The trick to making good broth is too make sure you boil the bones for many hours on a low heat, all day or overnight. That releases all the essential nutrients that are hidden away in the hard bones. The liquor that I usually cook the bones in is usually veg water that I save. Water is fine too.
Add a quartered onion, a sliced carrot, celery,, a good twist of black pepper/salt, herbs of your choice ( I used dried thyme and parsley) and some garlic and simmer away for at least 8 hours.

Tip - Roasting the bones in the oven until browned prior to adding to the cooking liquor will add a lovely depth to the finished broth, but it is not necessary. All left over bones can be used, including chicken carcasses

One the broth is cooked add what you like. I added the left over meat, some dehydrated vegetables and homemade egg noodles. Cooked until the extras were done and serve with fresh homemade bread. What a meal on a cold night!

The recipe for the egg noodles can be found on my sister page over on Facebook. Link to the side.


Many a leftover can be made into a something very special, in the form of a rissole. Rissoles were very common when food was at a shortage, the ingredients and taste varied each time due to the amounts and combination of leftovers that needed using up. In my opinion if you have never cooked and eaten a rissole you have missed out on a tasty and easy treat. In fact they are so good I often make extra when I make a roast just to make these.
I cannot give specific amounts here as leftovers vary on what you have lying around, however it is an easy recipe so give it a go.

You will need -
Leftovers, usually vegetables and meat (the meat I used was pork)
1 or 2 eggs to bind depending on amount of leftovers being used
Enough flour to be able to shape the dough without it clogging up your hands
Salt and pepper to taste

The idea is you want the rissoles to stay together when cooking, unfortunately I skipped the egg and flour step for a reason I cannot fathom. So, don't skip that part folks!
Chop up the meat and vegetables small enough for a food processor to mush it all up, don't worry if there are a few lumps left behind.
Shape the rissoles as you like, I made small sausage shapes. I also rolled them in a little flour before frying them until hot and crispy.

I served them with seasoned roast wedge potatoes, veg and leftover gravy from the roast.

Yum Yum :)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fellow followers

Hey folks, I just thought I would say thank you for taking an interest in my bloggins. Please make sure you click the follow button on my page to keep updated with whats going on :)

Reusable veg

As you all know by now folks I will try to get as much out of stuff as I can. A friend of mine recently told me my byword should be 'Waste not want not.' and to be fair that is a good fit for me. This waste not want not rule of mine can be applied to some vegetables.
There are a few things in the veg world that will re-grow and provide a small harvest. Now don't expect huge results, but anything is better than nothing and if it is free all the better!
My recent attempts are growing, the celery has begun to sprout and my onion has been set in its water bath.

All you need to do is once you have finished your celery pop the root section in a bit of water and watch it re-grow. The same applies with the onion root section. The onion will not provide a new onion but it will send out some green shoots that can be used. Once the roots get going well you can transplant them into a shallow pot of potting soil.  If you set a few of these at once it is worth it, as I always say no waste needed :)