Let’s Try This, Again: Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

I tried these once before, but it didn’t work out. This year, we have such a bumper crop of cucumbers, 3 different kinds, that I had to figure a way to use them up and I didn’t want to water bath can them all. I wanted to make lacto-fermented, probiotic pickles. So I did.

There are many recipes on the internet, and many call for the use of whey as a kick start to the process. I didn’t want to use dairy, for various reasons, so I found some recipes that called for sea salt only, and it worked just fine. I made 3 and a 1/2 gallons of cucumber pickles and a jar of red onion pickles. Now, I am very much looking forward to making some carrot pickles.

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I did all kinds of different cuts and sizes for my pickles.  But the best were the halves.  They came out just right.  It helps that they have red pepper from the garden in them to give them a bit of a kick.

These do not have to be refrigerated, as long as they are put in cold storage, 65 degrees or cooler.  It’s one of my goals to become proficient at preserving food in the traditional ways, which do not require refrigeration or freezing.  I’m a novice, just figuring it all out.  But I’m working on it.

I found watching this English lady helpful.  http://www.youtube.com/user/dieteasily

Also, I found a lot of recipes using Pinterest.

After this project, I made some lacto-fermented catsup.  I used this recipe, except I used some liquid from some kimchi I already had in place of the whey.  http://nourishedkitchen.com/homemade-ketchup/  It turned out pretty good and we enjoyed some tonight in some homemade Thousand Island dressing..

Garden Update

2013 GardenLast year, I was not able to plant a garden because I knew my husband was planning to tear up our yard, but I didn’t know when he would get to it. I was also tired of fighting bamboo and other weeds, so taking a break from gardening in the ground was kind of nice. But produce cost me a pretty penny all summer long.

We did have a tractor come in and move dirt around and grade everything and it looked really nice, until the weeds came back. We were supposed to get a lawn in this spring, but when we have the time, we don’t have the money and vice versa. I’m sure many of you can relate. Our business provides good income throughout the year, but is very busy in the spring and summer months and that keeps my husband from working on home projects when the weather is at it’s best.

We decided to at least get some raised beds in so we can grow some vegies and herbs this year. I missed it so much last year and knowing how well my parents’ garden did with the organic soil they’d purchased got me excited to have my own raised beds and see how well ours would do.

You see, I do not have a green thumb at all. The only houseplants I can keep alive are succulents. I just keep trying. Every. Single. Year.

Having our own home grown food is very important to me, so I just don’t give up on it, even though I don’t seem to have any talent for it. This year, talent does not seem to be required. Spending the money on the right dirt has paid dividends in hundreds of pounds of summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, chilis, with a lot of pumpkins coming, still, as well as some watermelon.

The garden did so well it got out of control and needed a haircut. Here it is post haircut.  Can you even imagine what it looked like before?

2013 Tomato Garden

Don’t mind the smoke. Southern Oregon is riddle with wildfires this summer. We’ve been to the point where our air quality was hazardous for several days. That was tough with six kids inside when they should have been playing in the pool, etc. Anyway, I’ve given the garden two haircuts thus far, and it’s going to need another before we’re done.

I’m hoping to do a fall crop and then I will plant a cover crop that will be turned into the soil in the spring. That will be my first time using a cover crop, so we’ll see how that goes.

Until next time, blessings today,

Miss Kris

Training Children for Independence

Having a big family, it can sometimes be too easy to get caught up with the day to day needs of each child and not concentrate so much on training them for the future.

But we aren’t raising children, here.  We’re raising future adults.  And part of parenting is training them to be independent adults who can take care of themselves and contribute to their families and to society.

With that in mind, we came up with a list of skills by age to help us train our children for independence.  It helps us to have things in writing so we can remember what we need to teach them and it’s handy to print out one copy for each child to track their progress.  We just use a highlighter to line through each skill as it is obtained.

Please note this is a copyrighted list.  We’re making this available as a guide to help you come up with your own that will meet the unique needs of your family.  Please use the list of skills and the ages only as a guideline to come up your own.

Our children learn piano beginning at age 7, but you may wish yours to begin violin at age 8.  You may not have a family business for your kids to learn, or you may not have any girls, so you would not care to teach about caring for cosmetics.

Since each family is different, take this list to start with and customize it to meet the unique needs of your own family.

Training Children for Independence: List of Skills by Age

Big-Batch Meatballs

Here’s a handy recipe to have in your repertoire.  It is so nice to have meatballs in the freezer, ready to go at any time.  This recipe is by Janet Chadwick.  She is an author of several books on gardening, homesteading and food preservation.  I have enjoyed everything she has written.

Big-Batch Meatballs

Makes 100 Meatballs

  • 5 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 Cups quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 2 Large onions
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of pepper

You may use these meatballs with spaghetti sauce, a gravy like in Swedish Meatballs, or with a sweet and sour type sauce.

  1. Pre-heat to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place beef in a large bowl.
  3. Measure eggs, oatmeal, onions, salt and pepper into a blender container and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour blender contents over beef and mix well with your hands (It’s the only way to go.  It’s okay, you’re washable.)
  5. Shape the meat mixture into 1-inch balls.
  6. Bake on baking sheets in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  It makes things less messy to line your baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  7. Pour off any fat from sheets before using meatballs or freezing.

To freeze: Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes before tray freezing.  When they are frozen, pack into food-safe freezer bags.  Label and use as needed.  (You may pack them into glass jars if you prefer to use glass.  Measure out how many your family will need for one meal and figure out which size jar best suits that amount.)

Variation: You can season half of the meatballs with Italian seasoning, grated parmesan, etc., if desired.

So, these are pretty good and everyone here likes them.  But I have found them to be a bit onion-y (is that even a word?), as in I am burping them up later.  I think the reason is that the onions are not “de-flamed” before use in the blender.  So I suggest, after dicing your onions, to put them in a bowl of water to “de-flame” them.  Then put them in the blender.  I think that will help.

De-flaming onions is something I learned from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef & Restaurateur, Top Chef Master and famous for his Mexican cuisine.  I have one of his books on Mexican cooking and highly recommend it.  I did find more of his books at my local library, so if you are a Mexican food fan like me, check your library out and see if they have any of his cookbooks.  This method of his is used with raw onions to take the “flame” out of them so they may be used in raw preparations like salsa, etc.  But I think it may have merit in this recipe, too.

To use these frozen meatballs, I just take out what I need and heat them (frozen) up in the sauce I am using with them.  There is nothing more convenient!

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash

I will be getting back to my Food Storage series soon.  Thanks so much for your patience, readers, as I figure out this new gallbladder diet I must follow.

It’s been almost two weeks, now, and the very best thing I have eaten since I started this new journey is Butternut Squash.  This is probably my favorite of the winter squashes and it is so versatile!

Butternut Squash may be prepared sweet or savory.  I have seen it as ravioli filling, in risotto and as soup.  The very easiest way to prepare it is to roast it.  And that is exactly what I recently did.

I cubed it into bitesized pieces -a bit on the smaller side, as I was roasting it in a pan that was half-filled with green beans, too.  Over all I drizzled olive oil (one of the only fats I’m allowed to have) and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  I normally roast my winter squash with a sweet bent by adding brown sugar or maple syrup.  But I cannot stomach any of those things right now and wanted something savory to boot. 

I have a pot of herbs on my front porch which has survived the seasons. One of the herbs contained is sage.  Sage is an herb I really enjoy, but I tend to avoid because I am often breastfeeding and it is not recommended while breastfeeding.  But, alas, my little one weaned a month ago and I decided I was going to enjoy some lovely sage.

I asked my eldest son to bring some in and I washed it and chiffonade it.  I tossed it with the Butternut Squash only (it would not go well with the green beans in my opinion) and roasted it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

How lovely and satisfying the Butternut Squash was! 

I urge you to try this wonderful and versatile winter squash.  It may even be found organic!  Enjoy!

A New Ecourse That I’m Very Excited About!

Kimi Harris at The Nourishing Gourmet is now offering an ecourse, and I am really excited to share it with you!  If you haven’t been to her site, you are in for a treat.  She offers real food recipes, tips and techniques for preparing affordable, traditional foods.  Her new ecourse is called A Peasants Feast: Nourishing Food on a Budget.

Kimi has generously allowed me to preview one of her 13 lessons and I can’t wait to see more!  This is a very talented and organized young woman and I am very impressed!  I know I can learn a lot of the traditional foods preparation techniques through this ecourse of lectures, recipes and video demonstrations.

Kimi writes, “I’ve put together a great 13 week ecourse that will give you a bite-sized amount of information every week in the form of topical articles, cooking demonstration videos, and shopping guides.  I will give you tips on where to buy quality food for less, demonstrate cooking methods that both boost the nutritional value of your food and stretch expensive meat, and explain in more detail traditional cooking practices.

If  you’ve wanted to learn how to make your own yogurt, sourdough bread, lacto-fermented foods, or how to sprout and soak grains, or simply how to cook real food this ecourse is for you. If you have a hard time balancing the expensive of buying quality ingredients on a budget, I can help.

By taking this huge topic, and breaking it down into manageable pieces, you can learn and digest new information in a timely manner. By the end of the class, you will have the confidence you need in knowing where to shop, what to buy, and how to cook real food on a budget. By using a class format with forums and facilitating discussions, I will be able to give a lot more one on one support to those in the course than is normally available through my blog. Answering questions and helping troubleshoot is another important aspect of this ecourse.”

I have become an affiliate for this ecourse and will make a small commission if folks choose to follow these links to sign up for her ecourse.  I am hoping to earn my way into this course.   But you all know me -I would never advertise something I didn’t think was worthwhile.

Visit Kimi’s site.  Check out A Peasant’s Feast.  And let me know what you think!