Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

In Memory of those who sacrificed everything and served on our behalf...

Thank you!

                                Photo Credit: Beverly and Pack

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's Sunday...

"One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the LORD

And to meditate in His temple. 

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;

In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;

He will lift me up on a rock."
~ Psalm 27:4-5

Hoping that you can slip away and find some secret time with Jesus today just to behold His beauty!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Winner of the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

I know everyone wants to scan down to the name of the winner, but I just have to say thanks to all of you who participated! Wow, you girls liked this product - over 124 entries! I've ordered my own set and can't wait to start using them. 

And Aleisha of The Whole Family Project...  yours will be free!

Please email me with your address so we can get your lids to you as soon as possible. I know you're probably like the rest of us; anxious to give these a try! What will you put up with these first? Do tell!

And for all of you who will be ordering your own, be sure and give me your feedback on this product because I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Storing Organic Potatoes

I'm reaching back into the archives of my previous blog this week while I try to keep up with all the graduation activities! Hope you can use this tip and some extra computer time to read some older posts at Homestead Revival™ today!

When I picked up my produce from Abundant Harvest Organics this week, the newsletter I picked up from the farmers had some information and a tip in it of which I was totally unaware.

According to Jacob Mendrin of JND Farms in Madera, conventionally raised potatoes are sprayed with a sprout inhibitor at the time they are packed so they can be stored in a pantry without sprouting for an extended period of time. However, organically raised potatoes are not treated in this manner (thank goodness!) and must be stored in the refrigerator to combat sprouting. To store properly, place them unwashed and unwrapped in the crisper drawer. And as always, keep them away from your onions since they both release gases that are mutually harmful to each other and promote spoilage.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dehydrating Blueberries

It's blueberry time and my husband goes wild! He loves these little gems. Last year, he came home with about 50 pounds! You can read about how I froze and canned them here. So this year, I decided to try dehydrating a few in my Excalibur Dehydrator. I love blueberries in my granola, but since I can't get them fresh and organic all year long, the next best thing is dehydrated.

Dehydrated Blueberries

1. Remove all stems and blossoms from the blueberries. Eat all the ones going mushy as fast as you can and before the rest of the family figures out what you're doing. Or you could be really nice and share! They do taste sweeter that way.

2. Blanche by placing blueberries in a boiling water bath until the skins begin to split. This should only take about 30 seconds. If your water isn't a good rolling boil, it will cook your blueberries before it causes the skins to pop. (I know... I did this). And don't leave them for a second or you'll miss the window of opportunity with these!

3. Immediately remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

4. When blueberries have cooled, remove them to dry off excess water on an old towel. They don't have to be completely dry, just not dripping wet.

5. Place blueberries on dehydrator trays and dehydrate until they are pliable like a raisin. I set my dehydrator on 135 degrees.

6. Store in an airtight canning jar. This is where I love to use my food saver with the jar attachment in order to remove all the air. And by all means, if you have a Tattler Reusable Canning Lid, be sure to use it! (See Tattler Lids here and enter the give-away!)

7. Enjoy often.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids Give-Away

This give-away is now closed. Thanks to all who participated and blogged about this great item! I hope to do another Tattler drawing at the end of summer, thanks to Loren Stieg, developer of Tattler Reusable Canning Lids! Happy canning!

Yes! These are THE reusable lids that I mentioned in last weeks post Thinking Ahead To Preserving The Harvest. Tattler Reusable Canning Lids has graciously offered a Homestead Revival™ reader a set of 3 dozen wide mouth and 3 dozen regular mouth canning lids! Ladies, this is your chance to give this product a try.

Two things really appealed to me about the Tattler product. First, traditional canning lids must be new each time you can an item because the seal is compromised after use. But the Tattler lids are a quality plastic that can be used again and again (no more throwing away used lids!). They are used in conjunction with rubber rings so the seal is complete each and every time you process them. The fact that they are reusable makes the investment worth the extra dollars spent on these lids and rubber rings.

Second, the Tattler products are bpa-free! Yes, indeed. This is huge. Traditional lids have bpa in them and it seems that the company that produces the majority of them, Jarden, isn't listening to customer concerns; at least not at this time. I hope they will eventually heed the call! But it may be too late if they don't get around to it pronto, because I seriously think that a lot of home canners will have discovered the Tattler product and switched over.

The Tattler lids are conducive to all the same methods of food preservation that you would use a traditional lid: pressure canner, water bath, and pickling. The only thing different is how you tighten the lids. With a traditional lid, you tighten it before processing, but a Tattler reusable lid, you tighten, then turn it back 1/4 inch to allow it to vent while processing. I think I can do that!

Entry Instructions

1. Visit Tattler and look around. Come back and comment on their product. Let me know if this is something that you could use in your own kitchen this summer.

2. Blog about this give-away for a second entry (you must leave a separate comment below  telling me you've done so).

3. Become a Facebook follower (again, leave a separate comment). 

Please leave me a way to contact you should you win if your profile does not include your email or you do not have a blog of your own. 

The give-away ends Friday evening at 5:00 pm (PST). 

I plan to do some Tattler shopping, girls!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fundamentals eCourse Now Open For Enrollment!

Please see the important update (8:25 am 5/24/10) to this post below my original post.

If you missed Wardeh Harmon's first Fundamentals eCourse, you now have an opportunity to jump in whenever it fits your schedule! Now, next week, next month... whenever! And each lesson is available for download when you're ready. Wouldn't this be a great opportunity to learn some new skills during the summer break? 
This outstanding class has really been fun for me as I've learned how to tackle several cooking techniques that intimidated me. The print outs and on-line videos along with the members only forum made it almost like Wardeh was at my house (or me at hers!) and walking me through the recipes. I learned to soak grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, make baked goods from soaked flour, and  a lot more fascinating techniques in the custom of Nourishing Traditions. 

Learn the fundamentals of traditional cooking in an online class.

I encourage you to click the link above and visit the GNOWFGLINS™ website to find out more, because Wardeh can tell you so much better than I can, just what this course will do for you. What I do know is that my family has enjoyed some fabulous foods that were new to them and I've been able to break free of my limited cooking skills in order to tackle a whole new realm of great recipes! And seriously, it was much easier than I had anticipated!

There has been a slight delay in the course opening today... I just received word that Wardeh is making a dramatic change to this eCourse by opening it up for donations only! Apparently, God is leading her to help others make a lifestyle change and she has written a post about what her intentions are regarding the class. I encourage you to click HERE and read it in her own words and find out what it can mean for you and when it will be available!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's Sunday...

"Praise the LORD!

Praise the name of the LORD;

Praise Him, O servants of the LORD, 
You who stand in the house of the LORD,

In the courts of the house of our God! 

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;

Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely."

What is the only thing sweeter than reading this beautiful scripture passage? Hearing your eight year old say, "Mom, listen to this!", and reading the entire chapter aloud so you can rejoice with her!

 May your day be filled with praising His name!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Memories Of A Clothesline

From what I can tell, Homestead Revival™ readers span the decades as far as age. Thankfully, it's as I had hoped... multi-generational. So if the younger readers will humor me a bit (and stay for this post), I'd like to be nostalgic for a minute. 

Those of you born-pre 1970 will probably have some memories of drying clothes on a line rather than a dryer. Anybody? I know I'm not alone. Certainly I'm not the only one who found something comforting about seeing clothes hanging out to dry in the sun and the breeze. And I loved how it soaked up the scents of the outdoors and absorbed the heat of the sun. 

I still can remember all the clothespins in one of those bags that hung on the line. Kids can find an amazing amount of things to do with a clothespin. It's a wonder my mom ever had any on hand when she needed them! Remember the umbrella style clotheslines that turned on a pole? Why do kids find it irresistible to constantly turn it and listen to is squeak?

Of course, there was the occasional rush to rescue it from a sudden Texas thunderstorm. And the game of tag that accidently ran off course and into the clean sheets. Sometimes an item got damaged...

Photo Credit: itroy

Perhaps my memory has made clothesline drying seem a bit romantic as I have conveniently forgotten some of the negative aspects. If I remember correctly, towels weren't so soft. A bit like sandpaper, yes? Oh, let's not get too negative. I prefer to remember only the good aspects, especially since I think a clothesline may be in my near future.

Does anyone know how much money a family of 5 can save by not using the dryer? I wonder if the new dryers are so efficient that it has retired the clothesline for good? Would it be worth it to give it a try? I doubt you can just run to the local hardware store and find these anymore, but perhaps I'm mistaken.

Some of  you will remember my recent poll question: Do you use a clothesline. Out of 83 votes, 6% percent don't like how it dries clothes, but 18% use this method all year long - winter included. Wow! You go girls! You're true Steel Magnolias! I had no idea that many people still do this! A large group of readers (45%) use one during the summer and I can see where that makes sense. Especially if you live where the winters are extra cold. 

For the 30% who don't use one, but would like to, get ready for some clothesline posts soon. We're going to explore this topic more. Times are tight... it's time to get SUPER frugal!

Tell me your favorite clothesline memories, ladies! And I'd love some pics of your own line if you'd like to share them for a future post. (See profile page for email address).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thinking Ahead To Preserving the Harvest

Hopefully by now, most readers have at least planned their garden even if you haven't started planting yet. But have you thought ahead to what you will need toward the end of the season to save all your produce? If you wait until late August or September to gather supplies, it will be too late to obtain certain items. For example, canning jars often are low in selection by the end of July!

Photo Credit: thebittenword.com

Harvest Preservation Supplies

Books. Do you have a good book on food preservation, one that includes canning, dehydrating, and fermenting? Or what about storing produce in a root cellar? Consider purchasing one or two that you can use all summer long as a reference for recipes, techniques, and troubleshooting. I'd love to hear about some favorites in this category from Homestead Revival™ readers!

Water Bath Canner. You can pick up this item at a reasonable price at a hardware or discount store! Definitely a must for every kitchen and a great first purchase if you're just starting into food preservation because the investment is relatively small.

Pressure Canner. If you like to can most vegetables, you'll need this item, but keep in mind that it is not the same as eating "fresh" produce as it cooks the food in the jar to some degree. It will also can meat, which is a big plus in my book. Have you ever had home canned tuna? Be still my heart! It's unbelievably good! Keep in mind that this is an investment purchase. Also, there is a difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner - it's called SIZE! You want your jars to fit inside. And I recommend getting the kind with the dial you can actually read. My wish list includes the All American Pressure Canner - the cadillac if you will of pressure canners. (Each season you should have your county extension agent check your pressure gauge for accuracy.)

Dehydrator. I personally love the dehydrator for drying herbs, tomatoes, fruits and this summer I hope to try drying some new things as well, such as veggies. I've had two different types of dehydrators, and may I recommend the Excalibur? It is also an investment item, but it does so much more than the round models that utilize rising heat only! (I think I need to devote an entire post to this kitchen jewel. Another day, another post.).

Vacuum Sealer. My number one favorite kitchen tool after my VitaMix. And to think I nearly didn't buy this because I wasn't sure I'd use it. Silly me! It's perfect for freezing the summer harvest at it's peak without cooking it to death in the process. However, the freezer can fill up quickly if you use this a lot. The attachment hose and jar sealer make it ideal for the dehydrated produce as well. (And can I mention how much I love the meat marinader that works with it?).

Photo Credit: thebittenword.com

Canning Jars and lids. I use to be forever frustrated that the size of jar I need was sold out when I went to the hardware store until I realized I could often order on-line and get free shipping. Ace Hardware on-line will deliver it to your local store for free, then you just need to pick it up, but they aren't carrying as much as they use to. Perhaps the selection will increase mid-summer, so keep your eyes pealed. Watch garage and estate sales, Craig's list, and discount stores, making sure you pick up a variety of sizes that you will need at the end of the season. And figure on extra! When selecting lids, keep in mind that most, if not all metal lids contain bpa. Leifheit use to claim they were bpa-free, but recently I've heard through bloggers that they now claim they do contain bisphenol A. Weck makes a lovely bpa-free jar and lid, however, they are a bit more of an investment. You might wish to purchase a few each year to add to your collection. Another product to consider are the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids that are bpa-free. I'd like to acknowledge the reader who told me about these, but forgive me... I can't remember who it was! My brain! (Please leave a comment if it was you so I can give the credit where it is due!). Anyway, I plan on trying these myself this summer.

Accessories. Don't forget the necessary things like jar lifters, cherry pitters, bags for your Food Saver, good knives, etc. Look through the recipes you hope to use and make a list!

Tomato Press. Oh, how I wish I had this last year! And I only canned a few jars of tomatoes. This year I planted 15 Roma alone, just so I could make lots of sauce, so I bought a tomato press at the end of the season last year to have on hand for this season. 

Natural Pectin. I had no idea there was such a thing, but there is! Pomona's Pectin. Check it out and order some now! I can actually get this at a large health food store in the big city, but I've ordered it on-line as well. 

Spices. Last year I looked everywhere for dill seed, which is apparently hard to come by. I could find dill weed, but not dill seed. Most local grocery stores don't always carry it. Again, go through your recipes and see what you might need.

My first choice would be to eat produce fresh from the garden and thus, my goal to garden year-round. In the meantime, however, I like to use a variety of preserving methods depending on the fruit or vegetable I'm storing. Consideration is always given to how it will retain it's most nutrients when preserved.  And because of the expense in acquiring items for preservation, I've had to make a wish list and prioritize the things that are most important to me and spend my dollars there first. Be sure to tell family members in case you have a birthday coming up! 

If you can't afford something you need, consider teaming up with friends who might have the necessary tool. They might really appreciate your help when veggies are coming off the vine faster than any one person can preserve them. And the fellowship is always a wonderful bonus. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Simply In Season" Give-Away

This give-away is now closed. Thanks to all who particpated! The winner is:  htr!! Congratulations! Please contact me via email.

I thought it would be fun to add to the drama of my recent guest post over at The Local Cook by hosting a related give-away. To enter my drawing for a copy of Simply In Season: Recipes That Celebrate Fresh, Local Foods in the Spirit of More-With-Less:

1. Visit The Local Cook, read the article and leave a comment there about what inspired you the most. You must copy your comment and repost it here to be entered in the drawing!

2. Get entered a second time by becoming a Homestead Revival follower. (You must leave a new comment telling me!)

3. Be entered again by becoming a Homestead Revival Facebook follower. (You must leave a new comment telling me!)

For those of you who are not familiar with Wendy Hammond's blog, she is cooking her way through this cookbook and blogging about it in Julie and Julia style. It's a lovely resource to add to your collection and you can also purchase it through my Bookstore.

This drawing ends Friday night at midnight (PST), so don't miss out!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Organizing Seeds and Planting Records

Has anyone besides me been frustrated with storing seed packets in an organized manner? Here is what I had been using...

The problem with this is that all the seed packages are just thrown in there without any rhyme or reason. I have to read the back of each package and sort through lots of info to figure out what to plant when. I find I'm constantly rechecking books, planting schedules, and charts trying to figure out what to do. And since I haven't been keeping a garden journal, I have had nothing to reference for my particular area. 

It's definitely confusing at times. Especially when I read that other bloggers are planting tomatoes outside in April and it's still freezing every night on the mountain. It can make one too anxious and therefore jump the gun when it comes to setting out plants.

I finally had my eureka moment and realized that I'm not organized in this area. I've been "flying by the seat of my pants" so to speak. Time to fix that!

Inspired by Mrs. Chiot at Chiot's Run (that's my name for her - hope you like it Mrs. Chiot!), I decided on a similar method of utilizing mini file folders and a box (see her post here). But I still needed more info at my fingertips. Something I could quickly browse through, glance at for the needed information, and actually understand what I needed to do and when.

So I sat down and brainstormed all the information that would be helpful in knowing when to plant something. I considered:

• good companions
• bad companions
• how to start each variety
• optimal seed sprouting temps
• when I wanted to start the seeds (or directly sow)
• when I actually got around to it!
• how many of each variety to grow
• if I wanted to plant a second fall crop
• how long the seeds would last before needing to be replaced

The results?

My form came together after some adjusting here and there and I was able to add it to my blog as a pdf download should you be interested in using it for your personal use. (For future reference, you will find this as a tab at the top, just under my header, where it says Free Downloads). I didn't have room for info on crop rotation, and I knew that I'd need something later that I forgot, so I added a second section for notes.

The form is made to cut out and paste on the front of a mini file folder, just big enough for a seed packet. This is where Mrs. Chiot's idea helped me a lot. I couldn't get the file folders locally, and didn't want to wait, so I purchased some colored card stock and made my own using this free template from Vale Design. They were very easy to cut out and not too time consuming, so I was very pleased with the results. 

I chose four different colors - one for each season of the year since I want to aim for year-round gardening. The colors will hopefully remind me at a glance seeds that need to be started or what seeds needs to be directly sown in spring, summer, fall, and winter. 

Next, I taped the ends so that the file folder was actually a pocket for the seed packet.

I made a sheet of small labels...

and added it to the file folder pocket and glued the form on the front.

Everything fit inside nicely.

Just place them all in an appropriately sized container and you're organized!

I wrote everything on the front in pencil because I may find that I need to make changes, especially regarding planting dates and the number of plants I grow of each. Hopefully this  method will help me stay on top of when to plant and act as a garden record as well. Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Bible and Food (And A Give-Away!)

I'm so honored and excited to be Wendy Hammond's guest blogger today over at The Local Cook. The topic, Bible and Food, is something that I'm passionate about and was thrilled to be able to discuss. Her questions really helped me think through some of the specific aspects of all that has been running around in my mind for the last few years. I hope you will take a few minutes to jump over to visit her site and read my article there instead of a lengthy post here.

And while you're at The Local Cook, Wendy has posted a few questions at the end for readers to answer should you wish to participate in the drawing for Jonny Bowden's book, The 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why. 

See you there!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's Sunday...

 "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and my cup: You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me... 
You will make known to me the path of life,
In Your presence is fullness of joy; 
In your right hand there are pleasures forever."
Psalm 16:5,6,11.

Dwell in His goodness toward you today!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pausing To Enjoy Your Homestead

Do you ever just stop and stand in the middle of your homestead and take in all the beauty around you and relish it? I mean really soak it in? 

I love doing the outdoor chores early in the morning when few people are up yet. Or in the early evening before the sun goes down when the air is clean but full of little insects flying around in the sun's last rays, the quail are calling to one another, a horse down the road makes a muffled noise, shadows cast themselves long across the grass...

I just love it!

I needed a break from all the hustle and bustle going on when God provided a quiet evening and some time at home. While out tending the chickens I just stopped to listen to all that was going on around me (wish my camera could capture sounds like it does sights!).

I could hear thunder off in the south east, crickets were starting their night song, a lone coyote was howling, and a mourning dove was call to it's mate... so peaceful. 

I don't know why, but moments like this always remind me that God is still on His throne and in control. His sovereignty is such a comfort. And I am grateful.

What is the chief end of man?  
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
  ~ The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Hoping you can take some time to really enjoy your own homestead this weekend! And enjoy God!


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