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 :)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Homemade beef jerky

Sadly, shop bought beef jerky is not as natural or as good for you as it should be. It is a simple product that has been like many these days adulterated with numerous additives that quite frankly are bad for your health. However, it is quite easy to make at home with little effort.
Here's how to make the best beef jerky you will ever taste, with no guilt!

You will need -
2 pounds of beef
(Flank is good as it is thin, however I used offcuts from our beef steer and it was a mix of cuts)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp of worcester sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp smoked paprika (I use this instead of liquid smoke)
1 tsp regular paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp or more of cracked black pepper, use to your taste

Cut the meat into slices no bigger than 1/4 inch (see tip below)
Place in a roomy bowl and add all the ingredients, mix well
The jerky should marinade for at least 8 hours or better still overnight
The next day place the jerky which will be smelling wonderful in a strainer as the liquid marinade needs to drain. (The remaining marinade can be used again, I used it on a pork roast)

This next step is absolutely crucial and cannot be missed, the beef must be heated to kill any potential bacteria. This should be done by placing the meat on a tray and cooking it for 20 minutes on 300 degrees.  I must admit that I did give it an extra 5 minutes to be sure.

Once the jerky has cooled it is time to cook it. I use a dehydrator set on its highest setting, the jerky will cook on a temperature around 170 degrees for quite a few hours. If you are using an oven set the temperature on its lowest setting which on our cooker is 170. 

Tip - If you find it a bit of a struggle to cut the beef so thin, you can place it between two sheets of clingfilm and bash them with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin until desired thinness!

The jerky can take anywhere between 7 and 15 hours to cook, mine was ready after 8 hours. It must be slightly bendy but not so brittle that it falls to pieces. If in doubt cook it a bit longer. 
Once it has finished cooking, let it cool and pack it into a jar or if you have a vacuum sealer use that keep the jerky longer. I put some in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer and the rest in a jar in the fridge. 

The finished product