Monday, April 29, 2013

Organic Dandelion Honey

Have a bunch of Dandelions in your yard? Many people think they are pesky, awful weeds, but that just isn't the case! They are full of nutrients and can be used in many recipes. Dandelion greens can be used in salads, you can make wine with them, or like us, make honey! The recipe is simple, but a little time consuming. The longest part of the "hard" work is pulling the petals apart. Once you get into a groove it goes quite smoothly.

What you need:
4 cups Dandelion petals (Try to avoid as much green as possible as this will make it bitter)
4 cups water
2 cups organic sugar/sweetener (I used cane sugar, you can add more if it isn't sweet enough for you, 1/8 cup extra should make it plenty sweet)
Organic vanilla beans (1 or 2, sliced length ways)
3 slices of lemon 1/4" thick

What to do!

Pick fresh Dandelions, this is a good easy job for kids to help with!!
I find it easiest to split them in half and use my nail to pop out the petals.

Next add 4 cups of water into a heavy pan, and add the petals, lemon and vanilla. Bring to a boil, and let it do it's magic for about half an hour. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 6 hours. I left this one over night and finished in the morning.

Once you're done steeping it, use cheese cloth or a really good strainer and strain the bits out so you have a nice golden liquid.

Now you will have your liquid in a pot, and bring it to a medium boil. Once it is lightly boiling you can starting adding your sugar/sweetener. Turn down to low and simmer until it gets to the consistency you like your honey to be, this can take up to 4 hours. You will have to stir it and keep an eye on it as it can boil over and make a mess of your stove ;) Once it cools it will harden up a little. We like ours a bit runny, and use it mainly for tea. The Vanilla gives it a lovely flavour and even the kids like it!

We have made this later in the summer and the flavour just isn't the same as using early Spring Dandelions for some reason. Will be making another few batches before the plants get too old, and we have to start mowing our lawn.. Since it is starting to look like a jungle hehe!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roasted Bell Pepper soup

All you need:
4-5 Peppers
1-2 Carrots
Olive oil (or other)
2 cups soup stock (or more to taste, 
depending how many you need to feed, add more!)
Chicken if desired

Wash the peppers, and slice out seeds and white parts. Pull the garlic bulb apart or just slice the top off 
to just remove the tips. Lightly cover with oil of your choice, and pepper.
Bake at 400 until they are soft, if they look a little burnt on the skins, they are perfect
Remove from oven and let cool completely. 

Start to warm up your soup stock, with carrot diced into it, and bring to a boil.
Cook until carrots are soft enough that you can blend them. 
Once peppers are cooled, remove skins, and squish out some of the garlic
into the soup stock, let simmer together for a few minutes. 

Add any extra herbs you would like in, cayenne, pepper, salt, parsley, rosemary etc and simmer 
for a few more minutes.
Use hand blender (or regular blender) and blend until creamy.
Add diced chicken.

You can roast onions and also blend it in the soup for more flavor, we had a lot 
of onion in the soup stock though so that wasn't needed. 
It's filling and good for you! 

Bell Peppers are full of vitamin C as well as Parsley! 
You can make a yummy bread or biscuit to go with this soup too. 
Wonderful on a Winter's day! 

Garbage Soup Stock

Instead of throwing all of the vegetable ends into the garden or compost, I've started to make "garbage veggie soup stock" with them instead. I have a bag in the freezer that we use to fill when we have ends from veggies that all go into a pot when we are running low on stock. It's a lot cheaper! 

Carrot, broccoli, onions tips, green onion ends, garlic pieces, asparagus ends
pepper pieces, etc etc, all of them! Make sure they are clean so you aren't getting
soil in your soup. 

You can add your chicken bones, or beef bones to make either of those stocks. 

With a large pot, add the ends, bones and spices you like. 
Fill with water, bring to boil and then turn onto a low simmer.
I usually make this after a roasted chicken dinner, and then leave on
super low over night, then strain it all in the morning. 

Once cooled a bit pour your stock into containers that can be frozen, we use mason jars now, 
leaving an inch or two from the top, putting the lid on lightly. 
Store in freezer and use as needed. 
Put in fridge night before you need it to thaw out, or rinse jar under water
so it thaws until you can pour it out. 

We've used it in rice, soups, sauces! 

Add some kick by adding a bit of cayenne. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fridge pickles

I haven't canned for a while, but am going to re learn again this summer. Until then, I'll keep making fridge pickles! They are easy, and last about a week around here, between the kids and the hubs.. oh, and myself. Pickle addicts!

All you need is:

Pickling spice if you like it
Garlic (if desired)
Jalepenos (if desired)

I slice pickles, fill the jar (added jalepenos to this jar) dill, fill half the jar with vinegar, top off with water! That's it! In 2 days they will be ready to start eating. It's a lot cheaper than having to purchase jars at the store all the time. When the cucumbers get low, just add more. That simple!

You can use white vinegar, balsamic, apple cider, wine, rice or malt. There are so many kinds that you could try! I did a mixture of white, balsamic and malt in this jar. It's not so bitter to us. The jalepenos give it a little kick too, if you like spicy stuff.

Fridge pickles will last about 3 weeks. I have done fridge jalepenos in their own jar before, and they were fine after a couple of months!

Have you made these before? What did you use for ingredients?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Homemade Easy Hash Browns

Save money! Make your own hash browns. They are super easy, and WAY better for you than store bought pre-packaged potatoes. They take a little bit of time, but well worth it. You don't have to worry about any oils that you wouldn't normally eat, or anything else that may be added. 

All you need:
Potatoes (Organic if possible)
an oven
a grater

Depending how many you can store in your freezer, or how often you eat potatoes will determine how any you will need. If you eat them often like we do, then making a lot more at a time may be better for your family. We purchased a large bag of potatoes as there were no small ones, so instead of letting them grow eyes I baked about 3/4 of a 10lb bag at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Make sure to stab them a couple of times, or cut off any yucky parts so they don't explode in your oven! 

Let the potatoes cool once they are easily stabbed by a fork. At this point you can either peel them, or leave those on. I grated with them on, so there are some peels left, the extra that didn't peel well went into a pile and we will use that for either soup or bake them later until they are super crispy. 

Then you can start to grate, 
and grate, 
and grate,
 and grate!
Watch your fingers. The grate is sharp (haha by experience ;)

We tried some for lunch, pan fried in organic butter, just enough to brown, then flip. If you flip too much they could become mushy. 
Add any spices you like! 

Add green onions, onion, peppers, broccoli, ham, pepperoni, or anything else you fancy! 

The extra have gone into the freezer on layers of parchment paper and will be put into containers for later use. To cook from frozen will be the same, they will just take a little bit more time. Or you can bake in your oven until golden brown with a light coating of olive oil