Hanging Herb Drying Rack


One of my garden goals for 2017, my first vegetable garden, is to grow and preserve my own herbs. It's is all a part of my master plan to become more self-sufficient while we are working towards building our off grid 16'x20' cabin and homestead.

Last year was all about preserving my own foods, and learning to make staple items like Garlic Dill Pickles, Strawberry Jam and learning to make my own homemade bread. But 2017, is all about growing our own food, folks!

As our pantry's store bought herbs slowly deplete, I am getting more excited to grow and preserve my own herbs so we picked up some cedar 1"x2", some hooks and aluminum replacement screen for windows and sent my 6 year old to work! Yep, my 6 year old built this for me, with a lot of supervision and a little guidance from his dad.

Here is another picture. Anyone can make this, screw together 4 pieces of wood to make a box. The screen is simply stapled to the bottom and we screwed in a bunch of hooks. I designed my hanging herb drying rack so we can both hang herbs in bundles and lay them on the aluminum screen. You could use a chain to hang your herb drying rack but I chose jute string for aesthetics. Have we inspired you to make your own?

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Cranberry Orange Bread


Lately, I have been honing in on the very best versions of all sorts of recipes. One day, I would like to create my very own cook book. I think there is something, maybe romantic, about a family book of recipes to pass down generation after generation. {I'm a sucker for tradition!} 

But before I write a book, and if you haven't already, subscribe to this blog, on the right side of this page, to get every post sent to your email! It only takes a minute and you'll get fabulous recipes, great info and hilarious stories of our very young family learning how to homestead.

Where was I..? Oh YES!! I think I've created the very best version of Cranberry Orange Bread. It as the right amount of orange, the right amount of tangy cranberries and a perfect texture! These are so good, I have even thrown it into muffin cups for a delicious grab and go snack. In fact, everyone in our house prefer this over Chocolate Chip Banana Bread AND Zucchini Bread. That's sayin' something! I mean, my lil monkey would bathe in bananas if I let him!
So here it is:

Cranberry Orange Bread


Makes 1 delicious 9"x 5" loaf
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp of grated orange zest {1 large orange}
2/3 cup of orange juice
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup cranberries {fresh or frozen}

Method:
Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and orange zest

Create a well in the middle of dry ingredients to combine orange juice, eggs, and oil before mixing all ingredients together until just combined. 

Fold in cranberries. 

Pour into a sprayed 9"x 5" loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until cooked thoroughly and a toothpic can be inserted in the middle and comes out clean. 

Let cool in loaf pan for 15 minutes.

Other scrumptious post you'll devour:

  

 Thank you, no really! Without you, I wouldn't be here!



Caring for Cast Iron


We have been cooking exclusively with cast iron for about 4 years when we found a cast iron frying pan hiding in a corner cupboard. My first cast iron meal was a disaster and it took my husband years to get his pancakes right, but now, we've got the cast iron frying pan figured out!

Leaf Mold: How to make it and use it!


I am starting my first vegetable garden next spring! I am so excited about this because we have never really had a spot for a garden and the growing cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is atrocious! One of our goals before purchasing the land where we will build our off grid home and homestead is to be able to grow our own food!

So far, we had dug up the grass, roots and any plants from an area about 15 feet by 25 feet. We have done this all by hand because we don't have a tiller, yet. {So. Much. Work} We covered what we could with cardboard and leaves to help reduce the weeds and grass in the spring but what we really need is

Uses for Fall Leaves

If you haven't heard about our plan to build a tiny house and live off grid, you can read more about our shenanigans here. I know I haven't posted in a very long time, things have been hectic! I'll do better, I promise!

Although we haven't purchased land, we are gaining precious skills everyday! While we are homestead dreaming, my husband is taking on small repair and building projects around our home

Strawberry Jam


I'm learning so much about how to become more self sufficient and reliant these days. But what I didn't expect was how gratifying and addicting preserving and canning would be. Canning mostly, I haven't tried any other technique to preserving food, like dehydrating, cause I'm stuck on canning! We have preserved a few foods but today, I'm jammin'! And I'm sharing my experience with you!

First, we went on an adventure to an awesome farm close to home, complete with full bellies and a tractor ride to and from the strawberry patch to pick these delicious plump berries!


Once we brought the berries home we gave them in a bath with a half full sink with lukewarm water and a cup of vinegar. We chopped them up and removed the stems and any other nasty bits.


Pro tip: {well, I'm not an actual pro, but this tip is gold, baby!} Start boiling your jars and water bath water right away, so when you are ready to process them, you aren't waiting around for a pot of water to boil!

2nd Pro Tip: When you are heating your seals and rims to ensure proper 'pinging', do not continuously boil your seals, this can damage them and end up spoiling your food, and your day..


Once the berries are clean, mash them to leave chunks or use an immersion blender if you like a smoother jam. I did a little of both because I only wanted a few chunks. You will want 4 cups of strawberry mash in the end.


Add your strawberry mash and sugar in your pot on medium-high until it is boiling. Once it is boiling well, add your pectin and combine well. Remove from heat and use a metal spoon to remove the foam from the top.

Now that your kitchen smells amazing, fill your jars, wipe the rims of the jars and place on those seals and rims. Tighten them up just a bit and water process for about 10 minutes. 

Water bath canning strawberry jam is a new thing. I remember the days when this wasn't necessary but nowadays, it is recommended to prevent spoilage and botulism. I already had the pot of water boiling, so I went a head and did it anyways!

Isn't it beautiful?!

What is your favourite jam?



Garlic Dill Pickles


One of my kids loves pickles, like finish off a whole jar love for pickles. So while we are waiting to buy the land for our off grid homestead and I'm practicing my canning skills, pickles was high on the list! 

If you've been following us for a while, you may have seen my hopes, dreams and goals for my first container garden. Well, I jumped the gun when starting my seeds indoors and their transplant didn't go to well. Bummer. I know. I re-sowed the seeds in the large containers and they are growing well but very very slowly! Impatience is one of my strengths!

Delicious Zucchini Cheese Bites


Zucchini is my favourite vegetable. I never really knew I liked zucchini so much until the last year or so. I like it baked, roasted and in dessert breads! So when I found a giant zucchini at the market this week for $2.75, I went cray-cray for zucchini recipes! 

The recipe I want to share today is quick, easy and only dirties one bowl, my kind of recipe! It also can be made with ingredients you probably already have at home and since we are on a journey to self sufficiency, it's perfect. There's nothing more disappointing when you find a great recipe to find you'll have to run out to the market before you can start!

Living Unplugged


We sold almost everything including the microwave, the KitchenAid mixer, game consoles and finally, the television. Yea, you read that right, we got rid of the television! And guess what!? We don't even regret it!

These were just the first steps we took to downsize after we decided to build a tiny home to live a more minimal lifestyle. We sold the second car, purged all areas of the house and moved from a 3 story townhouse to a 2 bedroom apartment. We now live our lives unplugged.


We don't have a home phone {but who does these days},  and we don't have satellite or cable. Our children spend their time playing rather than zoning out mindlessly on cartoon after cartoon. But we aren't pioneers, we do have home internet which allows me to work from home on this lovely blog and use our cell phones for social media. Occasionally, the idea of a quiet shower without the paranoia of what the kidlets are doing is intriguing and I will put an episode of The Magic School Bus or Cat in the Hat to really enjoy myself!

Living unplugged means we are free to live our lives seamlessly, allowing our family to do what we want when we want, without waiting for a commercial break. We have eliminated a monthly cable bill and reduced our utility bill, using that cash for spontaneous family outings to instil curiosity and adventure in our children {follow our adventures on Instagram}. 

Our children have the ability to imagine rather than reinact their favourite episode. Their days are spent building, creating, exploring with their senses and using their hands to develop necessary skills to be intelligent adults one day. 

I know the idea of removing the television, DVD player, spare computers and game consoles from the home seems a bit radical. If you are considering removing the television, first consider limiting screen time and see how that goes! You won't regret it!

Products for Zero Waste

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Going zero waste or garbage free is a great accomplishment everyone should strive towards and is something our family works towards every day. Our population on this planet grows hundreds of thousands each day, and we are producing the same amount of trash. For the well being of our planet, we need to start making serious changes! {And garbage smells anyway...}

Society, and it's expectations, has us all on a path of living with excess beginning when we are children. We are taught to buy hot and trendy items, buy everything new and improved and to spoil ourselves with eating out! All these habits, create tons of unnecessary waste. Everyone, even you, can make small changes in the right direction. I have compiled a list of items, you can purchase to make going zero waste, a breeze! Many of these we already have, and the rest are on my list!