04 May 2016
18 April 2016
We've been doing a pretty good job with meals lately. We've managed to cut our food waste way down by only making what we will eat and / or eating leftovers for lunch, as well as not being afraid to utilize the freezer for future consumption. Really pretty simple stuff, but stuff I didn't take time to do before. Here recently, however, I've been missing something. Snacks!
I haven't been buying a lot of junk finger foods since we moved. That certainly doesn't mean I haven't been tempted in the grocery store. Even stopped and gave some things a hard look. But I've done a pretty darn good job of resisting. Think money. Think chemicals. Think health! (It's not 100% effective, mind you, but does do the trick most of the time.)
My point is this: I realized that the body's desire to snack is rarely there. As long as I eat a bit of breakfast and a lunch, I'm usually good 'til dinner. Which must mean, at least for me, if it's in the pantry (cupboard, fridge, whatever) I. will. eat. it.
But, ya know, cravings do come. And they've been swirling around me the last several days. I usually have some sort of fruit around, but I eat it with breakfast or lunch. So I didn't want that. I did make myself some popcorn one day, and that was good. But I still wasn't satisfied, and I'm sure you know what the problem was – I wanted something "sweet."
So finally I went through my Pinterest boards to find a homemade granola bar recipe to try. One of those things that's been on the to-do list for some time, but haven't felt the urgency until now.
I settled on some Oatmeal Energy Clusters because I already had all the ingredients, save one. The basic recipe is from The Chew's Clinton Kelly. I just made one addition. You'll need:
- 2 cups quick oats
- 2 tbsp chia and/or flax seed mixture (I use Decadent Blend Chia & Flax Seed with Coconut & Cocoa)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used minis)
- 2/3 cup shredded coconut (try to get unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
Put everything in a big bowl, in the order typed above. Mix it well. I had to do it with my hands to really get it together. If your mixture is stubborn, try adding some more peanut butter and/or honey. You could also warm the honey and peanut butter together, to get more of a liquid. Then add to the other ingredients. But I was too lazy to go through all that. Here we are mid-mix. I forgot to snap an image before starting.
Now. If you follow Clinton Kelly's recipe, you would put the mixture in the fridge for a while, pull it out and roll pieces (roughly 1-inch in size) into balls.
I knew that would not work for me. Popping a 1-inch "cluster" in my mouth would not result in a craving satisfied. I know that's my brain talking, but it doesn't matter. I need more than one bite to my snack. If you're like me, you'll want to make bars.
Take something akin to a 9"x9" pan and line it with parchment paper. (I used a toaster oven baking tray that measures 10"x8".) Press the mixture out evenly to the size of the pan. You could add another piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin, if it'll fit. But, again, I just used my hands.
Lift the bottom parchment out of the pan and square off your gonna-be bars, if necessary. The pan was really just a guide. Then let everything dry for at least an hour.
Now it's time to cut the bars. My pizza cutter worked well. I made a single cut down the middle long-ways. Then another cut down the center the opposite way. Then each half (which is quartered) into thirds. Does that even make sense? Lord, help me. Let's just say I got a dozen bars. Each one measured approximately 4-inches by 1 1/2-inches. The image below only shows eleven bars because I ate one already! (She sheepishly grins.)
Another good thing about these bars, in addition to requiring more than one bite to eat, is they are relatively healthy. They're full of fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants, including Vitamin E. Chia and flax seeds also add Omega-3. You can also customize them even more. Maybe add dried fruits or nuts. Go crazy with it!
These bars should last about a week in a sealed container on the counter. You could put them in the fridge to extend the shelf life a bit. Give them a try! Real food with no added chemicals is a good, good thing. From my mountaintop to yours.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps support my mountain homestead dream as well as my blogging activities, and the price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.
17 April 2016
This post would probably be better placed at the end of the growing season, after the corn has been harvested and allowed to dry, to give a bit of a how-to. But I'm taking another approach. Posting this now to tempt you to grow your own, if you're not already doing so. This will be my first year sowing these seeds, and I need partners!
Last fall, we procured some of this beautiful, rather petite, richly colored strawberry popping corn from our local CSA.
I knew this type of corn was smaller than the "usual" ears you see, but I admit it was even smaller than I expected.
I've read you can grow corn in containers. And especially this type since the stalks are shorter. This growing season, I'm going to give it a try. I have a food grade container that is at least twelve inches in diameter and almost two feet deep. Hopefully, a few stalks will comfortably fit.
I also read fish emulsion is a good addition to the soil when growing corn. I don't have emulsion (and really don't have a desire to make it), but I do have fish oil. I wonder if that would work? I also think wind is really helpful in the pollination. No worries there. We've got that covered in our little valley between the (bigger, taller, higher) mountains on either side of us.
I didn't really have room to start corn indoors this year. I've already got eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce growing inside. But it's almost time to begin outdoors. Another couple of weeks is all I should have to wait. I'll utilize the greenhouse, then, too. Since it will be about three months before harvest, I hope to get it right the first time!
Once I do (hopefully!) harvest the cute little red popping corn, as you can see by these photos, getting the kernels off is pretty easy. You might want to wear gloves, though. I didn't my first time, and my thumb paid for it. Nothing too bad. They really do pop right off. But I'll probably try gloves next time.
I saved kernels from the strawberry popping corn I got from the local CSA. If it grows for them, maybe it will grow for me!
Three little ears gave me almost a half-pint mason jar full. Isn't it pretty? It pops up nicely, too. And it's my understansding it will last in the jar at least until you are ready to harvest again the next season.
So? Did I tempt you? Are you going to join me in growing some popcorn this season?
As I type this, I'm watching a bright yellow monarch butterfly flit about on a hot pink azalea bush. Yep, I do believe Spring is here! --
Shared at Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Happiness is Homemade, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Freedom Fridays, Simple & Sweet Fridays, Art of Home-Making Mondays, Homemade Mondays, The Homemaking Party, and Thrifty Thursday.
From my mountaintop to yours,
27 March 2016
I started some seeds about a week and a half ago. We still have a little over a month before the possibility of frost is usually gone, so I was about six weeks out. Going now is Rosa Bianca eggplant, cherry tomatoes, chocolate bell peppers, Poblano peppers, Fresno chili peppers, Thai basil, and Tom Thumb lettuce.
I'm new to the whole seed starting thing. I chose it for a couple of reasons: (1) it's a skill I want to have, and (2) it seems to be the most economical way to get a garden started. The Prairie Homestead has instructions for making seed starting "pots" out of newspaper (diy!), as shown in the image above. I really like the idea of this! First, they seem big enough that I shouldn't have to transplant the seedlings before it's time for them to go outside. Second, I should be able to plant the entire "pot" without stressing over trying to get the seedling out. All I should have to do is gently open the bottom to make it easier for the plant to root in its new home. And third, it's cheap!
My only concern is how the newspaper will hold up to watering. What I did was put a thin layer of dry potting soil (locally sourced!) in the bottom of each "pot." The I added my moist seed starting soil. Then another thin layer of dry on top. The top I spritz with water pretty often. A week and a half into the process, and the bulk of the newspaper pots are still a little damp. That's good, right? Am I sounding clueless, yet?
One of the cherry tomatoes, the Tom Thumb lettuce, and the Thai basil are the only ones to have sprouted thus far. I'm a little anxious. We had a few days of around freezing temperatures, and the only space for these seeds is by a window that can feel drafty. So I hope they are just a little slow, waiting on a bit more heat. I know some peppers take longer to germinate, as well. Fingers crossed everything is ok.
There are more seeds I want to get started. I probably should've made myself do them all in one day, but you know how it is when there is a list a mile long to get done! So said additional seeds are still sitting on the aforementioned mile-long list. (Spoken with a cheeky grin.)
Another project I started was a gardening journal. I'm so not interested in having more physical stuff around, so I'm doing it by using Evernote. If you've never tried it before, you really should. This little note taking app has changed my life. It helps me run my household and homestead. It helps me blog. It helps me research (which I do – a lot). Basically, it helps run my life!
Here's a screen shot:
You can customize your view, of course. What you see above, on the left, is my main menu. The middle column shows the notes within my Gardening Journal 2016 notebook, in alphabetical order, with snippets. The far right panel, the largest, shows the entire highlighted note. What I opened was the Rosa Bianca Eggplant note. I jotted down where I purchased the seeds, the "official name," seed type (certified organic, for example), and packet notes. I also added some additional information I gathered from other places. Then I added what I have done so far, when I started the seeds, what medium I used, etc,…
I'm committed to doing this for the whole season. Then I'll assess whether or not it's how I want to continue journaling about my garden.
Have you started any seeds, yet? Do you keep a gardening journal? What's your method?
From my mountaintop garden to yours!
23 March 2016
19 March 2016
Did you know this is the earliest arrival of Spring since 1896? Me either. File that under things that make you go hmmm…
Well, I think I had a pretty productive week. I had two big items to get going. One was completed, and the other has been started. Yay, me!
I've been reading through the Old Testament. All told, I read chapters 21-32 in the Book of Numbers this past week. Two quick thoughts: those wilderness wanderers whined a lot, and sometimes I find the Old Testament disturbing.
We were able to go on long walks with the dogs a couple days. Once along a creek by our place, and once around the lake just a few miles away. Our youngest, Kody, dove in the lake without a thought all the way up to his chest. Then quickly decided it was too cold and got out just as fast. The older one, Bear, who is more cautious and measured in his decision making, decided not to go in at all. It was beautiful scenery, and we all had a good time. So much so, one of us was all tuckered out afterward.
Think I mentioned this in the Cabbage Rolls Deconstructed post. I'll pop it in here, too, since it is part of the weekly recap. I created a facebook page for Stephlin's Mountain. If you like to follow blogs there, stop by and give the page a like. 'Preciate it!
So! Sowed any seeds lately? I did! Rosa Bianca eggplant, small cherry tomatoes, chocolate bell peppers, Poblano peppers, Fresno chili peppers, Thai basil, and Tom Thumb lettuce. I have more to do, but that's a start! B also got the small greenhouse put together for me, and all the pots are out. Ready and waiting! I was going to sow some rainbow swiss chard seeds, but thought I'd wait until after the possible freeze over the next few days. I also read that cilantro doesn't like to be transplanted. That right?
It took three more days' work, but I finally finished the women's history post I mentioned to you last week. The subject is Myrtle Terry Lawrence, organizer for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. It's here at the Southern Graves blog, if you're interested.
One of my big goals for next week is to get some water kefir started. Anyone else made it before? Any tips?
Made a loaf of sweet Mountain Dew bread. Not a good step forward in healthy eating, per se, but it's a recipe I'm comfortable with. And I did have to make some adjustments in the actual baking process. This is my first experience with baking bread in a gas oven. Plus, said oven is smaller than a usual one. So even though I made my regular loaf size, I couldn't proof it as long as I would normally, or it would have hit the top of the oven. I double panned it, but the bottom heat was still too much for my liking. And lastly, I needed an egg wash for it to brown…It was still yummy, though!
We might have discovered a wild blueberry bush in the back corner of our lot. Fingers crossed!
Made iced sugar cookie bars and watched In the Heart of the Sea. Good dessert. Good movie.
Last, but not least by any stretch of the imagination…SNAKE! Bear saw it first. I walked by it at least twice before turning around to see Bear on his hind legs sniffing the air. Then he dropped back to all fours and backed up a bit. I followed his gaze to see a
nice creepy black (rat?) snake slithering in between the railroad ties bordering our lot. By the time I got the dogs inside and grabbed the camera, it was out of sight. Even if I'm not exactly right in my naming of the type of snake, I'm still fairly confident it was not a poisonous one. But still! This is the one thing I've been fearful of since moving. I stress so much over my dogs, and it's not like I'm ever excited to see a snake. Ugh. Know of any natural snake repellant? (I'm only half kidding.)
Well, you're all caught up! What homestead happenings went on at your place last week?
From my mountaintop to yours,
16 March 2016
Did you know Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival? Me either. That's what Wikipedia says, anyway…I don't know of any certain Irish heritage in my family. And the most I remember doing as kids is making sure to wear green. Didn't want to get pinched!
One thing that I have developed over my adulthood, however, is a fondness of cabbage. And once you've been grocery shopping for any length of time, you discover that cabbage is usually on sale around Saint Patrick's Day. Yes, I took advantage of the price this year. I hope you did, too.
Now, if you'll remember, I don't cook. Well, I guess I should say I'm learning to cook. Anyway. I enjoy some cabbage rolls, ya know, but the thought of attempting to make them was a bit intimidating. So I knew I would be going a different route with my cabbage.
I don't remember where I found the recipe. Was it Pinterest? (Follow me!) I'm not sure. The point is I was led to Cooking with K, and she had posted (just earlier this month, I think) a recipe for Cabbage Roll Skillet Casserole. One look, and I knew that was a recipe for me!
Now Kay's finished product might look better than mine, and she does have a low carb option. But I'll tell you how I made it anyway. Chopping the onion and cabbage took me a while. Other than that, though, the recipe is a breeze. The ingredients are as follows:
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp ground black pepper (or about; I didn't measure)
- 1 tsp steak seasoning (my brand was StoneMill Essentials)
- 8 oz. tomato sauce
- 1 cup white rice, cooked
- 1/2 medium cabbage, roughly chopped
- 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 tsp (heaping) crushed red pepper flakes
- salt, to taste (I just added a pinch)
First, I browned the ground beef with the onion on medium heat. Once the meat was no longer pink, and the onion was translucent, I poured off the excess grease. Then I added the ground black pepper and steak seasoning.
Continuing on with Kay's directions, I added the tomato sauce, rice, and cabbage. Before I could move on, I had to let the cabbage cook down a bit. The rest of the ingredients wouldn't fit in my skillet, yet!
After the cabbage cooked down a bit, I was able to add the diced tomatoes, ketchup, and crushed red pepper flakes. This is where I added the pinch of salt, too…And that was it! I let the mixture go, stirring every so often, until the cabbage was heated through and softened.
I ate two platefuls!
As an aside, Stephlin's Mountain now has its own facebook page. If you're into social media, I'd appreciate a like and follow. Not only will I be sharing posts from the blog there, but I'll also include info on other homesteading and homemaking stuff I think is neat. I just shared a link to canning pineapple yesterday, for example. Thanks for the support!
From my mountaintop to yours,