Urban Farm Online has an awesome tutorial on how to home brew beer in 10 steps. I absolutely love the idea of doing this myself. Maybe someday!
For the first time in my life, I bought a pumpkin to eat instead of to carve a Jack-O-Lantern. It was an interesting experience, because I didn’t even know how to break down the pumpkin to cook it for my recipe.
- Aaron and I decided we both wanted to make pumpkin soup, so I started out searching the Internet for a good recipe. I found a simple recipe on FoodNetwork.com courtesy FamilyFun Magazine (PDF).
- Next, I cut off the top of the pumpkin and scooped out the innards, a familiar process. I saved the seeds for roasting, and then I cut the pumpkin into four equal sections.
- I roasted it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
- I let the pumpkin cool off, and then I peeled off the skin so I was left with all the flesh, which I chopped into equal pieces. At this point, I was surprised the color was yellowish instead of deep orange. It’s weird that canned pumpkin from the store is orange–Is that food dye?
- After that, I used a hand-immersion blender to puree the pumpkin, and I followed the rest of the recipe as written.
One regular-sized pumpkin made an enormous amount of soup, and it’s delicious. I definitely recommend eating pumpkins instead of just carving them up and putting a candle in them.
A while back I blogged about a homemade mosquito spray recipe I found in one of my favorite magazines. The recipe mixes a handful of essential oils with rubbing alcohol. You load the mixture in a spray bottle and use it just like ordinary, store-bought mosquito spray. My brother came over for dinner the day I first made my spray. After dinner we went outside to watch our chickens for a while. Aaron and I both sprayed ourselves down, but my brother declined because he was leaving shortly. After five or 10 minutes outside, Jason commented that a mosquito had just bitten him. Aaron and I remained unscathed! The spray smells great, too. I definitely recommend it.
The ingredients cost about $30, but they’ll probably last me for 5-7 batches. It was difficult figuring out the correct ratio of ingredients before I figured out I needed to convert the oz. figures into ml.
Johnson’s Backyard Garden is one of the biggest and most popular urban farms in the Austin area. The farm always sets up shop at Austin’s farmer’s markets, and the JBG booth seems to have the biggest selection of produce compared to others. On Sunday, Aaron and I purchased some JBG veggies, including an acorn squash. I can’t remember cooking this before, and I didn’t know how to prepare the squash. So I was happy to see the farm’s blog recently published an acorn-squash recipe!
I may try this recipe later this week.
3) Recipes, by Melissa Vance, JBG CSA Member
Glazed Acorn Squash with Spicy Onions and Currants
1 acorn squash
3 tablespoons butter
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried currants
2-3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Cut each half into several lengthwise slices.
Combine squash and a generous drizzle of oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until browned and tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar and reduce completely.
Add garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, currants, and honey, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are glazed. Stir in red wine vinegar, and season with salt and black pepper. Serve the squash hot, coated with sauce.
A couple of weeks ago I posted about methods we’re using to preserve our tomato crop. We also love eating our mouth-watering homegrown tomatoes raw! Here’s a great recipe Aaron came up with off the top of his head.
- Succulent heirloom tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Backyard chicken eggs
- Whole wheat bread
- Salt and pepper
- Chop the tomatoes and basil
- Toast the bread
- Fry the eggs over easy, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste
- Top your toast with the tomatoes, basil and eggs
Okay, here’s the dilemma:
We have a healthy crop of homegrown, heirloom tomatoes that all ripen simultaneously. It’s impossible to consume all the tomatoes raw, so we must preserve them before we lose all our hard work. It’s a great problem to have. But we still need a solution.
Solution one: make tomato sauce
Roughly chop the tomatoes, or you can leave them whole if you want to save time. Place oil in the bottom of a stock pot and cook the tomatoes over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree the tomatoes with a hand immersion blender. Simmer the mixture over low heat until it’s reduced by half, or until you’ve gotten rid of enough water so the tomatoes are the consistency that you want. Now you can store the sauce in mason jars and can it (or freeze).
Solution two: make fire-roasted salsa
Roughly chop the tomatoes. Also chop some peppers: we use a mixture of both red and green jalapenos and serranos, but you’ll have to decide based on the spiciness you’re looking for. Add some garlic and onions, too! Place the produce in a pan and roast them on a low-heat grill for about one hour. Cool the veggies to the touch, peel the skins and remove the seeds. Blend the salsa in a blender with some water, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro.Now you can put your salsa in mason jars and can (or freeze) it.
Solution three: can the tomatoes
This is a little more complicated, but it’s worth it because you’ll be able to use the tomatoes for any recipe. Immerse each tomato in boiling water for about one minute, and then transfer it to an ice-water bath. Cool the tomato to the touch and then peel off the skin. Chop the tomato and remove the seeds. Now your tomatoes are ready to can.
Canning is a complicated process and it should be the subject of its own post! In the meantime, check out this awesome website by the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia.
I made a huge batch of homemade bacon-flavored dog treats recently for my three pups, Binx, Zoe and Lily. They love them, and I can rest easy because I know exactly what went into their treats. These cracker-like dog cookies are fun to make and they stay good for as long as it takes for my dogs to eat them up. Not to mention: they’re so much cheaper than buying pre-made treats from the store! I adapted my dog treats from this Allrecipes.com Bacon-flavored dog biscuits recipe.
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 10 tbsp. bacon fat
- 5 c. wheat flour
- 1 egg (for glaze)
- 1 tsp. sugar (for glaze)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease a cookie sheet
- Beat the eggs & mix in the wet ingredients
- Add the salt and stir in the flour 1 c. at a time
- Pour the stiff dough onto a floured surface and knead for one minute
- Roll the dough with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness
- Cut the dough into 1×1 inch squares
- Gently lift the squares and arrange them on the cookie sheet
- Beat the last egg and mix in the sugar
- Brush the glaze on the tops of the dog treats
- Bake the dog treats for 20 min.
- Remove the treats from the oven and coat the tops with glaze again
- Bake another 20 min.
- Cool the treats on a newspaper-covered countertop
Since it’s the middle of the summer in Austin, every time I go outside I immediately get 2-3 mosquito bites. And because of drought, it’s not even a bad mosquito season here! These little buggers are on my mind right now. So it’s not surprising that I’m tuned in to noticing articles about how to kill the pests. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how you can plant mosquito-repelling plants in your outdoor areas. Yesterday I read an article in BackHome magazine with a recipe to make a homemade mosquito spray. It uses natural essential oils mixed with rubbing alcohol. I’m going to try this recipe ASAP!
Homemade mosquito spray recipe:
- 1/2 oz. citronella oil
- 1/4 oz. lavender oil
- 1/8 oz. pennyroyal oil
- 1/8 oz. tea tree oil
- 1/8 oz. jojoba oil
- 18 oz. rubbing alcohol
Instructions: Mix all the essential oils together. Do not use undiluted on your skin! Put 18 oz. of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and mix in the essential oils. Spray on your skin before you go outside to repel mosquitoes. You may have to apply the mixture more frequently than store-bought, chemical mosquito repellants.
Warning: “Just because a product is natural does not mean it is completely safe. For example, pennyroyal is toxic when ingested and shouldn’t be used by pregnant women. Also, some people may be allergic to the various active ingredients,” the BackHome article says.
I’ll update with another post after I’ve tried the recipe.
I’ve been using homemade household cleaners for about a year now. I’ve found several benefits to making my own cleaners: my family saves money, we avoid exposure to chemicals, and my recipes work just as well as store-bought cleaners. Mixing up these formulas only takes a couple of minutes and you probably already have the ingredients laying around the house. I developed these three recipes after getting inspiration from Natural Home magazine, one of my subscriptions.
- Recycled jug of some kind
- 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 12 cups water
This one is simple. Mix all the ingredients together in your jug. I use a recycled white-vinegar jug. You can use this laundry whitener just like bleach when you’re washing your whites. I add about 1 cup for a full load of laundry.
- Recycled spray bottle
- Dish soap
- Essential oils
Fill your spray bottle halfway with water. Top if off with vinegar. Squirt a small amount of dish soap in the bottle (about 1 teaspoon). Add 20 drops of your essential oil. I enjoy mine with 10 drops lavender and 10 drops orange. Give it a good shake and use it just like store-bought cleaners to shine up your kitchen and bathroom counters.
- Large mason jar
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
- Essential oils
Fill the mason jar half way with the baking soda. Top it off with water. Squirt about 1 tablespoon of dish soap in the mixture. Add 20 drops of essential oil. Again, I like mine with lavender and orange. Stir the mixture with a spoon until the baking soda is suspended in the water (you need to stir before each use, since the baking soda separates at the bottom). Use this cleaner to scrub your kitchen and bathroom sinks, the bathtubs and the toilets.