Sunday, January 18, 2015

Freezer Lasagna

Freezer Lasagna is SO EASY and such a blessing to have on hand. We make freezer lasagnas in bulk, give some away and keep some for ourselves. Here is how we do it. (VIDEO DEMONSTRATION AT THE END!)

The sauce is really up to you but I'll share what I did this time ... though each time might be a little different. You may have your own favorite recipe, favorite store-bought brand or maybe you score on a deal at the discount store?

2lbs hamburger, browned (optional ... for a vegetarian variety use about 4c of cooked lentils)
1 large onion, diced small
1 large bell pepper, diced small (I used some of my dehydrated peppers from last year's garden)
1/2c extra virgin olive oil
1 large bowl (my large bowl is 14qts) heaping full of kale (remove stems and chop small) (I used fresh kale grown from the kale seeds we saved a few years ago)
4 qt jars home canned tomatoes or 4 large cans diced tomatoes (28oz size I think?) - liquid included
4-6oz cans tomato paste
2T salt
2T basil
2T sugar
4 or more cloves of garlic, crushed (or at least a few teaspoons of garlic powder/granules)

In a larger, heavy-bottomed stock pot saute onions and peppers in the olive oil. Add the chopped kale and continue to saute till the kale has reduced.

In a blender, blend canned/jarred tomatoes and tomato paste (this is optional; some of our diners do not appreciate chunks of tomatoes so I blend them up. Also, blending them together makes it much easier to mix in the tomato paste). I find it easiest to do one jar of tomatoes and one can of paste per blender load. Pour into the stock pot. Add the optional ground beef or lentils and spices. Taste it. Maybe you need more of something? Add it.

Cover and simmer for a while, stirring occasionally; allow to cool before using. Sometimes I make the sauce one day, let it sit over night and use it the next day ... the flavors seem to combine better.

Variations to the sauce ... try adding in other vegetables like chopped spinach, shredded zucchini, sliced mushrooms and/or carrots. You may prefer other spices like oregano and/or cayenne. Sometimes we add in sliced black olives. It's really up to you.

2 - 32oz cartons of small curd cottage cheese (you may use large curd but I prefer small)
4 eggs, whisked
1/2c - 1c grated parmesan cheese
1/2c - 1c dry parsley

Mix till well combined. The parmesan cheese and parsley are really to your preference ... maybe you would like more? Maybe less? It's up to you.

Of course you will also need a few 16oz boxes of semi-cooked lasagna noodles (keep in a pan of cold water till ready to use) and grated mozzarella cheese - a lot or a little, depending on what you like. I used one single 24oz block of whole milk mozzarella but you might prefer more (most do ... I just try to be easy on the cheese).

This cooks easiest when it's thawed, therefore I highly suggest letting it sit out all day long before cooking. Cover and bake at 375 for about 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes OR until heated all the way through. FROZEN lasagna will need to cook much longer!! Bake covered for at least one hour. Check it. If it's a little cold then remove the cover and cook an addition 20 minutes or so. If it's still partially frozen keep it covered and bake till a little cold and proceed as instructed.

Maybe you have your own recipe? Or changes you've made to this one? If so, feel free to share!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Natural Help for Scalp Psoriasis and Dandruff

A few people I know (my daughter included) have a terrible time with scalp psoriasis and several (including me) have issues with dandruff when the weather gets dry and cold. Last year a friend gave me a recipe to help scalp issues; I tweaked it and came up with something that really helps scalp psoriasis. We've had great results so I thought I'd share it here in case someone else is struggling with the same thing.

Use organic ingredients if possible.

4oz unrefined shea butter
3.25oz virgin coconut oil
2T+2t jojoba oil
1t castor oil
1/2t vitamin e oil
1/2t rosemary essential oil
1/8t lavender essential oil
10drops grapefruit seed extract

If shea butter is too solid, gently warm it but DO NOT heat it too much.
Place all ingredients into a high-walled container (like a gallon pitcher) and stick-blend till smooth and well combined. Keep in a clean, glass jar(s).
If it's hot in the house keep this lotion in the fridge for longer shelf life.

Both shea butter and coconut oil leave all the grease behind. I have found that babassu oil is a good substitute for the majority of the solid fats in lotion and penetrates well but I have not tried it in this scalp lotion. Let me know if you experiment with it or any other combination.

To learn more about the properties of each ingredient, please visit the Rose Mountain Herbs website ... they have a lot of good information and it seems their products are high quality, though I do not get everything from them - some of the items I purchase come from Azure Standard, Vitacost, Amazon and Costco. I've heard some mention Bulk Apothecary as well though I have never tried their store ... yet ... maybe I will some day.

But back to the scalp issues!!

What we found helped the most was the following routine: Wash hair with Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash, Tear Free. Now, there is a clear baby shampoo and a milk-colored one; we get the milk-colored one. When a good lather has formed, place 4-5 drops of rosemary essential oil into the palm of your hand, rub on to both hands and then work into your scalp. The lather of the shampoo helps the essential oil to spread better. Rinse. If you can handle it, do an apple cider vinegar rinse (a tablespoon or two into a 12 oz squeeze bottle filled the rest of the way with warm water ... really the amount of vinegar to water will depend on your hair and scalp so you'll have to experiment to see what works best for you). Rinse again with water and towel off.

While your hair is still damp, gently work in the above scalp cream into your scalp. It's best to do this in the evening so you can sleep on it all night. The results will be kind of greasy, so be sure to have a towel on your pillow or wear some kind of cap or covering. In the morning you might need to wash your hair again. We wear head coverings so it's not really an issue to have greasy looking hair because no one can see it anyway.

Repeat every night as needed. When it clears up just do a maintenance application of the lotion as often as you need it (at least once a week?) but continue to wash your hair the same, including the essential oil each time.

For an added bonus, make an herbal vinegar hair rinse: fill a 32oz mason jar half full of rosemary and/or lavender. Add apple cider vinegar (raw, organic) to the top. Cover with plastic wrap and cap tight with the mason jar lid and ring. The plastic wrap will prevent the metal lid and ring from corroding. Keep on the counter and shake once or twice a day for two weeks. Strain. Throw out the herbs (compost them).

Now, what's this about Dandruff? Well, it happened by accident really. I used to get such tight, itchy, dry scalp in the winter time UNTIL I started washing my hair with the Burts Bees baby shampoo/wash and adding the essential oil as mentioned above. No more dandruff, no more tight, itchy, dry scalp.

There you have it. Please let me know if you try any of the things suggested here ... I'd like to know if they work or do not work for you. Also, if you have something that is working for you, please share!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


You know your daughter has been butchering when she says, "Mom, I don't know how else to say this but my tenderloin hurts."

:-) hahahahaha ... she makes me laugh.

She's become a butchering pro ... or at least a lot better at it than I am!! It's such a great skill to have and I am so thankful she has it. Praise the Lord.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Apple Butter Recipe using a bushel of apples

I do not have many photos for this one :) just a simple recipe using a bushel (approximately 48lbs) of apples. You'll want to use sweet apples such as Red/Gold Delicious, Jonathan, MacIntosh, etc.

Step 1: Make Applesauce
~ Wash and quarter the apples. Remove any rotten or bad spot. Also remove the cores if they look bad or have worms.
~ Place apples in a large, heavy bottom stock pot. Add a quart of so of water, apple cider or apple juice. Cover and simmer until the apples are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent the apples from burning to the bottom.
~ Run through a food strainer/sauce maker. Kitchenaid has an attachment that does an excellent job, or you may use a manual one (Victorio and Weston are two examples, however there are many different styles and models available). The manual options work well too but take more effort (which is ok if you are healthy and strong) and cause a bit more of a mess.
~ You may stop here and can as applesauce (waterbath 15 minutes per pint and 20 minutes per quart 0-1,000ft altitude; add 5 minutes per each additional 2,000ft of altitude) OR you may continue on with the apple butter.

Step 2: Make Apple Butter
~ Return applesauce to the heavy bottom stock pot. Add the following ingredients:
1qt honey
1/4c cinnamon
1/2T cloves
1/2T nutmeg
1/2T allspice
~ Stir until mixed thoroughly. Cover, bring to a good simmer, uncover, continue to simmer and BE SURE TO STIR OFTEN! You do not want it burning to the bottom. An alternate way would be to use a large electric roaster on a low setting, or a roaster in the oven on a low setting.
~ Occasionally taste the apple butter: is it how you want it? Maybe you desire more cinnamon? More honey? Adjust the seasonings to suit your likes, but remember it will get sweeter as it cooks down, so be careful not to add more sweetener in haste.
~ Continue simmering and stirring until the sauce has cooked down considerably and has changed texture; this can take SEVERAL hours, so be prepared. You might have to turn it off over night and continue in the morning; it will be fine sitting out over night. The general guideline to knowing when it's done is to drop a spoonful onto a plate - if no rim of liquid forms around the mound of apple butter it is done.

not quite done but getting close

Step 3: Canning
~ The first step can be done towards the end of the apple butter cooking time. Be sure to have all canning supplies on hand, including about 30 pint jars, lids and rings. Wash the jars and keep them hot in the oven (I turn mine on to 250*f). Bring the lids and rings to a boil and then cover and keep warm till ready to use.
~ Have your canning pot ready too! Be sure the water is at a full, rolling boil before adding the HOT, filled jars. 
~ Fill each HOT jar with the HOT apple butter, leaving 1/4" headspace. Remove air-bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth or paper towel, add lids and rings.
~ Gently lower the HOT, filled jars into the boiling water (be sure there's a rack! If you do not have a rack simply place a towel at the bottom of the pot). Be sure there is plenty of water to completely cover the jars. It's good to have more boiling water on hand if you need to add any more to the pot while the jars are in there.
~ Boil half-pints or pints for 5 minutes, quarts for 10 minutes (0-1,000ft altitude). 1,001-6,000ft = add 5 minutes. 6,001 and above, add 10 minutes.
~ Carefully remove jars and allow to cool on a wire rack or a towel. Do not disturb for about 12-24 hours.

I got more than this but this is all that I photographed

Step 4: Clean Up and Storage
~ Remove rings and check seals. This can be done in a variety of ways, including,
1. Press the middle of the lid with your finger or thumb. If it springs up or down it is not sealed.
2. Tap the top of the lids, one after the other, with your finger. They should all sound the same, a higher-pitched, ringing sound. If the sound is a dull 'thump', it is not sealed.
3. Lift the jar up by the lid. This is not always fool-proof, so I do all three methods in the order listed here.
~ Re-process unsealed jars again (place in cold water, bring to a boil and process as above) or simply store in the refrigerator.
~ Wipe sealed jars clean with a damp cloth and store in a cool, dark room.

Friday, September 19, 2014

How To Make Sourdough Bread

In this video I share how easy it is to turn a simple sourdough bread into something gourmet :~) Next time I hope to share how to make sourdough crackers ... and be watching for a video on how to can apple butter, coming soon.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Delicious Homemade Sourdough Biscuits

Better late than never I guess? I could have posted this a few weeks ago but never did get around to it. Sourdough biscuits are our most favourite sourdough products ... running a close first with sourdough crackers.

Here in this video I share how simple and quick it is to make these absolutely delicious biscuits. Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

D. I. Y. Homemade Deodorant that actually works

 After years of trying without results that pleased me well enough I am happy to report that I have finally developed a homemade deodorant that actually works.

Last spring I compared various homemade deodorant recipes, read about others successes and failures, and then developed what I thought would be the best formula. I wanted to do a post soon after using it but decided it would be best to try it out all summer long - the hottest time of the year and the best way to know if a deodorant actually works.

It is by far the BEST natural deodorant I've ever used ... MUCH BETTER than any natural deodorant from the store or online.

I purchased new, empty deodorant containers online but I also thought it would be nice to have a travel size deodorant for my backpack, so I purchased a travel size antiperspirant and attempted to wash it out. HORRIBLE MISTAKE. The junk never did fully come out, even with lots of dish soap and scrubbing, and what's worse, I smelled like the stuff for days. No thank you. I settled for a 4oz mason jar for my backpack.

This deodorant stayed solid until it got super hot. We do not have central a/c and our bathroom gets really warm. It was no problem for me though, I just used my finger and (to my surprise) actually preferred that way of applying it. I did adjust the beeswax amount in the recipe below - that should add a little more 'solidness' to it for the warmer months. If however you are concerned, just keep it in your fridge.

This is enough to fill 5 containers with a little extra (of course the size of the containers you get will make a difference on your yield. I used THESE containers).

180g baking soda
168g coconut oil
64g arrowroot
56g shea butter
45g beeswax
40 drops tea tree e.o.*
20 drops sage e.o.
20 drops rosemary e.o.
12 drops lavender e.o.
8 drops lemon e.o.
1/2t vitamin e oil (or about 4 caps)

* I chose the other essential oils based on their beneficial properties as well, however you may not have them all on hand. If this is the case and you are only able to afford one e.o., go with tea tree. Among other things, tea tree essential oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and is a deodorant. Some of the other oils have some of these properties as well, but tea tree has them all.

You might be wondering where to get all of these ingredients? I can tell you where I got mine, however you might have better options available in your area. I purchase from Rose Mountain Herbs (in this recipe, the shea butter), Azure Standard (baking soda, arrowroot, lemon, sage), Vitacost (tea tree and lavender), Costco (coconut oil), and Amazon (vitamin e and rosemary). We harvest our own beeswax.

The first thing you'll want to do is assemble all of your ingredients.

Next, weigh them out, putting the solid fats and wax together into a glass, heat-safe dish (such as Pyrex brand) or a double boiler. I do not have a double boiler, so I put my pyrex dish on top of a large mason jar ring in a pan of water. This elevates the dish enough and acts as a homemade 'double boiler' in a pinch. I've read in several places that microwaves may also be used, however we do not have one (nor do we want one).

Weigh the dry ingredients together and combine the essential oils and vitamin e into a smaller bowl or ramekin. Set aside until ready to use.

Now the next task is a bit tedious but once it gets going it goes rather quickly, so be careful! Gently stir your hard fats/wax in the double boiler/glass dish over steaming water (medium heat or so), until the wax and fats are melted. I started with just the shea butter and beeswax and added the coconut oil later since it was already liquid (it was pretty warm in my house).

The shea butter will melt before the beeswax. My beeswax is solid; you might purchase beeswax that is in little 'pebbles' called pastilles or pellets. These will melt much quicker than a solid chunk!

Once everything is melted and well combined, add the dry ingredients and mix well till thoroughly combined.

Allow this to cool a bit before adding the essential oil / vitamin e blend - you do not want to harm the beneficial properties of the essential oils with too much heat. Whisk these final ingredients in and pour into your chosen deodorant container. This will cool quickly,

Allow to cool completely before using (it's best to let it sit over night to be sure it's totally set). Store finished deodorant in a cool, dark place. If your home is warm, you may prefer to store in the refrigerator.