Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homemade Granola

Every Sunday I make a batch of granola. I have a basic recipe that I use and change it up with the use of different nuts, fruits and sweeteners. This is a breakfast staple around our house when mixed with yogurt or milk but also makes a great afternoon snack when energy is lagging. Use any combination of nuts and dried fruit. I like to use walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds and pecans. I have used pistachios and Brazil nuts as well. Dried fruit additions might be raisins, currents or dried apples ~ the only limit is your imagination!
                                                     Basic Homemade Granola
                                                        4 1/2 cups oatmeal
                                                        2 tsp. cinnamon
                                                        1/3 cup organic canola oil
                                                        1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
                                                        1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
                                                        1/4 oat or wheat bran
                                                        1/4 cup sesame seeds
                                                        1 1/2 cups assorted nuts, chopped
                                                        1 cup dried fruit
Toss all ingredients except fruit together ans spread on baking sheet. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool and add dried fruit.Store in air tight container.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rich and Creamy Potato Soup

Our soup of the week is a rich and creamy potato soup. Most of the potatoes are in the basement but I have one boo-boo basket in the kitchen that I am using up first. These had small sprouts, green spots or a spot that wouldn't allow them to hold long. I also had some celery and a couple of onions that needed to be used up and together they all became soup!

                                               Rich & Creamy Potato Soup
Finely dice a medium onion, 1 or 2 celery ribs and a large carrot. Saute in butter until soft. Add 4-6 cups chicken stock and a large bowl of diced potatoes. No need to peel if not blemished. If stock does not cover potatoes add more stock or water. Cover and simmer until potates are tender. Add 1 1/2 cups of milk, stir and continue to simmer. Soften 2 tbsp. of butter and make a paste with flour. Stir into soup and continue to cook until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded cheese if desired.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chocolate Syrup

We all have our vices. Around here it happens to be dark chocolate. Years ago I searched for a syrup that didn't have a bunch of junk in it and of course found none. There were a few organic ones on the market but I found the taste to be bland. This is a wonderful dark chocolate syrup. It is perfect for making a large glass of chocolate milk, served on a bowl of homemade ice cream or drizzled over spring time strawberries.

                                                        Dark Chocolate Syrup
                                                            1 cup water
                                                            1/2 cup sugar
                                                            2/3 cup cocoa powder
                                                            1/4 tsp. salt
                                                            1 tsp. vanilla
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Whisk in cocoa powder and salt. Boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

White Chicken Chili

The second meal from the large pot of white beans I cooked earlier this week is a white chili. Once the beans are cooked this is a quick easy meal. If you raise rabbit, it is a great substitute for the chicken!

                                             WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
                                               4-6 cups of white beans
                                               1 quart chicken stock
                                               1 med. onion, chopped
                                               1 can chopped green chilis
                                               3 cloves garlic, minced
                                               2 cups chopped cooked chicken
                                               1 large palm full of cumin
                                               salt & pepper to taste
Simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, pepper jack cheese and minced cilantro.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tonight's Homestead Meal -Cube Steak


Eating from the homestead this time of year is easy and quick when the garden is producing. Fresh picked okra from the garden, sliced tomatoes and cantaloupe made a lovely plate beside the farm raised cube steak.
                                                   EASY FRIED OKRA:
Wash and slice okra and place in a large bowl. Toss with flour, salt and pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of oil to high heat. Put okra into pan and toss to coat. Reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and continue to cook until brown and crispy adding small amounts of oil as needed.
                                                  PAN FRIED CUBE STEAK:
Heat a small amount of oil in frying pan. Dredge steaks in flour, salt and pepper. Pan fry until brown and crispy on each side. Move to oven to keep warm while okra is cooking.

Serve with sliced tomatoes and chilled cantaloupe.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Crockpot Beans

I love using my crockpot for cooking dried beans. One reason being, that I tend to get distracted and forget about anything that cooks longer than an hour ;o) but the biggest reason is the convenience of having a meal ready at the end of a long day.
If I think about it the night before, I let the dried beans soak overnight in cold water. If not, the morning I plan to cook them, I bring them to a boil and let them sit an hour or so. I then drain off the liquid, cover them with either chicken or vegetable broth by a couple of inches and turn on high.You can always add other goodies to the pot, but we prefer plain. At the end of the day you will have a delicious, healthy meal waiting for you. Our favorite sides are either cooked cabbage, slaw or homemade sauerkraut. Leftovers are excellent for lunches or used to create another meal, soup or bean burritos.
Tonight, for example, we are having fajitas with farm raised beef and chicken, peppers and onions from the garden and refried beans made from the leftover cranberry beans cooked earlier this week. To make these I fried a couple of pieces of bacon, warmed the beans with a bit of extra water and mashed them then tossed them in the bacon fat to finish heating. Delish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Greek Meatloaf

Tonight's homestead meal is Greek meatloaf. When we have a lamb processed it seems we get back a lot of ground. Not sure what to do with it all, I tried recipes like moussaka, which I found extremely time consuming and not worth it (IMOHO). So I have created a few recipes that use just the ground lamb. I also use it with beef and deer to extend in recipes like chili and spaghetti.
                                            GREEK MEATLOAF
                                              2 lbs ground lamb
                                              1/2 cup chopped onion
                                              4-5 cloves minced garlic
                                              1 cup fresh bread crumbs
                                              1 egg
                                              1-2 tsp of Greek, lamb or Italian seasoning
                                              salt & pepper
Mix ingredients well and form into loaf. Bake at 350* 45 minutes. Serve with fresh cucumber sauce.

                                             CUCUMBER SAUCE
                                             1/2 c. sour cream
                                             1/4 cup mayonnaise
                                             1/3- 1/2 c. finely diced cucumber
                                             2 cloves garlic, minced
                                             1/2 tsp garlic salt
                                             1/2 tsp. dill weed
                                             black pepper

Monday, August 8, 2011

Homemade Salad Dressings

Homemade salad dressings are inexpensive and easy to make. You can vary the taste by changing herbs, vinegars and adding other ingredients. Here are a couple of basics-

 Creamy Ranch Style
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp each dried chives & parsley
OR 2 tsp each fresh
1/4-1/2 each salt & pepper
Put all ingredients in blender. Makes about 1 cup.
Variations- like avocado ranch? toss in some mashed avocado. Spicy? add a chipotle pepper. Smokey jalapeno? add a roasted jalapeno or how about roasted red pepper. The options are endless.

Basic Vinaigrette
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
Mix well or put in blender. Play with this one too. Different vinegars, maybe balsamic? Spicy red pepper flakes, fresh basil and lemon, roasted garlic and chives... For a creamy Italian add a couple of tbsp. of sour cream.     Now wasn't that easy AND delicious!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tonight's Homestead Meal - Cheeseburgers


Burgers are a great easy, go to meal. Tonight we had them with homemade french fries and  fresh grilled zucchini. No lettuce here today so we used large Malabar spinach leaves and tomatoes!

 This morning I made buns. So easy and good and the cost for 12 was only 99 cents! I froze half for another time.  
                                               Homemade Hamburger Buns: 
                                                 1 1/2 cups warm milk
                                                 1/3 cup melted butter
                                                 1/2 tsp. salt
                                                 1 tsp yeast
                                                 1 egg slightly beaten
                                                 2 tsp. honey
Mix together in a bowl and let stand until frothy. With dough hook attachment add  4-5 cups flour until smooth dough forms. Knead for 3-4 minutes. Let rise covered until double. Divide into 12 pieces and form into balls. Flatten slightly. Let rise again 30 -45 minutes. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 350*  30 minutes or until brown. Let cool on wire racks. We like using 1/3- 1/2 wheat or spelt flour for a heartier bun.

Easy Homemade Fries: Cut potatoes in sticks, chunks or slices.  I use the large julienne plate on my mandolin. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake at 400* for about 40 minutes.
Grilled Zucchini: Thinly slice and toss with olive oil and garlic salt. Lay in layers in a grill basket, grill until desired level of doneness.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tonight's Homestead Meal - Lamb

                            CHERRY TOMATO & FETA SALAD

Tonight was a feast fit for kings and queens. Farm raised lamb chops were rubbed with a rosemary and garlic paste and grilled. Fresh eggplant dipped in farm fresh eggs and homemade bread crumbs lightly fried and served with a fresh tomato sauce and a salad made with black pearl cherry tomatoes, homemade feta and fresh basil. Eating from the farm need not be boring. Simple, yet elegant a perfect meal to end the week. The only store purchased items were the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a local friend's dried Italian herb mix.

Fresh Tomato Sauce:
Peel and chop 4 medium tomatoes.Add 4-5 minced garlic cloves, 2 tbsp minced onion, a drizzle of olive oil, 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, and 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Let simmer while preparing the rest of the meal or at least an hour. You can puree for a smoother sauce or leave chunky, adding fresh basil at the end.
Fried Eggplant:
Make bread crumbs by pulsing homemade bread and Italian seasoning in your blender and place in a shallow bowl.. Set aside. Lightly beat 1-2 farm fresh eggs in another bowl. Peel eggplant, dredge in egg and dip in bread crumbs. In a cast iron skillet heat olive oil and lightly fry eggplant until tender.(take care not to overheat olive oil!) Keep warm in the oven. Top with tomato sauce just before serving.

Grilled Lamb Chops:
Make a paste of finely chopped fresh rosemary and minced fresh garlic. Brush chops with olive oil and press paste into meat. Grill until desired doneness, we like our medium rare.

Cherry Tomato and Feta Salad:
Crumble feta in a bowl. Halve or quarter cherry tomatoes. Add to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste and top with fresh chopped basil. Lightly toss again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe- Mastering The Basics

I bake almost daily. I love to smell the aroma of fresh bread and love even more to cut a warm loaf and slather it with butter. Homemade bread can be relatively inexpensive to make (at least 1/2 of grocery store prices!) and so much better for you. Here is my basic whole wheat bread recipe~ feel free to play with a variety of grains and as always~ Enjoy!

You can do this small batch by hand or in a machine with a dough hook. I have a Bosch mixer that I have used daily for almost 20 years along with my Whisper Mill grain mill that is used daily as well. If you don't mill your own wheat keep your flour in the fridge to keep it from going rancid.

                                           100% Whole Wheat Bread
                                                Makes 2 loaves
6-7 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp. yeast
1/3 - 1/2 c. oil or melted butter
1/3 c. honey
2 1/2 tsp salt
Mill wheat berries. Put about 1/2 of the flour in your mixing bowl, add yeast, water, honey and butter. Mix and let sponge for about 15 minutes. Add the salt and enough flour to make a smooth dough. Knead for 6 minutes if using a machine or about 10 if by hand. Divide dough into 2 loaves and place in greased pans. Let rise until almost to the top of pans. Bake @ 350* for 30 minutes. Remove to cooling racks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Keeping A Well Stocked Pantry

In order to be able to utilize what you are growing and cook from scratch you really need to have a well stocked pantry. I prefer to buy in bulk as it saves me time and money. I don't have to shop for the basics every week and I don't spend more at the grocery store than intended. You know, you are out of rice, run to the store and said bag of rice cost you $100.00. Sound familiar? Been there, done that.
As I have said I buy bulk basics from a coop. My favorite coop is Something Better Natural Foods and they deliver to this area every other month. If you keep staples on hand you are ready to put a meal together in short time with just a bit of planning.
In my pantry you will find a variety of dried beans. You will also find a several kinds of grains including wheat berries, oats, quinoa, barley, whole corn, rye, spelt and kamut. Brown rice is also a staple, along with a variety of pastas. 
Until my bees produce enough honey for us, I keep a large bucket of that along with sugar and salt. I have lots of spices and herbs as well. Don't forget your baking basics, yeast, baking powder, baking soda and a good quality cocoa powder. Lastly, I keep a variety of raw nuts on hand. Those I keep refrigerated and they are used for granolas,cookies and just plain snacks.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And So It Begins...

Yesterday I came home from the grocery store, muttering and stewing over the fact that I had spent $60 and had two small bags to show for it. How do people live these days?! I ranted to my husband. He shrugged once again as he has done for the last few weeks when I ask the same question over and over. I don't buy meat, milk, bread or packaged things and still spend a small fortune. Now, I must admit that we do eat organically and naturally. We avoid all the junk that is loaded with things we can't pronounce and go with fresh wholesome food. I am not a coupon clipper, finding that most of the coupons are for junk food anyway. I mean, really, when is the last time you saw a coupon for broccoli? We are not purists by any means and do enjoy a night out on occasion, but usually feel quite cheated because restaurant food never meets our expectations!
Over the years we have done our best to become more and more self sufficient, raising all of our meat (with the exception of fish) and most of our vegetables. I have attempted to raise dried beans without much success, so I do buy those along with the other grains we use (wheat, spelt, quinoa, rice, etc ) from a coop every other month. We feel this has served us well as we are rarely sick and feel great. So, with us raising the biggest portion of our food, why is it still costing on average of 100.00 each week? I decided to sit down and figure it out and start this blog with the intention of sharing good homestead recipes and helping cut grocery costs by cooking and eating good food made from scratch, the bulk of which we raise here on the farm. Using what is fresh and in season along with what I preserve I hope to see a significant cut in costs. And besides, it will be like a game~and who doesn't like to play?