Category: A Self Sufficient Life

Raising the food we eat- plant and animal

How to Make Your Own Kefir- and Why You Should

How to Make Your Own Kefir- and Why You Should

Kefir (pronounced “Kee-fur” ) is a cultured milk similar to yogurt. The cultures that produce kefir are completely different than yogurt cultures, and have a unique, ultra-healthy probiotic content.

You may have received a kefir start from me- or perhaps you are curious and would like to begin making your own kefir and do not know where to start. Read through these directions, and if you would like a kefir start, please use the contact form and I will  arrange for you to get one (in the US only, sorry)

There are two ways that you may have received a kefir starter from me- in a glass jar that has several cups of  kefir already cultured, or in a plastic baggie with just a little milk.   If you have received a jar, it has already started the culturing process. Skip to *, below.  If you received a baggie with the culture and a small amount of milk,  use the following directions.

Getting started:

  • Clean, well rinsed glass jar

  • Kefir grains (do not rinse the grains!)

  • Milk (any grade: nonfat, low fat, full-fat)

Add the kefir grains to ½ cup of milk in a glass container, and leave it uncovered (or loosely covered) at room temperature (note: refrigerating the culture will stop the process). Stir a couple of times through the next 24 hours. At this point you will notice some of the milk around the grains has thickened.   Add additional milk (up to 2 cups at this point), stir to mix the starter into the new milk, and let it culture, stirring once or twice a day, for an additional 24 hours.  caption id=”attachment_1364″ align=”alignnone” width=”205″]Pour the milk into the jar holding the kefir grains Adding milk to the kefir grains[/caption]

Depending on the temperatures of the room, during this initial ‘waking’ period, the milk will start to thicken after 12-24 hours, sometimes taking as much as 48 hours in a cooler environment. After this time, the milk should appear to be of yogurt consistency and is ready to be consumed as a beverage, used in recipes, turned into ‘cottage cheese’, or “ kept aside for several days to undergo a slower secondary fermentation  which further thickens and sours the milk” (Wikipedia), and adds to the nutrient base.  Use a plastic fork to scoop out the culture, and add the culture and ½ cup of the kefir to a quart size jar, and fill it with milk).

*After this initial period of bringing your culture ‘to life’, the culturing is pretty much a ‘no-brainer’: pour out the kefir that you want to use, then replace it with fresh milk. Stir, cover the jar with a cloth, and leave the jar on the counter.

If you need a break from culturing, put the grains and a tablespoon or two of kefir in a clean jar, add 2 cups milk, and put it into the refrigerator for up to several weeks. Stir it occasionally if you remember. It will stay alive for a long time this way. I have left a starter in the ‘fridge for over a month and had no trouble putting it back into use within 24 hours.  There are times when I will put a fully-cultured jar of kefir in the ‘fridge because I do not have time to use it or deal with it. After 5 or 6 days, I take it out and find that the culture has grown considerably- it is a good way to grow the culture if you wish to share it.

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Do NOTS:

*Do not store in a non-acid proof container (such as metal), and don’t use reactive-metal utensils.  Store and grow your kefir in glass containers. Plastic can be used during traveling.

  • Do not use metal utensils  in the kefir

  • * Do not use any dish that has a soap residue. Rinse any container thoroughly before using, as soap will kill the bacteria.

  • *Don’t suffocate the culture- it needs air. Keep any lid on loosely, or just cover with a cloth to keep bugs and dust out.

  • Do not rinse the grains. This stops the culturing process for several days, and is unnecessary. 

  •  Using your Kefir:

You can drink it plain,  add a little stevia or other sweetener to it, or make a smoothie with it. It can also be used to make ice cream, or as a probiotic ingredient in salad dressings and other recipes. See my Pinterest board for more ideas.

Making kefir cheese, aka ‘cottage’ cheese:

Put the culture in the milk, leave it anywhere from 12 hours to 2 or 3 days (depending on how hot the house is, and how sour you want the kefir cheese to be). Once it is thickened, remove the culture and a cup of kefir,  and put it in another jar. Add milk and set it aside to continue  culturing .    Put the jar of prepared kefir (without cultures- this step will kill the culture!) in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil. As soon as the water boils, (but without boiling the kefir!) and the curds separate from the whey, I turn off the stove and let the pot of water with the jar of curds-and-whey sit until they are cool- several hours or overnight. Then pour the curds-and-whey into a strainer and drain for an hour or two until it is as dry as you want it. If you would prefer it more of a ‘Greek yogurt’ consistency, do not let it drain for long.

I love this kefir cheese served with a little sugar, sour cream and some soaked raisins! Also served plain with a dollop of fruit jam over it. And of course in sirniki  !

I have had the same culture for 9 years, taking it with me whenever I travel. When I do not want to make cheese out of it, or I am traveling, I just drink the cultured milk plain, or add fruit to it and make a smoothie. It is very healthy, and I have never gotten sick when I traveled which I attribute to the good bacteria in the culture.

The culture grows quickly, so you are encouraged to share a piece of it with others.  It is traditional to give kefir away- never sell it (although I do charge postage when I am mailing it).

  Milk kefir is a different culture than water kefir grains.

It will only grow in mammal milk (cow, goat, sheep, etc.)

Kefir (pronounced /kəˈfɪər/ kə-feer is believed to have its origins in the Caucasus Mountains. Traditional kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. Marco Polo mentioned kefir when recounting his travels. (Wikipedia)

Why make kefir? Because it is healthy for you!

lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, Fermentation Products: carbon dioxide, ethanol (alcohol), Nutrients: protein from milk, polysaccharide, Vitamins or pro-vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, folic acid, nicotinic acid, Minerals: calcium, iron, iodine

Fermentation reduces the lactose in the milk, and many lactose-intolerant individuals can tolerate kefir. Test this carefully if you are lactose intolerant  “Researcher Steven Hertzler stated: “Both kefir and yogurt improve lactose digestion simply because some of the bacterial cells give up their lives in the intestinal tract, release their enzymes and digest the lactose. It’s a one-shot deal. However, kefir has additional microorganisms that may be able to colonize the intestines and benefit health further by protecting the intestine against disease-causing bacteria.

The kefiran in kefir has been shown in one study to suppress an increase in blood pressure and reduce serum cholesterol levels in rats. Kefir contains compounds that have antimutagenic and antioxidant properties in vitro, although it is not established that these compounds have any physiological properties when kefir is consumed. “ (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir)

Do you have a question, or would you like  to share your experience with kefir? Please leave a comment below!

 
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Master Tonic- The Powerful Natural Anti-viral Remedy

Master Tonic- The Powerful Natural Anti-viral Remedy

Master Tonic Is the one natural remedy that should be in every home.

Master Tonic, also known as ‘Fire Cider’ for it’s fiery taste,  is Anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. These medicinal herbs are powerful alternatives to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that have been used for generations.  With the right combination of  natural, fresh ingredients, you can fight off the sicknesses that you are exposed to throughout the year. Easy to make, it takes 3-6 weeks to steep so start your Master Tonic today.  Prepare now for those times when you are out in public and someone next to you coughs uncovered,  sneezes in your direction (did you know that germs can travel up to 200 feet in a sneeze?!) or you are in a room with someone obviously sick. This is effective as a preventative immune boosting tonic, as well as the first thing you should reach for when you feel something ‘coming on’.

The Master Tonic recipe is flexible and does not rely on exact amounts of each element. Keep the amounts of the roots approximately equal to each other. Adjust amounts according to the size of the container. It is important that you have at least 2 inches of head-space on top of the chopped ingredients to be sure you can completely cover them with the vinegar, and have room to shake the ingredients thoroughly each day.

Ingredients for a two quart jar:

  • 6 in. Fresh ginger root

  • 6 in. Fresh horseradish root

  • 1/2 cup Fresh turmeric root

  • 1 large onion

  • 1/2 cup Fresh garlic

  • 4 pieces Cinnamon bark

  • 1/4 cup black peppercorn

  • 1-2 Chili peppers

  • 1 quart Natural apple cider vinegar, raw, with the mother

Directions:

  1. Coarsely chop all roots, including onion and garlic

  2. Cut the chili pepper in half and discard seeds.

  3. Using a food processor, chop the above until about the size of a slit pea. You do not want mush, but the ingredients must be finely chopped.

  4. Add the chopped roots to a clean jar. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover completely with apple cider vinegar.

  5. cover securely with a lid, and shake the jar thoroughly.

  6. Place the jar in a dark, cool location and shake at least once per day for 3-6 weeks

  7. Strain the tonic from the solids and refrigerate until needed.

How to take the tonic:

This is a strong tasting tonic. The easiest way to take the tonic is to put a tablespoon in a cup, and have a 1/4 cup of orange juice at hand to ‘chase’ it down with. Alternatives are adding it to juice or water, or add molasses or honey as a sweetener. My particular favorite is to add it half-and-half with elderberry syrup. Not only is the taste better, but you get the added benefits from the elderberry- a powerful medicinal herb in itself.

Have you tried Master Tonic? What has been your experience? Please leave a comment below to encourage me to continue writing 🙂 

 

 

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The Secret of Success

The Secret of Success

imgp2380In 2010, the private school in which I had taught for 9 years abruptly closed. I loved my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Along with my job, I lost insurance and security. I spent several months job hunting. Never in my life had I found it difficult to find a job, so I was not worried at first, but as the weeks went by I failed to find a job that paid enough to make it worth the gas to drive in.  I slowly became resigned to the fate of having to work in retail.  Selling cans of peas seemed like quite a step down from my previous career, and was embarrassing to admit to in conversation.

When I walked into the retail store on my first day of work, I made a decision. I decided that if I was going to have to sell peas and apples for my living, I was going to do the best job of selling and customer service that anyone could do. I decided that I would wear nice clothes and present myself to the community as someone who was happy to be doing what I was doing, and I would work harder than anyone else. If I had any negative feelings about what I was about to do, those feelings were dropped at the door each and every day.

img_1454I became the most reliable, hardest working person I could be. I was pleasant and friendly to everyone, no matter how I was feeling. It was physically demanding after so many years in a classroom, and there were days when I went out to my freezing car and fell fast asleep during my lunch hour.

Several weeks after I started, I heard a call for all available employees to attend a safety meeting. Not knowing what it was or if I was supposed to attend, I quickly finished what I had been doing and went to the meeting. A question was asked that I nervously answered, and as a result I was given an assignment. I took care of that assignment, and the following week reported what I had done. Because I had spoken up, accepted an assignment and followed through, I came to the attention of the managers who attended that meeting. Two weeks later, less than a month after being hired, I was called to the store manager’s office (a scary occurrence for a new employee), and offered the position of leader of the Safety Team. I had no idea what a safety team leader did, but I said “Yes”.

Over the next several years I was given additional opportunities, and became very effective as the safety img_1466representative in the store as well as the other jobs I was assigned to do. I became known as a hard worker, a role model to other employees (this store employs an average of 350 people), and someone who will get a job done when asked. I went out of my way to learn everything I could about my job, and became the person that many people approach to ask questions and get answers, or to report things they do not feel comfortable telling anyone else.

The benefits have been great. I was injured slipping on ice at home and had to take a leave of absence. When I was ready to return, the management went out of their way to be sure there was a spot that I could do successfully with the limitations I was under at the time.  When I needed something, I received it.

2013-10-dante-ashlyn-brynlee-grandma-18Several years ago, I went through a difficult time. Working at the store became frustrating and I struggled to remain positive. After several months of wrestling in prayer I decided to quit my job and go be a stress-free nanny. When I told the store manager, he was disappointed in my decision, and encouraged me to work just one day a week at the store, taking care of the safety responsibilities. Technically, there is no position for someone just doing safety in this corporation, but he took a leap and figured out how to make it work. If I had not proven my worth over the previous years with hard and consistent work, that would have been the end of my employment there, losing the benefits as well.

It has worked out very well in the ensuing years. I still work part time at the store. They have cheerfully worked around my nanny schedules through the past several years. It is a secure feeling to know20160514_181132 that if something happens and I need to go back full time, I have a secure  position.

With two jobs, a service mission, family and church responsibilities, raising our own garden and meat animals, as well as the 14+ hours a week studying, the lessons I have learned about 20160705_161158constantly working hard and smart to the best of my ability remains a priority. The benefits are worth the work.

I enjoy my work and my education opportunity. I make a difference in my occupation and other activities, and I feel respected and appreciated in all of my pursuits. The opportunities that have come to me have been a result of blessings, personal choices, hard work, willingness to go above and beyond the minimum required, and good attitudes.

 

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” –  Babe Ruth

 

 

Teresita’s Story. The epitome of a hard worker, she obtaining a microloan, and was able to buy supplies in bulk to supplement the meager income of her husband. Click here to watch this short video (2:03)

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Finding Peace

Finding Peace

So many things can go wrong with our bodies, our finances, our future, our families, our country…there are a million ways to discover fear, none of which bring peace or happiness. The lack of peace is perhaps the most underestimated cause of anger, resentment, and lack of purpose in life. This past election season has been a parable of fear vs. peace, with an entire nation  stressed and fearful of what November would bring. What if you could live your life without fear, and be at peace today and all your tomorrows?

No matter who is in the White House or is Mayor of the next town over, no matter what war is threatening on the horizon, or who is in control of the world’s money supply, we can have peace now and look forward to the future with joy and optimism.

Peace does not just ‘happen’

Peace is something that must be worked for, both national peace and personal peace. It comes from putting down those dark glasses of fearlet-peace-begin-with-me and contention as a people and as an individual, and deciding that we want to be part of the solution, part of the light. It’s a no-brainer that once you turn on a light, the darkness recedes- and one person can shine and give off light that ripples outward way beyond what they ever realize. It takes only one person to start a movement towards light.

Where do I begin…

When we come to the conclusion that being negative, fearful and pessimistic about life isn’t working for us, how do we change? How do we make that incredible leap from fear to peace? We need to find a guide to help us find the light. We need a mentor; someone who knows us well, cares about our personal happiness and peace, and someone who has seen both the dark, and the light of peace. The best mentor to teach, explain and model peace is Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. Following the master mentor may mean getting out of your comfort zone and opening your mind and heart to new possibilities.  Accepting the gift of the atonement brings the gift of peace right along with it. The kind of meme-bible-john-peace-1342009-gallerypeace that sticks with you no matter what is going on around you, and the kind of peace that changes your view of life. It’s that peace that gives us the realization that this life matters, that what we say and do, and the relationships we form affect us much more than we ever thought- and that it is all good.

Does this life really matter?

My husband’s father passed away after suffering with cancer for some time. At one point, he was in the hospital with his two sons by his side. He had had an experience the previous evening that was very sacred to him, and he described it in detail to his sons. From that time on, he had no fear of death- he knew what it was like, and knew who would be meeting him on the other side of the veil. His death came peacefully not too many months after that experience, and not only did that tender mercy of the Lord, the gift of peace, bless him, it blessed his sons and others with the testimony of the reality of the atonement and resurrection. What happens in this life matters because this is not the end of our existence. Life goes on.

Being assured of resurrection makes life better now.

 The resurrection- life after death- is a ‘free’ gift for every person who has ever lived on this earth. Because of the atonement, you don’t die and then just cease to exist.  You lived before this earth life, and you will continue to live after this short period of mortality ends. Knowing that makes what we do here and now important. Knowing that makes the difference between fear and peace.

 Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught that “the assurance of resurrection and immortality affects how we look on the physical challenges of mortality, how we live our mortal lives, and how we relate to those around us… the assurance of resurrection gives us the strength and perspective to endure the mortal challenges faced by each of us and by those we love…” (“Resurrection” Ensign, May 2000).

Those challenges can erode our peace and bring fear and uncertainty without an understanding of what happens after we leave tpeace-and-lovehis earth.

If I had one wish for every person on earth, it would be to feel at peace, today and your every tomorrow. My wish for you is that you feel that
God knows you as an individual child of His. Not only does He know you, He loves you and wants you to have peace and joy now, while you are on this earth, while you prepare to live the rest of your eternity.

 

Proclaim Peace! 

be-the-peace
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-083-proclaim-peace?lang=eng
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Helping a good seed to grow…

Helping a good seed to grow…

20160613_205539I grow a lot of plants for my garden each year. I have a short growing season, and if I want tomatoes or green peppers, I need to start the seeds in January in my house, nurture the little seedlings and help them to grow as fast as possible. The young plants are transferred to a heated greenhouse in April, where they are planted in bigger and bigger pots until they are finally prepared to live outside in June. Throughout each stage, the seeds and plants must be carefully protected from the cold, and nourished constantly, or else they die and I have to start over. If I have to start over, I lose most of the potential of the plants, because the temperatures will drop to freezing again in the fall, just when the fruit begins to ripen.

Nourishing a seed of faith requires the same diligence as raising a tomato plant in the winter. When I learn a truth that just yells to me “Heed me, I will make your life better!”, I feel excited and eager to make it part of my life. Now comes the hard work, though. If all I do is notice that little seed of faith, and let it wash over me without heeding it, it soon disappears in the daily distractions of life. If, however I begin to nourish it, it is like putting a heating pad under newly planted seeds- the warmth of the Lords guidance makes that seed sprout and bear fruit.

To nourish a new idea, a good seed, I have found that I need to do the following: 1. Write it down, including my impressions and feelings 2. Talk to Heavenly Father about it immediately and ask for help understanding how it should impact my life and 3. Continue to focus on it in the days to come.

Writing down what I have learned is the first thing I do once I hear something important. Taking notes during conference is a good example of heeding good seeds that I want to grow. Then, to have that good seed grow requires help from Heavenly Father. That requires communication with God on a regular basis. Talking to Him about what I have just learned, and asking His help to understand it is like putting a grow light over my baby seedlings- the Holy Ghost can pour light on even the most difficult concepts. Heeding the guidance that we receive about the seed will assure that the seed will continue to grow. Once it becomes a habit to pay attention to the seed that has now become a seedling, I am on my way to assuring that the good seed will become part of my life.

When I grow seeds for my garden, there has to be constant, daily focus on the process. If I forget to water them one day, the next day they are weakened. If they are not watered two days in a row, they dry up and die. The seed of faith has to be treated just as consistently. I cannot hear a truth, write it down, and then ignore it while expecting it to continue to grow. If it is something that requires action, I can’t wait until Sunday to do something- by then I will have lost the momentum and the seed will have withered and died. I will have lost the feeling and excitement and it becomes just part of the background noise- if I remember it at all.

Sometimes we find a good seed, and then it is killed off by inattention. Inattention is the frost of faith. What we want to grow, we have to focus on. As that seed becomes stronger, we understand it more, we have made it part of our lives, and it becomes a plant that bears fruit in our life and in the lives of others.

Those good seeds are worth the time and cost.

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Raising Free Rabbit Meat

Raising Free Rabbit Meat

A Rabbit in every pot…In many parts of the world, rabbits are raised as an inexpensive, easy to raise source of meat.  It is possible to do the same here at home, with a little effort and the right conditions.

Many people have grown up with the idea that animals do not thrive unless they are fed commercially-prepared foods. This has been a carefully crafted sales pitch during the past 70 years from pet food companies who sell over $21 billion of animal food each year. By the 1960’s, The pet food industry was spending over $50 million a year on advertising to convince pet owners that table scraps were unhealthy for dogs and cats. We now face billions of dollars of pet food advertising each year, designed to make us believe that we cannot feed our animals and beloved pets properly unless it comes out of a bag or a can. Rabbit pellets were developed for the commercial rabbit industry in 1950’s and then adopted by the pet industry by the 1960’s when rabbit meat began to go out of ‘fashion’ and bunnies became a favored pet.

Rabbits can get the nutrition that they need the same way wild rabbits do– from a variety of weeds and greens, dried grasses (hay) and veggies, flowers, seeds, twigs and bark. Add some old bread, and your grower rabbits will grow as quickly and remain as healthy as any rabbit raised on pellets.

To know if your rabbits are getting the nutrition they need, evaluate them: Are they healthy? Do they have healthy, large litters? Do they breed easily? Do the young grow at a steady rate?  If the answers are all yes, your feeding strategy is working.

This method of feeding is not for everyone. I am the first to admit that I am in the perfect spot to raise rabbits with a natural diet- I have access to a LOT of weeds starting in mid-late spring, and a majority of those weeds are alfalfa which I mowed down for 20 years before realizing what a resource they are. I also live in a rural area where I can walk down the dirt roads and harvest any weeds I see. Hay is easy to purchase as well, with an 80 pound bale of excellent hay going for about $6.  For those that do not have access to weeds (and don’t have a large enough yard to plant alfalfa or other feed-plants) and hay, using pellets may be the best alternative- but do supplement them with horse hay cubes so they get to gnaw a bit. Note: DO NOT feed unknown plants to your rabbits until you know what they are and if they are edible or toxic! Same with leaves, bark and other vegetation.

To feed rabbits naturally, they should have access to feed 24/7. Rabbits in the wild are grazers- they nibble here, nibble there, taste a bit of this and that. They are designed to eat constantly and when we keep them confined, they are healthiest if they have consistent access to food.  Greens should be fed at least once a day, with it lasting for most of the day. If you can cut it fresh, feed it twice a day. I use a home-made feeder made of fence wire and stuff it full twice a day- my rabbits are never without access to live food during the spring, summer and fall months. In the winter, I scavenge for greens at grocery stores. Small mom-and-pop grocery stores are often willing to give away old or less-perfect vegetables.  Avoid root vegetables except as treats or during the coldest months, as they are higher in starch than rabbits can easily digest. Also avoid iceberg lettuces, as there is no nutrition in them.

Bread is a part of my feeding plan. I understand that there is controversy about feeding bread to animals, however I have used bread for many years for rabbits, chickens, horses and cows with my vets blessing, and have never had a health issue. There is a bakery in town that throws away old bread and is willing to dump a bunch of it in my trunk once a week. A bread outlet in town also sells their old bread for $10 per truck. I feed the organic bread to the rabbits. Each pregnant or nursing rabbit gets 1 slice twice a day, the buck and non-breeding does get a half slice twice a day. The growers are free-fed bread. Some rabbits love the bread and eat it first, others nibble on it throughout the day.

We have cold, snowy winters here, with nothing green in sight for 3 months. For the best health and contentment, rabbits need variety, although their main diet is hay during the winter. I give each rabbit a handful of pellets as a treat each day, and to provide variety. I also buy one bag of horse alfalfa cubes per winter, to give the rabbits something to chew on and to vary their diet.

I grow wheat grass for the rabbits during the winters. They get a cupcake size handful of growing grass each day during the coldest months. I grow the grass in the house, or in the greenhouse when it is heated. Sunflower heads are another treat that the rabbits love, and can be grown in the garden during the summers.

Most of the rabbits I raise are used for our families meat needs, as well as ‘dinner gifts’ for neighbors. In order to pay for hay and a few bags of pellets each year, I advertise rabbits as pets and breeders on Craigslist and on several Facebook ‘For Sale’ pages in our area. I always breed to sell to the ‘Easter Bunny’ crowd.  To avoid the ‘after Easter bunny dump’,  as a condition of the sale of every rabbit I sell, I offer a ‘free return’ option. Customers can bring a rabbit back to me, although I do not refund the cost. I will go pick up the bunnies if necessary. This prevents bunnies from being abandoned when parents realize that they actually take some care.

One disclaimer that needs to be stated: Although I spend no money out-of-pocket for the rabbit meat, the time it takes me to gather and grow feed is considerable in the long run. I spend about 1.5 hours for each pound of meat that I produce. Like many people, time is valuable and extra time is scarce in my life. When weighing the time vs cost saving, however, I still feel I am coming out ahead- I eat nothing but organic, humanely raised meat. I know exactly what has gone into each and every one, I know they have lived a happy life and had a humane ending. To me, that is worth the time and effort.

 

 

 

 

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6 easy steps for Growing Microgreens

6 easy steps for Growing Microgreens

Microgreens are nutrient powerhouses and are easily grown by practically anyone- no yard or garden needed! They are costly to buy in stores- if you can even find them! But have no fear-they are cheap to raise, and growing microgreens is also a fun introduction to gardening for children. 

Microgreens add excellent nutrition, freshness, and beauty to many dishes.

Depending on the seeds grown, Microgreens add a delicate, subtle, or strong flavor to many dishes.  IMG_9700

Don’t confuse microgreens with sprouts or baby greens. 

Sprouts are eaten when the seeds are just beginning to sprout a root and stem, usually at 2-5 days. Microgreens are ready to eat in 5-14 days, depending on the temperatures in the house, and the variety of seeds. As soon as they have two leaves, they are ready to eat. Baby Greens have grown longer than microgreens, usually from 2-4 weeks, and are often sold bagged in supermarkets in the produce section.

Growing Microgreens requires little more than a container, seeds, water, and a little light

Microgreen seeds
Seeds for microgreens- sunflower, lentil and flax from the grocery store

I buy most of my seeds at a grocery store. Raw sunflower seeds in the shell, lentils, and flax seeds are very inexpensive and can be found in bulk food areas as well as in small bags. The seeds that grew into the greens above cost less than twenty cents.

You can also purchase seeds online- Kale, broccoli, mustard and other types that give variety in taste and color. In the middle of wIMG_9763inter when you crave flavor and greens is a good time to experiment with different varieties.

With a container and a cover, seeds, a little soil, paper and water, you are ready to grow any type of microgreens with very little cost- and a big reward.

A nutritional study was carried out in 2012 by the University of Maryland. The study indicated that microgreens are 4-40 times higher in nutritional value than mature vegetables.  That’s a pretty good reason to grow microgreens!

Directions for Growing Microgreens.

Equipment: Tray, soil, single-ply toilet paper, seeds, spray bottle, water, sunny windowsill or grow light. 

Examples of growing containers for microgreens
Any low-sided, clean container can be used to grow microgreens

Any low-sided container will work as a tray for growing microgreens. 1. Put 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) of soil in the bottom of the container.  
IMG_9756

preparing the tissue paper for the microgreen trays
Separate the tissue into a single ply layer

2. Cover the soil with a natural brand of 2 ply toilet tissue that has been separated to make a single ply layer. The purpose of the paper is to keep the soil separated from the microgreens, but allow the roots to easily penetrate to the soil.

Tissue covered microgreen planters
Cover the soil with a single ply layer of organic tissue
Growing trays ready to plant microgreens
Spray the covered soil with enough water to moisten it thoroughly, and pour any excess out before planting microgreens

3. Spray the paper-covered soil until it is well-moistened, but not soggy. There should never be any standing water.

Microgreen seeds planted
Microgreen seeds sprinkled in a single layer on top of the prepared soil/paper covering

4. Cover the paper with a thin, single layer of seeds, and spray the seeds with water. The soil and seeds must be wet, but never standing in water. If you get too much water in, just pour the excess out.

Sunflower seeds ready to grow into microgreens
Cover migrogreen sunflower seeds with a single-ply layer of paper to retain moisture

Cover larger seeds such as sunflower seeds with an additional layer of the paper to help retain moisture. The microgreens will grow right through the paper. Keep the paper moist at all times.

Turning microgreen planters into mini-greenhouses with a plastic bag
After planting, cover the microgreen trays with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. Keep them on a counter, out of the direct sunlight

5. Place each tray in a sealed plastic bag or cover it with plastic wrap to keep the seeds evenly moist. Leave the plastic over the tray until the seeds begin to sprout (1-3 days, depending on the type of seeds). Keep the planting containers out of the sun until the plastic cover has been removed.

A layer of paper on top of the seeds helps retain moisture until they sprout. The seeds easily grow through the layer.
Microgreen sunflower seeds sprouting through the paper covering
Microgreens sprouting and ready to put in the sun to continue growing.
Microgreen seeds beginning to sprout and ready to have the plastic bag removed.

6. Once the seeds have begun to sprout, remove the plastic bags and place the trays in a sunny window sill, or under a grow light. They must have strong light to grow well and healthy.

Microgreens ready to harvest
1 week old microgreens ready to harvest. Flax, lentil, French lentil

Spray the growing seeds once or twice a day to keep the dirt and paper wet. If the paper looks dry, the dirt under is too dry- add more water. Once the greens have 2 leaves, they are ready to use in salads, sandwiches, as garnishes, or in many other ways…

Using scissors, cut the microgreens just above the roots
harvesting microgreens
Growing microgreens without soil in the greens
Healthy microgreen roots that have grown through the paper, keeping the soil out of the greens

You can see in this photo that the roots have grown right through the paper cover, keeping the greens clean.
Snip the greens at the soil level. The soil (and paper) can be added to a compost pile or fed to a worm bin, or thrown into a garden.

Using your microgreens in a salad
Microgreens and baby kale form the base of the best salad you have ever eaten
Store microgreens in the refrigerator for up to 3 days
Place cut microgreens on a paper towel in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Store the cut microgreens covered in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Placing a napkin under the greens to help the microgreens remain fresh, longer.
My favorite way of eating microgreens: add several different kinds of microgreens to chopped baby kale, grated carrots, tiny cubes of a sharp cheese, any other raw vegetables that I happen to have on hand,  and add a poppy seed dressing…. excellent!

For recipes and over 100 ideas for using microgreens, look for Microgreen Margo on Pinterest

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Harvest Day in the Corn Patch

Harvest Day in the Corn Patch

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We have been helping our neighbor with his corn patch for the past couple of years, and this year the corn looked tremendous- tall and healthy despite the strange weather we have had this year. There was a lot of cool, rainy weather followed by above-average temperatures, then more cool… Idaho is famous for having unpredictable weather, but this summer has been the whopper of unpredictability.

Thursday was harvest day, and we were unhappily surprised by the results- despite the months of planting, watering, weeding and caring for the corn patch, we harvested a third of what we had expected. Sometimes things happen that are not what we expect. How we react when the unexpected happens is a measure of our personality. Can we see the ‘silver lining’* despite our disappointments?

I am happy to say that, though disappointed in the harvest, we enjoyed our harvest party- and enjoyed the fact that it only took two hours instead of the five or six that it took last year (there is one silver lining!). I also have no doubt that God will provide for us- we will have enough to eat without a freezer full of corn. This means we will have room in the freezer for other tasty foods (silver lining #2)!IMG_8997

 

The whole family gets involved in the corn harvest- Grandma and I  shuck the corn before the rest of the family show up.IMG_9004

 

Once the rest of the family arrives, a son boils the corn for just a minute to stop the ripening process.IMG_9005

The corn is then put in front of a fan to cool it quickly.

Even the young grandchildren are able to help. Here, Dante is counting the empty corn cobs to keep track of how many dozen we have grown.IMG_9007

Grandma had an accident a few years ago and is unable to do much, but the family is careful to include her so she feels useful. Her job is to write the year on the freezer bags. One of the grandchildren then helps her put a quart of corn in each bag

At the end of the evening, each member of the family takes home corn for the freezer. We appreciate the bounty of the earth, the space for a garden, the ability to grow a garden, and the water to keep it green. Yes, we were a bit disappointed in the amount, but there is so much to be grateful for!IMG_9030

Even the horses are happy today- the corn husks are a tasty treat!

The only unhappy creatures are the wild turkeys- their free corn supply has ended for the year. 🙂

Now that the corn is finished, it is time to harvest the apples again- make apple cider, apple cider vinegar, apple pies, dehydrated apples… and then the tomatoes, potatoes, beans and squash. What a blessing to have a garden and to be able to appreciate all we grow, throughout the coming winter. No matter how the price of food goes up because of strange weather patterns around the world, my family will eat healthy and well. I am truly thankful!

 

 

Corn Fritters
 
Author: Margo
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 patties
A tasty addition to breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • ⅓ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup flour (white or whole wheat)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup milk (I use non fat)
  • 2 cups cooked corn kernels
  • Vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Instructions:
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Add milk and chopped parsley, and mix together with a wooden spoon until thick and thoroughly mixed through.
  4. Add the cooked corn (boiled or grilled) and mix well with the flour mixture.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan.
  6. Using a ⅓ cup measuring cup, scoop corn mixture out and place into the skillet, gently
  7. pressing the mound down so it’s flattened.
  8. Cook for 5 minutes on one side, or until it’s browned, turn it over and cook another 5 minutes, or until it’s browned.
  9. Serve immediately with sour cream

Corrn patties blog post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*A silver lining is a metaphor for optimism in the common English-language idiom “Every cloud has a silver lining.” ex: “The silver lining to not harvesting much corn is that we will have room in the freezer for more ice cream!”

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Spring Gardening fail…Неудачная весенняя посадка…

Spring Gardening fail…Неудачная весенняя посадка…

March 15, 2015 , 15 марта 2015

Patience has never been my forte. That is never so clear as in spring. Unfortunately, this year I took impatience to new heights- the weather was beautiful and warm (we have had the warmest winter on record in Idaho), and I decided to get an early start on my bucket garden.  My carefully tended 7 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers started in January are quite, pathetically, dead:Терпение никогда не было мой чертой. Это никогда не проявляется так хорошо, как весной. К сожаленью, в этом году мое нетерпение достигло новых высот – погода была прекрасной и теплой (у нас была самая теплая зима в истории Айдахо) и я решила посадить мой ведерочный огород рано. Мои семь видов помидоров и перца (семена которых я собираю из года в год), которые я начала прорашивать в январе, сейчас к сожалению совершенно мертвы:

20150315_163305Last year was the first time I used a greenhouse. Ron and I built one out of PVC and plastic in the late summer, and it very successfully extended our growing season several months. We were still harvesting tomatoes in October.  В прошлом году я впервые использовала теплицу. В конце прошлого лета я и Рон построили теплицу из пластмассовых труб и клеенки, и это успешно удлиннило наш огородный сезон на несколько месяцев. Мы продолжали собирать помидоры в октябре.

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Harvesting tomatoes in late September- only with a greenhouse and a heater in zone 2!  Сбор помидоров в конце сентября только с помощью теплицы в зоне с длинной зимой и коротким летом!

It worked so well last fall that I realized I could extend the season just as much at the end of winter, beginning of spring. And, If I had looked at these photos from last year, all would have been well. Unfortunately, I didn’t look first and my memory failed me. I had successfully heated a tiny greenhouse with just a single strand of Christmas lights last spring, so I regrettably assumed that would be sufficient for my darling little baby tomatoes and peppers yesterday in the large greenhouse. Это так хорошо работало прошлой осенью, что привело меня к идее увеличить огородный сезон в эту сторону. Если бы я посмотрела на эти фотографии с прошлого года, все было бы хорошо. 

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Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten that when I used the large greenhouse in the fall, I had two strands of lights and a heat lamp going each night. That one little strand was definitely not enough to protect my little seedlings last night. Arrrrgh!!! К сожалению, я не посмотрела и моя память меня подвела. У меня получалось обогреть мою крохотную теплицу только одной новогодней гирляндой, поэтому я естественно решила, что этого будет достаточно для моей рассады помидоров и перца вчера вечером. Фуу!!!

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Last years bucket garden in late September- with a heater and two strands of lights for warmth at night Прошлогодний огород в ведрах в конце сентября с обогревателем и двумя новогодними гирляндами для подогрева ночью.

Well, I want home-grown tomatoes this year so I shall just re-plant everything.  Next year, I will have better memories, more experience, and heirloom tomatoes on the 4th of July! Ну что же, я хочу домашних помидоров в этом году, поэтому мне придется все пересадить. В следующем году я точто это не забуду благодаря этому опыту и у меня будут домашние помидоры к 4му июля!

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If I had left the starts on top of the bales, they may have survived. The bales are beginning to decompose, so there is a small amount of heat rising from them. Mistake #2… Если бы я оставила рассаду на соломе, они может быть бы выжили. Солома начинает разлагаться, поэтому из нее выходит немного тепла. Ошибка №2…

At least the baby asparagus survived. По крайней мере аспарагус выжил.

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Red-Russian kale, the hardiest plants to grow in early spring. Good thing they do not need heat this time of the year! Красная русская листовая капуста – растение, которое труднее всего вырастить ранней весной. Хорошо, что им не нужно тепло в это время года!

 

And the Kale, of course- И листовая капуста, конечно-

 

I learned my lesson the hard way…  Я заучила этот урок на собственном печальном опыте…

Do you grow a garden? What do you like to grow? Have you ever been SO ready for spring that you got started a bit too early?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As American as Apple… Juice!  Настолько американский как яблочный …. сок!

As American as Apple… Juice! Настолько американский как яблочный …. сок!

September 2014 Сентябрь 2014

It is apple time! There is nothing so good as a fresh apple picked straight from the tree…unless it is bags and bags of fresh-picked apples. Some dear friends of ours have two beautiful old apple trees that were completely loaded this year.Это время яблок! Нет ничего более лучшего, чем свеже-сорванное с дерева яблоко, кроме как … много мешков полных свеже-сорванных яблок. У наших дорогих друзей есть два шикарных яблочных дерева, которые в этом году были полностью увешаны яблоками.

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After picking all they wanted, they offered the rest of the apples to us. I will never say no to free apples, especially when other dear friends had recently bought a brand new juicer! После того, как они собрали все, что им было нужно, они предложили все оставшееся нам. Я никогда не откажусь от яблок, особенно когда наши другие друзья недавно купили новую соковыжималку!

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My little grandchildren enjoyed learning the joys of picking- and eating- apples! Моим маленьким внукам понравилось учиться собирать и кушать яблоки!

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We have lived in our home for over 20 years, and during all this time had no idea that one of the scrub-trees on the hillside was an apple tree! It had never borne fruit, and if it had blossoms, we never noticed them. Earlier in the spring Paul, who is a certified ‘master gardener’, came up to graft a few new apple varieties onto what we thought was our only apple tree. After looking it over, he walked to a tree about 10 feet away and suggested that we prune this one to one trunk, and graft to it instead. That was the first we knew that we actually had two apple trees. Мы жили в нашем доме более 20 лет и даже не подозревали, что одно из деревьев в зарослях на холме было яблочным деревом! Оно никогда не приносило никаких плодов, и если оно когда-то и цвело, мы этого не заметили. Ранней весной Пол (мастер-садовод с сертефикатом) пришел к нам, чтоб привить несколько разных яблочных видов к дереву, которое мы все это время считали единственным яблочным деревом. После того, как он его осмотрел, он отошел всторону на три метра и предложил нам обрезать то другое дерево и привить ветви к нему. Это когда мы впервые узнали, что у нас два яблочных дерева. After some extremely drastic pruning, Paul grafted several branches onto it. We were thrilled to see that all the baby branches survived the summer. In a few years we will have 3 or 4 varieties of apples growing on the same tree. In the mean time, after it’s first pruning in 20 years, that little tree exploded with huge, juicy apples- the first apples it has ever borne.  После очень серьезной обрезки, Пол привил к нему ветви. Мы были так счастливы увидеть, что все маленькие ветви перенесли лето и выжили. Через несколько лет у нас будет 3-4 вида яблок растущих на одном дереве. А пока после первой обрезки за 20 лет это дерево принесло огромные сочные яблоки – первые яблоки, которые у него когда-нибудь были.

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In a few years hopefully we will  be the ones giving away apples to our friends. Через пару лет, надеюсь, мы будем теми, кто будет раздавать яблоки нашим друзьям.

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After letting the apples sit for 7 days to soften, we brought them down to the Lish’s and turned the apples into the most delicious apple cider I have ever tasted: После того, как мы дали яблоким посидеть 7 дней для смягчения, мы принесли их к Лишам и превратили яблоки в самый вкусный яблочный сок, какой я когда-либо пробовала:

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The first step is to wash the apples and cut out any rotten parts.Первый шаг – помыть яблоки и вырезать гнилые части.

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The apples are then dropped into the hopperwhich chops the apples and grinds them into tiny pieces- peels, cores and all. Затем яблоки забрасываются в воронку, где они измельчаются, перетираются на мелкие кусочки (кожура, середина и все).

IMG_9175As a special treat, some home grown grapes were added to the first batch…I gave myself a stomach-ache drinking too much of it- absolutely fabulous flavor!Чтоб сделать еще вкуснее, мы добавили немного домашнего винограда в первую партую сока… Я заработала расстройство желудка из-за того, что так много его пила – вкус просто превосходный!

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Next, the container of pulp is moved to the press, and the handle turned until every last drop of that delicious juice is squeezed out .После этого контейнер с мякотью придвигается к пресу и ручка поворачивается пока последняя капля этого вкуснейшего сока не выжата.

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Oh, the goodness! Ляпота!

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After letting the apple cider sit overnight, it is ready to preserve. I chose to freeze it all so that it would still taste fresh. Canned cider is good, but it tastes, well, canned.  The cider sat overnight to allow all the solids to sink to the bottom, then was put into zip-lock baggies, and frozen for the winter.После того, как яблочный сок постот всю ночь, он готов в консервированию. Я предпочитаю его весь замораживать, чтоб у него был свежий вкус. Консервированый сок тоже вкусный, но … с консервированым вкусом. Сок должен постоять ночь, чтоб осадок опустился на дно. Потом разливается по пакетам и замораживается на зиму.

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Some of the apples went into cakes, pies and applesauce…Некоторые яблоки пошли на пироги, булочки и яблочное пюре…

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Apple_pie

 

 

 

 

…and of course, apple pie!  и конечно, яблочный пирог!

I also experimented with making my own apple cider vinegar, but that is a subject for another post!Я тоже поэксперементировала с приготовлением моего собственного яблочного уксуса, но это тема для другого поста!

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About the title…and American Apple Pie О заголовке … и Американский яблочный пирог

This Wikipedia article gives a brief introduction to the history of the saying “As American as Apple Pie!” Википедия дает короткое объяснение истории фразы “Американский, как яблочный пирог!”

This is from a post defending the use of the saying:

“From all historical accounts, it seems that fruit pies as we now know them were invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Women in the southeastern counties of the state made delicious, crispy pies encasing every fruit in the region. Это из поста, защищающего высказывание: “из всех исторических данных видно, что фруктовые пироги, какими мы их знаем, были изобретены голландцами из Пенсильвании. Женщины в южновосточных регионах штата готовили вкуснейшие хрустящие пироги используя каждый фрукт в том районе”.

Colonists loved pie so much they ate it for every meal, but, notably, not every farmer could afford it. Thus, pies evolved into a symbol of status.Колонисты любили пироги так сильно, что они ели их при каждом приеме пищи, но нажно заметить, что не каждый мог себе это позволить. Так пироги стали символом статуса.

It is the fruition of this unique, thick, two-crusted apple pie, rather than the thin, one-crust English pie, in which we invest our pride. Ever wonder why July 4th parties are marked by apple pies? It’s a carryover from first Independence Day celebrations when the apple pie was at its peak importance to Americans.Это само приготовление этого уникального двуслойного пирога, вместо однослойного английского пирога, чем мы гордимся. Вы когда нибудь задумывались почему празднования 4го июлю (день независимости США) отмечен яблочными пирогами? Это традиция с празднования самого первого Дня Независимости, когда яблочный пирог был в подъеме своей значительности для американцев.

“As American as apple pie” implies the improvement of what was once British; it is the mark of prosperity, freedom, and status as the apple pie represented to our ancestors. It is not a mistaken saying or an ignorant remark. It’s about the thick, two-crusted pie we made; the pie our ancestors longed for and cherished in their free homeland. It’s about patriotism and struggle to be an American, to live the American dream. “”Американский, как яблочный пирог” подразумевает улучшение того, что когда-то было британским. Это символ преуспевания, свободы и статуса – то, что яблочный пирог значил для наших предков. Это не пустая или ошибочная фраза. Это о том, что мы делаем толстый двуслойный пирог. Пирог, который наши предки ценили в их свободной земле. Это о патриотизме и борьбе за то, чтоб быть американцем и жить американской мечтой.”

What do you do when you have too many apples to eat? What is your favorite Apple pie recipe?А что вы делаете, когда у вас есть слишком много яблок? Какой ваш любимый яблочный рецепт?

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