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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Canned Salsa

This is my first year hot water bath canning.  To my surprise and delight, it all turned out great!  The salsa tastes amazing and the seals all sealed!  Enjoy!

5 lbs chopped and seeded tomatoes - I used mostly roma
1lb hot peppers, halved and seeded - I used several jalapeno's, and 2-3 ancho pepers
2 green peppers - quartered and seeded
1lb sweet onion peeled and quartered
1 cup white vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon cumin powder
3 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 Tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 garlic cloves peeled and minced
6 oz tomato paste

1. Dice about 1/3 - 1/2 the tomatoes by hand.  Put the rest in a food processor and pulse process just till they are in pieces but not too long otherwise you'll make tomato juice.

2. Put the peppers in a food processor and pulse a few times till they are in little pieces but not a paste.  The same with the onions.

3. Put all ingredients except tomato paste in a large pan on stove.  Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Add in tomato paste and stir.  Simmer 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.

5. Ladle in jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe jars with a clean rag and adjust lids.  Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stocking up for Winter Sickness

I had a thought this morning as I was waking up.  Winter will soon be upon us and that means more exposure to ickies.  We definitely limit our exposure but that doesn't mean our kids never get anything.  I don't know about you but it always seems like when someone gets sick, it really takes a toll on the budget.  From getting the natural remedies to purchasing things like applesauce and things to make gets pricey. thought led me to, how about purchasing the items I know we'll need a little at a time and stockpiling them so we'll be ready?

Below is a list of things my family uses for times such as colds food poisoning (there's no such thing as the stomach flu), weird rashes, etc...  Even if I pick up one thing at a time when I purchase a vitacost order or pick up one thing when I go to the store, it will be very helpful.  Hopefully I'll get a bit more time later and be able to posts links on how to make some things I have mentioned below and why they are so beneficial.  For now, here's the list :)

Winter List:
Organic Basil - I get this in bulk.  If you get a cold or the flu, you drink this tea several times per day while bundling up in a warm blanket.  It should cause you to sweat and get rid of the virus within 24 hours.  I got this information from K.P. Khalsa

Organic Thyme - This is great made into tea drank up to 3 times per day for chest congestion.

Elderberry - You can purchase syrup or tincture; or make it yourself!  I just made some Elderberry Tincture today!  Look up videos on youtube.  It's super easy!

Immune Support - Whether it be echinacea, astragalus or others, we have some kind of immune support on hand.

Activated Charcoal - We use this for times we have the runs associated with the flu or food poisoning (there is no such thing as the stomach flu).  The last time I got food poisoning, this worked within 1/2 hour!  It was amazing!

Raw Honey - You can use this by itself for coughs or in teas for soothing the throat.  Honey has many amazing properties that are healing and beneficial to the body.

Cayenne Pepper - For those yucky throat issues.  Thanks for the info Vicki Hughes!  I'm actually growing some in my garden this year and will be making my own cayenne pepper powder.

Vitamin C - I'm going to use this in even higher doses this year at time of sickness.

Vitamin D3 - Thanks for the reminder on the Health Nuts forum.  We try to take this throughout the winter due to the lack of sunshine.

Multi-vitamins - I need to have a good supply of these for everyone.  My favorite is Nature's Sunshine Prenatal (for all women of child bearing years), Matt's is Nature's Sunshine Super Supplemental (he doesn't like any other).  For the kids I rotate between Nature's Sunshine kids and Country Life kids.

Pedialyte or stuff to make the recipe - It's so important to use something to keep your children hydrated.  I've seen too many people have to run off to the hospital for their children to get an iv.  This is usually very unnecessary.  If your child has a fever or can tell they are getting sick, give them electrolyte drinks even if they are eating/drinking.  This most times will even help their fever go down on it's own by helping the body stay more hydrated.  Fever isn't a bad thing unless it gets really high.

Berries - I'm currently freezing berries to be able to use in smoothies later on.  Not only are they full of antioxidants and easy for the body to use, fresh fruit smoothies seem to be the preferred food when someone in my home is sick.

Teas - I like to have a selection of good herbal teas on hand. Peppermint for tummy issues, chamomile or Sleepy Time for having a hard time sleeping and other herbal teas for the taste and warmth.

Basmati Rice - This is great for upset tummies and diarrhea.  It's a great first food when sick.

Bone Broth - is very healing and can be frozen.  This can be used to sip on it's own or used above in the rice.  Make sure to use good sea salt to keep someone hydrated.  We use pink himalayan sea salt.  Salt food to taste - don't be afraid of it!

Ear Oil - I get this for earaches and possible ear infection.  I'm going to try to remember to get the kind that doesn't need to be refrigerated.

Saline Solution and/or Silver Shield - We use this up our noses in the event that a sinus infection is starting to present itself.

Nosefrida - I need to locate this and make sure I have plenty of fresh filters.

Thermometer - I need to locate this and make sure it's working well.  Possibly even getting a second one.

Kleenex - While I generally like reusing things and having cloth hankies, for sickness, I want paper to throw away!  I don't want those germs hanging around and reinfecting everyone.

Disinfectant Cleaner - My two favorites are Meleleuca Sol-U-Guard or Seventh Generation Disinfecting cleaners.

Homemade Disinfecting Spray - I make this out of water and essential oils and spray around when someone is ill.

I do use lemons a lot to put in beverages when we're fighting off something or ill. I also make homemade chicken soup. However, I purchase these things more fresh at the time.  I know the lemons would not keep till then and I don't have much freezer space to keep chicken.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Naturally Sweetened Hot Fudge Sauce

My daughter is going to be having a Mall Day followed by a Spa Party on Saturday.  We thought having ice cream would be fun in the evening.  I'm trying to make as many things as naturally as possible so the girls can see they can have fun, eat good food and eat healthily as well.  Here is a recipe I tweaked a bit.  You might want to cut down on it just a bit.  I followed the initial recipe I found online but added in the vanilla and butter which helped a lot.  As you can see it's very fudgy.  Here goes.

1 cup cocoa 
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 - 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter

1. Combine cocoa, syrup, salt and water and bring to a boil.  
2. Turn heat down to a simmer for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  
3. Take off heat and add in the butter and vanilla.  Stir well.
4. Use immediately or store in refrigerator till ready to use.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Freezer Salsa

This is my first year making freezer salsa.  I hope to eventually make some canned salsa since I saw online frozen will only last about 3 months.  Anyway, this is a combination of a couple recipes I found online.  The kids and I love it!  It's just spicy enough to say "oh, that's a bit spicy", but not too much.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  I also hope we enjoy it after it's frozen.

Freezer Salsa
6-9 cups quartered and peeled roma tomatoes (look online how to get the skins off easier in boiled water)
2 large onions, quartered
2 bell peppers of your color, seeded and quartered
4 jalapeno peppers seeded and halved
2 ancho peppers
3 cloves garlic, skinned
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon oil
juice of 1/2 lime (or a smidgen more)
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste.

1. Process all veggies a bit at a time in food processor till in very small pieces.
2. Mix all together when finished.
3. Mix together the vinegar, oil, lime juice, honey, salt, paprika and cayenne.  Add into the above mixture and stir well.
4. Taste your salsa.  It should be really good.  Adjust a bit as needed but realize the more it's together in the freezer, the more the flavors will meld together.
5. Put in freezer containers or bags.  I like to do 1 cup at a time.
6. To thaw, just pull a bag/jar out of the freezer and put in the refrigerator.  It should be ready to eat in a day or two.

A few notes:
1. I read online that if freezing salsa, it's best to process it in a food processor and make the pieces more fine like a restaurant salsa.  That way the texture is not funny.
2. I also read that if you like a thicker salsa, bring your processed ingredients to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes or so.  That will cause some of the water to evaporate, giving you a thicker salsa.
3. Make sure to wear gloves when cutting or doing anything with your hot peppers.  Also avoid touching your eyes or nose.  If your eyes or nose comes into contact with the peppers, flush with milk not water!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Harvest of Grace - Book Review

Where to begin.  When I first opened up the pages to The Harvest of Grace, my initial reaction was that I didn't like how the author wrote the book.  Any other Amish book I've read captures the difference in speech the Amish use.  This book only uses a touch of this.  That however is the only turn off for me.

The character I most identified with was Cara.  A woman who had been hurt tremendously throughout her life.   In an attempt of desperation, she hid with her daughter in an Amish Barn only to be discovered by one of their own.  This led to the shunning of that person because he was trying to help Cara and her daughter "survive" in this world.

My heart went out tremendously to Aaron who struggled with alcoholism and recovery.  While in recovery he met very determined and independent Sylvia; the main character of this book.

Just ask my husband, you could see me laughing one minute and crying another.  This book took so many turns you wondered where you were going to end up.

I'm happy to say that this book did end happy.  Most of us like happy endings and I'm no different.  I will be curious to see what Cindy Woodsmall comes out with next.  The Harvest of Grace is a very refreshing book.  It brings in the simpleness of the Amish people while showing a side of them you might not otherwise see unless you were a "plain" person yourself.  Great job Cindy!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.