Friday, May 22, 2015

Easy Iced Coffee

I love iced coffee in the summer. I’ve been looking for a way to have it that is simple. I think I found it. I made the mix up, stored it in the fridge and enjoyed it over the next few days poured over ice.

I like my iced coffee a little sweet, but not overly sweet. The following recipe would be considered to me to be “lightly sweetened”. If you like sweeter coffee you can taste and adjust the sweetness to your own tastes.

You will need coffee (I grind my coffee and the pic shows beans, you can use any type of coffee you regularly enjoy), white sugar, brown sugar, half in half and vanilla.



Make a full pot of very strong coffee. When it is done mix with the remaining ingredients. Pour into canning jars, allow to cool and store in the fridge..


To use pour desired amount over ice and enjoy!



Easy Iced Coffee

1 pot very strong coffee
2T white sugar
2T brown sugar
½ cup half n half
2t vanilla


Combine hot coffee with remaining ingredients. Pour into canning jars, allow to cool and put in fridge. To use simply pour desired amount over ice and enjoy!

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lacto Fermented Sauerkraut

This is a repost from an article I wrote a few years ago when I started making lacto fermented foods.  I have not made anything fermented in some time.  I'm gearing up to do this again.  I love sauerkraut and it is easy to make. 

You will need whey to make this.  Remember the feta cheese I posted about last week?  You can use the whey from that if you make it.  If not, don't worry you can purchase a good quality yogurt (with live cultures) from the store and strain out the whey.   




I don’t have large crocks to ferment food in; you don’t really need these to have success with fermenting. I tried the quart jars as suggested by Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions and found that sometimes, for some things, they worked great, but for other things they failed miserably for me. After reading more on the subject I tried using 2 quart jars and gallon size glass jars. These have worked great for me. I highly recommend the gallon size jars for making sauerkraut. You can reuse glass jars if you buy items in those big quantities, like I do ~smile~. You can also purchase gallon size glass canning jars.

I read and learned of the benefits of lacto fermented food. Basically fermentation is taking the carbohydrates of those vegetables and turning them into lactic acid. Lactic acid breaks food down making it easier to digest. The resulting product is full of digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Lactic acid stimulates your digestive system to make it function as it should.

In order to make lacto fermented foods you will need some whey. When I started making lacto fermented food I had goats in milk and I was making a lot of feta cheese and cream cheese. This gave me a large supply of whey. If you are not ready to start making cheese in order to get whey, don’t despair there is another option for you. You can buy good quality yogurt and drain this through cheese cloth or an old pillow case (that has been washed and bleached first) to extract the whey. What is left in the bag is yogurt cheese and can be used similarly to cream cheese.

You can achieve the same results without the whey by using salt only. It just takes longer to get the finished product. By using whey, which is lactic acid and only a little salt you have an edible product in about 3 days. The little bit of salt added is for the benefit of preserving the veggies in the first days, until the lactic acid takes over. This prevents decay. Fermented vegetables are not a dead, decayed food. They are very much an alive food that is FULL of beneficial health promoting properties.

Now to make some sauerkraut....  


Gather together this list of items:
1- 1 gallon glass jar, with lid
1 zip lock type bag, gallon size
Large wooden spoon
A potato masher

And purchase some good quality yogurt (Nancy’s or Brown Cow are two good brands that have active live cultures)
A washed an bleached piece of cloth to drain your yogurt
 

You will need about ½ cup of whey. I find I can easily get this amount of whey from 16 oz. of yogurt.
To get the whey from yogurt you need to use a washed and bleached piece of cotton cloth and some string.  I use an old ugly piece of fabric I cut from an old sheet.  I scoop out the yogurt, tie it and hang it to drip.

After the whey is collected I put it in a jar in the refrigerator until I need to use it.
***************************************************************************

I want to share with you how to make a simple basic batch of Sauerkraut. If you would like to ferment other foods and read more on this I highly recommend the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. The book is more than worth every penny you will spend on it.

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

Supplies Needed:
1- 1 gallon glass jar, with lid
1 zip lock type bag, gallon size
Large wooden spoon
A potato masher

Ingredients
1 large head of cabbage, fairly heavy and dense or 2 medium heads of cabbage
2 T sea salt
½ cup whey
Optional Ingredients:
~1 carrot, peeled and grated
~1 onion, sliced thinly

Sauerkraut can be made with cabbage only, but I often add the extra veggies to give added taste and color.

Core and slice cabbage into thin shreds. I like this better than grating. I discard a few of the outer leaves of the cabbage. Then I cut it in quarters and core it. I take each quarter and run it through my food processor with a slicing disk. If you don’t have a food processor with a slicing disk, you can do the cutting by hand.




Put cabbage into a large bowl. Add extra veggies if you are using them. Stir them up to mix up the extra veggies.


Sprinkle salt over cabbage.

Sprinkle the whey over the cabbage.

Using a large spoon mix well. Now take the potato masher and begin pounding and mixing and pounding the cabbage. You will notice that soon the volume begins to reduce. I will let my cabbage sit for awhile and then pound and mix again for a few minutes. I take about 30 to 45 minutes to do this, taking breaks as needed.


When this process is done spoon cabbage mixture into one gallon jar. Having a nice wide canning funnel sitting on top of the jar helps this process. Use a wooden spoon to pack and push the cabbage to the bottom of the jar and let any liquid that is there rise to the top.



After all the cabbage has been put in the jar and packed down you can add more water if needed. You need to make sure water is covering the top of the cabbage.


Now take the one gallon size zip lock type bag and put this into the jar, opening the bag up and reaching your hand inside the bag to push it to the edges of the jar. Now fill the bag about half full of water. Using your hand push and make sure the bag is tightly packed around the inside edge of the jar. The water provides the weight to press the cabbage down and keep it down and the bag helps to ensure an oxygen-less environment for the cabbage to ferment.




Fermentation can only take place in the absence of oxygen. So it is important for the bag to seal all the way to the edges and for the water weight to keep the cabbage under the layer of liquid.

Put the lid on the jar and set it on your counter for 3 days.


During those 3 days you will watch your cabbage transform into sauerkraut. Bubbles seen around the glass is normal. After 3 days you can remove the bag and put the sauerkraut into the fridge. It will taste better if left for a few more days.


Temperatures are important too. Fermenting needs to take place between 68 and 72 degrees, officially. I have had success with nighttime temps dropping below 68 in my kitchen and going above 72 during the day if we are doing a lot baking.

If for some reason your sauerkraut did not turn out, that is ok.. Toss it and try again! This is an art and a skill to learn. There is a reason you can’t find fresh, fermented sauerkraut at the stores! It is something that can really only be made one batch at a time right in your own kitchen. And to think that you have the ability to provide a health packed food for your family such as this!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Menu Monday!



 



Monday
BBQ chicken legs, rice pilaf, salad


Tuesday
Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, fruit salad


Wednesday
Mac & cheese with hamburger, salad


Thursday
Leftovers


Friday
Hamburger enchiladas, tortilla chips & salsa, salad


Saturday
Grilled ham steaks, potato salad, fruit platter


Sunday
Leftovers



 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Apple Peach Tea

Summer and warm weather is just around the corner and having a cool refreshing drink on a hot afternoon is wonderful.  It's even better if it's on the healthier side and is nice on the budget :) .


This is a nice frugal way to stretch a 12 oz can of apple juice. With a little help from some tea bags I end up with a gallon of yummy apple peach tea. Here is how I do it..

You start with one 12oz can of frozen apple juice concentrate and 3 of your favorite bags of tea. I am using peach tea, but you can use any type you would like.



I put a pan of water on the stove (about 4 cups) and add my tea bags. I bring the water to a boil and remove it from the stove. I let this sit for about 30 to 40 minutes to get nice and strong.


 

Then I add some sweetener. I am using honey. I add about ¼ to 1/3 cup of honey. You can add sugar if you would like and I would suggest about ½ cup if you do. However if you don’t need your tea super sweet you can skip the sweetener altogether. The apple juice will sweeten it up some too.



Then I pour this mixture into a 1 gallon juice container



Then I add enough water to bring it to the 2 quart mark on the container

 

Then I add the can of apple juice


Finally, fill the container with water up the gallon mark on the container. That is it! Put it in the fridge to get cold and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Super Easy Feta Cheese

Years ago when I had goats and an abundance of goat milk I loved making cheese.  There are a lot of basic cheeses that can easily be made at home.  

Feta cheese is a soft cheese.  You don't need a cheese press for this.  Anyone can make this right in their own kitchen.  It is very easy to do.  

You need to purchase cheese cultures and I give a link in the post below for this.  



This is a recipe that was given to me by a friend (thank you Cheryl!). It looked so easy to make that I thought it was to much to believe. So of course I had to make it!

It turned out great!! I took pictures of the process so that if it did turn out I could show you just how easy cheese making can be!!  I buy my cheese cultures and my cheese salt from Leeners http://leeners.com/  This is a great company to do business with. 

Here is the recipe:
Super Easy Feta Cheese
1 gallon goats milk (any milk would work, I used raw goats milk)
¼ c cultured buttermilk- this must be real cultured buttermilk or 1/8 t. Mesophilic A culture (I use direct set cultures that I buy from Leeners and that is what the pictures show)
¼ c water
20 drops vegetable rennet

Also:
Salt (cheese salt works best)
herbs, dried or fresh, your choice (dill, basil, oregano, chives, thyme)
Olive oil


Start with 1 gallon of milk


Heat the milk to 86 degrees for goats milk or 88 degrees for cows milk..

Add the buttermilk or Mesophilic A culture and stir.



Into the ¼ cup of water add 20 drops of vegetable rennet and stir. Add this to the milk and stir.


Let this sit for 2 hours. If my kitchen is not that warm I try and keep the cheese warm for these 2 hours.  I do this by putting about 86/88 degree water in a larger pot and sitting my milk inside that pot on the counter for the 2 hours.  After 2 hours the milk should be gelled.  Stir slowly and carefully to break up the curds.  Let this sit for another 30 minutes or so to help the curds contract.

Drain this for 8 to 10 hours (overnight is handy). Below you will see pics of how I do this.  I use an old pillow case (works better than cheesecloth) that I have washed and bleached and shoestrings that have been washed and bleached to hang my cheese.






Here it is after 8 hours. You can see the bag of cheese is much smaller and there is much more whey in the bowl

Here is what was in the bag:

cut the cheese into chunks.


Layer pieces of cheese, salt and herbs in a quart jar.



View from the top:

Cover with olive oil making sure no cheese is above the level of the oil.

Turn jar several times a day. This is ready to eat in 3 days.



 


Monday, May 11, 2015

Menu Monday!



 



Monday
Chicken soup, crackers, salad


Tuesday
Creamy burrito casserole, tortilla chips & salsa, salad


Wednesday
Chicken stir fry, rice



Thursday
Leftovers


Friday
Sandwiches, tomato soup, strawberries


Saturday
Navy bean soup, crackers, salad


Sunday
Leftovers


Friday, May 8, 2015

A Few Reflections on Raising Children

This is a post from a few years ago (my daughter is not in Denmark ;) .  I'm posting this in honor of Mother's Day. There is no doubt that being a mother is the most rewarding, exciting, stressful, joyful and hardest job in the world.  But it is one that brings a mothers heart more love, more joy, more fulfillment than could be imagined.  Remember, if you are a mother of young children, one day it will all be memories and cherish each day that you have with your sweet little ones!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas reading this!!  


(in between the paragraphs of this article are a few random pics of my kids/family through the years)..

Leanne left on Wednesday morning for Denmark to spend 3 weeks with Emily. To say I was stressed for those nearly 24 hours of flights and layovers is an understatement. She arrived safe and sound and is currently with Emily enjoying her time in Copenhagen. But it made me reflect a bit on raising children.





I thought it was tough when they were young. I had to make sure that the home was safe, no sharp objects for them to get a hold of, make sure the cleaning supplies were out of reach, keep the baby gates in place, teach them to play nicely and not be rude, obey the rules, potty training, diapers, nap times, sleepless nights, etc.. Then we move onto spending the nights with friends, outside influences and activities, and keeping a stable home and during it all you think, when they get older this will be easier, I won't fret so much about them… well not quite..…





Then they learn to drive! And you wait up for them, pace the floor not able to sleep until you hear the car pull in and they are home.




Or they join the military and are deployed.. You worry everyday for their safety and pray continually for them. And then praise and thank the Lord when they are finally home.

 



Some marry and have issues that you listen to and pray for and try and give godly advice. They have children and you now you have grandchildren who you think of and pray for.





And then.. some decide to go and spend a year in Europe! When you don’t see them pop onto Skpye or Facebook for several days you wonder.. is everything ok? And you pray some more… and then they call you and there is peace in your heart when you hear their voice.





And as I was taking my 19 year old daughter to the airport and putting her on what would be a nearly 24 hour flying and traveling experience with little contact.. well.. I prayed some more.. and realized that being a mom never does really come to an end. Your children’s well being is always first and foremost on your mind. And I also realized how simple it was in the days that the biggest challenge was keeping them away from the scissors and cleaning supplies and keeping them happy, well fed and living in a clean home.





Not to confuse simple with stress free.. no those days had their stresses too… I remember one day when I had several little ones in the home and I was pregnant with Jacob. The day was stressful and my father stopped by to see me. He saw my stress right away and said to me, “Can I take the kids for a walk?”… heck yes!! I said.. and as he was leaving with them all (after spending a half hour trying to find shoes and get everyone ready to leave :). .. he said to me.. “Remember Crystal.. These are the Good Old Days.. these are the days you will look back at one day and remember fondly”… aww.. such wonderful words of wisdom from my father. He passed away 5 years ago and I miss him terribly.






But how true his words were! And you know, one day I am sure I will look back at these current days and say the same thing.. “those were the Good Old Days”.





Moms… treasure EVERY day no matter how difficult, stressful or how hectic.. Believe me with 8 children I KNOW hectic and crazy.. .. But, really the years go by quickly and they grow up and new challenges come our way..So when I start to feel stressed by it all.. I remember.. treasure these moments today and ultimately I remember ONE most important fact…



Jesus is in control.. How awesome is that! It goes way beyond anything I can handle and it is so comforting to know that He cares for them more than I can comprehend. He is watching over my children and grandchildren!