Saturday, March 28, 2009

Potato Corn Chowder



I mentioned that I had made this for dinner one night a few days ago on a blot post and had a request to share the recipe.  Well like a lot of my recipe.. I don’t have a real recipe until I write it down!  LOL..   Here is how I made it.. 

I took several potatoes and peeled them and cut them up into bite size pieces. I put them in a pot and covered them with just enough water (it just came up to the level of the potatoes).  I added some salt and brought to a boil and then reduced the heat and let it simmer.  While the potatoes were simmering I cut up about ½ a pound of bacon and chopped up one onion.  I fried these up until the bacon was crispy and the onion nicely cooked.  By this time the potatoes were done cooking.  I drain out most of the water and added the bacon and onions.  I also added a couple cups of frozen organic corn.  I then added half n half till it looked nice and creamy.  I added back in a little of the potato water until it was the consistency that I wanted.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  It was a simple but yet very yummy dinner.  I served it with my soaked oatmeal dinner rolls and a nice big green salad made of romaine lettuce, spinach, grated carrots and tomatoes. 


How to Stretch a Beef Roast


We buy a whole beef once a year from a local farmer.  This last Tuesday we went and picked up this years cow.  I still had 3 pieces of meat from last years cow.  I wanted to use it up before starting in on the new cow.  I had 2 t-bone steaks, 2 cube steaks and 1 small pot roast.   

Well Wednesday was my birthday and we grilled steaks.. we used the up the 2 t-bones and 2 more packages of steak from the new cow to feed all of us.  It was so yummy..    

Well yesterday I looked at my small pot roast and wondered what to do with it.  I had a few cups of cooked brown rice in the fridge to use up as well.  So I browned up the pot roast in a little olive oil and added an onion and then a little water and let this simmer for about 3 hours.  When it was done I cut up about half of the roast.  I mixed this up with about 4 cups of the brown rice I had plus 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Amy’s brand.. found at health food stores) and some sour cream (I did not measure this), plus I added some cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  I put it all in an 11x15 pan and put some cheddar cheese on the top.  I baked it for about an hour at 350.  My family went nuts over it.. they loved it!  I served it with my homemade fermented salsa and tortilla chips and a salad.   

Today I still had half the roast left.  I took two large baked potatoes that I had left from my birthday bbq (we had bbq steaks and baked potatoes)…  and I cut the meat and potatoes up and fried them with an onion in a little olive oil..  very yummy! I served this with my homemade fermented sauerkraut.   So I was feeling pretty good.. I had one pot roast that by itself would not have fed my family one meal and stretched it out to two meals, or more.  I still have leftovers that we will probably eat up tomorrow.  I love being thrifty and stretching my food as far as I can.   


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Soaked Bagel Recipe and Soaked Dinner Roll Recipe


I am happy to say that both my soaked bagel recipe and my soaked oat dinner roll recipe turned out great!! So I will post the recipes. If you don’t want the soaked version you can find the original recipes on my website: 





Soaked Whole Wheat Bagels


Day 1

1 ½ cups warm water

2 T whey

4 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour


Using a bread mixer combine water, whey and flour until it forms a ball. Put in a bowl, cover and let sit on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.


Day 2

½ cup warm water

1 T yeast

2 T honey

2 T molasses

1 t coconut oil

2 t salt

½ t baking soda

1 to 2 cups unbleached white flour

1 T sucanat


Combine warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl and let sit until yeast foams. Put this mixture in bread mixer. Add the other tablespoon of honey, molasses, coconut oil, salt and baking soda. Sprinkle 1 cup white flour on top of mixture. Add soaked flour. I break it up as I add it to my mixer. Combine with mixer adding extra flour if needed to make a fairly stiff dough (I added 2 cups total). Knead for 4 to 7 minutes (shorter times for heavier duty mixers like the Bosch). 


Let the dough sit for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in volume. 


Turn on the mixer and punch it down. Divide the dough into 16 small pieces. Form each piece into a bagel. The way I do this is as follows: Roll the dough into a small circle. Roll the outer edge of the dough to make a nice round shape and at the same time use your thumbs to push through the center.


Lay each bagel on a cookie tray that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. I use two cookie trays. Cover with a towel and let rise until double in bulk. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 400.


When the bagels have risen get a small sauce pan and fill about half way with water and add the 1T of Sucanat. Bring to a boil.


Carefully lift each bagel from the tray and set it in the boiling water. I use a spatula to do this. Cover the pan and let it boil for 20 seconds. Uncover and turn the bagel, cover with the lid and boil for another 20 seconds. Remove from pan and place back on cookie tray. Repeat this for all bagels.


After the first tray has been boiled, put them in the preheated oven and bake for about 23 to 25 minutes. You don’t want them too dark or they will be to crusty on the outside.


While those are baking, do the second tray of bagels and just let them sit on the counter until the first tray is done. Then bake the second tray.. 




Soaked Oatmeal Dinner Rolls


Day 1

2 cups warm water

2T whey

1 cup oats

3 cups whole wheat flour


Using a mixer combine above ingredients well. Put into a bowl, cover and leave on counter 12 to 24 hours.


Day 2

1/3 cup warm water

2T yeast

3T butter, softened to room temp

2/3 cup Sucanat

1 1/2 t salt

½ t baking soda

3 cups white flour



Add yeast to warm water and let sit until it starts to foam. Add butter, Sucanat, salt and soda. Pour this into the bowl of your mixer. Measure out 2 cups of the white flour and sprinkle over the top. Add the dough and water mixture from yesterday. Knead this until well combined. Add the last cup of flour if needed (I used all 3 cups). Let rise for 30 minutes. Punch down and shape into 2 dozen dinner rolls. I use 2 9x13 pans or one large jelly roll pan. This dough can also be used for hamburger or hotdog buns, cinnamon rolls, etc.


Bake dinner rolls at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. 


Why soak your grains?

All grains and beans have a substance called “phytic acid” that binds up many of the minerals and we can not absorb those minerals like we should. Soaking neutralizes the phytic acid and allows us to be able to use those minerals. Also soaking increases enzymes we need to properly digest the grains. Soaking also increases the vitamin content of the grains, especially B vitamins. 

Updates from the Homestead


This last week was a whirlwind of busyness..  but so much got done that it makes it worth it.  The week consisted of a couple trips to the big city, one trip to Salem Oregon for testing with Emily, making soap, organizing and cleaning my house, baking bread, making sauerkraut and salsa, 35 cups of beef broth made, bagged up and in the freezer, Azure Standard pick up, an appt for one of my kids, and the regular stuff still there like school work, house work, feeding my family, laundry..  no wonder I never found time to blog! LOL..  

I am so happy that spring is officially here!  The days are warming up a little.. mostly now it is just wet and windy which seems to be typical March weather around these parts.  I think I am ready for some vacation somewhere sunny and hot!!    I would be thinking about gardens more if the ground weren’t a soupy muddy mess currently..  soon the time will come to get it rototilled and ready.   

In the kitchen I am currently experimenting with a soaked bagel recipe (I am working on adapting this recipe HERE) and my family’s favorite Oatmeal Dinner Roll recipe. I hope I can work this recipe out.. this is our favorite recipe, it works great for dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, cinnamon rolls, etc.  It’s just a great all around easy to work with dough.  If I have success I will post the updated recipes here soon.  I plan on making both today.    With all this wet cool weather soup is on the menu for this Sunday.  I am making potato corn chowder w/bacon, the oatmeal dinner rolls and a salad…  should be yummy.    

Emily College Update: Emily is just about done with all her CLEP’s and Dantes and last week applied with Thomas Edison.  She received a packet in the mail by weeks end saying she was accepted!  She should start her online courses in May.  She also got all the paperwork done and mailed in to transfer all her earned credits to the college.   College Plus has helped us walk through the whole process every step of the way.. which I am thankful for.. not ready for more details to wade through.  

Leanne is just about done with all her GED testing (she has one last test to take) and so while waiting for her test date to come she decided to study for her first CLEP.  She took that Friday and passed very well!  So she is excited to get her high school all wrapped up and start working on college now.   

Well that is all from my Homestead..  hopefully this coming week will be a little less hectic and I will be back to my regular blogging..  



Sunday, March 15, 2009

This week’s menu:



Sally Fallon’s Red Meat Chile (we love this recipe!)

Homemade Salsa




Leftovers from Sunday

Tortilla chips and homemade salsa

Salad and homemade ranch dressing


Tuesday (my “going to be gone all day” day):

Crockpot chicken

Coconut rice (I will put the chicken in the crockpot and the rice in the rice cooker before I leave)

Homemade Sauerkraut (already made)

Salad (Sierra will make this and the dressing while I am gone)

~ So I should come home to dinner all done! 



Navy bean soup made with leftover ham bone

Whole grain crackers

Salad & hm sauerkraut



Chicken noodle soup made with my chicken stock

Tortilla chips and homemade salsa






French bread (one of the bread recipes I hope to mess around with this week)




Question Answered..


I received a question on my last blog post about sauerkraut and how I serve it..


Well once I started making it and had the desire to serve lacto fermented food to my family on a regular basis it was easy to see where to add it (almost anywhere )..


Sometimes I just serve it as a side dish.. but usually we put a scoop on top of whatever meat I am serving.. You don’t need a lot of it daily (Sally Fallon says ¼ cup is fine). I even add a scoop to the top of soups.. it tastes delicious as a topping on navy bean soup.  I also use it in sandwiches too. Most meals I can fit it in.. sometimes I don’t and then the family usually is eating my salsa.. so one way or the other they are daily consuming lacto fermented foods (as to why I want to add this to my family’s diet.. you can read past blog posts.. I have been discussing this for a couple months now).. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Updates from the Homestead


I had such a fun morning yesterday. I taught a group of Girl Scouts how to make soap! Yesterday morning Emily (my helper) and I packed up the soap making equipment and headed to my neighbors house. I had never taught a class like that before. But I laid out my supplies, talked about what was needed to make soap, answered lots of questions and together we made soap! Before I left one mom asked me if I would be willing to do it again?? LOL.. I told her it was the first time I had taught a soap making class and that I might be interested in doing it again.. so we will see if teaching soap making is in my future..  

Today the weather here in the PNW is wet and wet and wet some more! But after the winter we have had I will have to say that is better than snow! We did have a beautiful spring like day yesterday with highs in the 50’s .. temps we have not seen in some time. 


Yesterday when I got home from my class I put a ham in the oven to bake. Later on I made mashed potatoes and served that with my lacto fermented sauerkraut and a big salad. I also made a batch of mayo and Sierra made up salad dressing to go with the meal. I have been making my own mayonnaise regularly now since the beginning of the year. I took my typical recipe and tweaked it a bit. I am trying to get more coconut oil in our diet so I have found using half coconut oil and half olive oil to work well. The mayo needs to sit in the fridge after it is made to firm up some. Some times I add a little organic cold pressed sesame oil to the mix. Here is my updated recipe:


Homemade Mayonnaise

Crystal Miller


I realize this recipe uses raw eggs and there is a lot of information out about the dangers of this. So please use this recipe at your own discretion. I use my own fresh chicken eggs, raw, often and have not had problems. But you make this decision for you family.


2 eggs

2 T Lemon juice

1 t. salt

1 t dry mustard

1 cup plus 2T olive oil

1 cup plus 2T coconut oil****(see Note)


This is a very fast and easy recipe to make. In your blender add the eggs, lemon juice, salt and dry mustard. Mix on a low speed until everything is well combined.   Step up the blender speed just a bit and while it is still running pour the oil in very slowly. Keep it flowing in a small steady stream until all the oil has been added. By the time you have emptied about ¾ of the oil into the eggs it will begin to be thick and look like mayo. When all the oil has been added you are done. Store it in a container with a lid in the fridge.


This will keep about 2 weeks. You can add 1T whey to the recipe at it will keep about 2 months.


***Note on coconut oil:  you will need to measure out the coconut oil and let it sit in a measuring cup which is placed in a bowl of warm water until the coconut oil melts.  Or you can briefly put it in the microwave..  you don’t want the oil to get hot..  just melt.  If it is too hot it will cook the eggs! Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees.


Sesame Oil Option: 

½ cup olive oil

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup cold pressed sesame oil (not toasted sesame oil like you would use in Chinese cooking)


Use this combination in the above recipe


I have been using this mayo recipe for salad dressing and my hubby’s sandwiches for work and have found it to be to our liking. 




This morning I also recultured another gallon of kefir. I am making smoothies from it daily and we going through about 4 gallons of it a week. I have been making about 4 gallons of kefir a week since January from my original starter packet of kefir cultures. One packet really goes a long way. The kefir is still thick and wonderful.


Here is my morning smoothie recipe:


Kefir Smoothie

1 ½ cups kefir

½ a banana

1 T maple syrup

1 to 2T coconut oil


Blend VERY well in a blender. You need to blend it for a few minutes in order to work the coconut oil in well. 


My daughter Emily prefers to use about ½ cup frozen strawberries instead of the banana for hers.


Sierra likes to add a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate instead of the maple syrup. 


So obviously it is a pretty easy recipe to play around with. 


On my Nourishing Traditions to-do list this next week I have:


Make a gallon of fermented salsa

Make a pot of chicken or beef stock

Make a few loaves of soaked whole wheat bread

Play around and tweak a few other bread recipes to be more NT friendly. 



That is all from my kitchen and from my homestead today!!


NOTE to Joanna…


You left me a comment and asked me a question..   you can email me and I will give you some thoughts..


Also for anyone who has asked me questions and I have not responded to them you can also email me! 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Baby!!

 My son Isaac is my 8th child and my baby..  yesterday he turned 11 years old!  

He is a sweet, soft hearted and caring boy.  He opens car doors and doors at stores for me and his sisters, gladly is always there to help out, is a lover of all things camo (his pants, shirts, shorts, pajamas, shoes, bedding, even the light plate switch in his room is camo LOL...), always has a smile on his face and is a real source of joy to our household.  I can’t believe is 11 years old now!   

The years since his birth have really flown by!  He is my miracle baby..  he had a prolapsed cord and I had to have a transfer (he was scheduled to be a home birth) and an emergency c-section to save his life.  He was oxygen deprived for about 5 to 6 minutes.  Thanks to the fast work of the hospital staff and the mercies of the Lord his life and mine were saved.  I had a ruptured uterus and it took 6 hours of life saving surgery to save my life after he was born (and 9 days in ICU and another 3 days after that before I could go home).  I thank the Lord all the time for giving me these years to be here and continue to raise my children and be a wife to my wonderful husband.  God is good all the time!   

Happy Birthday Isaac!!



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Soaked Oatmeal Muffins


Soaked Oatmeal Muffins
Crystal Miller

Day 1
1 ¼ cups kefir or cultured buttermilk
1 ½ cups freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup quick oats 

Combine kefir, flour and oats.  Cover and let sit for 12 to 24 hours.  

Day 2
¼ cup honey
1 egg
2 T butter, melted
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
½ t salt 

In a small measuring cup or bowl combine honey, egg and melted butter.  Mix this with the flour, oat/kefir mixture until well combined.  Add baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Divide batter between 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 18 to 20 minutes.   

Why soak your grains?
All grains and beans have a substance called “phytic acid” that binds up many of the minerals and we can not absorb those minerals like we should.  Soaking neutralizes the phytic acid and allows us to be able to use those minerals.  Also soaking increases enzymes we need to properly digest the grains.  Soaking also increases the vitamin content of the grains, especially B vitamins. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What is Homesteading?



I recently had an email from a very nice lady sharing with me that she longed for country life and a homesteading type of lifestyle but was in the city.  She wanted to know what kind of book resources there were for learning about homesteading.  My answer was first a book resource for her and then some ideas on what she could do right in the city.   

Her question inspired me with a few thoughts I wanted to share. I sometimes get the sense that some believe that homesteading looks a certain way..  nice little spot in the country, big garden growing, chickens all around, a few little goats in the pasture, etc...  But the one thing I learned from my years of living in the city is that homesteading has a different meaning today than it did back in the days where people homesteaded a piece of land.  Today we live in a very different world.  Homesteading to me is the means which I can help out my family’s budget and be a productive wife right here in my home where the Lord has called me to be.  Even if a woman works outside the home, the home is a place that needs lots of TLC and attention and a woman’s desire to make a home is still in her heart.  

When I lived in the city I had this dream of living in the country.  It was many years before we actually were able to move our family out into the country.  I remember thinking that I already have my little piece of land right here in the city.  So I focused on my “homestead” so that I could be the best possible steward of what the Lord had already given me.   

I began by cooking from scratch.  I had the time in my day to make this a priority and feeding my growing family was a big job.  I wanted to help out the family budget by buying less pre packaged food.  So I taught myself to cook our favorite meals from scratch.  This does save money!  And if using good healthy ingredients it will improve the family health as well. 

In two of the homes I lived in (one was a rental the other we owned) I grew a garden.  That was extremely rewarding.  The first garden I grew was not that big but I was surprised at how much I could contribute to each meal during the summer with what I was able to harvest.  The savings from this was much needed at the time as we had 2 children and my husband was going through school and our budget was tight; very tight!!  

In the second home I was able to have a bigger garden and had enough produce to do a little canning with the bounty.  I learned to can by reading books and talking with friends and many older ladies from my church who canned.  This was a blessing to us as well as a great feeling of satisfaction as I served my family my canned food during the winter.   

Aside from cooking and baking (I started baking my own bread back in the first house) I also refined my sewing skills.  I had many little children and it was a real blessing to be able to find fabric on sale and turn it into clothes for them and myself as well.  

I also picked up my crocheting again.  Something I had not done in many years.  I found this to be rewarding and helpful.  Between my sewing and crocheting I made many gifts for my family.  Due to very tight finances and our desire to buy a home it was a blessing to be able to make the holiday time less stressful with my homemade gifts.   

I learned and studied all about herbs and herbal medicine.  I had a few health issues with my children and was not impressed by traditional medicines that seemed to just give me a Band-Aid to cover it up, so to speak.  I learned all I could about herbs through library books (the internet was not a mainstay in peoples homes at this point).  I was able to deal with a variety of issues and my children’s health dramatically improved.   

All in all my point to this article is that to me homesteading is more about being a resourceful and productive wife than it is about living in the country.  It is seeing what the Lord has already provided for me and making the absolute most out of it that I am able to.  It is a focus on what I have, not what I want to have.  Not to say that dreams are not a good thing.  If there were no homesteading dreams then I would not be here on my land today.  But the key to it all is being a good steward of what I already have as well as contentment with what the Lord has given me.   

Now for that country living book resource that needs to be a part of every homesteading wife’s library: Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living .  It is fun to read, very educational and you will learn a lot about every possible avenue of homesteading there is!  

Happy Homesteading! 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Updates from the Homestead


Life has been busy as usual here on my homestead. Last weekend Leanne and Sierra participated in the 30 hour famine from World Vision with a local church.  Leanne does this twice a year.. once with a church near by and once with our own church.  They both said it was an awesome experience.   

On Monday Emily, Isaac and I headed out early in the morning for a little road trip.  She was taking her first two Dante tests and the closest college that administered the Dante was in Salem Oregon.  The drive was over 2 hours but it was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed the trip.  We found the college without a problem.  While she took her first test Isaac and I found the local Costco and I did my grocery shopping.   We went back to the college and brought Emily some lunch.  While she took her second test Isaac and I worked on school work.  She passed both tests with flying colors and had 6 more credits earned!  She figured for as long as the drive was she might as well prep for two tests to make the trip worth it, and it was!  She has a few more Dante tests to take so there are a few more trips to Salem still on the schedule.   

Tuesday was a quiet day around the homestead.  I made another gallon of salsa and 4 loaves of challah.  I did not soak the grains for that but we enjoyed the bread anyway!  It went great with our hamburger veggie soup.   

Yesterday I took care of lots of little details. I mixed up a double batch of my soaked whole wheat bread and today I will make 4 loaves of bread.  I got a couple loads of laundry run through and of course school.  I also renewed my driver’s license online for the first time.  I was happy to see I don’t have to have it renewed for another 5 years..  every 4 years was coming faster and faster!   

I checked on my new little kids and they are doing great.  I had so much fun the other day watching the three of them out running and jumping and playing and chasing after mom.  Spring and baby goats just seem to go hand in hand!   

Today is time to get hubby back on the work schedule and our weekend routine, make my bread, and take care of chores and school work.  Dinner tonight will be chicken noodle soup, whole grain crackers and a salad…  an easy meal to put together (especially with my chicken broth from the freezer).   

It is going to be a wet and windy day here..  at least it is right now..  and that is ok I will be working at home to keep the wheels on the homestead turning!   

Hope you all have a great Thursday on your homestead!