Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dehydrating Kale - Kale Powder!

This is a pint (2 cup) jar.  There you can see some dehydrated powdered kale that I made today.  This was made from 15 large kale leaves!  

I will add this to soups and smoothies through the winter when the fresh kale is not available.

Here is how I do it.

1. Pick the Kale
2. Wash the Kale in cold water and drain.
3. Remove the tough center ribs.
4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
5. Immerse the Kale for only 15 seconds.
6. Drain in colander.
7. Plunge into ice water and stir until the heat is out of the leaves.
8. Drain and run it through a salad spinner or pat dry on clean towels.
9. Arrange on dehydrator trays, only one layer deep.
10. Set temperature at 135 degrees F.
11.  After 2 hours, check it.  It could take as long as 3.  It should be completely dry and crisp.
12.  At this point you can just pack it into a jar with an air-tight lid, OR, you can powder it in a food processor or blender, and then store it in a jar, out of the light.  

This will keep nicely for a long time.  It actually tastes nice and slightly sweet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tiny Tip - working stretching into my day...

I am 67 years old now.  When I was about 50, I started having trouble with knee pain.  So... I decided that every time I need to get in a bottom drawer, pick up something off the floor or reach into a bottom cupboard, I would squat all the way down.  Before long, that cured my knee trouble and I am still doing that.

Fast forward to last year when we moved into our trailer.  This little house is  considerably smaller than the old house we lived in, and before long I noticed that I need to work a little harder to get enough exercise.  To the squatting routine, I've added something else.  When I need to bend and reach, I always bend and reach "harder" than I would need to, in order to complete the task.  When I bend over at the waist to blow dry my hair, I bed way down so it stretches the back of my legs.  It is kind of hard to describe, but I think you probably get the idea.

It's a small change, but has made a world of difference in my flexibility.  Along with that, instead of walking on the road for exercise, most of the time I walk in the woods.  It is uneven ground and up and down hills.  That has improved my balance.  After falling 3 times in two days, I decided it was time to do something about it.

It's amazing to me how working these small changes into my routine has improved my health.  These things don't take any longer.  Please think about what you could do similar.  You will probably be happy with the results!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sauerkraut 2016 - I had help!

Our granddaughter is visiting us and today, she helped me make this year's sauerkraut!  She picked the cabbages and while I was cleaning them, she shredded them all in the food processor.  Then she swept the floor.  She loves to cook and enjoyed it.

If you are new to my blog, you can find the recipe for sauerkraut HERE.  Today's batch was 6 pounds.  I have a big jar full left from last year and it is still delicious and nicely crisp.  Kraut lasts a LONG time in cold storage. Here is the jar from last year.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Garden - June 2016

Because we had so much rain last year, my garden was horrible.  I worked SO hard on it, and it was beautiful and everything came up gloriously, and then the rain started.  It rained and rained and rained.  When I picked vegetables, I went barefooted and walked in mud up to my ankles.

You can't hoe mud, you know.  The weeds flourished.  They completely took over.  It was the worst I've ever seen and it broke my heart.  "I am too old for this," I kept thinking.  So much effort (and food) was wasted.  Not. Good.

So... I decided to go to a permanent mulch system, like Ruth Stout described in her wonderful books.  I also cut the area I am planting in half and gave half of that half to my Garden Fairy to use, so I am only gardening in 1/4th the area I have had for the last several years.  I've covered it all with lots of hay and will continue to add mulch as I can get it.  I am hoping for some wood chips at some point.

This spring has been very wet and the garden is still soggy...  I don't really expect to have a stellar year this year, but I will fool around out there and try my best to grow some food.  Well, I already have food... we've eaten Nappa cabbage, chives, basil, parsley, asparagus and radishes.  The thornless red raspberries are looking promising.  The tomatoes nearly died, but are coming back.  Some of the peppers died and my GF replanted for me.  The corn is up.  Some of the winter and summer squashes are up.  I have a few carrots up and looking very happy.  There is lots of volunteer garlic!

See this?  It is some volunteer mullein in my small herb patch.  When mullein is well fed and has plenty of sunlight, it can get quite spectacular!  The leaves are good for dyeing wool, and the blossoms have medicinal properties.

A closer look at the  mullein flower stalk.


Comfrey patch

Red raspberries

"Herb Patch"

Pole bean teepees

Potato patch

The corn is emerging!

In the middle, here, you can see my Egyptian onions

And here is a close up of the little bulb-lets they make

I discovered something new today.  If you like the taste of onions (I do if they are not too strong) you can pick these little bulb-lets and...

... bite carefully and the insides will come out and you can eat it!  Right there in the garden.  It was a delightful treat!

A pretty cabbage!

Tomato cages.  The tomato plants are barely hanging on.

View across part of our garden plots.

Volunteer garlic where the trellis fence used to be


Sugar Snap Peas

Baby carrots!

Pepper plants that my GF put in for me.  :)

Some very happy dandelion growing with the comfrey.  I will use this to make noodles.

See that feathery stuff over there?  That is the asparagus.  My GF and I dug that up near a railroad track 2 years ago and transplanted it into our garden.   

So... that is where we are today.  I replanted some things this morning - more carrots, sugar pie pumpkins, winter squash, pole beans, and some green bush beans.  I will report back as time goes on.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Oyster mushroom season!

We have had some good rain, and I was very happy to see a wonderful bloom of Oyster Mushrooms on the Tulip Poplar stumps in our yard yesterday!  I waited until today to harvest them, so they could grow a little more.  We got about 3.5 pounds.  :)

I soaked them in cold water for a while to drive off the hitchhikers, then carefully rinsed them under cool running water and put them through my salad spinner.  Voila!

If you've never had oyster mushrooms (and you enjoy mushrooms) you are missing a real treat.  They are the best I've ever eaten.  PLEASE do not go out and try to gather these on your own if you are not familiar with them.  Get someone knowledgeable to show you first.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kefir - Chapter 18

I have been brewing milk kefir since 2009, and as you can see on the right hand column of my blog, have posted many "chapters" about it.  I admit that it is an "acquired taste", but I really do love kefir and it didn't take long to get there.  Mine is quite sour, smooth and with a full body.  It is wonderful, not only for drinking, but for baking, and the "kefir cheese" can be used in place of cream cheese.

I have reported a few "cures" I have observed through the ensuing years.  Well... I am here to tell you one of my own.  It is slightly embarrassing, but such a wonderful turn of events for me that I have to tell you about it.

About 12 years ago I contracted a food-borne illness from some tainted table grapes.  They were sold in a local store at a deeply discounted rate, so I stocked up.  The package that I used first had a little mold in it.  It never occurred to me  that would be a problem.  I took off the bad grapes, gave the others a good rinse and chowed down.  Big mistake!!!  I came down with the worst case of diarrhea I had ever had... and it continued.  After several days I was forced to go to the doctor.  He gave me an antibiotic, and something for amoebic dysentery and one other thing that I can't remember right now. The icky sickness I was feeling went away, however, the diarrhea did not.  And I have struggled with that ever since, every day.  Ugh.  It was embarrassing and exceedingly inconvenient. A gastroenterologist diagnosed me with collagenous cholitis and he said it was nothing to be concerned about, as far as it causing anything serious, so I thought, "Ok.  I'll just ignore it as much as I can and not keep trying to 'cure' it."  Now... on to the kefir part:

I generally only drank a small glass of the kefir every day, because for most of those years, we had milk goats and I wanted to be able to drink more fresh goat milk.  At the end of May, our milk goat, Heidi, died. So, I have been using the whole milk from the store since then.  About 2 months ago I started drinking a whole glass of milk kefir at breakfast.  After a couple of weeks I noticed my gut problem improving, and before long, I was almost completely normal. 

I am astounded and oh so grateful.  People talk a lot about probiotics.  The milk kefir is full of them - some articles say as many as 20 varieties.  Fermented foods of all kinds are very good for the gut flora and of course the kefir is fermented.

There you go!
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