Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update: Vanilla Extract Is Completed!

The Organic Vanilla Extract is Complete! See my tutorial here on how to make the extract. It took 2 months! The adorable amber bottles have been collecting dust(bought them on Amazon). Wayne got on photoshop and made the labels the perfect size for me, and tiled them to fill the page. They look great huh? I went with a vintage style. The project is for personal use only. I am not going to be selling these bottles. So I will tell you that I did take the label idea from Eat Drink Chic's DIY Free Vintage Apothecary Labels download. Once downloaded I screenshotted it, and deleted everything but the border, and the two lines that strike through the center. I wouldn't have been able to do this project and make it so cute without her free label download. So full credit to Amy Moss for that!
I filtered the vanilla extract with two layers of cheesecloth inside my tea kettle's loose leaf tea insert over a jar(it fit inside the jar perfectly somehow). Once the jar was full- I funneled the extract into each bottle. Rinsed the bottles, and dried them. Then carefully placed the label on the bottles. The labels were printed on sticker label paper-Full sheets(got mine at Amazon). We cut the labels out by hand for the vintage look to make rounded corners.
Other than the fact that I have an endless supply of homemade gifts, I now have tons organic vanilla extract for all baking needs! 
I just purchased more organic vodka. The key to keeping the extract going, and getting better and better with time is leaving a quarter of the jar full of extract and just adding more vodka as you take it out. Leave the original seeds, and vanilla beans in there and keep the rotation going. Don't forget to shake the jars one to two times a week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roost: Healthy Almond & Yogurt Waffle Recipe

Roost Blog posted a delicious and healthy recipe I had to share. You will now be on the hunt for a waffle iron, and let me know where you find one! See the full post here. Where there are tons of gorgeous mouthwatering photos! There is beauty in such simple things. It is inspiring!

Almond & Yogurt Waffles With Orange Honey Syrup

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Proper Seed Storage

I have been investigating how to properly store seeds to make them last as long as possible. The way I see things going, we won't have organic seeds in the future/no variety. So we typically grab a few non-hybrid, non GMO, and organic seeds as we see them, and keep slowly adding to our collection. We don't have the space for a garden quite yet, so I want the seeds to last long enough to make it to those times. 
I read a really good quote, "To plant a garden is to believe in the future." - Audrey Hepburn 

We should be growing our own food, and if not know your farmer! I do not believe we will have many options of what kind of seeds that will be available to us. We are almost forced to have a greenhouse so the garden wont be attacked by Monsanto's GMO crops contaminating everything. Our entire seed collection could be completely taken away in one day if contamination happened. Once it is contaminated it is technically their crop, and their seeds. It's a bit like plagiarism. You stole their product, and aren't giving them credit(Ha!). Except you didn't know you were stealing. Or piracy.. It is the same thing, you didn't know you were downloading illegally. So now you have to pay. This world is so jacked, when corporations are legally human. It is called "Corporate Personhood". They can buy and sell property, hire and fire, sue and be sued, and so on. Lawyers argue that an attempt to sue a corporation for lying is an unconstitutional infringement on its First Amendment right to free speech (More on that here).
Back to my seed saving ; ) I have two ways I store my seeds. I purchased a mylar heat sealed bag filled with 2,500 2010 harvested non hybrid/non GMO seeds. The seeds will last 10-15 years refrigerated, or 20-25 years in the freezer(as you may have guessed- mine is in the freezer). In my opinion it was an investment for our future (buy yours here). With the gas prices, and prices of food sky rocketing and no end in site. All we need is sunshine, water, and time. We can have everything the supermarket offers at home for free, plus more variety. Next- all of the seeds we have been collecting I have been storing them in an air tight stainless steel jar in the fridge. You could also use a mason jar. I purchased silica gel packets to place inside of the jar to absorb any moisture that might form. Silica gel can absorb 15 percent of its weight in water vapor in 2 hours (purchase them here). The seeds we save ourselves- we let them air dry for 5-7 days- place in ziploc bags-then label. The goal is low moisture, low temperature, and low oxygen. Bring the jar to room temperature before opening to avoid condensation inside the jar. In this process it is guessed they will last 4-5 years, place them in the freezer to last even longer. Simple food security.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Lodge At Suttle Lake Adventure!

Well friends, I just got back from a 3 day weekend! I can't express how much fun I had. I wanted to stay forever. I have never been anywhere in the snow like this. Never been in a cabin with snow all over the place, and a fireplace all cozied up. It was wonderful. We went to my favorite area of Oregon, and stayed in a cozy creekside cabin at The Lodge At Suttle Lake called Kokanee. I highly recommend staying there no matter the weather! We got up there towards the end of a nasty snow storm, and spent the next 3 days watching everything melt. We went to Sisters, Oregon and walked around looking at shops, and had lunch, and coffee. Went over to Camp Sherman, the fish hatchery, and then hiked to the head of the Metolius River(which was a new one for me). I have spent quite some time in this area, and the whole adventure felt brand new. I miss it there. I feel a connection to it, and it won't go away for some reason. It may be a sign that maybe someday I will live there. I can handle the snow, it's the wild fires that scare me. Anyways back to the adventure.. The Resort Lobby has a small bar for 4 people, which was perfect because they gave us drink tickets to use from 4:30-6pm. My dad, brother, Wayne and I hopped over there and clearly filled up the bar drinking free tasty beer, and hor devours. Since me and Wayne both work in the industry we taught some family members something- Tip your housekeeper, and your bartender-especially when it is free. So now all of you know. Me and Wayne watched the sun set on the beach, and we all went back and got warm by the indoor, and outdoor fireplaces. We ended both nights watching movies that we got from the front desk for free. As everything was coming to an end, none of us wanted to leave. There is so much we could still do! So we plan to come back next month, and in the summer! And since I am technically telling all of you you have to check out the resort for yourselves, You can also hop on over to their facebook page here-'like' their facebook page, and write on their wall that I (my facebook page) recommended you to it so we can both be entered to get a free stay! Also while you are at it 'like' Dream State's facebook page here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Grow Your Own Ginger At Home!

Today I am going to teach you how to grow ginger in your own home! Let me first tell you why you should grow ginger. Ginger extracts have been shown to have both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects on cells. It is also a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and vitamin B6. Ginger has anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion).
How is that for an incentive? You can grow this right in your own kitchen. Your own personal pharmacy!

"Ginger root is sold in a clump that’s often called a “hand.” You’ll want to choose a hand that’s fresh and firm with as many “fingers” as possible. To get as many plants as you can, cut or break the fingers off the main root. Each section with a growing tip will become a plant. Be sure to allow any cut surfaces to dry before planting them in moist soil. 
Planting is easy: Simply pick a pot that’s at least twice the diameter as the length of your root section. Fill it ¾ full with standard potting soil, and place the small root sections on top of the soil. Water it well. Your plant will survive dry spells, but to get the most consistent growth, keep it damp at all times. Place your ginger pot in a spot where it’ll stay warm. There’s no need to find a sunny spot on your windowsill. At this stage, your ginger actually grows better without direct sunshine. Before you know it, you’ll see sprouts.
Studies say ginger’s peak flavor arrives at 265 days. (And if you start the ginger inside in late winter, that one root can produce four times that amount by fall!) But you’ll only get this long growing season by starting your ginger indoors as a houseplant early in the year and then transplanting it in your garden in late spring, once the weather’s warmed. When moving your ginger to your garden, choose a spot with rich, loose soil, and be sure to water it regularly. There aren’t many pests or diseases to worry about. And occasionally, you might get a nice surprise: Your ginger plant may produce yellowish flowers at the base of each stem.
With proper care, your ginger can reach 2-4 feet tall. It’ll have narrow, glossy, green leaves that can be up to a foot long. Its roots can be harvested at any time, but you should let the plant grow for at least three to four months before harvesting. You’ll be able to see the ginger roots growing near the surface of the soil. To harvest them, just trim off small sections whenever you need them, while the rest of the plant continues to grow. The new roots that grow from the starter root will have the best flavor and texture. The old starter root should be tossed out at the end of the season."

Learn 2 Grow is the source I used for planting and harvesting. See the full post, and their collection of photos here. Health benefit source is from WHFoods. See a complete nutritional guide on ginger here.

Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes!

Ready for some free health boosting beta-carotene, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients?(See here for full list of health benefits) You can get sweet potato starts in your window. Let me show you how! (This is a fun project for kids!)

Sweet potatoes aren't started by seed like most other vegetables, they're started from slips. Slips are shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato. Each sweet potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts. To create sprouts, carefully wash your potato and place it in a jar half submerged with water. Hold it in place using toothpicks. Some tutorials I read said to cut the bottom portion off. I am not sure if this just makes the roots grow faster? I didn't do it, but you can. The slips need warmth, so put them on a window. 

"In a few weeks your potatoes will be covered with leafy sprouts on top and roots on the bottom Once your sweet potatoes have sprouted, you have to separate them into plantable slips. To do this, you take each sprout and carefully twist it off of the sweet potato. Take each sprout and lay it in a shallow bowl with the bottom half of the stem submerged in water and the leaves hanging out over the rim of the bowl. Within a few days roots will emerge from the bottom of each new plant. When the roots are about an inch long the new slips are ready to plant. To keep your slips healthy be sure to keep the water fresh and discard any slip that isn't producing roots or looks like it's wilting."

"Before you plant sweet potato slips, you have a little extra work to do. Sweet potatoes need loose, well-drained soil to form large tubers. You don't want the roots to face resistance when they try to expand within the soil. Loose soil is more critical than almost any other factor when it comes to growing sweet potatoes successfully.  Using a small hand trowel, dig a hole about 4" or 5" deep and 3" wide. Place one slip in each hole with the roots pointing down. Position the slip so that the bottom half will be covered with dirt while the top half with all of the new leaves is above ground. Carefully fill the hole with dirt so that you don't bruise the new plant. Sweet potatoes don't like to be bruised or bumped around too much. When you have completely covered it with soil, gently press the plant and surrounding dirt to set the plant and to remove any remaining air pockets. Continue the same way until all of your slips are planted. 
Once all of the slips are in place water them. You'll need to give them a thorough soaking until all of the surrounding dirt is wet. Stop watering before your mound starts to erode. New plants, like slips, need to be watered everyday for the first week and every other day the second week. Each week the watering will get a little farther apart until you're watering once a week. If the ground is very dry or you've had a lot of rain, you may need to adjust this schedule in your own garden. Sweet potatoes can withstand drought but they'll produce less, so make sure you water them during the hottest part of the summer." The roots mature and are ready for harvest by late September and early October. This gives them time to harvest before the first frost, so the potatoes are in storage as the weather turns cool. For tips on harvesting, and curing for long term storage- See here.


The specific source I used was from DIY Network. Check out their tutorial for more photos here.