Saturday, November 28, 2015

Quick tip-make dried garlic into garlic powder

Homemade garlic powder
Saturday, November 28, 2015

Some of the garlic that you put up for the winter will inevitably dry to rock hard pellets.  Don’t throw them away!

Make sure they are completely dry.  I use a coffee grinder and drop a handful in at a time to grind them into a powder.  I store them in a jar and have homegrown garlic powder any time we want it.  Tastes great on burgers or wings or in sauces.

Just put into a glass jar and store in a cool, dry place.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

All natural, and cheap, homemade house cleaners




Sunday, November 22, 2015

It is easy to clean your entire house with a few simple basics from your pantry: vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and washing soda.  Simply add your favorite essential oils, herbs, flowers or fruits to infuse fragrance in your healthy cleaners and home with every use.

Vinegar
Vinegar is a natural odor remover.  Just leave in a bowl and it will neutralize any odors.
For mildew, apply full strength, let set 30 minutes or more, scrub, and rinse.
To clean the toilet bowl, put 1 cup in the bowl, allow to sit several hours, and scrub the rings away.
For grease removal from the microwave, mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of vinegar, place in microwave, and bring to a boil.  Then, wipe out.
Remove hard water buildup from shower heads by filling a plastic bag with vinegar and attaching to the shower head and let sit submerged several hours.

Baking soda
Make a paste with water and scrub away!  Great for cleaning sinks or treating grease stains on clothes.  If you need some abrasion, add salt to the paste.  
For scrubbing bubbles, add castile soap for more cleaning power.

Washing soda, a natural salt, is stronger than baking soda.  It is effective for grease, oil, and wine stains.

Lemons
Use lemon juice for whitening.  Can give hair highlights or whiten your linens.
Use a cut lemon for cutting grease, freshening your cutting board, removing hard water stains, cleaning fingernails, removing tarnish from copper, and age spot remover.
Throw your used lemon peel down the garbage disposal to freshen it.

Lemons can also be used to keep apples from turning brown, just squeeze some juice over the slices.  The juice from a lemon into a glass of water helps with the day after as well; it stimulates the liver to accelerate detoxing of the body.

Add essential oils for antibacterial properties and scent-lemon, tea tree oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, or pine.  For antifungal, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, peppermint or pine.  Or if add any essential oil that you love for beautiful fragrance every time you clean.

These basic cleaners should cover all your home needs.  You can use your current cleansers containers and fill with these healthy, fragrant options.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Use your own herbs for your Thanksgiving dinner



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Add a fresh edge to your Thanksgiving dinner by using herbs straight from your own garden.  Herbs can be harvested all the way through the entire winter in most years.  Traditional vegetables used for flavoring the Thanksgiving feast are also harvestable at this time of year, like carrots, onions and celery.

Herbs are easy and care free to grow and almost all of them are perennials.  That means you plant once and they come back year after year.  For more details on growing your own herbs, see my blog here  http://victorygardenonthegolfcourse.blogspot.com/2012/06/kitchen-herb-garden.html

Jazzing up the turkey flavor
You can easily make poultry seasoning for your turkey from herbs in your own garden.  Poultry seasoning adds great flavor to, of course, chicken or turkey, but also veggies, fish, casseroles, pasta.

The first commercial poultry seasoning was invented by William G. Bell, a Boston cook, in 1867.  His included sage, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, pepper and ginger.

I like to make my poultry seasoning with dried sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.  Some add nutmeg, pepper, ginger , onion powder and/or cloves.

Here is my poultry seasoning recipe:
3 Tbl sage
1 Tbl parsley
1 Tbl thyme
1 Tbl marjoram or oregano
1 Tbl rosemary

Insure all spices are crumbled into tiny pieces so they will disperse evenly in your favorite prepared dish.  Combine in a pint jar, shake to mix well.  

You can transfer the amount needed to a kitchen spice jar.  Keep the rest in a cool, dark location.

For any spices, you want to keep them as fresh as possible.  They lose their flavor over time and quicker if exposed to heat/light.

Herbal powered stuffing
For stuffing, you can gather fresh sage, onions, carrots and celery from the garden even in late November. 

In a bowl, put 8 cups of dried bread cubes and soften with 1 cup of chicken broth (I love using organic “Better than Bouillon” for my stock).  In a skillet, sauté 1 cup of chopped carrots, 1 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped onions with 1/2 cup of butter.  After browned, add 2 teas fresh sage or poultry seasoning, 1/2 teas salt, 1/8 teas of pepper.  Mix all together and stuff the turkey.

Potager turkey gravy
To make 2 cups of gravy, cook in a sauce pan, 1/2 cup of fresh chopped carrots, 1/2 cup of fresh chopped celery, 1 cup of chopped onions, 3 cloves of peeled and mashed garlic until browned.  Add 1 bay leaf, 3 cups of chicken stock, and giblets and neck from turkey.  Simmer on low uncovered for an hour or so until reduced in about half.  Strain out all solids and combine 1 cup of stock with 1/4 cup of cream and 1/4 cup of flour, whisk until smooth.  Bring remaining stock to boil, add cream mixture, defatted turkey pan drippings if desired, simmer until thickened.

Herbed potato options
There are a few options for snazzing up your mashed potatoes.  For 5 pounds of potatoes, you can add 5 cloves of roasted garlic, 1 cup of buttermilk and 8 ounces of cream cheese.  

Or how about 5 pounds of small potatoes that are cooked until tender, then tossed with 1 cup of butter, 3/4 cup freshly, finely chopped parsley, marjoram, chives and/or thyme.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Herbal salad dressing
You can keep it simple and flavor a good white wine vinegar with your favorite herb like tarragon for the salad.  Use a mild olive oil so that the flavor of the herb shines through.  Herbal vinegars are easy to make, but you need to make ahead.  Place the herbs in the vinegar and leave in a cool dark place for at least a week.  You can strain out the herbs before using after infused.

Homemade version of Hidden Valley Ranch is easy to make.  Just mix equal amounts of buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream (half cup each).  Then add parsley, dill, garlic, onion (half teas), salt (quarter teas), and pepper (eighth teas) to taste.  If the mayonnaise is too overpowering, I substitute yogurt.   Other home made dressings:  Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs

This is the perfect time for fresh spinach salads.  Spinach and other greens are in season and loving this cool weather.

Artisanal butter
If you are making an herbal butter to serve, you would want more like 2 tablespoons of herbs to 1/2 cup of butter.  Add the herb that complements the dish you are serving.  

You can either serve in a dish, roll it into a log using plastic wrap, or form into a shape.  If you use a form, simply press the butter firmly into the form, then place the form in a shallow dish of hot water.  The butter should slide out easily after a little warming.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

Slow growing in winter months

Potted lettuce


Saturday, November 14, 2015

If you have noticed that plants stop growing in the winter, whether indoors or out, you would be right.  It is not just the temperatures that affect this slow down.  It is the amount of sunlight.

Basically, plants go dormant when receiving less than 10 hours of daylight.  For my latitude, this is from November 17-January 24.  You can look on the weather channel to see when your daylight hits 10 hours.

When planting in the fall for winter crops, you need to plan that they are at full, harvestable size by November 17th.  They will remain basically this size until the end of January, when they begin regrowing.

Growth starts back up at the end of January, for indoor and outdoor plants.  The lettuce, chard, sorrel, cabbage, kale, celery, and herbs that have overwintered will start growing with vigor again after this time with clear days and warmer temperatures.


Covering plants with row covers or portable greenhouses can help your plants grow; warmth does make a difference.  Just don’t expect significant growth until we get back to at least 10 hours of sunlight.