Thursday, July 17, 2014 in , ,

Quick and Easy Homemade Ketchup (that tastes better than store bought)


After a hectic week, we ran out of Ketchup and the grocery trip is still a ways away so I decided to take a crack at making Homemade Ketchup.

I did some research and found the same three main components.  Tomato paste, Vinegar and some sort if sweetener.  So being that we already keep tomato paste and vinegar in our pantry and we have loads of honey to sweeten the deal, we decided to give it a go. 

Ingredients
1/3 cup tomato paste (or an entire 6oz can)
1 tbsp local raw honey (perferably from the Tattooed Homestead)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/8 cup water (or more depending on the consistency you like)

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
 salt to taste

Instructions
In a small sauce pan, mix all the ingredients and heat on low until everything is well combined.

Taste as you season and give it your own flavor!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 in

Weekly Update: Another Addition

Another week and we brought home some fuzzy additions to the homestead.  Four New Zealand Does (that's Rabbit Lingo for Girl Rabbits).  We've been told New Zealands are a great starter breed and good meat producers so it's a good place to start.

Rabbits are part of our overall Homesteading plan and we do intend the include them in our regular meal rotation.  I grew up eating Rabbit on a fairly regular basis as my family in Puerto Rico also keeps rabbits for meat.

We have already met with a few "Oh, You're not going to eat them, are you?" comments, to which we smile and nod politely.


We will also be adding a Silver Fox breed Buck (that means Boy Rabbit) to bread them with in the next week or two.

The goats are still quite comfortable in their space but we are considering moving them since it seems they have done such a good job of clearing the weeds.  We would need to fix some fences but we have plenty more for them to chomp on.


The chicks are doing well.  They are about 3 weeks old now and growing quite rapidly.


Unfortunately, so are the spiders.  This is the biggest one we've seen yet.  I've named her Big Burtha.  She lives on the back porch in a mostly unused corner.  She is about 3 inches from top to bottom.   She is a Golden Orb spider, also known as a Banana Spider.  She supposedly does bite, similar to a bee sting, but being that I've never been stung by a bee I am terrified at the prospect of getting bitten.

She scares the BEGEEZES out of me.


The chicks getting some play time on the grass, eating buggy snacks.


The rabbits lounging in the hutch.  Right now we have them two to a cage, because the hutch requires some repairs which should be completed shortly.


The Movable Chicken Coop is doing well.


The chickens seem to like the viewing area under the nesting area.  I call it "The Coop with a View"


This week, we are looking at another honey harvest in preparation for our first Farmer's Market in the area and meeting a man about some sheep.  As it turns out, sheep are the best lawn mowers ... goats prefer weeds.  Thankfully if we do get them we can keep them together in the large field.  Not sure if we will come home with any though, let's see.


I am also still in search of the elusive Turkey chicks.  It seems I am not the only one with this idea though, many of our friends want them too.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Stay Tuned as the Adventures Continue!

Monday, June 16, 2014 in , , ,

Weekly Update: Stormy Weather

The rainy season has arrived at the homestead.  I've noticed the weather is a little more palpable here, still being in the midst of the lightening capital of the US, the thunder sounds a little louder now.  It could be that when we lived in the city, the noise drowned it out a bit, and now we have all this space to create an echo. This week, during a regular daily deluge, this poor little squirrel was looking for shelter and he decided to hang out under our porch.


I've been focusing a lot of time on painting the Baby's room.  I'm going with a Solar System theme with Glow in the dark paint and all.  I'm am also plotting for the Baby's 2nd birthday during Fourth of July weekend ... and life goes on.   

The baby chicks are growing by the second.


... and the bigger chicks are demanding more space.


Hubby is busy working on a chicken tractor ...


.... and a Rabbit Hutch was donated to the cause. 


Also, another goat made it to the homestead.  A female, nubian / dwarf cross.  


We also had the vet come out and he checked on the animals.


The plants are loving the rains and growing like wildfire. 


The basil has gone to seed.


I need to harvest the Greek Oregano as my supply is running low and we have no shortage in the garden. 


The Cuban Oregano is doing well.


And the citrus trees are growing quickly. 


Another very busy week on the homestead and more to come. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 in , ,

Easy No Knead Artisan Dutch Oven Bread plus an AMAZING Variation


So I've been seeing a variety of variations on this recipe for a while.  I had pinned several versions before we moved to the homestead and I finally got things together to give it a test run.

Getting the ingredients together was simple enough as it was only four items:  Flour, Salt, Water and Yeast.

INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS

To begin, I mixed the dry ingredients:
3 cups flour (I used bread flour but all-purpose flour is ok to use too)
   More flour for the work surface
1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
1  teaspoon salt
Then I slowly poured in:
1 1/3 cup cool water

Little by little as I mixed the ingredients together.  



When ever I am making dough I always wish I had one of these on hand, but I can never find them at the store.  Going to have to break down and order one.

Once all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly, you need to let the yeast work its magic and let it rest anywhere from 12 to 18 hours.

So I covered the bowl in Cling Wrap, made sure all the edges where pulled taunt without ripping it (took me two tries), and left it on the kitchen counter overnight.

After it had it's rest, it looked like this:


Ii was amazed at how it had grown.  I then prepared my pastry mat, like this one, but you can use any other work surface as long as you dust it liberally with flour.  I like the mat because it makes clean up easier to manage.

Then I plopped the dough onto the mat and folded the dough onto itself a few times and rolled it in the flour until the outer parts were not sticky.  


I placed it on top of a clean flour dusted towel and then place another one on top while I waited for the Dutch oven to warm up.

I put the dutch oven in a 425 degree oven with the cover on for about 30 minutes to get it ready.  It smoked a bit when I took off the lid.  Then I plopped the dough into the hot dutch oven, seam side up.

Let it cook for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is about 200 degrees.

Then uncover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until beautifully golden brown.


Once you take it out of the oven it should plop right out of the dutch oven when you turn it over.  I put it on a cooling rack like this one just to allow it to cool off before cutting into it with a sharp bread knife.


WHAT I FOUND

On my first attempt, I tired this recipe here but it makes an enormous loaf.  We don't have the self control to have such a huge loaf.  Thankfully we had company and spread the wealth by sharing with the neighbors.  It also says to let the bread rest once it's out of the oven.  We didn't and we didn't notice anything off about the bread but that's just us.

The next time, I made the same amount but this time I divided it into two separate portions.  For the first portion, I followed the directions as before but didn't let it rest the additional two hours and we didn't wait for it to cool to see if we noticed a difference.  We didn't.

THE VARIATION 

For the second portion, I took 5 garlic cloves mashed to a paste and 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese and worked it into the dough to create an interior marbling of the mixture.  I cooked it covered for 30 minutes then uncovered for 15.  It turned out AMAZING with a delicate hint of garlic and Parmesan cheese.

The next time, I made the portions as detailed above.  It made enough for breakfast and lunch which for us was just right.  This is more of a treat for us and this Delicious Crusty Bread doesn't last long around these parts.  In the future, I plan to try to make the larger amount and freezing some to see how it turns out.  

WHY IT WORKS

The Dutch oven is basically steaming the dough which gives it a wonderful soft inside with a stellar crunchy outside.  You don't have to have a dutch oven for this but it certainly helps.  I have this one.

Now I'm excited to try some more variations.  Maybe something with Rosemary or Tomato and Basil. I might need to get another Dutch oven!

Hmmm, The possibilities!


Monday, June 9, 2014 in , ,

How we Harvest Honey: From Hive to Bottle

The question has come up, on more than one occasion, "How do you harvest honey?". Some people want to know more details on how we do it while others have just never had access to the information. So below is a kind of photo essay on one method, a rather old fashioned one, called appropriately "The Mash and Strain Method".


Now, this is not the way we ALWAYS harvest honey.  We also have an 18 frame extractor for those big harvests.  But on a average day, for just a few frames, this is how we go about it.  It doesn't require any special equipment, just a bit of ingenuity and items available in any well stocked kitchen.


We have several hives on the property.  They don't require a lot of attention as we prefer to follow Natural Beekeeping ideals but we do inspect them as a routine just to make sure everything is moving along in proper order.  While Hubby was doing one of these checks, he decided to grab 3 frames to harvest a bit of honey.


Inside the Hive, there are wooden frames to guide the bees in building to facilitate extraction of the honey, but as you can see, they sometimes build in other areas they like.


Hubby removes the full frame, and replaces it with an empty one.  You don't want to leave empty spots in the boxes as the bees will start to build rogue comb in the space in odd directions.



Hubby also took the opportunity to grab up any extra beeswax and Propolis.  Propolis, also known as bee glue, is used by the bees to seal areas in the hive.  It has many healing benefits for the skin and has been called in the past natures band aid.


Hubby gently brushed the bees off the frames and brought them in the house.


I placed them inside my larges crockpot bowl to hold while I got my tools together.


A good knife is always key.


Then I place it in our first level strainer.  This one is specifically for honey buckets but any large strainer will do.  Notice the strainer is not very fine.  It's mostly to remove errant bee parts but leave in the pollen and other good stuff in the honey.


It's a messy endeavor.

Tip:  The best way to clean honey is with warm water and a clean cotton towel.  The warm water will melt the honey right off the surface.


It piles up.


We then run the honey through a cheese cloth to squeeze out the goodness.


It pours right out.


Then ready for bottling.  I'm a bit OCD about my bottling and like to be as exact as possible.


Hubby also brought me some Propolis so I add it to my store.  I use it for lip balm and salves and maybe tinctures in the future.     


Once the honey is fully strained, I will also clean up the beeswax.  I use it for lip balms, salves, lotions, furniture polish and so much more.  I also want to make a mustache wax for hubby but that is still in development.  


We allow the honey to settle and the bubbles leave.


We are left we 9 10 pounds 5 ounces of wonderful Honey.  

All that from ONLY 3 Frames.  

We estimate each hive can produce 60 pounds of honey a year, but we don't take it all as we don't want to risk the hive becoming depleted and causing them to want to leave.  But even just one hive can produce enough for a family and to have some left to share.  


Want some honey or other item from our homestead?  Check out our shop on Etsy!

Want to keep your own bees and do this at home?  We also teach classes one-on-one or for the whole family!  Send us a line and we will schedule it for you!

As always, feel free to ask us any questions which may remain unanswered!