Jul 20, 2017

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So I've finally entered the modern age: Hubby got me a smart phone. That means I can now share more homesteady goodness with you...via Instagram :)  Check it out, and come follow me!

Jul 18, 2017

Catnip for Human Medicine

Catmint Herbal Medicine
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

My interest in medicinal herbs began when I was in my 20s. That was also when I had my first unfortunate incident with catnip (also called "catmint"). I'd bought a tiny nursery seedling, thinking it would be fun to grow catnip and give my cat a little now and then...but my cat ate the entire seedling before I ever got it planted...and then proceeded to suffer from hallucinations which lead to years of flashbacks. So let's just say I'm not a fan of giving catnip to cats. (It is, most vets will admit if you press them, rather like giving heroine to a human.)

So when we moved to our new homestead and I found a large patch of catnip, I was ready to pull it out. Yet with our homestead, came the previous owners' cat, Loki. He's a great little guy - a wonderful mouser, and sweet to boot. He's not young, however...and he's very fond of catnip. The family joke is that Loki is the old hippie on our homestead; in the summer, when the catnip is growing, we always know where to find him: laying in the middle of the catnip. All. Day. Long.

Despite some misgivings, I finally decided the cat was set in his ways, happy, showing no ill effects from the catnip (other than growing a little thin in the summer because he's too busy in the catnip to eat as usual), and I hated to upset his world. So the catnip remains, though I keep it under pretty tight control.

That decision made, I also came to the conclusion that I may as well use the catnip for the humans who live here, too. Because, yes! Catnip has a long tradition of medicinal use in humans.
Catnip blooms can be lovely and attract plenty of garden pollinators. (Courtesy of

Catnip as Human Medicine

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is part of the mint family (hence the other common name for the plant: catmint). In humans, the herb is a mild relaxant, mostly used as a soothing tea to de-stress and prepare for sleep. Catnip contains nepetalactone, which is known to repel mosquitoes better than DEET and may repel flies and cockroaches, too. Herbalists say catnip is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antispasmodic, anti-fungal, and a bactericide. It's traditionally used for treating colic, nausea, digestive distress, fevers, arthritis, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, hemorrhoids, to put menstrual cramps at bay, as a treatment for minor cuts and abrasions, and to help relieve the symptoms of the cold or flu.

How to Grow and Harvest Catnip

Like many perennial herbs, catnip is incredibly easy to grow. In fact, usually the only problem with growing it is keeping it from spreading everywhere. Therefore, I suggest either growing catnip in a container, or keeping it in a small bed surrounded by concrete.

Catnip wants full sun, and I find it doesn't mind being a bit dry (though that's contrary to most growing guides I've read, which claim catnip needs evenly moist soil). Like all herbs, catnip loves a good trim, so don't be afraid to harvest it regularly. To harvest, simply snip off a stem, just above a double set of leaves.

Catnip is in the mint family. (Courtesy of

How to Preserve Catnip

There are some uses for fresh catnip leaves, but catnip is primarily used dried. Pick leaves off stems and place them on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at 95 degrees F. until crisp. Alternatively, hang stems of catnip upside down in a dark location until the leaves are completely dry.

Place dry, cool leaves in an air tight container stored in a dark, cool location.

Using Catnip for Humans

Tea: This is the most common way to consume catnip and is perfect as a relaxer, sleep aid, digestive aid, menstrual cramp reducer, and headache reliever. Strong teas may also relieve anxiety attacks. Simply fill a tea ball with dried catnip leaves, crushing them as you go; place the ball in a cup, cover with boiling water, then cover the cup with a saucer. When the tea stops steaming, you may remove the saucer. (Herbalists say covering steeping tea helps retain the herbs' medicinal qualities.) For a stronger tea, use fresh, coarsely chopped leaves. It's fine to add honey or lemon juice to flavor the tea.

Poultice: When catnip is actively growing, crush fresh leaves and place directly onto minor cuts and abrasions to help prevent infection and promote healing. Fresh leaves may also be chewed to help relieve a toothache, and a simple poultice of crushed catnip leaves and warm water or oil may be applied to arthritic parts of the body.

For colic: Brew catnip tea and have the child consume it. Most children do not like the flavor of catnip, so adding sweetener helps. (Do not use honey as a sweetener for children under the age of 12 months.) You may also add the tea to a bottle of milk or formula or other drink - just 2 or 3 tablespoons will do the trick.
Catnip is also called catmint. (Courtesy of

Baths: Adding catnip to warm bath water may help relieve sore muscles, achey bodies with the flu, and relax the body and mind. If desired, place a handful of fresh or dried catnip in a square piece of cotton, pull up the corners, tie off, and hang the resulting bag so the warm water runs through it as you fill the tub. Alternatively, make a strong catnip tea and add it to the bath water.

WARNINGS: According to WebMD, catnip should not be taken regularly or excessively. Do not consume catnip if you are pregnant. If you are nursing, talk to your doctor before taking catnip. Those with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) should not consume catnip, nor should women who have excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). Catnip should not be used in conjunction with medications that slow down the central nervous system, like sedatives. Talk to you doctor if you take lithium and you want to consume catnip. As with any plant, allergic reactions are possible, if unusual.

I am not a doctor, nor should anything on this website (www.ProverbsThirtyOneWoman.blogspot.com) be considered medical advice. The FDA requires me to say that products mentioned, linked to, or displayed on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this web site is designed for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified medical advice or care. There are no assurances of the information being fit or suited to your medical needs, and to the maximum extent allow by law disclaim any and all warranties and liabilities related to your use of any of the information obtained from the website. Your use of this website does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. No information on this website should be considered complete, nor should it be used as a substitute for a visit to, consultation with, or the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.  

* Title images courtesy of Megan Hansen and mwms1916.

Jul 12, 2017

Mexican Skillet Cauli-Rice (Low Carb, Keto, LCHF Recipe)

low carb, keto, LCHF recipeThe first time I served this dish to my family, nobody had any idea I was sneaking them veggies. In fact, my husband was perplexed, thinking I was eating rice (a definite no-no because of my diabetes). I giggled like a little girl. "Nope!" I said. "There's no rice in this dinner. That, my dear, is cauliflower."

Now, I've tried quite a few cauliflower-masquerading-as-something-else recipes, and most of the time, I haven't been impressed. But cauliflower as a rice substitute? Perfect!

I make my own cauli-rice from fresh cauliflower, but if you prefer, you can now buy riced cauliflower in the freezer section of most grocery stores. (Just be sure to read the label for questionable, added ingredients.) One thing I haven't tried is using frozen cauliflower to make cauli-rice. I'm learning frozen is usually less expensive than fresh, and often has a more mild flavor suitable for cauliflower substitute recipes; but I'm not sure how well it will rice. If you try it (or already do it), please leave a comment, and I will update the post with opinions on how well it works!

To make your own cauli-rice: Quarter a fresh cauliflower and cut away the core and the bigger parts of the stems. Pop chunks of the cauliflower florets into the food processor (with the grater attachment in place), or simply chop the cauliflower florets finely with a knife until it has the appearance of rice. I usually rice several heads at one time and pop the results in the freezer for later use.

https://sites.google.com/site/proverbs31womanprintables/mexican-skillet-cauli-riceMexican Skillet Cauli-Rice Recipe

1lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 batch taco seasoning (see below)
1 cup no-sugar-added tomato paste
Cauli-rice from 1 cauliflower head (or about 24 oz. of pre-riced cauliflower)
1/2 cup beef broth
2 cups shredded Cheddar and mozzarella cheese

1. In a large skillet placed over medium high heat, cook the ground beef until no longer pink. Add the onion and green pepper and cook until tender. Add the taco seasoning, mixing well.

2. Add the tomato paste, cauli-rice, and broth, stirring well to mix. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until cauli-rice softens (about 5 minutes for fresh cauli-rice, or about 9 for frozen).

3. Sprinkle cheese over the mixture and serve. Add sour cream, green onions, and other toppings, if desired, but add them to the carb count.

Makes about 5 servings. Estimated nutrition, according to SuperTracker: 227 calories; 18 g. protein; 10.2 g. carbs; 3 g. fiber;13 g. fat.

DIY Taco Seasoning
Not only is it cheaper to mix your own taco seasoning, but it makes all the dubious ingredients in ready-made spice mixes (like flours and preservatives) something you can easily avoid.

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon oregano

Jul 5, 2017

Why Did the Rooster Cross the Road? Because Our Hens Were on the Other Side!

Late Sunday afternoon, my hubby spotted a beautiful rooster wandering around the outside of our chicken run, trying to find a way in. We've been wanting to add a rooster to the homestead, but every time we see one advertised, someone else has already snatched it up. So light bulbs went on above our heads. My husband called our neighbor, knowing it must be his bird. "Your rooster is over here romancing our hens. Do you mind if we keep him for a few days?" Our neighbor readily agreed.

So we opened the gate to our chicken run - there was little danger of our hens wandering off; they are so content in that run, they show little interest in leaving it. And within minutes, the rooster had found his way inside.

First, he crowed. Repeatedly. "I proclaim these ladies are mine!" I imagine him saying. Then he spread his wings wide as if to impress our girls with his splendor. Soon, he started scratching around, found some food, and called to the girls. "Ladies! I found something tasty! Come and get it!"

They eyed him suspiciously and didn't take him up on his offer.

Finally, he began following them around, cooing bewitchingly. At least, I guess he was bewitching, because within 30 minutes, he was making whoopie with one of our hens. He then wasted no time getting friendly with all of them.

We are thankful he's a gentleman about it all. He never once pecked, scratched, or got violent with the hens. And when dusk came and I locked the hen house...he was nestled away in there like he'd never had any other home.

His second day here, I walked by the run to see how things were going...and discovered the gate was unlatched. That morning, my daughter hadn't closed it properly. All but our two broody hens were missing. (Broody hens are in a hormonal state that prepares them to hatch eggs.Among other things, they sit on the nest and do not leave it. It doesn't matter that our eggs were not fertilized. ) I was a little panicky, since the rooster was not ours to lose.

My first thought was that Mr. Rooster had lead our hens to his old property, wanting to integrate his new lady friends with his old ones. But before we could call the neighbor, my son spotted the partial flock in the woods, busily scratching away on the forest floor, finding bugs. The rooster hadn't been trying to get back home. He was merely looking out for his new hens, finding them a good foraging location.

To complicate things, our 90 lb. puppy, Ed, got loose. He's good around "his" animals, but I was worried he'd go after the rooster, thinking it didn't belong on our property. So I spent 15 minutes trying to catch him, wrestle with him, and lock him up before I could proceed with the chicken rescue mission.

By the time this was accomplished, Mr. Rooster had lead the hens to a prime foraging spot under some trees on a steep embankment. And, naturally, he did his best to protect them from me. Still, one by one I grabbed squawking hens, handed them to the children, and had them put the girls back in the chicken run. 

I was not looking forward to picking up the rooster. Roosters have spurs...need I say more? (I didn't realize at the time that Mr. Rooster is young enough he doesn't have spurs yet.) But I walked back to the woods to do my best and...he had disappeared. Completely vanished. I hoped he was headed back to "his" ladies. I was right! I don't know how he moved so fast, but he was already pacing outside the run, with the hens ruffled and upset he wasn't inside with them. (Amazing how quickly those hens adopted him!) I opened the gate and chased him until he ran into the run to flee me. Whew!

Later that day, amazed by how the rooster seemed to complete our flock - how the hens already adored him and obeyed his gentle commands - and entranced by his lovely crowing that just made the homestead more homesteady - my hubby asked the neighbor if we could buy his rooster.

"Tell you what," our neighbor said. "Give me half the chicks from your first two clutches, and he's all yours."*

Happy dance!

Of course, hatching chicks the natural way is a little bit iffy. There's a reason chickens mate constantly; not all clutches of eggs hatch, and all newborn chicks are incredibly fragile.

But, best case scenario, sometime within the next 3 weeks, our hens will lay some fertilized eggs, and one of our hens will be patient enough to sit on them for 21 days, then mother the resulting chicks.

Hens often get fed up before 21 days of sitting have passed. But we have one particularly broody hen who seems very patient. Twice now, she's plucked her chest feathers and sat on unfertilized eggs. She's felt hot and gives that gentle clucking sound only broody hens make. When we remove eggs from under her, she scolds us - and even, once, pecked. (Which is a huge deal for Australorps. They are not much into pecking, especially at their humans.) In fact, when Mr. Rooster originally crossed the road, we had her separated from the flock, trying to get her to come out of the broodiness she'd had for several days. Now she's in with the rest of the flock and we hope her broody dreams come true!

I'm ridiculously happy to have this rooster. He is so nice - which is a huge bonus. Many roosters are just plain mean. He is gorgeous. (I think he might be an Americauna.) The hens love him. And now my hubby has an excuse to get around to expanding the hen house. (Wink.)

Only one questions remains: What should we name him?

* In case you're wondering, Mr. Rooster shows zero interest in crossing the road again. For whatever reason, he has chosen our hens as his.

Jul 1, 2017

Weekend Links

Still waiting for the contractor to start re-roofing my canning kitchen!

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,  the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:28-31

* I just returned from an out of state trip to visit my Dad, and am busy trying to catch up on homesteading, home keeping, and blogging chores. Forgive me if I take a little time to catch up!

* It's official! Duck eggs do NOT raise my blood sugar the way chicken eggs do...and they don't seem to upset my tummy, either. So now my 11 year old daughter is saying: "Does that mean I can get some pet ducks now???"

* Once, you could walk onto our front porch, easily look into the bathroom window, and see a person sitting on the toilet! Bad layout. But this inexpensive window cling easily took care of the problem...and it looks pretty, too! I recommend it.

* No one likes to look like a city slicker when they live in a rural area. But for months, the kids and I have been looking for tadpoles to scoop into fish tanks so we can watch them turn into frogs. A couple of weeks ago, we were excited when we saw some in the greenhouse water tank. I'm glad we didn't put them in tanks in the house, though, because my hubby later informed me they aren't tadpoles...they are mosquito larvae. He thought it was cute that I didn't know this...

* Recall on dog raw hides.

* Recall of almond butter due to possible listeria.

* Respecting Your Husband the Proverbs 31 Way.

* Some interesting insights into what makes teens rebel.

* Lately I've noticed Netflix has some questionable titles readily available to anyone browsing their offerings. Even just the "covers" for the shows are not something I want my kids to see. If you're concerned about this, too, Our Good Life has instructions on how to block Netflix shows so your kids can't find them. 

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2012/02/day-with-dinosaurs-free-ebook-for-kids.html#.WValGlGQwdg* Here's a fun, free summer activity for kids: Playing Bible detectives!

* Did you know I have a free children's chapter book all about time traveling to the days of the dinosaurs in order to learn about creationism? It's action-packed and fun, and perfect for summer reading! 

* More fun ideas for summer fun.

* With wild berries beginning to come on, now is a great time to start foraging! Even city dwellers can forage.

* Tick bites can lead to  meat allergies. It's true!

* These look good! Crispy Green Bean Chips.

* I recently joined a Facebook canning group...and oh my goodness! People get tossed out for mentioning botulism or suggesting a certain canning practice isn't safe. The things these people are doing are shocking. There's a lot of "My granny did it and she didn't die." Um, yeah, that's like saying "I drive home drunk every night and I've never gotten into an accident." There are many reasons Granny didn't die - mainly because she boiled the heck out of her canned food before she ate it. She also stored it in a fridge-like setting (a cellar or something similar). And she took for granted that spring time (as the last of the canned food was consumed) was a time of sickness, not realizing her home canned foods were making her ill. Please. No food you want to home can is worth making someone ill or killing them. Period. Learn more here.

* In my day, I've used a lot of manure. In the garden, that is. But by far my favorite is rabbit manure. I love it because you don't have to wait for it to age before using it, and because it makes plants grow abundantly! Don't have your own rabbits? Sometimes you can find rabbit owners who are willing to give away or sell their bunnies' pellets. Here's more on using rabbit manure in the garden.

Oldies But Goodies:

* Preserving Herbs with Salt
* Tips for Keeping the House Cool in Summer
* An EASY Way to Make Your Own Butter
* Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
* Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets

Jun 29, 2017

"Unbreaded" Parmesan Chicken Tenders Recipe - ZERO Carb!

Low carb, keto, ketogenic, LCHF recipe zero carbs
Whenever I find a chicken recipe my family loves, I'm pretty proud of myself. And whenever my family says they like the low carb, keto version of a recipe better than the high carb version, I'm even more happy. Such is the case with my "Unbreaded" Parmesan Chicken Tenders.

These babies are not only tender, but so flavorful! Who needs breadcrumbs or flour?? Not us! I also love that this meal comes together without much work; all it needs is a simple vegetable on the side and viola! you've got a truly healthy meal.

Money Saving Tip: Yes, this recipe calls for chicken tenders, but I recommend you buy frozen chicken breasts instead. Let them thaw, then cut them into smaller, chicken tender-sized pieces. It's easy, doesn't take much time, and saves money.

Another Note: Although the cheese I used to calculate nutritional information on this chicken dish claimed to be ZERO CARBS (yay!), all dairy has a small amount of carbohydrates. Food manufacturers are allowed to indicate the carbohydrates in any given food are zero if the serving size has less than 1 carb. So do bear this in mind if you're diabetic or carefully counting carbohydrates.


"Unbreaded" Parmesan Chicken Tenders Recipe

2 lbs. chicken tenders
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a pie plate or shallow casserole dish, stir together the cheese, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Set aside.

3. In another pie plate or shallow casserole dish, melt the butter in the microwave. (Or, if you prefer, melt in a small saucepan on the stove, then transfer to the pie plate.)

4. Dip each piece of chicken in the butter, coating both sides, then dip t in the cheese mixture, well covering all sides of the chicken. Place chicken pieces on the prepared baking tray.

5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Estimated Nutrition, according to SuperTracker; per piece of chicken: Carbs 0 g.; protein 17 g.; fiber 0 g.; fat 10 g.; calories 160.


Jun 26, 2017

Our Favorite Chicken Breed: Australorps

Find out why Australorps - a heritage breed originally from Australia - are our favorite homestead chicken breed. Hint: Think lots of eggs and sweet personalities...plus more!

Jun 22, 2017

Can I Use My Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for Canning?

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

 Q: Can I use my Instant Pot or other pressure cooker for canning?

A: I see this question so often! The answer is absolutely, positively no. Oh yes, I do know there are pressure cooker manufacturers who claim otherwise, but they are putting your life at risk.

First, let's talk about the Instant Pot, which is a popular electric pressure cooker (I love mine! You can learn more about it here.). The manufacture has this to say about canning in the Instant Pot, emphasis mine:
"Instant Pot can be used for boiling-water canning. However, Instant Pot has not been tested for food safety in pressure canning by USDA. Due to the fact that programs in Instant Pot IP-CSG, IP-LUX and IP-DUO series are regulated by a pressure sensor instead of a thermometer, the elevation of your location may affect the actual cooking temperature. For now, we wouldn’t recommend using Instant Pot for pressure canning purpose. Please note this correction to our early inaccurate information."
They kind of talk around themselves, don't they? But basically they are saying you should not use the Instant Pot for canning because the temperature may not be high enough to kill dangerous bacteria in the food. I would add that with water bath canning the jars must be well under water and cannot touch the bottom of the pan. That means there simply isn't enough space in the Instant Pot for safely canning anything.

What about other types of pressure cookers? Quite simply, they are not designed for canning, and they cannot safely can food and make it shelf stable. The National Center for Home Food Preservation makes it clear that pressure cookers cannot hold enough water to safely bring the contents of canning jars to a temperature that kills harmful and deadly bacteria.

In addition to holding too little water, pressure cookers have less metal, which means the time it takes them to come to pressure is shorter than that of a pressure canner. The time it takes them to cool down is also shorter. That might seem like a good thing, but it actually means the food in the jars is heated for less time - and that means bacteria won't be fully killed during processing. "The food," The NCHFP says, "may end up underprocessed. Underprocessed..foods are unsafe and can result in foodborne illness, including botulism poisoning, if consumed."

My personal recommendations:

I love my Instant Pot (here's the model I have) for making dinner when I need my hands and focus free for other things. I also use it to hard boil eggs, cook dried beans, and so much more.

But I use my Presto pressure canner (here's the model I use and recommend) for pressure canning; I also use it as a water bath canner by simply not locking down the lid. (Learn more about that here.) I have also used it as a pressure cooker, but I don't anymore, for two main reasons: 1. It's really big, and therefore difficult to clean in the sink. This isn't an issue when it comes to canning, because the canner stays clean. But when I cook in it, I usually have to scrub it out. 2. Unlike an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, I have to monitor the Presto as it cooks food. That means it simply uses up more of my time.

For more information, see:

* What You Need to Know About Home Canning and Botulism
* Pressure Canning vs. Pressure Cookers
* Canning 101: Using a Boiling Water Bath Canner
* Canning 101: Using a Pressure Canner