Mar 25, 2017

The plum trees are blooming!
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!


* The plums and pear tree are blooming, and I have winter sowed tomato seedlings popping up! It's spring, my friends, and I am soooooo glad! Is my garden bed ready yet? No, not quite. But the trees are down, and my hubby is working hard on cutting and stacking all that lovely wood for next winter's use. I'm sure I won't have the garden of my dreams this year, but if there's one thing I've learned about homesteading - really, life in general - it's that baby steps, rather than giant leaps, usually work out better in the end.

* Three months ago, my doctor diagnosed me as a type II diabetic, with blood sugar so high I should be on insulin. Thankfully, my doctor also told me to go on a keto diet, and gave me three months to turn my health around...and I did! According to my most recent blood test, I have totally reversed my diabetes! There is no cure for diabetes; if I eat too many carbs, my blood sugar will go up and I will suffer the awful consequences of this disease. BUT if I continue to eat the way I have been (low carb, high fat, moderate protein), I will not suffer the consequence of diabetes - and that's a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, wonderful thing! You can bet I'll be blogging more about this, but in the meantime, just know that all diabetics (type I and type II) benefit from a therapeutic keto diet and eventually can either come off their medication, or reduce their dependence upon it.
Plant cell photo taken through My First Lab Duo-Scope.

* My 11 yr. old took this photo (left) of a plant cell. Both kids adore their microscope. I spent years looking for a reasonably priced one that would actually work, and ended up buying a My First Lab Duo-Scope. I highly recommend it! 

* Recall of Walmart's Marketside Pizza, due to listeria.

* Recall of beef due to E.coli.

* Recall of dog pig ears due to salmonella.

* Recall of Vulto Creamery cheese due to listeria.

* Did you know most sunscreens contain ingredients linked to skin cancer? Here's a great guide to choosing a natural sunscreen.

* Deep cleaning you can do in 60 minutes or less.

* Natural Homemade Cleaning Recipes.


http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2016/05/omas-delish-rhubarb-cake-recipe.html#.WNbMrme1sdi
* How to start an asparagus patch. 

* Colicky baby? Try an all natural, traditional, homemade gripe water. 

* Why you should be eating lard. 

* A simple way you can help end sex trafficking!


Oldies But Goodies:

* Oma's Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake - so delicious!

* 14 Christ-Centered Easter Ideas

* Easiest Vegetables & Fruits to Grow.

* My #1 Housekeeping Tip



Mar 23, 2017

How to EASILY Remove Hard Water Stains from Sinks

clean hard water stains
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full  information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Now that the plum trees are blooming and we are getting occasional sunny days, I have the itch to spring clean. And boy, does this place need spring cleaning! As you might recall, it was a dirty mess when we took possession of it last July, and I was so utterly exhausted (mostly from my as-yet-undiagnosed diabetes) that I didn't do a deep clean. So now I want to tackle some of the cleaning jobs that have been bugging me all winter.

One of those was our bathroom sink.

The sink itself is newish, but because the old well had a high mineral content, it had brown stains around the drain and the faucet. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, but they wouldn't come off. Then I bumped into a post at The Thrift Home that suggested using vinegar to clean those hard water stains.

First, let me say that I'm not someone who lauds using vinegar for cleaning everything. I haven't found it very effective for most cleaning jobs, in fact. But for this cleaning job? Worked like a charm!

How to EASILY Clean Off Hard Water Stains from Sinks

You'll need:
Paper towels (thin, clean cotton rags would probably work, too)
White distilled vinegar
Old toothbrush

1. First, clean the sink and fixtures as you normally would.


The area around the drain and faucet of my sink always looked grungy.
2. Place some pieces of paper towel over the affected areas. I used half pieces, torn into strips and doubled over.

3. Pour a little white distilled vinegar onto the paper towels, until the towels are completely saturated.


4. Walk away.

That's the best part...walking away and doing something other than cleaning ;)






5. After an hour or longer (or when you finally walk into the bathroom and notice the vinegar smell and think "Oh, yeah. I was cleaning!"), remove the paper towels.

6. Use an old toothbrush to clean the affected areas. Without much scrubbing, brown gunk should come right off. In fact, if I need to do this cleaning job again, I'll try just wiping the affected areas with a damp sponge or cloth.

7. Rinse.

Much better!

You're done! So easy! And very effective.

Mar 20, 2017

The Best - and Cheapest! - Produce to Buy in Spring

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

When I tell people about my success with the keto diet - how I reversed my diabetes, normalized my cholesterol, and have lost oodles of weight - the first thing I hear is something congratulatory. The second thing I hear is that they are shocked I can loose weight and get healthy on a high fat diet. And the third thing I hear is how expensive my grocery bill must be. I will no doubt address #2 sometime soon, but today I want to address #3, to which my normal response is: "Au contraire!"

My grocery budget has not gone up since going keto (or even since going whole foods, which is what I did for years before being diagnosed with diabetes). Good, healthy food does not have to be more expensive!

Sure, it helps that a keto diet is high in good fats. Fats, among other things, are filling, so I eat less now than I used to. But I'm also a sales watcher, a price book keeper...and I shop for produce seasonally.

There are a lot of good reasons to buy in-season fruits and vegetables: Better nutrition (some studies show that growing produce out of season reduces their nutritional value); energy saving (out of season produce is usually flown or trucked into your area from a warmer clime); and, yes, saving money (in season produce is less expensive than fresh produce that's out of season).

The problem is, Americans are so used to seeing all their fruit and veggie favorites in the grocery store all year long, most don't know which ones are naturally in season at any given time of the year.

So let me help you out.

Produce that's in Season in Spring
(March, April, May)

Throughout this post, I offer recipes to try with each vegetable or fruit. If a recipe is mentioned, but there's no link to the recipe, you'll find it in my cookbook A Vegetable for Every Season (available in both paperback and ebook format). It's only $2.99 for devices, folks!

http://amzn.to/2nAHakd

Carrots
Carrots are a veggie that take months to grow from seed to store, and the cool months are when they are usually pulled from the ground. They are high versatile - a good snack or salad fixing when raw, sweet and wonderful when roasted, and easy to toss into a savory pie, soup, or stew. And - happy dance! - they are kid-friendly.

Some of my family's favorite carrot recipes:
Fermented Pickled Carrots
Carrot Fries
Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
Carrot Chips
Glazed Carrots (pictured)


Radishes
Don't skip past this one because you hate those peppery red balls. First of all, there's more than one kind of radish, and they aren't all strongly flavored. Secondly, people are doing some creative things with radishes - including using them as a low carb potato substitute! (I haven't tried that yet myself, but here's a link.)

Some of my family's favorite radish recipes:
Radish Chips
Pickled Radishes (pictured)

Peas
These family-friendly veggies are at their sweetest and best at this time of year.
Some of my family's favorite pea recipes:
Easy Garden Snap Peas
Roasted Peas
Green Peas, Mint, and Tomatoes





Beets

As a cool season crop, beets will be out of their prime soon! Grab 'em while you can!
Some of my family's favorite beet recipes:
Easy Refrigerated Pickled Beets
Russian Borscht with Beets
Beet Cake (pictured)

Asparagus
Spring is the time to eat asparagus. The later in the year it gets, the thicker and more woody asparagus gets. (It may seem counter-intuitive, but thinner asparagus is more tender.) We eat it often roasted, but it's also wonderful a myriad of ways.

Some of my family's favorite asparagus recipes:
Cheesy Baked Asparagus
Asparagus Chicken Stir Fry (pictured)
Smokey Grilled Asparagus

Cabbage
There's a reason cabbage is connected to St. Patrick's Day; it's cheap at this time of year! It also goes a long way at the table, and lasts a long time in the fridge.
Some of my family's favorite cabbage recipes:
Bubble and Squeak (pictured)
Small Batch Fermented Sauerkraut 
Borscht (Russian cabbage stew)Braised Red Cabbage

Greens
All types of greens, including lettuce, collards, kale, beet greens, radish greens, chard...They are highly versatile. Eat baby greens fresh in salads, or stir them into stir fries, casseroles, and egg dishes, or saute them on the stove top.
Some of my family's favorite greens recipes:
Sauteed Greens (works with any type; pictured)
Kale and Roasted Garbanzo Salad


Broccoli
If you love it, now's a great time to eat it. At the grocery store, be picky and choose only broccoli with tightly packed florets and beautiful color.
Some of my family's favorite broccoli recipes:
Chicken and Broccoli and Stuffing
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (pictured)
Broccoli Tots


Cauliflower
The great cauliflower shortage seems to be over, and prices for this versatile veggie are inexpensive again. Eat it, well, like cauliflower, or use it to mimic pizza dough, garlic bread, rice...
Some of my family's favorite cauliflower recipes:
Cauliflower Chowder (pictured)
Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Cheddar Pasta Salad
Mashed CauliflowerCauliflower Tots
Healthier Cauliflower Alfredo
Better-Than-Twice-Baked-Potato Cauliflower






Avocado
Here's a fruit that is an excellent source of good-for-you fats. My kids love to eat it plain; I just cut it up into chunks for them.
Some recipes I want to try:
Avocado Greek Salad
Creamy Avocado Pesto


Brussels Sprouts
A lot of people think they hate Brussels sprouts. I think they are nuts :)  But, truly, if you hate them, try eating them fresh from the garden. Store bought Brussels sprouts, by comparison, are bitter. Our favorite ways to eat Brussels sprouts are steamed, roasted in the oven, or cut in half and cooked in a skillet.
Some of my family's favorite Brussels sprouts recipes:
Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Parmesan Sauce
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (pictured)

Leeks
If you've never cooked with leeks, don't be intimidated. They are basically a weird looking onion, and can be used just like one. They do, however, have a more mild flavor than the spherical onions you're probably used to.
Some of my family's favorite leek recipes:
Cock-a-Leekie Soup (a Scottish Chicken and Leek soup)
Potato Leek Soup

Mushrooms
Mushrooms sprout up when the weather is wet, so spring is their last hurrah.
One of my family's favorite mushroom recipes:
Roasted Lobster Mushrooms (pictured)

A recipe I want to try:
Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mushrooms

Parsnips
They may look like anemic carrots, but parsnips are better, in my opinion! They have a unique flavor that is excellent roasted or added to stews.
Some of my family's favorite parsnip recipes:
Parsnip Fries (pictured)
Parsnip Cupcakes

Mar 15, 2017

Why I Refrigerate Our Chickens' Eggs

Maybe you've seen them - the homesteading posts explaining why you don't need to refrigerate chicken eggs. They are everywhere, it seems. And yes, those posts are right. But I still refrigerate our hens' eggs. Here's why.

Why Eggs Don't Need Refrigerating

As I mentioned in my post on why I don't wash our chickens' eggs, the FDA requires commercial eggs be washed before they are sold; this destroys the natural bloom on eggs, which normally would protect the edible part from bacterial contamination. Theoretically, refrigeration helps keeps commercial eggs from making us sick - but refrigeration itself can be problematic. In fact, the European Union forbids egg refrigeration because if a consumer buys refrigerated eggs, then carries them home, more than likely those eggs will develop condensation - which attracts and breeds bacteria.

But...if you don't wash your eggs until just before you're ready to cook them, the protective bloom on those eggs stays in place, So, the argument goes, there's no need to refrigerate eggs. Especially eggs from backyard flocks, where the risk of salmonella is low. ("In fact, the likelihood of getting salmonellosis is greater with other pets than with poultry," claims the website of the University extension system.)

So yep, that's right; you can leave eggs on the counter, and they are perfectly safe to eat. The European Union recommends grocery stores keep eggs between the temperatures of 66.2 degrees F to 73.4 degrees F. - easily done at home, except on the hottest days.

But Why Did Our Ancestors Preserve Eggs?

So if eggs don't require refrigeration, why did our ancestors preserve eggs in lime or waterglass (liquid sodium silicate)? For that matter, in days gone by, why was it common practice to keep eggs in a cool cellar?

The answer, my friends, is the same reason I refrigerate my family's eggs today: Because we can't eat as many eggs as your hens produced each day, and we know even the best hens don't lay well during the winter. In other words: We have more eggs than we know what to do with during the sunny seasons, but aren't getting many (or any) eggs during the winter.

As it turns out, the whole reason the United States began the tradition of refrigerating eggs is that they are not naturally a year round commodity. Today, commercial farms force hens to lay in the winter by putting them in well lit (and crowded) barns. But before that was standard practice, farmers didn't have eggs to sell in winter. So the extra eggs laid during sunny months were stored in the refrigerator to be sold during the winter months.

Yes, fresh eggs last a long time when refrigerated. I personally have stored them for six months in our fridge, and never found a bad egg.






So rather than buy store bought eggs during the winter, or rather than just doing without during the dark months, I dig into the fridge and have plenty of eggs to last us until our hens start laying again.

P.S.

No matter how you store your eggs - the fridge or on the counter top - it's always smart to check them for freshness before you use them. It's easy to do this with a float test; click here to learn how.

Mar 11, 2017

Weekend Links

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!


_______
"Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord; for He is coming to judge the earth. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting."
 
  1 Corinthians 16:33-34

_______ 

* The workmen started replacing our burned down pole barn! At LAST! Once the building is up, we can maybe finish unpacking. That would be really, really nice :)

* I created a Facebook group that's all about sharing very low carb, keto recipes (like I'm using to loose weight and normalize my blood sugar). If you're interested, join us

* I got this brand new novel (from possibly my favorite modern author) in the mail. I can't wait to dig in! 

* SoyNut butter being investigated for E. coli contamination.

* Veal recall.
  
* Transform your bedroom into a couple's oasis.

* How to pray for a strong willed child.


* Get off to the right start by choosing the healthiest chicks this spring!

http://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2015/01/moms-super-easy-flexible-and-delish.html#.WMGuT_LkrcS* 3 Common Seed Starting Mistakes & How to Avoid Them.

* A primer on planting fruit trees.

* How to use weeds as garden mulch.

* Glass bakeware can shatter. Here's how to avoid that.

* 15 natural spring cleaning recipes & tips


Oldies But Goodies:

* Mom's Super Easy, Flexible, and DELISH Banana Bread Muffins or Bread.

* If you were being evaluated for your job as a home keeper, would you get a raise? Or would you be fired? 

* Lazy Girl's Guide to Spring Cleaning





Mar 9, 2017

Why I Don't Wash Our Chickens' Eggs

One thing you'll quickly learn when you add chickens to your homestead is that backyard eggs don't look like store bought ones. Oh sure, they're that classic egg shape and come in all the same colors (and then some). But, unlike store bought eggs, backyard eggs aren't always clean.

This is especially evident during wet seasons, when the homestead tend to be muddy. But the mess on chicken eggs isn't always just mud. Often, there's poop involved, too.

This happens for several reasons. One is that chickens, like all birds, poop on the go - so sometimes they step in their poop, or the poop of one of their sisters. In addition, some hens will poop in the nesting box, or may have manure on her rear end that didn't fall off. (Hey, we're homesteaders, here; there's no use being squeamish on the topic!) Some of these things can be controlled at least somewhat by homesteaders; click here for my tips on getting cleaner eggs from your hens.

But then there's the inescapable fact that the physical passage used for egg laying is the very same one used for pooping. (My husband once had a friend who'd recently bought backyard hens. He loved them...that is, until my husband happened to mention the above fact. The friend was so grossed out by this, he gave away his hens...But he still eats store bought eggs!)

Now, obviously we don't want to get any of that poop in our food. And the natural inclination is to clean those dirty eggs as soon as we collect them...but that inclination is, in my opinion, WRONG.





Why Egg Washing is Bad

You see, eggs naturally have a protective coating, called "bloom," that prevents bacteria from entering the egg shell. This is God's creative way of keeping chicks healthy enough to hatch - and humans healthy enough they can continue to eat eggs. As soon as you wash eggs, that bloom is typically removed - and the part of the egg you eat is now totally exposed to lurking bacteria.

What About Store Bought Eggs?

Why do store bought eggs look so clean? It's certainly not because of the crowded, dirty environment commercial hens are raised in. Instead, it's because those eggs are washed before going to market.

Yep, you read that right.

The FDA requires all commercially sold eggs to be washed in detergent. A fact, by the way, that would make them illegal for sale throughout the European Union. Because Europeans understand that washing away the egg's bloom makes it easier for bacteria to enter the egg and make humans sick.
THIS is what real backyard eggs look like.

Once upon a time, American farmers applied mineral oil to egg shells after washing, in order to create a sort of artificial bloom. This is rarely done today.

To add insult to injury, commercial American eggs are always refrigerated. But refrigeration can lead to condensation, which can lead to bacterial growth.

What About Farmer's Market Eggs?

Rules about the sale of eggs at farmer's markets and similar venues varies from state to state. But generally speaking, small market farmers are not expected to wash eggs the way large commercial farms are. Instead, they are usually allowed to simply sort through their eggs and not sell dirty ones, or use a brush or sandpaper to gently remove dirt from eggs, or lightly and quickly dampen the eggs to make dirt removal easier. Sometimes, however, small farm eggs are washed by hand, using FDA approved detergents.

How I Handle Our Eggs
I don't really take our egg cartons out to the hen house :)


Though we've had backyard hens for many years, and though I grew up with chickens, I am not an expert and the law says you should not take my advice as you would that of a scientist.

But I can tell you that on our homestead, dirty eggs go into egg cartons, and then straight into the fridge. When I'm ready to cook the eggs, I wash them immediately beforehand. (How to wash eggs: Under cool, running water. Pat dry immediately. Do not soak eggs.)

Some people are totally grossed out by the thought of putting poopy eggs in the fridge - or anywhere else that's near food. But in my experience, egg cartons protect any other food nearby, and the bloom protects the eggs so we don't get sick.

Now...shall we talk about why I refrigerate our eggs, even though it's not required? I think I'll leave that for another post. Until then...happy homesteading!


Mar 6, 2017

Why You NEED a Meat Thermometer

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

 Growing up, my mother never used a meat thermometer - so I guess it's no surprise that when I grew up, I didn't either. Instead, I cooked meat the length of time the recipe stated, and then cut the meat a little bit to see if it looked cooked thoroughly. Nowadays (thanks to my superb barbecuing husband), I know there are several problems with this method:

* Different ovens and stoves cook at different rates (faster or slower), so even if you follow the recipe exactly, your cooking time may be different.

* Small changes in temperature - for example, medium temperature as opposed to medium high temperature - make a big difference in cooking times, too.
* Cutting open meat to test for doneness makes the meat more prone to drying out - even if you only do it once.

* Not using a thermometer often leads to either dry, over-done meat that no one enjoys eating, or under-done meat, which can pose a health risk.

By simply using a meat thermometer, you can avoid all that and get perfectly safe and wonderfully edible meat every single time.

What Kind of Thermometer to Use

If you're really serious about cooking, a Thermapen is considered the thermometer to have. All the pros use it because it's accurate, reliable, and gives a quick reading. However, Thermapens are pricey. So I use a less expensive model. Currently, I have a Taylor digital thermometer that cost under $9 - and I'm happy with it.

Whatever brand you choose, just be sure it's actually a meat thermometer, not a candy or oven thermometer. I also recommend choosing a digital instant-read thermometer, since it will save you time in the kitchen and do a much better job of giving an accurate temperature on thin cuts.

How to Use a Meat Thermometer

1. First, read the instructions that come with your thermometer. Every model has slightly different instructions on accurate use. (Keep the instructions, too, and refer to them now and then.)

2. Test the meat shortly before you think it will be done. (Some digital thermometers can stay in the meat the entire time you're cooking. If you have this type, insert it as soon as the meat goes in the oven or pan.)

3. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Don't let it touch fat, gristle, or bone, or you won't get an accurate reading. (For whole poultry: Insert the thermometer in the inner thigh area, near the breast.)

4. Once you have a reading, remove the thermometer and wash the tip in hot, soapy water.



What Temperatures To Aim For

The USDA has a handy chart of the safe minimum temperatures for all meats. I printed this out and keep it in my recipe binder. Other ideas for keeping the chart handy include laminating it and taping it the inside of a kitchen cupboard; taping it to the inside cover of your favorite cookbook; or keeping the chart in a container that also holds your meat thermometer.




Mar 2, 2017

Cauliflower Chowder Recipe - Low Carb, Keto, LCHF, Instant Pot

Low carb, keto, LCHF, Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

A few years ago, I posted a version of this recipe, which was a staple in our family, totally replacing potato chowder. (And yep, even my picker eaters who claimed to hate cauliflower loved it!)

Today, I've tweaked the recipe a bit to make it diabetic, low carb, and keto friendly. And I'll show you how to make it in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, if you prefer that to the stove top.




https://sites.google.com/site/proverbs31womanprintables/home/low-carb-cauliflower-chowder-recipeLow Carb Cauliflower Chowder Recipe 

4 bacon slices, cooked
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced (omit for diabetics)
1/3 cup almond flour*
4 cups beef or ham stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cauliflower head, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt
Pepper


For the Stove Top:

1. Place a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium high heat. Add the drippings from cooking the bacon. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and, if using, the carrots. Saute, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender.



2. Add the cauliflower and bay leaf. Saute, stirring often, for about 4 minutes.


3. Add the almond flour, stirring until you cannot see it any more. A little at a time, stir in stock and cream. Stir constantly until thickened a little.




4. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is fork tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you feel the mixture is too thick, add a little more cream. Chop up the bacon and sprinkle over the top of the chowder.

Other good toppings for this chowder include grated cheddar cheese and chopped green onions - but be sure to add them to your carb count.

Instant Pot recipe, low carb, keto, LCHF, diabetic

For the Instant Pot pressure cooker:

1. Place the drippings from cooking the bacon in the bowl of the Instant Pot. Add the butter and press the "Saute" button. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and, if using, carrots. Saute, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender.

2. Add the cauliflower and bay leaf. Saute, stirring often, for about 2 - 4 minutes.

3. Add the almond flour, stirring until you cannot see it any more. A little at a time, stir in stock and cream. Stir constantly until thickened a little. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it. On the "Manual" setting cook on "high pressure" for 5 minutes. Quick release the pressure.

5. Chop up the bacon and sprinkle it over the chowder.

Other good toppings for this chowder include grated cheddar cheese and chopped green onions, but be sure to add them to your carb count.

* You may reduce or omit the almond flour to reduce the carb count even further; however, the stew will be more soup-like.

Makes about 6 servings. Estimated Nutrition, per serving, according to SuperTracker; recipe with carrots: calories 396; Carbs 11 g total (7 g. net); Protein: 12 g.; Fat: 36 g.; Fiber: 4 g. Recipe without carrots: calories 388; Carbs 9 g total (6 g. net); Protein: 12 g.; Fat: 36 g.; Fiber: 3 g.