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Monday, February 16, 2015

Birds & Maple Syrup

I've done a fair amount of bluebird watching lately.  They're already scouting for homes to raise their young.  This one wanted a drink from the birdbath but was wary....

Very wary...

About to go for it....

Watching the birds,  I think they are the best judge of the right time to tap trees for syrup.  When the woodpeckers start drilling the maple trees in late winter it means the sap is running, to me anyway.

I bought ready-made spiles and lines this year just to make it easier to tap the maples.  You may remember the first time we tapped our trees Goodman just cut lengths of pvc pipe.  You can read that article by clicking here if you missed it.

 I probably should have warned you that our setup this time wasn't all that glamorous, lol.  The wind was so fierce (and stinkin' cold) when I started boiling the sap that Goodman had to block the fire pit with whatever he could just to keep the flames under the pot.  This lil rig-up worked well enough though.

I had collected sap for a week (4 trees) and it took all day to boil it down to 2 pints. :)

Or 4 half pints, however you want to look at it.  I'll be doing it again in another week if the weather clears up.  Yeah, the ratio is still 32:1, but it was worth it and fun to boot. :)

Right now it's sleeting,

 but I'm dreaming of working in my garden.

I'd cut you a big hunk of fresh bread if I could pass it to you.  

My begonias think spring has arrived.  I can't wait.  
Until next time, stay cozy and warm.  ;)

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Salt Came From Where???

Pink, white or gray?  I know it's fashionable to use a fancy grinder for your salt and even choose a cute color... but... I have to ask where does your salt of choice come from, and do you really want to support that particular economy?

The minerals contained in the top three healthiest salt choices are trace minerals that our bodies need to function properly, and all of the choices below contain them.  (I have no affiliation with any of them.) What I was shocked to learn was where some of them originated.  Now, I'm a responsible American homestead-type so I want to support local businesses, and if not in my general locale, then I try to at least keep my dollars in the U. S.  Sometimes that's not possible in today's economy, but in the case of salt it is possible to keep it local.

Note the country where they are mined.  This is not always clear on packaging because manufacturers cleverly give the location where they are packaged then consumers take it that's where the product originated when in reality that is not the case. I've done a little research to make it simple for you to see where your healthy salt is from.
        Pink or White Himalayan Salt - Pakistan          
All Himalayan salt comes from Pakistan.    

Celtic Sea Salt - Brittany region of France

Real Salt  (sea salt) - Utah, USA

I'll be buying USA salt henceforth.   How about you?

Have a great week, Y'all!
Shared at:  The Art Of Home-making Mondays, Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Monday, January 5, 2015

Becoming More Cultured Here In The Foothills

That's right, we've added more culture to our lives and couldn't be happier about it.

But first, I've been crocheting and knitting a few scarves and wanted to let y'all know where to find the free patterns.  This one is crocheted and called the Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf.  You can make it long or short;  I chose to made this one short and used the same yarn the designer used, Red Heart Boutique in Tidal.

I had two skeins of the blues/greens yarn and really like it so I used it for the To Infinity And Beyond Scarf, also, and crocheted until it was six feet long then sewed the ends together.  Beware there are a few mistakes in the pattern, but the corrections are in the comments of the same post with the pattern.. For a better look at the lacy pattern and to see it worked in several different yarns just click on the link.

This little Aquafire cowl was a quick knit,

but what I like about it most...

 is the way it drapes and hangs like jewelry as shown below.
 Now for the culture.  I hope you weren't thinking I've finally gotten some class or something. o.O  No, we're talking fermenting here.  You may remember I've already blogged here about making sauerkraut and how wonderfully easy and fail-proof it is using this type of jar...

as it allows the gas to escape (see photo) but doesn't allow any bad bacteria to enter the jar.

Now, today I want to introduce you to a similar, tasty way of adding more probiotics (good bacteria for a healthy digestive system) to your diet without spending a lot of money on supplements.  And you can use a regular canning jar, too. It's easy, fun and an age old way of preserving vegetables.  And it's not a bit scary as some would have us think.

The simple fact is if it were not a safe method of preserving vegetables I probably wouldn't be here to tell you about it, and you wouldn't be here reading about it, either, because this method has been used for a loooong time.  It's ancient in fact and very likely that our ancestors used it.  This is the fermenting method using salt as the preservative.

For this batch I sliced carrots, cucumbers, radishes, cauliflower, and jalapeno peppers and packed them in the clean jar then covered them with brine (a mixture of 3 tablespoons sea salt to each quart of water).  I let the jar of vegetables set on the counter for 7 days to allow it to ferment.  After 7 days I put the jar in the refrigerator, and it will keep for several months...if it lasts that long.  They're very good and a nice break from cooked or completely raw vegetables.  The flavors meld together and are delicious, and this is a great way to use produce that might go to waste otherwise.
 For more details and specific directions for fermenting vegetables there are loads of articles if you just google the words: fermented vegetables.  Here are a couple of links to help you start your own journey to a healthier, more cultured lifestyle:   How to Ferment Vegetables: The Basic Culturing Process or Lacto-Fermented Pickled Vegetables

Have a great week, Y'all!
Shared at:  The Art of Home-making Mondays, Roses of Inspiration, Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop