Friday, October 26, 2012

Preserving sage

This is a time for preserving everything precious from our garden. Now I am tackling sage. I planted this small bush last year into my porch garden and replanted it this year into my new herb garden. Naturally, it hasn't spread much yet, but it had a good amount of leaves for me to harvest. 

After I harvested the sage leaves I rinsed them out and placed them on paper towel. 

I covered them with another layer of paper towel and patted them dry. 

Then I simply placed them loosely into a saved plastic sour cream container, labeled it with name and date, and placed it into the freezer. It is better to preserve your herb in the freezer than it is to preserve to dry. They keep their rich flavor and they are easy to handle - you can cut them or crumble them up into your favorite dish!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Onion syrup for the coughing days

Yes indeed, the season has started. The season, in which we get cold and cough so easily that we sometimes can't keep up! We are trying to strengthen our immune system using only natural remedies and herbal teas!
This one was reintroduce to me by a friend, who makes wonderful home remedies, teas and syrups from her own home grown herbs. You can find her on her Facebook page over here
I said "reintroduce" only because this home remedy was used by my grandmother on regular basis when I was a little girl, I only forgot all about it by now. 

You will need:
1 medium size onion
White sugar (I used organic raw)
Glass jar with a top

Cut up the onion into strips and start layering the onion and sugar into the jar. I start with an onion and continue with sugar, following with a layer of onion and sugar agin. I repeat this pattern until I reach the top of the jar. You don't have to fill it up all the way to the top. Simply stop where you need to stop.

Because of the smaller size of the jar I had some onion left over.

Let it sit for 24 hours on your kitchen counter. The onion layered with sugar releases its juices and you will be left with yummy sweet onion syrup. I use tea strainer to pour it out. It will last in your fridge for a week or so. Take it as you need for your cough, every couple of hours. 
In addition to this syrup, we always use raw honey and echinacea to treat cough.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coffee mug swap

Don't you love all the perks that come from the blog world? I love meeting new friends, reading interesting blogs, and linking up to linky parties. This time it was Heather over at Cook Family Chronicles, who put together a coffee mug swap among us fellow bloggers! I got assigned a partner from this cute blog - "Hi Jade, very nice to meet you here in the blog world!"

I was very giddy when I received this package yesterday! I couldn't wait to open it - yes, I love surprises!

Thank you so much, Jade, for sending me this lovely mug and the fair trade coffee! I can't wait to enjoy my first cup! Also thank you, Heather, for organizing this fun swap!

I hope you enjoy mine as well!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to make Maximus - the horse from the movie Tangled

Every year our family dresses as a group costume for Halloween. The first year, we were The Royal Family, last year we were dressed up as Star Wars, and this year we LOVE Tangled, so it was only natural to choose that as our Halloween costume. We picked daddy to be Flynn, which was such a great and easy decision, I was Mother Gothel, B was Rapunzel of course, and T was Maximus, the guard horse. All the costumes were easy to figure out, but the horse. I was searching the web for a possible tutorial on Maximus but with no luck. So I decided to take pictures of the steps and leave you all with a little tutorial on how to make this costume. 

First of all find a cardboard box and remove the bottom and the top part. Then spray paint it white. I used white primer first and then one coat of regular white spray paint.

Then make a tale out of thick yarn. I cut long strings of yarn, tied them together in the middle and then pulled them through the hole in the cardboard box.

For the head I ended up printing a mirror side image of Maximus. It printed on 2 papers, I just had to align them and trim them to fit. (This will depend on the size you choose for your horse) They are taped together in the back, you can see the line, where the paper joins.

Then I used exacto knife to cut out the shape of the horse. Leave some extra card board on the bottom of his neck for easy attachment to the body. Tape the print out and the cut out together. This will be what you end up with.

Next comes the mane. I used the same yarn I used for the tail. While you are heating up a glue gun, cut few short and few long strings of yarn. Use the glue gun to attach them to the back side of the head - the short ones in the front and the longer ones along the back. I also cut another piece of cardboard and attached it to the bottom of the neck - see pictures below.

I was so pleasantly surprised how the mane added the right touch to Maximus. I used hot glue gun to attach the two sides together at the mane and stapler to attach the bottom cardboard piece to the body (see detailed picture bellow). I spray painted the staples white. 

I used clear packing tape to fix some minor blemishes, such as the front being too far apart from the neck.

See back shot for reference. 

Next measure the straps and attach them to the box. We used white ribbon.

I dressed T in all white clothes. 
Here is the final product!

I almost forgot important part of the costume - The "Wanted Poster"! Just print out an image from a web and slide it into Maximus' mouth. (I cut out a thin hole on each side).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Planting strawberry field

It is getting pretty cold around here and I am starting to clean up the garden. I still have some tomatoes trying to turn red but soon I will pick them and let them ripen in jars in my window, just like my grandfather used to do. I remember as a kid, seeing all those jars sitting on his window sill and watching them changing their color slowly.

That was a little reminiscence now back to my strawberry "field". I am proudly calling it a field but you know with my yard size, it is more like a garden bed. I decided to transform my backyard into a garden. I am incorporating more and more fruit and veggie plants into my landscape. Last year I started with the corn, this year I added pumpkin, and now strawberries! 

I never had luck with strawberry harvest because of little critters who ate it before I was able to pick it. Just when I saw an almost ripe strawberry in the evening and came to pick it in the morning, it was gone! I hope for better luck next year - I will keep you posted.

These plants came from a fellow freecycler! Have you heard about freecycling? I recommend it. You can get free things that other people don't need anymore and to give back, you offer your own "garbage". You know the saying "One man's garbage is another man's treasure."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Freezing summer squash

I have been spending quite some time in my kitchen preserving herbs and the last of veggies from my garden. Now I am sharing the way I freeze summer squash.

I wash and cut the heads in half. Then I scooped up the seeds from the middle and placed the halves on a cookie sheet. I put some olive oil on the cut halves and salted them just a bit. Then they were ready to be put in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.

After the 40 minutes, I checked if they were soft enough to take out. Depends on your oven, you might check earlier. I took them out and let them cool down. Then I scooped up the flesh an pureed them in the blender.

Muffin pan would be the best to freeze them in smaller portions (by the way, this reminds me of making baby food for my kids - if you are doing that, don't salt the halves and put the pureed mixture in ice cube trays). I let it freeze overnight - don't panic if you forget about them... They will be fine until you actually need the muffin pan ;-) (you might want to cover it though)

Last step was bagging and labeling the squash for storage in the freezer! I can add this to my soups or simply spice it and use it as a side dish (cinnamon and vanilla sugar tastes especially good for kids' snacks - just saying ;-)

Monday, October 08, 2012

We might have to go to Trader Joe's...

When I was all caught up on blogging, I was behind on my garden... Now the garden looks great but my blogging is suffering... Go figure...
So let me just quickly catch up here with this short post - update on our turkey situation. The white turkey had to go couple weeks ago, as it's leg was getting worse and it couldn't even get to the food. It weighed over 20 pounds, which was just amazing to us... and it fed 2 families and guests for two dinners (well, with some side dishes and extra meat dish). Now we have our grey turkey left and this one is just too awesome! It follows us everywhere around the yard, and wants to get inside the house as well (it tried it out once when the kids thought it would be funny to let him in...)

The other day, I am washing dishes when someone knocked at the back porch door... No one would ever go that way so you can imagine how much I freaked out! I slowly peeked around the corner with a wooden spoon in my hand (I don't think I would use that on an intruder... I just happened to be washing it). And this is what I found...

Turkey making a mess out of my shoes, hanging with the dog, and knocking with it's beak trying to get in the house (like pushing it's whole body against the glass door)... Ok, how can we eat this guy? Someone will have to trick me into it, I am getting hooked...

I am including more shots of turkey hanging out on our porch - his favorite spot to make a mess!

If you click on the "turkey" label underneath this post, you can see all my turkey updates...