Tag Archive for DIY

Honey Cakes

There’s the cutest little book by Jane Yolen, one of my favourite authors, called Baby Bear’s Books and one of Little Mister’s favourite parts has to do with “dinners all ending with huge honey cakes.” When I was trying to decide what special treat to make for Imbolc, this line came flying into my mind. I scouted out a few recipes, but none of them looked to give the cakes that strong yet sweet honey taste I was thinking of. So, without further ado, I give you one of our original Raymond Homestead recipes.

HONEY CAKES
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 (4 tablespoons) stick of melted butter
1/2 cup honey

Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredient. (This may take some work, so stretch your arm muscles beforehand!) Combine both wet and dry ingredients until just moist. Bake in a lined or greased muffin tin at 350F for 20-25 minutes.

They were a huge hit! Sweet enough to not need frosting, but not too sweet to make it impossible to eat a second one. ;-)

Fire Cider

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Our homestead has been hit with the first major bug of the season. I’d love to blame this on Little Mister being in preschool, but who knows where it came from. Through the prompting of severe mucus and annoyance, I now have our first batch of Fire Cider steeping in the pantry. It’s only a small batch as it’s my own creation and I want to try a test batch before I go making a larger one.

Let me back up a second to answer the question “What is Fire Cider?” Fire Cider is the name for a tincture of sorts made with various peppers and herbs which have antibacterial, immune system boosting, and inflammation inhibiting properties covered with apple cider vinegar and then steeped for anywhere between 24 hours and ten days, depending on the individual recipe and required potency. Most recipes call for hot peppers (jalapeño and cayenne), horseradish, ginger root, garlic, and onion. The medicinal impact of Fire Cider depends mostly on what ingredients are used, but in general Fire Cider will help with throat and nasal congestion, coughs, and sore throat. The antibacterial properties of the ingredients also have the ability to shorten illnesses. To top it all off, Fire Cider can be used as a preventative as well.

The version that I made today includes:
– cayenne peppers
– jalapeño
– garlic
– dried ginger root
– cinnamon stick

 

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I’ll be honest, I never measure when I make tinctures and teas from scratch. It seems to inhibit me as I get so caught up on the numbers that I completely forget what I’m creating such a thing for. Intuition is my recipe card. Over these five ingredients I poured my apple cider vinegar. Later, when I strain the mixture, I will add a small bit of honey. Ideally I would love to use local honey, but I don’t currently have any on hand, so store brand will have to do.

The best thing about Fire Cider is that you can use it as often as you like. One to two spoonfuls at a time is as most as I would suggest to use. If it seems to strong to swallow on its own, you can mix Fire Cider in with your tea, a glass of water or juice, or some people will add it to their soup. You can also adjust the recipe to be more suited to a child’s palette as well.

Heater Fix

Little Miss is now three months old, nearing four months. She sleeps through the night and rarely wakes to eat. It’s time to get her into her own room.

In looking over the room she’ll be sharing with our old curmudgeon of a mini-rex, Hubster realized that the room was severely lacking in heater space, which isn’t too surprising, given how cold it always is in there. Since homesteading is all about doing what you can with what you have, and finances are imposing a strict boundary on what we can and can’t afford, we searched the homestead to see what would work.

In doing the math, which I’ll spare you as I could barenly follow Hubster’s explanation, it appeared that our bedroom had extra baseboard. Hubster quickly devised a plan to remove a chunk of the baseboard from our room and add it to that in Tracy’s soon to be room.

Everything is sealed with no leaks. Tomorrow, or sometime next week, starts the long process of moving furniture around. While I’ll miss being able to easily check on her every time I get up at night, I know that she’ll be just fine right next door to us…and I can still check on her.

Dehydrated Dandelion

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Dandelions are one of the many “weeds” that Americans spend a good amount of time trying to rid their yards, driveways, and sidewalks of. For no reason at all these poor little plants have been deemed the more hellish thing to crop up in a suburban piece of land. Few realize the number of wonderful things that can be made out of dandelions.

Their leaves can me sauteed and eaten dressed with butter, vinegar, or anything else the pallet prefers. The heads had be used to make dandelion wine. There is such a thing as dandelion syrup, which I hear is delicious. The entire plant can be fed to numerous critters to supplement their diet. Not to mention the seed heads can keep a toddler entertained for hours on end.

One way that dandelions can be used is as a detoxifying tea which can help shed water weight and flush the kidneys – in turn helping to balance hormones. Now that this wonderful little tea has become a staple in our home, I decided it was time to dry some out myself. I was in for a bit longer of a process than what I expected.

IMG_2353Dandelions run rampant around our home (the toddler helping to sow the seeds is only an added bonus for them). I decided that I would try digging them out of the ditch up by the road that we live on. Our town does not use any form of pesticide, so I felt completely safe doing this. **If you are digging from a common area and do now know if there are pesticides used, PLEASE find out first!**

A note to those trying to dig out dandelion root for the first time: do not try to dig in an area where the plants have been unharrassed.

IMG_2357I quickly found myself using a spade, trowel, and a kitchen fork to try and dig this bugger out. Diamond (who’s leash you see in the photo), just looked at me like I was a crazy woman. I moved down to our back lawn and near the stream and had much better luck. There seem to be two key things to look for to have success with this: 1. sandy soil and 2. young plants. The younger the plant, the smaller the tap root. While that means more that need to be collected, that also means an easier time pulling them out of the soil.

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If you look at the photo above, you can easily tell the younger plants (fairly straight, thinner tap roots) from the older ones that are wrapped around one another, forming an alien looking tuber.

After getting a decent size haul of plants, I double washed them in the stream and then lobbed the tops off. (Both the rabbit and chickens were delighted to have fresh veggies delivered right to them.) I then brought in the roots for a good scrubbing in fresh, cold water, and let them work on air drying while I diced them into roughly uniform sized slices, leaving the really thing ones in lengths of roughly one inch.

IMG_2360The key to drying is to wait until the roots are crumbly and can be broken down by hand with no sponginess left. For my slightly older dehydrator it took about 12 hours. Supposedly this can be done via air drying, but living in a humid climate, I wasn’t about to try it.

 

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Connected up on the Homestead Blog hop!
Rooster sitting in a barn on a rural farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Originally published on: Jun 12, 2014.)

Calcium Supplement

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All laying birds need calcium to make sure that their egg shells are hard enough to withstand being delivered. Calcium supplements are cheap enough, but there’s an even easier way to do it!

At first the idea of saving egg shells to feed back to the very chickens that laid them made my stomach a little queasey. Then one day, while reading about placenta encapsulation, it hit me: animals eat their placentas when they give birth, feeding the shells to my chickens is the exact same thing. For some off reason, this made everything click for me.

It’s an easy enough process to do. After using the eggs, I rinse the shells in cold water to clean off any left over.
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I then toss them on a sheet pan. (Don’t judge me on the condition of my pan – this baby has been through a lot!) I turn the oven on to 250F and those the shells in while the oven is heating up. I leave them in there for half an hour or until I remember that they’re toasting away.

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After the shells cool, I use my mortar and pestle to work them into as fine of a flake as I can. I know that some people feed the shells to their chickens without breaking them up, but to me, that’s just asking to convert these ladies into egg-eaters.

There you have it – free calcium supplements for your girls!