Thursday, April 23, 2015

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

I have made this chicken pot pie recipe twice already this fall, it is that good!

For the crust I use this recipe and use 2/3 of it or bottom cuts and 1/3 for the top crust:
3 cups flour
6 tbsp butter
2tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp ground sage ( optional)
1cup milk

For the pie filling you can do whatever you like but I usually do:
1 bag frozen veggies (thawed in microwave)
1 boiled chicken meat (save bones for chicken stock)
1 can cream of chicken
1-2 potatoes cubed and boiled ( in with chicken)
1onion diced

To prep the crust:

Place flour in a large bowl, add baking powder, salt and sage.
Cut in butter, it should look like this...

Then add milk and mix well. This should form a ball take in a knead it a few times, then divide it into 2/3 and 1/3 dough balls. These will be the bottom and top crusts.
Roll them out with rolling pin and place the thicker crust on bottom on a 9x9 casserole dish.
Now it's time to add the filling and cover with the top crust.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Depending on how many apple you have you can adjust this recipe.  With about 8-10 pounds of apples I got about half a stock pot full of apple slices.  Enough to make 3 quarts of apple pie filling.  Hopefully I can make more after I get back from vacation...that is if those pesky squirrels that ate all of my pears don't get to them first.

For this recipe the only thing I used that may be somewhat difficult to find is Sure-Jell, which I bought under the name "Perma-Flo" that I found at a Mennonite grocery store.  The recipe says you may substitute flour or corn starch.  I have not tried those, but I don't doubt that they would work as long as you got them to completely dissolve.

Anywho, here is the recipe that I used!

10 pounds of apples
2 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup food thickener (Perma-Flo, clear jel, cornstarch, or flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
5 cups water
3 tsp lemon juice
Mrs. Wages citric acid fresh fruit preserver

Begin boiling water in water bath canner.

Slice and core apples, place in a stockpot filled with water and 1 tsp of fresh fruit perserver to keep from browning.  Keep in water until ready to process in jars.

Begin sterilizing 3 quart mason jars.

Timing is important here, remove apple slices from water and pack in to hot mason jars.
In another pot dissolve sugar, food thickener, spices, salt, water, and lemon juice.  Heat until thickened, do not over cook, quickly pour over apples into hot mason jars.

Wipe jar rims clean, place on lids and bands.

Process in boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

Total canning time approximately 1.5 hours.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

3 New Peach Recipes to Try During Harvest

Grilled peaches
All you need is peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon and a hot grill!

Peach chutney 

Peach Sangria
You favorite red or white wine, plus peach juice and a few peach slices for garnishment!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

3 Minute Consult: Local Honey for Allergies

With Spring comes hay fever, pollen allergies, sore throats and vertigo.  I frequently have patients asking me to recommend OTC allergy medications.  I prefer to use a nasal steroid or a fast acting antihistamine for quick relief, but recently I have been building a top bar bee hive and have been wondering at the benefits of local honey.

The idea behind local honey for allergy prevention is that by ingesting small amounts of the pollen contained in local honey every day that your body will naturally build up immunity.  Some bee keepers add to this idea and add a "pollen trap" at the entrance to the hive.  This pollen trap will brush some of the pollen from the entering bee and then can be used sort of like a vaccine. 

Vaccines work because they introduce small amounts of the allergy causing particle, the "antigen".  So then your body is able to product "antibodies".  The ingestion of daily pollen would be ideal if you were trying to ease your body into producing antibodies that keep you from releasing the histamine that causes watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, etc. 

The caveat of this idea, though, is that the honey has to be local so you can build up immunity to your immediate environment.  Commercial honey or honey shipped from other locations will not have the same antigens that are produced by the pollens in your area.

Contact your local health food store, Craigslist, or beekeeping group to find out if anyone in your area sells local honey!  Its a great way to naturally influence your body's defenses against Spring allergies!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grape Jelly

5 pounds grapes or 5 cups of grape juice
4 cups sugar
1 package of reduced or sugar free Sure-Jell pectin

Starting with 5 pounds of washed grapes, chop in food processor.  
Move them to a large pot on the stove, bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.  This releases the juices (and color) from the skins. 
Strain out seeds and skins. 

 Place 5 cups of strained grape juice into a separate pot. 
Add package of pectin and bring to a full boil. 

Add sugar all at once, stir and return to a boil.  Boil hard for 60 seconds. 
You may check to see if your jelly is going to set by taking and ice cold spoonful of the juice out and letting it cool.  If it doesn't "set" then add another half-package of pectin and boil for another 60 seconds. 
If you have the consistency you like ladle your hot juice into sterilized pint or half-pint jars. Place lids in jars and place in boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes. 
Remove and let cool. Jelly should set as it cools, usually within 4 hours or so.

Grape jelly makes a great gift and taste great too!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Refried Canned Pinto Beans

I was making some beef burritos one night and I thought to myself, 

"These would be excellent with some retried beans...but I don't have any in my pantry...although I still have some dried beans left from that huge 5 lb I bought for that will take too long...but what about the quarts of pinto beans I canned from that bag? ...yes!  I intended to use them in chilli, but I could easily make them into refried beans...YES!"  

Thus went my inner monologue.  At least it wasn't out loud and I was not asking and answering my own questions, not that I would ever do such a thing.  After a quick google search to get a second opinion I decided to give them a try. 

And yes they were so wonderful, gently spiced and fresh they reminded me of my first mission trip in Honduras!

Here is all I used: 1 quart pinto beans, 4tbsp bacon grease, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, onion and garlic powder

Heat the bacon grease, lard, whatever you normally cook with in a large skillet. 

Add beans cook for 15 minutes until easily smashed with spatula. 
If necessary, add a small bit of water. 
Add spices to taste. 

Serve warm. 

Try not to eat the entire bowl before the rest of the meal is finished cooking, but if it DOES happen...I won't judge!




Monday, July 1, 2013

7 Reasons to Cover-Crop with Wheat

Since beginning gardening two years ago when we first bought our house, I have been researching ways to make our garden more time and cost efficient.  The first year we tilled/fertilized/weeded in an ongoing cycle of weed growth and plant disruption.  Since then we began incorporating using lawn clippings as mulch and fertllizing with chicken poop from our coop.  This has really helped save time and money and benefits garden's healthcare regimen.  Last fall we decided to choose a nitrogen-fixing cover crop that would function in many ways.  Here are my top 7 reasons reasons why this worked out so well for this years garden. 

1.  To decrease weed growth
2.  To bring nitrogen to the surface where beneficial bacteria "fix" it into nitrogen that is usable by other plants. 
3.  To prevent soil erosion. 
4.  As chicken fodder. 
5.  To use as a mulch when it is ready to cut. 
6.  To help promote good habitat for worms and beneficial insects. 
7.  To help maintain moisture in the soil.

These are just some of the benefits, but if we add in the time it has saved us in weeding and on mulches and fertilizer the pros would far surpass any cons. 

Fall 2012, winter wheat growing in.  The red building at the back left is the chicken coop. 

May 2013, the wheat was still green but starting to seed out.  We tilled it down in between the rows so we could plant garden veggies. 

The tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, sunflowers, squash, zucchini, okra and melons getting big and the wheat drying out. 

Pickling cucumbers using some wheat stalks for support. 

The cut wheat providing hours of fun for the chickens, walking paths for us and most importantly mulch so I don't have to weed as much!
The 2013 summer garden!

Off to a great start thanks to cover-cropping.