Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Make It Yourself: Sour Cream

This is the first post for my Make It Yourself series!!

Drumroll please....

Sour Cream!

Well technically it is Creme Fraiche (European style sour cream) but it is amazingly fantastically delicious!!! And EASY to make-- really.

All you need is:

One pint of heavy cream (HAS to be unpastuerized or at least not ultrapastuerized as it is in most stores-- I used raw from the dairy.)

2 Tbs of cultured buttermilk

A glass Jar with a tight fitting lid

On the right is my homemade buttermilk- a byproduct of my homemade cultured butter.

All you do is:

Pour the cream and buttermilk into the glass jar. Shake. Place in a warm spot to culture for 2-3 days (DO NOT OPEN the jar to check it for any reason). After a couple of days, turn jar over to see if the cream has thickened-- it should still look a little runny but be thicker than it was when you put it in. If it has thickened, refrigerate completely before opening. If not, find a warmer place to culture for a few more hours, then refrigerate.

Sour cream culturing in a warm spot above my fridge.

Voila! Sour cream! It. Is. So. Good. You will never buy store bought sour cream again!

Here are a few other homemade items that I will be talking about in the next few days:

L-R: Cultured raw butter, saur kraut, garlic dill pickles, chicken stock from my crockpot chicken.

The pickles and stock are almost gone so I will probably post about the pickles soon. 

Also, everything that I post, I have already tried for myself and liked it. My family liked it as well-- even some who weren't into healthy food! So don't be afraid to try it even if it sounds crazy!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Recycled Coffee Can Planter

My escapades with the Milk Jug Tomato Planter got me thinking about other things I could recycle and I came up with this:

A Coffee Can Planter!

I used an old plastic coffee can to plant my cherry tomatoes in (don't forget to drill drainage holes in the bottom). It will sit out on my porch instead of hanging from the porch.

The real reason I did this is because I didn't want to make another milk jug planter last night! It was a lot of work!

Now I need to figure out what to do about the strawberries!
Today I thought I would share with you my attempt at apartment gardening. We have a VERY small apartment with a garage so first I had to figure out what items I needed the most. I decided that tomatoes, strawberries (Corky's favorite), and herbs are what I use the most.

I started with the herb garden. I chose basil, parsley, arugula, and dill (for my homemade pickles and ranch dressing, which I will post about later). I planted them in a window box using organic soil. In the pictures you can see where I put the broken up peat pot (peat pots are biodegradable earth friendly flower pots that my herbs came in) in the planter along with everything else.

The finished product will be placed on the window sill of my garage window where it will get plenty of sunlight.

Next, I decided to use a hanging upside down tomato planter. But... I thought I could make one instead of buying one. I chose an old milk jug to be the sacrifice for this experiment. Using my husbands drill, I made a few drain holes-- one on each side and one on each bottom corner. Then I drilled a hole in the center of the bottom of the jug.

Using a sharp knife, I CAREFULLY (So I wouldn't have a repeat of cutting my thumb off) cut a cross in the bottom. Do a small cross first because you can always make it bigger later if you need. Also cut the rim of the spout off in order to make it easier to fill with soil.

Then, carefully take the tomato plant out of its planter and shake as much of the soil off of the roots as possible (this is easier to do if your plant is dry- mine was wet as you can tell by the messy pictures below).

Insert the roots of the plant up through the cross in the bottom of the jug. You need the cross to be big enough for the stem and roots to fit through but small enough for it too stay put. Shove as much of the stem into the jug as possible.

Now for the hard part! Fill the jug with soil by putting it in the top of the jug (this will be where you water the plant as well). At first some of the soil will fall out of the hole in the bottom of your jug but keep going, soon it will pack in there good enough where it wont come out anymore.

I looped a chain through the handle and hung it from a hook on my front porch.

So... it worked in theory but we'll see if it produces tomatoes! I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easy Spring Dinner: Cheesy Chicken Corn Tostadas

As of late, my dinner menus have been really chaotic. Actually, our life has been a little chaotic... A family head cold that just will not go away, a brand new baby niece, trying to catch up on all the household things, ect. I threw this together the other night (when I forgot to defrost hamburger) for a quick dinner. And we absolutely loved it. So I thought I would share the recipe. I didn't measure any ingredients. I just kind of tossed it all together.

Shredded chicken (left over from my crockpot chicken)
Thawed frozen corn
Cream Cheese
Sour cream
White or pinto beans
Shredded cheese
Green onions
Green chiles

Mix these things together until it resembles a creamy chicken salad. Spoon the mixture onto corn tortillas and top with a little shredded cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until gooey and tortillas are crisp (I prebaked my tortillas a little). Top with sour cream and avocado.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Raw Milk Source

I recently made the switch from regular store bought pastuerized milk to raw milk straight from the dairy after learning about the benefits of drinking raw milk from grass fed cows. And I LOVE it. I'm a little squeamish so I wasn't sure if I would like it. Something about thinking of where milk actually comes from... Anyway, I love it.

I had a little trouble finding a raw cows milk source at first. There were a lot of raw goats milk sources but not many for cows milk. Also, I was a little concerned about the price and how it would fit into our budget. Many of my blog friends pay upwards of 6.00 per gallon. That is a little pricey when you can buy the stuff in the store for for 3.50 per gallon.

But alas... I found my source: Swan's Brothers Dairy in Claremore, Oklahoma. For anyone out there looking for a raw milk source in Northeastern Oklahoma this is it! At only 3.75 per gallon it is a great deal. They sell raw milk in whole fat, 2%, and skim. They have great raw cheese and heavy cream as well. Also they are certified by the state and you can watch the milking process at the dairy (which is really fun for the kids-- I'll take pictures of our next visit to the dairy). Their cows are exclusively grass fed and they use no pesticides on their farm.

The only downside is that it is a 45 minute drive one way from my house. So I generally buy 3 or 4 gallons each trip and make two trips per month. I store the milk in the freezer until I'm ready to use it. Some people don't like freezing unhomogenized milk because the creamy fat separates a little when it is defrosted. I just shake it up real good and it doesn't bother me-- and I've had no complaints from my family.

Also, some people don't like to store their raw milk in plastic jugs. They prefer glass jars. But Swan's Dairy packages their raw milk and cream in plastic. I don't mind this though.

Fair warning: For those of you aren't familiar with raw milk, you WILL know when it goes bad! It smells so bad you could never acidentally drink it. It is so much worse than pastuerized milk! It kind of smells like vomit and a dead animal. I make my husband smell check whenever I'm worried about it spoiling.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti minus the Velveeta

A few years ago my husband and I were introduced to a recipe called Chicken Spaghetti. Its a cheezy mexicanny version of spaghetti and it is DELICIOUS! It quickly became my hubby's favorite meal. However...

The recipe calls for Velveeta and canned cream of chicken soup... Two things which I am trying to avoid for dietary reasons. So it has been months since I've made it.

While perusing recipes online the other day, I ran across an amended one for Chicken Spaghetti and I thought I would try it. It turned out very good but the taste was a little different. So I adapted it further. Here is what I did:

Chicken Spaghetti

1/3 c. butter

1/2 green pepper, finely diced

1/3 c. flour

1 1/2 c. chicken stock (I used the homemade from my crockpot chicken)

1 1/2 c. milk

4 c. shredded Sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 t. cumin

1/2 t. chili powder

1 15 oz. can Rotel

1 lb. chicken, fully cooked and cubed

16 oz. spaghetti, fully cooked (I used whole wheat)

1. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.

Add green pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add flour and cook an additional 2

minutes. Slowly add chicken stock and milk. Whisk or stir well to prevent


2. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 3 minutes, until

slightly thicker than a gravy consistency. Stir in Rotel. Add half of the cheese to the sauce and whisk until smooth.

3. Stir in spices, cubed chicken and spaghetti until combined.

4. Transfer to a baking dish. Cover with remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and brown.

I divided mine into two pans. I froze one and baked the other. Yum!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sorting Colors

This is a project that I did with Corky before our sick break. She doesn't like sorting projects very well so it didn't last too long (I guess I will keep trying) but it got a few giggles.

I used three colored bowls and then gathered various small objects of like colors: pieces of pipe cleaners, ribbon tied in knots, hair bands, small squares of construction paper, foam shapes, ect.

I let her match the colors of the objects to the bowls. It was easy for her-- maybe that's why she doesn't like sorting that much. Other kids love this stuff but not mine! Anyway, maybe this will help another mother!

Hello again, do you remember me?

So... I took a little break from blogging. Partly because my kid (and me) has been sick. For like a month. No kidding. Really.

Okay, I was only sick for a week or so. But Corky is still sick. We are going on week five of snotty nose acompanied by a fever. And it sucks!

The doctor says it's a virus and we need to let it run its course but it taking FOREVER! In the meantime, I'm giving her lots of Elderberry Syrup.

As a result of our sick break, my house is a wreck-- you should see my laundry pile! But now that I'm on the mend (and hopefully Corky will follow soon) it's time to play catch up.

Here's my to do list:

Lots of laundry
Dishes (Hubby did pretty good keeping up with these)
Clean bathroom
Menu plan
Make sour cream
Make saur kraut
Start my tomato planter (I will blog on this later)