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DIY: Children’s Play Stove

Not only do I love making things for my girls, but it is important to me to try and give a handmade gift every year for Christmas.

This year, I made a play stove for my older daughter, who is 2 1/2 years old. She is really in to play cooking right now, as well as helping us in the kitchen when we cook, so I knew she would love this gift.

Continue reading “DIY: Children’s Play Stove”

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Lentil & Chorizo Stew (Spanish Pork and Beans)

A little before my second daughter was born, my husband and I enjoyed a night out, dining at a local bistro. The menu is a French-Mediterranean fusion, serving up a delicious arrangement of dishes that often feature less popular, more unique ingredients. It’s one of those restaurants that we really enjoy eating at, because there is always some new dish or technique that we then try to replicate at home.

One of the tapas that we loved was a plate of stewed lentils, served alongside crispy slices of chorizo with thin slices of garlic. It was savory, warm, and we cleared the plate all the way down to mopping up the broth with bread. It was simple, but a new idea for cooking lentils – one of my all time favorite foods – and I knew I would have to try and make this at home.

After some quick research to help select the best Spanish-inspired spices for my dish, I played around in the kitchen a few times, and finally came up with this recipe. Each time I cooked it, I naturally progressed from the fancier, restaurant-matching presentation, to that one-pot cooking style I love so much (it’s just so much easier!).

This recipe is perfect for those cold days ahead, a warm, stick-to-your-ribs type meal that leaves you full and happy. Since the bulk of your protein and calories is plant-based,  that wonderfully full feeling comes without the nap-inducing effect that can accompany a meat-heavy dish.

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup of brown lentils

1 white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 chorizo sausage links (4″)

2 bay leaves

1 bunch of collard greens

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

Salt & pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Directions:
1) Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan (one that has a lid). Add the onion and garlic, sauté until onions are translucent. Add smoked paprika, cook about one minute more, then add 1-cup of water. Mix well, then remove from pot and pour in blender. Blend to a paste and set aside.

2) In same pan, add a little more olive oil, cook thinly sliced chorizo until crispy, remove and set aside. Add carrots and cook until starting to soften. Add lentils, bay leaves, chopped collard greens, 3 cups of water and the paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 45-minutes.

3) Add cooked chorizo, salt and pepper to taste and 1tsp. Smoked paprika if desired (this will increase the smoke and heat, so leave out otherwise.) Serve immediately with toasted ciabatta bread.

Spiced Bourbon Apple Butter

Barter and trade is probably my favorite method acquiring goods and services. I love how simple it is, and often rewarding, trading one item or lending a hand in exchange for something you need or want!

This spiced bourbon apple butter  wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for trading. My husband listed some paving bricks online for free that we didn’t need, but wanted gone as son as possible, and the woman who took them brought us a big container of apples, picked from her own trees! How sweet!

Continue reading “Spiced Bourbon Apple Butter”

Green Cleaning Tips for the Homestead

Practicing and maintaining green cleaning processes in our home, and on our property, are important values for my family and I. We have been using all natural cleaners in our home for several years now. When we moved to Woodford, and now had a septic system and well to care for, our need to improve our practices expanded.

What are our practices, and what types of cleaners do we use? The list is simple, yet effective. The best part is that many of our cleaners share the same core ingredients, meaning we can buy in bulk. This saves us money, while also allowing us to make a wide range of household cleaners.  Continue reading “Green Cleaning Tips for the Homestead”

How to Store Root Vegetables

As part of my deep love for gardening, I have always been interested in how to properly store, process and preserve the bounty of produce we bring in each summer. One method we tried out, with great success, was storing root vegetables in our basement.

Root cellars are fascinating, it’s amazing how well a cool, dark location can extend the shelf life of your produce.  I’ve done a lot of reading on different methods – from building a separate, underground root cellar, to how-to’s for basement storage.  Our basement is below ground, cool, with some moisture, making it ideal for storing. Continue reading “How to Store Root Vegetables”

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