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Posts Tagged ‘DIY Projects’


As we all know, there are great tips and information about gardening, propagating and harvesting food from your garden.  A master gardener I am not.  I feel like I learn something new every day about growing my family’s food.  Watching the TV program, Through The Wormhole, I saw a doctor who is famous for cloning animals use honey as a growth hormone to start new plants in a demonstration for his approach to animal cloning.  I was fascinated because I know there are many uses for honey, but I did not know it was used in this way in the garden.

Lavender with cinnamon Cinnamon growth hormoneI’m sure many of you have seen this post going around Pinterest and FaceBook in using cinnamon as a growth hormone in starting new plants.  Well, I was excited and tried using it to propagate a new, beautiful lavender plant I got this year for Mother’s Day.  More than two weeks into it, I see nothing more than what I started with.  Clearly, the cinnamon will not work with lavender, at least not mine.  But this plant is so beautiful that I want to ensure to have plenty of it for years to come and having several copies of the same plant should help me meet that goal.

So, because the cinnamon is not working, I am trying honey.  Local and organic as it should offer the best local pollination in my opinion.  The uses for honey is vast.  I’ve seen many articles related to beauty, health and medicinal uses for it.  But I’ve not run across this purpose before I specifically started researching it.  From my research, I’ve decided to use the following recipe.

  • images-61 cup honey
    – Pure, or raw, honey is said to be better than regular store-bought honey (which has been processed) and yields the greatest results.
  • 3 cups boiling water
    – Mix the honey with your boiling water and allow to cool. Place this mixture in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) until ready to use, storing it somewhere away from light.

It sounds simple enough.  If you are interested in trying this method, click this link to find a well written article all about it.  I will let you know if and how this method works in comparison to the cinnamon method.

 

 

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Infused OilOne thing I strive to do in planning my home store, I try to make sure I either have or can make all the things my family and I enjoy in these “good” times.  I don’t want to be pulling out buckets of legumes and beans without having the flavors I’m accustom to going into them.  Simple things really do make life more comfortable.  And this technique to infusing oil is an example of planning to thrive while others struggle to survive.  Pay attention to the little things.  Those sometimes unnoticeable extra’s that you might take for granted.  This recipe was given to me to share by reader Tess Pavlin.  She has tried and tweaked this until she was sure it was wonderful and felt comfortable in making it public.  Win for us, right?

Infused oils will spice up your cooking and lend to wonderful healing and relaxing massages.

When you are ready to start making essential oil from your herbs, follow these four steps carefully:

  1. Put a handful of your herbs or flower heads into a clean glass jar. Choose either a single herb such Basil Infused Oilas basil or a mixture such as oregano, rosemary and thyme. Crush them to release the flavor into the carrier oil. Make absolutely sure your herbs are completely dry.  Water will likely make your oil go rancid.
  2. Pour 12 oz. of oil into the jar until the leaves or flowers are completely covered. Put a well-fitting top on the jar and let it stand in a warm (but not sunny) place shaking daily for two weeks.
  3. Straining Infused OilAfter the two weeks, strain off the herbs (use a cotton muslin cloth or an old open weave linen handkerchief) and then repeat the process of infusion with a fresh handful of your herbs (but using the same oil). Do this, as many times as necessary until you have a jar of strongly flavored aromatic oil.
  4. Store your aromatic oil in a small to medium-size sterilized bottle and label it. Clean the rim and tightly seal the cap to reduce the chances of air getting into the bottle. Make sure that you keep your stored oils out of sunlight.

Always remember:

Use a good-quality, mild-flavored oil such as sunflower oil or grapeseed oil. You don’t want the taste of the oil to compete with the flavor and smell of your herbs. For this reason you should avoid using extra virgin olive oil.Cover your herbs completely with oil during the infusing process. Any bits sticking out will oxidize and spoil the flavor of the oil.

Before storing the oil make sure you have removed all the plant material. (If you don’t the oil will become cloudy and sour)

WHAT OTHERs ARE DOING WITH THEIRs

Another way to speed up the process of infusing your oils is by using a small crock pot on its lowest setting.

  1. Gently bruise the herbs or flowers by crushing the in the palm of your hands before adding them to the pot. You can also press them with a wooden spoon or in a mortar and pestle but it is not necessary.
  2. Add 16 oz. of oil to the crock pot and turn heat on low. Add the herbs, leaves, or petals. Let simmer covered for 12 hours. Stir lightly and turn off overnight. Day 2 turn back on and simmer again for 12 hours. Day 3 repeat. Strain oils through cheesecloth to remove solids and bottle the oils. They will keep for a minimum of 3 years if tightly sealed.

Extra Tip:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Vitamin E (per pint) to your beauty and medicinal oils to preserve them. You could also try using 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract.

Alternative methods.

1. OVEN INFUSED HOMEMADE OILS – Place your herbs in an oven safe dish and cover with the natural oil of your choice. Cover the dish and place in the oven at 200 degrees or the lowest possible setting your oven has. Cook for three hours. While it’s still warm, strain through cheese cloth and squeeze the oil from the herbs. Pour the oil into a sterile bottle or jar.

2. STOVE TOP INFUSED OILS – Using a double boiler, GENTLY simmer oil and herbs for 2 hours. Strain through cheese cloth. For a stronger infusion repeat using the same oil and fresh herbs.

Infused oild in crockpot3. CROCK POT INFUSED HOMEMADE OILS – This method can only be used if your crock pot has a “warm” or very low setting! This works great for infusing several oils at once. Fill your sterile pint jars with your herbs and oils. Place the jars in the crock pot and cook on low for eight hours. You can do up to 5 different oils at once with this method depending on the size of your crock pot!

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garden-feb-lgLike me, so many of us are diligently planning our spring gardens.  We start our pen-to-paper plans, gather supplies to start our precious seeds, and wait for the weather to turn so we might start working and preparing our beds.  But in this idle time we have waiting, you really should be considering inventorying your canning supplies and planning your crop based on your families  need.

GETTING YOUR SUPPLIES IN ORDER

 

canning_jars.gif

It’s a good time to calculate how many jars of pickles, cans of jelly and jam your family typically needs to get you through winter months.  I learned this winter that I hadn’t actually canned enough dills to carry me through.  Same was for our tomatoes.  I’m down to only a few jars of my tomato’s and sauce not having realized how much our family of four would actually go through.  I’m a good canner, but my math needs to be honed.

I am now in the process of figuring out how many canning jars and sizes I have vs. what I will need.  Same for lids.  Since I have to replace dozens of lids, I have opted to invest in reusable Tattler lids after having decided they work beautifully and will save me money in the long run.  Another consideration I made was, as a committed prepper, I believe material may be hard to come by.  Having to replace my lids every time I can and believing there is even a remote possibility that they may be hard to come by would defeat all my seasonal garden planning.

How many quart jars did I use last year and how many more I need this year was a big question.  How much jelly or jam will I put up?  How much applesauce or peaches will I need?  Obviously, I could never lay out a formula for you, but you really should start planning and pre-planning.   And buying your canning supplies now, before the season hits will save you money.  Last season I found myself running around looking and buying jars when the prices were their highest.  Buy them out-of-season to get the best price.

HERBs, SPICEs AND OTHER INGREDIENTS

Spices

Salt, sugar and spices will also be needed.  Will you be planting the herbs you will need to can your harvest?  Dill is one that is vital to me.  Italian herbs are as important.

RESOURCEs AND OTHER EQUIPMENT

thex2900

You may, like me, wish to scan all your recipes and determine which ingredients you can grow and what you will need to purchase.  Start planning now, watch for sales on items you will need to purchase and be sure to stock up on it when it’s most feasible.  And your canning books are as important as anything.  A few of the VERY best I could recommend are:

Ball Canning Book

Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving

Canning is just one aspect to preserving your food.  Dehydrating is another.  Do you have a dehydrator?  You can look on Craigslist or garage sales to find one, but if you are seriously planning on building a food supply, you really need to invest in one.  And because dehydrating is sometimes much more than slicing and drying, you will want a great cookbook.  The best on the market (by many standards and reviews) is Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.

The same is true for a vacuum seal system.  I use and would recommend the FoodSaver which is a workhorse.  I use it nearly every day and much more in the summer months.   All these appliances which allows you to protect and preserve your food may not pay for themselves this season, but they will pay for themselves over time.

LONG TERM STORAGE

Also, if you plan on putting some of your foods into long-term storage, you will need oxygen absorbers and mylar bags.  Start asking your bakery and deli department for 5 gallon buckets now. You may also wish to purchase moisture absorbers as an added line of protection for your food.  You will need these if you plan to store food.  Many local businesses will give them away or sell them for $1 each.  But, be sure you get food-grade buckets.  You may also wish to invest in high quality gamma lids.

 

 

 

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Ebook LibraryBuilding a library of cookbooks, garden books and self-reliance is fun but can sometimes be costly.  These are free, downloadable eBooks available at the time of posting.  Please be sure to make sure the “free” hasn’t been removed.  I only come across these and post them.  I have no control of how long they are available for free.

You don’t need a Kindle to get them.  On any Mac, PC or mobile device has the software available for free also.  So grab as many as you want!  Enjoy!

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teriyaki-sauceHow many dishes do you make that calls for teriyaki sauce?  If you don’t already use this delicious, sweet and spicy condiment, you should look at your chicken or beef at a different angle.  This sauce is one of my families favorites.   This is a great addition to your home store.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
Recipe Type: Sauce
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce – Make your own with my recipe linked below
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons packed brown sugar – Make your own with my recipe linked below
  • 1 -2 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Instructions
  1. Mix everything EXCEPT cornstarch and 1/4 C of your water in a sauce pan and begin heating.
  2. Mix cornstarch and cold water in a cup and dissolve. Add to sauce in pan.
  3. Heat until sauce thickens to desired thickness.
  4. Add water to thin it if you prefer
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 6 months.

Make your own Soy Sauce.  Get the recipe by clicking here.

Make your own Brown Sugar.  Get the recipe by clicking here.

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Soy Sauce

Here is another easy and shelf-stable recipe to help you in building your home store.  There are many uses for soy sauce.  Making your own is cheap, easy and more delicious than commercially produced sauces.  I use it as a spice in meatloaf, soups and stews.  And if you are a DIY junkie, you have the ingredients already in your home.  If not, I have linked products for this recipe below for your convenience.

 

Soy Sauce
Recipe Type: Spice
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 4 Tbsp Beef Bouillon
  • 4 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Molasses
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • pinch of black pepper
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together until dissolved and pour into an airtight container. May be refrigerated indefinitely.

THRIVE beef-bouillon

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Sweet Mayo Whip

Why buy commercially made food when you can make it better, cheaper and in the convenience of your own home?  My family doesn’t like mayo.  We love Miracle Whip.  But I know from experience that homemade anything tastes better than about anything I have bought in a store.

Here is a perfect example.  This is a delicious recipe for Miracle Whip that allows you to refine the amounts of the ingredients to customize the flavors you love the most.  I tweaked mine with more lemon juice and vinegar to give it a bit more tartness.  You may like adding more garlic or using less salt.  You are in control.

Because I have such a complete home store and have my own chickens, this cost me only the price for the vegetable oil I used.  All the other ingredients are things I have, grow or raise.  This is the versatility and flexibility I have in using ingredients I keep in my home that allows me to make commercial products we used to buy.

Learning these skills now, before you will need them in a SHTF scenario is important.  Every time you learn to make something new, from scratch will prepare you and your family to enjoy a diet and foods that you are accustomed to without having to make sacrifices many may face.

MrPrepper always likes the food I make.  But with this, he actually told me that it was the best he ever tasted.  Believe me.  That was a 5-Star rating!

 

Sweet Mayo Whip
Recipe Type: condiment
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3 mins
Total time: 23 mins
Like commercial Miracle Whip, this recipe is a deeper and richer flavor. If you prefer Miracle Whip over Mayo like I do, you will certainly want to try this recipe
Ingredients
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tbs Real Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Corn Starch
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1/2 C Boiling Water
  • 1/2-1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • Pinch of Paprika (Optional)
Instructions
  1. Using a blender or hand mixer, whip the first 4 ingredients well.
  2. Very slowly, drizzle oil into egg mixture while continuing to mix
  3. Add vinegar then let this set while you prepare the next stage
  4. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and mustard until fully incorporated
  5. Add this mixture into boiling water using a whisk briskly to blend it. In only a moment or so, it will become the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat source.
  6. Very slowly, add the hot cornstarch mixture into the egg mixture while whipping it with your mixer.
  7. Once it becomes recognizably gelatinous, add your garlic and paprika (optional).
  8. Refrigerate in an airtight container and use as you normally would.

 

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