Tag Archives: Food and drink

Autumn Squash

There is a chill in the wind, leaves falling from the trees and the temps dip into the low 50′s at night here.  We grab sweaters and jackets when we leave the house and it’s dark when we get home.  It’s Fall…with Winter fast on her heels.

Thankfully God has brightened our chilly Fall days and Winter nights with glorious beautiful squash….Acorn and Kabocha we will spotlight today, but there are many others.  Speghetti, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Turbin and yes….Pumpkin!, just to name a few.

 

Acorn Squash

Acorn

Until the recent rise in popularity of butternut squash, acorn squash were the most commonly available squash in the U.S. They are a great all-around squash, with moist, sweet, tender flesh. They are good for roasting, baking, steaming, mashing, and sauteeing. Smaller ones are perfect for stuffing and make an excellent vegetarian main course for special occasions like Thanksgiving.

Acorn squash are round, with even groves around the entire squash. They are mostly dark green, with occasional splotches of orange and yellow. The flesh is a slightly yellowish pumpkin orange. They tend to weight between 12 oz. and 2 pounds.

 

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha

Kabocha squash have a remarkably sweet and tender flesh with a slightly nutty flavor. The peel is really more of a rind and is difficult to cut. The dense, smooth, sweet flesh is so tasty it needs very little fuss in preparation. Roasting it or slicing and baking it with a bit of butter or oil and salt are all this delicious squash needs. The dense flesh also holds its shaped with cooked, even in liquids, which makes it perfect for using as chunks in soups or steamed dishes. It pairs well with ginger and sesame as well.

Kabocha squash are large, round, and squat. They are dark green and mottled, often with bumpy skin and make lovely table decoration until they’re cooked.

Recipes

We couldn’t end this post without some recipes for the season and to celebrate the wonderful bounty from God!

Baked Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 Acorn Squash, halved lengthwise, seeded and bottoms trimmed to lie flat
  • 1/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 8 Springs of Thyme (you may use dried to sprinkle)
  • 1/2 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place squash halves cut side up on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide cream and thyme among the halves.
  4. Bake until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 35-40 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

 

Autumn Pork Chops – Crock Pot Alert!

Ingredients

  • 6 Thick pork chops
  • 2 Medium acorn squash
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Margarine, melted
  • 3/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet or brownn sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Orange peel, grated

Instructions

  1. Trim excess fat from pork chops.
  2. Cut each squash into 4 or 5 crosswise slices; remove seeds.
  3. Arrange 3 chops on bottom of Crock pot.
  4. Place all squash slices on top; then another layer of three remaining chops.
  5. Combine salt, butter, sugar, bouquet sauce, orange juice and orange peel.
  6. Spoon over chops.
  7. Cover and cook on low 6−8 hours or until done.
  8. Serve one or two slices of squash with each pork chop.

 

Autumn Chicken, Rice & Kabocha…Oh My!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp oil, divided
  • 6 skin-on chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Med. white onion, diced
  • 1/2 Lrg. Kabocha Squash, seeded and cut into large chunks (4 Cups)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 6 Sprigs Oregano (or can use dried)
  • 1 1/2 C. Whole Wheat & Wild Rice
  • 1/4 C. Chardonnay wine
  • 3 1/2 C. Chicken Broth

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In large heavy pot with tight fitting lid, heat 1 Tbsp oil over high heat.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  4. Working in batches, cook chicken skin side down till golden brown 6-8 minutes. Flip, cook 1 minute more.
  5. Transfer to plate, discard fat, wipe pot clean.
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining oil to pot.
  7. Add onion and squash and cook till onion is translucent – 8 minutes or so.
  8. Add garlic and oregano and cook till fragrant.
  9. Add rice and cook, stirring until opaque.
  10. Add wine and cook, stirring, till completely evaporated.
  11. Return chicken to pot, skin side up, add broth, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  12. Bring to a boil, cover, transfer to oven and cook till liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
  13. Approx 25 minutes. Let sit, covered for 10 minutes.

 

This article can also be viewed at Simply-Living-Simply

 

 

 

Stock for soup and its uses

In order that soup-making processes may be readily grasped, one should be thoroughly familiar with what is meant by stock which forms the foundation of many soups. A stock of anything means a reserve supply of that thing stored away for future use. When applied to soup, stock is similar in meaning for it refers to material stored or prepared in such a way that it may be kept for use in the making of certain kinds of soup. In a more definite sense, soup-stock may be regarded as a liquid containing the juices and soluble parts of meat, bone or vegetables which have been extracted by long, slow cooking.

Soups in which stock is utilized include all the varieties made from beef, veal, mutton and poultry. If clear stock is desired for the making of soup, only fresh meat and bones should be used and all material that will discolor the liquid in any way carefully avoided. For ordinary, un-clarified soups, the trimmings and bones of roast, steak or chops and the carcass of fowl can generally be utilized. However, very strongly flavored meat such as mutton or the fat from mutton should be used sparingly.

 

VARIETIES OF STOCK

Several kinds of stock are utilized in the making of soup, and the kind to employ depends on the soup desired. The following classification will be a guide in determining the kind of stock required for the foundation of a soup.

FIRST STOCK is made from meat and bones and then clarified and used for well-flavored, clear soups.
SECOND STOCK is made from the meat and the bones that remain after the first stock is strained off. More water is added to the remaining material and this is then cooked with vegetables, which supply the needed flavor. Such stock serves very well for adding flavor to a nutritious soup made from vegetables or cereal foods.
WHITE STOCK White stock is used in the preparation of white soups and is made by boiling six pounds of a knuckle of veal cut up in small pieces and poultry trimmings.
HOUSEHOLD STOCK is made by cooking meat and bones, either fresh or cooked, with vegetables or other material that will impart flavor and add nutritive value. Stock of this kind is used for ordinary soups.
BONE STOCK is made from meat bones to which vegetables are added for flavor and it is used for making any of the ordinary soups.
VEGETABLE STOCK is made from either dried or fresh vegetables or both. Such stock is employed in making vegetable soups.
GAME STOCK is made from the bones and trimmings of game to which vegetables are added for flavor. This kind of stock is used for making game soups.
FISH STOCK is made from fish or fish trimmings to which vegetables are added for flavor. Shell fish make especially good stock of this kind. Fish stock is employed for making chowders and fish soups.

 

ADDITIONAL USES OF STOCK

As has already been shown, stock is used principally as a foundation for certain varieties of soup. This material, however, may be utilized in many other ways, being especially valuable in the use of leftover foods. Any bits of meat or fowl that are left over can be made into an appetizing dish by adding thickened stock to them and serving the combination over toast or rice. In fact, a large variety of made dishes can be devised if there is stock on hand to add for flavor. The convenience of a supply of stock will be apparent when it is realized that gravy or sauce for almost any purpose can be made from the contents of the stockpot.

 

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A variety of ways to make and flavor Stock

FLAVORING STOCK

It is the flavoring of stock that indicates real skill in soup making. This is an extremely important part of the work. In fact, the large number of ingredients found in soup recipes are, as a rule, the various flavorings which give the distinctive flavor and individuality to a soup. Very often certain spices or certain flavoring materials may be omitted without any appreciable difference, or something that is on hand may be substituted for an ingredient that is lacking.

The flavorings used most for soup include cloves, peppercorns, red, black and white pepper, paprika, bay leaf, sage, marjoram, thyme, summer savory, tarragon, celery seed, fennel, mint and rosemary. While all of these are not absolutely necessary, the majority of them may well be kept on the pantry shelf. A small amount of lemon peel often improves soup, so some of this should be kept in store. Another group of vegetables that lend themselves admirably to soup flavoring includes leeks, shallots, chives, garlic and onions, all of which belong to the same family. They must be used judiciously, as a strong flavor of any of them is offensive to most persons.

In the use of any of the flavorings mentioned or the strongly flavored vegetables, care should be taken not to allow any one particular flavor to predominate. Each should be used in such quantity that it would blend well with the others. A very good way in which to fix spices and herbs that are to flavor soup is to tie them in a small piece of cheesecloth and drop the bag thus made into the soup pot. When prepared in this way, they will remain together, so that, while the flavor can be cooked out, they can be more readily removed from the liquid than if they are allowed to spread through the contents of the pot. Salt should be added in the proportion of 1 teaspoonful to each quart of liquid.

This article was contributed by Simply-Living-Simply and can be viewed here.  Like them on Facebook while you are there!

 

 

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An Herbal Tea For What Ails You!

For as long as we can remember, herbs have been used to treat everything from respiratory infections to inhibiting some forms of cancer growth. Increasingly however, herbal teas formemory and mental clarity are quickly coming to the foreground- and these are the herbs we’ll explore.  You’ve undoubtedly been hearing a lot of buzz about these mood elevating and spirit-lifting medicinal herbs but you may not be so sure what they are exactly or how they can help you maintain a clear state of mind and alertness.

 

Who couldn’t use an all natural pick-me-up to provide that desperately needed afternoon boost we ALL crave at times?

These herbal teas for memory and mental clarity can be combined with one another for optimal results. Some are good for calming anxiety whilst others lend their essence to supplying blood to your brain which can help boost memory.  A few natural options for overall brain health are more popular than others for use in cognitive remedies and here a few of the more widely used.

Lavender

 

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Lovely Lavender Tea

Long lauded as a beverage well known for its calming and soothing properties, lavender is also used to relieve anxiety, stress, relieve muscle tension, and provide a better night’s sleep. Lavender is a very mellow tea and is even safe for children. It is usually consumed before bed or whenever a well deserved nap is in order. Lavender also soothes exhaustion, headaches and even nausea. Combined with chamomile, a rested mind and great rest is only a cup away!

Ginkgo Biloba

 

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Ginko Biloba Tea

Gingko most readily comes to mind when one thinks of herbal teas for memory and mental clarity. Its use can be traced back thousands of years and it is most widely known for its ability to promote brain circulation for increased brain function.

Ginkgo also increases the oxygen content of your blood, which has been shown to be vital for memory-enhancement. Due to its antioxidant properties, Ginkgo also reduces the damage caused by free radicals that build up in our bodies over time and speeds up the aging process. Studies have shown Ginkgo to significantly boost your mind, stabilize emotions and improve loss of memory.

Gotu kola

 

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Gotu Kola Tea

Gotu kola may not be a household name here in the West, but this herb has long been used by practitioners of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. Gotu kola’s reputation as a nerve tonic and herb for treating anxiety or depression is a well deserved one. One of the many names for this medicinal herb is “Brahmi” which means wisdom or consciousness in Sanskrit. It is known as a stress relieving herb, and like Ginkgo, improves memory and increases circulation to the brain. These two herbs can often be found used in conjunction with one another in many herbal teas for memory and mental clarity.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is what many people call ‘nature’s happy brew’ due to its reputation for gently and safely lifting spirits or elevating moods. Studies show that St. John’s Wort stabilizes mood and emotions while calming and soothing frazzled nerves. These calming effects help to alleviate irritability and is also used to treat symptoms associated with PMS or menopause. Used widely to treat depression, this natural alternative to synthetic medicine can boost your spirits without the unpleasant side effects.

 

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Herbal Tea – Good for What Ails you!

These are but a few of the herbal teas for memory and mental clarity that one can try. Also, these can be combined with one another until you find the perfect brew for what you need. Ginkgo will help increase blood flow to your brain and help enhance your memory. St. John’s Wort can help when you have the ‘blahs’ and need a little pick-me-up. Lavender will soothe and calm your nerves and help you sleep restfully. Lastly, Gotu kola will help alleviate any anxiety or stress you may be feeling.

**As with anything, if you’re currently taking medication, it is advisable to contact your primary health care provider prior to embarking on a natural path to mental clarity.

This article was written by Kat from Simply-Living-Simply and can be viewed here.  Please like them on Facebook while you are there!

13 MORE Fat Fighting Foods!

Foods that actually help you fight off fat?  YES!  Read on to discover great weapons in the battle against the bulge!

 

 

Coffee

It sounds too good to be true — one of your favorite beverages may actually help rev the metabolism and help you lose weight. Coffee stimulates the metabolism — however the effect is small and is easily cancelled out by the extra calories in a mocha cappuccino.

Ahh…Coffee!

Oatmeal

Oatmeal has three things going for it: fiber-rich whole-grain oats, lots of water, and it’s hot, this is a very filling combination. Please, please choose the whole oats variety, preferably the steele cut oats.  These are in their most natural state.  Hot food takes longer to eat, and all that liquid and fiber will help you feel full longer. Don’t buy the one that’s already sweetened, you choose how to flavor it.  Stirring in cinnamon or nutmeg will give you a sweet taste with less sugar.

 

Steele Cut Oatmeal with yummy toppings!

Crispbreads

Whole-grain rye crackers, sometimes called crispbreads, offer a low-fat, fiber-packed alternative to traditional crackers. Research suggests people who replace refined grains with whole grains tend to have less belly fat. Whole grains also provide a richer assortment of plant nutrients. This doesn’t just apply to crackers. You can get the same benefits by switching to whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas.

Tabouli

A standout whole grain is bulgur wheat, the type found in tabouli. It’s high in fiber and protein, but low in fat and calories. That helps you fill up with a minimum of calories and the rich taste makes it satisfying. It’s flavorful, so you don’t need to add a lot of oil. To turn this dish into a meal, try adding beans and stirring in extra tomato, cucumber, and parsley.

Soup

Soup — we’re talking broth-based, not creamy — is a dieter’s friend in several ways. It’s full of water, which fills you up with the fewest possible calories. It’s hot, which prevents you from guzzling it down too quickly. When eaten before a meal, soup can take up space that might have gone to higher calorie foods. You can also make a satisfying, low-calorie meal out of soup alone by adding chicken, fish, cut-up vegetables, or beans.

Salad

Another way to fill up before a meal is by eating salad. Lettuce has plenty of water content to take up space in the stomach. That leaves less room for fattier foods that might come later in the meal. Make your salad interesting by adding a variety of fruits and vegetables or grated cheese. But be careful about dressing, which can add a lot of calories. Try using salsa, hummus, or black bean dip as dressing.

Vinegar

If you dress your salad with oil and vinegar, you may get another fat-fighting benefit. More research is needed, but some studies suggest vinegar may help the body break down fat. Whether or not this effect pans out, vinegar is a good choice. It’s full of flavor that can make salad more satisfying — and it has no calories.

Vinegar…use liberally!

Nuts

Nuts are an excellent way to curb hunger between meals. They’re high in protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Studies suggest nuts can promote weight loss and improve cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation. The key is to be careful with quantity, choose something in a shell, so you have to work harder and slow down.

 

Choose heart healthy nuts

Air-Popped Popcorn

Three cups of plain, air-popped popcorn may seem like a whole lot, but the calorie content is low. All that air adds volume without adding fat or sugar.

Skim Milk

Skim milk provides plenty of protein and calcium with none of the fat found in whole milk. And even though it’s fat-free, skim milk can help you feel full. It takes longer to leave the stomach than drinks with less protein. There’s also evidence that skim milk and other nonfat dairy foods may promote weight loss, particularly around the mid-section. More research is needed to confirm this effect.

Lean Meat

As we’ve seen, protein can keep you full longer and burn more calories during digestion. But you want to choose your protein carefully. Dark meat tends to be high in fat, which could cancel out some of the benefits. Skinless chicken breast is a great choice. And some cuts of beef can make the grade. Flank steak, eye of round, and top sirloin are extra-lean with less than 4 grams of saturated fat per serving. Just stick with a 3- to 4-ounce portion.

Fish

One of the best sources of protein is fish. Studies show it’s more satisfying than chicken or beef, probably because of the type of protein it contains. Most fish is low in fat, and the exceptions usually have a healthy form of fat — omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3′s, which are found in salmon, herring, and other fatty fish, appear to help protect against heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Beans

Beans deliver a nutritional triple punch, they’re a vegetable, a protein, and a great source of fiber. This means they’ll help you stay full for the price of very few calories. They’re also easy to prepare when the munchies strike. Open a can of garbanzo beans and toss them into soup or salad or mash them up to use as a dip. One cup packs 12 grams of fiber, just 4 grams of fat, and 15 grams of protein.

Eat a wide variety of beans for fiber and a protein punch!

Conclusion

A calorie is a calorie—except when you’re trying to lose weight. The foods you choose to eat can make or break a diet.  Nutrition research now shows that some foods can help you whittle your middle by keeping you full longer and raising your body’s metabolism so you burn more calories. So help yourself to these fat fighting foods, consider them your arsenal against the battle of the bulge!

This article was written by Simply Living Simply and can be viewed here.  Like Simply Living Simply on Facebook while you are there and share their articles!

Grow, Can and Store!

Like 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

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

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

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 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.

I’m Penny Batts, aka PrepperPenny! Having been born and raised in Illinois, I now live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband of 20 years and two small grandchildren. After having a successful career in non-profit management, I now devote all my time to my family and home. I am a suburban homesteader having transformed our home into a sanctuary of simple, country living without the demands and stresses of the society around us all. I hope you enjoy watching me and my family as we learn new aspects of this glorious life that leads us to self-reliance and preparedness for an inevitable economic collapse of the US economy, wars, terror attacks and other natural or man-made disasters. All this serious consideration has not taken away my zest and love for life. It’s serious, yes. But I love to teach preparedness with joy and happiness. I advocate being prepared so you will not be scared.

This post can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net