10 Easy Herbal Gifts to Enjoy Now, Plus One Gift That Lasts All Year Long

10 Easy Herbal Gifts to Enjoy Now, Plus One Gift That Lasts All Year Long - Win a scholarship for the HANE Introductory Herbal Course

Those who know me are familiar with my habit of running just a bit late.  (I blame it on the boys.  Before I had kids I used to be on time or early – honest!)  As we hit the middle of December, I’m still working on presents for friends and neighbors.  Homemade jams and jellies, hard lotion bars, homemade perfume, fresh baked bread and homemade fudge and truffles have all been well received.  This year I’m mixing things up a little with some herbal recipes from The Herbal Academy of New England (HANE), plus a few of my own.  These easy herbal gifts are great for the holidays or any time of year, and quick enough that you may just want to make up extra to keep for yourself.

Plus – the Herbal Academy of New England is also giving one lucky Common Sense Homesteading reader a FREE membership to their Online Introductory Herbal Course, and is offering everyone 15% off all their online programs and memberships with the coupon code “HANEHolidays”, including their brand new offering, The Herbarium, which is a gift you can give to yourself or an herb loving friend that will last all year long. [Read more…]

Strawberry-Banana Gummy Candy Recipe

Homemade Strawberry-Banana Gummy Candy Recipe made with health building grassfed gelatin.  Easy to make, kid friendly, gluten free healthy snack.

My friend, Jessica from Delicious Expressions, recommended the e-book, The Gelatin Secret, and as she’s pretty savvy on all things health related, I decided to get a copy.  It was easily one of the best e-books I’ve read, with a nice balance of detailed information and readability.  I knew good quality gelatin and bone broth were good for you, but I had no idea how many ways your body could put them to use.  And I know Sylvie isn’t just making up stuff to sell a book, because there are links to studies to back up everything she shares.  Big thumbs up. 

From helping with autoimmune disorders (like my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis), to bone building, brain health and weight loss, gelatin is a great budget friendly food to help nourish my no-so-young-as-I-used-to-be self.  (My husband managed to get tennis elbow when he tripped carrying the Christmas tree, so I need to get extra nutrition in to him to speed up his recovery.)  We’re bumping up the homemade bone broth consumption, but I figured keeping homemade gummy candy on hand would be a great way to encourage the whole family to jump on the gelatin bandwagon.  I made Sylvie’s strawberry-lemonade gummies, and they were good, but tart.  Since I had very ripe bananas on hand, I decided to put them to use in the next batch and came up with this recipe for strawberry-banana gummy candy. 

These treats are naturally sweetened and easy to make.  You can pour them into a 9×9 glass baking dish, and then slice them into cubes for serving.  You can also have some fun with them and use candy molds or silicon baking molds to make them into different shapes, like the holiday shapes I’ve included in this post.  Either way, they’re healthy and kid (and grumpy husband) friendly. [Read more…]

5 Uses for a Vacuum Sealer Everyone Should Know, Plus a Review and Giveaway

5 Uses for a Vacuum Sealer Everyone Should Know, Plus FoodSaver® FM2000 Vacuum Sealer Review and Giveaway. Vacuum Sealers protect more than just food.

I’ve owned a Foodsaver® Vacuum Sealer of one type or another for a couple of decades now, and I can’t imagine my kitchen and pantry without a vacuum sealer.  Okay – that’s not really true.  I can imagine it, and I don’t like it.  During harvest season, my vacuum sealer lives on the counter.  It simply can’t be beat for extending the freezer life of produce.  (It works great for meat, too.  We always get our bulk meat purchases vacuum sealed at the butcher.) 

I can easily carry over food items for a year or more if needed, which is great if we have a bumper crop of something one year and a crop failure the next.  Two year old vacuum sealed berries look like they were picked and frozen the day before.  Try that with produce in a regular zipper bag, and you’ll end up with a block of ice.  Below is a comparison of two packages of broccoli, one vacuum sealed, one not.  I thought I’d use the second package up quickly, so I didn’t take the time to vacuum seal.  Big mistake.

vacuum sealer comparison - vacuum sealed bag versus zipper bag

I put together a quick list of five uses for a vacuum sealer everyone should know, just to highlight some of the cool stuff that these sealers can do.  We also have a review and giveaway of the new Foodsaver® FM2000 vacuum sealer, which reminds me of the original vacuum sealer I had for over 10 years, except it’s black and the old one was white. [Read more…]

Maple Candied Walnuts, Plus How to Process Walnuts for Long Term Storage

Maple Candied Walnuts, Plus How to Process Walnuts for Long Term Storage - Curing Walnuts, The Best Nutcracker, Soaking Nuts for Easier Digestion, Storage

While the main focus if this post is how to process walnuts, this recipe for Maple Candied Walnuts from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen is lovely and couldn’t be easier.  They make a tasty and unique gift. [Read more…]

4 Great New Homesteading Books from Chelsea Green

Great New Homesteading Books from Chelsea Green featuring Wildcrafting, Permaculture and Mushrooms

I’ve slowed down my purchases of homesteading books in recent years, but when I spotted these new titles in the Chelsea Green newsletter, I had to take a closer look.  I’ve wanted to learn more about permaculture and mushrooms for a while now, and weeds have been a favorite of mine for years.  I decided to splurge and invest in all four titles. 

The day after I sent in my order, up pops an email in my inbox with an invitation to get a copy of the weed book to review.  Since I had already purchased all four books, I asked if Chelsea Green would be willing to sponsor a giveaway for my readers. They said yes.  So, without further ado, here’s a review of these new and interesting homesteading books that you’ll have a chance to win for your home library.  [Read more…]