Honey Caramel Corn Recipe, Plus Cast Iron and Honey Giveaways

Old Fashioned Honey Caramel Corn Recipe - This honey caramel corn is light, buttery and delicious.

When I was a little girl, one of the treats my Grandma Catherine would buy me was CrackerJacks™ caramel corn. I had a collection of all the little toys they put inside the boxes, from mini-holographic photos to magnifying spyglasses.  I enjoyed that sweet, crispy buttery caramel corn, but haven’t purchased it in years because they use ingredients that we try to avoid, like genetically modified soy and corn.

Last week when I asked for ideas about what sort of recipe I should make in cast iron using honey to promote these giveaways, my friend, Shannon, mentioned that her family always made a delicious honey caramel corn recipe for the holiday season.  She messaged me a copy of a handwritten list of ingredients, saying that she remembered they used a thermometer but didn’t remember cooking details.  A little online digging revealed a recipe that sounded similar, so I married the two together and came up with a recipe that reminds me of grandma and the way things used to taste. [Read more...]

Easy Chocolate Mint Extract Recipe

DIY Mint Extract - This easy chocolate mint recipe is a great way to use your home grown mint for cooking, baking, hot chocolate,  gift giving and more.

Do you like the taste of chocolate and peppermint together?  Then you should enjoy this easy chocolate mint extract recipe.  It’s made in a similar manner to the vanilla, almond and lemon extracts (check out the other homemade extract recipes and get the printable labels).  I use the chocolate mint plant as the basis for my extract, but peppermint will also work in combination with cacao nibs.  Homemade extracts are great for holiday gift giving, although the flavor gets stronger the longer you allow the extract to steep, so sooner is better if you’d like to gift them this year.  I haven’t purchased commercial mint extract in years.

You can use your homemade chocolate mint extract for all sorts of things – add a little to your brownies, hot chocolate or hot chocolate eggnog, ice cream, homemade peppermint patties – use your imagination! [Read more...]

Passive Solar Heating Basics

Passive Solar Heating Basics - 14 Design Principles for the  Passive Solar Home

As some of you know, in our home we use three different heating sources – passive solar, a masonry stove, and radiant in-floor heating warmed by a combination of active solar water heating and a propane boiler.  I can’t give firm numbers, because we have very minimal monitoring set up, but I’d estimate that the passive solar and masonry stove cover roughly half of our heating load.  On sunny days (even in the dead of winter), it can carry the entire load, retaining heat well after the sun has gone down.  Of course we have some stretches of weather with no sun at all, so we need backups.  In this post I’ll discuss passive solar heating basics, roughly adapted from the book, “The Solar House:  Passive Heating and Cooling” by Daniel Chiras, much simplified, with examples from our own home. [Read more...]

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season – Step #1- Probiotics

Preparing for cold and flu season with probiotics. Learn about a study that showed probiotic consumption lead to fewer fevers, coughs and runny noses.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms similar to the “friendly” bacteria found naturally in the body’s digestive system. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) of Maryland states that we each house two to five pounds (1.0 to 2.26 kilograms) of live bacteria inside our bodies.

How do probiotics work?

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria, both friendly and unfriendly.  Probiotics add good bacteria to your body.  Adding more good bacteria can crowd out the bad bacteria, at at the very least make it more difficult for them to thrive. [Read more...]

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies with Fresh or Dried Elderberries
My friend, Tami, saw my comment on the Common Sense Homesteading Facebook page about wanting to experiment with elderberries, and embraced the challenge with gusto.  She and her family went picking, and came home with the entire car trunk filled with elderberries.  Bless her heart, I didn’t have time to help her process them the next day, so she stuck them in the freezer overnight and tackled them herself.  In this post we’ll share how to process fresh elderberries, plus how to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly with those fresh elderberries, and an easy recipe for a small batch of immune boosting elderberry syrup with dried elderberries. [Read more...]