Granola Breakfast Cookies with Dried Fruit and Crispy Nuts

Granola Breakfast Cookies with Dried Fruit and Crispy Nuts @ Common Sense Homesteading

Cookies for breakfast?  You bet!  I’m not talking about a certain boxed cereal with fluffy little bits that leave you hungry an hour later, I’m talking about chewy, crunchy go anywhere granola cookies with all the stuff you want and none of the stuff you don’t.  These easy granola cookies can be gluten free if you use certified gluten free oats (oats do not naturally contain gluten, but can be cross contaminated).  They are also casein free (when the oats are soaked with vinegar) and soy free. [Read more…]

Emergency Cooking – 10 Ways to Have a Hot Meal When the Power Goes Out

Emergency Cooking - 10 Ways to Have a Hot Meal When the Power Goes Out

There are a number of different options for heating food without electricity.  In this post we’ll cover everything from simple heating to large scale cooking for emergency situations. Before we get started:  For those who are new to preparedness, using an emergency generator to power an electric stove or microwave is not a good allocation of resources.  Stoves and microwaves use a lot of power in a short amount of time.  It’s much more practical to use other means to heat/cook your food.

  • Always be careful to use options inside or outside as appropriate.  Don’t end up asphyxiated from cooking fuel fumes or burn your house down while trying to make a hot meal.
  • Make sure you have cooking equipment suitable for your heating option of choice.
  • Practice with your method(s) of choice until you can reliably produce a meal.  Don’t use it for the first time in an emergency (except for the “heat themselves” food items). [Read more…]

The Best Pancakes …er… Waffles Ever! – Homemade Whole Wheat Waffles

Homemade Whole Wheat Waffles @ Common Sense Homesteading

Looking for a recipe for homemade whole wheat waffles that’s easy, tasty and kid-friendly?  You need to try this!  It’s great for using up a bit of leftover yogurt, buttermilk or milk kefir, too.

I’ve been making Katie from Kitchen Stewardship’s Soaked 100% Whole Grain Pancakes for over a year now, and they are some of the best pancakes we’ve ever eaten.  The cakes are moist and filling, and one batch makes enough pancakes for our family of four for at least two breakfasts.  I often freeze extras and reheat them in the toaster oven as needed.

Last Friday night I put my batter to soak for pancakes on Saturday.  When morning rolled around and I told the boys I was planning pancakes, my youngest said he really wanted waffles.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I tried out the pancake batter in the waffle iron.  Success!  Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, these waffles were wonderful with organic butter and local maple syrup. Sometimes I make cherry-berry sauce, too.

Here’s the recipe (please visit Kitchen Stewardship to see how Katie makes these up as pancakes for camping):

Homemade Whole Wheat Waffles

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
1 c. buttermilk or milk or yogurt or milk kefir**
1 c. water
¼ c. apple cider vinegar

Whisk together flour, milk product, water, and vinegar in a medium bowl (ceramic or glass preferred, no metal, plastic okay in a pinch – I use my 8 cup Pyrex measuring  bowl) and leave on the counter, covered, to soak 12-24 hours.

Just before cooking, add:

¼ cup melted coconut oil
4 lightly beaten eggs
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

I placed about one cup of batter in my waffle iron, closed, flipped and cooked for about 3 1/2 minutes.

*Katie says:  This recipe works with all regular whole wheat, is much better with half whole wheat/half pastry flour, and is best with all pastry flour.  Pastry flour is more expensive, so I like to go 1/2 and 1/2 most of the time.  Laurie says:  I use freshly ground soft white wheat flour most of the time and it gives these a great texture.

**Because you’re adding vinegar to the milk, it’s a “fake” buttermilk of sorts and hasn’t had a problem sitting on my counter overnight.  Raw milk would be safest for this though if you choose to use milk.  You can also use the dairy choice in place of the water for even richer pancakes.  I have tried all three options, and I think the milk is the best one, but I often use homemade yogurt.

Makes about 6 1/2 waffles using 1 cup batter each.  If you’d prefer to make pancakes, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 batter per pancake.  Both are delicious.

waffle and maple syrup

Cherry-Berry Sauce

  • 4 cups mixed fruit, mashed, or frozen and thawed – I usually use cherries and raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, non-GMO
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Place fruit in medium heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Make sure there is juice from thawing or mashing the fruit.  In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch.  Mix into fruit (mixing sugar and cornstarch before adding will prevent lumps).  Heat until bubbling, stirring regularly.  Cook gently until thickened (mixture should turn glossy).  Remove from heat and stir in extract.  Serve warm (will thicken as it cools).  You can add more sweetener or less as you like.

My family liked these better than the standard white flour waffle recipe that came with the waffle iron.  We also thought they were better than the soaked flour waffle recipe from Nourishing Traditions.  (I had problems with those burning on the outside while being doughy on the inside.)

I bought my Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker about a year and half ago, upgrading from a small rectangular iron I used to have, and I’m glad to have made the investment.  If you’ve even ordered Belgian waffles at a restaurant, you know they charge an arm and a leg for them.  It paid for itself in a couple of breakfasts (plus, of course, I know what’s in my waffles).  My waffles cook much more uniformly, and any spills are much easier to clean up.  Yes, it has a non-stick surface, but I don’t rub anything against the surface and it stays at a uniform temperature, so the coating is much less likely to come off than in a frying pan.  The iron has a timer, which helps avoid burnt waffles.  Waffles are still a bit of a treat, but they are so much easier to make with the right equipment (and the BEST WAFFLE RECIPE EVER ;-).

My sister brought her granddaughters to visit last summer, and they agreed, these were the best waffles they had ever tasted (even better than mom’s – shhhh…).

Best Waffles Ever @ Common Sense Homesteading

“Aunt Laurie makes the Best Waffles Ever!”

How to Cook a Beef Tongue, With Photos

I DID IT!  (But I had some help.)  I finally cooked up the tongue we got with our quarter of grassfed beef.  This is one of my “catch up” posts – one where I took pictures but didn’t post when it actually happened.  You can see it was bright and green outside in the photos.

My sister Lois visited last fall, and what are big sisters for if not to help you eat strange things.  That said, we dragged the tongue out of the freezer.  Mmmmmmmm….

raw beef tongue

Lois gave it a good washing and held it up for a nice shot.

lois with raw beef tongue

Cooking it couldn’t be much simpler.  The tongue gets a lot of work, so it’s all muscle (no fat – mo marbling).  Mom always boiled it when we were kids, so that’s what we did, too.  We put it in a kettle of water with about an inch of water over the top, and added plenty of aromatics – garlic scapes, onions, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and some celery.

beef tongue in pot

Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours (I think we did 2 1/2).  Once finished cooking, place the tongue in an ice water bath to chill it enough to handle.

beef tongue in ice water bath

Once you can handle the tongue, peel off the skin.

This will give you an excellent piece of lean meat.

beef tongue cooked

Slice thinly and serve with your choice of condiments.  My brother Rich suggests horseradish.

cutting up beef tongue

And that’s it!  It was very tender and delicious, and the boys couldn’t tell it wasn’t “regular” roast.  (Personally, I found it to be more tender than the roast we had cooked the day before.)

So,  what unusual meats have you enjoyed recently?  I’d love to hear from you.

This post has been added to Simple Lives Thursday,
Real Food Wednesday,
Real Food Weekly,
and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

A Day in the Slow Life

A Day in the Slow Life @ Common Sense Homesteading

Annette at Sustainable Eats (a truly inspiring woman with very interesting blog) tagged me in a meme that asks participants to share a day in their slow lives.  I have to say, from what I’ve read so far, most of the “slow life” folks have pretty busy days.

In an effort to get this posted in time for Simple Lives Thursday, I’m going to try to recollect this past Monday.  The days sometimes seem to run together.  There’s always so much I’d like to do, and then there’s what can reasonably be accomplished (at least by me, an individual who requires sleep).

6:00 am-ish – Hubby gets up to shower and head out for two hour drive to work.  Since having to take a job out of town last year, he now comes home on weekends and stays in a small condo near work during the week.  It’s been tough being apart, but for now a lot of things are still up in the air and we’re hoping to hang on to our current home (our “dream house” built on 35 acres in the country back in 2005).  I say a little prayer each day that eventually he’ll be able to find a job back in the area.

While hubby is in the shower, I gather the trash and recyclables for him to drop at the end of the driveway on his way out (we have a really long driveway), and pack some food stuffs for him to take to the condo (this week it’s homemade gluten free vanilla cookies).

6:30 – Hubby is gone.  Eat a tablespoon of coconut oil.  Put on exercise shoes and do about a half hour of aerobics followed by 15 minutes or so of stretching.

Snap and minipig
Minipig (left) and Snap

7:15 – Feed inside and outside cats.  Put away dishes left to dry from previous night.  I usually do dishes/run the dishwasher in the evening and let things air dry overnight.  Went downstairs to go out to the garden to grab some kale for breakfast (we have a walk out basement and the basement patio door is the closest one to the garden), got sidetracked cleaning up the basement.  I have an eight foot folding table down there that was covered with four types of shell beans, melons, seed heads, tomato ties, clippers…uh…well, it was a mess.  We’re talking with some homeschool friends about blowing things up down there instead, so I had to make room.  Melons to the counter (there’s a kitchenette), beans upstairs to be shelled, seed heads upstairs, tie bands to the laundry room, clippers to their storage bin, etc.  Grab a gallon bucket of walnuts from where they’re curing in the greenhouse and take them upstairs to shell, too.  Go back down and outside to finally grab the kale I’d forgotten earlier.

8:15 – Dice up kale and throw it in a pan with some organic butter and the last of the cherry tomatoes.  Usually I have tomatoes that store a little later, but I got hit with late blight at the end of the season and my remaining tomatoes did not keep as well as usual. Once the kale is tender, shove veggies to the side of the pan and throw in a small duck egg from the neighbors.  Cover and cook a few minutes for sunny side up, then dump the whole mess on a plate and add a little bruschetta for extra kick.  Boot up the computer and munch breakfast with a side of Toffee Apple kombucha (kombucha w/ apple cider and a little English Toffee liquid stevia).

8:45 – Boys awake (yes, they are night owls).  Get them some breakfast (bagel with cream cheese and coconut oil (not homemade), peanut butter and strawberry rhubarb jelly sandwich (all homemade), apple slices on the side.  Let them play a while and munch breakfast, have them sort the laundry.  Get the laundry going, pay some bills, catch up on email, do some research.

10:00 – Get the boys started on bookwork for the day.  We homeschool, but we keep a pretty relaxed schedule.  Dunc starts working on adding and subtracting decimals, August on algebra.  Hang up the laundry on the line and start the next load.  It’s a sunny day, so even though it’s cooler the laundry should be almost dry by evening.  We’ve got a porch that runs along the south side of our home and acts as an overhang for the passive solar aspect of the home, and I’ve got my laundry line right on the porch so it’s very convenient.

laundry on line

11:00am – The boys shift to handwriting, grammar, and vocabulary.  I hang up the second load of laundry, and help out as needed.  I put some milk kefir and chia seeds in the Vitamix to soak in preparation of making a green smoothie for lunch.  Start another batch of milk kefir.

Noon – Lunch time.  The boys put on a special about earthquakes to watch while they munch.  I make up some toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for them (they’re not big on green smoothies, but I keep trying).  For myself, I raid the fridge and freezer – green beans, cucumbers, dried coconut, nutritional yeast, Superior Reds powder, blueberries, strawberries, banana, peach (last four all frozen) – everything goes into the Vitamix.  Turn up the power and I’ve got a smoothie.  I pair this up with a few slices of raw cheese and Nuthins, and that’s lunch.

1:00 pm – Science time.  We’re studying geology right now.  We read a section about ocean vents, and then watch some cool footage on YouTube.  I love the internet.

2:00 – The weather is nice, so we’ve got to make some progress in the garden today.  The boys work on pulling the last of the tomato trellis parts, and I work on cleaning the pathways around my center wagon wheel shaped permanent beds.  The herbs and weeds went a little nuts this year with all the rain, and the garden got rather overgrown.  The center-most herb bed is still a thicket, but at least now the paths are walkable.  We start putting down cardboard, old newspaper and bird food bags to block the weeds, covered by wheat straw.  We manage to get about half of the paths done.  The bean plants are clipped back, a few more stray dry beans are found.

This year we had Calypso, Bumblebee, Tiger Eye for dried beans, and Emerite pole beans for green beans.  I brace up the cilantro plants, hoping that more of the seeds will ripen yet this season.  We’ve had a light frost, but the plants survived.  I grab a dill weed seed head, and take that inside to save, too.  We have cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard ready to harvest.  We’ve been digging up carrots and sunchokes as we need them, but will dig up the remainder of the carrots before the ground freezes.  We eat some sunchokes, but the patch produces way more than we care to eat now.  The parsnips will stay in the ground over winter.  There’s still celery and parsley, too.  I’ll dig those up and move them into the greenhouse soon.  The green beans are still alive, and I grab about a gallon of beans to eat.

kefir brewing
Kefir brewing

5:00 pm – We head inside.  The boys crack some walnuts and grab the laundry off the line while I cook supper (and eat a tablespoon of coconut oil).  Tonight’s special is modified breakfast leftovers – tomorrow I cook “for real” again.  We’ve got diced and reheated breakfast sausage from the little meat place down the road with scrambled duck eggs from the neighbors and a side of the green beans I picked earlier.  The boys are drinking local apple cider and I’ve got some heavily fermented raspberry lemonade water kefir.  This bottle was forgotten in the basement fridge for about a month and has a heck of a head on it.  Thus far I prefer my water kefir flavored with citrus (lemon-lime, raspberry lemonade).  The boys will drink root beer flavored (I currently use extract, but did recently buy some roots to experiment with).  I want to experiment with hibiscus and other herbs, too.  That’s what winters are for.  :-)

nutcracker boys
Nutcracker boys

6:00 – Sneak in a dry brush and shower (with hot/cold rinses at the end – I’m working on detoxing).  I’ve got some lovely vanilla mint soap I made with a friend, and I use coconut oil to clean my face.  Sort laundry, do the dishes, tackle the rest of the stacked up mound of paperwork (more bill paying, balance bank statement), more email, visit with friends.  The boys like to play online games.  We are all in one room together, so I can keep tabs on what they’re up to.

9:00 pm – Head the boys off to their showers and bedtime prep.  Somewhere between 9:30 and 10, we all pile into my bed and read some history.  This week we’re covering the 1900’s, and that night was about President Roosevelt.

10 – ish – The boys head off to their beds and I get a little reading done.  I’m working my way through a new whole foods cookbook, but I’ve been a little disappointed.  Way too much soy, no soaking or sprouting of grains (although it is gluten free, which is why I bought it in the first place), no soaking their nuts to reduce phytates, and heavy use of spices (I know they’re good for you, but our palates are just not into overly spiced food).  Fat use is minimal – I like my fats, and they like me.  Lots of use of fresh fruits and veggies that are not available in my area for much of the year.  Very little fermenting – a couple of sauerkraut recipes.  Sigh.  I guess I just keep assembling recipes off the internet.  A big thanks to all my real food blogger friends who share their awesome recipes (and the problems they’ve run into :-).

10:30 or so – I use some coconut oil I keep by the bed to coat my feet and hands.  They get so dry in the cooler months.  Another goal I have for this fall is to make a couple more dry skin salves to try out.  I want to make one with burdock root (we have a TON of it around here) and one with hibiscus flowers (I found a recipe online and the flowers were on sale recently through Frontier).  Lights out.

And now I’m tagging Pamela of Seeds of Nutrition, Paula of The Chicken Coop (see, this is what you two get for chatting with me regularly on Facebook) and YOU! I’d love to read all of your “day in the slow life” posts in this Thursday’s Simple Lives. Please consider it – we all learn so much from each other.