Archive for the ‘Cooking/Canning’ Category

How to Grow Herbs Indoors!

Don’t let winter’s dreadful temperatures and constant snowfall keep you down. To add a bit of greenery and pizazz to your life, try growing an indoor herb garden!

Fortunately, growing herbs year-round for fresh use is easy and enjoyable, ando help you get  growing, Birds & Blooms—America’s # 1 Bird & Garden Magazine—has put together a list of easy steps on how to grow herbs in the winter.

Start your indoor garden with these seven basic steps:


·         Choose the right location: Although many think that herbs need direct sunlight, indirect sunlight will also work fine. Look around your house and make sure to choose the best location—don’t limit yourself to the kitchen. East, South and West-facing windows should all give your herbs more than enough light.


·         Buy the right pot and soil: One of the most important steps in growing herbs is choosing a high-quality potting soil. Buy soil that feels nice and moist when you take a handful. The type of pot you use is also extremely important. Clay pottery or unglazed ceramic pots seem to be the best for growing plants.

·         Plant with loose soil:  It is very important to loosely fill the pot with soil and not to press down too hard. Once the soil is in place, remove the starter herb plant from its pot and gently loosen the soil around the bottom inch of the roots. Scoop out a hole in the planting pot and settle the plant in its new home. Carefully fill soil back around the roots and water the plant moderately.


·         Learn how to water: Learning to water herb containers is what takes the most practice. Until you get used to how fast your plants dry out, check them every couple of days. To keep plants and soil from drying out too fast, avoid placing them near furnace vents or hot, sunny windows. Plan to water plants every three to five days or so.


·         Add organic fertilizer:  Fertilize herbs once a month with organic fertilizer. Since you’ll probably be using the plants for cooking or tea, you don’t want to be eating chemical fertilizer residues.


·         Prevent insect pests: Whenever you grow plants indoors, insects can come calling. You can prevent most problems by making sure your soil doesn’t get soggy. If you notice a few pests on your herbs, take action right away by spraying with a soap- or neem oil-based plant product.


·         Harvest for good health: Be sure to pinch back or harvest your plants regularly. Pinching back the top couple of inches of growth helps plants stay bushy and healthy, and the harvest is perfect for cooking, making tea or adding to your bath.

Thanks Birds and Blooms for the great idea!

Happy Gardening!

What Can I Do With All These Apples?

how to process apples, how to make apple jelly, how to make apple sauce, how to make dried apples,After our move we had to give up our garden, but the home we now have came with a very large apple tree. So now I have the big job of figuring out how to use up these apples. Unfortunately most of them have worms or are bruised so they will not easily store very long. Here is a list of ideas of what to do with this apple harvest:

  • apple sauce
  • apple jelly
  • dried apples
  • apple fruit roll
  • apple pie filling
  • and of course make a few batches of apple crisp (my favorite dessert)!

So far I have made apple jelly, apple sauce and dried apples. On the docket today: apple fruit roll (and maybe some more apple crisp..).


One thing I have learned is if you have the right equipment, processing a batch of apples goes much smoother. Drying the apples is a cinch with the apple peeler/corer/ringer. I just run it through and then cut the ringed apple in half and put all the pieces on the drier.  They make eating the apples fresh so fun too. Highly recommend getting one of those if you too own an apple tree. I have also used it to make the apple sauce and jelly. It easily takes off the peel and cores it for you, so why not?


Making apple sauce is super easy too, just has a few more steps. I core and peel them using the handy tool, then I put them in a pot with just a small amount of water to prevent them from sticking. Don’t add too much as the water will cook out of the apples as they soften. Cook until they are soft- which was surprising to me how fast it was. Then you can run it through a mill or put them in a blender to get them to a smooth consistency.  After its ready, I just add a tiny bit of lemon juice to  make it so it wont go brown as quickly. I do not add any sugar or cinnamon but you can at this point flavor it if you would like. Just do it to taste. Bring back to a boil and hold at a boil while filling the hot jars for bottling. Process 10 minutes for half pints and 25 minutes for the full size jars.


Jelly can be made without adding pectin. Here is the recipe:

4 cups apple juice

3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

First you need to make the juice. Here is a time when having a juicer will make your life so much easier. That is how I made the juice I used.

To make the jelly: put apple juice in a large pot and add sugar and lemon juice. stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil on high heat stirring constantly. Boil until jelly gets to the jelling point. To test this put a dab on a plate and place in the freezer for a few minutes. Pull it out of the freezer and push the glob of jelly with finger to see if it holds its form  pretty well. Then it is ready to bottle. Process 10 minutes for half pints. Makes about 4 half pints.


To make apple fruit leather or fruit rolls, I am just going to make apple sauce then pour the sauce on the sheet of the dehydrator and dry it. I am not going to add sugar to it.

Hope this helps! Having an apple tree is lots of fun, but also allot of work. A great thing to have when building up your food storage.

Happy Gardening!

Loaded Vegetable Marinara Sauce

home made spaghetti sauce, marinara sauce, vegetable spaghetti sauce, easy home grown and made marinara sauce

What to do with those tomatoes? Luckily there are tons of options! Salsa, tomato soup, just bottled tomatoes, and today we will tell you how to make your own delicious marinara sauce. This recipe is great because you can adjust it to what veggies you have ripe from your garden, or even to the veggies you like in marinara sauce. It takes quite a bit of tomatoes but not so much that you wont have enough to get this recipe made.

I was taught this recipe by my wonderful sister in law. Thanks, sis!

15 cups of prepared peeled and seeded fresh ripe tomatoes

3 yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped

3 large green peppers, roughly chopped

1 pound of mushrooms with steams

2 cups of shredded Zucchini or squash of your choice

4 stalks of Celery, roughly chopped

2 cups of shredded Carrots

5-6 cloves of garlic (about 2 Tablespoons)

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

2 teaspoons of dried Basil

2 teaspoons of dried Marjoram

2 Beef bullion cubes

1/2 cup of vinegar (white or red wine)

salt and pepper to taste

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Saute chopped Green Pepper, Onion, Celery and 1 tsp of salt until transparent. Add Garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Mix in Tomatoes, Squash, Carrots, Mushrooms, Vinegar, Beef Bullion and Salt and Pepper. (I start with 1 Tablespoon of Salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.)

Cook for 4-6 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. (I usually put in in the crock pot at this point and cook for 8 hours on low.) When the sauce has cooked, taste test it to see if you want more seasoning or salt and pepper. Once the sauce is to your liking, puree it until smooth, then cook it for 1 more hour. If you like it more chunky, then you could puree only part of it leaving some chunks. The longer it cooks down, the thicker it will get and the more store like consistency it will have.

Then follow bottling, or freezing instructions. This usually will yield about 3- 3 1/2 quarts.

Happy Gardening!

Yummy Homemade Cream of Broccoli Soup

broccoli soup, cream of broccoli soup, yummy soup, dairy free cream of broccoli soupBroccoli is one of those veggies that many people have a hard time loving. I have a hard time getting my family to eat much broccoli, however, they LOVE this broccoli soup. This can be make with broccoli you have grown in your garden, or some from the store. The other thing about this recipe is that it has no dairy in it. We have dairy allergies in my home and so cooking a cream of anything soup has been a problem in the past. This recipe uses cashews to make the cream. Even my husband who loves dairy thinks it tastes better than if it had regular cream. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family dose!

1 cup cashews

1 cup water

4 cups vegetable stock

2 medium boiling potatoes cubed

1 medium onion chopped up finely

1 bunch broccoli chopped up (4 1/2 cups)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Take the cashews and 1 cup water and put in a blender and blend until smooth.

Put the vegetable stock, onion, and potatoes into a pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and basil and return to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender (about 10 min.)

Then add the cashew mixture, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and take a portion (around half) out and pour into blender. Blend until smooth. Return blended portion to pot and serve immediately.


Hope you enjoy this, and feel free to share any improvements or changes you made to it!

Happy Gardening!


How to Grow Garlic

Garlic, when to plant garlic, where to plant garlic, when to harvest garlic, where to store garlic, how to store garlic, Garlic is such a great thing to add to your garden because it is so easy to grow, and you should never have to buy garlic again! The one thing you should realize is: Garlic should be planted in the fall. I have talked to many people who have made the mistake of planting garlic in the spring with the rest of their garden, and not getting a harvest of garlic. If you have made this mistake, just leave it in the ground until next year, or even the fall. the bulbs will be small, but you can harvest them and then pull the biggest cloves off and replant them in the fall for a good harvest next year. For those just starting out growing garlic, here are a few simple steps:

  1. Choose– chose what variety you like and want to grow in your garden. You can order them from companies that grow lots of garlic, or you can pick some up from a local gardening center. You would be amazed at the amount of varieties you have to choose from.
  2. Plant– pull of the separate sections of the bulb Continue reading

How to Grow the Biggest, Best Strawberries Ever

what is the secrete to growing big strawberries, how do you renovate a strawberry patch,  when do you fertilize strawberries, Growing strawberries is not hard, they like to spread and perpetuate themselves, however, if left to themselves, the production and size of your strawberries will go down .

The key to a big strawberry is a big plant with nice big healthy leaves that it grows on. So how do you get that to happen?

  1. After the snow first melts in the spring, cover your patch with a row cover to start warming it up and giving the plants a head start on growth. Just remember that they might need to be watered as the water dose not get through the row cover a s easily as if there were no cover. You will be amazed at how much this helps them grow.
  2. Renovate the patch right after the harvest of strawberries is over. They need enough space to Continue reading

Buttercup Squash with Apple Recipe

Butter cup squash cooked with apples, buttercup squash recipeWe have some Buttercup squash grown from our garden still, so I am always looking for new and interesting ways to prepare it for my family. I just love being able to feed my family food I have grown from my garden year round. It is easy to store winter squash during the winter and cuts down on the grocery bill all year-long! I liked this recipe, it just took a long time to cook, so take that into consideration when cooking it.

Buttercup Squash with Apples

1 Buttercup squash

1/2 cup chopped tart cooking apple Continue reading


coleslaw recipe, how to make coleslaw, great coleslaw recipeOn cold January days, that we really miss the garden. Buying produce from the store is just not the same. But you have to make do with what we have. This week I made some coleslaw which was enjoyable and reminiscent of when we harvested our over-sized cabbage head this last summer. We made several different dishes with the one head of cabbage and still gave some of it away as we couldn’t use it up fast enough. So I  thought to share this great recipe with you. Continue reading

Butternut Squash Soup

Squash SoupAnyone who has grown squash knows how well they can produce. We grew buttercup squash this last year, and now have a pantry full of them ready to be used. I like to add a bit of variety to my meals, and prepare them differently all the time. So I am always on the look out for a great new recipe. I ran across this recipe for making soup with squash and Continue reading

Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Are you looking for a great gift idea for the gardener in your life? Here is my top 10 list:

  1. Gardening Book. This is always a welcome addition to the gardeners library from the advanced to the beginning gardener, having a gardening book on hand is always welcome. You will most likely spend around $25 up to $40.
  2. Getting a window herb kit would be a great way to keep the avid vegetable gardener growing through the winter. Plan on spending anywhere from $25-$50 depending on the kit.
  3. Out door temperature gauge is a must for every gardener. We have our thermometor stuck to the outside of our kitchen window so that Continue reading