Thursday, October 18, 2012

Drying Basil

Fresh Basil from the Garden

Our Basil is doing awesome right now. I have way more than I can use fresh and the bugs were starting to feast on it, so I thought I better cut a bunch for drying. I love basil. It smells amazing. I love to weed in that spot of my garden because it is just heavenly smelling. I harvested 4 large bunches last week and got to work getting it preserved for future use. 

Even though we were lucky enough to inherit our food dehydrator from Jacob's parents, I think a food dehydrator is a great investment. I use mine all of the time, for tons of stuff. It can save a lot of money in the long run. Drying your own herbs is a great money saver. I also dried tons of parsley this year.
Homegrown Dried Basil

It only takes about 4 or 5 hours to get your basil nice and dry. 

I keep my old spice containers once I empty them, clean them well and fill them up with my own dried herbs. 

Dried Stevia

If you don't have a food dehydrator yet, no worries. You can simply hang your herbs upside down for a few weeks and allow them to dry naturally. That is what I did with this Stevia that is pictured at the right.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Please turn off those ceiling fans!

Ceiling Fans Don't Save Energy! Unless you are in the room.
Unless you are in the room, your ceiling fan is doing nothing for you.  Yes it's true, unless you are in the room, ceiling fans do nothing to reduce your cooling costs, they only waste your hard earned money.  Ceiling fans will make you feel a few degrees cooler, when they are blowing on you.  On average ceiling fans use about the same amount of energy of a 60-75 watt bulb.
While that isn't much, it will cost you $4.38 to $5.50 per month on medium speed if always running (without lights).  Yes, that does not sound like much but when you consider most houses have more than one fan, it starts to add up.  I am in houses all the time with 5-6 ceiling fans on, running 24/7.  That is a real waste, money blown away for nothing.  When we cut needless energy use we save money, every little bit adds up.

Thermal Image of running ceiling fan.
There is another cost to running your ceiling fans needlessly, and that is the heat they put off.  I shoot thermal pictures of fans all the time, they average 110 to 120 degrees.  This is additional heat put in the home, which in turn adds Air Conditioning costs.

Ceiling fans DO have their place, when you are in the room under the fan you will feel a few degrees cooler.  Just like that cool breeze that is so nice out side.   The breeze usually isn't any cooler than the air temperature but you feel cooler, as it passes over you.  If you apply this to reducing you AC use, turn the fan on and adjust your thermostat up a couple few degrees to compensate. 

I really like it cold at night, if I kept the house at the temperature I like the family would not be happy.  So rather than freeze out everyone in whole house I sleep with my ceiling fan on.  It cools me nicely and Shaun-ta' can have a blanket on next to me.  But the kids don't have to put on winter gear just to accommodate Dad's temperature.  It is a good compromise and it does reduce our AC costs.

Ceiling fan Energy Label
When buying ceiling fans, look for the Energy Star label, this will ensure you are purchasing a good energy efficient model, that moves more air for the energy used.  All ceiling fans have a little label on the box that tells you how much power it uses. Compare these labels and you will be able to choose the most efficient model for your money.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Moroccan White Beans: Recipe Review

Moroccan White Beans
 Last week we tried a delicious new recipe for white beans. It really was yummy! I don't use white beans a lot, so I was very happy with this new find. I thought I would share the link with you today so you can try them out for yourself. Check out the recipe here.
I made mine in my pressure cooker. I love cooking beans this way, it works great. The only thing I would do differently the next time I make them, and I will make them again, is cut out the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. They seemed plenty oily to me and I don't think taking out the vegetable oil would compromise on the flavor. I loved the cumin and ginger. I also used smoked paprika in mine, which was amazing, but I think regular sweet paprika would also taste delicious.

Moroccan Bread

 I also decided to make the Moroccan Bread to go along with it. Find the recipe here. It was perfect with the beans. It is absolutely delicious when you scoop up the beans with pieces of this crusty bread.
So if you are wanting to try a new bean recipe give this one a shot. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Bread
As promised here is another one of our favorite homemade bread recipes:

1 & 1/4 Cups Milk
2 Tb. Butter or Margarine
2 & 1/4 Cups Bread Flour
3/4 Cup Oats, quick or old-fashioned
2 Tb. Brown Sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 & 3/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Cup Raisins

This recipe can be made in your bread machine, your kitchen mixer, or you can make it by hand. You can find the directions here.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

We harvested the first pound of tomatillos from our Garden this week. I was so excited to try out some tomatillo salsa. I searched the internet for some recipes and after a little research I came up with my own recipe. It turned out Delicious! So I am going to share it with you today.

Here is what you will need:
1 to 1&1/2 lbs. Tomatillos
1 small to medium Onion
2 or 3 Jalapenos
2 to 3 Cloves Garlic
1 Bunch Cilantro
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cumin
About 1/4 Cup Water

Remove husks from the tomatillos and wash. I sliced mine in half and then laid them cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. I also cut my peppers in half, removed the seeds and laid them cut side down. Cut your onion into wedges and place about half of your garlic cloves onto the tray. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 1/2 hour. Remove your garlic about halfway through, once they are toasty, so they don't get overcooked.

The last few minutes I turned the broiler on to get a nice char on the tops of my veggies. Yummy!
Roasted Tomatillos

Here are the tomatillos, nice and soft with a bit of a char on them. 
Then we just throw it all in the blender. Put your roasted garlic in first. Just cut one end off and squeeze it out of the peel. I pushed all of my roasted veggies to the center of the foil, so I could capture all of the yummy juices. Then I just folded my foil up around it and used it like a funnel to dump it into the blender. Add the fresh cilantro, salt, cumin, and the rest of your garlic. (I chose to keep half of my garlic raw, because of the health benefit.) Blend it all up. You may need to add some water to get things rolling. I ended up using 1/4 cup, but don't add too much or your salsa will be too thin. Mine turned out nice and thick!
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa - Yummy!

Here it is the finished product. It was really yummy and so easy. I couldn't believe how easy it was. I love the fact that I didn't have to peel the tomatillos. It would be delicious on a variety of Mexican dishes, not to mention the fact that it tastes great on a plain old tortilla chip.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of salsa. It is also important to mention that this is not a suitable recipe for canning. There is not enough acidity. But once my tomatillos get going on their production then I will be making some salsa for canning, so be sure and check back. 

Just an update: I freeze this salsa all the time. So although it is not suitable for canning if freezes great.