Banana-Pumpkin Bread Recipe

There are two things I never say no two: banana bread and pumpkin bread. Today was one of those days where they both sounded good. Good thing I had some frozen extra ripe bananas (they may be ugly and smooshy but they are super sweet!) and pumpkin purée I could take out to defrost and use. 

This recipe makes two yummy loaves. Eat fresh, freeze one for later or gift a loaf to a friend! 

You will need

*5 cups all purpose flour 

*4 extra ripe bananas

*4 eggs (ground flaxseed works as a vegan alternative)

*2 2/3 cup pumpkin purée 

*1 cup honey (maple syrup or agave can be used as an alternative)

*1 cup sugar. I prefer half white and half brown sugar in banana bread but all I had was white sugar today. Raw sugar works too. 

*1 cup nuts (optional). I chose pecans. 

*4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or to taste for the spices)

*2 teaspoons cinnamon 

*1 teaspoon salt

*1/2-1 cup other add ins like chocolate chips, etc. 

*butter or oil to grease bread pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Mash bananas together with the pumpkin purée. I forgot to here but it helps.

Add in honey, sugar and oil. Mix well! 

Add in dry ingredients and mix until smooth. You can fold in the nuts and anything else you might want to add in after but I chose to put them in here. 

Grease two bread pans. I used a brush with room temperature butter. 

Pour or scoop the mixture into the two bread pans evenly. 

Bake for 1 hour up to around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Depends on your oven, add ins, et cetera. 

Pop out of bread pans after a minute or so then let cool before consuming (I know it’s hard to wait). Enjoy! 

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Freezing and Storing Water Kefir Grains

I have found that as of late our water kefir concoctions have not been used as much. My daughter was the only one who wanted some. Pregnancy made the taste and smell suddenly unpalatable and my husband was working 12-16 hour shifts and not gone to drink it. I decided instead of stressing out and starving the grains by accident through forgetfulness and underuse that I would store them until a time they could be used more. I decided to freeze them. 

To freeze your water kefir grains (milk kefir grains need an additive before freezing so this is specifically just for water kefir grains) you will first need to dry your grains. I added a piece of fruit to my jar the day prior to color the grains a bit. They are essentially clear so they can be potentially overlooked if you drop any. First you will need a fine strainer to clear off the liquid. I use a plastic strainer as some suggest using metal can have adverse effects on the grains in time. The plastic is also easy to poke and manipulate if any of the grains decide to stick. 

Then use a paper towel to let them sit and dry for 2-3 hours at least. You can pat them down slightly if you wish. We generally use crocheted dish cloths and store bought cloths in our home but this made it easier to see the tiny grains. 

Place in a jar when dried (they will still be gelatinous but fluffier). Close with a tight lid and place in the freezer. I stuck mine all the way in the back. A deep freezer would be even better. These should last at least 2 months in a regular freezer that is opened a few times a day. Longer can be attempted but it seems the longer they are frozen the more of a chance they have to not do great when defrosted. 

To use again simply defrost in the fridge for a day (or more of you have a larger amount of grains). Then feed well and place in a warm area. Water kefir grains love to be warm! 

Pumpkin Coffee Creamer Recipe

As soon as Fall items began to appear in July we started stocking up. We love Fall so much we even were handfasted in it and had a Fall and Norse themed reception. Our home includes Fall decor and color schemes all year round as well. This Summer despite the heat we have been burning Pumpkin Spice candles and my husband keeps an eye out for pumpkin spice flavored goodies alongside me. When I found pumpkin spice coffee a few days ago at Target (Archer Farms brand) I snatched it up! We’re obsessed and we’re not ashamed to admit it! Going home with the coffee I wanted to use a special creamer along with it. My regular varieties wouldn’t do. Luckily, I had all the ingredients to make my own Pumpkin Creamer! It’s easy and delicious! I made a large batch to test it out with a friend. You can easily cut the recipe in half or double it for big batches! 

You will need: 

*3 cups milk of choice. I used cashew milk as its thicker than my almond milk but you can use other milk alternatives, half and half, whole milk, plain vegan creamer, etc. 

*4 heaping tablespoonfuls of pumpkin purée (I may have made mine overflow because mmm PUMPKIN)

*4 tablespoons of REAL Maple Syrup (you can also use brown sugar, agave or even molasses but I would cut the amount of molasses in half) 

*1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (more or less to taste)

*1 tablespoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)

*1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Add all ingredients together! I put everything except the milk in first purely to show the ingredients for this post.

Turn heat on high and began whisking constantly and consistently. 

Keep whisking until concoction begins to boil.

Turn off heat and continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so (my pan gets super hot so I don’t just leave it in case of burning). 

Let cool! You can use it immediately in coffee or chill in the fridge. I tend to use refrigerated creamers as my additive to cool hot coffee. On hot days I drink cold brew so having cool creamer helps with that as well. Shake well before using! 

This should last about one week in the fridge. It depends on how often you open it, take it out, fridge temperature, etc. If you drink coffee a lot and blow through creamer I would make a large batch of this and keep jars of it in the freezer to last you all season! Defrost in the fridge for a day or two and use! Enjoy! 

Timehop Memories

Yesterday morning I checked my Timehop as usual looking for photos of my toddler from the year prior. When doing so I found this image from six years ago. It was a younger me before I cut off all my hair collecting vegetables in my Opa’s garden. I don’t remember who took the picture. Most likely one of my younger sisters. It brought back so many memories. Some vague images of my mom’s vegetable garden when I was very small and then our large future gardens of mostly herbs and flowers when we (my sisters, mom and eventually my step-dad) were older and living elsewhere. I also remember my Opa’s ranch type home that once had livestock before my time on this earth. Then when he moved a state away when I was a pre-teen he slowly made a few gardens in his new home. A vegetable patch, a few apple trees, berry bushes and a small greenhouse among other things. All with his own hands as is his way (and which I admire). 

My childhood was full of farmers markets and swap meets. Handmade and homemade goods. My mom teaching us crafts and giving us the freedom to explore any interest that took hold of us as kids and teens and also the freedom to explore outside on our own. All alongside stories of her own childhood with talk of her animals and growing up on the glorious chunk of land I got to grow up with as well before it was sold and sadly modernized by the new owners. Of course there were other inspirations from both sides of the family but she was there to inspire us the most. 

It’s funny to me now to see how different my sisters and I are. We all had nearly the same upbringing (my youngest sister is 14 so she has a little bit different of an experience) but have different interests. My husband and I want to live a little more rurally with a farm and animals. Eventually, using my talents (and his since he picks everything up at lighting speed so he will undoubtedly learn faster than I did) to create and sell goods we made from our land at markets and such. The others I won’t speak for but though they seem to both love crafting and fresh farm food I’m not sure they want to live a life smelling like natural fertilizer and farm animal fiber. Which is perfectly well! 

Another part of me knows this yearning is naturally part of me. Whether through genetics or being born with the interest at heart. I have wanted it for so long. If you have read some of my blogs that weren’t recipes or how-to ‘s you would know that even as a child I felt this pull to the homesteading life. Nothing is more frustrating than living somewhere that you can’t live as you wish. I see the space we have and want to fill it with chickens and a garden instead of cement and mostly unusable plants. You can’t rush dreams though! So until the land we want makes itself available (we are always on the lookout!) I’ll be learning and growing through books and small hands on experiences. 

Homemade Chicken Broth/Stock

We love soup. There really isn’t more to say about it! Any time of the year is soup time. Even when it’s hot! In the past few months we have been unfortunate enough to purchase two boxes of stock that were opened. The second we even looked at the seal but apparently not hard enough. When we have fresh herbs and such handy we just let the soup we are making create its own broth. For these however I was making really basic chowders that needed something already made for it. I KNEW BETTER than to just buy some but sometimes when you are pregnant and without much time and just want a bowl of chowder before you scream at someone…then you buy store bought stock. Luckily, I had some dried ingredients I used to create a quick stock after opening another already opened box. Sometimes I’m not always so lucky though.

We had another super convenience food buy recently as well. A store made rotisserie chicken. We also picked up a raw chicken to cook the next day. I used the carcasses and odd uneaten bits to turn into a broth. I started with just one in a enameled cast iron pot. I added vegetable scraps, dried herbs, spices and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help pull goodness from the bones. I noticed even on low the container would get too hot. So I transferred it to a crock pot with another carcass and set it on low for about 4 hours then on warm for another 20 or so. I wasn’t keeping too close of track. Some recipes say 8 hours is good while others suggest 24…so choose what works for you! 

I strained off the chunky bits and put the stock in mason jars to freeze. Mine had some fat and such in it that rose to the top but that tasty goodness will be delicious in future recipes. When you want to use them just leave out to defrost! We use stock often so these jars were a good size for us but you can portion them differently easily! 

There are many health benefits to stock made like this compared to store bought. Minerals from the bone marrow, potassium, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc! You can get similar or all these and more from other animal broths/stocks as well. Vegetable broth is also very healthy if not moreso! Happy homesteading!