Crockpot Apple Butter

One of the great things about where we live is the close proximity to hot off the farm food. We recently bought our weight in a variety of apples and weren’t eating them quickly enough. The first thing I decided to do was make crock pot apple butter. I don’t utilize this glorious kitchen gadget often enough and this was a nice easy way to use up some apples. I didn’t need to stand and stir, watch for bottom of the pan burning, etc. All I needed to do was some prep work.

The recipe below is more than enough for my family of two adults, a toddler and a baby who is old enough to eat solids (aka not solely breastmilk or formula fed). It fit nicely in my crock pot to start and cooked down with plenty of room to mash it up without a mess.

You will need:

*Approx. 2.5-3 apples (look below for chart)

*1/2 cup white sugar (or use what you prefer)

*1/2 cup brown sugar (or use what you prefer)

*1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used homemade)

*1 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/4 teaspoon clove

*1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional:

*1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or spiced alcohol

*1/4 teaspoon ginger or replace all spices with pumpkin pie spice

*honey or maple syrup to taste or to replace sugar

I found this handy guide via Google if you don’t have a scale to weigh apples:

Peel, core and chop all apples and add to crock pot.

Add all other ingredients including optional ingredients (if using store bought vanilla extract I would wait to add this until you mash the apples).

Mix well then set lid on to cook on low for approximately 10 hours. I tend to just leave it for the day then switch the heat setting before bed.

Stir occasionally.

Turn onto warm overnight. In the morning or after 8 hours or so check on contents to see if the mixture has cooked down well and browned. Turn off, remove lid and let cool for 30-60 minutes before continuing. You can add imitation vanilla extract, etc at this time. You can alternatively cook on low a few extra hours instead but I like it all to stew together as long as possible.

Mash contents up using a whisk or potato masher. Alternatively, purée in blender in small batches or use an immersion blender. I have also seen people blend down the apple mixture raw before cooking. Some even include the peel to create less waste and for any additional benefits the peel may have (still core and chop apples).

Now you can add your mixture to jars, Tupperware, etc. It freezes well! Use on toast, in cookie cups, as a cake filling, etc!

Enjoy!

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Almond Apple Butter Protein Shake

I was looking to add more protein into my diet and potentially use a shake as a meal replacement for our busy mornings. A friend suggested I go homemade after lamenting that the powders I’ve used were awful. I’m thinking of making up shakes and if they are good to go I’ll share them! Today was Almond Apple Butter!

*1 cup vanilla almond milk

*1/3 cup Greek yogurt

*1/4 cup Apple butter

*1/4 cup almond butter

*1/8 cup ground flax

*1/8 cup honey (the apple butter was already sweet)

Add ice if desired and blend! My baby loved it so much I had to top it off with cold coffee to give myself a full glass. You could add a banana to this but I forgot to pick some up. Chia, oat and/or cacao powder would also be good additions!

Homemade Lentil Flour

I made this back in May 2017 but just now got to posting. See my last blog for reasons why! 

I had started looking into trying to make foods higher in protein for my toddler. She’s high energy from the moment her eyes open to when they close for the night. I was told that some studies suggest a high protein diet can help to calm hyperactivity. So I started there. Plus, we all need protein in our diet. My child had started to get picky like most toddlers do. So I began looking for foods she may like with a better source of protein. I tried pumpkin protein bites, peanut butter protein cookies, etc with some success. My sister suggested lentil bread but wasn’t sure if that was actually a thing. The two year old loves bread so sneaking in more protein would be good! Unfortunately, lentils are an incomplete protein but I was already deep into recipe testing when I discovered this. 

I essentially used this recipe but took pictures and such of my own as a first step recipe before the bread recipe that will come next. I also changed a few things: http://thecookiewriter.com/homemade-lentil-flour-tutorial/

I took two cups of green lentils and split it in half. 

One half I ground in our Vitamix as best I could. If you are using a food processor or less powerful blender it has been suggested to work it in half cup measurements.

The other half I toasted in our cast iron skillet. Stirring the entire time. I did this for about 10 minutes on high heat. I should note if you’re using a wooden spoon to stir lightly so you don’t burn it from the constant movement against the hot skillet. 

I then let the toasted lentils cool completely before grinding in our blender. 

Mix both the raw and toasted lentil flours together! The combination lends the blend a better flavor than purely raw or all toasted. 

You can put the flour in a sifter to only get the most finely ground flour if you wish. 

If you have a picky kid you can use this as a hidden protein. It needs more prep than regular flour (more liquid, longer cook time, etc) but is great for flatbreads, pancakes, etc. Look up gluten free recipes with lentil flour or just lentil flour recipes! We are not a gf family but some of the recipes are amazing!

Veggie Scrap Broth How To

A few months ago I was making broth from kitchen scraps like I normally do (unless I’m making meat stock or broth) and I took pictures for the blog. I was dealing with post partum depression, military life and getting my toddler evaluated for neurological disorders so you can say I was a little overwhelmed. I just couldn’t get myself into my writing. I have a dozens of photos to make blogs for but I haven’t been able to get my brain to function enough to write. Here it is. Finally. 

So onto the broth! This is such a great way to utilize all of your veggies! To not waste one bit. To start you just need to begin saving scraps! Everything I cut off and normally toss (or compost in our old home) would be put in freezer bags (you can use jars or Tupperware but we were low on space) and frozen. Even veggies nearing their end that you wouldn’t get to in time. I didn’t add veggies that were too starchy like potatoes but we almost never have scraps from those as we eat the skins. You can add the skins if you would like to but I think it changes the consistency and flavor. I also avoided the main part of things like beets. Though I did use the leafy greens. 

I ended up saving four of the gallon sized ziplock bags to make a mega batch! Much more than what I actually needed (I still have a few jars left and I made this in late June!). I had continuously put off making it because I couldn’t get to it with my kids needs. So I ended up with a ton of scraps! I think storing it less of a time would be better so if you try this go one bag at a time! 

I added everything to my big canning pot and went to town adding herbs and spices. Chosen for their flavor and health benefits! You can also add extra veggies for flavor and health. Such as garlic! Or things like soy sauce, miso, etc. 

Then I covered with filtered water and stirred it up!

I didn’t have a weight or anything to keep the veggies down (not necessary but I prefer to) so I used the rack that normally holds my cans. Worked decently! 

I covered heated on high for about 15-20 minutes and then cooked on low for around 2 hours. It was such a big batch I wanted to get everything well! You can also do this in a crock pot. Once finished I took the lid off and let it cool for about an hour. 

I forgot to get pictures of this but I strained the chunks out with a colander then used a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth that I fixed onto a big jar. 

I used that jar to fill smaller jars and ice cube trays full of broth goodness to freeze! 

When I ran out of jars and trays I cooked down what was left (not all pictured here) to make a concentrated bit to use for cooking with the next week. I put it in everything and even just drank some hot. It’s good! I used to love drinking broth or stock as a kid. 

The cubes are great for dishes that need a little moisture and so instead of adding water you can toss in a bit of broth! I put them in a ziplock after freezing. I would keep trays specifically for food as they retain the smell and a bit of flavor after use. 

Turmeric Powder Tincture 

When I first met my now husband he introduced me to herbs to help with skin issues. He suffered a skin injury that required almost a year of medical attention but wanted to help his skin in any way he could. So he looked to herbs. The best way to get the herbs he chose to help in his opinion was to ingest them. Now we use many of the herbs he loved in our food and tisanes frequently. Turmeric is one we go through a lot of. It helps with inflammation and many skin issues are the product of other health problems such as this. Check out the link at the end of this post for more in depth information.

When a neighbor/friend asked if I wanted her bag of turmeric she didn’t like (it has a peppery taste that isn’t appetizing to some) I started brewing up ideas for usage. More than putting it in almost everything we eat. Which poses an issue with my toddler who ends up staining her clothes with any food saturated with it. I decided the first thing I wanted to make with it was a tincture. 

Most recipes I found suggested using the root. Fresh or dried in slices to help the alcohol base saturate it more easily. Well, I didn’t have a root. I had powder. So I did a 1:5 concoction to test it out. 1 part turmeric powder to 5 parts alcohol. It worked great! It was also really fun to work with and see the lovely color changes. The powder is a gorgeous yellow color and once it settled it created a red hued liquid. Later I saw it was more orange when not stacked the way it was but still lovely. 

One small pint jar creates a ton of tincture in my opinion. So unless you have a large family using it, are taking the tincture several times a day or are creating to share this should work great to start with. I filled two 2 oz dropper bottles to last me a while and barely made a dent in the tincture. I left the rest to continue brewing until I needed to strain some off again for use. 

This is what I used: 

I filled roughly 1/5 of the jar with powdered turmeric then filled it up with the alcohol.

After mixing gently and being sure to scrape any bits off the bottom I noticed the amount of product went down.

So I topped it off with a bit more alcohol. 

Then I added the lid and shook it up! Making sure to get any clumps out. 

It WILL settle and you will notice that it may look something like this:

It will definitely still brew perfectly fine so no worries! What you need to do though is shake vigorously every day at least once until the day before you decide to strain it. 

Typically, you would leave this for 14 days then let it rest on the 15th day before straining. That’s the bare minimum needed. I let mine brew for almost 3 months. Many saw the longer the better with tinctures. 

When the time came to strain I got out my sterilized bottles, a funnel, a bowl to catch any spillage, a measuring cup and a magic eraser sponge because I’m bound to spill something! 

I poured off some of the liquid from my jar into a measuring cup. Purely for the ease of pouring from it. I made sure to let the jar settle so I would get the least amount of powder in as possible. You can strain your concoction if you wish but I found that powders can be tricky business to work with. So I decided to use just the liquid from the top of the jar. 

Once I filled my bottles I put the leftover tincture back in the jar to save for a future pour. Letting it continue to brew.

I put some in my iced tea to test out immediately. A few drops definitely effects the flavor! If it’s too much to sip a drink with it then use the dropper to squirt directly into your mouth then chase with a drink or food if needed. Or add it to your food. 15-30 drops a day up to four times a day is the highest recommended dosage. Though I am not a doctor or certified herbalist so please do your own research! 

I then labeled my bottles and put the jar back in the dark cupboard. 

For an in depth look at the uses and side effects of turmeric feel free to check out this article: http://www.m.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric

Sun Brewed Coffee

The heat is slowly coming to the PNW! A few days ago I put out the kids pool and started some lemonade and cold brewed coffee and fridge green tea. Then in a post of a group I admin a question about sun tea was brought up. We love sun tea in this house! 

Check out my blog on sun tea: https://theheathenhomesteader.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/sun-tea-and-reusing-jars/

It got me wondering about about sun brewed coffee. I make a big batch of cold brewed coffee on my kitchen counter every few days. I also use a French press when it’s cool out to make hot coffee. Sun brewed was never something I considered until yesterday oddly enough. 

So I tried it. I used the ratios for my cold brewed coffee (link below) but set it in the sun for 2 hours. It’s not very hot here yet or I might have done an hour. I only made a two cup batch or else I would have left it longer as well. Further experimentation is in the works to see if longer brewing effects the flavor. 

https://theheathenhomesteader.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/cold-brewed-coffee-recipe/

I did everything the same as the link above except I had a smaller scale version of 2 cups water to 1/4 cup coffee. Then I shook it up and sat it in direct sunlight. I moved it once to keep in the light and away from neighbors pets. 

It worked! It tasted less bitter than both my coffee machine (when I used one) and French press produced. 

It wasn’t HOT however so I plopped in cold creamer and a few ice cubes for a nice drink. Quicker than cold brew and still tasty and smooth! 

I think one needs to take into account where they are (altitude), possibly humidity and definitely the temperature. I think 2 hours at least is a safe bet to brew but you may try shorter if it’s over 100 degrees or longer if it’s under 80. 

Enjoy! 

3 Ingredient Flourless Banana Pancakes 

My toddler has started to love bananas. Before she’d only eat them if someone other than myself offered them to her. Kids are weird. She still only will eat them from me if she’s actually hungry and if they are not very ripe. So when we don’t get to them fast enough I turn them into other goodies! Here’s one recipe we’ve been playing with! 3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes!

This recipe includes optional add ons but the main ingredients are baking powder, banana and eggs! Some recipes we’ve tried are even just banana and eggs but you need to add half a banana more to the recipe to replace the baking powder. We prefer them the way below:

You will need:

*2 eggs

*1 banana (the more ripe they are the sweeter they are!)

*1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Optional add ons:

*dash if cinnamon

*1/8 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

*1/4 cup crushed nuts

Etc

Peel and mash the banana! I used my clean hands because it works faster. Most recipes will suggest mashing with a fork or the end of the whisk you’ll be using in the next step.

Crack and whisk eggs well in a separate bowl! 



If you’d like you can add other ingredients now such as vanilla and cinnamon to the bananas. If you add heavier ingredients like nuts, coconut shreds, chocolate chips, etc it makes flipping them a little awkward but food doesn’t need to be pretty to be good!

Add these to the eggs!

Whisk/mix well then add the baking powder. Mix again fully.

Heat a pan to medium low and add coconut oil or butter. You can skip this if you want to keep it light and have a nonstick pan. I think butter boosts the flavor however. 

Add 1/8 cup of the liquid to the pan. Repeat for other Pancakes. 


Let cook until edges bubble. About 2 minutes. 

Flip and cook another 1-2 minutes. 

Serve hot! They taste fine cold but get kinda mushy in texture. 

Feel free to add syrup, fruit, whipped cream, etc but they really don’t need it! 

Calendula Tincture

I have always had an interest in herbalism. Over the years I have made healing foods and drinks, natural bath/body and home products, blends for various uses, etc from store bought, Wild harvested and home grown goods. My husband says plants are my thing (his are crystals/stones/minerals). I tend to focus on certain skills and crafts for extended periods of time and recently pulled out of a crochet mania to study and “play” again. A really great herbal magazine and family herbalism course came into my life at the same time my mind started to wander back and I took it as a sign. 

One of the first things I did was start making tinctures. Inspired by the course I started first with vanilla extract. I want that to brew for a longer period than the minimum suggested so instead I am turning to what I started next for my first blog on the subject. A calendula tincture. 

I have various skin issues that have been with me for much of my life. It’s a combination of genetics, diet and potentially other issues such as inflammation. I looked into breastfeeding safe herbs I could ingest as part of a regime to heal myself and calendula came up as an option. I had just enough for a small batch and got towork! 

Some uses of calendula can be found here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/draxe.com/calendula/amp/

I took my dried calendula I put in my tea and crushed it a bit in one of my mortar and pestles. 

It came out to just over 1/2 cup not being pressed down or fully powdered. I considered it half a cup. 

I then added a full cup of 100 proof vodka (80+ is best though some say 90+ proof). For this particular plant it was suggested to do a 1:2 ratio. Others may be different so look into different information on plants if you plan to make a tincture. Some dried herbs suggest adding distilled water but for this I decided not to. 

I put the ingredients in a jar and stored in my herb cupboard. It is preferred not to have air space like mine but it wouldn’t fit into any other jars I had so I took a chance. It turned out fine. I probably wouldn’t risk it again however. 

I shook it every day for the period I had it brewing. Then I let it sit undisturbed 24 hours before straining. The minimum suggested is 2 weeks of shaking plus 1 day of rest. I left mine for almost a month and strained right before the New Moon. I may be a Heathen but I have a witchy side as well. The longer the better is a general rule for tinctures. 

Once done I strained it in a plastic strainer. I have seen suggestions not to use any metal so I take that advice. 

The herbs really soak up a lot so I would pressed it out well, let it rest then go at it again. 


My funnels have not yet arrived so I placed the amber glass bottle in a bowl to catch any of the tincture that might spill and used a measuring cup to pour. 

I put the tincture in several smaller bottles (2oz) but any size or amount works. I bought mine off of Amazon but usually buy locally despite the large price difference. 

Label with the name and date bottled! My handwriting is awful. I use tape to stick paper on mine but you can get fancy with special labels! 

Tinctures last several years if stored properly. I’ll be adding a few drops a day to coffee or tea daily. Starting off small and building up to more drops as this is a new-to-me tincture. You can take directly on the tongue or add to food or drink like I do. 

Be sure to look out for future tincture and herbalism blogs! I’m only an aspiring herbalist so please do your own research!

Banana Oat “Cookies” Two Ways 

When our bananas get a bit overripe I almost always use them to make banana bread. Today, I decided to put them to use in “cookies” instead. Based on a recipe for diabetic cooking that consisted of only three ingredients. They are less friendly now but great for people with certain allergies. 

I had four bananas and the cookie recipe I have asks for two. So I made two different batches! One of course inspired by banana bread. Both have the same handling and baking instructions though which makes it easy! 

Cookie One – Banana Bread Inspired
You will need:

*2 ripe bananas (the riper they are the sweeter they are)

*1/2 steel cut oats 

*1/2 cup crushed walnuts

*1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cookie Two – Double Chocolate
You will need:

*2 ripe bananas

*1/2 cup steel cut oats

*1 tablespoon Dutch cacao powder

*1/3 cup (or 1/2 if you’d like) chocolate chips

*1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

This recipe shows instructions per batch:

Wash hands thoroughly. 

Peel and break apart the bananas. 

Add oats to bananas and mush together as much as you can. 

At this point depending on what batch you are making add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. 

Bananas Bread:


Chocolate:







Cover or alternatively place in Tupperware or a jar and store in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Many recipes suggest baking immediately but the oats taste too hard to me when I do that. So I let them sit. Overnight is best. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a cooking sheet with grease/oil/butter/nonstick tin foil.

Take out and use a tablespoon to scoop out individual bits that you will form into cookies. I used a mini ice cream scooper and set them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. 

Bake for 10 minutes before taking them out to press down gently with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Let sit on sheet for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack. If you do it earlier they will likely break apart.

Enjoy when cool! 

Natural Bug Repellent 

In a group I help run I posted about a natural bug (and arachnid) repellent I was making for our porch and patio today. It was essentially half my essential oils and a stick of cinnamon I soaked in a half and half vinegar/water mix. There are many different oils and herbs one could procure to help ward off a variety of bugs without chemicals. 

Some of these include:

*Lavender

*Citronella

*Lemongrass

*Tea Tree

*Eucalyptus

*Mint (any kind)

*Marigold

*Geranium

*Cedarwood

*Rosemary

*Citrus – Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, etc. 

*Cinnamon

*etc. 

I usually do a mix of what I have on hand to ward off different types of bugs but if you have a specific pest you can easily find specific herb/s for them.

After I have made my repellent I either add a cup to a gallon of water and wash the porch with it or I put it in a spray bottle and spray around door and window frames, etc. I would avoid getting this near your plants. If you have children or animals I would spray where they can’t lick or touch it and/or use only safe ingredients that won’t harm them if accidentally consumed.

If I’m making something for the skin I use half witch hazel instead of vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. Be careful not to spray too close to clothing as it can stain. Spraying on shoes or socks before a hike is helpful. 

Alternatively, you can add a 2% dilution of these oils to body lotion and do a rest patch to make sure you are not allergic. Please look into the properties of the oils before attempting this. I am just giving suggestions as a place to start researching. 

Here is a basic bug repellent I used to make: 
Witch Hazel soaked in fresh Geranium and Marigold (then strained!), Spring Water, Essential Oils of Lavender, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Citronella. 

I don’t have the exact amounts as I do things as I go without recipes half the time. I would still make a 2% dilution of the oils. The herbs should be soaked 1-2 weeks. Dried works as well. 

I hope this proves helpful in the warm months ahead!