Mushroom Powder Experiment

In a post by “Fern and Fungi” they talked about making mushroom powder. I had a container of dried mushrooms from Costco and it gave me the idea to try it myself! The mushrooms were different and I didn’t forage them myself but I was hoping to make something similar. More to add the mushroom flavor I love to our food more than anything else with these particular mushrooms. My plan is to add the powder to sauces, bread, soups, etc. I already use the liquid used to rehydrate these mushrooms in meals so why not add it all?

Screenshots I took:

I thought the mushrooms might not be dry enough to powder and it was suggested in a group I help run that I dry them more. I decided to precut them with scissors before I did this to get them dried more evenly in smaller bits. However, I found most crumbling with the rough handling and scissors. So instead I added maybe 1 cup or so at a time to our Vitamix to blend and blended it on high. Emptying after each cup of whole pieces. Worked great! I’d say if you wanted it finer you could sift it but this works for us.

The bit left in this container made quite a bit of powder! I think this will last us longer than throwing in a bunch of mushrooms when I need a last minute addition to a meal. It also made the mushrooms more versatile in a sense instead of just a chewy ingredient in a typical soup or stir fry.

I’m hoping this year to forage more for mushrooms (come on morels!) and buy locally at farmers markets to dry myself for future powders. Making the powder much more nutritional than just for taste. This was a super easy and simple way to get started though! Just watch out for clouds of powder when you take the blender lid off!

I included pictures of the container of mushrooms I purchased at the end for those curious. Not the ideal mushrooms for anything other than good flavor. I put some in leftover soup tonight along with dried nettle and it deepened the flavor and made it more rich. Very satisfying dish!


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


*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!


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:

Vegan Cashew Mozzarella Recipe – Step 3 To Homemade Vegan Pizza 

Most vegan cheese I see looks completely unappealing. My husband and I have tried a few that we found lacking and passed by others that looked like flavored cardboard. A friend who lives next to me has given suggestions on decent homemade versions if we wanted to try more but after our other experiences we never got around to it. I kept seeing a cashew mozzarella via people I follow on Instagram that looked worthy of trying however so that’s what I finally chose to go with today.  

You will need: 

*1 cup hot water 

*1/2 cup raw cashews 

*2 1/2 tbsp tapioca flour

*1 tsp nutritional yeast (at least. I tend to add more to everything)

*1 tsp salt

*1 tsp lemon juice 

Soak the raw cashews in warm water for at least an hour to help them soften. 

Strain cashews and add to a blender along with the other ingredients. This includes the hot water. The previous water was extra. 

Blend well for a minute or two.

Add to a saucepan and cook over medium heat while stirring constantly. 

Soon, the consistency will become thick and mozzarella-like. Turn off heat and let cool slightly before adding to your pizza. 

Finish your pizza recipe normally at this point! 

I lightly sautéed Kalamata olives, mini crimini mushrooms and broccoli in coconut oil with garlic to add to my pizza.

If you were following my other recipes for this 3 “step” pizza you would take the dough out of the oven, sauce, add the toppings then the cheese before placing back into the oven at 375 F for 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your crust. Enjoy! 

Vegan Pizza Dough Recipe 

I posted first about my vegan tomato sauce recipe (most are vegan but the point was in making a vegan pizza to try). You can find the recipe here:

This is the second step in making my very first homemade vegan pizza. Making the dough! It takes roughly around the same time as the sauce so I began the sauce first. Normally, I would have added sourdough starter to my crust but I wanted a recipe that would be more easily replicated by most people. I rarely see sourdough starters at others houses so I chose the dry yeast route. This recipe supposedly makes two crusts but I decided any leftover after creating the crust I wanted could be used the next day to make breadsticks. I might have tossed that idea out of the window and accidental made the fluffier pizza! It’s huge! If you want a thinner pizza split the dough into two pizzas. 

You will need: 

*4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

*2 cups warm water (not hot. it’s for the yeast)

*2 tbs dry active yeast

*1/2 tsp salt  

Mix warm water and yeast for several minutes until fully dissolved. Let sit 5-10 to expand and froth up.

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. 

Make a well in the center of the flour and add yeast mixture. 

Mix well! The blend will be sticky but you will be kneading it with a bit more flour.

Flour a clean surface with a out 2 tablespoons of flour and knead dough well until it no longer sticks to your hands.

Form into a ball and add to a greased bowl. I tend to just flour or grease the same bowl I mixed in to avoid more dishes. Cover and let sit for 45 minutes. 

Uncover and punch down. 

Knead well on a floured surface again. About 2 tablespoons is a good amount. 

At this point you can rip the dough in two for two crusts or see how much dough you would want to use depending on the thickness of the crust you prefer. 

Roll into a ball before using a rolling pin to roll out into a pizza shape. This is my least favorite part as I tend to not roll circles very well. 

I wanted thick crust (it was thicker than expected in the end!) so I rolled out wider than my pan (be sure to grease it first) then used my fingers to roll the dough back in slightly to make a mound. 

I mixed salt, garlic, parsley and oil together and brushed the crust before baking. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown before adding your sauce toppings! 

Roma Tomato Pizza Sauce Recipe

I have had vegan pizza on my list to try making for quite some time now. I had been putting it off due to it being somewhat labor intensive as I planned to make every aspect from scratch. Recently, I started gathering ingredients and found the push to try it sooner than anticipated through a Facebook post on a friends vegan pizza. Pregnancy has made food not very desirable but this pizza was simple enough in flavor that I could enjoy it without becoming sick. 

The first step was making the sauce. I am not the biggest fan of tomatoes (I actually really dislike them in most cases unless super processed and cooked down). I didn’t want to use canned ingredients due to flavor issues I have encountered before so I started with fresh tomatoes.

We didn’t want much sauce so I took a recipe and cut it in half as well as adding more herbs and spices. Feel free to double it for more sauce. 

You will need:

*5 fresh Roma tomatoes

*1/2 cup of water

*2 tbs sugar (white is in the recipe)

*1 tbs oil (I used sunflower but olive is more traditional)

*1/2 tbs white vinegar 

*spices. I used salt, pepper, parsley, basil, garlic, smoked paprika and turmeric to taste. I used frozen cubes of garlic from Trader Joe’s as working with onions and garlic is currently difficult for me. I used mostly dried ingredients.

Rinse off your tomatoes then proceed to roughly chop them up. 

Add to a blender or food processor and throw in spices before blending well.

I added my water, vinegar, oil and sugar in the blender afterwards to mix well but they can be added to the pot in the next step. 

Add to a pot and bring to a boil. 

Turn down heat to simmer. Stir occasionally for 1-2 hours until desired flavor and consistency is reached.

Blend again to smooth out the mixture. If you have doubled the recipe you may need to do this in batches. Especially, if the contents are hot/warm. 

Then it is ready to use! 

Naturally Protein Rich Smoothies – Protein Powder Alternative 

Recently, I have been working out more using weights like a steel rod for strengthening my hands and wrists, weights strapped to my ankles while walking and two different kettlebells. Even my toddler has her own 1lbs dumbbell so she can work out with me and her dad when he’s home. It’s adorable! Before this my main form of exercising was walking 5-10 miles a day, yoga (with a toddler thinking it’s fun to climb on me and fluff up my hair) and some arm movements my husband uses that he was taught in boot camp over 10 years ago and still uses today. A friend is helping me with plus size and pregnancy friendly/safe kettlebell routines and was talking to me about protein shakes. My husband offered to share his but the smell of his boat that permeated the shakes was too much for me with my recently heightened senses. To make sure I’m getting what I need until our recently ordered powders come in the mail I have upped our protein intake in our food.  

We already eat a really good amount of protein rich foods. Mostly, just because we like these foods but also because we rarely eat meat. There is more protein in many plant based foods than meat but we watch what we consume just to make sure we’re getting what we need anyway. I have been craving fruit smoothies since the weather warned up. So I decided to see what protein rich ingredients we had that I could use in a post workout naturally protein rich smoothie. What I am sharing is just some suggestions on making a protein shake alternative. There are actual charts to show you what amount of ingredients you should (or could) use as well as lists of food that one could use as well. I’m working with what I have. Protein powders tend to have much more protein than what this may have but it’s great for those with food sensitivities, those who eat more naturally, those who need to work with what they already have, etc. I also share with my toddler because it’s just plain tasty and she loves it. I have even made homemade Popsicles with the mixture. 

Fruit: I have a container of frozen fruit I used in water kefir fermentation. They are slightly more tangy and have underwent a bit of fermentation while the liquid ate through some of the sugars in the fruit. While they may not be super fermented I’m hopeful some of the benefits of fermented goodness are in them. I also had fresh bananas that I precut and froze so I don’t need to use ice in my smoothie. The fruits in my smoothie include bananas, dark cherries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, raspberries and blackberries. Most of which are on the leaderboard for protein rich fruits. 

Nuts and seeds: Nuts are a great source of protein in many cases. We have a ton of different nuts/seeds for baking and cooking so I have a lot to choose from. I ended up soaking raw cashews overnight (makes them easier to blend) then added freshly ground flaxseed, chia seeds and raw pine nuts. Adding nut butters is an easy way to add in certain ingredients. I am out of all our homemade butters except commercial peanut butter so I went with plain seeds and nuts instead. Be aware of salt in nut butters as they can effect the flavor of the smoothie. I sometimes put my nuts in liquid to blend before adding the fruit. Then I blend them again with the added ingredients. 

Liquid: I plan on using fruit infused water kefir in some smoothies and homemade nut milks in others. Other options include: dairy based kefir (yogurt drink), coconut water and REAL juice. Adding juice may be a bit much for sugar but working with what you have is an option I know all too well. 

Other ingredients: Some other ingredients you can use are Greek yogurt, honey, silken tofu, oats and more. Some more for texture and flavoring than anything else. Many people won’t eat or drink something that doesn’t taste at least decent so experiment with flavors! I didn’t add any of these this time around. 

Here is my smoothie: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, banana, dark cherries, the last of our chia seeds, raw cashews, pine nuts, ground flaxseed, dark cherry water kefir and homemade almond milk. 

I have nothing against protein shakes but for now this not only has protein but also fiber, vitamins, probiotic goodness and is generally healthy. 

Homemade Soy Nut Butter Recipe 

My husband and I are always looking for more healthy foods to try and ways to make things we love from scratch. We got the idea to make soy nut butter (like peanut butter) after making soy milk regularly and using the leftover bits in breads and such. You can use the ground bits if you make your own soy milk or you can buy/make roasted soy beans and start from there. 

There are different ways to make nut butters. I made a vanilla, raw cacao and cinnamon almond butter before as well as other butters but unless you have a bad arse expensive blender or something of that nature…don’t expect it to be smooth. You will not be creating a smooth PB or Nutella in your food processor if you got it for $20. That’s the kind I have…so I know. Still, it’s fun and the results are great for baking and sandwiches. Soy nut butter is actually smoother than many nuts I have worked with. The recipe below is just one way of going at making soy but butter. It won’t last as long as commercial nut butters and this recipe contains water so I would refrigerate it and consume in less than a week to be safe. Feel free to experiment and share your results! 

You will need: 

* 1 cup roasted and unsalted soy nuts (if they are salted exclude the added salt in this recipe) You can also cook down (to get the earthy flavor out) then roast the leftover soy nuts from making soy milk. 

*2/3 cup room temperature water

*1 1/2 tbsp of your oil of choice. I am using coconut oil for the added thick texture and creaminess. You may need to add more oil depending on how well your mixture is blending. Or more liquid sweetener. 

*1 1/2 tbsp (alter to taste) of your choice in liquid sweeteners. I am using local honey but you can use something like pure maple syrup or agave if you prefer yours to be vegan. 

*1/3 tsp salt (alter to taste)

Add your soy nuts and water to a blender or food processor. Blend well then let sit until the soy nuts have absorbed most the water and are soft. It doesn’t take very long. 

Blend again before adding in the rest of your ingredients.

Continue to blend/pulse until it has reached your desired texture. Again, be aware that unless you have a high powered blender this won’t have the perfectly smooth look and feel as factory made butters. I had to stop and stir a few times. Be safe and unplug your blender/food processor first. 

Scoop out and enjoy! I put mine on homemade bread. 

Water Kefir Tips and Tricks – What I Have Learned This Past Month

A month and one day ago I started making water kefir. A vegan probiotic drink that is vitamin and mineral rich. Even moreso when you add healthy ingredients for flavor during the second fermentation. I started based off of package instructions and the kefir was good but the tang needed to be watered down slightly with cold tea, lemon water or juice. You can find my original blog about making WK soda with instructions here: Strawberry Kefir Soda | The Heathen Homesteader

Since then I have done more research. The water kefir became better and better with each experiment! Here are some tips from my experiences: 

*Add a few raisins during the first fermentation. Not only do they add minerals but will rise to the top of your WK after about 24 hours. This lets you know your grains are working! They might discolor your grains but do not harm them in any way.

*Use raw organic sugar. This isn’t a “hippy dippy” thing. I noticed a huge difference from processed white sugar and the raw. The grains started multiplying faster after their “recovery” and produced a better kefir. There are different types of unprocessed sugars you can use such as sucanat, rapadura and panella. If you’re buying from a company instead of a fellow WK-er they also will stress the use of raw. Don’t ignore this! 

*What you add to it enhances the flavor and vitamin/mineral content. There are things I am not fond of such as prunes that actually created an amazing WK. I’m an extremely picky person but the way the fruits, roots, teas and spices you can use work with the WK makes for drinks comes out a bit differently. I actually love a lot of the ingredients I have been using even if I didn’t love them when eating them before fermentation.

*After 12 hours during the second fermentation take your fruit (or whatever) out and bottle your WK. air tight is key. I did not know this before and basically had flat flavored tangy water. I leave mine sealed for about 12 hours before drinking. Some sources say 18 while “burping” the brew every four hours or so. A pop top helps in case of too much pressure but I use a bottle like this and keep an eye on it. This brew has been opened a ton today for drinking so it’s not nearly as fizzy as it was early this morning. 

*Dont be afraid to refrigerate! I was worried it would effect the work of the grains but it actually lasts longer in the fridge. 2-3 weeks max compared to 3-4 days at room temperature. Though ours never lasts more than a day because we can’t get enough! 

*Do NOT put honey in as your feed for the grains. It is anti-microbial and might kill them. I luckily revived mine well. I’m speaking from experience here! Other food items that have similar properties should also be kept away. 

*I wouldn’t bottle your WK to take anywhere unless you have time to burp it. I put some in a small jar for my husband’s lunch at work and it leaked from the pressure. 

*Some ingredients tend to up the alcohol content of your WK. Such as strawberries. Most WK has less than 1% naturally occurring alcohol content if that. Some sources suggest .05% so it’s hard to know unless you have something to test it. Most fermented foods have some amount of alcohol in them that is created during the fermentation process. I leave ingredients such as strawberries in the second fermentation for half the time as most ingredients.
*Never leave your WK for more than 4 days max. 48 hours is the suggested maximum amount of time for low alcohol content and more importantly so your grains don’t starve. If you can’t get to your kefir grains for a while you can freeze them. 

*Leave room in your bottle after the second fermentation so there is room for fizz and some of the pressure that may build up. 

I’m still new to this but if you have any questions feel free to ask!