Saturday, May 21, 2016

How to Make Sprouted Wheat Flour at Home





I love carbs! and who doesn't? They're filling and delicious and some people, like my 6' 4" boyfriend, Zak, require A LOT of them to keep going throughout the day. So, we eat carbs with almost every meal, but it's so hard to find high quality, minimally processed flour and sprouted grain products, like Ezekiel Break are SO expensive! That's why I sprout my own wheat and Zak grinds it for me.

I first learned about the benefits of eating sprouted grains from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats and haven't looked back since (when I can get it that is). But, the budget has been a bit tight lately since student loans are kicking in and our recent move to Rabbit Ridge Farm in West Virginia. Sprouting and milling my own wheat is a great way to make delicious, nutrient dense, food for cheap. It takes a bit of time, but it's well worth it. 



Friday, May 20, 2016

How to Make Whole Wheat Tortillas with Nettles



We eat A LOT of tortillas in our household, but store bought ones are either nutritionally poor and chock full or preservatives or expensive and go bad quickly. Making homemade tortillas is very cheap, much healthier, and easy to do. They're perfect for making mexican cuisine or simply pb+j on the run. I like them because I can still make something resembling a sandwich without getting filled up on thick slices of bread. Plus, unlike bread, they do not require hours of kneading or rising, and can be made quickly on the fly as needed. 

This is my tortilla recipe. I add dried nettle leaf and flax seed meal for extra nutrition but feel free to omit the nettle or replace it with another green, like spinach. Flax seed meal can be replaced with regular flour. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Nettle Leaf (or fresh nettle paste)
  • 1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (I like to use sprouted wheat if possible)
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Flour 
  • 1/2 Cup Flax Seed Meal 
  • 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (and a little extra for rolling out the dough)
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt 

Directions:
1. Knead all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until you have a stiff dough. If using fresh nettle, make a paste by putting fresh nettles in a food processor; you may need to add less water. I use part rice flour in this recipe, but you can substitute all purpose flour for it in a pinch. 

2. Heat a large skillet or cast iron pan on your stovetop at medium heat. I highly prefer a well seasoned cast iron pan for this recipe.  Do not add oil. 

3.Flour your counter top and a rolling pin so that the dough does not stick. Take a small, palm sized piece of dough from the bowl and roll it into a ball with your hands. With the rolling pin, roll it into a circle as thin as you possibly can. This is the trick to making really good tortillas and it may take a bit of practice, but the key is to get them absolutely paper thin. You will need to keep everything nicely floured to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter or rolling pin. 

4. Gently place one tortilla at a time on the hot skillet. Watch for it to bubble up. Once it bubbles, flip it and the bottom should be just slightly browned. 



Do you see the dough bubbling up? You want to flip the tortilla fairly soon after this happens. 

5. While that tortilla is cooking, you can be rolling out the next one.                                                                                                                                                                                   I would only attempt to roll out one at a time, because they are so delicate. You can cook all of the dough or put some in the fridge to cook later in the week. If you cook all of the dough, you should get a nice stack of about 12 or so tortillas, depending on how large you make them. 

Looking for more resources?

 

Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it, at no extra cost to you. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.  

How to Freeze Strawberries


         


       Freezing strawberries, it may seem like a no brainer, but there really is a method to my madness. How many times have you been stoked to make yourself a strawberry smoothie only to go the freezer and find one big clump of freezer burned strawberries frozen together in an impenetrable fruity brick? Never? Well it happens to me all the time and I'm sick of it (leave a comment letting me know I'm not the only one). 

                             

       The best way to prevent this from happening and to have delicious, frozen strawberries to use all year round is to follow these steps:

First, wash and pat dry all of your berries, especially if they are not organic. You want to make sure you get as much of the water off of them as you can before freezing. This will prevent clumping and freezer burn. Next, cut all of the tops off and set aside (these are great for many uses, such as making vinegar). Line the strawberries up, top down on a cookie sheet. Fit as many as you can on the tray without crowding them, you don't want them freezing to each other. Make sure your cookie sheet will fit in your freezer before you do this; I got through this whole process only to realize that mine didn't.


Angel had other ideas when I was trying to take photos for this post. 

Once you have your berries all washed and organized, set them in the freezer for a couple of hours until they are frozen. I usually just do mine overnight so I don't have to worry about it. Once frozen, they should come easily off the tray and you can put them in a ziplock bag. Be sure to suck all the air out of the bag before closing it and putting it back in the freezer! 

Herbal Courses from beginner to advanced

Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it, at no extra cost to you. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Foraging for Nettles





Announcement: We are now selling dried nettle leaves at our Etsy Page! Click NETTLE to check it out!

Ah, nettles. Stinging nettles, Utica dioica, are some of my very favorite wild greens to harvest. Not only do they make for delicious and nourishing foodstuffs, they have long been used as a powerful herbal medicine. Not to mention that they grow all over the globe (native to Asia, Europe, Northern Africa, North America, and introduced elsewhere) and where they do growing they are often out in massive populations, making it difficult to over harvest. 

As a food, nettles must be cooked, crushed, or dried before consuming in order to destroy the stinging hairs and the chemicals they contain. It is very easy to get rid of this painful effect by simply boiling water and dunking the raw nettles (leafs and stems are edible) for 90 seconds. At this point they are ready to eat as cooked greens. Although, they are excellent used like spinach or kale in many dishes, such as pesto, quiche, or soup. Nutritionally, nettles excel above many other greens. They are very high in vitamins A, B-6, K, and C, potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium. In fact, a cup of cooked nettles contains 43% of daily recommendations for calcium. They are also extremely high in protein for a green, containing as much as 25% protein dry weight. 

                             

Nettles have been used medicinally around the globe for thousands of years. The roots, seeds, and leaves are used, but I have found the the leaves are the most commonly used, especially in the form or tea. This herb is used to treat a wide variety of ailments including hay fever, Alzheimer's, asthma, arthritis, bladder infections and UTI's, kidney stones, bronchitis, gingivitis, gout, prostate enlargement, and many, many more. It is often used for it diuretic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties. Nettles is known as a women's herb and is used by many pregnant women to stay strong and healthy and to ease childbirth. 

On top of being an excellent food source and medicinal herb, nettles are useful for many other things. It makes for an excellent fiber and was traditionally woven into cloth and made into cordage. It is also high in nitrogen, so it can be made into a tea with which to fertilize plants with. Farmers have traditionally fed it to chickens to increase egg production and enhance the yellow color of the yolk. It has also been fed to cows to increase milk production. 

                          

Nettles like to grow in moist, rich soil and because of this are often found around stream banks, compost piles, and the such. They prefer full sun, but do fine without it and often grow in disturbed areas without dense tree cover. It is best to harvest them for food or medicine in the spring and early summer when they are less than a foot or two tall at the very most. Any taller than this and they become tough and stringy to eat. Larger plants that are flowering or have already gone to seed also contain small, gritty particles called cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract. For cordage, though, older plants are preferred as the fibers are more developed. 

Each nettle harvester has their own method to avoid the plant's painful sting. Nettle's have small hairs on the underside of their leaves as well as on the stem. Some harvesters prefer what I call the astronaut method, in which they cover themselves head to toe, wearing long pants and shirts and gloves, making sure there isn't any skin exposed to be stung. Some prefer to use scissors and others a gloved hand, and some even use a large leaf to grab the nettles. Some hardcore harvesters don't bother with any of this and simply amble into the nettle patch in shorts and sandals and pick them with their bare hands. I don't like to monkey around too much so this is the method I tend to use, unless I'm really in a hurry. You do have to go a bit slower to avoid being stung with this method. 

To attempt this, all you have to do is remember which direction the hairs are going. They tend to point up on the stem so if you come in from the bottom of the plant and pull upwards, pinching the plant off firmly above the first leaves you shouldn't have a problem. Do not touch the underside of the leaves. If you only want to harvest the leaves you can do that as well, just remember to only touch the top of the leaf. Be very careful not to pull the plants roots out (this an be hard if you fumble around with gloves) and always pick it above the bottom leaves, leaving some of the plant to regrow. As always, remember to follow good wild harvesting methods and only take what you need, leaving 20 plants for every one you harvest so that they can continue to reproduce. 

                 

If you do wear sandals and shorts, always pay attention to where your feet are. I find that you will always get stung a couple of times no matter what you do, so just let it happen. I always feel good after the stinging goes away, like it increased my circulation. In fact, some people used to touch nettles on purpose to increase circulation, reduce inflammation and reduce pain in the joints. If you do get stung, just pick some jewelweed (it usually grows close by), chew it up, and put it on the sting, it will get rid of the pain immediately. For more information on jewelweed click here.


                               


Once you've collected a good bit (remember that they cook down a lot, like spinach), you will have to process them to destroy the stinging hairs. There are three different ways to do so: crush it, cook it, or dry it. If you are in a survival situation and have no way of cooking them, it is possible to eat them raw. To do so, take an individual leaf and fold it over on itself with the hairy side in 3-5 times until it is just a small square. Crush it up with your fingers until it turns a darker green color. Then you should be able to just eat it. 

The other way to eat them raw is the crush them up with either a mortar and pestle or a food processor. I love to make nettle pesto this way as it is a great way to keep all of the nutrients. 

To cook the nettles, bring water to a boil and dunk the nettles in for 90 seconds. This destroys the stinging pretty quickly and you can even use the water for something else. Sometimes, like in my Springtime Fried Rice Soup recipe, I will just put nettles in a bowl and pour hot soup over it. 

To dry, you can simply put individual leaves in a food dehydrator or hang small bundles in a dry place. Having dried nettles on hand is great because you can use it for tea, chicken feed, or even add it to flour to make it extra high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. I like to add it to the dough when making homemade egg noodles or tortillas. 




Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it, at no extra cost to you. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.  







Friday, May 13, 2016

Springtime Fried Rice Soup





This recipe is a wonderful spring tonic after a long sedentary winter, especially if you use bone broth. You can eat it just as fried rice or add broth to make soup! It's a great way to use leftovers too! You can also fry the rice mixture in patties like hash browns and have with ketchup or salsa. This recipe has endless variations, making it great for eating on a budget. 

Springtime Fried Rice Soup                                         Serves 6

Ingredients:
  • 3 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 Cup Chopped Wild Onions or Ramps (substitute scallions or chives)
  • A Large Fistful of Young Nettles 
  • 3 Eggs 
  • Soy Sauce, Tamari or Liquid Aminos to taste 
  • 3 TBS cooking oil 
  • 6 Cups Poultry or Vegetable Broth (More if you want to cook the rice in broth)
Optional: 
  • Some Turkey or Chicken Breast 
To make, you will first need to go harvest your wild onions and nettles. To learn about wild onions and how to harvest them check out Rabbit Ridge Farm's post Foraging: Wild Onions. She also has a great post about ramps if you want to use those: Foraging: Bring Back Ramps!. To harvest nettles, you will want to do so when they are very young (less than a foot tall). If they are any larger than this, they will be too stringy to eat. Everyone has their own method, some people use gloves or a stick or even a large comfrey leaf but I just use my hands and carefully break them off while pulling upwards. The trick is not to rub your fingers down the stem but up as the hairs will not go into your hands that way. 

      Once back from your foraging foray you will need to put the rice on to cook. While the rice is cooking, put on a pot of water to boil. Once boiling dunk 75% of your nettles into it for two minutes before pulling them out, set aside the rest uncooked. This will be sufficient to destroy the irritating effects but will not boil off all of the great nutrients in the nettles. Set aside. 

      Once the rice is done, mix it with the wild onions, cooked nettles, eggs, soy sauce, oil, and optional poultry meat in a fry pan. When making this I used a mixture of quail and duck eggs and a handful of cubed wild turkey breast, but you can use any eggs or meat you want. Fry ingredients together in the pan until the eggs and meat are cooked through and slightly browned. Now, you can eat it as fried rice as is or you can move onto the next step of making soup. This is a great way to utilize leftovers.

        Heat your broth to boiling, I used turkey bone broth that I already had going on the stove, but once again you can use any broth you like. To learn about how to make bone broth and it's nourishing effects, check out my post How to Make Simple, Nourishing Bone Broth .  In a bowl, put a half cup of the fried rice and a handful of the uncooked nettles you set aside earlier. Pour a cup of the boiling broth over it and let sit for a couple minutes to let the nettles cook. Enjoy! 




Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it, at no extra cost to you. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

12 MORE Reasons Why You Should Forage!





This is the second post I've written about why you should go out and forage! To read the first one click here: 10 Reasons Why You Should Forage For Food

1. You don't have to grow it
Many people will tell you that gardening is one of the most fun things you can do, but it's also a lot of work. Whether you don't grow any of your own food or you are looking to supplement what's already in your garden, foraging is an excellent way to get free food without buying seeds, tilling a garden, weeding, fertilizing, etc. All you have to do is go out and harvest it without any of the hard work of growing it first!



 Young trout lily leaf and root. 

2. But you can grow it if you want to- free transplants/cuttings/etc
You don't have to grow wild food if you don't want to you can you definitely can. I like to have my wild edibles to be conveniently close to my house so I will often transplant them. The tubers of many plants, like jerusalem artichokes, can be planted like potatoes, except they can be harvested all year, require no maintenance, and grow like its nobodies business. To learn more about jerusalem artichokes here's my post Foraging for Jerusalem Artichokes. Other plants, like elderberry, can be grown from cuttings and planted in the yard.

3. Free medicine
Between large pharma jacking up the prices and insurance companies ripping us off, medicine is extremely, often prohibitively, expensive these days. But with a little bit of traditional knowledge and a good eye, the majority of the medicines that we need are free for the taking out in the woods. From immune boosting elderberry,  to cancer preventing chaga, to antibiotic usnea, to painkilling willowbark, and adaptogenic reishi, very potent medicine is everywhere. Plus, many herbal remedies are much safer than many modern medicines, treating the true root of the ailment without as many harmful side effects.




A young toothwort plant. It taste like mild wasabi! 

4. Slow down and take time out of your life to forage and to cook
Foraging is wonderfully fun and relaxing. It forces you to go outside during your day even for a second to run out in the yard and grab some dandelion greens. Not only is foraged food healthy for your body but going out and getting it is great for your mental health.

5. Valuable skills for when shtf- ease of mind

I am not a prepper, nor is this a prepper blog, but many of the skills I talk about would be very useful in a situation where there's no local walmart to go to. I don't worry my life away thinking about government shutdowns and peak oil and the such, but it does give me peace of mind, and a bit of pride too, to know that I could find food in the nature if I had too. I know that even if my life goes absolutely terrible and I'm homeless, at least I will never be hungry.



Adult trout lily leaves. 

6. Carry less food when camping (or at leasts have some treats!)
We all like to have luxury food when camping but it is often heavy and bulky and doesn't last long. But when you know your wild edibles, you will always be able to have fresh, non-dehydrated, food to  mix it up with. You may even be able to set off with less food if you know for sure that you will be able to forage along the way. There's nothing like adding some fresh greens to your stir fry or fresh berries to your granola when hiking!

7. Save money of gas running to the grocery store
How many times a week do you go buy food? How much money does that cost you both on food and on gasoline? Well imagine that if you forgot something you could just run out and get some without driving anywhere. Forgot to buy potatoes? No problem, go out and dig up some jerusalem artichokes. Forgot onions or garlic? Just go pick some wild onions!

8. Don't have to support unsustainable ag

Don't like big ag, but sometimes you can't always afford organic food? Well, foraged food is always organic and always free! No pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs!

9. Eat local- no gas used in shipping

In our global economy, food is often shipped thousands of miles across oceans and continents, using massive amounts of fossil fuels, creating food waste, resulting in poor tasting and less nutritional food, and contributing to global warming! Foraged food is always local, always fresh, and never uses any semi-trucks or jet planes to get.

Fiddleheads. 

10. You're probably already doing it

There are plenty of foods that can only be found in n ature and cannot be cultivated that are already in your pantry! Maple syrup is a great example of this. There are others including many medicinal herbs and culinary spices.  Mushrooms in particular are difficult to cultivate, such as morels, chaga, or reishi. Have you ever eaten wild caught fish? That's foraged, along with other wild meats. 

11. Exciting new foods- Terroir 
There are thousands, probably millions actually, of wild foods in the world, most of which you or I will never try. But, we definitely won't try any of them if we don't go out and eat foraged foods! You never know there could be something out there that is absolutely the most delicious thing you've ever tasted! I believe that wild foods are often tastier than store bought foods, and more nutritious too. Each one tastes like the place where it was growing, the original terroir (aka "taste of place" for those of us who aren't on the foodie bandwagon). 



Young Japanese knotweed shoots, ready for the picking. 

12. Food security in the face of climate change 
As climate change begins to cause major drought, flooding, storms, etc, the world's food crops are becoming increasingly unstable. Wild plants and animals are much more adaptable, though. Even as food shortages occur, there will always be wild foods to eat, just so long as you have the knowledge to go get them. 


Want to learn more? Here's more posts I've written about foraging:
Foraging for Hopniss (Groundnuts)
Foraging for Jerusalem Artichokes 
Foraging for Reishi Mushroom
10 Uses for Basswood
Maple Sugaring With Draft Horses
Willow Bark: The Homesteader's Aspirin
10 Reasons Why You Should Eat Roadkill
Nature's Antibiotic: Usnea Lichen
Is it Legal to Pick Up Roadkill?
How to Harvest and Process Chaga Mushroom

Speaking of resources, here are some of my favorites:

  



Herbal Academy Affordable Courses Online


Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completely accurate or complete. Sorry, I'm only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it, at no extra cost to you. I'm not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them. I am not a medical practitioner; consult a health professional before using any herbal remedies. I am not claiming to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any ailment.