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Honey Vanilla Granola Cereal

Did you know that a lot of kids don't know that pickles are pickled cucumber?

Seriously. Ask one.

The generation coming up does not know where their food comes from.

This is why I think it's important to take our kids to visit farms and shop at the farmer's markets. There, they will be able to actually talk face-to-face with people that grew/raised their food. Grasping the concept of "farm to table", as well as seeing foods made from scratch, will aid our children in making better food choices in the long run. They will be able to see the difference between whole foods vs processed foods.

So, how about getting them in the kitchen and making some cereal? 




Ingredients
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup raisins {or dried cranberries}
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, salt, and cinnamon
  • Stir in oil, melted butter, honey and vanilla.
  • Spread the mixture in an even layer on cookie sheet.
  • Bake for approximately 25 minutes, stirring half way through. Watch closely as granola starts to golden. It can go from golden to "cajun style" quickly.
This recipe is great served with your choice of milk, over yogurt, or dry as a snack. Just store this in an air tight container for fresh keeping.

**This would make a great gift for the holidays!
Enjoy!

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

I will be honest with you, when I look up a recipe on a blog, I don't read all the jibber-jabber. I just want the recipe, man! So, my recipe posts aren't going to be chatty.

With that being said, here's the recipe:



Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

3/4 C. milk
1/4 C. butter, melted
1 egg
1 C. whole wheat flour {I use King Arthur's}
1/2 C. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. honey
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. blueberries {fresh or frozen}
Directions
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin cups with paper baking cups or grease bottoms of the pan.
  • In a large bowl beat milk, melted butter, and egg until combined.
  • Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Be careful not to over mix, just stir until moistened.
  • Fold in blueberries {I used frozen}
  • Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.  {Your kitchen will smell heavenly!}
**This muffin isn't very sweet, but I really liked it that way. The blueberries take center stage in this recipe. 
*** These are GREAT to freeze and pack for mid-morning snacks.

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Natural Beauty: DIY Turmeric Mask

Have you ever met someone and clicked with them right away on, not a only personality level, but a spiritual level as well? Anne of Green Gables referred to it as "Kindred Spirits". I can honestly say that I have found a kindred spirit in today's guest contributor. She is hysterical, which comes across in her writing, as well as beautiful inside and out. Without further adieu, my friend Jenn...

**wild applause**

DIY Turmeric Mask

What turmeric is good for: 

 
Acne, it's an anti inflammatory
Great for dark circles
Rat lung worms. Just kidding.
Anti Bacterial 
Oily Skin
Youthful glow
Slows hair growth
                           

RAW Honey for the skin- 

 
Opens pores so they can be unclogged
Anti inflammatory
                           

Milk- 

 
Lactic Acid, removes dead skin cells. So my entire face fell off. {please note that this is a joke}

I like to use all organic, but I couldn't find my organic turmeric, so I settled for the only one I could find hidden behind my GMO Kit-Kat bars. {not a joke}

 
Step one- Make sure you start with a clean face. Clip your hair back because turmeric is used a dye. Also, make sure to put on an old shirt and pants/shorts. {Or do like I did and wear a 3 dollar Wal-Mart mumu. I fought some old ladies over this thing.}

Step 2- Mix one and a half teaspoons of turmeric,1 and half tea spoons of honey, and 1 teaspoon of milk {if you use creamed honey, you can zap it in the microwave for a sec to make it more like a liquid. Or if you're like me and don't have a microwave, use the stove top and heat just until runny- about 1 min or less.} I use glass or metal to make this mask because it can stain plastic.  
 
 
 
Step 3- Mix this bad boy up until all the lumps are gone, then smell of it and gag a little. What? Clear skin is worth a case of dry heaves. You can apply the mask with the back of your spoon, use your fingers, or a foundation brush. Apply over lids, under lids, on neck and all over the face.  If it's too runny to stay on your face, you can always add more turmeric before you apply it to make it thicker. It won't hurt a bit. Add as much as you need to get it the thickness you like or need.
 
 

Step 4- Let set for 30 min. While I'm waiting I shovel these amazing peanut butter bars down.
Then rinse with warm water {the mask, not the bar}. Some people like to take a rag to their face as they rinse, but I'm too lazy for all that. I'd rather rinse it with my hand, then freak out that it got in my eyeball-- then Google if turmeric stains eyeballs. True story.



About the Author

First and foremost, Jenn is a Daughter of the King.

She and her husband, Andy, are getting ready to celebrate their 13th year of wedded bliss.

Jenn is blessed to be a stay-at-home mom of 3. They spend their days homeschooling and fostering wounded woodland animals.

When she isn't teaching, nursing animals back to health, or obsessing over the cleanliness of her beautifully decorated home, you will most likely find Jenn in the kitchen making something amazing from scratch, planking, or watching re-runs of Animal Cops. 
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Why I Cook From Scratch

Genesis 3

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

I believe in Intelligent Design. I believe that my Heavenly Father created the world and everything in it in six literal days.

In those 6 days, God created everything that Man would need to survive: food, medicine, shelter, water, and He created them in a way that we would receive optimal nutritional benefits.



After the 1950s, we have seen an unnatural alteration in our food culture. Consumers wanted food to be easier, faster, cheaper, and more of it-- so, the food industry ramped up their scientific approach for production to keep up with the demand.

Food has been broken down, dehydrated and ground up, fillers added to make it go farther, not-your-grandmas-preservatives were added to make it last longer, colors were added to make it prettier, pesticides are sprayed on it so corporations would have bigger harvests so they would make more money, then crops were being genetically modified so that they would grow better and bigger and more, more, more, MORE... Should I even start on what's happened with our meat and dairy?! ...UGH!

Now look at us. We are a generation of disease ridden, obese, malnourished people.

You cannot convince me that it's just a coincidence.

I am fed up.
 
Over the last few years, my idea of food and overall living has evolved. I see the need for Back-to-Basics-Living and am slowly working my household over to that.

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source

The first steps that I have taken is to cook from scratch and grow some of my family's food.

Cooking from scratch it isn't really a huge change, it just requires more meal prep and planning.

Now, before you start thinking that I am one of these haughty, granola crunching {mmm..granola}, tree hugging {not that there's anything wrong with that}, out-of-touch-with-the-real-world people, I want you to know that I DO live in the real world and I know that sometimes the budget doesn't allow for gray sea salt, gluten free this, free range that, organic everything... and blah, blah, blah. I don't get them all time. I can't. That's why I say 'when possible'. Cut yourself {and me} some slack. We do the best we can, when we can. Most of the time, the best I can do is purchase whole foods and staple items for "from scratch" cooking. I can't always get organic, either. It's Oh. Kay. 

Did I mention that I am also a working mom? Yeah. I have a work schedule and a $50 to $60 a week grocery budget. How's that for "in touch"? ;) Cooking from scratch is possible in a working mom's schedule-- we just have to plan a little better.

I do it for these guys
For an example, let's look at sandwich bread!

Homemade bread has: flour, yeast, honey, water, extra virgin olive oil and salt. That's a total of 6 ingredients.  

Sunbeam Bread Ingredients:

Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Water, Wheat Gluten, Cellulose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast. Contains 2% Or Less of Each of The Following: Whole Wheat Flour, Salt, Wheat Bran, Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One Or More of The Following: Mono- & Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono- & Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Corn Starch, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Caramel Color, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour. Contains Wheat and Soy.

**Um, dough conditioners? Caramel color? What the what?!

Made from scratch spinach, shrimp, and heirloom tomato white pizza
Now, let's get real. Right now, there is a half eaten loaf of store bought bread in my pantry. There is also a mostly eaten loaf of homemade sourdough bread on my counter.

I have homegrown organic vegetables in my freezer, as well as non-organic, non-free range chicken.

I have a box of raisin bran next to a jar of homemade granola.

Hmmm... Maybe I am a "crunchy momma".

You see where I am going with this? This is a gradual, do-the-best-you-can-with-what-you've-got process.

If you want to live a more natural, wholesome lifestyle, take it one step at a time. Do the best you can with what you've got. Some improvement is better than none. I've heard this called "imperfect progress" and I feel good about it.

Those are my thoughts, for what they are worth.

Do you have any baby step advice for others who are looking to change their lifestyle? Leave your comments below.

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Who are you calling a SPELUNKER?

My hubby on the Flint-Mammoth Connection Anniversary Trip 2007
In the caving community, there is a strong understanding that you don't ever, EVER call a caver a "spelunker".
Dem's just fighting words 'round these parts.

If you ask a caver what the difference is, there's a good chance they will tell you:

"The difference between a caver and a spelunker? Cavers rescue spelunkers."

What's the big deal? Well, before you insult a caver, let me break it down for you.

By definition {Merriam-Webster}, a spelunker is one who explores and studies caves as a hobby.

Imagine, if you will, a couple of kids finding a cave and taking a flashlight to check it out. They are inexperienced, don't have the proper equipment, don't know the caving rules or techniques, and are really just in there to ...well... as they say... "fiddle-fart around".  They are on an adventure to have fun and discover a new world, yet they are at high risk of injuring themselves and destroying the cave with their lack of knowledge, experience, and respect.

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Deep Dish Chocolate Pie



The only time I really make desserts are for special occasions.

This past weekend was special since my parents were visiting from out of state. My Poppa loves chocolate pie. What kind of daughter would I be if I didn't have one for him?

To the pie!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c white granulated sugar
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
3 cups of cold milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
3 tbsp real butter
A crust to put it in {recipe}

Instructions:

1. *Before you turn the heat on* In a medium sized sauce pan {I used my cast iron skillet}, combine the first 4 ingredients, whisk together until thoroughly combined.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together your egg yolks and milk.
3. Pour your egg and milk mixture in with your dry ingredients. Whisk together until smooth.  
4. Turn your burner on to medium heat.
5. Stir constantly.
6. When your chocolate filling begins to bubble, watch the clock and let it bubble for about 2 1/2 minutes while continually stirring. Remove from the heat.
7. Your chocolate filling mixture should be thick and resemble brownie batter.
8. Stir in your butter and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated.
9. Pour into your deep dish pie shell.
  
{It can be eaten as is OR you can give it a meringue topping, which is what I did. If you would like to do so, keep scrolling}

Stiff peaks
Meringue Ingredients
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
4 Tbsp Sugar

1. With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites at a medium speed until soft peaks form.
2. Add in your remaining ingredients, return your hand mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Spread onto your pie filling until all of the filling is covered.
4. Bake at 350 degress Farenheit until your meringue is golden brown {about 8 to 10 minutes-- but keep a close eye on it!}

Serve some to your favorite people. 



Enjoy,
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A Pie Is Only As Good As It's Crust {Pie Crust Recipe}


Now that the holidays are upon us, I have been in a creative cooking/baking mood. 

One thing that I have never had a good handle on in the kitchen has been a good pie crust. 

After scanning Pinterest for an easy pie crust that didn't require refrigeration before baking (I'm an impulsive baker and don't want to have to wait) I came across one that seemed do-able. I had to modify it slightly because I don't keep shortening in my pantry. 

Hands down, the best crust I have ever made! It held together well. It was pretty. It tasted awesome! The texture was so good. 

Enough talking! Let's get cooking!

Here's the recipe:

The Crust




Ingredients
1 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
1/2 t Salt
1/2 c REAL butter, cubed (1 stick)
4-5 tbsp ice cold water



*Tip- The colder your crust ingredients are, the better your crust's texture will be. So, the first thing I did was get my butter out of the fridge, cube it, put it into a bowl, then set it in the freezer and left it while I gathered the rest of my ingredients, bowls and utensils, and preheated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit since I was going to par bake.

In a bowl stir together flour and salt. 
Cut in your butter until the pieces are the size of small peas. 

Add in ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, gently working it into your mixture with your fingers. Be careful not to overwork your mixture or your texture won't be as tender. Just add the water and mix until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. Form into ball. 


Flatten your ball into a disc and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. 


Place your floured rolling pin in the center of your dough and roll outward, then return your pin back to the center. Continue to roll outward in all directions to maintain a round shape. Once you have rolled your dough out into a 1/8 inch thickness, you are ready to put it into your buttered pie dish. The best way to do this is to roll your dough around your rolling pin like a paper towel on a paper towel tube, and then unroll it over the dish.You might want to lightly flour the surface of your dough to prevent sticking.


 Once you have situated your crust into the dish, trim off of the excess dough around the top of your dish. *Don't throw it away! I cut mine into strips, twisted them and placed them on a cookie sheet. I baked them at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 10 minutes), and then drizzled them with honey. It's a great snack. Or you could just use the excess to decorate the top of your pie by cutting it into shapes. To make a simple, decorative crust, press the tines of a fork into the dough around the perimeter of the crust. I just pinched sections together. 


Once you have your crust edge in the decorative shape you want, take a fork and prick holes all around the crust. This prevents it from bubbling up in the oven. If your pie recipe calls for a raw dough crust, then you are ready to add your filling and bake according to your recipe. If you have a recipe that calls for a "par baked" crust, then pop your crust into the center of your oven and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes. You don't really want it to be brown. You just want a dry, set appearance. 


Once you have par baked your crust, pour in your filling and proceed with your recipe instructions.

I hope you enjoy this crust as much as my family and I did!


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My Favorite Online Gardening Resources

The Wheetshire Garden- 2013
Yesterday, I shared with you some of my tips on getting started with gardening.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite online gardening resources. These are blogs and vlogs that I have gone back to over and over for information.

Vlogs

MIGardener: Luke is a young college student in Michigan with a love for organic gardening, cooking, and food preservation. He is very interactive with his audience and is pretty quick to respond to comments and answer questions. He also does "from garden to plate" segments that I really enjoy. He is very informative on the "how to's" of gardening and seems like an all around "nice guy". You can watch his YouTube channel and follow him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


timjturner: Tim and his family live in an urban part of North Texas. They have turned their 1/3 acre lot into a self-sufficient homestead. From grapes and peanuts to chickens and rabbits, Tim's homestead videos are both inspiring and educational. I have asked him a few questions regarding gardening and his orchard. I've received responses within 24 hours of asking. He's a southern gentlemen with a passion for what he does. I'm sure you will learn from and enjoy his videos.

Misty Prepper: Somewhere in Tennessee, Misty and her family are living the true self-sufficient lifestyle. They live in a community of like minded families. She covers all things homesteading; from gardening and canning to butchering farm animals and shooting her favorite guns. A small caveat: she does garden on a larger scale because they have a community garden where they all share the work and responsibility, but the advice that she offers can be applied to gardens of any size. I. Love. This. Channel. She cooks on a cast iron stove, people! She's very informative and interactive with her viewers. She is also on another channel called Modern Homesteaders. You can follow her on Facebook.

A Blog or Two

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Click Here To Visit
Reformation Acres: This is most definitely my favorite homesteading blog. Quinn and her family just moved to Amish Country, Ohio. It's nice to get to see them establish their homestead afresh. I have gleaned so much from her blog and use it as a constant resource. She has an excellent way of explaining things, posts beautiful pictures, and takes a biblical approach in everything. She is really great about responding to questions and comments. I think you will love her as much as I do. You can also follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Homestead Revival Button 2, New Vertical ButtonHomestead Revival: Amy and her family live on a beautiful homestead in California. They are actually selling it to downsize now that they are "emptying" their nest. I look forward to seeing them re-establish somewhere else. Sometimes it's nice to see how people start from the beginning with all the knowledge they have accumulated through the years. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Other

Your county extension office: Be sure to contact your county extension office for first frost dates, information on soil testing, workshops etc. I called mine late in the spring, and they sent me a free calendar full of local gardening information and pictures from county master gardeners. It was like getting a Christmas present in the mail!

Seed {catalog} company websites: Usually, if you want to know how deep to plant a seed, how far apart your plants need to be, when to plant, etc.; you can check these websites for that kind of information if you don't have a seed packet with the info or if you want a little more information than what is already on the packet.

You can follow me on Pinterest where I am pinning gardening resources and ideas almost daily. Also, stay tuned with The Simple Life of a Caver's Wife by subscribing by email and liking my Facebook page for upcoming gardening posts. I hope this helps! If you have any questions, you can post them in the comment section.

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Gardening: Basic Tips For Getting Started

Even though we are in the beginning of autumn, now is a good time to plan your spring garden. With only 2 successful gardens under my belt, I know that I'm not as experienced as others, but I have already learned so much and wanted to share with you some tips that helped me get started.

Start small. Once I decided that I wanted to garden, I imagined tilling up about an acre of land and growing rows and rows of all of my family's favorite fruits and vegetables. But let's get real-- how would I know that it would work for me? What if I killed all of it? What if it was too much work with my lack of knowledge and availability? What if *gasp* I didn't like doing it? The answer was to start on a small scale. So, my Caveman used a talent that we didn't know he had, and he built me a raised bed. We filled the bed with dirt from my father-in-law's cow field, and with some mushroom compost that we purchased from a local nursery; then we planted! Believe it or not, we grew a lot of food in this 4x8 bed. That brings me to my next tip...


Grow what you and your family like to eat. There are heirloom varieties that I would like to try to grow in the 2014 gardening season that I've never eaten before, but last season was our first "learning" year and we didn't want to waste any of our bed space on foods that we weren't familiar with, so we planted foods that we loved: bell peppers, yellow summer crookneck squash, okra, onions, jalapenos, and 4 different kinds of tomatoes. From 2 squash plants, we had more than enough squash for my family of 4 to eat. I learned how to can so I could preserve the abundance of tomatoes that came from the 4 plants that we had. We still have a gallon sized freezer bag full of jalapenos from that garden in our freezer! Don't feel like by starting small, you won't grow enough to enjoy. I promise, that is not the case.


Onion sprout
Seek the advice of experienced gardeners in your area.  I've read a lot of blogs, articles, and books regarding gardening basics, but the most helpful advice that I have gotten have come from people that I know personally. These people have experience gardening in my type of soil, battling the same pests, and growing the same veggies. It seemed that a lot of by-the-book type gardening writers wanted me to test this, buy that, fertilize with this, and till with that. I just wanted to grow veggies, for crying in the mud. After talking to my friends and family, I realized that some of these resources were just overwhelming me and making me feel like it might not be worth the hassle-- I'm glad they let me know that wasn't the case. I enjoy gardening, and have come to rely on it as a major food source for my family and I.

Journal what you learn. Be sure to record what works and what doesn't work for you. Keep up with what kinds of fruits and veggies you have grown. Do you want to grow more or less of them next year? Do you want to try an entirely different variety? What pests did you see and how did you take care of them? Here are some things that I journaled: For ants, they don't really hurt anything, but sprinkle cornmeal around the bed. For squash bugs and eggs, squish them with your fingers--wear gloves. For ladybugs, leave them be; they eat the aphids. For aphids, spray them off with a water hose and spray the plants down in an oil/water/dish liquid solution. Don't plant jalapenos and bell peppers close together. I also made note of when I started to see sprouts and produce so I would know when to expect them for the next season. Okra really sneaks up on ya! One day it's just a nub, two days later it's huge and too tough to eat. Trust me, that's a gold nugget of info...

Squash bug eggs- 2012
  
Enjoy yourself and take it one learning experience at a time. I realized quickly that there is a lot to learn about gardening, but you don't have to know it all at once. You know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. My first year, I just wanted to see if I could grow it. I could and I did! This year, I wanted to grow on a larger scale, expand my variety of produce, and concentrate on organic pest control. I did! Right now, I'm learning about companion planting, composting, and the ins and outs of encouraging a good soil environment; I also plan to add more heirloom varieties to the garden. My hope is that with each new gardening season, I can grow more as a gardener, not just what's in the garden. Know what I mean?

As I was preparing to have my first garden, I was nervous about doing it just right. I was asking anyone I knew that had gardened every question that came to mind. Finally, a friend of ours made this statement that helped me more than anything. He said, "Tangi, if it was anymore complicated than just sticking the seed in the dirt and letting it do it's thing, I don't think I could do it." Now, Mr. Lance Moore is a talented man and is no simpleton, but that statement was an eyeopener and a nerve-calmer for me. I hope that in my chatty way, I have conveyed the same to you. Just give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

Here are a few more pictures of my first garden.
Raised Bed- 2012
Squash- 2012

Okra-2012


Our first squash!
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below, and I will do my best to answer or find out for you-- and please feel free to share your own tips!
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Knowing Where Your Food Comes From? Priceless.



Is gardening worth it? Can you put a price on knowing where your food comes from? 

I did a little math and shared my thoughts over at Southern Gals Cook. Please join us!


Come on over! Click here!

Be Blessed, 


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