May 27, 2011
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Alfalfa sprouts make a great, crunchy addition to our salads, sandwiches, and wraps, but they only rarely made it onto the grocery list because they’re a bit pricy at the store. Fortunately, we happened to find a pack of alfalfa seeds for about the same price as a container of the sprouts. Here’s how to grow your own alfalfa sprouts from seed:
All you need is a large glass jar, bleach, a cheesecloth or mesh material, a rubber band, an extra towel, and a few days. The seeds should be kept away from sunlight throughout the process until the very end. 1 1/2 T. of alfalfa seed will yield a large jar’s worth of sprouts!
- Place 1 1/2 T. of alfalfa seed in your jar, then soak the seeds in a diluted bleach bath- 1 tsp. bleach in 1 c. hot water for 15 minutes (apparently the seeds can carry E. coli if not disinfected). Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or mesh material secured with a rubber band instead of the lid.
- After soaking, rinse and drain the seeds thoroughly- fill the jar with water, swirl it, then drain completely at least 3 times (the cheesecloth or mesh should strain the water out while your seeds stay in).
- Fill the jar with water about 3x the height of your seeds and allow to soak overnight, 8 – 12 hours. Cover the jar with a towel to prevent any light exposure.
- Next rinse the seeds, drain the water, and rotate the jar so the seeds spread out and stick to the sides. Then cover with your towel and prop at an angle to promote drainage, and let sit for 3 – 4 hours.
- Repeat step 4 three times a day.
- Your sprouts should be ready to harvest within 4 – 6 days, when they are about 1 – 2 inches long. Before harvesting, let the jar sit in indirect sunlight so the sprouts will produce chlorophyll and turn green.
- Then rinse, drain, and allow to dry before storing in a closed container in the fridge. Ours have kept for over a week when dried out completely in the salad spinner, though you do lose a few sprouts that way.
End of Day 1 End of Day 2 End of Day 3
End of Day 4, Greening
May 24, 2011
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I thought I would share this thread that I have been reading on a homesteading forum. Anybody down for some extreme composting?
May 20, 2011
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As you can tell by our fresh herb bread recipe last post, we tend to make two loaves at a time- because, really, who wants to put in that much time to end up with one loaf? But sometimes at the end of the week (if we haven’t frozen the extra loaf) we end up with bread that’s not so fresh. What to do with our delicious-but-slightly-stale bounty? There are a number of easy and tasty ways to use up your extra bread.
Make your own croutons: Pre-heat your oven to 375° F. Cut your bread into cubes and spread them out on a baking sheet. Lightly spray with oil and season to your liking- I like to sprinkle on a little salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning the croutons halfway through. Your croutons are done when they’re lightly toasted and completely dried out. Allow to cool and store in a sealed container for up to a week.
Make your own bread crumbs: Follow the same steps as the crouton recipe above. Once cooled, transfer the croutons into a sealable plastic bag, wrap in a towel, and crush/beat with a rolling pin on a sturdy surface until all the croutons have been reduced to your desired texture. You can also do this in a blender or a food processor, but what’s the fun in that? Keep your breadcrumbs in the bag or in another sealed container for up to a week, or you can freeze them for future use!
Other recipes: You can find lots of bread pudding recipes online, and slightly-stale bread is perfect for French toast (our favorite vegan recipe here). Or if you’re going for something more savory, try making a strata (if we’re lucky, Eric’s sister might share her tasty recipe…) The possibilities are endless!
May 15, 2011
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With the cool and rainy weather we’ve been getting here in St. Louis, we have an abundance of fresh herbs. We try to cut them back before they get too bushy and because they get bitter when they flower, so we like to find creative ways to use them up.
Today’s high of 55° F. makes it the perfect day to stay inside and bake some fresh herb bread. I’ve adapted this recipe from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. The process takes a while (about 4 hours total), but you’ll end up with two of the loveliest, heartiest loaves of fresh bread you’ve ever had. (And your house will smell so good!)
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May 13, 2011
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We just made our first batch of homemade peanut butter, and we’ll never go back to store-bought again. It’s extremely easy to make and way more cost efficient, especially when you’ve been buying the good organic stuff like we had. We bought a 2 pound bag of raw organic Valencia peanuts from Azure Standard for about the same price as one 16 oz jar of organic peanut butter. You can also buy roasted peanuts, shelled or in the shell.
Here’s how to make your own peanut butter:
- Roast 2 cups of raw peanuts in an oven at 350 degrees F. for about twenty minutes, rotating the nuts halfway to ensure even roasting. (Skip this step if your peanuts came pre-roasted)
- Transfer the peanuts, skins and all, to a food processor and blend for several minutes. It’ll look clumpy at first, but the natural oils in the nuts will be extracted the longer you blend the mixture. Scrape the sides of the container and the blades periodically.
- After about 5 minutes, you can adjust the consistency of your peanut butter by adding small amounts of canola or peanut oil, up to 1 teaspoon.
- Add honey or salt as desired. We added about 2 teaspoons of honey to ours.
- For chunky peanut butter, process 1/4 cup of peanuts into small pieces, reserve them on the side while you blend the rest of the peanuts into the butter, and add them at the end.
Get creative! You can use this process for any type of nut. We tried this amazing recipe for a vegan Nutella spread. Almond butter’s next on our list.
Newspaper is our wrapping paper of choice for many reasons, but when it comes to gifts for Mother’s Day, it just doesn’t seem special enough. With a little time, you can get creative and add some embellishments that your mom will surely appreciate!
You can easily transform a newspaper print ad into a peacock centerpiece. Fold down the newspaper accordion-style, then fold in half and tape the inside folds together and the outside edges to the gift, like so:
Or make a newspaper rose:
To start, take a strip of newspaper and loosely roll it around itself to form the innermost part of the rose. Then wrap successively larger strips of newspaper around the center, taping each at the back. Gently fold the petals outward as you go to give them more definition.
You could use pages from magazines or re-use some tissue paper, too.
We took the half-hoop house down this week. Summer’s coming!