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How to Freeze Sweet Potatoes

Let’s freeze them sweet potatoes shall we.

We, aka my husband, harvested our purple sweet potatoes recently and we ended up with more than we expected.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a basement or a cellar that we can store these bad boys in so, I had to get creative.

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First thought was, let’s can these beauties.

Then I did some research and found that while canning sweet potatoes was definitely an option, the only real way to use them after they were canned would be to mash them up.

Sweet potatoes are already a softer potato than let’s say russets or red potatoes. And because we MUST can them in a pressure canner for a specific amount of time, which is 60 minutes for pints and 90 for quarts, it produces a very soft well cooked potato.

This just wasn’t gonna work.

We love to eat our purple sweet potatoes for breakfast mixed with bell pepper and onions and garlic. So……..

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Second thought, let’s freezes these little suckers.

This method was slightly time consuming but well worth it. We have our potatoes ready whenever we like and have more options when cooking them, then just mashed potatoes.

This process requires cooking the potatoes just before they are done, so it does take a bit of time to complete. Make a plan to spend some well worth it time in that lovely kitchen of yours. Y’all ready to get cookin’ and freezin’?

How to freeze sweet potato

Things you need:

Big pot

Steamer basket or you can use a pressure cooker, if that tickles your fancy.

Cookie sheet

Parchment paper

Spoon

Directions:

  1. Wash your potatoes well.
  2. Fill your pot with a few inches of water and turn on high heat. Place your steamer basket inside.
  3. Put your potatoes inside your pot and cover.
  4. Cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked.
  5. Allow them to cool. Take your spoon and gently scrap the peel off the potatoes.
  6. Then cut potatoes into desired size and place on cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Place your tray in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Remove tray from freezer and place in a labeled freezer bag or container of your choice.
  9. That’s it y’all!

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How to use frozen sweet potatoes

Use your potatoes just like you would store bought frozen potatoes.

We like to heat them up in a skillet with some bacon grease. Then we caramelize some onions and some red and yellow bell peppers. Mmm it’s delicious.

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Hope y’all enjoy your harvest.

Don’t forget to check out our sweet potato baby food recipe.

Happy preserving!

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Medicinal Herb Series: 10 Benefits of Lemongrass

Medicinal herb series: Lemongrass

Lemongrass is an amazing medicinal herb. Not only does it smell absolutely delightful, it has incredible benefits for your body and your soul.

Lemongrass, also known as Cymbopogon, is indigenous to India and Asia. It is a tall grass like plant with stalks. This plant tends to grow in a bush like manner and loves full sun and well draining soil. The leaves tend to be sharp on the sides and are incredibly hardy. It has a powerful fresh lemon smell that is often times used as a lemon flavor in teas and other beverages.

Most importantly, you will find that lemongrass comes in a few different forms. You can usually find the stalks in most grocery stores. It can be found already dried, to add to teas and season foods. Using it fresh is an option, you can use it in stir fry and other cooking dishes. Lastly, you can find it in essential oil form. This form is my favorite, I love to add lemongrass essential oil to my diffuser necklace, it instantly uplifts my mood, which can be a spectacular benefit. Speaking of which…..

Let’s talk benefits of lemongrass.

This beautiful herb has multiple health benefits, making this medicinal herb a must to have in your medicinal herb cabinet. Whether it’s in dried herb form, so you can make a tea or essential oil form that you can rub directly on your body or diffuse in the air, it is a must have. Let’s dive into some of the benefits.

10 benefits to Lemongrass

Promotes sleep: This herb has been known to react with GABA receptors in our brain (1), which helps promote a healthy sedative state. Drink a cup of lemongrass and lavender tea before bed to help your mind and your body fall into a more restful state.

Mood enhancer: It has a powerful fresh lemon scent that provides your mental state with a calming and clear feeling.

Helps relieve anxiety: Again, the properties of lemongrass react with the GABA receptors in our brain. GABA, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that connects signals from the brain to our nervous system (2). The beneficial properties in lemongrass will increase the activity of the GABA receptors, which can in turn calm your central nervous system and relieve anxiety.

Supports digestive system: It has been known to help treat digestive problems such as ulcers and diarrhea. (3)

Pain reliever: The powerful anti-inflammatory properties in lemongrass help reduce inflammation related pain. (4)

Helps reduce dandruff: This amazing herb has bacteria killing properties that help reduce the bacteria that causes dandruff. Applying lemongrass essential oil mixed in with your shampoo, to your scalp, can help relieve dandruff and stimulate the hair follicles. (5)

Natural deodorizer: The fresh lemon scent from lemongrass makes this herb ideal to add to soaps, room sprays, deodorants, lotions and body sprays.

Relieves headaches: It can help relieve tension that causes headaches. (6) Drink a cup of lemongrass tea or rub some essential oil on the temples to help relieve pain from headaches.

Reduces fever: The properties in lemongrass have been known to help reduce fever symptoms. (7)

And finally… It is a….

Powerful antioxidant: Antioxidant properties one of the most important properties in my opinion. Lemongrass has the ability to fight off free radicals within our body with its incredible antioxidant properties. (8)

I gotta say y’all, this is a small description of amazing benefits of this beautiful medicinal herb.

Other benefits include:

Helps fight candida

Menstrual cramp relief

Lowers cholesterol

Fights agains cold and flus

Thrush

Diabetes

Thyroid

Hair and skin

Y’all, we need lemongrass in our lives.

I mean, come on! How beneficial is this herb! Growing lemongrass is easy. If you cannot find yourself a starter plant, you can always head on over to a grocery store, find yourself some stalks, place in a glass with water and wait for it to root. Finally, once your stalks have rooted, they are ready to plant in the garden. Harvesting your lemongrass is even more fun. Head on over here to check out our post on harvesting lemongrass.

If y’all can’t grow your own lemongrass, I highly suggest you purchase yourself some lemongrass essential oil. It is the easiest way to obtain all these beneficial properties in a super convenient bottle. As always, when it comes to essential oils, purchase only high quality pure oils.

Happy lemongrassing!

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Preserving Purple Pole Beans

The time finally came.

We canned our beautiful purple pole beans y’all.

And they came out perfect.

Purple pole beans are so much fun to grow. They are these perfect little beans that are the most gorgeous shade of purple. Give them an upright fence to grow on and boom son, no huge planter space taken up. This year, we planted them along this old ladder we had just sitting on the side of the house. We plopped the ladder in the middle of the garden and planted seeds that we harvested last year and we couldn’t believe how happy these little plants were.

This whole gardening thing is pretty incredible. Especially when you have the pleasure of utilizing your very own harvest to replenish the garden over and over again.

My husband and I have a deal. He grows our food and I make sure it gets to our table in some form or another.

He grew us some beautiful purple pole beans. And so….

I canned those beautiful purple pole beans.

Here is how I did it.

Well first off, lets talk about a few important things. When canning foods that have little to no acidity, you need to use a pressure canner to can. This ensures that all bacteria that can cause severe illnesses are killed in the process and what you have left over is safe pure food.

Beans fall into the little to no acidity category. So, for this adventure we are using our All American Pressure Canner. Wanna take a side note with me?

Ahhh I knew you’d say yes….

Which canner to use.

I did a ton of research on pressure canners before I made this investment. I landed on the All American Canner  because of a few reasons.

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  • These canners do not require gaskets. So there is nothing you have to continuously purchase. Only requirement is that you lube the edge of the lid with coconut or olive oil before each canning session.
  • These canners are built in the USA and are made to LAST, your great grand-kids could benefit from this investment.
  • They offer multiple sizes for your canning needs. Making it incredibly efficient if canning is your main source of storing food or if you just want to occasionally can at times. I invested in the middle of the road canner, model number 921. On the website I states that it holds 19 pint size jars and 7 quart size jars. What I have found is that I am only able to can 12 pint size jars. Or 6 quarts. It does state under the specs that quantity of jars may vary depending on jar brand.

I gotta to say that this last batch of canning I did, I wanted to make it count so, I canned 12 quart size pinto beans and 6 pint size black beans and I was really wishing I have invested in the bigger size available.

BUT…. I made it work and I’m still in love with my canner. Every time I bring it out, I have this feeling of confidence. This feeling of self-sufficiency. This feeling of, F-yea!

Lastly, I also love the weight on this pressure canner as well. It is incredibly easy to use and it gives you full control over your pounds per pressure.

So if you have been going back and forth on what canner to how with, I highly suggest you research the All American Canner and take the plunge.

Small disclosure, I am not affiliated with Pleasant Hill Grain, the company who makes this canner. I just have experienced their superior product and don’t mind dancing on roof tops and yelling, “I LOVE THIS CANNER…….” Because I LOVE THIS CANNER! I am, however, affiliated with amazon and that is the link I provided you. So, if you decide to take the plunge, would you be so kind as to purchase through the link I provided. There is no additional cost to you and it helps us out tremendously.

Ok….

Back to canning beans? You got it!

Oh, if you are new to the whole canning food thing, head on over here to read about all the equipment you need to get started.

And, if you want to check out the quick reference list before you get started, head on over here.

Canning Pole Beans

What y’all want to do is:

First off, get all your equipment and utensils ready. Use your quick reference list I gave you. And then get a cutie to help you pick those beautiful beans from the garden.

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  • Fill your pressure canner up with about 2-3 inches of hot water. Using hot water helps heat the water when on the stove.
  • While your canner is heating up, fill a big pot with filtered water, enough to fill all jars. ***Heat more water than you think, the last thing you want is to not have enough water in the middle of your session.
  • While both pots are reaching their boil. Rinse your pole beans. Break the ends off if necessary. Then break into half inch pieces. Place in a bowl.
  • If you used your quick reference list, you should already have a bowl set aside with your lids in it. If this is true, you just earned yourself a star, yo! If it’s not and you just had to scrabble around to get yourself a bowl, I say, USE YOUR LIST! It’s time to fill your bowl with some hot water from your pot. This step is important, it heats up the seal on the lid allowing it to properly seal onto the jars during the canning process.
  • Fill up desired size jars with your beans.

Canning Purple Pole Beans

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, this step is completely optional. It only adds to the taste.

Canning Purple Pole Beans

  • Using your funnel, fill jars up with boiling water. Leave about a 1/4 inch of head space at the top of your jar. Use your “knife” utensil and remove any air bubbles that may be present.
  • Use your paper towel dip it in some clean water, or vinegar and wipe the rim of each jar. This is also important because it removes any debris that may have gotten onto the lid. If debris is left on the rim and you put your lid on, there is a great chance that your lid won’t seal properly.
  • Using your magnetic lid lifter, place lids onto your jars. Place the rings on top of the lid and only tighten finger tight. Don’t over tighten. Air still needs to be able to escape.
  • Use your tongs and place jars into canner. *** I am not gonna lie homie, sometimes you’ll come across a jar that will break the moment you place inside your canner. Or even during the canning process. Sometimes you just have a faulty jar. So just be prepared.
  • Place your canner lid on and tighten knobs. Tighten knobs opposite of each other. This ensures that the lid is evenly tightened.
  • DON’T PUT YOUR WEIGHT ON YET. Allow the canner to reach the proper temperature. You will know it’s time to put the weight on when you hear steam releasing from the steam valve for a stead FULL 10 minutes.

Canning purple pole beans

  • Once you allowed steam to release for 10 minutes, place your weight with the correct pounds, usually 10 pounds. Unless your altitude is insane. Now allow the canner to build pressure to the amount of pounds you have on your weight. Once you hit your pounds, turn heat down just a tad. I mean, just a tad. And start your timer. 40 minutes for quart size jars. 20 minutes for pint size jars.
  • Once done, just turn off your canner and set an hour timer. This allows all the pressure to naturally release from the canner. Once the hour is up I usually take my weight off and the last bit of pressure will release. I then wait for about 10 more minutes before I attempt to open the lid. ***Always unscrew the knobs opposite of each other. And open the lid away from your face.
  • Using your tongs, take jars out of canner and place on your towel that you already had prepared because you used your quick reference list!
  • Leave jars alone for a full 24 hours.

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  • I only hope you get to hear the sweet sound of the PING. That sound tells you,  spending all day in the kitchen like a 50’s house wife, was all worth it!

Canning purple pole beans

  • After 24 hours, remove rings from jars. I like to hold my jar by the lid, gently, just to make sure all my lids are actually sealed. ***You may notice some water spots, no biggy, just spray some vinegar on a paper towel and wipe clean. Don’t forget to label and date!

That is it my friends. It may seem like a lot but in reality it takes about 15 minutes to prep. The time consuming part is waiting for your canner to reach pressure and then decrease in pressure. The best part is that you get to fill your pantry with your own green beans that taste like heaven.

How to use your canned green beans

I love to heat up some oil in a cast iron pan. (We use bacon grease from high quality bacon to cook with.) 

Slice up some sweet onion and throw them in the pan. I like to caramelize the onions before throwing the green beans in. The green beans only need to be heated, not cooked so they take about 5 minutes in the pan. I usually make this side dish at the very end.

Add some salt and pepper.

And the best part, take a few pieces of cooked bacon and cut it up into pieces and sprinkle on top of your green beans.

Y’all, its heaven!

Happy canning! AND eating!

Questions? I wanna to hear ’em! Leave a comment or question down below! Oh and hey, wanna free eBook with some awesome recipes utilizing herbs? Subscribe to our email list yo!

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How to Harvest Lemongrass

 

Ahhh lemongrass, how you smell so fresh and lively.

If you have never experienced lemongrass, I highly suggest you run right out and find yourself some and take a big fat inhale.

You will immediately feel ten pounds lighter in energy. Lemongrass has this incredibly clean, bright uplifting smell that can change your mood from crappy to dancing on roof tops within seconds.

Seriously.

Let’s talk about growing and harvesting lemongrass shall we.

Growing Lemongrass

Lemongrass, Cymbopogon Citrates, is incredibly easy to grow. It is a sub tropical plant, so it thrives in full sun and in warmer climates. If you can’t find yourself some already established plants, you can head on over to the grocery store (usually specialty stores) buy yourself some lemongrass, put it in some water and let it root on its own. Once roots appear, you can transplant it and….

BOOM SON, lemongrass be growin’.

Lemongrass is a huge fan of well drained soil. It grows to be tall grass like bushes, so be sure to give it some room to spread out. We planted our lemongrass at the top of our herb spiral and it just loved every ounce of life. If you are wondering what the F an herb spiral is, head on over here my friends.

Harvesting Lemongrass

Harvesting lemongrass is super easy. You want to make sure you allow the plant to grow at least 12 inches high before you harvest. Try and harvest lemongrass before the leaves turn brown. But you know what, life gets busy and I am here to tell you, it is going to be alright yo, if you have a few brown leaves just throw them back into the compost.

The cycle continues, right.

Anyway, there are a couple ways to cut the leaves to harvest. One way, the way we did, is to cut right above the stalk part of the plant. You know right before it gets thick toward the bottom. This method allows you to wrap the leaves easily. The second method is to cut the leaves all the way, leaving about 2 inches of plant left above the soil. This gives you a large portion of the stalk, which you can use for cooking, (stews, stir fry….) and with this method it would be best to hang dry.

Shall we go over both drying methods? I think so too.

Lemongrass wraps

Now let’s talk wrapping these mofo’s. Wrapping is super convenient for making tea. We discovered this method from Big City Gardener. You simply just take a little wrap out, place it in a mug, pour hot water and BAM….

Delicious lemongrass tea.

Ok. Let’s do this. First you want to harvest your herbs in mid day when they have had time to dry up from the morning dew. Always give your lemongrass enough time to grow, so allowing it to at least reach 12 inches high is best.

Cut your leaves above the stalk. Remove all brown leaves.

Rinse and allow to air dry completely before wrapping them.

Now take a small handful maybe about 10-15 leaves….Oh, and gloves might be a wise choice. Lemongrass is a bit sharp.

Wrap the leaves around your hand and twist the leaves so they bind together.

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Make a fist and hold the beginning of the wrap in your hand and simply twist the leaves and thread them through the loop you made with your hand. Twisting the leaves just allows the leaves to stay together and thread a bit easier.

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Continue to twist and loop through until all your leaves tighten into a wrap.

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Don’t worry about the loose leaves that refuse to twist and wrap. Just consider them rebels and still appreciate what they are going to do for your soul!

Place these wraps on a screen and allow to air dry anywhere from 2-6 weeks.

Once dried place in an air tight jar or bag, label, date and enjoy!

Loose Leaf Lemongrass 

The second method is incredible easy as well. Simply cut your lemongrass down to the stalk. Make little bunches and tie the stalk end with twine. Hang in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks.

When done drying, you can throw the bunches in a food processor or high power blender and grind just enough util it gives you a loose leaf tea consistency.

You can use by placing a spoonful or two in a tea steeper and enjoying.

That is it y’all. Incredibly easy to grow and harvest lemongrass.

How do you enjoy lemongrass?

Happy harvesting!

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DIY Bug and Gnat Spray

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We have a ton of house plants, they just make us happy. So we tend to do a lot of transplanting. And just like anyone else, where do we keep our soil…

Outside of course.

But do you know what happens to soil when it sits outside long enough?

Little tiny gnats like to lay their eggs in the soil.

You know, those damn little fruit fly things that will do anything in their little power to try and fly into your mouth. If you are thinking eww gross, then I guess you have never experienced one of these little bastards.

They multiply faster then you can say, “yoga with goats.” I mean, yoga with goats, I love goats but doing yoga with them….I don’t get it. Oh wait, I was talking about gnats, back to gnats. So, needless to say they can infest a house super fast.

So here is a little story; a while back I redid our bathroom. I was very proud, if I do say so myself. Well, in that little redo, I hung a plant, in an awesome purple pot that just fit the bathroom perfectly but what kind of soil did I use?

You guessed it y’all, soil from outside.

A few weeks later, we were infested. It was so bad that the walls had little tiny gnats everywhere. I was done. I had enough. These little F-ers had to go and they had to go now.

So I did a little research and came up with this gnat spray.

Let’s make some shall we.

Whatcha need is:

Glass spray bottle (plastic works too, whatever floats your boat yo)

White vinegar

Water

Essential oils:

Eucalyptus

Rosemary

Geranium

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Direction:

  • Fill spray bottle with 1 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup water
  • Add 10 drops of each oil.

Boom Son you’re done!

I mean, how simple is that.

I literally sprayed my entire bathroom. I sprayed the walls, the gnats, the bottom of the pot the plant was in, the rim. I was careful not to actually get the plant, I didn’t want kill it.

But what I also did was I took the plant outside and sprayed it down with our neem oil spray that kills gnats, aphids, and all sorts of other nasty little plant critters. I sprayed this little plant probably about 4-5 times over two days.

We are living gnat free right now people, gnat free. All thanks to this little spray.

Got a Gnat problem? Leave a comment below let me know how it works for you. I’d love to hear from y’all.

Happy gnat killing!