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Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew Recipe

When the slightest bit of cool weather starts to roll in, we get way more excited than we probably should. We live where it is F-ing hot ALL. THE. TIME. Last thanksgiving; you know thanksgiving, a cold holiday that should be filled with sweaters and fireplaces lit, well, we had the air conditioning going. So, needless to say, we get super pumped the moment the temperatures drop to the 70’s.

Anyway, we have been fortunate enough to get a break from the heat. That means, our bellies want comfort food like beef stew and chili.

And tonight we made beef stew. My old recipe called for a cook time of, pretty much, all day. This recipe calls for the same delicious ingredients but a cook time of 45 minutes. How you ask?

Pressure cooker yo!

I’m telling ya, y’all need to get one of these bad boys. They are freaking fantastic. The meat comes out perfect every time.

Y’all ready to do this?

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew Recipe

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Don't waste your time in the kitchen cooking stew all day. Throw some goodness in the pressure cooker and it's done in half the time.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Beef Stew, Stew
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Depressurize 15 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Krystal Smith

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Tri Tip
  • 5-6 Carrots
  • 4-5 Celery Sticks
  • 4-5 Red Potatoes
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion
  • 2-3 Zucchini
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 Cups Beef Stock
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbs Flour or Corn Starch
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoning
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2-3 Fresh sprigs of rosemary

Instructions

  1. First thing first, Cut up all your veggies into quarter inch nice size pieces. 

  2. Cut tri tip into about 1/2 inch cubes. Season those bad boys up with all the goodness you can think of. My favorites are porterhouse, TexJoy steak seasoning and Lawry's season salt.

  3. Start the saute button on your pressure cooker. When ready add in your olive oil and brown your onions. Then throw all other veggies in except for the potatoes and cook enough to get the flavors blended together. About 5-7 minutes. 

  4. Next, add in your stock, potatoes, bay leaves and rosemary sprigs.

  5. In a small bowl mix your tomato paste with a small amount of water. Just enough to mix it well. Then add it into your mixture. 

  6. Now, heat a large skillet on high heat. Add some olive oil, bacon grease or butter, whatever tickles your fancy, and brown your meat. This seals in all the flavor and juices so be sure to not skip this part. 

  7. Once brown go ahead and throw them delicious pieces of meat into your even more delicious pot of soon to be stew. 

  8. Last thing, add your flour or corn starch. In a small bowl mix your flour or corn starch with just enough water to mix it. And pour it into your pot.

  9. Slap a lid on this puppy and cook it on high pressure, meat/stew setting for about 35 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to depressurize naturally. This will add another 15 minutes to the cook time.

  10. Boom son, get ready to enjoy a super delicious bowl of beef stew that will literally melt in your mouth. 

Recipe Notes

Cooking this easy meal on Sunday will allow you to have left overs throughout the week. Making your life so much easier. And if you find yourself not finishing the whole batch even with having left overs, measure out portions and use your Food Saver to package it up and freeze it. On those nights where you can't get your life together, pull a bag or two out of the freezer and heat those bad boys up! Again, making your life so much easier. 

Let me know how this recipe turns out for you. I would love to hear feedback or questions you may have.

Happy stew making!

This post contains affiliate links. That means that when click on a product that we suggest and purchase that product through that link, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.We appreciate your support.

 

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On Homesteading While Working 40 Hours a Week

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I thought I would take a second and talk about how my husband and I homestead while working 40 hours a week.

It has taken a long time to get where we are today in our homesteading journey. I remember starting our journey in a little moldy apartment by the beach. We had a little container garden that held our tomatoes and blueberries. We had seedlings growing on a make shift garden window (a shelf that hung between the two cabinets in front of the window, Hey you gotta do what you gotta do right!) I learned how to make deodorant and can strawberry jam. We had no idea what we were doing but knew exactly where we wanted to be. I found a few blogs that I fell in love with and admired. I wondered how in the world did they do all of what they did. I felt there was no way we would ever get to where these bloggers were. I mean how could we, we worked 40 hours a week working.

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Our first garden in our moldy apartment!

As years passed and we gained skills and confidence, my mind set changed from we are never going to be where “they” are, to we are actually doing it.

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Then we were given this to play with!

It is so easy for us to compare. So easy for us to see a small glimpse of someones life and go straight to admiration. But what I’ve learned, is that, it took those that I “admired” years to build what I saw. It took hard work and dedication to this very unique lifestyle.

A lot of the time I get the question, “how do you do all of that?” Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work man. But we love it. At the end of the day we feel content.

But how do we do it?

We live almost two different lives. We get up and go to work. We follow a routine, we demand from others sometimes what feels like the impossible. We tend to stress out about things that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t really mater.

But then…

We come home and put in more work on our homestead until it is time to go to bed. Whether it is re-strawing the chicken coop, planting a crop, brewing a batch of kombucha or kefir, canning food or brewing new tinctures to sell. We are dedicated to building and living this lifestyle that makes us feel as if we were meant to be here. Makes us feel connected to this one life we were given. This lifestyle makes you stop and feel the energy around you. It allows you to appreciate life rather than question it. Sure we feel lost with a decision at times or a direction that we should go, but it never stops us from feeling the energy in which surrounds us.

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When you think of homesteading many think, land, livestock, acres, country, work from home jobs, homeschooling. But the thing is, the thing I have come to learn is, that homesteading is a lifestyle. A lifestyle where you leave the land you live on better than when you received it. A lifestyle where you are mindful of the where your food comes from. A lifestyle where you are willing to get down and dirty without being a baby! Homesteading is learning what you are capable of. You don’t need acres to do that. You don’t need livestock to teach you where food comes from. You don’t need to homeschool your kids in order to be a “homesteader.” These perceptions are often times what hold people back from moving forward. I talk a lot about what my family does, and I get people who are interested in a lot of it but they always revert back to, “I don’t have land so I can’t have a garden. Or “I am to busy to can my own pinto beans.” Well……

We do not live on land.

We don’t live in the country in the middle of nowhere. We don’t homeschool our kids. The only “livestock” we have are four chickens that if our HOA knew we had, we would get busted. And we definitely don’t work from home.

But….

That doesn’t stop us from living this incredible way of life. We live it because it makes us feel good. No excuses, no distractions. We make time to do what we love.

And we love homesteading.

We have to stop admiring others. We have to stop comparing. We have to realize that where are exactly where we should be in that given moment. Something that is extremely hard to understand.

But….

If you are unhappy, make a change. But once you accept, once you realize that no one is stopping you but you, you live in a place of content.

So whether you live in a little moldy apartment in the city, work full time, consider yourself a bad gardener, the homesteading life is never out of reach.

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This is what we get to enjoy now.

Happy homesteading y’all!

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No Refrigeration Required?!

 

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Let’s talk eggs people! Now I’ve gotten some eyebrows raised when I tell people we keep our eggs out on the counter. Wait, you think we are crazy too? Well listen up y’all, FRESH-OUT-OF-THE-CHICKENS-BUTT EGGS do not have to be refrigerated.

You see when the chicken lays an egg, the egg has a protective antibacterial coating over it, called the “egg bloom”. The bloom closes all the pores on the egg preventing bacteria and oxygen from entering the egg, allowing it to stay fresh longer without refrigeration.

Once the egg is cleaned, the bloom is removed and it must go into refrigeration. We leave our eggs out on the counter for about a week. Yes poop, straw and all because well, what are you gonna do. Now, I know what you are thinking, “HOW GROSS.” But here is the thing, seeing this gorgeous pile of eggs, poop and all, connects us. It connects us to what is real. Real being that, those chickens that we love and take care of worked hard to give us that egg and you see that all over the egg. You appreciate it more. You respect it more. It……connects you.

Now, once a week we wash our eggs and pretty much use most of them right away. What we don’t use, we put in an egg container and put in the refrigerator.

Now at this point you’re probably thinking, “well, now how the hell do I know if my eggs are good or not?”

Ok, I hear ya, I get it. I’ve got a trick though, get a bowl, fill with water and see if that bad boy floats. If it FLOATS, it’s BAD. Ditch it. If it SINKS, it’s GOOD. Whip that sucker up into a plate of deliciousness.

Living naturally means living naturally. What do you think your great great maybe even GREAT grandmother did? Do you think she had this bad ass stainless steel refrigerator that made fancy ice and allowed you to download pandora? F no, she had a basket on her counter that sat there until she used all those gorgeous eggs up. We tend to forget where we came from and what we are actually capable of. As my family and I continue to live this homesteading life we learn more and more that living simply, means to live simply. Let go of that ridged “it needs to happen this way and only this way” mentality. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that mentality very well but I’m working on it………I swear.

Leave your home-raised eggs out on the counter, BE A REBEL. LIVE SIMPLY.

Happy eggs!

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Medicinal Herb Series: Lavender

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Oh my, let’s talk lavender for a second shall we. I mean there is nothing quite like it. The fragrance just fills the air with this delicate aroma. The flowers stand tall and proud. The deep purple color just pops against the muted green leaves. It is just a heavenly plant that is filled with medicinal properties that you should not be without. Let’s do it to it.

Growing lavender

Lavender, or lavendula angustifolia, part of the mint family. It is a drought tolerant plant that loves full sun. Allowing for adequate soil drainage can help keep this plant happy and thriving. Lavender is a bush that grows best in zones 5-9.

Medicinal Properties

Sleep Aid: Lavender is a fantastic sleep aid. It helps rest the mind from the daily chatter. It allows the body to fall into a restful sleep, as well as, fall back to sleep easier when awaken.

Reduces anxiety and stress: Lavender helps relax the mind and body during times of high stress and anxiety. Lavender is a grounding herb that allows one to stay centered.

Used for minor cuts and burns: Lavender is an antibacterial, antimicrobial and an antiseptic. Rub some lavender Essential  oil on minor scraps and burns to help relieve the pain almost immediately.

Reduces headaches: Diffusing lavender oil or taking Lavender internally can help decrease headaches.

Anti-depressant: Lavender helps increase the serotonin levels in the brain that give us that “happy feeling.” By diffusing lavender or by taking it internally one can lower the feelings of depression. This is a great go to for mamas that are dealing with baby blues or postpartum.

Skin care: Lavender is used in a lot of skin care products. It helps rebuild the cells within the skin allowing for a beautiful peaceful glow.

How to use lavender

Essential oils are a fantastic way to get all the benefits of lavender. Essential oils can be used topically with a carrier oil if needed. Rubs some on the temples, chest, neck and or bottoms of feet. It can be taken internally by placing a drop in 4oz of water and drinking. Or it can be used aromatically through a diffuser.

Tinctures are our go to. Tinctures are to be taken internally by placing a dropperful under the tongue and holding for 30 seconds. This allows all those beautiful properties of this herb that we just talked about to enter into your blood stream faster.

Lavender salves can be used on the bottoms of feet or on chest to help promote sleep and reduce anxiety.

Lavender tea is a great way to relax the body after a long day or to be sipped on while sick.

Lavender is one of those herbs that can be found everywhere. Please do your research on the product you are using. You want your essential oils to be distilled in the purest form, especially if you are going to take it internally. Remember the FDA does not regulate essential oils, so what you buy from the store may not be lavender. The bottle can read “therapeutic grade, organic, 100% pure” as long as it contains at least 5% essential oil. The remaining 95% can be chemicals, carrier oil, or synthetic oil. So buy from a reputable company that provides third party testing.

Tinctures are available in our shop for purchase. It is one of more popular tinctures and for a good reason. There is not a night that we don’t take a dropperful to help us relax before bed. In fact I took two dropperful today when both the kids were driving me to the point of ripping all my eyelashes out! Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?!

Hey, don’t forget to check out our Instagram page, we have a ton of fun stuff on there to!

Happy Lavendering!

 

 

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Medicinal Herb Series: Echinacea

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Photo credit /milkandhoneyacreage

Let’s talk about Echinacea for a second shall we. So we all have most likely heard of this herb. We take it when we are about to get sick, yea yea. But what you probably don’t know is that this little herb is one of the most important herbs that can go into your natural medicine cabinet. It is packed with so many uses and you can grow it in your back yard. Let’s dive into it.

Growing Echinacea 

Echinacea, also known as, coneflower thrive in prairies and open areas. It loves moist soil and full sun. Echinacea has deep tap roots that store water for times of drought. It blooms during summer but stays attractive during fall and winter.

Medicinal properties 

Immune booster: Echinacea can reduce the duration of the common cold by 60%. It boosts the immune system giving your body a fighting chance against colds and flus.

Helps fight cancer: The biological compounds of the plant give it this superpower that helps fight cancerous cells. I encourage you to do deeper research, but the Natural Institute of Health (NIH) put this herb to the test and it came back with tremendous results.

Pain reliever: This herb can be used to relieve pain from, headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, sore throats, herpes or sores and wounds. Just to name a few.

Anti inflammatory: Echinacea is a high anti inflammatory herb, it it suggested that individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis take it daily to help reduce inflammation. It can help with back pain, caused by inflammation, as well.

Mental health: Echinacea is highly regarded when it comes to mental health. It is one of the first herbs that was used to help treat symptoms of ADD/ADHD. It also helps reduce anxiety, depression and mental stress. It helps clear the mind of clutter.

While echinacea is an herb that you must always have on hand, high doses of echinacea can result in some side effects such as nausea and dizziness. The proper dosage of echinacea is around 20 milligrams a day.

How to use Echinacea 

You can take echinacea daily by capsule, tea, or tinctures. The best form of any herb is a liquid form such as a tincture. A tincture allows the medicinal properties of the herb to enter your blood stream faster, allowing it work more efficiently.

I struggle with ADD and since using this herb on a daily basis, I have found that I become a little more clearer everyday. Sure, I still get so busy that I forget things, but there was one day where I thought to myself, man I can actual keep a thought. Since then I have been sold on this herb.

A higher power put these herbs on the earth for a reason. To help guide us and keep us healthy. Use them!

Happy Echinaceaing!

Don’t forget to follow us on the blog and on Instagram. 

 

 

 

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Kombucha Series 3: Brewing Up Some Kombucha Yo

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So you made yourself a SCOBY and your thinking, how in the world do I brew a batch of Kombucha to drink? I got you covered homie, I got you covered. See now aren’t you glad you hit the follow button and received an email updating you that this post was available? I thought so. Ok carrying on. This is the third post to this three part Kombucha series. If you missed the first two be sure to read, WTF is Kombucha and Growing a Kombucha SCOBY. Let’s Kombucha it up yo.

Lets talk about ingredients for a second.

Teas:

When it comes to choosing which tea is the best, you really want to stick with black at first and allow your SCOBY to grow and mature. When using green tea, you want to be sure your SCOBY has at least four batches under its belt. It takes a bit more strength to get green tea fermented. You can use white but again your SCOBY needs to be mature. I’ve heard of some people using Rooibos tea, which has great antioxidants properties to it, with no problem. So really, there is room to experience the with. After you have done a few batches with  black and your SCOBY is strong, take a baby off of it and brew up a couple batches with different teas.

Let’s talk caffeine for a second

Kombucha contains about a third of the caffeine compared to a normal brew of tea. The longer the Kombucha brews the less caffeine it has. Do not use decaf tea, as it is treated with a chemical, leaving filled with toxins that can harm the SCOBY. You can brew your Kombucha with a mix of green and white tea, which contain less caffeine then black. It is suggested that every fourth brew you use black though to keep your SCOBY strong.

Sugars:

I’m sure the thought of adding so much white sugar made you cringe a little bit. I get it but you have to rememebr that sugar is what the SCOBY feeds off of. So when you start with a batch of sweet tea, you are not ending with sweet tea.  Organic white cane sugar allows for consistent results each time. Sweeteners such as honey, agave, maple syrup can give inconsistent results. There is also some debate about honey since it is an antimicrobial and what we got growing here is pure microbes but some use it with no problem. So again experimenting is the best thing to do to answer those kinds of questions. So far, I have only used cane sugar.

Alright let’s get a brewing.

Ratios:

Half Gallon                                                                                         Gallon

1 cup starter tea or white distilled vinegar                              2 cups starter tea or vinegar

1/2 cup white sugar                                                                       1 cup white sugar

7 cups of water                                                                               14 cups of water

4 tea bags.                                                                                         8 tea bags

1 cup starter tea                                                                              2 cups starter tea

Directions:

Before you get started, you want to make sure everything is clean, dry and ready to go. Remember when handling your SCOBY you want to keep everything really clean. DO NOT use antibacterial soap when washing your hands before handling the SCOBY. Again, we are harboring good bacteria in the SCOBY so we don’t want to kill off any bacteria when handling it. 

1. Boil up your desired amount of water.

2. Once boiled add your sugar and allow to dissolve.

3. Add your desired amount of tea bag and take your pot off the heat. I put it on a pot holder on the counter to allow it to cool faster.

 

 

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4. Allow your tea to cool to 95 degrees or lower with the tea bag in it.

5. Take the tea bags out and compost them.

6 Pour your cool tea into the jar that has your SCOBY.

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7. Cover with a paper towel, thin muslin fabric, or doubled up cheese cloth.

There are chances with all covers for gnats to get into your tea and lay eggs in your SCOBY. So making sure you have a big enough covering and a tight enough rubber band is key here. This just happened to me. I’ll post how to take care of your SCOBY after gnats soon. 

8. Put in a cool dark place for 7-14 days.

You are going to want to check the taste weekly. Each week it becomes more and more vinegary. So when it reaches desired taste then it’s ready to pour and put in the fridge or go for a second ferment.

I have my tea fermenting in a glass jug with a pour spout. One tip I found is that when using this kind of jar you never really have to touch your SCOBY and your starter tea is always available. When your Kombucha is ready to pour then just pour it out into another jug or into air tight bottles if doing a second ferment.

A little side note

Your SCOBY will take the shape of any jar you use. Before I learned about using a glass container with a pour spout, I had my SCOBY in a square container. When I transferred it to the large round container, it formed an entire new layer. The SCOBY acts as a seal, to not let oxygen into the tea. So even if you transfer your SCOBY to a bigger vessel, magic still happens. Pretty amazing.

On the left is my original SCOBY On the right, you can see my original SCOBY on the bottom left under the newly forming SCOBY? Is that not just incredible.

Lets talk about the second ferment:

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This is where you build carbonation and add flavoring. You can add flavoring and not do a second ferment but it is just so much tastier all bubbly. So pour your tea in air tight glass amber bottles. Choose flavoring of your choice. The sky’s the limit here.

Ginger- slice up pieces of ginger and place in bottle.

Lemon- thinly slice pieces of lemon and place in bottle.

Strawberry- purée a handful of strawberries and pour about an inch in each bottle.

Blueberry pomegranate- pop a handful of blueberries and pomegranates in each bottle.

Mango- either slice or purée mango and place in bottle.

Leave a good amount of head space in each bottle. I stop right at the neck of the bottle. Carbon dioxide is being created when using an air tight lid so you want to make sure you leave some room. You also want to remember to burp your bottles everyday to lower the risk of the bottles bursting. 

Allow bottles to sit for about a week. I did three days and it seemed bubbly but not super carbonated so my next batch is going for a week. I’ll keep you posted. Again, its all about experimenting. Once they reach desired bubbly action, place in fridge and enjoy.

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Or you can pour Kombucha through a jelly strainer and strain out all the fruit or purée. It is nice to be able to drink it without chewing on stuff. It’s kind of an extra step in the process but I think it’s worth it. Your choice.

Don’t forget to save tea from your batch to keep as your starter tea before you do your second ferment. 

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You are done my friends. Now brew yourself another batch of sweet tea and get another round brewing. If you do not want to brew another batch or you’re going out of town. Make a SCOBY hotel. What in the world is a SCOBY hotel? Hang on. I think a fourth post to our Kombucha series was just added to the list.

Tell me about your favorite flavor of Kombucha in the comments below. 

If you want to learn how to make a proper SCOBY hotel, hit the follow button. That way, when it posts you receive an email notification.

Happy Kombucha brewing!!

This posts contains affiliate links. When you buy a product I suggest by clicking on the link I provide, I get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support homies.

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Kombucha Series 2: Growing A Kombucha SCOBY


Ingredients for a homemade Kombucha Scoby.

Let’s make a mutha Fing SCOBY shall we.

If you have not already read the first part of this three part series: WTF is Kombucha, I suggest you check it out. This post is going straight to the point and discussing how to grow yourself a SCOBY.

Let’s do this thang.

Things you’ll need:

A bottle of store bought raw organic unflavored Kombucha

A glass half gallon or gallon size jar

1/2 cup organic white cane sugar

4 organic black or green tea bags

7 cups filtered water

Thermometer

Cheesecloth

Directions:

1. Boil your water. It’s important that it is filtered water. The SCOBY has trouble forming or surviving in tap water, due to high amounts of chlorine.

2. Add your sugar and allow to dissolve.

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3. Place tea bag in water and turn off heat. Allow tea to cool to a temperature of 95 degrees or lower. Any hotter then that and it will kill the tiny strains of SCOBY that you’ll be adding from your bottle. Even when you have a full grown SCOBY, the temp still needs to be 95 degrees or lower.

Side note about this thermometer, it’s amazing. At first I was like, holy crap why did I spend $40 on this thing but it really does come in handy. 

Kombucha Scoby Recipe

4. Once tea is cooled remove the tea bags, don’t forget to compost yo. Pour your tea in your jar and then pour your store bought Kombucha bottle in.

Those little weird slimy things in your store bought bottle of Kombucha is actually little pieces of SCOBY. That is all it takes for a full mother to form. See that little tiny piece of SCOBY on the left, that’s all it takes.

How to make a Kombucha Scoby

5. Cover the top with a piece of cheese cloth folded a couple of times. That way it’s  thick but will still allow the tea to breath. Hold it down with a rubber band.

Place that sucker in a cool dark place and allow the magic to happen. This whole fermenting thing blows my mind. Over the next two weeks you will see this weird foam start to form. Then that foam will form a layer of film on top. That film will start to get thicker and thicker and then BAM, you got yourself a muther Fing SCOBY. I’m telling you, it will blow your mind.

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SCOBY at 1 week
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SCOBY at 2 week
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SCOBY at 1 week
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SCOBY at 2 week

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Your SCOBY should be ready to go after two weeks. If it needs another week, give it another week. If you feels it’s thick enough then congratulations you now have a beautiful Kombucha SCOBY that will last forever as long as you feed it. The incredible thing about a SCOBY is that it will continue to grow with each batch you make. You will start to see this little layer laying on top of the mother. The mother is the main SCOBY. Feel free to start sharing your baby SCOBYs after about batch number four. After four batches you have got yourself a strong SCOBY. So share the love.

The tea that was used to create the SCOBY is good to drink as well. So don’t let that go to waste. It’s going to be pretty strong so make sure to taste it. Flavor it up if you want or if you’re a bad ass, drink it straight.

Rememebr, your SCOBY is a living thing. So if your not up for making another batch, that’s cool, just make sure you place your SCOBY in a “hotel.” Make some sweet tea and place your SCOBY in it and you can allow it to sit for up to two weeks. If you need it to go longer just add another cup of sweet tea on top. Your SCOBY needs the sugar to feed off of to stay alive.

I do believe that’s it my friends. Now I’m sure you’re thinking, wait how do I brew an actual batch of Kombucha? I gotcha homie, I gotcha but patience is key.

Happy Growing a SCOBY!

Share your SCOBY making adventure with me and leave a comment. Don’t forget to hit the follow button to receive an email when there is an awesome post waiting for you to read, like the third part to this series, Brewing up a batch of Kombucha.

This post contains affiliate links. If you happen to purchase a product that I suggest by clicking on my link, I get a few cents here and there at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting. 

 

 

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Homemade Kefir

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We are talking homemade kefir here people. I am so excited to share my little adventure with you. I am sure everyone around me is like, enough already. But I just can’t help it. I am a huge fan of this stuff and let’s be honest, it’s a blast to make. If you are new to the world of good bacteria, be sure to check out my post here. Check out this post if you want to learn what kefir is all about. And check this post out to get all your questions answered.  This post is about making this MoFo. So let’s get on with it.

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Making kefir is super easy and takes about 5 minutes to start the ferment and 10 minutes to finish it. Now, if you have had store bought kefir you are going to want your first ferment to come out exactly like that. At least I did, and I was super bummed when it didn’t. So realize that store bought is filled with sugars, preservatives and even pectin to help thicken it up and make it yogurt like. I am not saying that you’ll never reach that level of consistency because my good friend, you most definitely will. You just need patience and practice. From your first ferment to you 100th you are forever learning and finding new ways of deliciousness. As I go through the steps to making kefir, you may have questions and need more details. Please visit the Q & A post it will answer all that you are questioning. So on to making.

Directions:

  1. Place your 1-2 tablespoons of grains in a 6 cup mason jar and fill to the 6 cup line with milk.
  2. Place a coffee filter with rubber band or plastic mason jars lid on your jar. Do not over tighten.
  3. Place your jar in a cool dark place like a cabinet or pantry.

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img_2507img_25084. Allow to ferment for 24-36 hours. you will see separation of the curds and whey. Notice the yellowish liquid in the photo above. That is totally normal. Notice the photo below where it looks clumpy and kinda weird. Totally normal. There may also be a yeasty smell, guess what I am going to say……….you guessed it, TOTALLY NORMAL.

img_2509img_25105. Take a wooden or plastic spoon and stir that bad boy up. Then strain into a glass bowl using a plastic strainer.

6. Pour kefir back into mason jar. And you are done!

Now if you are straight up gangsta, you can drink it straight like that, sourness and all. But most of us need a little help and would appreciate some sweetness and flavor so here is what you do.

7. Blend up 3 bananas, 1-2 cups of fruit of choice. My preferred choice is to use blueberries and strawberries. Fresh or frozen your choice. I use frozen so I heat them up slightly so that I am not making a smoothie consistency. Blend all your goodness up and pour into your kefir. I also add a touch of 100% pure organic maple syrup to round out the flavor, just about a teaspoon. And you are done! Or are you?

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Now you can get extra crazy and put your kefir back in the pantry for another 10-12 hours. This is called a second ferment. By doing this you develop an effervescent taste to your kefir. Not necessary to do but could be a fun experiment. Once your second ferment is done, put in fridge and enjoy. I did this step for a while but found it was just much easier and still very tasty to just toss it in the fridge after I was done adding the fruit.

Let’s say you done making kefir for the week and you don’t want to make any more. All you are going to do is take a quart size jar, or whatever size you need, put your grains in it and pour enough milk to cover your grains plus an inch or so. Place the jar in the refrigerator. And BAM, good to go. Putting your grains in the fridge slows down the grains and the fermenting process. They will last for about a week or so. Just make sure after a week you give them fresh milk to fed off of. The milk that you use to store them in is still delicious and can be consumed.

 

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Get crazy here people. Once you got the basis down start trying new things. You want this to be delicious, that way you actually drink it everyday. I make about a two gallons a week and that seems to last us, barely. We drink this everyday, kids and all.

I’m so excited to share this with y’all.  Kefir can be made into cheese to! Which is super exciting to make, post sure to come. Let me know how your kefir comes out.

Happy Kefiring!

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Comfrey and Lavender Salve Recipe

Lavender Comfrey salve recipe

Let’s make a comfrey lavender salve people.

How do you make a salve?

A salve is an ointment made with healing properties. And as with most things I try and do, this comfrey lavender salve recipe is super duper easy man. You can literally make a salve with any dried herbs or oils. I choose to make a comfrey and lavender salve because well, if you don’t know by now comfrey is just straight up amazing and lavender is just heavenly. So there ya go. Let’s roll shall we.

There are a few ways to make a salve. You can use dried herbs from your garden or Mountain Rose Herbs, which I’ve been super pleased with. Or you can add essential oils to it. When using dried herbs you need to make an infused oil with it. You can cold steep it for ten weeks like my husband is doing with some comfrey, post to come. Or if you’re impatient like I am, you can crock pot it for 3-4 hours. Let the crock potting begin! Let’s get this lavender comfrey salve recipe goin’!

What you’ll need for your lavender comfrey salve:

Dried herbs

Essential oil

Vitamin E oil

Carrier oil of choice

Beeswax: 2 tablespoons for every 1 cup of oil

Glass jar

Step 1: Lavender Comfrey salve recipe

I happen to have a little baby crock pot that came with our crock pot. Feel free to use your regular crock pot or you can use a double broiler as well. A double broiler if you’re unfamiliar, is a pot with water on the bottom and a bowl or another pot that fits on top. This helps heat stuff without putting direct flame on to it.

Step 2: Lavender Comfrey salve recipe

To make the infused oil, place dried herbs in a crock pot and pour enough oil to cover the herbs. So the amount can vary depending on what you have and or need. You can use what ever oil tickles your fancy. I used olive oil here. But avocado oil, apricot oil, almond oil, jojoba oil and fractionated coconut oil are also great options. So, in whatever cooking method you choose, place herbs and oil in and cook for about 3-4 hours. The longer the better but you can still get a nice oil from 3-4 hours.

Step 3: Lavender Comfrey salve recipe

Step 4: Lavender Comfrey salve recipe

Once your oil is done, strain out the liquid into a pot. I used a jar and that was pointless because I made a mess and I had to just transfer it anyway to a pot. So save your self the oily mess and strain in into a pot. Now add your beeswax. Melt down your beeswax but make sure not to bring to a boil. So you are going to have to watch this part carefully. Once your wax is melted turn heat off and add 20-30 drops of your choice of essential oil and 5-10 drops of vitamin E. You’re done homie, pour into a glass container and bam you got yourself some lavender comfrey salve. See now wasn’t that easy peasy. Feel free to use like lotion.

If you’re interested in making a cold infused oil. Place dried herbs in a mason jar or glass container. Pour oil of choice until it covers it. Place a lid on and steep for 6-10 weeks in a dark cool space.

There is also what is called solar infused oil, which are the same steps as above but you place outside or on a sunny window and allow the sun to infuse the oil. Allow to steep for 2-4 weeks. When using either method remember to shake and move around the oil and herbs everyday or a few times a week. I like to send it some good juju while I’m shaking it and just repeat a little prayer, if you will. Whatever I’m making will be used for my family or someone I care about. So sending out that good energy or juju only makes it that much stronger. Enjoy!

Happy salving!

Learn more about the benefits of comfrey here!

Also, check out my step-by-step instructions on how to make a comfrey poultice!

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Chamomile and Lavender Tea for the Bath

 

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So my little poodles, and by poodles I mean my children not actual poodles, are not feeling well. They got a little nasty chest cold happening and it’s really not fun for any of us. When your kids are sick, do you ever not want to inhaling the same air as them? Or when they go to touch your, well anything, you pause for a second and hold your breath and think, “oh man, I’m probably going to get sick!” Or better yet when they look right at you with that sweet poor little sick face and in that moment your guard drops and you just want to cuddle them and then they cough practically in your mouth and then in your head you yell, “damn it, now I’m really going to get sick!”……..anyone?…….. just me?……come on, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway moving on, so my poodles are sick right now and yes while we do give them medication like Tylenol, we still like to help them feel better using natural remedies as well. My go to when they are not feeling well is to make a tea for their bath using lavender and chamomile. These two together smell just heavenly. The strong aroma of the lavender soothes them while the chamomile relaxes their ailments. Let’s dive into both of these herbs.

Chamomile is such an essential herb to have on hand when you have kids. It is one of the safest herbs for children to ingest. When our son was born he was very colicky. When nothing else worked I would make him a very diluted chamomile tea and give it to him in a dropper. It would relax him enough for us to grab a breath before he started up again. I would also make a double strength batch of chamomile tea and pour it in his bath. Man oh man, I discovered the powers of this method. He would go into a little bath sedation. His whole body would relax and you can see him soak in every bit of what was happening. So once I found this, it’s usually my go to when they need help relaxing.

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So chamomile is super helpful for stomach digestion. It helps with colicky babies. It helps relieve diarrhea. It helps relieve stress and anxiety. Chamomile can help relax sore muscles and joint aches. It is super helpful to calm the nervous system. It’s been known to help with menstrual cramping. It can be taken internally, topically, and aromatically. There are a few ways that you can introduce chamomile into your life. By making a tincture, salve, tea or essential oil. Tinctures are amazing. They are usually made by infusing vodka with dried herbs and then taken internally. However, you can also use vegetable glycerin or apple cider vinegar. Salves allows you to apply it topically like a lotion. Teas allow you to ingest it internally and essential can be used topically as well as aromatically.

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Lavender, as we have discussed before, is just amazing. It is an antifungal, antibacterial, it helps calm the nervous system and helps relieve headaches and minor aches and pains. Lavender just smells absolutely divine so by adding this to a bath or honestly any way possible, will only make your soul smile. Lavender can be used the same way as chamomile as a tincture, salve, tea or essential oil or however your little heart desires. Lavender can be ingested. For me when an herb can be ingested I feel pretty confident with it being safe enough for my children.

So let’s make a little ol’ tea for the bath shall we.

if I don’t have any lavender harvested from the garden my favorite place to buy herbs so far is from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are certified organic and I don’t know why but I just dig them. Same with chamomile, we haven’t had any luck, just yet, growing chamomile so I usually buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Now naturally I remembered to take pictures after I had already steeped my tea so bare with me. So, to make a tea for the bath there really are no measurements, let’s eyeball it here people it’s going to be okay. Fill a small pot up with water and bring to a boil. Throw in about ¼ cup of each herbs. Turn off the flame and cover your pot and allow to steep for about 20-30 minutes.

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Once it’s done steeping grab a jar or bowl place a strainer over the top and pour your tea through. You can take a spoon and press all the liquid out. Toss your steeped flowers in your compost.

You’re ready to rock. Toss that tea in a bath and let it do its magic.

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Happy tea making!

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Comfrey

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What Are The Benefits and Uses of Comfrey?

Wooo let’s talk about an interesting little plant called Comfrey, or if you want to get fancy, Symphytum Officinale. This plant is one of those medicinal plants that you just want to have on hand. Because when sh!t hits the fan, this little bad boys going to come in handy and you’re going to think to yourself, “I am so glad I subscribed to Oh Sure I Can blog and learned about this!” Alright maybe that’s a little over board but seriously, if you’re building your holistic medicine cabinet, this is the herb for you. Okay enough with the babble let’s get down and dirty with this bad boy.

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Comfrey, it grows about 3-4 feet high. It has bristle like hairs on the leaves. It grows these beautiful little delicate purple, white, or pink flowers. The roots grow deep and strong making it a very hard plant to get rid of. The roots are covered in a bark revealing a white center when cut. It is a strong beautiful plant when watered daily and loved. Ahhh yes I went there!

Comfrey Tea

Comfrey is a wonderful plant to have to add extra nitrogen back into soil. It can be used as a chop and drop, you chop the leaves back and drop as a mulch and it composts back into the soil. A Comfrey tea is always a win for your lovely garden. You chop some leaves put them in a bucket. Cover leaves with water and allow to steep for about 3-6 weeks. Bing bang boom, you got a delicious comfrey tea your plants will delightfully drink up. Just mix about 15 parts water to one part comfrey tea. This method makes more of a concentrate so it can go a long way. Water away and your plants will say, ahhh thank you.

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Comfrey Benefits

The medicinal properties of Comfrey are really what we are after when building our holistic medicine cabinet. Comfrey contains allantoin, rosmarinic acid and tannis all which help the skin rapidly grow cells back. Making this a great herb to have on hand when you have a minor scrape, burn or wound. Comfrey has also been known to help heal broken bones and sprains. WHAT! It’s true. It has anti inflammatory properties to it as well. I mean what other plant out there do you know can help heal a broken bone?! Let’s just say that Comfrey benefits are extraordinary!

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Comfrey Uses

Now how do you use comfrey, this interesting plant. You can use it in a salve by creating an oil with the plant and mixing it with beeswax. (Psst..Here’s the recipe for a lavender comfrey salve!) You can make a poultice, by blending up fresh leaves and spreading it out on a cheese cloth. Learn how to make comfrey poultice here. Or you can just use it fresh leaves, rub it a little in your hand to break the walls and lay it over the sprain or wound.

We had a really hard time finding this little miracle plant. But keep looking for it at farmers markets or reputable seed companies and get it growing in your garden already. You won’t be sorry and maybe one day you’ll be like holy moly, I have this amazing comfrey plant that I could use to help my back pain go away. I’m tellin’ ya, comfrey is an amazing plant with so many uses.

Happy comfreying!

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Canning: Chicken Stock

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It’s getting fun up in here with some chicken stock people. We love making chicken stock. Now, it does take some time and effort and sometimes we just don’t feel up to making it. But when we do man, oh man do we love it. Now when I say we, I’m mostly saying my husband. He’s been the real master mind around this chicken stock making adventure. This post is really a big fat thank you to my husband for taking time after working all day to make us this deliciousness. The feeling that comes from popping open your own delicious can of chicken stock, is like no other feeling in the world. You feel accomplished, satisfied. How do we (my husband) make it you ask, oh well let me tell you.

You know that whole chicken you buy from the store that you cut up. You cut out two breast, two legs and two wings,  then you throw the rest away. Well I encourage you to stop throwing the carcass away. You are going to take that bad boy and bust out your crock pot. If you don’t have a crock pot, that’s cool, just take out a big pot and throw it in that bad boy. After you cook it for a full 24 hours you are going to bust out that bad ass canner you bought your self and can up that delicious stock you just made. If making it in a pot, you’ll just cook it for about 12 hours.  I guess that was a little vague uh, ok let’s get into the details.

Ingredients:

Chicken carcass
3 carrots
3 celery
½ sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Filtered water

Directions:

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After you cut up your chicken and your carcass is left, throw it in a crock pot.

Rinse carrots and celery, no need to peel the carrots. You are not eating them, all these veggies are just for flavor. Chop carrots, celery and onion. Throw in crock pot. Along with cloves of garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Now add filtered water just until it covers chicken and veggies. Turn on low and cook for a full 24 hours, you may need to turn it back on low after so many hours. My husband usually starts it after dinner, after cutting it up and then finishes it the following night right before we start dinner.

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After the full 24 hours, get your pressure canner on the stove filled with water and start heating it up. Get everything else you need for canning. (click here for a refresher) Next, you are going to take a big pot and put a strainer on top of it. You want to strain the meat and veggies and reserve the liquid. We usually pick out the bones and as many of the peppercorns as possible and feed it to our dog. Nothing goes to waste.

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Put the pot back on the stove and just bring it to a boil. Once your pressure canner is ready, put your funnel on your jars and fill with stock. Leave ½ inch of head space. Wipe rim of your jars with your paper towel, put your lid and ring on and tighten only finger tight. Place those suckers in the canner. Put your lid on and allow steam to vent for a full 10 minutes. Now, steam will start to trickle out of the vent hole as soon as you put your lid on. What you want to wait for is a full flow of steam to come out of the vent. Once that happens set your timer for 10 minutes. Once your timer goes off you are going to put on your weight at 10 lbs and process for 20 minutes for pints 40 minutes for quarts.

Once your time is up you want to just turn off your stove and allow the pressure canner to cool and release the pressure. DO NOT try and speed up this process by trying to cool it down with a wet towel or ice. Just turn off the stove and go about your business for about 30 minutes or until the gauge reads zero. Then you can take off the weight and I usually wait about another 30 minutes. I believe the instructions say to wait another two minutes but I stay on the safe side. Take your jars out and place on a towel on the counter and leave for 24 hours. By leaving the jars alone you ensure the jars seal properly. If you’re lucky you might hear the sweet sound of the PING, the sweetest sound to a canners ear. That sound tells you, you just canned yourself some chicken stock, homie.

How to use your chicken stock:

1. Sip on it when you are sick, it is amazing at boosting your immune system and makes you feel so much better.
2. In any recipe that calls for stock or broth.
3. I use it in my homemade Spanish rice.
4. Use it in sauces.

The list can really go on, use it like you would store bought stuff. Don’t forget to label and date your jars. They will sit pretty in your pantry for about a year.

Happy chicken stock making!

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