Zucchini is one of the easier vegetables to grow, making it very rewarding. If you can take keep the squash bugs away, you can get a lot of zucchini from just a couple plants!
You want to make sure you get heirloom seeds. We like the Black Beauty variety. We start zucchini in the spring, and then again in the fall. First you will want to make a hill about 6” tall and 1” wide. Then, put two seeds into each hole, 2” apart and push down a half inch. Cover with manure or compost, and water well.
When your plants look like the above photo, it will be time to feed them again. Put 3 TBSP of kelp around the base of each plant, then add some more compost or manure. Continue to water as needed.
If, as your plants grow and start to bloom, you see only male and no female blooms, you won’t get many zucchini without doing something about this.You need males to pollinate the females. The female plants are the ones that will turn into a zucchini. If you do not know the difference in male and female blooms, use the photo below as a guide.
If we have this problem, here is what we do to help.
De-solve 2 TBSP of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and pour it around the base of the plant. Do this for each plant that you are having the problem with.
You can harvest your zucchini whatever size you like them. To harvest, all you have to do is grab the fruit and twist. If you like them small, make sure you keep an eye on them. They get big very quickly! The bigger they get, the more spongy they will be, and are less tasty when they are spongy.
If you are wanting to save seed from them, let one get as big as it will. Sometimes they will turn an orange-ish color once they are big. This does not mean you can’t save seed from them. They are still good for seed.
When you harvest, remember to pray who to give your first fruits to!
Honour Yehovah with thy substance, And with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
When you pick the one you have let grow and go to seed, pick it and cut it open. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and lay the seeds out to dry on a tray for 2-3 days. Then, store in a jar with an airtight lid.
The best way to preserve your zucchini is to either freeze or can it.
To freeze the zucchini, first you need to shred it. We have not had good success with freezing slices. When you have finished shredding the zucchini, squeeze out the juice/water. Put in a Ziploc bag and freeze.
To can, we use the following recipe:
Want a way to use your shredded zucchini? We enjoy making Zucchini bread, too! You can even use the above recipe for Pineapple Zucchini in place of the regular shredded zucchini the recipe calls for. We love using the recipes from America’s Test Kitchen, and this is one of them.
It is always rewarding, and in our opinion better tasting, when you grow food yourself on your own land. You know where it came from, what you put in to it, and each step in between.
“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
1 Cor. 3:8
Getting Your Onion Sets
You should be able to find onion sets at most local farm stores. You will usually find yellows, reds, and white. In our experience, the reds (AKA purple) store the worst, yellows the best, and whites in the middle. We usually plant three of the bags that the farm store has. We have a good time each year playing ‘How many are in the bag’ as a family!
Early Spring is the time to plant your onions. We prefer to plant our onions on little hills. We found that planting them in little ditches makes them hold the moisture in. In our experience, this causes the onions to rot and not store well.
So, with a hoe, make small hills, about 6 inches tall. Once you have finished, push your onions one by one into the top of the hill, leaving only the stem sticking out of the ground. You want to place them about 4 inches apart from each other, so they have room to get good sized.
Nourishing the Plants
We like to put grass clippings (from the yard, not hay necessarily) in between our onion rows. We add another layer every couple of weeks. This helps to add nitrogen to the soil for the onions, as well as keeping in the right amount of moisture for the onions as they grow. This is very important when the heat of summer comes. The grass clippings also help a lot in keeping the weeds down in the onion patch. If you start to see buds come onto the tops of your onions, clip them off if you do not want them to go to seed. If they go to seed, the onion itself will not be good for eating. But if you want to keep seed, you can let a few go ‘bolt’ and there will be seeds for you at harvest time.
When the tops of your onions bend over (die), it is time to harvest! The onions will not continue to grow after this happens.
To harvest your onions, all you have to do is pull them out of the ground and lay them out to dry. The below idea will help them to dry out as fast as possible. Make sure you have them under a roof, out of the weather. You don’t want them to have any moisture in them when you store them, or they will rot, regardless of the color.
If you decide to lay them on a flat table, you will need to be flipping them every few days so they will continue to dry and not just send the moisture deeper into the onion.
Pulling your onions and seeing how much they have grown is a VERY rewarding time, and it is a great time to Praise Yehovah for your blessings and give him thanks!
Storing your Onions
When most of the tops of your onions are brown and there is no moisture left in it (rather than being bendy, the tops will be brittle) it is time to store them.
We like to braid our onions, the same way we do with our garlic. See below, and also our Garlic post.
When you have finished braiding your onions tops, hang them in a cool, dark, dry place.
I hope that this encourages you to grow your own onions this year! May Yehovah bless you this growing season and in the coming ones!
We’ve tried many different tortilla recipes over the years. Many times we’d end up with tortillas that were too hard, not flexible, or too thick. We’ve been using this recipe and found it to work best, and we no longer have any of these problems. If you find you have any of these problems, go back through the recipe; you may have missed a step or over worked your dough.
4 cups flour + extra for counter
2 tsp real salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
8 TBSP melted butter (1 stick)
Put flour in medium size bowl. Add melted butter and mix well.
Dissolve salt in warm water. Pour most of the salt water in and mix until a shaggy dough forms. If your dough is still a little dry add the rest of the water.
Once your dough comes together, put it on a floured counter and knead for about 5 minutes. Lightly oil your dough and place a bowl upside-down over it. Let rest for 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. (Letting your dough rest makes it easier to roll out your tortillas.)
Divide your dough into small balls. On a floured counter, roll out each ball. You can roll them all out and put parchment paper in between each tortilla, or, like we do, you can roll the next one out while you have one cooking in the skillet.
Heat a skillet (cast iron is best) on medium-high heat until really hot. Once your skillet is hot, carefully, put a tortilla in and turn your heat to medium-low. Let cook for about 25 seconds. You should see bubbles starting to fill with air. Flip over and let cook about 10-15 seconds.
Put your cooked tortilla on a plate and continue to cook the rest of your tortillas. Adjust heat as needed.
Store your leftover tortillas in a Ziploc bag. These are softest when warm so if you want to fold them, we recommend warming them back up.
Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?
In our family, we usually don’t have a lot of leftover milk from our Milk Goats or Milk Cow. But, if we ever start getting quite a few gallons backed up, we like to make vinegar cheese!
It is one of our families favorites, and has a higher, better tasting yield when made from milk a few days old (but not sour).
Here is the recipe we like to use, and that works best for the amount we usually have that needs converted to cheese. You can half or double it and get the same result.
Homemade Vinegar Cheese
*Have your ‘candy’ thermometer on handto monitor temperature
1 gallon milk (goat or cow)
1/2 c. White Vinegar
2 tsp. Real Salt
Pour your milk into a large pot and turn your stove on medium heat. Stir your milk and check the temperature frequently to keep it from scorching. When it reaches 180°, turn off your burner and add in your white vinegar. Cover with a lid, and set your timer for 20 minutes.
When your timer has went off, remove the lid. You should be able to see that the curds have separated from the whey.
Line a colander/strainer with cheese cloth/butter muslin, and pour your curds and whey into it. Tie the top of your cheesecloth/muslin and hang. (If you haven’t made cheese before, remember to put a bowl or pot underneath your hanging curds; this is to catch the whey as it drains out.)
You can let your curds hang for 1-24 hours. We like to just let it hang for an hour or two. The longer you let them hang, the drier the curds are. We just prefer ours more moist.
You can also take this recipe, and instead of hanging the curds, squeeze out most of the whey and put the remaining curds in a bowl. You can then add a little cream, and have something similar to cottage cheese. We enjoy it both ways.
“Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter…” Pr. 30:33
One of the joys of having a family milk cow is all the different uses of the milk. In our home, we use a lot of butter….and we like fresh, raw butter the best.
Instead of shaking the cream in a jar for a few hours, we found the following way that is easy, works quickly, and we get the same result!
The first step is to skim the cream off your milk that has set in the fridge, preferably at least overnight. Take your cream and put it into a quart jar. Set your cream out until it reaches room temperature. If it is too cold, it will take much longer to turn into butter.
Pour your cream into your food processor, up to the ‘max liquid’ line. Put your processor on medium speed. DO NOT leave your processor. If your cream goes too long, it will turn into butter, and then go back to liquid again. After it goes back to liquid again, it is very hard to get it to go back to butter the second time.
Watch your cream closely, and you will see it begin to ‘gather’. At first, it will go through the stage where it looks like Cool Whip; don’t stop it here, let it keep going. You will see it turn yellow, and the buttermilk will be the liquid that is left. Stop it here! Take off your lid, and you will be able to see clumps of butter floating around, stuck to the sides or middle.
Drain off your buttermilk into a jar (if you want to keep it) and put your butter into a bowl. Press it down with a spoon, and you will see more buttermilk come off; Pour it out of your bowl. Continue to do this until you press and no buttermilk comes out.
When you are finished, and no more buttermilk comes out upon pressing, rinse your butter with cold water, pour it off, and pat it dry.
Salt your butter (if you like it salted), and it is ready to enjoy.
Persimmons are a fruit, often wild, that is ready for harvest in the fall. Wild persimmons are native to most of the US, and can also be found in orchards in places like Oregon and California.
To look for a persimmon tree, in the fall you will look for the fruit hanging in the tree. In the summer it will be smaller and green, and plump up and turn color (to orange) in the fall. In the spring, you will want to look for their signature ‘bumpy’ bark, pictured here:
When you find a persimmon tree, see if it has fruit on it, or if it is spring, check back as time goes on to see if it starts to get fruit. You will know the fruit is ripe and ready for harvest when they are orange and squishy. Sometimes they will have a tinge of purple, too. You DO NOT want to eat green persimmons! They will dry out your mouth and give you a belly ache!
Often, when they are ripe, they will fall from the tree. This is when it is ready, and it has all the enzymes in it for digestion. This is the best time to eat them! Pick them up off the ground and put them in your container. You can wash them later. If you shake the tree, or if you had a recent windy day, the ones that are ready will also fall.
You will want to get them as they fall, because otherwise the deer, or other animals, will beat you to them!
When the persimmons are ripe, they will have a very sweet taste.
Take in your persimmons and wash them well. Pick off the stems that stick to them when you pick them or they fall. Put your remaining fruit in a pot, and smash it until it becomes the consistency of pudding. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of seeds, but we will deal with those next.
The next step is to run your persimmons, seeds and all, through a food mill, like the one shown here:
Put your hand crank food mill over an empty stock pot and run it through. The result will look something like orange pudding. This is called ‘persimmon pulp’. You can freeze this or make persimmon pudding! Below is the recipe we like best of the ones we’ve used.
Remember to thank God for providing, and for giving the strength to harvest what he has provided!
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. Pr. 13:4
Harvesting/Picking up the Walnuts
Walnuts are ready to harvest each fall. Some years there will be a bigger harvest than others. This can depend on the weather, or whether or not there had been a big harvest the year before.
When you see that the walnuts are falling/have fell off the trees, they are ready to harvest. Get yourself some boxes, containers, milk crates, totes, buckets, or whatever you prefer and just simply pick them up! There is also a special tool made specifically for this job, called a “nut picker upper”. (see photo on left)
It is always a good idea to bring along a hammer and go ahead and crack a few open to make sure there are actually nuts inside before you spend all the time gathering them! Wear gloves while cracking them, so you don’t get the green juice on your hands. (More on this in another post here)
Lay the walnuts in the sun to dry on a tarp, until the hulls are brown/black. You may need to flip them over if the bottoms are not drying well. They will dry faster if you do not allow them to get rained on.
When you peel off the husk, it should come off easily. If there is any husk left sticking to the nut, you can use a wire brush to get off what is sticking. This is optional, but is a good idea if you are not planning on cracking them right away.
If any of your nuts are still wet, lay them back out in the sun to prevent molding.
Storing the Nuts in Shell
When all your walnut shells are dry, put them into whichever type of storage container you choose. It will not matter if it has small holes or not, just as long as you put it in a place where they can stay dry.
ALWAYS BE SURE TO WEAR EYE PROTECTION WHEN CRACKING WALNUTS!
There are a lot of ways to crack walnuts. You can use a nutcracker (there are many different kinds), a hammer, or a vice.
Most nutcrackers will come with instructions, or you can easily find a video on how to use them from YouTube.
When using a vice, pieces of the nut sometimes like to fly off. But it works good and breaks the shell apart to get the nut out easier and in pretty good sized pieces.
We have found if you use a heavy piece of metal (like an anvil or something similar) to set the nut on when you are cracking using a hammer, it breaks apart to get out the nut easier. If you just use a piece of wood, it usually just drives the nut into it, and the nut and shell just breaks into little pieces.
Storing the Nuts
When you have finished all your nut cracking, just put your nuts in a ziploc bag. You can store them in the fridge for up to 3 months. Make sure to keep them in the bag and keep the bag closed, as walnuts can soak up smells and tastes from foods with strong odors, like garlic or onions.They can also be frozen for up to a year…But they never last that long around our house!
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. Pr. 21:5
When you make your own hummus, it just tastes better!
For starters, you need garbanzo beans. They are the base ingredient in hummus.
If you are starting with dry beans, you need to measure out 2 cups. Put them in a bowl, and make sure there is room in the bowl for them to expand. Cover them with water, and let sit for 24-48hrs. If you let them sit for 48hrs, you want to drain off the water and refill it after the first 24hrs. (If you buy canned garbanzo beans, skip this process, and just use two cans, as they are precooked)
Once they have finished the soak, drain and rinse them. Put them on to boil in a stock pot until they are soft. This usually takes about 3-3 1/2hrs.
After they are done boiling, rinse them again. If you like a more creamy textured hummus, take of the little peel around each bean. This is pretty easy, but it is tedious and does take awhile. If you don’t mind a nuttier texture, you can leave the peels on.
After you are done, put your beans in your food processor, and process them until crumbly in texture. While your processor is running, add in the water, olive oil, and tahini. (We like the tahini imported from Israel, Simple Truth Organic) Process until it has that hummus texture.
Pour your hummus into a bowl, and add in the salt, and lemon juice; stir until well mixed.
Top with paprika, and any other seasonings of your choice. You can also add more olive oil to the top if you like.
When you start eating clean, it is tempting to eat kosher and forget about eating healthy. After all, Coca-Cola, M&M’s, and other unhealthy foods have Kosher Symbols on them. So, doesn’t that make them clean and healthy to eat?
Even though we all like those things sometimes, being Kosher, still doesn’t make them healthy. Sorry.
Many Kosher foods contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, white sugar, hydrogenated oils, and other ingredients that are harmful to our bodies.
What makes them Kosher is that they do not contain the ingredients or the combinations of foods that the Rabbi’s consider not Kosher.
Yehoshua taught us that, if we love Him, we will obey what He commands. John 14:15
John tells us, He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. 1 John 2:6
You can find Yehovah’s clean eating instructions in Leviticus Chapter 11
We choose to follow what our Messiah did and eat clean, and to stay away from foods that although they might be “Kosher”, aren’t good for our bodies. While at the same time, eating things like lasagna that have milk and meat together because although that is not “Kosher”, it is clean. Abraham, the Father of our faith, led by example and when he was visited by Yehovah, fed Him milk and meat together. If it’s good enough for the Father, it is good for us! (Genesis 18)
We want to follow Yehovah, not men’s laws.
Below you will find a list of ingredients that can be dangerous to your health, even though you may find them on a product label that is Kosher.
Preservatives used to prevent bacterial growth and maintain the pinkish color of meats and fish. They are in cured, canned, and packaged meats. Sodium nitrite and nitrate react with amino acids to form cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines.
Hydrogenated Oils, These are oils made by forcing hydrogen gas into vegetable fats under extremely high pressure, it creates trans fatty acids. Food processors like this fat because of its low cost and long shelf life. It is found in margarine, pastries, frozen foods, peanut butter, cakes, cookies, crackers, canned soups, fast food items, and flavored coffee creamers. These man made fats are a leading cause of clogged arteries.
BHA/BHT, Butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole are petroleum-derived antioxidants used to preserve fats and oils.
To read an article on the effect of these chemicals, click here.
Artificial Colors, (Like, Yellow #5 & #6, Blue #1 & #2) These dyes have been linked to cancer, tumors, allergies, and hyperactivity.
This is commonly found in foods as a ‘flavor enhancer’.
Studies have shown that MSG increases the likelihood of weight gain, high blood pressure, asthma attacks, metabolic syndrome. Symptoms of sensitivity include; headache, flushing, tingling, weakness, and stomach ache.
MSG is the ingredient found in the ‘spice’ Accent. It’s commonly found in potato chips, fast food, ice tea mixes, packaged seasonings, sports drinks, canned soups and broth, bouillon cubes, and salad dressings.
It is best to avoid processed packaged foods and eat a whole foods diet instead. This alone will help you avoid many of these dangerous food additives.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), is derived from corn starch. Starch itself is a chain of glucose (a simple sugar) molecules joined together. When corn starch is broken down into individual glucose molecules, the end product is corn syrup, which is essentially 100% glucose.To make HFCS, enzymes are added to corn syrup in order to convert some of the glucose to another simple sugar called fructose.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, also referred to as Acesulfame potassium (K), AminoSweet®, Neotame®, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Blue Zero Calorie Sweetener Packets™, Advantame®, NutraSweet New Pink, Canderel®, Pal Sweet Diet® and AminoSweet®.
It’s used in a variety of food and wellness products like diet soda, gum, ice cream, jello, packaged yogurt, candy and vitamins. Anythings that says “Sugar Free”, “Zero Sugar”, “Light/Lite” or “Diet” usually contains Aspartame or another artificial sweetener.
Note in the picture above the aspartame in the ingredient list with an asterisk talking about this frozen yogurt containing phenylalanine. According to Mayo Clinic this can cause intellectual disabilities, brain damage, seizures and other problems.
Aspartame’s other potential dangers include cancer, induced or worsened diabetes, increased heart disease risk, nervous system and brain disorders and much more.
Here is a link to an in depth article on Aspartame, complete with numerous studies and information.
Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s)
According to the Non-GMO Project “Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Most GMOs have been engineered to withstand the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. However, new technologies are now being used to artificially develop other traits in plants, such as a resistance to browning in apples, and to create new organisms using synthetic biology. Despite biotech industry promises, there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
More than 80% of all genetically modified crops grown worldwide have been engineered for herbicide tolerance.7 As a result, the use of toxic herbicides, such as Roundup®, has increased fifteenfold since GMOs were first introduced.8 In March 2015, the World Health Organization determined that the herbicide glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup®) is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Genetically modified crops also are responsible for the emergence of “superweeds” and “superbugs,” which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons such as 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange).9,10
Most GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture and are developed and sold by the world’s largest chemical companies. The longterm impacts of these GMOs are unknown. Once released into the environment, these novel organisms cannot be recalled.”
Potassium Bromate, is used mainly is dough processing in breads and other processed foods like crackers, egg rolls, pizza crusts, and cookies.
In 1999 the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that potassium bromate is a possible human carcinogen.
You can learn more on the EWG’s website. They have information about toxic chemicals in our food, as well as in farming, personal care products, and household products like laundry soap. They offer a grading system, and make the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen Shopper’s Guide that helps you know what has the least and most pesticides residue on fruits and veggies.
As always, we encourage you to do your own research.
Cut your cabbage in half, then quarter. Take out the core with your knife.
Slice your cabbage VERY thin. (Think about the thinness of sauerkraut.)
There are a few different ways to slice/shred it.
Take a big knife, and shred/slice very thin.
Shred the cabbage with a cheese grater
Put your shredding blade on your food processor and run it through.
After you have your cabbage shredded thin, put it in your crock. Add salt.
Now, punch down your cabbage with your fists, (you can also use a tool made for this, or a thick wooden spoon) until it becomes softer and you get the juices to come out.
The juice should end up covering the cabbage. But, if for some reason, your cabbage is soft and just not juicy enough to have juice covering itself; add water to finish covering it. You want there to be an inch or so of water/juice over the top of the shredded cabbage.
Take a plate that will fit inside of your crock and place it upside-down inside of your crock. Put a jar full of water (with a lid, of course) over the top. You want this to wait down and put pressure on the plate. Cover entire crock with a towel, and let sit in a cool dark place for 4-7 days. Some crocks come with lids, these will work just as well. You will be able to tell when it is ready when it smells/tastes like Sauerkraut!
Put your sauerkraut in glass jars, and store in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for 4-6 months.