Tag Archives: natural living

Beet Pasta

IMG_3001We have a slightly ridiculous amounts of beets this year.  Last year was the first year we grew them and the entire family loved them so we grew three times as much this year.  Beets should keep well in cold storage so I’m looking forward to eating them most of the winter.

However, lots of beets means learning new ways of preparing them so last week I took a stab at making beet pasta.  It turned out great.  The dough was a really pretty color and the kids thought that was pretty awesome.  The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the color of the pasta after it had been cooked.  Most of the red came out in the water so we had very pale pink noodles.  Aside from that they were easy to make and not a whole lot more time consuming that making regular pasta.

Want to make your own beet pasta?  Here’s how I did it.

Recipe makes approximately 8 servings. This is a long process although not a ton of work. Start early!

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Peel and chop 1-2 beets.  Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees until soft.  Let cool.

If you store your eggs in the fridge, take 3 out to bring them to room temperature.

IMG_3014Blend until smooth in a blender. Try not to cringe at the color whirling around in your blender…

IMG_3016 IMG_3021Once your beets are blended, measure out half a cup of puree.  Save any leftovers for another meal, throw it in the freezer, or feed it to your baby if you have one!

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IMG_3017Put 3 cups of all purpose flour in a stand mixer and crack your three room temperature eggs in.

IMG_3022Use the dough hook to mix all the ingredients together.  Don’t have a stand mixer?  No problem, use your hands and your dough will most likely turn out even better than mine.

Continue to knead your dough.  Add flour until your dough is smooth and not sticky.  Depending on the size of your eggs you may need to add quite a bit more, or just a small amount.  If your dough is ever too dry you can add a bit of water.

Once your dough is looking smooth and elastic, remove it from the bowl and knead by hand for about five minutes.  Longer if you’re tough, shorter if you’re a weakling when it comes to kneading.  Like me.

IMG_3024Check out the color of that dough!

IMG_3026Cover your dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least half an hour.  Longer if you have time!

IMG_3028After the rest period split your dough in to four sections.  Keep one section out and cover the other three back up.

The rest of my instructions include using a pasta machine.  If you don’t have one you can hand roll and cut them.  I tried to find a good online tutorial for this but I didn’t have much luck.  It might be worth looking into however, I’ve done it before and it’s not very difficult.

IMG_3032Cut your small section in half and roll one piece through the thickest setting on your pasta machine.  Fold it in half and run it through again.  Continue to fold and run through until you get a nice uniform piece.  When you get a nice piece start rolling it through thinner settings until you get to the second smallest setting, or smallest, depending on your preference.

IMG_3033Cut your long piece in half.  This is totally optional, I do it because my pasta machine is terrible at cutting the noodles so the longer they are the more of a pain it is for me to separate them.

Dust with more flour and run it through your choice of noodle.  I always use my linguine cutter again because I have to separate all my noodles after they have been cut and that takes twice as long on the spaghetti cutter.

Repeat steps with all the dough.

This is also where I get help.  Lots of help.  Three kids fighting over who gets to help in fact!

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IMG_3035The next step is optional.  I like to hang my noodles partly because I freeze half of them and partly because I find if they dry for a half hour or so they just come out a nicer texture.  You can however cut and boil your noodles right away.  If you don’t hang them, flour them liberally as you continue to cut the rest or you’ll get a big pile of noodles all stuck together.

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I use my laundry rack to dry my noodles.  And yes I wash it before and after!IMG_3042It looks like a lot of noodles but this is barely enough for two meals for my family.

Once your noodles have hung for a bit get a big pot of salted water boiling.  Add your noodles and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  I’ve never actually timed it I just keep sneaking noodles and trying them until they are ready.

Drain and serve any way you like!

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Beet Pasta

3 eggs, room temperature

3-4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup beet puree

Combine eggs, 3 cups of flour, and beet puree into a stand mixer.  Mix with the dough hook until well combined.  Continue to add flour until you get a smooth, elastic, and not sticky dough.  Let rest for at least half an hour.  Roll out and cut.  Boil in salted water for 5-7 minutes.

Making Baby Cereal

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My littlest dude is eight months. Already.  This means that he’s been on solid food for a couple of months already.  I made a decision when I was still pregnant with him to try to completely avoid processed food and formula for him.  At first I thought it would be a little difficult when it came to baby cereal but it turns out it was extremely easy.  I mostly fed him oatmeal cereal at the start and then quickly switched to regular cooked oatmeal when I decided to do Baby Led Weaning with him.

 

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It’s really easy to make baby oatmeal.  All you have to do is dump a couple of cups of instant oats in a blender or food processor and blend!  I then put it in a mason jar and stored it in the fridge.  When it came time to make Lachlan cereal I put a couple of spoon fulls in a bowl and poured boiling water over top, whisking as I poured.  It starts out looking like it will be really lumpy but once it cooks a bit and you whisk it with a fork it smooths out.June 29, 2013 055 June 29, 2013 058The only other baby cereal I made was rice cereal.  I bought heritage grain short rice and cooked up a pot of it.  Then I blended it and poured it into ice cube trays and froze them.  Then I just pulled out a cube or two whenever I needed one.  If you avoid using the microwave you have to remember to pull it out ahead of time to let it defrost then add a bit of boiling water to warm it up.

Have you made baby cereal before? How did you do it?

Spring Is a Coming…

 radishes in a cold frame
spinach in a cold frame

garlic coming up

 can’t wait for strawberries again
bees are out and about

rhubarb

Ice Fishing

We went Ice Fishing as a family for the first time last weekend.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day and the only downside to the entire trip was that we didn’t catch anything.  To be honest, no one really minded as it was still a ton of fun and it was great to be out on such a gorgeous day.

It kind of blows my mind how many things Lachlan has already done at 2 months old.  He’s been to Saskatchewan, been to the archery range several times, been ice fishing… lucky kid!

Kaed loved every bit of the day.  He was a little bummed we didn’t catch anything but that just made him more determined to get out again before the ice is too thin.  I’m guessing we have a week or two left.

The coolest part is how the holes in the ice glow when it’s dark.  We didn’t see much of anything in the water but it was still neat to see.

I spent most of the day watching and snuggling my little man but next year I hope to have a hook in the water too.

Travis farmer rigged up some fishing rods the night before we went out.  They were pretty neat, just shaped pieces of wood that would be easy for the kids to “reel” up if they caught anything. The best part is they cost next to nothing to make and take up almost no room to store.  Double score.

Grow Your Own Food

I bought the boys and myself some new shirts a few weeks ago from a shop on Etsy called Linthound
The shirts are, in my opinion, awesome and my kiddos think so too thankfully.  I love how a few hours after putting the shirt on, Kaed came in from the garden to show me that massive carrot above.  Yeah, that’s a carrot, not a sweet potato.  Not bad!

I was super impressed with Linthound.  Not only did they put this design, from one of their adult tees onto a kid tee for me but they made and shipped the shirts within a couple of days of me purchasing them.  They got here fast too which is always a bonus when ordering from the USA.  I’ve now noticed they have a new shirt I might have to add to my Christmas wishlist as well.  You know once Baby comes and I can fit into real clothes again!

I’m also a fan of their tote bag with the Grow Your Own Food on it but really how many places can I preach my backyard mentality?

Freezing Spinach

A few months ago I found out that you could buy spinach frozen in little cubes which I thought was brilliant.  That led to me thinking “I could do that!”  Thankfully we’ve had an abundance of spinach this spring so I’ve had to resort to freezing some a couple times already.  It’s really easy, quick, and seriously so handy.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any step by step pictures when I froze some last but really it’s so simple you don’t need them.
Here’s what you do:
Wash your spinach.
Drain the water out well and puree it in a blender or food processor
Scoop it into ice cube trays, tamp them down a couple of times to get air bubbles out.
Freeze them!
Once the spinach is totally frozen pop them out and put them in a freezer safe container.
One or two cubes is seriously close to a huge bowl full of spinach so adding a couple of cubes to your dinner packs a lot of spinach punch.  I also add these to smoothies, 2-3 cubes doesn’t change the taste or texture at all and adds a lot of nutrients.

Backyard Tour

Alright for those of you who wanted to see how our backyard garden(s) works here you go…

 This is looking off our deck to the side.  Once upon a time we had an old storage shed where the rain barrel and compost are and the rest was a dog run.  It’s now all food producing.  The box had a cold frame lid on it this spring.  We’ve got spinach, peppers, kohlrabi, beans, zucchini, and carrots in there.  It doesn’t look very big but it’s a decent sized garden.  We’ve now “trained” (or left her no other option) the dog to do her business in one small area which also makes for much easier clean up.

Cold frame number two has carrots, overgrown completely gone to seed spinach (which surprisingly still tastes fantastic and not a bit strong) and more carrots again on the other side.  We really like carrots.  This cold frame was seeded last September, the spinach grew until about January then had a break for a couple of months where it didn’t grow but didn’t die either.  Once it warmed up in March we got a bunch more growth. Carrots on the left were seeded late February and carrots on the right about mid-end March, they are basically the same size right now.

Main garden.  This is the garden we’ve had since we first bought our house although it slowly gets a bit bigger.  On the left is our totally classy and fancy temporary “green house” for the tomatoes and peppers.  So far it’s working like a charm.  There’s another cold frame in there as well housing more spinach, swiss chard, arugula, radishes, and of course more carrots.  Behind that we’ve got onions, garlic, peas, and both green beans and dry beans.

We started the tomatoes and peppers in the house early this year and we’ve already got some decently sized tomatoes growing and tiny little peppers.

The kids garden.  Just big enough for them each to plant 3-4 rows of whatever they wanted.  We seeded that late this year but it’s doing good so far.  (Main garden is just on the right side there)

 Here we’ve got three haskap, or honey berry bushes, and two Saskatoon’s.  Those were all just planted a month or so ago so it’ll be 2-3 years at least before we get any real production out of them. 

haskap bush

And here’s the reason we have mini fences around all the gardens… her and the three kids of course.  Anyway she’s standing in front of the raspberry bushes.  This is their third year so I’m counting on a good production.  Last year we got quite a few berries but more enough to just go out and eat a handful a day than to actually preserve for later on in the year.

These are our grape vines.  There’s three of them with strawberries scattered around the bottom.  This will be year two for the grapes.

As you can see we still have a lot of green space.  We’re lucky enough to be on a culdasac which gives us a pie shaped lot so we have a decent sized yard.  To the left Travis built a small workshop for all his bow building and other woodworking projects.  He’s also got a decent sized garden shed and we still have room to park our tent trailer and van.  On the back side of that back fence we’ve also planted a blackberry bush, along the alley.  In our front yard we just planted a honey crisp apple tree as well.  We’ve got some flowers in a front bed and lots of chives but thanks to a massive pine tree we can’t plant too much in the front yard.

So there you go.  We’ve still got more than enough playing room, a huge picnic table, clothes line, fire pit, and lots of grass but we’re able to grow a significant amount of food too.  I know the lawn will get smaller and smaller as the years go on but I’m okay with that.

Garden Update

Our big cold frame doesn’t really look anything like this anymore, it’s about 3 times fuller and bigger but I just have to say that the amount of greens we have already eaten out of garden (it’s only the end of May!) is astounding.  We have salads every day, smoothies packed full of spinach nearly every day, and greens added to anything else we want.  Surprisingly I haven’t gotten sick of it all yet, just having less success finding new ways to incorporate it in our meals.

The boys planted their own garden with Dad last Saturday morning, from carrots, to swiss chard, to beans, to spinach.  They’re pretty excited to start eating whatever pops up.

One of the things the most surprising to me is that all three kids often head outside just to grab a handful of spinach to snack on.  I do the same thing I just never expected it of preschoolers!  I’m certainly not complaining!

We also recently put in a couple of Haskap bushes, a Saskatoon bush, and some Blackberries.  This brings our backyard fruit up from Grapes, Raspberries, and Strawberries.  It probably sounds like we have no more yard left at all but we still have a good 75% of our backyard as just lawn.

Have you planted a garden yet?

The salad greens in our cold frames are, in a word, flourishing.  We have more than enough spinach to eat every day and things like arugula, radishes, and carrots are all peeking their heads up, some with more bravery than others.
this cold frame was seeded just last month!
Among the spinach we had some open space which was quickly taken over by the fast growing chick weed.  Chick weed takes over just about everything so it had to come out but why just compost it?  Instead I turned it into chick weed pasta!  It was even better than I expected.

pasta all rolled out and ready to be cut

chick weed linguine!

Supper last night turned out to be a join affair, I made the noodles while Travis bbq’d then fried up some of his home made sausage.  Trav also made up a tasty alfredo sauce and added in some more chopped chick weed and some spinach.

It was good.  More than good.

I got the basic recipe for the noodles from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.  He did a post a while back on Nettle Pasta so I just substituted the nettles for chick weed.  His nettle pasta recipe can be found here.

The only thing I will do differently next time is to at least double the amount of chick weed, or other greens than I used.  I want my noodles to be ridiculously green, just for fun.

A Few of My Favorite Things…

A few months ago, Travis and I decided to switch to all natural “beauty” and cleaning products. Here are a few of my new favorite items.

Imperialis Moisturizer by Lush

Pumpkin Patch Soap by Rocky Mountain Soap Company

Fresh Water Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner by Live Clean

Vitamin E Hand and Body Lotion by Jason

That’s all I use now for “beauty” products. I use the pumpkin patch soap on my face too and I love it!

For cleaning products I use a lot of just baking soda and vinegar, which is amazing, but for bathroom cleaners and for dish soap I use Method.

I really do like using all natural products, I find that my hair and skin generally feel better and when I’m cleaning it’s so nice to not use bleach! Method has great smelling products and really when something smells good it’s just more enjoyable to use!

If you use any natural products what do you use? What do you love?