Recent Posts

Maple Vanilla Low Carb Icecream

Maple Vanilla Low Carb Icecream

Hey everyone!  Today I want to share one of my MOST favorite recipes for using those farm fresh eggs!!  My family loves this recipe as well!  It’s a custard type ice-cream, and you will need an ice-cream churn either electric or hand crank for this […]

Herbed Roasted Chicken

Herbed Roasted Chicken

I generally make TWO whole chickens.  My family of five can eat one whole chicken easily-even though 3 of them are little. Trust me when I tell you this is a leftover you will want in your fridge!  It makes wonderful chicken salad, protein for […]

Vogl Homestead

Vogl Homestead

Garden Produce
Garden Produce

I have a new farmer’s spotlight post to share with you!  This one comes from Vogl Homestead in Black Forest.

Meet the Vogl Family-Will, Karissa, Thor, and Titan.  This is another family who is serving their community through farming.  Will is a firefighter and a farmer, and Karissa is a professional photographer, and mom extrodinare.  Both also wrangle chickens and grow produce on their homestead!

Will Vogl

Will grew up on a farm, raising cows.  He and Karissa were walking through Big R one day and Karissa commented on how cute the chicks were, and the rest is now history!  They started their homestead with a couple little chicks and kept building from there.  They noticed how great the eggs from their pastured chickens tasted, and decided to purchase more chickens.  They now are the proud owners of MANY chickens, and a goose named Waffles who is their guard goose.  Will says he became interested in farming because he wanted to provide clean food to his family and his community.

He is implementing the strategies of regenerative farming.  He is also a trash negative farm-which means they produce less trash than they take in. They “rescue” items from going to the landfill and put them to work on their farm.  Some of these materials include tree waste, coffee grounds, compostables, food scraps, lawn clippings, and manure.  One of the ways they do this is by creating what is called a Hugel Mound.  Hugel mound translates into “hill culture” or hill garden.

Huegel Mound
Huegel Mound

You can see that their land is gently rolling land, which they leverage for maximum water conservation.  These Hugel mounds are made up of layers of wood, and nitrogen rich material such as coffee grounds, and Alpaca manure, topped off with logs stacked in a strategic way.  This mound serves several purposes. It helps the garden soil not to slide downhill, provides a snow fence, and aids with water sustainability.  Vogl Homestead also uses compost, and mulch to conserve water.  There are parts of their garden that have only been watered two times through the summer, and the plants still look lush and healthy!

They have also built chicken shelters that they can move on a regular basis so that their chickens receive a “fresh salad bar” every day.  They have unlimited access to fresh air, sunshine, grass, and bugs, which translates into healthier eggs for your family!  This farm provides fresh eggs, meat chickens, and produce to the community.  It is available for purchase through direct to consumer as it is available.  This is a growing homestead that will have more and more available soon!

Lots of fresh eggs!
Lots of fresh eggs

Bee Hive

 

The Vogls Welcome volunteers!  The best way to contact them to set up a time to volunteer is by contacting them via Facebook message at Vogl Homestead.

Radishes from Vogl Homestead

 

 



Carrot Turnip Dill Slices

Carrot Turnip Dill Slices

Are you wondering what to do with your turnips??  How about some delicious carrot turnip slices that can sub in for pickles on your sandwich any day???  This is fun and quick to put together, and yields amazing results!! Remember that dill that you put […]

Tips and Tricks When Drying Herbs

Tips and Tricks When Drying Herbs

Hi gang!  Today I wanted to share some tips and tricks that I’ve learned through the years when it comes to drying herbs to stock your apothecary, or pantry.  I’m going to name some specific herbs because I feel like they are some of the […]

Food Fermenting Equipment

Food Fermenting Equipment

Today’s post is going to be 2 posts rolled into one!  I want to tell you about the food fermenting equipment I use and love and also about those beautiful ferments I posted on my social media pages the other day.  My love for fermentation is two-fold; first, it speaks to my creative side, and secondly I LOVE the health benefits of fermented foods.  In my herbal practice I often recommend clients either increase fermented food-or start eating it!  It’s that good for you!  It’s quick and easy to do, and delivers a power-punch boost to your immune system!

Let’s begin by talking about fermentation vessels.  Fermenting can be easily done with nothing more than a standard canning jar (Ball or Mason), the lid and ring, some salt and some water.  The purpose of salt in your ferment is to preserve it until the lactobacilli gain enough momentum in their reproduction to take over the preservation of the food.  In a nutshell, that is what fermenting is!  As these little organisms populate your food, they become more plentiful than store bought probiotics, and quite likely more bioavailable for your body to use. When you eat fermented foods they populate your digestive system with the good things you need to keep your immune system healthy.  Fermentation also increases the nutrient density in foods, and causes those foods to be more easily digested.  So-back to the vessel for fermentation.  I do many ferments in canning jars.  I also do a lot in food grade utility crocks like the one pictured below.

 

Ohio Stoneware Food Grade Utility crock
This is one of my many Ohio Stoneware Food Grade Utility crocks

I love these crocks!  It is important to get a food grade crock because they use paints on them that are non-toxic.  If you have one of your grandma’s old crocks- be sure that it is not lead paint that was used on the surfaces that will be in contact with your fermenting food.  It can leach into your food.  In my fermentation classes I’ve had questions about cracks in old crocks.  I was told by an older and wiser fermenter that you can use beeswax to cover the cracks.  There is another style of crock that has a “moat” around the top rim.  This is to fill with water and once you place the lid on it, it will seal the ferment from the outside air.  This is good, because too much oxygen in your ferment will cause kahm yeast, which is unsightly, and can alter the taste of your ferment.  It’s not dangerous-however it may be difficult to determine between kahm yeast and mold when you are a beginner fermenter.  You definitely don’t want to consume a ferment that has mold on it!

You can also use a fermenting vessel called a FIDO JAR.  It looks like this:

Fido jar for fermentation
Fido Jar

These jars are somewhat “self burping”.  As your ferment makes more and more lactobacilli they “breathe” and produce CO2 which needs to be released from your fermenting vessel.  Let me backtrack here just a bit. The crock with a moat will not need to be periodically burped as the water seal provides a barrier against oxygen, but will allow these gasses to escape.  If you plan to cover your utility crock with saran (which I recommend in some cases-more on this later), the saran will not seal tight enough that it needs burping either.  This is the same with a FIDO jar.  It also does not seal tight enough that it needs burping.  The only fermenting vessels that will need burping is the canning jar.  If these are not burped they can build up so much pressure that I have read about them exploding!

If you make enough sauerkraut to pack it into a utility crock I recommend covering the top with saran wrap-otherwise you will get some major kahm yeast going on!  If you are making kombucha in your utility crock, cover the opening with a thin tea towel and a rubber band as your SCOBY needs to breathe!  If you need more help on making sauerkraut or kombucha be sure to refer to the previous posts under the fermenting tab on my home page!

I’m sure many of you have seen a canning jar, but for those who are brand new to this and maybe you haven’t here’s what they look like:

Canning jar

There is a little device called a water lock that I love using with my canning jars when I ferment.  This device burps the jars for you!  Here’s what that looks like:

Fermenting water lock This device usually comes with a special lid-it’s plastic with a hole drilled in the middle and a rubber gasket so that the lock fits snugly into the hole in the lid.  You will place your food into the jar along with the weight and the brine.  I like to make sure I have about 1/4 inch of headspace between the brine and the lock.  You place the lid on the jar, then the water lock into the hole in the lid and fill it with water up to the fill line.  What this accomplishes is that it allows the CO2 to escape but keeps the oxygen out.  There is a plastic cover that goes over the tube that comes up through the water lock-as well as another plastic flat lid that goes on the very top of this!  Stay tuned for a video on my Facebook page at Holistic Home Girl regarding this kind of lock.  It’s much easier to show you than to write it out!  Trust me-this is something you will want to have!  It’s so handy and you can pick these up at a local brew shop or order them online.  They are inexpensive and a stress reliever!  If you leave on a trip and forget about your ferments-but you put a water lock on your ferments, you can breathe easy!! If you are fermenting old-school and without a water lock, be sure to only screw your lids on fingertip tight-don’t crank them down all the way.

There is one more fermenting vessel that I use frequently called a Grolsch bottle.  It looks like this:

Grolsch Bottle
Grolsch Bottle

These are very useful for 2nd fermenting your kombucha and giving it some flavor!  I just had the most lovely strawberry mint flavor tonight with my dinner!  When you purchase these be sure you are not getting the decorative bottles, but rather the pressure safe, food safe bottle.  They can be found online or at most local brewing stores.  These bottles do seal completely even though they look similar to the FIDO jars.  For that reason I only allow them to sit 3-4 days maximum in second ferment before placing them in the fridge to chill and slow the fermentation process down.  The natural yeast present in kombucha tea ferments will naturally carbonate the kombucha when placed in a  bottle like this with a bit of extra sugar like pieces of fruit or fruit juice.  Be so careful when opening this.  Keep your hand over the lid and allow the pressure to release slowly or you will have kombucha everywhere!  Mine has shot to my kitchen ceiling before!!!  We had a good laugh on that one!

I’ve mentioned weights.  There are several kinds I use and like.  The first I’ll mention here are called pickle pebbles.  They are handmade glass disks that fit exactly into the mouth of most wide mouth brands of canning jars.  These weights are so handy because they keep all the floating pieces of food under the brine nicely, and they wash easily when you are finished using them.  Here’s what they look like:

Pickle Pebbles for weighting down ferments
Pickle Pebbles

These were a gift from my husband and kids for Christmas last year, and I have loved using them!  Such a thoughtful gift!

The next weight we will talk about is the Ohio Stoneware crock weights.  I also love using these!  I have several 2 gallon crocks, and it just so happens that my salad plates are just the right size to fit inside my crock to help weigh the food down, and on top of the plate, I place my stoneware crock weights.  This will generally submerge the food and the weights below the brine so we can once again avoid mold!  Weights are so important because there’s nothing worse than to be anxiously awaiting a delicious ferment you put together only to find it full of mold when you check on it!  Here’s what these weights look like:

Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon sized crock weight
Ohio Stoneware crock weight

Be sure to look at the size of this crock weight before you buy one.  They have different sizes for the different crock sizes.  So if you buy a 2 gallon crock, be sure to get the matching 2 gallon crock weights!

If you look closely in the picture above, you will also see some marbles!  I also use marbles to weight a ferment below brine.  I sanitize them and place them in a plastic resealable baggie and place them in the jar on top of the food.  This is a handy and cheap way to weight a ferement.

Another tool I use on a regular basis are short range pH strips.  I buy this one:

Short Range Hydroin pH paper

I use pH strips because I want all my ferments to have a pH below 4.5.  So anything from about 2.5-4.5 is safe to consume as a general rule.  Anything lower than 2.5 I find to be too acidic to be tasty.  Food safety laws do not allow stores to stock anything fermented with a pH above 4.5.  This acidity makes the environment inhospitable for pathogenic bacteria that could make you ill.

Here is another Christmas gift from my husband that I absolutely love-my kraut hammer:

Sauerkraut hammer
Laying the hammer down!

This makes stamping down cabbage so much easier!  I’ve heard tales from grandparents of stomping cabbage with bare feet…I know that our own bacteria is normally not what makes us ill, and that feet can be washed well before coming into contact with food, but this method still doesn’t seem very appetizing to me!  I much prefer a kraut hammer!!  I never soak this in soapy water, I simply wipe it off or rinse it with clean water and allow it to air dry before storing it after I’m done making sauerkraut.

Last but certainly not least on the equipment I like to use in fermenting are these banetons:

Sourdough Banetons
Sourdough Banetons

I have 2 of these.  One is round and the other oblong.  These were also Christmas gifts! HAHA!!  My loved ones know how obsessed I am with healthy gut flora in them and myself, and that makes me smile!

These are handy because they help me to shape my sourdough loaves while they rise in the fridge overnight.

Now, on to the second part of this post which is the contents of my jars of fermenting food!!

Farm goodies fermenting away!
Farm goodies fermenting away!

The jar pictured on the left side is simply carrots and dill-to make dilly carrots.  You could also add some garlic, fennel seed, and coriander to this one and it would be so good!  If you look closely at the top of these jars I’m using marbles in a baggie to weight all three of these ferments.  My husband and I have been going through the lengthy process of getting one of our ferments tested in a food safety lab, so that we can make it available for the local public to purchase!

The middle jar is a veggie type Siracha.  It has layers of cabbage, kale, jalepeno slices, and dried red peppers.  I will blend this up and add my newest tomatillo ferment to this!  The tomatillo ferment has coriander seed from our garden, cilantro, onion, garlic, and tomatillos in it….and a carrot seatbelt to help hold it all down.  I’m already buckling up for this one!  The peppers are from a local farm that grows HOT HOT peppers!

Tomitillo ferment
Tomatillo ferment

The jar on the right side is really a kitchen experiment!  I put some odds and ends in there and we will see how it tastes!  There are some sliced radishes, carrots, a piece of kale over the top.  Using large leaves on the tops of ferments is another good way to keep your spices and small pieces of produce submerged in the brine.  At the bottom of this jar I put a baggie of my pre-measured pickle spice mix-which consists of dill seed, coriander seed, red pepper, black pepper, and fennel seed.

There are brine calculators out there if you need to figure a certain percentage of brine solution.  For example, some recipes call for a 3% brine.  You can pull up one of these calculators and quickly figure the correct water : salt ratio.  For the jars pictured above, I used 2 tsp himalayan salt in the quart jars, and 1 tsp in the pint jars.  Be sure you are using himalayan pink salt or celtic sea salt in your ferments and NEVER iodized table salt!

I hope you find this helpful!  Be sure to comment below with your questions or let me hear about your fermentation experiments!

 

Browned Butter and Maca Caramel Latte

Browned Butter and Maca Caramel Latte

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a real caramel mood lately.  The weather has been getting a bit cooler-especially in the evenings, and early mornings…perfect for a cozy drink!  This hot beverage contains one of my favorite adaptogenic herbs, Maca root!  I love […]

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Ok, everyone!  As promised…THE BROWNIES!!  These are so good that it’s hard to believe that they are good for you!  The pumpkin I used was our garden pumpkin that I froze in December of last year.  I got cold quickly last fall, so I harvested […]

Homemade Meatballs and Zoodles with Carrot Top Pesto

Homemade Meatballs and Zoodles with Carrot Top Pesto

We have recently acquired all kinds of zucchini and summer squash!  My husband’s grandma has a big garden as do we, and we also got some in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box today too!  This blog is all about saving up local produce when it’s in season, so I’m here to help you with ideas for using all those zucchini your garden is pumping out right now!  Aside from the famed zucchini bread, I also like to toss a cup of grated zucchini into brownies.  You can grate it all up as well as using a tool called a spirooli to spiralize it into zucchini noodles or “zoodles”.  I normally will grate or spiralize all the zucchini I have at once, put it into quart sized freezer bags, and toss what I’m not using right away into the freezer.  This will save you some time.  I find batch prep much quicker than prep for EACH meal!

If you don’t have one of these kitchen gadgets, it’s well worth the investment for making zucchini noodles! It can also shred, and spiralize potatoes, beets, etc

I know the oven was quite hot to cook the meatballs, and normally I avoid turning on the oven on hot days-but today was the perfect rainy, and cooler day to have the oven on for a short 20 minutes.  It was well worth it for these meatballs too!

In this recipe I used dried red peppers we collected from the pick and pay farm last fall.  They are so delicious in this dish as well as so many others that I really encourage you to try drying some peppers for your pantry stash too!  You can read my other blog post regarding tips and tricks on drying peppers for storage.

When we have a summer CSA-or garden for that matter, I almost cannot bear to toss out the leafy green part of the carrots!  There are so many nutrients in the green leafies of carrots!  So, tonight I had no guilt as I turned the carrot tops into a delicious pesto.

The local fare I used for preparing this meal includes the following:

Parsley, Oregano, Italian spice blend from our backyard garden, Scallions, and zucchini from Ahavah Farm-And zucchini also from my grandmother-in-law’s garden, sausage from my family’s farm, carrot tops from Ahavah Farm.  I also picked up a jar of red sauce from a local vendor at CFAM (Colorado Farm and Art Market).  I want to give this local producer a shout out too because the sauce was excellent!  The pasta sauce is Mama Giuseppa and you can find them at the Pioneer Museum Wed from 3p-7p; email them at mamagsauce@gmail.com, or visit their website at http://www.mamagiuseppas.com.  I really liked this sauce because it included vine ripened tomatoes, no water, no high fructose corn syrup, no MSG, and no artificial flavors or colors.

My little guys were exclaiming over the red sauce and the meatballs!  It always warms my heart to hear the words, “these are the best meatballs ever!”

I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as we do!

Homemade Meatballs and Zoodles with Carrot Top Pesto

July 25, 2018
: 6
: 15 min
: 25 min
: 40 min
: Easy

These meatballs are so savory and versatile! The noodles can be served with this recipe or with just the pesto

By:

Ingredients
  • For the meatballs:
  • 3 lbs ground pork sausage
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 medium scallions minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp red pepper (dried or flakes)
  • 1/3 c. warm filtered water
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • For the noodles:
  • 3-4 medium to large zucchinis
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • For the carrot top pesto:
  • Leafy green tops of 4-5 carrots
  • 3 tsp Italian spice blend
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 3 TBSP pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 425 and line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Step 2 In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs. Then form into about 1 inch in diameter balls, and place on the prepared baking sheets.
  • Step 3 Bake the meatballs for 20 min.
  • Step 4 While the meatballs are cooking, spiralize the zucchini noodles onto a clean dish towel. Allow them to sit on the dish towel while you prepare the carrot pesto. This will soak a lot of the water from the noodles
  • Step 5 For the carrot top pesto, place all the ingredients in a blender on high speed for about 1-2 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
  • Step 6 Next put 2 TBSP grass-fed butter into a cast iron skillet and add the zucchini noodles in batches. Keep the heat to medium and only warm the noodles through. Do not over cook. Sprinkle each batch with salt and pepper to taste and a dash of Italian spice blend.
  • Step 7 Warm your red sauce in a medium sized sauce pan, and add the meatballs once they are done.
  • Step 8 To serve, place a helping of the zucchini noodles on each plate, top with red sauce and meatballs, and then the carrot top pesto. You can grate some asiago cheese, or parmesan over the top if you like.
The Best Salmon Patties with Cucumber Dill Sauce

The Best Salmon Patties with Cucumber Dill Sauce

My son came up with the name for this recipe!  I created these for them the other night and they all licked their plates clean!  This is a simple recipe and it’s great for those times when you have forgotten to get any meat out […]