31
Aug

The Benefits of Making Bone Broth

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

benefits bone broth

There’s been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere and on social media about bone broth for the past several years. It seems that something our great grandparents used to do all the time, make and consume bone broth, became in vogue again. Perhaps this is due to the popularity of the Weston A. Price diet or the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. Regardless of why, there is good reason why so many tout the benefits of bone broth these days. If you haven’t tried making your own yet, grab some leftover chicken bones and a pot and get to work. Your taste buds, wallet and your health will thank you.

Bone Broth is Healing

Bone broth has a lot of health benefits. There’s a reason grandma would put on a pot of homemade chicken soup when someone got sick. There is a reason that broth is a staple in virtually all ancestral diets. Bone broth is full of amino acids and minerals including magnesium and calcium. The fat content in the broth helps our bodies absorb the various minerals. It’s also full of collagen and gelatin which are good for your skin, hair and joints. It can help with leaky gut syndrome and with related food intolerances and allergies. Add to that the immunity boosting properties of a good cup of broth and it’s no wonder this has been praised for centuries.

Bone Broth is Delicious

Forget all the nutrition and benefits to your immune system, joints, bones, and skin. Homemade broth or stock also tastes really good. Bone broth in particular has a deep rich flavor that you just won’t get out of a carton of chicken stock, which actually isn’t real bone broth anyways.

Drink the broth on its own, or use it as the base for soups, stews and sauces. You can use bone broth in any recipe that calls for broth or stock. Or try simmering your rice or vegetables in the broth for added flavor and nutrition.

Bone Broth is Frugal

Bone broth is made from the bones you’d toss in the trash otherwise and water. And not just bones either, many use the skin, feet, tendons and ligaments that you usually won’t eat directly. All those leftover “parts” can be used. It doesn’t get a lot more frugal than that! For no more than the cost of a little power to boil the bones, you have something that’s just as tasty as or better than high-end stock you buy at the store and it is a million times healthier to boot. We all want healthy foods at low prices right??

If you’re buying quality chicken, turkey or beef, you can make the most of every dollar you spend by utilizing every little bit including the bones. Then take it even further by making soups and stews with the broth. It’s a great way to make even little bits of meat and veggies go a long way.

Once you begin to make your own bone broth and you see how easy and cost effective it is, you will be hooked. And once you begin to experience all the health benefits and perks you will wonder why you waited so long. Enjoy!

Benefits Of Making Bone Broth

28
Aug

Hutches and Cages for Homestead Rabbits

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Hutches Cages for RabbitsSo you’ve decided to bring home a few rabbits and add them to your homestead. By now you should have decided how you will house them…cage or colony. There are advantages and disadvantages for each but if you are now reading this article you have perhaps decided on cages. Their cage or hutch will be the place for your rabbit’s food, water, and sleep. If it’s outdoors, it will also provide protection from harmful weather and from predators that would like to harm them.

How big of a cage or hutch should you buy? This depends on how big the rabbit is and how much space you can accommodate. Typically, it should be at least four times the length of the rabbit to estimate the minimum size of the hutch. It should also be high enough so the rabbit can stand on its hind legs if it chooses. I believe in giving them sufficient room to live and play.

The door should be wide enough to accommodate the rabbit, and so you can be able to put food, water, accessories and any other necessities inside easily. It should also be wide enough for you to reach in and remove the rabbits easily when needed.

There are various types of styles and models for hutches. Many people opt to buy a chicken coop and use it for rabbits. Others just cover metal cages with a metal roof and plastic tarp for sides. There are also ready made rabbit clutches made of wood you can buy. It all depends on the size of the hutch and whether you want an indoor or outdoor unit. They can be made from bamboo, wood, metal and plastic.

Solid floors feel nicer to your rabbit’s feet, but it is also more difficult to clean. To accommodate both types, you can have a wire floor with a solid mat in placed inside somewhere so your rabbit has a place to rest. You can used cardboard for mats but they will eventually chew them up and they will need to be replaced. The other type of hutches would be a bamboo or wooden floor which has spaces about every other inch for waste removal. The waste removal part is very important to consider because it is unhealthy for rabbits to live constantly in their own waste. Don’t choose a solid metal floor thinking you will clean the cage every day only to decide its too much work later on.

Once you’ve picked the type you’d like, look closely at how they’re made. Even though a certain hutch or cage may be expensive at first, it will last longer in the long run. Make sure all exposed wood is covered with metal. Yes, that means a solid wood hutch needs to be lined inside with hardware cloth because rabbits will chew anything wood they have access too. If you use a metal mesh for the door, it should be attached to the inside of the wooden frame. The roof should be at a slope so the water can run off of them.

Underneath the cages or hutch it is handy to have a tray that catches waste. You can use wood shavings in the trays to absorb urine (and keep smell down). The trays can then be emptied every couple of days into a compost bin. Rabbit poop makes some of the best compost available! You can even sell it on Craigslist if you are so inclined. The tray system also makes it possible to stack cages and not worry about the rabbits on the bottom getting peed on.

If you decide to keep your rabbits outside, they can enjoy the fresh air and its surroundings. However, there are some dangers for being outdoors. Inclimate weather, pests, and predators are of foremost concern. Ensure that you have reinforced your hutch/cage well.

Some hutches have a run that allows the rabbits be able to hop around on the grass but they should still have some sort of shelter from the elements. A separate area in the form of a more sheltered hutch that they can go to especially at night is useful. You may also need to line the bottom with wire so that the rabbits cannot dig out and predators cannot dig in. Door fasteners should be easy to open for you, but for predators or the rabbits themselves.

I suggest starting as minimally as you can and then finding the cage or hutch that works best for you. You can always improve later. Enjoy!

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24
Aug

What Is Bone Broth?

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

What Is Bone BrothHave you heard of bone broth? Maybe you’ve heard it mentioned but aren’t quite sure what it is and why it is so highly praised by many. Just like coconut oil, it has many passionate admirers who claim it is good for just about everything under the sun. Nutritionally, it is a powerhouse that should not be ignored.

Bone broth is simply a liquid obtained from simmering the bones from chicken, turkey, pork or beef in water. The biggest difference between bone broth and regular stock is that bone broth is cooked much longer. The end result is a tasty liquid that’s delicious on its own, but it also makes a wonderful and nutritious base for soups and stews.

Nutritional benefit is one of the main reasons people make and consume bone broth regularly. Of course nothing beats the flavor either, but more on that in a second. When you simmer bones for a long period of time all sorts of nutrients, minerals and other beneficial things like glucosamine and collagen, are leached from the bones. The bones are a nutritional powerhouse and since we don’t eat the bones, this is how you extract the nutrients and the yummy goodness.

Broth is great for your immune system. Remember mom making a big pot of chicken noodle soup anytime someone would get sick? The same principal is at work here. Bone broth is a concentrated healing soup. The broth may even help you sleep better at night. Sip a warm cup of the tasty liquid before bed. It’ll work better than hot milk.

To make bone broth you take bones like those from that leftover roasted chicken or turkey carcass. Cover it with plenty of water and simmer for several hours. How long you cook your broth is up to you. Twelve hours gives you a very decent broth, but cooking it even longer makes it even more nutritious. Broth can safely bubble away in a crockpot or stock pot as you go about your day. You can keep leftover bones in a freezer bag until you have enough to make a good broth. Once made, the cooled broth can be stored in the fridge for about four days or in the freezer for up to a year.

If you want to freeze some for soups and stews these nifty, large silicone trays are excellent for freezing broth. Just pop them out as needed or transfer the blocks to another, larger container. These freezer containers are pretty awesome and they are stackable. Glasslock also makes some stackable glass containers that are safe to freeze. Glass is always better than plastic!

You can drink the finished hot broth as is, season it up with your favorite herbs and spices, or use it to make a pot of soup or stew. How many recipes do you make that require chicken broth or beef broth? Make it yourself! It will be healthier for you and it will be cheaper.

The next time you pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or roast that Thanksgiving turkey, don’t toss out the bones when you’re done. Use them to make a batch of delicious bone broth that’s good for you. Once you try it, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to make and how truly wonderful it is.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

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23
Aug

5 Ways To Preserve and Store Produce

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Preserve Store FoodPreserving and storing food is becoming a bit of a lost art and it’s a shame. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers all saw the inherent economic and practical value in learning to preserve food and teaching their daughters to do the same. Some may say that this skill is not as important in this day and age but I think self sufficiency is always important.

What do you do when you come across a great deal at the grocery store or the farmers market? What do you do when you’re offered a deal on a bushel of produce that you can’t pass up? What do you do when you have a bumper crop of green beans, squash or tomatoes? There’s only so much of any one food you can eat before you lose a taste for it or it begins to go bad. If you know how to preserve it, you can put it up and use it throughout the year. It is a common sense skill we need to utilize.

Freeze It

A great place to start is by freezing food. It is so easy anyone can do it. Just cook up your harvest in some of your favorite freezer friendly foods, or clean and blanch them before tossing them in the freezer. Blanching veggies is important because it stops enzymatic action (preserving flavor, color, texture) and it removes bacteria.

Freezing is also a great way to store fruits like berries and peaches that don’t last long once they are ripe. The only real disadvantage to freezing food is that you’re limited by the amount of room you have in your freezer. Be sure to get in the habit of labelling frozen food well (with dates) so you know what it is before you pull it out to thaw and how long you have had it.

canning bookCan It

Canning is one of the most versatile ways to preserve food. You can make and can anything from jelly and pie filling to chili and green beans. Canning is perhaps most awesome because it does not require any space in your fridge or freezer. You can store your canned goods in the pantry, in a root cellar, on shelves in the kitchen, or in your basement. Heck, you can keep canned goods under the spare bed if your are running out of room! Properly canned food stores a lot longer than any other method and that is a great way to preserve your harvest and feed your family all year long.

Dehydrate It

If you don’t have a lot of space, consider dehydrating food. You can start by using your oven on the lowest setting. Try dehydrating some apple slices, or any type of food to use in baking and cereal throughout the year. Then explore further and come up with fun snacks like kale chips, fruit leather, and even dried veggies that you can use in soup.

picklingPickle It

Another favorite old-fashioned way to preserve food is to pickle it. Pickling involves submerging the produce in a brine made of salt, sugar, water, and various pickling spices. The most common pickled item is of course pickles and it’s a great place to start. But don’t stop there. You can pickle peppers, okra, cabbage, carrots, and a wide variety of other veggies and even fruits. Play with it and see what you like. Pickled veggies make a great addition to sandwiches and salads throughout the year. Once you start pickling you might just decide you need to try fermentation on a grander scale. It’s a slippery slope, you have been warned.

Cold Store It

Last but not least let’s talk about the simplest way to store food. Things like root vegetables, apples, and cabbages store well in a dry, cool, and dark place. This used to the reason most houses had a root cellars. Today your pantry might be a good place to store this type of food. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement, you can set up some shelves to keep a lot of produce for months to come.

Take steps towards self sufficiency and economic freedom by learning to preserve food during the harvest months and make it last long into the winter.

22
Aug

Survivalist versus Prepper

by Tiffany in Self Sufficiency

Survivalist versus PrepperSurvivalist versus prepper…Is there a difference?

When it comes to being ready for anything that life may throw at you, there are survivalists and there are preppers. Often times these terms are used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing but they are actually quite different. Survivalists and preppers do have a common goal, both seek a certain outcome when all hell breaks loose. There are major differences though in their attitudes and the way they go about preparation for the worst. Though both terms are a bit strong in their description of me and my family’s outlook and attitude, I definitely have more in common with survivalists.

The Common Bond Between Survivalists and Preppers

There are many commonalities between survivalists and preppers. At their core, both have the similar ideals in that they want to be ready for a disaster. They both spend time, energy, and resources to prepare for disasters such as major weather events, war, riots and looting, economic collapse, pandemics, and other disasters.

In both these individuals there is perhaps less confidence in current government and systems to be able to handle these disasters adequately. They want to ensure the survival of themselves and their families during the disastrous event, but also after the event. Many common preparations involve supplies that will allow them to continue to live without aid for an extended period of time.

Survivalist versus Prepper

The difference between survivalists and preppers comes down to how seriously they take up their cause. Make no mistakes about it, both of these groups of people are quite serious about their preparations for the future safety and comfort of themselves and their families. The core difference is really how extreme their plans and preparations are.

There are also differences in how both of these groups prepare for unforeseen events and disasters. For example, one group might stockpile huge amounts of non-perishable foods while the other will have a smaller stockpile and rely heavily on seed saving to grow their own food.

Survivalist Manifesto

Survivalists differ from preppers in the way they make their preparations and their overall idea of surviving after an event. They tend to look to the earth and wilderness for much of their survival needs. A survivalist will learn about the area around them and look to live off the land rather than having huge stockpiles. These people will likely hunt, forage, and grow their own food for their survival needs.

A survivalist is really exactly what their name suggests. They will do what needs to be done to survive. They do not expect to rely on the comforts of civilized life to sustain them during or in the aftermath of a disastrous event. After all if something really bad happens even a stockpile will eventually dwindle. Only a self sufficient family can survive, or so goes the mantra of survivalism. This is also why survivalists are more likely to live off grid, be more solitary, and probably also stockpile arms and ammo rather than huge quantities of freeze dried food.

Prepper’s Platform

Preppers differ from survivalists in how they plan to survive and even thrive after a disaster. They will usually have large stockpiles of supplies, non-perishable foods, and other items that will help them remain safe, alive, and even comfortable during and after such an event. A prepper will typically have a stockpile large enough not only to get them through the event, but large enough to sustain them until rescue. They do usually plan on rescue and things going back to what they once were so in many ways they are thinking more in the short term.

Preppers are usually considered to be the more “serious” or “fervent” in their preparations. This might be because their preparations are often more visible to the people around them. Having a basement full of medical supplies, water jugs, and freeze dried food is pretty intense. The lengths at which preppers will prepare and stockpile are extremely varied from person to person.

In the end these names are just labels. Survivalists and preppers are different in the way that they make their preparations and their overall ideals for how to survive, but at their core they are very similar. Both groups do the work and planning necessary to ensure that they not only survive a potential disaster, but thrive in the aftermath. They are both built on the platform of hard work, forethought, and optimism that they will survive no matter what happens.