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I was pleasantly surprised…

…to realize I’m definitely not the only one who struggles with using up those random packages of beef that are left in the freezer after the burger and steaks are gone.

The first installment in the Cooking Through the Cow series, where we talked ’bout the finer points of beef shank was extremely well-received, which makes me even more excited to continue with the rest of the cuts.

Did I ever think my path in life would lead me to be publishing articles about beef cuts? Well, no. But here we are, and I can’t complain.

The Cooking Through the Cow Series. 

The goal of this blog series is to help you (and yes, me too) figure out how to best utilize the cuts of beef that might not be as popular in our modern American diets; the cuts with all sorts of wonderful attributes that tend to stay buried at the bottom of the freezer due to hesitation on what the heck to do with them.

But they won’t be lingering at the bottom of the deep freeze anymore. Because we’re gonna turn them into something delicious.

The Other Posts (so far) in the Cooking Through the Cow Series:

How to Cook Beef Shank

And today we’re talking all things Round Steak. 

How to Cook Round Steak
What is Round Steak?

Round steak is the cut of meat from the rear portion of a cow’s hindquarters (aka the Beef Round primal cut). This meat is definitely more lean and tough because the muscles in the back legs are exercised frequently. The Beef Round is usually divided into four cuts of meat that can be sold as steaks or roasts: Top Round, Bottom Round, Eye of Round, and the Sirloin Tip. Round Steaks may come from a variety of places on the Round (and we’ll discuss the roasts that come from the Round in a later post.)

Other Names for Round Steak

Round Steak can come from a variety of places on the Beef Round, which often gives it a variety of names. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Top Round: Steaks from this portion are often referred to as Top Round steaks, Butterball Steaks, or Inside Round steaks and can be used in London Broil and Swiss Steak recipes.
  • Bottom Round: This subprimal cut is often divided into roasts such as Bottom Round Roast (also known as Beef Silverside) and Rump Roast. The steaks from this area are often referred to as Western Steaks, Bottom Round Steaks, or Western Tip Steaks and can be marinated, grilled, and sliced very thinly against the grain.
  • Eye of Round: Steaks from this area of the round are called Eye of Round Steaks and can be used to make Philly Cheesesteaks among many other recipes.
  • Sirloin Tip (aka Knuckle): It’s a little deceiving since this is a part of the Round, NOT the Sirloin. This portion of the Round can also be referred to as the Knuckle and gives us Sirloin Tip Center Steak, Sirloin Tip Side Steak, and Sirloin Tip Steak.
Is Round Steak the Same Thing as Cube Steak?

Sometimes folks use the terms Round Steak and Cube Steak interchangeably, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can get confusing.

Cube Steak refers to any cut of beef that has been tenderized with a machine. (We’ll talk cube steaks in a different post!)

However, Round Steak refers to a specific cut of beef that is taken from the Beef Round primal cut (as described above).

So Round Steak may or may not be Cube Steak, depending on whether or not it’s been tenderized. And a Cube Steak could be made from Round Steak, or something else entirely.

(The Round Steak in the above photo has been tenderized, so it’s technically also Cube Steak.)

Is Round Steak Easy to Find?

Round Steak is very easy to find; if anything, it can be a bit overwhelming, because each store/butcher uses different names for the meat cuts.

There are also different grades for Round Steak: Prime, Choice, and Select. Prime Round Steak is the most tender and flavorful and expensive. These cuts are usually found only in restauraunts and can be rare to find at the grocery store or local butcher shop. Choice cuts are found at most grocery stores and local butcher shops. They are leaner than Prime cuts. Select cuts are the cheapest option and are very lean and tough. They are usually easier to find.

Are Round Steaks Tough or Tender?

Since Round Steaks come from the hindquarters, where the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage get plenty of exercise, this meat option can be quite tough and chewy. It is also a very lean piece of beef, which causes it to be a little lacking in the flavor department.

However, it is possible to make some delicious meals with Round Steaks as long as you take measures to give them a little extra flavor and tenderness (such as marinating, tenderizing with a mallet, and slicing thinly against the grain). Like Beef Shank, Round Steak cuts are most tender when cooked with moisture, so methods such as slow cooking or braising are usually preferable (more on that in the cooking tips below).

Are Round Steaks Expensive?

Round Steaks are generally an inexpensive cut of beef. And bonus: they are just as nourishing as more expensive cuts of beef, so as you cook round steaks properly, you can still enjoy very flavorful and nutritious beef-based meals.

Versatility of Round Steak

Despite being slightly on the tougher side, round steak is still quite versatile. You can make jerky, ground beef, roasts, steaks, deli meat, stir-fry, and so much more.

How to Cook Round Steak

The best way to cook Round Steak is with moisture, which makes this cut of meat much more tender. Moist cooking includes slow cooking and braising. The difference between slow cooking and braising is that slow cooking covers the meat with liquid and cooks slowly over time, while braising cooks the meat with smaller amounts of liquid and often starts with the meat being pan-seared first to enhance the flavor.

Top Round meat is usually more tender than Bottom Round cuts. Still, if you plan to grill it, it’s best to cook it medium rare and slice it thinly against the grain, in order to prevent it from being too tough and chewy. For this reason, Top Round makes amazing deli meat (roast beef) for sandwiches. It also makes a great London broil, which involves marinating a thick slab of Top Round, and then grilling it quickly over high heat. Just make sure you always slice it against the grain to make it more tender.

Bottom Round cuts are often used to make roasts and are often used for your traditional roasts for Sunday dinners. They are also used to make ground beef and deli meat. Eye of Round is a bit tougher than bottom and top round cuts, and is best sliced up thin for sandwiches.

The Sirloin Tip can make a good steak or roast, however, the connective tissue inside can make it rather chewy unless you carefully braise it.

Round Steak Recipes: Round Steak Quick Rankings:
  • Sourcing Difficulty: (1= available everywhere, 10= very difficult to find) 
  • Versatility: (1= very versatile, 10= very limited uses)
  • Price: (1= cheap as it gets, 10= special occasions only!)
  • Toughness: 8 (1= spoon tender, 10= shoe leather)

What are YOUR favorite ways to cook Round Steak? Please share in the comments below! 

The post How to Cook Round Steak appeared first on The Prairie Homestead.

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Everyone assumes we must hate our brutal Wyoming winters.

But I don’t. (Well, not most of the time at least.) 

Starting in October, I implement our winter evening ritual, which makes me ridiculously happy and makes these long, dark winters much more tolerable–especially on the evenings when the wind howls and the snow hits the windows like gravel.

After putting the kitchen to bed for the evening with an empty sink and freshly-wiped counters, I make a sweep through the living room. The pillows are fluffed and the throws rearranged, while Christian packs the stove with enough wood to last through the night. Then lastly, I light a candle right before I settle into a good book or our latest Netflix binge. It’s the very best time of day.

Why I Don’t Burn (Most) Candles

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with candles over the years, and got rid of most of my candles years ago after I discovered how toxic it can be to burn paraffin, which is actually a petroleum by-product. Paraffin candles release a number of chemicals (some of them are known carcinogens) into the air, can greatly reduce your indoor air quality and even cause headaches, dizziness, or asthma attacks. Not to mention, lead-based wicks used to be a huge concern before they were banned in 2003. So if you have a collection of older candles with wicks of questionable origin, it’s probably best to avoid burning them altogether.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever burn a candle again– there ARE safer alternatives such as beeswax, soy wax, and even tallow.

You can find my tutorials for how to make beeswax candles and how to make tallow candles here on the blog, but today, we’re tackling the topic of making homemade soy candles in a slow cooker.

Yup, you read that right– a slow cooker!

DIY Soy Candles Video Tutorial
DIY Soy Candles (for less than $2 each!) - YouTube

 

The Benefit of Making Candles in a Slow Cooker

Let me just say– if you hate doing dishes, especially impossible-to-clean waxy dishes, this is the candle making method for you.

I used to melt my candle wax (whether it was soy, beeswax, or tallow) in a separate pot before pouring it into my candle jars or containers. That works, but it leaves a residue in the pot that’s miserable to remove.

These slow cooker candles allow you to melt the wax right in the jars, which makes clean-up a breeze. However, if you don’t have a slow cooker or rather would not use yours for this, you can also just place the wax-filled jars in a small saucepan filled with several inches of water and heat it on your stovetop. The results will be the same– quick melting and minimal clean-up.

Making Soy Candles with Essential Oils

Would you be surprised to hear this essential oil fanatic say that essential oils aren’t the best candle making ingredients?

Well, there. I said it.

Essential oils (yes, even the very best, most pure ones) just aren’t strong enough to give a candle that ultra-strong scent that most of us are accustomed too. If you do decide to use essential oils, expect to use a LOT–  even for very mildly-scented candles. (As in 80 drops per jar…)

Therefore, if you want a SUPER smelly candle, it’s probably best to stick with fragrance oils designed for candle making (although I can’t vouch for any personally).

So here’s my best advice: Either skip the essential oils in your candles altogether, or be content with a much milder candle.

And then if you want a naturally-scented house, use an essential oil diffuser instead. A diffuser will use FAR less essential oil and give the room a much stronger scent. I actually much prefer using essential oils to scent my home (versus relying on candles to do that), as they also provide therapeutic benefits at the same time. (These are the essential oils I love the most, by the way.)

That being said, if you still want to add essential oils to your candles, I’ve included some of my favorite combos below.

How to Make Soy Candles in a Slow Cooker

You Will Need: 

Instructions: 

Fill the slow cooker with 2 to 3 inches of hot water.

Fill your containers or jars completely full with wax, then place them in the slow cooker with the lid on.

Turn the heat on high and allow the wax to melt, stirring occasionally. The wax will shrink down as it melts, so continue to add more wax until the jar is completely filled (leave around 1” of space at the top)

It takes about 1.5-2 hours for my slow cooker to completely melt all the wax, but yours might be slightly faster or slower, depending on the model. The good news? You don’t have to babysit the cooker at all– just walk away and come back to check when you think of it.

Once the wax is completely melted, remove the jar from the slow cooker and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. This will prevent the essential oils from flashing off if/when you add them.
If you are using essential oils, add at least 60-80 drops to each half-pint jar. You can use one scent or combine different scents (see my suggestions below)
Place the wick in the center of the container and keep it in place by winding it around a small dowel or pencil, or propping it in place with small dowels, tape, or pencils. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just as long as it stays straight and in the center of the jar.
Allow the candles to cool and set up completely before trimming the wick to 1/4-inch.
And that’s it! Homemade candles + snowy winter nights + a blazing fire = Happy Jill.
Best Essential Oil Combos for Candles
  • Bergamot + Patchouli
  • Clove + Cassia + Siberian Fir
  • Rosemary + Lemon
  • Lemongrass + Geranium
  • Wild Orange + Peppermint

(These are my favorite essential oils– I use them for MUCH more than just candles)

Homemade Soy Candle Tips
  • Check your local thrift stores for unique tea cups or mugs to use as candle containers (just make sure that whatever container you choose is non-porous and
  • It’s reeeaaalllly important that you keep your wicks in the middle of the jar– otherwise, the candle won’t burn evenly, which is super annoying.
  • Of course, you can totally use beeswax or tallow to make these candles instead of soy wax, if you like
Cost Breakdown for Homemade Soy Candles

Based on what I paid for my wicks and soy wax on Amazon:

7 ounces of wax (enough for a half-pint jar) = $1.00

Wicks = 18 cents each

Half-pint jar = 58 cents each (or free if you have a stash in your canning closet!)

That brings us to a grand total of $1.76 per half-pint candle, which is pretty darn good in my opinion. Even if you dress them up a bit with some ribbon and greenery, that’s a thoughtful, handmade, and very cost-effective homemade gift.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Make Soy Candles in a Slow Cooker
Author: The Prairie Homestead
Recipe type: DIY
 
Ingredients
  • Soy wax
  • Natural wicks
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Small mason jars (half-pint or smaller) or non-porous repurposed containers
  • A slow cooker
3.4.3177

 

The post How to Make Soy Candles in a Slow Cooker appeared first on The Prairie Homestead.

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I don’t even remember the last time I bought a package of beef at the store.

We usually butcher a steer every 12-18 months, which keeps our freezers filled to overflowing.

But even though we’ve been doing this for years, the same thing happens every. single. time.

The hamburger and steaks fly out of the freezer first, and I’m left with the same lingering packages of cuts I’m not entirely sure how to use.

Ever had that happen?

Well, I’m tired of it. And it’s kinda embarrassing. And I’m ready to get rid of this problem once and for all.

Therefore, may I present to you…

The Cooking Through the Cow Series. 

The goal of this blog series is to help you (and yes, me too) figure out how to best utilize the cuts of beef that might not be as popular in our modern American diets; the cuts with all sorts of wonderful attributes that tend to stay buried at the bottom of the freezer due to hesitation on what the heck to do with them.

But they won’t be lingering at the bottom of the deep freeze anymore. Because we’re gonna turn them into something delicious.

First up on the proverbial cutting board? The beautiful, yet often overlooked, beef shank.

What is Beef Shank?

The shank is found on the leg of a cow, just above the knee or hock. This cut of meat is cut in horizontal cuts (often in 1-inch slices), which is why beef shank looks like a steak with a circle of the leg bone in each piece. (It is also sometimes sold boneless.) Inside the bone there is piece of marrow that is edible as well.

This bone-surrounded-by-meat cut is either unknown by most people or has a reputation for being tough and dry. However, with some simple tips, beef shank can not only save you money, but also provide a nutritious and very flavorful meal.

Other Names for Beef Shank

There are two shank parts in a cow (the front and back legs), and they can be sold under the different names: the Fore Shank and the Hind (or Rear) Shank.

Beef shank can also be sold as “soup bones” at the store (this is how my local butcher labels them). If you go to a butcher shop for your beef shank, they often only sell the rear shank because it is longer and more uniform in shape.

Is Beef Shank Easy to Find?

It’s likely your standard neighborhood grocery store might not carry beef shanks, although it never hurts to ask behind the butcher counter. It’s not a popular cut in generic grocery stories since many people aren’t sure how to best use beef shakes and they are a cheap cut which yields minimal profit for the store.
However, since there are four beef shank cuts per cow, it can be a common and frugal item to find at local farms, local butcher shops, or better-quality grocery stores.

Are Beef Shanks Tough or Tender?

Since beef shank is the leg parts of the cow, it is a very tough, dry, sinewy piece of meat. Naturally, the legs of cows are hard-working, and so it it full of muscles, connective tissues, bones, and joints.

However, beef shanks can become extremely tender, as in: eat-it-with-a-spoon-tender if it is cooked for a long time in moist heat (like simmering it all day in your crockpot). Therefore, braising or slow cooking beef shank is ideal.

Are Beef Shanks Expensive?

Because beef shanks are incredibly overlooked, they are generally very affordable. As a bonus, they are also very nutrient-dense (more on that below), which gives them a ton of bang for just a few bucks.

Versatility of Beef Shank
Since beef shanks are naturally a tough piece of meat, there are limits to what you can do with it. They MUST be simmered in moist heat for a long period time in order to be tender and delicious. For that reason, they are commonly found in slow cooker and soup recipes.
How to Cook Beef Shank

The most important thing you need to know about cooking with beef shanks is that is requires time. Plan on cooking your beef shanks for at least 4 to 6 hours to transform it from tough and chewy to tender and flavorful. (Or try using a pressure cooker to reduce the time.)

However, as beef shanks are cooked slowly at a low temperature, the nutritional value of this cut really comes out. Bone and cartilage are rich sources for important nutritional minerals, and as the beef shanks simmer/cook, the minerals are seep out and give the beef shanks a deep and rich flavor.

(Some people claim this cut can be “gamey” or especially strong flavored. I would agree that it has more flavor than a basic burger, but it don’t find it offensive.)

After a long day of simmering, beef shanks actually give you THREE edible parts: the meat, bone marrow (yes, bone marrow is edible AND good for you!), and gelatin from the bones.

Once you’ve made your meal from the beef shank (recipe ideas below), save the bones and make a rich, nutrious bone broth from them. Here are my best tips for making beef bone broth.

Or, if you’d like to make stock first, sear the shanks, let them simmer in the broth for at least 12 hours, then remove the meat from the bone, shred it, and use in other dishes.

Beef Shank Recipes:

Don’t forget to save the bones to make a rich and hearty beef bone broth!

Beef Shank Quick Rankings:
  • Sourcing Difficulty: (1= available everywhere, 10= very difficult to find) 
  • Versatility: (1= very versatile, 10= very limited uses)
  • Price: (1= cheap as it gets, 10= special occasions only!)
  • Toughness: 8 (1= spoon tender, 10= shoe leather)

Alrighty readers! It’s your turn– what are your favorite tips and recipes for cooking beef shanks?

The post How to Cook Beef Shank appeared first on The Prairie Homestead.

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Ten years in, and if there’s a homestead mistake to be made, well, we’ve made it.

From poisoning my garden, to rebuilding a certain fence line two separate times, to more kitchen disasters than I can count, our journey into this modern homesteading life hasn’t been without a whole lot of mess ups.

While I am a big believer in the power of failure, I also think sometimes it is nice to be able to learn from other folks’ mistakes, rather than having to make them all yourself.

And so, may I present to you in all of their slightly embarrassing glory:

Our Top 5 Biggest Homestead Mistakes

Our BIGGEST Homestead MISTAKES - YouTube

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Mistake #1: Not building things right the first time… Our frugality definitely got the best of us here and actually ended costing us MORE money in the long run.

Mistake #2: Thinking homesteading would save us money. This can be true in some instances (such as vegetable gardening) but not so much when it comes to dairy animals or even chickens.

Mistake #3: Thinking too small. We had a hard time thinking past what was right in front of us, which has caused us a lot of extra work over the years.

Mistake #4: The comparison trap… this is a tough one, especially with the prevalence of social media. I still struggle with this occasionally, but it’s so much easier just to stay in your lane… The grass really isn’t greener on the other side!

Mistake #5: Trying to do ALL THE THINGS, all at once. Christian and I have slightly intense personalities, which can be a good thing, but it can also cause a lot of stress when we bite off more than we can chew, which happens frequently.

Watch the above video for the inside scoop on all 5 of these homesteading mistakes, plus a bonus mistake that we didn’t necessarily make, but a LOT of people do!

Other Homesteading Blog Posts You’ll Like:

The post The BIGGEST Homestead Mistakes We’ve Made (so far) appeared first on The Prairie Homestead.

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I was a bored, pregnant newlywed 40 miles from civilization with not enough money to drive to activities in town.

That’s how it all started.

Not the most epic beginning to this story, I know…

Basically, the garden and kitchen projects gave me a way to pass the time without feeling like a total loser. 

I figured out how to make tortillas, how to clean a chicken coop without bleach, how to milk a goat, and then a cow, and all sorts of other stuff your average 23-year old would have zero interest in.

I started a blog in the middle of it all. I didn’t know a soul at the time who cared to hear me ramble on about birthing goats or growing green beans, so my bumbling online presence quickly became a welcome outlet for my unorthodox creative pursuits.

But 10 years, 3 kids, and a whole lot of life later, I’m still here, doing pretty much the same things. The cooking. The chicken-ing. The milking. The blogging. 

My fascination with this lifestyle has obviously outlasted any sort of “shiny object syndrome” or trend chasing… And over the years, I’ve asked myself… Why? Why AM I still doing this?

Because honestly? (Brace yourself: I’m about to say something horribly scandalous:)

I like canning. I enjoy gardening. I think it’s fun to have chickens pecking in the yard. But those things alone aren’t enough to get me out of bed in the morning, or make me stick with something for 10 years, for that matter.

I use to think I liked homesteading because it was simply about mimicking the old ways. It was “fun”. It gave me a little thrill to make soap from beef fat and hand-rolled pie crusts. It gave us food that was healthier than the junk from the store. 

But I’ve since realized my obsession with this modern homesteading movement has deeper roots. However, took some ruminating for me to figure that out.

Digging Deeper

I’ve talked with a bunch folks over the last few months about the often mysterious process of finding your purpose, aka discovering the thing that lights you up. Some people are born intrinsically knowing such things, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. Rather, it’s something most folks must work to uncover. It’s a jigsaw puzzle of self-reflection, journaling, and brutal honesty with yourself.

At least, that’s how it was for me.

And as I dug, and pondered, and journaled, and ruminated, it became glaringly obvious to me that it’s a mistake to categorize homesteading and its accompanying skills as simply a cute, old-fashioned hobby. There’s far more to it than that. I’m going to even go as far to say that it’s crucial to our modern existence. 

Sound dramatic? Allow me explain. 

Technology is awesome. And in the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that I rely on my iPhone, my DSLR camera, and my MacBook Pro to get a whole lot of stuff done. I’m not ashamed of that. Christian and I have no desire to ever really go “off-grid” and I’m thankful for many of the modern advances we get to enjoy. (Running water and I are BFFs.)

BUT.

As the Industrial Age took over and technology became our new obsession, we as a society have successfully eliminated everything that once helped us to feel grounded, connected, and whole. The things that have brought humanity balance and equilibrium for millennia have been substituted for cheap, shallow alternatives.

We consume fast food and microwave dinners instead of homegrown, homemade sustenance. We socialize via social media relationships instead of true community. We sit under artificial lighting for days and weeks at a time with little opportunity to get outside and soak in nature. We substitute screen time for face-to-face connection. And we rely on automated everything instead of relishing in the process of creation.

We’re living in a shallow, fake, shell of a world.

The concept of ease is tantalizing, so we didn’t realize what was happening at first. Heck, I’m not even sure we realize it now. But this new reality isn’t going away any time soon. This is an enormous issue with many facets, and I am in no way claiming to have all the answers. But I am convinced this shift in our elemental human existence is playing a massive role in why so many folks are disillusioned. Disconnected. Depressed. Anxious. Purposeless. BORED. (Yes, it’s entirely possible to be bored while having a jam-packed modern calendar.)

We’ve forgotten how to live with intention and create; we forced to merely react and consume while we watch the people on Netflix and YouTube live the lives we truly want. It’s soul-crushing.

I find it fascinating that there is such a fascination with all things “farm” these days. But I’ve noticed most folks stop after they install a few planks of shiplap and watch a couple Little House on the Prairie reruns.

It’s time to go deeper my friends.

Why ARE We So Drawn to the “Farm Life”?

It’s because we know deep in our consciousness that cooking a meal from scratch, growing a tomato plant, or creating something with our hands isn’t an out-of-touch concept to be stuffed in the box of nostalgia and the “good ol’ days”. 

These actions are the very fiber of our human existence and have been for millennia. And they still have full potential to provide humans with deep, rich, satisfaction, yes, even in a day and age of having everything accessible at the push of a button. 

Yet, as we’ve become so very sophisticated, we’ve left them in the dust in the name of progress and efficiency.

But we NEED them. Now more than ever. 

And I have proof…

Y’all. Do you see what I’m saying?

This is a exceedingly complex issue, and I’m not naive enough to think homesteading is the only answer. But it’s sure as heck one of the best solutions I can think of at the moment.

You don’t have to get a milk cow.

You don’t have to move to the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming. 

You don’t have to become the champion pumpkin pie baker at your local county fair. 

BUT you need some of these old-fashioned practices in your modern life. 

Even if you live in New York City or Los Angeles or Florida or wherever. 

No matter where you live, it’s about experiencing the deep satisfaction that comes from creating something tangible with your own two hands…

Nurturing a pot of basil in the window and then gently tearing the leaves to add to your homemade spaghetti sauce as you breathe in the aroma wafting through your kitchen…

Kneading yeast dough with the heels of your hands simply for the sheer joy of it and because you know your family will love homemade French bread for supper. Even though you can easily go to the store and buy a loaf…

These are things every human needs, whether they are a homesteader or not. 

These are the things that bring satisfaction. Balance. Peace. A sense of accomplishment. Joy. Connection. Confidence. Stability. 

And that, my friends, is why I get out of bed with a jolt each morning. Chickens are fun, canning peaches is great, but it’s MORE than that. I’m on a mission to bring these skills back into our modern consciousness because we NEED them. We must have them. They cannot be forgotten. Because if they are, we forget a vital part of ourselves in the process.

Are you with me? 

We CAN shift things. We can be adults who know how to do stuff. Make stuff. Cook stuff. Grow stuff. And who are more centered and peaceful because of it. We can raise children who know where their food comes from; children who are more balanced because they have time to run and play and be rough and tumble outside.

Homesteading is so much more than the sum of its parts. And that’s why I’ll be here in my little corner of the Internet crowing about it until the cows come home.

#oldfashionedonpurpose

This is only the beginning, and I’ll be sharing more deeply on this topic in the future, but in the mean time, I know SO many of you feel the same way I do when it comes to the importance of old-fashioned pursuits. If this post resonated with you, I would love to have you join me in helping to create this change by using the hashtag #oldfashionedonpurpose when you post about your latest homesteading-related skills or projects on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be watching for your post– let’s create this shift together. <3

The post Because It’s Not About Canning and Chickens appeared first on The Prairie Homestead.

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I’m feeling decidedly uncreative this year…

…as far as food preservation goes.

Am I allowed to say that?

There I go, losing my homesteader status points again…

I’m going to blame the cookbook and the shall-not-yet-be-named undisclosed project for eating up all of my allotted creativity for the year.

I got nuthin’. 

I guess I did do some fermented pickled green beans, although that was more in the name of laziness and not wanting to pull out the pressure canner, rather than a stroke of creative genius.

Dang you, cookbook.

However, even in a complete creative slump, it’s kinda hard to ignore the garden when it’s giving you ripe tomatoes, happy poblano peppers, and plump onions all at the same time.

Okay, okay, fine. I’ll make some salsa. Geez.

If I had to choose, fresh salsa or pico de gallo is usually the salsa I’ll make. However, the thing with fresh/uncooked salsa is that you’ll need to consume it all within a couple days, and when you have BUCKETS of tomatoes on your counter, a couple cups of pico don’t really make a dent in the chaos.

Right now it’s all about processing the boatloads of produce coming into my house and less about flavor profiles, although if I happen to get both, that’s awesome.

I Heart Poblanos

I’ve been growing poblano peppers like a crazy person for the last two years. For some reason unbeknownst to me, they seem to adore Wyoming (not many veggies do…) and survive much better than bell peppers (which absolutely despise me). I grow them from seed I get from Baker Creek and always end up with far more poblanos than one person really needs (which is why I finally canned some last year).

Poblanos are the only pepper I care to use in either my cooked or fresh salsas. However, if you can’t get or grow poblanos where you are, you can substitute Anaheim peppers or any other mild chili pepper. (Heck, you can use hot ones if you like– but that doesn’t really fly at my house…) 

This roasted poblano salsa recipe is perfect for using up a portion of your tomato and pepper bounty at the same time. You may can it if you like, although it’ll also freeze like a champ. Or you can just eat it fresh (it does make a decent-sized batch, so feel free to halve or quarter the recipe if you’re not feeding an army.)

Oh– since this salsa recipe contains added acid in the form of vinegar, you can use a water bath canner for it if you wish. (Here’s my full water bath canning tutorial if you’re a newbie to the world of canning.)

Roasted Poblano Salsa Recipe
Roasted Poblano Salsa
Author: The Prairie Homestead
Recipe type: Sides/Preservation
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  35 mins
Serves: 7 pints
 
Ingredients
  • 10 cups chopped and seeded tomatoes
  • 5 cups roasted poblano peppers or other mild chili pepper (see instructions below)
  • 5 cups chopped red or yellow onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to taste and adjust the salt and seasonings as needed. If you like less chunky salsa, you can use an immersion blender in the pot to blend it up.
  2. To Can This Salsa: Ladle the salsa in to hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼" headspace. Affix the lids and rings and process for 15 minutes in a water bath canner. (Adjust times accordingly if you live at higher altitudes.)
3.4.3177
How to Roast Chili Peppers

Select only fresh, firm peppers for canning, as limp ones will yield less than desirable results. Wash the peppers, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes to blister the skins. Flip over once to ensure they char on both sides. (It’s important to blister them as evenly as you can, otherwise it’s very difficult to get the skins to come off.)

Remove the charred peppers and place into a Ziploc bag and seal tightly. Allow them to sit for 10 minutes, then remove the peppers from the bag and rub off as much of the peel/skin as possible.

Roasted Poblano Salsa Notes

More Tomato Goodness

The post Roasted Poblano Salsa appeared first on The Prairie Homestead.

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