This, Not That, Thursday – DIY Indoor Herb Garden

Good afternoon lovely people. 

We have something special for you today! Our “This, Not That, Thursday” is about indoor herb gardens. An indoor herb garden is a great way to have fresh herbs all year long and in almost any climate. Plus if you grow them from organic non-GMO seeds, you’ll know you’ve got the best of the best for your family.

Savor the flavor of your favorite herbs and add a bright bit of green to your kitchen when you bring your herb garden inside. If you have a sunny windowsill with at least four hours of sunshine a day, you have everything you need for a flourishing garden full of herbs such as mint, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

There’s no benefit to growing herbs you aren’t going to use. Start with the ones you use often. If you’re still not sure which to grow, here are some ideas:

Rosemary – This herb is spicy and warm and great paired with beef, lamb, or chicken. Rosemary is also helpful for keeping rodents and mosquitoes away.

Thyme – Thyme is most often used as a spice in culinary uses and its aromatic and rich flavor is perfect for soups, stews, and marinades.

Oregano – Oregano is often used in Greek and Italian food (especially tomato dishes).

Mint – Mint is a tasty herb that adds some freshness to any dish (especially lamb!).

Basil – Most well known as the main ingredient in pesto, basil is a delicious and mild herb.

Sage – Sage is a great herb to add to pork or turkey sausage and combines well with any other herb on this list.

You can start your herb garden from seeds, or to get a quick start, you can purchase established herb plants from your local garden center or grocery store. When you purchase established plants you won’t have to wait long until the plants are mature enough for harvesting fresh herbs when you need them.

-Dr. P
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Week 4 – Heavenly Crockpot Potato Soup

Slow Cooker Heavenly Potato Soup

Grandma Antoinette's Potato Soup loaded with chunks of tender, hearty potatoes and made with a rich and creamy soup base. This soup is a family favorite and for good reason – it’s easy to make and absolutely delicious! Top it with cheese and bacon and no one will be able to resist.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 hrs 30 mins
0 mins
Total Time9 hrs
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: comfort food, crockpot, low calorie, one dish meal, slowcooker
Servings: 12
Calories: 179kcal
Author: Grandma Antionette

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients

Main Ingredients

  • 8 Cups Diced Russet potatoes
  • 48 Ounces Chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian version
  • 1 10oz Can Condensed Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted or Cream of Celery soup for vegetarian version
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped yellow onion
  • 1 Large Carrot diced
  • 1 Stalk Celery diced
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 8oz Package of cream cheese – Cubed

OPTIONAL

  • ½ Lb Sliced bacon cooked and crumbled (Omit for vegetarian version)
  • Minced chives
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine all the main ingredients EXCEPT the Cream Cheese.
    Cover and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or until potatoes are tender.
  • Add cream cheese; stir until blended. Serve immediately & enjoy.
  • Garnish with bacon, cheese & chives if desired.

Notes

Nutrition Facts
1 cup (calculated without bacon): 179 calories,
9g fat (5g saturated fat),
25mg cholesterol,
787mg sodium,
21g carbohydrate
(2g sugars, 2g fiber),
4g protein.

This, Not That, Thursday – Bat Houses for Organic Pest Control

Did you know that a single little brown bat can catch up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour

One gray bat will munch on 3,000 insects in a night. I don’t know about you, but those statistics make these little nighttime flyers pretty popular with me. Would you like to attract some bats to your homestead for natural, non-toxic organic pest control?

The first way to get the little critters interested in your yard is to leave a dead tree if you happen to have one. Some dead trees can pose a problem if they are close to your house or other structures, but if you have a tree that can be left on your property, chances are the bats will eventually move in. The bark that loosens up and pulls away from the trunk when a tree dies provides a perfect little crevice for bats, who love to squeeze into small spaces.

If you’re like most people and having a dead tree on your property is not an option. The next best choice is to install a bat house. If you are handy and want to try building your own bat house, here is a link on DIY Bat house plans https://homesthetics.net/bat-house-plans/ If you’d rather purchase a ready-made bat house, those are also available online, amazon sells them for $25-$60. You may want to visit the website for Bat Conservation International. You’ll find bat house plans, ready-made houses, and all kinds of fascinating bat information.

Now, onto where to place your Bat house. They are best located near a permanent source of water, especially a marsh, lake or river, which is by far the most likely to attract bats. They should be hung roughly 12–15 feet above the ground, where their approach is unobstructed by vegetation or utility wires and they are sheltered as much as possible from the wind. A bat house can be placed on a tree or pole, although those attached to the side of a building have had the most success because they provide temperature stability.

Since appropriate temperature may determine how (or even if) your bat house is used, you may wish to consider several factors before mounting it. Lower temperatures, due to higher altitude or latitude, require that bat houses intended for use by nursery colonies be oriented to receive maximum sun, especially in the morning (southeast exposure). Another way to gain heat absorption is to add tar paper or dark-colored shingles to the Bat house roof. Even in hot climates, bat houses should be positioned to receive morning sun


No matter if they are summer residents only or hang out all year long, it is well worth your time and effort to attract them to your homestead by installing one or more bat houses on or near your home. Encourage other community members to do the same. You’ll enjoy the natural pest protection that they will happily provide you and your family.

This, Not That, Thursday – Using Apple Peels & Cores

Apples! Did someone say apples? This week “This, Not That Thursday” is all about saving those apple peels and cores.

Every fall we take at least one trip to an apple orchard near us. They have family-friendly activities, wonderful local canned goods for sale, and of course, apples. So many apples! Plain apples, apples to make applesauce, pies, crisps and the “mother” of them all… Apple Cider Vinegar

When making any of the above you will probably peel & core some of those apples but did you know you can use the peels and the cores to make apple cider vinegar? This way you have virtually no waste! WINNER!

It is also totally possible to make apple cider vinegar from the whole apple so don’t worry if you don’t have leftover peels and cores from anything.

There are several more elaborate ways to make apple cider vinegar at home, but today I’m gonna show you how to make it from apple scraps. I especially like this method since it allows me to use the apples for other stuff while still making a valuable product from the “waste”.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 d
Total Time5 d 10 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb, low fat, low sodium, nut free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Equipment

  • One quart jar
  • One canning lid ring OR a rubber band
  • Coffee filter OR paper towel

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Large apples Apple peels & cores any browning/discolored flesh from organic apples
  • 2-2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar I like Turbinado raw sugar
  • 2-2 1/2 cups water boiled and allowed to cool

Instructions

  • Cover the bottom of your jar with apple scraps, filling no more than 3/4 full. The apples need room to expand and stay submerged.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar and 2 cups of filtered water to the jar. The apples should be completely submerged. Mold can grow on any portions of apples that are not covered and ruin your batch of vinegar. If your scraps float to the top of the jar add a smaller jar on top to keep them submerged.
  • 3.Stir the apples, sugar, and water and cover with a coffee filter. Secure with a canning band, or a rubber band.
  • Allow apples to sit in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks. Above the refrigerator or on the top shelf of a cupboard are great places. Just don’t forget you put it there!
  • After 2 weeks, you might notice some fizz or bubbles. That’s good news! Strain out the apple pieces and compost. Cover the apple cider vinegar again with a coffee filter and canning band. Allow continuing to sit at room temperature for another 2-4 weeks.
  • The vinegar may become cloudy or a SCOBY could form on the top, both of which are normal. Taste test the vinegar once a week until it’s to your liking. You can stop the fermentation process by replacing the coffee filter with a canning lid and storing it in the refrigerator.
  • Use your homemade vinegar just like you would store-bought vinegar– for cooking, cleaning and everything in between

Notes

Tip: You don’t HAVE to use a quart-sized jar, but it’s what I readily have available. Feel free to use whatever size jar you have on hand. If you use a different size jar, the ratio is 1 Tbsp sugar per 1 cup water.
NOTE: About preserving and pickling with homemade vinegar: It’s generally recommended that you do NOT use homemade vinegar for any sort of preservation. In order to ensure the safety of your home canned products, you need a vinegar with an acetic acid level of 5%. Since most of us don’t have a way to check the levels of our homemade vinegar, it’s best just to skip using it for canning or preserving– better safe than sorry!
NOTE: You want the peels to be from apples that have been scrubbed very, very well. Organic apples are preferred, but simply buy the best you can afford and wash them very well. Secondly, it’s okay to use brown or bruised apples. However, it is NOT okay to use moldy or rotten apples.


Week 1 – Crockpot Apple crisp

Crockpot Apple Crisp

This Crockpot Apple Crisp is a perfect way to use some of the apples you got while apple picking out east! This super easy dessert is bursting with juicy apples, brown sugar, and a buttery oat crumble topping, just like grandma used to make.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: soy free
Servings: 8 People
Calories: 366kcal
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Equipment

  • Crockpot

Ingredients

The Apple Mixture:

  • 8 Granny Smith apples (Or what you have on hand) peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

The Crisp Topping:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

Instructions

Apple mixture:

  • Place sliced apples in the slow cooker. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir. (Be sure to use a non-metal spoon so as not to scratch your slow cooker insert.) Let sit while you prepare the crisp topping.

Crisp Topping:

  • Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the oat mixture until the mixture starts to clump together.
  • Back to the apple mixture, stir one more time and then spread apples out into an even layer. Now, sprinkle on the crisp topping evenly.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 3-3½ hours, until apples, are soft. Turn off heat and let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving (keeping the lid on).
    We serve it with vanilla ice cream, but you can use any flavor you like. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅛ recipe
Calories: 366kcal
Fat: 13g
Saturated fat: 7g
Carbohydrates: 64g
Sugar: 42g
Sodium: 158mg
Fiber: 7g
Protein: 4g
Cholesterol: 31mg
 

-Dr. P
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