Friday, November 1, 2013

Cranberry-Tangerine Spread

This is a wonderful holiday spread.  If you make it around Thanksgiving when the cranberries are prevalent you can give it at Christmas as gifts! I like this with tangerine juice, but OJ will do just fine.  As with all canning, get the best ingredients you can afford.  This makes for a superior product and since canning takes a bit to do you might as well.

12 oz package fresh cranberries
1 c water
1/2 c tangerine or orange juice
3 c sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Makes 6 4-ounce jars


  1. In large pan combine cranberries, water, and juice.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered until cranberries pop; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 1 hour.
  2. Process mixture in blender or with immersion blender until fairly smooth. Stir in sugar and cinnamon.  Bring to boiling while stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened; about 25 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat.  Remove cinnamon stick.
  4. Ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized 4 oz canning jars. (1/4" headspace)  Affix lids and rims finger tight.  Process in water bath for 5 minutes.  Cool on racks or towel.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Best Raw Bread EVER!

I've been looking for a recipe that would satisfy my love for toast.  This is it.  No flour, no bake, but you can bake it if you like.  I use my dehydrator for this moist, spongy bread.  Pop it in the toaster and slather with butter, homemade jam or any spread you choose.  It has a low glycemic index level, so it's great for diabetics and it's gluten free.  Best of all it satisfies my need for bread with long lasting results and no sugar crash!


  • 2 c almond flour
  • 1 c psyllium husks
  • 2 tbs chia optional
  • 1c ground flax
  • 1 tbs Ashwaghanda powder
  • 1 very large onion (pick the flavor you like best)
  • 2 lrg cloves garlic optional
  • 3 tbs coconut oil or olive oil (I use a basil olive oil)
  • 2/3 c water
  • 2 tsp salt (you can use flavored salts if you want to get tricky)
  • Add some herbs if you like!
  1. In a large bowl combine flour, husks, chia, flax, and ashwaghanda.
  2. In Vitamix or food processor add remaining ingredients and mix until it's a nice slurry.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry.  Mix with a spatula to wet the ingredients.
  4. In your bowl turn the ingredients together with your hands to form a ball.
  5. You can at this point go two ways.  
  • Make into thee small loaves that are baguette shaped. This gets you more of the crisp crust and snack sized pieces.
  • Make into 1 large round or store-bought-bread-shaped loaf.  I do the round as I like to slice big pieces that fit in the toaster and come up high enough for me to grab!
     6. Place on lowest rack in dehydrator.  Start at 145 for 1 hour then drop to 105 for 3-5 hours, until you achieve a nice "crisp" crust.

Store this wondrous treat in the refrigerator to void spoiling.  I use it over the week. Slice and eat with your favorite spread or toast and eat.  Really this is a great bread!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Zucchini is really tasty and super easy to grow. As a matter of fact, it is often said that, "friends don't give friends zucchini." With that in mind, remember that yields are often high with zucchini.  One plant goes a long way!

  • If you have a short season, or just want fruits sooner then start in 4" pots 4-6 weeks before last frost.
  • Be careful when transplanting to not disturb the roots.
  • You can start with direct seeding 2-4 seeds on a nice 24" mound.
  • Soils should not have too much clay and drain fairly well.
  • If planting a  lot of plants you can place them 24" apart.  This will make them dense to close to choke out the weeds.
  • Add manure to holes when prepping site.

  • Zucchinis like it hot, so letting them dry out before watering them can really get them going. 
  • Keep weeds down while they are being established. 
  • Once established they will choke everything else out.
  • Once Zucchinis begin flowering you should get in the habit of visiting them daily. 
  • Inspect the plant thoroughly so as not to miss fruits. 

  • Harvest fruits when tiny for canning or just because they are so delicious at 3 inches.
  • Be sure to harvest for eating in stir-fries and steamed before they are 8 inches long.  If you are growing zucchini there is no reason to eat fibrous, too big fruits!
  • Use giant zucchinis to make breads or as livestock feed.  My chickens love them.
  • I love harvesting these when just the height of a pint jar for canning Spicy Zucchini Pickles.  They look amazing in the jars and fun to eat during football season.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Psalm 72:3
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the hills, through righteousness.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Making Yogurt in the Dehydrator

Making yogurt is fun and tasty. It really isn't very hard at all. The best thing is that you can get the exact flavor you like and use the dairy products that is of the quality you desire.
Ingredients and Equipment
  • Milk (raw or not ultra-pasteurized)
  • Your favorite flavor of plain yogurt (small container)  Your yogurt will taste like your starter so buy the product you wish to recreate! 
  • Stainless steel or non-reactive pot
  • Sterilized jars and lids to hold volume of yogurt you are preparing
  • Candy thermometer
  • Cheesecloth if you plan to make Greek style yogurt
  • Strainer
  1. Heat your milk in the pan slowly, stirring frequently. Pasteurized milk will need to be "scalded" and taken to 160 degrees fahrenheit. If you are using raw milk you will only need to bring it to 110.  Use your candy thermometer to monitor the temp of the milk.  I have an electric one that clips on so that I can watch the temp.  It was $25, but worth the expense because I like to do cheese as well.  A simple candy thermometer will do, but don't let it touch the metal of the pan.
  2. Cool milk to 110.  At this point I like to take a cup out and add my starter plain yogurt, 1 tsp per pint you are creating.  I like to whisk the cup of milk with the starter until really blended.  you will find adding the starter to a large amount of milk is difficult.  It tends to clump.
  3. Add your whisked starter and milk back to your milk at 110. Mix well.
  4. Pour your milk mixture into sterilized jars.  I use my canning funnel for ease of pouring.
  5. Cap your jars and place in your dehydrator at 110.  Leave for 4-6 hours.  The longer you leave it the tangier it will become.
  6. For Greek yogurt place cheesecloth in a strainer.  Place strainer in larger bowl.  Pour yogurt in cheesecloth and allow to drain in fridge for 1-4 hours--until desired thickness is reached.  Give the drained whey to plant or animals for high nutrition.
Eat over cereal.  Use as a sour cream substitute. Use your canned jellies and mix for fruit flavored yogurt.  Great in smoothies!  You will find all sorts of uses.  I frequently add to soups for a creamier texture.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


  • Plant strawberries in well drained fertile soil in early spring when ground can be worked.
  • Buy bare root plants for best results.
  • Make sure to crown is just below dirt with leaves and stems above soil. (plantlets usually have but a few leaves). 
  • Purchase varieties growers will be happy to help you select a variety that suits your needs and climate.appropriate for your area. Usually
  • Plant in small hills for easier care and amending.
  • Spacing-   14- 16"
  • Add some readily available nitrogen like  feather meal, some well rounded long term amendment like bone mean, and calcium in the for of oyster shell to each plant upon planting.
  • Chose a sunny location.
  • Side dress with high nitrogen manure like chicken poop after the first spring weeding.
  • You can water with fish before the flowering.  Once flowering begins stop.
  • Keep on top of weeds! Strawberries get shaded quick by weeds.  Weeds steal nutrients.
  • Water when soil gets dry.  A nice chance to dry a little and feel the heat makes strawberries push. This puts on growth.
  • Wet conditions too often can create an environment for disease. Watch for signs of distress.  Purchase varieties appropriate for your area.
  • Remember that plump strawberries require water.  But overhead water too close to harvest is not good.  Strawberries should be harvested dry--especially if you are marketing them!  Wet strawberries rot! Drip tape is preferable.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Sweet Squash Soup with Quinoa

This is one of my all time favorite soups, especially in winter.  With its apricot nectar it really is a sweet treat.  I love quinoa and squash.  While most soups take a few hours to develop this is done in an hour from prep to table.  I suggest serving with a savory bread or dehydrated crackers. Use any squash you like; Delicata for a less sweet outcome and butternut for sweetness.  In Summer I add summer squashes and in winter I add greens.


  • 1/3 c finely chopped shallot or onion
  • 2 tsp oil of choice
  • 32 oz broth
  • 1 can apricot nectar
  • 1 lb winter squash peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 3/4 c rinsed quinoa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • large handful of chopped greens or 2 little zucchinis cubed (optional)
  1. In medium saucepan cook onion in oil until soft (stir frequently).
  2. Add squash, cumin, broth, quinoa and nectar. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Add greens or zucchini and simmer for another 10 minutes covered or just simmer additional time to develop flavors and cook quinoa.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dealing With Flea Beatles

Flea beetles are nasty little creatures!  Everything is going along just fine in your garden when you head out one day to see your leaves bit to heck!  There are some things you can do to stop the cycle organically, but you will need to be diligent.

Flea Beetle Description
You can see the tiny Flea Beetle to the right and the typical damage they cause. They are about 1/10 of an inch in size and will jump like fleas if you hit the leaf. The larvae are in the soil so you don't see them. Flea beetle larvae can overwinter and often emerge in spring.
Flea beetle damage
Signs of Flea Beetle Damage
  • Flea Beetles attack young plants.
  • They create a shotgun type damage on leaves.
  • Essentially they suck your plants dry.
  • They like Brassicas such as broccoli.
  • Seedlings are mysteriously shriveling and dying.
Treatments and Prevention for Flea Beetles
Because Flea Beetles like young plants it is best to cover crops with row cover when setting seedlings out.  Once your plants are established the beetles really are inconsequential. If you are worried about them from a previous year you should drench the soil with parasitic nematodes to devour the larvae.  You can buy these at your garden store or online. Be sure to do when temperatures are at the suggested level.

To get rid of an infestation use Spinosad.  Spray the leaves as the day is warming up, but not when plants are cooking in the sun.  I like to water one day, as droughts encourage them, and then spray the next morning about 11 am.  They tend to come out from the soil when it's warmer.  You will need to repeat probably every 5 days- with three treatments total.  This should break the cycle, but watch to see if any reappear in 14 days.   Make sure to time this around your watering as you do not want to go to the trouble of spraying the beasties and then wash it off.

If your seedlings are being attacked you can be almost sure if they make it to a certain growth point (3 sets of true leaves) the Flea Beetles will not effect them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dehydrated Beet Chips

Sliced beets for Beet chips Heron's Nest Farm
Beet chips are really tasty. They are super easy to make and can satisfy that munch urge.  I like to use white beets.  If you are unfamiliar with them, I highly recommend them for their sweet flavor and the fact that they don't stain your hands when you work with them. Of course, the darker the beet the greater the nutrients.

  1. Peal beets.
  2. Slice as thin as possible with a mandolin or food processor.  This is important because they need to dry evenly and at the same time.
  3. Combine beets in a bowl with enough apple cider vinegar to lightly coat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Place on Dehydrator screens and dehydrate at 105 until crisp (about 4 hours).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fermented Chicken Feed

I have been delighted to discover making fermented chicken food!  Since discovering this process I have reduced feed costs by 40% and productivity is up!  This method is simple and takes a low start-up investment. Special thanks to Marvelous Mud Washing Machine for turning me onto this money saving tip.  Check out her blog, it's worth it!

Materials List
  • 1   5 gallon bucket with lid
  • 1   2 gallon bucket (no lid required)
  • Drill
  • 1/4" drill bit
  • 1 bottle raw unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Chicken feed/grains
  • water

Step 1
Drill holes in the 2 gallon bucket along the bottom and up the sides for drainage.  As you can see by my pictures I have several.  This is so water can get into the grains and out.  Do not drill holes so big as your feed will come out.  You only need to go 1/2 way up the sides of the 2 gallon bucket.

Step 2
Place 2 gallon bucket inside 5 gallon bucket.
Fill 5 gallon bucket with water until it is 1/2 way up the  small bucket.
Add 1 cup Raw unfiltered ACV.

Step 3
Place chicken feed and desired grains in small bucket, filling only half full.
Put lid on 5 gallon bucket.
Leave for 3-5 days until bubbly.  This means the microbes are taking off.

Step 4
This is important!
Remove inside bucket, holding over large bucket.
Place two sticks across the top of the bucket for the little bucket to sit on and drain or it is messy.
I just sit it there and go collect eggs.  When I return it's ready.  Give chickens their fermented feed.

Now you have the microbial action going.  Just add more water, refill inside bucket, and return in ONE DAY! Pour more ACV in from time to time. It's that easy.

Note:  At first my chickens didn't like it.  But now they gobble it up!  The increased moisture fills the hens up quicker and avoids waste.  I am adding chopped garlic to help with parasite control.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cranberry Orange Sweet Treats

This is a twist on my lemon dehydrator bars.  These are moist and dreamy. They have just a hint of cinnamon and are tangy with orange zest.  They best part about these is that they are pretty quick to make! Raw food does not have to be hard.

  • 2 orange juiced or 3/4 c
  • 1 orange zested
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries minced finely
  • 1 c brazil nuts
  • 1 coconut
  • 1/2 c almonds
  • 3 tbs maca


  • Combine orange juice, honey, zest, stevia, and cinnamon. Wisk them together well.  
  • Add cranberries, cover and allow to sit for 1 hour.


  • In Vitamix grain mill or food processor grind nuts.
  • Add the Maca and mix/pulse.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  • Spread 1/2 inch thick on teflex sheets and score in desired shape..
  • Put in dehydrator at 110 for 4 hours.
  • Flip on mesh sheets.
  • Reduce heat to 105.
  • Dehydrate until chewy, about 8 hours.
  • Break apart and store in air tight jar/container.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Basil is really a treat in the garden.  Fresh basil throughout the summer months is a wonderful addition  to your eating experience.  It really is easy to love and easy to keep with just a few thoughts in mind:

  • Start basil indoors 4 weeks before last frost.
  • seeds need 70 degrees or higher to germinate.  Use under heat if possible.
  • Basil sprouts should get a soft pinch in their pots when there are 4 sets of leaves on the seedling.  A soft pinch would mean just removing the very top set of baby leaves with your finger nails. This will cause the growth back down into lower leaf bracts to send out new leaves, creating a bushy plant.
  • You may wish to do a soft pinch again after plant fills out.
  • Plant basil in Sunny location. At least 6 hours of direct sun.
  • Well drained, nitrogen rich soil is important.
  • Spacing-     12-14"
  • Don't let Basil even look sad from lack of water.  Never let the soil dry out for an extended period of time. You don't want it to think it should flower.
  • If it begins to push flowers, cut them off the entire  plant.
  • You can throw a handful of manure at its base a few weeks after it gets established.  That is, when you notice the plant seems over its transplant "shock" and begins to put on new growth steadily.
Harvest and Uses
  • cut back a few of the top sets of leaves to use in fresh recipes.  Plant will then push new growth from pinch back well into the summer season and fall if not flowering.
  • Plant several and harvest whole plants to make pesto.
  • Dry with dehydrator on VERY LOW HEAT for several days until dry.  Don't let leaves touch while drying. Keep out of light.
  • Break up dry leaves with your hands. 
  • Store in air tight, dark jar.
  • Great on pasta and in sauces.

Zucchini Waffles

Thanks to Marshall for sharing this!

Zucchini Waffles
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ⅔ cup coconut oil
  • 2 and ¼ cups flour (I used spelt)
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • 1 T baking powder (aluminum-free)
  • ½ t salt
  1. Puree zucchini with water. Transfer to large mixing bowl, and whisk in eggs and other liquids.
  2. Add dry ingredients and mix.
  3. Use a setting on the crispier side of your waffle maker’s settings.
  4. If you want to stuff the waffles with the kale salad, check out Spabettie’s recipe and instructions: http://spabettie.com/2012/09/03/tahini-kale-chiffonade-stuffed-waffles/
  5. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Banana Buckwheat Muffins

Buckwheat Muffins
If you haven't played with buckwheat yet, you should.  It really is tasty.  I have written an article on it's nutritional facts entitled Buckwheat sooo yummy! that you might want to check out if you are interested in this little seed and its benefits. I will say here that buckwheat is gluten free as it is not really wheat.  Anyway, these muffins are wonderful.  Make sure to store them in an air-tight vessel in your fridge as they can perish if left out for days.  This recipe makes six.  Perfect for breakfast!

Buckwheat Muffins in air-tight container
  • 2 very large eggs (or three medium)
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 1/2 a banana mashed
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c buckwheat
  • 1 medium apple diced "pea" sized
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 6 muffin spaces in your tin. (baking cups will stick)
  2. Whisk eggs, honey, banana cinnamon,  and salt in medium bowl until very smooth.
  3. In small bowl mix buckwheat and baking soda well.
  4. Mix dry ingredients with wet. Add apples and mix well.
  5. Pour mixture into tins filling almost to the top.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Plant an Orchard

When planting an orchard there are a couple things that will help make your experience a success.

Find a nursery that has healthy plants.  Ask around for recommendations.

It is best to buy your bare root trees and get them in BEFORE they bud out.  As you can see we were late in doing this.  The weather is forgiving and cool here and so we had success despite our late start.
keeping bare root trees before planting

Keep your roots moist while awaiting planting!

We wet out tree roots and wrapped them on a tarp to keep them moist.  We also put them in a shady spot.

You can heal them in or if you have a tub large enough you can put the roots in water with some vitamin B and/or liquid seaweed.  This will help with avoiding transplant shock.

DO NOT, however, leave the trees in water for days on end.  You should try and get your trees in the same day or the next for best results.

Laying out orchard lines Heron's Nest Farm

Prepare your site

You want to till your ground, removing weeds. Adding lime if your climate requires it is a good idea.  Getting the PH neutral is a great place to start.

Our ground was a little rocky, which is great for drainage.  We needed to do something with this rocky river loam area and trees were a good solution.

Think about spacing

If you have a farm you may be thinking of the long and short of your orchard.  Our trees were semi-dwarf. We chose a triangular, or staggered layout.  The trees triangulated on 12' centers.  (You can, however choose different layouts as described in articles online from your local extension service.)  I achieved this by laying out a string line heading down the bed to square off of.

I then took three stakes, and tied them together with string 12' apart.  They were tied so that I could simply move one end down, moving the triangle putting a flag where each hole went.  This took 2 people.  I tried it alone, but it was just impossible by myself.

Soil amendments Heron's Nest Farm
Dig your holes

Once the flags are out marking where your holes should go, it's time to dig.  I recommend digging the holes BEFORE you pick up your trees to avoid delay on getting them in.  You will want to run a string line down the beds to get your trees centered for straight lines.  Without the string your eye will fool you.  This is something you don't move so getting it right is important.  Remember you have to look at this for 40 years!

The holes should be as deep as your longest root, but you can trim side roots if you wish.  I wouldn't trim them shorter the 14".  All the existing root growth is available for better establishment of your trees.

This may sound silly, but make sure that you put the dirt you dig out from the hole directly next to your hole in a neat pile for refilling.  You would be surprised how many folks can't dig a hole.  They have just never done it.  I have come back more than once to find that a worker has thrown the dirt far from the hole!  If someone else is digging you may want to carefully outline the process to them.

String lines for planting straight Heron's Nest Farm
Oyster shell at feeder roots Heron's Nest FarmWhat to add to your trees holes

So what do I add to the holes for my new trees? There is a lot of debate about this.  If your soil is dense or clay you want to make sure to add organic matter and sand for adequate drainage.

I added feather meal (for nitrogen) to the bottom of our holes for my trees to discover as they grew deeper roots.

Putting bare root trees in

Trim the ends of your tree to fit the hole.  Make sure that downward roots are not wrapping around making a "J" root. You want those roots headed down and deep.

Make sure your trees  are sitting up straight, that your graft point (you can see it to the right where the tree takes a jog) is going to be above the soil, and you are centered with your string line for straight rows you can enjoy looking at.

Final tamping after feeding Heron's Nest Farm
Carefully fill the hole pushing the soil in between the roots.  Air pockets can leave room for standing water, or worse yet, critters.

About 2" from full I added about 1 cup oyster shell which will sit around those tiny little feeder roots you are probably seeing.  Oyster shell neutralizes pH, adds trace minerals over a period of time as it breaks down, and helps with drainage. I cover my oyster shell and tamp the remaining soil.

I do not add compost to my holes because I want the tree to focus on root growth, not vegetative growth above. In following years I will add more nitrogen to focus on upward growth.

Water in your new orchard

It was sprinkling when we put out orchard in, but still I filled every hole with water to assure complete settling of soil and moistening of the roots.  DO NOT tamp soil after watering.  You do not want to compress air spaces at this point but rather allow natural settling of soil.

Watering a new orchard

Make sure your soil stays moist during those first few months.  You don't want those roots drying out.  Pay attention to the soil moistness and water as necessary in your area. You can also head out after that first day planting and straighten your trees if you find a few wonky ones out there.