Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Decorating, Giving New Life

Wine Glass Candle Holder
As the holidays approach we look for creative ways to decorate that don’t cost a lot of money. What better way than to give something in your home new life.

Each year we search the cupboards for items that can serve dual purposes; this year we are using wine glasses as candle holders. Candles add a cozy and festive touch to any meal, and a tea light placed in the glass is all it takes.

The glasses can be plain or fancy, short or tall. Having different heights together can make a lovely arrangement. Place them on a tray; add some greens and you have an instant centerpiece.

Decorative bowls can also be used as candle holders. Add glass beads for a sophisticated look, or polished stones for more of a natural feel.

There are many options, just be creative and start experimenting!

Wine Glass Candle Holders
Wine Glass Candle Holders

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wood Fired Water Heater

For about 5 years we have had a propane on-demand water heat for all our hot water needs. Last year we had the chance to get a second hand wood fired water heater. It ain’t pretty, but it sure does the job.

We tapped into the hot and cold lines of our on-demand water heater and plumbed in the wood fired one and connected valves so that we can isolate one or the other.

Since there is no way to regulate the temperature of the water, we piped the pressure relief valve into an old copper water heater (which had belonged to my great-grand parents) that we use as a holding tank. This way if the water gets too hot and blows off it goes into the extra tank (instead of all over the wall….this actually happened and was quite a wake up call). We then can drain the copper tank into a bucket, there is a valve at the bottom that we attached a short hose to, and once it has cooled it can be used to water animals or plants.

One thing that I really love about the wood fired water heater is that we can burn sticks and all sorts of small scrap pieces of wood. The tank holds about 5 to 6 gallons of water, plenty for a nice hot shower. In fact, it works so well that we shut off the propane water heater last winter and it hasn’t been on since!

Wood Fired Water Heater

The copper holding tank is situated behind the chimney so I can't show a picture of it. The plumbing goes in behind the chimney.
Close Up

Picture of water heater with door removed to show the fire box. We have the heater up on a metal stand to make using it easier.
Water Heater With Fire

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prepared Horseradish

Horseradish is an easy plant to grow and harvest, simply dig up some roots! We have tried many ways to preserve it, but this recipe has worked well; it is easy and tasty!
Prepared Horseradish
Prepared Horseradish

1 cup horseradish root
1/2 cup vinegar

Wash horseradish root and peel.
Chop the roots and put in a blender with the vinegar.
Blend until well chopped. Be careful removing the lid, the horseradish will be quite strong.
You can also grate the root by hand and then add the vinegar, mixing well.
Pack into clean jars and store in the refrigerator.
Prepared horseradish will start to loose its strength after about a month.

Horseradish Plant

Homemade Horseradish on FoodistaHomemade Horseradish

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Easy Listening

12-volt radio
We are always looking for creative ways to save energy and power, and we also love to listen to music. For us the solution was a 12-volt car radio to run off of solar.

We picked up a used car stereo at a yard sale for $3.00. My husband built a cabinet for it to be mounted into, which is just big enough for a 12-volt battery to sit at the bottom. We went online to find the specks for our brand of radio; found out which pin was power and how to hook up the speakers properly.

We mounted the stereo in the cabinet and connected two 5 watt solar panels to the battery (probably one would be enough, but we had two so we used both).solar panels to 12-volt radio

There were two power connectors on the radio. We connected the one that holds memory to a fuse and to the positive side of the battery. The other power connector (which turns the radio on and off) we ran from the fuse to an external switch, which acts like the key in a car. That way when we turn off the radio (by the external switch) there is no power draining the battery.

We then connected the speakers, which are mounted on the walls and ceiling through out the house.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Autumn Soup

Fall is my favorite time of year. The weather is nice and the garden is full of things to be harvested. Here is the perfect soup for a cool fall day.

Autumn Soup
2 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion; chopped
5 carrots; sliced
5 cloves garlic; sliced
1 1/2 cup beet greens or spinach; chopped
1/4 cups scallions; chopped
1/4 teaspoon rosemary; ground
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek; ground
1/4 teaspoon horseradish; chopped
1 tablespoon celery flakes
1/2 teaspoon dill
8 cups stock, vegetable or chicken
8 small potatoes; chopped
1 1/2 cup squash; chopped
dash hot sauce; optional
dash hot pepper flakes; optional

Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add beet greens or spinach, scallions, and seasoning. Sauté for about 5 minutes more on medium heat.

In a large stock pot combine stock, potatoes and squash. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are about half done. Add ingredients from skillet and simmer until the potatoes and squash are cooked. Add hot sauce and paper flakes, if desired. Simmer about 15 minutes more and serve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

We follow the directions in Old Fashioned Recipe Book: An Encyclopedia of Country Living
Be sure your cast iron is clean before seasoning; all rust removed and well washed and dried.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Rub pan all over with a generous amount of lard or shortening. Place in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and apply a second coat to the inside only of the pan (be careful…the pan will be very hot!).

Return to the oven for another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and apply a third coat. After applying the third coat leave the pan in the oven for two hours, then turn the oven off and let the pan stay in the oven until it has cooled.

Be sure not to leave the lid on a Dutch oven while doing this, the lid will stick on.

Re-season whenever necessary.

Lodge Logic Dutch Oven with Loop Handles

Cooking With Ground Beef: Meat Loaf Burgers

Ground beef is so versatile. There are so many options besides the plain hamburger. Here is one way we "dress 'em up" a bit.

Meat Loaf Burgers
1 pound hamburger
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 small onion; diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon parsley

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well (clean hands work well for this job). The mixture will be gooey.

Preheat a frying pan and cook the burgers as you normally would.