Thursday, July 25, 2013

Making Mint Sun Tea

There are some really great ways to conserve energy/power. One of our favorite is to make sun tea, since so many people have  access to the outdoors (and sun) and can make it.

Sun tea can be made with different herbs, regular tea bags and even with spices added for variety; imagination is a great thing when it comes to making sun tea.

For a simple mint sun tea we simply:

Pack a jar full of mint leaves (stems included). The size of the jar depends upon how much sun tea you would like to have.

Fill the jar with water, being sure all the leaves/stems are covered.

Set jar in the sun. The more sun, the stronger the tea is.

We usually let ours sit out all day and bring it indoors in the evening.

We then strain the water from the leaves.

To sweeten, we heat some honey and water together and add it to the tea. We have also added honey to the tea while it is in the sun and let it all steep together.

A friend of ours adds fresh stevia leaves to her tea as a sweetener and has had great luck.

Since sweetness is a matter of preference, it is good to experiment to see what you like.

Store the strained tea in the refrigerator and enjoy on a hot summer day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Update on Starting Cucumber Seeds Under Plastic

A few months ago we posted about Starting Cucumber Seeds Under Plastic. This was a two-fold experiment- starting the seeds under plastic (which we have done in the past in raised beds) and growing the cucumbers in a large pot.

So far, success. We ate our first cucumber July 13th and have had one every day since. There are lots of blossoms and cucumbers still coming.

We are very happy with how this has worked out and will try it again next year in more planters, as well as in the garden.

As a bonus, we really enjoy having the cucumbers so close to the house!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Making Your Own Vanilla Extract

There many things that one can do to be more self sufficient and save money, and have a healthier product. Making your own vanilla extract is one.

I have read of a few different ways of making homemade vanilla extract, however we have found this to be the easiest. 

It is really incredibility simple.

All you need are Vanilla Beans,a jar and some vodka. We usually buy the cheapest locally made vodka we can find. I am sure a more expensive vodka would make an even better tasting vanilla, but for our baking this works.

Simply sterilize a jar by pouring boiling water into it. Let the jar dry.

Place vanilla bean in the jar and cover with vodka.

Let sit a few weeks for the flavors to develop. The longer it sits, the stronger the vanilla flavor will be.

As we use the vanilla we add more vodka until the vanilla looses some of it's flavor. You will know once you use the vanilla and get used to the flavor when you may want to add more vodka. We also have been known to add another vanilla bean to an existing bottle and continue the process.

We have been making vanilla extract this way for the past 15 years or so and have had great luck.