Here on our little hillside, in WV, we try to live a simple life. One where we can try to make the best decisions in regards to what we feed our family, and where we source our foods. We try to make green decision that are not only good for our family but for our community and planet as well. There is no place I would rather raise a family, than these WV hills! So I guess it is our responsibility to preserve them, and our heritage.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Like most people who garden, we tend to always have an over abundance of zucchini.  I have tried some fabulous recipes including zucchini brownies, lemon zucchini bread, fritters, and baked zucchini sticks.  My little one has been asking for cupcakes the last few days and I did have an extra zucchini on the counter, I browsed for a few recipes and tweaked them just a little and made her chocolate cupcakes.  She helped me make them, but I am know she didn't realize that over 2 cups of healthy vegetables went in her dessert.  Mom Score!!  Also these cupcakes are beyond ridiculously moist.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

1/4 butter
1/4 coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/2 cocoa powder
1/1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Someone had to taste them!?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Move from pan to wire rack.  Allow to cool completely and add your choice of frosting/icing.  I chose a chocolate buttercream, but a peanut butter icing or even just a dusting of powdered sugar would be delicious.  Makes 18 cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cocoa powder
1 lb powdered sugar
1/3 cup melted milk chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon (then you can add more to reach desired thickness)

Cream butter and oil
add vanilla and pinch of salt
then add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder
and the milk to reach the thickness you like
I then keep mixing and add the 1/3 cup of melted milk chocolate until it blends in smooth and creamy.

The coconut oil does give it a hint of coconut flavor.  If you want to avoid this, you can substitute butter or shortening.  (Coconut oil cuts out the GMO's)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Local meats, you've tried them right??

So they other day I grabbed a package of store bought sausage out of the deep freezer.  We do not normally purchase these meats from the store, but I thought I would get rid of the pack that had been in there.  Our local high school has a meat processing class that makes the best sausage I have ever had.  We also have a local butcher whose meat is not far behind.  Neither of these processors raise the meat the butcher, but most is local.  As I opened the store bought kind, I realized I was going to end up frying two packs.  This meat was mushy.  I know it is ground pork, but it should not be mushy.  Then as I started frying it, I again realized why er do not purchase sausage or burger from the super markets, especially chain stores, the local markets as least have butchers on site.

Here is the comparison between the two.

Look at all the grease as it fries....

I ended up with a half a bowl of meat

crumbly greasy meat

and 3/4 a cup of grease

looks yummy huh??

Local butchered

A full bowl of meat and a 1/4 of grease (if that)

Guess which one I made sausage gravy and biscuits with?

Crumbly greasy store bought sausage

chunky, meaty, locally butchered meat

The difference in quality is obvious.  The store bought, mass produced stuff is nowhere near as healthy or tasty as the local options.  If you do not shop with your local butcher, or farmers markets, you really should give the local shops and farms a try.  It is better for you and the environment.  Buying local also helps support the local economy!  Check out your local meat sources today!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Organic gardening with peppermint oil

Alright, so I have been hearing all this information about essential oils in the garden.  I am all about my property remaining organic, so I was very interested in learning more.  From all I have seen so far, peppermint is recommended as a general beginners oil for gardeners.  It can fight against many different bugs and also support the plants.  So I decided to start trying it out to see how it worked. I have had something eating the leaves of my new banana plants.  They were covered in black spots and getting holes.

These tiny baby plants were vulnerable and needed some good protection.  So I added 2 drops of doTERRA peppermint oil to 1 oz. of water in my little glass spray bottle.

 I have been misting my plants every other day and they are starting to come back super strong!!

Don't those new growth leaves look good!!  

I have also tried a mixture of about 15 drops each of peppermint and eucalyptus and 5 drops of wintergreen and about 4 ounces of water to kill hatchling spiders and those caterpillars that sting that were nesting in the apple trees.  This worked wonderfully and did not harm to the trees.

I noticed today that my oregano had a few spots that also had black spots but it was raining so tomorrow it will get a good spritz of my peppermint spray.

In the background of those pictures are the first of the raspberry harvest.  I ran out of Raspberry Jelly months ago.  Quite frankly, I have been heartbroken!  I will not make that mistake again!!  No seriously, if you haven't made homemade jelly before, this is the one to do.  It is totally worth it.  You have thorns, boiling hot berries, seeds, juice stains, and a great arm work out from squeezing the berries through the cloth, but make it!!  It is delicious and worth the effort.  There are a ton of berries on the vines this year, I just need to get out and forage for more than what grows here.  Raspberry Jelly is my favorite, not to mention the cobbler, ice cream, syrup, muffins, and everything else we can make.  The main problem I have now is that we have probably harvested well over a pint so far and I have nothing to show for it because my tiny one eats them as fast as they hit the basket.  I am alright with extra berry picking for us this year!!  Let berry season commence!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

dehydrated strawberries

I can not even begin to describe to you how good my house smells right now!!  We have had a fairly good strawberry harvest, and some of the local stores have had pretty good sales.  So we decided to try dehydrating some as well.  Strawberries have close to 90% water content so you want to slice them at least a quarter to half inch thick.  

I soaked my store bought berries in water with doTERRA Lemon oil before I dehydrated them.  I thought since the Lemon oil helps dissolve petrochemicals, it would help wash away any petroleum based chemicals on the conventionally grown/ store bought fruit.

Seriously, they smell SO GOOD!!!

Why stop at strawberries?  I had a few extra trays and a few ripe bananas.  These should be sliced at 1/4 to 1/2 inch.  Bananas are about 76% water content.

Each Dehydrator will have different settings, so check yours to see the recommendations for fruit.  If doing in an oven or you don't have directions, try to dry fruit at about 130-135 degrees.

We also made some strawberry shortcake.  I used some sugar and two drops of doTERRA Lemon oil for these strawberries!!   Delicious!!!  This was about a half gallon of our organically grown garden strawberries.