Category Archives: Simple Living

Homemade Vitamin C

homemade vitamin c

Homemade Vitamin C was today’s project. The urban homestead has a lemon tree and a grapefruit tree, so we have lots of raw material. We have never used any pesticides on the trees, so this stuff will be all organic! I have always felt wasteful throwing all those peels away. To find out I could have been making Vitamin C, among other things, out of them, made me very happy.

The Ingredients

We eat grapefruit every morning, so afterward, I take the peels and scrape out the remaining fruit and membrane, leaving the white pith.

The Process

drying grapefruit peels

Then I slice the peels very thin and lay them on a baking sheet. When I have a full sheet (not more than a day or two) I turn the warming oven on to 150F and dry them for an hour or 2. Then I turn the oven off and leave them in there while it cools. After all that, if the peels are crispy and snap when I break them, I go on to the next step. If not, I repeat the drying process.

Here in Southern California, the humidity is such that if the peels sit for too long, they start to mold. So drying them in the oven is a must.

Next, the dried peels are placed in the high-speed blender and ground as fine as it will get them. This is fairly powdery, but there do remain a few chunks. I put the powder into a pint or quart jar and add a paper napkin or small piece of paper towel, to absorb any moisture.

 powdered vitamin c

Potential Problems

This is a new project, so I am not sure if mold is going to be a problem. My sources say the powder should last about 3 months on the shelf and 6 months in the freezer. Hopefully, I will get enough made to last from final harvest to the following season’s first fruits.

powdered vitamin c

The Results

I stir a teaspoon of this into my carrot juice in the morning. Sometimes 2t if I have a cold. Seems to work great. The rest of the family is not excited about the taste, so I am going to mix it with some raw honey and make little pills for them to try.

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Is Brown the New Green?

brown is new green

So is brown the new green? I think not! Cities in Southern California are covering their greenscapes with brown mulch chips and putting out cute little signs proclaiming “brown is the new green”, encouraging people to change their landscaping over to brown mulch chips, dirt and rocks.

dead brown lawn

Well, it’s not pretty in Phoenix or Palm Desert, and it’s not pretty in the city. Coming from the Northern Arizona area, where it is very dry and it is a struggle to get anything to grow, brown is not green in any way, shape or form. Brown is brown. It’s dirt. Dirt blows around and makes the air all dusty. Green absorbs carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses and converts them back into oxygen, which it puts back into the air. As our city’s air quality gets worse, due to supposed global warming, it is not more brown, but more green that is needed to convert the greenhouse gasses caused by our asphalt, concrete, and industry back into oxygen. More green, not less.

Now, I’m not advocating water-hogging lawns. But trees, shade, drought tolerant plants, lavender, food plants, fruit trees. Even though fruit trees and vegetable gardens use a lot of water, they are also giving back in the form of food, edibles. Herbs and flowers are also useful, as well as attractive. That’s much more efficient than a lawn. I’m also not advocating getting rid of green grass entirely, just cut back on it. We took a walk down in the beach cities a couple of days ago and a lot of homes had strips of grass in geometric patterns on their driveways. Instead of front lawns. And it looked great!

dead city lawn

Do we really need so many golf courses? At the expense of letting our public parks go brown? I do not see that as heroic, nor as conserving water. We have the technology to inexpensively filter gray water into irrigation water. With all the hotels, homes, and businesses with copious amounts of gray water, there would be more than enough to filter and recycle back to flushing toilets and watering public greenspaces, as well as golf courses.  Why not give tax credits to retrofit homes and businesses to filter and recycle their gray water?

dust lawn

So what are solutions to brown is the new green? Well, we water on our watering days, we reuse graywater, with one of the many legal systems, several of which can be installed by the homeowner without any permits required. And, if you run the gray water through a bucket of sand and gravel, it takes out a lot of the junk that is not so good for the plants and the lawn that you’re watering. Doing dishes and washing veggies in a dishpan and dumping that water on the yard. Putting in drought tolerant plants and using that brown (or red, or green) mulch. Or even the free mulch that Calmet gives away several times a year. Retrofitting your home with a gray water recycling system.

What would your suggest?

 

 

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Juicing in the Real World

canned tomato sauce

Most of us don’t have time for fruit and veggie prep, juicing and cleanup every day, several times a day. The gurus tell us to drink freshly juiced vegetables right away to get all the health benefits. True, this is the ideal.

You mothers who breastfeed and pump your milk at work understand how this works. You store and freeze your milk. It loses some vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. But your baby is still getting far more benefits from your breast milk than from formula. Even when that milk is reheated. We can’t always reach the ideal, but we do the best we can.

This is how I juice. Some enzymes, vitamins, and minerals do get lost in the storage and freezing process. But this is the real world, and I have other things to do besides be a slave to the juicer all day.

I go to the farmer’s market once or twice a week. If I can’t make the market I will buy fresh fruits and vegetables from the store, but the greens look fantastic at the farmer’s market lately, so I usually try and hit them up first. Usually, on farmer’s market day, I will come home and juice right away. The old stuff first, then the newer produce. I always save out enough for salads, snacks, and cooked veggies, then juice the rest.

I pour the fresh juice into canning jars, leaving about 1 inch of headspace for freezing. If you are going to try this, make sure you are using canning jars, not reusing mayonnaise jars or some other jars you got jam or something in. Canning jars are tempered to withstand temperature extremes. Every non-tempered jar I have tried freezing or canning with has cracked. That’s a lot of glass, food and hard work to throw out.

I keep about a quart of juice in the refrigerator at a time. When I thaw my juice, I do not use the microwave. The nutritional qualities of fresh juice are very delicate, and the freezing process has already destroyed some of them. So I let my juice thaw naturally, even if it means skipping a day of juice. It just takes some planning ahead. I will thaw frozen bone broth in the microwave, however.

Despite missing the ideal, I still realize enormous health benefits from juicing. I have more energy and am able to consume more fruits and veggies because of it.

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Secrets to Sneaking More Veggies into your Family’s Diet

fresh veggies

If your family is like mine, you’re lucky if you can get them to eat salad with dinner on a regular basis. French fries are counted as a veggie, and pizza is a full meal (meat, diary, bread, tomato sauce). Indeed, one of my sons honestly admits that the only way I’ll get him to eat more veggies is to hide them. So I do. Hence, today I am sharing my secrets to sneaking more veggies into your family’s diet.

Today we hear that raw is best for you. Although this may be true, even I can only eat so many raw veggies. And I like my meat and eggs cooked – medium rare, over easy, but cooked. Some veggies release their heavy duty disease fighting nutrients only after cooking. I’m thinking about tomatoes, onions and garlic, among others. So for the purpose of increasing my family’s fiber intake and nutrition, I serve lots of cooked veggies. They just don’t know about it.

Salad

Salad before dinner is a mainstay at my house. The more toppings, the better, and lots of ranch dressing. Despite the fact that most ranch dressing contains msg and soybean oil, I have had to concede that ranch is the vehicle to get the veggies ingested. One small victory at a time.

Smoothies

A banana, raw milk or yogurt, more fruit, a raw egg, and, um, kale? Lettuce? Well, you didn’t need to know about that. I can put more greens in mine, but for the fam, just a leaf or 2…

Fried

Stir fry or chow mein makes the table at least once a week. Cooked rice or noodles are lightly fried with carrots, onions, garlic and 3 or 4 other chopped vegetables. Use coconut oil for natural sweetness and add leftover meats or an egg if desired. Chop everything fairly small so that it doesn’t take long to cook. Also, ginger, garlic and turmeric help add an asian flavor.

Casserole

Another favorite one pot meal is the good ole’ casserole. Mix cooked rice, potatoes or noodles with chopped veggies and meats (if desired) and douse with cheese sauce. Or if you’re a canned soup person, cream of mushroom, chicken or celery soup. Season to taste and bake at 350F  until done. This is easier with already cooked veggies and meats (aka, leftovers). Cauliflower hides real well, especially with cheese.

Tacos

Taco meat is a good place to hide veggies. Shred or cut them small and fry with the hamburger and onions. This works well with carrots, corn, zucchini, olives, chiles, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. Moreover, adding veggies to your taco meat will stretch your meat budget further.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti sauce is very versatile. You can blatantly add chunks of zucchini, carrots and peppers, or you can shred or dice them. Use fresh tomatoes or canned sauce. This is delicious with or without meat. Don’t forget the onions and garlic.

Soup

Many people no longer consider soup to be a meal. In reality soup is a superfood. To say nothing of the wide variety of soups. Just think chicken broth, carrots, zucchini, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, etc. for starters. Add some kind of fat for flavor. Butter, olive oil, and chicken fat all work well and help with digestion and nutrient absorption.  Season to taste. Serve with a good bread and butter.

I hope I’ve sparked your imagination. There are tons more ways to sneak those veggies in. This is just to get you started. Now go feed your family more veggies!

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Pumpkin Seeds

IMG_2752
Pumpkin seeds are a healthy, easy-to-make snack. They’re a great way to make optimal use of the whole pumpkin or other winter squash.  They’re packed with zinc, which will help you ward off those winter colds. Stuffed squash and pumpkin seeds are both easy to make in the rv oven. I do my pumpkin seeds on the stove top because it’s easier for me.
I like my homemade, roasted pumpkin seeds, so once I’ve got the squash in the oven, I put the seeds in a colander and rinse well. Next, I pop them off of the membranes, then rinse them real good and drain them. Soak them in salt water overnight, and the next day, drain and either roast them or fry them. I like to fry them because I always forget about them in the oven and they burn.
I’ve already soaked the seeds in salt water, so I don’t add any more salt. I add a few tablespoons of coconut oil to my cast iron fry pan and dump the seeds in. Stir frequently and reduce heat if necessary. I want them a nice, toasty brown so that they’re crunchy, but not too hard. I can tell if they’re not done enough, because they’ll be hard to chew. If that happens, I add the ones I think need more roasting back into the pan and keep stirring.
I like to leave a small bowl of seeds sitting out for my family to grab handfuls of throughout the day. The rest, I put into glass jars with tight fitting lids, after they’re cool, of course. This way we can enjoy them for months, without them getting stale. It also makes them easier to grab and go for nutritious, homemade road food or trail snacks.
Cook fresh, eat healthy, enjoy the road!
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