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Friday Favorite: Sauerkraut

July 27th, 2012

Eighteen pounds of sauerkraut, that’s how much I made 10 days ago. People keep asking me, “What are you going to do with all that?”. I’ll give a few jars away to friends, but we’ll eat most it. It will be on our plate every meal until it’s gone. The chiots will get some each morning as well. We even eat it for breakfast, head on over to Eat Outside the Bag for more about that and links to my recipe.

I must admit, I never thought I’d be listing sauerkraut on my Friday Favorites. Growing up my only experience with kraut was the stuff my grandma emptied out of bags on New Year’s Day. Then I discovered home made fermented kraut and liked it. After reading up on the health benefits and was amazed and liked it even more. Now that we try include it at every meal when we have it available I can say that I really, really like sauerkraut and love the health benefits it provides!

Are you a fan of sauerkraut and other fermented foods?

247 E Mohawk Drive

May 11th, 2012

Yep, that’s my address. I purchased some house numbers a while ago with plans to put them on the front door. Then I got nervous and didn’t want to drill holes in the door. Earlier this week, we decided to make a plaque to hang on the front porch since it’s all spruced up and looking lovely.

Originally we were going to buy some wood, but then we remembered that we had some beautiful maple that was milled from one of those trees we had taken down last spring. First we thought about painting it, but then decided the light maple would be perfect as is.

Mr Chiots cut the perfect size board, complete with a slightly beveled edge. He gave it a good sanding, though not enough to make it furniture smooth. We wanted to still have some texture. Then I gave it a few coats of organic boiled linseed oil.

After it was dry, I attached the number, added the eye hooks, and wrote a small description on the back. Hopefully whoever has this house after us will find this little treasure when they take the number down.

Mr Chiots and I were laughing that they’ll probably take it down because they think it’s ugly then they’ll feel bad since it’s got history.

This house humber is perfect because it’s easily visible from the road now, which is why you put house numbers up. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been searching for someone’s address and couldn’t find house numbers either on the house or the mailbox. We’ve always had a mailbox with huge numbers on it to make it easy for people to find, now this is even better.

Do you display your house number somewhere visible?

Whole Grain Olive Oil Crackers

February 23rd, 2011

As part of our No Buy February Challenge, I’m going to be posting Make Your Own how-to’s on Wednesdays. Learning to make things yourself from scratch is a great way to save money.

I’ve been making my own crackers and flatbreads for quite a while. Healthy crackers can be very expensive, and it’s very difficult to find them without all kinds of hard to pronounce ingredients that you probably don’t want to eat. For our Super Bowl party I made whole grain olive oil crackers, they’re kind of like wheat thins, only much better. I used freshly ground wheat flour and super tasty olive oil from Chaffin Family Orchards.

I used the recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini, making mine with sourdough starter, but you can make them without. I also make mine with freshly ground 100% whole wheat flour.


2 1/2 cups whole grain flour
(I used 2 cups flour and 100 grams of sourdough, slightly less than 1/2 cup)
5 Tablespoons of coarsely ground wheat or other flour (cornmeal, millet, etc)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you have a baking stone put that in the oven and you can slide the crackers on that to bake them, if you don’t have a stone you can bake them on a cookie sheet.

Place the flours and salt in bowl, add the olive oil and stir it in with a fork until mixture resembles find crumbs (it’s like making pastry). Add the water and sourdough mix is making the sourdough version and mix it in. When the water is absorbed, turn the dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead gently to form a ball. Add a few drops of water if the dough feels too dry to gather into a ball, but you don’t want the dough to be sticky in the least or it will stick to the pastry roller.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces equal size, and cover with a towel. Take a piece of dough and flatten it into an oval with hands, dust lightly with flour. Set a pasta roller on the widest setting, and slip the disk of dough in the roller to thin it out. Fold the dough in half so the two short sides meet, and put the dough through at the thickest setting again, repeat a few times until dough feels soft. Since I made mine with 100% whole grain flour it cracked a bit on the edges, but it still worked well. If you don’t have a pasta roller, you can use a rolling pin.

Switch the pasta roller to the next smaller setting and feed the dough through. Repeat reducing the setting on your pasta rollers, making the dough thinner each time. Stop when you reach the #5 setting. Your dough should look like a long oval. Place it on one of the prepared baking sheets, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Continue this process for each piece of dough.

Slide crackers on parchment onto the baking stone, or put baking sheet in the oven and bake for 7-12 minutes, turning once to ensure even browning. If you’re using whole grain flour you might need to bake them for 15 minutes so they’re dry enough when you pull them out of the oven. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

If you find you didn’t bake them long enough i.e. they’re soft after cooling, simply put them back in the oven on 300 for a few minutes to dry them out more. Store crackers in a container and enjoy, you’ll have these eaten up LONG before they go stale believe me!
If you have a large family, or consume a lot of crackers I’d highly recommend making a few batches of these at once. You can change the flavor by subbing in different kinds of flours and different kinds of oils or fat. They’re perfect paired with cheese, and equally delicious with dips. I bet if you made them with half corn meal they could taste a lot like tortilla chips. I have a few other recipes I like to make for store-bought cracker alternatives, see links below for some of my faves.

Do you ever make crackers at home?

Sesame Semolina Flatbread from Wild Yeast
Crisp Rosemary Flatbread from Smitten Kitchen
Parmesan Cheese Crackers from Smitten Kitchen
Soaked Spelt and Yogurt Crackers from Nourished Kitchen

Celebrate a Handmade/Homemade Holiday

December 8th, 2010

Many years ago we started celebrating a handmade/homemade holiday with my family. It’s been a lot of fun every year trying to come up with things that I can make for everyone. One year I made cloth shopping bags, another year I made jams/jellies and cinnamon rolls. Last year I started the tradition of making calendars and carried it on this year (I had family members asking if I was going to do it again, so I guess it was a hit). I certainly enjoy making gifts myself since I’m a very creative person.

Celebrating a handmade holiday can be difficult if you aren’t creatively inclined, you may feel like you don’t have the skills to make something. You may not have the time to make gifts yourself. You can still celebrate by buying handmade from others. Your local farmer’s market may be a great resource and is fabulous as well. I have purchased a few gifts from Etsy this year, things I don’t have time to make myself, or things I don’t want to invest in the supplies to make. Head over to Not Dabbling today – I’m posting about how to make a few simple gifts with scrap fabric.

Do you ever make gifts or buy handmade from others? Any great ideas for handmade/homemade gifts for this holiday season?

Make Your Own: Brown Sugar

February 12th, 2010

There are lots of things you can make at home for much less than you can buy them at the store. Not only does it save money, but it saves time as well. No more quick trips to the store to get brown sugar when you start baking and realize you’re out. I’ve been making my own brown sugar for quite a while, mostly because it can be difficult to find organic brown sugar when you live in a rural area and it’s pretty expensive when you do actually find it! I definitely couldn’t get organic brown sugar for less than $1.50/lb, which is about what this costs me.

To make your own brown sugar all you need is white sugar and molasses. I use organic evaporated cane juice sugar (not Sucanat) and unsulphered organic blackstrap molasses. The general recipe is 1 cup of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of molasses. You can adjust the molasses amount or use a different kind of molasses to suit your tastes. I’m partial to blackstrap or sorghum molasses. I also like to use at least 2 Tablespoons or a bit more, since I like dark brown sugar.

After adding the molasses to the sugar all you have to do is mix. This can take a while, you can use a mixer if you’re making a large amount, the whisk attachment works very well for this task. Mixing by hand is quicker I think, that’s what I do. Using a fork seems to work best. Don’t worry if you have small lumps of molasses in the final product.

Another added benefit to making brown sugar at home, is that it’s always fresh. It smells wonderful and it’s always nice and soft. It has a much deeper flavor than store-bought brown sugar, which I really appreciate!

Now you can add this to the growing list of things you can make at home. You’ll have a constant supply of fresh brown sugar for baking all kinds of delicious goodies.

Have you ever made brown sugar at home? Any other great things you make at home you’d love to share?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.