Links of other sites

http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/10/how-to-be-a-suburban-or-urban-homesteader.html

Perfect Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

I have never spent the time to figure out how to take some of the hassle out of peeling a hard boiled egg.  Perhaps it is because we really didn’t use hard-boiled eggs as often as we do now.  Typically we only hard boiled eggs around the holidays when deviled eggs a part of traditional fare.  Even then my sister is the one who holds the star recipe.  In a given year I may have only had use for a dozen or two so it was not important to figure out why they peeled hard sometimes and other times the shells game off cleanly and easily.

In the last year the research I have been doing on healthy wholesome foods has helped us to understand the value of our small flock of chooks.  Ihave always loved our organic free range eggs but consumed them in much smaller quantities in the past.  Like most people I bought into the FDA,  MDA big Pharma side of egg consumption that says to many eggs are bad for you, they raise cholesterol and contribute significantly to heart disease and other serious health issues. Whatever.  Once I decided to actually research things on my own a totally different picture began to emerge.  Each individual needs to research and process that information on their own then develop their own conclusions.  For us, we egg our fresh eggs almost daily.  That means that we are now using a significantly higher number of hard boiled eggs as well, how they come out of the shell matters.

If you are looking for a way to get eggs that are cooked just right and easily slip from the shells this recipe will help.
First bring your water to a rolling boil.  I don’t worry about using purified water. Admittedly I am not a purist but I simply use our tap water.Poke a hole in the fat end of the egg.  You can use a sewing needle or pin but i find using a push pin works really well and is easier to handle.

Put your eggs into the boiling water.  I use my slotted spoon because I can put several in at one time.Boil your eggs for 6 minutes.  make sure your water is at a rolling boil not just a simmer.  (If I want a soft boiled egg I move them now to a cold water bath.)

Remove your pan from heat and let the eggs sit for an additional 6 minutes.  As I like my eggs with a slightly moist yolk this works for me.  For a slightly drier yolk add another 30 seconds or minute before you remove them.

Remove your eggs from the water and allow to cool to room temperature.
Peel your eggs, season and store in the refrigerator.  If you dont peel them BEFORE you put them in the fridge it will be much more difficult to get the shells off.  Usually after a day of being stored with the shell they become more difficult to be peeled.
Perhaps I am the only one who doesnt have easy to peel hard boiled eggs figured out.  Now at least I can check my blog without researching should I forget.  Many times I will forget how to do something but I wont forget that it is on the UFH blog.  Let us know how this worked out.
Also please shoot us you cool recipes for using hard boiled eggs.  We are in the process of putting together a cookbook and would love to use your recipe in it.

Aquaponics Room Build Out

I have had many people ask me about our aquaponics room. The area that we are going to put our first AP system is in our enclosed patio. We have several things to do to this area before it is ready for any kind of grow systems. First I have to take down the OSB that is on many of the walls. The construction crew that put it up did a really crummy job and there is no insulation on the outside wall.

After the OSB is down then I can add any additional wiring that I need to put in. Several things will happen with electrical. I need some outlets in the ceiling so I can have adequate receptacles for grow lights, and timers from overhead. Then I will also replace the current junction boxes with fan boxes so I can put in hugger ceiling fans with ambient lighting. We will take out my monster gas grill and move it outside (another build for another season), the small sink will be taken out and a large utility sink installed roughly in the same place. Then we will also take out the stove that we use for canning in the summer. I may move it across to the other wall but am not sure yet.Then the counter tops that are under the windows will have to be reconstructed to that I can have my grow beds about window level, (providing this will work okay with the pump I am installing. Either way the current counter tops will need to either go or be reconstructed.

On the inside wall we will add some more outlets and the current plan is to have counter tops and overhead cabinets on the wall. This will most likely change many times as we will not do any of that type of work until we have the system up and running and figure out what we may need.

Then we will cut in a door at the far end of the room just a little past the fireplace. From there insulate, drywall, tape texture, paint, then install the system with plumbing and lighting and begin to grow some food. I am not sure what I will do with the concrete pad. It could be tiled to give us a little bump in solar gain, it would be negligible. Most likely I will acid stain it and call it good.

So now that you have an idea what needs to be done I thought I would share the images of where it currently stands. All we have done so far is to install a separate furnace for the room.

Aquaponics Webinar Sign Up Page

Hi Everyone! Thank for dropping by. We are in the process of getting this new site together so for a bit this page here for signing up for the webinar. Enter your information if the form. When you get the thank-you post it will contain the URL, time and date for the webinars.

The Aquaponics webinar is Sunday March 18th at 5PM CENTRAL

The Natural Beekeeping webinar is March 22nd at 630 PM CENTRAL

 Urban Farm Homestead

Besides being the author of “Aquaponic Gardening”, Sylvia Bernstein is the President and Founder of The Aquaponic Source, the leading U.S. based company focused entirely on the home aquaponic gardener.  She also runs the Aquaponic Gardening Community, the largest online community site dedicated to aquaponic gardening in North America, and the Vice Chairman of the Aquaponics Association.  She writes the Aquaponic Gardening Blog, which is widely considered one of the most influential aquaponics blog in the world today.  She teaches and speaks extensively about aquaponics and its exciting potential.In her recent past life Sylvia was the VP of Marketing and Product Development for AeroGrow International, the makers of the AeroGarden.

Sylvia was one of the company’s original founders and was instrumental in developing the plant growth technology.Sylvia has a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis and an MBA from the University of Chicago.  She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, Alan, and their son (their daughter is attending college at the University of Washington).  They have a large, thriving aquaponic setup in their backyard greenhouse in Boulder powered by tilapia, goldfish, and other creatures-that-swim.Other bioSylvia Bernstein is the President and Founder of The Aquaponic Source, the leading U.S. based company focused entirely on the home aquaponic gardener, and the author of “Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together”.

She also runs the Aquaponic Gardening Community, the largest online community site dedicated to aquaponic gardening in North America, and is the Vice Chairman of the Aquaponics Association. She teaches and speaks extensively about aquaponics and its exciting potential.In her recent past life Sylvia was the VP of Marketing and Product Development for AeroGrow International, the makers of the AeroGarden.  She was one of the company’s original founders and was instrumental in developing the plant growth technology.Sylvia has a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis and an MBA from the University of Chicago.  She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, Alan, and their son (their daughter is attending college at the University of Washington).  They have a large, thriving aquaponic setup in their backyard greenhouse in Boulder powered by tilapia, goldfish, and other creatures-that-swim.

 Natural Bee Keeping Webinar

 

Dirty Dozen-cut your pesticide intake by 80%

“You can reduce your exposure to pesticides by up to 80 percent by buying the organic version of the Dirty Dozen.While I am not a big proponent of big media CNN posted this on their “Health” blog. The dirty dozen concept has been around for quite awhile. Also listed below are the clean 15.

The best case scenario is that you grow your own produce of course.  Next,  if you cant grow your own be cognizant of the dirty dozen and at least buy these from your local organic growers.

The Dirty Dozen

Celery

Peaches

Strawberries

Apples

Domestic blueberries

Nectarines

Sweet bell peppers

Spinach, kale and collard greens

Cherries

Potatoes

Imported grapes

Lettuce

Not all non-organic fruits and vegetables have a high pesticide level. Some produce has a strong outer layer that provides a defense against pesticide contamination. The group found a number of non-organic fruits and vegetables dubbed the “Clean 15” that contained little to no pesticides. CNN Health Channel

The Clean 15

Onions

Avocados

Sweet corn

Pineapples

Mango

Sweet peas

Asparagus

Kiwi fruit

Cabbage

Eggplant

Cantaloupe

Watermelon

Grapefruit

Sweet potatoes

Sweet onions

Carrot Potato soup

I recently ordered a big ole’ monstrous bag of organic carrots from Azure Standard which is one mail order location we do a bit of business with. It was 25 pounds of carrots…that is a bunch at one time. So as I juiced and baked I decided I better figure out a way to use a bunch of carrots and also try to figure out how to store them. So I made a big batch of carrot potato soup and froze half of it. I will still have to dry some more, juice some more as well pickle and can some. This is a nice hearty soup. It is naturally sweet if you use your home grown carrots or those from a high quality organic producer.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 4 1/2 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 large potatoes and quartered
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (use your canned goodies)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups goats milk or almond milk.
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Saute onion in butter until tender. Add carrots, potato, broth and ginger. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Cool for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a blender or food processor in small batches; cover and process until smooth. Return all to the pan; stir in the milk, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until heated through.

Garnish with fresh rosemary

Raised bed gardening

As we have had some really warm weather I was able to create an incredible mess in my garden. One of the goals for my garden this year was to re-do my raised beds. When I build the beds before I used 2×12’s. That was over 10 years ago and they were pretty well used up. So I put an ad on Craigslist for used block. I was able to scavenge 100 used blocks or so to build a few of the raised beds. In my area the local concrete company wants anywhere from 1.65 to 2.05 for concrete block. Crazy high prices. Each bed at 4 foot x 8 foot outside would then take 16 blocks per course and I wanted two courses or 16″ high for most areas and one bed at 3 courses high to use as a hot bed. So at two bucks a block that would be $64 for the beds with 2 courses and $96 for the two beds with three courses. Wowza, thatsallota dollars for a few raised beds. So used block where I could find it and blocks on sale for the rest.

First I dug up all of the old 2×12 beds. Most were trashed, but I saved the ones I thought I might be able to re-use. The remaining will be cut up into two foot chunks and relegated to the wood-burning furnace in the great room.

Then I went through the garden with the skidsteer and re-leveled everything. I would have been at least a month long job by hand so I was going to rent one until I found a friend that let me borrow his. We also used the trailer we carried the skidsteer on to grab the free blocks.

Hers are some pics of the garden with a big pile of dirt covered with snow.

The following day the snow was gone and I was able to finish two of the raised beds. The weather has now turned bitter cold so I will be relegated to working inside again. Here are a pic of the two beds complete.

so, two out of eight completed. Once the other 6 are done I can re-level that are where the dirt is so I can put the chicken coop in. I will work as weather permits. If the ground is not frozen I am okay with working when it is in the 30’s or 40’s but would rather work on the inside aquaponics project if it is much colder than that.

Aquaponics Room build out

We are remodeling our unfinished outdoor kitchen that we use for canning in the summer to be used for aquaponics. We will cut in a door on the east end of the room that will go directly to the master bath. We also will add some junction boxes for more lights and a few fans. Then add some more outlets and a few GFI’s, drywall tape and texture, a bit of framing here and there, stain the concrete and voila we will have a ready made space to grow some fish and veggies indoors.

Here are some pics as the room is today. We will ad some vids and explain a bit about aquaponics later.

Baked Tilapia

Here is a very quick baked Tilapia dish we rely on frequently. It tastes great and takes 30 minutes or less start to finish.

You will need:

3 tablespoons of honey

3 tablespoons braggs aminos (if you have to, substitute soy sauce but cut it in half)

3 tablspoon apple cider vinegar

I tablespoons minced garlic

Butter

6 tilapia

Fresh cracked blk or lemon pepper

two handfuls of baby spinach

handful of fresh cilantro or parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Grease a 9×12 pan with your choice, lard works great, raw butter etc. Fill with a bed of organic baby spinach,
  3. Mix the (equal parts butter, braggs, lemon juice) honey, braggs, and garlic together in a bowl. Place the tilapia fillets in the mixture; allow to marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes. If you are super mom or one of those crazy organized not-so-normal planning-types, stick this in the fridge when you get home from work. Overnight doesnt work so well as I think the tilapia gets “soggy”.
  4. Remove tilapia from marinade, and discard the marinade. (The left over marinade can be used as a nice topping for the mousers, dog or chickens. I dont use it for vermiculture or the compost because of the oil in it.) Place fillets onto the prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle the lemon pepper over the fish.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Top with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve

Green Beans and Almonds Recipe

Green Beans with Almonds

This is a really fun recipe for green beans. I have had it around the recipe box for a bit so unfortunately I can’t give credit to its origin, other than it is not my original.

Ingredients:

Coarse salt, to taste
2 lb. slender freshly picked green beans (this can be an awesome winter recipe by using your home canned green beans. If you have some also vacum packed and frozen they will work even better than you canned.)
1/2 cup slivered almonds- you can substitute other nuts here
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Directions:
Steam your fresh beans for 3-4 minutes. You want them a nice deep green color but still crisp. Rinse your steamer basket with cold water to stop the cooking then pat beans dry with a hand towel. Set aside. (The beans can be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance, covered tightly and refrigerated until ready to use.)

In a large fry pan over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring continuously, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the beans. Sauté, stirring continuously, until heated through and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley and almonds. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.