“Whatever” Bread

“Whatever” Bread

Super easy delicious homemade bread baked in two glass bowls 

• 4 cups flour

• 2 tsp salt

• 2 cups lukewarm water

• 2 tsp sugar

• 2 tsp active dry yeast

suggested ingredients: seeds, nuts, raisins, cooked oats, quinoa, savory spices (like rosemary and oregano)- anything! You choose! In this one I used chia, pumpkin and flax seeds, hemp hearts, and almond slivers

Mix the sugar and warm water together and sprinkle the yeast on top.

In a bowl, mix flour and salt together.

Once yeast becomes frothy in the water, stir it and add it to the flour mixture. Mix it all together until it becomes a ball. Cover it in damp rag and let it sit for about an hour.

While the dough is rising, prepare two pyrex or tempered glass nesting bowls by greasing the entire inside using soft butter.

 After rising, punch dough down and divide into 2 balls. Preheat the oven to 425°. It’ll be a bit sticky- make sure to get as much dough off the bowl as possible as you seperate and transfer each half to their greased bowls. I give the dough a bit of a swish to create a nice roundness. Rise the dough in the greased bowls on the stovetop, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, reduce baking temp to 350° and bake for an additional 15- 18 minutes until golden. You should be able to dump the bread right out of the bowls onto a cooling rack.

 Sometimes I take them out of the bowl and place them directly on the oven rack to get them a little more golden and crusty. 

And that’s “Whatever” Bread! Enjoy and Happy Homesteading! Xx

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Lemon-Ginger Cough Drops

Lemon-Ginger Cough Drops

In a saucepan, add together the following ingredients:

1 1/2 cups maple syrup (can use corn syrup)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

You can also add powdered herbs of your choice to this mixture. Mullein is a natural expectorant and a great addition to this recipe

Simmer for at least 20 minutes stirring often until mixture becomes a bit thick and coats a spoon. Let cool to touchable temperature.

Pour into piping bag and pipe drops onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Let cool. 

Put drops into a bowl of icing suger to coat. This will prevent them from sticking together in storage. 

That’s it! I store mine in the fridge to keep them from being exposed to any heat that could soften them. They’ll last several months or longer this way- at least a cough/flu season! 

Saturday Reflection- baby steps towards off-grid homesteading

Saturday Reflection- baby steps towards off-grid homesteading

It’s been one week since we made the pact to live and breathe our goals and I just want to document the process for my own reflection and to tally up the accomplishments of the week.

It’s not that we just suddenly decided we would divest from the status-quo and run into the woods. As a natural progression of our lives, our interests and the skills and knowledge we have acquired, it just became apparent that the next logical step was to implement a plan that carried our development towards our goals. Our goals are everybody’s goals. We all want fewer bills, more time with family and friends, and to enjoy our work. The universe has just revealed to us a way to do that and we were fortunate enough to be paying attention. 

For years it seems that I have been hurdling towards self-sufficiency without ever really realizing it until recently. 

This week we decided to really start looking at our finances as a catalyst for our transition. We are a young family of seven with a modest household income. It was never a possibility to us that we had the financial means to save for the future we wanted and we always just kind of thought we would have to wait until the kids were grown and moved out and hope we were still in great health with strength to do all the DIY and gardening and stuff later in life.

We sat down and looked at how we were managing our finances and decided to see our mortgage broker ahead of our upcoming mortgage renewal in September. What an inspiration that meeting was! I want to be candid about this aspect of our goal planning because I feel it is one often unaddressed in the realm of ‘off-grid homesteading’ blogs and vlogs and online resources. I feel like if we can achieve success then surely we can inspire many other working class folks to do the same.

Simply-put, never underestimate your power to save. We didn’t believe that we had any reason to discuss finances with an advisor because we didn’t believe we had sufficient finances to be advised about! If I can offer one piece of advice to anyone wanting to divest from the status quo and be less consumer-driven, debt-laden, or time-restricted, it would be SEE A FINANCIAL ADVISOR. We have a saving plan now that gives us renewed optimism that we can have all we dream of and a solid plan to do so within a short timeframe. Much shorter than we’d have ever thought. 

While time takes care of the financial aspect of our future, we have other things to get in order.
I will be doubling down on my efforts to minimize our home and simplify the way we live. This week I employed some tips I passively gained from Pinterest and Kon Marie. “Don’t organize by room; organize by category” 

Like who needs this many shoes??

I cleaned our basement so we had a huge clean slate for organizing the rest of our belongings. We downsized our collective shoe museum to 2 pairs each (still FOURTEEN pairs of shoes oh my!), I purged the kids toys; we sold some devices and game consoles; Mike and I cleaned out our clothing collection (kids still to do); and we started piling all of the books, papers, and craft supplies so we can decide where to donate them and what must be tossed.

Pretty good progress so far!

Next week I’ll be focussing on organizing my seeds, our apothecary, and coldroom. From now on, a huge priority in our lives will be food security: Optimizing plant use on our property and from nature. This is something I’ve grown passionate about over the last several years. It’s amazing how supportive nature is in providing nourishment, medicine, and health maintenence. We have an abundance of free resources all around us if we just take the time to look and learn.

Calendula salve for skin chapping and muscle pain
Spruce tips make a yummy snack and are a vitamin c, potassium, and magnesium booster
Mullein flowers make an excellent cough syrup to soothe an itchy throat. The leaves help treat respiratory illness.
Horsehoof and Labrador Tea for headache and congestion

Having a simplified home will create space for, well, space. It’ll give us the ability to honor the possessions we choose to keep- it will enable me to better organize our food security and ensure we are always prepared to harvest and process resources as they come in and properly store them for future use.
Another part of the process is being more accountable to my blog. It’s in a transition stage now; previously I used it to document my home decorating, holiday and yard projects. I would really love it if I could develop connections with others who are looking at ways to live more intentionally and I have committed myself to contributing regularly and learning how to network. I want to make sure I get good information out to others and have more access to the wisdom of those who have forged the path before us. 

While purging the house and saving money, learning to be a better writer/’documentarian’, studying, and honouring the family food supply; I have to remember to be patient, have fun, and live in the moment. It’s all very inspiring and exciting but what’s most important is to not miss the moments that pass as our family travels the road to our successes together. We are enjoying and benefitting from making room in our lives for intention and fulfillment and I can’t help but feel like it’s all kismet ♡ 

Happy Homesteading Xx

Chaga: how we find, process, and use it

Chaga: how we find, process, and use it

Disclaimer: it is always recommended that you only consume wild mushrooms that you can be certain are properly identified as safe 

Modern science has shown chaga to be effective at preventing certain cancer related illnesses. I drink it as a tea with a bit of cream and honey because it’s delicious. 

We are fortunate that the forests surrounding us are full of birch trees ripe with opportunities to harvest it.

A landslide made the chaga on this birch tree easily attainable.

You can suspect you’ve found chaga when you spot what looks like a blackened burl in a birch tree. It’ll take some effort to detach it from the tree; a small saw is a handy tool to have for this. Beneath the black surface it should be a beautiful and uniform shade of golden brown. Most times you can see the inner color without even removing the surface:

Chaga is pretty easy to prepare, enjoy, and store. A single decent mushroom is plenty to last a single person for several months. The first thing we do is dehydrate it to ensure it doesn’t mold. It’s best to cut it into small enough chunks that you can be sure several hours in a dehydrator will draw out as much moisture as possible. 

Once the chaga is dry we store it in a mason jar with a loose lid. 

To use chaga, we normally make large batches of tea in the crockpot. We throw in about a golf ball size amount (which is 4 or five small chunks) and leave it on low over two days (sometimes 3 if we are lazy).

We drink cups of it from the pot on days 2 and 3. Then we store the tea in growlers in the fridge and usually between our family consume it within the week. 

Alternatively, a person can keep a single small piece of chaga in a pot with a strainer on hand on the stove. Each day, add water according to desired amount of tea and simmer at a gentle boil for an hour or so, strain and drink. This same chunk will continue to produce about a cup of tea per day for about a month.

There are beneficial compounds in chaga that they say are best extracted by making a tincture so we save boiled pieces of chaga and dehydrate them again. We shred them in a coffee bean grinder and then put the almost powderized chaga in a mason jar and cover it in 50 proof or better alcohol (we prefer rum). Let it soak for 90 days, giving a swirl daily, then strain into a new jar (tinted brown or blue jars are best). It’ll last a long time in the fridge this way.

Adding a dropper full of the tincture to a cup of tea makes a robust daily health maintenance drink. The tea has a very interesting rich and earthy flavour comparable to coffee (and I LOVE my coffee). Often I drink a half-coffee/half-chaga tea or have coffee in the morning and a chaga in the evening. The delicious taste of chaga makes it a worthwhile staple in our house. If you’re lucky enough to live far enough north you too can harvest it and enjoy it for free! 

Happy Homesteading! Xx