How to Tell When Crabapples are Ripe

Crabapples

I’ve been watching the crabapple trees near our house closely, and it’s almost time to pick them! If you’ve never picked crabapples before, here’s a simple way to tell when they’re ripe and ready! [Read more...]

4 Kitchen Scraps You Shouldn’t Throw Away

Make better use of your kitchen scraps, and you’ll have less trash to take out and fewer groceries to buy. Here are four scraps that are worth hanging on to:

Turkey Broth

Bones – Beef bones, ham bones, chicken bones, turkey bones – they all make beautiful broth. Just throw them in your crockpot with some veggies, herbs and water, and come back later in the day to jar it up.

Vegetable Scraps

Vegggie Scraps – Drop onion, carrot and potato peels, broccoli stems, cabbage cores and carrot tops into a freezer bag, and pop it into the freezer. When the bag is full, use it to make a rich vegetable broth.

How to Make Orange Extract

Citrus Peels – Keep orange and lemon peels for their zests, dry them to add to recipes or use them to create your own extracts.

Bread Crumbs

Bread – Save bread heels, crusts and any stale bread that you may have, and use them to make your own bread crumbs. If you dry your breadcrumbs in the oven, they’ll keep for months.

Are there other kitchen scraps that you keep? I’d love to hear what they are and what you do with them.

Spices: Bulk Bin vs. Jarred

Bay Leaves

Would you pay $343.38 for a pound of bay leaves? While I know that sounds too absurd to consider, you’re already paying that much, if you buy yours by the jar. And here’s the crazy thing: those same bay leaves cost just $21.99 a pound, if you buy them from the bulk bins. Is a plastic bottle really worth the extra $321.39? Apparently grocery stores think so. I sure don’t.

On several occasions, I’ve recommended buying your spices from the bulk bins to save money, but I haven’t shown how much it will save you. And I think you need to see the math to be convinced that we’re talking about a significant savings opportunity. So, I did a side-by-side price comparison — jarred spices vs. bulk bins spices. I checked the bulk bin prices at Earth Fare (a health food chain), and I checked the prices on the spice aisle at Kroger. To make the comparison as fair as possible, I recorded the price of the cheapest jarred spice option that I could find. In many cases, that meant the cheapo $1 bottle. How did the two compare? See for yourself: [Read more...]

I Joined a Mushroom Club!

Identified Mushrooms

I’ve been foraging for years, but I’ve always stayed clear of mushrooms. They fascinate me, but they also scare me. There’s just too much room to make a mistake, and I don’t think a book can teach you everything you need to know. Mushrooming is definitely something that you need to learn first-hand from an expert. Or better still, a whole group of experts. And that’s just what I’m doing. My husband and I joined a mushroom club last week, and we went on our first foray over the weekend. [Read more...]

Free Fall Apples

Free Fall Apples

While we were out yardsaling this morning, we passed a house with a GIANT apple tree out front. The ground was absolutely littered with apples, so we decided to stop and ask if we could pick some. An elderly man answered the door, and told us we were welcome to as many as we wanted. He said someone else had just gathered some, so we might not find many, but that we could come back whenever we wanted. Score!

We rounded up a few pounds of good apples …

Chickens Eating Apples

and a few more pounds of blemished apples for our chickens (as you can see, they approved).

These are a tart keeping apples, so they’re perfect for long-term storage, and the tree is absolutely covered with them. Looks like we’ll be doing a daily tree check for the next couple weeks. Gotta love free food!