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Kale Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • A few tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahini1/2 cup thawed frozen, or fresh, chopped kale

Method:

  1. Put Kale in the food processor and pulse until it is chopped into very small green flecks (the smaller the better)
  2. Place the garbanzo beans and garlic in with the kale and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add Tahini, lemon and olive oil with Kale and beans, continue pulsing until you have reached your desired texture. For creamier hummus, add more olive oil.

Variation:
Sprinkle with sweet paprika, smoked paprika, or roasted red pepper flakes for an extra taste and also a slight red color addition to the dish.

Notes:
• This recipe can easily be doubled. Just be sure to use a larger food processor than a mini-size.
• Try some other greens, too, like collard greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard, or even spinach.

Instead of an old recipe that was high in fat and not particularly healthy, Hummus with Kale is a healthy, delicious, quick, and easy recipe that will please and expand your family’s taste buds.

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Kale, Kale, Kale! What to do with all my kale?

Because food is important for survival,  food preservation is one of the oldest technologies used by human beings. Whether you have an abundance of food from your garden, or would like to have an abundance stored for emergencies- there are many ways to preserve your harvest-from canning, to pickling, to freezing.

We have had Kale growing throughout the winter, and it is now thriving as the spring is arriving. We have given it away to our neighbors and friends, we have come up with numerous recipes and become quite inventive with our superfood intake. Recently we invested in a FoodSaver to help preserve our harvest this summer. It has been a great tool for freezing. Ours came with tupperware as well, so we were able to preserve some stews we made this winter.

Kale (as well as cabbage and greens) is best preserved by freezing. It can be a little bit of a proceess, but well worth it in the end!

1. Wash & Rinse: Start by washing the kale  thoroughly. (We had some bugs and dirt so wanted to make sure to get it really clean) We also like to soak ours for a few hours. I have noticed it helps with the bugs.

2. Blanching: Next we are going to blanch the kale.  Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme

actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.

To do so, you will need two pots (we had a very large harvest so we used our large stew pots) You will need to fill them both with water (enough to cover your kale).

The first pot you will need to bring to a boil. The second, you want to fill with ice cubes it needs to be cold water so it will stop the cooking process.

When the water is boiling, stuff your kale into the water and let it boil for about 3 minutes (3-5 mins in the boiling water, but no more than that, you do not want it to cook thoroughly) 

3. Shock the greens: Immediately remove the kale from the boiling water, and emerge in the ice cold pot. Make sure it is fully submerged and covered and allow to rest in this pot for 3 minutes. The cold water stops the cooking process of the Kale and will allow it to keep its nutrients when freezing.

4. Drain: Remove the kale from the cold water and place in a strainer. (This is the part I find most difficult) Grab a handful of kale and squeeze as much of the water out of it as possible. When you use the FoodSaver, you do not want there to be excess water or you will have a hard time sealing the bag. So squeeze your little heart out!

If you are not using a FoodSaver, It is not necessary that you squeeze all the water out, however the more you have in with your greens, the chances of freezer burn are higher. It is also very important that you get as much air out of your freezer bag as possible.

Once you  have squeeze as much of the water out as physcially possible, place the kale in the FoodSaver bag. I stuff mine full, but still leaving a good amount of space at the top for sealing and allowing the air to be removed.

5. Bag for Freezing: Place your bag so that the opening of the bag rests in the tray (this is where your water will drain into) Press the Vacuum & Seal button and wait for the red light! You will see all the air and some of the juices being sucked out of the bag. If you have a lot of water still in your greens, you may need to do this a few times before it will seal. Wipe clean and try again.

Once it is finished, you will have a nice vacuumed sealed bag with your Kale!

Make sure to label and date your packages! Greens can be kept frozen for 8 to 12 months.

Don’t have enough to freeze and want to use it in more of you meals? Check out some of the ways we use our super-food, it is more than a decoration on our plate!

Some of our Favorite Kale Recipes:

Kale Chips

Kale, Apple, Cranberry Muffins

Kale Hummus

Vegetarian Kale wrapped Enchiladas

Green Kale Smoothies

You do not need a large plot of land to have a thriving vegetable garden. There are lots of great veggies that grow just a good in a container. Fill your outdoor patio with fresh veggies and you can limit the amount of trips you take to the store, and be more sustainable.

First Step:

The first step is choosing the plants you want grow and then matching it with a container. Check the label on the plant for specific planting instructions that will help determine which type of pot to use. The size of the container is important. For larger vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, you should use a five gallon container for each plant. You can grow them in a smaller pot, however they may not produce as much, or get as big as they would in a larger pot. Keep in mind, upright growers (such as tomatoes and eggplant) will need a wide base for balance. Sprawlers (such as squash and cucumbers) will need a pot deep enough to drape over.

Just about anything that can hold soil and can have a few holes in the bottom will work for your container. Don’t limit yourself to the the containers in the store, your garden can grow in all sorts of things! Let your imagination go and get creative, flower pots, pails, buckets, wire baskets, bushel baskets, wooden boxes, nursery flats, window planters, washtubs, strawberry pots, plastic bags, large food cans, or any number of other things.

Second Step:

Choosing the right potting soil for your plants is important. With poor soil, your plants can not flourish. With container gardens, you should not use garden soil. It is best to use a really good potting soil that can both retain moisture and drain well. A moisture controlled or organic potting soil would be preferable. Peat-based mixes, containing peat and vermiculite, are excellent. They are relatively sterile and pH adjusted. (Avoid the soil with fertilizer or other unnatural pesticides mixed in- there are lots of organic things to use for pest control)

Third Step:

Potting your plants is the dirty part, but for me, the most fun! It’s OK to fill the diameter of the container with plants, but make sure there is plenty of room for the roots to move downward into soil. You can start from seed, or from transplant. If you start from seed, be sure to read the planting instructions on the packet. To transplant, dig a whole the size of the pot your plant is currently in, turn it over placing the plant between your fingers (I use my index and middle fingers) and with your other hand squeeze the sides of the pot until you feel the soil start to give way. Once it starts to come out, allow it to slide into your palm (upside down), turn over and place in the hole you dug. Loosly pack the soil in around the plant filling in the hole, and Whala! You have your plant in its new home! Some transplants come in a biodegradable pot, which comes in handy when transplanting. You can just stick the whole thing (pot and all plant) into the hole you dug and your good to go.

Note: Always make sure to leave at least one inch of room at the top of your pot. This will ensure that there is enough area for water to pool.

Care and Maintenance:

Watering:

Lack of water can quickly kill plants in a container garden. Be sure (especially after transplanting or sewing your seeds) to water your plants regularly, pots and container plants require more watering than those in the ground.  Unlike plants grown in the ground, container plant roots can’t move down deeply in search of subsurface water. Check your containers daily for water needs. Check twice daily in the heat of summer and with smaller containers.

Note: Be sure that you do not water the actual plants themselves, but rather water the soil. This is especially important with vegetable container gardens because vegetables are susceptible to fungal diseases that develop when the plant leaves and stems stay wet for too long.

 

Here are a few varieties of vegetables that grow great in containers:

  • Cucumbers: Salad Bush Hybrid, Spacemaster, Bush Pickle
  • Eggplant: Bambino, Slim Jim
  • Green Beans: (Pole beans give a higher yield in a small footprint) Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder, French Dwarf
  • Green Onions: Beltsville Bunching, Crysal Wax, Evergreen Bunching
  • Leaf Lettuce: Buttercrunch, Salad Bowl, Bibb
  • Peppers: Frigitello, Cubanelle, Sweet Banana, Apple (Hot) Red Cherry, Jalapeno, Robustini
  • Radishes: Cherry Belle, Scarlet Globe, (White) Icicle
  • Squash: Ronde de Nice, Gold Rush
  • Tomatoes: Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Saladette, Toy Boy, Spring Giant, Tumbling Tom, Small Fry

Fun ideas:

  • Plant a long container box full of leafy greens- Have your own salad mix any time! Who needs the salad bags from the store when you can clip from your containers?
  • Plant a mini herb garden in one of your containers. Pick a few of your culinary favorites, there is nothing better then fresh herbs when cooking. Also plant some lavender or echinacea for herbal  uses.
  • Paint your pots, whether they are old coffee cans, terracotta pots, or even milk jugs- paint them to accent any part of your home! Also tie ribbons on them for added spruce, or even accent with garden stakes. Hang them from a tree or inside your house (be sure that they have enough space to grow)

A rain barrel system is a way to collect and reuse the rain from your roof. Composed of a 55 gallon drum, a hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout.

Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer. With rain barrels, you can collect the water that would otherwise disperse into the ground from your gutter and use it later when you need it the most! A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. Especially if you live in the south or a dry area, rain water collection will be

Ready-made rain barrels can be purchased from numerous companies, but also can be made very easily.

Materials you will need:

  • One 55-gallon drum
  • One 4″ diameter atrium grate
  • One ½” PVC male adapter (will be attached to bottom of rain barrel)
  • One 3″ vinyl gutter elbow
  • Waterproof sealant (i.e. plumbers goop, silicone sealant, or pvc cement)
  • One 3/4″ x ½” PVC male adapter (will be attached to end of hose and readily adapted to fit standard garden hose)
  • Teflon tape

Creating the barrel:

  1. Using a 3/4″ bit (or hole saw), drill a hole through the barrel about an inch from the bottom (as the bottom rim ends and the barrel sides begin to form)
  2. Screw the ½” PVC male adapter into this newly drilled hole. (For a tight seal, unscrew the adapter, wrap with the teflon tape and cover with the waterproof sealant- allow to sit for 24 hours to dry)
  3. Attach 3 1/2 foot vinyl hose to the PVC male adapter. (From here if you wanted to go directly into the garden you could attach a soaker hose that would run along your beds)
  4. Using the atrium grate as a template for size, mark a circle at the center of the top of the drum.  Drill a ½” hole in the inside of the marked circle. Use a router, jig or coping saw to further cut within the marked circle until the hole is large enough to accommodate the atrium grate (the atrium grate is used to filter out large debris). Make sure not to make the hole too big–you want the flange of the atrium grate to fit securely on the top of the barrel without falling in. Placing a scrap piece of fine mesh window screen inside or outside of the grate will provide filtering of finer debris and mosquito control
  5. The rain barrel is designed to take advantage of gravity. Water will flow from the vinyl hose when the hose is below the barrel. Therefore, place the barrel on cinder blocks or a sturdy wooden crate at least 15 inches from the ground.
  6. Modify the down spout with a gutter elbow to divert water into the top of the barrel

NOTES: Step 4 (using atrium gate) can be by-passed if your gutter filters water prior to entering rain barrel. Most gutter systems have screens to trap leaves and other debris. If you choose to do this, make sure that down spout is placed directly over the outlet at the top of the barrel.

If your barrel will be close your foundation, you want to prevent overflow and can install an overflow valve on the barrel.

Overflow:
Using a ½” bit or saw, cut out a notch at the top of the barrel rim (aligned so that it is above the outlet at the bottom of barrel). The notch should be large enough so that the PVC coupler will firmly snap into place. Attach this to some clear plastic tubing that will hang down along side the barrel.

No need to run out and purchase those expensive beauty products. Go “shopping” in your kitchen! Pull from your pantry for your own needs. Not only are these a natural approach to beauty and eliminating toxins and chemicals we are putting into our body, by utilizing what we already have we are reducing the amount of trash and waste we consume with the plastic bottles and packaging each product uses.

Lots of great, easy tips and tricks found right at home!

Dry Lips and Skin:

For hands rub some olive oil and dry thyme into the skin. This will help remove dead cells helps your hands get smooth.

For lips rub cocoa butter or fresh cucumber on your lips several times a day. Cocoa butter is great for your skin and wont leave it feeling “sticky.”

Astrigents:

Dab cooled brewed tea onto face, good for pimple control.

Dandruff & Itchy Scalp:

Massage plain yogurt into scalp and leave for 15 minutes. Rinse.

Nails & Cuticles:

For healthy nails and cuticles, regularly soak them in olive oil for 30 minutes.

Makeup Remover:

Olive oil can be used to remove eye makeup (use cold pressed extra virgin olive)

Pour a bit of sesame oil on a cotton ball and wipe gently across eye lids to remove waterproof mascara.

Swollen or Puffy Eyes:

Either let two teabags cool and put them on your eyelids for about ten minutes. Or soak two small pieces of cloth with tea and do the same thing.

Extra Shine in Your Hair:

Mix 1 tsp of honey into 1 quart of warm water and use as a rinse after shampooing (rinse away shampoo first). Do not wash out the honey/water mix, leave in hair and style as usual.

Foot Baths:

Bath 1: Combine green tea, peppermint, bath salt and eucalyptus oil

Bath 2: Take 1 cup Lemon Juice, Cinnamon (for smell), 2 tablespoons (or less) olive oil, 1/4 cup of milk, and water (no specific amount) you can make a wash that leaves skin refreshed and fragrant.

Wrinkle Remover:

Green Thompson seedless grapes! It has one of the ingredients in those big time expensive wrinkle creams. All you do is cut a grape in half and gently crush it on your face and neck. Make sure that you get the “crows-feet” and the lines around your mouth. Leave it on for twenty minutes or so and rinse with tepid water and pat dry.

Inspired with the new growing season and ways to maximize your harvest, I found a lot of ways to use your extra fruits and veggies just for the beauty of it. Summer around the corner, the season for fruits and veggies is here! Treat yourself to a natural skin care spa! Take your pick from many different recipes depending on your skin type. Pick from your garden and whoa-la free skin care!

Cucumber (normal to oily skin):

  • Acts as a very gentle astringent, helping to remove excess oil from the skin.
  • With repeated use covering the eyes, the mild bleaching action of cucumbers can help reduce dark circles around the eyes and help even out a blotchy skin tone
  • Mask: Puree 1/2 peeled cucumber in a blender or food processor and add 1 tablespoon yogurt.
  • Remove after 20 mins

Avocado (normal to dry or very dry skin):

  • It’s also a good source of vitamin E.
  • Use as a mask twice a week in the dry winter months for soft skin
  • Mask: Mix the avocado in a bowl with a fork and apply! Simple as that – As the avocado mask warms up on your skin, it tends to get a little runny. So lie back, relax and let your skin drink up all the natural oils.
  • Or use the inside of an avocado peel,  Rub on your face, lightly massaging skin.
  • Remove after 20  mins

Papaya (oily to normal or slightly dry skin):

  • Remove the seeds and mash in a bowl.
  • Apply to face as a mask (may tingle a bit because of the fruit’s acidity, which also will help rid dead skin.)
  • Remove after 5 mins

Grapes (all skin types):

  • Mash the grapes and mix with honey to make a paste
  • Apply to skin as a mask
  • Remove after 25 mins

Kiwi (all skin types):

  • Mash the kiwi and mix with  2 TBS yogurt (plain) and 1 TBS fresh orange juice
  • Apply to face
  • Remove after 15 minutes

Bananas (all skin types):

  • Mash very a ripe banana in 2-inch chunks
  • Apply to face as a mask (great for a skin soothing facial!)
  • For dry skin, add a half teaspoon of heavy cream.
  • You could also add 1 or 2 TBS of honey and milk to create a moisturizing mask that can also work well as a stress-relieving treatment.
  • Remove after 15 mins

Honey (all skin types):

  • Honey is a humectant, which means it draws moisture from the air to your skin.
  • Pour a teaspoon of raw honey in your palm.
  • With a couple of fingers, dab a very thin coating over your face and neck. You may notice a glow or some color coming to the surface,  the honey really revs up the circulation in your skin.
  • Remove after 15 mins

Lemon (oily to normal or slightly dry skin):

  • Works great as a toner.
  • Mix equal parts of fresh-squeezed juice and distilled water.
  • Apply to skin as needed.
  • Should not be used by people those with sensitive skin or citrus allergies.

Oatmeal (all skin types):

  • Great for soothing irritated or itchy skin
  • Mask 1: Use a coffee grinder or mill to grind into a powder for a silky base for a facial. Combine 4 teaspoons ground oatmeal 5 teaspoons buttermilk in a small bowl and allow the mixture to thicken for a few minutes. Stir to remove any lumps.
  • Mask 2: Combine ¼ cup oatmeal with 6 oz. of plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon of honey to form a paste. Massage onto skin and leave it for at least 30 minutes until washing it off.

Strawberries (all skin types):

  • Oily Skin: Just mush it up and apply on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes. Than rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Dry Skin: add sunflower oil to the mush (1:1). Leave the mask on your face for 15 – 20 minutes. (You can also use olive or corn oil). For flaky skin- mix a few strawberries with one teaspoon of sour cream and one teaspoon honey.
  • Strawberry juice is a great skin lightener. It’s effective for freckles and other spots. Just squeeze the juice out of the berries, then using a cotton ball spread the juice on the face.

Strawberry Leaf Infusion:

  • Infusion: 1/4 cup strawberry leaves 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Pour the water over the leaves in a glass bowl, cover and allow to steep for 2 hours. Strain and pour the water into a clean jar, seal with lid and refrigerate.
  • Use the infusion twice a day by soaking the washcloth in the infused water and heat it then apply to your face.

Great Blackhead Remover:

  • 50/50 Baking Soda & Water.
  • Use as an exfoliator.
  • Rub gently on your skin for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Blackhead Skin Peel:

  • Mix 1 TBS Unflavored gelatin, and 1 1/2 TBS Milk together in a microwavable bowl for and heat for 12 seconds.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon
  • Generously apply to the problem areas of the face. (Be careful not to get close to your eyes)
  • Let dry (around 15-30 mins) then carefully peel it off.
  • After removing the peel, wash face in very cold water to close the pores.

Tighten Pores:

  • Mix table salt and buttermilk into a paste.
  • Massage into skin.
  • Rinse off with warm water.
  • Repeat this treatment twice a day (morning and night) until results are satisfactory.

For more kitchen beauty wonders, see our post Simple Kitchen Beauty Tips.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Making your own laundry detergent at home is not only simple, it is a great way to reduce the amount of phosphates and other harsh chemicals we are adding to the environment every time we wash a load of clothes.

Dry laundry detergent

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 1 regular sized bar Ivory Soap (Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps.)

You can use a cheese grader, food processor, or even the microwave. Best part about it, it makes for an easy clean up 😉 If you put it in the microwave, do it for 90 secs. It will come out looking like a fluffy meringue. When you have finished microwaving the bar of soap it will be quite dry and brittle, which is exactly what you want.

Finish by adding the dried soap fluff along with a cup of Borax and Washing Soda to a Vita-Mix or blendor and mixing it on medium speed until thoroughly powdered and combined. Store in an airtight plastic container.

The Washing Soda is usually available at walmart however, may prove difficult to find in some areas, but it can be purchased online easily if you can’t locate it locally.

To make liquid detergent

  • 1 quart Water (boiling)
  • 2 cups Bar soap (grated)
  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing Soda

Use a cheese grater or food processor to grate your soap. Bring your water to a boil and then add the grated soap and stir until the soap is melted.
Pour the soap water into a bucket and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.

Store in an old, clean laundry detergent bottle (or pail for mixing- but keep covered between uses) Use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir or shake the soap each time you use it.

*Soap will be lumpy, goopy and gel-like. This is normal. Just give it a good stir before using. Make sure soap is covered with a lid when not in use.

Optional:

You can add between 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons) to your homemade laundry detergent. Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover.

Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil

Homemade Household Cleaners

all-purpose cleaner

There are many recipes for simple household cleaners. Give them all a try and see which one you prefer. Combine your ingredients in a spray bottle and your off! Add some lemon, or essential oils for added scents. (Lavender is my favorite!)

  • 1 tsp. liquid soap
  • 1 qt warm water
  • few tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar

~or~

  • 2 tablespoons Borax
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups hot water

~or~

  • ½ part vinegar
  • ½ part water
  • Add some lemon juice for scent

glass cleaner (Use newspaper to wipe off – it eliminates streaks)

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 to 2 drops of essential oil (optional)

floor cleaner

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup washing soda
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil based soap (Murphy’s Oil, Castile Soap)
  • 2gallon hot water

oven cleaner

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil soap (Murphy’s Oil, Castile Soap)
  • 2 tablespoons borax

Combine in a spray bottle with warm water. Spray on oven and leave for 20 minutes and scrub off

bathroom cleaner

  • Baking soda
  • vinegar

Toilet bowl: Sprinkle baking soda in bowl, then squirt with vinegar and scrub. Cleans & deodorizes.

Tub & tile: Will remove film buildup on the tub. Apply vinegar on a sponge and wipe tiles. Use baking soda as you would a scouring powder. Rinse thoroughly

Homemade Miscellaneous Cleaners

jewerly

  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  • one tablespoon of salt
  • boiling water

Combine ingredients in an aluminum foil lined dish and let soak until tarnish melts away

furniture polish

  • 2 parts olive oil
  • 1 part lemon juice

Mix and apply to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe dry.

* To remove water stains on furniture, dab white toothpaste into stain. Allow paste to dry and then remove and buff with cloth

air fresheners

Baking soda or Vinegar with some lemon juice in a small bowl will absorb any household odors. To prevent cooking odors, simmer vinegar on the stove while cooking. (1 tbsp in 1 cup water) To get smells like fish and onion or garlic off utensils and cutting boards, wipe them with vinegar and wash in soapy water.

dish disposal smells: slice a lemon or lime (or use the left over rines from any citrus, ie orange, lemon, lime) put into the disposal and turn on. Run water while it is chopping. Also to sharpen the blades, add a few cubes of ice.

wall paper remover

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and hot water, apply with sponge over the old wallpaper to soften the adhesive. Open room windows or use a fan to dissipate the pungent vinegar smell.