Nelsons Edible Acres

How To Get The Most From One Gallon Of Milk

Christine NelsonRaw milk is so magical. Not just because it tastes fantastic, but because you can turn it into so many things. Kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, whey for fermenting foods, the possibilities are endless.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to stretch a dollar. The one thing I’m determined not to cheapen is food. Food is so important because it lays out the foundation for the rest of our lives and our health. If we strive to get the cheapest food out there we will suffer in our health, and to me it’s not worth the trade-off.

I’d much rather splurge on nutrient-dense food than pay for doctor’s visits. And thus far, we’ve been doing just that.

milkpic

We’ve been purchasing fresh milk from Jersey cows for about five years now. If you are familiar with Jersey milk then you know the cream separates beautifully and there’s really nothing like it.

Here are a few tips on how to get the most from one gallon of milk. You can apply these same principles to any amount of milk you are buying locally.

1) Skim the cream off to make butter. Making butter is as simple as placing cream in a jar and shaking it for a few minutes. The trick is to make sure the jar you are going to shake it in is bigger than the amount of cream you have, otherwise you won’t have enough room for it to really get shaken around. If I’m shaking a quart of cream, I shake it in a half gallon jar. After making butter you will also have a cup or two of buttermilk. This can be used for soaking grains and makes killer pancakes.

2) Use one remaining half gallon to make yogurt or kefir. Whichever probiotic you prefer. Kefir is more like a drinkable yogurt and is great for smoothies, plus it contains more probiotics than yogurt. My kids love both. I culture the yogurt in my dehydrator and the kefir can culture right on your kitchen counter. 

3) The last half gallon use for drinking, with cereal or lattes.

So after purchasing one gallon of milk, you will end up with just under two sticks of butter, 2 cups of buttermilk, a quart and a half of yogurt and a quart and a half of milk for drinking.

Your taste buds will be pleased and your family will be healthy!

Don’t forget to join me over in my Facebook Group: Habits for Health by Nelson’s Edible Acres.

Have a great week!

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

Christine NelsonThis easy to follow recipe will deliver a creamy, lightly sweetened cheesecake without all of the fuss of a long baking time. My family loves it and I enjoy serving them a nice treat that’s made from real ingredients.

I’ve always been leery of people who don’t like cheesecake.  Its creamy, its delicious and full of eggs and cream cheese. My favorite food groups!

I adapted this recipe from Sally Fallon’s version in the book Nourishing Traditions. When I followed her recipe to a T it turned out too firm and more like gelatin. Jello jigglers are nice for the kids, but I didn’t want my cheesecake having the same type of texture. Plus, it just didn’t have much flavor.

So I added a bit more milk, more vanilla, some lemon juice and zest. Voila! My idea of the perfect cheesecake. It has a nice hint of lemon that isn't overpowering and the sliced strawberries are completely optional, but add a nice touch that my kids especially enjoy.

Serve this as a nice treat after Sunday supper.

cheesecake

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

1 crust of your choice (I enjoy Sally Fallon’s coconut crust) in 9x13 baking dish

4 cups or 4 packages cream cheese (about room temperature so blending is easier)

4 eggs, separated and at room temp

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons gelatin

3/4 cup raw honey

2 tablespoons vanilla

Zest of 1 lemon and 1 T lemon juice

Sliced strawberries

Put egg yolks and milk in saucepan. Beat lightly with a whisk and heat until very warm to the touch but not simmering. Sprinkle gelatin over mixture while beating quickly until dissolved. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, honey, vanilla and lemon juice and zest until well combined. Add egg yolk mixture from saucepan and process until smooth. Place in a bowl and set in fridge. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour into crust and chill at least 3 hours before serving. It will set a bit in the fridge, but still have a nice creamy texture. Add the sliced strawberries to the top once it has set, otherwise they will sink to the bottom.

You can see in this picture that the beaten egg whites add a nice amount of air to the cheesecake. Yum!

picture2

I'd love to know what you think. Its perfect for spring and summer with all of the fresh milk, cream and strawberries. 

If you enjoy this, join my Facebook group for more healthy recipes and wellness tips! I also recorded a video this week about how to make continuous brew kombucha. Kombucha is my favorite!

Have a great week. We're busy making friends with our new heifer and figuring out garden plans. I realize I'm a little late to the party on that one, but better late than never!

Maple Vanilla Granola Recipe

Christine NelsonIf you are looking for a tasty granola recipe to rival any store bought boxed cereal, you are in the right place.

My kids love it and enjoy it with fresh milk or as a topping to homemade yogurt. Who am I kidding, they love it any way they can get it. Those kids can put it away!

I found the original recipe on the Green Smoothie Girl Web site. I tweaked it a bit to fit what ingredients I had on hand and came up with this version. It’s definitely not a chunky, eat with just your hands granola, but perfect as a cereal replacement.

You see, I have my kids totally duped. They are not aware (yet!) that there is a world out there with crazy amounts of sugary boxed cereal to choose from. We never go down the cereal aisle thankfully and I’m happy keeping them in the dark as long as I can. It’s for their own good, darnit!

I love homemade granola. It’s kind of like potato chips for me though, once I grab a handful I just can’t stop!

So without further waiting, here it is. A super simple granola that will satisfy the hungry beasts in your household.

Granola

Maple Vanilla Granola

8 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (I place almonds in my blender for a few seconds, my kids don’t like their granola to be too chunky)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup ground flax
1 cup cashew pieces
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat the following in a saucepan until melted:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Spread mixture onto two baking sheets covered in parchment paper. Place in the oven for one hour and 10 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight containers.

The bonus? If you let your kids help you make it, then you get at least 20 minutes of peace and utter happiness out of them. Just don’t worry about all of the oats that will spill all over the floor.

Kids

If you enjoy this recipe, be sure to check out my tweak on spicy kale chips. They are super satisfying.

Also, I’m doing an online class this month all about eating healthy and how to make your own cultured foods. Be sure to head on over to Facebook and join in the fun!

Until next time!

The Waiting Game

Christine NelsonHi, my name is Christine and I can’t stop looking at cows on Pinterest.

It’s a good thing I really don’t have much down time because I can see a lot of time being wasted just scrolling through pins of milk cow this and milk cow that.

We were originally supposed to get our heifer and steer sometime November or December, but the breeder pushed the date back to mid-January sometime.

It really isn’t a big deal to us, seeing as we don’t mind having less animals to care for. But at the same time I’m so anxious to finally have cows and see how life with them unfolds.

We have a long road ahead to finally start getting our own milk, but I’m chomping at the bit!

My sister gave me a lead rope and curry comb for Christmas and I can’t wait to put them to use.

I’m interested to see how the sheep do with the cows, especially the ram. 

ram

You see him giving me the evil eye? We haven't really had any problems with him per say, he just is not scared of us at all and gets way too close and makes me very nervous!

We would eventually like to run them all together, but will have to see how it goes. If we have issues, we’ve already agreed that the cows will trump the sheep if it comes down to it. Several people who purchased some ewes from us this summer are interested in buying more if we decided to just get rid of all of them.

Things have really been pretty mundane around here besides this waiting game.

The coyotes have been more active and seem to be getting thick. There were four on our property at noon the other day! The week before I was walking past my deck doors and saw one sneaking out from the wooded area behind our house. Without even thinking I just ripped open the door and ran out there yelling and screaming like a lunatic. I had the baby in tow so my first thought wasn’t to grab the gun. They are certainly getting brave.

I understand they are just animals eating to survive, but I don’t want to serve as their free chicken buffet, ya know?

The weather was beautiful yesterday, reaching about 57 degrees with the sun shining. I tried to get a few things done outside while the baby took a short-lived nap.

outside sun

Everything is so gross this time of year.

mud

One of our cats got into something, he has a big hunk of skin missing under his chin. I figure either something tried to kill him or he got caught up somehow. I’ll definitely need to be keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get infected. So far it seems to be healing up just fine.

I posted a delicious recipe for Spiced Milk on my personal blog.

spiced milk

It’s the best cozy winter drink ever! Hop on over to the blog, give it a try and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to follow us over on our Facebook page!

What have you been up to during the cold winter months?

The Best Fall Project

Christine NelsonI've been neglecting blogging a bit since we had our fourth baby this past July. I took some much needed time off from the computer and then we settled into our first year of homeschooling in August. Priorities have to be shifted sometimes and we've had to bend and flex with life changes.

Essential oil classes have been keeping me very busy as well. I've really taken October as a time to focus on building my business and its been a very successful month so far. There is a lot of desire out there to learn more about natural health solutions!

All of the critters are alive and well, although I worry every day about whether or not the turkeys will actually make it to Thanksgiving. They sure haven't proven themselves smart enough to stay out of trouble. Nearly every day they forget they can fly and get stuck behind a fence and pace for hours trying to figure out how to get out.

The fall weather has been fantastic around here, though. Today hit about 81 degrees and we've been enjoying it.

Fall is the perfect time of year for chalk paint projects. Chalk paint is all the rage, and rightfully so. You can literally paint any type of surface, glass, metal or plastic, and turn it into a fun, vintage style piece. The heat of the summer dries the paint too fast, but the cool fall air allows you to paint outside and not get stuck indoors with paint fumes.

I spent a good amount of time last fall painting pieces and re-selling them, making myself a nice amount of extra cash.

Robin's egg table

The most economical way to chalk paint is to make it yourself. Purchasing it can run you $40 per quart, which is, quite frankly, completely ridiculous. You can take any type of paint and just add plaster and water. My chalk paint recipe can be found HERE.

Another bonus of using chalk paint is that you can use any old brush you have. I have a couple of old paint brushes that look a little rough, but work perfectly for slapping on the chalk paint. If there are any spots that don't glide on just so, don't panic. You can just sand it by hand with a little sandpaper and fix it easy, peasy.

The amount of coats you apply greatly depends on what kind of look you are going for. If you want it really roughed up and have more of a whitewashed effect, you can just slap on one coat. Usually I do about two. Once that is dry, just take fine sand paper and rough up the edges.

Paint close up

Once the edges are nicely roughed up, just apply a coat or two of paste wax. Let dry and then buff. It will become more shiny and smooth as you buff it. Once that is complete you are ready to show it off to your friends!

I truly enjoy watching an old, unwanted piece of furniture turn into something pretty that people actually pay me for. I haven't visited a furniture store in years. I'd much rather put some sweat into something and make it my own.

Well, I'm off to see what the six year old and four year old are cutting up all over the dining room table, hoping the baby continues to sleep a little longer and find out what that snotty nosed two year old is up to.

What fun, fall projects have you been working on?

Sugar On The Homestead

Christine NelsonWhen you think of a farm fresh meal, what comes to mind? I would say roasted leg of lamb with sweet potatoes, salad and of course, an amazing dessert like apple pie or peach cobber.

But if we are all really trying to be like our ancestors and grow our own food, where does sugar really fit in? Back in the day, sugar was an extra special and rare treat. I remember the episode of Little House on The Prairie when Pa had been on a long trip and on his return he brought with him a small amount of sugar. In the show they poured some out and oooed and awwwed over it like it was gold. If you think about it, the amount of sugar he brought back with him was probably equivalent to what we put in one whole pie. We certainly don't stretch it over a long period of time like Ma Ingalls probably did.

apple pie sprinkled with sugar | Fotolia/Dani Vincek

Photo: Fotolia/Dani Vincek

Think about what people might consume each day that contains added sugar that you don't even consider to be a special dessert. Let's say for breakfast you had a muffin, for lunch a BLT and dinner your favorite pasta. Even if you made every single meal from scratch, the typical recipe for all of these contains sugar. Add it all up and you are most definitely consuming more than you think.

A dessert now and then is not so bad, but sugar seems to be added to everything now, even from scratch recipes. It seems so many recipe books, including those titled Grandma's Down Home Cookin', involve adding sugar to even spaghetti sauce.

The average American consumes about 150 pounds of sugar per year. Take a step back and really think about that for a minute. That's a lot of sugar!

Don't get me wrong, I love a tasty dessert just as much as the next person. But I want my children to grow strong and healthy and I know that if we ate like the average American they wouldn't be able to keep up with all of the things that farm life involves. I've seen the effects of what sugar does to their mood, I'd hate to see what would happen to their health if we ate a lot of it long term. If we want our children to grow up and pass on our values, don't we want them to live long enough to make an impact, not end up in the ER with a heart attack at 50?

Imagine how hard life would have been if the early settlers ate 150 pounds of sugar per year. Do you think they would have been able to wake up in the morning ready to tackle the physical labor that true homesteading involved? I doubt it and often wonder if they would have been able to succeed like they did.

We all know that there's no way settlers would have access to the amount of sugar that we currently do. Image how great (or rather, healthy!) the world would be if we treated sugar like it was something that was hard to come by. 

According to Dr. Robert Lustig's 2012 book, Fat Chance, 40 percent of death certificates list diabetes as the cause of death. That is up from 13 percent 20 years prior.

This is a global problem and it's only growing.

spoons of sugar | Fotolia/marylooo

Photo: Fotolia/marylooo

Last week our local news featured a story examining the fact that more than 71 percent of Kansans are too overweight to be in the military. This is according to Mission: Readiness. It's literally a threat to our national security.

So what's my point, you may be wondering? Why should you care? You strive for self-reliant living and can your own beans for crying out loud.

Well, I think of the modern-day alternative farmer as the pioneer of good things. If Joel Salatin hadn't been brave enough to do what everyone else thought was crazy and nonsense, imagine how different the world would be. It has taken bravery on his part to think outside the box in order to improve farming methods. This improvement has lead to livestock improvement and health improvement of those who consume it.

Even if you are canning your own food and raising your own meat, you are paying for this sugary overweight problem. You are paying for it with your tax dollars, something none of us can get out of no matter how self sufficient we become. Being overweight increases our risk of disease including heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Our money is going towards the medical care related to the diseases listed above and it's only getting worse.

So my challenge to you is this. Cut down on the sugar. Be an example to other people, inspire them to do the same. Making a difference starts out with one person and spreads to the community. You can be the change, there's no reason why not.

I am doing a 14 Day No Sugar Challenge in order to inspire others to take a closer look at their sugar consumption. We are a small group on Facebook that is starting August 1. I would love for you to join us and be sure to invite your friends and family. We will discuss recipes and offer support; it's going to be great fun! You can also read more about this no-sugar challenge on my personal blog page at Nelson's Edibles Acres.

Do you eat much sugar? I'd love to hear your no-sugar recipes!

How Not To Raise Turkeys

Christine NelsonFarm animals seem to be a bit of an addiction. I don't know about you all, but we seem to want to keep adding more. At the beginning of the year I had said we weren't going to add anything else new and just stick to what we had for now, but before long we had already arranged to get a small milk cow this winter and then we started looking at turkeys.

My husband, Jacob, has always had an interest in turkeys. For some reason he always said he wanted to see a big tom strutting around our property. We also enjoy eating turkey so we decided why not just give it a go and start off with a few. We could raise them just in time for Thanksgiving and maybe keep a few back to breed.

I was afraid that a really big turkey might terrify my poor children, the oldest already has a small fear of birds for some reason, and so we decided on the Midget White. They don't get very big and hopefully size wouldn't be so intimidating to the children.

The hatchery has a minimum purchase of 15 so we decided that would be a good number for our first experimental batch.

We had done quite a bit of reading and heard that turkeys can be a bit high maintenance at the beginning, but once they were outside they were basically indestructible. As with anything, we were up for the challenge.

Well, the turkeys arrived and, boy, were they the challenge. We couldn't keep them alive. Right out of the box two of them didn't look well and I knew we'd lose at least a couple. When we have ordered broiler chicks in the past, the hatchery has always sent us a couple extra. There were no extras (probably because they cost four times as much!) with the turkeys so we were really hoping a couple would be all we would lose.

As with the broilers, we showed them food and water, but apparently they just couldn't get the hang of it or would forget. What happened I'm not sure, but we'd go in to check on them and they'd all jump up and run around like crazy and peck at all of the walls and seemed to be lively. We could see some drink and eat so we had thought that we were good to go.

Well, pretty soon they just started dying. One by one, day by day. There were a couple times we lost two in one day.

After week one, we were down from 15 turkeys to only seven!

Like any modern farmer, we took to the Internet desperate to save what we had left.

We decided to add sugar and apple cider vinegar to their water. We also added a whole bunch of marbles to the water dish to encourage them to peck and drink. More protein was also added to their feed.

Jacob emailed the hatchery to ask if they would at least reimburse us for the couple we lost the first day and see if they had any recommendations on keeping what we had left alive. They emailed right back and told him to call their office. He did and they said they would credit us back for every single one. We were quite relieved to no longer be out about $80, but were nervous we were going to keep losing more.

We stayed diligent with the new water and feed and held our breath.

Well, lo and behold, the last seven have stayed strong and are thriving! We eventually stopped the sugar in the water and just have kept up with the apple cider vinegar.

They all seem to be happy and healthy and growing well. We are pretty sure we have at least one tom in the group, so if we do decide to breed we at least have that option.

We'll just have to look at this batch as a hard learning experience, I suppose.

Any turkey people out there? What recommendations do you have on starting them out?

turkey poults