Smoked Fish

Hi, everyone!

So we traded for some fish. White and amberjack, to be specific. We were very excited because we were hankering for some smoked fish. We use a competition Yoder pellet grill that we purchased from Southern Grillin’.

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Look at this. Isn’t it just amazing?

The process is easy. And although this amazing smoker simplifies the idea of smoking, I do recommend sticking around to just monitor the temp. That’s how I am with most cooking though.

So, you smoke the fish at 225-250 degrees Farenheit (107-121 degrees Celsius). You want the internal temperature to be 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) when you’re done.

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Once it’s done, it looks like this.

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Which turns into this magnificence. I love to eat straight smoked fish, but you can also use it for fish dips. We enjoy eating the dip as a spread on fresh homemade bread. I also like to take already made dips and spreads and adjust it a bit for a cake, much like a crab cake. Awesome, easy meals.

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Salt Scrub

Hi!

Today, I am going to share a very simple salt scrub recipe I like to use, specifically for my hands. It takes maybe five minutes to put together and leaves your hands feeling amazing. I like to keep salt scrub by my kitchen sink when I find my hands are extra dry so whenever I’m done washing dishes I can just quickly scrub them down before putting my rings back on.

I’m going to give a base recipe, then explore the different ways we can make this to suit maybe more personal needs.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

First you take about a cup of sea salt and add it to a container or dish.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Then you add about 1/4 cup of coconut oil.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

And mix! Add extra oil and/or salt based on your own personal preference.

It really is that easy, but let’s personalize it a bit more.

I really like a citrus scent in my scrub, especially when using coconut oil because I really like that tropical feel. So what I like to do best is take any fresh lemon, lime, or grapefruit I have and juice it. I kind of eyeball it here and put it when smells and feels right. Vitamin C is great for anti-aging properties, but keep your skin sensitivities in mind. Citrus juices are acidic and can damage skin, so just keep an eye on it.

Another great alternative is to use essential oils, but no more than 10 drops if you make a full batch.

Another option I have tried is using steeped green tea.

You can use this on your face, but if you find the salt to be too abrasive, use sugar instead. It’s gentler and may appeal to those with skin sensitivities. I use sugar on my face, again with the citrus juice or green tea.

Now onto oils. You don’t have to use coconut oil. That’s a common oil most people can use without suffering clogged pores or acne. Not everyone is like this though, or maybe you’re looking to attack a specific concern that a different oil can aid in. Here are some other oils you can use instead of coconut oil:

  1. Blemished Skin
    1. Pumpkin Seed Oil
    2. Grapeseed Oil
  2. Oily Skin
    1. Jojoba Oil
    2. Grapeseed Oil
  3. Dry Skin
    1. Almond Oil
    2. Apricot Kernel Oil
  4. Mature Skin
    1. Argan Oil
    2. Rosehip Seed Oil
  5. Sensitive or Irritated Skin
    1. Avocado Oil
    2. Hemp Seed Oil

I particularly like making these scrubs when I have an abundance of fresh lemons and limes (my favorites). It smells so clean and refreshing and leaves skin radiant.

Do you have any special scrub recipes you use on a consistent basis? Let us know in the comment section.

Calendula

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Calendula. It’s looking really pretty this time of year. I love how fiery that orange can get. Everyday, I have at least one ready flower to harvest. I’m not one for the mundane, and living on a homestead is far from it, but there’s something very connecting and exceptional about checking my plant babies everyday to see how they grow and progress, despite how repetitive it may seem. I especially love to visit them after a rain. My animals despise the rain (minus the waterfowl), but my plants thrive in it. And contrasting the very vocal protests of my herd, the plants have been celebrating the rain, as evident by their lush green leaves, brightly colored flowers, and towering heights.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Looking like a daisy–which makes sense because it’s part of the same family–Calendula has bright yellow/orange flowers. The flowers are what’s used for medicinal properties.

This flower is very multipurposed as it is used for culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic purposes. That and it really is just really pretty.

Culinary

You don’t see it a lot anymore, but this was a popular flower to add to salads and stews. It is completely edible and its consumption won’t hurt you.

Anti-Inflammatory

Linoleic acid is found in high concentrations in Calendula. Calendula is a helpful remedy for:

  1. diaper rash
  2. dermatitis
  3. ear infections
  4. ulcers
  5. sore throats

Cosmetic

Calendula can improve skin firmness and hydration. A strong rinse/tea can be made to apply topically.

Wound Care

Calendula increases blood flow and oxygen to wounds, which can result in a faster healing process as new tissue is grown. When taken internally in tea form, it can help with ulcers.

Menstruation

Calendula can help induce a menstrual cycle (do not take when pregnant as it can lead to early labor). This herb can also treat cramping.

Antimicrobial and Antiviral

The oils and acids found within this plant can fight pathogens, candida symptoms, and even some antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Calendula is used in a few antiseptic topical remedies because of this.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I have one plant that is blooming and has enough to harvest daily. I harvest the flowers and dry them then store them. Once I have enough I infuse them in an oil for future salves and any additional teas I could use.

Thanks for reading about one of the herbs we have in our medicinal garden. If you want to see more, click here

Yarrow

We recently added yarrow to our medicinal garden and it’s finally blooming. It is a unique plant in that the leaves and flowers can both be used topically and internally. It’s very versatile, treating many ailments and improving health.

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Yarrow is actually quite pretty and I find the pungent scent intoxicating. I love harvesting the flowers because they smell so lovely. Which I find funny because pests hate it. This plant is virtually pest free and even when I found caterpillars trying to devour the neighboring comfrey, the yarrow remained untouched. Another funny note off of that fact, yarrow attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and those creepy parasitic wasps. If you have not seen a clip of what those things do, you need to take the time to find a video. As long as you’re not squeamish. Anyways, these beneficial insects help with the nasty little buggers you want out of your garden, so plant plenty of yarrow.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

The colors I see most often in yarrow flowers that people grow in their gardens are white and pink.

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The leaves are soft and feather-like in both appearance and texture. Both flowers and leaves are used for their medicinal properties. An all around, pretty plant. This herb is actually my daughter’s favorite. She will harvest them with me and sneak off with one. I have seen them stashed in her dresser from time to time.

One medicinal trait yarrow has that many other plants do not have is that it’s styptic. This means that it can stop bleeding when used as a poultice, or powder form. Seek medical attention for severe wounds, but yarrow can aid in minor wounds where it is difficult to stop bleeding. Another nice feature of this herb is that it is also antiseptic, vulnerary, and anti-inflammatory; all great properties to assist with infection prevention and healing.

When ingested, yarrow is diaphoretic, expectorant, antispasmodic, hemostatic, and analgesic.

Being diaphoretic, yarrow induces sweating. This sounds more like a nasty side effect rather than something helpful, but this can help cool the body when it’s needed, like a bad fever. Sweating–though unpleasant–is our body’s natural way of cooling off. When we’re sick, sometimes our bodies do a horrible job at this, so inducing a good sweat without wasting our body’s energy on a vigorous run can help break that fever. Yay to the gross ways our bodies adapt and regulate–homeostasis, baby!

Yarrow, much like mullein, is an expectorant. This means that yarrow can assist in getting rid of sputum (a fancy word for that lovely spit and mucus mixture you get when you’re sick and congested) in airway passages. Although I prefer using mullein for nasty coughs and colds, yarrow does help with knocking that congestion out if you’re already taking it for a fever.

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Yarrow is antispasmodic, which can help with treating some cases of IBS, along with other dietary changes. An antispasmodic aids in relieving involuntarily muscle spasms, which is why this herb can help. Being that it is an antispasmodic, it can also help with menstrual cramping. Never use while pregnant though because it is a uterine stimulant. However, it is awesome to use after giving birth as it helps tone the uterus and helps with any hemorrhaging. Breastfeeding? You should be fine in lower doses. If you are your baby have an allergy to any plants in the aster family (this includes flowers like sunflowers and daisies) then just avoid it altogether.

If your goal is to use yarrow for its hemostatic properties, I do advise that you consult with a physician if it’s because you believe you have internal bleeding. I am all for natural healing and I can see yarrow’s use in something like excessive menstrual cycles, or symptoms caused by uterine fibroids. Those are chronic ailments that are not as life threatening as a head injury, or an abdominal injury from a car accident. If you ever suspect internal bleeding, seek medical attention to see the underlying cause, then go about educated treatment from there. Don’t just consume a bunch of yarrow without a diagnosis. Please. Ever. With any herb or medication.

Yarrow is technically analgesic, but it’s really for minor pains. If you’re already taking it for a fever or cold, chances are it will aid in any pain you may be feeling as long as it’s mild. There are stronger herbs out there if pain is your main concern.

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So, there you have it. Yarrow in a nutshell. I could write individual blog posts, both small and large, about just the individual ways I can use this. Powder form for profuse bleeding out of small wounds, poultices for cuts and scrapes, teas for all the glories of being born female, pest control, teas for fever breaking, it is endless. This was not one of my first medicinal herbs, but it really should have been because it is amazing. I’m very excited my plant is blooming because I don’t have to buy them from an unknown source!

Do you use yarrow? Will you now that you know more about it? Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

Want to see what else we grow in our medicinal garden on the farm? Click here to see what we’ve got going on. I will update our medicinal herb page as we add new cool stuff. Thanks for reading!

Willow

Today, I am going to be a little less serious and a little more fun. Today, I am going to introduce Willow.

I am a teacher. I have been teaching since 2009 and I love it. I started in elementary, did some work with Title I and interventions, then I moved on to middle school, then high school. In 2015 I switched up completely and began teaching special needs life skills in a high school setting. A big change from English and Reading. I instantly fell in love with the environment, staff, and students. I should have made this switch years ago.

So a little over one year ago, our staffing specialist got a hold of me because she had found a guinea pig who needed to be rehomed. I took her into my classroom, hoping she would make a decent classroom pet. We renamed the guinea pig Penny and she was an immediate hit. We all loved her and would even let her roam a bit with small groups. So the next year we were all devastated when she passed away in her sleep. It wasn’t at school, it happened at home.

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So, instead of getting a new guinea pig, I decided to get a baby rabbit. I had done the research on keeping them out of a cage and litter box training them and decided that we could make it work both at home and at school. We picked Willow out because he was the most outgoing, friendly, and calm. We started with an enclosed space so he could get the idea of the litter box, but it didn’t take long until he was enjoying life around the house.

We originally thought Willow was a girl, but found out as he aged that he is actually a boy. He is one of the sweetest pets I have ever had for school or at home. He has his favorite napping spots both in the house and the classroom and he’s social. He is often in the kitchen while I prep for dinner. I give him veggie scraps. He is completely and totally my buddy. He will sit with my son and daughter on the couch. If I am reading, he nudges his way into my lap and will pull on my clothes if he wants to be pet. I never realized a rabbit could be so social.

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He is the best classroom pet. He is very calm with the students and enjoys seeing them. He willingly gets in his crate when it’s time to get in the car to go to school. Students cleared bottom shelves of bookcases out for him to sleep in during the day. When he’s awake he jumps on tables using chairs to visit with kids. They work well in his presence and multi task fine with him. He will even approach a child who is sad or upset for attention and it makes the kids feel important.

During planning, while I work on IEPs, he is always in my space. Whether it’s stealing my chair or making sure he is sleeping at or touching my feet, he is there.

I really felt a need to do a quick intro on him because he is the only pet I have ever had that is just as much involved in my home life as he is in my work life. Penny was my first pet like this, but she didn’t follow me around like this bunny does. He seeks out my company and the company of others and I wasn’t expecting that strong of a bond to be honest. He is excited to see all the staff who work with me and the students. He is a great comfort to our kids who really need that additional emotional support. And really, sometimes, he is a great stress reliever for me at work. I love it when I’m working and he just wants to stay close. Even now, writing this, he is in my lap napping. I didn’t put him there. He just jumped on me and got comfortable.

We’re not raising him for meat and he serves no purpose on our farm. My original intent on getting him was for the kids, but he’s become quite a special little guy to me. He is with me more hours out of the day than any animal I have ever had in my life, being attached to me both at work and at home. He shared a very long week with me and completely deserves a blog post dedicated to him for being there and involved every step of the way.

It’s amazing how close to your heart these little critters can be.  We love him.

Want to see what other animals we have on the farm? Click here to see everyone.