I was thinking about the things I make or build or do that I never could have imagined 20 years ago that I’d be doing, and while I mention some of these things in Week in Pictures or similar posts, it’s been a while since I’ve done dedicated columns on specific subjects, so here I go…!
For this series, I want to focus on the things that we are so used to buying or assuming would be too challenging or too time-consuming, yet really aren’t. And – ironically – are usually better quality, more sustainable, and less expensive! In 2019, my motto has become, “before I buy it, see if I can make it!” Going beyond standard homesteading basics like fruit & veg canning/preserving/drying/fermenting, I’m talking about taking that next step and not assuming that a particular item is not DIY-able, and asking the question. Because hell, someone, somewhere, somehow makes those things you buy…
So with that, today’s three items are pretty rad if I may say so myself. Here are 2 great staples of our kitchen and 1 way to re-think another homemade staple…for your pet!
And so, I ask you…have you ever considered making these YOURSELF?
1) Oat Milk. Easier to make than almond milk, and WAY more eco-friendly I recently learned. But those $4 a pop TetraPak boxes (that are a pain in the arse for recyclers….even though they are technically “recyclable”, they’re made of multiple materials, and the plastics are usually thrown out..remember plastic cannot truly be REcycled, only DOWNcycled) and the fact that products like Oatly contain weird things like (GMO) CANOLA OIL…? And the fact that because it comes in such small containers we went through literally 5 boxes in a week, just the two of us, for baking & coffee? Seriously, this is all you need:
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup organic oats (bring your own container & go to the bulk aisle – way cheaper!)
- Dash of salt
- Dash of vanilla (optional but I find it a good thing + it doesn’t taste vanilla-y)
Blend for 30-60 seconds, pour through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a jar. (To make it less sloppy, I prefer the strainer which I put on top of the same funnel I use when canning before pouring…plus I hate cleaning gunky cheesecloth). I gotta say, I cannot tell any difference from the storebought stuff and it’s super convenient when you run out to just grab the blender and in 5 minutes have another quart!
PS – while it’s delish for creamer in your coffee and perfect for baking/cooking recipes that ask for milk (I just used it yesterday for making a batch of savory scones), I think it’s especially luscious as the base for a good cup of hot cocoa. Maybe it’s the 25 degree evenings we have been dealing with here on the coast (so, so wrong…), but some homemade oat milk mixed with a spoonful of cocoa, spoonful of honey and a shot of our homemade ginger liqueur? Yes. Yes please.
2) Mustard. Seriously y’all this is the best decision I ever made. First, I have a special affection for really, really good mustard (not that unnaturally yellow hot dog stuff…I’m talking about that sweet and savory goodness that usually has a French sort of name in a tiny sort of jar for eight or nine bucks.). Second, making your own mustard allows for serious customization, from the super easy to the super bougie. Again, this is all about taking advantage of your local grocer’s bulk aisle. One thing I will say is it’s not the instant gratification, as good mustard you want to let chill out in the jar for a good 1-3 weeks depending on the recipe, so my strategy is when the jar gets about halfway down, I whip up a new batch. A mini-prep food processor is a great way to go if you don’t have a full-size food processor (my new BFF). Below is the recipe for my rosemary herb mustard:
- 3 T yellow mustard seeds
- 1 T brown mustard seeds
- 1 T fresh thyme, minced
- 2 t fresh rosemary, minced
- 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 c water
- 1 t brown sugar
- 3/4 t salt
Stir mustard through vinegar in a bowl until seeds are submerged. Let sit at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days. Toss it in the food processor with brown sugar and salt and blend until mixture is thick but still coarse. Pour into a half-pint canning jar, cover and chill for up to 2 weeks before enjoying.
2) Glucosamine & Chondroitin. Oh my goodness, this was my mindblowing discovery today after just getting pissed at the cost of the little chewable supplements they sell for dogs! Whether it be at the big box pet store or the natural grocer, once you look at serving size for a 70 lb dog (that’s the thing, it’ll say 90 tablets but when you look at serving size, unless you’re a chihuahua owner, you’re paying about $20 for about 3 weeks’ worth if that.), the costs really add up. Plus it’s all in plastic packaging (again, remember DOWNcycling) and full of fillers. So I finally googled it and there are multiple ways to get it into your pet’s diet to help them with joint issues (our little gal is insistent on sleeping in her (second) bed upstairs in our room, which means she’s usually pretty stiff at the end of the day heading up the steps – one of the very few ways beyond frequent naps that she shows her age), but for me the easiest one? Bone broth. We’ve never gone down the BB bandwagon as far as “superfood” and all that, but I do make a couple gallons of chicken stock every 10 days or so from the bones of the chickens and other veg scraps (the latter I collect and keep in a container in the freezer til stock-time arrives). So all I gotta do is instead of amassing so much broth (which right now I’ve also frozen into ice cube trays and bagged in the freezer as I have so damn much), just let it sit even longer, add some ACV, and I’ve got bone broth. It gelatinizes pretty fast in the fridge and for an 11 year old pup like ours, I can give her as much as a half-pint a day…and as you can probably guess – she’s stoked! PS – check out fellow blogger Lacey’s great post on bone broth for all the details on making it and how it differs from broth and stock.
So whatcha think? Anything floating your boat so far? Three more ideas from our little coastal farm to your home, wherever you may be, will come next week!