It is unfair to compare anything to hot chocolate, but this is a close second that really feels like you did something healthy. If you look up the health benefits of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, coconut milk, raw milk, or Manuka honey you will be reading until next year. Suffice it to say, I don't see how you can go wrong with this.
When you have a cold or a runny nose is perhaps not a great time to consume loads of milk, and in that case I use coconut milk instead. Your choice. Three quarters of my family loves this, and while that may not sound like a stunning endorsement to you... It is.
1 inch of grated fresh turmeric
2 inches of grated fresh ginger
2 cups of milk or coconut milk
1 tablespoon Manuka honey or to taste
Grate the turmeric and ginger on a box grater. Add the turmeric, ginger, peppercorns, and milk to a small saucepan. If you are using raw milk, be sure to only warm the milk and allow it to steep. For pasteurized milk or coconut milk, bring it to a simmer and then turn it off to steep for a few minutes. Strain it into cups and sweeten with Manuka honey to taste.
Last year we made apple molasses, apple sauce, apple pie, dehydrated apples, everything apple. This year the trend continues with apple cake. I found the recipe in The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook, and it's as easy as making muffins. Dump, dump, stir, bake. The dough tasted a little bitter from the baking soda and I had serious doubts, but it was wonderful the next morning for breakfast. It was not too sweet, and everyone was relieved not to have to eat eggs or oatmeal again. Try it and you'll see.
We "iced" the cake with a mixture of butter and honey.
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or spray for the pan
1-1/2 cups coconut oil, warmed to be soft if necessary
1-1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour (I used a gluten-free mix)
1 Tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups of grated unpeeled Granny Smith apples
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Spray or grease two 9 inch cake pans and preheat the oven to 325.
Mix the coconut oil, sugar, and eggs in one bowl. Mix the flour and the other dry ingredients in another bowl and then add them to the wet ingredients. Stir until combined, and then add the grated apple and vanilla. Pour half the batter into each cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Test it with a toothpick in the center when you think it's done.
After you take the cakes out, let them sit in the pans for about ten minutes before unfolding them and letting them cool. We "iced" our cakes with a mixture of butter and honey.
I think of Clarice Starling and her need for the silence of the lambs on mornings like this, mornings when Buttons won't shut up.
The decision to add goats to my backyard came with a few sleepless nights. It sounds crazy, even to me. Goats sound like a heavy commitment, and when I got them the first comment that dropped from the majority of my astounded friends and family was, "Wow, now you can never go on vacation again!"
The verdict is not in yet. There are still many mistakes for me to make, and so I can't claim to be able to answer the question of whether or not this was a smart move- not yet. But if you're wondering how the adventure feels to me so far, I can answer that.
I'm assuming that like different breeds of dogs, different breeds of goats have their own personality. I have Nigerian Dwarf goats. They are cute, sweet, and little. Their milk tastes like the best, richest cow's milk you have ever tasted. It was not at all goat-y or grassy, although I'm sure it matters what you feed them. For me, the milk is the whole point. I greedily dream of fresh milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter, and feta. Mine are four and a half months old, and at nine months they can be bred. If all goes well, five months later you have kids and milk. Many of the details are still a little fuzzy for me, but I know a super nice lady who has been explaining it all to me step by step thus far. They are little itty bitty goats, but when they give milk I should get from one to two quarts per day. It is entirely possible that this time next year I will get a gallon of milk a day. I am already researching yogurt makers. I can't wait! The adorable goat babies will start out about the size of a shoe, and at eight weeks they can be weaned and sold. Again, I haven't done this part yet, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.
The goats are very quiet. You have to have two or they cry, but once they made the adjustment they have been nearly silent except for the occasional little "Maah." They do like to climb, which I should have known but never paid enough attention. They are little acrobats. They are also escape artists, so fencing is a must, and my husband went so far as to learn to pour concrete before the goats arrived. A worthy investment of his time! Their droppings look like little black beans, and they're too small and disappear too quickly to collect and compost. I was a little disappointed by this at first, but the good news is that they don't stink! The side of my house doesn't smell at all.
They don't require much in the way of housing but what amounts to a dog house. They HATE to get wet, and they do need shelter from the wind. Since our goats are in a very sheltered spot on the side of the house, we just used a tarp to cover an old play structure, and so far this had been enough... Until this morning.
I came out to lots of heartfelt bleating and a miserable, wet little Buttons. I toweled her down, brushed her, pet her, whispered to her, and loved on her. She was quiet the whole time, right until I walked away.
I sent the kids back to her and the quiet Calypso with apples, carrots, and celery. They were quiet for a few minutes, presumably because they can't bleat and chew at the same time.
Maah, maah, maah.
After last year's failings, I began this year's garden with a much more relaxed attitude. Ambition doesn't always guarantee success. I waited until March to start my tomatoes and peppers, and started almost everything from seed directly in the beds. In one spot in particular, I replanted seeds three times before anything came up. At first I thought it was the birds again, but now I think I just didn't water anything enough. I didn't overcrowd anything, though I didn't grow much either for a while. The verdict is in- next year I will start my seeds in February, and I will probably never ever work with anything other than transplants.
In other news, my "farm" is slowly becoming a zoo. First the goldfish, then the hamsters. The bees (fortunately very low maintenance). We hatched five more chicks, and then recently my dad asked if we would take some of his chickens. Then we paid for dairy goats and came home with a dog. As if that wasn't enough, the next day a rabbit showed up in our yard. I'm not sure if I feel more like Dr. Doolittle or perhaps Noah as he placed the finishing touches on the ark.
The decision to get Nigerian dwarf goats made everyone nervous, but as you can see they don't take up much space. The first couple of days they bleated, and it was loud. I was in a sweat over what the neighbors would think, but the goats calmed down after that and hardly make a peep anymore. I didn't realize until later when they nearly knocked over a lactating visitor that they hadn't been fully weaned and they missed their mommy!
They are only four months old, and very sweet little creatures. My nine year old picked one up, so though I don't know exactly what they weigh, you can see they are small. It's very difficult to get good pictures because when they see me they run up looking for love and snacks. We had sectioned off nearly a third of our yard for them, the portion previously dedicated to play space, but they prefer to stay up on the side, as high up as possible. We will probably put them in with the chickens soon.
The rabbit appeared out of nowhere. I don't know if she was abandoned or an escapee, but she's ours now! We put her in a roomy hutch which fits over the raised beds. Rabbit pellets can go directly into a garden without composting, and she has been a great source of bunny berries. She has devoted one corner to be a toilet, and if you look closely at the picture you can see the pile of bunny poo beneath her. She's not as cuddly as I thought a rabbit would be, but the kids liked to go in and pet her for a while. Now that she's off the ground it's a little harder for them to get to her. I don't know if the bunny is lonely or relieved that the kids aren't jumping in her cage with her, but I'm betting she's relieved.
All my vegetables got a thick layer of composted chicken bedding this month. I've started a new way of doing things that I learned from a talk at the Heirloom Seed Expo in September. It was intended for a real farm, not raised beds, but I'm hoping the logic behind it will still work for me. Instead of pulling plants out by the roots (unless it's a beet or a carrot, you get the idea), I cut the plant at the soil level, leaving the roots in the ground. There are many potential benefits since any time you turn soil over you lose a lot of the good stuff, but the immediate benefit for me is that I don't have to replace half the soil every time I pull stuff out anymore. Then I could put down any powdered fertilizers, or maybe some azomite powder, and then a layer of compost. The new plants are planted in the compost layer, and hopefully by the time they've grown the old roots have broken down. It's only been a month, but so far, so good. No more seeds in the soil. Transplants, transplants, transplants!
We also added space in the chicken area for the compost. This way the chickens can pick through it and aerate it instead of me doing all the work. All the chicken bedding goes in there too. My father did this, watered it regularly, and produced lots of amazing compost which he generously shared with me.
Here is a late watermelon I started in the greenhouse. It's roughly cantaloupe-sized, which for me is a huge victory. Last year I never made it past golf ball size watermelons.
I love fat-free, delicious, healthy things, but sadly for me I love them even more drowned in sugar and fat. Here is a good example. Green tea is good for you AND calorie free, but now I like it even more for all the wrong reasons.
So I offer you a new reason. It's good for your skin. According to this page, green tea taken topically and internally (yay!) improves your skin's elasticity following exposure to UV light. The way I read that, it can only help my sun-damaged, aging skin. So while, yes, drinking green tea will probably do wonders for your health, here's another way to do it that may even fill out your wrinkles from the inside.
But enough on that. Here's the recipe I found on the back of a bag of matcha, and here's how I make it.
3/4 cup milk (whole and raw)
2 teaspoons matcha
1 tablespoon honey
Pour it all into a jar with a lid and shake. It's SO GOOD!
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!