Delicious Slow Cooker Greens Recipe

We grow a LOT of kale and collard greens in our garden so I am always looking for a new recipe to try.  If a recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker then I love it.  Well, below is a slow cooker recipe I found on facebook from DIY Natural for greens that you can start earlier in the day and it is ready at dinner time.  You can freeze the leftovers if you don’t eat it all, so that is a big plus.  It is great to have vegetables frozen so you can eat them in the winter when your garden is done producing.

greens from the garden

Crockpot Greens

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 cups of greens, stems removed & chopped (we use collard greens & kale)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups of bone broth, stock, or water
  • ham hock or several slices of cooked, chopped bacon
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (we omit this)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to your slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for about 6 hours.  Turn off heat and adjust seasonings and vinegar to taste.  If using ham hock, remove it from slow cooker, pull off meat and stir meat into greens.  Serve warm as a side dish and refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

We tried these greens last night with dinner and they tasted great! We don’t like the vinegar flavor, so next time we will omit this ingredient.  We did not have any leftovers, even the kids liked them.  I am going to make more for the purpose of freezing for later in the year.  Greens are very beneficial to your health.  They detox, are loaded with antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, and support cardiovascular & digestive health.  If you have never tried greens this would be a great recipe to start with.

So try some slow cooker greens for a healthy side dish that is quick and easy to make.  Your family will love them!

 

What To Do With Garden Tomatoes

What To Do with Garden Tomatoes

(Or Best Tomato Sauce Ever!)

Last year when my tomatoes were FINALLY ripe, I decided to make a ton of tomato sauce with them. The most time consuming thing was to peel the tomatoes.  You have to dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for 3 minutes, then in ice water for 3 minutes. Then you have to wait until they cool and hand peel them. Then you can start to make your sauce. I found this very time consuming and I did not like timing all these batches of tomatoes.

What’s a busy mom to do? Find a different way to do it. So, the next time I picked 2 basketfuls of tomatoes, I decided to roast them. It takes 5 minutes of prep time, and the rest of the time the tomatoes are in the oven. WAY quicker. WAY easier. I’ve been asked to share my roasted tomato sauce recipe, so here it is:

Roasted Tomato Sauce:

  • Get a pan and cover the bottom with organic olive oil.
  • Slice the tops of the tomatoes off and place cut-side down in the pan on top of the olive oil.
  • Fill the spaces between the tomatoes with cloves of garlic, quarters of onions, and chopped fresh basil & oregano (I use scissors to chop).
  • Sprinkle everything with sea salt.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour. Let cool. When cool, pull the skins right off the tomatoes (they come off very easily).
  • Put everything in a blender and blend it.
  • No timing, no measuring, no chopping. Just quick & easy.

I fill freezer containers with 2 cups of sauce each and freeze. You could easily use baggies if you’d like. I  save a bowl of sauce to try, and it is the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. Yummy! My prep time takes 5-10 minutes, and to peel and blend everything takes about 10 minutes. A lot easier than boiling, icing, peeling, chopping, and then cooking.

Even if you are super busy, this is a fast and easy way to enjoy your garden tomatoes.

Wheelbarrow Blessings

Did you know that wheelbarrows can be disguised as blessings? I didn’t either! This past weekend our family put in raised beds for our garden because we are unable to use our regular garden space due to needing our leach field extended. We have patiently been waiting for two months for the septic company crew to put in a leach field extension since our current one does not accomodate our large family. When they do finally come, they will need to drive right through our garden area. So, we are only doing a much smaller garden in raised beds this year.

My husband built four raised beds measuring 10 ft. x 5 ft. and we placed them where we needed them.

empty raised bed

Next step – Filling them with dirt! Well, we don’t own a wheelbarrow so we improvised by filling 5 gallon buckets with dirt using the one shovel we own, then wheeling the bucket from the backyard (where the dirt from our septic tank is dug up) to the front yard (where the raised beds are) on our one dolly.

dolly and bucket

This, of course, would have probably taken forever to fill the beds, but we were determined to get it done in one day. Thankfully, our neighbor walked by and asked if we’d like to borrow a wheelbarrow. YES!!!! Thank you!

wheelbarrow

I happily trotted down our hill, walked past our neighbors’ pasture, and up his hill to retrieve the blessed wheelbarrow. He even filled up the front tire for me with air.

As I was trudging up my steep hill with the wheelbarrow, another neighbor asked what was up. Well, after a brief explanation, they offered a tractor. Well, I don’t know about you, but I would much rather use a tractor over a wheelbarrow.  I’m weird that way.

The neighbor delivered the tractor, my hubby hauled the dirt, I distributed the dirt with our one shovel, and it took hours! Hours! How long would it have taken with a bucket on a dolly? I don’t want to know and am so incredibly thankful for the blessing of that wheelbarrow, because if it weren’t for the wheelbarrow I would not have received the blessing of a tractor.

Here’s a photo of my hubby being weird while filling the raised beds with dirt.

hubby on tractor

Finally, filled raised beds:

filled raised beds

Gardening With Kids

Kids love to garden. We grow a garden so that we can lower our food bill and provide organic vegetables for our family. We did not always have such a big garden. We started out one year with two tomato plants and two zucchini plants in our front flower bed. Eventually, I wanted more vegetables, so we tilled up some lawn and planted a 50 ft. x 50 ft. garden, installed drip lines to make things easier, and ordered more seeds. Here is a photo of part of our garden from last year:

Garden

If you have never gardened before this is the year you should give it a try. It is a lot of fun and the kids LOVE eating vegetables that they grow themselves. If you need to start small,  start with planting some basil and oregano in some containers indoors. Next year, try planting two tomato plants and two zucchini plants in your flower bed or in big containers like we did.

If you are a little more serious you can rent a rototiller and mark off where you want your garden to be next year. Don’t let any kids or animals play on it for a year, then plant your vegetables next year. If you already have a place for your garden then the easiest way to have a garden is to purchase plants already started that you plant into the garden, but this can be expensive. You can start plants in your home for a lot less money.  If you run drip lines purchased on-line from DripWorks or from your local hardware store the lines drip right where the vegetable are planted. No wasted water!

Weeding

It’s great to have the kids learn about plants and how they grow. Each year we plant some cherry tomato plants and snap peas so that the kids can eat them right out of the garden. We all go out and weed together. The little kids “help”, but really they mostly play and ask a lot of questions. The older the kids get the more they really do help. It is great listening to them talk while we enjoy the fresh air and sunshine working outside. They make up funny stories, play “I Spy”, and “20 Questions.” They laugh and get to talk to the neighbors about the plants.

Kid in Garden  garden friend

Our dogs enjoy hanging out with us in the garden too!

Dog in Garden

I hope you will give gardening a try. There is nothing more tasty than vegetables from your own garden. The kids love eating what they grow, they enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and they learn to work without complaining. Gardening with kids can be such a joy!

garden harvest    bell peppers  green beans

Starting Plants Inside

I started some seeds inside my home earlier this year to prepare for the gardening season.  Starting plants is easy and economical.  It saves you money to start your plants yourself instead of buying plants from the store.  Plus, you can grow organic plants at a fraction of the cost of buying organic produce in the store. Here is how I start plants. You can save this information to save money next year starting plants instead of buying them.

First, you need high quality soil.  I use BACTO professional soil that I can pick up at a local nursery.

BACTO Soil

Fill six-cell planters with soil to the top.  You can get these at any nursery, hardware store, or big box store.

Putting soil in

Plant one seed in each cell. If you want to start a lot of plants you can plant more seeds per cell per the recommended amount listed on the seed packet, but then you need to separate after they grow a little and re-plant in individual cells.  I don’t have a lot of room, so I only plant one seed per cell.  Then, cover the soil with the recommended amount of soil, which is also stated on the seed packet.

Make sure you label each cell with a popsicle stick.  Write the name of the plant and how many days it takes to grow on the stick.  When you transplant your plants into your garden, you can stick the popsicle stick in the ground next to the plants outside and you will know how many days it takes for the plant to mature.  Water your started seeds well.  I use a little watering can a friend gave me.

small watering can

Place your planted six-cell containers into a flat.  You can find these at any store that sells gardening supplies.  Place a clear lid on top until the seeds germinate and poke through the soil.

Covered plants

Place on a shelf with a 4 ft. flourescent light as close as possible to the lid.  This is to keep the soil and seeds warm so they germinate.  Turn the light on when you wake up in the morning and turn the light off when you go to bed.  Once the seeds start poking through the soil, take the lid off and lower the light so it is very close to the plant, but not touching.  Check the soil often to see if it needs watering.

 

VERY IMPORTANT:  Write down when you started your plants in a notebook.  It is very important to take notes on start times.  You can refer to the seed packet so you know when to transplant into your garden, so save the seed packets!

That’s it!  I have metal shelves that I bought at Home Depot that I put my started plants on.  These are easy to hang the lights from and fit four flats on each shelf.  I use Johnny Seeds and buy organic seeds.  Their catalogs are great and tell you exactly what to do with your plants.  If you aren’t ready to start seeds yourself yet, order the Johnny’s Seed catalog (it’s free) and start looking at what kinds of plants you might want to grow.  There are many plants that you can direct seed in the ground (instead of starting early in the home.) Types of vegetables you can directly seed in the garden are zucchini, green beans, snap peas, beets, and many more. Johnny’s Seed Catalog has LOTS of information to learn about gardening.

 

Happy Growing!