Homemade Liqueurs - LivingHomegrown.com

I don’t do a lot of giveaways on LivingHomegrown. The only time I offer a giveaway of any kind is when I’m really personally excited about something and I just want to share it.

Such is the case with today’s book review and giveaway.

I did not get this book for free (I bought it with my own hard-earned cash birthday money). And after reading it, I loved it so much that I bought a second copy to give away to one lucky winner here. The publisher doesn’t have anything to do with this and I don’t even know the author. I just think the book is that good.

Sounds good right? It is. Keep reading for more…

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Unusual trellises for gardens - LivingHomegrown.com

Whether you’re an avid vegetable gardener or giving it a try for the first time this season, there comes a time when your garden can feel like it is taking over the neighborhood. That’s when you have to look seriously at:

Growing UP instead of out

I cherish every inch of my own yard space because…well, I have to! I only have 1/10th of an acre here. So growing UP makes sense for me in a big way.

Growing UP is all about using the airspace above the soil as opposed to letting wandering, vining vegetables have their way with what can be precious (and often limited) real estate. All you need is a trellis – or support – for your wandering veggies.

But what makes a good trellis for vegetables?

Before you grab your keys and head for the nearest big box store, let’s toss around some interesting ideas and think outside the box store. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself)

Creating trellis structures out of unusual things can be:

  • Free (at the top of my important list)
  • Eco-friendly (that item just dodged the landfill)
  • Beautiful (the most unexpected bonus)

Where do you find these unusual trellises?

Oh let me count the ways…

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 5 Ways to Make Better Food Choices - LivingHomegrown.com

I Used to Think, I Had a Handle on Food:

I grew up understanding where my food came from.

But through my lifetime, the way this country produced food changed dramatically. Going to the local butcher shop as a kid and going to the grocery store today are two completely different things.

As an adult, I read some of the books and watched some of the movies about our current food system.

They were eye openers.

So I started to pay more attention to my food choices (organic, sustainable, local). All the usual stuff.

Then, I just felt overwhelmed.

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Why Oven Canning is Not Recommended - LivingHomegrown.com

I figure for every question I get from my readers – via comments or emails – there may be a few others with a similar question.

But when I get one question over and over, I know it’s time to write up that discussion as a blog post so that everyone can benefit from the information.

Such is the case with today’s post.

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How to make Maraschino Cherries - LivingHomegrown.com

Homemade Maraschino Cherries:

A few years ago, a TV program showed how they commercially make maraschino cherries and OMG – I never wanted to eat them again!

Why? Because they process those cherries in such a way that they really are no longer cherries.

They first remove any trace of cherry flavor by soaking them in a “brine” of chemicals that bleaches them yellow/white. (This is not a brine as we know it in pickling. It is a chemical cocktail.) Then, they soak them for several days in high fructose corn syrup and red dye so that they look like a cherry again.

I wouldn’t even consider it food anymore. It is more of a cherry-like substance. It was gross.

So I thought…Why not make them myself?

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The Wonders of Wine Salt

How to Make Wine Salt as Seasoning - via LivingHomegrown.com

Wine Salt

You may not have heard of it before, but this is a very cool product to have on hand.

Wine Salt is a delicious reduction of wine that is mixed with kosher salt and herbs.

The result is a concentrated seasoning that can add a nice depth of flavor to any meat or vegetable dish. When you add it to meat juices, it blends the dehydrated wine into a variation of a reduction sauce.

Whenever I demo it for people, I get a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs”.

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How to control weeds - LivingHomegrown.com

I think all organic gardeners have their favorite weapons against weeds. One of my favorites (for weedy walkways) is boiling water.

But in this post, I wanted to talk about my latest, greatest, sustainable, oh-why-didn’t-I-start-doing-this-sooner gardening technique.

I learned this tip from my friend, Margaret Roach of A Way To Garden. I have written about Margaret before here. And after following her blog for about 6 years, I have learned many wonderful gardening tips and tricks from her.

But I have to be honest. Today’s trick is really not “new” at all.

I knew of a different version of it and I’m sure you do too. It just took Margaret several years of mentioning her way before I actually tried it myself.

And wow.

My reason for hedging for so long was that this “trick” is very similar to other techniques I had tried and failed miserably at. So, I thought to myself, “Been there, done that”.

Boy was I wrong!

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5 Secrets to Canning Successfully - LivingHomegrown

Some Secrets to Canning Successfully

When you find yourself staring at a basket of peaches or a pile of cucumbers, you might find yourself thinking that the key to canning them successfully lies solely in your crazy-good cooking skills.

Well, part of it does.

You do need the ability to follow a recipe, boil water and use a kitchen knife without doing bodily harm. But beyond that, I believe that true success in canning has less to do with knife skills and more to do with a mind set (with a few canning tips thrown in for good measure).

I believe that having a few of these “secrets” in your back pocket will help you gain confidence and flavor when it comes to putting up food.

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10 Compelling Reasons to Preserve Food - LivingHomegrown.com

Every so often, I get asked this simple question…

“WHY do you preserve food?”

I’m sure never give the standard, stereotypical answer they are expecting.

I may be a lifelong canner, but like most of you who embark on this journey, I also have a broad background that makes me look at canning with a much wider lens.

I may have training in food preservation, but I am also a mother of two teenage boys and I want to leave the world a little bit better for them. And with a background in sustainable horticulture and as a TV producer, I interview environmental rock stars every day.

When a non-canner asks me why I can, I think they expect me to say something about how I am saving food for later.

Of course, that is a big part of it.

But the REAL answer goes much deeper than that.

I have some very passionate reasons for doing what I do and I know most canners share many of these reasons with me.

So today, I decided to jot these reasons down. And as I was writing, I realized it was essentially a Manifesto – a list of intensions when canning.

Perhaps some of your own intensions align with mine or maybe my list will spark new reasons for you to continue to put up food every year.

I’m sure you will have a few more to add to the list. (Please tell me in the comments!)

Below, I thought I would share my list of intensions with you.

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How To Flavor Water Kefir

How to flavor water kefir - LivingHomegrown

In my last post, I gave you the whole scope on how to make water kefir – a fermented probiotic beverage made with sugar water, yeast and bacteria.

I talked about: what water kefir is, the benefits and how to do the first ferment.

Yes, you can drink water kefir after the first ferment with no flavoring at all, but it doesn’t taste very good at that point. If you want to do that, I suggest you use it in smoothies or add it to other beverages, etc.

Important: Remember to start out with small amounts of kefir until your body gets used to it. I started with just a spoonful each day and slowly increased. It will be populating your intestines and you don’t want an unpleasant experience by doing that suddenly.

The magic happens when you flavor it!

Now, I don’t want to make this more complicated than it needs to be. The truth is that you can throw in some flavorings and drink it.

Done.

And there are a gazillion different ways to flavor this beverage. Your only limitation is your imagination.

But I know from teaching this that people have a lot of questions. So, rather than give you one option and answer all the questions in the comments, I wrote a comprehensive post below giving you ALL the details of how to do this a number of different ways.

I hope you refer back to it for inspiration every time you make a new batch.

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