Easy DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

easy-diy-pumpkin-pie-spice-blend

Warm spices bursting with the fragrance of fall, ready for use in a moment’s notice all blended together in a cute little jar. Oh, the joys of pumpkin pie spice blend.

For years I was a die hard purest when it came to spice blends. I would not use them, not on your life.

I would only use each spice individually, putting my nose up in the air and insisted that each recipe I created needed to have its own exact measurements of each individual spice for optimal flavor.

Well, I digress. I have discovered the joys of creating some of my own blends for simplicity sake. It’s true, I often prefer to add individual spices to recipe, but sometimes you just need a break.

Last year I caved and created my own garam masala blend, followed by this pumpkin pie spice blend. I have a couple blends more waiting to be shared as well. When I cave, I cave big time. 😉

I have so many fall beverages and treats that I like to make, that it made sense to keep pumpkin pie spice  on hand to have pumpkin pie lattes and such ready in less time.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

4 TBS ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves

Add all the ground spices to a jar. Shake until mixed. It’s as easy as pie. 😉

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Easy DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 2½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Add all the ground spices to a jar. Shake until mixed. It's as easy as pie. 😉

Do you like to use spice blends? If so, what is your favourite?

Preserving and Cooking with Blueberries

BluberriesFG

Blueberries are in season!

I love the sweet flavor that bursts into your mouth when you bite into them. If you are blessed to live near a blueberry patch, now is the time to harvest and preserve them. I went blueberry picking a few weeks ago and brought home 12 pounds! My only regret is that I didn’t have time to pick more.

The taste isn’t the only thing blueberries have going for them; they are also packed with nutrients and antioxidants like Vitamins C, A, E, K, B12, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. That’s just naming a few!

Because of blueberries’ antioxidant power, they may help prevent cancer-causing cell damages of the body. It is thought that the pterostilbene (another antioxidant) found in blueberries helps to lower cholesterol. These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other amazing health benefits found in blueberries.

Join me at Frugal Granola to learn the basics to preserving and cooking with blueberries! 

Do you find it hard to get nourishing real meals on the table? Let Tradishen help take the guess work out of menu planning for you! Find recipes like this one and more at Tradishen.

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12 Ways to Save Money on Coffee

12 Ways to Save Money on Coffee

Coffee, it’s a beautiful thing.

What is not to love? I generally have a cup or three every day.

Let’s be honest for some people, it is their life blood. Thankfully caffeine doesn’t wake me up which is why I can sit here at almost ten o’clock at night while drinking an iced mocha.

I didn’t come to love coffee until I was in my mid-20s. That first cup of recently roasted small batch, freshly ground coffee with a bit of coconut milk and raw honey won me over.

I have never looked back. That’s what happens when you start with the good stuff.

Since I enjoy the drink so much I realized that I needed to save money on coffee if I was going to continue to do so.

If you are like me these tips will come in handy, and allow you to keep your addiction (Uhm, your love of coffee) going without breaking the bank.

12 Ways to Save Money on Coffee

1. Buy Quality Bulk

You will generally save money if you buy a few pounds of coffee at a time. Many companies, especially smaller ones (at least in my experience) give you discounts for larger orders. For me, a bulk purchase of coffee is 5 pounds.

It is also an ethical issue for me. I will not buy coffee from a  company whose workers are not treated and paid fairly.

I think organic, far-trade coffee is amazing, it is always a good, ethical option. I tend to stick to small companies that use organic practices but aren’t yet certified (which can take several years and is very expensive) and where most of the money goes back to the farmers and workers.

When you stick with smaller companies you get to have at least a tiny peek into the lives of those who grew your coffee. Right now my personal favourites are Leiva’s and Hope Coffee. Sometimes I find an ethical brand on Amazon as well.

2. Grind Your Own

Even low-quality beans taste better is you grind your own beans. Sure it tastes a bit better if you grind it right before brewing. Really though if you grind a few days worth at a time and store it in a glass jar you aren’t going to notice, maybe be if you are an uber coffee snob…

You can buy a fancy grinder or you can get along just fine with an inexpensive one like me.

3. Roast Your Own Beans

This is my ultimate goal. The first time I had coffee from freshly roasted beans I thought I had died and gone to coffee heaven. It was SO good.

Do I roast my own right now? No. I do have green coffee beans from Honduras waiting for me buy a roaster or popcorn maker. (Elliot Homestead uses a popcorn maker.) Space to store another appliance is an issue right now.

I saved, at least, $2 per pound when I bought my green beans.

4. Drink the Leftover Coffee

Some of you may gag when you think of this suggestion buy I do it.all.the.time. Frequently I will use it for an iced coffee or a mocha.

12 Ways to Save Money on Coffee 3

5. Make Coffee Ice Cubes

Making coffee ice cubes is my favourite way to use leftover coffee. I keep a tray in the freezer and pull small out everytime I make a fauxcinno. They are perfect in iced “Dirty Chai” as well.

6. Cook with Coffee

If you have a little bit of coffee left, try adding it to a chili or other savory dish. Sometimes I will replace some of the liquid in a chocolate dessert with coffee to bring out the chocolate flavors.

7. Use a French Press

Many people are big time Keurig fans, there is a huge appeal with the convenience of making just one cup of coffee. Even if you have a reusable cup and add your own grounds, it is an expensive initial investment. Most regular coffee pots require you to use a new filter with each pot coffee you make.

The French Press really is the perfect option. It is comparable to the cost of a typical low-end model coffee maker. It is plastic free (which is very important to me). You never have to buy filters since it has it’s own built in.

The taste of coffee from a french press is incredible as well.

12 Ways to Save Money on Coffee 2

8. Make Your Own Creamer

If you are a black coffee fan then you can ignore this tip. Most creamers at the store are not even worth picking up off the shelf at the store. If they are, then you better believe they will not be inexpensive.

My Favourite Homemade Creamers:

9. Clean Your Grinder

I’m not going to lie, I am so bad about this. The oils and dust from the grounds build up and over time impart an off taste to your coffee.

Off taste= bad coffee= throwing coffee out

If you are like me and you grind your dehydrated liver (hello liver pills) and herbs in your coffee grinder you are really going to want to clean it out so that liver taste doesn’t affect the perfection of the coffee.

10. Order Simple Drinks

I am a big believer in spending your money on the ingredients to make coffee drinks at home instead of buying them out. Yet sometimes you are out with a friend, maybe you are working at a coffee shop, or you are running errands and you really want a coffee.

It’s okay to give yourself that freedom sometimes. When I get a coffee out I try to stick to basic drinks like a black coffee or an iced coffee and just add some half and half. I’ve even been known to carry a bottle of stevia in my purse…

That way I can enjoy being out and having an occasional coffee but don’t find myself paying $4+ for a cup of coffee.

(In all honesty I do buy mochas out from time to time, especially when it’s an Organic, Fair-trade shop.)

11. Make Your Own Fancy Hot Drinks At Home

Now this one only applies if you get coffee out. I am a huge fan of fancy coffee drinks. My body doesn’t like them because of all the sugar but I am all about making my own (if you didn’t already know).

Even when using high-quality ingredients like raw milk, and I pay almost $15/gallon for it in the Central Valley still costs me less than a drink at the average coffee shop. I don’t have an exact breakdown for you at this moment. 

Fancy Coffee Shop Drinks to Make at Home

12. Cut Back

How many cups of coffee in a day do you really need? Of course, this comes from the woman who is sipping on a mocha at almost 9:30 at night. I range from one to three cups a day but I have been know to drink about five…

This may be stepping on toes but I am of the opinion that coffee should not me drank for long term help for need. I am blessed to be one of those crazy people that can drink coffee at midnight and half asleep with no issues, hence the copious amounts of coffee.

I see coffee as a simple pleasure to be savored and enjoyed. Instead of gulping back several cups in a day limit yourself to just two (because if you are like me, I have a hard time having just one).  Over time it adds up, and you find yourself anticipating that cup or two all the more.

Try adding in things like a basic cup of Earl Grey tea or warm vanilla lemonade, which is my favourite way to start my day. Over time it adds up, and you will probably find yourself looking forward to those two cups if you don’t gulp back several a day.

What are your tips to save money on coffee?

 

10 Ways to Save Money in a Real Food Kitchen

10 Ways to Save Money in a Real Food Kitchen- www.nourishingsimplicity.org

Real foodies know that real food is not cheap! It doesn’t mean that you should just give up and forget about it either. There are tricks to the trade that help you save money and nourish your body at the same time!

At first glance some of these tips may not seem to add up to much but over time you will be surprised at how much you can actually save! These are just a few tips to get you started, I would love to know what you do!

1. Stick to your shopping list

When I buy things on a whim that aren’t on my list the bill can sky-rocket in a manner of minutes. When I lived in Mexico I left a little lee-way for thing not on my list that I forgot to write down since my next State side trip wouldn’t be for a few more months. Now that I am in California full-time I rarely allow for extra purchases.

If you do like to buy a few “surprise items” when you shop such as your favourite sausage on sale budget for those. Then you know you have a bit of wiggle room for a fun item.

2. Save your grease

Most real foodies are all about saving bacon grease. It gives amazing flavor to dishes like fried potatoes, eggs, or even popcorn (it. is. amazing!). Chicken fat is delicious for sauteing vegetables or in dumplings!

3. Make your own condiments

Most condiments you buy from the store are full of preservatives, even the organic ones. When you make your own condiments it can be a small amount on an as need basis or in a larger batch to keep on hand. I try to keep homemade mayo on hand all the time for sandwiches, dressings, and even cake! Don’t knock it till you try it! Plus you will either wow or weird out your guests when you say your condiments are homemade, because who doesn’t love to do that?

4. Label left-overs

I can’t emphasize how important it is to label and date left-overs. That way you know what needs to be used first. It also lets others know what is in each container. I personally store my left-overs in mason jars or Pyrex glass containers.

Keeping older items at the front reminds you to use them first. Even if you have a left-over night it is a good idea to try to use up what you can throughout the week.

5. Prep fruits and vegetables when you buy/pick them

Prepping vegetables when you bring them home from the store, farmers market, or the garden saves on waste. I am more likely to use carrots, celery, and things like that when they are already washed, peeled, and cut. Salads are easier to throw together when you wash and bag the greens ahead of time.

6. Preserve in season produce

I love to buy produce when it is in season to use for the rest of the year. Produce is less expensive when you buy it in season. A good idea is to set aside a portion of your grocery budget for the week/month to buy produce in bulk.

Here are two ways I like to preserve food:

Canning

Set aside a few canning days to preserve your produce. As much as I love frozen fruit and vegetables I do not have nearly enough room in my freezer for all of it. Canning allows me to save that space for bulk meat buys, frozen fruit for smoothies, and other important things like ice cream, because you know ice cream makes the world a better place…

Canning is so much more fun when it’s done with a friend. My friend Tammy and I used to have canning days. Processing 80 pounds of tomatoes is a task but when you have a friend it makes the day fly even if you do stay there till almost midnight and have to drive and hour home. Sadly we now live a country apart, so any takers for becoming my new canning buddy?

Real foodies get concerned over BPA in their food, thankfully you can use Tattler Lids which are BPA free over again! They are an initial investment but in the long run you save money from not having to purchase new seals every year. Right now I use half Tattler and half regular. A few regular seal jars are nice to have on hand when you plan on gifting some of your preserved food.

Items I like to can:

  • Peaches
  • Apple Sauce
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Whole Tomatoes
  • New this year pickles

Dehydrate

Does canning take up too much space? Dehydrating is the way to go! I love canning but my dehyrator gets work out when I bring produce in as well. It takes less “baby sitting” and you save on storage space big time!

Items I like to Dehydrate:

7. Buy whole chickens

I was definitely a chicken breast gal for many years. Buying a whole chicken can cut your price by at least half! I cut my chicken apart myself instead of paying high prices at the store. I use the breast for things like “Chick-fil-A” strips and use the rest of the chicken many other way!

8. Menu-plan

I’ve talked about menu planning so many times over the years. I love it! Do I always stick to my plans? No. You’ve got to have some flexibility in life right?

9. Regrow your food

I have yet to successfully regrow my celery and lettuce but I had a great harvest from my sprouted garlic. The neighbors dogs decided that the celery and lettuce didn’t belong in my garden. It was fun to dig up a head of garlic that started from a single clove!

Herbs like mint are so easy to regrow. I normally just break a piece off and plant it in a pot with moist soil.

I’ve been told you can regrow ginger as well, so I really want to add that to my list.

10. Buy in bulk

I grew up on natural foods co-ops. It was just the thing we did so when I was on my own it was the natural thing to do. The co-op I belong to right now is Azure Standard. They now have drop-off points in most states! You will be surprised at the price difference! Azure is one of the reasons why eating real food is possible for me. Co-ops like Azure are a great place to grains, flours, produce, and even meat in bulk!

You can also look into buying 1/2 a cow, 1/2 a pig, or chickens from a local farmer. Generally that is the best way to get pastured meat at a more affordable price. So far I haven’t found farms close to me to buy meat from so I buy my meat at Costco or through Azure.

Note: If you are buying from a farm be sure to visit first and have all of the cost fully explained to you. A couple friends and I went in on 1/2 a cow two years ago. We were royally taken advantage of. About a year later I met a friend who had had a similar experience with that ranch. Currently I can not find their website, hopefully it means they are out of business and won’t take advantage of others. 

If you want more tips on how to save money on real food and recipes to get you started check out the cookbook that I co-authored last year, the Frugal Secrets of Real Foodies.

How about you? How do you save on real food?

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles in a salt brine- Nourishing Simplicity

I love a good dill pickle! There is something tantalizing about the salty crispness that comes from a delicious pickle that just draws me in.

I think I have always been a bit of a foodie, even when I was little. I ate pickles of every kind but my favourites were always crunchy dill refrigerator pickles. I only ate the ones off the shelves when there was no other option.

I still remember the first time I tried a Bubbie’s pickle about 19 years ago while visiting a woman in our whole food co-op’s house. They were so amazing, I was in love! My mom decided to buy a case of them since we liked them so much. I was giddy the day they arrived but I didn’t get to eat one right away since we had pickles in the fridge. So my mom put them in the garage pantry until we were ready for them. It was a sad, sad day a month later when we discovered all our pickles were bad, they had fermented too long and bubbled over all over the place. Sadly my mom never bought them again but I never forgot about them.

My mom decided to buy a case of them since we liked them so much. I was giddy the day they arrived but I didn’t get to eat one right away since we had pickles in the fridge, so my mom put them in the garage pantry until we were ready for them. It was a sad, sad day a month later when we discovered all our pickles were bad, they had fermented too long and bubbled over all over the place. Sadly my mom never bought them again but I never forgot about them.

It was a sad, sad day a month later when we discovered all our pickles were bad, they had fermented too long and bubbled over all over the place. Sadly my mom never bought them again but I never forgot about them.

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles in a Salt Brine- Nourishing Simplicity

“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”

~Thomas Jefferson

Back when I first got on the nourishing food bandwagon I started making pickles, some were great, others weren’t so great. Through trial and error, I came to realize that the best pickles really are made from tough skinned pickling cucumbers. They hold up well and don’t lose their crispness like small Persian cucumbers (which I still use sometimes).

The key to good old-fashioned dill pickles is the salt brine. No vinegar pickles will ever hold a candle to old-fashioned salt brined pickles. There’s nothing wrong with adding whey (which speeds up the fermentation process), I just prefer to do without to make it pure and simple pickles Kosher style. Plus if someone has a dairy allergy these fit the bill.

Pickles are famous throughout history for their amazing taste and health benefits. It’s no wonder that the body craves them. They are teeming with beneficial bacteria. Bubbie’s pickles have 15,000,000 active good bacteria per 1-oz serving! Old-fashioned dill pickles are good to eat when you have the stomach flu or a virus, even just a bit of the brine will allow the bacteria to go to war to kill the virus.

I generally eat a pickle a day. When I am visiting family and friends I buy a jar of Bubbie’s and a bottle or two of kombucha at the store to keep my gut healthy and happy.

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles in a Salt Brine- Nourishing Simplicity

Some pickles for your thoughts:

  • Cleopatra claimed pickles made her beautiful.
  • Christopher Columbus brought pickles with him on his voyage. The sailors ate them to keep from getting scurvy.
  • The Americas were named for a pickle peddler, Amerigo Vespucci.
  • Many people belive that the first pickle was cured in Mesopotamia around 2400 B.C.
  • Pickles were rationed during WWII in the US so that they could be given to the soldiers.
  • Aristotle praised the healing effects of cured cucumbers.
  • Pickles were being produced at home and commercially in Virginia as early as 1606.
  • Dutch farmers in New York grew cucumbers all over the area that is now Brooklyn to sell then to dealers who cured them in barrels filled with varying flavored brine by 1659.

“Rhoda stared at the bumpy, pimply skin of the pickled, sighed, and bit through the crunchy outer layer. The pickle burst in her mouth, and the tart, garliky juice sprayed out across her tongue and combined with her own saliva in the most delightful way. Delicious!”

~Rhoda Straight and True by Roni Schotter

Note: Rhoda Straight and True is a wonderful coming of age store about a younger girl growing up New York City during the Korean War. If you have never read this book I strongly suggest reading it.

These old-fashioned dill pickles are so much easier to make since no canning in required, you can can a batch in no time! Feel free to make the pickles your own by using all the spices suggested or leaving some out. Maybe you love garlic and want to add a few more cloves.

You will notice the use of oak, grape horseradish leaves or black tea bags. They contain tannins which help the pickles retain their crispness. The use of them isn’t necessary but strongly suggested.

This recipe makes one, 1-quart canning jar. If you are a huge pickle fan you may want to double or quadruple it.

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 6-8 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 inches long) or two large pickling cucumbers quartered
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 TBS salt
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 head of dill plant
  • 2 4 inch long sprigs of dill
  • 1 oak, grape or horseradish leaf or one organic black tea bag (optional)
  • 1 tsp of black pepper corns (optional)
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak your cucumbers in a bath of ice water for at least 30 minutes. (If your cucumbers are fresh from the vine you may skip this step.)
  2. Pat the cucumbers dry. Cut off any of the vine that may remain attached to the cucumber.
  3. Pack them into the jar(s). If you are using larger cucumbers slice into spears (wedges).
  4. Add the spices, dill and leaf (tea) if you are using.
  5. Mix the salt and water together. (optional, heat the water on the stove and stir the salt in until dissolved. Allow to cool.) Pour the salt brine over the cucumbers.
  6. The cucumbers need to be submerged at least 1-inch bellow the brine. You can cover them with plastic wrap, fill a plastic zip-lock bag with small stones or marbles or a sterilized rock to keep the cucumbers submerged.
  7. Screw on a lid or loosely cover with a cloth depending on your jar or crock.
  8. Leave in a dark place for up to two weeks.
  9. Transfer to the fridge or cold storage like a root cellar (some day....sigh). They will last for at least 9 months if you have that much self-control.

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles in a Salt Brine- Nourishing Simplicity

 

Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles in a Salt Brine- Nourishing Simplicity