Clean Eating Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam 2


Back in October I received several pounds of tomatoes from a coworker. I was a little busy so I tossed them in the fridge hoping I would keep them good for a few weeks longer. An effective approach for the most part.

By the time I did get to them, they weren’t quite salad material. Not wanting them to go to waste, I came up with this tomato jam- a little sweet, a little spicy, and the perfect complement to eggs and toast.


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Clean Eating Tomato Jam
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 lbs overripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 c. honey
  • ½ c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t. paprika
  • ½ t. ground ginger
  • ½ T. red pepper flakes
  • ½ T. cayenne pepper
  • ½ T. sea salt
  1. Place the onion into a food processor and lightly process.
  2. Heat a heavy bottomed pot, add oil, and cook the processed onion until translucent.
  3. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes and garlic into a food processor and lightly process.
  4. Add the tomatoes and remaining ingredients to the onion. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer after the first sign of boiling. Allow the mixture to cook until the jam thickens and passes a freezer test.
  6. Place into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Tom Jam

Posted in Self-sustaining | 2 Comments

DIY Green House

DIY Green House

I honestly wasn’t sure how I wanted to transition this garden bed into a 4 season garden.

After unfolding 25 feet of plastic sheeting on one of the last warm days I expect to see for a while. This is what I came up with. It’s a quick solution that is proving extremely effective so far.

What you’ll need:

10 x 25’ Plastic sheeting

24 medium binder clips

4 large binder clips

Staple gun & staples

Winter watering system of choice

Hoop House Interior

The steps:

  1. Remove the pre-existing fencing.
  2. Clean the bed, incorporate compost, and install new watering system (if using).
  3. Unfold the plastic and stretch from the first cross bar, leaving 1 foot over hanging in the front. Stretch all the way across to the last cross bar and drape along the backside.
  4. Cut the plastic along the bottom of the back side, ensuring you leave enough material to secure at the bottom.
  5. Adjust the plastic along each long side, causing the bottom of the plastic to just meet the lip of the garden bed.
  6. Using large clips, temporarily secure plastic at the front in place by clipping around the PVC and plastic.
  7. Beginning with the middle section, secure the plastic to the lip of the garden bed with staples. Continue this to the last section, leaving the front two sections unsecured, and repeat on the opposite side in the same sections.
  8. On the back, cut a slit in the center from the bottom and up to 2 foot from the top.
  9. Push one section of this backside plastic inside. Stretch, fold, and secure to the inside of the bed using the staple gun ensuring you are creating a relatively smooth finish.
  10. Push the last section of the backside plastic inside. Fold and secure to the bed to cover all gaps and create a relatively smooth wall along the back.
  11. In the front, fold the excess in half and tuck over the PVC so the piping is exposed from the interior.
  12. Cut a sheet of plastic the size of the front allowing 8” of excess at the top and bottom and 1 foot on each side. Cut up the center.
  13. Beginning with one side, secure the top allowing the plastic to cross the center by about 6”. Secure the top side seams by folding the ends into one another from the interior and securing with binder clips. I used about 10 medium from the top down the side and 2 large on the bottom side.
  14. Repeat with the opposite side, again allowing the edge to overhang across the center of the front and at the bottom.
  15. Secure the bottom of the front flaps with a wooden beam.

I’m writing this during 47 mph wind gusts. Structurally, the frame is intact and the plastic appears to be holding strong as well. I worked to create strong folds that included all surrounding pieces. I this is contributing to the strength. The plastic also appears strong and is having no difficulty against the wind.

Now to plant our winter garden!

Posted in Garden | 2 Comments

November Sustainability Checklist

November Sustainability Checklist

I’m sitting on my couch feeling exhausted, and trying to find a way to express how incredibly fast the last month has passed. Quite frankly, I can’t.

Despite the speed of time, we managed to squeeze in one last camping trip. How great is this?!

Fall Hiking
Fall Hiking
The Great Cooking Experiment
The Great Cooking Experiment
The Best of Camping
The Best of Camping

Enough about camping. Lately, I have been sharing our sustainability checklist for the coming month. Sharing our plans helps to keep us accountable, and I hope it helps give you some ideas that will create a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Over the last month, we’ve been working on this list. Since October has been such a blur and we didn’t finish everything we had hoped; we’re keeping a short list in November. Here’s what we’ll be working on:

  1. Prepare for Spring Landscaping– We’re clearing spaces and getting quotes for the work we want done so we’re ready to go as soon as warm weather returns.
  2. Clean the Garden Beds– Back breaking work that will make Spring much easier! (I actually started this yesterday…which is why I wrote this as an exhausted zombie!)
  3. Prepare for the Holidays– For the most part, we aren’t doing holiday gifts this year, but I love giving gifts. So, I’ll be preparing a few goodies for some of my favorite people.
  4. Interior Finishes– We have a few unfinished projects inside. Painting our third bedroom (which is about to become my home gym), building a guest bed headboard, sewing curtains. Simple projects that won’t take an entire weekend, but need finishing none-the-less. We’re also expecting family this holiday season so we want to get these things done.
  5. Prepare the Evaporative Cooler– This will include removing the interior cover, washing interior vents, and adding a bit of insulation for the cold months. We’ve already finished this from the outside, now it’s time for the interior.
  6. Budget– We keep a relatively strict budget. With the New Year two months away, we like to reassess our goals and discuss new priorities for the New Year. Making responsible financial choices is an important part of self-sufficiency!

As we move into November, we’ll be shifting from outdoor projects to indoor and try finishing up some chores for the holidays. Since we aren’t quite in the full swing of holiday chaos, it’s a great time to finish up those little interior chores that get pushed back during the warmer months.

How did you do on your October list?

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Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers

Pickled Pepperponcini

I love pickled peppers for the spicy crunch they can add to just about anything. Everything from a simple calzone to a power salad can be dressed up with pickled peppers.

Unfortunately, homemade pickled peppers often yield flavorless results with little crunch. In many of the recipes I read, the peppers were over-processed, pouring boiling water over raw peppers and cooking a second time through to seal the jars.

In this recipe, the peppers keep their crunch and they are filled with flavor. They don’t glow green like store bought peppers, but they also don’t have added chemicals.

Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 pint canning jars
  • Pepperoncini Peppers to fill jars
  • ⅔ cup white vinegar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 t. salt
  1. Sterilize jars.
  2. Wash the peppers and set aside.
  3. Combine the water and vinegar in a sauce pan. Heat until about to boil.
  4. Add one clove and salt to the bottom of each jar and fill with peppers. (Peppers can be sliced or left whole.)
  5. Pour heated vinegar and water mix over peppers and add lids.
  6. Process the jars in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from water and set to cool until lids seal.
  8. Refrigerate once open.


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Fall Dutch Oven Bake

Fall Dutch Oven Bake

This is a recipe that came from my father-in-law. Years ago, before my husband and I were married, we were beginning to enjoy holiday visits home together.

We were spending time with his dad after a day that had been equally busy for each of us. It has been so long, that I can’t actually remember the specifics of the day, but I have vague memories of the cold weather outside, wet leaves sticking to the streets, and the warmth of his house.

For me, there are many things that create the warmth of a home but conversation, good smells, and meals are my favorite. I don’t remember the specifics of our conversations that night, but I remember this meal. (Although, I may have been introduced to a never-ending conversation about counting over this meal. Is it an inherent ability we are all born with or a learned skill? For the record, I argue it is a learned skill. But I’m getting sidetracked here…) This meal was warm, it appeared effortless, and many years later I still remember it.

This past weekend, I found myself standing 3,000 miles away in the warmth of our own kitchen debating what I would have the energy to prepare for dinner after doing a bit more work outside. I remembered this meal and thought it would be the perfect Sunday night dinner.

Fall Dutch Oven Bake 1


Fall Dutch Oven Bake 2


Fall Dutch Oven Bake 3

The measurements for this recipe are rough estimates. Use what you have in your refrigerator and what you can fit in your pot. And although, I haven’t tried it, I imagine this recipe would work well on a low setting in a crock pot.

Fall Dutch Oven Bake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • Assorted pork products (sausage, pork loin, meatballs, etc.)
  • Sauerkraut
  • 1 small head of cabbage, sliced
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • Potatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bottle white wine
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Using a Dutch oven, layer the ingredients in the following order: A generous helping of sauerkraut, pork, cabbage, apples. Repeat the layering until you’ve filled the pan or used all your ingredients.
  3. Add the bay leaves and thyme.
  4. Pour white wine over everything.
  5. Cover and bake for 5 hours.
  6. After 5 hours, add the potato if using. Cook for 1 hour more.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve.


Posted in Main Dish, Recipes | 2 Comments