redbud edible uses

Redbud Blossom Tea Sandwiches

The beautiful Eastern Redbud, or Cercis canadensis, blooms in our region as one of the first flowering shrubs of spring.  It always blooms just before the Dogwood tree and is often referred to as the “Judas Tree”.  Some say the nickname was given because Judas was quick to lead the arrest of Jesus, thus the Redbud, or Judas Tree, blooms quickly before the Dogwood does.  Others say it is because Judas hung himself from a Redbud tree out of dismay at betraying his friend.  Later God dwarfed both trees, the Redbud and the Dogwood, so that their branches Read More

how to make a vinegar mother

Make Your Own Vinegar “Mother”

As our website name eludes to, we work hard toward putting ourselves in a position where we are completely self sufficient. For regular readers of this site, I know you all have heard me say that a billion times already.  I’m sorry about that! 🙂 Anyway, of our self sufficiency efforts, fruit trees are a valuable (and enjoyable) piece because they provide food, medicine (peach tree leaves can be used as mild histamine blocker) and a source for making cider and vinegar that have a whole other separate list of uses.

Making vinegar is not very hard, as a jar of raw apple cider will eventually turn on its own, but it takes considerable time.  A “Mother” makes it much more expedient and once you have one in your possession, so to speak, you step into a new level of self sufficiency.  Several years ago we made Read More

Violet Flower Jelly

Violet Flower Jelly

The arrival of spring and all its wonderful blossoms, birds and warm breezes is by far my favorite time of the year.  A while back I shared a recipe for Honeysuckle Jelly that is always a big hit everywhere we take it.  The cool thing about this recipe is once you’ve learned how to make the infusion for the jelly, you can substitute virtually ANY edible flower to produce amazing and unique jellies.  The variation I have below is for Violet Jelly, Read More

How Can You Tell If An Egg Is Fresh?

How to tell if an egg is fresh

Are my eggs fresh?  Although, at age 46, this sounds like something I might be asking my doctor, I’m actually talking about eggs that you find laid somewhere other than the chicken’s laying box.  With free-ranged chickens, this is bound to happen sooner or later, and will probably happen often.  The other day, we went to retrieve something from the gardening shed and found a clutch of eggs.  We had no idea how old they were, so we do what we always do instead of just throwing them out; we floated them.  These eggs were of varying freshness, so I snapped a couple of pics to show you how this is done. Read More

How to Make Popcorn in a Skillet

Popcorn logo

Recently, we did away with our microwave as described in the post, Goodbye Microwave!  We found it remarkably easy to adapt and now take joy in that all the things we did with the microwave are much better when done “the old way”.  My husband often jokes that even though I was born in 1969, I actually grew up in the early 50’s because my parents were older and stuck in that time period.  The only way I knew Read More

Canning & Pickling Beets

Canning & Pickling Beets

At the request of one of my readers, here is a quick run down on Beets, starting with ones fresh from the garden or farmer’s market.  It just so happens that I took pictures a few weeks ago as I canned some of ours, but like so many other things I put off writing about it.  🙂   You can also use store bought canned beets for pickling and I’ll give proportions and a recipe for that method along with the fresh, toward the bottom of this post.  Beets are high in potassium and are a natural source of Iron, Magnesium and Vitamin C.   Generally, people who like beets really, really like them and the ones that don’t, hate them with a passion.  There never seems to be any in between.  To me, they have a wonderful earthy flavor and I could eat them with every meal.  They’re super for aiding digestion and stimulating the liver’s detoxification process.  That said, … let’s see, how do I put this tactfully?  If you eat a plateful every day for several days in a row, don’t be surprised if Read More

Elderflower Skillet Bread

Elderflower Skillet Bread

This super easy stovetop bread is an adaptation of what we used to call “Hoe Cake” and incorporates the beautiful and nutritious Elderberry bush flowers that are along creeks and roadside ditches this time of year.  You can substitute any edible flower in this recipe but my favorite is the Elderflower.  Serve it while hot with a little butter and honey as your supper table bread, or add a little sugar to the recipe to turn it into a light cake served with refreshments at afternoon gatherings.  YUM! Read More

Honeysuckle Jelly – The Taste Of Childhood Summers

Honeysuckle Jelly a

Oh. My. Goodness.  Whether you’ve canned before or not, this is a “must do” this summer.  The scent of Honeysuckle spurs magical childhood memories of summers here in the South where honeysuckles are found at every turn.  Whether you’re outside doing chores or sitting back relaxing, Honeysuckle fragrance has a wonderful way of gently permeating the air and just plain making a person happy.  After many ripped flowers, my 5 year old has finally mastered the extraction technique and formed a real appreciation for Honeysuckle “honey” straight from the flower.  I’m guessing that no matter your age, you probably loved and indulged in the “honey” too.  Hopefully you still do.  With a mind to try and trap some of this delight in a jar, I did a ton of searching for a Honeysuckle Jelly recipe that made sense to me and this is the one I settled on, with a few tweaks.  On the next batch I believe I’ll work on the amount of sugar used, but here is the first version that I still highly recommend.   Spread it on a biscuit or serve it as a unique summer party hors d’oeuvre with a dab of cream cheese on a fancy cracker like you would with Hot Pepper Jelly.  It tastes and smells just like honeysuckle flowers and is bound to get the party conversation started!  Read More

Lamb’s Quarters Chip Dip

Lamb's Quarters Chip Dip with Homemade Crackers

While we’re talking about Lamb’s Quarters and the abundance they’re currently giving, here’s an adapted recipe that we tried out last night.  It was originally a much requested Spinach Dip recipe from a co-worker and friend of mine.  (Thanks Kelly!)  Everyone was always happy when she brought it to whatever party we were having.   Lamb’s Quarters makes a GREAT foraged food substitute! Read More

Lamb’s Quarters – Foraging for Spring Greens


Lamb's Quarters foraging

It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you have a garden or flower bed,  you’ve seen Chenopodium album, also known as Lamb’ s Quarters It’s usually considered a weed, but it’s also very tasty, as nutritious as spinach and FREE!  It’s my opinion that it gets labeled as a weed because of its ability to adapt to its environment rather than any tendency toward being aggressive or invasive.

Look for Lamb’s Quarters sprouting up where you’ve previously planted flowers or vegetables and in any other place where the ground has been disturbed.  They have a lovely mild taste and can be prepared just like  Read More

Delicious Daylilies

This time of year is filled with spring buds, sprouting tree leaves and the reemergence of bountiful wild edibles.   One of my favorites that isn’t necessarily “wild” is Daylily greens.  I tend to include them in the wild edibles category simply because once they’re planted, they take care of themselves and produce, produce, produce.  Daylily is an easy one to put into the favorites category because it provides an edible part during just about every season.  You can eat the Read More

Homemade Bouillon “Cubes”

How to make homemade bouillon cubes


As I’ve mentioned before, all parts of our Deer get used, and we use the bones to make broth. We then either can it or freeze it to be used in soups and stews later on.  Another way to preserve it, and use MUCH less space storing it, is to turn it into bouillon before you freeze it. As you can see in the picture above, A half gallon of broth reduces down to to fit into two snack cups (the egg is for a size reference).  You can use even less space by Read More

Firestarter Disks

how to make a portable firestarter

These portable fire starters are an easy way to make use of things that would otherwise be discarded.  They are simple to make and can be used in an emergency or as a campfire quickstart that can be tossed in your hiking pack. The two ingredients in them, rendered deer fat and hardwood coals, are by-products of our everyday activities that have found a new life as something useful.  We use Read More

Jar Candles From Deer Fat

Deer Fat Candle

Deer Fat Candle

A couple of days ago, I posted about rendering animal fat and used deer fat as my example.  There are many, many uses for rendered fat, and although I know the birds are hungry for some suet and we need more soap, I decided to take the easy way out and highlight deer fat jar candles today.  So, without much instruction needed, here is how Read More

Rendering Animal Fat

how to render animal fat

When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents didn’t let anything go to waste.  I remember my mother and paternal grandmother in the kitchen rendering fat, using it to make suet blocks for the birds and serving up the “cracklins” with supper.  It makes for great memories, but unfortunately, they’re very vague.  Like most things in childhood, I was only mildly interested in what they were doing and committed absolutely none of it to memory.  So, a couple of years ago, when we we were butchering a particularly fat deer, I had the realization that Read More

Food At Your Feet – Make A Wild Edibles Salad!

Salad of dandelion blosoms & greens, violets, wild oregano & lambs quarters

One of my favorite times of the year is when the wild spring edibles start to poke their heads out of the ground.  A simple, extremely tasty, salad can be made from things found right in your backyard.  There are countless variations, but if you’re just getting started learning about wild edibles, the contents of this salad are easily identified because they are things we’ve been seeing all our lives; Read More