Tag Archives: recipe

Homemade Canned Mushroom Soup

I shared about my accident in my last post. I am feeling a bit of improvement, but still in quite a bit of pain.

Tonight I was home alone for the first time since hurting myself and had to get my own dinner. As much as I love the idea of fresh homemade foods, the convenience of canned goods just can’t be beat. Besides, it’s the middle of winter, and if it’s a veggie and it ain’t canned, it’s a lot harder (and more expensive) to get.

So tonight, I popped open a can of organic vegetable soup, heated it on the stove, and had myself some dinner.

As I was eating, I was thinking about how in the future I want to always make sure to have pre-made homemade canned soup available, not just the ingredients for soup.

And that got me thinking about the time when we lived in Oregon when I made canned mushroom soup. I was looking for a healthier version of canned condensed cream of mushroom soup. What I learned is that you can’t really make it “cream of” anything in a home kitchen since dairy cannot be safely canned. But you can can a broth soup and add cream to it when you use it. So I set out to make a mushroom soup that I could turn into cream of mushroom when the need arose.

Note: this is not a good substitute for traditional condensed cream of mushroom soup. The flavor is not quite the same, and it takes quite a bit of work to get it to thicken up if you’re looking for the consistency of the creamy stuff straight out of the can. But I will say that the flavor of this chunky mushroom soup far surpasses any of that condensed stuff. And is a wonderful soup to just heat and eat on it’s own. Once I have a full size kitchen with more time on my hands for food preservation (you know, when we’re not building a house), I plan to make more of this and do more experiments to work on thickening it for those times I do want the creamy stuff.

Note # 2: this is a canning recipe, but it’s not a canning tutorial. Pressure canning is pretty easy to learn (I learned just by reading the instruction manual when we bought our canner), so if you don’t know how, do a bit of research so you understand your canner before attempting to can anything in it.

Homemade Canned Mushroom Soup

Makes: 12ish pints


  • 3lbs mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 3Tbl minced garlic
  • 2tsp thyme
  • 16+ cups chicken* stock/bone broth (bonus points if you make your own!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*I suppose you could use whatever type of broth you want, actually, if you have a preference. 😁

Combine mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and 1 cup of the chicken stock in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook till mushrooms and onions are cooked well. Heat remaining chicken stock in a separate pot.

Spoon ½ cup mushroom mixture into hot, sterilized jars. Fill remaining space in each jar with hot chicken broth, leaving 1 inch headspace. Put on lids and process in a pressure canner for 45 minutes at 10lbs pressure (adjusting for altitude).

To make into cream of mushroom, open a jar of processed mushroom soup and pour ½ cup into a pot, add 2Tbl your favorite thickening flour and stir till the flour is fully incorporated. Place on heat and cook till thickened, stirring often (this is called a roux I believe). Add about ½ cup of cream to the roux and stir constantly as it heats up and thickens. Once the roux/cream mixture thickens, add the remainder of the soup to the pot and heat through. If you want it thicker, cook it longer.

Ok, now I really want to make some more of this to have on the shelf. Hmmmm…maybe once I hit that point in my recovery where I can do light activity but can’t get back to construction yet I’ll take a day and make some of this, full-size kitchen or not! Yummmm.

What recipes are your go-to for stocking the pantry with healthier alternatives to store bought essentials?


Easy 2-ingredient CHOCOLATE sauce (that’s healthier for you!

I’ve been craving mochas a LOT lately.

But the ingredients in the chocolate sauce used by the coffee shops leaves a lot to be desired.

Not to mention that my cravings clash spectacularly with my wallet (nearly $5 a pop!).

So, I decided to work some more on my homemade mocha recipe. While I’m am not completely satisfied yet with the overall product, I’m digging how easy it is to make this chocolate sauce that has only two ingredients.

Easy 2-Ingredient Chocolate Sauce:

  • 3/4cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 3Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder

I like to make this in an 8oz canning jars since it’s so easy. Simply put both ingredients into the jar, put a lid on it, and shake vigorously until combined. No heating required. You might need to use a spoon or a fork to break up a couple chunks and stir them in. Bonus for making it in the jar is that you already have it in a container to store it and only a measuring cup and spoon to wash. Alternately, you can mix this up in a regular bowl and whisk to combine, but the cocoa powder takes some convincing to mix with the maple syrup. It will happen eventually, just keep stiring. If you’ve combined it in a bowl, transfer to an appropriate size container and put a lid on it.

Use as you would any chocolate sauce. Mochas. Ice cream sundaes. Chocolate milk. Mmmmm….

I do not know if this needs to be refrigerated or not. I mean, we don’t refrigerate our maple syrup or cocoa powder. But just to be safe, I keep mine in the fridge just as I used to when we bought chocolate sauce from the store. That way if I forget about it, which sometimes happen as I tend to go through phases, I know it will last in there for a very long time.

So there you have it. Chocolate sauce that is easy to make, and way better for you than the stuff you get in the store (or coffee shops 😄).

Healthier Hot Chocolate (Only 3 ingredients!)

There’s nothing like playing hard in the snow, then coming inside to a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

It snowed again last night, the most snow we’ve had all winter.

The girls and I took the opportunity to get in some good old fashioned snow play.

When we came in for some hot chocolate, I realized we were dangerously low on our home made hot chocolate mix. But it was no big deal, because with only three ingredients, this hot chocolate mix goes together in a jiffy.

You read that right: three ingredients. This version is so much healthier than any store-bought hot chocolate I’ve found. And depending on what sweetener you use, you can make it even healthier. I’ve seen many other hot chocolate recipes what use more ingredients, and you certainly can add in flavorings of your choice, but we prefer to keep it simple. You can also omit the dried milk and add the cocoa and sweetener to whatever milk you normally drink. I like to have the milk in the mix, however, mainly because we don’t have a microwave, so heating milk on the stove means dirtying a dish. And we avoid that at all costs. Especially in the winter when our water system in the trailer is a bit more labor intensive. But also, I like to make up a big batch of this and have it on hand to drink, no matter how much milk is in the fridge.

Ok, I’ve talked long enough. Here’s the recipe.

Homemade Healthier Hot Chocolate

One serving:

  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar/sweetener
  • of your choice
  • 1/4 cup (heaping) dry milk

Put all ingredients in a mug and mix them together, add 6-8oz hot water, stir till all ingredients are dissolved.

One quart of MIX:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar/sweetener of your choice
  • 2½ cups dry milk

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Then pour into a quart size container, label and place in the pantry/cupboard ,etc for later use. To use, place 3-4 large spoonfuls of hot chocolate mix into a mug, add 6-8oz hot water, stir till dissolved.


  • Add more or less mix and/or water to achieve desired taste.
  • Mixing all the ingredients together before adding the hot water helps the cocoa not form so many clumps.
  • Feel free to use whatever sweetener you prefer. You may need to play with the ratios a bit, though. We typically use raw cane sugar, but we’ve also used coconut sugar and pure maple syrup. If you prefer to use a liquid sweetener, you’ll need to put that in at the same time as the hot water.

Granola Recipe

Back this summer I learned to make my own granola and we are loving it! I made up another big batch today, so figured it was a good time to give you my recipe.


Making Granola in the early autumn sunshine with a borrowed solar oven.

I have spent countless minutes in the grocery store reading ingredient labels on granola packages and still ended up having to accept some ingredients I did not like in order to have the convenience of a cold cereal that is at least somewhat healthier for you.

So I decided to make my own. From be able to use whatever flavors you want to being able to control the quantity and quality of the ingredients, it just makes sense to make your own. Below is the recipe that I make every couple of months. Every time we run out, the Hubs gets a sad face and continually asks for me to make up another batch.

Oh, and speaking of the Hubby, did you see the post he did the other day about flashlights? I was so proud of him for taking the initiative to write up a post for this here blog. Ain’t my man great? 😉

I digress…

The recipe:

Homemade Granola

  • 6-ish cups Old Fashioned oats
  • 4-ish cups nuts or seeds of choice, chopped small
  • 1-ish cup chia seeds
  • 4-ish tsp Cinnamon
  • 2-ish tsp salt
  • 1-ish cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4-ish cup coconut oil
  • 2-ish tsp real vanilla
  • 1-2 cups raisins
  • 1-2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions: Place all ingredients except for the coconut flakes and raisins in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, spread a 1 inch portion of the uncooked granola onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes. Stir the granola and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the granola is just barely lightly browned. Empty that panfull into a large bowl and repeat with more granola until the entire batch has been cooked (it takes me four 9×13 pans to cook this amount. You could do it one at a time or if your oven is big enough, all at once – lucky you!) Add the coconut flakes and raisins and mix completely. Let cool and store in an airtight gallon sized container (I use 2 half-gallon jars). Enjoy by the handful or with milk. And feel free to experiment next time.


-As you can tell by all “ish” statements, I tend not to measure my ingredients very precisely. I just scoop or pour till it looks about right. 🙂 This recipe is very forgiving that way.

-Nuts: I usually use sliced almonds and chopped walnuts. Lately I’ve been putting in raw pumpkin seeds as well. This time I even added a bit of flax seeds. Whatever seems good at the time and to ramp up the nutritional value. If you really want to be uber healthy, you should soak the nuts ahead of time. I have never done this, mainly because I never think about it ahead of time. It sounds really easy to do, just takes some planning.

-Other recipes will tell you to add the coconut flakes in at the beginning or midway through for a “toasted coconut” flavor. I found that by doing that, I lost the coconutty flavor. So I just add it at the end with the raisins (which don’t taste good baked in my opinion – they get too dried out).

-Feel free to make substitutions as needed/wanted. Your results may vary from mine, but that’s what making your own food from scratch is all about, making it the way YOU want it. Want to use regular oats, not old fashioned? Go for it! Want to play with the ratio of oats to nuts? Awesome! Can’t stand coconut? Leave it out. Make it yours!

-A note about price. Obviously the price of your ingredients is going to affect the price of this granola. I have found that it is not really any cheaper to make my own than a good quality store bought, mainly because I use so many nuts, which are expensive. But, and that’s the most important “but”, I can make it exactly how I want it with the exact ingredients I want. I get to control everything that goes into it. And that is worth more than the price tag.

Well, there you go. I finally got my granola recipe up here for y’all, as I said I was going to in a facebook post way back in August!

I hope you enjoy.

Blackberry Syrup with Honey


So…we’re moving in just a couple of weeks. And we had a freezer full of food to eat up since we will be living in camping trailers and won’t have freezer space available to us (have you seen how small those freezers are?).

We had several bags of wild blackberries in the freezer from two summers ago. First of all, they just needed to be used. Because, you know, two summers ago!

Second of all, as I said, we don’t want to transport frozen food to Nevada. So we either needed to eat them or transform them into something that is doesn’t need to be refrigerated/frozen.

We had so many that we could eat cobbler several times a week from now till we leave. And as much as we all love cobbler, we’re just not that into desserts around here. We see them as a treat rather than a staple.

So a canned good of some sort was the order of the day.


I coulda made jam. But as much as we had would have probably made about 5 pints of jam. Way too much for us to go through. That would have lasted us years! We just don’t eat that much jam.

So I chose to make syrup. By straining out the pulp and seeds I knew I’d get a smaller volume of juice. Not only that, but one jar of syrup will be gone in just a couple of days. We don’t make pancakes all that often, but when we do, we open a jar of our delicious homemade fruit syurp, use it for the pancakes, and the remainder gets used in oatmeal till it’s gone a day or two later.

I started out with 10 cups of frozen blackberries. I put them in a pot with about 1 cup of water and heated them till boiling, then cooked them for about 5 minutes. I then took a potato masher and mushed them up to get out as much juice as possible.

After that, I scooped them into some jelly bags to drain. You could use a piece of muslin or linen fabric, or several layers of cheescloth if you don’t have jelly bags.

I hung the jelly bags from a cabinet doorknob and let them drip into a bowl.


They drained like that for about an hour or so. I probably could have let them drain for several more hours and gotten more juice out of them, but I was in a hurry.

I ended up with 4 cups of juice. I added this and one 1 cup of honey to a pot on the stove and started heating it. I chose this amount of honey because that’s what tasted good to us. Feel free to adjust the amount to your liking. You can also use any other kind of sweetener you’d prefer.

Once it was boiling, I sprinkled in about two tablespoons of no-sugar-needed pectin. I figured this would thicken it up into more of a syrup consistency without waiting for it to boil down on the stove. If you’d prefer not to use pectin, you can just let it simmer for a while on the stove, but be prepared to lose a bunch of volume. If you do use pectin, be careful not too add to much or you’ll end up with jelly!

Once it boiled good for a minute or so, I ladled it into prepared jars and processed it for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. For detailed instructions on water bath canning, check out this site.

You can see from the following picture that the syrup is thick enough to coat the inside of the jar. Yummy!


I ended up with 5 cups of syrup in 4 jars (two 12oz jars and two 8oz jars).

Can’t wait to have some pancakes!

And yes, we left enough blackberries out to make a couple cobblers. 🙂


“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Daily Life – Days 24 thru 30 – And a Ketchup recipe

Ok, so I know I’m a week behind. There is a reason, and it’s big news, but that is a post all on it’s own. Suffice to say, we’ve been busy, busy, busy the past week. And even though we are still super busy, I actually made ketchup today.


We were completely out, and I hate some of the ingredients in the store bought stuff. This is the second time I’ve ever made ketchup (or catsup if you prefer). This time I wanted to start with tomato paste. By starting with paste, it takes a lot of the time out of the process because you don’t have to simmer for so long.

I got three pints, which I processed, and another pint + a bit which went in the fridge and freezer.

I’m not sure how I like it yet. It doesn’t taste quite like ketchup that I’m used to. I have only made this recipe completely from scratch before, never from paste, so that may alter the taste. And I know from my previous attempt years ago that the taste does improve over time.

So I give you the recipe without my full endorsement since I can’t say I really like it yet. So take it as you will. 🙂

Tomato Paste Ketchup (4 pints)

  • 8 – 6oz cans of tomato paste
  • 2 Tbl onion powder
  • 3/4 cup Honey (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 Tbl canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (divided) Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Tie the spices into a spice bag (you can use a couple layers of cheesecloth or I use nylon pantyhose – clean of course) and simmer them in 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar for about 10 minutes, Yes, your house will smell like vinegar! While that is simmering, add all the other ingredients except vinegar to the paste in a large pot. When the spices have simmered for about 10 minutes, take them out of the ACV and measure your spiced vinegar. Some of it will have evaporated during boiling, so add some of the extra to the spiced vinegar so that you have a total of 2 cups. Add that to your paste in the pot and stir well to combine everything. Heat to boiling, stirring often (very often).

Ladle hot ketchup into hot sterilized jars, wipe rims and put on lids. Process in a boiling waterbath for 10 minutes – adjust for altitude if necessary.


That’s it. Pretty simple. We’ll see how it turns out in a few days.

And speaking of how things turn out, I don’t think I shared a picture yet of the burned out candles.


As I mentioned about the candles, they burned completely down, leaving no waste wax, and making it easy to retrieve the wick stands.

And speaking of the wick stands, here they are.


They look just fine to me. Sure the plastic coating burned, but they are still quite functional. In the future, I would probably try to use uncoated paperclips, but this is what I had.

In the last week, Spring has hit the Pacific Northwest! On one of my weekly walking routes I take, there is a stump of a tree that Flower Girl calls the Bee Tree for good reason.


It is so awesome to sit and watch the bees do their thing. You know there’s just gotta be some good honey in that tree! I’m hoping the city doesn’t tear it down. They have already topped the tree so it’s just a 10 foot tall stump. I’m hoping that means they plan to leave it for the bees.


The tulip trees are just about to bloom. I’ve seen lots of fruit trees with blossoms, and tons of daffodils and hyacinth flowers around. Ahhh, I love spring!

And Flower Girl loves her Bachan (Japanese for “grandma”). I caught the two of them snuggling the other night. It was too precious.


And that’s all I can share for now.

So, are you dying to know about our big news? I’m dying to tell you. But we’re both gonna have to wait, ’cause I have a three year old who needs to get into bed. I’ll be back soon with another post, I promise.

Daily Life #13 – Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos and Organizing the Garage

February 7
Such a lovely day today. We drove home from church with the windows open in the van! Glorious, sunny warmth!

When we got home and had a bite to eat to tide us over till later, I intended to start on my jalapeno poppers for the big game. But there were a bunch of empty jars on the counter which needed to go back out to the garage.

I took them out and got distracted by the chaos. I mean, where was I to put another couple of jars??


Unorganized chaos

Empty jars on all available surfaces, empty boxes taking up valuable space, filled boxes on the floor in front of the shelves. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.

After a couple hours of work, it was much cleaner and useable.


Still a bit chaotic, but much more organized

One of the features I like the most is that I finally have a dedicated spot for my empty jars to go.


Labeled spots for them so that no one has an excuse for not putting them away where they belong!

I feel so accomplished.

Well, by the time I finished up in the garage, the game was just about to begin, so it was definitely time to get those stuffed jalapenos made.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, but I enjoy the flavor of jalapenos, especially when paired with cream cheese. And bacon? Well, bacon makes just about everything better!

And by carefully cleaning out the seeds and membranes from the peppers, it lessens their kick.

These are a great appetizer for any sort of gathering and I love that there are only three ingredients (ok, well, technically the bacon and cream cheese each have multiple ingredients themselves, but youknowwhatimean.) And depending on where you are in your health journey, you can choose cream cheese and/or bacon that are more healthily made. For now, we use grocery store brands.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe.

15 jalapenos
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese
1 lb bacon

First, gather all your supplies. And if it’s game day, hopefully you can prep things where you can see the game. 🙂


Slice the stem off the jalapenos and then slice each pepper in half lengthwise. Carefully clean out all the seeds and membranes. NOTE: you might want to wear gloves when dealing with the peppers, especially if you are sensitive. I never need to, but I make sure to wash my hands thoroughly before touching anything else.


Fill each pepper half with creamcheese.


Then cut your bacon pieces in half and wrap them around the stuffed jalapenos and place on a baking sheet. Sometimes, I just lay a piece of bacon over the top rather than wrapping it. We buy thick slice bacon, and 1 lb is usually the perfect number of slices.


Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes until the bacon is crisp to your liking.


And that’s it!
Oh, my! These are delicious! Just enough heat, but not enough to send me running for the milk. Usually.

Sometimes one bite is more spicy than the others and has me fanning my mouth and contemplating guzzling straight from the milk jug! But I can deal with it. If you don’t find jalapenos all that hot, you’ll have no problems.

And now for a gratuitous picture of cuteness and silliness from our girls. 🙂



“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Daily Life #4 – DIY Mason Jar Spout And Carpet Deodorizer Recipe

So I’ve seen this tip on Pinterest several times and today the planets aligned and I was able to make one for myself.


And by planets aligning, I simply mean that I happened to have the need for one right when I had a nearly empty salt container.

I finally got around to vacuuming today and wanted to use my homemade carpet deodorizer (recipe below). But I tend to accidentally shake half the powder on the carpet when I try to shake it out without some sort of top on the jar. I thought about punching holes in a jar lid, but then I remembered this tip.

All I did was use a sharp knife to cut the top off the salt container, then put it on the jar in place in the lid. It worked remarkably well! It is the perfect size for a wide mouth jar. In order to use a regular mouth jar, just trace around a regular size lid and cut it down accordingly.


So, the carpet deodorizer recipe. That also is super easy.
-Fill a quart size mason jar about 3/4 full with Washing Soda (not baking soda)
-Add 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oils (we like orange and clove or lavender and eucalyptus), put the lid on, and shake the jar to distribute the oils.
-Shake the deodorizer on your carpet 15-30 minutes prior to vacuuming (test on obscure area 1st).
-Vacuum as normal.


-Do not use baking soda, it is too powdery and tends to leave a white residue, thus why the recipe calls for washing soda. It still absorbs the odors of stinky carpets but is more granular. It can be found in the laundry isle of most grocery stores.

-You can fill your mason jar full, but then you’d want to dump the soda into a bowl, add the oils, mix, and return to the jar. Otherwise the jar will be too full to shake to distribute the oils. I prefer to just do it as stated above so I don’t have another dish to wash.

-I find that I use about 1/4 of the jar (roughly 1 cup of the mixture) per application. Depending on the size of your house you may have to use more or less. This is where the salt container spout comes in handy as I found that without it, too much sprinkles out and I invariably ended up using over half my mix for one round!

-I use this powder every other or every third time I vacuum, depending on how stinky the pets and kids have been. 🙂

I really like that this carpet deodorizer is all natural. No weird chemicals to worry about around my family.

So aside from vacuuming my house (finally!), and in between the daily tasks of taking care of the family, I started researching how to make candles from scratch. An article I read recently got my gears turning and Hubs and I got to talking about all those skills which we have a theoretical knowledge of, but have never actually tried. Like candle making. Did you know that you are supposed to treat wicks with something like boric acid in order to make them burn properly? I had no idea, and my minimalist side is wondering if it really  makes a difference. So my plan is to try a couple different types of wicks and see what the results are.

So in a couple days hopefully I’ll have a post all about making candles. 🙂

Princess Girl and I also got around to mounting the puzzle we finished a couple weeks ago.


I cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the puzzle, we covered it in Elmers glue, then slid the puzzle onto it and slathered a bit more glue on the top. Then, when it had dried a bit, we covered it in plastic and put a box on top to keep it from bowing. Princess Girl is going to hang it in her room when it is finished.

And that’s how this homesteader spent her day.


“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Bacon Lard

I’m nearly out of bacon lard and need to make some more, so I figured it was a opportune time to write a tutorial on just how I do that.

Just a word about using lard: if you are vegetarian or subscribe to the low-fat-everything-is-healthy-for-you way of eating, then this is not a post for you. If you’d like to learn more about the philosophy I believe when it comes to using saturated fats for our family’s diet, read this article, it sums up my beliefs quite well.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that the lard which comes from processed bacon is not the healthiest fat on the planet. But I use it because 1.) saturated fats are not the evil fats they have been made out to be, and 2.) (most importantly) it’s free! As with almost everything in this world, moderation is key. I suppose it would be more healthy if we used healthier bacon (yes, there is such a thing.) But we haven’t made that switch yet. One of these days…

So, what is bacon lard anyway, and how do you make it?

I’m so glad you asked. ‘Cause I’m gonna tell you. 🙂

Whenever you make bacon, there’s all that grease left over, right? I know some people dump that grease into a grease pot and leave it on the counter and use it just like that. But, my modern food handling mind just can’t get past that. And I know people who simply pour their bacon grease in a container and keep it in the fridge and use it as needed. I don’t like that either because then you have all those little burned bits of bacon fond mixed in with the grease and an overpowering bacon flavor. I know, I know, there are those of you asking, “What’s wrong with that???”(My Hubby is included in your ranks, for sure!) But depending on what I’m using it for, I don’t want it to taste so much like bacon. And those little burned bits just make the grease look “dirty”. Turning your bacon grease into bacon “lard” makes it nice and clean and less bacony in flavor. It is a long, but very simple process. Most of the time you’re not doing anything but waiting for the grease to harden.

Ok, you you’ve just made your bacon and you want to clean the pan. What do you do with the grease? Well, you simply pour it into a container and put it in the fridge.

But wait! Didn’t I just say I don’t like doing that? No, I said I don’t like using that grease as-is. I do something extra with the grease to make it more like lard.

First of all, I like to strain my grease through a paper towel as I put it in the jar.


This step is not totally necessary, but makes the cleaning process go faster.

Cleaning process? You “clean” your lard?

Yep. Yep I do.


Anyway, once your container is full (or nearly so – this make take a while depending on how often you eat bacon), simply melt your grease…


Yes, that’s bacon grease – with all the dirty bits still inside.

…I use the microwave.

Then you add the grease and about the same amount of water into a pot and put it on the stove to boil.


Once it just starts to boil, turn it off and set it aside. You can put in some cold water to help it cool off faster. As I’m sure you know, oil and water do not mix. The lard (oil) will float to the top of the water, and the impurities which were in the grease (the dirty bits) will sink or be washed out by the water.

The next step is where the length comes in. You have to let this oil and water concoction cool enough that the fat will solidify. If the temps are cold enough outside, I often secure the lid on the pot, and put it outside in the cold. This makes the process go faster. However, if the temps outside are too high, I let it cool to room temperature, then stick it in the fridge, usually overnight.

Once the fat has solidified, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and put it into a bowl.


scoopable-solid again


Look how dirty the water is

Once you get all the chunks of fat out (I use a small mesh strainer to get all the little bits), you’ll be left with dirty water which you can pour down the drain.

I usually “wash” the grease a couple more times by following the above steps, until the water is clear underneath the solidified fat.


Clear water

But you could certainly skip the subsequent washings if you wanted. I find that by filtering the grease through a paper towel first, it takes fewer “washings” to get the lard as clean as I like it.

Once it’s as clean as you want it, you scoop the grease into a bowl with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer (try to let as much water drip from it as possible).


Clean lard

Melt the lard just until pourable and pour into mason jars*.


Notice the color change from the first time I microwaved it near the top of the post.

I suppose there’s probably some way to process this so that it is shelf stable. But I have never researched it. I just stick it in the fridge once it’s cooled off a bit (or freezer if I have extra).

Note: once it has solidified, you might find that there is some water in the bottom of the jar.


If this happens, slide a knife along the glass into the lard in two spots on opposite sides of each other. Then pour the water out one of the holes (the other hole is to allow air into the bottom cavity so the water flows easier.)


If you prefer, you can heat the grease again so it melts and fills the holes back in.

*I always use wide mouth pint jars because they are the perfect size for our favorite spatula to fit in to scoop out a bit of lard (not an affiliate link – we just really like the style. In fact, we happened to find some at the dollar store!).

So there you have it. Now that your bacon grease has become lard, you can use it in much the same way you do regular lard. I do find it still has a bit of a bacon flavor/odor, but it is only objectionable to use it in things that are naturally bland themselves. I have even made soap with it!

I always feel so frugal when I use my bacon lard. I mean, it is basically free since you’re gonna eat the bacon anyway, right? So now you have something useful to do with the left over grease.

Heritage recipes


Ok, so technically, only one of the recipes in this post can classify as “heritage” (ie being passed down from generation to generation basically unchanged), but I did get them both from my mom, so maybe that does count.

It’s been a rainy, dreary week here in the Pacific Northwest. Add to that the fact that the girls have been sick and now I am with a chest cold, and it’s been a week of soups for dinner. Chicken stew made by the hubby. Clam chowder requested by the Princess. Split pea because we had a ham bone which needed to be used. It’s been a cozy, comfort food kinda week.

And last night was no exception. As I was dozing on the couch that afternoon (such a luxury – one I ever only get when I’m sick!) I got a hankerin’ for my Mom’s chili.

Now, her chili is nothing special. It’s really easy to make. No special prep. It uses mostly canned ingredients, and it’s only the teeniest bit spicy. But for those of us who are whimps when it comes to spicy foods, it’s just about perfect. In fact, it’s the only chili one of my brothers willingly eats. I grew up eating this chili, paired with a tall glass of milk, and a large slice of cornbread made using my great, great grandmother’s recipe.

Oh, it’s heavenly!

So, without further ado, I give you my mom’s no frills, easy chili recipe, along with my great, great grandma’s cornbread recipe – because what good is chili without cornbread to eat with it?

Mom’s Easy Chili
1-1.5lbs of ground beef
1large onion diced
Season salt to taste
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans beans
3-4 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1.5 cups water (or more if simmering for a while)

Place the meat in a soup pot with the diced onion and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cook until meat is brown and onions are translucent. Drain off grease if desired. Drain and rinse the canned beans. Add all of the ingredients to the pot and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer as long as desired, adding more water if too much evaporates.

-My mom often used venison in place of the beef since we were a hunting family. You can use whatever meat you have on hand.
-I typically use diced tomatoes rather than stewed since I have a large stock of diced and never remember to buy stewed.
-Traditionally my mom used kidney beans, but I use pinto and/or red beans since canned kidney beans have added sugar. Of course you can use freshly prepared dry beans if desired.

While the chili is simmering, it’s time to put together this yummy cornbread. As I said before, this recipe comes down from my great, great grandmother, which means it is at least 100 years old. A true heritage recipe.

I think this cornbread is the perfect cornbread out there. Corn-mealy without being too crumbly or cakey. Moist but not gooey. And just enough sugar to make it sweet without being dessert.

Grandma’s Cornbread Recipe
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour milk (see notes)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Add the sour milk and mix thouroughly. Pour into an 8×8 casserole dish (or a cast iron pan if you want to be really traditional) and bake for 30 minutes.

-My grandma (who got this recipe from her grandma) always used buttermilk for this recipe. I never have buttermilk on hand, so I make my own sour milk by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to one cup of milk and allowing to sit for 5 minutes. Works perfect.
-Since I do not eat wheat, I have been experimenting with gluten free alternatives to the flour. Most recently, in place of the 1 cup flour I have been using 1/2 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup gluten free baking mix (made primarily with rice flour). I use the almond meal primarily to lower the carb count. If you use almond meal, lower the cooking temperature to 375 degrees.
-I have also replaced the processed sugar with honey to great results.
-Before I started tampering with the ingredients, sometimes I would add a can of creamed corn. This made it exceptionally moist, which we all loved. I do not know how it would turn out with the ingredient substitutions I now use. Maybe I’ll have to try one of these days. 🙂

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoy! I certainly did.

In fact, I’m having left over chili for lunch today. Unfortunately, the cornbread was wolfed down so fast last night that not only is there none left for today, but I didn’t even get a picture.

However, writing about my grandma put me in a nostalgic mood, so along with my chili, I’m having diced peaches with “smear case.”

Grandma never could tell me why her family called cottage cheese “smear case.” But in her later life, cottage cheese and diced fruit was one of her favorite foods. So, here’s to Grandma!


“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121