Preserving Garden Herbs for Winter. 

Winter is coming. Anyone out there a Game of Throne-ers like us…? Yes? No? Well anyway…. winter is literally just round the corner here in the PNW, we'll not really since it's fire season here and fires are raging not far off. But with all these fresh herbs filling my house and garden I can't bear the idea of not having some around to lift up my stews and season our meals. Oh those long cold days. How wonderful that sounds right about now. So heres just a few ways I'm preserving my herbs:

  1. Drying
  2. Freezing in olive oil
  3. Infusing in olive oil & vinegar
  4. Pesto!
  5. Extracts and tinctures.

So most of you probably know how to dry herbs, but if not here's the short and sweet version. Bundle and tie herbs together and hang upside down, preferably somewhere away from dust and moisture. Once dry remove leaves from stems, crush or leave whole and store in an air tight container.

  • Currently hanging: Greek oregano, chives, lime and Thai basil. Today I plan to put up some pineapple sage to dry also.

  • Finished product: Greek oregano

Note: With all of the following recipes be sure to pick of any bugs and shake off any dirt hanging on so they/it won't end up in your finished product. I also rinsed all my herbs in cold water and patted them dry.

One of the best ways to preserve that fresh taste is to freeze an herb in olive oil. At the time I did this I had an over abundance of basil so that's what I did plus I love the flavor and olive oil is my chosen cooking oil other than the animals fats. So I simply cut up my basil with some herb shears, covered the bottom of my ice cube tray with the cut herbs and poured the oil over to cover.

  • After freezing overnight.

When it comes to infusing oils and vinegars it's as simple as stuffing a jar full of dried or fresh herbs and pouring the liquid over the top. Make sure all the plant matter is covered in the case of olive oil so as to avoid mold. I infused olive oil (any other oils work also; avocado, canola, etc.) with all kinds of basils and oregano. I infused vinegar with the basil also. These will both be used for salad dressings and cooking in the winter. Put them in a dark place to infuse for a couple months. If using fresh herbs you may encounter some cloudiness in your oils due to the water in the leaves. If so just leave off the lid for a day or so (if it's warm out) and the water particles will quickly evaporate. Below are a few of the infusions.

  • Vinegar left and olive oil right.

I don't know about you but I love pesto! And anyway I can get it cheaper than the store is right up my ally. Most of the ingredients are common stock for most kitchens, simply source yourself some pine nuts and you're on your way! I found a few great recipes on Pinterest.
Hint: fresh basil from the garden works best!

  • If you want this to last I suggest doing a double batch in order to freeze some and eat some fresh. As you can see mine is halfway gone… Can you say yum?!

Extracts and tinctures sound harder than they are and some recipes call for a little more measuring than I chose to do. I made it simple like Shaye from The Elliott Homestead with her echinacea tincture. I stuffed my jars full of these herbs and dumped vodka on them. My currents extractions and tinctures consist of echinacea tincture (recipe courtesy of The Elliott Homestead as I stated above) and chocolate mint extract. Very soon I'll be making my own homemade vanilla extract for which I might consult an actual recipe since it seems it needs to be a little more exact. As for the mint and echinacea I did as follows. Prepare clean jars. Clip fresh herbs. Leaves and stems (echinacea also the blossoms). Stuff in jars. Pour vodka completely over foliage so it is entirely submerged. Fasten with air tight lid. Boom.

  • Pow Wow Echinacea
  • Freshly stuffed jar of Echinacea.

  • After a few days the flowers will lose their bright color

  • Chocolate Mint extract

  • I highly suggest labeling everything you extract, tincturize, or infuse. Herbs lose their form and color slightly and it can be hard to tell what's what after a few days. Been there, done that. Labels are you friend!

Well there you have it! Many ways to save those fresh herbs. From freezing over night, drying for a weekish, or waiting those few months to use your yummy garden goodies you'll be set for winter. It's well worth it folks. Make sure you prune your herbs regularly so they stay around longer and don't bolt. Once they do save those seeds folks! Aaaaand don't forget to start more herbs for your fall garden, if you treat them right you may be able to keep them inside for the long haul!

Purple basil anyone?

Peace and Love,
Quincy

Moving Towards Minimalism.

This winter, minimalism has been my goal, well that and the 9 knitting projects I currently have going… ahem. Minimalism was hard (is hard) for me at times. In the beginning I read posts from wives and mothers desperately in need of something to change in their household. They were cleaning constantly, folding laundry daily, picking up the same toys over and over…


That was, and sometime still is, me. I can so relate with the stress of nonfunctional house. At time you can feel like you have no just time for just you. 

All of it began to change when we moved, only 14 miles, north back to our home town. We had acrued SO many things I could barely breath when debating ‘where do I even begin?’ So I grabbed a trash bag and started tossing. A trash bag turned into a trailer load turned numerous dumploads, honestly I can’t even recall how many, and I don’t think I want to. Had we really just thrown all that “stuff” away? Heck ya we did!

And I have felt so much better since that day, yes it was hard and it still is. But when you take a good long pause to really think about an item:

-when was the last time I used this?

-how long has it been in disrepair?

-do I love this thing?

-does anyone I know need one of these?

And you find yourself saying I don’t remember, who knows, heck no, and definitely not to these questions, you then wonder… why do I still have this?

That was just the first step and the proceeding steps have been that much easier to take, now that I understand what we can and cannot live without. 

Since we’ve moved life is feeling, well lighter. I’ve sorted through and thrown out so much baggage from our lives. 

Socks with holes. Gone. Shoes that don’t fit. Peace out. Clothes the girls grew out of. Adios muchachos. Extra dishes and utensils. Get outta here!

Books and books upon more books? Oh of course babies you guys are staying! There’s nothing like a well stocked home library if I do say so myself. I digress. 


I even got rid of the TV from our living room, phew was I worried about that. But you know what? The kids haven’t even asked where it went. A bu-by boob tube. 

If you knew me then you would know I can be a little bit of a clothing hoarder. But I’ve learned more about myself in and out of pregnancy that there’s one thing I’ve realized about me… I like comfort. So I’ve been weeding through clothes and it feels fantastic. Sometimes I can actually fit all my clothes in my dresser… ahem. Well it’s true, mama likes her large wardrobe. But I’m learning to live with less and that makes me feel good. And less laundry piling up means I get to wear that favorite shirt more often as it is not lost away inside laundry mountain. 

I went one step farther and I took all the toys away. And the same reaction as the TV, no one noticed. Yes, some met the trash. Sentimental, speciality and learning toys have been stored and are accessible for use when the kids want. But always get put back up afterwards. I tell you it is a great feeling to walk across a dark living room not to kick or step on one toy. Simplicity people, is where it’s at. 

Over the course of this massive homestead de-clutter I have learned 5 massively helpful tid-bits that make our lives easier day to day:

1. Make beds everyday

2. Don’t do another load of laundry until all previous loads are folded and put away. 

3. Dinner isn’t finished until the dishes are clean. (I learned this from a post about homemaking like a Mennonite, now those women can run a household!)

4. Keep the dining room table clear, even if you have to do it a dozen times a day. (Since our table doubles as a home school craft area this is especially necessary)

5. Keep all the shoes in ONE area/place/room etc. trust me… assign the shoes a zone, teach your kids and husband, stop tripping on said shoes in the middle of the night.

In the end it’s all about making life more livable. Is my house clean at all times? Definitely not, but I can breath a little easier with less and the house takes a fraction of the time to clean as it used to. 

I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to be wasting my husbands only two days off every week cleaning and folding laundry. There has got to be more to life than that. And there is! It’s outside your house. And it’s waiting for us all. 


Get outside and enjoy this world!

Peace & Love,

Q