Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Video: Make 2-Ingredient, 30-Minute Cheese for a Farmstead-Style Queso

me milking 

Milking a goat
Photo by Aur Beck

Do you have milk that you think is past the use by date or starting to be sour? Don’t throw it away. Make cheese! One gallon of milk will produce about one pound of cheese.

Directions for Farmstead Cheese

1. Bring milk up to 180 to 190 degrees (the older the milk, the lower the needed temp). Use a thermometer.

2. Keep stirring to avoid sticking and getting a film on the top. 

3.To test if it is the right temperature, using a big spoon, take out a little of the milk and add a little sour (lemon juice or vinegar) to see if it curdles in the spoon.

4. When you pour in the sour into the warm milk, do so as slowly as possible, while stirring, until it curds. If you put in too much sour the cheese will be sour. We ate so much sour cheese when mom was first learning how to make it I now prefer it with a little sour zing.

5. Set up a pot with a colander or strainer filled with a cheesecloth. Pour the cheese mixture through the cheesecloth/colander/strainer.

6. Save the whey. Boiling the whey will free the stuck- to-the-pan burnt milk. No matter how much you stir there will be milk browned to the pan unless you use a double boiler which I never do as I use the whey. I used to laugh at my mom for reusing the whey (liquid left over) but now follow the same process to clean the pan.

7. While the cheese is very hot it is the best time to add your flavors to be baked in. The flavors tend to be savory like garlic or Italian seasoning but my favorite is cinnamon raisin. I highly recommend flavoring the cheese as it is very hard to not have some sour taste. Although the cheese is immediately ready to eat, the longer it drips the more solid the cheese will become. You can even hang the cheesecloth above the sink or a bowl to drip for a while or just put in a container for a soft spreadable cheese.

8. Start eating right away or form it up and store in the freezer. Freezing it doesn’t seem to change texture or flavor. In the spring when we had tons of milk from our goats, we would make lots of cheese and freeze it in pound chunks. This is so simple to make we never got around to making the more common aged hard cheeses.

Here is a video of the whole process.

Aur 'DaEnergyMon', is a NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer. His name Aur (pronounced "or") means light or to enlighten in Hebrew. Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for more than 35 years.. He can be reached at . Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.



All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our blogging guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Cooking with Edible Flowers: Recipes for Nasturtium Balsamic Chicken, Beans with Flower Confetti, and Violet Coconut Cake

Daylilies stuffed with chicken-artichoke salad

Daylilies with Chicken-Artichoke Salad Photo by Sheryl Campbell

Edible flowers are used in recipes and as garnishes at many restaurants these days, but have you tried them in your own garden and kitchen? There are so many edible flowers to choose from, and you may already grow many of them in your ornamental or vegetable beds. There may even be some growing wild on your property as there are in mine.

A couple of key safety rules to remember when growing and using your own edible flowers is that you must not put any chemicals on them. That means no chemical fertilizers, and no insecticides. Also don’t use flowers grown close to the road as car exhaust can be taken up in them while growing.

Edible Flowers and Where to Find Them

Here are all the edible flowers that I use in cooking for my family and friends. I’ve divided them out by where you are likely to find them in your gardens and on your property. Go to Bouquet Banquet’s Listing for details on each type of edible flower, including its Latin name (important for safe identification), information on taste, and suggested uses in the kitchen.

From your vegetable garden, use the flowers of:

  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Runner beans
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radishes
  • Squash
  • Fennel
  • Mustard
  • Sweet potato
  • Onions
  • Shallots

From your herb bed, use the flowers of:

  • Anise hyssop
  • Tarragon
  • Bee balm
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Borage
  • Mints (each type has a different taste)
  • Basils (each type has a different taste)
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Savory
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Lemon balm

From your ornamental flower beds, use the flowers of:

  • Violets
  • Tuberous begonias
  • Tulips
  • Calendula
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Fuchsia
  • Violas
  • Dianthus
  • Nasturtium
  • Dahlia
  • Sunflower
  • Tulips
  • Daylily
  • Roses
  • Gardenia
  • Gladiola
  • Lavender
  • Hibiscus
  • Marigold

From the wild, use the flowers of:

  • Red clover
  • Dandelion
  • Wild purslane
  • Wood sorrel
  • Wild strawberry
  • Wild violets

From your trees, shrubs, and vines, use the flowers of:

  • Apple
  • Wild rose
  • Japanese honeysuckle
  • Elderberry
  • Crab apple
  • Plum
  • Lilac
  • Red bud
  • Orange

Ways to Cook With Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are flavorful, they are textured, and they are colorful. There are flowers that taste of cloves, of cinnamon, of pepper, and anise. Bite into other flowers for the taste of beans, asparagus, and cucumbers, but not from the plants that give you those actual vegetables. You can find a large number of Edible Flower Recipes here to start your own kitchen experiments.

Edible flowers add taste, color, and texture to casseroles, sandwiches, frittatas, and salads. Mixed with vinegar, oil or butter they make lovely glazes or toppings for meats. Daylily, gladiola, and tulip flowers can be used as individual serving dishes while adding flavor and crunch to whatever you put in them. Edible flowers are used to create better appetizers, meat dishes, side dishes, and desserts. They liven up your oil and vinegar infusions, and make lovely flavored sugars and salts.

To get you started, here are some new recipes to try right now. Edible flower availability changes with the seasons. Seek to grow a wide variety of edible flowers and you’ll be cooking with them spring through early winter.

 nasturtium balsamic chicken

Chicken with Nasturtium Balsamic Glaze Photo by Sheryl Campbell

Nasturtium Balsamic Chicken

I love to make my own flavored balsamic vinegar using edible flowers or the juice from fruits grown on my farm. Go beyond garnish to make this delectable chicken dish using both nasturtium petals and nasturtium vinegar in the marinade.


  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 2 T. butter
  • ½ cup Rosemary Nasturtium White Balsamic Vinegar (see below)
  • 3 T. dark honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup nasturtium petals, separated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup whole nasturtium flowers

Rosemary Nasturtium White Balsamic Vinegar

Fill a jar with nasturtium flowers, lightly, and then fill with white balsamic vinegar. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously every couple of days for 2-4 weeks. Store in a cool cupboard away from light. When the vinegar has reached the strength you desire, strain out flower petals and pour into a vinegar cruet. Stored away from light this will last for months.

Directions for Chicken

1. Whisk together vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir in nasturtium petals.

2. Rinse chicken thighs and pat dry.

3. Place chicken in a baking dish and pour marinade over top. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Remove chicken from dish.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

5. Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.

6. Sear chicken for 2 minutes per side.

7. Brush marinade over chicken and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

8. Garnish with whole nasturtium flowers and serve.

garden beans with flower confetti

Fresh Beans with Flower Confetti Photo by Sheryl Campbell

Mixed Garden Beans with Flower Confetti

Green (or yellow or purple) beans by themselves, or even with butter, become old over the summer. Here’s a way to liven them up with a myriad of flavors from edible flowers.


  • 3 cups fresh green beans
  • 2 cups fresh yellow beans
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/4 cup each calendula petals, nasturtium petals, runner bean flowers, and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup herb flowers (your choice of mixture)


1. Fill a large pot with water and heat to boiling.

2. Cook the beans for 4 minutes until color brightens.

3. Stir in butter. Cool slightly.

4. Mix in flower confetti with the beans and serve immediately.

Violet Coconut Layer Cake

Violet Coconut Layer Cake Photo by Sheryl Campbell

Violet Coconut Cake

Coconut cake is one of my favorite desserts. Over the years I’ve combined recipe ideas from my grandmother, one of my cousins, and my best friend. Wanting to take this amazing dessert even higher, I recently added violets to it – but not just as a garnish! Read on.

Ingredients and Directions for the Cake

  • Cream together ½ canola oil, ½ cup unsalted butter, 2 cups sugar, and ½ cup violet petals
  • Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until fluffy
  • Gently beat in 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Sift together 2 ½ cups cake flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt
  • Mix ½ cup coconut milk with ½ cup buttermilk
  • Alternately add dry ingredients and milks to the butter mixture
  • Stir in 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • Beat 3 egg whites until stiff and gently fold in to the batter
  • Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until an inserted pick comes out clean
  • Cool 15 minutes in pans and then on rack until completely cool

Ingredients and Directions for the Frosting

  • Cream together 16 oz. of cream cheese and 2 sticks unsalted butter, both softened
  • Gently beat in 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 pound sifted powdered sugar
  • Stir in ¾ cups sweetened flaked coconut

Building the Cake

  • Place one cake layer on a pretty cake plate
  • Top with some of the frosting
  • Add the second cake layer
  • Frost the top of the cake
  • Now frost the sides of the cake, creating a textured pattern
  • Top with candied violets (see below), putting a few of the violets around the sides of the cake as well

How to Make the Candied Violets

  • Beat one egg white until very frothy
  • Put 3 T. confectioners sugar in a sifter
  • Line a baking sheet with paper towels
  • Harvest 25 violets leaving some of the stem intact
  • Dip each violet into the egg white and shake off excess
  • Place each violet right side up on lined baking sheet
  • Sift powdered sugar over violets, turn them face down with stems upright
  • Sift more powdered sugar over them
  • Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours until the sugar glaze is dry
  • Remove from the refrigerator and let site out at warm room temperature for another 24 hours
  • Snip off the stems and use immediately or store in an airtight container for 1-2 months

Sheryl Campbell is an heirloom gardener, shepherd, and edible flower educator who owns Bouquet Banquet in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read Sheryl’s previous blogging with Mother Earth Gardener and Grit and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.



All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

In Defense of Food Liberty: The Right to Farm in Our Communities

Watering a vegetable garden. Photo by Flickr/Lisa Jacobs

The COVID pandemic traumatized the American economy as well as citizenry, exposing vulnerabilities (and dependencies) in the nation’s food distribution system. More Americans are now alert to the issue of food security as well as food quality — what if the nation had been as completely dependent on China for basic foods as it was for medical masks? In times of crisis, local farmers and locavore consumers are a vital part of the solution to this problem. But in today’s highly regulated world, the legal parameters of the “liberty” of farmers to sell food to their customers — or even of citizens to grow vegetables for their own consumption! — continue to be defined.

Americans’ profound dependence on a fragile, fossil fuel-gobbling, industrial food supply has increased with technological advances, globalization, and expanding government regulation of the hitherto sacrosanct “family farm.” As the factory food supply has grown, the health and safety risks of those “modern” and often inhumane facilities have been employed as justification to expand regulatory restrictions of smaller farms.

Less than six decades ago, barely one-third of states required meat that was slaughtered and sold on the farm to be inspected. Disease outbreaks from “factory meat” have since been used to greatly expand costly regulation of non-offending small farms. This compels an unhealthy trend: Younger would-be farmers and new ventures are discouraged from investing in the localvore economy.

Examples from the Frontlines of the Fight to Grow Food

The steady urbanization of America, encouraged by regulations and subsidies that favor industrially-produced food, continues to detach modern man from connection to the soil and food supply. This has resulted in bizarre regulatory restrictions that would be (properly!) seen as absurd a few decades past. Consider these reports back in 2014:
  • In 2011, a woman in Oak Park, Mich., faced the possibility of jail time for having kept an edible garden in her front yard. The city claimed the woman’s vegetable garden didn’t fit its definition of “suitable live plant material.”
  • In 2012, a Newton, Mass., resident was forced by the city to dig up the tomato garden he planted in his front yard or face a fine.
  • That same year, Tulsa, Ok., code enforcement officers trampled onto an unemployed woman’s front yard and ripped up the edible garden she had planted to help feed herself during lean times.
  • In 2013, Miami Shores, Fla., amended its ordinance to prohibit front yard vegetable gardens and informed Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll that they faced fines of $50 a day if they did not destroy their beautiful garden.

This battle between municipal zoning laws and gardening has heightened due to COVID, but conflicts in the countryside have raged for years to protect traditional farms from newcomers who prefer the visual to the olfactory dimension of rural agriculture: “right-to-farm” laws have been widely enacted in response. (Not content to inhibit the self-reliant from growing vegetables or rearing chickens in suburbia, the city mice have expanded to surrounding agriculture lands; food-hostile zoning edicts in tow).

Claiming health and safety powers, government has regulated “unhealthy” foods based not only on production but on consumption — taxes and bans on sugary or fatty foods abound. If universal food provision is a basic human entitlement, what kind of food? And how can any right be preserved when humans’ connections to the land and food are artificially severed? Does the right to “receive” food exist via government provision, or is there an individual right to produce one’s own that is sacrosanct and untouchable by government?

Food Choice is a Fundamental Liberty Right

It does not seem controversial to state, as did Attorney Ari Bargil of the Institute for Justice, that “We have the right to use our own properties to grow our own food, as long as that use doesn’t impinge on someone else’s freedom to enjoy their property.” Yet that is precisely the frontline of the battle: government has impinged that liberty.

As 2015 Report by the Institute for Justice warned:

Today, from the federal government on down to states and cities, elected officials and regulators are cracking down with increasing relentlessness on the lives and livelihoods of the farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others who raise, produce, make, cook and sell the food we eat—and in the process, undermining their right to earn an honest living and provide for themselves…. Food freedom is under attack…. The Founding Fathers fought against British laws just like these, and sought in the Bill of Rights to ensure that no American government would ever mimic Britain’s wayward colonial attacks on food freedom…..It’s time to remind our elected officials of the lessons of food freedom and to demand the return of our intertwined rights of food freedom and economic liberty.

Co-author Dave Berg published a Law Review article in 2013 titled Food Choice Is a Fundamental Liberty Right, (9 J. FOOD L. & POL’Y 173), which argued for constitutional support for an individual’s right to purchase meat and poultry directly from the person who raised and participated in the slaughtering of that meat or poultry without mandatory governmental inspection.

Dave Berg. Photo by John Klar

Some have suggested granting such a right post-Citizens United would expand corporate power at the expense of individual liberties, but it is hard to imagine Monsanto claiming it has a “personal corporate right” to choose what foods it eats any more than Nike could credibly claim it has a right to an abortion. We Americans witness our neighbors being prosecuted not for chopping up a cow in their front yard, but for planting zucchini! Are we to deny people the freedom to garden under the pretense that corporations would abuse that right?

Moves Toward Regenerative Economy

During the trauma of the COVID pandemic, citizens of all political persuasions witnessed the industrial nature and Orwellian dependency that is their modern food supply. Homesteaders (and would-be homesteaders) are the antidote to a growing effort to transfer responsibility to the government and mega-corporations for that which we once did ourselves — grow healthy food and eat it. COVID has revealed the folly of industrial food, but also armed many more with the desire and awareness to respond regeneratively.

With increasing dependency on Chinese and other foreign food producers that are often subjected to lax regulation, it is dubious to further curtail local farmers and consumers from their centuries-long traditions of commerce in the name of protecting their health. As increasing awareness of the importance of healthy local food motivates more people to try their hands at home gardening, chicken-rearing, or milking a family cow, the collisions with ubiquitous stifling regulations — zoning laws, meat inspection regulations, labeling requirements, etc. — will increase. It is imperative that the right to grow one’s own food be granted its proper priority for human health and pursuit of happiness.

Henry Kissinger famously said Control oil and control the nations; Control food and you control people. One need not point to nefarious intentions by Big Brother Monsanto to see the logic of Kissinger’s proposition -- and the imperative to oppose any control of one’s food liberty by Big Government or Big Ag (the two are often aligned). Stay tuned as Americans strive to retain liberty in their own food production and distribution: the battle is just heating up.

John Klar

John Klar raises grass-fed beef and sheep, and seeks to educate people about where their food comes from and how large corporate interests wish to dominate food production. He moved to Vermont and began farming in 1998. John and his wife, Jacqueline, built and operated an artisanal raw-milk cheese house, and have raised pigs, chickens, sheep, horses, cows, and goats, and grown many varieties of vegetables and herbs. Connect with John on Facebook, and watch his farming videos on YouTube. Read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

Dave Berg worked as a maritime lawyer in Boston for almost 20 years and now is a lawyer and legal writer in Milwaukee. He has been interested in food choice and food rights for some time and, several years ago, published an article in the Journal of Food Law and Policy that proposed that food choice is a fundamental liberty right and that laid out a framework for challenging food regulations as an infringement on consumers' liberty rights.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

42 Frugal Homestead Breakfasts for an Extreme Budget

Breakfast Shopping Haul 

Breakfast shopping haul
Photo by Kerry Mann

Normally we try to feed our family farm fresh eggs and tasty produce from our homestead garden, but we wanted to challenge ourselves to see how frugal we good be buying everything from Aldi before our homestead garden comes in.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwich
Photo by Kerry Mann

On our road to becoming homesteaders, we pinched all of our pennies and learned a thing or two about stretching our dollar. We also have the homestead skills to make our own bread, tortillas and english muffins and more. So we challenged ourselves: Could we feed our family of six, for one week a delicious homestead breakfast for under $20? That’s six people multiplied by seven days or in other words 42 homestead breakfast for under $20. That is under $0.47 cents per meal.

Normally we would use eggs from our chickens, produce from our garden, but for this challenge we did not allow that and used only our $20 worth of purchased groceries to see if its possible for most. We created a list and started shopping around. We have a local Aldi and the prices and selection seemed doable within our tight budget. Our strategy was to focus on cheap made from scratch staples. We started by buying a bag of flour for $1.15 and a package of yeast for $0.89. This would provide us with homemade bread, cinnamon buns, English muffins and tortillas all for around 10% of the entire budget.

Here are some items we purchased below and we breakout precise costs in the video below for each meal.

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Yeast
  • 10lb Russet Potatoes
  • Premium Sausage
  • 4 Dozen Large Eggs
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Original pancake syrup
  • Cinnamon 
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pure vanilla

* Grand Total $16.29, see the video for breakout per meal.

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns
Photo by Kerry Mann

To stretch our budget we started on day zero by preparing a bunch bread, cinnamon buns, english muffins and tortillas using our flour and yeast.

Please watch the video to see the meals in all of their glory but here is a quick summary:

  • Day 1. Meals 1-6. Egg sandwiches
  • Day 2. Meals 7-12. Cinnamon bread
  • Day 3. Meals 13-18. Simple Oatmeal
  • Day 4. Meals 19-24. French toast and some powdered sugar along with some syrup
  • Day 5. Meals 25-30. Sausage Egg tacos with some potatoes
  • Day 6. Meals 31-36. Omelettes, Leftovers, Cinnamon buns, Simple Oatmeal, French toast
  • Day 7. Meals 37-42. Broccoli Quiche

Overall we had 7 days of delicious meals. The homemade bread was 10 times better than store bought bread! We also made tortillas and Alyssa had a blast making them... and again, they tasted way better over store bought tortillas. Overall we were amazed with how well these meals turned out on such a tight budget. It was a lot of extra work making everything from scratch but well worth the effort. All of these meals could have been improved by adding some homestead flair. If your homestead is looking to stretch your meal budget, you can really go a long way and still enjoy some amazing breakfasts especially if you are willing to cook them from scratch and can compliment them with produce from your own homestead.

Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his Homestead How YouTube pageInstructablesPinterest Facebookand at My Evergreen Homestead. Read all of Kerry’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Home-Based Food Business Case Study: Clare's Nutty Concoctions


Clare selling nut treats
Photo by Kurt Jacobson

With so many farmers markets, local grocery stores, and distributors looking for new food products, now is a great time to start selling your home-based foods. The question is how to bring your special homemade food to the market? Few know about or understand cottage food laws or what it takes to bring your product to the market, but it's not that difficult to learn the ropes.

Throughout my food travels, I find plenty of home-based food startups doing well. When I wrote about Michelle's Granola, readers got a picture of how an exceptional product can go from a home kitchen to farmers' markets and on to a large part of the U.S. market. When I came across Clare's Nutty Concoctions at a small farmer's market on Maryland's Eastern Shore, I once again saw and tasted the future of home-based food products.

Nutty treats in a bag
Photo by Kurt Jacobson

Clare Shockley launched her nut brittle business in July 2020, focusing on over-the-top delicious Golden Brittle. After just two months, feedback from sales at farmers markets and her boyfriend's restaurant, led her to add the best cashew brittle I've ever tasted. Clare has a background in the food service business from working at restaurants, Sysco Foods, and as a beer, wine, and alcohol sales rep. She longed for a business of her own that would allow her to work the hours she chose, not her employer's schedule.

Work from Home or Find a Commercial Kitchen

Working out of the home appeals to many entrepreneurs. The challenge is to make it profitable enough to stand the test of time. Clare told me she had an edge in starting her business by using her boyfriend's restaurant kitchen instead of relying on her home kitchen or renting commercial kitchen space. While it's great to start out in your home kitchen, to make a food business thrive, you will probably need a commercial kitchen space eventually.

It's not that hard to find such commercial space with restaurants looking to add income by renting out their kitchen when they are closed or underutilized. Find a restaurant that's regularly closed a day or two and negotiate the use of their kitchen. You can produce way more products in a commercial kitchen than in most homes and be in compliance with local food production laws.

Or better yet, find one of many businesses that exist mainly to provide flexible commercial kitchen space. I wrote about the Artisan's Exchange to help Mother Earth News readers learn how to locate commercial kitchen space rentals, get product creation support, and marketing support. These types of commercial kitchen rentals are gaining in popularity, and you might have one close to you.

Formulate a Business Plan

If you have an outrageously delicious product, it's time to start putting together a plan for your success. Start by doing research and develop a business plan. Clare told me, "I didn't use a formal business plan, but did plan on seeding my business with $5,000 and see if I'd make it through the first year without adding more cash." By January 2020 she was able to start paying herself a salary due to her business expansion. After a humble start, Clare is in seven farmers markets now and two other businesses sell her brittle as well. This progress was accomplished in under eight months!

Take a clue from Clare and Michele's Granola, that to succeed, you must have the best product your customers have ever tasted. Don't rely on friends and family for quality feedback that don't want to hurt your feelings. A farmers market is one of the best places to judge the public's opinion of your product. Engage with your customers and adjust your recipe, packaging, or price if needed.

After starting in farmers markets and her boyfriend's restaurant, Clare has added special events at wineries, breweries, and other gatherings to her sales venues. Customers from all of these venues have helped spread the word. She has slowly added more products like chocolate-covered almond brittle and granola to her lineup, waiting to judge her customer's reactions.

It's important not to expand too fast in the early going, but it is okay to dream of hitting the big time. If you plan well, work hard, and have great products, it's not hard to imagine success like Michele's Granola has had. Clare told me "There's a million things I can do with nuts." If those other things taste as great as her first three products that I've tried, you might see Clare's Nutty Concoctions coming to a store near you in the future.

Resources for Home Food Businesses

An excellent resource to help launch your business is Lisa Kivirist’s writing about Cottage Food Laws and how to learn the ropes of a home-based food business.

You can also check out to find free support in planning your business.

Rutgers University has its Food Innovation Center that offers an online webinar, two-day class, teaching just about everything you need to launch a food product business. Check out their success stories page to get you jazzed up about how far you can go.

So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to launch your home-based food product and find the joy of working for yourself. Here's to good taste on your path to success.

Kurt Jacobson writes about travel, food, wine, organic gardening, and most anything else from his varied professional life. His articles appear in Alaska magazine, Fish Alaska magazine, Metropolis Japan magazine, Edible Delmarva magazine, North West Travel and Life magazine, and MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Kurt lives in the Baltimore, Md., area with his wife, dog and cats. Kurt’s articles also appear on several websites like:,,,, and several others. Kurt is a regular contributor to writing about Alaska, Colorado, New Zealand, Japan, and the Mid-Atlantic areas. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our blogging guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

How To Be a Food Waste Champ


Farmers market stand
Photo by Aur Beck

April 28th is Stop Food Waste Day. We have all done it: Bought fresh food only to find we already had some in the pantry or fridge. When was the last time you or I have cleaned out the fridge completely and cooked just with what we have? I remember reading that as much as 40% of food in the United States is thrown away. That's a lot of good value & money being thrown away.

I do tend to forget what I have and buy more. My kitchen has no doors on the shelves, so I can more easily see what I have in stock, but still I have serious issues with knowing what I have in my fridge and/or freezer. I have been challenging myself to only cook with what I have. We have gotten spoiled by our full access to any and all food even if it is out of season. I have been challenging myself to cook with what is locally available and in season. I do can a lot of tomatoes and green beans to have them year round but do that in season to get bushels (lots) cheap. What is something you eat regularly and could figure out ways to obtain or make more cheaply? Veggies in season I have found to take less, due to their high flavor and nutrition, to satisfy my body.

Farmers Market Scores

I love talking to the local farmer to get the weird-shaped or spotted seconds cheaply. The farmers like that they don’t have to throw away their hard work and I get lots of local and/or organic produce cheaper. Usually however that means the produce needs to be processed quickly. 

I go on Saturdays to the farmers market or the farmer calls me and then Sunday, I cut the bad spots off and freezer bag it to be put away for all of it to be cooked and/or processed further later. I tend to do most of my canning (except for green beans) in the winter when I want to heat up the house and I have more time to be inside due to the increased hours of darkness. While summer is a great time to use a solar cooker and solar food dryer to pack massive quantities away. Dried apples and “sun”-dried tomatoes are two great examples. I do love drying a veggie mix of onions, peas, parsley, squash and/or zucchini. It is a lovely mix to very easily add to soup or casserole.

Note; Do you throw out cans once they pass the “best if used by date”? Note that the date is a Not an expired date. 

Hope this helps recipe you find a little inspiration to waste less and for saving lots of money


Veggie scraps
Photo by Aur Beck

Veggie Broth or Chicken Broth to Avoid Food Waste

No need to every again pay $3-6 a quart!

Vegetable broth: When you cut off the ends of your vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, green stems, zucchini) save any of the-non rotten bits in a gallon freezer bag or a container in the freezer. Once the bag is full slow simmer or run through the soup setting on your electronic pressure cooker. I use a gallon of water and put in a steamer basket or deep fryer basket to easily strain the veggies out to get a clear broth. 

Meat broth: I save meat bones in a gallon freezer bag or container in the freezer until full. If you want want a lighter chicken broth just use the chicken bones and bits. If you want a darker richer broth save any type of meat bits and bones but crack open the bones for the rich inner bone marrow. 

Although I sometimes allow the broth to cool and pack in quart freezer bags, I usually fill quart canning jars and do a hot water can.

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Yuca Fries Recipe Make Use of Marvelous Cassava Root

 Yuca fries
Photo by Renee Benoit

This story begins years ago when I was a kid growing up in Iowa. We didn’t have a lot of vegetable variety even though we had our own garden. It was the standard tomatoes, green beans, corn, what have you. The only time we had anything unusual was when my dad grew some cauliflower which turned out kind of green because his method for covering the heads was not fool proof.

Flash forward to 1969: I went to stay with my aunt and uncle in Hawaii for my first semester of college. What a revelation! The grocery stores were full of strange and wonderful things that I still, to this day, am not sure what some of them were. Some things I do know: guava, bitter melon, cuttlefish to name three.

Flash forward again to 1977: I moved to California where I lived for 35 years and the last 4 in the Central Valley. Here I saw all sorts of vegetable foodstuffs from across the border in Mexico. Jicama, prickly pear, tomatillo. Now that we’re in Arizona, I discover that we have Yucca Elata growing all over our property. Yucca Elata is also known as the Soap Tree by the indigenous peoples of this area. How cool! But what else could this thorny plant be used for? How about Yucca Fries? I have had those in Bay Area restaurants and loved them.

Not being savvy I did not realize that the cooks were talking about YUCA, not Yucca. Still ignorant I found pictures online and, lo and behold, I discover yet another vegetable that is completely delicious and one that I’ve seen in Central Valley grocery stores and had no clue what they were. This is the Yuca root, also known as cassava. It tastes very much like a potato and in nutrition is very similar. If you have a Mexican market near you, this root will likely be found there.

A Note on Cassava Toxicity

This amendment is provided with information from Medical News Today. Read the full article at Cassava: Benefits, toxicity, and how to prepare.


Cassava is a vegetable that is a staple ingredient of many diets worldwide. It is a good source of nutrients, but people should avoid eating it raw. Raw cassava contains cyanide, which is toxic to ingest, so it is vital to prepare it correctly. Also, there are two types of cassava: sweet and bitter. Bitter cassava is hardier but has a much higher cyanide content. Most of the cassava used in the United States is sweet.

In the U.S., people grind cassava down to make tapioca which they eat as a pudding or use as a thickening agent. (Author’s note: As a child, I ate tapioca pudding on a regular basis. It was one of our family’s favorite desserts. Maybe you did, too.)

Soaking and cooking cassava makes these compounds harmless.

Yuca Fries Recipe

Six servings


  • 3 pounds fresh yuca (aka cassava)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 - 3 cups light-tasting oil (canola is a good one)
  • Salsa, mayonnaise or ketchup as condiments


Yuca roots come waxed. This is to preserve their freshness.

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Waxed yucca root
Photo by Renee Benoit

1. Cut the ends off your yucca roots and then cut them into 4-inch cylinders, depending on the length of the yuca.

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Cut ends
Photo by Renee Benoit

2. Make a shallow cut lengthwise into the skin of the yuca. Work your thumbs under one side of the cut. Once you’re underneath the peel, you can work your thumbs down the length of the root, peeling the skin off. If this does not work for you, stand the roots on end and slice the skin off as you would a pineapple.

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Trimmed root
Photo by Renee Benoit

3. Bring to boil a pot with plenty of water and salt. Add the rounds to the boiling water. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain and let it cool.

4. Cut yuca pieces in half and remove the inner root. Then cut French-fry size sticks. Think steak fries size not shoe string.

julienne resize

Julienne root
Photo by Renee Benoit

5. Heat oil at least ½ inch or more in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the yuca fries in batches, turning once, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

6. You can also cook them in an air fryer. Toss them with oil and fry as you would potato French fries.

7. You can also crisp them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425º F and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until slightly brown, turning twice.

Yuca Fries are really good with anything you would serve French fries with like hamburgers or grilled steak.  

A word of advice: If you cut into one and find that it is not completely unblemished and white, it is not suitable. Look for brown streaks that indicate the root is overripe. You have to discard it. If there’s only a few blemishes you may opt to remove them and go ahead and cook normally.

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Bad quality
Photo by Renee Benoit

Renée Benoit is a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who homesteads a small ranch in the southeast corner of Arizona near the Mexican border. Connect with Renée at RL Benoit, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

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