Growing Coffee Beans

Coffee has never really been a big thing for me. I’d much rather a hot cup of tea than a coffee but my husband has become somewhat of a coffee snob over the past few years. Whenever we fall in love with a new item of food I always see it as a bit of a challenge to see if we can produce it ourselves, so my recent project has been growing coffee beans.

Coffee beans grow on a plant related to gardenia and as we have several gardenias in our garden I was confident I’d be able to also grow a coffee plant. While I understand you can grow coffee plants directly from seed, the process seemed very involved so I decided to cheat a little bit and purchase a coffee plant seedling.

It turns out that finding coffee plant seedlings isn’t as easy as finding most other plants. They are a bit of a specialty breed and I actually ended up sourcing one online from eBay. The plants themselves can grown quite large (up to 5m!) but they are quite attractive and produce scented flowers (in addition to beans obviously!)

The plants don’t require any special care as such (beyond the standard watering and fertilizing that any plant needs) and once established they are very hardy. Coffee beans actually come from “coffee cherries” and are harvested during the dry season. You only get a comparativley small amount of beans from the cherries (around 1/5th of their weight) but obviously if you are only harvesting them for personal use this isn’t a huge concern.

So far our plants are yet to produce any cherries but we have seen some flowers and I understand it can take about 3 months after the flowers appear for the cherries to start growing and then up to another 5 months for the cherries to be ready for harvest!

In the mean time we’ve decided to invest in a home espresso machine to save money and eliminate the waste of going out for coffee drinks. We decided on the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine in the end and we are really happy with it. While we haven’t been able to use our own beans yet, I’m hoping it won’t be long!

If you’re keen to give coffee growing a go (or you already grow your own!) I’d love to hear about it. I’m really excited to be testing out something super unique in our homestead garden.

How To Pickle Vegetables

Pickling is a food preparation technique which utilizes vinegar or brine to store or preserve food for a longer period of time (read more here). It’s a great option for homesteaders as it enables you to store home grown veggies out of season and is especially useful if you grow more than your family can consume. The aim of pickling is to reduce the likelihood of bacteria contaminating the food, enhancing the taste to suit individual preferences and maintaining the quality.

Contrary to popular belief, pickling is not only limited to cucumbers. Many types of vegetables can be pickled including: Squash, Sweet Peppers, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Onions, Avocado, Tomatoes, Carrots, Okra, Parsnips, Radishes & Beets.

The pickling of vegetable is relatively easy; the process is almost as simple as marinating. Pickling does not require too many ingredients, in fact, the only ingredients required are; Water, Salt, Sugar, Vinegar and spices of your choice.

Below I will explain step by step how to pickle any vegetable of your choice:

  1. Use one part purified water to one part vinegar as the base. You may opt for the traditional white vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar or Wine Vinegar, however I suggest Vinegars with a concentration of acetic acid below 5% . You should also avoid using unfiltered or impure water as this may interfere with the colour of the vegetables over a period of time.
  2. Add pure sea salt and/or sugar using a ratio that is suitable to your taste. For a savory pickle, it is ideal to forgo the sugar.
  3. Before marinating, the vegetables must first be diced or cut into smaller portions to facilitate the equal absorption of the brine throughout the mixture. You may choose to cut the vegetables in your preferred shape.
  4. To enhance the taste and texture of some vegetables, scalding is recommended after dicing or slicing. Example of such vegetables include; Okra, ginger, peppers, brussel sprouts and carrots.
  5. After scalding, draining and cooling the vegetables, they should be placed in a mason jar.
  6. Add spices of your choice to suit your personal taste. Popular options include; ginger, jalapeno, oregano, chilli flakes, dill, cumin, mustard and turmeric.
  7. Pour the brine in the mason jar containing the vegetables.

To increase the longevity of your pickles, they should be stored in the refrigerator with the lids tightly closed. Pickled veggies can be used in a wide range of dishes in a similar way to fresh vegetables. They also make lovely homemade gifts!

Why keep chickens?

For most people, eggs are the main motivator when it comes to keeping chickens. Not only are eggs loaded with protein, they also contain good fats, all the essential amino acids as well as micronutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Selenium. Eggs are delicious and can be prepared in countless different ways. They are also used as a binding agent in baked products and are an essential part of most homesteaders life. Homesteaders aren’t the only ones keeping chickens, over the past few years there have been increasing numbers of people keeping backyard chickens. Here’s a list of the most common reasons why more people are choosing to rear chickens:

  1. For those of us who only consume fresh, organic or cruelty-free food, rearing chickens to produce eggs may be one of the best options out there. You will have peace of mind knowing that the chicken has not suffered to produce the egg. You will also have control over how the chicken is fed thus determining how organic the eggs are. Commercially raised chickens are caged and fed non-organic food.
  2. A combination of chicken poo and eggshell provides fertilization to backyard farms. The presence of Nitrates is an essential component of manure. Chicken poo is extremely rich in nitrates. You should expect to see a reduction in the amount of fertilizers used on a yearly basis.
  3. Chicken by nature will oftentimes dig through piles of compost in pursuit of finding bugs and worms to consume. The process of turning your composting can be labor-intensive and time consuming. Having chickens can save you money that would have been spent hiring help.
  4. Chickens feeding on bugs and insects act as your personal pest control team! These protein-rich bugs can be devastating to farmlands however they are simply a healthy snack for the chickens!
  5. Your kids will adore them! Chickens aren’t often viewed as social creatures, however after spending a great deal of time around them, you will learn more about their behavior and how they function amongst one another. Free educational lesson for the kids!

Chickens are relatively easy to keep and maintain. After the initial investment, the only expenses incurred are food and water. They mostly consume scraps of leftover food, therefore you don’t have to spend excessively on chicken feed and if you choose the right breeds they produce a good haul of eggs day in and day out.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Why buy those expensive little jars of Pumpkin Pie Spice, when you can make it at home? Just pure spices with no preservatives or additives, which equals better for you, and more frugal too!

With Fall finally here, everyone seems to have become obsessed with pumpkin. *me included* Just check out my Pinterest board to see what I mean! Which brings me to my recipe for pumpkin pie spice. Ask yourself this question, “Are you going to pay someone to stir some spices together for you? Well, that’s what you’re doing, when you buy a jar of spice mix. Sounds silly when you think of it that way, doesn’t it?

But I’m going to show you how ridiculously easy it is to make your own. You simply stir together 5 common spices and you are done. Why wouldn’t you want to make your own? It’s easy, saves you money, and is better for you. (No questionable additives and flavor enhancers). And don’t limit yourself to just using it to make pumpkin pies. It’s also good in cakes, cookies, oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, smoothies, or my favorite, powdered pumpkin spice coffee creamer, which I’ll be sharing the recipe for soon.

Pumpkin Pie Spice


3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves


Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Store in an air tight container, and shake well before each use.

Note*I make this in small batches so it stays fresh. But if you are planning on using a lot of it over the next several months, feel free to double the recipe. It will stay fresh for up to 6 months. You might also like this one from which is similar but without the allspice (which I think adds a bit of punch to it).

Egg-Free Pumpkin Pie

Do you avoid pumpkin pie because of an egg allergy? Well now you can enjoy creamy Pumpkin Pie again, that’s spiced just right and made with no eggs!

Egg Free Pumpkin Pie

Welcome to today’s special edition of the Secret Recipe Club

where we’re having a Fall Themed Reveal Day! Autumn is the time for hoodies, bonfires, and Pumpkins!So when I found out my assignment for this special edition reveal was Making Miracles, I went to Rebekah’s blog and did an immediate search for all things pumpkin.

I wasn’t disappointed either, I found over 20 pumpkin recipes! Crockpot Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin Carrot Cake, and Whipped Cinnamon Pumpkin Honey Butter were just a few of the many pumpkin recipes I found. I ultimately settled on her Perfect Pumpkin Pie though. It’s been getting pretty chilly here lately, so I knew I wanted to do some baking. Plus, my husband has been craving a pie, so pumpkin pie it was.

Her pie recipe turned out amazing! It had a creamy texture, and was spiced just right. I did make a few adaptions, but still stayed pretty close to the original recipe. The one big difference was that I left out the eggs, because I’m allergic to them. To compensate for the lack of eggs, I added some cornstarch to help thicken it up. I also used homemade sweetened condensed milk instead of the canned stuff, and increased a couple of the spices a bit, because my family and I enjoy when the spices shine through. It all equaled one delicious pumpkin pie!

Egg-Free Pumpkin Pie


1 – 16 ounce carton heavy cream
2 cups sugar (I use organic pure cane sugar)
1 – 29 ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 – 9 inch unbaked pie crusts (store-bought or homemade)


Pour the heavy cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to low and cook at a bare simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Add pumpkin to a large bowl, along with the cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. (The spice amounts stated give the pie a pleasantly strong spice flavor, that my family and I love. If you would like your pie to have a milder flavor, reduce the ginger and nutmeg to 1 teaspoon each). Stir well till combined.
Stir in the cream and sugar mixture until thoroughly blended, and pour into 2 – 9 inch unbaked pie crusts.
Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 60 minutes. Pie will still appear a bit jiggly in the middle when it’s done baking, but that is normal. (If the pie crust edges begin browning to quickly, cover with strips of aluminum foil and continue baking).
Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then move to the refrigerator to chill for 3 – 4 hours, or until set.
Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Makes 2 – 9 inch pies

Note*2 – 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk may be substituted for the heavy cream and sugar.

Beginners Guide: My Top 4 Easy To Grow Veggies

Gardens are not made by singing and sitting in the shade, especially if you want to grow veggies. But that said, veggie gardens are suitable for all experience levels so newbies, you need not freak out! When you’re just a beginner it’s best to start simple and easy.

Better Homes & Gardens has a simple guide to starting a veggie garden and keep reading below for some top easy growing veggie ideas that any gardener can plant today.


Spinach is a delicious addition to soup, salads, and omelets. It is enriched in iron and can help women prone to anemia as well. It also contains antioxidant means it will give you a youthful glowing skin.

Purchase spinach seedlings or seeds and plant them in early spring. Spinach is easy to grown but requires a lot of moisture so water well in the morning and evening. I tend to choose smooth leafed spinach (often known as baby leaf) because it grows faster.


This aromatic herb is one of my favorites so I couldn’t stop myself from listing it here. Basil is easy to grow and is a great accompaniment to tomato plants. Buy seeds instead of seedlings as they are fragile and can get damaged easily. Sow seeds 2 to 5 centimeters apart from each other and then cover the seeds with 2 – 4-inch compost or soil. Water well but do not over saturate. Make sure your Basil plants get at least 6 hours of sunlight.


Tomato’s are another easy to grow veggie and are ideal planted with basil as they require similar levels of water and sunlight. Basil also helps keep bugs off your tomato plants. I like to grow cherry tomatos but choose any type you like. Seedlings work well but tomatos are also easy to grow from seed.


Cilantro can be a good alternative to basil, a tasty addition to fish dished or salads. The best time to plant cilantro is late spring as it won’t survive extreme frost or heat. Just plant it directly in the soil, seeds spacing should be 2 – 5 inches apart. Do not water directly as the seeds may displace, instead use a spray bottle to lightly mist the soil. Make sure your plant gets 4 – 5 hours of sunlight every day.

Harvest the goodness of fresh veggies right from the backyard or balcony of your home starting with these simple vegetables today.

What Is Homesteading?

Homesteading means different things to different people so depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer.

Wikipedia defines homesteading as…

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale….

Modern homesteaders often use renewable energy options including solar electricity and wind power. Many also choose to plant and grow heirloom vegetables and to raise heritage livestock. Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.

For me this is pretty accurate (although I don’t make my own textiles but would love to learn how to sew better). While we try and live as self sustainably as possible we do still splurge on some modern luxuries from time to time and we try not to restrict ourselves to a particular mindset about how we “should” live.

How Did We Start Homesteading?

For me homesteading was kind of a natural progression. I started with a little vegetable garden and before long I’d taken over our whole (tiny) backyard. When we moved to a larger property I planted an orchid and started raising chickens. When we cleared the back paddocks my husband decided he wanted some cows and one day Claudia fell in love with a kid (baby goat) at a friends farm and before long we had 5 of them. One day I woke up and we were basically running a farm!

Why Homestead?

Why not? Homesteading is rewarding, it’s good for the environment, it saves money and it’s FUN. You don’t have to own a big property to homestead (we were in a very small villa when we started). The beauty of homesteading is that you can do as much or as little as you like and make it work for your family.

Until next time,