Reorganizing My Life in the Kitchen: Nightshade Free Taco Seasoning and Nightshade Free Barbecue Sauce


One of the issues I have been fighting for the last couple of years seems to have found its cause. I have an allergy to peppers. Not peppercorns, which are not the same thing at all, but peppers. Bell peppers, chili peppers, cayenne peppers, ancho peppers, Anaheims, poblanos, jalapenos, and much to my dismay, paprika. I have a sensitivity to tomatoes as well, but nowhere near as severe. Potatoes seem to be okay. So I’ve had to eliminate peppers and reduce the use of tomato products. This has, as you can imagine, turned my kitchen life upside down. And my garden planning as well, because my garden for the last couple years was built around tomatoes and peppers, and now it can’t be.

One of the things that made me wonder about this early on is the fact that my hands would hurt so much after simply dealing with tomato and pepper vines. Especially if I was pruning tomato vines and the juice leaking from the stalk got on my skin. The joints in my fingers would be painful and the skin would erupt anywhere the vines or the peppers touched. The outsides of the peppers. This had nothing to do with the seeds or membranes at all as I always wear gloves when dealing with those. Even bell peppers were a problem now.

I’ve been working to discover ways to try to eat some of my old favorites, using herbs, spices, and different peppercorns to try to come up with new recipes. I have had some successes and some failures, but I thought I’d share a couple of the successes with you today. The first is a nightshade free taco seasoning and the second is a nightshade free barbecue sauce. The taco seasoning is mild and if you want to kick it up a notch you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground Szechuan peppercorns. I also cook my taco meat with 1 cup of diced yellow onions and I used to add in a pint of diced tomatoes with the juice, as the juice would be what would help the seasoning spread all around. Haven’t quite found a substitute for tomatoes there yet, but it is good without and I just use water instead for the liquid.

Taco Seasoning Ingredients:

1 Tbsp (or less) of salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 Rbsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Optional: 1/2 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns for heat (measure after grinding)

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

For sweet sauce–
1 cup honey
1 cup apricot jelly (or preserves)
1/2 cup coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper

For spicy:
Add 2 tsp Szechuan pepper to the above ingredients. Adjust to your heat tolerance from there.

Making Homemade Celery Powder

So the other day I made a video for my youtube channel of how I make my celery powder.  I thought I’d put it up here as well.

I know I’ve been neglecting the blog horribly.  It’s been a crazy few months.  I hope to post more soon.  We have rabbits due to kindle this weekend.  And maybe tomorrow I can do a catch-up post.

Lots of Meat Processed and in Two Weeks I’ll Have to Do it Again

I have been so busy this week. On Sunday we butchered 5 rabbits, two of which were 8 pounders and the rest were not that much smaller. On Tuesday we cut them up portioned out enough for 2 dinners, then deboned the rest and ground it.

On Wednesday I mixed up just under half the ground meat to make sausage with my home grown herbs and spices that I’ve been drying all summer. I ended up with 36 3 oz patties.

On Thursday I mixed up the other half of the ground meat with my homemade onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper, Lawry’s seasoned salt, and a small amount of tomato sauce, and made 27 4 oz burger patties.

All patties were individually frozen on cookie sheets before being bagged up so they wouldn’t stick together. It stuffed 4 gallon size Ziplocs between them.

I also made rabbit jerky with the abdominal flaps and the result of that was to fill a quart size baggy.

Meanwhile I have been making bone broth with the bones and will be canning that today. I am not sure how much I will get, but it’s a 12 quart stockpot and it’s pretty full. I’ve already strained it last night and I’m just heating it up now.

I still have to pick all the meat off the bones and that will be packaged up to use in rice dishes or casseroles or enchiladas or whatever else I might need shredded meat in.

After that I can dry the bones thoroughly, grind them, and use that in the garden as bone meal, a fertilizer that is expensive to purchase if you want to get it organic. It also helps activate a compost pile you want to heat up.

Organic meats are a protein treat for the turkeys and chickens (who are not, despite what some egg cartons in the stores lead you to believe, vegetarians and should not be fed an all vegetarian diet). They love them and gobble them up like the little velociraptors they resemble.

So we are almost there at using every part but the guts now. Further things we could do is to dehydrate feet and ears for dog chews, but since we don’t have a dog, that doesn’t happen. Sardis, when it will answer the phone, gets the heads and any dead kits for the raptors in its recovery program.

Also this week we canned 13 pints of hamburger, though we had a catastrophic lid failure with all but five. I am unimpressed with the Ball canning lids melting onto the jars and gluing the rings on. No I did not boil the lids. I used the new instructions. I am glad I have my new 200 Tattler EZ lids. This has convinced me to go all the way over to Tattlers now. I can’t afford to lose that much grass fed organic beef. It’s too expensive. And I may yet have to sacrifice the jars if I can’t get the rubber off the ones I did get the rings off of. I don’t know why they ever had to change the Ball lids in the first place. Clearly they have never heard of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

I’ve picked about 3 gallons of blueberries this week, 2 quarts of strawberries, a couple of massive cabbages (one over 8 pounds) and many zucchinis, carrots, and herbs. It’s an ongoing process. It’s almost time to pull my onions and then I’ll get my turnips and more carrots in. Lots of weeding got accomplished, too. I feel like it’s been go, go, go. Probably because it has.

Quick Update

I’ve been sick for quite some time and so haven’t really been taking the time to keep up with the blog. I do post on the youtube channel a lot, because that just requires me to talk with a camera and not sit down and actually formulate thoughts. Despite this long illness, I’ve managed to get quite a lot accomplished between now and the last few months of summer.

I’ve filled 3 bookcases that are six feet high with food that I’ve canned, most rows are double stacked and 3 jars deep. I’ve got two more shelves filled with winter squashes and one more shelf filled with home canned food on a 4th bookcase. I feel really good about what I was able to grow this year and more than made my money back on the garden investment.

The rabbits are doing well and I should have 4 does kindling this weekend. I will get some solid reds this time as I did a red doe/red buck pairing. I’ll also get two sets of solid whites and then one set of mixed kits from a red/white pairing. Assuming they all are pregnant. All 4 are nesting like mad, but Luna nested like mad the last two times she missed and Serena did the last time she missed as well. Kalia and Ruby are both showing other signs of impending motherhood as well, though, so I’m pretty sure we’ll at least get the mixed litter and the red litter.

The ducks are finishing up their molt and looking really pretty again. I got 2 eggs today after going a few weeks only getting 1.

My tom turkey George finished his molt and looks gorgeous. My hen turkey Gina is all bedraggled and in the middle of a molt, yet she is still laying. Not sure how that happens as it was my understanding that they don’t lay while badly in molt. Mabye that is just chickens and ducks?

The 3 new pullets started laying couple of weeks ago and now their eggs are up to size. Both Auracanas and the other leghorn are laying, too.

The garden is winding down, but I am still getting herbs, sorrel, kale, chard, celery, and lettuce to harvest. I have broccoli with heads on it growing. I have managed to plant 50 cloves of garlic, though I’d like to triple that. We haven’t had a frost yet, so we still could get the garlic in. I need to clip and transplant my strawberry runners. I do have frost blankets ready to save some things.

I want to build a small hoop house over one of the garden beds and maybe grow a few things over the winter.

We may be taking our son out of high school to home school. We’ll make that decision by weeks’ end. He’s not learning well there. Some of the classes are out of control. He’s frustrated.

Anyway that’s the quick version of what I’ve been up to.

Back to It

I took 2 days off from canning as I had exhausted myself pretty much with what I have done the past couple of weeks. My son went back to school yesterday, but I think he left his cold with me. I have been fighting it all week and hopefully I won’t go down hard, but I can feel it on the edges. Still, I’ve got to get the next batch of canning done today. I’ve got 3 buckets of ripe tomatoes and 2 more buckets that will probably be ripe tomorrow or the next day and many more still coming. I still have about 18 pounds of potatoes left to can, too. Those can wait if they need to, though. We’ll see how I feel after chopping all those tomatoes.

After I do get to the potatoes, I want to order another 40 pounds to can. Ultimately another 80 pounds. I think that will get us through the year. We ran out of potatoes in June this year and I’d like to go an additional 2 months this time. When I do the potatoes, if there is room in the canner I will also throw in a jar of carrots, since we thinned the Nantes this week.

I am keeping a sharp eye on both the acorn squash, pictured above, and the watermelon, which are both close to being ripe. The weather has really turned on us this week though and is in the 60’s. I hope there is enough heat for the watermelon to finish ripening. I’ve got several big ones that are so close, but the temps aren’t going to go up any time soon. These are supposed to be a short season watermelon, too, Blacktail Mountain.

The cantaloupe isn’t going to make it. I knew it was a risk, since I planted it so late. I will try again next year and plant it much earlier in the season. I think the zucchini is done. I was hoping it would go a little longer, but it really didn’t survive the storm a couple of weeks ago, despite putting out two more fruit. Most of the root mat was pulled up from the wind. We were supposed to have an Indian summer, but I don’t think that is actually going to happen. Especially since the nights have been in the low 50’s and seem to be heading towards the high 40’s.

So this is what my weekly canning looked like:

And my weekly harvest:

I am pretty happy with both. It has been a fantastic garden year.

What We Got from Our 25 Butchered Chickens

These birds were smaller than traditional meat birds. We will be letting the rest grow longer since none of them are crowing yet. But for the size that they were, I think we did pretty well. And I am very happy with how much broth we got. I did not end up doing the chicken feet, so all of that broth is just from the breast bones.

I am pretty tired. Besides canning bone broth yesterday, I cooked down and canned spaghetti sauce, and canned carrots and green beans as well. The canner was pretty much going all day, but it feels really nice to have gotten so much done. Of course by the end of the day my hands were barely working from all the chopping. I iced them and they are doing better today.

The next batch of tomatoes I do will only be quartered and put in the blender. That will cut down on some of the cutting. Though I really think it was chopping the carrots and beans which have little give in them that did the damage. Well…actually gutting and cutting up all the chickens last week did most of the damage, but the chopping on top of it made it worse. I am icing them off and on today and using MSM cream, so hopefully they will continue to improve. I’ve never had my hands get so messed up before. But I am able to type without it hurting so I know the inflammation is going down.

My doe Serenity is doing better. She ate the big piece of chard (because it has a lot of moisture in it) and the raspberry leaves (for diarrhea) that I gave her last night, plus half her hay and she drank about 2 inches of water in her water bottle. It’s been about 1 inch in a 24 hour period, so that’s an improvement. Normally she drinks at least half a bottle in 24 hours. She’s still not eating pellets or oats. We will clean her up again this evening and probably give her a little bit more of blu-kote spray on her undercarriage if her skin is still tender. Blu-kote aids healing, has a pain reliever in it, and helps keep diarrhea from sticking to sore areas.

I am thinking about putting Serenity into retirement. We’ll see if and how well she recovers from this. I don’t need her to be a productive doe with 8 other does in the rabbitry. I was hoping to get another year or two of kits out of her, but she really has to come out of this well in order for me to do so.

Well, it looks like there is a break in the weather so I better get outside and harvest what needs harvesting in the garden.

The Garden is Going Nuts

I am doing a lot of preserving, almost every day at this point. I brought in 3 buckets of tomatoes today and a couple quarts of green beans. Still getting zucchini, yellow croockneck squash, zucchini, the occasional peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers. I made a big batch of salsa today, 10 pints. I also made a huge batch of bone broth I will can tomorrow from the 25 chicken breast bones. We still have to skin and roast 50 chicken feet and make bone broth with them as well. That ought to be interesting, but it really is supposed to make the richest, healthiest broth. So are chicken heads, but I’m not there yet.

We cut up all the chickens yesterday that we butchered Thursday. All of the breasts got skinned and cut up into stir-fry meat and tenders. Everything else got divided up into family-sized portions and all of it went into the freezer.

Tomorrow I will be canning spaghetti sauce, carrots, and green beans. It will be a long day in front of the stove, but my husband helps with baby-sitting the pressure canner. I want to get as much done as possible before he leaves on Tuesday night. I still have to lay down a lot when I get headaches from the concussion and the healing broken nose. They are not as bad as they were, but when they come I have to go put an ice pack on my head until they pass. I will be glad when both my brain and my nose heal, because they are really slowing me down.

I took some vegetables over to the neighbor lady today who is so good about our chickens hopping the fence into her wild backyard. We have so much right now and she is really enjoying having some of the overflow. I’ve been also giving some to my physical therapist and my chiropractor. Everyone is so appreciative it really makes me feel good. Not that I do it to feel good, but it does.

We sexed the latest batch of kits today. Out of 11 kits there are 2 girls, 1 in each litter. These were the kits that I bred on the night of the full moon, which supposedly leads to both larger litter sizes (nope) and more females (double nope). We’ll see when the next batch is born and grows up how that goes, but so far all evidence is pointing to it being a whoppingly huge, false old wive’s tale.

We took 3 buck kits from each doe and put them into their own cages. In a couple of days I will remove the remaining boys to my last empty grow out cage. We are going to try to get the 3 kits from the last batch butchered tomorrow as well, which will free up 2 more grow out cages. Probably do that first thing in the morning before we start canning. If not, the girls can stay with their mothers for a little while longer.

Serenity is still not doing very well. Despite being on her 4th day on Corid and Benebac, she is not eating anything but hay and she is only drinking about an inch out of her water bottle in a 24 hour period. She still feels okay, though. Her backbone is well-fleshed and she still comes forward in her cage to be pet when I open the door. But I am worried about her. This is the same thing that killed Piper, Lola, half of Lola’s last litter, and Sweetie Belle. I have also been giving her raspberry leaves which are good for diarrhea in rabbits. She does nibble on those a little, but not enough.

We have to keep cleaning her off and it is a messy, smelly business. If she does not get better after this course of treatment, I think we will have to put her down. I don’t want her to suffer and if she doesn’t start eating and drinking, she will starve and dehydrate to death, which is an ugly way for an animal to die. It will be very hard on me though to lose her. She is a real sweetheart.