Easy Taco Sauce from Scratch

I LOVE TACOS…

I mean, who doesn’t right?

Whether its corn tortillas, flour tortillas or jicama shells; ground beef, pulled pork, chicken or steak; pico de gallo, pickled onions, Asian slaw or taco sauce; no matter what you put them in, fill them up or what you top them with, Tacos are just the best food there is.  In fact, even though we just had tacos night before last, all this talk about tacos and I now am craving them again.  (sigh)
While I love to try all kinds of variations of Tacos, the original, basic version of ground beef (or elk in our case usually… and by next year it will be Moose or Cariabou) and a corn tortilla is still probably my favorite. It feeds hungry hubby’s and kiddos in a jiffy and keeps everyone happy. Whenever we have taco night, it is always made with my Homemade Taco Seasoning and this yummy Homemade Taco sauce.

So since we had tacos the other night and I whipped up a batch of this sauce rather than paying who knows how much for it at our local small (expensive) grocery store, I thought I would share the recipe with you.
Now, we eat a LOT of tacos. It is probably a weekly or at the very least, a bi-monthly staple around here. Thankfully there is also no need to make this sauce every single time you cook tacos, I just whip up a batch about once a month. (But I probably wouldn’t let it go much longer than that without canning it.) If you have a larger family and wanted to make a big batch of this, just double or triple the recipe so that you could have enough for multiple meals as well. But to be honest, the recipe is so simple that it doesn’t take much effort. Just simply whisk the ingredients together in a sauce pan and set it to simmer on the stove while you brown your taco meat. It’s that simple. I wish I could sound intelligent and creative and give you a long list of instructions… but I just can’t. There is nothing more to tell you other that what to use!

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Easy Taco Sauce from Scratch

  • Difficulty: easy
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Homemade Taco Sauce
12 oz can Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons Vinegar (white or apple cider)
Chili Powder
Cumin
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
a pinch of cayenne (or more depending on your family’s tolerance of heat)

  1.  Whisk all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring up to a simmer.
    Simmer on med-low heat while you make your tacos or at least for 20 minutes. (This is important to give the flavors a chance to develop but keep it low and slow so that it doesn’t reduce too much.)
  2. Remove from heat, cool & store in a glass jar. (Can be served cold or warm.)

It’s that easy folks.  Nothin’ to it.

If you want to take it a step even farther, try my Taco Seasoning Blend as well!  With these two recipes you will have excellent Tacos with NO processed ingredients.

And just as a bonus, I’ll also throw in my recipe for Homemade, Traditional Refried Beans.

 

DIY Hugelkultur Garden Bed

*This blog post was actually written in back in June.  Due to a supremely busy summer, I am months behind in sending out updates.  🙂

This year I am super excited to be trying out a hugelkultur (pronounced hoo-gul-culture) bed in one of our raised beds.
Hugelkultur simply means “hill mound.”  They are traditionally a raised bed in which soil is mounded up over a pile of rotting wood, leaves, grass clippings, straw, compost or whatever biomass you have available.

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They boast the advantage of holding moisture & building fertility and are great places to grow your vegetables, herbs and fruit.
The wood will gradually decay which will aerate the soil meaning it will be a no-dig bed. The rotting wood will also act as a consistent source of nutrients for the plants and the composting material also creates some heat which can help to extend your growing season. The wood will act like a sponge in which water is stored and then released during dryer times. Some even claim that after the first year, if you have the right climate, you may not even need to water your hugel-bed.
There are many, many variations of a hugel-bed from creating large hills or mounds to filling a traditional raised bed with the same materials you would use in the mound style bed. While I would love to build a true hugelkultur mound, with the insane rabbit population on our property right now, it just isn’t a feasible option until we can afford the fencing material to protect our garden area. So for us this year, we just filled the bottom of our raised bed with rotting logs and covered with a soil mixture of rotting moss, aged manure and wood shavings. (Having no leaves or grass in this sub-arctic terrain to utilize.)

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I’m anxious to see how well it works as I’m not sure if I used enough wood or not or how well this local black spruce will work. I know that if the wood is too hard, there is a bit of a debate regarding the use of hardwoods for a hugel-bed. Some say that the wood will take too long to breakdown, taking years and years before you see the advantage of the decomposition process; others say that you want to use harder woods so that you can reap the benefits of the process over time.
I actually used wood that was already rotting, hoping to get immediate results, we will have to wait and see whether or not that was a mistake. Because I’m in the experimental stage of my soil mixtures and permaculture practices, I don’t mind having to redo a bed next year or the year after.
I also didn’t use many of the recommended layers of a hugelkultur bed because here in this climate we don’t have things like grass clippings or leaves. We are in the middle of a black spruce forest blanketed with moss so that is really all I had available. We are also so new to the area that I didn’t yet have any half rotted compost yet.
We filled the bottom of our *hugel-bed 30% of the bed with rotting wood and topped it with a soil mixture of wood shavings, rotting moss, top soil and a small amount of aged manure I had a really limited supply this year and wanted to see if the rotting wood provided enough fertilization. Remember, one of the most important aspects of a “Homestead” state of mind is to, as much as possible, work with what you have on hand without running to the store for every little thing you need.
I wanted to compare the results of my bedding options to see which soil mixture works the best. I also wanted to safeguard my vegetable harvest by not putting my “eggs” all in one basket. So I planted 3 main raised beds (which was all that we had materials to build) filled with 3 different soil combinations.
• Bed #1 was filled with what I have always used previously in my raised beds: peat moss (purchased from Lowe’s), finished manure and pearlite (or vermiculite.)
• Bed #2 was filled with top soil, local “peat moss” equivalent, finished manure and pearlite. (By “peat moss” equivalent, I mean the soft, under-layer of soil that develops right under the moss layer that blankets our forest here.)
• Bed #3 was the *hugel-bed described above.
I expected to have an issue with acidic soil because the mixture in my two experimental beds contain so much rotted moss and pine material but according to my soil tester, the pH is sitting right about 7.5 actually borderline being too alkaline which just shocks the pants off of me. I will continue to monitor the pH occasionally and have some wood ash on hand to neutralize the soil if we see it drop below 6. We added a small amount of steer manure from Lowes to get started but was really hoping to use some goat manure from someone local. A new friend here said I could use her left overs if she had any more but had one more person coming to load up before me. If I am lucky enough to get some, I will use it on my potato beds. (She also said that she had seed potatoes that I could use, which I have no more bed space for, so I need to go outside and start digging a trench or mound set up for those ASAP. I expect the rabbits to be a problem for anything that is not protected but since you burry potato stalks just as soon as they appear, I am willing to risk the attempt.

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So these are the beginnings of my adventures in learning to use permaculture style practices in a sub-arctic climate.  I will report back at the end of the summer how the different soil mixtures compared to each other as well as how the Hugelkulture bed did in general.