Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Silly Me

I keep forgetting I can just post about what we're doing, even the 'normal' stuff. That was a bit of the idea, right? So, here we go.

One of the local stores had a Big sale on Strawberries, so I made more jam. I've now learned not to make jam from pureed strawberries - you can't tell where the foam stops and the jam starts. I now have foam above the jam, in all the jars. *sigh* Ah well. Lesson learned!

Nearly all the fabric is washed and ironed. I've got one shirt almost ready to sew, just need to cut out the sleeves. Most of my sewing right now is actually repairs - beads coming off a skirt, fixing small holes before they get bigger. Hopefully I will get to some of that this weekend.

There are piles of watermelon rind in the fridge. I've also got another watermelon on the table, and the market is tomorrow. I doubt I will process anything tonight, as the fridge is full and I'm tired. So, tomorrow perhaps.

I did get my stashes a bit better organized. Once we get that last bolt for the treadle the Sphinx is in, I'll be able to shut the table again. The Spinx has been on non-stop display for months, and while she is beautiful, I do also enjoy the 'smoothness' of everything being put away.

We did try a new recipe tonight - zucchini and yellow squash, half a red sweet bell pepper, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Italian seasoning, then steamed. Good, if perhaps a bit bland; I'll spice it up more next time (more seasoning may be all it needed; those were big squash!). Very colorful, and lovely on the plate.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Independance Day Week 10

1. Plant something – nothing yet.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Dried watermelon chunks, saving rinds. Bought strawberries on sale; made strawberry jam. Dried fresh basil from farmers market.

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers.

5. Preparation and Storage – nothing.

6. Build Community Food Systems – Farmers market.

7. Eat the Food – Steamed squash for dinner, sliced cucumbers are now a staple snack. Watermelon. Lots of sliced tomatoes. Ate some of the stew I had canned - delicious! Note to self, 1 qt stew feeds two people.

8. Crafting – Crocheting socks. Lots of crochet. Starting to work through sewing pile. Doing bit-at-a-time restorations of the treadle base the Sphinx is in.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Watermelons galore...

I've been seized by a compulsion to buy fresh watermelon every week. Despite the fact that we don't finish it that fast!

So, what can I do with all that melon?

I can make Watermelon Juice.

I can make dried Watermelon - remember Jolly Ranchers? They taste like that - Yum! Also, I'm using the rinds to make Candied Watermelon Rinds. (I can't find that recipe online: I got it from Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.)

What can't be used for those is cubed and snacked on.

I can also make Watermelon Jelly - I just found this, and haven't tried it yet; the recipe is towards the bottom of the page.

Watermelons are a good source of:
  1. Potassium
  2. Lycopene
  3. Vitamins A, B6, and C
I'm off to dice another watermelon :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scents of Basil

Basil - sweet, lemon, and purple - perfumed the air as I returned with my haul: Cucumbers, zucchini, more squash, an onion, Blackberry Butter for yogurt and sandwiches, hand-milled whole wheat bread (in the center), hodgepodge mini-tomatoes to delight my salads for the week. And of course, watermelons off to the side...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Balcony Gardening

I've cleaned the garden, mulched, and re-arranged. I do need to go back out and pull up the collards and cabbage - I lost them to cutworms. I hadn't taken any precautions, now I know better! And they ate them up in less than a week. Next time - toilet paper tubes around stalks, and cornmeal on the soil. Also more crushed eggshell might be a nice deterrent.

The picture shows the lettuce (since bolted) and a new parsley plant from the nursery. The wood in the front just looks nice and is essentially garden sculpture. Both of the garden stands you see were discards from others.

So, this summer I got a few salads worth of greens and a bit of chives. The fall planting will be when the heat breaks in September. I hope.

Related Links:
Self-Sufficiency Garden: Talks about gardening, including fruit trees, in small spaces like balconies and condo 'yards.' Includes specific varieties to try, and sources for them.
Journey to Forever: Very useful site. This page has links to more information and books about kitchen gardening in containers, without necessarily costing a great deal.
What to Plant Now: at Mother Earth News. Shows 8 US regions, and each region has suggestions for sowing (indoors or out) or transplanting, for March to September.
How Much Veg to Plant: at Grow Organic Food. Summarizes how much to grow to feed a family of two adults and three children, in regular garden rows, with suggestions for how much to harvest for each meal. The information can easily be used for most situations, I would think.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Market Haul

Red bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, chocolate mint fudge, locally made Rose essential oil. The background is an apron I bought at another farm market a few months ago. The Watermelon isn't showing, but yes I have one!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Independance Day Week 9

1. Plant something – nothing; too hot.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Dried watermelon chunks, saving rinds. Drying red peppers for gift.

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers.

5. Preparation and Storage – re-organized pantry for better use of space.

6. Build Community Food Systems – Farmers market. Convinced an acquaintance that I can't do food storage for her, but will help her learn. I think I've got her half-talked into a dehydrator.

7. Eat the Food – Steamed squash for dinner, sliced cucumbers are now a staple snack. Watermelon. Lots of sliced tomatoes.

8. Crafting – Crocheting socks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Treadle Sewing

1927 Singer 127 SphinxTreadles are wonderful - they move at a speed easier to control than the electrics, and make very neat stitches. My treadles are a 1907 Singer 66-1 Lotus and a 1934 Singer 127 with Sphinx decals (pictured). I'm also looking for a handcrank - as it won't be attached to a table like the others, that will be my portable machine.

The Lotus and the Sphinx are both in tables. When they are not in use, they can be folded down inside the table, which can be used as a hall table or desk. The one below holds the Lotus. I don't have any good pictures of mine; McKenna has some here at her site.

1907 Singer 66-1 Lotus TableSewing on the treadles is just relaxing. I enjoy listening to the sound of the treadle, and the vibrating shuttle on the Sphinx (she kind of 'chatters' as she sews). The machines are extremely durable - the maintenance is 'oil where indicated' at the given time frame, rather than 'bring in to maintenance shop every six to 12 months.' There are 100+ year old treadles still being used (and one is mine!), which is evidence enough of the quality that is built into them.

As far as attachments - they don't use the newer ones (something about the design means the new ones don't work), so you won't have, say, a zipper attachment. There are plenty, though; I have a half-dozen attachments for my Lotus and I'm missing a few. Sewing on the Sphinx, I must admit I really haven't missed them. Even the zipper went on fine.


TreadleOn - the best one-stop reference for caring for your treadle, or restoring it.

The Treadle Lady - good information, and she does a wonderful job of conveying her joy in these machines.


Singer 66 - Basic operation of the treadle machine, just showing you the machine as she's treadling.

Antique Sewing Machine Display - She's sewing on one, and the video also shows several others on display. A wide variety of machines, one pre-Civil War. Very interesting!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Independance Day: Week 8

1. Plant something – nothing; too hot. I think everything hits survival mode when it hits 100' and humid.

2. Harvest something – Nothing (see above).

3. Preserve something – Dried watermelon chunks - tastes like Watermelon Jolly Ranchers. Saving the rinds to make more Candied Watermelon Rinds (very popular!). Dried the last of the green peppers - I think this should last the winter. Canned 7 pints chicken.

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers.

5. Preparation and Storage – Replaced old dehydrator with a new one that is larger and has all the desired features (clear top, temp selection, on/off switch, easy access to accessories & good reputation)

6. Build Community Food Systems – Farmers market. Working on dried foods from local foodshed for Yule gifts.

7. Eat the Food – Steamed squash for dinner, sliced cucumbers are now a staple snack. Watermelon. Lots of sliced tomatoes.

8. Crafting – Made a linen tank top. Another is cut, needs sewn; realized I need more fabric for the others. Planning a quilt for us.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tomato Comparison

Just for fun, since I was only able to do this with two varieties. I wanted more, but they're out of season till fall (at least, at the farm I'm buying these from). The original idea was to try the old and heirloom varieties and compare them, and see which ones I might like to grow. Someday, when I have enough sun :)

Click on the pictures to see them larger.

Omar Tomato

Old family heirloom from Lebanon. This photo ( and the other one) was taken after about a week on my counter, and it's sliced in half to show the structure inside.

Plenty of flesh inside, nice flavor, great general purpose tomato. I did have to toss 2 of them due to rot while I had them. Of course, had I used the fridge, I wouldn't have had so much problem with that. Nice, but I'm not overly impressed.

Old Brooks Tomato

Old variety, not quite heirloom. Good for canning per the descriptions. I used it for a slicing tomato on my sandwiches. Excellent. A sprinkle of basil, and it was so good. No problems with keeping them on the counter for a week, either.

This one I'll look for, when we have the sun....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Market Haul

All the green peppers he had left; 6 squash, a couple tomatoes, watermelon.
The glass jars are from the local thrift. I'll use them for storing dried veggies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Independance Day Challenge- Week 7

1. Plant something – transplanted a parsley plant from the nursery, put down mulch on all the pots. Balcony looks very nice now. Checked at the nursery, and confirmed it's really too hot to plant anything until September.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Still working on a full stock of green peppers (almost done!).

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers.

5. Preparation and Storage – does clearing out 4 boxes of clothing count? One was donated, two boxes were summer clothes I'd forgotten and are being washed & put back in the closet..

6. Build Community Food Systems – Visited farmers market, bought veggies. Brought co-worker with me, and bought food for another on request.

7. Eat the Food – Steamed squash for dinner, sliced cucumbers are now a staple snack. Ate venison from the freezer. Tried fried green tomatoes on the family (neutral reviews).

8. Crafting – Did some clothing repair.