Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient
– Aristotle

Monday, September 28, 2009

Independance Day Update

1. Plant something – nothing.

2. Harvest something – Nothing ready yet.

3. Preserve something – Dried basil and hashbrowns. Canned mushroom-venison stew. (aka Hobbit stew?)

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers. Trying to have more planned-overs than left-overs.

5. Preparation and Storage – Went over pantry storage again- I'm determined to be able to fit more groceries in here!

6. Build Community Food Systems – Farmers market. Picked up items for one co-worker. Tempted all of them with samples of the breads sold there.

7. Eat the Food – Tried a new type of squash.

8. Crafting – Finished the Twisted Scarf. Storage baskets are the slow project.

I blinked and the week was gone. I thought we did more than this....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Autumn Quiet ?

There is so much I want to do this fall, and I’ve no idea how I’ll find the time.

I want to preserve more for winter – root vegetables dried to chunks and flakes for cooking; making dried soup recipes for slow-cooking on lazy winter days. I want to knit socks, and a comfy sweater with that wonderful wool I found; I want to knit the sontag with the yarn I will spin from the wool roving I have. I want to stitch up some of the clothes I’ve thought of, and crochet snuggle-beds for the kitties. I want to become familiar with my loom and learn it’s song.

I want to work on the cross-stitch projects I have, and embroider pillows for us; I want to make an “Irish Maple Leaf” quilt for our bed; to make another fabric lunch sack and more fabric napkins.

I want to reduce the Pile of stuff that I have stored (and it is me, not him, that has all of this stuff). And I want to do it this winter, as we get into the storage for winter decorations, and we’re digging through it anyway – I want to pull it all out and have half as much, if that, going back in. Some of the items we already know are leaving and it’s just a matter of getting to them, so that they can be given away (including two of the largest!).

Hopefully this weekend we can start to get into the Pile and start filtering. The sock-knitting class starts soon, too. And once I get the drop spindle, I can start spinning the roving for the sontag.

Fall is here, winter is coming. Time for drawing close to the hearth, and working winter’s crafts while we talk and enjoy the company of those we love.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Independance Day update

1. Plant something – nothing.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Basil frozen.

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers. Saved dead batteries from work, to be correctly disposed of later.

5. Preparation and Storage – Found taper candles, 98c. for 15. Yay!

6. Build Community Food Systems – Farmers market. Still encouraging coworkers to buy from there, including offering to pick up for them.

7. Eat the Food – Ate the last of the venison from the freezer, and saved the broth for my mushroom soup. This week's menu will alternate meat & non-meat nights, as we learn to cut back our meats. Slow-roasted a local chicken in the cast-iron dutch oven; delicious!

8. Crafting – Still crocheting storage baskets. Also, picked up yummy sock yarns and a pair of circular needles. I started a coin bag on those - it's part of the practice for the knitting socks class I'm now taking, which starts in October. I haven't done cross-stitch in weeks, I need to visit that again as well.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

For Love of Basil

Basil is one of my favorite herbs to cook with, both fresh & dried. There is a taste difference between the two, and I'd like to share with you how I preserve the flavor of fresh basil for winter dishes.

You will need:
-Fresh basil
-Olive oil (I use extra virgin cold pressed)
-mortar & pestle, or an alternative
-an ice cube tray
-a Tablespoon measure

-- Pinch off the fresh basil leaves. You don't want flowers or their buds, just the fresh leaves. Rinse them off in water and pat dry.

Fresh basil in pestle-- Rip them into small pieces (or cut or dice). Place in a small bowl - I'm using my mortar & pestle here. Dribble some olive oil on them, and crush the leaves into the oil. You don't need to create a pulp but rather want to bruise the leaves into the oil.

-- Using a tablespoon, measure the crushed basil into ice cube trays. I do one tablespoon per cube for ease of measuring later. Pour a bit more oil onto them, and tuck all the green down under the surface of the oil. Put into the freezer.

-- The next day, check them. They should be completely frozen. You can add another layer of oil on the top, and freeze again, if you feel it would be helpful or there is green sticking up - you want to protect the basil.
Frozen Basil
--Whenever you are making something and want the flavor of fresh basil, toss in a cube or two. It makes even canned spaghetti sauce taste much better, & doesn't need to be thawed in advance. I try to put some up every winter.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Market Day 9/16

Fall is here, and the vendors are changing. Still I found fresh basil, pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins, more blackberry butter, whole wheat bread, a small Hubbard squash, goats milk soap & mouisterizer, and potoates. I do notice that the potatoes are getting larger as the season gets later - these are from the same organic farm I've been getting potatoes from.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

small acreage

85% of the world’s farms are small farms, smaller than 5 hectares

from Casaubon's Book (blog)

5 hectares is 12.35 acres. I've heard that called micro-farming before, like it's a rare thing. But at the same time, it's amazing how much potential there is in a small acreage. Please read the article the quote is from. Good information, and great for getting one thinking.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beauty at Home: Flax Gel

Beauty at Home

Much of my 'beauty care' - hair and skin care, 'spa' treatments and the like, are done at home. Very often they being done in the kitchen. So, as part of sharing our homesteading ways, I will occasionally post on the things I do to take care of myself and my family. This is the first. If you have ideas, or anything you'd like me to cover, please let me know!

Flax Gel

Flax gel is the mucilaginous or starchy part of the cooked seed. The flax gel was apparently used in the 20's by the flappers, to get those wonderful curls. I have been using this for about 6 months now on a daily basis, and have been very happy with the results.

2 cups water (4 parts)
1/2 cup flax seed (1 part)

Place in pot in stove over medium-low heat, stirring often. When the white foam starts to appear, turn the heat off. Place a strainer over a bowl that will hold 16 oz or so. Pour the contents into the strainer and let it strain, then stir the remaining seed and scrape the bottom of the strainer to get the last bit of gel. Clean up promptly (the gel will need to be soaked off if it dries, but if you do it right away it comes right off). Keep the gel in closed container - I use a jelly jar I like. I get 8 to 12 oz of clear gel per recipe.

Also, if you cook it too long, the gel will get too thick to separate from the seeds. It took a few batches for me to get this down :) but only takes about 15 minutes to make. The consistency will be about like melted cheese - the picture shows what I mean.

I tend to keep mine in the fridge. It will last at least two weeks - after that, I run out :) It will start to smell 'off' when it gets old enough. On the counter I've had it last one week to three weeks. I have no idea what caused the difference in time.

For a leave-in conditioner, it seems to work best when warm (right after you make it) but can be used every time you shower, cold is fine. I also use it every day to style my hair, and it works better than the commercial hair gels I’ve used before. It does seem to re-activate if I dampen my hair with a washcloth or damp fingers.

Questions are welcome!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Market

The vendors are changing. One is leaving, his fields ready for winter. At least one, possibly two more (that I know of!) are coming. I'm very much looking forward to the second - she has a spinner's flock, with colored wools, breed for wool & meat. Today's finds - several acorn squash, in a rainbow; two pie pumpkins, butternut squash, bitty tomatoes and fresh basil, a loaf of bread.

Also, I can try the pickles I made. Yay!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rubber Chicken

One chicken, three or more meals. Popular enough idea, and yet sometimes I still forget what to do with it. Here's what we've done this week, for two people:

1. Slow-cooked it all day, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with herbs. Delicious. The honey gives it a very nice golden color that's often hard to get in the slow-cooker.

2. Zataran's Smothered chicken. Used about 3 cups of shredded chicken. Had just enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

3. Chicken soup - using the broth it made in the slow-cooker, another 3 cups of shredded chicken, and assorted root vegetables. Put enough in the freezer to feed us another night, as well.

4. TBD. There's about 2 cups of chicken in the freezer. I didn't even pick the chicken clean; I had just pulled out the easy stuff for saving.

Other ideas:
-Heat shredded chicken with BBQ sauce in a skillet, and serve on a bun with green side items.
-Use for soft tacos, burritos, and the like. I don't make a lot of these so I'm not as sure.
-Chicken Salad.
-Chicken & Dumplings


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall Market

Fall is here, it's official. At least, I say it is! Trees are blushing, the weather is cooler (which means 70's, here) and they had Pumpkins at the farmer's market!

Yes, Fall is my favorite season :)

Pie Pumpkins, green peppers, free-range farm chicken, hand-milled whole wheat bread, red & blue potatoes, grape tomatoes, red organic onion, fresh basils.

Independance Day Week 12

IndepenDANCE because yes, it is a dance, with the seasons, nature, and the people around you.

1. Plant something – Brussels Sprouts transplants, Radish, Beets, lettuce.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Basil, green peppers, both dried. Pumpkin in freezer.

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

5. Preparation and Storage – Found taper candles, 98c. for 15. Yay!

6. Build Community Food Systems – Farmers market.

7. Eat the Food – Tomatoes. Dried potatoes added to stew (Yum!). cooked and mashed sugar pumpkins, with DD's help, for pie, muffins, and freezer.

8. Crafting – Crocheting (storage baskets, this time). Spinning. Sewing. Weaving practice. Basic, but still fun!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Independance Day Week 11

1. Plant something – nothing yet. Need to clear out the pots.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Watermelon dried. That will be the last one for the year.

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 – Tomatoes. Running out of ideas for yellow squash & Zucchini.

8. Crafting – Crocheting. Trying to do more spinning – I have projects in mind that I cannot find the yarn for. Of course, I’m being real specific what I want

Starting to work through sewing pile – right now it’s a lot of hand-sewing, which slows me down.