Friday, October 30, 2009

Making Banana Chips

I started with 7 pounds of fresh bananas. This picture is where we started; below are the results.

All I did was purchase quick-sell 'brown' bananas at the store. Brought them home, sliced for drying or smashing (the bowl).

I now have 1.5 quarts dried banana chips - wonderful sweet snacks - and enough smashed bananas for a round of banana breakfast muffins. Add in the second batch to dry (I had enough to fill the trays twice) and it was 2.5 quarts dried and two batches of muffins. Not bad for $3 and some patience!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Farmers Mini-Market

This week's market was very nearly rained out. Overnight rain, market canceled, market un-canceled at the request of a vendor (yay!). So what you see, is all one organic vendor this week:

Clockwise from top left corner: Turnip greens, broccoli, radish greens attached to the radishes on the other side; green beans, turnips, 3 bags of tomatoes.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Homemade Beauty

I make what I can of my beauty products. Currently, I make and use my own body scrub, hair gel, shampoo/conditioner, salve, and moisturizer.

Since I've started making my own hair care products, my hair needs less attention and looks healthier. It dries faster and styles easier. It's soft, shiny, bouncy, and healthy.

My shampoo is simple baking soda, scrubbed gently into my scalp and left for about 5 minutes before rinsing out. I only use the baking soda when I need it, as it can lighten hair (it did mine!) The conditioner is 4 Tbsp cider vinegar in 32 ounces water, poured over my hair and rinsed out. And no, you can't smell it later. A bit of the gel on the ends, when my hair is still wet, seems nearly to heal damaged ends.

The first few weeks are more challenging ... commercial shampoos strip your hair, so your scalp over-produces the natural oils. Once you stop using commercial shampoos it takes your scalp a bit to adjust and *stop* overproducing them.

Related Links

Nature Moms: The No Shampoo Alternative: directions, and more detailed reasons why it's good

Life Less Plastic: The No-Shampoo Revolution: She talks about going no-poo, and there's lots of reader feedback as well.

Ravelry: No-Poo thread (free membership needed, knitting/weaving/crochet/ spinning site)

Independance Day - Oct 25

1. Plant something – nothing.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Drying banana chips as we speak. Will soon be making banana bread with the pieces pretty enough to eat but not to dry. Have local turnips that need drying as well.

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers. Still playing heater-chicken, made much easier by the fact we just had a week of 70's and it hasn't gone below 50's during the day yet. I guess being in an apartment helps; thermostat say's it's 70's in here.

5. Preparation and Storage – re-did most of the craft stash storage. I now know where things are LOL.

6. Build Community Food Systems – went to farmers market.

7. Eat the Food – Regular eating from pantry. Using the farmer market as primary store. Still trying to figure out how to store 4 months of food for when they're closed for winter. Fresh broccoli for dinner. Eating one chicken a week and looking for leftover recipes. Eating egg salad sandwiches for lunch - eggs are local, lunch meat isn't.

8. Crafting – First sock for class is just past the heel. I haven't done other crafts this week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Independance Day Oct. 19

1. Plant something – nothing.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Made strawberry jam, and strawberry and apple fruit leathers. All fully approved as Yum! Dehydrated and froze basil.

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

5. Preparation and Storage – re-did closet and second pantry, and storage.

6. Build Community Food Systems – Sent my cousin home with strawberry jam, promised to bring some to Grampa at Yule. Utility work was done on market day, so they saw all the yummies I bought. And, I got to walk to the market in the morning.

7. Eat the Food – Regular eating from pantry. Using the farmer market as primary store. Trying to figure out how to store 4 months of food for when they're closed for winter. EEK!

8. Crafting – First sock for class is at the heel. I've learned I can knit an inch an hour on these :) Also my new spindle got here, so I've done a bit of spinning. The class is priority, but the wool is so yummy... This is what I'm spinning, hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester wool:

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Jam!

Nice sale at the grocers - buy 2 pints strawberries, get 3 free. My DD has been eating a half-pint a week of the strawberry jams, even without my help, so I'm thinking more would be good. I have never seen her eat jam so much, and so eagerly.

So - I bought 6 pints of berries. About 1 pint was lost taking off tops and such. I've just now finished processing it all, and from those 5 pints I have about a cup of jam foam to put in yogurt (if I get to it fast enough, like tonight), 8 half-pints low-sugar jam, two half-trays of fruit leathers, and a bit of jam in the fridge for the morning.

My dehydrator book has recipes for fruit leather. I made strawberries with a bit of sugar, and cornstarch for thickener; strawberries with sugar-free organic applesauce for thickener; and straight applesauce. I use the sugar-free organic because I simply like the taste the best. When these are dry we'll taste-test them and see what we think. I'll let you know the results then; and if we like them I will make more.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The beauty of less

Even normal household things can amaze me with how little we really need. We have a kitchen table that is 4 foot across - all we really need is one about 2 feet square. Does that explain why half the table is always buried under books?

We replaced our dishes. Our dinner plates have gone from 11" across to 8", and the bowls hold just two cups when full (yes, I measured) instead of at least 3 cups. It's good for portion sizing, and - bonus - fits in the cabinets better. The picture shows the new plate sitting within the old one. I really enjoyed the snowflake pattern, but since I never saw them I'll just keep some of the mugs in that pattern. The 8" plates have been working perfectly.

When I put out the Fall decorations (while clearing out the storage unit, very convenient) I noticed that just a few things - candle-holders and fabric leaves on the fireplace, pumpkins on shelves - were enough to create the look I wanted. I might get a new tablecloth, in ruby or gold, to set things off as well. But that will be it, and it will be enough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Independance Day Update

1. Plant something – nothing.

2. Harvest something – Nothing.

3. Preserve something – Bought strawberries (out of season, I know) to make more jam. My child is inhaling it! Next year - making LOTS of pints of jam!

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

5. Preparation and Storage – trying to catch up :) did re-arrange cupboards for better space use.

6. Build Community Food Systems –nada

7. Eat the Food – Regular eating from pantry. Trying to stay away from stores.

8. Crafting – Just socks for class. All I have time for.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Local Dinner

Local beef stew I canned, with the Italian flatbread from the farmer's market.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I'm one that rarely goes to the doctor. I have one that knows me- I've been going to her for many years and refuse to switch doctors to keep the insurance happy. I go for my yearly visit, and only rarely otherwise.

My first defense is my kitchen- the things that we eat, that keep us healthy enough to stave off most of the little illnesses. This is part of why I'm building a from-scratch pantry (more on that in another post), and eating as local and seasonal as we can. It's also part of why I prefer organic as often as I can get it - I realize USDA organic certification has some problems, but I do know it means no GMOs and a more natural way of farming. I believe those things result in a more nutritious plant, thus more nutritious food.

Second defense is cleanliness. We wash dishes by hand, as the dishwasher has shown it can't clean properly - and we noticed less colds after that change. I have sanitizer by all the sinks (to be used IN ADDITION to hand-washing, not instead of!) If someone has a cold, I start changing all hand-towels daily, and disinfecting handles and the like just before bed. I don't want to let cold germs breed all night! I make sure to get sections of wall that are often touched, as well. (ex: light switches, and the place you always put your hand to push open the door).

The third defense is treating symptoms as soon as possible. Rest is one of my treatments - as soon as I realize I'm starting to catch something, I spend the day at home in bed. I eat well, and maybe eat some homemade soup. *poof* the cold is gone! (alright, not quite *poof* but definitely gone.)

With these simple steps, we went from several small colds and a couple of larger ones, to one small cold, in two winters. And yes, we have a child in public school.

Related posts elsewhere:

Bulls-eye Medicine: about re-localizing medicine, among other things.

Improve Your Diet Now: from the Preparedness Pro.

A Brief History of Health and Medicine - makes for an interesting read.

How to Avoid GM Foods - a Wiki article

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Harvest Fresh

Click through, and it's desktop sized. All local foods: winter squash, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hobbit Stew

.. better know as Mushroom Stew.

I had to adjust the recipes I had found, since I needed one without dairy and without the sherry or whatever it was. This made 3 pints of Soup, and I had a half-pint of broth remaining. Also, this will taste better after freezing or as leftovers.

16 oz each regular mushrooms (can mix in some portabellas if desired)
5 cups venison, beef, or veggie broth*
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
4 Tbsp butter
Rosemary sprig
salt & pepper

Dice the mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

Melt butter in large saucepan on med-high heat. Add onions and garlic, sweat them for about 8 minutes, keeping the temp low so as not to brown things.

Add diced mushrooms, stir well to coat. Sweat for 10 minutes. Add a bit of water or more butter if needed.

Add broth and rosemary sprig. Simmer on low for 1 hour.
Taste and season as desired with salt & pepper. Remove rosemary sprig & serve.

*I’ve only used venison broth. My second choice would be free-range beef broth. YMMV.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Independance Day Update

1. Plant something – nothing.

2. Harvest something – Nothing grew :( Well, the Brussels sprouts are happy but no seeds came up. I've moved the chocolate mint into the house; it keeps shrinking over the years and I'm hoping this will help.

3. Preserve something – Dried mashed potato flakes, from fresh potatoes.

4. Reduce waste – Regular recycling and eating of leftovers. Trying to have more planned-overs than left-overs. Large load to thrift store ( see below)

5. Preparation and Storage – for unrelated reasons, went completely through the storage unit. Tossed about 5 trash bags of items that couldn't be saved, and donated 2 large items & another car load. While I do have a tad more to put out there, we are now using half of a unit that was packed to the gills. Also, re-organized freezer. I can find stuff now! Yay!

6. Build Community Food Systems – Bought apple cider and apple butter at a local fair. Also farmers market. Picked up items for three co-workers. Tempting worked!

7. Eat the Food – Root stew. For 3 days, and yet it wasn't leftovers. One night main dish, second night with chicken& stuffing, third night with sausage - nice flavor combo, there.
ETA: Homemade jam in my yogurt, nearly every day. Yum!

8. Crafting – Started a sachet bag for the sock class, due Saturday. I can have new yarn for the class socks :) Storage baskets are the slow project, and still being worked on. However, my crochet is getting better because of this project.

But I don’t ~want~ to cook tonight!

So what do you do, if you also don’t want to buy processed foods? I know you can cook ahead and freeze, say, casseroles and the like, and I do use this for some meals. Thing is, my freezer is small – all I have is the one above the fridge. With ice, breads, frozen fruits and meats, the freezer stays full. Also, I don’t like depending on the freezer – we live in hurricane country, and a Category 1 or 2 storm can leave us without power for a week or two. Cooking will be hard; freezing, impossible.

Dehydrating and Canning

I can dehydrate mashed potatoes, and freeze homemade gravy – they can be ready in about 10 minutes. Soups can be assembled from dried ingredients in advance (everything except the meats!) and cooked in the slowcooker or on the stove for until hot & juicy. Broths and meatier soups can be canned, as well as meatballs and unseasoned chicken or beef chunks. That meat can be used as the basis for other items – BBQ, chicken salad, to add to soups, etc. – just heat well before eating!

Dump & Heat Dinner ideas:
Soups: chicken, beef, mushroom, lentils, etc.
Meatball sandwiches
BBQ sandwiches

Anyone have more ideas? I do tend to cook a lot of soups...