Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
There was one month in Taste of Home magazine that had some vension recipes in it so I got it out and found venison quiche. Seemed like an easy way to introduce Adam to venison with enough other flavors with it. He didn't complain about it at all and even ate it two days in a row. :o)
Spinach vension quiche
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
This past weekend, I was not feeling well. My sinuses had been giving me problems for 1 1/2 weeks. I think it's from breathing in all the dust in the warehouse since I've been working out there everyday. On Saturday, it wiped me out and I slept most of the weekend asleep or near sleep.
Since I had gotten a lot of rest, I was feeling ok yesterday and really wanted to go on a long bike ride. Usually, I feel like I HAVE to go for a ride, not that I want to...at least until I get out and get warmed up. About 15 minutes into my ride, I stopped to take a picture. The camera went wonky. The screen was all blurry and filled with weird colors. Not good. I still had hope that what was stored on the card was ok and just the screen was bad. (No, the camera is toast.)
I remembered about half way into my ride that I had my phone with me and could use that camera if I needed to. It's not the best but it will do in a pinch. I did use it when I got to a cool old log cabin.
The cabin is a two story structure with hand hewn, square logs, fitted together so well at the dovetail joints that I would assume a professional made it, not an inexperienced frontiersman. It also leads me to believe that this is the original land where it has always stood. They usually don't go back together quite as well as they originally stood once being rebuilt after a move.
Behind the house was a well with a wooden cover with leather hinges. How cool is that? It's been cemented over under the wood for safety, I assume. Behind the well is a two seater outhouse. The weird thing about this one was the scratch marks all over the outside. I'm thinking perhaps a racoon wants in!
There was a single wagon axel, rotting.
This place was magical. It was kept immaculately though there was no house that someone lived in and no sign as to what it was which leads me to believe that someone privately owns it and maintains it. I really appreciate that! There was even a garden...not the fanciest garden (flower, not veggie) but to have it in that setting was really neat.
There was a cute little birdhouse on an outbuilding that caught my eye.
I also really liked this bell. Look at the bull head in its design. Pretty clever. That's the barn.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
As she grows older, she forgets about the books and Laura until her mom, who has been diagnosed with cancer is having a yard sale so they can move to their dream house in Arizona or New Mexico. In amongst the other things, she finds her old copy of "Little House in the Big Woods". She begins reading the books again and her obsession is rekindled. This time around, she learns that there are actual home sites around the Midwest where the original houses were and were rebuilt according to the descriptions that Laura gives. But it's in the middle of the winter so she can't visit them. While waiting to go visit the home sites, she gets a copy of the Little House cookbook and makes some of the foods from it. (By the way, that's a great cookbook filled with history. It's not written by Laura.) She tracks down an old butter churn so she can experience making butter and finds it tastes just the same as store bought butter. She tracks down an antique hand cranked coffee grinder to grind wheat to make the bread they make in "The Long Winter". She's not as impressed. Her favorite food experiment from the book was apples and onions. I have to agree there! It sounds strange but you cannot even imagine how wonderful they are together!! She really had my attention in this experimental phase. I was really into the book. But then the next phase started.
She started visiting the home sites in February when the snow was still on the ground. She had an expectation about them. Those expectations were never quite met. As you can imagine, it would be hard to have a prairie homesteading experience when surrounded by hundreds of other people. This part of the book was depressing for me. I often wonder if it is possible to recreate that kind of life today...and all her experiences seemed to shout, "NO, IT"S NOT POSSIBLE!"
I was confused by the point of the book...she's obsessed with Laura...but what's the point? Where is this book leading? I was really wondering that when it got to the depressing part. Did I really have to finish it? Was the end result worth it? It made me think about my point, my reason for my obsession. To be honest, I have no idea how to put it into words. It makes me happy to learn these skills, to know I could feed my family at least something if I ever had to for any reason. But that's the best I can articulate it, and that doesn't do it justice. If I couldn't do any better, how could I expect her to? I continued listening to the book to the end.
Eventually, she had visited all the main home sites and read as many books about Laura as she could get ahold of. One of the neat things in the book was all the info I was getting on Laura...the true stuff, not the embellished or rose colored view from her books or the all together false stories from the show. I liked that. She had decided that she had seen enough, that she didn't need to continue. And so her obsession ended. Her friend asked her if maybe she was searching for something. She decided that she must have been searching for herself, to be able to be herself again after the death of her mom. And she had found that ability again.
Turns out we really didn't have as much in common as I thought. We had a similar interest but for completely different reasons and I couldn't understand her reasoning and her depressed nature in the second half of the book really brought me down. Had I been reading this book, I probably wouldn't have have made it through the whole book but since I was listening to it on my commute, I didn't feel like it was any work to continue with it. So, in a nutshell, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I won't be listening to it again...but it did make me think. Knowing I can't recreate that lifestyle (not to the full extent, not that I didn't really already know that), I will still continue with what I am trying to do because it makes me happy. Happy was something that seemed to be missing from the second half of the book from my perspective. That's sad.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
When I take my bike, I put my rear panniers on to carry some clothes to protect me from the thick misquitos, a pair of shoes and sometimes a container if I think I may have some produce to bring home.
The ride to the garden is mostly more rural roads...at least compared to the roads around my house. The closer I get to the garden, the less traffic there is, except for one road I have to take for a few minutes. Then it's back to rural roads.
We had our first picking of green beans and got enough for a very hearty amount for each of us. There are a few more beans on the vine now...but they're still growing. We finally have pea blossoms and the bush beans look like they might produce something soon.
And of course the squash are trying to produce something as well.
On the ride back, I take a different route. This route has 4-5 fig trees lining the road at one point. Each time I ride past them, I stop and grab a handful to snack on for the next couple of days.
Here's the green beans after I got home and washed them. There's some kind of caterpillar eating holes in them so I have to do research to find out how to get rid of them.
Dinner that night was homegrown green beans, foraged figs, homemade sauerkraut, homemade wheat bread with honey and butter and a small bowl of lentil slaw (which is sprouted lentils, shaved carrots & diced tomatoes, with a apple cider vinigarette).
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
To make sugar water:
1/4 cup Rapadura sugar (or honey)
1 quart filtered warm water
Prepare the sugar water for the amount of fruit scraps that you have with the ratio of 1 quart water to 1/4 sugar. Make sure all sugar is completely dissolved. Fill jars with coarsely chopped up fruit scraps about half full, then pour in the sugar water solution. For pineapple vinegar, add the additional spices and stir in. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and let ferment at room temperature. Stir once/day if you can.
You will notice the liquid darken after about a week. At that point, strain out the fruit scraps and discard or compost them. Ferment the vinegar for 2 to 3 weeks longer, stirring it periodically.
Simple enough right?
We ate one each right away. Yummy! Aren't they beautiful! ;o)
Aside from the green beans, we also have:
a few spaghetti squash
I doubt it willbe a bumper crop year but since I wasn't going to have a garden this year and we got it planted so late, I am grateful for anything I get from it, and for the experience.
Monday, August 8, 2011
I pulled my starter out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature over night. Once it was bubbly again, I fed it enough to double the pancake recipe and a little etra.
Before you add anything other than flour and water, you need to reserve some to keep as your starter for the next stuff you'll be making. While it's still bubbly, I put the reserved starter back into the fridge.
1 Mix together sourdough starter, water and flour.
2 Cover bowl and allow to stand at room temperature overnight.
3 Whisk in eggs, sugar, oil, milk and baking soda.
4 Let batter stand 10 minutes.
5 Make pancakes.
Good thing I had mixed it in a huge bowl because as soon as I added the baking soda, it exploded with bubbles. It was almost spilling over...it doubled in size. As Adam put it, "The batter was very happy." ;o) I didn't have any room to mix in the blueberries so I had to make some pancakes before I had room to do that. I just dumped them in....didn't have nearly enough for a double batch.
I got about 45 pancakes by doubling it. Most went into the freezer for easy weekday breakfasts.
Chocolate chip pecan pie is his favorite so I made sure to make one for his visit.
He brought a box of goodies from my mom. It had my grandma's dishes in it. I've always loved these metal, enamel coated plates and bowls.
This is an afghan my other grandma crocheted for me as a baby and a dress I wore as a baby...it's hard to believe I was ever that small!
These granny squares are from my aunt. She gave them to my mom in the 80's and she never did anything with them so she passed them on to me.
And I didn't actually ask about this dish rag but I am assuming that the same grandma that made the afghan also made this. I love it!
Back to the pecan pie, The only items I had to buy was the eggs...and I always buy eggs anyway. I used some of the pecans I foraged in October. I really do need to use them up...some still taste fresh but others, not so much.
I streamlined my cracking process of cracking by sorting by size. That way, I only had to do a minimal amount of adjusting the nut cracker. It took a lot less time to crack them that way...but picking the meat out of the shells is always time consuming. (I got this really great nut cracker at a thrift store for $2 just a day after I learned what one looked like. I wouldn't have realized what it was and passed it up just a day before.)
This pie is a family favorite. Every Thanksgiving, we used to each get our own pie...that meant my mom baked at least 8 pies...but there were usually a couple other pies as well, like pumpkin and apple. I haven't had a pie to myself in years and it's too rich for me these days to eat a whole one. I ate one that night and kept a smaller piece for myself but packed the rest of it up and sent it with him.
Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 350F.
In medium bowl with fork beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, Karo, margarine and vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until the middle is no longer jiggly.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
This sidewalk is in the drainage path so we are fixing the slope while working. The groud on either side will be lowered to match it in the fall or winter when I get a chance to move the monkey grass (the plants on both sides of it). We used to have holly bushes here but Adam had to take them out to fix the flooding problem we kept having. The bay window was rotting and the windows, window frames and the siding all had to be replaced. It hasn't been painted to match yet...partially because we don't have paint to do that but mostly because we just aren't too concerned about it until we go to paint the whole house and that's not in the plans just yet. We're using this cement mold. I like the looks but Adam likes it for water drainage since it's sitting where it is.
Adam mixed the water into the cement. That was quite the workout! I did it for one bag to give Adam a break and my abs still are sore when I move just right. (The yellow hand truck behind/beside Adam is one of his recent projects. He painted it yellow...he loves yellow. It looks nice and he only spent 25 cents on the paint.)
You fill in the mold and push the cement into the corners of the "stones" and lift it off right away.
There is a dye you can buy to mix into the cement but it was almost as expensive as the cement so we didn't bother. Adam had an idea though. He sifted some of the dirt we had just moved and we sprinkled it over the top. We really liked it. You can see it in the pic below. Most of the cement had already gotten sprinkled but the two closest to me have not. Shortly after we went inside, it started pouring rain and it moved the dirt around into the nooks and crannies. Oh well, we tried.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
But the real subject of this post is cheese...homemade cheese. I made my first batch Monday. I have to wait a couple of weeks to taste it and I'm really excited to see how it turns out.
One gallon of milk makes about one pound of hard cheese but you can use the whey and make ricotta cheese with that so it will yeild more cheese after I finish with that. I'll save the recipe for after I know it worked but here's a brief summary. I heated up the milk with buttermilk and let that sit overnight. In the morning, I added some rennet and heated again. I*t took about 1:30 to move onto the next step.
I cut the curds.
You have to heat it all up again and stir with your hand for 15 minutes. This sets the curds and it really starts to seperate from the whey.
You drain the whey from the curds. I saved it since I'll be making ricotta with it. You salt the curds and wrap it up in cheese cloth.
This is an old book press and isn't the ideal press for making cheese but I made it work just this once. It belongs to Barry and weighs about 40 lbs. This pic was taken before I actually turned the handle to press it. Once pressed, it was not open very much at all.
It sits in the press for about 12 hours. I unwrapped it, rubbed salt on it and wrapped it in clean cloth.