Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday

So my last post I decided to meal plan...
Each Saturday I will post what I made for dinner one night during the last week.
Included will be the recipe as well as some pictures.
You can link to what you made, and I will have the hubby peruse your recipes/pictures/etc and decide what will be added to the meal plan for the next month (YOU WIN...the joy and satisfaction you made a great meal.) And if it is super great, I may even write about your wonderful meal as I made it (and share with the world how great your meal was!)

You can peruse as well and maybe you'll find something that you like...That way with meal planning, we'll never get bored!
Without further's my first Scrumptious Saturday!


Friday night is glorious...
We are home together with a chance to reconnect after a week of work, school, and other busy activities.
So what brings a family together better than pizza.

makes about 4 servings
1 Tbs. Yeast
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp each dried oregano, garlic powder, basil and sea salt
1/4 tsp ginger (helps make the dough rise quicker)
2 tsp olive oil+ oil to coat the bowl
1c warm water.
1 3/4 c. flour (any mixture of white and wheat flours)
Corn Meal (about 1/4 c.)

My yeast, herbs and salt mixture
Put the yeast and herbs in a large bowl.  Add in the water, oil, and honey.  Let sit a moment, then add the flour slowly.  Once it creates a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  Oil the bowl and place the dough back into the bowl (roll around to coat the ball so it doesn't dry out.)
Cover with a dishtowel and let sit in a warm location for about 15 min.

Turn up the oven to around 450 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone preheat it and place a pan of water below it.

All ready to go in the oven!
Sprinkle corn meal onto the back of a cookie sheet/pizza peel (so the rim of the cookie sheet faces down to make sliding the pizza off possible)

Pat out dough into a circle (we make personal sized pizzas so everyone can choose what the want on it and get the kiddos involved.)

Top with whatever catches you fancy.


I made Greek(ish) pizza
(Old Mother Hubbard did not have olives)
Tomato Sauce

I had my doubts, but I had everything on hand.  It would have been better with some olives, but they were not available, and I'm not going out to get an per my writing on Thursday.  I was pretty pleased with the nutrition of it...grain (check), protein (check), veggies (check), delicious (check), kiddos devouring it... (CHECK!)

Friday, October 29, 2010


We have some serious adventures going on here...If I get a chance, I'll post some photos tonite. Its been a long week leading up and we have a day full of surprises ahead.  Right now, I need to fuel up with some cafe.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Old Mother Hubbard...

Yes, it's that time of the month...when the food budget is gone and we are "inventive" mode aka...simple, use what you got mode. I will admit to overspending this month to buy milk and medication (sinus infections, bronchitis and ticks got us this month.) But here are some pictures of what we have:

Whole Wheat and White Flour with

Canned Applesauce and Tomatoes with
homemade granola, raisins, beer, spritzer,
and wine

Pear Butter, Dried tomatoes and Peppers,
Dried herbs and lemons, Dilly Beans and jellies


Green Tomatoes

Rice, pasta, beans, quinoa, one can tuna,
and a can of Pumpkin.  I think I see some
marinades and PB as well.

So here are some of my meal ideas...

Yogurt and Granola (not too inventive, but it's something that not everyone in the house typically will choose from their free will...) Fruit????
Pear Butter Muffins
Toast and Eggs (need to make bread) I think we may have some frozen berries to go with it!
Peanut butter and raisins on apple slices, Milk
Peanut Butter and Jelly (again with the bread I should make...) Applesauce on the side
Pasta with tomato sauce
Beef Veggie soup
MEAT (1/4 of a cow is in the freezer) maybe with some spiced up pumpkin and dilly beans

When I started writing this, I could hardly think of something to make tomorrow, but now that I took pictures, took stock, and thought about it, we have lots of things to nourish our family.  It just is back to basics.
We are so fortunate for what we have. We have the ability to be picky. We have the ability to choose what we want to eat. It takes moments like this to realize how truly blessed we are. 
I am almost embarrassed to publish this with my original thinking that the cupboards are bare, when there are people out there who do not have the makings of one balanced meal. 
I bet we could go another 1-2 weeks on what is here.
I'm also thankful I have a food order to be picked up on Saturday (then I can really get cooking!)
I think I also need to start monthly meal planning.  That would make us that much more efficient.
Then I could share with all of you the family meal plans, and maybe you could share with me as well?
What do you think...
What are you cooking...
If you have your own blog, put a link to what you're cooking, or leave a comment...
Or not...your choice.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Presto Chango: Farm Fashion Show


look #1 is the several years ago line from carhaart, muck boots, smartwool and homeknit

 8 AM.............................
look #2 is several years ago line from ann taylor, franco saarto, and a clothing swap

Outfit #1 is definitely me....but not by my client's noses.  Thank goodness for that phonebooth!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saving...Part 2 Do it yourself

You may have noticed, I'm a bit obsessed with cost analysis.  Part of that stems from a desire to save save save, and the other part from the fact that I just went from a nearly full time, classroom situation, to working one day a week at my job.  We made this change as a family in order to homeschool and allow for me to spend more time with the kiddos. So here are some ways we save money by doing it ourselves.

1) Laundry soap.  It takes almost the same amount of time to make as it does to take it off the shelf and at a savings of /load, it's a real bargain.  It even takes paint out of clothing!
2) Baking and Cooking.  We make our own everything here, bread, pie, cookies...we eat homemade dinners, pack lunches, cook breakfast.  I have even started making yogurt (more on that another day.)  We try to keep it simple, healthy, and nutritious.  At times we don't succeed at this, but we try to keep it good for us at least 80% of the time.
3) Canning, Freezing, Dehydrating.  You've seen about many of the different things I've done here from the Rose Hip Jelly to the Applesauce and many others in between
4) Fixing.  Mend what needs to be mended, maintain things to make them last longer.
5) Don't be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, and ask opinions.  Others have done this before me and I often ask what they think about what I should do.  We've saved ourselves lots of problems this way.  We are also always open to helping hands!
6) Raising chickens (Country sister does this and more! check out each word) for eggs and occasionally meat.
7) Our garden...our connection to the land, food sources, and lots of tomatoes

date is wrong!

Sorry about the lack of pictures in this one, I gave you links to the archives instead of lots of picts of all this stuff!

What are some other ways we could do things ourselves to save?
What are you doing?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saving...Part 1 Out with the old...

The clocks are going back soon, and so many are talking about saving...saving time, saving seeds, saving money, saving effort and I'd like to say a few things about how we're saving around here...

Out with the old...In with the new

We're not about being wasteful and getting rid of appliances for the sake of getting rid of them here.  Our furnace was so old that it was becoming a carbon monoxide risk.  When we first had our home inspected, the inspector said that we had 1-2 years max left on the furnace's safety...flash forward 5 years and we were still using it (with fingers crossed and a carbon monoxide monitor.)  When my dear husband's uncle said he knew someone who could put a new furnace in during the off season, we were all in.

We bought a scratch and dent (saved big time money) high efficiency furnace and paid someone to install it for about 1/3 the price of having a box store or a local heating and plumbing operation put one in.

In this change our heating bill has gone down $15 per month already, and we're waiting for the savings when it becomes colder and we have it on regularly.

During the same week, our old washing machine died.  Since I do not have a local stream with a nice rough stone to pound my laundry on (nor the time, effort, or desire to if it was available) I went out to buy a new one.  First the kiddos and I spent a few hours on-line researching the models, sales, and prices.  Then we went out.  The scratch and dent store actually cost more than buying one (without scratches or dents) from a store.  We also went with a high efficiency front loading model which should save us money.  It uses less water, less soap (that I can make) and since it spins the laundry really well, the laundry spends less time in the dryer (when I can't hang out laundry) so I use less electricity (and more savings!)

When the people who delivered the washer took the old one away, they commented on how they haven't hauled away a washer as old as mine in a long time.  Their guesstimate on age was 30yrs!

 I am still jealous of Country Sister's Lady Kenmore's longevity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The cozy moments...

It's moments like this...

I am thankful.

For Grandparents.
For Footie Jamies.
For Books.
For Snugglie Pillows and Couches.
Nice weekends and Lots of Helpers.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

City Sister Love

Its been just a quarter of a year that I have shared this space with my sister.  Yesterday, I talked with her, cell phone squeezed between ear and shoulder while I mucked a horse stall and fed out hay, we chatted about the ups and downs of our kids respective learning situations.  The gratefulness we have for our 'alternative' education choices and the challenges that still present.  The barn radio mumbled in the background and Daisy stood chewing her cud.  It was cold and the sun was setting.  I clicked on the lights to clean up the aisle.  And while we talked, I smiled at the sheer perfectness of that moment. 
With several years between us we shared little more than a bedroom as kids but now, sharing this space, whatever it is, its a little celebration of us.  Its a daily connection and a support. 
Ironically, I have a persistent resistence to technology and modern media.  Y'know, no TV, no Facebook account.  I resisted blogging for the longest time for numerous reasons that are hardly worth going into at this point.  Yet, truthfully, I do like to kick back to a Netflix movie now and then.  So, true luddite, I am not.  And I am thankful that I didn't stand on a luddite soap box as I now am able to catch a smile a day from this great connection with my City Sister.  Aw!  So now, y'all.  Go call your sisters!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

City Homestead Tour #4...The Barn

Okay, it is not a barn in the same way that Country Sister's barn is a barn, but it is a place that houses animals, tools, and needs to be mucked out, which are all functions of a barn.  My barn's sill had rotted out, so had most of the siding.  We had been storing our feed and straw out there until we found evidence mice had moved in.  In all, it was a sad, sad, place.  We stored the lawn mower, buckets and  tools in the barn after that.

My parents came out for the weekend.  We spent most of our days outside working on making this old barn into...

In this picture the barn is still in progress. 
Already, it has already had some improvements.  The doors were hung before my parents left.  Also, the top portion above the door has been repainted a nice barn red.  A manure door was made to go right from the back of the barn to the compost heap right behind it.  And a door has been built on the side to let the chickens out.  This is going to be the new permanent chicken barn,  The hubby and I are also going to create an outdoor run on the right side of the barn to let the girls roam as much as legally possible.  So, there you have it, in one weekend my wonderful parents came and taught us how to rebuild a structure.

As a side note, the place looked so good I joked about how we were going to move in instead of the chickens.  W. liked how I said he'd have bunk beds on one side, and mommy and daddy would have a bed that folded up into the wall on the other, but was not happy about the lack of kitchen, bathroom, and electricity.  C. did not care, she was too busy doing her own paint job on the kid's playhouse.  In order to convince C. that her assistance was not necessary on the top of the ladder while I was painting the trim, we gave her a set of watercolors and set her loose on painting her playhouse. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunrise--Dryland Training 2010

If you can do it, pull it off, the rise-before-the-kids-and-drag-out-of-your-warm-bed....
Something wonderuful does await you.  Its a sunrise the glows between the fall leaves and a bracing chill that squeezes between your layers made thin in preparation for heating up. 

Its the time of year that I habitually crave a morning run.  Running in preparation for skiing.  Fast, quiet, beautiful, heart-pumping, nordic skiing.  I'm not some amazing ex-collegiate nordic racer--but I am just crazy about it.  As is my husband...and if there is anything we have to say about it--the kids are right by our side--or being pulled behind--or pushed ahead...or whatever it takes for us to get out there.

So here's to the ambition to get myself out and moving again.  And although, SNOW, I am not ready for you are on my mind!

Hope you are finding some time to get out there and give it some in the amazing multi-colored training ground that is fall.

Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec 2010 - Fantastic!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

City Homestead Tour #3...The Baby chicks

Well, they're certainly not spring chicks...
It's fall, most are thinking apples and canning, but at our household, we are also thinking chicks.  Why?  Our oldest girls are not doing so well. They are several years old, their summer molt has still not been completed, and their laying is not so good right now.  We figure that we shall need new layers soon to make up for their inconsistencies (and cock-a-doodle looking like she is on her last feather) so...enter the babies.

Here they are hiding in the corner, scared of the camera (or is it the photographer that they fear?)
We ordered them as sex links so we should get all girls this time (unlike the straight run from the feed store incident.)  When we picked them up at the post office while many people started asking questions about the peeping box.  The workers said how they get them in all the time and how the USPS are the only people who will handle chickens.  Upon opening the box, they were all peeping and bouncing around with the exception of one who couldn't walk.  Within a few days, I found it dead.  The shipping can be hard on the chicks. 

The girls are enjoying our homemade small scale brooder.  We use a large Rubbermaid container, wood shavings, chick feeder and waterer, and a brooding bulb which can be found at most hardware stores.  The brooding bulb kicks off lots of heat and keeps them warm (they need it any time of the year as for their first week they need it to be 95 degrees or so to simulate being under mama hen's warm body/wings.)  I use the chicks to tell how warm they want to be.  If they all hang out together under the light they are too cold, if they are running around the brooder, they are happy, and if they are staying away from the light at all costs, the light is too low and hot.  You can find out a lot of information from the Internet on this subject, my favorite is  The City Chicken.

So, without further delay, here are the newest members of the coop.

Are they cute or what!

The kiddos are so excited.  W. has decided not to name them until they get their grown up feathers so he can tell them apart easily.  C. often sits on the steps to the garage where they are residing.  Every so often she'll start dancing and yelling, "I hear them peeping, they are singing their song."  She begins singing a little song she has made up, similar to the kids' song about the grown up hens singing for food.
The hen song goes like this:
"Bock Bock we are in a bocky mood,
Bock Bock cause we have chicky attitude.
Bock Bock won't you give us a treat.
Bock Bock, give us something that is good to eat."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homesteading by Floodlight

Last night I pulled in at 6pm to the yellow glow of the shop light shining through the trees.  I parked and saw three bent bodies huddling around the cider press, still set up from this weekend.  (still organizing pictures from the pending)  A 50 gallon barrel already full of macerated apples, the wooden plates, sacks and apples being alternately stacked in the press.  The red bottle jack standing ready to do its job.  Our four carboys already standing full from the weekend, and our dear friend's two 6 gallon wine making containers awaiting filling.  I run inside and quickly pull together a hot meal.  Cut up potatoes, toss in water.  Voila!  Cheesy mashed potatoes and the last of the baked beans from the weekend. 
The best cider is made from a variety.
 We love leaving the press up for a few days after the party as an open invitation for anyone with apples to come make some juice.  It goes to various purposes.  Fresh drinking.  Freezing or Fermenting.  Tonight it was the latter.  With a little inspiration, some gleaned apples and a couple hours of standing the cold our friends took home the beginnings of their winter libations.  Follow that with a hot (late) dinner and off to bed. 

Press in the Background . . .done for the season.  Ferment!
When you have a non-farming "day job" you often find yourself doing the farm stuff in the dark, or if you are fortunate enough to be near an outlet, by floodlight.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love the Silver Palate Cookbook.  I found it at my favorite used bookstore after years of coveting my (and Country Sister's too) mom's copy.  From our New Year's duck to carrot cake, it has never steered me wrong.  So, when my bread making attempts started to sour (quite literally all my bread started being sour) I turned to it. 

First I made Challa (hence "yes" in Yiddish written in the title, that's what the little symbol is.)  It was perfect; solid for slicing, lacked a fermented taste like many of the other breads I had made recently (too little baking, too large a loaf, rising time issues etc) So this bread was great.

I figured if one bread from the book turned out so well, I would try another, the notoriously difficult Brioche.  It took several risings and less flour than in the recipe, but it again turned out beautifully.

So here it goes...I once took an anthropology class where the professor (who looked like Santa) posed a question as to if there was an ethnicity/nationality that did not have their own bread.  Since I cannot think of one, do you think it a good idea to teach bread while teaching geography/world cultures in order to have a continuous theme/bread supply?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Drag Queen

There is a division of labor in our house, like many others, by necessity (one person can't do all the work) and by default (some stuff one of us is just better at than other stuff).  In the morning, assuming no animals are lactating, I take the indoors stuff and he takes the outdoors stuff.  Both of our lists are long.  The exception is when he travels--which is quite rare--but painful.  It is when I go into modern frontier woman mode.  I haul buckets and muck stalls and turn out animals and brush hair and make two delicious school lunches and put on a suit--washing my hands in between of course. 

And so I brace myself.  Because it turns out training a Dexter calf is a bit of an exercise in persistence and patience and, well, strength.  Funny story.  About one week ago I was out cleaning up the last of the gleanings from one field.  Daisy was nearby--and I thought it a great time to take a minute to give her some lovin'.  She is tied off to a tire right now on a long rope.  It is working out well, teaching her to stick around and preparing her to be trained on electric fence.  So I head to the tire.  I then step on the line and walk on it, pressing it to the ground and slowly approaching her--talking to her all the while.  She's used to this.  I get super close and grab the rope from under my feet with my hand and pull her in for a nice scratch.  I scratch her face, belly, brisket...all the while being mindful of her demeanor and the rope and my feet. 

And then it happens, she gets this wierd googly look in her eyes, and, darts.  Who knows what spooked her.  All I know is she went the exact direction that I thought she would not!  Of Course!  The tire to my right....calf to my left and a big rope right at the back of my knees.  Down I go.  Shins folded hard underneath me, feet in my butt....she drags me...that crazy cow.  Thank god for double knee Carhaarts and my decision to wear them over shorts that morning. 
My mind races---"I am about to get really hurt", I think.  So I pull of this wierd side roll thing that finally pulls my legs out  from under me.  I jump up and walk toward the barn--covered in poo and mud.  He is in the barn doing something---"What happend to you??!".  Not funny.  Well, actually, quite funny.

So, since that day, Daisy and I have been glaring at each other from a distance.  And we have been spending a little time together at her few minute short tie up in the barn.  And, soon, she and I will have to become good friends.  We have time.

Getting saucy...

Tomatoes decided to start growing out of my ears, cabinets, shelves, and other places.  Yes, my kitchen is starting to look like a grizzly crime scene...knives, red juice, boiling is that time of year...the time to can tomatoes.  City hubby makes the world's best tomato sauce.  The following is top secret... his key ingredient is...tomatoes.  I am attempting this year to put up enough tomatoes to keep him happily in sauce for the year.  I am not making sauce, I am canning quartered San Marizano tomatoes. 

This process in the past has seemed much more difficult, but this year I found my stride...the secret of easily slipping off the tomato skins...the X at the bottom of each tomato before putting it in the hot water.  Who kept these secrets from me for so long...

So here is the process...
Wash the tomatoes...make sure there are no bruises, nibble marks (dratted chipmunks), etc...

Cut a little X at the bottom of each tomato...

Place tomatoes in boiling water for about one minute...

Then scoop out each tomato and put it in ice water...

Remove the skin and core...put in the jar with the correct amount of acid...

I added a little boiling water to make the head space correct.

Place on the lid and band and process in hot water.

As always...don't take my word for it...consult the professionals...Putting Food By...or The Ball Blue Book.

The initial cost of purchasing the jars (I got 12 jars for $8.99 or $0.75 each) is the main cost in canning home grown tomatoes...but after the first year, the jars pay for themselves in fresh, homemade food...

Lets do a cost analysis
$0.75 for a jar
Compost for potting the seeds-free
$2.50 for a package of seeds (purchased 3 years ago- tomato seeds are indestructible, so prorated for 3 yrs it cost $0.83/yr and I have about enough tomatoes for 40 pints so $0.02/pint)
$4.49 for lemon juice ($0.14/Tablespoon)
So not counting cost of labor (me) or the cost of  the natural gas (to heat water etc) one jar of tomatoes cost about $0.91 per pint...The conventional tomatoes cost $1.00 when on sale and the organic ones cost about $2.00, so the jar pays for itself the first time you use it!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Warding off the vampires...

For Halloween, C. is going to be a spider and W. is going to be a vampire knight.  I thought how funny since he spent the afternoon planting garlic with me.  My garlic crop has been a work in progress for years now.  The plots have shifted, methods changed, and timing changed as well.  I love books and follow many of the book's recommendations once, and if the advice is good, a second time and beyond.  For our area, one book said to plant garlic in the spring...WRONG!!!!
I now follow the advice of more northern farmers, maybe it is the elevation of our home (at the bottom of our hill it will rain, while snow blankets us at the top) or maybe it is that we are at the edge of the zone, but I find methods recommended for are area are inaccurate for us.
So here is our afternoon of garlic
This is what remains of our first good harvest of garlic.  We love it so. It goes in most anything savory that I cook.
I have been saving the ones that have sprouted since they were harvested.  Everything has a purpose.

Then the kiddos and I put a little compost on the garden.  Garlic grows best when grown in slightly enriched poor soil.  Too much good soil makes the garlic have too much top and not much bulb.  We used our hoe to make trenches and then planted the cloves, sprout side up.

We then covered the little cloves and I covered the bed in lots of straw, when the leaves fall, I will put some of those on top as well.
Come June, we will have fresh garlic to cure and a nice place to plant the herbs that I bring in for the winter. 
The cost is negligible...3 yrs ago I bought a head of garlic at the farmer's market for 50 cents.  From that I planted my first garlic garden in the spring.  As unsuccessful as it was, it bore enough garlic to save and plant the next year.  That crop was successful and now I am planting more and more each year to supply us with garlic.  I have yet to get through a full year without using all but the seed garlic. 

This year I don't have enough seed or space to plant for the full year, but this is my hope for next fall. 

I'll let you see June, when I harvest my 36 bulbs of garlic!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fall Festival...our place...

It has been full steam ahead on the homestead...Every year we host a big old fall fest at our farm.  It is a wonderful gathering of the friends (and their friends and their friends) that we are so fortunate to be surrounded by.  It is a chance to celebrate our community and one last big blow out before we all go into hibernation for the winter.  It is camping and fires and kids running free, eating homegrown food and fiddles and mandolins and guitars and cider pressing...its fall.

I've gotta go pull some pork shoulder apart over my coffee (sorry veggies)...full report on Monday.  May you all find something that warms you from the inside this weekend.

(a few images from years past)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall Cleaning...Step 1

Fall is here...I feel it in the crisp mornings, the tomatoes deciding to all turn red at the same time (all the better for me to can you my pretties), the desire to wear sweaters...and the desire to purge the house.  After several weeks of looking at the massive pile of "to iron" clothes, I broke down and spent the evening ironing while the hubby read books and told me interesting tidbits about them to make the dreaded task go quicker.  As I ironed, he also would look up and say, "That doesn't fit." or "Don't you see the stain on that one?" or the "Those cuffs are horrible!"  These I put aside for another purpose.  We then went through each of our clossets and drawers and purged further.  Then we made piles of all the clothes we had purged.  Two grocery bags went to St. Vincent DePaul's.  The ones that were too stained, ripped, or otherwise unable to be given away, went to the scrapyard.  I cut all the useable fabric out of the various shirts and pants to be used in later projects.  I also had a pillow that had bust it's seam.  This pillow got a bizarre makeover.

Before the project

First I took the shirt and cut off the arms.  I left on the seams for the arms thinking it would help keep the integrity of the fabric.  Then I turned the shirt wrong side out and sewed up the arm holes.

Arms sewn up

Then I used a different part of fabric (the sleve of hubby's shirt) and sewed it into the neck of the shirt since it was a v-neck and I couldn't just sew up the neck hole.
Cut to fit.
Then  I put the pillow in the new sack and sewed it up.  Others may have used buttons or a zipper to make it removable, I just wanted to get the job done.  It looks weird, but as W. said, "It's like mommy is on the couch snuggling me anytime I want."
The finished product
From the fabric I also have a few more projects in mind...I may just share with you.
A future...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Breakfast: Prepared

Let me start by saying that the adults in this househould are slightly less than organized by nature.  Haphazard.  By the seat.  However you say it.  Don't get me wrong--we're both overachievers...we get stuff done...just not in that type-A sort of way.  I like it.  It works for us.  Once in a while I long for an incliniation for extreme tidyness...or everything in its place...or everywhere on time.  But then I am thankful that I don't suffer the accompanying panic attacks that come for those folks when things start to fall apart.  And--its just a fact--things always fall apart.

After my kids were born I looked at them with a crinkled brow--will they join us on our wild ride through life--or will they somehow, instinctively (nature not nurture) be super orderly and organized.  Hmmmm. 
When we sort of fell into Montessori education and the girls' school, we both smiled.  This was the perfect solution.  Montessori is all about the "prepared environment".  The classrooms are incredibly organized in a specific manner that allows the children to learn in a self-directed way.  The pace is peacful and focused.  I saw my kids grow to quickly to seek ways in which they can be independent and to create order in chaos.  Perfect.

Well, despite my natural tendancies, I find myself from time to time creating environments which are Montessori influenced.  A low shelf of children's dishes.  A pitcher for milk so they can pour their own.  A limited selection of toys and games on a shelf, encouraging them to use one thing at a time and place it back when they are done.  Another glance might just show an attractive and organized situation.  Either way, I am thankful that our family has had the opportunity to be influenced by this.

And so this brings me to breakfast.  Our staple fall/winter breakfast.  Oatmeal.  Grind oats.  Make a tray of toppings (today is sunflower seeds, butter (thank you Sally Fallon), dried fruit, Maine Blueberries, brown sugar).  Boil.  Dish.  Eat.  It is simple, reliable, nutritious, inexpensive and a great prepared environment for little ones. Plus, it looks all organized and stuff.

A cup and 1/2 of oat groats, coarsly ground

Kids choice.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Off the beaten trail

It was a dreary, rainy day.  The night before, we had called the place we had ordered a quarter of a cow for the freezer.  It was ready to be picked up, so off we went to get it.  On our way home we saw a sign for an organic fruit farm.  They also had a sign about apples, so we drove down the road rarely followed.  I was thinking that either we'd never return or something wonderful would be down this out of the way road.  Luckily, it was something wonderful. 

We found culled apples they were selling as "deer apples" for $4.00 per bushel.  I picked through 2 bushels and took the ones that were in usable condition (slightly bruised, too small for market, oddly shaped etc) and put them in bags.  I also took some pictures as it was such a lovely sight.  With the apples, I followed "Putting Food By" and made applesauce, no sugar, no juice, no water, just apples and heat.  I have only processed about 2/3 of the apples and already have 12 quarts, oats and apples bars, 2 pints put into the fridge for snacks, as well as all the apple slices and warm applesauce we can eat. 
(UPDATE: I have now made a total of 18 quarts of applesauce, 2 batches of oats and apple bars, 1 pint of apple well as all the eating slices and warm applesauce my family could eat.)

As you may know, I love cost
$8.00/2 bushels of apples
$12.00/new jars (did not take into account jars I'm reusing)
(Guesstimating how many this will make)
18 quarts of applesauce
Cost/quart is...$1.11/quart for organic applesauce (3.5 cents/ounce)
cost at co-op
$3.46/24 oz (14 cents/ounce) or $4.48 per quart

Savings of...$3.37 per quart!!!!! or for 18 quarts $60.66

Despite all that saving, what made it worth it was:
My kiddos "help" when I was cutting the apples (alright, so they were chowing down on apples.)
The wonderful comparisons of how each different type of apple tasted/looked/was colored inside and out.
The SMELL oh, that rich fall smell.
Spending time with the family in the kitchen.
W. saying, "You made all the applesauce because you know I love it're the best mommy ever!"
Sometimes it's the little things.