Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The kindness of community

It's worth getting to know the small business owners in the area.
It's worth asking them their recommendations for products needed, or if they want to get rid of pallets.
It's worth building these foundations for a day like Sunday.
Saturday night the local deer had a meeting followed by a party in my garden.
They voted and decided to leave the squash alone (this time) since last meeting they ate squash leaves.

This time they decided to eat the tomatoes in the front right side as well as the swiss chard and the green beans

(but only if they are new and bearing flowers and new little sweet beans.)
Yes, they ate my tomatoes (but left one giant one alone!)
So I went to the garden store and Mike was there...
He asked how the chickens were and if I needed any feed...
"No I bought some when you (Mike) were on vacation a few weeks ago...
We're good, it's just the deer..."  
I told the story about the deer and their local union meeting and after party...
So we decided on a fine liquid fence.  
He also suggested a gun or bow and arrow.
I then went out to look at the plants...they always make me happy to see...and something amazing was out there...12, one year old strawberry plants for $8...but wait...a 50% off sign was next to it...I went in and asked if the strawberry plants were half off too...and by golly they were.  
I went out to study them...I called my husband about them as just a few days ago we were discussing strawberry plants and our future as growers of strawberries...
and I checked what they had...one everbearing and eight June bearing.  
That's all that was left.  
Mike then came out and asked if I wanted any, he'd load them up (that place loves to load up you car for you...nice thing about the "small town" feeling of our area) and ring me up...I thought I'd buy 3 pots (36 plants plus daughter plants coming out everywhere so closer to about 50.) but only one of them is ever bearing..."We'll have strawberries in June...just have to have a little patience." I told Mike.  
"Well, take them all." was his reply..."not everyone has vision like that."
I now have over 100 strawberry plants in my back yard.

All for $12.
I still need to plant them, but this is where they will go.  I need to put down compost and straw and then plant, but this area has been liquid fenced and should be safe until I get the time to do this... so I may just get some berries after all...
with some patience and vision.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...what's not cooking

The bread is baked.

The tomatoes picked.

It's cooled off here, but still I try not to cook too much.
It's summertime; the time of fresh eating.
And, I try not to think about it, but time to start the first thoughts of next year's garden.
Seed saving is in full swing.

I let some of the first green beans go to seed so that I could get more seeds for next year.
My provider green beans have been going berserk...they produce so well and continuously.
So the first dry beans have been picked with hopes of seeds for next year.
I have also been going to the farmer's market to buy tomatoes.
Varieties that I didn't plant this year.
I save the seeds.
The seeds that will grow next year.
For example I bought "heirloom" tomatoes from a farmer who said they were the variety
(Some of the family farms, the rest sell at the markets so the sellers don't know as much about the produce as the farmer part of the family sadly.)
I think it's a Cherokee Purple.
Let me know if you think otherwise.

To save the seeds, I scoop out the seedy goo from the tomatoes and place it in a cup.
Then I add a little water (enough to cover the seeds and then an extra inch or so.)
Then I give them a stir to loosen the seeds from the goo.
I put it on a window sill and let it build a moldy crust (about 3-7 days)
Then the goo is removed and the seeds are cleaned from their protective gel.
(This is why tomatoes are moist, but don't sprout inside a good tomato.)
Then the seeds are placed on a towel and dried for about a day.
Then the seeds are placed in labeled envelopes and put in the seed bin part of our fridge.
This process only works for open pollinated "heirloom" tomatoes.
Ones bought at the store unless they are labeled as an heirloom variety usually will not grow true to the parent (they won't look like the tomato you bought and/or may be sterile.)
That simple.
Lets talk cost.
Organic seeds cost about $2.50 for a packet of 20 seeds.
I get about 100 seeds from a tomato (depending on type and size.)
I only spend about $.50 for an organic heirloom tomato or $2.00 for a pint of cherry tomatoes.
See the savings?
Not to mention from those 50 cents I get tomatoes to feed a family for a year.
For many years to go.
For the cycle keeps on going.
For this I am thankful.
Frugal gardening at it's best, the way it was meant to be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Laura and the Laundry

Often I am in the midst of piles of laundry.
Thrown out of drawers by one Miss. C.
Shoved under items.
In hampers
In baskets
On the floor.
In the washer.
In the dryer.
Clothes everywhere.
W. and I have been slowly reading through the Little House books.
I am reading ahead...what can I say, they're addictive.
In the later books, she spends great amounts of time describing what people wore.
What the style "back east" was.
What would Goody's book say?
Talking about working making shirts at the dry goods store.
Or hiring out to the dressmaker's  (7am-5pm bring your own lunch for $0.50 a day)
Sewing all day during the winter or knitting lace with friends.
So much of their time was spent making clothes, yet it seems as though they each had 
1) lots of underclothes that were worn several sets at once (one must be proper petticoats, drawers, union suits etc.)
2) an every day dress and apron (or for the man folk, what we would call a dress shirt and slacks.)
3) a best dress (or a suit)
The best dress may be rotated to the everyday once the everyday was through being worn (or not depending on what it was made of.)
Children's clothes were made with growth in mind; seams could be let out as could hems to allow for the growing child.
Man do I long for those days.
Laundry was a hassle (Monday wash and Tuesday iron, but no purple dye #17 to get out of clothes after Grace painted...just stove blackening.)
But think of it...no folding...no laundry everywhere.
People cared for their clothes and didn't think of them as disposable as they do so in modern society.
Clothes were time, raw product, and lovingly made.
Not cheaply made in Indonesia.
Socks were knitted by the fireplace during the evenings when family spent time together talking, singing, and being together.
Old clothes were put in a scrap bag to be remade for smaller clothes for siblings, or trim for the curtains.
Sheets that were worn had the center seam torn and then the far sides were then sewed together to make "new" sheets...ones already flipped were then made into curtains or dress linings or quilts...
Yes they were stylish.
Yes they were thoroughly modern for their day.
Laura embraced technology and loved modern things.
I have read some about her later days and the modernization of her farm through the years.
But often I wonder what would Laura think about today's modern society.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...Corn update and Glummer

Tonight is the annual Glummer party.
Picnic food
Family and friends
It's Glummer time.
(GLUM end of SummER party.)

That sack of corn held 77 ears.  My mom said that up her way corn is going for 75 cents an ear...here in the beginning of corn country the stores are selling conventional corn 5/$2 (40 cents an ear.)  The farmer's market was selling  13/$3.50  (fresher and more local...while they are not organic, they follow similar practices but can't afford to get certification...and cheaper at 26 cents an ear!)  or my 77 ears for 25 cents an ear...not much of a discount from the regular price, but I'm glad to pay it to a local rather than having a middleman such as a large grocery store chain (even if it is a locally owned chain)...
What I did get?
15 pints of cream style corn
(I think it's gross out of the can...it smells and looks like something in a diaper, but homemade it's not so bad.  Not to mention the brownie points I get since the husband would bathe in it if allowed he loves it so much.)
7 pints of whole kernel corn
16 ears frozen corn
8 ears eaten fresh.
So at grocery store prices it would have been about $1.50/can (organic on sale)
$4/4 pack for the frozen corn
$3.20 for the fresh
also known as $51.20 for the same corn processed.
Sure, canning companies must profit, employ, and keep the overhead...groceries must then have the same issues... but it is more than a 50% markup from the fresh from the farmer cost.  
(note: cost does not include the price of the jars...I have them...so all I had to buy was water, gas for the stove, and lids ($1.25/12 pack))
So here is what I did...decide if it's worth the time or not...

Creamed corn

(Followed Bell's recipe)
Wash corn and then cut corn off the cob then scrape the pulp and milk from the cob
For every pint of corn/milk/pulp mixture add 1 and 1/4 cup boiling water and 1/2 tsp salt.
Boil for 3 minutes.
Put mixture in pint jars with an inch of head space and then wipe rims and adjust the lids fingertip tight.
Process at 10 lbs of pressure in a steam pressure canner for 1 hour 25 min.

Whole Kernel corn
(Bell's again)
Wash corn and cut off the cob (not scraping this time.)
For every pint add one cup boiling water and 1/2 tsp salt.
Boil for 5 minutes.
Put mixture in pint jars with an inch of head space and then wipe rims and adjust the lids fingertip tight.
Process at 10 lbs of pressure in a steam pressure canner for 55 minutes.

Frozen corn
Put corn on the cob in boiling water for 6-8 minutes depending on size.
Place in freezer bag with as little air as possible (I have a little hand pump, like a mini bike pump, that sucks air out.)
Freeze immediately.

In the end I gave the chickens all the leftovers...they can try the bits left on the cobs...they will peck at the husks, but most likely are using them to provide fun scratching material.

As for the corn products, it really is that easy...and rather reassuring (disclaimer...follow safe canning advice from trained professionals, this is provided as just an idea of what is done... disclaimer over.) that you know exactly what is in the corn...no yellow dye to make it pretty or unnameable chemicals for texture...just corn, water and salt...and don't forget the love,
Lots of it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner is:
True Random Number Generator  7Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The winner is Tracey from the blog Clover who said
I adore the chicken! My favorite posts are the one's that deal with food...gardening, canning, recipes; they help expand my cooking and are a joy to try.xx

Glad to hear you like the recipes...I guess I should get that section up to date.

Again a big thank you to all who entered...and keep tuned...you never know what will show up next here.  

It's been a few eventful days around the city homestead...
A few of you have been asking about our Pumpkin.
While I am sure you are talking about the kitten my husband brought home, it reminded me that you haven't seen the garden recently.
Well, as you can see Pumpkin is a small snoozy cat who loves a little boy.
His heart belongs to that little boy and the little boy's heart belongs to his kitten who is now
Pumpkin Duncan Shumunkin.
The pumpkins in the garden are doing well too.  
I only planted the New England Pie and Long Pie seeds (one each but have many more), but also got about 2 other types of winter squash growing as well.
We didn't cage the tomatoes this year, and now I am wondering how I'm going to pick them.
The main problem is that I get too many volunteer tomatoes and then don't have the heart to pull them.
Lesson learned...next year I will be heartless.
The calendula is growing like wildfire and seeds are all over the ground for next year it seems too.
I have pulled tons of potatoes and am still waiting on the blues.  
They seem to be very slow.
In place of the potatoes pulled, I have planted fall spinach, lettuce, and carrots.
The peppers have also been taken over by the volunteer tomatoes.
Garlic has been pulled, cured, and is now in our refrigerator waiting for the biggest and best to be planted in a few months.
And the corn.
It is currently 15 pints of creamed corn.
In our full bellies as corn on the cob.
Waiting to be husked and frozen.
In the fridge for dinner tonight.
About to be put into corn bread.
Basically everywhere.
I'll have to update later on how much there really was.
So far the count is up to 48 ears.

Today is the last day to become a follower or be an old friend follower and comment in order to win a beautiful green glass chicken.
The gateway drug for any homestead.

Wouldn't she look lovely on your countertop?
All you have to do is comment
Let us know what your favorite post is and/or what you'd like to see in the future!
We really appreciate our followers and love knowing what you like.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Holy bag of corn...

We didn't plant corn this year.
Yes I had the seeds.
Yes I had the space.
But the space was covered by a chicken run and they didn't get moved in time for the seeds to be planted.
And corn seeds last so well...next year we'll have our own corn.
So this year I bought corn.

A lot of corn.
For $20 at the farmer's market I got a sack of corn.
So big my husband walked in the house and said 
"Holy bag of corn."
So what will this girl do with all this corn?
The husband loves creamed corn.
He really does.
So I am thinking about making it for him.
Along with frozen corn on the cob.
And some fresh roasted.
And I have a feeling we'll have corn to last the year.
Summer in a jar.
Summer in the freezer.
One wonderful thing about putting your food by.
Don't forget...there is still time to enter our giveaway.
Just become a follower...AND leave a comment on the post about your favorite post.
If you are already a follower, just leave a comment...love to hear from you all.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Does anyone know what today is?...and a GIVEAWAY

To some of you, this may ring a bell...
The first picture on Citysister-Countrysister.
That's right this today, it has been one year in which my sister and I have been sharing snippits out of our lives with the general public.
We are truly thankful to the ones who have been sharing the journey with us.
And with that, I'd like to give a thank you to our followers.

Why a glass chicken?
Well, that was my gateway drug...having chickens made us have lots of compost...
for bigger gardens...which grew more food...which led to more canning...which led to cost savings...
which led us to more gardens and more chickens and more compost...
and so it goes...
Barnheart...that dreaded disease.

To be put into the drawing, you must be a follower
(you can become one now if you want.
If you need help just give a holler and I'll do my best to guide you through...
and if you think that you are a follower, just make sure you are...blogger got rid of a few of you along the way...not us.)
Also, let us know what your favorite post is...or what you'd like to see more of...
after all, that's what keeps you coming back right?
Drawing will be Thurs 8/18...
that's when my sister got in on the act.
Got it...good.
Good luck
(you may need it.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...the first pie

Pumpkin pie...a fall treat.
Well, not so much.
We harvested our first volunteered squash (Long Island Cheese) last night.
He weighed 10 lbs 5 oz.
(Did I mention it was also my dear husband and my anniversary Tuesday and that's why I needed something desserty?)
He was promptly chopped into eight pieces, guts removed and fed to chickens, and boiled.
After cooling, the squash pulp was removed and put back into the pot.
After simmering for about an hour, the liquidy, faintly sweet and pumpkiny, pulp had condensed into a thin paste.  This was then blended using a stick blender to make the fiber smooth and creamy.
Two cups were turned into pumpkin(ish) pie.
Now, I always had an issue with serving sizes for pie.
I also have a muffin tin.
I bet you can see where this is going.
I have fond memories of my mom making personal pies for school lunches once in a great while.
It was such a treat to find a little pie all wrapped up in you lunch box.
So this Scrumptious Saturday, I will leave for you as a method rather than a recipe.
Personal Pie
Make your favorite pie crust recipe for one pie (one or two crust depending on what kind of pie)
Grease your muffin tin that you will be using.
Roll and cut your crust to fit your muffin tin.
Put filling in.
(if two crust put top crust on.)
Bake as you would for a regular pie...it will be deeper so it will take almost as long as a regular pie.
Store as you would that type of pie.
(If it lasts that long.)
Works well with pudding pies and pumpkin.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

He's done it again....

City husband's secretary was driving to work when she almost ran over a rock.
Only it wasn't a rock.
It was Myrtle...
The Turtle.
Myrtle wandered around the office until s/he did it's business on the middle of the floor.
Then s/he went in a box...the box came to our house.
That husband is always bringing critters home.
Myrtle was studied, examined, and then released.
Now Myrtle is living by a lovely creek far away from roads.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...gluten free 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies...

There's a story behind these ones...
It was one of those days...where dinner was going to be "interesting."
That's code for something that may not be enjoyed.
So I decided to balance it out with one of my husband's favorites.
He loves peanut butter cookies...but I didn't have the time or patience to put together the traditional recipe.
One of my clients had a nanny that thought it was social hour, not therapy time.
She would not stop going on about gluten free peanut butter cookies 
(that Troy Polamalu's next door neighbor loves..."I hear at a neighborhood picnic Troy said he loves them."
I guess they are on a first name basis now.)
So here they are Troy Polamalu's favorite Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie recipe.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
(optional...chocolate chips to taste.)

Mix together, place on a cookie sheet, cook at 350 for about 5-8 minutes. 
(You can also do the traditional roll in a ball, roll in sugar, and put fork marks in them...
again a time and patience issue that day.)
That's it...enjoy...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday morning on the farm....

These crates know their job.  Third generation of farmers to move birds in these.  Still holding strong.

Dirty jobs.  Its that time of year again.  A nip of fall in the air as fog rolls around the field. The buzz of cousins in the house.  Early morning loading of chicken raised for two families.  Cleaning the outdoor wash station for a day's work ahead. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back in the saddle again...

While we've been "homeschooling" through the summer as planned, it hasn't been our traditional type lessons.  We have spent time in the garden, taking care of chickens and charting production of both.  
We have been exploring the world around us and thinking about geography in relation to where we are and where we are going.  
We have been thinking in a way about multiplication and division, without using those terms.  
And as usual we have been baking, cooking, and talking about our friends the "yeastie beasties" that make bread soft and fluffy.  
I am tempted to create a child's bread baking book in a story format..."Once upon a time in bread land princess wheat was kidnapped by the yeastie beasties..."  it is a story told too often in our home.  
After scouring the internet, I finally found the cure for the crankiest sewing machine on earth...and cured it from it's issues (which two sewing machine fixers couldn't fix.)  
C. is very interested in creating a princess costume for Halloween (she's been talking about Halloween since November when the candy ran out.)  
"Home Ec" may be her idea of a good time.
But now it is the time when we start the formal lessons...
It takes a while to get back in that saddle again.
W. is really looking forward to a history book that I got out of the library.
It is so far over over his head, but that's okay...I know how to paraphrase.
We are continuing on in Saxon Math and Phonics Level 1.
For science we are exploring the world around us.
And reading...lots of it.
I read a chapter of On the Shores of Plum Creek...
W. reads about 10 pages of Hop on Pop...
or a Biscuit book...
or a reader from his Phonics program...
and for math, reading and science all in one...
there's always reading the cookbook.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

bubble bubble buzz....

Despite my total absence from this space for the past few months...things have indeed continued on here on the Country homestead.  There is plenty of updating and filling in to do.  Reflections on summer.  Changes in the landscape and on the animal front.  All that.  But for today, late as it is, I can tell you that amidst a house full of children, lawn mowing and thunderstorms, and in the face of an oven repair that was two months in the waiting...I was kitchen bound! 
Things have been bubbling, fizzing, buzzing and rising all over the place.  City sister, during her recent (and super fantastic) visit, left me with some sourdough starter that actually originated from another lovely homesteader so many miles away.  By a stroke of miracle I did not kill it.  It is living on the top shelf of my fridge.

I kicked off 5 loaves of oatmeal bread today (oven repaired just in time...phew).  A double batch of cookies.  Rhubarb muffins for the freezer.  Soaked our dry beans for crock pot baked beans.  Two quarts of yogurt culturing away in the cooler. 

One loaf taken by force with bread knife and butter...

Our own Jacob's Cattle beans soaking on the counter.

How we do our yogurt.  Cultured milk snuggled in with hot water bottles in a cooler for 8 hours.

A little of the good fermented stuff to close out a long day in the kitchen.

One of those days where it all comes together.  Busy kids, food put away for the week, kitchen cleaned.  And would you belive it...a blog post to boot!  Feels good to be back.
More details on the buzzing in a couple days.....

How trashy are you?

During an average week we...
Compost 7 quarts of compostables.
Feed the chickens about 2 quarts of scraps.
Recycle 2 large bins of stuff.
Throw out one small white kitchen bag of trash.
Then there are THOSE weeks...
The one where you clean out the cupboards and find expired weird stuff...
Or clean out the kids room and find a stash of broken toys that they were hiding...
Or this week when I cleaned out the freezer...yikes...

Freezer burnt tomatoes from 2 years ago...
A loaf of bread I can't remember making (chicken treat)
4 pints of freezer burnt rhubarb (chickens are eating high on the hog tonight)...
Soup...unlabeled and undated...going in the trash...I see meat in it...
Maybe spaghetti sauce...maybe gazpacho...anybody's guess...trash...
Cranberries...oh boy cranberry sauce with chicken in a couple nights...

I have been planning defrosting the chest freezer since I noticed it's only about half full...
Cleaning out the freezer in the kitchen will make that possible i'm guessing in about a month so that way we can use up what's in the kitchen freezer and then move items from the chest to the kitchen.  In the chest freezer there are bananas... about 1/8th of a cow...some chicken... and a few quarts of blueberries.

Menu planning will be put into place in order to use up the items left...so in our future there are...
Blueberry muffins for breakfast (in the oven)
Blueberry pie at Glummer (end of summer festival at our house...we're glum because it's the end of summer) or pineapple blueberry dump cake...not sure yet...
Beef stuff...
Banana bread...
Cranberry sauce (chillin in the fridge right now.)
Lots of smoothies.
Hamburgers at Glummer as well...

At this point of the month, I have usually done our large shopping order for the rest of the month, but I haven't had to yet...in fact I've only bought (or rather the husband stopped on his way home from work and bought) milk and coffee, two items we cannot make here.

I am truly thankful that we are able to take care of our needs via the freezer.