Monday, November 3, 2014

My Fairy Tale Weekend

It was a productive weekend on my little homestead. We survived a cold, windy Halloween night with a splash of snow mix. Saturday I turned on the oven at 11:00 a.m. and didn't turn it off until 6:30 in the evening. Sunday was kissed with our first frost and yet I was able to fill my day outside in the warmth of the day. 

Crisp autumn morning, so chilly the girls aren't out yet.

Flannel sheet now wrap each bed to help warm us in the night.

Making pumpkin puree for the freezer. (how to to follow in upcoming blog)

Pumpkin and squash seeds toasted to perfection. (How to in upcoming blog)

First frost of the year.

I love seeing the beauty mother nature does effortlessly.

Blanching and freezing broccoli with little bit in background.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Harvesting Garlic

 Garlic has been one of the easiest produce I decided to grow in my garden. During the first of October, I dedicate one raised bed to growing garlic. I place the cloves into the soil about three inches deep. Then I covered the raised bed with saw dust and straw. Then you forget it!!!!

In summer, wait until the once green plant has turned brown. It is the best guess to having wonderful garlic bulbs beneath the surface. Then carefully dig up the cloves, brushing off the excess dirt. Then place them some where dry and dark, like a basement or garage, to cure for about a month.

Then move everything to the kitchen. Using your hands to remove the outer skin.

Now you start to separate the gloves. Having a lovely beverage makes just about all homesteading process fun.

Here is what all the work was for, wonderful garlicky cloves. I love to stop and smell them, it's intoxicating.

I then count out the cloves I need to plant for the next year, those I'm storing in a mason jar. Then I keep all the rest in my large mason jar, kept in the freezer. And I'll have garlic to last me through the year. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Productive Homesteading Weekend

Urban homesteading - The act of transforming a suburban home into a property that produce some or all of its residents own food and other subsistence needs. Participation in home-based activities such as gardening, raising poultry or small livestock, minimizing consumer purchases and generally seeking ways to increase self-sufficiency in a city or suburban environment.

The creation of an urban homestead with the goal of reducing one's environmental impact and returning to a home-based, family-centered, self sufficient way of life. - as defined by

Every now and then, or at least once a month, I spend a good part of the weekend doing things that many would find odd. I juggled the oven and spent hours in the kitchen. So here is what I did this weekend:

Grinding saved egg shells. This will be used in my garden, mainly with my tomato plants, boosting the calcium.

Made my bi-monthly granola with the finishing perks of dried apples and pears.

Made my almost, whole week of morning green smoothies. Its been almost a year of having mainly green smoothies for breakfast. This batch is spinach, blueberries, peaches and bananas. Stored in mason jars in the fridge, a little shake and you are good to go.

My indoor lettuce seedlings are sprouting and growing towards the sun. Can't wait to enjoy my indoor salad bar. 

Painted my dining room part of the kitchen, below the chair rail. Soon we'll update the wall color above the chair rail and kitchen to do list will be complete.

Pancakes, breakfast during the week can be a lot easier with homemade frozen pancakes in the freezer. I made a batch of pancakes, from my homemade pancake mix, cinnamon pancakes.

Baked two loaves a sandwich white bread, which will last my family roughly two weeks, depending on my husband's appetite.

Not bad for a weekend trying to get things accomplished and ahead of the game. All this and I still got frozen yogurt with my family, went to swimming lessons, going to a consignment sale, cleaning and gardening, including reseeding tomato plants I killed in the greenhouse. This is a year of learning as I try to expand my gardening skills.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Love Affair

Currently, I’m involved with a three, each are different and knowledgable. One talks to me about baking, seasonal produced cooked up and surrounded by flaky pastry. Making several pies for each season when the produce is at its best. From fruit to veggies and even a shepard’s pie. How to dress it up with lattice work or tuck under a full top.

The second one tells me about growing, prepping from veggies to flowers. How to select the plants, prep the area and how to build structures to grow them upward. Creating a landscape based on color, theme, smell or herbal. From shady to full sun, from outdoor and indoor and from simple to complicated.

The third, wants to teach me about preserving and saving each season of produce. How to can nature’s bounty, so that I can enjoy it during any season. They are my current books from the library.

The library is my love affair, always there with endless books at my fingers, wants to know the books I’m interested in, gathers them for me and has them ready for me pickup. I get to tryout books to see if they are good before I commit to purchase. They let me copy the pages that I need, so I don’t need to purchase them. Read the ones that are one timer and never need to read again.

It provides a comfort during the winter months, when my garden is sleeping and the seed catalogs have not arrived. I catch the reading bug, wanting to read lots of things and different things. When the weather is cold, icy and snowy, I sit in the warmth of the fireplace in my living room. Snuggled in a blanket with the sound of crackling fire and my husband’s video games.

Motivation of the new growing season that seems so far away, aspiring me to try new recipes, and how to preserve my garden. It has this wealth of knowledge just sitting there for you to borrow. It is a way I inspire my daughter with the world that is around her. Testing out books to see if she is interested in them and taking her to see the “ahh” as she looks are all the books in her section. The library provides class and events for me and my family. There are monthly events for the children, with stories, crafts and characters. I’ve been to a few author book readings, a food justice event and soon my first “How To Festival”. A day, from 10-3, people give free lectures, workshops and how to’s for the public. The topics include everything from growing, dancing, bike maintence, cooking, health and organization.

All this and nothing is asked back of me, unless I don’t return my items on time. Then I must pay fees. Even with the growing technology, it to has grown, the library offers downloadable books for the kindle. But I enjoy the touch of a book, the smells of its’ pages and coping a page to take.

I leave with this, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Fairy Tale Weekends (Getting Caught Up)

A little garden science experiment 
Baking Cookies
Potato Head Fun 
Sonya's Potato Head Family
Sonya Shadow Dancing

Little Bit's Swimming Lessons
Splashing Fun
Humpty Dumpty Jump Off the Wall
 Getting back into the follow after brief absence. Baby stepping it back into a good practice.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Preserving: Oven Roasted Bell Pepper

Now to preserve those wonderful bell peppers that are so bountiful during the summer heat. So here is how I oven roast my bell peppers, first remove the core and dump all the seeds out.

Them cut the peppers into either halves or quarters.

Place the peppers skin up on a large cookie sheet, arranging to fit as many as possible.

Now move the oven rack to the highest level, and turn the broiler on high. Place the peppers on the rack.

Now, this is when the house starts to smell like roasting peppers, which is very nice. The time depends on your oven, so check on the peppers every five minutes or so. You want the pepper skin to be black and blistered. The skin will bubble up due to the extreme heat.

When the skinned is roasted, remove the rack from the oven. Allow the peppers to cool before handling. Once cool, remove the pepper's skin. This process is fairly easy, the skin has for the most part separated and will come off with ease. 

 Then lay the peppers out on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Then after 24 hours, remove the tray and place the peppers into a freezer bag and back into the freezer.

Then when your ready to use the peppers, grab the amount you need and dice up. Then you can throw them into a soup or into a skillet to prepare for you meal. This evening, I made tacos. Frozen peppers with chopped and added to my onions to cool. The peppers turned out great. Hopefully this has shown that preserving doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask away.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preserving: Blanching and Freezing Corn

Trying to eat local during the late fall and winter months can be tough, especially when the last of the tomatoes, green beans and corn slowly come to a halt. But you can enjoy a menu of local corn with an easy process call blanching and freezing. Blanching is when you cook a produce such as corn, broccoli, green beans and greens in boiling water, then stop the cooking process by putting directly into freezing water.  Then the veggie is bagged and popped into the freezer. See below for some easy steps and tips.

Above is the local farmers' market corn on the cob with the husk removed and rinsed, lovely right.

Boil a large pot of water. To speed up this process, put a lid on the pot. Then once boiling put the veggies in, for corn let it cook for 7-8 minutes. There are great web sites that will provide blanching time for each vegetable.

Then from the hot bath to the cold bath. This stops the cooking process. I add ice the bowl to make the water good and cold.

Once the cob is cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut the corn off the cob.

Then you put the corn into a freezer bag and pop it into the freezer, until you need it another day.

Tip 1: To get a close to vacuum seal, try this. Get a straw, with the bag full seal the bag with the straw in the opening. Then using your mouth to suck the air out of the bag. Then while still sucking the air out, slip the straw out and seal the rest of the way.

Tip 2: During another corn freezing day, I had a great idea. Recipes vary for the amount of corn needed, right? So I had some small "snack" ziplock bags and it hit me... Put one cob of corn into each snack bag then place three to four of those bags into a quart size bag and freeze.

If you have any tips, please leave a comment below. I love to learn from others.