Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Turning To Garden Thoughts

I've been researching a bit about weedless gardening .. and was given a book by the same title by Lee Reich that explains how to replicate the soil environments found in nature.  It's a very interesting and sound idea .. and less back breaking work than tilling in compost .. which I happened to do last spring by double digging in many cubic yards of compost (did I mention back and shoulder breaking?;).  This week I'll be formulating .. in mind and on paper the garden setup for this coming season .. and using many ideas from this excellent and informative book. 

For one thing .. I'll be planting less variety of veggies .. less beets .. more carrots etc.  Why take up space for produce my family won't eat?  And, hopefully, be using a lot less water.  Are your spring gardening plans coming to life?

Friday, January 28, 2011

On Wheat and Kefir Grains

Even though I 'hate' Walmart ... and don't buy much other than a few produce items once in a while in a pinch .. they are now stocking Wheat Montana products .. and beat the health store prices.  Hubby and I picked up two 25 pound sacks of wheat berries (Prairie Gold variety) for $12 each .. and their flour products are a good price as well.  Attempting to stock our storage pantry is expensive .. so this discount was a good find.

kefir grains are added to cool water/sugar mixture
I promised to fill you in on the water kefir experiment.  I took half of my milk kefir grains (a nice gift from Mr. & Mrs. H ..last year:) as they had greatly multiplied .. and designated them to make water kefir.  It took a few days for the grains to get accustomed to their new environment .. but now they are producing a probiotic drink quite well.

kefir grains fermenting
Here's what I noticed this past week:  I do think the kefir has a detoxifying property as I noticed a slight headache for several days and a few blemishes on my normally clear facial skin ... after about three days of drinking the water kefir, these symptoms have gone away.  I will leave you with a few links touting the health benefits of said drink .. read into them as you wish .. as they were taken from the internet.  Also .. there are some links on how to make water kefir.  This is a good drink .. especially for people that may not tolerate dairy .. or milk kefir.

Water Kefir Steps
  1. Boil some water
  2. Place 1/2 cup of boiling water in a super clean quart mason jar
  3. Add 1/4 cup raw sugar, or organic brown sugar, or white cane sugar
  4. Swirl until the sugar melts completely
  5. Add enough fresh cool water (chlorine free) leaving about 2 inches space at top of jar
  6. Make sure the water is no warmer than room temp and add (2-4 tablespoons of kefir grains)
  7. Place a paper coffee filter over the top of jar and fasten with a rubber band
  8. Set in a warm spot in your kitchen for 24-48 hours.
  9. When enough fermentation (to suite your taste) has taken place (much of the sugar will be 'eaten' by the kefir and some will turn into fructose) .. strain the grains .. I pour the fermented kefir into a clean capped bottle.  The grains get rinsed and reprocessed with more water/sugar in another clean quart jar.
 I am still a newby at this .. and am finding different ways each day to flavor the drink.  My favorite is to use a few tablespoons of freshly squeezed organic orange juice .. or a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Ginger slices may be added .. the possibilities are endless.  Next step will be bottling it in a 'stopper' topped (airtight) bottle to get a little fizz in the drink.

finished water kefir before adding juice

Water Kefir Benefits
Kefir Health Benefits 
Health Benefits Of Kefir
How To Videos @ Cultures of Health
Using Milk Kefir Grains to Make Water Kefir

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We've had a few morning visitors the past two days.  Black-Jack and his wife have been nibbling on our scrub maple trees for breakfast.  Of course, this sends my dog in a tail-spinning tizzy as she observes them from our glass windowed door in the dining room.  Tomorrow I'll have to venture out and see how our little fruit trees are holding up .. and whether or not the 'moose' cages I put up around them last spring (and nearly ruined my shoulder over) are working. 

In a week it will be time to do MAJOR grocery shopping.  We are scraping the bottom of some barrels and I've got just enough $ to buy some milk and eggs without dipping into next months budget.  My family seems to be getting on board .. the financial diet plan .. and are not complaining too much.  We will be stocking up on wheat and a sundry variety of pantry staples.  I hate running out of stuff .. but it's good to stretch our meal planning and be creative with what's available.  Last week's bread was turned into crunchy croutons and used in a quiche type egg casserole that included farm fresh sausage, Swiss chard (pulled from the freezer from last autumn), etc.  There's not much waste in our kitchen any longer .. leftovers are often packed in lunch boxes quickly in the mornings .. or added to supplement the dog's diet. 

I've been working on perfecting making the water kefir.  So far I've made three batches and use it as a base with a few tablespoons of fresh juice added to a six ounce glass.  It's a good way to 'stretch' your juice supply as well as get the health benefits of the kefir.  I promise to post pictures and instructions soon. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dabbling In The Kitchen ... again

This has been an exciting week kitchenwise.  First with the arrival of our green coffee beans .. then the wheat grinder .. and today my supply of Tattler reusable canning lids.  Come payday I'm off the get the wheat berries and give fresh ground wheat a try. 

I had such a nice quantity of milk kefir grains (see previous post) that I started to research about using them to make flavored water kefir.  The grains were divided:  half continue to make milk kefir .. and the other half have been designated for water.  So far I'm on my second quart of fermenting the water variety.  I used fresh organic ginger and some organic lemon peel to flavor the first batch .. it came out very refreshing .. now to try it on the family :).  The second batch I hope to flavor with some tangerines.  Soon I'll post some pictures with directions. 

The seeds that were sprouted earlier this week are ready to use in salads .. and I'll start on a second batch to sprout.  They greatly add flavor and crunch to our meals .. as well as good nutrition.

Last year I injured my right shoulder installing 6 foot metal T-steak posts and fencing around our three fruit trees (to keep the moose out) it has bothered me for about nine months.  Well .. after amping up my use of the milk kefir, calcium tablets made from seaweed, and consuming bone broth soups, it is finally on the mend ... just in time for the coming gardening season.  If you have the time .. it's well worth the effort to make your own rich soup stock.

Broth Is Beautiful
Taking And Making Stock
Bone Strength Calcium Supplement
Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

Friday, January 21, 2011

Newby - Home Coffee Roaster

Just arrived .. green coffee beans (pic by Mrs. Mac)
Here's what green coffee beans look like (pic by Mrs. Mac)
Our shipment of green coffee beans arrived this week.  We purchased beans grown organically in Bolivia for $4.99 a pound, including shipping.  They have a AA rating.  Being a newby roaster, I still have much to learn about the process.  It is rather exciting to roast beans at home .. and the more often you do it .. the better you are able to judge how well they are roasted.

Make sure your skillet harbors no previous cooking flavors :) (pic by Mrs. Mac)

I am using a big black cast iron skillet on top of the stove and have my exhaust fan turned on high to remove the smoke.  Some people use pop corn poppers .. others use bread machines with heat guns (used for paint removal) .. I'm using a method surely used by my great grandparents.  So far .. so good.

The beans start turning color and the skins pop as moisture is released (pic by Mrs. Mac)
And I must admit that this particular organic-fair trade coffee is good .. yes .. I'm still limiting myself to a cup a day .. with no problems .. which is rather hard to do ;)

Once the beans are roasted, it's important to remove them from the pan to cool .. and to remove the chaff.  Transferring them between two colanders in a breeze outside (or using a blow dryer) removes the chaff.  Now you must wait about 24 hours for the full flavor to develop (the hard part;)

So far .. the family gives a big thumbs up for the process .. and the outcome .. I roast only enough for one week's worth of coffee, storing the beans in an airtight glass jar .. once they have developed their flavor after resting 24 hours.  I thank my friend Maria for sharing her coffee roasting venture.

Invalsa Coffee Company
How to Roast Coffee At Home
How to Store Green Coffee Beans (prior to roasting)
Why Organic & Fair Trade Coffee?
Fair Trade Coffee

It took about 20 minutes for the beans to roast .. (pic by Mrs. Mac)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Love, Love Kefir

Last year I swapped some buttermilk culture for some kefir culture with a neighbor.  Kefir is a funny (as in unusual) culture.  In its raw state it resembles crumbled up cauliflower .. only tasting it one finds it to be a bit rubbery (chewy) and tangy (fermented).  By adding milk and letting the kefir 'grains' sit out for about 24 hours unrefrigerated, a thick-yoghurty-rich-fermented milk product is produced.  It will keep for several weeks as is .. but when you want to try some of its yummy-ness, just strain off the liquid from the grains through a little plastic strainer and enjoy.

I use my kefir to make healthy fruit smoothies for breakfast.

Here is a site that gives the history and health benefits .. along with nutritional information about  KEFIR.  If you are new to this probiotic milk product, Cultures of Health can get you started with your initial purchase of kefir grains.  This product is not only healthy .. but actually extends the shelf/fridge life of milk .. it keeps it from going bad for quite a long period.  The grains are used over and over.  They even multiply .. so there is the opportunity to share some with a friend. 

Directions for making kefir from grains:  Take the grains (two tablespoons or so for a pint of milk), put in a clean jar.. pour milk over .. place a paper coffee filter over the top and fasten with a rubber band.  Let sit out for about 24 hours.  Replace paper coffee filter with screw type lid and place in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, strain the grains using a plastic strainer .. rinse the grains in cold water .. place them into another clean pint size jar and fill with milk to begin the process again.  It's that easy. 

Fruit Smoothie:

2 cups strained kefir
1 cup frozen berries
1 banana
1 Tablespoon sugar  .. to taste (optional)

Mix in the blender .. Serves about 3-4

How to make milk kefir .. video

Monday, January 17, 2011

On Bread Baking

Weekly ration of bread .. pic by Mrs. Mac
We've been getting by with just the bread coming out of our ovens.  Seems if I set aside one afternoon or evening a week (Sunday .. so far), I can bake up two batches of dough .. both making two loaves or two dozen rolls.  We are currently enjoying an oat bread for sandwiches, an Italian loaf for garlic toast or pizza, and a hamburger bun recipe that I've switched out white flour with whole wheat white.  The dough is mixed in our Kitchenaid stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and placed in the oven on a dough proof setting in large covered bowls.  I really try to stretch the bread to last an entire week.  Half goes double wrapped in the storage freezer to pull out midweek.

Hubby and I have been checking around for a flour mill.  I'd probably prefer one that is manual .. but with my right shoulder feeling pain from an injury last year .. electric seems a better fit with the amount of flour we would have to mill each week.  Next month is my birthday .. and the one I am interested in (Nutrimill Grain Mill) is currently on sale .. so it got ordered a few days ago.  I'm excited to take our bread making one step further by milling our own flour.  This will probably be our only major kitchen purchase this year.
bread holder for slicing ..  pic by Mrs. Mac

I picked up the nifty bread slicer at a local thrift store.  It's shaped for bread machine loaves .. but can be used with my oven baked bread.  It cost a whole 99 cents.  Using it gives very uniform slices .. unlike my previous freehand slicing produced.  There's nothing like the smell of baking bread wafting through the house.  Are you a bread baker?  If so, what's your preferred method for making it?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cauliflower AND Sprouts

I recently purchased a head of cauliflower.  Grandma would fix it steamed with a little salt, pepper and butter as a side dish.  Over the years when my children were small, I, too, tried this same approach .. and it was a miserable failure .. in their eyes.  So off to 'google' for a family pleasing recipe.  The one I found had rave reviews about how kids liked it .. so this is what became of that beautiful head of cauliflower.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower (click link for the actual recipe) .. you toss it with olive oil (I used a bowl instead of a throw away plastic bag), sprinkle it with salt, pepper and fresh pressed garlic .. roast in a hot oven .. then sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese and parsley .. broil for a quick minute.  I tossed in a little cumin to spice it up.  The bowl was empty and the family was almost fighting about who would get the last serving.  Last night my daughter called to ask for the recipe.  It's so easy .. give it a try .. better make extra.

With our greens being limited to what's frozen (chard and spinach) .. or what we purchase, my sprouting jar is getting started up again today .. so we can have some enzyme and vitamin packed additions to our sandwiches and salads in just a few days.  Have your grown sprouts in a jar?  It's very easy .. you can use a standard quart mason jar with a  little mesh or screen placed under the outer band.  Rinse the seeds and drain .. tipping the jar to empty excess water .. do this several times a day .. and keep in a dark location.  Once the seeds start to sprout .. they really take off.  Rinse well and store in the refrigerator for several days.  I ordered these seeds (a mixture) on-line .. but I've seen them in the health food store.  (Detailed instructions here.)

This coming gardening year I am going to give my  hand at growing celery .. and overwinter it .. just imagine the tasty greens you can selectively harvest when the garden is sleeping.  How do you get your winter greens?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Bother Canning Food At Home

Canning is a lot of work.  But, I am finding like many other 'lost' homemaking skills, it is much easier and less time consuming once you get the hang of the process.  And .. another plus .. the jars are reusable year after year .. so less waste in the landfill or to recycle.  Winter is the perfect time to can beans.  So far our storage pantry is nicely stocked with Boston baked beans, pintos, and now red beans.  The pintos are so easy to mash to make re-fried beans to serve with tacos.  The red beans will be added to our newly canned beef chili for quick winter meals.  For easy to learn canning procedures, check out the Ball Blue Book Of Home Preserving .. it has recipes for both water bath and pressure canning .. lots of pictures and diagrams .. easy instructions for beginners. Can food with a neighbor if you are hesitant .. you might even share the  equipment until you decide whether or not home canning is for you.  The biggest boon .. quality .. and no preservatives added .. BPA free jars ...for the most part by-passing big ag .. and .. Walmart! Do you can?  If not .. find a friendly neighbor and barter for a lesson or two. 


Tattler Reusable Lids

Current Day Canning Movement USA Today article

Friday, January 14, 2011

Feeding Six on a Pound of Hamburger

I never know what is for dinner most days .. until mid-day .. or a family member calls at 4PM to ask, 'what's for dinner tonight .. I'm starved' .. There are so many things to weigh (LOL).  What green to serve (salad, slaw, broccoli, green beans .. and what have we already eaten this week .. have to mix it up) .. what veggie .. what starch .. what meat.  I try not to serve heavy meat dishes but once a week .. that means the other dinners will be in the form of soups, stews, pasta, rice or potato casseroles .. salads .. or even breakfast in the form of omelets, waffles .. etc.  Last night I made .. let me think what to call it .. humm ..??  Sauteed mushroom/ground steak gravy .. served over mashed potatoes .. with a side of fresh garden corn on the cob (plucked from the freezer), and a delicious tangy coleslaw with vinaigrette dressing.  Hummm .. HOBO gravy .. nah .. Steak gravy .. nah .. How about:  Mrs. Mac's Meaty Mushroom Gravy?

I swear .. the family thought they had died and gone to heaven with this dish.  Tasted as good as a Sunday afternoon pot roast meal .. at about 1/4 the cost and time to make.
Mrs. Mac's Meaty Mushroom Gravy

1 pound ground beef (ya know the kind .. grass fed and local;)
1/2 cup dehydrated mushrooms (soaked in 1 cup of water .. save the water) .. or substitute a cup of fresh mushrooms .. sliced or diced as you like
1/2 cup diced yellow or white onion
salt, pepper .. dash of soy sauce if you wish .. few drops of Kitchen Bouquet for color if you have it on hand
2-3 cups beef stock or mushroom water or a mix
2-3 tablespoons organic corn starch


In a large hot cast iron skillet .. put a pat of butter and add the mushrooms .. let them sit a bit to brown before stirring them .. then add the onion and saute them for a minute.  Push the mushrooms and onions to the sides and add the ground beef .. searing it before stirring .. you want it to brown up to give the gravy good flavor and color.  Mix well with the mushrooms and onions.  Really break up the meat to a fine consistency. If the meat has a lot of fat .. drain off all but about 1-2 tablespoons.  Mix the 2-3 cups liquid with the corn starch in a shaker jar.  Slowly add it to the browned beef and stir it well .. it will start to thicken.  You may need to add more liquid. Stir well.  Add/taste/adjust the seasonings.  Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Turkey .. Ten Ways

Turkey sandwich meat .. photo by Mrs. Mac
I'm getting the hang of cooking from scratch.  Making as much from my little kitchen laboratory as possible.  With the food budget money this month I splurged and bought a 18 pound minimally processed .. small farm .. turkey.  It was expensive at $56 .. the price you pay for having plain turkey without all the additives.  This turkey was dissected and made into TEN different turkey products packaged for quick use from the fridge and freezer.

Cajun (spicy) style roasted turkey breast ... photo by Mrs. Mac
Some of the broth, meat & gravy .. photo by Mrs. Mac
  1. Cajun style breast meat roasted .. sliced thin for SANDWICHES ... 3 pounds
  2. 6 quarts stock for SOUPS
  3. 2 half pints of rich pan drippings for GRAVY
  4. 3 quarts meat for use in CASSEROLES
  5.  and TURKEY SALAD
  6. Legs and wings baked TERIYAKI style for dinner and lunch (8 pieces)
  7. Leftover teriyaki chopped for use in FRIED RICE
  8. neck bones, heart, liver pressure CANNED as a nutritional supplement for our dog
  9. Bones boiled second time to make BROTH to serve over my dog's dinner
  10. Leftover by-parts/products .. from second batch of broth used to make a gallon of DOG FOOD
teriyaki turkey .. photo by Mrs. Mac
 About two or three pounds of bones is all that got tossed out.  If it wasn't the middle winter with two feet of snow on the ground, I'd have added the bones to the fire pit and used later on the garden.  Maybe next time I'll freeze the bones and do just that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Freezer Waffles

This morning I was able to make the freezer waffles mentioned a few posts ago.  Any help I can get for saving time before my son's bus arrives on a school morning is great.

beaten egg whites .. photo by Mrs. Mac
 The recipe is adapted from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American cookbook .. listed under Mom's Basic Waffle Batter.  I've gone and upped it one by making mine with whole wheat white flour (you can mix equal parts of whole wheat and white flour .. or use a finely milled whole wheat flour) .. the recipe below has been doubled.


3-1/2 cups flour (see above note)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks, beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter or oil
3 cups milk
6 egg whites, beaten until stiff (set aside)

I used two waffle irons to make quick work .. photo by Mrs. Mac
In a stand mixer with a large bowl, whip the egg whites until quite stiff with a whip attachment .. set aside in another bowl.   Add the dry ingredients to the emptied out bowl and mix for a quick second with the regular beater on low.  Add the milk, beaten yolks and oil/butter to dry ingredients and mix for 30-45 seconds.  If using all whole wheat, I find you might want to add a tablespoon or two of extra flour as it's a thinner consistency than using all white flour.  Now add the egg whites and fold them into the batter carefully by hand or by turning the beater on and off a few times (don't over incorporate the egg whites).

Bake on your waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions .. or until they stop steaming when cooking.  Dry the waffles on wire racks to allow the waffles to cool completely on both sides.  Place in heavy plastic bags and store in the freezer until needed. 

To reheat frozen waffles .. take out the needed quantity and let come to room temp.  Place in a preheated oven (350F) .. for about a minute directly on the wire oven rack .. just until heated.

store waffles once cooled in plastic bags and pop in the freezer .. photo by Mrs. Mac
This endeavor produced 20 waffles .. five of which were consumed hot off the irons for breakfast .. and 15 for the freezer. 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Buying In Bulk .. and better home management

Well .. the new year is starting off good.  The family seems to be on board to purchasing groceries in bulk.  We are slowly switching from a monthly supply of goods in the pantry .. and adding six months of supply.  This means .. and here is where the adapting comes in .. that I don't have to take any grief if we are out of a particular item.  Say mayo .. or .. bread .. or a hundred other things they complain about if we are out of.  I have been making mayo (for example) for the past six months.  If we are out .. it's because I may have just one farm fresh egg left in the fridge for an emergency .. so make your sandwich with mustard and get over it (LOL).  Too much 'want' .. instead of basic need .. this is 'a-changin' ...  hallelujah!  We are saving up for a flour mill.  I hope to have enough money by the time we have used up our current supply of flour.  And .. my friend, Maria .. at Shallow Thoughts From Iowa .. buys her coffee beans (fair trade) green .. and roasts them herself at home ... will attempt this as the organic grind I buy is pushing $11.50 a pound.  Please share any cost savings tips you may have.

Household Record Keeping For 2010


I'm organizing the records for last year .. to start with a clean slate for 2011.

Home Preserving 2010

  • December - 13 quarts pinto beans
  • November - 3 quarts turkey stock frozen, 3 pints turkey meat frozen, 1 quart frozen broccoli, 2 quarts frozen raspberries, 12 quarts chicken stock
  • October - 2 quarts raspberries, frozen, 5 quarts pinto beans, 7 pints salsa verde, two pints summer squash (mashed and frozen)
  • Sept. - 8 pints Boston Baked Beans, 9 pints tomatoes in juice, 6 pints spicy tomato juice, 1 quart frozen zucchini, 1 pint frozen yellow-neck squash, 1 quart frozen green beans, 2 pints frozen hot peppers, 1 quart frozen broccoli, 5-1/2 pints frozen Italian seasoned tomato sauce, six pints salsa verde, 40 ears of sweet corn frozen, 3 pints frozen corn, 1 gallon strawberries frozen
  • August - six quarts tomatoes in juice, 21 pints salsa, 2 quarts frozen green beans, 3 quarts refrigerator dill pickles
  • August- 10 pints green beans, 7 quarts green beans, 1 quart frozen
  • June- 9 half-pints wild rose-geranium jelly
  • July- 7 half-pints strawberry freezer jam
  • July- 7 half-pints raspberry freezer jam, 2 gallons frozen raspberries, 1 gallon frozen blueberries, 2 quarts frozen huckleberries
  • May- 8 pints pinto beans
  • June- 7 quarts pinto beans
  • June- 14 pints Boston Baked Beans

2010 Grocery Budget (family of 4.5)(don't read anything into the 4.5 .. ;)


January -$456
February -$355
March - $527
April -$368
May - $498
June - $516
July - $445
August - $400
September - $400
October - $400
November $450
December $

yearly purchase of organic beef $404
yearly purchase of organic hog $330

2010 Food Budget $6099
family of 4.5 = $3.71/per day per person

Garden Expenses - 2010 ($314)

  • compost bin $65
  • garden sink $50
  • onion sets $3
  • 13 lbs seed potatoes $9
  • 1/4 yard gravel for under garden sink $5
  • 3 cubic yards of composted horse/cow manure $90
  • potting soil $15
  • Heirloom Seeds $77

2010 Garden Planting Schedule

  • 11/13/10 Spanish hard-neck garlic
  • 7/9/10 bush beans (yea)
  • 7/9/10 sugar snap peas (yea)
  • 7//9/10 bush peas (nay)
  • 6/20/10 nasturtium/marjoram (yea/nay)
  • 6/16/10 basil (nay)/parsley(yea)/green onion seeds(yea)
  • 6/9/10 foxglove/columbine/purple cone flower plants(yea to all)
  • 6/12/10 tomato plants/(yea)
  • 6/9/10 cucumber seeds(nay)
  • 6/9/10 radish (yea)
  • 6/9/10 cantaloupe (nay)
  • 6/9/10 watermelon (nay)
  • 5/24/10 burp-less cucumber plants (yea)
  • 5/24/10 pickling cucumber plants (yea)
  • 5/24/10 red/green cabbage plants (yea)
  • 5/24/10 six new pepper plants (yea)
  • 5/15/10 pepper plants/killed by frost (nay)
  • 5/15/10 chervil (yea)
  • 5/15/10 yellow crooked neck squash (yea)
  • 5/15/10 zucchini yea)
  • 5/15/10 Bantam corn (nay)
  • 5/15/10 bush beans (yea)
  • 5/7/10 thin & transplant strawberry plants (nay)
  • 5/7/10 tomato plants with wall-o-water jackets (yea)
  • 4/27/10 Danish ball head cabbage seeds (nay)
  • 4/27/10 purple cone flower seeds (nay)
  • 4/21/10 more onion sets (yea)
  • 4/21/10 more red/yellow potatoes (yea .. except voles ate quite a few!)
  • 4/19/10 broccoli (yea)
  • 4/19/10 carrots (yea)
  • 4/19/10 chervil (yea)
  • 4/19/10 Detroit dark beets (yea)
  • 4/19/10 radish (yea)
  • 4/19/10 tarragon (nay) .. last year's overwintered
  • 4/19/10 red sails lettuce (yea) good lettuce choice
  • 4/19/10 deer tongue lettuce (yea) did not care for this type
  • 4/15/10 red & Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4/15/10 red, white, yellow onion sets (yea)
  • 4/12/10 sugar snap peas (yea)
  • 4/12/10 planted three trees, 2 maples, 1 Japanese Lilac (yea)
  • Oct '10 additional garlic
  • garlic (planted Oct. '09) (nay)
  • 3/12/10 oregano plants (yea)
  • 3/14/10 French sorrel (yea)
  • 3/14/10 - strawberry spinach (yea)
  • asparagus (planted 2009) .. more time needed
  • rhubarb (planted 2009) (yea .. out the ear;)
  • 3/12/10 sun chokes (yea .. out the ears)
  • 3/12/10 - horseradish (alive .. barely)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

bread ready for final rise .. by Mrs. Mac
Hubby is reading 'Food Rules' and 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' .. both books by Michael Pollan.  I think I will be writing out the food rules on little 3x5 index cards and drilling him ..  maybe even add a few of my own rules.  It's a step in the right direction.  Yesterday .. he mentioned he'd like to learn to make bread.  There's always hope of reforming a 'Wonder (white squishy) Bread' boy, eh? :)

Today is our monthly budget day.  This, again, is an area hubby wants to gain knowledge of the process .. Oh, yes, he sees the end result .. no debt .. nutritious food on the table .. his cash envelopes filled.  But he is wise to see how it's done and to have a look-see at all the budget categories.  Just knowing that he wants to try and eat healthier when away from home .. or when I am out of town .. and how to manage the finances .. is music to my heart. 

homemade bread .. by Mrs. Mac
This week in the kitchen I'm tackling making and canning chili (meat and beans separately), making waffles to store in the freezer for quick school morning breakfasts, and looking into buying more food items in bulk .. which means figuring out where and how much to purchase, and how to store it all.  Any suggestions for bulk ordering would be helpful. 

Ants are creatures of little strength,
   yet they store up their food in the summer
Proverbs 30:25

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Few Goals For The New Year

I am not one to write goals and just look at them on the page.  This year I want to concentrate more on the garden production side of The Thrifty Garden/Home.  Our fourth year for veggie gardening is approaching and I'm still such a novice. 

2011 Garden Goals
  1. Plan the plantings, space use, and design well in advance, keeping good notes
  2. Make a drip watering system
  3. Design some raised veggie beds or planters
  4. Raise potted pepper plants to overwinter
  5. Try/plant a winter garden
  6. Plant grapes 
That's enough garden goals if I want to be successful.

2011 Homemaking Goals
  1. Can chicken, turkey, chili, smoke hams and bacon
  2. Put up .. can/freeze more food for winter
  3. Make 80-90% of our bread
  4. Finish Grandma's quilt
  5. Economize and not waste food/resources
  6. Learn to knit a pair of socks
Nothing lofty here .. just a continuation of what I was working on/planning from last year.   It will be interesting to see what the year brings .. I've heard that the cost of goods will be going up considerably.  We will probably be shopping differently ... buying more in bulk .. to help ease any shortages that may arise .. and to save on gasoline.

A good woman is hard to find,
   and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
   and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
   all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
   and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
   and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
   for her family and organizing her day.
Proverbs 10-15 (The Message Bible)