Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our Suburban Homestead.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cooking up a Cook book

I have a passion for cook books.I read them like the juiciest novel.I take them to bed with me to read myself to sleep. I keep a stack of them on the coffee table where most people house magazines. The best ones are vintage ones,they not only have long forgotten recipes.sometimes for the better but in their backs are usually a "helpful hints" section.Tidbits of archaic home keeping using items that are no longer made and entailing more work than a modern woman wants to do.
I am working on writing a cook book for our boys. Both boys want my recipes and cook books.You see in their youthfulness they can't see that, just because they will someday move into their own homes where they will have to feed themselves , I won't be dead; I'll still need those books and recipes.
Looking through my Holly Hobbie recipe file that was full of clippings the wheels in my head started to turn, a seed of an idea was planted that could grow into the cookbook for the boys.Then Chance brought out my own recipe box and my grandmothers.
Let me side track for a moment.My grandmother's recipe box really added to my thoughts on my book to be written.When grandma died no one wanted her recipe box.I did but I always seem to want the things no one else wants.One mans trash is another man's treasure.
Grandma was a horrible cook, that is why no one wanted it. I think every one of my cousins were remembering Tater Tot Casserole. The one dish Grandma made every single time one of us grand kids came to visit.The dish that made all of us gag and forget we were hungry.Layers of tater tots,hamburger,cream of mushroom soup and topped with cheese.Trauma at the dinner table. No wonder Grandpa was so lean and the cat so fat.
When I opened Grandma's box there was the jewel, that moment of bliss,my treasure in the trash,Grandma's handwriting.Neatly written with excellent directions and notes about her results or changes. And two of my Aunt's handwriting and way in the back the name of the recipe written in Norwegian my Great Grandma's writing.
That moment of pleasure is what I want to capture as I write this crazy book. I want the boys to someday open their book and be able to say."Look here's mom's,Nana's,Great Grandma and Great Great Grandma's writing." My boys are tender heart- ed family orientated kind of guys, they will get it . My vision, part cook book,family tree and family history all bound together.
Not a new idea,many families have these books but I am inspired none the less.It has motivated me to sort through my own recipes and pitch the ones that were bad or never made. Issac also reminded me to start writing down the measurements for things I just make. I have a few years until at least Issac is out the door I should be able to have the book ready for him.
Homesteading has slowed down a bit.The weather is wet and cool here.We started to put parts of the garden to bed for the winter.My hens are still not laying.They are excused for now because they are molting.Poor Abby is nearly naked and just as the weather turned.(how dose that work? They molt just as the weather is cold.) Two more weeks and the Sour Kraut will be ready to can. Just settling in for the coming months focusing our work towards indoor projects.

Rois

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What the..?!


It's amazing where pumpkin goo lands when you use power tools to carve pumpkins.It was fun and I'll wait until day light comes to find the rest.
Happy Halloween,
Rois

Monday, October 26, 2009

Take a can of soup and serve it up with Holly Hobbie.

What to write to all of you.? I could write about the chaos that is my front room. Chance is still working on painting it and along the way he's doing some repair work he discovered that had to be done now verse later. The chaos is getting to me,when you live in a small space and use every single inch it gets tough to have things turned up side down. The wall color is beautiful and will be worth the extra waiting.


Over the weekend I found a treasure that I am sure only I would view as one.I found at our Goodwill Bins a 1970's recipe file,sunny yellow with one of the icon's of my youth standing on the front,Holly Hobbie. The folder is accordion style filled with clippings starting in the mid 70's.I thumb through all of them.There were lots of add a can of___soup, a box of Jello some Coolwhip and even one recipe that called for 3 teaspoons of MSG. MSG?! People really used that stuff,wow so not the earthy hippie fare my Mom cooked.








I found it to be a sad thing to find thrown away like that.Someone had cared enough about their family to file away all of those bits of paper,carefully trimmed,folded and tucked into its appropriate niche. A nifty time capsule of food trends, advertisements and even a credit bill that was so politely written.
I do wonder though did this person know they had clipped and saved 9 Chicken and Rice Bake recipes from the Campbell's soup can's?
I found one clipping I do remember having someplace.You took a cake mix,baked it and then poked holes in the cooled cake top.Now you poured Jello over the cake,put it in the fridge to set up.Finally top with, you'll never guess,Coolwhip. MMM Chemical goodness.

Rois

P.S In the background of the photos you can kind of see the new blue paint I am so in love with.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quilters I have a question

I know some of my readers are Quilters,out of all of the five million skills including sewing I have I know zip about quilts. So I am asking if my idea sounds workable with the hopes that one of you will pipe up and give me a little input.
We have a vintage quilt that is a lap size that I use in the living room.We all fight over who gets the quilt in the evenings,that's how much we love it.It is also a perfect color combo for the front room.
It's a simple pattern of 4 sections of checkers,I guess that's what it would be at least in my mind.
Here is the problem,only one section of the quilt has some squares that are shredding with age. It is only the one fabric,everywhere else is reasonable for the age of the quilt.What I'd like to do is patch over the worst squares with a new fabric that has a vintage print,to try and stay in keeping with the rest. Will patching work?
Really, we love this little softy and I would love for it to keep doing its job.

Feedback,comments, What in the H*ll are you thinking, or any other response will be greatly appreciated.
Rois

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pardon the dust


Pardon the dust and cobwebs, I am dismantling the front room to prep it for fresh paint. How do cobwebs find the places they hang? With the walls bare and the sun shining I can see the reasoning for making such a mess.I can't wait to see it all put back,freshened up and homey once more.
Rois

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sweet and Sour


Even without a plan for the weekend I was right and we filled our days up.We were all work and no play,this led us to a conversation about that,these mice need some play time too and must not always be the busy Ant. A few stolen hours to be the Grasshopper will do us good but that will be next weekend.
Saturday was busy but not with homesteading,we babysat our young neighbor while his younger sibling was rushed to the ER for some stitches. She'll be fine,these things happen when one is young. I must say I did adore our boys as young ones but, whew I had forgotten how busy they are at 4.We made it through,never underestimate the power of a large bin of Lego's and never be tempted to get rid of any you have,you may need them someday before your Grand-babies come along.
Sunday we decided to go ahead and start the Sauerkraut.This is a new item for canning for both of us.At first we were going to try the method of putting the cabbage into canning jars to ferment,you then process the jars later,but I was not to sure about this idea.I don't know why but it worried me.I was also wondering if we would have to use new lids once the kraut was ready to process.Since we could not find the answer to the lid question we opted to make it in a large container and transfer to jars later.
Oops, we had no crock or large glass anything.We did some double checking and ended up wanting a food grade bucket,the modern equivalent to a crock. Since we needed dog food we went to our local market to start our search.We lucked out,the nice man that works in the bulk section was just finishing filling the honey machine thingy.He handed Chance two buckets right on the spot. And HOLY COW! there was still honey in both buckets,score! Once home we scraped the honey out and ended up with 2 pints,one of blackberry and one of clover honey. We felt safe about the honey,the buckets still had their lids on all the way home so nothing could fall into the honey.
Earlier in the morning we had went to a local farm store and bought a 12 pound head of cabbage,we also had 2 smaller heads weighing 2 pounds each already here.Chance thinly sliced the cabbage heads and I salted. We placed the cabbage in a large bowl and once we reached 5 pounds I tossed the cabbage with 3 tablespoons of Canning Salt. I had to keep emptying the bowl into the bucket so we could keep going.Once we had all of the cabbage into the bucket we jammed it all down as tight as we could get.Our Ball book said the brine,which is the water the salt draws from the cabbage,should cover the top of the sliced cabbage.This actually took Chance's stronger arms to do.We then placed a cloth over the cabbage then, a plate with Chance's 30 pound Kettleball wrapped in a plastic bag as the weight. Now we wait for 4-6 weeks before we process it. The bucket-o-kraut to be is living on a section of our kitchen counter so I can keep my nose on it.I am certain if something goes wrong we will smell it first.
Today as I went to put something away in the pantry/studio I remember I had intended to share something with all of you.Years ago a friend of ours told me she and her parents always pulled their tomato plants that still had fruit coming before it frosted.How they did it was to pull the plants up by their roots and then they hung the plants with their fruits still on the vine upside down in their garage.The tomatoes then can finish ripening and you have fresh tomatoes for a few more weeks. This year we are trying it and so far it is working.I read someplace that it is not sunlight but warmth the tomatoes need to ripen so maybe this is how this works.
Still no eggs.
As of today I am starting to stash away odd ends and pieces of bread to make the Thanksgiving dressing/stuffing with. I know, no one has gone trick or treating yet and here I am planning out my Thanksgiving dinner. It takes a lot of bread to make enough stuffing for a 22 pound bird.And when the stores charge $3 a bag ( I'd need 4.) for dried out bread no one wanted I say no thanks I'll save my own unwanted bits of bread and make my own. To do this I put the bread pieces into a freezer container until I have enough to fill a cookie sheet.Then I cut the bread into strips like they do at the stores and place them on a cookie sheet.Put the cookie sheet into the oven that is preheated to around 200-250 degrees.Keep an eye on the bread,give it a stir once in awhile.You don't want toast or burning,just dried out.Store in an air tight container until you have enough to use.You can even turn the dried out bread into bread crumbs by giving the bread a whirl in the blender or a food processor.
Tip of the day: "Never eat anything bigger than your head"** - B. Kilban
** until you turn it into Sauerkraut.**

Rois

Friday, October 16, 2009

82 pounds = 410 Apples peeled and sliced


You know the movie "Forest Gump"? And the conversation about all the ways to cook shrimp? I feel over run by Apples, 82 pounds equals 410 apples more or less.Chance and I have peeled,sliced,processed and canned every single one.My hands are chapped and hurt. Ok maybe some of the pain is from bumping up my violin practice to an hour and half daily. But these hands of mine are stiff none the less. And as you can see from the photo above 82 pounds might not have been enough.The boys polished off a whole quart of Apple Sauce in one sitting.
How did my Great Grandparents do this? To put up enough food to last a whole year to feed a large family and sometimes a farm hand.There was no store to run to, the freezer was a hole dug into the cellar floor and town was a days journey away.
Grandma Barbara Ellen, can I channel you some how so I can gain your knowledge? Can you send me a message from the great beyond? So far channeling my Great Grandmothers has not worked.Great Grandma Elizabeth fiddled and was called to dances far and wide.When I play dose she help me? No,I still miss notes.Have I figured out the great math equation that is canning for a whole year no.Sorry but the number you calling is no longer in service or has been disconnected.DANG, I want my dime back!
I baked bread today,did more laundry, took inventory of the rest of my canning jars.It looks like I still have plenty of the wide mouthed ones to make a batch or two of Saurkraut. I went to the market for a few things we needed and tried really hard not to be so pissed that I was breaking down and BUYING eggs! BUYING EGGS, ugh store eggs suck.From here until spring eggs will be for baking only.No one will sit down and eat them. Then in the produce section I realized that soon our garden will be empty and I'll have to buy those things too.But, I did spy their Chantrell Mushrooms, $9.99 a pound,we have three pounds in the freezer, we saved nearly $30 by spending an afternoon in the woods having fun.
It is the weekend,no plan but I am sure we will find a way to fill the next couple of days.Bacon is coming out of the smoker before bedtime,maybe I'll make us a big breakfast minus the eggs. Damn birds you do this every year and it still bums me out.
Rois the egg-less Homesteader.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Surprise!

Chance and I have been working on a project that I have been saving to show all of you.It's 100% recycled,adds at certain charm to our little homestead and we love it. And here it is.....
























Ha ha ,just a bit of fun. We are getting the yard ready for Halloween.Halloween is a big deal here it happens to be one of our favorite holidays.Over the next couple of weeks the yard will grow into a spooky corner of our little neighborhood.The kids have already started to stop and ask "Are you doing your yard again this year?" They love it even if it scares them so badly that teen aged girls pee their pants and I have to greet the littlest ones at the end of the walk.





Happy Halloween.
Rois

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

G..Gingerbread N..Neighbor & S..Stealhead Salmon

My hens are still not laying but I found enough eggs in the fridge to make some Gingerbread.The recipe is below. This Gingerbread recipe is nice and spicy, it calls for 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger with cinnamon and cloves. You can use the dried ginger powder but it's not as nice.
After baking the Gingerbread I worked on make another batch of Applesauce.Once it was cooled some I had Chance take a jar and the Gingerbread to our neighbor Dick.Chance said Dick grinned ear to ear and seem genuinely pleased.That made the trade even better.

Chance had come home from work early and was helping me with the peeling of the Apples when a knock came to the door.It was another neighbor just home from a fishing trip, "Would we like some fresh caught Stealhead Salmon?" Who would say no to that! Chris gave us a 3 foot long fish.
Chance was able to trim out some good looking cuts of fish.We ended up with 10 pounds of fish plus the trim for soup stock.We put some of it away, plan to smoke part and have some for my Mom.Not being ones to take something without having something to give back Chance offered to cure some Bacon for Chris.Again who could say no to that?


Fresh wild Stealhead Salmon.

The last couple of days worth of trading plus a few other quick swaps that have gone on here on the our block,have me thinking. I know I have written about this before but I am going to say it once more.Since living here we have run into folks who live in Portland in one of the hip areas where "everything" is happening.And once we tell them "yeah we live in Beaverton " they turn their backs.How could we live in the dread suburbs!? Well look at what we have going on here, our own micro economy and a community.A community done in a way that just happened,no one signed up,they just moved in and took the time to stand at the curb talking with each other. I like where we live.We barter,trade,babysit,lend a hand,listen,learn,loan and enjoy each others company. Many things most people are looking for and never find.

Gingerbread
From "Fog City Diner" by: Cindy Pawlcyn
(FYI- this is another of our favorite books with many recipes we use.)

3 Cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 Cups boiling water
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup Molasses
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 Butter and flour a 9x13 baking pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder,cinnamon ,clove and the salt into a medium sized bowl.Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water.Using a paddle attachment on a mixer,cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.Beat in the molasses and ginger and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer set to a slow speed,add the dry ingredients alternately with the baking soda water.Mix in the eggs thoroughly,continue to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The batter will be thin,but don't worry about it.Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.Cool in the pan.
Drizzle Lemon Glaze (see below) over the warm Gingerbread.Serve it warm with Apple Sauce or Whipping Cream.
Lemon Glaze: 1 Cup sifted powdered sugar dissolved in 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.
( I don't use the Glaze,that"s just me.)

Today I used my Mini Bunt Pans to make the Gingerbread.I just got them and the cakes look so sweet,I know I will be using these pans often.

Until the next time,
Rois

Monday, October 12, 2009

C is for Cottage Cheese....F is for Figs.


Today was a great and busy homesteading day.My day started with some housework,which never goes away- laundry,dishes and tiding up. I then started our Apple sauce.I peeled and sliced a third of our box of Apples,this was all my biggest pot would hold.Cooked the Apples down and filled the jars...HMMM maybe this box will be all for Apple Sauce, I ended up with 6 quarts not nearly enough to last us for long.I am still mastering the "How much" part of canning our own food.One thing I know is the boys can finish off a pint of Apple Sauce in one sitting so I am going to need the whole box,if we run out I'll make some fresh later on. Once I finish this box I'll go pick up another to make Apple Butter.
Chance came home and went to pick the Figs we have been watching in an empty lot near by.They were mostly ripe but with the cooler nights they were not going to ripen any more on the tree. We had driven by a few days ago and saw a gentleman picking some of the Figs, with this in mind Chance left a fare share on the tree for others.He ended up bringing home 3 dozen which Chance plans to dry once they have ripened a bit more. One more treat to put away for winter.
Next our elderly neighbor Dick stopped by to ask us if we still wanted his compost.He had offered us his black gold many weeks ago and we just had not gotten to it. Dick lives behind us kitty corner so we put ladders up in the corners of our fences allowing Chance and I to hoist 5 gallon buckets up and over to our wheelbarrow.That was work, but we filled 5 wheelbarrows full before my arms and Chance's back gave out.There's still 4-5 more wheelbarrows full waiting for us to come get.Both Chance and I had a good time getting to know a bit more about our neighbor who is in his upper 80's and still cuts and stacks 6 cords of fire wood each fall. We both hope to be as spry as Dick when we are his age. We worked out a trade for the compost , we gave Dick a box of our Asian Pears and tomorrow (if the lazy hens give me some eggs) I am baking him some Gingerbread and will send a jar of Apple Sauce for it. Food for his belly and Food for our Garden.
Before we hauled the compost we laid out a new garden bed to use for Garlic.We planted 5 heads worth and will need to put in more in the next few days.With the thick layer of compost that looks like any bagged up garden soil you could buy, I am certain the garlic will do well.Like Onions, Garlic is a heavy feeder so the rich soil is necessary.
I want to share with all of you a simple dish I made with dinner tonight. Chance's grandmother used to make it mostly as a lunch dish but I also make it as a side dish. It is called Noddles and Cottage Cheese.Now when Chance first made this for me I was not too sure, warm Cottage Cheese? I don't know about that.Now tho' I love it and so do our boys. Here's how it goes...

Choose one pound of dried pasta, I like to get one that is a shape that will catch the bits of Cottage Cheese,like small shells or Macaroni. Chance's Grandmother always made it using Spinach Noodles.
Next you need a one pound tub of Cottage Cheese,which ever fat content you like. A couple of Tablespoons of Butter.If you are worried about fat the butter can be left out. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Cook and drain the pasta.Stir in the butter until melted.Now dump in the whole tub of Cottage Cheese mix it into the noodles.Salt and Pepper to taste.I don't always need the Salt depending on the saltiness of the Cottage Cheese.Serve it up. Our boys love it with steamed broccoli on the side.
I like this dish, it is easy,cheap, and goes well with almost anything or can even be served as a main dish. I also like the fact that it is as easy as a boxed Mac and Cheese but is fresh and healthier.I have used Gluetin Free Pasta's as well and it works great for that too. If your family likes Mac and Cheese this might work for you too.
Well, lets hope I wake up to a nest box full of eggs in the morning.This seems to happen to me, I suddenly have a stock pile of eggs so I share or trade them, then those crazy birds don't lay for days on end.I am left thinking should I just horde my eggs? It's kind of like which came first the chicken or the egg.I don't care I just want eggs.
Rois

Friday, October 9, 2009

A is for Apple, B is for Beets.




Hello One and All,
I follow Jenna over at Cold Antler Farm's blog and from time to time she dose postings about "You know your a Homesteader when..." Just now I thought of one I have not seen before, you know your a Homesteader when you can heft a bag of feed on your hip like a baby and pull the wash off the line with your other arm/hand.Yup that's what I just did all by my lonesome self,a moment of pride.
Today was a beauty of a fall day here, warm sunshine with cool air,the world changing colors all around and that slanted light that comes as the Earth tilts her head towards the coming winter.
Chance, Sol and I took a drive to a local farm to buy a box of Apples for Apple Butter and Sauce.We purchased 42 pounds of Johnagold Apples which I am hoping will be enough.This uncertain-ness has prompted me to start a ledger of how much was purchased and how much it yielded.I know in the past people did this for the very same reason so I am riding on their coat tails and learning from the past once again. I am also adding in a seed list for much of the same reasons.I am adding in my own twist of figuring in how many rows were planted or what size of bed was planted and wither or not the harvest was good for us.Time and money will be saved in the future by keeping this log.
Chance also picked up a couple of things he needed to can some Salsa.He used a recipe from the Ball Canning site that was just a very basic Salsa.He ended up with 2 quart jars and will be, in the future, changing the recipe a bit.The Salsa was good but had more zip to it than we thought it would. Even with the extra zip to the Salsa it was a good way to use up our extra Tomatoes from the garden. Chance felt proud of himself because this was the first time he did a canning project all on his own,I was busy doing I don't know what..
I know what I was doing,I was pulling the rest of our Beets and other garden jobs.I now have enough smaller Beets to do a few jars of Pickled Beets.I have never made them myself but we all love to eat them so I am going to give them a try.Since they are not a big part of our diet it will be just fine if I only make a few jars. And they will easily keep in the fridge for a few more days until after I can the Apples up. I am thinking of freezing the Beet Greens too,again I have never done this but willing to try.I can add the greens to soups this winter and sneak in greens without the boys noticing.
Within the next couple of days the house will be filled with the aroma of cooking apples and spices,how fall like is that? Then all we will need is to light a fire in the wood stove and we have the best scents of fall,Apples and Woodsmoke.
Rois

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Work


Yesterday after much discussion with Chance, a bit of soul searching,tears and frankly some anger I quit my job. Working under a manager who uses threats,intimidation and overall negativity to keep her workers "in line" just dose not fly with me and my values.Being called an idiot(my biggest feather in my cap is having been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA all the way through High School and Collage; I don't think the word idiot applies.) for a simple mistake that was fixable right on the spot was my last straw.I did take the proper steps and went to the main office to see what could be worked out,I have had better conversations with my Chickens and I felt as if I was talking to a wall. So I quit.Standing up for myself was the right thing to do even if it dose mean I am no longer working outside of home.
Not to sure what I'll find for new work but I am now determined to find a place who will value me not only as an intelligent worker but as a human being.
To quote Chance "It's back to Homesteading full time". There's plenty to do in the coming weeks to get home ready for the winter so I'll keep busy with that.In the end it will all work out one way or another.And like I have said before we are on a journey here and I am good with it.
Rois

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chantrell Mushroom picking




Today we loaded up into our trusty Land Cruiser and headed west into the coastal mountains to pick wild mushrooms.This is not a task to do if you have not been carefully taught by a trustworthy person.It is VERY easy to pick a mushroom that would either kill you or at least make you very sick.My Dad has carefully spent years teaching both Chance and I which mushrooms in our area to pick. My Dad taught us when in doubt go with out, simple yet effective.
We had the boys with us and their education began a few years ago but we gave them some refreshing on what we were hunting,not to even touch an unknown mushroom and importantly not to pick an area clean.


Our trip today was to look for Chantrell's a beautiful amber colored mushroom with gills that run the undersides all the way to the edge of the mushroom. These tasty treats grow in areas where there are lots of fir trees,moss,damp and rotting trees.One of the ways we know we have found good hunting grounds is the air has a mushroom scent to it.



We found a few other things along the way too.Issac has a knack for spying critters and quickly being able to grab them.Much to our happiness Issac scooped up a Salamander (some regions call these little fellows Newts.) who was sleepy with the cool temperature of the day. We said our hellos to our little brother and then gently left him out of the pathway. Later on Chance found a 3 foot long Garter Snake basking in the sun to warm himself.These snakes when smaller can not bite you but considering his size and the fact that we respect wild things we walked around him to enjoy his warm spot. We also saw lots and lots of Elk poo,a good sign for mushrooms and to know these beautiful beasts are still holding on to their numbers.
I also spied tree sap stuck in a spiders web that was pretty darn neat.I am not sure how it happened or how but Mother Nature can do some amazing things.
The season for picking Chantrells is just getting started we saw many spots where the mushrooms were just poking their heads through the earthy duff. We are expecting some warmer weather this week and this will help the mushrooms wake up and poke all the way up.Next week we will go back to pick some more. So far together we picked 2 pounds worth of the Chantrell's. Chance sliced them and put them into the freezer for winter eating.
Tonight Chance is making Mushroom gravy to go with our dinner.We had left a beef roast cooking in the Crocpot/Slow Cooker so he will use the broth from that as his base.I can't wait for dinner. It was a pleasing day,very soul soothing and quiet.I hope your day was a good one too.
Rois