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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Knowing how to cook part 2

 When I first wrote about the importance of knowing how to cook I had these grand ideas that could be written about over many blog postings and then I realized that my thoughts were neatly summed up in the video I posted.Right there around the one minute mark of the video is the summary of my thoughts. You can feel down and worried about your food or you can realize "I can cook" and make yourself a good meal that can be stretched if need be.
  A good meal can be empowering, you took control of your life and needs when maybe you were feeling a bit blue about where you are at. A good meal can lift your spirits, after all who does not get some emotional satisfaction from really good food? 

  I know of two people who are good examples of  why knowing how to cook is so important.One  friend is on food stamps and knows how to cook.The other is not on food stamps and only sort of cooks.By knowing how to cook, and I must add how to shop, my friend on food stamps eats well and the food stamps lasts the month.This friends attitude is positive, she knows in this one area of her life all is well and her knowledge of cooking is keeping things going.The other friend is always scrambling around for food and the money to pay for it.His attitude is not positive,food insecurity is stressful on any human but he is seeing the light and knows he must learn how to cook more and  be a more careful shopper.

  How to learn to cook is not something I can begin to teach here.I learned one step at a time,one dish at a time from a very young age.I guess you could say I have many ,many years experience.Over the years I have added and discarded many recipes or ideas.Learning to cook is all about experimenting keeping what works for you and pitching the ones that don't. Once you have been at it awhile you may find it easier and easier to simply read through a recipe and know wither you will like it or not based on what you already know.This will also help you make up your own recipes.It's kind of like that children"s game Mother May I, maybe you start with little steps ,then bigger ones and then get set back a step.Crossing the finish line is not really part of the game of cooking it's about playing because you can.

  I will be continuing this series of postings but I am leaving the learning to cook part up to my readers to do for themselves. I can not tell you what works for you or what you will like.I will make suggestions and share with all of you how I go about cooking good food on a budget. I am hoping to just plant some seeds in your mind to carry with you when you shop. 
  I am going to leave you all some thoughts to ponder or to consider until the next posting in this series.
** The next time you are at the store really pay attention to what you are buying.Are you buying food or ingredients to make Food? Is there a difference to you?
   I would love to hear your thoughts on these thoughts and where you are hoping I am going with them.By posting your ideas and thoughts you too can help others learn something new including me.

Broodie Hen Report: Mama ended up with three chicks total which is what we kind of expected a 50/50 ratio.This morning Mama and chicks came out of the broodie house for the first time.I will post pictures of the brood soon while they are still in their cute fuzzy stage.Since Mama is up and about it is safe for us to assume she is done sitting and the remaining unhatched egg is not going to hatch.

Rois

Monday, June 28, 2010

Way to busy....

One of my favorite parts to living the way we do is I can slow down and not live at a rat race pace but life has gotten away from me all of a sudden.We have been so busy with homesteading projects,settling into the summer routine,getting Issac started at both summer school and his first job,helping my parents and running and running. I have had no time until now to blog and I can only stay for a moment,I had to freeze the berries I picked for jam for a week when life is more quiet,let the laundry pile up and thank goodness the Mama Hen knows what to do because chick care would not be happening.I am trying to get here to blog and catch up but this girl seems to be riding along with Mr Toad on his wild ride and as soon as I find the brake lever I will be back with much to say.

Before I go tho'- Broodie Hen Report: So far we have 3 chicks and another working it's way out of the shell.None of the things I read said this would be a many day process but all is well.The Mama seems to know what to do with the hatching eggs,she has one more to hatch after the one is finished,and our book says once all of the eggs have hatched she will bring her chicks outside,leaving the dud eggs behind for us to pick up. Mama lost one egg early on and one chick did not make it and she booted those out of the nest.

Rois

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chickie!



    So far we spy just one but isn't the chick so DANG CUTE!!!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just some photos

I want to post these photos really quick to let all know things are fine and looking better than I thought they would after all of the rain we have had.I have had a super busy week and will be back here soon.
Those of you watching for the Broodie Hen Report here you go,we are still waiting.As of this morning we will be checking through the day for the chicks.All of this waiting brings back memories....

    Garlic











Mock Orange                
Apples

















Strawberries





Smiling face in wood,found in the new load of wood.





   


                                                                   

 The back garden followed by two of our front beds.

















The Broodie House
  Rois

Saturday, June 19, 2010

An Hour in a Minute with Issac Dahms on Vimeo

I want to share this video of Issac,filmed by his buddy D.F.G at our local skate park. I have been asked what are homesteader kids like,they are just like any other kids, this one just loves his bike and it shows.

An Hour in a Minute with Issac Dahms on Vimeo

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Well hello....

So my plan worked! HA! I tempted all of you out from your comfort zones and made you speak up.CA,you don't count you are always here but the rest of you thanks for chiming in.All of your thoughts were exactly what I was needing,some idea as to why people read my blog. Now let me take a moment to reply to some of the comments.
 
 Lacy, I would never consider you a stalker until you were standing on my porch everyday wanting in. With that in mind please respond to my postings, leave me questions or what ever. I also feel your frustrations in the weather and the garden.Ours is so far behind I broke down and bought plants yesterday just so maybe just maybe we would get something growing and eventually feeding us.Remember,we are not alone, the whole city is moaning over it.I am trying to be grateful that I am not A.a Farmer or B. dependent on only having the food we grow,we would be starving soon.We also have weeds and an army of slugs,it's the rain.I am trying to pull the weeds as fast as I can and I bought some eco slug bait.Which sucks but I don't know what else to do at this point about the slugs.
And lastly how do I mange it all? I am not always on top of things, currently I am home full time,I have a great helpmate in Chance and sometimes I just shrug my shoulders and say What Ever,I'll get to it some day. I could write a whole posting about homestead management and will make a note to do so soon.But until then remember you are choosing to live this life because you want to slow down and take control of your life.
Oh and canning....Canning is not as scary as you may be thinking nor as time consuming.

Everyone else- I am glad you enjoy the blog and I have been helpful but really to keep me motivated say something once in awhile.I know lurking online is common and we all do it but the comments readers leave are part of the reward of writing.
   
   I am going to get back to the second part of why I think cooking is a survival skill everyone you should know.I am waiting for permission to share a couple of peoples stories before I post the piece.Talking about a persons personal life is touchy and I don't want any hurt feelings.

   Broody Hen Report:The broody house is built and so dang CUTE and will be even cuter when the chicks are in there peeping.Sadly our battery charger for the camera is lost but I will be picking up a new one this weekend and then I can post some photos.

    Drum roll please.......Chance got a promotion at work! I am so proud of him and he deserved the move up.Chance is one of the hardest working men I know so it is good to see him puffed up with pride and feeling good about himself. To quote a very young Sol "My Dad,he's a good guy."

See you soon,
  Rois

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Standing at the Crossroads

 I am finding myself standing at a crossroads with my blog with out a map,a clue or sense of direction.16 months and 200 and 40- some postings later I am at a standstill, rubbing the back of my head the way I do when I am stumped,then my hands go into my pockets like I am searching for the answer lost in the jumble of junk I carry and pace the floor.I must look like some oddball,you know the ones you see on the street talking to themselves gesturing to an unseen audience,the ones you cross the street mid block to avoid interacting with.Those lost souls of society.
  As a blog writer I can actually say I can relate to that lost soul talking to that unseen audience,gesturing and posing questions to people who never respond.And as the conversation becomes one sided the gesturing becomes more and more animated,hands flapping,keys clicking and the face morphing through every emotion known to mankind.In a final moment of dismay the hands fly heavenward with a BAH! One hand drops and the other reaches to rub the back of the head with the hopes that the soothing touch will lure a thought forward.
    But I do have some sanity left,some where in the back of my mind amongst the jumble of knowledge,stories and dreams,it is there.I have enough sanity left to know that I really can't go on talking to myself the way I have been,it's not healthy.I had this idea that this blog could become a dialog with what readers would come but some how I am stuck in this monologue.A self directed monologue which does not work well, just ask any actor.Without input how do you know if anyone can hear you way at the back?

Monday, June 14, 2010

One more for Todd....


     Todd-Here are photos of our "meat mobile"hanging in the kitchen.in, 3 weeks we will have lovely, oh so fatty,Guanciale. Chance thought you may see the humor in the naming of the hanging meat.Sadly the camera battery died and the charger has gone AWOL so I can't show you pictures of the Bacon he is working or the Pancetta.
  And to the rest of my local readers in 3 weeks we will have some meat open for trading,shoot us an email if you are interested and what you have for trading.

 Chance and Rois

YouTube - Death Metal Rooster

YouTube - Death Metal Rooster


This video made me laugh so hard the sun came out from behind the clouds.

Pita Bread

 I received a request for the Pita bread recipe I blogged about from Todd. Here you go Todd-

Pita Breads     From Baking with Julia  Written by Dorie Greenspan


1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 Cups tepid water ( 80-90 F)
2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour   ( I used Spelt)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour

Mixing and Resting: Stir the yeast and water together in a large bowl.Using a wooden spoon and stirring in one direction,stir in the wholewheat flour about a cup at a time.Stir until mixture looks smooth and silky.This sponge needs to rest,covered with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes although best if it can rest for as long as 8 hours in a cool place,a rest gives a fuller flavor. ( I let mine rest for the 30 minutes because I was in a rush.)
  Mixing and Kneading: Sprinkle salt over sponge,then stir in olive oil mix well stirring in one direction.Add the AP flour one cup at a time until the dough is too stiff to stir with the spoon.Knead on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic 8-10 minutes.The dough will be moderately firm and have a sheen.
 Rise: Wash the bowl and oil it.Place dough in bowl and cover.Let dough rise at room temp for 2-3 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  At this point the book gives directions for keeping the dough for up to a week in the fridge.If you want this bit email me or leave me a comment and I'll reply.

To bake the breads in the oven: if you have quarry tiles or baking stones (I used our pizza stone) use them to line the bottom rack of your oven,leaving a 1-inch border free around the tiles for air circulation.Or you can use two baking sheets for a similar effect.Preheat oven to 450.F
 
 Shaping the Dough: Knead dough briefly.Divide in half,cover the half you are not working with.Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and with lightly floured hands,form pieces into tight balls.On a well floured surface flatten each ball first with your finger tips and then with a rolling pin.They should be 8-9 inches in diameter and less than a 1/4 inch thick.( The ones that I got too thin did not puff up.) .Cover rolled out breads.
   Place as many breads as will fit onto your stones 4-6 at a time and bake 3-5 minutes,or until they resemble well blown up balloons. Some may not puff up if your stones were not hot enough.Don't worry they are still yummy.Continue to roll out breads and baking.Cover baked Pitas in with a towel.
  Now here is another baking option that I think would be fun if you have small kids in the house, they could watch the magic happen right before their eyes.

To bake the breads on the stove top: Preheat a 9-inch griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium - high heat and lightly oil.Bake one rolled out circle at a time,putting the topside down ( Personally I don't think there is a top or bottom to this bread.) cooking for 15-20 seconds,then turn over gently.Cook for another minute,or until bubbles appear.Turn again until it balloons fully.The breads should bake for no more than 3 minutes.Oil the pan after every 4 or 5 breads.

We had a lovely weekend,it was perfect, absolutely so.The radiant Sun returned and the whole city was jubilant,when you have been living under clouds and rain for a month straight it is hard not to want to dance in the streets once the Sun returns. Chance and I also celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary by hosting a party here.We had a nice crowd of family, friends and lots of kids running around.The party lasted late into the night no one was in  a hurry to leave the company sitting around the fire but finally we all turned into pumpkins and said good night. Yesterday we spent together as a family,had lunch out and went window shopping.It was a mighty fine weekend,mighty, mighty fine.

Broody Hen Report: So that is Mama in the corner there looking awful and flat while the other hens look on from their roost.I know when I was expecting I did not always look my best ,must be true of hens as well.Mama is doing fine,just hanging out,waiting and growling every time Zeph the rooster comes near her.
Mama's to be sure can be cranky.

Rois

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is knowing how to cook important to you?

   I found this video and then this article a few days ago and wanted to pass them along .Both of them are a testament that the economy has yet to turn around and people are still struggling to find jobs, pay the bills and feed themselves.This gentleman is using his cooking skills and the life lessons his parents passed down to him to make it through.

   Some good friends of ours have a saying at their house "We may not have a lot of money but we eat really well." The video,article and our friends motto all make me glad that both Chance and I were taught to cook by our families and later added our professional cooking skills to our stock.Although we do not live on such slim money or have food stamps like Mr Murrieta , money can be tight and with two growing boys to feed every penny and bite counts.Smart shopping, growing our own food,using every scrap and remembering some "forgotten" kitchen skills makes for good food even on a small budget.And dinner can still be good the day before payday...
 


   The other day was the day before payday and the cupboards were looking bare and I really had to put on my thinking cap to figure out dinner. I also did not have my car to run to the store and riding my bike in pouring rain was not looking all that great ( I know, I know I live in one of the most bike friendly cities where it rains all of the time and I wimp out on riding.) so after rummaging I did find dinner.
 The most hopeful looking ingredients:
   1 Mason jar of Homemade Mayo
   Some left over grilled chicken
   1 Head of Green Cabbage
   1 bunch Lettuce from the garden
   2 Carrots
  1 Apple
  A handful of Raisins.
  Our boys LOVE Chicken Salad Sandwiches which made my choice fairly easy.And we all like Cole Slaw so some sort of veg was there as well.My only problem was I had not baked any bread,oops.
  What would a Homesteader do? ( I should make some bracelets based on that one maybe that would be my fortune.) Bake some Pita/ Pocket Bread. Pita's have been on my list of to be tried for a long time,I just have not gotten around to is all.I think that's been because my old recipe I had called for some ingredient I don't always have on hand or something.But the new recipe I found had such basic stuff I was in luck. Flour, Salt,Yeast and Water I always have those on hand even the day before payday.The Pita's can also be made with in 2 1/2 hours, much faster than if I had tried to make bread. I gave it a whirl and they came out better than any I have ever had.I think that was due to their freshness.I don't understand the science behind how the Pita's puff up but it was fun to watch them balloon up.I fond this especially puzzling since two pages back from the Pita recipe is the recipe for Naan and it is the same ingredients and close enough ratios,Naan is flat but Pita's puff up why is that?  The only difference I could see was the temperatures the two bake at.

   But our menu of Chicken Salad Sandwiches and Cole Slaw is not what I really wanted to blog about today.I wanted to talk about the importance of knowing how to cook.By sharing both of Mr Murrieta's pieces with you I am hoping to ram home the importance of  cooking skills, they can mean you survive or not.

 Survival what does it mean? I found this definition on Wikipedia-

    Survival- noun.  1. The fact or act of surviving continued existence of life.
                       His survival in the open ocean was a miracle; he had fully expected to die.
                               2. (as a modifier) Of ,relating to or aiding survival.            
                       His survival kit had all the things he needed in the wilderness.

 
I chose this definition of Survival not only for it's definition but for the two sentences using the word. Number one sounds a bit grim because there's no help in sight where as number two is hopeful, "he" has the skills or tools to survive.That sense of hopefulness is the key to my point about the importance of learning to cook,one never knows when you may find yourself in a tight spot and to make it through you are going to need the skills to survive, like the fellow in the woods with his kit or like Mr Murritea using cooking skills to make what could be a sad situation into a livable one.But like any survival plan you have to learn it and practice it before you really need it because one day you could find yourself adrift in the sea.The ending is up to you, sink or swim?
  This posting is the first in a series I am working on which is why the ending of the last paragraph is just kind of hanging there.I have more to say and a couple of stories to share so check back for the next installment.
  
   

   Broody Hen Report: Mama is still sitting on all 7 of her eggs.She is kind of flat yet fluffed up and grumpy when you open the coop to check on her,that's normal.She also just stares straight ahead like she is in deep meditation.She's like her own Buddha,sitting on a throne of straw deep in a mediation about the cycle of life.Ohm cluck Ohmmm. She leaves the nest once a day for about 15 minutes to eat and make the biggest chicken poo's I have ever seen just like our book said she would.When Chance has gone out to collect her daily egg she has not minded one bit.Chance just picks her up,sets her down next to the nest ,gets the egg and places Mama back.She never even stands up,she just sits there.I am marking off the days on the calendar and waiting.
   Rois








Monday, June 7, 2010

Good things X 4

Confession time folks...I have been in the worst funk of my life the last week but today things seem to be turning around.And it is a damn good thing! All of the rain and clouds sent my spirits spiraling down into the gathering ponds of mud we have been having here.Sitting around watching my garden slowly curl up to die or being eaten up by our first slug invasion made for some sad days here on the homestead. We have had record breaking rain here and the word around town - I have not been the only one feeling the blues. But like I said things turned a corner today and my smile is returning along with my determination to pull on my muck boots and try again.
 
   This morning I was invited by my good friend CAS to come have coffee with her and to enjoy the joyful noise of her two preschoolers. CAS and her Man are theater folks and their kids know some great show tunes and will gladly perform for you.Today over blueberry muffins the first glimmer of my smile was spied as Mr N and Miss L gleefully belted out that great tune from "Annie"  "Tomorrow". At then end Mr N in true showman style says "Now every body.." and we all sang the chorus together.There is nothing more sweet and awesome than little people singing,I wanted to cry over the sweetness,resisted laughing(it wasn't funny one bit but it gave me so much pleasure.) and gave a big cheer at the end.A spoonful of sugar to ease my soul into feeling better,niceness.
  
Once home again I check in with my list of blogs and found a very nice surprise waiting for me.Margaret over at Finnegan Begin Again writes one of my all time favorite blogs,weekly she writes about a goddess of the week with such humor and smarts it's always a good read.And her followers leave some of the best comments too. One of the things about Margaret's blog that is so much fun is you can send in a goddess request and she does her best to fill it.I had sent in a request asking how to get the Norse goddess Sol/Sunna to return because our little homestead was sinking into the down pouring rain.This morning my was request was filled by the goddess Amaterasu the Japanese goddess of the sun.The trick to get her to return is laughter,check out Margaret's posting about it because I really can't tell the tale as well as she. One comment was a joke left for me to read,it's a good one,towards the top. For the second time today I found myself laughing and feeling better all the time.

  Then that sweet man of mine came home,stuck me in the truck and took me on a couple of errands with just me in mind.We went to the feed store, a place I love to go,remember I am kind of a simple person, to buy feed, 2 straw bales, new packets of seeds so I could replant what we had lost and to have a chat with Mason who works there.

   My smile was getting brighter when we left the feed store and was only going to get brighter after the next stop,the music store for new violin strings. Over the past year and a half I have been teaching myself to play violin by ear.My violin is my sanity and the most important way I vent,I had broken a string last week and hadn't had time to get some new strings but I am now back in business and can go back to playing the same song over and over until the boys are rolling their eyes at me ,the dog is whimpering and my finger tips are to sore to go one.Oh that thought brings a smile ,I love torturing my kids and the dog can get over it.

 The final good thing that is so full of hope is we have a broody hen,for sure this time.When your hen growls at you,won't get up from the nest and is all puffed up you know she is broody. We are leaving her with 7 eggs under her and Chance is working on building her a broody house which will be done tomorrow. We learned today that a broody hen will keep on laying so it is a good thing we marked the 7 eggs we want her to set on.We are pulling the new eggs out from under her,so far she's been mellow about it.The hatch date should be around the 24th of this month.I'll keep every one posted.

 Now that my funk is clearing I will be back here. I have a couple of postings I am working on and now that the clouds have left my head they may just make sense.Really folks, I thought my brain was turning into a mushroom of some large size,spongy,musty and strange.

 Rois

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh Damn....

 I awoke to the sound of pounding rain on the roof,Oh Damn.
The back yard is flooded and we have lost most of our young garden plants,Oh Damn.
The strawberries are rotting on the vines,Oh Damn.
A spring Sunday morning should not start with the the words,Oh Damn.
 And now our street is flooded.Oh Damn!
The only high point, we finally have a broodie hen.Hopefully we all make it through the next 20 days of her setting without the need for an ark.


Rois

Friday, June 4, 2010

Irish cook Darina Allen goes back to basics - JSOnline

Irish cook Darina Allen goes back to basics - JSOnline

I just bought this book and as soon as I finish reading the whole thing I'll be back.Now how to sneak the book into bed with me before Chance does.
Rois

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

pink martini - hang on little tomato

Like a broken record.

I am beginning to fell like the weather here is like a broken record,stuck in a scratch in the vinyl,stuck in a rut of rainy cool days unable to skip ahead to sunnier days.Waiting for DJ Mother Nature to notice and to change the tune. "Singing in the Rain" is a great little tune when you are 5 and splashing in the puddles but I am no longer 5 and would rather listen to "Here Comes the Sun" then things would be alright.

 I do have a bit of sunshine to share, I was gifted a beautiful gift of 3 large printing blocks.My friend had these sitting on her porch and she thought of me when she decided they needed a new home.

 I started a couple of rubbings of the block on the left side of the photo using charcoal.I am not finished with them yet and they are just me monkeying around so I may not post them.I do have plans to do some ink prints with them at some point.For now I have them on display on a side table in our front room.
  I am starting to worry about our garden,it looks so stunted and unhappy.I shouldn't be surprised I wouldn't be happy standing in the damp all day either.The only things that seem happy are the weeds popping up all over.The chickens are mad wet hens,they are not wet but they are mad.This would have been a good year to have ducks instead of chickens.The ducks could be swimming in the "pond" that keeps coming and going depending on the rain fall.(We have a low spot in our backyard and if it rains hard and fast it fills up with water.We call this spot "Lake Dahms") We could fatten the ducks with the slugs that are trying to invade us.
  We had a Spring like this one the year I was 13 and working in the strawberry fields.It rained on us everyday until we were damp and under our clothes always felt humid.Going home was never a choice for us,it was up to the farmer,the farmer wanted his berries picked before the rain ruined them so we worked on in the rain.We did not make much money that strawberry season.
   I am wondering about the local strawberries and if there will be any.Our own strawberries here are quickly eaten by slugs before they can fully ripen.We may have to have a different kind of berry jam this year.
   I am still sewing to fill my time and soon I'll have my projects done to show all of you.With an inch of rain due today I am sure I will make much progress once my daily work is done.
   An inch of rain.......that seems like Water Torture to my brain today.Drip.... drip.... drip.................
    Rois