Sunday, August 13, 2017

A New Soap, Pawpaws, & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope your week was a good one.  I recently took an online survey for a food co-op I've been a member of for years, and received a 10% coupon as thanks, which I used last week while I was in that town for an appointment.  Laundry was done with homemade laundry soap, and hung on the line.  The cell phone charged in my car when I was out and about.  Yogurt, kefir, hummingbird food, and suet for the birds were made.  I harvested another round of elderberries, and plan to leave the remainder for the birds.  I began another quart of medicinal tincture with the berries, which should have our supplies pretty good going into cold and flu season.  I sat on the porch while we were getting a soft rain, and removed them from the stem, which was a peaceful chore.  I'm delighted to have some figs this year.  Saving them up for a few days, I had a pound, and made enough fig and honey jam to just fill three 4 oz jars.  I'd been reading how nice it is with cheese, which sounds lovely, and something I look forward to trying.

Last week, I harvested cucumbers. tomatoes, eggplant, okra, apples, peaches, hazelnuts, and J brought in three green striped cushaw squash.  I picked all but two peaches, and those were gone the next day, I expect to our resident squirrels.  That's OK. I've asked J for a squirrel buster bird feeder for my birthday, which I'm hoping will decrease the number of them hanging around our home.  A friend has one, and says it works wonderfully to keep them out of the birdseed.  There are acorns and hickory nuts galore here, so it won't hurt them not to eat the sunflower seeds.  I made one sale on ebay.  It was not what I hoped for, but it's a sale.  For one dinner, I made a tomato pie with our tomatoes, basil, chives, and homemade bread crumbs, with asian cucumbers as one of the sides. For some time now, I've been using twinkly lights and a battery operated candle that was my Mom's for dinner, instead of the hanging fixture with multiple bulbs.  It's a calm, pleasant way to enjoy our meal, and saves money as well..

While in town for work, I decided to check in the local thrift stores, mostly for white clothes and sheets to dye.  I did find a lovely white flannel sheet and two tops to dye, but I'm most excited about a natural linen skirt I found at Goodwill.  It had been taken in (to a 22" waist!), and looking at it, I thought I could wear it when taken out, and was happy to find that I can.  I love the style of it, as well as it being linen.  In my walks in the woods gathering lichens and other dye stuffs, I'd been pondering a new soap.  I created it this week, with essential oils of various woods (pine, fir, cedar) and oakmoss.  When the pot of lichens simmered while dyeing a shirt, the aroma was a heavenly earthy, woodsy scent.  I decided to strain the liquid (rainwater and lichen "juice") and use some as my soap water.  In researching, I found this lichen has been shown to be a strong antibacterial in at least one study.  As far as I know, it's not been used in soap before, and I'm not sure if the antibacterial properties remain after the soapmaking process, but I'm excited to try it.  It smells quite lovely.  I'll be pondering names for the soap over the weeks it's curing.

pawpaws- one of three trees!
We had many volunteer tomatoes this year, transplanted most of them, and gave a few away.  The majority happened to be cherry and small tomatoes.  We've been enjoying the cherry tomatoes in a bowl on the table for snacks and during dinner, but I thought another good way to use them would be to turn them into tomato juice.  That was a fairly easy canning session, with the hardest part cutting open each of the small tomatoes.  They were simmered til soft, run through a food mill, reheated and put in jars.  These will be perfect to add to a summer squash pasta sauce I make, as it's a bit dry otherwise.  The skin and seeds that were left in the food mill were dehydrated, which will be used for bird suet.  This is a banner year for pawpaws.   I've rather lost my taste for them in smoothies, which is pretty much the only way they've been used in recent years.  There are several interesting recipes I've pinned on a Pinterest board, and hopefully, I can find a way to use them.  I wasn't crazy about the pawpaw bread I made in the past, and am looking for other ideas.  If I find any good recipes, I'll share them here.  I've offered some to our local microbrewery, after seeing folks who are using them in various beers, and they'd like to try some in a batch.

Before rain on Saturday, J & I planted seedlings of collards, cabbage and broccoli I had started.  I also planted seeds of beets, kale, arugula, two types of lettuces and swiss chards.   Paper from our shredder was spread around several fruit trees, and the remainder added to our compost bin.  I helped J chip and shred some brush from an area he is clearing, and we spread it at the garden fence.  On Sunday, I spent an hour and a half prepping 5 lbs of pawpaws for the freezer.  I then went out to do chicken chores, and lo and behold, there were 7 more pawpaws on the ground.  Oh well, they will have to wait for another day.  I harvested a basket full of dog fennel, which was then boiled for dyeing.  I haven't found much information on this plant, and in the initial soaking, it only imparted a bit of green where the fabric was touching the fronds.  I'm leaving it to soak overnight, and then will probably try adding ammonia, which was given as an option, to see if more color comes through.  I researched a bit on hickory nuts and hazelnuts, but don't find a lot of information on those either.  In any case, I'm having fun experimenting with various dye stuffs.  Tonight I made pasta sauce using our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, basil and rosemary.  A favorite summer recipe shared by a friend.  Wishing you all that you hope for in the coming week.


Robert said...

Why not consider naming your new soap " A walk in the woods"

Laurie said...

Thanks for your input, Robert. That's similar to some of the names I'm considering.

Terri Cheney said...

Laurie what is the first flower on this post? And have you ever heard of a plant called touch me not? I had some one year that were seeds from my aunt. Absolutely loved them...I must find myself a good source for plants and seeds of the old fashioned sort. I am very interested in your dyeing experiments and would like to see photos of some of your results when you have it where you like it.

Laurie said...

Hi Terri. The plant is obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). Touch Me Not sounded familiar. When I looked it up, it appears to be what I know as jewelweed. I've tried growing it from both seed and plant here, but haven't managed to keep it alive. I do see it, though rarely now, wild around creeks here. It looks like Vermont Wild Flower Farm and American Meadows are two places that offer the seeds. I'm happy to know you're interested in plant dyeing, and have intended to post some of the results. Thanks for the encouragement.