Monday, February 28, 2022

Powered By The Sun

Hello, friends.  While in town picking up birdseed from Tractor Supply last week, I got some groceries at the nearby Food Lion.  Knowing we've sanctioned avocados coming from Mexico, and as they had them for .99, I got three.  They also had organic oranges on sale for $4.99/3#, and our dogfood for $6 off.  Wednesday started out rainy, so I mended a camisole, hemmed two pairs of shorts from scrub pants I'd cut off, and shortened two flannel king size pillowcases, to make them fit my husband's queen pillow.  I also darned four pairs of wool socks, before heading out to prune apple, peach and pear trees, once the rain let up.  Suet was made for the birds.  The final bit of tax info was gathered, and the last numbers crunched.  That always feels like a milestone.  Once J's info comes in, we'll be ready to take it to the accountant.  

I've wanted a heart cookie cutter for some time, and found one marked down to $2 at Marshall's, which also came with a nice spatula.  I made a double batch of pecan sandies.  The first of the peas poked up over the weekend, some of both types.  I winter sowed 13 containers, including two types of lettuce, parsley, cilantro, artichokes, and lots of flowers.  It was a rather momentous week here.  J did the final bits so we could switch over, and our home is now powered by the sun.  Though it's been cloudy and rainy since we switched, it's keeping up with our demand without problem, which is great.  On Sunday, I made a batch of hummus for lunch.  For dinner, I used one of ours and a store bought butternut squash to make a double batch of crumble, sauteed our collards with garlic, and used homemade salad dressing.  Enough squash was frozen for another crumble.  Five gallon bags of vegetable scraps were defrosted on the woodstove, with plans to can the broth. Each day, I'm sending peace, love and light to the world.  Be well, friends.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

February Blooms

Hello, friends.  Hellebore blooms brought some cheer last week.  For Valentine's dinner, J requested pasta.  Sauce was made with a jar of our tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes and cubes of frozen basil, all homegrown except for the pasta.  The juice drained from the tomatoes was saved in a jar, and frozen for soup.  An apple pie was made with canned, homegrown apples.  There was some pastry left over from the pie, so I added some peanut butter to the top, cut it in sections, and baked it with the pie for pup treats.  I made two purchases for our business from amazon, going through The Prudent Homemaker, as a small thank you for such a helpful site.  I forgot to mention last post that I redeemed Swagbucks points for $25 on Paypal.  I was unable to find organic grape tomatoes at the grocery store for several weeks, having checked at least 4 stores.  Organic celery is hit or miss, and organic oranges have been out at Food Lion and Aldi's when I've shopped for a couple of months.  These are interesting times.

Of the five amaryllis bought in early December, all finished blooming weeks ago, except a deep red one that decided to begin blooming on Valentine's Day.  I'm considering it a love letter from creation.  There have been lots of wildlife seen on walks lately, most often deer, but wild turkeys a couple of times.  Frozen pawpaw, figs and strawberries were used in oatmeal, and frozen peppers and lambs quarter were used in breakfast scrambles.   As our potatoes are being used, I'm cutting the eye ends off, and putting them aside for planting.  Several tufts of usnea were added to the glycerite jar, and a jar of astragalus glycerite was started.

The Early Frosty peas arrived, and were planted.  I helped J pull more wire on the solar project.  The panels are now charging with the sun.  There are just a few pieces left to get it connected to the house power.  We're hoping to be connected this coming week.  After two previous cancellations due to snow & ice, I met my sister and SIL for lunch, then we headed to an antique mall, where SIL's friend has a space.  There were lots of beautiful things, as it was a high end establishment, but I didn't find anything I needed there.  While in that town, I stopped by two favorite thrift stores.  I found a king pillowcase I'll alter to fit J's queen pillow for .50, a cashmere sweater for myself for $2.99, and a cute long sleeved top for .50.  At TJ Maxx, I bought some food items, including coconut oil, coconut water, olives and a GF snack.  

A trip late in the week to Food Lion resulted in .99 avocados, organic celery and oranges!  I got a .05 discount for bringing my bags.   With our canned tomatoes, frozen bits and pieces, and some vegetables, vegetable soup was made for a dinner.  I made a batch of MM Snickerdoodle cookies.  Our neighbors lost a son last week, and I made up a small plate of the cookies for J to take when he went by there.  Our diet is so different from most people these days, that was the best I could come up with.  The picket fence that our Seven Sisters rose climbed on was pulled out for the solar battery room.  While I was gone with my sister & SIL, J made a sweet, heart shaped trellis for it.  There was another recipe fail this week, this time for vegan cabbage fritters.  It was almost all vegetables, with very little to hold it all together.  I do love making fritters to use up little dribs and drabs of leftovers, so I'll keep trying.  I'm also going to consider the sourdough starter a fail.  After three weeks,  it never got any further than some bubbles.  It was supposed to double in size after feeding.  If it had increased much at all, I would have tried it in a recipe, but decided I'd already wasted enough flour.  A new salad dressing recipe was tried, and it was a win, so there's that.  Here's hoping the upcoming week brings more successes than failures for us all.  

Monday, February 14, 2022

A GF Bread Fail & Outdoor Time

Hello, friends.  The first signs of spring on the way showed up last week.  On a quick run to the grocery store, I found dogfood on sale at $6 off, and asparagus for $2.29/#.  While wrapping soap and stand orders, I listened to a couple of On Being podcasts, which were wonderful.  If you enjoy uplifting and insightful podcasts, I highly recommend this one.  Laundry was dried on the line.  I tried an off brand of veggie burgers bought at Aldi's some time ago, which I didn't love.  Realizing they would likely continue to sit in the freezer, I decided to defrost the remaining three on different days, and feed them  to the pups.  A little more room in the freezer, and a little less kibble needed for their dinner is a win in my book.  

I tried a new recipe for vegan GF pumpkin bread, which truly was quite awful.  It had no flour, but used unground oats as the dry base.  It'll be eaten, but I can't say it will be with great pleasure.  In the meantime, I found another recipe that sounds much better, based on what I know now.  Being new to GF eating, and having found no breads so far that I consider good, it's been a bit of a learning curve for me.  The sourdough starter is slowly making progress, making some nice bubbles at times.  It doesn't seem quite up to speed for baking yet, but I'm hopeful.

There were some lovely warmer days last week.  On one of them, I planted peas.  I've had the packet of Alaska peas for several years, and have been waiting for some new seeds, which haven't yet arrived.  Another day, I helped J run wire from the solar array to the battery bank.  He also added a grounding rod, so we don't have to worry about lightning now.  After helping him, I pruned many of our fruit trees.  There are more warm days forecast in the next two weeks, so I'm hopeful I'll finish that up, and be able to move on to other outdoor chores.   I made another round of vegan southern fried cabbage, but this time, I made the vegan bacon that goes with it.  I thought it was great, though J wasn't a fan.  That's OK; more for me.  Another night, I used our cabbage and potatoes in a vegan version of colcannon.  It wasn't as good as the heavy cream and butter version, but still tasty.  The eyes were cut, and are drying for use in our garden.

The basket shows a usual week around here, with a constant stream of empty jars to return to their storage spot, awaiting their next filling.  I'm pleased with how well the lid remover I recently bought seems to work.  The test will be when I try reusing them for canning, but I believe it will work well.  I'll definitely report back, once I try it.  In addition to emptying jars, I continue pulling from the freezer, with lima beans, broth and sweet peppers being some of what I used last week.  On Friday, J & I had an early Valentine's date.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the restaurant we gathered with family and friends after our wedding ceremony.  It's been almost five years now.  As always, the food and service were excellent.  On our way there, we passed by our library, and stopped to pick up the books and DVD I had on hold.  Sending wishes that love surrounds you this Valentine's Day, friends.  


Monday, February 7, 2022

Chicken Enrichment, A Pretty Puzzle & Solar Progress

Hello, friends.  Last week, I really enjoyed reading The Midnight Library.  I also finished Good Husbandry.  These came from the library, along with The Girl From Venice, which I've just started.  I pulled pawpaw from the freezer for oatmeal, and made MM spice cookies.  I attempted a try at chicken enrichment, which was rather a bust.  I left all the outer cabbage leaves intact with some I was cooking for our dinner, ran a string around it, and hung it from a branch in their yard.  I'm not sure if they were afraid of it, or if it was just too much work, as I usually throw their greens on the ground.  It's interesting to me how different batches of chickens behave.  I took advantage of a sale of essential oils for soap making at 8% off.  A coupon code was used for 20% back on ink at Staples.

Broccoli Pad Thai was made, using our garlic and broccoli.  When your fruit tastes like onion, you know it's time to scrub your cutting board :o).  I used thieves vinegar and baking soda, which worked very well.  A pair of socks and sweat pants were added to the donation box.  Foraged lambs quarter and maitake mushroom were pulled from the freezer for a breakfast scramble.  I'm so glad to have found this scramble.  I was really missing using various bits of veggies in my breakfast, as I had been doing with eggs.  I make 1/4 recipe, which is plenty for me.  This is one of the pottery plates I thrifted with my sister.  I'd also been enjoying making fritters from various bits of leftovers, and thought no eggs put a stop to that too, but I recently found an eggless recipe, which I plan to try soon.

J & I got the remaining 20 solar panels in place last week.  He moved them from his end, and I pulled on them with a rope from my end, and together, we got it done.  They weigh 60# a piece.  It was a long day, though wonderfully warm in the 60's, and we had a headlamp and flashlight before we finished it after dark, but we're so glad that piece is done.  There were steps in between, when he didn't need me, so I spent much of that time picking up the remaining junk from the fire.  By the time I was done, there was another overflowing 5 gal. bucket of metal scrap.  The true trash was put into a feed bag, of which there were many dozens of shards of glass, among other detritus.  I expect now that it's rained overnight, I'll find more, but that should be the vast majority of it.  The next step will be wiring all the panels to the combiner unit, which was a piece I'd not heard of.   I got my first hair cut since before Covid, just a simple trim which she only charged $7 for.  In addition to a nice tip, I brought her a bar of my Rose soap as a little Valentine's thank you.

J and I worked on the jigsaw puzzle another night, then I finished it up.  It was inspired by The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, and the other seasons are available, so I may purchase one to work on next winter.  When I baked sweet potatoes last week, I made sure to bake a few extra, as I wanted to make a sweet potato pie.  They're one of J's favorites.  I tried this new recipe for a vegan version, and we both loved it.  J saw GF graham cracker crusts and brought one home some weeks back, and that's what I used for this pie.  I mentioned last week that I started a GF sourdough starter.  It has been disappointing so far, making few bubbles.  It looked a bit more bubbly Sunday, so I'll give it a little bit longer.  A lentil loaf was made, and after enjoying it a second night, I froze the rest for another meal.  Our cabbage was sauteed to go with it.  I tried a MM recipe for flatbread (made with potatoes), which used our rosemary, potatoes and thyme, but I had to sub the potato starch with arrowroot.  It never set up properly, though tasted good.  I'll try it again once I get some potato starch.  I enjoyed watching the Cranford series through Netflix.  J tilled and prepped an area for me to plant peas this week.  I also hope to begin winter sowing soon.  Have you begun working on any garden plans yet?