Monday, October 31, 2022

Fall Days

Hello, friends.  Last week, I received a payment from sold books, for $24.75.  I shelled what I thought was the remainder of the butter beans, but continue to find more of them, now that the leaves have died. I went to Big Lots to use a 25% off coupon, but found very little on my list, besides Christmas cards.  I forgot to mention before I planted my lettuce seedlings, I dug soil from the chicken yard that's been empty for a while, to amend the beds.  The lettuce was watered with comfrey tea.  I made a coconut cauliflower curry, which was in a book my SIL brought when she visited.  It will make it into our rotation, as we both enjoyed it, and it's another way to use our sweet potatoes.  The remaining coconut milk was frozen in an ice cube tray.  I was happy to hear that my SIL made her first pot of veggie broth, after seeing mine on the woodstove while here, and was pleased in how much richer her soup tasted.  My husband washed my car, after washing his, and I cleaned the interior, something I don't often prioritize on my to do list.  He also added air to the tires, after a low pressure light came on, with the compressor in their shop.

At Food Lion, our dogfood was on sale for $6 off, and the wild blueberries I need for my morning smoothies were $1 off.  I also earned a $5 reward towards the next purchase.  For some reason, our Naked Bear variety of pumpkins are not keeping well.  I regularly check on them, when I'm gathering ingredients for meals, and often find one or more going moldy.  I cut away all the bad spots, keep the good seeds to roast, and cook the flesh.  Winter greens were harvested for a salad, Burden soup was made with tromboncino, and pears were made into a pie.  Now that figs and tomatoes won't be included in the chicken mash, I've decided to use up some of the older jams on the shelf.  Though all are good, we typically reach for the berry jams, and odd ones like passion-lemon curd with vanilla from 2012 have not been getting eaten, so this seems a good way to cycle through the older ones, and still give the chickens a little of the fruit they love.  I'm also giving them a little of the older dried milk in storage, high in protein, which is helpful while they're molting.

Another three bags of veggie scraps were pulled from the freezer, and placed on the woodstove for broth.  That makes 10 gallon bags of scraps so far, with several more to go.  A small amount of kale was harvested, for juicing, and more that was frozen in pucks.  A tray of sweet peppers was frozen.  My current favorite homestead "fast food" is our canned potatoes with peppers and onions, so I'm happy to be putting some peppers up.  I rarely buy them, as they're usually so pricy.   Stopping for groceries after an appointment, I was able to get sales of frozen organic fruits and veggies for .49 off per bag, a 4 pack of beans for .50 off, and walnuts for $3.50 off.  I also stopped in to a Dollar Tree I passed, as I heard of three things of interest that someone online bought, but this one sadly had none of them.  An update on our solar system is the company is sending us a new board.  I'm sure we'll be on grid power a while longer, but am thankful they honored their warranty.

In the midst of all the beautiful fall colors, I was surprised to see this clematis blooming.   A batch of alfalfa sprouts were started.  Laundry was dried on the line.  I never think to mention it, but we always use cloth napkins for our meals.  A gift was purchased with part of a Swagbucks gift card, so nothing OOP.  On Sunday, I processed another canner full of veggie broth, to add to the pantry shelf.  I met a dear friend for dinner and a concert in the evening.  As this was in a college town, I was able to find a restaurant with a number of vegan and gluten free items, which was lovely.  Wishing a Happy Halloween to all who celebrate!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Garden Bounty

Hello, friends.  With lows in the 30's, our woodstove is back in action.  I pulled four bags of veggie scraps from the freezer, and placed them on the woodstove in a large pot to simmer.  I collected scraps all late spring and summer, so there are many more, but this is a start.  I'm back in my cold weather wardrobe, which usually consists of a camisole and cashmere sweater, with a flannel shirt or fleece vest, or both if needed, wool or alpaca socks.  Pants vary, but are often velour if I'm staying home.  Some years back, I inherited some clothes from an aunt, and there were two pairs of these pants, and I realized how comfortable they were.  They don't feel as sloppy as sweat pants to me, and I began looking for them in thrift stores, and usually find them with the activewear.  These outfits keep me warm indoors and out (plus coat and hat), and the layers are easy to take on and off.  

I strained and bottled cat's claw glycerite.  While watching videos one night, J & I shelled butter beans.  I did not make any purchases during Amazon Prime days.  Most of my family has not given me lists yet, and I've already gotten gifts for the two that have.  I swapped outdoor banners with Fall themed ones I already had.  Before our first frosts last week, I harvested green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers, a tiny cucumber, and a wheelbarrow full of mature cucuzza and tromboncino squash.  I gathered the last floral bouquet of the year, to enjoy in the house.  We're having inverter challenges with our solar system, so we are back on grid for now.  J has been conversing with the makers in China, as it's still under warranty, though it's a slow go, with us being day when they're night.  While doing what they asked, he found a burned out transistor on the power board.  We hope they'll be sending a board he can swap out, rather than asking us to ship the unit back to them.  Time will tell.  I blanched and froze three meals worth of butter beans, and grated a mature cucuzza squash for the chickens and pups, along with the cucumber I'd saved for seeds.  

The first batch of broth was strained, and I emptied the next three gallons of veggie scraps into a pot on the woodstove.  I refrigerated the first batch, and will can it all when the second is done.  Seeds that had been drying were packaged up... honeydew, cantaloupe, yellow watermelon and mizuna, and green bean seeds were placed in a pan to dry.  I cut the large cucumber we had saved for seed, and followed these directions.  We have lots of eggplant and tromboncino to do something with.  One dinner, I made an eggplant spread, and sauteed tromboncino using a recipe that's meant to be grilled.  It wasn't as good as when it's grilled, but I accomplished my mission of using some up.  I picked up requested books at the library.  While sitting at a long light, I noticed Food Lion had sent me a $10 off $50 coupon, which happened to be where I was headed.  When I got parked, the coupon was added to my account, and was received with my purchase.

For some reason, the red onions are sprouting in storage this year, though they were our best storing onion last year.  To make my way through them more quickly, I'm dehydrating the sprouting portion, and using the good parts of the onion in cooking.  While they were in the dehydrator, I added some celery and sweet potatoes for the pups.  There are lots of small and damaged sweet potatoes to use up.  I used some of the damaged ones for pup treats, and boiled small ones for chicken mash and the pup's dinner.  GF pecan sandies were baked, for my SIL's visit, and I shared cucuzza & tromboncino squash, and peppers with her.  I made us a lunch of potatoes, peppers and onions, and a salad, which mostly came from our garden.  She gifted me a plant based cookbook I look forward to exploring.  

I meant to dig up coleus before the first frost, but forgot.  They were a little worse for the wear, but still hanging on, so I dug a few up to hopefully overwinter in the house.  This last round of lettuce seedlings did not get eaten by bugs, like the last few.  They were still tiny, but I went ahead and put them in the ground the day before the first frost, and covered them up.  Most of them seem to be doing OK so far.  I canned up the veggie broth, and put one of the rings on wonky, so that jar didn't seal, but I was able to add 13 pints to the pantry shelves.  While we were having a long stretch of dry days, I filled up a barrel with hay, to have for the chickens over the winter.  Our sheds have a dogtrot between them, in which all manner of things gravitate.  M had his lathe and workshop in half of the dogtrot, and J got around to cleaning up some of that area over the weekend.  He also got the plywood sheeting and vapor barrier on my new sewing room.

Working towards using more of the produce, a pasta sauce was made with eggplant, our tomato sauce, onions, garlic and herbs.  Another night, Disappearing Zucchini Orzo was made, to use a couple pounds of tromboncino squash.  Mixed winter greens were harvested for salads, and some lettuce as well.  The grocery store has been out of my favorite Pink Lady apples, so I've been cutting up our small apples for snacks.  If there are any left, I plan to make applesauce.  I started another round of veggie broth on the woodstove, to be canned this week.  A pot of tiny sweet potatoes was put on the woodstove, for this week's chicken mash and the pup's dinners.  We're still having the most beautiful Fall days, of which I'm so grateful.  Wishing you a lovely week, friends.  

Monday, October 17, 2022

Bittersweet Days

Hello, friends.  The beautiful Fall days have continued, and I'm drinking them in.  Though the garden harvest is dwindling, I harvested carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, the last two pawpaws and butter beans.   I gathered basil and rosemary, and made herb salts for gifts.  We enjoyed Easy Skillet Ratatouille for a dinner, to use up some of the eggplant, squash, tomatoes and peppers, and it used our onions, garlic, thyme and basil as well.  Laundry was hung on the line.  I harvested the first mixed winter greens for a hearty winter salad, and tried a recipe for vegan feta cheese to use in the salad.  Though it didn't really taste like feta, it was tasty.  I froze about 2/3 of it for future use.  Sweet potatoes were fried to go with it.  One of the pawpaws was used in a smoothie with bananas and pineapple, and was yummy.

Another night, I made black bean burgers with fried potatoes, peppers and onions.  I've been enjoying watching Tudor Monastery Farm via Amazon Prime.  I planted milkweed, several amaryllis, northern sea oats, lantana, and globe amaranth.  I'd read the globe amaranth is a tender annual, but figured it couldn't hurt to try planting them in a protected spot.  I also placed the seedheads on the ground, to hopefully reseed.  I made my Mom's zucchini soup with our tromboncino, homemade broth, onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil and parsley, totally from the homestead, except for salt and olive oil.  I wanted to give a follow up on our kiwis.  Sadly, they never got any bigger than grape sized, and went from hard to soft and brown, so we never got to enjoy any.  It's possible the drought had something to do with it.

Two Christmas gifts were purchased with a gift card from Swagbucks rewards, so nothing out of pocket.  With the weather warmed up most of the week, we were able to go without any heat.  I redeemed Swagbucks points for another $25 GC.  Four books were sold through Sell My Books, for almost $25.  It's nice when decluttering makes a little money.  Several other books were brought to a little free library.  After making mushroom gravy to go with mashed potatoes, there were still mushrooms left that needed using, so I dehydrated them, along with some celery tops, onions and carrots.  They are starting another jar, to be used for soups.  We tried baking the first white sweet potatoes, which had very little flavor, just a hint of sweetness.  Hopefully, they'll get better with time.  

Dear Joseph had ironed clothes, shined his shoes, gotten a  haircut, and shaved, in preparation for a funeral of a classmate Saturday morning.  At bedtime Friday night, we started noticing the water pump running every few minutes, which generally only runs when we're using it.  When your house is plumbed with rainwater, every drop is precious, so he got up to check, and found a  leak under the house.  He turned off the water, and though I assured him I'd be OK on Saturday, he changed plans.  He grew up about 3 hours away, and classmates were gathering for a meal after the service, so he would have been gone a full day.  Never knowing what you'll find, he didn't want to wait until Sunday to begin the repair, knowing he may not be able to get what he needed on a Sunday.  He rarely makes plans away from the homestead, and I was sad he missed this.  Thankfully, it was a quick and easy fix.

Sweet potatoes

The sweet potatoes I planted in a pot have sprouted, and are looking good.  I hope I can keep them happy over the winter, to use as a greens source.  Purslane and chickweed were harvested, along with most of the basil.  A triple batch of pesto was made and frozen.  The chickweed went into a smoothie, along with sweet potato leaves from resprouted plants in the garden.  Guinness loves him some stinky, and got into something funky.  Thankfully, it was in the mid 70's on Saturday, and I was able to bathe him in the outdoor shower.  He is much more pleasant to be around.  I requested books from the library, and picked up the one that was ready.  There is frost in our forecast this coming week, and I'm enjoying all the flowers while they last.  It always feels a little bittersweet.  I hope you're able to enjoy these days, whatever season you're in.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Home Care

Hello, friends.  We've begun having fires in the woodstove again.  The pups have beds on either side of the hearth, and love to lay close.  A batch of bird suet was made, which included dried tomato skins and bits, and grape skins from canning.  Yeast-free vegan cashew parmesan was made with homegrown herbs.  So good!  I tried a new orzo recipe that used our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and basil.  It was pretty good, but probably not worth the amount of work.  Another night, I used our tromboncino, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs in a pasta sauce.  Thursday was a beautiful day, which I got to spend with my sister, thrifting in a town we'd not been to before which is full of thrift stores.  We had a grand time.  Lunch didn't pan out as hoped, but I managed.  I eat a lot of fries when out, one of the few vegan, GF things I can find on most menus.  Not exactly the healthiest thing I could be eating, but at least it allows me to enjoy a meal out with someone.  Sadly, when I got home, I found that something, we believe a hawk, got one of our young hens.  Sigh.  Ever since we set up the teepee shelter in their yard a couple of years ago, we've not had any further losses, but the four Blue Australorps generally stay separate from the others, which may have made a difference in their vulnerability.  

J needed my help on a job this week, while his partner worked on another job, so I spent a day working with him a few towns over, on an Event Center that's being set up.  Friday was another gorgeous day, and I washed windows, happily getting that crossed off my list before bringing the rest of the house plants indoors.  The hog wire and row cover over the lettuce seems to be keeping it safe, though I do see signs of the deer in the garden.  They took bites out of an eggplant and a cucuzza squash, but then left them, so I assume they weren't to their liking.  We found a place an hour away that sells discounted Pella windows, and went to get two for the sewing room.  After we got back home, I brought all the house plants in, along with their dishes and stands, as a low in the upper 30's was forecast.  That evening, I also changed out the sheets to flannel ones.  The cold weather clothes were swapped out in placed of the summer ones.  The weather has been gorgeous, and I hung several loads of laundry on the line.  I'm very much looking forward to more of a homebody week.  Our home could really use a bit of love and attention.  Have a good one, friends!

Monday, October 3, 2022

Hulless Pumpkin Seeds & a New Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Last week, I roasted our first hulless pumpkin seeds, after processing the pumpkin and two spaghetti squash that weren't going to store well.  I made pumpkin bread with the puree.  The pumpkin seeds were fantastic!  I believe it was the Naked Bear variety.  I know the others are Lady Godiva pumpkins, and look forward to trying them.  Several more of last year's sweet potatoes were found in a stash I'd forgotten about.  A few trays of these sweet potatoes were dehydrated for pup treats, and I planted three that had sprouted in a pot, to see if I can coax them into supplying some winter greens for me.  I harvested tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, a few green beans, the last of the cow peas, tromboncino, one pear, two pawpaws and a cucuzza squash.  There were bronze muscadine grapes ready on a vine we'd planted some years ago, and I gathered 20.  Not many, but I'm happy to gather any fruit this year that the critters haven't already gotten.  I also nabbed two of the wild purple muscadines.  Squash were shared, as well as a bar of my Pumpkin Chai soap.  Receipts were downloaded for Swagbucks points.

I shelled butter beans while watching a movie, and while listening to a podcast another day.  J shelled all the cow peas.   After an appointment, I shopped at Harris Teeter, and received the 5% senior discount.  I bought a pineapple for $1.99, 4 packs of organic black beans and garbanzo beans for .50 off, organic peanut butter for $1 off, and asparagus for 1.99/#.  At Food Lion, I got dogfood for $6 off ea., and brussels sprouts for $2.59.  The dogfood and beans have certainly gone up, but at least there are some savings getting them on sale.  At Hallmark, I picked up my free card, while buying a pack of Thanksgiving cards.  I had a $5 off $20 coupon, but decided the holiday cards were more than I wanted to spend, so didn't use it.  At a thrift store, I picked up a cotton sheet, pillowcase and book of Native Plants of the Southeast for $1 total.  I passed by a feed & seed store, and stopped and bought lettuce seedlings, to replace the ones deer had chewed off.  We covered them with some hog wire, and row cover, to hopefully keep them safe.  Vegetable soup was made after pulling a "soup fixings" container from the freezer.  I add to these containers when I have little dribs and drabs of meals leftover, not enough to really do anything with.  It turned out quite good, and also used our canned tomatoes and carrots, onions, garlic and cabbage.

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago my MIL had given me her commercial sewing machine.  As there is really nowhere for it in our home, we are going to bump out a small room at the porch edge, and will use the existing floor and ceiling.  The two windows that will come out when we open up the wall will be used, and we'll get one more window, and possibly a small one for the third wall.  J pulled out two of the porch posts, and framed the room out.  So it begins.  Kale and rosemary were harvested for a new spaghetti squash recipe we both enjoyed.  Good thing, as we harvested quite a few of them this year, and the only recipe we'd liked in the past used butter and cream, which we can't have.  I'd tried making it with plant based versions of each, but it wasn't wonderful.  I've got another new sp. squash recipe from the same website to try as well. There was some strong wind from Ian, and almost 3 inches of rain, with lots of sticks and limbs down, and one tree down in the woods.  Our neighborhood lost power, some of the 6200 homes in our area, but with our solar, we weren't affected.  Power had mostly been restored the next morning, other than a few small patches of homes.  Golden paste was made for the pups. 

a view through the screen

The last hummingbirds I saw were on Tuesday.  Hopefully, they made it safely past the storm.  I used the toaster oven to warm bread, so free power from solar, instead of using the main propane oven.  Warm up water in the shower was saved for flushing, and water glasses were emptied into the humidifier on the woodstove.  Having read all the library books I had, I began reading a book received free on Amazon Prime on my Kindle.  I continue making chicken mash using chopped banana peels, grated cucuzza squash, often chopped tomatoes with cracks or holes, pears that I gather with bad spots, etc.  They always come running when they see me with the bucket.  I can't remember if I mentioned, but the Blue Australorps are now laying.  I'm working on using up bread that's in the freezer, heating it for J whenever soup is for dinner.  I baked the first of this year's sweet potatoes.  They were good, but if cured a bit longer, will be better.  On my walk Sunday morning, I watched a hawk, and heard a pileated woodpecker and bluejay calling.  Being amongst nature refreshes my soul.  Have a good week, everyone!