Friday, September 30, 2011

Time? What Time?

Man, these past few weeks have been busy. As some of you know, I started my Masters in Nursing this fall. Two courses a year, 11 courses total = 5  1/2 years of my life...and it has really sucked the life out of Don't get me wrong. I wanted this and was (am) excited about it, I'm just missing my extracurricular activities...and complaining about it kinda makes me feel a little better.
This weekend I'm hoping to have some dedicated blog time, so if you just bear with me, I promise to deliver soon. I've got some knitting projects to show you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


This is one of those moments where you stop, take a breath, and realize that you have sooooo much to be grateful for.
I don't think we stop enough.
My view from the deck. Gage in the sandbox, the dog playing near him

The view to my right. The ladies.

Feet up. Knitting in lap. Amazing...

Looking up.

Just take a moment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goals Revisited

"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own." Mark Victor Hansen

Okay. So I recorded my goals on the intra-web, that still must count, no?
The Coles notes of my initial goals from the beginning of this year are:
1. Get chickens
2. Build a garden
3. Stay happily married
4. Learn how to make bread
5. Learn how to make cheese
(all in no particular order...but if I had to choose the marriage thing would come first, just so you don't think I put poultry before my husband)

Outside of making cheese, I can check off the rest. That's not to say that the others don't have room for improvement, which is why I'm amending my goals.
New goals:
1. Learn how to make a kneaded bread
2. Learn how to make cheese
3. Create a new garden plan for next year
     - this I'm so excited about already! I've even bought seeds (I know, I know...they are technically seeds from last years crop but I'm sure they'll work out just fine).
4. Knit more. (I guess that goal should actually be 'finish the knitting that you start' - that's more of the problem. For example, I have several projects that are in different stages of being finished. Blocking, sewing on buttons, fixing mistakes, etc).
5. Stay happily married (especially since we've added the stress of me going back to school this year....and for the next 5 YEARS!!! - crazy). no particular order.
I have many more things that could go on that list but I'm working on time management and with my free time now mostly being spent on my masters, I thought I'd keep my goals attainable. But to give you a hint....I think I may get some chicks in the new year. Don't tell my husband yet 'cause he doesn't know. It's our little secret.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fruit Leather: the results show

Well, after 11 hours and 40 minutes in the oven (turned on) and all night in the oven (turned off), we got ourselves some 7 year old strawberry fruit leather. And it's goooooood.
However, although I was using food that probably would have eventually been thrown out, I had to keep my oven on for 12 hours! 12 hours!! Yes it was on a very low temp but this food saving method couldn't be any further from carbon neutral. I have no idea how much energy was used, all I know is that I used 12 hours of it for six fruit leather cigars, when it would have cost me mere calories walking those old berries to the compost (or the chickens). Hardly seems worth it...despite it's delicious taste (and a very happy three year old who was bragging about his fruit leather making mom at school today).
The worst part about this is I have a food dehydrator in the basement that I just don't know how to use. Again, I'm no expert but I would think that a food dehydrator would use and waste less energy than an entire oven. So this huge waste of energy was my fault...making the fruit leather kinda taste like the wasted fossil fuels...
Next time, I'll figure out the dehydrator.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fruit Leather: An Attempt

Our freezer is packed. I could barely fit in all the goodies from the Harvest Kitchen Sisters' first annual canning bee!!
I decided it was time to make some room and purge some food that has been in there too long or that I know we'll never eat again (like that meatloaf that I can't remember making let alone the freezing date...).
I found a couple bags of strawberries buried deep in the back. I remember exactly when I received said strawberries...oh....about 3 years ago? (Amy, you'll have to verify as they were the strawberries that you gave me from your freezer when you moved out of Peterborough....that sad, sad, day). Since I still had a bag of last year's strawberries plus the bags I froze from this years harvest, I figured I could sacrifice these old berries in my attempt at making fruit leather. I've been wanting to try fruit leather for a few years now but with my 'not wanting to waste' syndrome and my 'it will probably fail' attitude, I was too chicken to do it (no offence Pecker, Choke and Nonny).
I found a recipe at Simply Recipes that looked pretty darn easy. I put this in the oven at 10:20 this morning and the leather is still in the oven. I know, I know...the author says that they typically put it in the oven overnight (it's a really low temperature) but I really thought that it would be done by now. The lowest temp. I get on my oven is 170 degrees and the recipe says to heat it at 140 degrees. That's why I thought it would be done by now.
Here are some pics. The berries are deliciously red!


Puree the snot out of it

Pour into pan. But be careful 'cause...

the processor blade will fall into it if you neglect to hold it

Ready for the oven.

Stay tuned for the results!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Putting Up Tomatoes

Like so many other small gardeners out there, my crop of tomatoes didn't ripen all at once. I really want to make tomato paste and some tomato sauce this year but can never get enough tomatoes from the garden at one time to make a batch.
The book 'The Encylcopedia of Country Living' suggests freezing your tomatoes until you have enough to can. Freezing tomatoes also makes the skins come off much easier. Apparently, they just slip right off while they are defrosting.
I'm looking forward to cooking these into jars of deliciousness to use throughout the winter.

My first batch of frozen tomatoes. These went straight into a freezer bag and are now awaiting their peers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Garden Bounty

The little garden that could is producing a great crop of tomatoes, snow peas, beans and cucumbers. Our untamed grapevine is also starting to give us some delicious, sweet grapes. Gage calls them 'crunchy grapes' because they have seeds in them. Luckily you have to really dig into the grapevine to get them or the chickens would be all over it.
I love how excited Gage gets when I ask him if he wants to come to the garden with me. I hope he remains as excited over growing ones own food in the years to come.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Another Checked Off The 'To Do' List

There's nothing like the impending start of the school year to make you think of all those items on your summer 'to do' list. With school starting on Tuesday, there were a couple things that I wanted to get done before then. One being making my own vanilla extract.
I saw this on The Prairie Homestead. She made a list of five food items she would never buy again. I had no idea you could make your own vanilla extract and I'm curious as to how it will turn out.
I bought 6 vanilla beans from the bulk store and a 1.14L bottle of vodka. The beans aren't cheap but considering you pay $12 for a 235ml bottle of pure vanilla extract, I think it's worth it.
The Process:
1. Split the skin of the vanilla beans open lengthwise. This exposes the vanilla seeds inside to the vodka.

2. Cut the beans into 3" pieces

3. Put beans into a clean, 1L sized Mason jar.

4. Fill jar with vodka.

5. Steep for atleast 3 months (longer if you can wait!)

I really should have made this at the beginning of summer so I can give some away as Christmas gifts. Oh the gift of hindesight.