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Tag Archives: productive home
Full Moon – Apple Moon Crests (and Wanes)
I am feeling overwhelmed by my CSA.
There, I said it.
I ended up throwing away (I mean, composting, but still) a significant percentage of last week’s veggie delivery, and it was a relief to do so. I’m hoping that by clearing that particular deck – plus cleaning out the fridge over the weekend – I’ll be marginally better-prepared to actually process and use up tomorrow’s delivery of produce.
I’m embarrassed about this. Slightly ashamed, even, although obviously not that much because I wouldn’t be talking about it out loud if I were really having self-worth problems around it. But, even recognizing that we’re pretty-much at Peak Local Food Season right now – what Erica once called “the crush of the harvest”, that time between High Summer and Autumn Equinox where you’re rolling, or maybe drowning, in zucchini and tomatoes and cucumbers and corn – I’m wondering if I signed up for more than I could handle.
I mean, right this second? I definitely signed up for more than I could handle. And, under current COVID circumstances, I can’t just walk the excess around the corner to the local Community Fridge (because it’s closed for the duration, apparently) and “store it in other people” as the saying goes. But, for the preceding three months, while it was difficult to manage the amount of veggies we were getting every week, and while I did end up composting at least one bag of salad greens and a couple of cucumbers, it was still possible.
So I’m trying not to let late August get me down.
Right now, I’ve got a slow-cooker full of about 3L of tomato purree – frozen, thawed, drained, and skins removed, then set to cook down even further with some garlic chives and winter savoury from our tiny garden, plus some salt, balsamic vinegar, and a little cooking wine – slowly thickening into crushed tomatoes at one end of the counter.
At the other, I have what’s left of my bone hoard – pork, or possibly beef, bones from our long-ago half a hog order, plus a couple of chicken carcasses and a lot of celery leaves, onion greens, and carrot ends from the above-mentioned CSA – starting to slow-cook in the instant pot, mostly covered in the water I drained off the thawed tomatoes.
I admit, I’m doing these at the same time, and today in particular, because my friend is coming to retrieve her presure-canner tomorrow night and, while it’s very possible to water-bath can tomato products, I’d like to see what they’re like when they’re not marinated in vinegar. So one (more) batch of bone stock and one batch of crushed tomatoes, and we’ll see what we have at the end of all that.
My tiny garden has three over-ripe globe zucchini still on the vine – they are turning a stripy yellow-brown colour as they ripen towards something more like a winter marrow (uh… I assume) and I haven’t harvested them because I still have one and a bit on the go that I harvested earlier.
It’s so weird. After years of mostly harvesting self-seeded radish greens and dandelion leaves, I’m up to my ears in someone else’s labour – long-since bought and paid for, but still coming in for another six weeks – and the focus of my own garden is to look pretty, more than anything else. The garlic chives are starting to bloom, and I’m more excited about that than I am about having garlic chives to eat.
I’m behind on a lot of things. Not just handling the vegetables. I haven’t written any glosas in two weeks, haven’t even cracked my library book about designing online courses, and haven’t finished the dress for my wife and have barely even washed the fabric for the set of masks I want to make. I am behind.
But I can catch up.
Tomatoes get turned into sauce.
Bones get turned into stock.
Parishibles get turned into shelf-stable preserves.
Blank pages become poems or they become letters to clients.
Fabric becomes clothing.
I can do this.
I chose this for my tarot card meditation today, because – while this particular card hearkens back to the month of March (to Spring Equinox, for sure, but also to the New Moon in Pisces that happened at the very end of February, back when i was first (first?) starting to do shadow work around Money Stuff. Perhaps it’s no surprise that I’m back at now that the pendulum has swung the other way and the Pisces Moon is full) – it’s appropriate to the step by step by step of getting things done, even when they feel insurmountable.
I’m kind of clinging to my to-do list to keep me moving, you know?
Movement: Moon Salutations, walks with my wife and a friend in the neighbourhood, squats and other butt/thigh exercises (yes, really).
Attention: Going over a contract carefully to sort out what my options are once it expires. I should have done this literally six months ago, but didn’t, and here I am.
Gratitude: An excellent birthday for my lovely wife. A standing weekly date with my girlfriend. The “Locked Tomb” series which is charming and entertaining. A metamour who was willing to listen to me wail about overwhelm and anxiety. Enough of a clue about my own brain (finally) to recognize when I’m having an… “activated” reaction rather than a realistic one. Friends who want to read tarot with me. Paying clients and extra work hours. Cheesecake in the fridge. More than one slow-cooking small appliance and (barely) enough jars to fill when the time comes. New books about D/s. A house near the river. The blue jays coming back to our cedar tree. Reading aloud to my beloveds. Getting enough sleep. The possibility of pears from the neighbour across the street. Fish and chicken waiting in the freezer.
Inspiration: Recipes past. My wife’s favourite kind of flavoured chocolate. Autumn storms. Blue jay feathers. Heavy Metal. The Wheel of the Year.
Creation: Well, as I said, I haven’t been writing a whole lot, poetry-wise – though I did write a quick little non-glosa poem while watching the rain not too long ago, so that’s something. I did make a spiffy chocolate-marmalade cheesecake for my wife’s birthday, which worked out really well. We’re about halfway through it, and I’m looking forward to dessert.
Posted in preserves, productive home, Wheel of the Year
Tagged local food, Lunar Cycles, preserves, productive home, wheel of the year
Full Moon – Honey Moon Crests
We are officially moved.
I have transplanted my garden, added a couple of starts (yarrow and winter savoury) and seeds (dill, golden chard, anise hyssop, poppies, zucchini) out front, and planted frozen service berries (and dried hawthorn berries) around the perimeter of the back yard.
My brother got married on Friday.
That, more than anything, is why I’m referring to this full moon as a Honey Moon. The weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to happy bees investigating the flowers. This time last week, it was 36C and we were all wilting with the heat. I landed myself a sun burn while transplanting the rhubarb, lovage, and sorrel, and we subsisted on pasta salad and ice cream as much as we could.
This week, we’ve seen temperatures drop into the danger-of-frost zone over night, and – while that’s been really helpful for getting the transplants to root comfortably – the salad greens and cucumbers in our weekly CSA box have been languishing in the crisper while I’ve been making pasta with hot cheese sauce and sauteed frozen veggies, and baking box lasagna, bread, and pie in the name of hot meals and an excuse to have the oven on (because our heat is well and truly off).
So, yes. I’ve made our first batch of bread in the new house, which is pretty great. Rhubarb-cherry pie (And rhubarb-service-berry pie) are absolutely lovely and, yes, we have a CSA.
I am definitely excited about the CSA.
I’ve wanted to get one for YEARS, and between all the various repercussions of travel bans during a pandemic, the fact that we know we’re going to be in this house for the foreseeable, and the extra help from the CERB, we were able to do it this year.
I hope we can do it again next year, as I quite like this Thing where we have a bunch of veggies delivered to our doorstep once a week.
It feels very fancy.
That said: You guys, there is definitely a learning curve to this, and I am finding that I’m wasting more food than I might otherwise.
I put up two weeks worth of spinach and beet greens earlier today – so I have five little pucks of cooking greens in the freezer for after our CSA finishes its last delivery about 10 days before Samhain – and I sliced up some radishes and teeny-tiny beets to start making fermented pickles with them (I am expecting further radishes tomorrow, so I’ll add more then). But I haven’t been cooking the radish greens, even though radish greens have been our main cooking vegetable (alongside dandelions) for most of the past five years.
I chose to get us a full CSA, rather than a “lite” CSA, because I knew I wanted to have those extra veggies – tomatoes, cooking greens, summer squash, root veggies, and winter squash – in order to can them or freeze them for later use. Between the cucumbers (so many cucumbers) and herbs in the CSA, and the lovage that seems to be making itself at home in its new bed, I managed to put together a really good couscous salad, and we’ve been enjoying it with and/or as our last few meals. But I have to learn to use things up more quickly than I have been, or I’m going to have a lot of rotten lettuce on my hands.
I’m excited that there are not one but TWO high-bush cranberry (cramp bark) trees on my corner, because, while they take a WHILE to sprout and grow, they DO grow well from seed AND the berries make really good jelly. (Allegedly it also makes good pie, but I’m getting mixed information on how safe it is to eat in large quantities, so I may stick with jelly. It’s part of the elder family – and you need to cook elder berries for them to be safe to eat – so I’m thinking of it in similar terms).
Anyway. My plan is to harvest a couple of handfuls of ripe berries in… August/September (apparently?) to use in lieu of cranberry sauce, come October AND to plant around the yard because they’re also a really pretty flowering shrub that’s native to the province, and that I’d like to plant as part of the under-story of our foresty back yard.
A friend – with-whom I now share a neighbourhood! – has been donating spare plants to me, most recently a big pot full of a BUNCH of ostrich ferns. I’m loving the thought of, next year, being able to pick a few fiddleheads – not many, not this early – to throw into spring stir-fries or pastas, and hoping that they’ll quietly take over from the gout weed that’s currently eating most of my front yard. I gather there are black eyed susans, rose campion, white wild geraniums, sweet woodroffe, and lily of the valley coming my way in the next little while, and I’m very excited.
The card I pulled on the day of the full moon (yesterday), for my tarot card meditation was the nine of stones. I pulled it from my Wildwood deck and, given that I pulled it maybe a scant hour before my brother’s wedding went live, part of me couldn’t help but read it as “Almost there!”
But this card – while definitely meaning “almost there” – has a lot to do with where my wife and I are right now.
We are Officially Moved into the house for-which I did Big Magic to get. (And need to make good on some further Big Magic as a follow-up).
We are feeling unusually financially stable (not that it won’t take some work to keep it that way) and are excited to have more space, to have a home with laundry machines of our own, and “grown up bedrooms” (as my wife puts it) and a whole room to dedicate to my wife’s workshop so that she’s no-longer dependent on anyone else for shop space.
I have two really solid romantic relationships that I’ve done a LOT of self-work to keep and find, AND two tiny, remote jobs that are helping to keep our heads above water when all of my usual (in person) work is on hold until, realistically, there’s a vaccine available for COVID-19.
I just signed a contract for the sale of one (1) short story, to a paid market and sent out another poetry submission today.
We are right down the street from some of our closest friends and chosen family, with plans to bring a portable BBQ grill to a local park – now that we can do so – and have a meal together (ish) in short order.
Things feel really good!
And that’s what the Nine of Stones is generally about. Not just about “almost there” but about “all the hard work you’ve done is paying off”. It’s the ripeness of All The Things coming to fruition. It’s the reminder I’ve murmured to myself, in Child’s Pose, every night for months: “You are worthy of commitment, you are worthy of devotion, you are worthy of thriving. And you do”.
It felt really, really good to pull this card.
Movement: A little bit of walking. Yoga every night. A lot of lifting and carrying boxes and a LOT of digging and transplanting. There’s still a lot of unpacking to do, and it won’t suck to get back to doing some (small amounts of) resistance training again. But it WILL be nice to get into the more leisurely, non-furniture-related part of moving where I spend an hour emptying one box and then go read for a while, you know?
Attention: Black Lives Matter peaceful protests, what various levels of my own governments are doing and/or not doing at this time, what I can do to help (sign petitions, send letters, send money).
Gratitude: Grateful for this house. Grateful for a wife who encourages me to say something when I’m upset about a thing, and actually has a discussion with me rather than a defensive mess. Grateful for our CSA and the money it takes to pay for it. Grateful for automatic deposits and other ways to get my paycheques into my bank account without actually having to take a bus to a bank branch with an on-street entrance (that is one thing I don’t utterly love about my new neighbourhood. Everything else is great, but that’s mildly inconvenient). Grateful for a second-hand BBQ grill that actually works. Grateful for being close to some of my best friends, even though it meant moving away from some of the other ones. Grateful for a cool June (so far) that’s given my transplanted garden some time to recover. Grateful for a new sister-in-law who seems pretty cool. Grateful for video chats with my girlfriend (who – along with her whole household – is still safe and sound, thank all the gods). Grateful for “bougie welfare” keeping us safely housed and in groceries while my in-person work is canceled/postponed. Grateful for Bonus Free Books. Grateful that Magic Works. Grateful for so many good people in my life. ❤
Inspiration: This almost feels like the question “What is giving you hope right now?” There’s a LOT of awful going on. And a LOT of the awful has been here the whole time, while I’ve had the luxury of pretending it wasn’t going on at all. What is giving me hope right now? My brother getting married. The fact that there are fewer than five cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia right now. The number of people who, before March 2020, wouldn’t have really given Universal Basic Income any thought, or would have though it was a bad idea, actually going “This… is good, actually. I don’t want people to starve or not be able to get their medication, or lose their homes. Tell me more about this UBI thing?” and, likewise, people who couldn’t, here-to-fore, imagine a world without police in it are now going “Okay, but do they really need 10% of our city’s entire budget? Surely that money could go somewhere more appropriate, like, say, low-bar-for-entry trauma-informed mental health supports or, perhaps, a universal basic income?” That gives me hope. I hope this makes for real, lasting change.
Creation: Okay, truth be told, I haven’t been feeling super creative lately. Mostly, I’ve been wanting to escape into novels (to the point that I actually ordered new books off the internet yesterday) and have been avoiding Hard Stuff on the literary front for weeks. I’ve created a bunch of letters to politicians. I’ve created some really delicious pies and an excellent salad and the beginnings of a pretty, trans-planted garden. I’ve created a possibly-useful twitter thread for Cdn people who want to (try to) make a difference when it comes to unjust laws outside of our own provinces and (allegedly) made a “useful contribution” to the local Defund The Police conversation that’s starting to happen at the municipal-political level (I am… not sure how that happened, but I’ll take it? I don’t even know). I technically edited some poetry today, mostly to the tune of “Whelp, I can see why this microchap didn’t get accepted…” and sent off one (1) submission. But it feels like a very long time since I’ve written anything new. Hoping that, once things settle down (in the next couple of days), I’ll be able to start devoting time to writing on the regular again. That’s the plan, anyway.
New Moon – Leaf Moon Begins
Here we are.
Two weeks ago, I was like “Okay, so… are all the schools going to shut down?”
Yep. Yep, they are.
The schools are shut down. All my April work was canceled. Did I mention the landlord sold our house to a developer?
I also landed that job I interviewed for.
Thank all the gods.
It’s limited hours (like more limited than it was going to be) but it’s SOMETHING. Which is a huge relief. My other (very part-time) remote-admin job is still happening, which is great. It’s maaaybe $100/month at this point but, again, it’s SOMETHING. So I’m relieved to have it.
My wife still has paid work through her anchor income job – where, thankfully, she’s only working in close-ish quarters with one other person, behind a locked door – which is a big help. There may be income supports coming for us self-employed, gig-economy, and contract-worker types, which is ALSO a huge relief.
It snowed the other day, but it didn’t stick. And the earliest green things are waking up, the day lily spears are pushing up through the ground and the fever few and creeping charlie are greening up again.
I just baked the last tray of… something like cookies(?) involving whole amaranth, mashed prunes, margarine, some ground flax seeds, some all purpose flour, some icing sugar, some cocoa, cinnamon, and cloves, and some salt and baking powder.
They’re coming out more like… weird pancakes? But I’m hoping they’ll crisp up as they cool.
I wanted something to munch on that uses stuff I have a lot of, and that I don’t necessarily use for a lot of other things, and I wanted to be able to bake it with the semi-sourdough bread I just pulled out of the oven as well.
Yeah, I’m trying sourdough bread again.
This time (1) I’m doing “semi sourdough”, meaning that I’m including a half teaspoon of bottled bread yeast in the mix when I blend a LOT of starter with the warm water + sweetener + flour, and (2) I’m having better luck (so far) doing a… weirdo, low-gluten starter. Which I didn’t expect.
The whole situation with my wife being possibly gluten-intolerant… her test didn’t give any indication that this is what’s going on, but the doctor was like “Actually, this does sound like a specific, curable thing that your immune system will just take care of”. Which means we’re back on wheat and similar again, although I’m tending towards lower-gluten and more-easily digestible stuff, for now. Which is another reason for leaning on the sourdough starter a bit more heavily.
The bread turned out okay. Needs more rye flour and/or more salt, I think, to make it really tasty. But it has a decent crumb even if the crust is thick like my wife likes it (which is thicker than I personally enjoy, but here we are). We’ve got bread for toast and sandwiches, which is a relief.
The cookies, for the record, are… weird sweet crackers, when they firm up a bit? They’ll do the job for what I want – which is reasonably palatable, easy-to-access calories, tbh – so I’m calling it a decent start, if not a thoroughly finished product.
In light of the increasing “Stay The Heck Home” messages, I had a word with June – my GodSelf – about the Austerity I took on back around Lupercalia – and got the go-ahead to do a big stock-up in the interests of not needing to hit up a grocery store again.
I strongly suspect I’ll be wanting for eggs and milk in (relatively) short order – though the milk should last until late April, if not for the entire rest of the Austerity, at least. But we now have a 10lb bag each of potatoes and onions, a little pasta, a lot of vinegar and cooking oil, and some other dry-goods/pantry-items that I would have otherwise just not bothered with until Beltane.
Given her actual reaction to me being like “Hey, under the circumstances, can I break my self-imposed rules in order to help keep people from getting sick”, I think it says something about me that I even considered the possibility that she’d say No, or be Mad At Me about it, or something.
But we’re well-stocked, for the moment, even if I’m kicking myself for things like not getting peanut butter or only getting two-dozen eggs, and even if I’m suuuper frustrated to discover that our donated food processor – gifted by a friend who definitely didn’t realize this in the giving – is literally missing its drive shaft.
But, hey, I made hummus with a mortar and pestle and, while I’m not sure I can do much to make sunflower seed butter in this situation… we’re making do.
And also mending, because Why Not up my Iron Age Handicrafts (except not, because I’m also knitting-knitting, which wouldn’t be A Thing for a looooong time yet) and get my mending pile dealt with while trying to manage anxiety by giving my hands something to fidget with? Right? Right.
I’ve made a dress (which still needs some shaping), put a box-pleat into the vent of a quilted winter skirt, and am almost-almost finished binding off the arm-holes of a zip-up vest that started life as a cardigan whose elbows I got tired of darning. So… I’ve been doing Things, at least, which is good.
In magical news, I did my little meditation and met my Fetch. I’m trying to make a point of visiting her every few days, especially right now with everyone cooped up indoors (great for my Speaker/TalkingSelf, less great for my Fetch who is animal-child and also rather athletic and could do with some running around – it may be time to hit the Tiny Weights and/or start doing living room dance parties again) and with all the fear washing around my system, which isn’t helping her feel safe or secure.
I also wrote up a bit of a meditation for someone who recently mentioned to me her own need to take/make time to reach out and Listen for messages from her own People. It’s pretty basic, but I hope it’ll help.
The card I pulled for my tarot card meditation was The Fool.
Which seems incredibly apt, given that this is the New Moon immediately after the Spring Equinox. All sorts of New Beginnings energy flying around the place, right now.
But it’s also… we don’t know what’s going to happen.
“This is a transformative card, emerging in a reading whenever you need spirit, action, and instinct to get through a difficult period.” (Oliver Pickle – She Is Sitting In The Night)
The Fool is an invitation to be curious, rather than fearful, to collectively trust-fall and show up to catch each other.
Movement: I am doing my Moon Salutations quite reliably, but I’m not doing much else. Like I said, living room dance parties and/or doing some work with (tiny) free weights would probably be good for me, since I’m not getting out and walking all over the place these days.
Attention: Keeping in touch with friends in the neighbourhood – asking how they’re holding up, checking in about what they need, letting people know when a local soup kitchen needs donations – and keeping a weather-eye on what my various levels of government are doing to help tenuously employed people – gig economy workers, self-employed people, artists… you know, us – get through months of limited or straight-up lost income.
Gratitude: Thankful for my continued employment. Thankful for any supports that come our way. Thankful for the family members who have let us know they’ll top up our rent, should we need the help. Grateful that this is happening in early Spring, so that I can look forward to fresh herbs, wild veggies, and rhubarb in the coming weeks. Grateful for a solid internet connection so that I can stay in touch with people. Grateful for skype dates with friends and my far-away girlfriend. Grateful for full cupboards. Grateful for the kitchen skills to use the ingredients I’ve got. Grateful for snuggles with my wife. Grateful for the green things poking up through the ground, for the thick, strong worms in our compost heap (which my wife just turned – grateful for that, too), grateful for the antics of crows and bluejays that I can see from my window. Grateful for the warmth of the sun, that I can feel, even when the wind is still cold.
Inspiration: All the people live-streaming musical performances and rituals. You folks are fucking amazing, and you’re making my life that much better! ❤
Creation: Hahaaaaaaaaa… I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been keeping on top of my 500 words… most of the time, but not all the time. I’ve written one sonnet. Which is pretty drafty, but is also an okay start. I have been getting creative in the kitchen – and am considering trying to make my own bitters, of all things, just to see if I can – and I’ve been sewing things, so… creativity is happening. Just less on-the-page than expected.
Posted in productive home, Wheel of the Year
Tagged Lunar Cycles, productive home, wheel of the year
Not Actually A Plastic-Free Life
A while back, I wrote a some-what freaked out post about climate change and “eat less meat” and what that might look like at for decidedly omnivorous household.
The half-a-hog fund continues to grow, albeit slowly, and we have switched to milk in 1L bottles and, wow, has that made a difference in how I think about cooking grain… Not because not-organic milk in a 1L bottle is substantially more expensive than not-organic milk in a 1L carton, but because a gallon of the stuff IS more than double the price of a gallon bought, all together, in plastic bags… which means I find myself kind of …rationing? Which I don’t like doing. It’s not the end of the world – thought it might mean that I invest in some non-instant powdered whole milk to have on hand, in case I want to cook polenta in milk rather than water or bone stock – but it IS a noticeably higher cost for the amount of milk I typically go through in 7-10 days. So it’s a very different change from the one I went through when I switched from “ordinary President’s Choice 900g bags of coffee” to their Organics version (which… the difference there is about $5 a month, which is extremely manageable).
Project Eat More Vegetables is going nicely, too. Though it’s currently also resulting in a LOT of fruit flies hanging around the place, which is less fun, AND – because apparently I suck at gardening – it also means that those extra veggies are coming in from the grocery stores which…
…which brings me to my next point.
Folks… We’ve been finding baby cockroaches in our kitchen (mostly all in the same place, thank the gods) for a couple of weeks now. They started turning up right around when the landlords gutted the unit at the end of our row after the most recent tenants moved out (and left a LOT of stuff behind which… I thought was maybe telling?)
So, at first, we thought “Oh, maybe something has moved around and someone came into our place. Hopefully that’s the only one”.
But that didn’t last.
This morning, we kind of tore the kitchen apart.
Found the nest – which, thankfully, was small and apparently contained only one adult, who is now very much dead – and started the process of Cleaning And Monitoring.
Which is to say that my kitchen is covered in diatomaceous earth (powdered sea shells, essentially) and has sticky traps in the drawers and at various points on the counter.
It’s also to say that I’ve been putting small appliances and dishtowels and similar into zip-lock bags since about noon.
You guys, I would love to “get off plastic”.
I’ve been bugging all my politicians (and the NDP candidate for my Riding) about how it would make a big difference in everyone’s petroleum-dependence if someone with the power to legislate this into effect would just force large scale chain store – grocery stores, in particular, but not only – to start packaging their dry goods in paper and cardboard the flour and sugar already are.
And I stand by that. I still want that.
AND… I am relieved as HECK to still have access to non-porous, fully-sealing, transparent packing materials that don’t take up a tonne of space and DO come in a fairly wide variety of sizes.
Sure, they’re super-useful for food storage – I’ve got gallon bags of whole roma tomatoes and whole nectarines in my chest freezer right now, waiting to be made into hot sauce, plus more of them on the shelf, stuffed with zucchini (destined to be blanched and frozen in a silicon muffin pan, and then chucked back into (most likely) the same bag, once they’re in single-serving-sized pucks) – BUT what I want them for the most is basically emergency pest controls.
Seriously. I have put things directly into a landfill-destined trash bag today that, three weeks ago – or, heck, yesterday – I would have been hanging onto “in case we can fix it” or because “someone might want it” or “there must be some way to recycle this” or even “What if something goes wrong and I can’t replace this, shouldn’t I keep it as a spare?”
On top of this, as critters that can (like crickets) happily survive on toilet paper tubes and water, cardboard and paper packaging makes for ideal nesting spots for the little bastards.
So I’m basically over here going “Fuuuuuuuck! How am I going to take care of thiiiiiis???” Because I want to keep buying my flour and sugar in bulk-sized paper envelopes. I want to use completely biodegradable dollar-store paper lunch bags to buy sunflower seeds and buckwheat flour from the bulk bins at the Herb and Spice. Heck, I want to hang onto the cardboard box, with is serrated metal strip, when I buy aluminum foil.
…And now I have to look at those things as “potential pest habitat” and get rid of them… or at least find a bug-proof way to store them.
Which brings me to what I spent the non-cleaning portion of my afternoon doing:
I hit up the dollarama – yes, I shop at the dollar store, you all can cope – and got half a dozen different-sized wide-mouth storage jars. Two of them – about 1L each – are going to be for fridge left-overs (I also got a couple of serving-sized, snap-on-plastic-lid glass boxes for lunch stews and similar). But the rest are going to be for holding plastic bags. Garbage bags. Freezer bags. Snack bags. Things I fully expect to treat as disposable, in and of themselves, but which I don’t want getting over-run with creepy crawlies in the mean time.
Beyond that, I’ve transferred most of my garden seeds to an old, pressed tin “Cookie Assortment” box, with the exception of the clover seeds, which are now in a pint jar. My beeswax tealights have been moved to a glass jar much like the one that’s now holding my sandwich bags (I had a few already, some of-which are still in use for food storage – coffee and pasta, respectively – but most-of-which were just gathering dust behind the canning pot).
I’ve moved binder clips out of various not-water-tight plastic receptacles, and I’ve got a couple of extra-large plastic tupperware that are probably going to get used to hold emergency candles, paraffin tea lights, and similar, just to get more cardboard out of the house. But, you guys, it feels SO WEIRD to be working towards a house with as little single-use-plastic as possible… and then to also be like “But we gotta get rid of the cardboard and paper! Thank goodness for zip-locks! This is a disaster waiting to happen!”
Anyway. Hopefully I can make all of this work.
Right now, I need to see if I can scrounge up yet another Giant Plastic Bag – it might end up being a garbage bag, tbh – so I can rescue the gorgeous, antique, wooden cutlery tray that I inherited from my grandparents, and which The Roaches decided would make an ideal nesting place (they’re not wrong) – off the back steps, where it’s been languishing, covered in diatomaceous earth, since we evicted it (and them) this morning.
That and finish dealing with the dishes.
Wish me lucks, folks!
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.
 So, here’s the thing. I still get that cockroaches are people. They’re family-oriented people, no-less, who are just trying to live their lives. And I have no qualms at all about murdering them with extreme prejudice and a good turn of speed, purely because I don’t EVER want to live through being room-mates with them ever, ever again. Which is an odd headspace to occupy, let me tell you…
Posted in productive home
Tagged environmental impact, hearth, productive home
Eat From the Larder Challenge 2019 – Weeks Three and Four (After the Fact) + Some Goals
So, as-you-know-bob, April was Eat From the Larder Month chez House of Goat! As mentioned earlier, the Eat From the Larder Challenge was created, many years ago, by Erica Strauss over at (the now mostly-dormant) Northwest Edible Life blog, as a way of demonstrating the maxim that “Cooking is a basic skill of resilience” in real time while also using up any preserves that are hanging around, wearing out their welcome.
While the first year I did this challenge (2014, I think?), I was pretty strict about following the rules of the challenge, I’ve been getting less and less hard core about them as time has gone on and I’ve gotten the hang of using a Par System (if you wanna be fancy) to keep preserved foods and dry goods actually moving through my larder rather than building up in stashes that end up taking up a lot of space without getting eaten.
I’ve said, often enough, that “It’s always Eat From the Larder Month at my house” because we spend more than half the year relying on predominantly frozen (or otherwise preserved) produce, and because I learned – my first year of doing this – that brown rice will, eventually, go slightly rancid if you let it sit around for literally YEARS without using it… and it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay better to use it up over the course of 6+ months (and drop another $15 for a new 5kg bag of brown basmati when the time comes) than to let it sit for literally years In Case of TEOTWAWKI.
So, particularly if you read the first of this year’s EFtL Challenge posts, it’ll come as no surprise that the second half of the Challenge looked much like the first. I continued to buy milk and eggs.
A neighbour gifted me eggs, whipping cream, and a jar of dairy kefir (she’s vegan, but her recently-visiting parents aren’t) so I now have dairy kefir in my fridge again.
I made a steak and kidney pie – and discovered that a 2:1 ratio of kidneys:steak is a little too weirdly-floral-tasting for my tastes, and it would have been awesome to cut it with, say, a tonne of mushrooms and some extra onion or something. But here we are. I still have a frozen pig kidney in my freezer, but that’s down from having three, so I’m calling it a win.
I sprouted some mung beans, and may try to do the same thing with green lentils. (My attempts to sprout chick peas have… not worked out so well, but we’ll see if I can get it right…)
I made sourdough bread a couple of times, and it mostly worked, most of the time, and making bread with bottle yeast is still easier and faster, so I clearly don’t have this down pat just yet.
I made a 3L batch of yoghurt, and used 2C of it, in lieu of cream cheese, to make a chocolate cheesecake(!!!) which actually worked!
I used the gifted whipping cream and some more of the yoghurt to make a liver mousse (uh… yesterday. I got the liver, itself, out to thaw at the end of April, but it’s been hanging out in the fridge until last night).
But, for the most part, it’s been pretty business-as-usual around here. There are still h’ors d’oeuvres in my freezer – where they’ve been hanging out since Winter Solstice, if not earlier – that need to be baked and served. There are elements of my larder that got “eaten down” by other people, because there are a few folks in town who needed extra groceries and I was able to go shopping in my freezer/cupboards for them and basically “off-load” a roasting chicken, a lot of frozen veggies, a loaf of home-made bread, some tinned tuna, some garden rhubarb, the last of the brown basmati rice (picked up in October, so it’s just fine thank you), and a variety of Things In Jars (mostly tomatoes) on other people.
The biggest thing that’s come up, though, is that vegetables are delicious, and I would like to eat more of them.
So, like, for those of you who’ve got the cash flow to not worry about this? Produce isn’t cheap. Bags of frozen produce are less expensive (usually) than fresh stuff – which is another reason why we use so much of it – but it’s still not cheap. Blessings Be upon my garden – with its rhubarb and sorrel and crow garlic and plentiful dandelions, with its sage and savoury and lovage and (hypothetical, but here’s hoping) raspberries and even its nettles and occasional purslane, with its self-seeded radishes and mustard greens and its volunteer cherry tomatoes – for giving me free produce all summer long, plus enough (we hope) rainbow chard and (sometimes) winter squash to keep feeding us later on, from the freezer. Bless the neighbourhood’s numerous city service berry trees and neglected chokecherries, and the raspberry canes along the alley. Bless the antique apple tree across from my laundromat and the big, chunky crab apples that grace the verges of the rich neighbourhood to the south, for the cider and fruit butter they give us in the Fall.
I’ve been planting for the past week-and-a-bit. Adding manure to the garden beds, and digging at least one new one. Putting in a second lovage plant and trying again with thyme, plus adding a few annual seedlings, too.
I’m thinking about how one of the Big Easy Things a person can do to reduce their own carbon footprint is to eat more vegetables.
I mean, yes, I know. The idea being expressed there is “Get more of your calories from plants (rather than muscles)”. But when I think “Eat Less Meat” what I end up thinking is “Eat Less Flavourful, More Boring, Food” combined with “Access Fewer Amino Acids and Start Feeling Dizzy and Having Trouble Thinking Things Through”.
Whereas, if I think “Eat More Vegetables”, yeah, I may be thinking “¼C diced salami + 2C milk and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese split between three+ people” in a meal that’s half rotini noodles, but I’m also thinking “Five or six cups of veggies: Mustard & radish florets, leafy greens, hothouse grape tomatoes, and herbs… This is beautiful, flavourful, and delicious!”
It’s a plate of shredded red cabbage tossed (or steamed, if you want it hot!) with diced apple, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds topped with yoghurt, minced garlic, and a dollop of grainy mustard.
It’s a thin slices of toast topped with mayo, hot mustard, apple butter, garlicky hummus, and a generous heap of sour kraut.
It’s rutabaga, winter squash, beets, onion, garlic, and parsnips (or carrots, or even creeping bell flower root, if you want to go there) roasted with frozen or hothouse bell peppers and walnuts, then tossed with a 2:1 mix of pot barley and black lentils cooked in bone stock, and topped with lacto-fermented radish roots-and-greens before serving.
It’s hothouse tomatoes & cucumbers, sprouted mung beans, slivered crow garlic, and frozen edamame tossed with yoghurt and quinoa (OR orzo pasta, for that matter).
It’s half a cup of liver mouse, 80g of brie or chevre, and a cup of artichoke-mayo-garlic-parmesan dip set out with soda crackers and wine and a spread of olives (or a tapenade made from a tin of same), dried apples, pears & cranberries, roasted walnuts, bell peppers & tomatoes, chokecherry relish, heavy-garlic hummus, and baba ganoush.
It’s all beautiful, flavourful, and delicious.
It’s all appealing and something I would want to eat.
…And it means upping my veggies per person count from 2 servings per dinner-time to something closer to five or six (a serving of most, though not all, veggies is about half a cup).
Which means my budget – in terms of space, but also in terms of money – is going to have to more than double.
Not the most comfortable though, even at the beginning of Free Food Season. But, I figure, at least Free Food Season will give me some time to adjust to this while everything is bright and delicious, and that’s emphatically a start.
What was my take-away for 2019’s Eat From the Larder Challenge?
Variety is still wonderful
Veggies are delicious and I need (and want) to eat more of them, which is going to cost money, but maybe I can get more perennials going? Perhaps? (Is this the year I try to plant asparagus?)
Sourdough bread remains difficult, but I’m better at it than I was. Also, making dips out of various things is a GREAT way to use stuff up. Whether that’s liver and yoghurt or pressure-canned beans and mashed pumpkin… And strips of mediocre sourdough bread make GREAT dippables if you put them under the broiler with some oil brushed over them first. Pro tip. 😉
We easily eat two dozen eggs per week in this household. And a solid gallon-and-a-bit of milk. Four and 3/4 litres per week, if you want to get technical and also include the milk needed to make yoghurt once a month. Which is… a lot. I’m more than a little relieved to still have access to these and this is definitely where our food choices are at their most brittle and where a big bag of powdered milk might be a good way to make the (much tastier) liquid stuff stretch farther, or help me make do when it’s not available
During the EFtL Challenge, this year, I nearly ran out of flour and short pasta, and did run out of parmasan and cheddar as well as granulated sugar (but we also have tonnes of other options – like honey and maple syrup – to use in place of granulated stuff). I was out of baking powder before I even started, and have been happily using baking soda (and acidic stuff like fruit butters and yoghurt) in my quick breads. Shortbread cookies made with honey instead of sugar are delicious (next up: Making them with a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour, in addition to the butter and the honey…)
I’ve since re-stocked on flour, sugar, pasta, and other dry goods and pantry staples, and will be having a gallon of maple syrup delivered from a friend’s family sugar bush… some time between now and June, probably? Between that and the garden starting (just barely – we’re still on dandelions, crow garlic, and rhubarb right now) to produce veggies, I’m feeling pretty good.
Goals for This Year’s Preserving Efforts
Grow winter squash (including spaghetti squash, butternut, buttercup, and two kinds of pumpkin) AND cucumbers up a trellis to make them harder for the squirrels to attack
Grow pole beans (and nasturtiums and icicle radishes) in the same bed as the squash.
Pressure can a lot of mashed winter squash and/or dice, steam, and freeze it for the freezer.
Grow a lot of radishes (again) and lactoferment the roots and greens together (with mustard seed, garlic, and bird chilies)
Maybe try growing amaranth (and inter-plant with eggplant and pole beans), because I hear it’s easy to thresh and winnow and because it’s a really nice addition to Pumpkin Soup
Continue to sprout various dry beans and add them to salads and stir fries
Grow and freeze as many hardy cooking greens as possible (mainly rainbow chard, but also some kind of kale or mustard greens)
Buy enough yellow and green zucchini (like 60, unless my own zucchini plants give me a bumper crop) and red shepherd peppers (like 85… which will cost a LOT more, and so maaaaay need to be significantly limited) and eggplant (15, because I’m not expecting a high yield from my eggplants, tbh) to put up a LOT of frozen veggies, so that I’m less dependent on – but not independent from, I seriously doubt – getting veggies from the freezer section of the grocery store.
Grow mustard for seed
Occasionally pressure can batches of bone stock AND batches of cooked chick peas or other large beans at the same time
Wild-harvest local service berries (freezer) and chokecherries (curds and jellies) at the appropriate time.
Sow clover seed in the back yard to help the ground fix nitrogen and get it a bit healthier and more able to support other food crops
Ha… These goals are ambitious, and some of them (like the amaranth, though I do have the seeds) may not happen. But here’s hoping I’ll be able to meet that 5-6 servings of veggies person plan, and do a lot of it myself.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 I find that dairy kefir – at least mine – smells like a mix between old cheddar and blue cheese. I’m not sure it’s supposed to smell like that, but it still smells like a familiar food, so I tend to put it in bechamel sauce to make it taste cheesier, particularly when I’m all out of parmesan and cheddar due to the challenge restrictions.
 Or a whole cup of tinned tuna, or the half a cup of diced meat you can get off a left-over pork chop or chicken leg. You get the idea.
 Not long ago, a friend commented something along the lines of “A million different things can be made from a base of coconut, rice, flour, yeast, sugar, cardamom and saffron”. She was talking about Zanzibari cooking. I think my Million Different Things are probably made from a base of eggs, milk, wheat flour, maple syrup, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt. (And, yes, you can theoretically use spice-bush berries in place of both the nutmeg and the black pepper, but I don’t have those. Yet).
Eat From the Larder Challenge 2019 – Weeks One &Two (Includes: Pear Velvet Pie Recipe)
So! It’s Eat From the Larder Month chez House of Goat! Full disclosure: Winter 2018-2019 has been substantially easier than winter 2017-2018 (never-mind the year before that one) and we have not been doing the Eat From the Larder challenge literally every other month to the point that the must-have supplies (for me) like all-purpose flour and red lentils are dwindling before I even get started over here. So I’m starting out with more “larder staples” (dry goods) than I’ve necessarily had in years past.
I’m also doing my usual thing where I continue to buy milk and eggs, at normal-for-our-house rates (about 1 gallon of milk and 1-2 dozen eggs per week), because it makes the whole month about a zillion times easier and it means I have something to cook my freezer veggies and jars of preserves with, which makes a big difference.
For those who don’t know, the Eat From the Larder Challenge was created, many years ago, by Erica Strauss over at (the now mostly-dormant) Northwest Edible Life blog, as a way of demonstrating the maxim that “Cooking is a basic skill of resilience” in real time while also using up any preserves that are hanging around, wearing out their welcome.
The first year I did this, I went pretty all-in. And I learned a lot about the bits of my larder that I didn’t really know what to do with (lentils), even though I had them on hand. I found out which pantry staples I tended to avoid (brown rice), and how much I want variety in my diet, even when “variety” is defined as “umpteen ways of making the same 10 or so ingredients taste good, day after day”.
It made a difference in how I thought about preserving food: Thinking of preserves as “ingredients” rather than “finished dishes” meant that I started paying attention to how frozen serviceberries are more versatile than serviceberry jam, fruit butters make better additions to quick breads than jams and jellies, pickled veggies and dried fruits can both be used to add acidic brightness to dishes comprised mostly of root vegetables.
It also made a difference in how I thought about my eventual (now a reality!) garden: I want perennial food plants – everything from crow garlic, nettles, and dandelions to rhubarb, sorrel, lovage, and culinary herbs – to be available in my yard, because they start arriving early enough to make a difference in a situation where my end-of-winter freezer is looking bare (or even just boring).
Anyway. Here we are in, like… Year Six of this challenge, and it’s
the end of Week One nearing the end of Week Two.
Confession? I’m not taking this challenge particularly seriously. My lovely wife bought us baking potatoes and fancy cheddar (because she’s lovely, and also because I try to do this challenge in a low-key way so I don’t get any push-back… which I might not even get, but I’m letting the brain weasels have this one). We were invited to split a pizza with a metamour (at our place) a week ago, and I didn’t even think about it before saying “Sure, that’d be great”. AND IT WAS. I bought samosas for lunch on Monday of this week, and probably would have done so a second time if a co-worker at my temp job hadn’t brought in Easter Chili (I don’t even know, but it was tasty) on Thursday.
So, while The Challenge has so far been very easy, part of why it’s been easy is because, on mornings when I’ve slept late (“late” = 10 minutes, but wevs) and haven’t had ready-to-go left-overs in the fridge, I’ve opted to buy something rather than not eat.
So, yeah, I’m cheating.
That said: The freezer is still emptying out at a reasonable pace. I made a big batch of garlic-curry hummus (ish… it’s mostly chick peas, but not entirely) and between that and making some artichoke-kale-mayo dip (think spinach dip, if that helps), making “toasts” out of some of my sourdough bread (which is working, reliably, for sandwich bread – hurrah!), opening up a tin of smoked oysters, and putting out some dried fruit, I think I can probably come up with a nice snack-feast for later this weekend.
The fact that the crow garlic and rhubarb (and even the sorrel and dandelions) are coming up in the back yard is making it easier for me to
stop hoarding be generous with the frozen veggies. So veggie-heavy meals – like strata ft zucchini, red peppers, kale, garlic, and onion (but very little cheese); or chicken stew ft chard, kale, zucchini, celeriac, onion, garlic, and winter squash – have been a delightful option. We’ve also done a cabbage salad (ft walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries with a yoghurt-mustard-mayo dressing) which made for a good next-day lunch as well as a easy, light dinner.
We used up the last of the costco trout the other night, with butter (we are running out of butter) and a little white wine. We’ve got a rutabaga in the fridge, along with a couple of potatoes (all of which are sprouting like heck and which I think I need to put in the ground instead of putting in dinner, but… we’ll see), some Chinese Broccoli and a greenhouse cucumber. (Cucumber salad and a standard short pasta with tuna, frozen broccoli, and bechamel sauce have also featured in the past 10 days of dinners).
I have tonnes of pre-roasted-and-frozen turkey, which I want to start using up.
I have tonnes of fruit butter, too. Which: I found a way to use it up that I really, REALLY like (though, when I run out of butter, I’m in trouble):
I made a pie with some of the fruit butter!
I’m super excited about this, because I’d been wondering if it would work pretty-much since I put the pear butter up last fall. It’s basically pumpkin pie, except you use a pint of pear butter instead of the 2C mashed pumpkin and 1C brown sugar. You guys. It works so well! Here’s the recipe (which I modified slightly from one like this):
Pear Velvet Pie
2C pear butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Blend the heck out of the above.
Pour into one pre-baked 9″ pie shell (DIY or not, crumb crust or short pastry, you do you)
Bake at 425F for 15 minutes
REDUCE HEAT and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes
Allow to cool
I assume this will work just as well with apple butter or other fruit butters (Nectarine? Plum?), and I’ll definitely be experimenting at least with the apple, because I have so much apple butter it’s not even funny. Like five litres or something.
As far as this specific pie goes? Be aware: Pear butter is hella sweet. When I made mine, I put maybe half a cup of brown sugar into the whole batch. Which was like 3-4 litres of pear butter by the time it was all put in jars. So there’s maybe a tablespoon of “additional sugar” in that pint of what is otherwise just mashed pears, cooked down, with a little bit of salt and cider vinegar thrown in. So I’m assuming that, when I make this with apple butter, I may find that it’s not as sweet. (It will be plenty sweet enough, I’m sure, just not as sweet as this).
A similar thing that I’m hoping to do is make what’s essentially a cheese cake, but use plain yoghurt instead of cream cheese. It can be done. The consistency will be a little different (somewhere between normal cheesecake and, like, maybe custard?) but I think, especially if I mix in some melted chocolate chips, it’ll be really good. AND I can top it with some of my frozen berries, which should be awesome sauce. 😀
Anyway. We’ll see how the rest of this challenge goes. Hopefully things will remain delicious and easy and our food will remain at least slightly varied (there’s going to be turkey stew with pot barley and rutabaga coming up, I do know that, probably another veggie strata and, provided I can get the noodles right, some sort of udon + soup stock + turkey + lacto-fermented chunky veggies thing).
Wish me luck.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Posted in local food, preserves, productive home, recipes
Tagged Eat From The Larder Challenge, economics of food, local food, preserves, productive home, recipes
Sour Dough Adventures
If there’s anything working with a sour dough starter has brought home for me, it’s that (A) I am an impatient person, good grief, and (B) I haaaaaaaaaaaaate not being good at stuff. Hate it. It’s VERY frustrating.
And I didn’t expect the learning curve on this to be quite as steep as it has been, if only for me specifically.
Today I made sour dough pancakes.
Am in the process of cooking them (and probably burning them) as I write this.
They should be just fine. If only because, while I’m using some starter in lieu of baking powder, I’m still aiming for something closer to the “French” pancakes – meaning something like a crispy crepe, especially with four eggs in them – I made as a kid, rather than the thick and fluffy ones that might come to mind if I said, like, “flapjack” or something (stuff that’s closer to a flattened out drop-scone or Welsh cake, basically).
So my attempts at using levain as a quick-bread levener are… probably unsuccessful but also probably tasty, so we’ll see how it goes.
Successfully making Actual Bread, however, is going a lot more slowly.
Both in the sense that I haven’t quite managed it yet, AND in the sense that this process takes 36+ hours to actually do.
The dough seems to do best when rising in the fridge. It develops the sticking-to-itself tendency and the cohesive texture that I want in bread dough that way, whereas if I let it do its thing on the counter, while it does rise reliably, it never loses that sticky, heavy feeling and it’s hard to deal with (meaning: my hands get just COVERED in dough, and it’s hard to scrape off AND it feels gross).
So I think I’ll try to do all-in-the-fridge rising with this batch and see if it works.
Beyond that… This surprised me, though it really shouldn’t have. Sour Dough bread takes a lot more flour. Not all at once, per se, but over time. Because you have to feed the starter every couple of days (provided you keep the starter in the fridge as well).
Which means I get to try and clear some space in the fridge today.
Wish me luck. 😀
Posted in productive home
Tagged fermentation, productive home
Fermentation Elation – A Productive Home Post
So! Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing, and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity. It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
There’s been almost no rain for the past month, which is not a great situation. The garden is looking pretty crispy, even in the back yard where I’ve been watering every day. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that my soil is depleted enough that it needs some major-by-my-standards remediation. Meaning that – when the heat breaks, and provided I’ve got a spare $20 kicking around – I’m going to try seeding the non-garden parts of the yard with white clover in an effort to at least get some nitrogen back into the ground.
But, for now, I’m relying on my garden for herbs, greens (mostly “weed” greens), and rhubarb. Which is about as productive as it’s able to be right now.
As seen in earlier posts, I’ve been out collecting service berries (see below), as well as wild greens that don’t grow in my yard. But most of the productivity at our home is happening inside the house.
Inside the house, things are going quite well:
Earlier today, I blanched a bunch of grocery store zucchini (there are another 8 or so in the fridge yet to do) and put them in the freezer, in a silicone muffin tray. I also froze (on a cookie sheet) the last of the service berries, and transferred the latest batch of my fermented wild greens (a litre and a half!) to the fridge, in mason jars. Oh, and I re-bottled the cider that I started fermenting at Winter Solstice.
I put it back in the plastic jug, with a little more bread yeast and some maple syrup for food, to do a technically-third ferment, because it turned out VERY dry and VERY still, and I wanted something fizzier and a little bit sweeter to bring to my mom’s tonight.
Which, I guess, brings me to: I’ve been making booze.
Cider, see above, but also I started a batch of honey-wine a couple of weeks ago, just after Summer Solstice (as seems quite appropriate) and, while it’s a little more ginger-y and a lot less service-berry-y and rose-petal-y than I had been aiming for, it does smell like something I would actually want to drink. So I’m calling it a win. (Here’s hoping it still smells that good after it’s had six months to age in the back of the fridge). I also made ginger beer, which is marvelously fizzy, and which I’ve been drinking heaps of in the hopes of scaring off the sore throat I woke up with this morning. (Seriously… My body’s been kind of a weird barometer these past few months, so I’m hoping this is due to a major pressure change in the night, and not to me getting sick, and that we’re actually going to get some solid, steady rain. Which we badly need!)
I’m thinking I’m going to try making rhubarb country wine – maybe even rhubarb-chokecherry country wine – in another couple of weeks, around Lammas. My goal is to put up a bunch of tasty drinks that I can serve at my Winter Solstice party at the end of the year. 😉
In other fermentation news (apparently this is A Thing in my house, now): I’ve made two batches of sour dough bread. I’m still working out the slightly trial-and-error (in my case) process of figuring out how long to cook the stuff, but I’m thinking that third time will be the charm, and cooking it for about an hour and a half should result in some good, tasty, fully-cooked bread that is also easy to cut with a normal bread knife. (I over-baked it and ended up with a very thick crust which, sure, my wife thinks is great, but which I find tricky to do for stuff like sandwiches).
Right now? Right now, I’m preparing to do my first experiment in home-dyeing.
I’ve got black beans (which, in theory, will give me a nice blue) soaking on the counter and, on a shelf, I’ve got an old plastic ice cream bucket filled with a mix of water, vinegar, and shredded aluminum foil, in which I am soaking a cotton crop top that I’d like to make bluer than it currently is. (Currently, it’s a kind of faded, greenish pastel turquoise which, while okay, is not ideal).
In theory (in theory) the vinegar will leach some of the aluminum into the water and will mordant the cotton (the vinegar doesn’t really work as a colour fixative for plant fibres, though, I need to use salt for that) so that it will better take up the eventual dye, giving me both a more even AND deeper colour of blue. No idea if it’ll work, but it’s (probably) not going to hurt, so I’m giving it a go.
Oh. And I’m knitting a tank top. This is old news, but I’m starting to do the cabling (for shaping) and am knitting in the round and, while it doesn’t look like a shirt (or even a tube) just yet, it’s much closer to being a shirt than it was even ten days ago, so I’m happy about that.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Posted in productive home
Tagged economics of food, fermentation, gardening, gleaning, local food, productive home, progress reports, state of the garden