Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

May 11, 2020

Planting & Do One Future Food Activity Each Day, Fermenting Kraut & New Fermenting Kit, Mojo Cuban Pork Roast & Cuban Sandwich

Do One Future Food Activity Each Day-
I first want to thank people who posted some condolences on the death of my brother-in-law. It was tough not being able to go to his burial but we made it thru... On a happier note I was thrilled to receive flowers that were delivered for Mother's Day from my one daughter. One of my other daughter's surprised me with a DVD I had always wanted and never gotten around to buying! Mother's Day was nice, we got some amazing takeout Mexican food for dinner, a nice treat. We also started planting our store bought veggies (finally!) for the summer and some of the seeds I planted are coming up-

Two kinds of radishes, green onions, will thin radishes


Collard greens

It was 87 yesterday that was kind of crazy! Luckily it will moderate but I think summer is here hopefully. Didn't really tough starting seeds outside the last two months because of the ups and downs with the weather. We planted most of our veggies I bought I while back. I wasn't sure if there's be a shortage, so I bought early. I put them in our mini indoor greenhouse-

They loved it!

One cherry tomato was almost 3 feet long!!!

I took some of the seedlings I started and put in bigger pots for now, want to til they're just a bit bigger, Lemon Cukes (can't find any starts) and green squash- 

Herb box and other plants doing well, need to bring out Basil

We planted 10 tomatoes total, five more to go, as we ran out of cages. Also four peppers. I asked Dave to build some tepee-type frames out of our scrap cedar lumber. These supports are on their last legs, will build new ones next year out of better wood-

 Extra tall tomato is happy!

Three more on the side, will add more peppers, old berry plants were ripped out-

Rest of the garden will get squashes, three kinds of cukes and more warm weather veggies- 

Kale is doing great, has doubled in size!

I bought some red cabbages and purple Kohlrabi to try-

They look interesting! Sometimes called Sputniks like the satellites!

Photo from info there too!

I belong to the Facebook group RetroSuburbia Community. I highly recommend the group, tons of ideas there! A member, Kath, mentioned that she tries to do

"one future food activity each day whether planting, or preserving, bulk cooking, harvesting, dehydrating, etc." 

I really liked the wording, and it helped me focus on that as a great goal.  It made something that might seem complicated much easier! I took her statement, added a free piece of clip art and printed it out. A little mini poster for myself. I put it over my kitchen sink where I can see it everyday since I'm a visual person! It inspires and motivates me. I thanked her as well-

Fermenting Kraut & New Fermenting Kit- 
Quite a few years ago I bought a Vegetable Master Half Gallon Fermenting Jar , see above. While it works great I can only do one batch at a time which can take weeks. With two of us I was wanting to start make more smaller batches. I decided to buy a Masontops Fermenting Kit, link on the left side of my blog-

Normally I'm not a kit kind of gal BUT when I saw it included four glass weights and a pounder I was sold! These items will fit standard wide mouth jars and rings that you already have. The silicone nipples burp out and release the gas from fermenting, insuring no spoilage, ditto the glass weights-

Nice, thick glass, keep things submerged in the brine

Silicone venting top, can't see the X on the top

I ordered from my local Ace Hardware store to help support them (same price elsewhere). I'm really impressed with the quality and love the heavy storage box! Great to store when not in use. Comes with a nice basic recipe book as well-

I wanted to make a big batch of kraut so started in my old jar, two heads cabbage and this recipe
Culturesforhealth Sauerkraut It's always messy making slaw but worth it. Several years ago I bought a cheap mandolin to shred quickly and easily-

Add salt, toss, squash with your hands, then pound!

Nestled away in fermenting jar, top with a large cabbage leaf, then weights. I waited two hours after this photo, then completely submerged the cabbage leaves and weights. Usually the jar is full to the top-

 Dated, then covered, will wait about 10 -14 days and check flavor-

I've made Curtido several times, amazing! That will be my next big batch-

Mojo Cuban Pork Roast & Cuban Sandwich-
I had seen the movie Chef a while back, amazing food and cooking scenes! I found this recipe based on the film's recipe Cuban Mojo Pork Roast I decided to make it, for something different. The flavor was incredible! Really juicy, a nice blend of citrus and cumin. It's easy to blend all the ingredients in a food processor, then bag and let sit overnight-

I took the suggestion and then made her Cuban Sandwich Cubanos also from the movie. I made them for dinner and served with some veggies. I would say the sandwich was good, but not great, but that's okay. At least I know what they taste like now! Sorry no photos, but you can see some on the blog listed above. It was the first time I used my cast iron skillet on top of a sandwich to create a sort of Panini. I gave me the idea to do that again next time with some different ingredients. I used my regular skillet on the bottom, parchment paper on top of the sandwiches, then my heavy cast iron skillet on top. Works great had a really crispy crust! Will be making the roast again this week with a boneless roast!

May 6, 2020

We've Lost A Loved One

Bicentennial bike

We've Lost A Loved One-
Sadly last week my husband Dave lost his brother. Coming from a family of five, with Dave the youngest, he was the next oldest. He passed away at home with his loved ones after a long chronic illness. Not Covid related. He survived longer than the doctors told him he would. Due to the Covid situation we were not able to go to the burial in Washington state. When things normalize more there will be a memorial we can go to. We had a Zoom "meeting" with everyone sharing their best memories of him last night. One was of his 80+ day bike trip across America back when he was young, in 1976. It was to celebrate the Bicentennial. He was a great guy, kind, quiet, very devoted to his family, worked for the Forest Service most of his life building roads and bridges. He leaves behind 2 great adult kids and his wife. We will miss him...

Apr 27, 2020

Garden Veggies Progress and Cold Frame Fail / Reboot, Chicks Coming!

Cold frame

Garden Veggies Progress and Cold Frame Fail / Reboot-
Summer is in the air! It's been milder here, low 70's, then rained this morning, sun's out now. We're headed for 80+ degrees for Wednesday, then cooler the next day by 15 degrees. We took off our row cover on the cold frame Saturday and added elevated bird netting. We found three of my butter lettuces were gone, one cabbage and most of the seedlings either died or were eaten by bugs. Bummer. That's a huge Comfrey in back, will divide and make some Comfrey tea for fertilizer!

Mixed lettuce survivor, Mizuna, Japanese Mustard Greens

Luckily I had leftover seeds so we replanted most of it. Fingers crossed!

David ripped out the dying shrub for me and so I planted a patch of Borage, and herb that is very medicinal, edible, a pollinator, leaves taste like cucumber and it's a great food for chickens! It has pretty blue flowers, tough and drought resistant. I couldn't figure out what to plant in that spot and then Borage came to mind when I saw some seeds. It's really a good fit, pretty flowers, also called Star Flower-

They'll fill in the space nicely and we can use for edibles ourselves or for the chickens. If you've never heard of it read up, it's amazing! I made a big sign so I won't forget to water it-

Grow babies!

Our other area where Dave removed the non-productive raspberries got planted. I composted and planted two kinds of radishes, small carrots, bunching green onions and collard greens. I decided not to plant Collards any until I saw the new Somewhere South show on PBS with chef Vivian Howard. After seeing some of her recipes, as well as other people's recipes, I decided to grow some again. I see Collard Kraut in my future! Clean slate after pulling raspberries-

Get mostly sun in the summer, with some after noon shade-

I thought about moving our lovely bamboo but was afraid I'd kill it, so it's staying. Adds some nice winter interest.

Seeds planted 

On the other side of the Bamboo I planted some Kale starts. We put bird netting over them as well. At this point we're out of bird netting so we'll have to buy some more if needed. It's funny that the birds will eat the small leafy vegetables but pretty much leave them alone when they get big-

Our biggest challenge is working around our huge Maple tree we love! It's on the West side of the house and gives us tons of shade in the summer! We had it trimmed a few times and thinned more on the side over the veggie bad. It's just one of those things! 

Love our tree!!!

I let the hens out to free range our side yard, after Dave and I moved the tomato cages and extra chicken wire. Late yesterday Dave deep cleaned and weeded. We'll be planting Blue Lake bush beans again there, they did great last year! Had our last bag of frozen home grown beans last night-

Field trip!

Chicks Coming!
Speaking of chickens.... Locally all of the chicks for sale have been flying out of the stores, so to speak! I couldn't quite decide if I wanted to buy more chicks or not since our two older ones (6 years old) are laying pretty productively right now. We lost two of our new pullets last fall that we had a dog get in our yard. Given the current state of world affairs I decided to buy three more to boost the flock numbers. I called a hatchery that we usually buy from, Dunlap's in Caldwell, and they were selling out really fast and kind of unpredictably. After I called them I found out that I could place an order a month out, which would be great! Since you can't just put baby chicks outside it would be great to have them inside as little as possible, since the weather will be warmer in June. After looking at their stock here is what I ordered...

I one Golden Sex Link, a hybrid, had one before, nice birds-

and one Brown Leghorn, great layers-

and one Silver Laced Wyandotte, gorgeous birds! 

I like to get a mix of breeds so I can tell the hens apart in case of injury or disease. I'll pick up the end of May. They'll be inside until they mature and feather out, then transition to outdoor and integrate to the flock. More eggs will be good to share with our kids, or barter, depending on how life goes.  

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