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...

Sep 24, 2011

Fall Is In The Air- Missing Nectarines

The Case of the Missing Nectarines- Ah, cooling off tomorrow, and finished up with my nectarines. My husband went out to pick the rest today- all gone. Now these were high up in the upper tree, so I figure the birds and squirrells got them. Oh well, I have 8 qt.s in the freezer, and made another huge cobbler from last week's harvest today-

Now I have some extra canning jars left over. I may make some jams now that I know how much I have to work with.

My Beach Theme- I put away my beachy themed goodies today, getting ready for some fall items to go out. Moving from Portland, Oregon I really miss the ocean. Here's one of my favorite things I put in our living room window for the summer, an old ball jar ful of seashells:

And the whole window-

Sep 23, 2011

Interesting Pre- WW2 Find

Today I found a "chinese silk iron" at a goodwill store for $1.50. It had an antique store tag on it for $7.50. It's missing the handle, needs some polish, but is the same exact design as this one-

I think it's some mix of brass, etc. Will polish it up and post a pic. You'd fill the "bowl" with hot charcoal...

Sep 21, 2011

Fun Chalkboard Paint Idea & Frittata Recipe- Use Those Eggs!

I love getting some of the HGTV emails, with fun decorating themes, and ideas. I saw this and had an "ah ha" moment- chalkboard paint on kitchen canisters! Since I have some leftover paint from my sewing cabinet I might try this: Chalkboard Kitchen Canisters

Picking more tomatoes daily, and the days are getting shorter. The hens are putting themselves to bed earlier and earlier. Speaking of hens and tomatoes- I made a wonderful Frittata recipe last night, combining a green olive/roasted red pepper recipe with another for this. I used a big cast iron skillet with the following...

Nancy's Frittata Recipe-
12 eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh sliced tomatoes
1/4 cup bacon
1 yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green, stuffed olives
3/4 cup roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon dried thyme
splash cream
pepper (I use a lot)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, add 2 tablespoons oil to cast iron (or heat proof) skillet, saute bacon, onions until tender, then add peppers and olives. Mix eggs, cream and pepper well, add to skillet, add tomatoes slices on top. Cook on medium high until about 1/2 way firm, put in oven. Bake about 10-15 mins. til completely firm. It was awesome combined with hot, fresh rosemary bread (my fave) from costco. YUMMY, and keeps well for leftovers. Watch out for salt, the olives and bacon are enough. You could add cheese to this but it was plenty filling. Enjoy!


Sep 18, 2011

Nectarines, and More Nectarines

We started harvesting the majority of our ripe nectarines today. I have sliced and frozen 8 qt. bags with a little fruit fresh to prevent darkening. I still have a whole counter full, sitting on a towel. The ripe ones are really red, I've never seen ones with that much color! I know it was a french variety I bought, and the flavor is wonderful and really juicy! I made a BIG nectarine crisp last night, I'll do round 2 in a few days. Sat. I plan on canning slices and maybe some sauce now that I know how much we have. About another 5 gallons on the tree. Only a free bee stings and minor spots to cut off, much cleaner than our apples!

Dinner last night was homemade veggie chili, homemade buttermilk biscuits and the crisp, yeah, it was good!

Sep 16, 2011

Cool Down Time, Nectarines, Wallpapers

Cool Spell- It's so much COOLER today! Only 71, compared to the 90's. There's a freeze warning in eastern Oregon, supposed to be in the mid 40's tonite. I'm ready for fall! A good rain storm blew thru last night, giving us much-needed 1" of rain, with severe thunder and lightning. The windows, walls and roof was vibrating so much I shut down the computer for fear of a surge ( I don't trust surge protectors THAT much!). It poured for hours, and my garden looked so happy tonite! Everything perked up. I picked more tomatoes after dinner and the chickens loved digging thru the wet soil.

Nectarines- We went to the front yard and started picking the nectarines tonite, which are finally ripening. I think we're going to have a lot more than I thought. Works for me, since I had less apples than I thought we'd have, and still have lots of new jars for canning. I'm making a cobbler first tomorrow after our school carnival I volunteering at. They are a french variety, really RED! First bucket full tonite. I hope to pick the rest over the next week and can next weekend. Simple light syrup slices, then spiced slices (I love those with dinner), maybe some sauce for using on roasts, maybe some nectarine butter. I loved the apple butter, and now that I understand the process more, I may tackle that. All organic, that's so cool!

Wallpapers- If you'd like some fun, free wallpapers for your computer, (not for your walls) I really like this site- 
Here's my current wallpaper from her site-


I remember when her site was tiny and had only a few dogs dressed up for fun seasonal shots...

Sep 15, 2011

It's Raining!!!

After a hot, miserable couple of months, it finally raining. And cooler, out of the 90's and 100's. Supposed to be down in the 70's next couple of days, what a relief! The hens walked around outside looking confused by the first sprinkles, then later, I put them in the coop since it was getting dark and I could see the rain coming harder. Saw a bit of lightning now and heard some rolling thunder, poor Sam is in the shower again...

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain...

Sep 12, 2011

Busy End Of Summer

This time of year is alwasy busy for me- back to school, still lots of yard work, etc. I love the fresh produce though- fresh tomatoes we grew, buying organic local basil and lemon cukes- yummy! Drizzled with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt-

A great little side dish with dinner! Wish I could bottle the crunch and aroma.

We've really been suffering from heavy smoke the last week from fires in the mountains blowing south. When it's almost 100 degrees and smoky, it stinks- eyes burning, allergies flaring up, nasty. I'm grateful we haven't had any fires closer to Boise.

Now waiting on my nectarines to finish ripening, hopefully in the next week. Not quite ripe yet, a bit hard and not juicy, but 90% there. Depending on the harvest, I'll slice and freeze some, can some too.

Chickens are pretty much all grown up, the 2 newer hens are about 80% full size, and should start laying in the next month, more or less. I loved having more eggs, for dinners, desserts and selling some to my co-workers.

More later, time for bed!

Sep 5, 2011

Cool New Website! Tell Your Friends!!! 

"The most glib description might be "Facebook for farmers." It's an online site where gardeners, beekeepers, home brewers, small herdsmen, orchardists, alternative-energy technicians, and do-it-yourselfers can meet, swap information, read about each others' accomplishments, and eventually even set up trade networks. Dan Adams calls it "a social network for sustainable living."

From Backwoods Home article- Article on

Sep 4, 2011

More Canning and Apple Butter

I finished the apples today, all of them! Woop, woop! I wound up with 6 more qts. of spiced applesauce and 2 smaller jars. I have about 1 qt. or so of apple  butter that's done, just needs to be canned. It's SO much better than the store bought. We did a side by side test- the store bought has corn syrup and corn sweetener, and has the icky aftertaste. The homemade used lemon juice, sugar, spices and some of the apple cooking water. I used an immersion blender after it has been simmering for hours, very silky. I used my french enamelled cast iron pot, works great at low temps, no scorching. Reduced to about 1/2, delish! I'll do small jars for me and  a few for my kids...

Sep 3, 2011

Canning Applesauce, Tapas Plate Dinner, New Cookbook!

Canning Applesauce Today- I was SO happy it was cool today, only in the low 80's. I had only canned pickles so far, with store-bought cukes. Now it was time for home grown apples!!! I spent about 3 hours this afternoon processing 1/2 of all the apples from our tree. I don't remember the variety I planted, but it was our first harvest, since we had frosts several years in a row, that killed the blossoms. It's a good red/green eating and baking apple. I decided not to wait another week for more ripening, since the tree was taking a beating from the weight of the fruit, even propped up. I also had the 3 day wekend, so good time to can. We wound up with 10 gallons of apples, total. Less than I thought, but all organic! I was happy, after eating one this morning that they were riper than I thought- crunchy, crisp and nice flavor! Anyone recognize the variety? Gala?

Cooked til soft, then processed with my new Roma strainer/processor. I had decided with 2 fruit trees, would be a goods investment. Sounds simple to operate, BUT they forgot to mention to cook til really soft. The strainer came off several times with the first batch, and I didn't know to really tighten the thumb screw with pliers til really tight, since it holds on the screen. Duh. I used the "salsa" screen first, but the seeds came thru, so switched to the next smaller sauce screen, since we like our applesauce more chunky. Next time will be faster since I know the routine. Atleast I didn't break it!!!

Worked great! I cooked the 2nd batch of apples a little longer, perfect! I also ran the leftovers thru a 2nd time, and got a lot more sauce. The hens got the rest, OMG, now THAT was funny! Chicken applesauce. They attacked it with relish.

Then I cooked it with a small amount of fresh lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon, brought to a boil and processed. My husband did the taste test, excellent! He hugged me :)  His Mom used to can a lot so he appreciates the effort put in. He liked the way it the processor cut down on the labor, since she had to hand do everything - skinning, seeding, etc. 4 quarts and 1-12 oz. jar. That was 1/2 the apples, but with a lot of wormy spots I had to remove. Tomorrow's batch is the better apples, so I'm thinking about 6 or 7 qts. or more. And it's very thick, even with some water added.

I also have started freezing seasonal produce from the store. In the dead winter red and green bell peppers run about $1.00- $1.50 or more each, so I bought several at $.49 each last week- washed, dryed, seeded, sliced and threw in the freezer. I am still picking our fresh blackberries and freezing them too. Haven't decided if I'll make jam or just use for muffins, pies, etc....

Tapas Dinner In-
I knew I'd be busy today, so I planned a nice, cold dinner in advance. I use this recipe (sorry no time to type it out) and it's good! I love the chickpea salad, good with anything, or by itself! I subbed purple onion for the scallions, or use green onions. I also added about 1/4 diced celery. I always double the salad recipe since it's great, and keeps well. I think it's better the second day. Our local discount grocery store sells the nice, mixed french olives now, yum.

 I found the recipe last year in a magazine (Sunset?)- just chill the salad before serving.

And my new cookbook! I loved The Lost Art Of Pie Making so much, I had to get another by the same author! Love her series so far. I'll try the Swedish Orange Rye Bread next...

Nice End to The Day- We ended the day with a trip to Baskin Robbins, with Sam, our aging dog. Too far to walk to the park, so we stopped there on the way back with our ice cream and boy, did she RUN! The Aussie part of her loved it. I haven't seen her run that much in a while, it's been so hot, and she's getting arthritis. She was rested when she got there, so bam, she ran circles around us. How cute. Then, she ran out of gas a bit later. She loved the ride home, crashed out in back seat of our wagon. She took a long nap when she got home. Good girl Sam... Mommy loves you...

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