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...

Oct 24, 2020

Record Cold Coming!


Record Cold Coming!
We had almost 70 degree weather last weekend. The low tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the 20's and then in the teens on Monday! Winter is definitely rearing its head. These are record colds if they come thru.  The snow was flying on the infamous Cabbage Hill today in Oregon and the mountains here will get snow for sure. It was 51 degrees this morning when I got up at 7 am, then rained a bit off and on in the morning. It went from 51 down to 46 over about four or five hours and then the wind kicked in. Can't show the wind but the tress are whipping around!

A big cold front from Alaska is hitting us. My husband Dave was talking to his brother this afternoon and he said they were having their coldest weather so far in the Portland, Oregon area. So we wrapped things up in the garden. When it hits 18° mowing is done! Davis did his last mow of the season. We moved most of the potted plants that we can winter over into the garage and composted the rest of the annuals. I decided to try and winter over my Rosemary in the garage this year so I'll see how it does. I've never had much luck wintering over inside the house, so I thought I'll try a cool, but warm area, and let it go slightly dormant. I went out in the coop today and added more pine shavings on their upper roosting area. We have the heated chicken waterer plugged in. I'm going to watch the temperature closely tonight and I'm a turn on the heat bulb since the three new hens have never had weather this cold.  Maybe tomorrow night as well. I'm ready for winter! This local weather guy below is always WAY ahead of the local weather TV folks. He's smart enough to not rely on just historical weather patterns! Gee maybe because the climate is changing. 

Anya is warm so she could care less! 

Covered my French lavender with 4 layers of row cover, worked great last year to winter over. I'll harvest my herbs in a few minutes that are left in my herb box mostly Thyme and Oregano-

Oct 18, 2020

Making Traditional Chow Chow


Making Traditional Chow Chow-
I always love learning new things! A few months ago I was watching a new series called Somewhere South hosted by the southern Chef Vivian Howard on PBS. One of the recipes it showed was Chow Chow, which I had never heard of, not being a Southerner. One of the segments was about how Chow Chow is made traditionally in Appalachia. In Appalachia in the fall, before the hard freezes came, everything would be gleaned from the garden. Things like green tomatoes, onions, cabbage, peppers, etc. The idea was basically take whatever you had on hand, chop it up, add spices in a tangy vinegary brine and make a relish. From what I have read traditionally Chow-Chow would be served with Pinto beans to brighten up the flavor. I had never actually heard that Pinto beans were a favorite in Appalachia. I tend to associate pinto beans more with Mexican food, but as we all know beans are a good source of protein, fiber and are cheap! 

There was a really interesting episode that showed the traditional Lumbee Tribe recipe of fried thin cornbread stuffed with collard greens and topped with a little Chow Chow-


Video here of the couple on Somewhere South making the dish (if you can't see on your phone scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "view web version")-

Really fascinating information! I decided to make some Chow Chow just to see what it was like. One of the main components is cabbage, so it's a very different flavor profile than something like Corn relish. Also a bit less on the carbs. The Ball Blue Book has a traditional recipe in it which is basically listed above. I did add some red pepper flakes, and a little bit of garlic powder for extra flavor. After I salted the vegetables I just gave the mix a toss a few hours later. It actually tasted pretty really great as is! On Somewhere South they had a person who created fermented Chow Chow. I decided to make the traditional brine though since I didn't want to risk losing a batch. I made some Kraut a while back, I was thrilled it was really good! About six weeks later it was mush and I had to throw it out. I have no idea what went wrong. Fermented things can just be touchy, a science and an art.

Basic Ball recipe (minus the cauliflower) but you can certainly tweak Chow Chow  I added a second red bell pepper and six sweet yellow Gypsy peppers. I used Apple cider vinegar but have seen recipes that used white vinegar. I omitted the cauliflower, since most other recipes I saw didn't use those. I doubled the brine, glad I did! I used a few more green tomatoes since they were small. I took the idea of using a food processer, what a time saver! You do need to pulse and not over-do it, or it could be mush. It was mazing how much juice came out of the green tomatoes right away-

I did each vegetable separately to keep an eye on the size.  I did the cabbage last, in smaller batches, as some of it got stuck-

After it sat overnight, salted, there was a lot of liquid-

I used my giant spoon-

then put it into a strainer and squashed out the liquid-

Lots of juice!

Next I rinsed in cold water and stirred well-

strained again-

I used just about all of the brine, which I DOUBLED luckily! Simmered 10 minutes, cooked the chow 10 minutes. I put in jars for the fridge. Not enough to really can. We'll use it up and give some to my kids. So far I love the flavor, very tangy!!!

UPDATE- After letting sit overnight and chilling, it was really crunchy, I loved the texture! I might go a little lighter on the sugar next time, but that's me. Nice otherwise!!!  

Oct 13, 2020

First Mountain Snow & Garden Clean Out, The Case Of the Flying Chicken, Autumn/Halloween Decor, Herb Crusted Pork Loin Roast Recipe

First Mountain Snow & Garden Clean Out
Well it's that time of year, our first Mountain snow storm came! We had over 1/2" rain in 12 hours last Saturday. Much cooler temperatures this week. Frost forecast tomorrow night and 37 degrees predicted. No more 80 degree weather! Dave and I went out Thursday night into the veggie garden. He picked all the squash and peppers, I picked the tomatoes. I found that with heavy rain sometimes tomatoes and things will actually crack and didn't want to lose anything. The green tomatoes I'll either leave on the counter to ripen or will go in a batch of Chow Chow, the rest will be used for various projects-

The giant Italian peppers are so huge that they never had enough time to turn red, but they'll be delish anyway! Those are really great to either freeze and use for pasta sauce later or stuffed and roasted like these Stuffed Italian Frying Peppers-


The sweet Gypsy Peppers, basically like pepperoncini peppers, will probably be used for Chow Chow and/or frozen with some tomatoes-

Will pick mini pumpkins tonight-

I harvested my last little Lavender re-bloom-

Dave said it's always depressing to tear up the summer garden, and yes it is, but less weekend work coming up. No more watering/weeding and mowing will wind down. The chickens had a great time realizing that there is a lot more open space and started chowing down on some of the squash leaves. 

The Case Of the Flying Chicken-
There's Sunny, one of our younger hens, who apparently can fly even with major flight feather trimming! I kept finding her on top of the garden fence and/or in the main part of the garden. Safety-wise we have several dogs on the other side of our neighbor's 6' fence. I decided to ask Dave to help me add an upper level of spare chicken wire. I think once she gets bigger we can take it down- 

So far it's worked! What a trouble maker! 

Autumn/ Halloween Decor- 
Autumn decor is up, and comforter on the bed! I had a cough/cold for almost 2 weeks and would have gotten it all done earlier otherwise. Luckily real rain feel this weekend! Dave and I put up some corn stalks on the front of the house to start. He got them free from a local community garden. When they harvest the corn they give away the stalks, win win! 

He also put up all our fun Halloween stuff outside-

Not sure if trick or treating will happen in Covid times. We may host a party here for our Grandchildren and their parents. 

I did the inside and much of it thrifted (of course!) -

I added a few things to my home office as well!

Herb Crusted Pork Loin Roast Recipe
When we went grocery shopping I found pork loin roasts on a buy one get one free! Basically $2.00 per pound, score. I bought two and froze one. I used one for this nice recipe I wanted to try Herb Crusted Pork Loin Roast  I didn't have grainy Dijon Mustard so I used 1/2 Dijon and 1/2 Spicy Deli mustard. I thought straight Dijon might be a bit too strong. I also omitted the salt as mustard is very salty as it is. I think some people over-salt, and if you do, bummer. If not, you can add some on your own portion. My roast was thicker and took almost an hour longer, so adjust time as needed. I baked some Acorn squash with a little butter and brown sugar to go with it. Perfect Autumn meal! Pork was juicy and excellent flavor. Just make the rub, spread it on, pop it in the oven, set the timer, walk away! Easy peasy. 

Oct 1, 2020

Day Trip, Drying Squash, Review Vidalia Dicer/Chopper

Day Trip-
With the smoke coming and going from the California fires we finally had a break last week. A bit of a rain storm blew in last Thursday/ Friday which clear the skies. Saturday morning I woke up and the skies were deep, deep blue. We have been wanting to drive up to McCall for the day, just to get out of town to get a change of scenery. Saturday morning I decided to check the air quality in McCall since it had been pretty bad up there as well. Separate from the California fires there was a fire west of McCall and the smoke is drifting from there too.  Turned out the air quality was great! I asked Dave if he wanted to take off for the day and go to McCall and it was a resounding yes! The forecast was a little bit of intermittent rain coming and going, so we dressed for cooler weather with some possible rain. There were a few storm clouds here and there driving up-

Skies clearing

Outside McCall

After we got into town we stopped at our normal McCall Brewery for lunch. From there we went to Stacy's cakes and got some desserts to take home since they closed in the afternoon. We did our normal Loop driving all the way around the lake and then hit a fun thrift store, Toby's. I spotted a heavy steel Fleur-de-lis hose reel, of all things. I decided to buy it, $8.00, and do something else with it-




I asked Dave if he can have a pal at work use a grinder and remove the two Fleur-de-lis pieces.  That's the plan, then I will re-purpose. More on that project later! 

Lake side, water's low 

Wildflowers in a park-

We drove down the highway on the backside of McCall for a change of scenery. We never did hit much rain at all. I hit a dollar store that's a different chain from Boise's and I found a little lantern for Autumn for $5.00, has an LED candle-

All in all was a great trip, gorgeous scenery and fun! 

Drying Squash-
We had a good harvest of our yellow squash this year. I decided to dry some to use for soups over the winter. I have a nice little Nesco food dehydrator, so I got it out and cleaned it. You could use a baking sheet for this as well. I sliced all the squash up about a quarter of an inch thick then I had quartered it-

After I got all the squash laid out, and stacked I turned it on, I left it for about three or four hours. Next  I rotated the trays. Ran another 2 to 3 hours and it was all done! 

I basically had two large squashes condensed down to 1 quart canning jar. Reminds me of a jar of sunshine!

Review Vidalia Dicer/Chopper- 
I had seen this Vidalia brand dicer/chopper on someone else's blog and thought I wanted to try one. When I made corn relish a while back it took me forever to dice up all bell peppers and onions. I figured it might be a real time-saver and it turns out it is! I was really impressed by the fact is a very, very heavy composite material. It is not cheap flimsy plastic-

Nice sharp stainless steel blades

Comes with two blades and cleaning tool-

Measurements on the side- 

Heavy box- 

I was making some black bean soup for the cooler weather. I decided to use it to test drive by dicing up some bell peppers, tomatoes and onion. Separate from being much faster you also get very uniform size pieces, which is great for cooking. I started off with a bell pepper, a little older, the skin was a little shriveled. Basically I cut it in quarters, took out the seeds and white pithy part-

Just lay down the pepper, close the top down, done!

Worked great for the onions and tomatoes too! 

Washed well but a few bits here and there

Cleaning tool comes with it, really helped! 

Use the tool, rinse well, grid came out clean-

I give it two thumbs up, great for all kinds of fruits and veggies, etc. I used the chopper blade, the dicer is even smaller, will be great for fine work. With soup season coming, and making more homemade salsas, I'm happy! Amazon link on left sidebar for more info!       


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