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 29, 2021

Preparedness 10.0 / What If ? , Canning Rhubarb Sauce


Payette Lake

Preparedness 10.0 / What Ifs?
Autumn is here, cooling down, leaves starting to fall, got some rain! We decided to take a short day trip up to McCall for a change of scenery and a mental health break. Great weather, saw six deer, clear skies and 70 degrees! Random shots-

saw tons of these on the ground, not sure what they are

Water is low

We hit our favorite thrift store! I found a really nice expensive-looking ceramic garlic holder for fresh garlic-


The store was just putting out a cast iron pot with a lid. As the worker was taking a photo I asked her how much it was? She said "well what do you want to offer me"? I looked at the bottom and said "made in Taiwan",  looked in pretty good shape. I offered her $12, she said yes and I bought it! It needs a good scrubbing but it was already seasoned which was good. Not sure how old it is. I had read lately a lot of people bake round loaves of bread in round cast iron pots. Always good to have an extra pot anyway since sometimes we have company and need the extra cooking containers-

We stopped at the Ace Hardware store since I had a funny feeling they might have some canning lids. And boy did they! I bought some Pur brand wide-mouth canning jars. I think Pur bought out part of the Mason company.  After I did some digging I think that the lids are made in Colorado. I was really happy that the price, 12 lids for $5 so I bought five boxes. Who knows what next year will bring? Good to plan ahead-

I took a day of work for projects, that was much more relaxed! I did a little fall baking, using the last of my canned apples slices from several years ago. Lots of cinnamon and an oat/crumble topping, yummy! 

On the preparedness side I heard Costco is not only limiting items but will be hiring their own cargo freighters, just like Home Depot. Our grocery store, Winco, seems to be pretty well stocked for now. The Dollar Store is on the national news, now their prices going up. I just keep looking for gaps I can fill now inexpensively. I bought some soy sauce, pork chops (to freeze), ketchup, Bronner's apple cider vinegar. We use vinegar in the chickens water, great for probiotics and shell strength. I bought some nice bell peppers, .50 cents each, to freeze-

Went to our fave farmstead, bought pumpkins and fresh local fruit, gypsy peppers, squash, peaches and plums-

fun pumpkins! 


More bulk spices, chives and parsley

I just froze two dozen eggs since the production is slowing down a little bit. Will freeze another dozen.I finally found some dried small red beans to make red band and rice, recipe here Authentic Louisiana Red Beans and Rice  This is a recipe you can really play around with. I had a frozen pork shank so I used that for flavor, much better than overly-salty ham hocks! Served with biscuits, and lemon cukes, love those beans-

Nice haul from the garden, will freeze some-

I had to turn off Youtube and take a break from all the prepping info last week. I was on information overload. I can see the writing on the wall (to a certain extent) of how the next year (or two) might roll out.  I will say frankly it's looking pretty bad. I just read that natural gas is skyrocketing and that could be really tough for a lot of people this winter. At least we do have several oil-filled radiant heaters. They don't use a lot of power and a great to heat up individual rooms. The UK is running out of fuel and calling in the military to help. Ships stuck on the coast, droughts, etc. I think for some people who don't know how to cook from scratch, garden, preserve foods or fix things life might get pretty ugly. Sometimes you have to make SACRIFICES. My family did that during the depression. You adjust and keep going. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but we'll see. After watching a YouTube video the other I thought about some "what ifs"??? 

What If ? 
****What if you couldn't find any clothing/shoes/household goods for a year? What if groceries and other supplies become more and more limited? What if you couldn't get basic medical care? What if your main source of heat for the winter quit working? What if you had trouble getting water? What if you lost power for an extended period of time? What if you didn't have internet access? ****
Some of those questions get your wheels spinning. So what kind of backups might you be able to have? Can you barter? Can you make things? And how can you modify your home/life to be more resilient? For urban folks I HIGHLY recommend the Retrosuburbia book, see left sidebar for more info.  Full of amazing ideas! Here's my fave new Youtube channels, tons of great info there Melissa Norris Modern Homesteading and this too Simple Living Alaska, check them out! Gives me helpful tips and tricks and something positive to focus on if I get bummed out. Hit the thrift stores, for instance and buy tools, etc. Tools would be a great barter item. Think outside the box. 

I know, it's not red

Canning Rhubarb Sauce-
Every year our neighbor (who hates rhubarb), lets us harvest hers, we give her eggs. This year we got about 10 lbs. I froze it in vacuum bags back in July, then thawed this weekend-

Here's what I used, was a little too sweet so I added a little bottled lemon juice  Canning Rhubarb Sauce. The 10 Lbs came out to 13 jars. I did adjust the sugar a little bit lower and it was still pretty sweet so I was just a tablespoon of lemon juice. Nice to have more homemade food! It came out a bit green, that rhubarb isn't the really red version, and I don't like food coloring. It's tasty! Good on top on ice cream, cereal, yogurt or plain. 

Sep 22, 2021

Preparedness 9.0 / Dehydrating Frozen Foods, Autumn Decor!


Preparedness 9.0/ Dehydrating Frozen Foods -
I wanted to start doing more of a variety of food preparedness so I decided to bring out my food dehydrator! I bought it probably 15 to 20 years ago and didn't use it that often, but it works great. I have the Nesco/American Harvest brand.  I started reading articles about how some people bought frozen foods (already chopped, etc.). Once thawed you can then just put them on the food dehydrator. I started off with some chopped spinach which work great! I wanted something to add to soups, scrambled eggs, etc. Fresh spinach is very perishable so I thought drying some would be a good option. The first batch of spinach came out great! I did two medium sized bags of spinach which converted to one medium sized jar, see above.

I also bought a bag of blueberries and will also be working on some cubed carrots and peas. One nice thing about food dehydrators is you can turn it on and walk away. One of my rules however is I never run it over night while I'm sleeping. To me it's just not worth the fire hazard. I dried one bag of blueberries, definitely took a lot longer since there was more liquid in them. Those converted to a smaller jar. I'll probably do a few more bags of blueberries since those are really great in cookies, muffins, oatmeal, etc. 


Off to the pantry! 

I did realize after the fact I should have sprayed a little Pam or oil on the food dehydrator trays as the berries were pretty sticky. You could also use parchment paper. So if you want to do some food dehydrating just buy some frozen veggies already prepped and throw them on the tray! Needless to say you can also do your own or store-bought fresh vegetables and do the prep yourself. We getting more tomatoes so I think I'm a dry some, slice them really thin and dry 'em up! You can dry in your oven on low heat too, just use a cookie sheet. I may try some jerky too.

What I bought this week- 
Some canned foods from the Dollar Store. Goya red beans, some Halloween candy (hoping for trick or treaters), two totes of shelf stable 2% milk, two bags of lentils, Himalayan salt, two tins of Mackerel in tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, two cans of coconut milk to make some curry or smoothies. They had lots of canned meats, but some are way too salty for me. I bought a small amount of some mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to package up smaller amounts. I don't want to preserve huge bags of grains, etc for just two people. Easier to do smaller bags, open as you need them. Got a few fun Halloween things for my home office, not going back to the office any time soon.  And a fun Autumn sign for the deck herb box-

speaking of autumn....

Autumn Decor!
I never liked putting up Autumn decor when it's hot. Now that it's cooled off I was in the mood for putting up some Autumn goodies! I got out my seasonal items and bought a couple bags of small pumpkins. I put all my generic stuff away, now I'm feeling ready for some ginger cake! My mom always made boxed ginger cake in the fall, I still occasionally make that, but I had a handful or two of raisins or chopped nuts. Quick dessert on a busy weekend, top with whipped cream and that's fall to me. Ironically I'm not much on all of the pumpkin flavored stuff. The only reason I even made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving let's because everybody else liked it. To me it's just squash! Here's a peak around the house, we'll get cornstalks soon for the front entrance and a few larger pumpkins-

Dining room

Living room

My Etsy faves! Toot and Lil' Toot!

From my library days, Starbucks reading owl

Sep 15, 2021

Preparedness 8.0/ Independence Days Challenge


Dehydrating spinach
Preparedness 8.0-
Autumn is in the air! It was 45 degrees this morning, nice and cool. Days are getting quite a bit shorter. I'm ready for fall after the 100-degree record-setting days that we had this summer. I've been watching quite a few different social media platforms in different areas of the country. Most everybody is seeing slow but steady shortages of foods and rising gas prices. I'm doing a few things here and there steadily. As someone said before "there's no downside to preparedness". I did hear recently that there is probably gong to be a paper shortage (if there isn't already) due to wood pulp material prices, up 50% over the last year. If you need paper supplies you might want to stock up now when prices are lower. 

I've been looking at more simple recipes for in the future. It's good to have foods like beans and rice on hand, they store a long time, and easy to switch up the flavor. Cheap too! One of the things to think about with preparedness is seasonings! I decided to start a spice basket, since I had an empty one. While I have lots of spices in my kitchen I don't really have any extras. I'm really lucky we live right near a WinCo store and they have a huge bulk section. So I decided to start stocking up and it is so cheap it's crazy! I decided to reuse some recycle glass jars with some canning labels-

bulk-  peppercorns, dill, cinnamon and onion powder

Great for meat and fish! 

Big container

I started thinking about what spices I use a lot of and for me it's oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, onion powder, Dill, peppercorns, and salt of course. This will stay near my pantry in the extra bedroom. Buying bulk spices is a really great way to save a lot of money and they're usually fresher!!!
We bought two extra bags of feed for the chickens and two bales of pine shavings for the coop. That should last us for quite a few months ongoing. Luckily our feed is made locally but there's never any guarantee of what their production will be.

Independence Days Challenge-
Here's the recent doings....

1. Plant Something-

Wrong time of the year we are in harvest mode. Too warm for fall crops. I may start growing microgreens indoors this winter.


2. Harvest Something-

We've been getting a nice steady supply of tomatoes, several kinds, eggs, cucumbers, peppers. I also have tons of Basil I'll be making pesto soon to freeze. Ready to freeze more eggs! 

Lovely apples! 

3. Preserve/Store Something-
I have canned pears, we had a smaller harvest, we think someone stole some. I only canned six Qts, since we had to save some jars for the peaches. Luckily we have seven Qts from last year. We like them fresh too, super sweet and juicy-

Fresh on the dining table! 

Froze apples slices too for baking. Will be canning some of the frozen peaches soon. We have several one-gallon bags of frozen rhubarb, I will turn into rhubarb sauce and can. I've frozen extra meats recently, like chicken breasts on sale and breads. I'll be making some fermented Curtido slaw soon. I love that stuff! For dehydrating I bought frozen spinach, frozen broccoli and blueberries. I learned you can save a lot of labor (since I don't grow those) by buying frozen, thaw, then dry. Little to no prep!  


I bought some Auguson Farms pancake mix, $8.00 right now, on Amazon. That will be for more long-term storage (freeze dried). I also bought some local pancake mix for using sooner. I'm hoping if the weather holds and the tomatoes ripen I may have enough to can, fingers crossed. I usually freeze them. 


4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-

I have been buying things I think may be in short supply in the not-too-distant future. I bought some holiday gifts. This is also where it's really good to do just an inventory of what's in your house that you might not be able to find later. What about dental floss? Toothpaste? Pet food? I bought some cheeses to freeze and a bag of Masa to make tortillas. Got to have cheese for the winter on top of soups and tacos. Also bought some mushrooms, dried and canned, those kinds of things are really good to flavor foods. They don't cost a lot of money, 50 cents a can and $4.00 for a bag of dehydrated (Natural Grocers).  Fresh mushrooms have a short shelf life. I had a yearly credit from REI, I bought some water purification tabs, just in case-

Got a big bag of Ricola cough drops at Costco, peanut butter powder, and smart wool socks for me!  I found two gallon buckets with lids (food grade) at Winco for $4.00, a rectangular one for $3.00, bought one of each. They are twice that at Amazon. Sugar will go into one of them-

has gasketed lid


5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-

I'm going to be trying some new bread recipes soon once all of the fruit is done being processed and I can catch my breath. I decided to get back into bread-making, some to save money, but also gain more expertise. Made my fave summer sandwich Sara Moulton Catfish BLT with home grown tomatoes! 

6. Build Community Food Systems-

We've been sharing eggs and pickles with our kids and haven't gone to the farmers market for a while. Might go again soon,  we'd love to get some pumpkins!


7. Recycle/Re-Use-

We use some of my glass jars I saved from some olives last year for my spice basket. Also using some small canning jars for those spices as well. We got several free ornamental grasses (1 gallon) from a local nursery. They were looking a little bit beat up, 75% off. When we decided to add a few more flowers to our front yard the sale person gifted us four grasses! Free, ka-ching! 


8. Skill Up-

Definitely learned a lot about food storage last few months, an interesting process. Do you use Mylar bags? Do you use oxygen absorbers? What do you never want to use oxygen absorbers on, like sugar? Thanks YouTube, now I know.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-

Fixed up my semi-broken birdhouse I got from the thrift store, came out pretty cute! 

Love the prim stars on both sides

Cute tin roof

Fixed a part of our front driveway area that was pretty beat-up looking with some sick shrubs. More photos coming. 

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