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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

So if you have not yet discovered National Geographic Channel’s new show , Doomsday Preppers you are missing a true guilty pleasure. While I don’t expect that I will be living in a shipping container or fueling my home with my own pooh, I do find it somewhat comforting to be self sufficient and be able to weather any storm or devastating world disaster or zombie attack. Special note Zombies can’t climb stairs so if you don’t have a second story, well, good luck. Regardless of what the “event” maybe I can sort of see where these folks are coming from. It’s secretly why I was drawn to a house with a wood-stove and a big part of the reason why I would like to go solar ( besides the environment and such). It’s what makes me want to be an extreme couponer stockpiler and why I love the idea of growing my own food and prepping it for long term storage. Secretly, I have always been a what-if kind of person. What if a bad guy breaks in. What if everyone gets Purple Blue fever. What if Zombies really do attack? Regardless of the crisis or desire to never leave your home, there is something super comforting and extraordinarily peaceful about knowing you are prepared to carry on. Even though, in the event of total meltdown, I may suffer from complete digital meltdown, I know that upon recovery I will be thankful for what I have. So, I will continue (secretly of course, which is clearly why I am blogging about it) prepping for Doomsday.

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A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

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As I prepare my last batch of hot pepper jam for this season and plot out the holiday baking madness for the upcoming season I am also preparing to put our garden down for an extended rest.   That’s right, for Garden Season 2012 we will not be planting anything in our garden plot.   Does that mean this Farmgirl has given up only 3 years and 6 chickens in?  On the contrary,  this Farmgirl has been inspired by a great book that I picked up at my local Tractor Supply  The Backyard Homestead:

This book is a must have desk reference for anyone who wants to start a backyard homestead or begin to dabble in producing  their own food from scratch.    Upon purchasing this book I had some AHA moments about  being a bonified urban homesteader.    I have not mastered anything mind you (as clearly illustrated by this year’s less than bumper crop of carrots and beets),  but I do feel that I have a good handle on growing vegetables in a garden.    So 2012 our goal is to make our yard a well-rounded food bearing garden retreat.   We would like to add apple trees and perhaps some pear trees.  We would like to clear out the random and useless rock garden next to our pool and create a blueberry patch.   We would like to plot out a location for  raised strawberry and raspberry beds.   Perhaps a deck and real live fireplace and/or bread oven.   Perhaps a door yard full of berries and nuts.  Boxed herbs and of course a handful of containers loaded with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  Oh and maybe, just maybe we might actually get that compost system set up that we have been threatening to put into operation for 3 years now.

So,  you ask what will these homesteaders do for fresh and local produce next year?   Well, we will start by getting a full share in our CSA, Maplewood  Organics.   My final calculation after this last pick up of what we received for this season was nearly $350 of organic potatoes, peppers, onions (which, I might add, organic onions were going for $2 a lb. today at the grocery store) brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, fresh-cut flours, swiss chard, kale, radishes, lettuce, green beans and more.  Given that, I am super excited to see what a full share will garner us.  Of course there is always our local farmers markets and farm stands where buying in bulk is encouraged.  Having  just filled my belly with Gluten Free Lasagna made with delicious homemade tomato sauce, we will make sure to do whatever it takes to get our hands on fresh tomatoes.  So. long story not so short, we will do what our ancestors have always done and give our garden plot a rest after what can only be described as a “challenging” season for growers across the nation.    We will fill it with winter rye,  and host a potato sack race over the top of it for leap year in July!!!  We will build the backyard homestead/haven of our dream and in 2013 recreate the veggie magic of old.   And by then, ideally, I will be picking my first apples from our own tree, making my own soap, jewelry and clothes (try to contain your envy) and munching on homemade yogurt and string cheese.   At the end of the day, homesteading is an attitude and a lifestyle.  Gardening is a huge part of that, but anyone can grow a vegetable, a true homesteader grows and decorates an entire buffet.

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Fall Sunday’s are the best!! Breakfast is always delicious, especially when you are never really in danger of running out of fresh and delicious backyard eggs. Baking becomes one of my favorite hobbies and today gfree cupcakes fill the house with warmth while weight watchers approved end of garden veggie soup simmers and football graces our tv!! There will be coupon clipping with hot tea and much to my joy, Price Chopper is allowing digital coupons to be uploaded to their advantage card. It is an autumn miracle!! And of course if no day is complete until you put your kid in a bucket!!
Welcome fall!! Welcome!!

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There is nothing quite as magical as going to an open air market on a beautiful day. Whether you are in Africa or Hometown USA, the overall feeling is still the same: COMMUNITY. Where else can you go with $15 in your pocket and leave with $30 worth of produce and kettle corn? Even here in my hometown, which could stand to amp up it’s farmer’s market a scootch, the market has an amazing feeling of warmth and highlights all the wonderful things our town has to offer. In two hours I tasted honey, smelled kettle corn and chit chatted with a local farmer about his growing methods while negotiating a salsa/dilly bean trade with my friend and neighbor. I learned a little about soap making (one of my next big homesteading endeavors) and I learned that a local crafter makes these amazing fleece backpack blankets, perfect for even the coolest of preschoolers. This is not the same experience you get a big grocery store. Upon stopping at our local grocery store my farmer’s market perusing com-padre and I reveled in our fresh and frugal successes when compared with store prices. For example: I got nearly 6 pounds of zucchini for $1.00. At our grocery store, $1.49 per pound for not so fresh or delicious looking zucchinis. You do the math. Beyond the joy of the market experience there is also a certain thrill for every aspiring homesteader and/or culinary artist of drawing inspiration from the bounty you have gathered whether from the market or your own garden:

Creative inspiration

When I look at all of that delicious, fresh, vegetable goodness on my table I see not only zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, hot peppers, green beans and apples, but I see salsa for a Mexican fiesta in January and zucchini bread on a cool fall morning. I see a pasta dinner with no noodles and a green bean casserole (that is my favorite GF Recipe) on Thanksgiving morning. I see money that I will not have to spend and meals filled with fresh, delicious and local ingredients. In fact, I was inspired to make an entirely local dinner on Saturday night that featured vegetables from my stores not even shown here. It included carrots, beets, pork, honey, maple syrup and cabbage. Every bit of it produced within 30 miles of my house. Without getting on a soap box about eating local, I can tell you that there is nothing quite so tasty as a vegetable grown in your backyard or just down the road. When you put your food on the plate and it is composed of whole and delicious foods there is a sense of pride and accomplishment and a feeling that you are providing your family with a healthy meal packed with nutrients.

Spicy Glazed Pork Chops, Sauteed Red Cabbage and Roasted Root Vegetables

So the moral of the this story? Whether you are into the localvore movement or growing your own food or not, a visit to your local farmer’s market is always worth the trip and you never know what kind of practical magic it might inspire.

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I am getting ready to turn yesterday’s bounty into delicious foods that will make great gifts and see us through the winter. There will be chopping, boiling, labeling and jars popping. There will probably be some swearing and maybe some tears, but in the end it will all be worth it. Let the canning games begin.

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Today was a good day for our homestead kitchen. Not only was it CSA day (in which we got almost $35 worth of organic produce including broccoli, beans, beets, squash, kale, chard, onions, garlic and cucumbers) but we got enough tomatoes to make a batch of sauce. This year I decided that I had no time to meticulously seed and skin my tomatoes. This has been a super busy and hot summer for us so I did what any good modern day homesteader would do, and Googled it. I found Kalyn’s Kitchen She recommends making the tomato purée in your food processor. What a novel and brilliant idea. So this evening I chopped my carrots, onions, and garlic and sweated them in the sauce pan while I pureed my tomatoes; skins, seeds and all. Add some mushrooms, chopped garden herbs, turkey burger or chopped portabellas, and some gluten free pasta and you have a magical and uber-fresh weeknight dinner. So purée on and enjoy the tastes of the season!!

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