Thursday, July 10, 2014

Green Beans

Yesterday I had a few toddler free hours and got to snap and can a few pounds of green beans to put up for the fall. Green beans are Papas favorite so I was really miffed when ours decided not to sprout this year. We think it was bad seed because we tried two different times and nothing came up even though the rest of the garden did in the same conditions. In addition to canning green beans yesterday I tilled and planted a part of the garden that wasn't being used and put in some green beans for the fall. We won't get as much as a spring crop would have brought but it's better than nothing. We'll have until mid to late October before we get a frost so we'll have a few months of growing, I don't think we'll harvest enough to make it through until next spring but some is better than none.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Putting Up Our Bounty

This year has been excellent for zucchini and cucumbers for our family. This is partially due to rain and partially due to TinyPerson deciding to spread cucumber seeds all over the garden while we were planting this year. We have my neat 10 foot row trellised up and then TinyPerson's dozen vines spread out here, there, and yonder producing like crazy.I've trellised them as best I can but I tried to keep them low because she loves to go check her vines and see what's growing.

We've been harvesting about 10-15 pickling cucumbers a day and so far I've made about a dozen quarts of pickles, another dozen pints, given away baskets full and I still have another 6 quarts worth waiting to be pickled tomorrow when TinyPerson is with grandma. I've also pickled beets, green beans, and jalapenos this year, we'll have a fine relish tray this fall! I use the dill pickle recipe from the Ball Blue Book but occasionally I'll add extra crushed red pepper or garlic depending on how I'm feeling and I also use apple cider vinegar and white vinegar interchangeably.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash
This year for Mother's Day I was gifted with 4 zucchini plants and they've been very productive this year. I've found myself using all manner of food preservation to save the harvest in addition to throwing it in everything! I've been freezing, dehydrating and .I attempted pickling but it wasn't the greatest so I don't think I'll be trying that again.  When I freeze squash I generally slice and bread it for frying later and with zucchini I'll shred it and freeze it in 1/2c. portions for baking in the fall. I love fried squash but with it being so hot in the kitchen during the summer I prefer to save it for the fall when the house could use some warming up. The dehydrated squash and zucchini gets tossed into soups and stews over the winter to fill them out a bit and add some extra flavor and fiber.

Fall Gardening
Our tomatoes are huge and green on the vine and we're just waiting for them to turn red to harvest them. It got hot a little faster than usual so they're having a hard time turning in the heat. TinyPerson and I got seeds yesterday from our local seed store to plant for our fall garden so I'm going to start that tomorrow. Our green beans didn't come up the first go round so we're going to try them in the fall garden and see how many we can get. In addition to green beans we're also going to be putting in potatoes, carrots, turnips and onions, a pretty typical fall garden for these parts. The potatoes and onions are stored in the basement and we're going to try the same for some of the carrots and freeze and can the rest. If the carrots store well in the  basement we'll store the majority of them like that next year, I just don't want to risk a large portion of the crop with experimental storage.

How is your gardening going? What's your favorite thing to grow?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Trying Out Solar Cooking

I hate heating up the house in the summertime by baking and cooking so I'm looking into solar cooking. I found a pretty easy to implement setup that I have all of the materials for so I'm going to try it out this weekend and see if I can't get some eggs boiled and brownies baked. I figure those are two very forgiving things to try.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What We've Been Up To

This spring we added 6 hens and a rooster and I built them this little coop.

Pickled Beets and Pickled Jalapenos, two things I've not canned before.

The roo on top and the hens on the bottom, they should start laying at the end of the month or somewhere thereabouts.

One of our first little cucumbers, he's a pickle now!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Dusting off the blog (again!)

With Papa away on orders this has been a very busy summer and the blog has been neglected, sorry folks! With the transition into fall I have a bit more free time so I'll be posting on a more regular basis and covering some topics I thought I'd be covering over the summer. 

Putting Food By

As of now I'm pretty much done with canning for the season, we managed to put away tomatoes, squash, beans, meats, jelly this summer. I also oven canned some dry goods as I found them on sale so we have brown and white rice, grits and beans put up that way. You'll notice there isn't any wheat on that list which is abnormal for most preparedness folks but Baby has a wheat allergy so we're now a gluten free house. We gave away our stash of noodles and flour to a friend and it's slowly being replaced with gluten free items. As of now it's not quite where I'd like it to be but I think by the end of October we should have it built back up to a 6 week supply just like everything else. 

Now I know you're thinking to yourself, "But Mama, you said shelving was at a premium, where are you putting everything?". Well dear reader, I bought a shelving unit for the laundry room to replace out cobbled together monstrosity and it's great! Having a nice looking dedicated place for food has actually made me better about stocking a rotating. Our new shelf combined with my new shopping habits has made our pantry much better stocked and I'm very glad for it. We're now up to a full six weeks of meals not including the MRE's (ugh!) and I've been working on extending this as sales and coupons permit. We were very thankful for our food stores this past week as the threat of not being paid due to the government shutdown loomed over us. Thankfully Congress (with whom I am not pleased) passed a bill saying active duty soldiers would still get paid so we're fine. Had they not we would have still been fine for two months, but no one needs that kind of stress in their lives, you know? We prepare so that we won't be as stressed in times of crisis, but still, I'm a worrier. 

Well, it's good to be back writing again, I'm going to do my best to keep it up, wish me luck!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Getting Started with Food Storage: Shelving

Whoever built our house apparently did not believe in storing more than 20 minutes worth of food. Seriously. We have two cupboards. Two. One on each side of the sink, it is sad. One holds plates, cups bowls etc. and the other holds open food storage items like oatmeal, grits, peanut butter etc. To combat the complete lack of pantry we had to make a pantry out of the laundry room, I affectionately refer to it as my throw away pantry because it's composed nearly entirely of shelving other people were going to throw away. Shelving is a loose term here, we have a 4ft bookcase, a plastic corner shelving unit and what used to be a cabinet that we removed the door on and braced the back with a spare piece of wood to make it steady. Ghetto, yes, functional, darn right!

I usually try to post pictures with everything but I'm actually kind of loathe to post pictures of my 'pantry' (loose term again) because of how terrible the shelving looks, I'm kind of vain like that. The point of this post isn't to lament the sad state of my shelving but to point out that with a little ingenuity you can turn unwanted things into something useful! Over the next few months I'll be remodeling the pantry and hopefully buying a rotating can storage system and installing shelving, but for now I'm happy with my makeshift pantry and its ability to store my food.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Firearm Safety and Storage

Today, I would like to take a minute to talk about firearm storage and safety. This article was inspired by a horrifying incident that happened to Mama about 2 weeks ago. She was at her parents house, which was being inhabited by her brother. Her brother is an avid firearm owner and owns a number of handguns and long rifles. This never really struck us as odd because he had attended the proper safety classes and had even made references to having a concealed carry permit. This is what we thought, until Mama went with baby to the house to help in the moving out process. Baby was walking/crawling around when she saw a plastic drawer set, so she crawled over to it and pulled the drawers out. Fortunately Mama was watching Baby closely and notices the two handguns in the drawer that baby pulled out. Mama checked them and found that not only were they loaded, but they had a round in the chamber and the safety was off. Hopefully this horrifies most of our readers and they can pick out the flaws with this situation, but just in case, I am going to take a few moments and discuss some of the points of firearm storage and safety for any house.