Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life Update

[Stole the pic but it feels like my life.]

Nothing like September first to make a person feel happy with their life. Guess what I'm NOT doing on September first? I am not moving! For those of you who don't live in the Greater Boston Area, September first is the most popular move in date for apartment rentals. Having worked in real estate, I vowed years ago to never be on a 9/1 lease.

However, I am helping my friend M move. As she is the lucky recipient of my mattress/boxspring, we just loaded that into her moving truck. I'm jealous of how easy it was to get out from how hard it was to get in. Granted, getting it out meant that we'd already done the mental work to figure out how to get shit from one side of the door to the other, but still.

It is hotter than hell here -- it's been highs in the 90s all week (currently 85F at 8:40pm), and is due to stay in the 90s until Friday, when it's in the 80s. This weather scares me. I don't deal well with the cold, but I do miserably with the heat. I was woken up at 2:30 am last night with the worst headache in my life -- that's right, the headache woke me up. I'm assuming dehydration. After 3 tumblers of water and an hour and half (and a mini-snuggle from Mister), I was finally at a point where I could go back to sleep. It is HOT.

At least I wound up working every day this week except Saturday -- it means I'll be in AC during all of this shit. Why am I working 6 days when I'm supposed to work 4? Funny story. Long story short, I'm not allowed to re-hire (sorta) this girl. Which is apparently inducing legal action on her part because she feels in the right. As the owner put it, "there isn't a place in the US where you are allowed to not show up to work without notice and expect to keep your job".

The other bittersweet thing to have going on is that I don't have a garden. Everyone who does is apparently up to their knees in produce because of the weird weather. Well, I don't have a garden, but I wouldn't mind a little bit of produce. I have bitten the forbidden fruit of canning and I want more!

Note to self: definately find a way to plant next year. Don't wait until the last minute to figure shit out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Guest Post?

So Abby at Farmer's Daughter has put out a call for guest posts during the month of September, as she's going back to school for the first time since having her son. The first of those went out today from A Pug in the Kitchen. As I was looking at it, I realized that I might be able to do one! While I could do pickles or some such, I think my best answer would be about how other people interact with my preps. So here goes:


Although I'm a fairly solid doomer at heart, and would love to be completely self-sufficient food wise, want to eliminate paper and have a composting toilet, I still have yet to Walk the Walk, as it were. Some of my failure to achieve this lies with me, as I work on breaking my attachment with paper and flushing toilets, but a lot of this lies with how its received. Part of the problem involved in this is how differently I think from the Average American these days.

I'll never forget the frantic email that I received from a roommate about someone leaving "trash" all over the kitchen, and that they "thoughtfully" cleaned it all up for this person. That was when it hit home: I'm really on a path that will eventually be non-compatible with the average American without much explanation. So I followed her "thoughtful" email with one explaining the pros and cons of compost, where our compost bucket was, and what can and can not be put into a compost bucket. Problem solved!

Next is the thwarting of my jar hoarding. I manage an ice cream store, and we go through 10 oz. jars of peanut butter weekly, and 3 gallon food-safe plastic tubs of hot fudge regularly as well. Being a proper doomer, I believe strongly in the power of storage and glass jars. So, I will wash, collect and bring home these fabulous items. However, tops to peanut butter jars will disappear. They will disappear at work if I'm not careful -- one coworker recycles the jar and throws out the top. He helped me for 10 minutes last night during closing, and in that 10 minutes, the top to my peanut butter jar disappeared! I of course only noticed after taking the trash out. So one culprit discovered. Another is at my apartment. I'll come home and there will be jars in the drinking glasses section, with nary a top in sight. I've taken to shuffling tops as needed in that house. Spices: definitely need it. Leftovers in the fridge: definitely need it. Jar of nuts: well, they'll get shortchanged this time around. The last crusader against my jar hoarding is my fiance. If I don't get to the jars first, and stick them somewhere he won't find them (currently under the sink), they just might disappear because "you don't really use these, do you?"

Luckily, some preps are obvious, and I do learn, if slowly. My jars of pickles? Surprise, surprise, they look like jars of pickles! There isn't a person in my world who will go "what are these sealed jars full of stuff on the counter? Looks like trash, so I'll kindly throw it out for the person who is too silly to do so."

I recently made Lemon Balm Cordial, and without proper warning, my fiance would have had no idea what was hanging out in his fridge.

Looks scary, doesn't it? Notice it's in a peanut butter jar. Granted, my fiance would probably have been smart enough to go "well I didn't put it there..." and ask me what it was. He's surprisingly more on top of things that I give him credit for. Now if I could just get him to drop paper products...

The last item in my Show and Tell is my (sadly) failed starter. There were layers upon layers of sneakiness involved in this. Firstly, I had assured my fiance that I wouldn't do starter until the kitchen was cleaned. But who needs a fully clean kitchen when you've got a clean jar and measuring cups?

And thus, I started making starter. But because of my failure to clean the kitchen, I hid the starter under the sink. If my fiance hadn't noticed me feeding it, he might have only discovered it with the slight smell it gave off (the wrong thing grew, and it promptly died). Look honestly at that jar. If you found a jar that looked like that under your sink, would you toss it? More than likely, yes. My fiance merely went "... is that a starter you're poking over there?" with my guilty reply of "um... no?"

So I guess to round up my collection of stories with a nice moral: always make sure that the people you live with know what you're doing. Otherwise, you may end up with trashed, destroyed, or failed experiments and unhappy people.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Korean Food Photo Contest

So Maangchi has announced a Korean Food Photo Contest that I'm considering joining. Mister LOVES Korean food, and I keep meaning to make her food... sounds like a win-win to me!

After a quick perusal of her recipes, I've pulled out a few that look tasty.

Japchae a.k.a. Stir Fry Noodles with Vegetables

Dak Kang Jung a.k.a. Sweet and Crispy Chicken

Mandu a.k.a. Dumplings

Hoddeok a.k.a. Sweet Pancakes with Brown Sugar Syrup Filling

Maejakgwa a.k.a. Ginger Cookies

Hwajeon a.k.a. Sweet Flower Pancakes (I think this is a little out of season :-((( )

Sikhye a.k.a. Rice Dessert Drink

Ya Chae Yeon a.k.a. Vegetable Pancake (um... no static picture from Maangchi -- found the pic on the interwebs)

Looking forward to making yummy food!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zucchini Recipes

Snagged a recipe from the Tasty Kitchen blogpost on Zucchini

Zucchini Pie

Pie filling:
8 cups peeled, chopped (1/2 to 1″ cubes) zucchini (I removed the seeds)
2/3 cups lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cook zucchini and lemon juice over medium heat until tender (20-30 minutes) Add sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, simmer 1 minute, remove from heat.

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cold margerine or butter
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon and fold in butter until all mixed up.
Put 1/2 cup of this mixture into the pie filling mixture.
Take remaining 1/2 of the crust and press into a greased 15″ x 10″
Add zucchini pie filling.
Pour remaining crust mixture evenly over the top.
Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plans and More Plans

Since I have nothing better to do than sit around and plan, that is what I do a lot. My plans for this upcoming year:

Household Stuff
-- declutter majorly. I have the 100 Things (to give away/get rid of) list on my sidebar, and there is only one item on it. I need to work on that.
-- organize clothes seasonally. I usually keep all of it out "just in case I need a sweater!" or whatever. Organize!
-- get rid of what clothing is dead: I'm terrible at buying more of, but not getting rid of old underclothes in particular.
-- clean the house on a regular schedule. Mister and I want to be able to cancel the cleaning lady that his LL is insistent upon. That's just a waste of money.
-- find proper food storage at Mister's apartment.

Social Stuff
-- get cards night permanently up and running. If it needs to be every week to do so, then I'll make it every week.
-- start a knitting/crocheting group. Perhaps once or twice a month.
-- perhaps do a brunch monthly. Rotate homes and such.

Sustainability Stuff
-- actually eat the food that I store! Plan meals and menus around storage.
-- organize how and where I'm planting before spring comes around.
-- get more rags and cloth wipes in lieu of paper towels -- we already use cloth for some kinds of clean-up, I just need to expand that.

I think that's all that I can feasibly expect to work on. Yay plans!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


As you can see, it's actually a CLEAR cordial -- but I like the other picture as well.

Random Sustainability

So I'm working on several projects towards sustainability. (Mister keeps grumbling that I keep trying to run before I can walk, but really, I'm already AT baby steps!) The first was a project which I completed today (aside from taste testing).

Here is my lovely PB jar filled with grain alcohol in which Lemon Balm has been steeping for almost two weeks. It has already been strained.

Here is the same jar with simple syrup and water added. Looks tasty! I just hope that it is. If so, Project: Lemon Balm Cordial will be a success!

The other project is just starting out today.

Here's my lovely quart jar of sourdough starter -- only just started today. I am using this method to form my sourdough, and I shall post its progress!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some recipes to save

Queen Anne's Lace Jelly
Homemade Kahlua
Corn Chowder
Curried Black Eyed Peas


When I was a kid I was given a copy of the book "Monster Night at Grandma's House". A cute little kid scary story about following a monster through Grandma's house after she's gone to bed, chasing it outside and making sure it stays outside by staying on the porch swing until sunrise -- a cute book. However, I remember one part always confused me: when the kid would stay at Grandma's, sweet corn was in season, and they would eat nothing but corn for dinner, and enough until they were full to bursting. I always was confused as to why someone would want to eat that much corn!

Well folks, I have had 3.5 ears of corn for dinner and still want more. Just feeling the bits of corn between my teeth make me want it even more. I no longer am confused by my childhood book.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Furniture Rearranging

Mister and I (ok, mostly Mister) have rearranged and modified his apartment to make it more liveable. Not in the least was the sorting through of boxes -- that have been in the corner since June 2009. Yep.

Here is what needs to be done still:

This is the pile of stuff that will not stay in here. Boxes are to go to M, electronics to the recycling center at Mister's work, and Goodwill items to Goodwill.

There are more books than shelving in this apartment -- hence the pile of homeless books. This needs to be remedied. (Please ignore that pizza plate behind the curtain...)

The stuff on the couch is what was deemed important from the massive amount of boxes that we went through -- it now just needs to also find homes.

But look at what we've done! You've already seen the large pile of stuff to LEAVE the apartment -- that is particularly impressive in my book (I'm a hoarder).

The dining area look particularly darling and usable. This is a change from how it's been in the past.

The old TV stand has been repurposed to house alcohol underneath and dishes on top. (The TV is next to the computer, on the desk now). As the alcohol is now out of the kitchen, that means that pots and pans now have a home. As the dishes now have a home, they no longer have to sit either in the dishwasher or on top of the table. With the speaker next to the (former) TV stand, the silver chest also has a home that is not the top of the table. Yay for things having a proper place!

And last but not least, the Dictionary Stand that Mister inherited has a home and looks cute. Before, it just looked like another addition to the clutter. Yay for decluttering!

And now, to tackle the bedroom! (dun dun duuuuuuuuuun)

Four Simple Goals

As both Dawn over at May All Seasons Be Sweet To Thee and Abbie over at Farmer's Daughter have beaten me to this, it might not be a surprise to any reading this.

Elsie at A Beautiful Mess has put forth this challenge of setting and achieving simple goals before the end of 2010.

The Guidelines:

1 - choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish.
2 - do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. for example… instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”. positive actions instead of just the end result!
3 - choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! they can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.
4 - choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! it can be a small or large reward.
5 - blog your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year!

As I have far too many ideas and dreams of things to learn and stages of sustainability to reach, this is a good challenge for myself.

Goal #1: make sourdough starter and make bread regularly. As I have every intention of picking up the flour for that tonight after work (to perhaps participate next week in Crunchy Chicken's Pioneer Week), this should be started soon. The reward will be fresh bread!

Goal #2: finish the tablecloth for Sharon. Why I am not working on it I don't know. The reward for that shall be that I will either take one of her courses, or arrange to go to her house again.

Goal #3: make a pair of socks for both Mister and I. My reward will be socks!

Goal #4: declutter. I have far too much stuff, and need to work on having less BEFORE Mister and I consolidate housing. My reward will be a baked good or warm beverage per box I go through.

Let's see how it goes!

P.S. Does anyone else want to just say "screw the challenge -- I want that yarn up there!"?

Lazy Day

As I don't work until 7:30 pm tonight, I've had a bit of a lazy day. After staying up until 3 last night, I slept until about 11:30 am, read a bit, lounged, and finally made breakfast.

Mister was supposed to come home for a break and brekkie, but, par for the course, his work picked up and he is unable to leave. :-\

My lovely breakfast is a standard of mine: Eggs With Stuff In It. I make a miserable omelet, so have learned to love this dish. Today's "stuff" included Cabot Monterey Jack cheese, deli Turkey, and some of the beans from my mother's house.

As a follow-up, look at that beautiful swirl of color as my tea steeps! Sometimes, it's just the little things that make all the difference.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pretty Print

While browsing EricaLea's photo etsy, I came across this print. I would love to get it and hang it in my kitchen -- along with the print I have that Paul made of an iron teapot.

So cute!

Canning Pickles

En route back home from Camp, Mister and I stopped at my mother's house and received many vegetables. So, with a friend, J, hanging out, I made three batches of pickles with the cukes; two batches on Wednesday, August 11th, and one today. I have to wait 4-6 weeks before eating them (although J and I nibbled at one batch just to check :-P -- it will be VERY tasty). Here are the three recipes:

Bread and Butter Pickles

Yield: about 7 pints

-- 4 lbs. 4-6" cucumbers, cut into 1/4" slices
-- 2 lbs. onions, thinly sliced (about 8 small)
-- 1/3 c. canning salt
-- 2 c. sugar
-- 2 Tbs. mustard seed
-- 2 tsp. turmeric
-- 2 tsp. celery seed
-- 1 tsp. ginger
-- 1 tsp. peppercorns
-- 3 c. vinegar

Combine cucumbers and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1.5 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Process 10 mins in a boiling-water canner.
--- Ball Blue Book of Preserving
** I made 3 quarts and a bit -- I also didn't have celery seed, so didn't use it.

Sweet Pickle Spears

Yield: about 10 half-pints

-- 4 lbs. 3-4" cucumbers, cut lengthwise into spears
-- 4 c. sugar
-- 3 3/4 c. vinegar
-- 3 Tbs. canning salt
-- 4 tsp. celery seed
-- 4 tsp. turmeric
-- 1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed

Cover cucumbers with boiling water; let stand 2 hours. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pack cucumbers into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4" headspace. Process 10 mins in a boiling-water canner.
--- Ball Blue Book of Preserving
** I made 4 quarts -- and still didn't use celery seed.

"Montego Boy" Sweet Chips

-- 4 lbs. small kirby cucumbers, cut into 1/4" slices
-- cauliflower florets (optional)
-- 1 quart + 1 2/3 c. vinegar
-- 3 Tbs. canning salt
-- 1 Tbs. mustard seed
-- 1/2 c. + 3 c. sugar
-- 1 Tbs. allspice
-- 2 1/4 tsp. celery seed

Prepare scalding brine (1 qt. vinegar, salt, mustard see, 1/2 c. sugar). Bring to a boil. Scald vegetables in boiling hot scalding brine in small batches briefly until skin changes color. Drain. Pack immediately into hot jars. Prepare packing syrup (1 2/3 c. vinegar, 3 c. sugar, allspice, celery seed). Bring to a boil. Fill jars with hot syrup to 1/8" from top. Seal. Invert jars for at least 5 minutes (or until sealed). Stand away from drafts.
--- Old Farm Pickles and Table Preserves Recipes
** This made just under 4 quarts -- still don't have celery seed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Making plans

So trying to get Cards Night back up and running (we've only had one successful day... :-\), and running into difficulties scheduling. How can three people have non-compatible schedules? That should be easier to coordinate than four or five, and it's seeming well-nigh impossible.

J and I are planning on doing canning some time this week -- after we get Cards Night scheduled. It'll probably wind up being Friday or so. Yay pickles!

Mister and I need to be going to the gym -- I'm not sure when I'll be able to, but gosh darn it we'll try to get three days in (at least).

I need to send out engagement notices, now that I have the ring. This involves a pic of the ring, a pic of Mister and I, printing said pics, and figuring out what the hell I'm going to say in the notice that doesn't make people want to send me stuff.

And lastly, my next day off is Saturday, August 21st. The joys of management.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cheese Making

Saving a website on cheese making.

Recommended to buy Mary Jane Toth's books on dairy goats and their products by Fast Grow the Weeds.

No Spending Month

So I've already started our No Spending Month to a bad start -- I went out with a group of friends for drinks, nibblies, and karaoke last night. I spent $37 -- which really isn't that bad for all that we did. So maybe I'll have my No Spending Month go to 9/7 to make up for my lack.

We have so many veggies in the house at the moment, I'm really excited to use them! J said that she'll hang out while I make pickles (she's not interested in pickle-making, but when I said I didn't need enthusiasm just convo, she said she'd love to hang), so I should plan that soon.

The caveat for our No Spending Month is to only buy food (or gas/T card as needed). No going out to eat, no drinks, no going out for tea (we have a friend who will habitually call either of us up and go "I need tea and convo"), etc.

[As I was typing the last sentence, I realized that Mister had made plans with a friend to go out tonight b/c the friend seems to be in distress -- it looks like Mister's month will go to 9/8 :-P]


So in thinking about food, what will we need to be buying...

We have veggies for maybe 4-5 days, so we should stop at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday and pick up veggies.

I have beans at my house, I should bring some over and/or we could buy some meat (perhaps at the Farmer's Market again).

We have a little ricotta and a few eggs left, so we'll need to buy milk, cheese, eggs, and whatever else looks good.

We'll need bread, and some other grains.

I think I will work on trying to get out to a U-Pick and getting fruit for jelly and such. If I can't garden this year, at least I will work on preserving.

... need to buy canning supplies!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rural Dreams

While Mister and I were driving through rural NY to get out to Camp, I feel like I saw nothing but farm stands. Left and right, farm stands. It might just be sweet corn, it might just be eggs. But I also feel like there are far more than I remember along those roads. That's not to say that there were none before, but there's merely more of them.

I don't know if this is because it's something I look for now, as opposed to merely noting, or if there are honestly more people gardening and selling their produce. If it's the latter, I say "brava!"

But driving through that beautiful farm country filled with cornfields and cows (gotta love NY), I had two recurring feelings. One was horror at the proudly labeled fields of GMO corn monocultures, and the other was just pure want. I really do want to farm in some way -- animals being the main sticking point for the city. I remember Sharon Astyk saying that her and her husband were living in the city, gardening, and it just wasn't enough. I thought (at the time) "well isn't that silly! You can get the same stuff done!" Well, I haven't fully given city farming the ol' college try, but I'm worried that it might not be enough. The lack of animals is what really bothers me.

Sure, I might be able to convince Mister that he'd be a happy man with dairy goats, but the lack of poultry for meat and eggs makes me nervous. And I know that he'd not be happy with chickens -- he made that particularly clear. He doesn't want to have to hear them. Nor tend them. Nor feed them. Nor see them. He just doesn't want them!

That and I feel like I wouldn't get done what I'd like to in a city plot. I could get a farm share or a CSA of some sort, but that wouldn't get me happy sustainability. I think the type of property that Kathy Harrison describes as her house is what I'd like to be looking towards. She has bees, birds, orchard, forest, and a full garden with hoophouse and other fun things. She also strives to feed her entire family on what she grows and works strongly in her community to build systems.

I just think that's wonderful. Perhaps, if we ever do have a crazy meltdown of society, Mister would be more interested in farming with me. At the moment? Not at all. As he put it recently "Farms are a lot of work. I don't want to have to put that much effort into where I live to keep it still liveable." And he thinks that is that. But is it?

Weights and Measures

Taken from a Farmer's Almanac online:

60 pounds apples = 1 bushel
52 pounds beans = 1 bushel
24 pounds beets = 1 bushel
56 pounds carrots = 1 bushel
55 pounds flour = 1 bushel
54 pounds onions = 1 bushel
45 pounds parsnips = 1 bushel
50 pounds potatoes = 1 bushel
60 pounds string beans = 1 bushel
60 pounds sweet potatoes = 1 bushel
48 pounds tomatoes = 1 bushel
196 pounds turnips = 1 barrel
1 gill = 1/2 cup
1 pottle = 2 quarts
1 coomb = 4 bushels
1 wey = 40 bushels
1 last = 80 bushels
1 firkin = 9 gallons
1 anker = 10 gallons
1 runlet = 18 gallons
1 tierce = 42 gallons
1 hogshead = 63 gallons
1 puncheon = 84 gallons
1 butt = 126 gallons

Concerning Veggies

En route home from camp, Mister and I stopped at my mother's house. Luckily for me, my mother has actually been gardening this year, instead of pretending and hoping! We picked 17 lbs. of cukes, a little under a pound of beans, 3 plum tomatoes, 2 summer squash and two baggies of herbs (Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, and Lemon Balm).

We'll probably eat the beans, Mister'll eat the tomatoes, we'll eat the squash, and I'd like to try two preservation things: pickles, and lemon balm cordial-type-thing. According to a quick (and I do mean quick) search for pickle recipes, I could put up approximately 30 quarts of pickles with what I've got... and man does that seem like a lot! I'll probably make a bunch of refridgerator pickles too -- that's my favorite way to eat pickles. Quick recipe:

Easy-Peasy 30 Min. Refridgerator Pickles

Slice cucumbers into thin slices (~1/2 cm or so). Chop a small onion into pieces at most 1" long. Combine cukes and onion and cover with white vinegar until submerged. Put in fridge for 30 mins. before serving.

For the summer squash I was thinking about trying a recipe for fried squash slices. Slice, batter and fry. Not sure what I'd serve it with, but I'm always a fan of fried foods!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

At Camp

Currently, I am in the library in Skaneateles, NY -- during a visit to my family's camp. Yay for vacation! Mister needed internet for something at work, so, here we are in town, in the library. Free WiFi in the library of all places! We were looking for a cafe or a Starbucks or something, but couldn't find anything. In desperation, I said let's ask at the library. Et voila, quest solved.

I wish that a proper vacation was what was ensuing -- judging by the fact that Mister is doing a bit of work, and that I've gotten four calls thus far... this isn't a proper vacation.

I got a phone call yesterday from the office -- $175 was short last week on a day that has often had shortages. $175?! What the fuck could you be doing to screw up that thoroughly unless you're flat out taking from the register? This is why cameras were installed. Are they checking them? No. They're just expecting me to know and/or figure out what happened. This is one of the many, many, many reasons I am looking for a new job. I half want to quit and then just look for work full-time, but I'm not an idiot. And doing that is what landed me with my current job.

But, at least we're at Camp. The above pic is a generic photo, but Skaneateles is beautiful. Mister and I keep having these pipe dreams about how we'll buy property out here, fly out to visit, and drive a little MG around while here. TOTALLY FEASIBLE. :-P

I wish it was easier for us to visit here, but it's a good 7 hours drive, if not more. And it's not like alternate routes would be faster -- it's about 6 hours due West on I-90 alone.

Well, I'll round off this post to say that I have three or four more days of vacation, and I plan to enjoy them -- even if I have to ignore phone calls. :-P