Friday, June 20, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 8

Been thinking about the conflicts between wanting to stock up, wanting to buy local, and wanting to buy organic - all on a very limited budget. Each of those efforts requires extra spending. I am thinking that all of my spending needs to go toward stocking up, for now. Once I have good tools and at least a few months of supplies, then I can spend more on organic and local sources going forward. I will continue to go to the markets, to garden, and to buy local/organic at every opportunity that does not cost me a lot more. But I am really worried about the effect of the flooding in the Mid-West. I feel like I need to simply get more food put by, faster.

Planted: Planted zinnia seeds in a tray. Cowpeas sprouted within days. With reluctance, I decided not to plant for fall, at least not in the ground. I may have moved by then. Will keep filling movable pots with herbs and greens, and harvest what I already have growing.

Harvested: The first zucchini, and a few young carrots. A black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar from the volunteer dill in the compost pile - for observing, not eating.

Preserved: Dried oregano and sage from the farmer's market.

Prepped/Managed: Bought food service size canisters of bay leaves and black peppercorns. Bought 6 sizable jars of spices at an estate sale. Includes 2 each of whole nutmegs, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger. They could be years old, but it was 50 cents and I stuck them in my pantry for future testing. Also scored four heavy aluminum cookie sheets. *Just* missed getting a reel mower for $5; a man stepped in front of me and picked up the handle. I watched in case he didn't buy it, but he snapped it right up after testing it in the grass. Darn!

Tried garlic scapes from the market - good roasted with balsamic vinegar, like asparagus or green beans. DD15 made stir fry with them, too. Bought a jar of raw honey to try. Made a new crockpot sausage recipe that would also work in a solar oven. Pickled fresh beets from the market (instead of canned), to make red beet eggs (a local PA Dutch delicacy) - good practice for my own beets, which will be ready soon. I might try to pickle and can those.

Finally made yogurt - whoo hoo! The crockpot method worked. I used an electronic thermometer with a probe to monitor the temperature of the yogurt on this first batch. Temp might be harder to maintain when ambient room temperature is below 60 in cooler weather. Used a half a gallon of regular store-bought whole milk and half a cup of organic yogurt as a starter. Next, trying it with lovely un-homogenized organic milk.

System-building: Planted basil, marjoram, and marigolds in another neighbor's front planter. Since I am out of space in my own yard, I have to farm other people's yards! Hauling water may be an issue. The little garden we planted with girl up the block is doing well.

Reduced, Reused, Recycled:
Freecycling and eBaying extra junk from cleaning the cellar, recycling cardboard. Electric usage is down a little - the girls finally caught on to using the clothesline for almost everything.

Learned: That I was not doing a good job of growing celery. Read up on it, and have now tied the stalks for blanching and am watering more. Found great jam-making website/guru on my food storage list. Researched Bokashi composting.

Berks County Cook Book of Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes. Copyrighted in 1934 by J. Levan, this collection of recipes "from yesteryear", appears to have been sponsored by a department store, Pomeroy's, which advertised itself as a purveyor of fine foodstuffs. (I worked in that department store when I was a teen - it's gone now.) It promises to be a treat to read. A recipe for Stewed Rabbit starts, "Dress and skin a rabbit carefully." Imagine, it was once assumed that one already knew HOW to do that! This treasure, complete with authentic mouse-chewed corner, cost me 50 cents, along with a book of bread machine recipes. Also ordered a used copy of Kitchen Witchery, at the suggestion of another Independence blogger.

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