Friday, November 7, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 27

Pickled Pineapple, with dried cranberries and mint.

I saw a fox! It was at dusk, up on the mountain on the way to the soccer field. It ran/floated across the road in front of our car, and DD15 and I both yelled, "That's a fox!" as it disappeared into the underbrush. I know there are wild turkeys and pheasants up there, and the usual skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, possums. We see deer all the time. But I've never seen a live fox before. It was cool.

Fairly short update this week; really busy week.

Planted: Nothing, but I ordered some veggie seeds from an end-of-year sale.

Harvested: The last bits of mint tea and basil. Rose hips. Walnut husks for dye. Went to the second-to-last local market for the season, and got more sweet potatoes, more #10 apples, eggs, and a few springs of oregano.

Preserved: Pickled Pineapple, using our mint and a fresh pineapple I got on sale. It's a refrigerator pickle, so no two-part lid. My mom and I tasted it after a few days, and it was really good. Hope it doesn't get over-pickled for Thanksgiving. Does that happen? Checked on my sauerkraut, which smells OK so far. We compared the canned pickles I made earlier this summer with a recipe that calls for liming, with the refrigerator pickle recipe I made a few weeks ago. Both are bread-n-butter style. DH and I liked the crisper ones, my mom liked the fridge recipe. I think it pays to make a bunch of different kinds.

Cooked: DH surprised me with a 4-lb pot roast. With it, I made a new recipe for a potato and rice cake made in a skillet. Good with the gravy DD15 made from the beef drippings. "Oh, you found another vehicle for gravy, I see!" said smart-ass DH. We are still eating the leftover beef in sandwiches.

A big ham shank I got for only $2.

I tend to have a day of the week when I get in the mood to cook a lot. On Halloween Morning, I made yogurt and bread, the pickled pineapple, put Ham and 16-Bean Soup in the crockpot, and made Apple Coffee Cake. None of that was much work, scattered among other tasks, but I would not be able to get that done if I didn't work from home. DH liked waking up to the smell of bread, and DD15 was inspired to come down and make cheese grits, sage-onion gravy, and scrambled eggs that got done as the bread came out. All of the ingredients came from storage or the yard, except fresh milk, eggs, and the pineapple.

Drained some yogurt to make lebne, yogurt cheese, which I sweetened up with some plum preserves to make something like plum cream cheese. I tried it on the waffles and on a bagel. Yowsa!

Stocked: Wow. For the first time in months, I stored nothing this week. It was a busy week, with Halloween, the election, soccer, food bank, and getting ready for another youth conference this weekend in Annapolis.

Prepped: I found Tupperware Heaven! Actually, it was a yard sale. But I got a lot of nice big containers, and some smaller ones for the fridge. I like the flat square one for freezing a batch up muffins for short-term eating. I also got a 5-foot tower of 12x12x12 plastic drawers for the cellar, making more clean storage for craft and fabric stuff I drag out of the attic. ALL for $5. And a free half-pint jar. I just love yard sales like that.

At another sale, D12 found a great pair of soccer shinguards to replace her hand-me-downs. DD15 found a large plastic sewing box full of notions, including cute sew-in tags that say, "Made with Love by Nana." We'll do good things with that grandma's stuff. That's one of the things I like about sales - you don't just get stuff, you get ghosts tagging along, at no extra charge.

Managed: Checked all the "cellared" vegetables in the cellar and found three giant carrots in a plastic bag that had slipped behind something else. One carrot was in the process of liquifying, but the other two are still good. Would have lost those other two carrots if I hadn't done a good check. See how well this Independence Challenge works? If I hadn't needed something to write in this category, would I have checked the veg? I don't think so.

Reduced, Reused, Recycled - It usually doesn't get cold until mid-November. I don't think I turned on any heat until almost Thanksgiving last year. But the almanac and the forecasters are saying that early winter will be colder and snowier than usual. Mid-winter is supposed to be milder, and then a bad March. It doesn't help that the past winters few have been mild, with few big storms - it will make this one seem all the worse.

Our days are still variable - some days we turn on a space heater, some days not. I patrolled the house, looking for airleaks. Kinda futile - it's 100 years old, and it all leaks. Even the baseboards leak, since there are spaces between the wood, the plaster walls, the wood floor boards, and the exterior brick. I did recaulk the front door trim. The terrible aluminum storm windows rattle, and the curtains move with the windows closed. But some days it is too hot to have the quilts hung, so I am not worried until we have the heat on all the time.

In past years, the attic has been unheated storage space, with a door tightly closed at the bottom of the atttic stairs. We tried putting one of the girls up there a few years ago, but the first cold month cost us $100 in electric heat. I plan to have this insulated by the end of the month, and covered with inexpensive paneling. Paneling is ugly, to my taste, but this is a rental house, and the landlord refused to contribute. I just want it functionally warm, since it only needs to make it through this winter. I'm nailing a power strip to the rafter next to the only outlet, so we can plug in lights, space heater, and clock radio for the girls when they move up there.

Local/Family: DD15 and I volunteered at our church's monthly food bank distribution yesterday. We had a longer line than ever, and less canned goods to give out. Short on canned vegetables, cereal, bread. We did have cases of celery and jars of peanut butter to give out. One of the volunteers is going to the regional food bank meeting to see what we can expect in the next few months. We will have to also do an internal food drive.

Library: Found a copy of The Williamsburg Art of Cookery, a reproduction of a 1742 recipe collection, or "Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion." I don't find colonial recipes to be very followable, and it's annoying when all the S's look like F's, but reading them always makes me feel humbly grateful for the invention of the stove.

I also found Volume 5 of Olive Miller's BookHouse series of children's literature anthologies, from 1921, From the Tower Window. It is beautifully illustrated. Might be fun to read from some winter evening. From an Amazon description:
In March 1919, Olive Beaupre Miller and her husband Harry started a book publishing company to sell Olive's compilation of children's literature known as, "The Book House for Children." Using an all female sales staff, their employees went door to door selling subscriptions to the six volume set. Much in the way that encyclopedias were also sold. The series was an immediate success and was continually republished until the 1970's. If you were a middle class parent in the 1930's through 1950's, this was the set of books to purchase for your children. Millions of Americans grew up reading these well written tales of virtue and morality. Over the decades, Olive produced many other books that were to become classics of the genre.
Fascinating. My mother, a generation of childrearing later, had a shelf of the 1954 Childcraft series of literature - still on the bookcase behind her front door, next to the 1960's World Book Encyclopedia. I was born in 1961, and my brother in 1964. I recall a series of endless grade-school reports on states, faithfully paraphrased from these volumes, and typed on our violent electric typewriter. It would move the whole dining room table when I hit the return.


MeadowLark said...

Have you ever noticed that we're all "recipe whores"? And if someone posts something that works we're all greedy and say gimmee gimmee gimmee?

I thought you'd noticed. Now hand over the pickled pineapple recipe and nobody gets hurt.

fullfreezer said...

Mmmm.... pickled pineapple. Don't think I've had that one before but it sounds great. And I don't think my mint froze off last week when we had our killing frost. It's tucked in pretty close to the house so there should be some. I agree with Meadolark. Please share.

Matriarchy said...

Sorry I didn't get right back to you - I was gone for the weekend. I updated the post to include the link to the recipe over at, where I keep my recipes sorted.

Verde said...

I havn't done my week's update but you have inspired me to get off my butt and get into the kitchen. I have so much to do in there: yogurt, bread and spagetti sauce to make.

Meadowlark is funny. said...

WOW! What a great post! I am so impressed with your activities! I make yogurt cheese, too. Isn't it great? And cheap!

I've been reading through your posts and asking myself -- why have I not been to this blog before? This is wonderful!

Thank you so much for dropping by my blog so I could follow and discover a cosmic twin!


Matriarchy said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Lacy! I can't recall where I found your blog, but it's been in my feedreader for a while. The photos of those awesome clothespins finally moved me to post. :-)

I have another 2 quarts of yogurt working right now, and some apple butter slowly cooking on the stove. I wonder how they will taste together? I've never seen apple yogurt or apple cream cheese.

Rick said...

thanks for your comment, I would love to chat about these issues. name the time and place, that would be wonderful.

must admit I find it a touch scary those that know me are reading that blog of mine(tongue in cheek,...I think)

take good care

Matriarchy said...

I know what you mean, Rick. Most of the people that read my blog don't know me personally, and I have not been in a rush to change that. I found your blog when I went looking for your farm. But I am an above-average search user.

You might want to consider putting up a blog just for the farm. If you email me at "matriarchy" at gmail, we can figure where and when to chat. (Legion Diner?)

eunice said...

if that's a "fairly short" update how long are your other updates? i'm just amazed at all the things you do. haven't even begun to start reading earlier posts. [doffing imaginary hat in admiration]

Matriarchy said...

I've been doing these Independence updates for more than 6 months now, started as a response to a blog challenge. Now I find they really keep me motivated. They are more like weekly journal entries. If you keep a running journal of all your food-related activities for a week, you would find that you do a lot more than you think you do.

If you read back a little further, you will find some huge posts when I was in the middle of a big push to stock my pantry with 3 months of food.