Sunday, November 23, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 29

DD12 making "tire angels." We went to a birthday party at a
rock-climbing gym,
and the floor was padded with shredded tires.

I used to try to post these updates on Thursdays but I am switching to Sundays. On Sundays, I have been to the weekend rummage sales, been to the market, and had some quiet reflective time at church. I've reached the end of weekly menu plan, and I have an idea what the next week holds. The afternoons are a relaxed time for writing. now that soccer season has ended. I do still write a little bit every day, or I will forget it all my the end of the week.

Just the opposite - I killed the indoor herbs. I'm 47 years old, and I have never been able to keep plants alive indoors - why did I think that had changed? Apparently, the indoor air is much drier than outside. Or - something I don't recognize killed them like a fungus or wilt. I really do better outdoors; I should focus more on making a tunnel or cold frame.

Harvested: Cabbage and thyme. We've had some hard freezes now, and a week of below-freezing temps, so there won't be much else.

Preserved: The jar of sauerkraut turned out weird. It never developed a lot of brine, and seemed slightly green, but it smelled like kraut. DH tried a tiny bit and said it was weak. We don't eat a lot of it, and only DH really likes it, so maybe this is just something I don't have to make from scratch.

Cooked: Made Chicken Stock from a bag of organic bones in the freezer. The rest of the ingredients came from storage or the garden. It's soup-making season, so I need to keep up with the demand for stock. I was planning to start keeping stock in the new freezer, but I filled it up. There is now slightly more room in the upstairs freezer, which I use for stuff I use frequently - or won't remember to use at all if I hide it in the cellar. I also make waffles for DD12 and keep them in the upstairs freezer.

I continue to struggle with the regular production of family meals, within the new parameters of the storage menu, seasonal/local eating, and careful shopping. We all continue to struggle with resisting the urge to eat out - both generations of us grew up loving hoagies, take-out pizza, and fast food. DH and I both admit that when we are out running errands alone, we sneak take-out food. We do try to patronize local independent restaurants, instead of chains. It's gonna take time to give up flavors we've know since childhood. I quit smoking three years ago, and still crave a cigarette every so often.

DD15 packs her dinner to work. She makes things like shrimp curry and rice and packs it in reusable containers that she brings back home with her. I always ask her to make extra, so DH and I have leftovers to eat for lunch. She's already a good cook; I think she will be a great cook when she grows up. But she better have roommates that like to wash dishes - she leaves a trail of destruction.

Stored: I really wrestled with turkey shopping. I don't need a turkey - we are feasting with Philadelphia family. But it's the best time to buy turkey to freeze. I would love to buy a local pastured turkey, but I just can't afford the $5-8/lb price tag. The battle between the wallet and the principles is hard, especially with both of us underemployed and the savings whittling away.

Weis had store-brand turkeys on sale for $0.47/lb, which was so hard to walk away from. But I am boycotting them, since they stopped donating bread to the food bank, and that turkey itself is from somewhere in the Midwest. I would have had to buy $25 worth of other food from Weis to get the turkey. Giant had more anonymous Midwestern turkeys for .89/lb. Wegman's at the farmer's market has conventionally-raised local birds at 1.65/lb. I went with Wegman's, the most local source. Got a 3# quarter breast, 4 boneless thighs in 4# packages, and 10# of turkey backs (.20/lb) in three bags to freeze for stock-making.

Also stored: onions, kosher salt, cider vinegar, anchovies, dried apricots, golden raisins, semolina flour (for pasta making), barley, ginger root, onion powder, mild chili powder, ancho chili powder, black peppercorns.

Bought more Maggi bouillon cubes; I like the way they dissolve faster than the drier ones. If I have no stock thawed, and I just need to make rice, I put bouillon in the water. And, they are good for the bug-out bags.

Prepped: DH bought waterproof matches, magnesium fire starters, and compasses for our bug out bags. We traded lists for what should go in them, and came up with lists for individual bags, a family box for the car, and a third list of items to gather in the event of a slower evacuation. DH wanted to shop for new bug-out packs for each of us. (I think he has some sort of luggage fetish.) These are bags that will just sit in a closet 90% of their life - I convinced him to let me get used bags at yard sales for next to nothing. I'd rather spend the money on food, clothing, or insulation.

We hit two church rummage sales on Saturday. The kids were disappointed that there were no clothes to dig through, but they they had loads of junk, and I found a lot of good stuff. Spent a total of $20, including a round of baked goods made by little old church ladies.
Kitchen: a plastic mandoline for $1, two perforated steel French bread bakers, two small stainless steel bowls, a tube pan to replace my bent one, and a Kitchen Magician Food Galmourizer (LOL - it's a plastic tool for making garnishes). I got a Salton yogurt maker - I already make yogurt without, but this may help when my kitchen is so cold.

Organizers: a cute old suitcase to store my napkins and tablecloths, 3 new Clinique make-up bags for toiletries in our bug-out bags, a set of 4 glass canisters for dried fruit storage, wooden plate rack to organize my platters, plastic bin for canned goods, two brand new Hallmark greeting card organizers - I'll use one as a gift for my Mom, and the other I sorted my cards into.

Misc: a box of chalk, some candles, and a small Christmas tree wall decoration.
Managed: Cleaned and inventoried the fridge. Did better at not wasting any food.

Local/Family: It was a depressing week in the community. The school bus chaos is out of control, and our barber around the corner was shot and killed by armed robbers. But, the Thanksgiving service at church was about Ethical Eating, and I talked to more people about starting a food circle in January.

Reduced/Reused/Recycled: The farmer's market is just heaped with food this week. It's so hard not to over-shop; I'm only letting myself do that with food for storage, not immediate consumption. I made sure I ate before I went. My only real impulse buying was a bag of golden raisins. I'm doing better at keeping my menu plans in mind, and sticking to the list. I'm working hard to stop wasting food, and buying too much produce is my usual mistake.

The water bill was $77 last month, and $100 this month. I think we used less water last month, certainly not 30% more! I asked the landlord for bill copies, and he referred me to the city water bureau - but they said he is the account-holder and they cannot give me numbers. So, I need to push the landlord for bill copies, and figure out what is going on.

Learning: DH signed up for an EMT course. The course will take 6 months of Sundays, starting in January. We will drop him off at the community college on the way to church (they are near each other). It only costs $125 and he will take the state EMT certification course at the end. He is moving toward an interest in emergency management, and this will add to his skillset. And, we get a our own in-home EMT!

Sharon Astyk started a Competence Project, to encourage people to learn new practical skills for "badges." I said I would build a worm bin and a rain barrel. But DH kicked my butt by starting a whole EMT course. I am also committing myself to getting better at bread baking - I just have not been able to find my groove there.

Library: We ordered Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded. It's the January book club selection at church. I also bought Sharon's Depletion and Abundance, to make the Amazon shipping free. I prefer used books, but at least two people will read these at our house, maybe three, and more if I lend them out at church.

DH subscribed us to Home Power magazine.

Found an interesting (if depressing) book at a thrift shop: Giraffe, the novelization of the slaughter of the world's largest captive herd of giraffes in a Czechoslovakian zoo in 1975. My winter bookshelf is huge and bizarrely diverse.


LisaZ said...

So sorry to hear about your barber. What a sad story.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

My son went to hear Friedman when he was at the University speaking. He came home with a signed copy of his book. (He knew I liked his other book, The World is Flat.)

One of my friends from church has a daughter in Africa with the Peace Corp. She loved the book so much that she sent it off to Africa with her hubby when he went for a visit last month.

Living in the Midwest, at first I thought, "What's wrong with Midwestern turkeys?" Then I realized it wouldn't be eating locally for you all!

fullfreezer said...

Keep up the good work. And now, just for fun...You've been tagged! Check it out