Saturday, December 1, 2012


I've been trying to use less and less plastic.  I joined the local co-op and just figured out you can bring your own containers and fill them there.  AND they have a big variety of stuff in the bulk department.  I always noticed they had granola and beans, but they also have spices!  Lots and lots of spices.  This is so much fun. I'm using my mason jars.  Pretty soon this whole house is going to be run off of mason jars.  I am so leery of the BPA in the cans and I'm trying to use less plastic, so glass just seems safer.  The reuseable lids of the mason jars also has BPA in it, but that does not touch the food and I'm looking into alternatives for that also. So far the hardest thing not to use plastic on is freezer bags.  I know you can freeze in glass, but I've done it and I've had shattered glass in my freezer, not pretty.  I'm still working on that one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

it's getting colder

It's near the end of the leaf season.  I might be able to get a bit more, but I've got about twice as much as I had last year, hopefully I won't run out again. I've got big plans for next year's garden and all those leaves will make it happen. We got rid of the minivan and it is a lot harder to gather leaf bags with the toyota.  I still manage.

The big news around here is that my mother, who was staying with us, moved into her own apartment.  She's so happy to be on her own again.  It is a senior community, so they have services available.  It is a bit quieter around here now.

The chickens are laying eggs, at least two of them are.  Yesterday I gathered the most enormous egg, it was a double yolk.  Huge.  I never get tired of reaching into the nesting box and pulling out some eggs.  It is just fun.

We're still experimenting with the pork we bought.  Yesterday I used the smoked bacon with some kale (kale from the CSA stored in the freezer).  Today I made pie, using some some lard I rendered and tonight we're having pizza with sausage I made.  I think the biggest hit so far from the pig has been the slow cooked ribs.  We do not normally eat a ton of meat and I'm trying to use this pig up gradually, at our normal meat eating pace, but I really like having it in the freezer.  It's also a joy to have all the CSA and garden food in the freezer.  Next year I need to do more canning, we totally ran out of freezer room this past year.

Something I feel really strongly about is to NOT have a lot of stuff.  Lately I've been going through my closets and tossing stuff I haven't used in a the past year or so.  Feels good.  I'm positive I got the recessive gene; most people love to accumulate, I love throwing stuff away (actually I give most of it to a thrift store).  The present part of Christmas is a real trial to me.  More stuff.  I love the music, the food, the decorations, the mood, the stories, the scriptures, the worship of our Savior, but the presents?  No.  I have everything I need and I don't like contributing to others having excess stuff.  It's hard on me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

the latest

What's been happening on the homestead?  Well, it is fall and the garden has been put to bed.  Now I'm working on gathering all the leaves and wood chips I can for next year.  I had an astounding amount last year, but it all ran out well before the gardening season was over, so I need more.  However much I have I need more.  I guess that is the way of compost, you just need more.  I am planning on enlarging the strawberry bed and I'm going to put cardboard and wood chips down so the ground is ready next spring.  I guess that is the main thing I'm doing this fall-- prepping for spring.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

makin bacon

Now that I have our hog slaughtered and in our freezer I made my first attempt to cure and smoke a pork loin.  Which is another way to say I tried to make bacon.  The curing is insanely easy.  I used 2.5 part kosher salt 1 part sugar and a generous grinding of black pepper.  I rubbed it all over the pork loin and let the loin sit, uncovered, in the frig for a week.  Every day I'd pour off the excess liquid and rub in more of the salt mixture, as needed.  Curing=easy   Smoking=hard    After a week I attempted to smoke it.  First I rinsed the surface salt off and used paper towels to dry it off.  Then I put it in the grill with a little fire off to one side and the pork loin smoking on the far side.  I do have a thermometer and I know how to use it, but at the same time let's just say the entire thing was difficult to ruin. I tried.  I just couldn't keep the temperature even in our outdoor grill.  I was aiming for just under 200 degrees, but after a couple of hours of waaaay too hot alternating with waaaay too cold I gave up and brought it in the house.  I carved off a bit of the overcooked pieces and it is absolutely delicious.  We sliced it as thin as we could (it is still pretty thick for bacon) and fried up the slices up for BLTs with our fresh garden tomatoes.  Fabulous.  Randall had some in the morning with his fried eggs and said they tasted like mini pork chops with his eggs.  Home made bacon it an amazing treat.  It's only been a couple of days and we've eaten more than half of the pork loin.  It is so yummy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

old people with guns

Randall and I went out to visit our son Carl.  He's just back from being deployed in Afghanistan.  He took his old parents out to the shooting range and attempted to teach us how to shot.  It was pretty entertaining!  I was easily the worst of us three.  Carl is instructor-level good.  Whatever the opposite of instructor is, that's what I am.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

happy pigs

We bought one of his pigs.  It'll be slaughtered in the fall.  I'm glad the animal we eat gets to have such a happy life (as opposed to factory farms).  You can't see it, but they have already tilled up some of the pastures.  These are some happy animals.

happy cows

One more picture from the farm visit.  Happy, healthy cows!  It was just like from a dream, the beautiful weather, the green pasture, the cows softly mooing, the birds flitting around.  So much fun.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hog heaven

Some friends and I went to visit the most delightful farm.  It was the best day!  See the baby pigs?  The young farmer is really trying to make a "go" of farming pasture raised livestock. Notice these pigs are given lots land to till up and get to stay with their mothers for an extended time.  All of his livestock was extremely healthy.  My camera gave out after just a few pictures of one set of the pigs, so when I get picture of the other pigs wallowing happily in shady pool, and of the cows out in the green pastures I'll post them.  They all looked like they belonged on the cover of a magazine.  SO happy looking and SO healthy.  I purchased one of his pigs and it will be processed into meat for our family.  I feel very strongly that I want the animals that sacrifice their lives for me to have a happy life and a quick death.

disco balls

Disco balls hanging down from the rabbit run.

Chickens in their shady run.

Here you can see how crazy the squash is growing.  It is giving the chickens and the rabbit shade and is trying to take over the rest of the yard, too.

My garden is doing really well.  The empty spaces were growing bush beans.  I'm in the process of putting in fall crops.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


What I've been playing with lately--- lacto-fermentation.  I love learning a new way to do things myself.  Sauerkraut could not be easier.  The hardest part is finding a crock appropriate for fermenting.  You can do it in a quart mason jar, but it is usually done in bigger pots.  Look at the thrift store for a straight sided ceramic cookie jar (or something similar).  Shred up the head of cabbage, salting it with sea salt and pounding it down into the crock with a meat pounder.  The released juices should rise above the shreds if you keep pounding long enough.  Add some whey (from making regular yogurt into "yogurt cheese") a few tablespoons.  Weight down the cabbage so that the shreds are below the juices.  This is generally done with a plate and a rock on top of the plate.  If your juices don't quite cover the cabbage add some distilled water until the juices do cover the shreds.  Put a cloth cover over and hide in a dark place for  few days to a few weeks.  When it is done to your desired level of fermenting put in the fridge.  Our first attempt tasted, dead-on, like the kimchi we got from the Korean restaurant.  Seriously, this is easy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Garden is growing

Just wanted to post some pictures of how the garden is coming along.  The little trees are all apple trees and are looking very healthy.  The chickens are now outside day and are very happy to be living in the green grass and sunshine.  The garden is coming right along.

car cake

This was a fun fondant cake I made for a two year old's birthday.  The mom picked the colors and the basic design.  I thought it turned out really cute.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

chinese take out cupcakes

These are the "chinese take-out" cupcakes I made.  They turned out really cute.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

don't use it

I just watched a documentary (available on called "Bag It."  It spoke to me about NOT using things, such as plastic bags.  I've come a long way on that particular topic, but I've still got a long way to go.  Things I am currently doing well: #1 Mason jars for storage of many different types.  Mason jars are readily available from several sources, have interchangeable lids so you can dispose of ones that get nasty and still replace them easily.  They are made of glass, which is one of the least reactive substances on earth.  Whatever you store in a Mason jar does not influence the next thing you choose to store in the same jar.  #2 Compost of all food items and many other items.  Before I throw/recycle anything I first ask myself if I can compost it.  Hair from haircuts, natural fiber clothing, paper bags, and, of course, food waste of all sorts.  If it is compost-able it goes in the future garden plot (otherwise known as the compost pile).  I even have a humanure toilet, which no one in the house uses, except me, but it is a viable compost item.  My latest adventure in composting is grey water.  I'm diverting dish water and laundry water into the compost pile and that prevents water from going down the drain.  #3 I liberally use the thrift store.  That in and of itself is a huge packaging savings (saves money, too).  #4 I am a member of a CSA and support my local farmer, which cuts down on packaging in a multitude of ways and gives me much healthier food in the process.  #5 I garden.  Last year wasn't that great, but this year I'll have a beginner garden and hopefully next year a fabulous one.  #6 I buy from the farmer's market, which cuts down on packaging.  #7 I cook.  This is huge.  Because I enjoy cooking I forget what a difference it makes.  I don't buy MUCH of what is sold in the grocery stores as a result of my willingness to cook meals from scratch.  #8  I make our own cleaning products and beauty products (disclaimer-- I'm the only one using the homemade shampoo and body oils, but everyone likes the soap and the lip balm).   This frees up the amount of plastic and chemicals we have in our house.  Things I NEED to work on-- #1 I use too many plastic bags.  You'd think I would have this one down pat.  I've managed to lose most of the grocery totes I had and I just need to replace them.  #2 Buy less packaged stuff.  Even though I've cut back I still buy too much.  I like my morning breakfast cereal.  That's a hard habit to break.

Over all I need to look at what I am using that comes packaged and decide if there is a way to cut back on the packaging.  "Bag It"  It's an interesting documentary.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


My daughter Rebecca and my son-in-law Binod graduated from college.  Happy times!  It was a joy to see my college kids.  Especially a joy to be with my daughter Missy when she went to the temple for the first time.  On the way back home a rest stop in North Dakota was filled with bison.  Best rest stop ever!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

mason jars

I found another use for mason jars-- lactofermentaion. I use mason jars for basic food storage, long term food storage and for organizing my spice cupboard. Plastic absorbs flavor and grease, glass is always easy to clean and mason jars are cheaply available all the time. I love mason jars. ANYWAY, onto lactofermentation. The easiest way to explain it is sauerkraut, or kimchee. That is what lactofermentation is. It's basically some food (cabbage is an easy one) salted down and allowed to ferment. To encourage the type of fermentation you want, add a few spoonfuls of whey (the watery stuff on the yogurt). I packed all this into a mason jar, weighted down the cabbage, so it was under the juices, and one week later I have sauerkraut. It's peasant food. Seems like a lot of peasant food is insanely easy to make. Bread, cheese, stew, etc. Now I can add lactofermented foods to the list. Another thing I made was pineapple vinegar using the outside peel of a fresh pineapple. It's basically the same steps, but no salt. I did add some distilled water to the mix. I like the taste of it. I understand pineapple vinegar is really common in Mexico. It sure is easy to make. Slice the outside skin and the core off a fresh pineapple (and eat the fruit!) cut it up, put it in a mason jar, add a few spoonfuls of whey, fill it to the top with distilled water, weigh it down so the solids are underneath the liquids and wait a week. Mason jars, the answer to so many questions I didn't realize I needed to ask.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March updates

The weather this year has been oddly warm. Most of my MN friends are hesitant to plant anything because they can't believe spring is already here. The trees and grass have given up on winter and are putting on their spring outfits. I did put some peas and radishes (that sort of thing) into the garden. I just got finished with putting in a new compost/garden bed and planting seeds. I'm really not very good at starting plants from seed, so we'll see how that works. I've got apple trees arriving next month and lots of other plants to put in the ground, put it seems a bit early for MN.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

rendering out the lard

I did something today I've never done before-- I rendered out lard. It was really simple and I feel very frugal. The local grocery store sells the fatty bits of pork for really cheap. I cut the meaty bits off and ground them up into sausage. The fatty bits I put through the grinder and then dumped them all in the crockpot. I left the crockpot on low for a few hours and the fat melted out. It was really easy and now I have both lard and sausage meat in the freezer, all ready to use. I love finding another thing I can do myself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

broke my foot

Well, I guess I needed a new adventure. On an icy day I fell down an embankment and landed on my left foot. It's broke in two places. I am now wearing a huge boot and depending on the kindness of family. It's a straight forward break and should heal right up in six weeks. This makes exercising much more difficult. This makes everything I try to do more difficult, but not impossible. I am very blessed to have a removeable cast, which means I can still shower and I don't need to wear it when I laying in bed. That makes the healing more comfortable. I remember, a long time ago, when they were still putting plaster casts on everyone, I watched a TV program that discussed native African healers NOT putting casts on broken bones, just splinting them and letting the people remove the splints when they wanted to and those people healed much quicker. The idea was presented as native/westernized medicine. I still remember that program, it made sense to me. The people without plaster casts were much happier with how their healing was going. Nowadays the doctors seem to use boots and splints,instead of plaster casts, whenever they can. I'm just glad I'm one of the people who had a simple enough injury that I could use a boot.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

winter garden dreaming

It's winter. That means time to plan the garden! We now live in zone 4. In Missouri we could, almost, get two seasons of growing in. Here it is one season, period. And you better be pretty choosy as to which varieties you grow. Every garden is a new chance to learn. I wish my summer gardens would grow half as wonderfully as the gardens I grow in my dreams in the winter.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I hired me a farmer!

It's the middle of January and there is both snow and ice on the roads. I'm not driving anywhere today. I just recently signed up for a CSA for our food for the growing season. A CSA is community supported agriculture. I hired me a farmer! I'm really happy about this. Eventually our own garden will be producing enough to feed us, at least that is my goal, but knowing we're going to get a lot of garden produce over the next growing season is a really happy thing for me. Randall, my husband, thinks this is really cool, too. Not only are we getting our vegetables and some fruit from them we are getting our eggs and meat from them. I feel so strongly about eating meat sparingly, but letting the animals I do eat have a happy life and a quick death. Buying meat from a farmer who lets his animals roam around in the grassy fields and the sunshine really means a lot to me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

my family

Here they are, all of them. These are my children. It was such a treat to have them all here at the same time. The house was noisy, to say the least. AND the food was flowing. Feeding this crowd three meals a day (and snacks) was quite a challenge, but it was fun. If anything we ate way too good. I love my family.