Brighter Planet's 350 challenge Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
(used with permission from Jordanne Dervais)

Counting it down, are you prepared??

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kimchi: take 2

I tweeked my normal recipe to include less salt and threw in some broccoli to make a 2nd full jar.  We will see how that turns out in about a week.  Looks good though, i just hope there is enough liquid in the jars for them to properly ferment.

(left: regular kimchi, right: broccoli kimchi)

I have to say, i kinda like fermenting over canning at the moment, no boiling water, the jars arent required to be sterilized, its a LOT less effort.  Not sure what types of veggies would ferment ok, but I have heard of apples and onions together and squash & pumpkin together.  May try this with squash and onions.

I will keep you updated with what combos I try and how I succeed or how I bomb.

 Until then, happy Homesteading!!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Apparently the Powers that Be have decided my garden isnt going to do well this year.  I got my pepper plants in the ground, only to go outside an hour later to see that my chicken had eaten all th leaves off the plants.  They aren't dead, but really?!

Also, this morning, my 2 year old thought it would be helpful to pick the "green strawberry" (my tomato that was still growing) off the plant and bring it to me.  I just can't win.

On a happier note, I think we are finally getting drier weather so I can finally start hanging the laundry again.  I have hated having to use the dryer, I can always tel a difference in the utility bill and it makes the kitchen sooooo  hot.

In the process of gathering materials for a woodstove for the patio.  It would be nice to do more cooking outside to keep the heat out of the house.  Also looking into plans for a homemade solar oven.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

garden updates and random stuff

According to Facebook,  the apocolypse is this weekend, Saturday to be exact.  So I thought I better take stock of the garden..not so good.

Yesterday I put 2 tomato plants in the ground and the 2 that are still in pots (the black prince and patio varieties) are doing well.  They are both flowering like crazy and I even have a tomato on the black prince.  I have quite a few pepper plants, the banana are flowering profusely but no peppers yet.  The jalapeno and bells seem to be struggling, I need to get them in the ground today.  It seems I have lost my zucchini and watermelon and 3 of my eggplant.  Also, the squash that was blooming so beautifully appears to be dying....not sure why.  All of my herbs are doing great and have been providing their yummy goodness to many dishes over the past couple weeks.

I do hope to be able to replace some of the lost plants soon.  Again, donations are accepted.  (just joking, or am I?)

The apple tree seems to be doing great!  I can't wait to get another one and also a peach tree.  Fresh peaches are amazing.  In the meantime, I will have to deal with picking my own at Jones Orchard when they are ready.

Well, my mother in law confirmed that my first batch of blackberry preserves were a success!  I can't wait to make more for us.  The apple butter was also a success; in addition to the  jar I gave my mom I have some in the fridge and in the cabinet.

I will be starting another batch of kimchi today and making more sweet and spicy slaw (see Veg'n In the 'burbs for recipes).  Still looking for a place to buy scobys so I can try my hand at Kombucha making.

Until next time, be safe, avoid the apocalypse riots and don't touch that mail truck, I have already claimed it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

a few random updates

The No-Shampoo Experiment:
Today was wash #2 with just baking soda, and I must say I am pleasantly surprised.  The first wash was Wednesday and I didn't get oily, itchy or overly sweaty.  I had Mance do a smell test before and after shower and he said I came out smelling clean (and believe me he would tell me if I wasn't so fresh).  So, I am happy with this outcome and have noticed all my scalp problems (dry, itchy, oily and breakouts) have disappeared since I started the baking soda wash.  Is this for everyone?  Probably not, but it works for me.  My hair has never felt this healthy and soft.

Project:  Kimchi
The 2 jars of kimchi that now gracemy refridgerator shelf are quite yummy!!  I admit I used way too much salt (thats what I get for actually following a recipe, huh?) but other than that, it goes geat on Tofurky kielbasa!

And much to my surprise, I was asked to demonstrate the process at a local farm's survival workshop.  Oleo Acres, June 25, 2011 in the AM.  I want to see all you locals there!!!!!  Hell, I might even give you some free kimchi. LOL

Garden Updates:
My Black Prince tomatoes are flowering & fruiting, the patio tomatoes are flowering like madness as are the banana peppers.  The squash that is so beautifully flowering is not fruiting.  Not quite sure whats going on there.  Still need to get more zucchini & eggplant and some cucumbers.  And need some peat pots to start some bean and corn seeds I have.  Donations of plants or cash are happily accepted. LOL

I did lose my raspberry bush to the flooded backyard, but that can be replaced.  Oh and Scarlett has not started laying again, or if she has Ariel(my dog) beats me to the eggs.  Its sad too cuz ain't no egg better than a backyard egg!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

cleaning tips and the no-shampoo experiment

I am trying to clean my house to the point where I can just do upkeep during the week and more heavy duty stuff maybe once a month.  So far, I am off to a good start, but it seems like my arch nemesis will always defeat me....laundry.  Although, now that the weather is dry and hot, I can fill my clothesline to capacity and it only takes about 30 minutes for a load to dry, so I am getting it done a bit faster.

So, my questions to you are, what are your cleaning tips to make it go smoother?

Do you use any natural/homemade cleaners?  If so, what works for you?

Now, on to the no-shampoo experiment...
Before you call me a crazy dirty hippie, hear me out.  Shampoo, while smelling good, is made to strip the oil out of your hair.  Your hair actually needs a certain amount to be healthy.  So in the days after shampooing your hair becomes more oily causing you to shampoo again.  It's a vicious cycle, thank you corporate America for getting us addicted to yet one more thing.

Well, in this experiment, you still wash your hair, but use a baking soda paste, scented with essential oils if you just have to have yummy smelling hair.  The baking soda will cleanse your hair and neutralize the odors while leaving the oils alone.

Today was day 4 with no shampoo and my first day trying the baking soda.  Y'all, I'm being honest here, I  was skeptical.  But after vigorously rinsing my hair, it came out so soft and passed Mance's sniff test.  I'm going to be shampoo free and try the baking soda again on Saturday.

Has anyone else ever tried this?  Would yo be willing to try  it?  Tell me what you think!!

Monday, May 9, 2011


As you know (or may not know) we have had aweful weather reacently including tornadoes and floods.  I thought my garden would be a loss and while I did lose a couple plants, to my surprise I found this when I walked outside this morning:

My squash is blossoming!  Not only that, but the zucchini is loaded with buds, and my tomatoes are too.  Seem to be having problems with the tomatoes though, as much as they flower, they don't fruit.  I have 3 varieties and am having the same problem with all of them.
Even though it is small, my raspberry bush seems to be blossoming also.  I thought it was a goner for sure, after the storms it stood in about 6 inches of water for quite a few days.  I'm not really expecting any berries this summer, but it is an everbearing, so maybe this fall.

As for the reast of the plants, they are doing well, the herbs are producing like madness.  The cilantro and basil are making great additions to the cooking and the pineapple sage is getting big.  Still havent figured out what to use it in...maybe a sweet and sour stirfry type dish.  Had to transplant the lemon thyme today, they were getting too big for their tiny pots and are now sharing a planter.  That stuff is a great addition to any dish that needs a citrus touch.

Other than that, not much going on here at the homestead.  Praying Scarlett starts laying again soon (I thinks he stopped because of the storms) and looking in to buying some chicks.  Stinks I can only have 6 hens at a time.

Oh, I am experimenting with fermenting and have 2 jars of yummy looking kimchi fermenting on the counter.  I really can't wait to try it!!! And if it turns out, I have been asked by a local farm, Oleo Acres to show off my fermenting skills at one of their survival workshops in June! (exact date and details to be announced when we cement hte plans)  I couldn't be more thrilled!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Apple butter take 1

So I have about 25 apples on my counter right now, just calling me to do something with them.  Hmmm....what to do?  The kids don't like applesauce, and while the hubby would live it, I don't have enough crust ingredients for that many apple pies.  So, apple butter it is.  Besides. it is really hard to find a good apple butter in the grocery store, and the one from the Farmers Market last summer was way too sweet and expensive.

I am following the instructions here with the exception of cook time. I am trying it stovetop until they are tender as it is too hot to have the crockpot on for that long.  I am quite excited, I get to use my new canner for the first time!  Jars are in the dishwasher now.

Update coming as soon as its cooked....

Ok, it's cooked and I must admit I deviated from that recipe.  Here is what I did:
I took 6 granny smiths, peeled, cored and cut them into small chunks.  I added them to a saucepan and covered with water.  to this i added enough water to cover them, 1 cup splenda, 1 cup sugar, lots of cinnamon and some ground ginger.  I brought this  to a boil for 10 minutes before reducing the heat and letting simmer for almost 2 hours. (You want the apples to be mushy). 

Being the cheapskate I am, I don't have a foodmill or sieve, but I do have a colander.  I placed my colander over another pot and poured the apple in the colander, letting the liquid drain into the pot.  I then took a large spoon and pressed the mixture to get all the liquid out.  What remains in the colander is what goes into the jar.

It is now in the canner and my whole house smells of apples and cinnamon. WIN!!!!

Companion blog

Most people who know me know that I am not the most tech saavy person in the world.  In light of this, I created a companion blog to this one, Veg'n in the 'burbs to house my many recipes and to keep this one more focused on homesteading.  So please, follow that one also for all the yummy updates!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo: Vegan spicy black bean soup

So everytime I make a pot of beans - any beans - I turn at least 2 bowls worth into soup.  Here's today's lunch fare:

1 can or 2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 onion, sauteed
jalapeno, diced to taste
1/2 avocado cut into chunks

In a food processor, combine 1/2 of beans, and all of onion, jalapeno and avocado. Pulse till smooth.  Combine in a pot with remaining beans, stir to incorporate and heat till piping hot.  Serve topped with whatever youlike, my personal favs are avocado, salsa and tofutti sour cream and some shredded daiya goodness!

oh the things you find when not looking.....

So driving around the neighborhood the other day to assess storm damage (to be nosy really) I noticed I was not the only one in the 'hood with chickens!  Just a couple streets over there is a nice family that has some, I have yet to talk to them, but it is on my list.  On this same trip, I noticed my neighbor that had solar panels had taken them down.  (Note to self: go pick their brains about solar energy).  And then, as I turned the corner to come home, I saw something I haven't seen since my childhood growing up in rural IL - my neighbor has a manual lawnmower, you know the kind you push that has no motor just a roll of blades.  I WANT ONE!!!!

This has been a good week for discoveries.  I found out one of my high school friends, who I am back in touch with thanks to facebook, just got a beehive and is now beekeeping.  He is also an avid veggie gardener and home brews his own beer.  (Note to self:  talk to him about bartering!).  It really warms my heart to see so many people trying to be more conscious of their impact on Mother Earth and more self sustaining.

So I was playing in the backyard yesterday with the kids (read: getting horribly sunburned) and noticed some plants with large leaves growing by my patio.  Upon furthur inspection, I noticed they have blossoms on my surprise I had canteloupe or watermelon growing from where we had spit out seeds last summer!!  I quickly and carefully pulled them up and potted them and fertilized them, I pray they make it, I am so excited to see which type of melon they are!!

On the agenda for this weekend:  Replace lost plants, go grocery shopping at farmers market, and hopefully find time to pick strawberries at the Agricenter and make preserves and sugar free preserves for Cory!  (Expect a post about preserves coming soon)

Oh, I almost forgot, Zombie Apoc. survival tip #1 - cardio

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

what a crazy week

Sorry it has been a bit, this last week has been filled with tornadoes and flooding rains.  My poor little plants didn't stand a chance.  After surveying the garden, it seems the only things that I definitely lost are 5 sugar snap pea vines (I a blaming the rains and Scarlett the hen - they seemed a tasty treat for her), & the blackberry bush.  Overall not bad.  We will see if anything else goes over the next couple days; 3 of the eggplant aren't looking so good.  the other casualty of these storms - my hen quit laying.  hopefully now that we are back in what seems to be a normal weather pattern she will start laying again.  I sure do miss her fresh eggs!!

Other than that, we came through ok; no property damage from wind, hail, debris or flood waters.  We are still under flood warnings for about 2 weeks as the Mighty Mississippi continues to rise, but I am sure we will be ok.  But don't get me wrong, we re prepared for floods or power outages.

What we have on hand "just in case":

bottled water - you want enough for each person to have a 2 liter per day. 
We have 9 2 liter bottles that we bottled ourselves, plus 2 gallons store bought

Canned provisions - canned tuna, chicken, vienna sausages, fruits (canned and fresh) & veggies (canned and fresh)  Canned meats may not be the healthiest thing on earth, but they don't need cooked and you need protein.  Don't forget a manual can opener or you will be screwed and hungry.

Candles & extra lighters - I always keep plenty of candles anyway, but now I have more and a stash of lighters my dear husband doesn't know about so I don't have to wrry about them disappearing.  We also have at least 1 working flashlight with extra batteries.

A stocked first aid kit - FEMA

We have a few more things together too, like a packed backpack of clothes and meds for each member of the family, but a full list an be found on the FEMA site listed above.

It felt so good to wake up this morning and see the sun peeking through the clouds!  It is still really cloudy, but the sun sure is trying to break through.  Hopefully things will dry out a bit over the next few days.  I still have quite a few plants that need to go in the ground.  The zucchini and squash are flowering now and I need to get them staked before they start bearing.

Anywy, I hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods, enjoy the day Mother Earth gave you!!  And please check out FEMA's site and be prepared for a flood, earthquake, another natural disaster or the zombie apocalypse!!!