Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade applesauce...yum.

I love homemade applesauce - if you've never had it it tastes completely different than the runny storebought stuff and it's very easy to make.

I bought a half bushel of "C" grade Cortlands at a local apple farm for $7.00.  They were big and crisp - perfect for making sauce.  "C" grade just means they don't look perfect or they are the "wrong" size so they are cheaper than the "A" grade.

I washed them well and cut them in quarters - removing the blossom end - where the little hairs are - but everything else went into 2 large pots to simmer on low for several hours.  After they had fully cooked down I dumped them all into one pot so I could use the other pot for the finished applesauce.

I've found that an old fashioned food mill works better than almost anything else.  I discovered mine at a "junk-shop" a few years ago.  It comes with a wooden squisher but I seem to have misplaced it...Donna to the rescue again - she actually has spares!  I have a more "modernized version" with a hand crank (below) but it honestly doesn't work as well.

The sauce is just being reheated now so I will be able to can it.  It could also be frozen at this point.

That's all there is to it!  If you want to can your applesauce follow the instructions in any good CURRENT canning book like the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving or check online.  Canning practises have changed over the years due to extensive testing for food safety - be sure to follow the recipe and then enjoy your own homemade applesauce!  YUM.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A beautiful and productive week on the farm.

It's harvest time at the farm - probably my favorite time - except for spring!  DS and I spent a day in the garden harvesting squash, tomatoes, swiss chard and potatoes.

DH spent the day planting the 4 apple trees and 2 pear trees that we purchased a few weeks ago.  We decided to wait for the weather to cool down to plant them and today-was-the-day.

We used the red-neck method of drip irrigation for each tree...a pail with a hole in it!

Did I mention how much I love fall...and dear Hubby for spending most of the day digging holes and for agreeing while he was still working on this project to build me a greenhouse...I am a blessed woman!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How big a backyard would you need to live off the land?

Home Solar Power Discounts - One Block Off the Grid

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stocking a large pantry - food storage.

Maybe I just read too many books as a kid about Pioneers, WW2 and other world events that left people to their own devices for long periods of times but I REALLY like having a large pantry.  It seems I am not the only one -  there is a huge movement of people these days who call it Food Storage. 

It used to be common-practise to spend the summer and fall puttin-by food for the winter and spring from huge gardens and stocking up on staples from the general store. They also devised ways to store food and keep it from spoiling like salting, curing, smoking, root-cellaring, drying and later freezing and canning. No one would have been shocked to find a large store of foods in every home back then.  In fact it would have seemed very foolish to not do so.   

Today we have stores and food in abundance, food is available from multiple sources - grocery stores, convenience store, farmers markets - you can even purchase food online!  Having more than a few days of food in your kitchen cupboards would seem odd to many people - even criminal to some - how far we've come in only 50 years!  Progress right??  Right?? 


We are accustomed to the bounty in the grocery store where it is quite rare for them to be "out" of something.  We have what-looks-on-the-surface like a fool-proof system of food supply and delivery.  But do we?  Do you realise that the average grocery store has three days of food on hand and without re-supply the shelves would be bare in three days?  With the introduction of the Just-In-Time delivery systems they no longer have back rooms filled with extra supplies.  A big snow storm in the immediate area or a hurricane coming up the coast can empty store shelves as people stock up on necessary supplies at the last minute. There have been many documented instances when this system has let us down already.  It is only a matter of time before it happens again. 

The ever-increasing cost of groceries is also an issue that many of us face in our shopping adventures.  Prices have certainly gone up in the past few years and what used to be regular prices are now sale prices. 

So - what kind of food storage am I talking about?   I know people who say they shop every day - wow!   Just the temptation to impulse-buy would be huge for me.  A three day supply of food - which is the national average for most families - is not enough either in my opinion.

My personal goal is have at least 6 months of food storage.  That may seem like a lofty goal when you've never given it much thought before.  We've found that our food storage has allowed us to buy in quantity on sale and save us money.  It has also been there over the years when the month was longer than the money or we had unexpected guests.  It became a necessity when there were 7 of us living at home just to keep the food budget under control.  It is also peace-of-mind to know you don't have to run to the grocery store for something essential because you already have 2 or 3 of them stored away.

I began by looking at our most common meals - we really are creatures of habit so the foods we eat are similar in the seasons.  In the winter for example we frequently eat the following:

    SUPPERS for winter months
1. Beans and rice (or riced cauliflower) with Jerusalem artichokes, onions, kale

2. Chicken soup and biscuits, celery, onion, green pepper, rice pasta, kale

3. Tacos or burritos with lentil "meat", sour cream, cheese, salsa and salad

4. Sub sandwiches with sliced meat, cheese, lettuce, onions, dressing, mayo

5. Meatball stew with potatoes, frozen beans, onions, carrots, arrowroot powder

6. Pasta and sauce with mixed dehydrated veggies and salad

7. Shepherds Pie, potatoes, frozen veggies, lentils or hamburger (use JA's for potatoes and/or part cauliflower & lamb)

8. Tortilla Strata, tortillas, sour cream, cheese, eggs

9. Vegetable Soup with rice, cabbage, celery, kale

10. Beef or lamb  burgers, salad, homemade fries

11. Salad and beans, nuts & seeds mix, fruit, apple cider vinegar, olive oil

12. Lasagna vegetarian, spinach, cottage cheese, cheese, onions, garlic (organic yogurt)

13. Frittata, egg, onion, cheese, green pepper, garlic, frozen veggies

14. Chili, veggies, beans, tomatoes, sauce with biscuits

15. Homemade pizza, sliced meat, sauce, cheese, green peppers

16. Roasted potatoes, chicken, broccoli, vegetables

17. Pizza Rice Casserole, lamb burger, sauce, cheese

After making a list like this it was easy to see which specific foods we needed to store.  Using the information to make a price book (posted above) gave me the information I needed to know when an item is a great deal (relatively speaking:) )  Then when I shopped I started buying 2 or 3 of several items. By getting one or 2 extra of each item I soon had enough food stored to make a month worth of suppers.  I repeated the process for lunch and breakfast giving some consideration to the fact that oatmeal was a much cheaper breakfast food than boxed cereal and it was easier to store in bulk.

I store boxes and cans on shelves and dried grains, beans etc. in large glass jars or in vaccumed sealed mason jars.  This makes it easy to find and use.

Maybe I was born in the wrong century but it seems to make a lot of sense to me. We buy car insurance and house insurance and hope we'll never really need to use it.  This is food insurance.

How about you?  How long would your pantry last?