Today became a scramble

May 25, 2020

I’d been intending to spend the day doing a bunch of little odds and ends around the kitchen, and finish up with working on the site. I’d like to update the blog style and add some pictures and — well, you know, all that stuff that comes along with making a nice-looking blog.

Instead, I’m writing this in the sky above California. Nothing world-shattering or dangerous, just a last-minute emergency that required travel.

That said, I did get things done today. Before I ended up throwing clothes into a backpack, I made a double grocery run (Sprouts for some things, King Soopers for others — hoping to get started with a CSA soon), and set up a crockpot of stock. It’ll probably be my last one until fall, because even with Colorado’s cooler weather, I can’t forsee making a lot of things that need it for the next few months, but I keep having Strenuous Objections to paying for store-bought broth that doesn’t taste like much.

I’m all about eating as much of the food as I bring home or grow as possible. I didn’t get around to doing anything with the radish tops I brought back along with the radishes before we had to fly out the door. So that’s on the block for when I get back. Right now, I’m thinking radish green pesto. I don’t have quite enough to make radish green gazpacho, though that is an equally tasty way to do them. Radish tops are fuzzy, so they’re best served minced fine or cooked to wilt the fuzz.

By the time you read this, I probably will be back! I’ll post and let you know what I decided.

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I’m alive.

May 20, 2020

Really, I swear. There have been a lot of changes in my life, starting with: I no longer live in California. As of two months ago I became a resident of the amazing state of Colorado.

It’s been exciting but also nervewracking. Obviously I don’t need to talk about the pandemic, everyone and their brother has heard enough about that for the past three months. Right now we’ve got an apartment, and we should be closing on a house at the end of the month. Exciting!

The sum total of my garden now is one thyme plant, plus whatever basil I’ve brought home from the store and stuck in a glass. There will be more, but not immediately. We have a lot to work out with the new place before I can really get rolling. I do have plans to try out an Aerogarden at some point, for herbs and greens in winter.

It will be a smaller homestead for me overall; I’m planning to focus more intensively on growing the expensive and hard-to-get things. I’m also planning to put in more work on sewing and quilting and art, so some of that will pop up here. Rather than being a pure food or homesteading blog, I’m thinking it will probably be more me talking about whatever my current projects are.

I’ve changed out the blog’s sub-title — while the previous one was funny (well, to me, anyway), it’s a joke so old it’s saving for retirement. The new one is: happiness is homemade, which is a philosophy I’ve always been behind. It’s so satisfying to make your own things, and to receive something someone has handmade.

At some point I may delve into video. I haven’t quite had the nerve to do that yet. Mostly I’m not sure what I’d talk about, or how I’d manage flying around the kitchen and trying to stay on-camera, at least on my own. But file that away for ‘later’. Right now I just want to get back to posting regularly and sharing what I’ve been up to.

If anyone’s still out there listening, hello again, and welcome back. Looking forward to being around more often.

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Preserving Analysis, Summer-Fall 2017

September 24, 2017

Good stuff:

  • Fresh tomato sauce, cooked and frozen
  • Conserva di pomodori (homemade tomato paste), salted and oil-topped in fridge, no-salt in freezer
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Bruschetta in a jar (only make one recipe though, we won’t eat it fast enough)
  • Basil pesto, frozen (trade/give away most of it, we eat it but produce far more than we can eat)
  • Kimchee kraut (for me, he’s not a kimchee fan)
  • Apple butter
  • Dried and ground chiles (from last year)
  • Zucchini — shredded and frozen for zucchini bread
  • Zucchini chips
  • Dried mushrooms — made from the get-rid-of-’em cheap bin ones from the grocery store. Well worth the $1 and the time on the dehydrator for adding oomph to sauces and soups and stuff
  • Dried cherries — purchased from Costco, pitted and dried. Luckily put away or they would already be gone. Much cheaper than buying that quantity myself, and no sugar added. I should make muffins.

Stuff that may or may not be worth the effort:

  • Zucchini sott’olio — delicious but five days worth of work for a small jar. I am all for slow food, but I have limits. Also takes up space in the fridge. Might be worth doing one jar a year, or several jars all at once, but not more than that.
  • Dried pepper chunks — we still have some from last year. They are delicious, I just keep forgetting we have them.
  • Apple liqueur (?). Still resting, check back in a few months. The liqueurs are tasty but we don’t drink them very fast.

Stuff that doesn’t work:

  • Fermented condiments (hot pepper paste, basil paste) — we don’t eat them fast enough, and there’s plenty fresh most of the year
  • Roasted plum tomatoes, canned — canned is great but we have so much fresh-frozen tomato sauce we’re probably not going to get to these
  • Regular dried eggplant and dried zucchini, they don’t get used
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Weekly Homestead Report (9/11/17-9/18/17)

September 24, 2017

Weather: Still in the 90s. What can I say? It’s September in SoCal.

Harvested: Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, roasting peppers, French strawberries, raspberries (a few).

Cooked: Baba ghanoush.

What we’re eating: ham and green onion quiche, baba ghanoush, lots of leftovers — why? We’re headed out of town. That’s why this post is late too. Expect a second one to follow shortly.

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Weekly Homestead Report (Sept 4 – 11, 2017)

September 11, 2017

Weather: Thankfully a little cooler. Still humid. Someone tell the weatherrman I want a refund.

Harvested: Tomatoes (roughly sixteen pounds’ worth), zucchini, bell peppers, basil, eggplants — about ten! Must be headed toward fall.

Cooked: Marinated zucchini with garlic, hot peppers, and basil, conserva di pomidori,  yogurt. Ate mostly leftovers this week. There will be lots more cooking this upcoming week.

Planting: Nothing yet, still too hot, but starting to plan ahead. Beans are still sprouting and seem to be growing well so far.

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Weekly Homestead Report (August 28-September 4, 2017)

September 4, 2017

Weather: Scorching! Highs in the 100°F+ zone, lows in the high 60°Fs. No rain in sight. Normal for this time of year, but erk. Fire season. Hoping things stay calm.

Cooked: Healthy apple crumble with apples from Volcan Valley Farm — twice!, Nectarine and Beet Salad with Pistachio Dressing (adapted from Eating Well), tomato and eggplant quiche, yogurt, acquacotta (tomato and mushroom soup), sourdough fig and tangelo bread (Sift), avocado toast with eggs, bacon, and shredded cabbage (yum), sourdough sandwich bread, caprese salad, and the husband made smoked shrimp. Mmmmmm.

Planted last week and sprouting now: Royal Burgundy beans, Tavera beans

Harvested: Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, Italian roasting peppers, zucchini, basil, lemon cucumbers, Japanese eggplant, hot peppers

Traded: Basil for artisan bread

Reading for food inspiration: King Arthur Flour’s fall magazine, Sift.

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I have a confession to make.

September 1, 2017

I write in my cookbooks. Shock. Horror. And you should too.
No one is going to judge you for that. In fact, if for some reason your cookbook ends up being given to someone else, they’ll probably be delighted to see your notes. I know I always am when I find a used cookbook. Why?

It saves you from having to remember how you tweaked a recipe last time to accommodate the fact that you didn’t have the right kind of herbs or vegetables, or if you thought it needed more heat, or if the order of the directions was confusing and there was a better way to put it together. Seeing someone else’s notes not only gives you insight into how other people cook (and boy that is useful!), it gives you some idea ahead of time as to any pitfalls in the recipe or how good the recipe is.

I have recipes scribbled on that say ‘delicious!’ and some that say ‘needs work’. ‘Needs work’ is often damning. It usually means I won’t make that recipe again, because it was bland, boring, or needs too much experimentation to fix into something that suits my palate. If the recipe is something I can tweak with confidence, usually it gets a scribble of ‘next time try’ instead.

In the age of the internet, it may surprise you to know that I prefer cookbooks and binders for my recipes. Generally I love technology and keeping things updated and sorted. I’m an organized type. I still use the internet to find recipes, but anything I use gets printed out, slid into a page protector, cooked, and then scribbled on if necessary. Why? Sounds like extra work, right?

The internet isn’t permanent.

I have pages printed out that are long gone and would have to be found with the WayBack Machine, if it even still has them in cache. (I’m looking at you, What Geeks Eat.) Yes, I could save those to my Pintrest, or use some recipe software. I’ve yet to find recipe software I truly like, and I’ve tried several different ones at this point. If MyFitnessPal integrated a real recipe program instead of just ingredients for nutritional information, and if they let you easily convert your recipes to foods that you could share with others, I’d be all over that.

But also, I don’t really like having to touch my electronics while I’m cooking. I’m not too worried about a couple of crumbs or a drip of olive oil on a cookbook or a sheet protector, especially if I’m taking notes as I cook. My iPad, on the other hand, is a little less rugged.

So for now, it’s cookbooks and binders. Well scribbled on. Someday I’d like to put together a binder of all the things we really like to eat, so that I’ve got it all in one place, but I do get concerned that we’d limit what we ate more if I did. It hasn’t been happening very quickly.

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Weekly Homestead Report

August 28, 2017

Picked this week: tomatoes (oh goodness so many tomatoes), zucchini, Italian roasting peppers, a few strawberries and raspberries, apples at Volcan Valley Apple Farm (full post coming later when I have time to sit down)

Preserved: bruschetta in a jar (Ball canning), kimchee kraut (The Joy of Pickling), apple liqueur

Traded: tomatoes for homemade bread, tomatoes for mason jars and lemon verbena, yet more tomatoes for butternut squash, pesto for figs

Repaired: drip line for sprinklers (the ends keep coming undone, I need to get more of the end turnback thingies)

Pulled: a dying zucchini plant, the Sweet 100s tomato plant (neither sweet nor 100s, unfortunately, guess it didn’t like it here)

Cooked: crockpot chicken and chorizo with red peppers (The Mediterranean Slow Cooker), ham and green onion quiche (BH&G), roasted eggplant Parmesan (my own recipe, but forgot to take a picture of the end result, d’oh!), lots of pesto (also my own recipe).

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Theme under construction

August 26, 2017

The WordPress update borked my site and made my theme disappear. I’m working on fixing it, please stand by!

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Dealing Tomatoes out of a ’95 Tercel

August 24, 2017

You ever have one of those days where you look at your garden and go “well … shoot”? 


I hit “overrun with tomatoes” more than once this summer. I made over a gallon of dried tomatoes. Three quarts of roasted tomatoes. Two batches of conserva. Two gallons of tomato sauce that went into the freezer. Seven half-pints of “Bruschetta In A Jar”, which is Ball Canning’s fancy way of saying “pickled tomatoes to stick on toast when you’re out of fresh tomatoes”.

And still they came.

Normally my extras go to my parents, but they were unavailable and I was getting desperate. Turns out, lucky for me, that there are a bunch of active barter groups in my area. My pitiful plea for help did not go unanswered. In fact, it was happily answered with fresh bread, mason jars, and lemon verbena for my tomatoes, with possible eggs and butternut squash in the future.

It did feel like a drug deal. There I was, sitting in the Del Taco parking lot, my trunk loaded up with clandestine tomatoes, waiting for a stranger to come by and take them off my hands. Turned out the stranger was fantastic, and so was the bread. So was the next stranger, and the mason jars and lemon verbena.

Am I looking forward to being overrun with tomatoes again next week? I just might be.

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