Monday, August 24, 2009

Chicken & Sheep

I took this amusing picture at an historical village. Maybe it's amusing because I'm not that familiar with the habits of sheep or chickens, but it's still pretty darn cute!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Drying & Stuff

It's official! I am saving electricity!! After seeing our atrocious electric bill for last month (blasted, but wonderful A/C!) I decided to do something drastic. Yes, I turned off our A/C at least some of the time, but I also don't know why I haven't done this before - I bought a clothes drying rack. Now I can dry my laundry in the sun! WOOOO! And it's completely free, free, free, that amazing sun is.

Of course this does mean that I have to rearrange how and when I do my laundry and I'll probably have to buy one or two more racks, but what an awesome investement, don't you think??? One obstacle to clothes drying: I don't like the smell of sun-dried clothes. Call me crazy, but I think it smells weird. And your clothing comes out stiff. However, I heard of this trick. Sun dry your clothes and then toss them into the dryer for 5 minutes (with a dryer sheet if you so desire) and PRESTO! Soft laundry without the hours of electricity burning away. Genius!

Here is a picture of some of my garden bounty. See those tomatoes back there? I grew those!!! (Ignore the avacados. I have no idea how those got onto my counter... but they sure made an amazing guacamole!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What the Zukes!

So, I was one of the lucky ones to be given some huge zucchini from a friend's garden. I didn't grow any this year, so I was actually excited to get some! Well, after the excitement wore off, those three big dudes sat on my kitchen counter until I could figure out what to do with them. I didn't want to freeze them since we'll be moving soon and that would be a waste or I'd be a 2nd generation giver (heh heh). And right now I'm not that into stir-fry. So... what else do you do with zucchini? I cracked open my Ball Blue Book of Preserving because I was sure it would tell me something I could do with zukes and I was right! It said I could dehydrate them. Wow. Why hadn't I thought of that? It's brilliant! Dehydrated stuff takes a miniscule amount of space to store and they're fast and easy to use. And if the electricity goes out they don't go bad like frozen stuff.

So, I busted out my hand-me-down dehydrator from the '70s, cleaned it out and sliced up those zuke daddies. My dehydrator has about 6 or 7 shelves and it took 2 1/2 of my zucchinis (plus a couple of Bloody Butcher tomatoes)! And I really think I'll be able to fit all the dried chips into one quart mason jar. AMAZING!!!

I love this article in Mother Earth News about drying food. It got me really excited about drying food because usually canning stuff is the star of the preservation show. I am amazed at what you can dehydrate and the fact that you can do it all in the sun (indoors or out!) is even more awesome! I'm really paranoid about running my dehydrator at night (risk of fire???) so it's taking longer than it probably has to, and I'm not too fond of how much electricity it's taking, but I am excited about my proactive streak and not letting the zucchini go to waste. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why Old Time

I found this video from Cold Antler Farm. It looks really fabulous. I'd love to see it. I've grown up with the drive to make my own music - taught myself the piano and the harmonica and a little fife. I'd love to learn one of those mountain instruments like dulcimer, fiddle or banjo. It just feels a little harder and more complicated as a mom and wife. I should have no excuses though. I need some of my old childhood gumption back and just do it! (Did you know that I used to practice the piano 3 hours a day just because I loved it so much? Man, that is drive for you - and someone with oodles of time!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August Harvest

Hooray for harvesting tomatoes! Biting into a sun-warmed tomato that was seconds picked from the branch is divine! The flavors are so sweet, so complex, it's like stepping into a completely different world of taste that you never knew you were missing. I really don't see how I could ever eat those awful, tasteless store bought tomatoes ever again. I don't know if I'll have a big enough harvest to do much canning, but I do want to make at least a small batch of homemade salsa. Mmmm!

For awhile I had a resident grasshopper in my little garden. He loved hiding amongst the cool sugar snap pea foliage and my lettuce (which is still going strong!). I didn't see that he did much harm, so I left him alone. Then we went out of town and a sweet neighbor watered my plants for me. When I came back and went over to thank her, she proceeded to tell me how she found a huge grasshopper in my plants. Grasshoppers completely freak her out, so she took a big rock and dropped it on the little guy, smashing him. I'll have to admit that I'm going to miss that green hopper, but I suppose it's for the best. I had wondered if he was the culprit for ruining my first ripe Brandywine tomato...
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