Saturday, January 23, 2010


Naan is a leavened, oven-baked flat bread. It is one of the most popular varieties of South Asian breads and is particularly popular in the India, Afghanistan, Iran, United Kingdom, and Pakistan. It is also one of my favorite breads.

Directions call for yeast but if I remember early enough that I am going to make it, sour dough starter works just as well. I simply  replace the yeast with 1/4 cup sd starter and then adjust liquids accordingly. Naan is a great over the camp fire or on top of the wood stove made bread as well. Note that the directions say to rise for a total of about 2 hours. I rarely ever let it rise more than 20 minutes or so for each rise and they still come out fine, part of the reason I like them so well for a quick and easy bread that doesn't bear resemblance to a tortilla.

 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  1 cup warm water
  1/4 cup white sugar
  3 tablespoons milk
  1 egg, beaten
  2 teaspoons salt
  4 1/2 cups bread flour
  2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
  1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.

At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared. serves 6

If you like the really bubbly skinned naan add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and put lid on the pan or over the tops of them while cooking..For a snack sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar while warm

Friday, January 22, 2010

indoor garden and 2010 garden updates

I have baby tomatoes. I think they are absolutely adorable and by march first or so  we should be eating fresh  tomatoes from the vine. This plant has about 25 flowers I am pollinating each day with  my handy dandy  dread lock pollinator device. It really works a charm  and I never forget where I left it or cant find it. This pretty  girl will  be my mother plant shortly when I take cuttings from her and grow clones to give me an extra jump (I hope) on tomato season.

I have begun moving many of the other plants from the loft to the gh. I  will be moving more in the next week or so as the weather levels out a bit. The baby cuke , vining beans and the tomato will  stay in the loft while I start my seedlings this spring. The tomato is  stuck up there as it is  about 7 foot tall if I was to straighten her all out.

I am  still getting a few beans from my  plants and  others are doing fairly well. Sadly the hutterite soup beans have done no better for me in containers, in a controlled environment than they did outside for me last summer.  Not one I am  going to bother attempting to grow again. I am realizing after two years of serious indoor with minimal  supplemental lighting that if i actually want to eat produce from my plantings inside I needs to plant my indoor garden during the summer. Though they do give me a good  jump on   spring, the only thing I have been able to harvest regularly are greens and I can grow them yr round in the gh. I am figuring I will need to plant sometime in  July  in order to achieve my goals of year round  fresh veggies other than  greens.

 updated winter  indoor/gh garden  photos

I moved some of the greens from the loft  to the greenhouse and planted some of my cabbage that I had  brought into  the gh during the coldest of our weather.

I fed most the greens in the table bed to the critters and there were a few peas still growing from my last experiment. I then planted seed for peas, chinese cabbage and spinach. Soon as the other bed warms a bit and i can finish it. I will plant some lettuces and other salad fixins.

We also pulled the wood stove out this past week. This will now give  me more open flood space. If I make another raised bed in there it will give  me about 65 square foot of gardening space in the gh. I am thinking I may leave it as is until after the spring seedlings move through and  make the bed for this summer, fall and winter gardens.

updated 2010 garden photos


Thursday, January 21, 2010

basement cold rooms

Way back in the days of old before the advent of modern grocery stores every home had a root cellar or something similar to store their crops in through the winter months. If they didnt have a good food supply put back then they were going to go hungry part of the year as there was not a grocery store on every corner. Even in the deep south cold storage areas are very important. Even though they cant normally keep the food at optimum storage temperatures, it will keep the food 20 or so degrees cooler than the out door temps therefore increasing the span of edibility.

In many places in modern times, digging an old time root cellar simply cant be done but there are alternative solutions that work just as well. In this thread we shall explore basement cold rooms or cellars. Most tutorials and plans for the basement cold rooms tend to be all about the same.

This first plan is from an ol feller on another board. Heis  a cantankerous grumpy bugger but he has some very nice tutorials on his site. Maneuvering the site however is an issue so I will post his words with a link to the pictures detailing what he did

Cold Room in Basement. 30 August 2009 Cold Room Construction

Cold room construction in the utility room in the basement. Purpose is for storing garden produce. Potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, beets, etc.

This is the cold room built in my basement. Space was at a premium so I did the the best with what was available.

The floor space is 18 square feet, and 80 inches in height. A four inch outside air vent was installed. The hole was cut with a rental tool. The one plug in the room is split and the light is switched from outside. Paneling was construction grade spruce 5/8 plywood. Insulation of the inside wall is R14, and a vapor barrier was installed on top of this insulation, then covered with5/8 plywood. The roof was insulated in the same manner.

Tables are plastic, the same as I use in my greenhouse. Vegetables will be stored in the common plastic milk containers. The air inlet will be controlled by stuffing a rag in the inlet if it get too cold. The exhaust went is four inches diameter, and is in the roof of the structure. Humidity will be controlled with a pan of water, if necessary.

Time to build about 48 man hours. Started 25 August and finished on 30 August 2009.Cost $565.42 I had some help for about 16 hours.

Here are the pics of how he organized it

Keep Produce Fresh In Cold, Moist Air
If you live in an area where fall and winter temperatures remain near freezing and fluctuate very little, you can store root vegetables, apples, and pears in a wide variety of insulated structures and containers. These range from a simple mound in the garden to a full-fledged root cellar. In each case, the storage unit must maintain temperatures in the 30 degrees F to 40 degrees F range with humidity between 80 and 90 percent. The high moisture content of the air prevents shriveling due to loss of water by evaporation. An old-fashioned, unheated basement is an ideal spot for a root cellar, but a modern basement can be used if a northerly corner is available.
Different vegetables can be stored together in a single container, but fruits should never be stored with vegetables nor should different fruits be stored together.

An 8-foot by 10-foot root cellar will accommodate 60 bushels of produce. Indoor root cellars are the most convenient to use and easiest to build. Try to use a northeast or northwest corner of your basement that has at least one outside wall and id as far as possible from your oil burner or other heat source. One north-facing window is desirable for ventilation. The interior walls of the root cellar should be constructed of wood, and if the basement is heated, they should be insulated. The precise amount of insulation needed depends on the average basement temperature, but standard 4-inch-thick fiberglass batting with a foil or plastic vapor barrier should be more than adequate. Install the insulation with the barrier against the wood. Add an insulated door and fit the window with shades to block out light. To keep humidity high, spread 3 inches of gravel on the floor and sprinkle it occasionally with water. You can also maintain humidity by storing the produce in a closed container, such as a metal can lined with paper.

This text and picture were taken from a 1981 edition of a Reader's Digest book, Back To Basics.


following are a few more links to basement cold cellars. ... ellar.html ... ellar.aspx

simple in-ground or mound vegetable storage

There are several methods of in-ground veggie storage ranging in very simple to quite extravagant if there is such a thing in the root cellaring world.

One of the easiest methods is- At the end of the growing season, bend over the tops so that root energy will not continue to be sent to them. Do not cut the tops off as this will provide entry for bacteria and insects which may destroy the root before you come back for it. Cover the rows with a mulch of straw, hay, or cut weeds and long grass so that the ground is less likely to freeze.

The next easiest option is to make a simple dug out pit. Roots, tubers, and bulb vegetables require little effort to store. Some vegetables - including beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips - Cover with a 1-2 foot (30-60 cm) layer of mulch such as straw or hay, which will trap air and won't become saturated with water, an easy way of storing vegetables. You can also use wood chips or leaves if you remove them before they decompose in the spring.

Here is a simple cone pit-A cone-shaped pit can be constructed to store small amounts of vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets turnips, salsify, parsnips, and cabbage Such structures can also be used for storing winter apples and pears.(fruit should not be stored with veg.)


Another version of a dug out pit uses either a barrel baskets garbage cans and old tubs of some sort. The picture below pretty much explains how to make any of these . Simply modify as needed.


The upside of in-ground storage is that it's easy. The down side is Produce stored in this type of manner must all be removed once the pit is opened during cold weather, particularly when the soil is frozen. For this reason, it is better to construct several small pits rather than one large one. When constructing small pits, place a small quantity of several different vegetables in each pit. Then you need open only one pit to get a variety of vegetables. When several vegetables are stored in the same pit, separate them with straws or leaves.

Here is yet another method of a storage pit. Seems like an awful lot of work for what it is but neat none the less.

A storage mound is yet another simple storage method for crops. A storage mound is similar to the unlined pit but above ground. It is used where groundwater is a problem or where only a short storage period under mild temperatures is anticipated. The vegetables are piled on a layer of straw on top of the ground. The mound then is covered with a layer of straw that is held in place by a layer of soil. The mound usually contains one or two bushels of mixed roots, so when the mounds are removed, all the produce can be taken into the house.


rabbit butchering

I realize there are many many ways to go about the killing, skinning and gutting process but this is how we have decided is easiest for us.When it comes to butchering, as with many things it is more about what works for you than the actual process itself. After a few sessions of butchering one can decide what works best in their situation.

When one researches the www on the subject of killing rabbits, more often than not you will see people saying to shoot it. Next you will see people recommending bopping it on the head with a block of wood then cutting its throat and hanging it by the back legs to bleed out. There is another method using a board and pulling the rabbits back legs and breaking its neck but finding information on it seems to be difficult. We have found what seems to us to be the most humane dispatch of the bunnies we can find. We call it the frugal stretch as we learned it from one of Frugal's (or John's) videos on the subject.

Here is the video we used to learn how to do the frugal stretch.

Now this looks easier than it really is. It takes a good bit of strength to be able to accomplish. Now keep in mind once you hear the neck snap the rabbit is still going to wiggle n jiggle n wobble about. Once the neck is severed from the spinal column he no longer feels pain and is going to die.(this has been a bit of an issue for manthing to get through his head). To combat any wiggling wobbling it is going to do once popping its neck He has started to simply hold bunny in the position of the stretch for a minute or so while it stops. Remember rabbit is most likely going to pee as the muscles all relax(a couple minutes after death).

We also used Frugal's video for skinning and cutting up your bunny.

I basically follow his tutorial as it is the simplest way I know of to finish the butchering process.

When I start skinning, I make a tiny incision in the belly area of bunny. I then work my way down to the back legs and free them and work up to the front legs and head. I do it this way as I am hoping to keep the hides for preservation purposes, so want it in one piece.

Once I have the hide off the bunny up to his neck area I carefully make an incision down the belly to the butt and all the way up to the neck. The chest bones are wimpy little things, much like their poor front legs so it very easy to do. I lay bunny on its side and take the knife careful down behind the innards loosening them from the belly. This is very easy to do. A knife isnt really necessary but makes it less icky.Be careful not to cut into the guts. As I work my way down the inside i just roll the guts out as i go. When near the rectal area, take care to not cut the pee sac. Its about marble size n has pee in it, you will notice it if its there. If they release urine at death it is often not visible.When you get to the end use care and remove the entrails.

Next snip off the four feet and release the head . I generally completely rinse bunny at this point, clean up my hands and work area before moving on to cutting the meat. I have to generally ask DH to come and do the bone snipping for me. I don't have the strength in my hands to squeeze the sheers .

Cutting up bunny is easy. You end up with two front legs, two back legs, the rib cage,neck n tail(stock meat), the back strap and a bit of sausage meat from each bunny.If you are into organ meats you will also have them

The only hard part for me in the process is removing the back legs. Even following Frugal's tutelage, I have issues of where to cut once you pop the joints. The front legs are kind of weird as they are literally attached by nothing. The contours of the meat are very easy to follow. At the end of the rib cage where it meets the back strap, you just run the knife down the contour of the meat and body and then snap the back at the "seam" to get it into two pieces.

All total from start to finish it takes us currently 25 minutes per animal. Keep in mind, the only thing manthing does is kill it and snip feet off. I do the rest. I have only butchered bunnies a couple times so I am certainly no pro. I also pretty much do everything at a snails pace and playing with big, very sharp knives slows my pace a bit more. With this method of killing and butchering, there is next to no mess. I would rather butcher 50 rabbits to one chicken.

One bunny gives the two of us an average of 4 meals. Since we butcher in quantities. I dont package per bunny. I usually package in two meal packages of what we eat. Bunny can be used in anything that calls for chicken. It tastes much like chicken but a bit drier.

I did take a few pictures of the process. We have another batch of butchering to do over then next few days and I will have  manthing take a few more pics of the process for me to  give a better idea of how it all goes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

monday's mountain musings

We have had some beautiful weather over the last week. Some days  pushing the 60 degree mark.A huge difference compared to the couple weeks of frigid we had prior.During the nice we have managed to  pretty much  finish the renovations on the chickens run and boy does it look nice.

We had a broken  water line  resulting in no water for the  last 10 days or so. Manthing repaired that today,an easy fix overall. Was not  that inconvenient to have to  go to the pond and dip out water or fill  pails from the gutter downspout for our needs, we use so little water that with a bit of tweaking we just used a bit less. . We don't have hot water anyway, so that was no loss. I do know the more we cut back our water use or tighten our belts on something the more I realize just how wasteful people really are overall  including myself at one time.

I have been puttering about in the gh doing some rearranging and cleaning .Today I took  some of my  indoor garden plants and planted them in the beds down there.I have made another raised bed in there and tomorrow we will be taking the  wood stove out and the fir proof panel behind it to let in more sunlight  and to  make way for a shelf I removed, a hot compost pit or another raised bed. I dont know which  i will go with yet, guess I will decide in the moment. Now the gh  has cabbage ,carrots, collards, mustard, peas, taters, onions, spinach and chinese cabbage.As soon as the soil in the newest bed  warms a bit more I will plant it out as well.

We tapped a couple maple trees again this year. So far we have about 3 gallons of sap, which would make very little syrup. Last year our first attempt (i have done it  before but in ny) we got a whoppin 1/2 cup of syrup when we were done. We are hoping for a bit better  yield this year   by tapping a bit earlier than  last,  but who knows. Our  late winter months can  fluctuate temperature wise by huge amounts so makes "syrupin" a bit difficult at best.

We did have a couple rainy days this weekend  so  I got a bit bored and threw  together a montage of photos from here on the homestead through a year.