Saturday, September 25, 2010

working girls

We were headed up to Fort Mtn this morning  to do a little recon for a get to gather next month so I had the camera in my pocket.  The girls were hard at work and not overly amused with becoming stars in their own show but I thought it was cute.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

simple supper-cabbage goulash

Until a few years ago, I would not touch anything that had cabbage in it other than a well made cole slaw. When  we made the switch to growing most of our own food, I had to learn to like it because it is such an easy crop to grow and if you have to purchase it, it is cheap in comparison to many other veggies.  It has become one of our staple foods and one of my favorite veggies of all to use in cooking because of its versatility.

Cabbage goulash  is one of my favorite meals that  uses cabbage as the main ingredient and it is a pretty cheap meal to make, especially when you grow all your own ingredients. In the recipe that follows,sausage and ground beef is used but you can use any variation of meat in it or none at all. My favorite meat in it is breakfast sausage but I have made it with chicken chunks, bacon even hot dogs so  be creative.  The recipe also calls for canned tomatoes but  it works well with fresh tomatoes too. I just whirl them around in the food processor for a minute and dump them in. Usually when I make it, I just serve it with a bread of some sort because a salad is not really needed.  If I need to stretch this meal or want a variation, I add a cup of rice and add the juice from the tomatoes then simmer. When I make it, this meal costs about 50 cents . If you  have to purchase all the ingredients, cost is about 5 bucks for 6-8  servings. (not my pic,  we ate it all before I thought about a picture )
 Cabbage goulash

8 ounces   sausage
8 ounces ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
8 cups shredded cabbage or one large cabbage

Brown meat and onion, drain. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes. Top with your favorite cheese.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wednesday's walk about

Since planting, harvesting and most other homestead chores are in a bit of a lull right now, I  thought I would begin sharing a couple  blogs that I really enjoy reading.  While I tend to hang around homesteading and self sufficiency type blogs, I have varied interests and enjoy some that have not a thing to do with  either. If you find yourself with a bit of time, head on over and visit them sometime, you may find you enjoy them as much as I.

Mocha Momma , is a blog that I absolutely enjoy reading. While we are nothing alike and live in two very different worlds, her musings, stories, and thoughts keep me going back to read what she has been up to. MM is bright, witty, an educator and a beautiful human being that has overcome a lot of obstacles in order to be where she is today.

Blind Pig and the Acorn is another of my favorite blogs. If you  enjoy  learning history and about the lifestyle of the people from Appalachia, this blog is for you.  It has a little about antiques, some history, story telling, music, and living the  simple life and  is overall an enjoyable place to visit. There is  some great music on the site too, and I find myself heading over there quite frequently to just listen to the tunes. For those that  have issues with music players, it can be shut off so don't let that stop you.

These are just a couple of the sites that I enjoy stopping by and having a good read when I have a few spare moments. If you find yourself  with a bit of time , go on a  web walk about, there are many interesting  blogs out  there and you never know what you might find.

Monday, September 20, 2010

monday's mountain musings

Yeah!! It is finals week once again and I will finally be done with my Eng. Comp. class. I must say that it was the absolute, stupidest class I have ever had the joy of taking in my entire  life, and I have taken a lot of classes. Hopefully the Eng. Comp.II class that I begin next week will go a little better than this one has.
 Summer is nearly gone now, but we are still having very warm days and no rain.The nights are cool and most of the color is beginning to fade.  Most of the summer crops are done producing and have been pulled out and the remainder are going for seed saving purposes.  My tiny tom's, paprika and mystery pepper are still thinking it is July,but, I had to pull the okra out of my misery yesterday. Most of it had begun falling over and looking pretty hideous so I harvested the small pods for food and cut the large ones to dry  to mix half and half with our coffee. The goats enjoyed the leaves and stems and I now have four beds to plant for fall and winter, if I so choose.
 The fall  crops are doing very well  with the exception of my onion starts. The heat and dry was just too much and I could not justify the hauling of water more often for them. The broccoli and cabbage are growing quite nicely and even the ones that got eaten on are looking like they will pull through.  The peas are climbing their poles and are so very pretty,  they are the prettiest shade of green  I have ever seen for fall plantings. The turnips, the ones I had to reseed, well ,I believe every seed planted has now sprouted. Boy, there are a lot of turnips growing. The critters will enjoy the greens and culled plantlings, so  I am not worried about any waste.  The rest of the greens, carrots, and fall herbs are coming along quite well which is almost surprising, since it is so dry. We will be eating spinach and lettuce in a week or so.

I think this weekend the manthing and I are going on vacation to our second home. It is time for a break from  my daily world and all its trappings. I think it is  the perfect time for a little get away to the mountains . The end of another block of classes, full, harvest moon Equinox. While we will most likely not be able to celebrate on the  appropriate days, it will suffice to have a couple few days away from home.. sorta... kinda... good thing its only  200 foot away as we have the critters to tend to still. 

While much of the color is beginning to fade, there are a few things still blooming , giving us some magnificent scenery.

medicinal herbs-wild edibles-usnea

 Usnea is a lichen or a cross between an algae and a fungus.Technically it is a fruticose lichen, or a hanging hair lichen.  It is  sometimes referred to as "old man's beard," and  is another of those wild things, that once you have seen, it, you will always remember it. While usnea is not exactly an herb, I am lumping it into that category, because, it is where my own head files it when I think about it, and  since my knowledge of fungi, algae, and lichen is very little ,with the exception of usnea, it doesn't get its own category. 

Of course , as with almost all of the wild things, I have to give the FDA/USDA, protect us all type of warning. Eating usnea in large ,unrealistic quantities is NOT recommended, as it can cause liver failure. Several years back, it was found that the usnic acid in the usnea, had weight loss qualities. Companies began making a fix-me pill of it and when studies were done, some of the fix-me pill takers had liver issues. Shocking, ain't it? The bottom line, as always, is use common sense with all wild things, do not go nuts and see how your own body reacts to each before deciding to use it in any way in your personal pharmacy.

Usnea is found all over the world  and there are thousands of varieties but the Creator of things gave us a very easy to remember way of identifying the sort we can use. Usnea has a white core going through its  always round main trunk . If you gently pull it apart, you will see a white core, almost like a very thin strand of elastic, you know the type I mean ladies, the ones that come loose on  old style underweenies.  Usnea grows mostly in the trees and  looks much like Spanish moss, however, when you pull moss apart it will have a black core. Usnea  resembles hair or a scruffy looking old mans beard. Sometimes, there is just straight hair and sometimes they have little ,dangly, doodads(as in picture) on the ends of the strands. Different regions have different varieties, learn yours. Usnea grows up in the trees, thankfully, limbs fall making collecting it much easier. It also stays one color all year and does not have much color variation. There are a couple others out there but for safety sake and ease, look for the basic green. Nutrition wise, it is made up of about96% carbohydrates. It's nearly all food and is high in Vitamin C. Usnea is also about half antibiotics which is what makes it such a good wild thing to  know.

Medicinally speaking, in Native American traditions Usnea represents the North and maintains the lungs of planet Earth. In those traditions Usnea has a sacred  relationship with the trees, helping to protect them against infections. In people it has much the same qualities.It can be  used as an  antifungal-  againsts ringworm, athletes foot and yeast infections. as an  antiparasitic  it is effective against Trichomonas and Chlamydia in vaginal infections. As an  antibacterial it is  effective against gram positive bacteria in local or systemic infections. It also works to boost the immune system in cases such as acute and chronic lung infections such as-pleurisy, TB, pneumonia, colds, flu and  other types of poor immune function.

Usnea can be dried and ground to a fine powder and applied directly to wounds. It can also be made into a decoction and used with compresses topically, and can be incorporated in to salves, lotions and creams. Again, test a small area before making up a gallon and see how your body deals with it. Some people have a small rash reaction from directly applying it. It can be made in to a tea, however, its healing property do not dissolve well in water and it has next to no flavor. Most often , usnea is tinctured and used in that way. It can also be nibbled on in very small quantities. By small, I mean a pea sized chunk a couple times a day. To eat it in any amount of quantity, one would need to leech off the acids. Surprisingly it does not taste too bad, but is certainly not something I would want to eat an entire bowl of unless I simply had to.