Saturday, October 9, 2010

doggy bag 2.7

Manthing decided he needed to improve upon his doggy bag design this morning. It apparently was in need of compartments and a pocket. So, out came the leftover pieces of bag, from when he built the first ones, and the duct tape and in went a handy dandy divider and an outside pocket. I fully expect his next upgrade to add velcro closures so that nothing can escape. I reckon, at this pace, in a year or so we could have ourselves a marketable product. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

fall garden update

updates on the "junk" gardens

Here are the outcomes of the junk or alternative gardens that I made this year. I cannot complain about  a single one of them  as they have all done great. In fact, they have  performed better than I could ever imagined  they would and will definitely be making more in the future. I have found them to be quite fun  and very easily managed as well. The only fertilizer used on any of them has been bunny poop.  The fan garden was neglected more than it  was cared for and still did well. The tires and the gutter gardens both have to be watered frequently but other than that, they also  produced/are producing for me.

I  can't wait to make more of these type beds over the winter. I am hoping to make a movable  wick bed and we are planning on dropping the frame of the trailer down to turn it into a large divided bed with wicking. I am positive I will  find more junk as time goes on to experiment with.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

around the homestead-apples

Today is apple day on the ol homestead  and don't tell the manthing, but I am  doing them all inside on the wood stove. It only made sense for me to do so since we had another very chilly night, it is only going to 60 with 20 mph winds today, and is supposed to go right back into the 30's tonight. Why waste all the wood just for cooking outside when it  could be used inside to warm the shack up and do my cooking too. 57 is just a little bit too cool to be comfortable in without being all bundled up in so many clothes that it makes it hard to wiggle and when I am cold, I am in pain . Tomorrow I will fire up the stove outside and water bath everything. Actual canning on the wood stove  in the shack is very difficult except in the dead of winter when it is frigid out and we have it raging hot.
 Once I got morning chores finished and got my fire going, I set about to peeling one bushel of the apples. This year, I am making applesauce, apple peel jelly/jam and going to try some vinegar  for a change.  If I should forget before next year, please remind me to purchase a new peeler/ corer thingmajig round about April, peeling with a granny knife sucks.

For the  apple sauce I use no recipe and no special equipment to make it. I find it easier in the long run  and much easier to clean up by keeping it simple and doing it the old fashioned way. I just peel, core, and cut the apples in to large chunks and throw them all in a large kettle.  I add a little bit of water in and throw a top on it and let them slow cook down using a potato masher to squish them up as they cook down. When they are to the consistency I want the sauce to be I taste it, add a touch of sugar if necessary, bottle it up and  process in a hot water bath  for 20 minutes.
 Last year, I made some apple brandy out of the  peels and cores. This year, I am going to make peel jam/jelly and when I  use the rest of the apples will make vinegar  from those peelings.  I absolutely love fruits and veggies where I can use every last bit of them for something and nothing goes to waste.
Apple peel jelly

Place apple peels and cores, lightly packed, into large pot with 5 cups of water. If you have loads of peels like me, double this recipe. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, put the lid on the pot, and allow to stand overnight. Strain liquid and measure 5 cups. If you want bits of fruit so that it is more like a jam use a larger holes strainer, be advised the jam will be cloudier in color when finished. Compost the peelings and cores then return  the liquid to the pot. Gradually dissolve 1 box of pectin into the liquid and bring to a full rolling boil, over high heat. Add 7 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve. Return to boiling and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim foam if necessary, and pour into hot 1/2 pint jelly jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes Or 20  minutes for  pints.

The recipe I am going to use for making the vinegar is from  here. Since I have never made vinegar from scratch , I cannot  say if it is a good recipe or not but in a few months  we shall see how  it worked, or not !

Monday, October 4, 2010

monday's mountain musings

 Had another beautiful, breezy, and chilly day today so I needed to be busy in order to keep warm. While the shack was only 58-60  at its warmest all day long, there is no way  a fire is being lit the first week of October. Besides, I still have my seed collection all over it and I am not ready to put it away for the winter yet.
 While out and about this weekend, we stopped and got a big  mess of mutsu apples to make some sauce with. Making sauce means  I need a good bit of wood for cooking them down and then canning them. Yesterday, the manthing  loaded the truck up with a nice pile of wood while I was fetching water that is now running at a very slow pace compared to what is was a bit earlier in the year. This afternoon I busted it all up so tomorrow, I can burn it all up.
 Since I knew I was going to be out near the cook top for a good while, I decided to make what I needed for tonight's dinner, heat some dish water , make sweet tea and I had to make an apple crisp on the stove top.  The crisp doesnt brown quite like it would in the oven and I  over did the oatmeal topping a bit  butI think it will still be quite tasty. I swear, there is almost no better smell  than wandering the woods and  getting a good sniff of yummy food cooking. The wind was blowing just right today so  I could smell the apples cooking way off in to the woods. Good thing we are a long way from most of civilization or I might worry about zombies  coming from miles around for vittles.
 I had a big load of laundry that I needed to get washed up today as well. With the dry conditions and a good breeze to dry with I have to take advantage of it. I try to  keep the laundry all caught up including blankets, hoodies, and other heavy things  that I sometimes let go during other seasons  when it is humid and normally rainy . This way, when the wet weather comes in  and gets stuck between the mountains  we have plenty  of clothes to go for a good spell and not worry over whether we will have enough clothes to get us through.

I worked my way through my list of chores in pretty good time and found a bit of time to beat on my drums,  fetch a salad to go with dinner, pack up the manthing's stuff and  get his  cooler supplies all ready for him for a few days  on the road. All I have left is  evening chores with the critters and feeding us  when ever he happens to roll in.