Bountiful Baskets 1/26/2013

Here is my bountiful basket order for January 26th, 2013. There were lots of goodies today. As usual, I ordered two baskets. I also ordered two juice pack add ons. We volunteered this morning and a few of the volunteers were wondering if the juice pack add on is going to be a regular thing or if it is just going to be available this month. I really hope it’s a regular thing. I’ve gotten addicted to green juice.

 

Here was the fruit portion of our two baskets. We actually ended up with two extra watermelon, but they were extras because we volunteered this morning so I did not include them in the picture. In our baskets, we got 3 pineapple, 12 bananas, 2 personal sized watermelons, 2 containers of strawberries, 8 lemons, and 10 pears. Strange to think that I could be sipping lemonade and eating watermelon in the middle of January… What an odd year this has been for produce.

 

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For veggies, I gave up a green pepper since we were short at our site. I ended up with 2 stalks of celery, 3 green peppers, 2 bags of potatoes, 8 onions, and 12 tomatoes that are begging me to turn them into salsa.

 

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Here are my two baskets together. All of this was just $31.50.

 

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I also got two juice pack add ons. Each one cost $8.00. They were both the same, and came in their own bags. I only took a picture of one of them to give you a better idea of what I get for an extra $8.  There is 1 bunch of parsley, 1 bag of carrots, 1 bunch celery, 6 blood oranges, 3 small pieces of ginger (the other bag had 1 large piece of ginger), 6 apples, 3 beets with attached beet greens, 1 cucumber, and some organic swiss chard.

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So, what to I do with it all?

Here is what I did as soon as I got all of this produce home…

Cut up pineapples and put them in dehydrater.

Made myself a glass of green juice.

Made 4 freezer bags full of chopped mixed veggies for soups, stews, or stir fry this week. (Cut up carrots, onions, celery, and green peppers.)

Cut up and washed strawberries.

Peeled and cut carrots.

Cut celery

Washed everything – it saves me time in the long run even if it takes awhile to dry everything before I can store it.

Put of bag of edilbles together for the rabbits (celery greens, beet greens, parsley stems, carrot ends, ect..)

 

It took me a little longer than usual today since there was so much to chop. I spend about 90 minutes in the kitchen, but it will save me over double that this week.

 

Here is our tentative dinner menu for the week, if you are curious.

Homemade pizza with homemade garlic breadsticks

Spaghetti with meatballs & a garden tomato sauce (anything I add lots of veggies too, I call a “garden” version..)

Breakfast for dinner – garden eggs, ham, and hashbrown burritos

Lentil Stew with dumplings

Asian Stir Fry with fried rice

Salmon patties with carrot slaw

Mexican – Meat, bean, and cheese burritos with guac and homemade salsa

 

My men are spoiled rotten. 😉

 

But! I’m spoiled too. Look what Dh did for me last Tuesday. That’s him out there, in the hat. Working in the garden. Huzzah! It was 75F degrees this week. I think it will be cold again at some point, but he got out there and tilled up the garden for me. See that pile of cardboard on the left hand side of the picture? Yea…. We were hoping it would disinegrate and make a nice layer of topsoil for us. It didn’t happen. It did a great job of keeping the weeds out though. And, it will make nice mulch for the walkways and around the plants that sprout.

 

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Here was my contribution to this pre-garden work. I took a picture so I could make sure that my hard work was recognized as well… 😉  I bought some more heirloom seeds, but I’m trying to use up all of the seeds I bought last year before I switch to 100% heirloom. If you look at my sheet, you will notice how organized I am. The number inside each rectangle is the average days til maturity for each seed. I’m a hardcore oragnizer like that. (I know it’s a terribly crude method, but whatever. It works for me.)

 

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The best part? We planted everything last Thursday (1/24/13). We might have gotten out there a little too early, but everything we planted is cold hardy and the suggested plant date is 1-4 weeks before the last frost. If we have to replant things, I’m okay with that, but we might not be in this house much longer and I don’t want to wait to get started. I’m really sore. I forgot how much work it is to bend and plant and bend and weed and bend and bend and bend and seed. (Har har har.) I’m happy though. I can feel Spring in the air, and with it, the changes and promises of new beginnings. Life is so good.

 

 

 

 

Bountiful Baskets 1/19/2013

Here is my bountiful basket order for December 19, 2013! As usual, we ordered 2 baskets again.

 

Here is what was included in the fruit portion of our 2 baskets. There are 2 containers of strawberries, 3 lemons, 8 granny smith apples, 8 navel oranges, 2 pineapples, and 16 bananas. I’m very glad that there was no grapefruit this week – I’m not a big grapefruit fan, and I’ve had about all I can handle over the last few weeks. I’m on the fence about the pineapple. I was getting sick of it last month, but I’m excited to try to dehydrate it this week. It should be an interesting experiment.

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Here is the veggie portion of our two baskets. There were some interesting choices in it this week. There were 2 five pound bags of potatoes, 6 avacados, 6 onions, about 20 red peppers, and 2 bunches of salad savoy. The salad savoy is interesting. One of them is green and white and the other is purple and green. They both taste the same, sort of like cabbage. You can add the greens as is, or you can cook them – they are very versatile.

 

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Here is a picture of my two baskets together.  Some of the avacados were a little squishy, but I’m making guac later and I doubt anyone will even notice….

 

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Bountiful Baskets also had juice packs again this week. I finished the two from last week, so I bought two more this week. It’s been nice to have yummy green juices every day. I feel a little spoiled, especially since it’s still technically the middle of winter. Yum. I bought two juice pack add ons, but I only took a picture of one of them. They had the same ingredients in them and I didn’t want to be redundant. In each pack, there was 1 english cucumber, 1 bunch celery, 4 beets with beet greens, 1 bag of carrots, 6 key lines, 1 bunch parsley, 1 lemon, 1 piece ginger, and 5 apples. I had 1 bad apple in each bag – they went to the compost before I took this picture. Everything else seemed great – there was a little mud in each pack, so it took a couple of minutes to get everything cleaned off. Not a big deal, but it is a good reminder to me that I have to keep cleaning  everything the day I bring it home.

 

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On Friday, my Mom/canning partner came over and we canned apples! We started with 40lbs of fuji apples and ended up with lots of yummy apple slices. I hate wasting the cores and peels, so I put everything that was leftover in my juicer. We ended up with enough juice to also make some apple jelly.  I wish I had my juicer the last time we canned apples, the apple jelly is amazing. Here is the result of our labor —  12 quarts and 2 pints of apple rings in a light syrup and 5 pints of apple jelly. We also made about 2 quarts worth of dehydrated apples (not shown). Doesn’t the apple jelly look delicious?

 

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Bountiful Baskets 1/12/2013

My first Bountiful Basket food co-op order of 2013 was picked up yesterday, January 12th! My parents graciously picked up my order for me, since I had to get my oldest twin to a band event early in the morning. I took all of the pictures at my parents house, I love how well their white counters work as a background for the bright and colorful produce.

 

Here is the fruit from my one lonely basket. I usually get 2 baskets, but I ordered a few add ons this week, so I decided to only get 1 basket. In the fruit part of my 1 basket, there were 4 oroblancos, 7 fuji apples, 1 container of strawberries, 4 bananas, and 8 navel oranges.

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Here are the veggies that were included in my 1 basket.  There were 2 avacados, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, 2 bunches of celery, a few handfuls of small peppers, a few handfuls of brussel sprouts, and 10 rainbox carrots. All of the fruits in the above picture and the vegetables in the picture below cost me just $15.00. I’m most excited about the little peppers. I love snacking on them. Yummy.

 

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I also picked up three different add ons this week, the first add on was the lunch box fruit pack add on. It cost an additional $10.50. I’m not entirely sure it was worth it, but the kids love to snack on fruit – and I haven’t been able to get a co-op box for three weeks, so it’s nice to restock. There were 2 pomegranates, 4 granny smith apples, 4 fuji apples, 5 red bartlett pears, 8 navel oranges, and 3 tangelos. There was a 4th tangelo, but my 3 year old ate it before I could take the picture.

 

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Along with the extra fruit, I also ordered 2 juice pack add ons. These add ons were created for people who are into juicing. I just got a juicer not too long ago, so I decided to get 2 of these add ons so I could play around with different green juice recipes. The juicing add on was only $8.00 per pack. This was most certainly worth it. Included in each add on, there were a 1 lb bag of carrots, 1 bunch of kale, 1 cucumber, 5 fiji apples, 1 piece of ginger, 2 fist sized beets, 1 bag of spinach, 1 bunch of celery, 1 lemon, and 2 key limes.

 

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The second juice add on was pretty much the same thing, I took a picture of it anyways. You have to look fairly close to see the differences between the two. I’m looking forward to a glass of fresh green juice every day this week. I made a green juice today with cucumber, celery, kale, carrots, ginger, lemon, and an apple.  It smelled pretty disgusting, but after the first sip – I couldn’t put it down. I think my body was craving all of the vitamins.

 

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All of the above only cost me $41.50. It’s a pretty good deal for the amount of produce and the variety of it. I’m a little disappointed by the lunch box add on, I think I could get fruit at the farmer’s market for cheaper. I’m very happy with the juicing add on. That was a pleasant surprise. I’m looking forward to finding out what comes in my box next week.

 

Canning Ham

Quite a few stores are clearing out their ham supplies this week. A few days ago, I happened upon a deal that was too good to pass up. I ended up buying 4 fully cooked holiday hams at a great price.

One of them ended up in my freezer, and the other 3 ended up in my pressure canner. From those 3 hams, I ended up with 19 pints of canned ham (not all of them were pictured here).

 

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Tools Needed –

Good Knife

Pressure Canner

Canning Jars. Lids, and Screw Bands

Ham

Hot water

 

Prep Time –

2 hours

 

Time from start to finish –

3-6 hours (depending on how many batches you need to do to get them all canned)

 

I have to add a little disclaimer here – I’m not a canning expert. I only started canning last year. Please refer to canning recipe books if you have any questions. The directions for this canned ham were in the recipe booklet that came with my canner. These instructions are just based on my experience of trying this out a few days ago. All of my jars sealed, and the ham from the jar we opened tastes great. I’m sure there are better, easier, and smarter ways to can ham; but this is how I did it and it worked well for me –

I washed and sterilized 20 pint sized canning jars. I also sterilized lids, screw bands, and all of the equpiment I was going to use.

I put 3 quarts of water in my pressure canner and put it on the stove, but didn’t start the stove.

I filled my (clean) teapot with water and let it start to boil.

I started with 3 fully cooked bone in hams that were about 7 lbs each. I cut up the hams into pieces, pulling it from the bone and taking off as much far as I could. This was the longest part of this entire process. It took me an hour to cut up all of the meat. I tried to cut the pieces very evenly, so they would heat at the same time in the jars. You could leave the fat on the meat, it might give it a richer flavor, but I personally don’t like the look of rings of fat floating around on top of my canned meat.

I filled up my pint jars with the cubed ham, being careful not to pack them too tightly, and leaving an inch headspace at the top of the jar.

After the ham was in the jars, I filled up the jars with boiling water from my teapot – still leaving an inch of headspace.

At this point, you could add a 1/2 tsp or tsp of canning salt to your ham; but I opted not too. I would suggest using canning salt instead of table salt if you add anything, since table salt could make the liquid turn cloudy.

After the jars are filled with ham and water, wipe the rims with a towel dipped in vinegar. This will get any excess grease off of the rims, helping to ensure a good seal. Then just add your lids, and screw bands.

I put them in my pressure canner and processed them at 11psi for 75 minutes.  Here is the chart for pressure canning meats if you are at a different altitude than me.  If you decided to use quarts instead of pints, you would need to process them for 90 minutes. Don’t forget – the time doesn’t start until the right PSI is reached.

 

ALTITUDE DIAL GAUGE CANNER           Pints and Quarts WEIGHTED GAUGE CANNER           Pints and Quarts
          1,001 – 2,000 ft.                   11 lbs.                   15 lbs.        
          2,001 – 4,000 ft.                   12 lbs.                   15 lbs.        
          4,001 – 6,000 ft.                   13 lbs.                   15 lbs.        
          6,001 – 8,000 ft.                   14 lbs.                   15 lbs.

 

All in all – it was very easy. The hardest part was cutting up the ham. I did have to sit in the ktichen and keep a close eye on the pressure canner, but it gave me a good chance to clean the kitchen, bake bread, and read a few chapters of my book. Now I have 19 pints of ham in the pantry. I can add ham to scrambled eggs, hash browns, casseroles, soups, salads, beans, or anything else I can think of. After accounting for the cost of the lids, each pint cost me $0.78. Canned ham at my local grocery store is $3.82 for a pint. I saved $57.76. Not too bad for a few hours worth of work.

 

Jam and Ham

Yesterday, I was out and about with my Mom. We happened to find a great deal on blueberries, blackberries, and cooked ham. Today, my Mom came over and we spent most of the day in the kitchen. We ended up canning 18 half pints of blackberry jam, 6 pints of blackberry jam, 10 half pints of blueberry jam, 8 pints of light sugar blueberry jam, and 19 pints of canned ham. We also dehydrated 12 pints of blueberries (3 pints were used to make 2 dozen blueberry pancake muffins for breakfast for the next couple of days), and prepped 6 freezer bags full of washed fruit to snack on or juice throughout the next few days. Some people think that canned meat looks odd, but I love the look of home canned foods. You can almost see the love that went into every jar.

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There are a few things missing from those pictures, but it gives you an idea of how much we canned. I take the bands off of the jars once the lids seal, that is why there is a pile of them in the right hand corner of the second picture.

We did 6 batches in the water bath canner and 2 batches in the pressure canner. This was my first time using my pressure canner. I was very nervous to can meat, but it was much easier than I was expecting.

My mom took home an assortment of goodies, and she has an open invitation to “shop” my pantry whenever she wants. I just need to find room in my pantry to fit everything. But not tonight. Tonight, I’m going to make a cup of hot tea and finish my library book. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My fingers are stained purple. But, I don’t even care. It was so worth it.

Sad Rabbit Update

I woke up this morning to find 7 kits dead on the wire of Polymorph(Polly)’s hutch. She had a nesting box with plenty of bedding, but she didn’t use it.

6 of the babies froze to death and the 7th kit was half eaten.

It wasn’t a pretty site.

I warmed the 6 frozen kits, but it was too late.

I wasn’t nearly as squimish as I thought I would be with dead kits. I’m so thankful for that, but I still couldn’t pick up the half eaten one with my bare hands. Poor thing.

Our other doe, Bandit, was bred a day before Polly. She would be 33 days pregnant today, but she hasn’t shown any signs of impending delivery. I’m not expecting it, but I am still hopeful that she will have a (live!) litter tonight. DH and I are going to take turns checking on her throughout the night, just in case.

The breeder we got the rabbits from stated that both of our girls had litters before. I’m starting to doubt that. Polly did not act like an experienced rabbit mom. We will wait a few weeks and try for litters again once the weather warms up. I hope our girls can figure this out quickly. At least we know that our boy has working equipment.

 

 

Happy New Year!

Quick 2012 recap –

 

There was quite a bit that happened in 2012.

-We decided to move to the country

-My DH had his second knee surgery

-We had to live at a hotel for a couple of months after our greywater/sewage lines backed up.

-We slowly got our house back in order.

-I started eating meat after being a vegetarian for 7 years.

– I canned with a waterbath canner for the first time and made blackberry, blueberry, and strawberry jam as well as applesauce and salsa.

– We started a garden in the backyard and grew strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, green peppers, corn, zuchinni, spinach, sugar snap peas, green beans, canteloupe, and watermelon.

-We built a hutch and bought our trio of rabbits (the girls are (hopefully) pregnant and due in a few days).

-We started a compost pile. Our original 5 gallon bucket of compost turned into 32 square feet of space in the corner of our backyard.

-We got our compost worms. (I hope they are still alive, I’ve been feeding them and they are eating, but it’s been too cold to check on them.)

-I got stocked up on my homesteading kitchen supplies (homemade solar cooker, water bath canner, blender, pressure canner, dehydrator, juicer). Only the canners are necessary, but the others sure do make my life easier when I’m preparing and storing food for my family of guys.

-I made yogurt.

-I found a great bread recipe that we bake 1-2 times a week.

-my sister had a baby girl and her 1.5 year old became a big brother.

– I started this blog.

-I found a great food co-op and started utilizing it regularly.

-we remodeled the bathroom

-we painted two bedrooms

-we scraped popcorn off of the ceiling in all of the bedrooms.

-we replaced the soffit outside the house, and painted it.

 

Our 2012 was pretty busy, and there was a lot of unexpected things that cropped up. I hope this year is a little more relaxed. Somehow I doubt it. Our biggest goal for 2013 is to move from our suburban home to acreage in the country!  Now that we are starting to financially recover from all of the chaos of the past year, we have decided to talk to a realtor and put the house on the market this spring. I’m trying not to get too excited about it, because there are always unexpected things that arise when we least expect it, and it might take quite awhile for our house to sell. It’s just reassuring to know we are working our way down the path that we feel is best for our lives.

 

I made my 2013 homestead goals fairly simple. All of these goals just dive a little deeper into the things we’ve been doing this past year.

-Make cheese

-Make kefir

-Make soap

-Make candles

-Dehydrate beef jerky

-Can all of our fruits and veggies for the year with in season produce either grown in our garden or bought locally in bulk

-Landscape with edible plants.

-Process rabbits.

-Plant fruit and nut trees

-Buy meat in bulk from a local farmer

-Cancel cable

 

The hardest goal that I made is going to be canning all of our fruits and veggies for the year. Yikes! I might have to go to the Dallas Farmers Market and shop their bulk shed in order to make it happen. I’m going to do my best though, that is all I can ask of myself.

Do you have any goals for 2013?