Salsaness

This past weekend, my mom and dad came out to visit. It’s always nice to have them spend time with us. My mom brought out a bountiful basket for me, which was fantastic. I didn’t get a picture of it, but it had asparagus and coconut in it. Yummy. She also picked up 125lbs of Roma tomatoes from Bountiful Baskets.

Needless to say, we spent the day making salsa. I made 13 quarts of freezer salsa for my little one. He has a jalapeno allergy, so he gets a special salsa made with green chili. After that, we made another 32 quarts of regular salsa. I went to bed ridiculously tired on Saturday night, then woke up an hour later in a panic when I remembered that salsa is not supposed to be canned in quart jars. Eeep!

 

20131109_192112

 

I put everything in the fridge and reprocessed it all on Sunday in pint jars. That was not an experience I want to repeat. At least we’ve got enough salsa to last us a few m0nths.

Does anyone know how it’s possible that I only got 9 pints out of each 5 quarts of salsa I reprocessed? The math geek in me is still perplexed over that one. I wish I could blame the kids, but I kicked them all out of the kitchen that day.

We should (knock on wood) have 3 litters of baby rabbits tomorrow. We haven’t had baby rabbits since Spring, so it will be nice to have little ones hopping around again. I hope the young rabbits do well with their first litters.

Advertisements

Bountiful Baskets April 20, 2013

I can’t believe it’s already Saturday. This week has gone by so quickly. Before I give an update on our suburban homestead, let me show you what we got in our Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op today.

For fruits – We got 1 container of Blackberries (they are already gone), 6 tomatoes, 7 bananas, 1 melon, and 2 mango The mangoes aren’t in the picture. We put them in the “donate to the fire department” box at our Bountiful Basket pick up site.

20130420_084252

For Veggies, we got 8 peppers, 3 avacado, 7 red potatoes, 1 head of lettuce, 1 head of brocolli, 1 head of a broccolli-cauliflower hybrid, and 2 cucumbers.

20130420_084503

I also picked up a 25 lb box of roma tomatoes for $0.58/pound. On Monday, I’m going to replenish our salsa supply. Yum.

20130420_091743

As for everything else –

The garden has been planted, and almost everything has popped up. It’s hard to see in the picture, but there are dozens of little seedlings in there. (And a few hundred weeds that I’m going to tackle today.) Next week, I’ll spread out a thick layer of mulch. The mulch is going to help keep water in the garden during our hot weather. It will also help keep the weeds at bay. The garden doesn’t look like very large in the picture, but in actuality, it is over 500 square feet.

20130417_141122

The compost piles are getting smaller. It is amazing how quickly we go through compost. We can never get enough of it.

20130417_141149

The rabbits are doing well. Here is a picture of our finished hutch. We have wood in the front and the back of the hutch that can be swung up to protect the bunnies from harsh weather. In bad weather, I usually just throw a towel over the sides of the hutch. After we move, I’m going to make the nesting boxes large enough for the does to actually use. My favorite part of this design is the height. It’s really easy for me to check on everyone and do all of my rabbit chores each day.

Pretty boy is in the far right hutch. Polymorph and her new babies are in the second to the right hutch. The first batch of six babies are in the two hutches on the left. We took the partition out of those two hutches, so the babies have plenty of room to hop around. The entire hutch is 8 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The rabbits also take turns spending a few hours a day in the run.

20130417_141134

Goose (DS 4) loves to build things. He made this little bird feeder at one of the free Home Depot Kid’s Workshops. It makes him so proud to see birds eat from it.

20130417_141215

I made a batch of hard lotion bars. I made the first batch and they were really greasy, so I remelted and added some extra beeswax in this batch. Now they are really sticky. I think I’ll keep remelting them and playing around with the ingredients until I find a ratio that works for what I’m looking for. These were made with Beeswax, Organic Coconut Oil, and Cocoa Butter. The kids hate the scent, but I don’t mind it. I might add some essential oils or some dried herbs at some point. It’s all trial and error, but I’m having fun figuring it out.

20130419_190804

As for the house – I don’t have any picture of it, but I’m still puttering along. I’ve already got a few dozen boxes packed. I still have a giant to-do list, but as of right now, we are on target to list the house for sale within the next month. I’m trying to do just one big project and a few small projects each day. I don’t want to get overwhelmed. Today, we are cleaning all of the windows, weeding the garden, and taking measurements for all of the random things we need to buy at the home improvement store.  Tomorrow, I’ve got to touch up paint around the house, pack up one of the computers, and steam clean the carpets. Baby steps, right? It’s enouraging to know that each baby step is taking us one step closer to our goal of leaving suburbia and moving to the country.

Aldi’s vs. Bountiful Baskets

We couldn’t make it to our site this morning, so I didn’t order a basket this week. Instead, I decided to head over to my local Aldi’s and buy some produce there, just to see if Bountiful Baskets (BB) is as good of a deal as I feel like it is. (Aldi’s is a sack your own grocery store that primarily sells off brand items. They only take Debit Cards and Cash, so their overhead is very low.)

My Bountiful Basket order usually has 4-5 assorted varieties of fruits and veggies in it, so that is what I aimed for. I also tried to stay close to the $16.50 that BB charges for one basket. This is what I bought.

 

20130413_142833

10 pounds of potates (2.99)

2 pounds of carrots (1.19)

4 tomatoes (.99)

8 red onions (2.49)

2 cucumber (.98)

10 fuji apples (3.59)

1 canteloupe (.99)

8 bananas (1.28)

1 container of green grapes (3.59)

For a total of $18.09

 

If I had gotten the 5lb bag of potatoes instead of the 10lb bag and if I had only gotten 1 cucumber, my total would have been $16.60, just ten cents different from my usual bountiful basket order. If you look back at my Bountiful Baskets posts on this blog, you will see that the amount of food is very similar to a regular bountiful basket order. The food isn’t as fresh, but it was nice to be able to pick out what I needed to restock. It’s also nice to know my fridge isn’t filled with a vegetable that no one particularly likes.

It was an interesting experiment. I think that BB is worth the money, but I’m not sure each basket is worth the $25 – $35 that the company claims.  I do think that some of the bulk add ons are a great deal though, especially if you have a way to preserve excess. And their tortillas are so delicious that I don’t think I will ever eat another store bought tortilla.

The next time I have to skip a week at BB, I’ll hop over to the Dallas Farmer’s Market and see what I can get there for $16.50. (Too bad that gas to get there is an additiona $10. Ugh.)

 

Bountiful Baskets 4/6/2013

In my Bountiful Basket Food Co-Op basket for April 6th, 2013, we got the following:

1 container of strawberries

12 oranges

8 bananas

8 braeburn apples

1 bunch of asparagus

1 head of lettuce

2 bunches of celery

4 zuchinni

1 container of cherry tomatoes

1 box of mushrooms

and about 30 assorted small sweet peppers

 

20130406_091019

 

I’m most excited about the peppers and least excited about the celery. It’s also nice to see cherry tomatoes. All of the above cost $16.50.

 

The bunnies are doing well. I don’t have a picture this week, but they have gotten much bigger. They are starting to get out of the cute bunny stage. I offically sexed them yesterday, and we have 4 boys and 2 girls. They are all healthy and sweet tempered. I’m fairly confident that I’m keeping one of the girls, but I want to see what their weights are before we make that decision. One of the girls looks like the mom and the other one looks like the dad. It will be interesting to see how they change over the next few weeks.

 

I’m digging out half of my spring garden and planting my summer crops today. We are keeping the newly planted bed of salad greens and my bed of swiss chard.  They are both planted close to the house, so they are well shaded from the sun. I hope we can get another month or two of crops from them before they bolt.

From the main garden, we are keeping the spinach, onions, two different kinds of carrots, and bush snap peas. To that, I’m adding watermelon, assorted peppers, green beans, zuchinni, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, okra, and celery. As soon as I can pull the onions, carrots, and spinach, I’ll be planting cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. Yummy.

I’ve also got 10-12 strawberry plants. We are getting about 2-3 delicious strawberries a day. Luckily, the birds have left them alone so far.

As for herbs this year, I’m going a little crazy – We’ve got Thyme, Savory Basil, Sweet Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Chocolate Mint, Dill, Rosemary, and Cilantro growing in pots around the yard. I’d like to plant 4-5 times the amount of herbs that I have now, but that’s something that is going to have to wait until after we move.

I know it seems silly to plant such a large garden just a few weeks before we list the house for sale, but gardening has become a part of our lives, and I don’t want to put our lives on hold while we are waiting for someone to put in an offer. Just to be on the safe side though, we are practing our ninja moves, so if someone does buy this house, we can ninja stealth into the backyard and harvest the veggies under the cloak of the moon. (I’m kidding.) (Maybe.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bountiful Baskets 3/30/2013

Here is our bountiful basket order for today, March 30, 2013. We did volunteer this week, and it was nice to be outside this morning.

Here is the picture of the veggies that came in our basket this week.

 

20130330_084734

 

Here are the fruits

 

20130330_085342

 

And here is everything together. This cost me a total of $16.50. This week was most certainly worth it. We had 8 bananas, 1 pineapple, 1 bag of oranges, 8 apples, 1 clamshell of strawberries, 1 head of lettuce, 1 bunch of celery, 2 cucumers, 7 tomatoes, 4 zucchini, and 6 baking potatoes.

 

20130330_085039

 

I also ordered the veggie lovers – Italian themed pack as an additional add on this week. It included a medium sized eggplant, 3 assorted onions, 1 box of mushrooms, garlic, 2 red pepper, 2 green pepper, basil, oregano, and rosemary. It cost an additional $8.00 or $8.50. Last time I made eggplant, it ended up salty and mushy. I hope I can find a good recipe to use this time.

 

20130330_084508

 

All in all, it was a great basket. I’m glad I got a basket this week, but I’m also glad I didn’t get one last week. My spring garden is giving us so many yummy greens. Here is my haul from yesterday. I put the can opener in the picture so you could get a better idea of the amount of food that is here. It’s enough for all 5 of us to have a huge salad tonight. Best of all – this organic produce was grown less than 50 feet from my door – every bite has a little bit of love in it.

 

20130327_152207

 

I’m starting to get a nice little collection of water kefir soda. I’ve currently got 4 quarts on their first ferment. It’s so good. It’s better than any soda. I like adding frozen blackberries to the second ferment. It tastes like a fizzy grape juice. I should write a blog post about water kefir one day. Although, if someone walked into my kitchen right now, they might think I had some weird science experiments going on. I should invest in some vials and freak my parents out the next time they come over for supper.

 

20130327_163419

 

Here is a recent picture of the bunnies. They are 4.5 weeks old. They are currently weaning from their mom. There are only 5 in this picture, since I took the mom out and put her in a different hutch with the 6th kit. The 6th kit was alittle smaller than the others, and she will help give the mom some relief over the next couple of days.  The mom is due in 15 days, and I want her to have 10-14 days to recoup before she has her next litter. Then, she gets a nice long break during the summer.

 

Aren’t the kits getting big? They want to eat all the time. I put them on pasture yesterday for about 20 minutes. Tomorrow, I’ll let them have another 20 minutes in the run. I have to be very careful with these little guys. It’s tempted to think they can eat just like the mom and dad can, but their tummies need to be introduced to new foods slowly. I hope they tolerate grass well, so in a few weeks, I can take some of the sting out of my feed bill this month. Yikes.

 

20130329_092342

 

Have a blessed, safe, and joyous Easter weekend!

First Week of Spring

 

 

 

I was very tempted to start planting my summer vegetables yesterday, but I’m glad I didn’t. It got down to freezing last night, and it is supposed to be just as cold tonight. Brrrr! I cannot wait for the first homegrown tomato of the season. And summer squash. And watermelon. And sugar snap peas. Yummy.

Rabbits – Look how big they are getting! I can sex them now, but it’s very hard to remember which ones I’ve sexed and which ones I haven’t when I pick them up one at a time. I’m going to separate them within the next few weeks, so I’ll sex them all then. 3 of the 6 have the californian markings on their ponts that change color in cooler weather. The other 3 are pure REW (red eyed white). I might keep one of the does from this littler, and I might try to trade one doe for another doe from a different blood line.

The mom is pregnant again and I’m expecting her to kindle on April 14th. It seems like I’m breeding them really close together, but I have a reason for that. During the hotter months, the bucks become sterile and pregnant does are miserable. We regularly get 100F temperature, and during the hottest part of the summer, we see weather that is closer to 110F. Ideally, Polly will kindle her next litter and have them weaned before it gets too hot. Then she will get a nice long break before we breed her again when the cooler weather starts this fall.

The rabbits are having a great time eating Swiss Chard leaves. The babies aren’t supposed to have any greens quite yet, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Luckily, the mom is a good mom and she keeps them away from things that aren’t good for them.

20130324_130111

 

We have a couple of realtors coming next week to give us their opinions about the value of the house. I have a laundry list of things to do, but it’s really hard to get motivated. I feel like we are in limbo. I want to pack up everything except the essentials and live as minimalistic as possible while the house is on the market, but at the same time, I’m scared to put our lives on hold while we wait for the house to sell. I have to find a happy medium and it’s hard.

 

Bountiful Baskets 3/16/2013

Here is our bountiful basket order for March 16, 2013. I only took one picture of our one basket today.

We got 1 head of lettuce, 1 head of brocolli, 1 head of cauliflower, 2 bunches of asparagus, 1 yellow onion, 7 bananas, 2 grapefruit, 2 lemon, 5 apples (pink lady, I would guess), and 5 oranges. There were a few mangoes as well, but the lady that runs our site remembered that I am allergic, so she kept them out of our basket this week. (I feel spoiled rotten, it was so sweet of her to do that for us.)

20130316_085224

I ordered another Thai Add on pack. We loved the one we had last week and I am looking forward to making a shrimp curry again this week. This add on included 1 coconut, 1 head of cabbage, 1 bunch of oregano, 1 bunch of basil, 1 bunch of green onions, 1 red onion, 1 container of mushrooms, 1 bag of chile de arbol peppers, 2 stalks of lemon grass, 10 small limes, 1 head of garlic, 1 piece of ginger, 2 carrots, and 1 parsnip. This was $14.

20130316_085751

The baby rabbitss are getting big. They are 2.5 weeks old now. I took the nestbox out of their hutch two days ago, and now the kits spend their days trying to chase the mom around so they can nurse. Mwah haw haw. The mom hates my guts right now. She keeps trying to shoot laser beams at me from her eyeballs. Luckily, she has not suceeded yet.

Aren’t the little fuzzy nuggets cute?

20130316_090331

This one wants me to dye it pastel colors with food coloring and use it as a living prop for Easter pictures with my kids. I hate to crush his dream, but it’s not going to happen. Last time I picked him up, he pee’d on me. Little bugger.

20130314_135055