Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Year In Review

I know most folks get introspective around this time of the year. Thinking back on the "what ifs" and "the could-as, the would-as and last but, not least, the should-as". Here's a little something to put some perspective on that.

Wishing all my family and friends.... A wonderful 2012! May you be blessed with glorious happenings and may this year be better than last's!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Skinny on Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and many countries (including Canada) that were once part of the British Empire. The origin of this holiday's name is not clear. In feudal times in the United Kingdom, the lord of the manor would 'pay' people who worked on his land in the past year with boxes practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. These were often distributed on the day after Christmas Day. More recently, employers traditionally gave their servants a gift of money or food in a small box on the day after Christmas Day. Some people in Canada still give gifts to people who provide them with services.

Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the church collection boxes to poor parishioners. These traditions evolved into the Christmas baskets that some employers distribute to their employees during the holiday season at the end of the year.

Boxing Day is a federal holiday and is listed in the Canadian Labour Code as a holiday. However, it is not uniformly observed in all provinces and territories. It is not an official holiday in Quebec, nor is it a statutory holiday in Alberta and British Columbia. In practice, many organizations and businesses are closed, although stores are often open.

In some communities, particularly in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, stores are not open. Post offices across the country are closed. As Boxing Day falls in the Christmas holiday period, schools are closed. Public transport services may run a normal or reduced service, or provide no service.When Boxing Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, workers are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday. (I will be working tonight so will be getting paid for the holiday!)

Many people in Canada have a day off work and many of them visit stores that start their annual sales on Boxing Day. Some shoppers even start waiting outside stores in the small hours of the morning and many stores open earlier than usual. Now, the sales often last for a whole week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve and are known as the "Boxing Week Sales" instead of the "Boxing Day Sales". In some areas, particularly in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, stores are not open on Boxing Day and the post-Christmas sales start on December 27.

A number of important sporting events are held on Boxing Day and watching them on television is a popular activity. The International Ice Hockey Federation world junior hockey championships often start on December 26 (today's game is against Finland). The Canadian National team often does well in this event. The Spengler Cup ice hockey tournament, which is played in Davos, Switzerland, is also shown on major sports television channels.

And, then other's will be just enjoying the extra day off to recoup from the festivities of yesterday. Here's hoping you are doing whatever it is you enjoy doing!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Gift

I love this song. I still cry each time I hear it.
It's my Christmas gift to those of you who read my blog.
It's sung by Aselin Debison - if you wanted to know.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why Live a Self Sufficient Life?

Why have so many people opted to live the self-sufficient life? Besides enjoying the romantic, pastoral lifestyle, there are plenty of practical benefits for being self-sufficient. Here are just a few:

  • You’ll pollute less. By being self-sufficient, you’ll learn to compost food scraps, grow your own organic food, build with local materials, generate renewable energy, and avoid shopping. Each step makes a difference towards lowering your environmental impact.

  • You’ll save lots of money. Imagine if you didn’t have any more expenses: no more car payments, no more auto insurance, no more utility bills, and free food and housing. If you practice extreme self-sufficiency, you could literally live without any money.

    You don’t need to do everything yourself, nor do you need to quit your job. If gardening is too much hassle, for example, you could always buy produce from the farmers market. Likewise, it may be prudent to keep your job to help build savings. However, the more self-sufficient you become, the more you’ll save, and the fewer financial obligations you’ll have. Every little bit of self-sufficient frugality can increase your freedom.

  • You’ll pay off your debts quickly. If you work full-time in addition to homesteading, you’ll have an income with virtually no expenses. Undeveloped land is cheap, so you can often purchase it without a mortgage. After a few short years of hard work, you’ll own a house debt-free. A self-sufficient homestead can provide freedom from the turbulent state of the economy. After all, wouldn’t you rather spend your mornings gathering firewood than worrying about mortgage payments?

  • You’ll be more independent. Once you learn self-sufficiency skills, you’ll no longer depend on modern conveniences like restaurants, department stores, and gas stations. You’ll also no longer need the utilities company for water and power. Not only is self-sufficiency convenient, it could save your life during an emergency. During a serious crisis, such as a hurricane, earthquake, or a terrorist attack, you might be left stranded for weeks without basic necessities. By being self-sufficient today, your family will be much better prepared for future emergencies.

  • You’ll learn to be more resourceful. Many of us today can’t survive without cappuccinos and WiFi internet, let alone life in the rural countryside. But if you’ve ever wanted to explore different parts of the world or buy back-country property, it helps to learn self-sufficiency skills. As a benefit, the cost of living will be far cheaper. You can combine this with a telecommuting job to build savings.

  • You’ll enjoy the learning experience (hopefully). As you become self-sufficient, you’ll acquire practical skills that teach you about the environment and sustainable development. Up until the last century, these primitive skills were mostly common knowledge; we’re merely re-learning them today. This knowledge can help us better understand both historical cultures and the world around us.

Self-sufficiency is a fusion of many related ideas. It’s half low-cost lifestyle and part do-it-yourself ingenuity, mixed in with sustainable development and a touch of emergency preparedness.It can be a lot of fun. Really.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Low Cost Slow Cooker Greek Yogurt

Pour 1 gallon of milk in a 5 quart slow cooker. Place on low for 2-3 hours or until it is 180 degrees. Do not let the milk boil! You can use any kind of milk–skim to whole. I prefer skim for the lower calories and we are used to it. Whole milk yogurt is delightfully creamy though.

Turn off the slow cooker and let the milk sit until it has cooled to 110-120 degrees. (2-3 hours) (You have just killed any bacteria that was in the milk previously so it won’t interfere with the new bacteria cultures that you are going to introduce.) This also unravels the proteins and allows the yogurt to thicken.

Take 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (reserved from your last batch or purchased) and mix it with 1 cup of the warm milk from your slow cooker. Then stir this mixture into the rest of the warm milk. Cover with the lid and wrap in bath towels to insulate. Keep the slow cooker turned off and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning it will look like this:

You can see the whey separated and floating on the top with the yogurt solids underneath. If you stir all this together, you will have regular plain yogurt.

To make Greek Yogurt: Layer a large bowl with a large colander and line with 3 layers of cheese cloth. Pour your yogurt into this and allow to drain without stirring until half of the volume is reduced. Save the nutritious clear whey for baking and use it like buttermilk in pancakes, biscuits, bread etc.

Take the strained yogurt and put it in your electric mixture with the wisk attachment and whip. Add a little fresh milk (or cream) until it has the moistness and consistency you like.

It should be very thick and creamy when you are done. This recipe yields 1 gallon of plain yogurt or 1/2 gallon of Greek Yogurt for around $3. This is roughly 1/4 the cost of buying the same amounts and requires very little hands on time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Bath Salts

Bath Salts

The Players

  • 1/2 cup Epsom Salts (or 1/4 cup Epsom Salts + 1/4 cup Sea Salts)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup dried Rosebuds
  • 5-6 drops Essential Oil of Rose Geranium

The How-To

Mix together and add desired amount to warm bath. (You may want to use a tea ball or muslin bag, to keep the rosebuds from clogging the drain, if you think that might be a problem.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Making Your Own Laundry Detergent

There are two options when it comes to mixing your own: liquid or powder. Liquid can be a little more versatile, since you can (carefully) add essential oils to give it a nice scent, but powder is easier to make, since you won't have to use the stove. Whichever way you go, you'll want to gather the following ingredients: your favorite (not too heavily-perfumed) bar soap, borax and washing soda. That last one-washing soda -is in the same family as baking soda. It has just been processed differently; it's sodium carbonate-two sodium atoms, a carbon atom, and three hydrogen atoms-whereas baking soda is sodium bicarbonate-the same ingredients, but with a hydrogen atom replacing one of the sodiums. It is much more caustic/alkaline, with a pH of 11, and while it doesn't give off harmful fumes, you do need to wear gloves. It is found in the laundry section of most supermarkets.

Liquid Detergent

1 quart water (boiling)
2 cups bar soap (grated)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda

1. Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.

2. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the borax and washing soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.

3. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.

4. Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Once it's cool, add 5 - 7 drops of your favorite essential oil per gallon. Stir the soap each time you use it (it will gel).

Powdered Detergent

2 cups finely grated soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax

1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.

2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Live Christmas Trees - an Addition to your Yard

Getting a live, balled in burlap Christmas tree instead of a cut tree is a great idea, because a live tree will last forever in your yard. Instead of paying the big bucks for that cut tree, you can buy a balled tree for usually less money. It will live on for many years.

Long before that tree came into your life it has spent many a winter outside in the cold, and that's what it prefers. So with that in mind, keep your tree inside for as short a time as possible. After you buy the tree and bring it home leave it out in the weather until your ready to bring it inside. Don't keep it in your garage. Even though unheated, your garage is dry, too dry for a live tree.

First thing you should do is dig a hole in the yard where you are going to plant your tree after Christmas. The ground might be frozen after Christmas so dig the hole as soon as you get the tree. Be careful not to make the hole too deep. Once in the hole the top of the root ball should be at least one inch above grade. Planting a tree too deep will kill it.

Put the soil from the hole in a wheelbarrow and park the wheelbarrow in the garage to keep the soil from freezing. That way when you plant your tree you'll have loose soil to back fill around the root ball.

Once inside keep the root ball watered, but not submersed in water. Water the tree by pouring water over top of the root ball, leaving an inch of water in the bottom of the container. It helps to keep the root ball covered with plastic to retain the moisture between waterings. Check the water level daily and water as needed. Do not let the root ball dry out.

Right after Christmas (Boxing Day is not too early to ensure the tree stays alive) get your tree out of the house and into the hole immediately. Even if the ground is frozen, get the root ball of the tree into the hole and back fill with the soil you removed from the hole when you dug it. If that soil is frozen and you can't back fill the hole, still place the root ball in the hole and cover the root ball with leaves, straw, something until you can get the tree planted properly.

Do not fertilize the tree. Give it a chance to get acclimated to it's new home. I rarely fertilize any plant in my landscape and they do just fine.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Frugality on the Road to Self Suffciency

Here are a few tips I've picked up over the years to keep food fresh.

Lettuce - never use a metal knife to slice a lettuce. The metal will turn the remaining lettuce brown and make it less appealing. Instead tear it with your hands or use a plastic knife.

Pasta and rice - keep your dry goods fresh and free from insects by storing them in a glass jar with a lid along with a bay leaf

Sliced fruit - keep sliced fruit like apples and fruit salad looking fresh by storing them in the fridge in water and lemon juice.

Cheese - wrap cheese tightly and keep in the fridge. If mold does appear it will normally only be the edges, which can be easily sliced off. If a block of cheese dries out, store it in the freezer and use it grated in your recipes (it does not need to be thawed).

Screw Tops - Always buy screw top bottles and save them to store your homemade goods in. They are also great for storing dehydrated foods.

Leftovers - never throw anything out, most leftovers can be added to something else to make a completely separate meal or frozen for later use.

A few frugal suggestions for using leftovers are:

Cooked vegetables - can be used in soups, pies, or as potato toppings

Stale bread - bread pudding, toasted and used as croutons on soup.

Left over meat or fish - used as ingredients for a chilli, added to fried rice or stews.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homemade Moisturizing Cream on the Cheap

Homemade Moisturizing Cream

200mL shea butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon organic coconut oil, softened not melted
1 teaspoon organic extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

With a hand held blender, beat shea butter until creamy, about 30 seconds.

Add in softened coconut oil and evoo and beat again until incorporated.

Scoop into a jar and voila.

Spread a dab or two on your hands. Use it as a hair treatment, apply a small amount to damp hair, keep it there for 10 - 15 minutes (or overnight) and rinse.

Other ways to use the moisturizer:

as a diaper cream
as a natural sunscreen
to add an extra glow to your cheeks

Add in a little vitamin E to the cream for even more skin therapy.

The possibilities are endless! Shea butter has become my new obsession. Wouldn't a little jar of this cream be a fabulous gift idea for a friend? All natural and organic products for under $15!

Borrowed from: from The Seasonal Family, an unrefined blog

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Your Man Reminder :)

This is funny but, oh so important and it will help you learn.
Please check your breasts my women friends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deviation from the norm - December 10: Total lunar eclipse

This eclipse will be fully visible from Alaska.

The Moon will enter the penumbra (A partial shadow between regions of complete shadow and complete illumination.) at 2:32 A.M. AKST (Alaska Standard Time, which is 4 hours behind our time here in Ontario, Canada) and will leave the penumbra at 8:32 A.M. AKST.

The eclipse will be partially visible from parts of North America: Central and western areas will be able to observe both a penumbral and umbral (The complete or, perfect shadow of an opaque body where the direct light from the source of illumination is completely cut off.) eclipse.

The Moon will enter the penumbra at 3:32 A.M. PST ( Pacific Standard Time) and the umbra at 4:45 A.M. PST. A penumbral eclipse will be visible from most of the East Coast, starting at 6:32 A.M. EST, just before the Moon sets.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Making Your Own Jerky

Jerky should be made from lean cuts if possible. For making jerky beef or, deer is ideal. After trimming the fat, sinew and membranes from the meat, marinate it overnight. Use one of these recipes I have included here. They all work well. Or, you can experiment with your own.

Slice the trimmed meat into long strips about 1/4 inch thick. If you work with slightly frozen meat it will be easier to slice. Slice the meat along the grain or, along the muscle fiber to make chewy jerky. Cut across the grain, or, across the muscles, to end up with more tender jerky. I prefer the cross grain slices.

Easy Jerky Marinade
1 cup of pickling salt
1 gallon of water

Mix the brine well and allow the strips to soak for about 24 hours. Pat them dry and place in your dryer at 155 (if you have a thermostat).

Jerky Marinade

1/2 cup of soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground hot pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. hickory smoke-flavored salt

Cajun Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Cajun spice

The longer you allow the meat to soak, the stronger the flavors.
To test for doneness;
Take a piece out of the dryer and allow it to cool.
Then just break the piece in two. It should not snap in two.
Rather it should bend and splinter and break, much like a green stick will do.
There you have it.... jerky made your way without the weird stuff they put in the store bought jerky.
You can bag and place in the freezer but, you don't really need to. But, it does add storage life to the jerky.
In this house, it doesn't last that long!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not Self - Sufficient but, Frugal

  • Vinegar uses;
  • Bring a solution of one-cup vinegar and four tablespoons baking soda to a boil in teapots and coffeepots to rid them of mineral deposits.
  • A solution of vinegar and baking soda will easily remove cooking oil from your stovetop.
  • Clean the filter on your humidifier by removing it and soaking it in a pan of white vinegar until all the sediment is off.
  • Vinegar naturally breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh. Add a cup of vinegar to each load during the rinse cycle.
  • Saturate a cloth with vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda, and then use it to clean fiberglass tubs and showers. Rinse well and rub dry for a spotless shine.
  • To remove chewing gum, rub it with full-strength vinegar.
  • For a clean oven, combine vinegar and baking soda, then scrub.
  • Clean and deodorize your toilet bowl by pouring undiluted white vinegar into it. Let stand for five minutes, then flush. Spray stubborn stains with white vinegar, then scrub vigorously.
  • Clean windows with a cloth dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and 10 parts warm water. This works for dirty TV screens, too!
  • For brunettes, rinsing hair with vinegar after a shampoo makes hair shinier. Use one-tablespoon vinegar to one-cup warm water.
  • Soak paint stains in hot vinegar to remove them.
  • To clean drip coffeemakers, fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly by brewing two cycles with water before using.
  • To remove bumper stickers from car chrome, paint on vinegar and let it soak in. Next, scrape off the stickers. Decals can be removed similarly.
  • Rid your refrigerator and freezer of bad odors by cleaning the insides with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then wiping dry.
  • Apply full strength vinegar to mosquito or other insect bites to relieve the itching. (Caution: Do not do this if the affected area is raw.)
  • To remove smoke odors on clothes, hang them above a steaming bathtub filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.
  • To prevent mildew, wipe down surfaces with vinegar.
  • Place a vinegar-soaked brown bag on sprains to ease pain and aid recovery.
  • Use a sponge dampened with vinegar to clean shower curtains.
  • To remove salt and water stains from leather boots and shoes, rub with a solution of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup water. Wipe over the stained area only, and then polish.
  • To loosen a stuck jar lid, hold the jar upside down and pour warm vinegar around the neck at the joint between the glass and the top.
  • Rub cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Food Dehydration

The drying of food as a means of preservation has been around a very long time. Many people around the globe have dried meat, fish, fruit and veggies when these things are plentiful for those times when they are not. From years past to now.

My first encounter with food dehydration was a friend's uncle who dried apple slices. The "machine" he used to dry the apple slices was a bit strange. It was an old car. He used cheesecloth covered trays he placed the apple slices on. The trays were placed on wood strips laying across the dashboard, the seat backs and the rear deck (window). The car's windows were rolled down just a bit to allow the moist heated air to escape. This made a pretty effective, if somewhat, bulky dehydrator.

Essentially, dehydration of food removes the moisture that provides an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria. Removal of the moisture results in a product that can be stored for months or, even years. (I have orange zest from 3 years ago vacuumed sealed still on my shelves.)

I initially purchased the small round dehydrator which is available at your local retail store down the block. It had only an "on/off" switch. I have since found out why the better dehydrators have a thermostat. (It gives you options in your drying heats. A very big plus.) Anyway.... I burned the first unit out. When I bought my next unit cause I was hooked on drying foods, what I thought to be a middle of the road semi-decent model of food dehydrator, lasted me just a couple of months past the warranty date. Was I pissed? You bet I was.

Now I don't own stock in the company nor, am I getting any kick backs from them.... but, I now own an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator with thermostat and timer and have never been happier with anything in my life. What a real beauty! I highly recommend you get yourself one.

I learned how to dehydrate with the Yahoo group online. I have dried any number of things. Even things I never knew you could dry. I have done meat (jerky and liver treats for the dog), shrimp, berries, lemon and orange zest, veggies of every kind, tomatoes by the buckets full.... and making yogurt becomes a breeze using the dehydrator. Mine can even be used to dry wet things... like mittens and gloves during the winter.

I hope this has piqued your interest in trying this way to preserve foods. It's not at all costly to get yourself set up to do this. It's a safe and proven method to store those extras for those leaner times.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the Road to Self-Sufficiency

After talking with a friend a couple of days ago...I got a real kick in the pants. Listening to her and discovering all she has been doing these past months to feed her family healthfully, I was saddened to think how much I have let it slip lately. So in that vein, I will again start blogging about what I am trying to accomplish.

Here's a couple of good resources for food preservation to start off with;

Putting Food By, by Janet C. Greene
Stocking Up III, edited by Carol Hupping, Rodale Press
Making the Best of Basics, by James Talmadge Stevens

If you are interested in setting up a long term food storage plan, there are some good computer programs available to help you determine how much to set by. Also do a google search for long term food storage. You'll be surprised at how many sites you will find.

All these sources can help to filling and organizing your pantry shelves so you can become more self-sufficient.
Next up; dehydrating foods

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Teddy Bear,"

Having a bad day? Watch this to change where your head is at.
Teddy is too cute. And, what's that he is saying?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You Might be a Redneck

You own a home that is mobile and 5 cars that aren't.

You think the stock market has a fence around it.

Your stereo speakers used to belong to the Moonlight Drive-in Theater.

Your boat has not left the drive-way in 15 years.

Chiggers are included on your list of top 5 hygiene concerns.

You burn your yard rather than mow it.

You re-use dental floss to save money.

You've ever drunk mouthwash just because you're too lazy to walk down to the liquor store.

Your bumper sticker reads "If you're missing your cat, look in my treads. " (sorry Katie)

You think the Gettysburg Address is where Lincoln lived.

Your kids learned to shoot before they learned to walk.

Higher math means counting over 10.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


For those who know me and my health problems...

Thanks to Kim Vlasnik for the cartoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

We Are The Many - Makana

Just heard this and the reasons behind it...
This young man was singing at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)
President Obama was the keynote speaker.

Potatoes Need Love too

Rosy Spud was well-loved by her fellow tubers, but she couldn't understand why....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tab Benoit - I Put A Spell On You [Audio]

I like to hear remakes of the oldies but, goodies.
And, this Louisiana boy does it well.
He plays primarily Delta Blues with his Fender Telecaster guitar.
Oh and he's not bad to look at either!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Indian Summer

In the fall, it seems that almost any warm day is referred to by most people as "Indian summer."

And, while their error is certainly not of the world-shaking variety, they are, for the most part, in error. Here is criteria for an Indian summer:

  • As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.
  • A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night.
  • The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost.
  • The conditions described above must occur between St. Martin's Day (November 11) and November 20.

Why is Indian summer called Indian summer? There are many theories. Some say it comes from the early Algonquian Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Garden This Year

The garden is being put to bed. It's taken us this long as the weather had held off for a good long while. We were also covering sections of it to protect it from those early light freezes and frosts. And, the only things left in the garden were cold tolerant plants.

Yesterday I finally got to the brussels sprouts and cabbages. They were pulled or, plucked, cleaned and checked for bad spots or, bugs. And, processed for saving for winter eating. Oh, and plus we each had a big dish of sprouts for our dinner. Dusted with a bit of nutmeg.... my, oh my, was that ever good.

We are still eating fresh, red, huge beefsteak and best boy tomatoes! When the time was upon us, we went and pulled and wrapped in newspaper the most perfect of the greenies left on the bushes before the first hard freeze happened. I am so glad we did. And, it's been about a month or, more since we did. And, that's why fresh tomatoes are still gracing our dinner table every night.

I also pulled or, cut the chives and the parsley out of the garden. Cleaned and washed they are in the dehydrator. I will fill a couple of my smaller mason jars with those handy little herbs and vacuum seal them. I use parsley in just about every dish during the winter, primarily for the color and..... because mostly it reminds me of summer time.

We added manure to most all of the empty garden beds. We have built with Freecycled material, a 3 bin composting system. And, we have that "hot" cooking right now with extra manure in it to break down some of the load of stuff being dumped into them out of the gardens.

It's been a grand year for our garden. We have eaten well from it, have stored a whole bunch of goodness from it to feed us this winter and we have shared it's goodness with friends. What more could we have asked for?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"When the Frost is on the Punkin"

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock, And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock, And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens, And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence; O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest, As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock, When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock. They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees, And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees; But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock— 15 When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock. The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn, And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn; The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 20 The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed; The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!— O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock, When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock. Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 25 Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps; And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!... I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 30 I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock— When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tomato Info

I just came across this fact when reading up on tomatoes.

Outdoor tomatoes, if taken care of and watered properly can yield 10 lb each.

I also read if it's a good year, you can expect sometimes up to 20 lb per plant.

Well this being a very good year for us..... and we had over 70 plants in the ground,
does that mean we harvested somewhere between 700 to 1400 lbs of tomatoes?

I wish I had weighed our harvest.

Mind boggling numbers!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Green Tomato Ketchup


  • 6 pounds green tomatoes
  • 3 pounds onions
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices, optional
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup honey


Slice green tomatoes and onions; place in a large pot with pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. If using, put the mixed pickling spices in a small cheesecloth bag and add to the mixture. Pour vinegar over all and cook for 4 hours over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Carefully puree mixture in a blender; strain through a mesh strainer. Return to pot and bring to boil; add honey. Immediately fill 6 sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the jar tops and threads clean with clean damp towels. Place hot sealing lids on the jars and apply the screw on rings loosely. Process in boiling water bath in a deep canning pot for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool completely. Tighten the jar screw rings to complete the sealing process. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, it is not sealed and must be refrigerated.) Let jars of green tomato ketchup stand at room temperature 24 hours. Store unopened product in a cool dry place up to one year. Refrigerate green tomato ketchup after opening.
Makes 6 pints of green tomato ketchup.

Are you tired of green tomatoes yet?
I am but, I have buckets and buckets of them still to process into something.
I think we must have picked about 50 pounds of them three days ago.
Big sigh.......

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Old-fashioned Tomato Ketchup

Homemade ketchup is rich, full-bodied and infinitely better than the over-processed, corn syrup-laden commercial version.


7 pounds tomatoes, chopped

2 cups onion, chopped

1 cup bell pepper, chopped

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

1 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Spice packet:

12 whole cloves

15 whole allspice

6 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon coriander seed

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns


Place chopped tomatoes, onions and peppers in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Press through a food mill to make a smooth sauce.

To make the spice packet, cut a 5-inch square of cheesecloth, place the spices in the centre and tie closed with a piece of twine.

Return the sauce to the pot and add sugar, vinegar and the spice packet.

Simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes to an hour until the sauce has reduced down to the desired consistency. Stir often to prevent the bottom burning.

Remove from the heat and discard the spice packet. Ladle the thickened sauce into hot, sterilized jars leaving ½ inch headspace and heat-process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Makes about 3 pints.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Green Tomato Chutney

  • 2 pounds diced green tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 apples, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 finely minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small hot pepper, deseeded and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until everything is cooked and the mixture has thickened. Stir regularly to keep it from burning in the pan.

Pour the chutney into hot, sterilized jars leaving half an inch of headspace and heat-process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Makes about 4 cups.

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homemade Natural Deodorant

- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons starch of your choice (arrowroot powder, corn starch, potato starch, tapioca...)
- 3 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil, softened (available at natural foods stores)

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and starch. Add the coconut oil, and stir it in until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a flexible food container -- this can be a small plastic tub, or a couple of muffin liners -- and refrigerate for a few hours, until hard.

(If you have an empty deodorant tub with a little wheel thing that pushes the stick up like a push-up ice pop, I'm fairly sure you could refill it with the coconut mixture. I couldn't bring myself to buy one only to throw out the deodorant stick, though, so I haven't tried it.)

Once hardened, pop the stone (or stones, if you've made several) out of the container(s), and rub it on like an ordinary deodorant. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge to preserve that rub-on texture, or at room temperature to apply like a lotion.

This amount will last one person 2-3 months.

Green Tomato Pickles

This is a great way to put those early green tomatoes to use. Not as sweet as bread and butter pickles, but tart like dilled, green tomato pickles are the perfect relish for any lunch plate.

Makes about 9 x 500 ml jars.

7 lb (3.2 kg) green plum tomatoes, about 35 medium

2 medium cooking onions

1/4 cup (50 ml) pickling salt

2 medium sweet red peppers

1 lemon

1 tbsp (15 ml) celery seed

3 tbsp (45 ml) mustard seed

1 tbsp (15 ml) Each: green peppercorns, dill seed

4 cups (1000 ml) vinegar

2 cups (500 ml) water

1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar

• Day 1: Thoroughly wash and remove cores from tomatoes. Thinly slice tomatoes and onions crosswise, sprinkle with 1/4 cup (50 ml) pickling salt; cover and let stand 12 hours in a cool place.

• Day 2: Place 9 clean 500 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat SNAP LID® sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.

• Thoroughly drain tomatoes and onions; do not rinse; set aside tomatoes and onions.

Wash and seed red peppers; slice into thin strips. Wash and thinly slice lemon; remove seeds; set aside.Tie celery seed in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine reserved tomato mixture, red pepper, lemon, spice bag, mustard seed, peppercorns, dill seed, vinegar, water and sugar; mix well. Bring to a boil, boil gently 1 minute; remove from heat. Pack pickles into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top of jar. Add hot cooking liquid to cover pickles to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more cucumbers and hot pickling liquid. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining cucumbers and hot pickling liquid.When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 15 minutes.*When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 2 whole Medium, Firm Green Tomatoes
  • bacon fat (yes bacon fat as it tastes the best)
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil, if you don't want to use bacon fat
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ½ cups Whole Wheat or, White Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Pepper
  • ½ teaspoons Optional Seasoning, garlic, chili powder, whatever you like
  • 3 whole Eggs Beaten
  • ½ cups Cornmeal

Use a mandoline to slice each tomato into eight 1/4-inch thick slices. Use a cast iron skillet for the best results. Heat up your bacon fat or, your oil of choice.

Meanwhile, set up breading station using 4 shallow dishes. Put milk in the first; flour, salt, pepper and seasoning in the second; eggs in the third; cornmeal in the fourth. Dip a tomato slice in the milk, then the flour mixture, then the egg, then the cornmeal. Fry tomato slices for 2 minutes on each side. If they are browning too quickly, turn the heat down. They will need about 4 minutes total for the tomato to become slightly softened on the inside. Repeat with all tomato slices. Remove tomatoes and drain on a paper towels. Serve warm.

Makes 16 slices.

Since yesterday's post was about green tomato mincemeat and I talked of glorious and beautiful fried green tomatoes... well here is the recipe I use. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vegetarian Green-Tomato Mincemeat

Vegetarian Green-Tomato Mincemeat

3 pounds green tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of salt
3 cups of seedless raisins (about 1 large package)
1/4 cup boiling real apple cider vinegar, if desired
2 large apples, chopped and cored but not peeled
1 large orange, chopped and cored but not peeled
1 cup of sugar
1 pint of DARK corn syrup
2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

Spread sliced tomatoes in a non-metal container; sprinkle with salt. Let stand overnight. Rinse, drain and rinse quickly again. If desired, soak the raisins in 1/4 cup of boiling hot cider vinegar for 15 minutes to plump. Chop the tomatoes into small bits. (Use a food processor, it is easier and quicker). In a large non-aluminum kettle, place all of the ingredients, including tomatoes. Cover the pan and let simmer for 40 minutes. Uncover the pan. Allow the mincemeat to boil gently for 1 hour 15 minutes. During this time, stir the ingredients occasionally. Do not burn or the recipe will be ruined.

Dump into a pie shell, cover with second crust and bake at 350 for 40 minutes or, until the pie shell is nicely browned.

I have to do something with all the green tomatoes in my garden as we are well into October now. I can't stand seeing them go to waste. This is one way I will use them up. Another way... tomato relish oh and who could forget the fried green tomatoes!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Hunter's Moon"

This is Andy McKee performing Hunter's Moon.

October 11, shines the full Hunter’s Moon, which follows autumn’s Harvest Moon.

In pioneer days, after the vegetables were stored for the winter, it was time to go farther afield looking for wild game. Deer were fattening, and Native Americans and farmers sought a store of good venison for the cold winter days to come.

Unlike the buffalo or the antelope, the white-tailed deer is estimated to be roughly as numerous today as it was when the Pilgrims joined the Native Americans on this continent

Monday, October 3, 2011

Test Your Observations Skills

I scored a 17 out of 25. The test said that was a good score. I don't think so....

You give it a try and see how you do. The questions are simple enough and easy to answer.

Oh and it won't take you long to do this.... unless of course you go looking for help on the answers.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Salt and It's Many Uses

I use non-iodized sea salt for these and other health practices.

  • Flushing sinuses* Although its use is ancient, modern medical research has shown that flushing the sinus passages with a saline solution can help prevent/relieve sinus infections, relieve post-nasal drip.
  • Cleaning teeth Try a mixture of salt and baking soda for your “toothpaste.“ Pulverize sea salt in a blender or crush it with a rolling pin, mix with an equal amount of baking soda, shake, and store in a small glass jar. Mix with a bit of water, and brush as usual. Both salt and baking soda have antimicrobial properties that kill many of the pathogenic bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
  • As a gargle, mouthwash, or breath sweetener* Mix a teaspoon of this mixture in a cup of warm water.
  • As an eyewash* Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and used it as a wash for tire, irritated eyes.
  • Reducing under-eye puffiness Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in a cup of hot water; soak a wash cloth or cotton balls in the solution and apply on the puffy areas.
  • Reducing fatigue Soaking tired feet or your entire body in a warm salt-infused bath has a restorative effect.
  • Relieving the pain of insect stings Mix salt with a bit of water and apply to the sting immediately.
  • Treating poison ivy Soaking the affected areas in hot saltwater helps relieve the itch and dry up the blisters
  • As an exfoliant Mix sea salt half and half with olive oil and rub gently over the body for an exfoliating, moisturizing scrub. Rinse with warm water. For the face, mix one part salt with one part honey.
There's probably a billion more uses of salt. This is but, a small list.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My "Somebody To Love" audition

Wow! Does he do a mean Freddy Mercury! And, he even looks a bit like him.
Thanks Katie for posting the link on FB.
You rock my little niece!

Why Leaves Turn Colour in the Autumn

Not all leaves turn vivid colors in the fall. Only a few species of deciduous trees—notably maple, aspen, oak, and gum—produce grand performances for the annual autumn spectacular in North America.

Several factors contribute to fall color, but the main agent is light, or actually the lack of it. The amount of daylight relates to the timing of the autumnal equinox. (Tomorrow morning Sept. 23rd at 5:05 am EDT)

As the autumn days grow shorter, the reduced light triggers chemical changes in deciduous plants causing a corky wall to form between the twig and the leaf stalk.

This "abscission layer" eventually causes the leaf to drop off in the breeze. As the corky cells multiply, they seal off the vessels that supply the leaf with nutrients and water and also block the exit vessels, trapping simple sugars in the leaves. The combination of reduced light, lack of nutrients, and no water add up to the death of the pigment chlorophyll, the "green" in leaves.

Once the green is gone, two other pigments show their bright faces. These pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll. (The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.)

Sugar trapped in autumn leaves by the abscission layer is largely responsible for the vivid color. Some additional anthocyanins are also manufactured by sunlight acting on the trapped sugar. This is why the foliage is so sparkling after several bright fall days and more pastel during rainy spells. In general, a dry fall produces the most-vibrant color.

Is this more than you wanted to know? I had a friend ask about leaves and their specific colours. I had to do some research to answer her question because it bothered me I didn't know. This above is what I learned. Do you go leaf peeping? Me, I do as I love the coolness of the weather and the vivid show of Nature's.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Autumnal Equinox

Fall begins. The autumnal equinox is defined as the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth's equator projected out onto the sphere. Another definition of fall is nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The word equinox means "equal night"; night and day are the same length of time. The spring equinox is in late March. In addition to the equal hours of daylight and darkness, the equinoxes are times when the Sun's apparent motion undergoes the most rapid change. Around the time of the equinoxes, variations in the position on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets can be noticed from one day to the next by alert observers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Overwinter Geraniums

South African in origin, geraniums (pelargoniums) have a three-month dormant period during winter’s dryness. They need to be kept well-watered before going into dormancy. In the old days, we had cool cellars with dirt floors that were dark and moist. We shook the dirt off the roots and hung them upside down in bundles.
If you have a cool place in your house (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit), it is possible to overwinter your geraniums by keeping them in plastic or glazed pots with good drainage and giving them very little water. In spring, bring them into a warm place and water them heavily. When they start to show buds, repot them and prune heavily.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Harvest Moon

The full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox. (September 23 this year) is called the Harvest Moon. This Moon, which occurs on Monday, September 12 this year, is not just the full Moon that occurs at the time of the harvest. It is the full Moon that actually helps the harvest by providing more light at the right time than other full Moons do.

Because of the location of the sun, Earth, and moon this month, the nearly full moon will appear low in the southeastern sky for several nights in a row, which traditionally has allowed farmers an extension of daylight during the critical time of year when they are harvesting their crops.

The exact time of full moon will be 5:27 a.m. EDT (0927 GMT) on Sept. 12.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Love This

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh Joy, Joy, Joy

For those of you with little ones returning to school.... this is dedicated to you.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Donut Seed

Love this redneck gardener.
Make sure to watch all the way thru.
I sat here laughing my arse off.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Poem I Read Often

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Bill Ward

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The cucumber is a type of melon and comes from the same family as watermelon, zucchini and other squash. It is cylindrical in shape with lengths of approximately 6 to 9 inches. Its skin is very similar to watermelon, ranges from green to white. Inside, the flesh is pale green and very juicy.

The cucumber is a tropical plant but is also easily available in most part of the world. However, in some cultures, cucumber is more often used to make pickles, of which most of its nutrients would have been lost.

The inside of a cucumber is about 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding temperature. That makes it a natural for beautifying the face, along with the magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and other nutrients contained cucumbers contain. Also, they are 96 percent cool water.

Try placing a slice of cucumber on each eye and rest for 15 minutes if your eyes are puffy. Cukes can banish dark circles under eyes, too, and tighten sagging skin. Combine a grated cucumber with a half cup of milk and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then spread the resulting paste under your eyes and let it stay for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water. It works and is much cheaper than those pricy cosmetics sold to take off years from your face.

Skip the mouthwash, too. Cucumbers tame bad breath. Press a slice or two to the roof of your mouth with your tongue and hold for 30 seconds. The phytochemcials in cucumbers will kill the bacteria responsible for causing bad breath.

It is now know cucumber can help counter uric acids that are causing inflammation in joints. When cucumber is taken it does it's cleaning work at the joints, thus stirring up pain as it eliminates the uric acid.

When there is a sunburn, make cucumber juice and rub it on the affected area for a cooling and healing effect.

So can I ask... have you had your cucumber today?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Friendship Cake

Friendship Cake
1 cup of greetings
1/2 cups of smiles
1 large hug
2/3 cup of love
1 tsp of sympathy
2 cups of hospitality

Preparation of Cake
Cream greetings and smiles thoroughly. Add hug separately.
Slowly stir in love. Sift sympathy and hospitality and fold in
carefully. Bake in warm heart. Serve often.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tomato 101

When Are Tomatoes Ready?
• A ripe tomato is firm and only slightly soft.
• If your tomatoes fall off early, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple.
• To store ripe tomatoes, place them in a cool, dark place in a single layer with the stem up.
• Never place tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen; they may rot first.
• Never refrigerate tomatoes. Doing so spoils that garden tomato taste.

Since soon I am going to be inundated with tomatoes I thought I would post this little bit of knowledge.

We have so far been enjoying the yellow cherries, beefsteaks, best boys and the funny ones with the orange stripes on a red background. Geez, I wish I would have label them all then I would have known the names of them to tell you and others.

Did I tell you I have 70 plants?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Continumum of Today's Post

Remember this?

I am woman hear me roar.... I am wise but, it's wisdom borne of pain.
Yes, I've paid the price but, look how much I've gained.
If I had to, I can do anything.
I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.

Thank you to Helen Reddy.

Hello? Anyone Out There Still?

I have been granted my permanent residency to stay in Canada.
And, with that being said, I am totally whacked.
I started working and I have been working two jobs.
Both were part time until this week and one became full time.
There are just not enough hours in the days anymore for all I am doing.
Two jobs and the part time job of canning the very prolific garden.
Whew, I am beat. I fall into bed and when I awake....
I wonder where, what, when and who I am. Am I crazy?
Bear with me please.
Once things settle down I promise I'll be blogging again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canning and Pickling Tips and Tricks

Canning and pickling are great ways to preserve the bounty of the season’s harvest and keep many vegetables and fruit.

• Produce must be fresh when pickled. Avoid using waxed supermarket produce.

• Scrub food well. Be sure to remove and discard a 1-1/16-inch slice from the blossom end of fresh cucumbers.

• Use canning or pickling salt (not iodized table salt, sea salt, kosher or any of the others I am not remembering to name!). However, non-caking materials added to table salts may make the brine cloudy. Flake salt varies in density and is not recommended for use.

• For the best results, use white distilled or cider vinegars with 5 percent acidity.

Pickling is preserving foods in vinegar (or other acid). Vinegar is produced from starches or sugars fermented first to alcohol and then the alcohol is oxidized by certain bacteria to acetic acid. Wines, beers and ciders are all routinely transformed into vinegars.

Pickling may have originated when food was placed in wine or beer to preserve it, since both have a low pH. Perhaps the wine or beer went sour and the taste of the food in it was appealing. Containers had to be made of stoneware or glass, since the vinegar would dissolve the metal from pots. Never ones to waste anything our ancestors found uses for everything. The left over pickling brine found many uses. The Romans made a concentrated fish pickle sauce called “garum”. It was powerful stuff packing a lot of fish taste in a few drops.

There was a spectacular increase in food preservation in the sixteenth century owing to the arrival in Europe of new foods. Ketchup was an oriental fish brine that traveled the spice route to Europe and eventually to America where someone finally added sugar to it. Spices were added to these pickling sauces to make clever recipes. Soon chutneys, relishes, piccalillis, mustards, and ketchups were commonplace. Worcester sauce was an accident from a forgotten barrel of special relish. It aged for many years in the basement of the Lea and Perrins Chemist shop.

• For crisper pickles, put the vegetables (whole or sliced) into a wide bowl and spread a layer of pickling salt on top. Cover and let sit overnight in a cool place. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the vegetables before pickling or canning as usual. Or, use Pickle Crisp made by the Ball company or, do it like our grandmother's did.... add a grape leaf to the jar.

In conclusion...
Some historians believe that food preservation was not only for sustenance, but also cultural. They point to numerous special occasion preserved foods that have religious or celebratory meanings. In America more and more people live in cities and procure foods commercially. They have been removed from a rural self-sufficient way of life. Yet, for many, a garden is still a welcome site. And, annually there exists a bounty crop of vegetables and fruits. It is this cultural nature of preserved foods that survives today. Interests have shifted from preserve “because we have to”, to “preserve because we like to.” I am one of those who like to.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Today will be spent getting ready to can as it's my only day off this week.
Once everything is collected I will be canning into the late night hours (cooler than).

I got a load of cucumbers waiting for me.
Will post pictures later.
Hope to be hearing lots of ringing pings as the jars seal.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Swimming with the Fishies

This diver swimming with this whale shark almost got sucked up as the whale was skimming the water feeding on plankton off Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

The shark, which is the sea's largest fish, is actually vegetarian. The relieved diver escaped from the encounter unscathed and continued to enjoy the presence of the incredibly docile animals.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

We’re in the midst of what folks call the Dog Days often the hottest days of summer.

The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days: the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.

The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile’s flooding, so they used the star as a “watchdog” for that event.

Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with sultry weather was made for all time. And, just how hot is it where you live?

Dog Days bright and clear
Indicate a happy year.
But when accompanied by rain,
for better times our hopes are vain.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Painting Reality

500 liters of waterbased environmentally-friendly paint on asphalt was
spread by 2000 cars. This is Berlin.
How about Time's Square?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White - Perez Prado

For your listening pleasure. Hard to believe this is over 56 years old.....
like me and was the top song of 1955.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Newest Garden Photos

Since these were taken last weekend there has been significant growth in the garden. Daily I am watching plants reaching for the sky.

The weather has been absolutely perfect with warm sunny days and rain about every third day or, so. Not enough to flood everything and cause damage... but, enough for the needs of the plants.

The radishes are from a second planting. The first planting did poorly and I was told even though we were into our hot weather with the second planting, to plant the seed one inch deep instead of the 1/4 inch they are usually planted. Well the old gardeners were right. This crop has been prolific and sweet as can be. Not bitter at all.

And, the black raspberries.... I am freezing all I can for eating during the winter months. That is if they can make it to the fridge before I eat them out of hand or, in some yogurt. Yum, yum.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Pictures

I need to get DH to take some more pictures of the garden. It's a jungle out there!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oatmeal Soap

I think I am going to try this;

Turn your leftover soap slivers into oatmeal soap! Gather ingredients: 1/2 cup regular oatmeal, 1/2 cup small soap pieces, 1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil, and 1 tablespoon water. Put the soap slivers into a plastic bag and pound them into small chunks. Put the chunks into a blender, add the oatmeal, and pulse until grainy. Pour into a bowl and add the oil and water. Mix with your hands, removing any remaining bigger chunks of soap. Shape the mixture into a ball and let sit until hard, about 2 hours. Be sure to wash the blender thoroughly to remove the soap residue.

Courtesy of Old Farmer's Almanac

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

Happy happy happy 4th of July to all my American friends and family.
I hope you are enjoying the day with parades, family picnics and BBQs. Topped off with a spectacular show of fireworks. Oh boy and do I wish I could be there with you!
Hugs from Canada.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 2, 2011

It's been another beautiful day here. What was even better was I got let out of school (oops, work) early. I came home to play in our beautiful garden.

I picked a few radishes and a few fingerling carrots to add to tonight's dinner. I love being able to go and pick and see what my mind comes up with for a side dish.

Oh and DH is shucking the peas he picked this morning. Those are going to be blanched and frozen for eating this winter. Yum, yum..... I can hardly wait to taste their unique freshness in the dead of winter.

The pictures of the garden were taken from the roof... obviously. You'll see the gardening boxes and then as he moves the camera you will catch the small and scattered in-ground plots which are all over the back yard. But, hey... as I drive around this area and look to see what others are growing, well their gardens are relatively small compared to what we are doing.

These pictures were taken about 3 days ago... and since that time, we need to take more to show the growth occurring with this great weather we are having.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 1 2011

Happy Canada Day to one and all. Even to those who aren't of the Canadian persuasion.

Julius Caesar named July after himself when he reworked the old Roman calendar. (Ironically, the change went into effect in 44 B.C., the year Caesar was assassinated.)

July is the warmest month on most of the continent. Sweet corn—knee-high by the Fourth of July, with luck—thrives now, and an attentive gardener literally can hear it growing. All you have to do is just listen for a creaking sound. I told my 7 year old friend, Isha, this and she thought for sure I was pulling her leg.

When the heat like a mist veil floats,
And poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver note in the streamlet’s throat
Has softened almost to a sigh.
It is July.

–Susan Hartley Swett (1860–1907)

Little old me...

My photo
An american yankee up past the 49th parellel.


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