Monday, August 31, 2009

Independence Days Week #18

Harvest something:
- 9oz of chard
- 13oz pole beans
- 1lb cukes
- 7.5lbs tomatoes
- purslane, dandelion, horseradish leaves, grape leaves, mint, nettle, goldenrod flowers, mallow flowers, chamomile, oregano, thyme, basil

Preserve something:
- made and froze tomato sauce
- drying herbs
- infusing mallow flowers into honey
- tincturing American ginseng (My favourite seed suppliers also cultivate their own American ginseng. Happy day!)
- infusing goldenrod, some into oil, some into rubbing alcohol- For External Use Only! (My first liniment! I just really like the word liniment. Liniment. Say it with me now: liniment. Mmmmm...)
- started second step of basilcello
- started another batch of sauerkraut (Hopefully with cooler temperatures and the right amount of salt, I won't lose this batch.)
- crab apple and plum jam (Yep, I finally did it. I got the water bath canner out and put up some food. Phew. More on this later...)

Waste not:
- made Everything But the Kitchen Sink soup with all the veggie bits that needed to be used up
- made rice in the sun oven
- returned paper egg cartons to my local egg guy
- bused, walked and biked to run all my errands this weekend, and oh boy were there ever a lot of errands!
- attempting to make apple cider vinegar from canning leftovers with the help of Chile and Kate

Want not:
- salvaged very sturdy bucket and garden tools from the curb
- thrifted stainless steel travel mug (to replace the one I left in my dad's car while I was visiting on holidays), measuring spoons, baster, canning jars

Preparation and Storage:
- purchased canning lids, pickling salt, sugar, beeswax (to make salve from my infused oils), thermometer, timer
- cleaned out ancient condiments from fridge, composted contents, washed all the jars for reuse (Wow, did it ever feel good to get that job checked off my 'to do' list!)

Build community food systems:
- local food from farmer's markets
- gave away tomatoes from garden to neighbours
- received jar of crab apple preserves

Eat the food:
- enjoyed soup for a few meals
- stir fried chard, purslane and dandelion
- tomato, basil and bocconcini salad
- cucumber salad
- green beans with rice
- jam on toast

Monday, August 24, 2009

Independence Days Week #17

Plant something:

I finally got the beet seeds and chard seedlings in.

Harvest something:

- 14 lbs of tomatoes!
- 3 lbs cucs (Does anyone know what to do with cucumbers that have gotten too large and seedy? Can you still eat them?)
- 1 lb of bush beans
- 1 lb 11 oz cabbage head
- 5 oz chard
- lemon balm, dill, parsley, basil, grape leaves, calendula
- nettle seeds, feverfew, purslane, plantain, mallow flowers, violet leaves, goldenrod flowering tops

Preserve something:

- drying herbs
- making herb vinegar
- goldenrod and mallow flower honeys
- calendula flowers in oil
- froze basil and olive oil for pesto
- making sour pickles using this recipe

Waste not:
- using the flowering tops of herbs to infuse in vinegar
I lost the batch of sauerkraut I started last week. It was a very sad moment. I hate to lose food. I don't know what happened. Maybe it was too warm and humid. Maybe I didn't use enough salt. Green mold started growing on the rock I use to weight the cabbage down. I taste tested a bit of the cabbage from near the bottom of the crock and it was definitely off. I mourned the loss deeply and gave it all a respectful and solemn burial in the compost heap so that it wouldn't go entirely to waste. I'll start another batch of kraut this week and do my best to make sure I get the conditions right.

Want not:
My mom gifted me a beautiful, antique wooden mortar and pestle.
A naturopath friend did some decluttering and gave me some empty tincture bottles she doesn't need any more. I also scored some yarn she was getting rid of.
A neighbour dropped off a big bag of crab apples for me.

Preparation and Storage:

- added organic mac and cheese and energy bars that were on sale, to emergency food supplies
- turning and layering backyard compost

Build community food systems:
- local food from the farmer's market
- sharing surplus cucumbers and tomatoes with friends

Eat the food:
- made my own pasta sauce with tomatoes and basil from the garden
- stir fried chard, purslane and lamb's quarters with local garlic and dandelion vinegar
- very much enjoying grilled cheese sammiches with tomatoes and cucumbers...mmmm...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Independence Days Update: Week #16

Plant something: meant to put some beet seeds in over the weekend and a few chard seedlings I have struggling in containers, but I haven't gotten to it yet. This week though for sure. I'm hoping to get at least some fall beet greens and maybe some little beets to pickle!

Harvest something:
It was a great week for harvesting!
- 4lbs, 5oz of bush beans
- 1lb of pole beans
- 3lbs of cucumbers
- 3lbs, 8oz of tomatoes
- calendula flowers
- chamomile
- nasturtium seed pods

Preserve something:
- making sauerkraut
- herb vinegars
- blanched and froze bush beans (Actually, my mom who is in town visiting for a few days, did this for me. Thanks mom!)

Waste not:

- practicing basic retained heat cooking, i.e. keeping pots covered with lids, turning burners off early and letting food cook the rest of the way, with the retained heat of the cast iron frying pan, boiling water, steam etc... I haven't gotten this awesomely hardcore yet, but I plan to!
- using the solar oven as much as possible now that we finally have some sun!
- made iced sun tea
- reused freezer bags for the beans
- keeping lights off as much as possible in the heat
- mindfully trying to reduce electricity consumption as much as possible

Preparation and storage:
- storing dried herbs in jars
- keeping an eye on herbal oils, tinctures and vinegars
- skimming off sauerkraut bloom
- added bulk cornmeal to food stores

Build Community Food Systems:

- brought my mom to the farmer's market
- attended a locavore potluck picnic and movie in the park. I contributed sumac 'lemonade' and a black bean dip with the beans cooked in the sun oven and mixed with local cilantro, salsa, onions and garlic. We watched Mad City Chickens.

Eat the food:
- the aforementioned sumacade and bean dip
- cucumber salad
- fresh herbs in most things
- pasta with tomatoes and peas

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Urban Homestead Series: A Repost

Some of you may recognise the content of this post from earlier this year when I used my 'new-to-me' 100+ year old crock to make my first batch of sauerkraut. It turned out pretty good!

I have since made another yummy batch, with one head of white and one head of red cabbage. I shredded the cabbage much finer and added caraway seeds. The suaerkraut ended up being bright pink from the red cabbage and I loved the addition of the caraway seeds.

Today I will start another batch with three heads of this season's local cabbage, and in a few short weeks I will be feasting on delicious sauerkraut again. I can't wait!

For those who missed it the first time around, here's how the process looks. It's so simple. If you're interested in giving it a try, don't worry if you don't have a crock. A food grade plastic pail or large, glass jar will work as well. Enjoy.

(For more on making sauerkraut and all kinds of other hot, fermentation action, check out Sandor Katz's excellent site Wild Fermentation.)

I gave my crock a good scrubbing and set myself to making my very first batch of sauerkraut. I had a long talk with my Oma on the phone and she explained to me how she used to make sauerkraut. I also followed these instructions. And here's a good video.

I used a stone to weight down the plate. Of course I gave the stone a good scrub too, soaked it in vinegar and sterilized it in boiling water first! If you don't want to do this, a glass jar filled with water will also do just fine.

I covered the crock with a towel and set it aside to start the process of fermentation, pressing down on the stone weight every few hours to help draw the water out to create the brine. After 24 hours there was not enough brine to cover the plate, so I added about five cups of salted water. I'll keep checking on it every few days, and if all goes well, I'll have delicious and nutritious sauerkraut in two to three weeks!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Independence Days Week #15

Plant something:

Harvest something:
- 1 lb peas
- 9 oz bush beans
- 3 cucumbers
- black currants
- 2nd growth nettle
- lamb's quarters
- sumac
- parsley, dill, chives, basil, oregano, chamomile
- calendula flowers (gifted from plot neighbour!)
- corn silk

Preserve something:

- sumac tincture
- dried elderberries in brandy tincture
- infusing purple basil in vinegar
- garlic honey
- infusing feverfew and calendula in oil
- drying corn silk, carrot greens, dill, chamomile
- hang drying string beans
- froze currants until ready to further process

Waste Not:
- drying carrot greens for soup stock
- used sun oven to cook beets
- ate beet greens
- saving corn silk
- composted pea vines
- letting lamb's quarters, evening primrose and purslane grow in now empty pea bed

Want Not:

- used pea trellis materials to stake up tomatoes
- making own calcium supplement with crushed egg shells and apple cider vinegar
- made this
- salvaged edger and garden spade from curb

Preparation and Storage:
- saving pea seeds
- decanted mallow flower oil
- stored dried nettle seed, mugwort, feverfew and dill in jars

Building Community Food Systems:
- local food from farmer's market
- attended formation meeting of Transition Ottawa

Eat the Food:
- used peas and beans in a stir fry
- sauteed nettle and lamb's quarters with beet greens, garlic scapes and dandelion vinegar
- drinking sumac 'lemonade'

Monday, August 3, 2009

Independence Days Weeks #13 and #14

I'm combining two weeks in this update since I was away on holidays. It'll look more impressive that way! :)

Plant Something:
-nope, not this time around...

- oregano, chamomile, feverfew, basil, yarrow, heal-all, dill, violet leaf, mallow, hedge bedstraw, mugwort, tansy, nettle seed, lemon balm, horehound, plantain, wild carrot, sumac, grape leaves, creeping bellflower, lettuce, 2.5 lbs peas, raspberries

- grape leaves in salt water
- drying herbs
- tincturing nettle seed, bedstraw, lemon balm, horehound, wild carrot, plantain
- infusing heal-all into oil
- froze peas, basil
- saving mallow seeds

Reduce waste:
- traveled by bus on holidays
- brought my own utensils, napkin and food to avoid expense and waste of convenience food while traveling
- bought second hand dress (for a wedding in Sept.) and top
- used sun oven to cook eggplant, beets, broccoli, used pre-heating water to make tea
- hang dried all laundry on the line
- using the liquid leftover from my nettle hair rinse and vegetable cooking water to water houseplants

Preparation and Storage:
- ADGMD got food grade buckets from, salvaged canning jars
- reading Herbal Medicine: Trends and Traditions by Charles Kane

Build Community Food Systems:
- attended Just Food locavore potluck and jam making workshop
- went to farmer's markets
- distributed copies of the latest edition of the Ottawa Buy Local Guide

Eat the Food:

- made dinner for my family with some peas from my garden
- enjoying fresh and tasty salads prettied up with mallow flowers and bellflowers
- raspberry vinaigrette
- drinking sumac lemonade
- eating nettle seed (medicinal)
- drinking violet leaf and wild carrot infusions (medicinal)
- used motherwort tincture for menstrual pain (totally worked!), catnip tincture for digestive troubles (also worked!)