...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Happy St. Patty's Day

The moment of truth has come for the brisket.  Almost.  It's boiling as we speak.  I'm dreaming of a tender, salty-sweet cut of corned beef.  The taste will be revealed at the dinner table tonight, but so far the aroma seems right on.  I realized that the key to that corn-beefy smell is really the whole allspice.  Mmmm.  Part of homesteading is making the most of what you have so I am making colcannon with kohlrabi tonight instead of green cabbage.  A couple of green kohlrabi have been idling in the crispy drawer of the fridge since November; we'll finally use them up.  About this time of year I find that any potatoes I've stored in the basement are really sprouting (I remember last year after Vera was born we kind of lost track of things until one day Ben came upstairs to where I was still resting in bed post-partum and told me I'd better check out the potatoes, and quick.)  This time the spuds are still firm enough to cook, I'll just pick off the sprouts.

(P.S.  The brisket was delicious!!!)  

Kohlrabi Colcannon
Serves 4

4 medium potatoes (about 1 1/3 lbs. total)
3 cups shredded kohlrabi (peel, slice, and shred...use a food processor shredder plate, if available)
8 medium green onions with tops, finely sliced
2 to 3 T. milk
1 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 T. minced fresh parsley

Peel and quarter potatoes.  In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 min. or until tender.  Drain and keep warm.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1/2-inch water to a boil over high heat.  Add the kohlrabi and green onions.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 8-10 min. or until kohlrabi is tender.  Drain.  In the bowl of a stand mixer on low, beat the potatoes until almost smooth.  Add the milk, butter, salt, and pepper.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in the kohlrabi mixture and parsley.

Note:  I know this is a bit late for your St. Patty's Day preparations, but it can be made anytime, not just on March 17, and even if you're not Irish (like me).

My to-do list was brief today so I've had a chance to enjoy some reading and crafting while Vera naps.  I just knit a gauge swatch for a 24-month size cardigan for her (I figure I'll be able to finish it by next winter.)  If you're a beginning knitter and have questioned why a gauge swatch is necessary, imagine how you'd feel if you, like me, used the most beautiful yarn to make a cardigan sweater for yourself and about halfway through realized it might almost fit a first grader.  Yeah, if you started this project before conceiving, you pray that the color combination will suit the sex of your unborn child.  I have my mini-sweater stashed in my cedar chest.  Ben still says, "you can't make her wear that!"  Its quite hideously misshapen.  Anyway, DO THE GAUGE SWATCH.  Take a few minutes and just do it.  You'll thank me later.

In preparing for the camping trip the guys are taking in May (the one where they'll sample the home brew I blogged about a month or so ago) I made some of my campfire starters.  This was an idea I originally found in Mother Earth News magazine.  It's a great way to use things you may have around the house while saving money on something manufactured.

Campfire Starters

Empty egg cartons
Used candles
Dryer lint
Old metal tray or aluminum oven drip pan
Old pot, small

Set the egg cartons on the metal tray.  Pack the lint into the egg cartons as tightly as you can.  You can jam A LOT of lint in there!  Melt the candles in the pot (be sure to turn on your hood vent b/c this could smoke a bit.)  Carefully pour the hot wax over the lint-filled egg cartons, saturating them.  Some excess might drip over, which is why it's good to have an old tray underneath.  Let cool completely then cut the firestarters apart.  Store in a glass jar or sealable plastic bag.  They really work!

I'm reading a great library book right now, Farm City by Novella Carpenter.  I seem to alternate between homesteading related books and other topics so right now I'm back to reading about "business" stuff.  This book is hysterical!  She lives in the ghetto of Oakland, CA and is living my dream of having poultry and waterfowl, honeybees, fruit trees and all sorts of vegetables.  It's wonderfully written and truly funny.  I recommend it to any backyard gardener or urban farmer.

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