...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.

5.26.2010

More Spring Cleaning

I've always thought it would be quaint to have a big spring cleaning session where I throw open the windows and clean the house from top to bottom including all cracks, crevices, and windows.  Well, this notion is just in my brain and I'm satisfied with that, though I've had some minor but important spring cleaning rituals this year.  Yesterday I emptied the basement upright freezer--the old inefficient one that, for me, was a selling point on the house.  It needs to be defrosted every year, but the trick is to manage the rotation of food so there are at least a few days I can unplug it and let it drip clean.  The freezer inventory spreadsheet I made last season (what a geek!) helped tremendously to keep a steady flow of inventory.  I managed to fit the remaining in the upstairs freezer, but not without a week's worth of meals planned and pulled out first.  It hasn't been painful at all, in fact, quite fun for me because I love the challenge of using leftovers.  It was Green Tomato Soup with Sage Walnut Pesto on Monday, a Spaghetti Pancake with Homemade Italian Sausage Bacon, and Garden Chives on Tuesday.  Tonight will be Beets Burgers, tomorrow Homemade Brats, and Friday the weekly Pizza with some frozen Green Tomato Sauce.

I'd like to share the the Spaghetti Pancake recipe, which I tweaked from one I found on Tea and Cookies.  Mine didn't do the recipe justice because I was working with one egg too few (I'm also trying to clean out the fridge before a holiday weekend of camping so we're out of lots of stuff.)  It was still delicious, but didn't hold together like a pancake.

Spaghetti Pancake with Sausage, Bacon, and Chives
Serves 4

3 c. leftover cooked spaghetti noodles
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 oz. cooked bacon, chopped
4 oz. bulk Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 T. chopped fresh chives
1 t. salt, or to taste
black pepper to taste
butter or oil for frying, at least 1 t.

In a large bowl beat the eggs until smooth.  Add the spaghetti noodles and mix until they are all coated.  Mix in the bacon, sausage, and chives, salt and pepper.  Heat the oil or butter in a large frying pan, it should be well oiled.  Pour the noodle mixture into the pan and allow to set on the bottom.  Using a heat-proof spatula, run it around the side of the pancake to prevent sticking to the pan.  Peer under the bottom from time to time until the pancake begins to brown.  Turn over by sliding it onto a plate and putting the frying pan on top and flipping it over.  Cook until slightly brown on both sides and the center has firmed.   Turn out onto a plate and cut into wedges.

One garden is definitely in phase 2 for the season.  The spinach, radishes, and some mustard greens are done--they began to bolt so I gleaned what I could and composted the rest--the mesclun mix could go to seed any day, and some of the cucurbitae I planted last week are already popping out of the ground.  I feel like this is the first season I've been able to keep up with it.  Good thing Vera loves being outside in the garden with me; I can work while she plays (when will it be the other way around?)  I also did a bit more wild foraging this week.  We had a friend over for a playdate yesterday so I gathered some catnip from the lakefront and made some iced tea to go with some scones (from the freezer, of course).  She said the tea's flavor reminded her of the mint tea made by her host family when she studied in Morocco.  It has a definite earthiness and it very refreshing when chilled.  To make some, wash the catnip and remove any roots (you don't have to strip the leaves otherwise).  Heat up a pot of water and toss in the catnip once the water simmers.  Turn off heat, cover and let steep about 20 minutes.  Serve hot or cold.  (The ratio of catnip to water is your choice.)

According to Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, authors of The Urban Homestead, dumpster diving is an essential part of being self-sufficient in the city.  I can't say I've ever really jumped into a dumpster for something, unless you count the time I was six or seven and my friend lived across the street from the electric company and one day her older brother had the idea that we should go rifle through their dumpster...found some cool colored resistors and other components we had no clue about, but got chased away by someone on staff.  But ANYWAY, I have been more into curb surfing than actually going all the way into the garbage bin.  I've found and refinished and old desk; scored a metal plant stand, end table, and metal doo-hickey I use for filing my baking pans in the pantry, among other items.  My most recent find was a small chalkboard whose frame was a bit broken.  It called out to me "Take Me Home and Fix Me!" I examined the damage, tossed it under the stroller and spent about two seconds with the staple gun when I got home to make it good as new.  It will be a darling menu board or to-do list for our kitchen.  Still, I believe there are plenty of curbed items that should be passed up--a friend was just telling me about a great blanket he found by the garbage which turned out to have fleas.  Some things are better left for the trash collectors.

With the heat this week, it's been great for spending time in the cool basement.  I made another outfit for Vera and it cost me next to nothing--the turquoise fabric was from the thrift store, the purple fabric and pattern we from my mom's stash, I found the perfect color rick rack at a rummage over the weekend, and I had the perfect color buttons and thread on hand.  Aside from the energy to run my machine and my labor (which was enjoyable so it doesn't count) I couldn't have bought something cheaper and better quality at a big box store (not that I would.)  She may fit into this in the fall.  I can't wait to dress her up.

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