...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.


New Classes Posted!

...and apparently I\
"I Eat Local Because I Can."
UPDATE: I just added a bunch of new classes to my teaching schedule.  They are part of what I'm considering a homesteading series though it's not formerly billed as such.  Even if you've attended my food preservation classes before, check out the dates and times because you might find a new topic of interest.

In other news, it was a fine Mother's Day holiday for me.  A jaunt down to the Chicago environs made for a lovely, relaxing weekend with my in-laws as we not only celebrated what it means to be a mother, but two birthdays in the family.  I took a short, but peaceful walk with V on Sunday morning through Gram-E and Gramps' neighborhood as we checked out the duck pond, spring blooms, and flowering trees.  I pondered why my daily life couldn't be that slow-paced.  I know I have to make it that way, I can't wait for it to happen.  Let's put it this way, I'm in transition to make things more peaceful and less chaotic.  Stay tuned and hopefully I'll have updates soon on my progress.

Quick Snack
In the meantime, "re-entry" into the real world was a bit stressful today, but taking a walk around the garden this morning and observing what's sprouting and budding helped me focus again.  I begin another week of feeding my family, tending my garden, and keeping up with a little one.  Speaking of feeding a little one, the quest for healthy and easy-to-prepare snacks continues.  Last week I had an idea to make finger jell-o from scratch.  Apparently finger jell-o isn't universally known because I've already found a few people scratching their heads when I told them I was making it--including my husband.  It's basically a gelatin product that's sturdy enough to be cut and eaten with the fingers.  Remember Jell-O Jigglers?  The question was, how could I sneak something healthy into this snack?  I turned to the trusty Acme juicer that my mother-in-law passed along and juiced some fresh beets, cut their vegetable-y flavor with some apple juice and added the gelatin.  So far it's been a mild success.  Perhaps once we use some fun-shaped cookies cutters to make stars and hearts it will catch on.  I'm already thinking of the next combo--carrot/apple, cucumber/pear...I'm sure the possibilities are endless.  P.S.  I don't know that this is a great car snack--at least not the beet flavor (it's as messy as beets are otherwise).  I learned this the hard way as we were driving today while V was nibbling on some in the back seat and I soon heard "I need a new skirt."  It was also between her toes, smeared on her legs, and coating her shoes.  Whoops.

Juice Finger Jello
Makes about 16 1 1/2-inch squares

2 c. 100% fruit/veggie juice, divided
3 T. unflavored gelatin
2 T. honey or xylitol

Pour 1/2 c. cold juice into 8x8-inch square glass baking dish.  Sprinkle gelatin evenly over it and let sit for a few minutes to be absorbed by juice.  In small saucepan, heat remaining 1 1/2 c. juice and sweetener until starts to boil.  Add hot juice to pan and stir mixture until gelatin is completely melted and dissolved.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, then cut into squares or other fun shapes.  Pick up a square and eat with your fingers.  Stores well in refrigerator.

Cuke-Fruit Smoothie
I was at the grocery store last week and on the reduced produce cart there were bags of cucumbers that were still in good shape.  Though they weren't local or even seasonal, I couldn't see them go to waste.  People always say that regular cukes aren't much good for freezing.  I beg to differ.  One can make a pureed chilled cucumber soup and freeze it or, easier yet, peel and freeze these summer fruits to throw into a smoothie later.  Last week we made lots of fruit/veggie smoothies using not only these discounted cucumbers,
but lemony sorrel from our garden, coconut milk, bananas, honey, protein powder, hemp seeds, etc.  Vera sucked it down and asked for more.  We also love to add spinach, spices (cinnamon, turmeric, ginger), flaxseed oil, bee pollen, probiotic powder, home-canned or frozen fruit, and chia seeds to our smoothies.

One last adventure I had in the kitchen last week was making sunchoke chips.  B has a salty-tooth and a crunchy-tooth, but I've tried to cut back on bringing bagged chips into the house for various reasons--expense, health-wise, and the fact that they never last very long and so therefore become even more expensive to replenish.  I still have some sunchokes in my crisper from last fall--they store extremely well when overwintered.  I sliced them very thinly with my Japanese slicer, tossed them with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and baked them at 350-375 degrees until they were crispy, tossing occasionally.  They are delicious--VERY rich in flavor.  So one only needs a small handful at a time.  The same could be done with any root veggies--a la Terra Chips.  Easy and much cheaper.

Sliced Sunchokes

Finished "Chips"

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