...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.


Food Prep.

I'm still coming down from the weekend's whirlwind of events, many of which required food preparation on our part.  There have been so many outdoor weekend activities from which to choose lately.  It's like everyone's trying to squeeze things in before the cold weather really sets in, which could be any day now.  Saturday morning I began the process of making 200 4-oz. jars of Blueberry Spice Jam for a friend's November wedding favors.  We sourced 60 lbs. of Michigan blueberries, which she froze a month ago, then hauled them over here along with her fiance's brew kettle so I had a large enough vessel to cook them all down.  The canning process took me a couple of days.  What an experience!  I am thrilled to do this for my dear friend, but it makes me realize I don't want to start my own jam company any time soon.  I now have HUGE respect for Rachel Saunders at Blue Chair Fruit who makes all of her large batch jams without pectin.  Skill, science-smarts beyond what I've currently acquired, patience, consistency...she's got it all!

Mixing required scooping it all into a huge bin!
Jar with LUH label
Last weekend was also our first [hopefully] annual block party.  We've lived in our house over six years and still didn't know everyone on the block.  There are so many great couples, singles, and children living just houses away.  I can't wait to see more of them and hopefully get the kiddos together more often.  The Milwaukee Fire Dept. brought over one of their ladder trucks and gave the kids and adults alike a thrill as they anchored the truck and put up the ladder.  The kids got toy fire hats and the party officially kicked off.  There was face and hair painting, chalk drawing on the street, a commingled pile of toys for everyone's enjoyment, music, camaraderie, plenty of junk food as well as delicious dishes from all the neighbors.  The couple two doors from us entertain frequently in their home so they didn't hesitate to snake an extension cord from their porch to plug in a chafing dish full of made-from-scratch Mexican specialties.  The kids had a blast, the adults bonded, and the firepit sizzled well after dark.  I can't wait until next year.

MFD at the block party
Amazed at the actual size of that rig!
Our Block (LUH on far R with wild, overgrown front yard)
This week is about preserving more tomatoes for our farmers friends, gathering the remaining red beets from the garden to roast and pickle, and grabbing any other local preservable vegetables I can get my hands on.  I have my last official preservation class this evening then my schedule is dedicated to Urban Homesteading and Vegetarian cooking classes from now until spring.  My teaching schedule slows down come November and I'm really looking forward to my three-month "vacation" when I plan to spend time sewing, knitting, reading, cooking hearty meals, and enjoying what we've put up this season.

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