Tuesday, December 31, 2013


First things first.  I want to apologize for not responding to your comments the past couple of posts.I wasn't trying to be rude or anything.   I find myself yet again in "Time-Out" with Wildblue Sux.  My internet speed has once again been throttled back enough to make dial-up seem fast.  Annoying to say the least but I've come to expect it.

 Did you know that not only is tomorrow is a New Moon but it's only the third time in 300 years that the New Moon has fallen on the first day of the new year?  AND it's called a Super New Moon because it is the closest the moon will be to earth all year!  

Out with the old and in with the new!  I've got a feeling 2014 is going to be an interesting year. It's sure starting out that way.  This is also the only time in my lifetime my birthday will be 1-14-14.

I want to wish each and every one of you a Very Happy New Year!  If you go out to celebrate please find yourself a designated driver.  Cops will most definitely be out and looking for any excuse to pull you over and that could get really expensive really fast.  I'll have to tell you I can't remember the last time we actually went "out" on New Year's Eve. Let me parrot what my friend Jerry over at MDR... Leave it to the rookies to go out and party, we pro's stay home.  (paraphrased of course)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Strawberry Banna Bread

 After a couple of days with the sun shining, today turned cold,windy and overcast.  After hearing how bad it's been over toward the North East this is a cake walk. OH.... cake walk!!  Not really but I chose to bake bread which is close... kinda....

I don't know if I was bored or what but I felt the need to bake today.I  got my bread made and then I figured there's no time like now to make banana bread.  While I was searching the freezer for banana's I found some strawberries hiding in the freezer. I figured I might as well put them to good use.  It turned out pretty darn good if I have to say so myself.  Sorry there are no pictures but... my camera's still not working. *sigh*

Strawberry Banana Bread

3 1/2 cups of All-Purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter ( or sub 1 cup of shortening if you'd rather)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of very ripe mashed bananas

1 cup smushed strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans.
In a big bowl beat the butter and gradually add your sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in mashed banana's, strawberries and vanilla.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Blend into the banana/strawberry batter.  If you want to add nuts, now is the time.  Divide the batter between the two greased pans.
Pop it into the hot oven.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the loaves comes out clean.

Grab a cup of coffee and a big slice of hot goodness slathered in butter and you have.... Bliss!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Stuff Happens

After all the attention Mars has paid to keep the water lines from freezing, leave it to me to not pay any attention last Sunday night.  I didn't drain the water out (which was my only job to handle at the time) of the pipes from the house and of course it froze.  Heck, we were down to about 15 degrees that night. Not that we don't/didn't have stored water but to have the water into the house froze solid was no fun.  It was only three days (right during the ice storm) but it opened up yet another thing we'll need to address more closely.  Water.  Gotta have more stored water.  Easy enough to work on AND it's not like it costs anything to do either. One of the highlights of our Christmas, for me anyway, was when the water finally thawed and I could wash the pile of dirty dishes without heating up water!  It's the little things in life that can sure make your day!

   I didn't really cook anything fancy for Christmas Dinner.  A baked chicken with carrots and onions, black-eyed peas from the garden,  a salad and homemade bread and I called it done.  Since we don't really like turkey much we'll usually have chicken in it's place. We've been known to frequently have Non-Traditional holiday dinners.  Before the BP oil spill many times we'd have a nice seafood dinner.  Shrimp, oysters, scallops etc. These days we've given up on seafood.  It's just not worth risking eating tainted seafood.  Being raised around Galveston Bay we would have seafood pretty regularly.  Not these days.  We've also stopped buying canned tuna for fear of contamination.  I've still got a couple of cases of tuna in our food storage but once that's gone I'm not sure we'll try and replace it.

My mom is something else I tell ya. Last year she sent Mars a Kindle Fire for his birthday.  Being a "real" book lover he wasn't really sure he was going to like e-books.  Let's just say that I "borrowed" his Kindle A LOT and I just loved it.  After a bit he slowly started using the Kindle more and more often.  There are just tons of free books available.  I was spending less and less time on his Kindle because he was slowly using it more and more.  Well, my mom (being the great gift giver that she is) called a couple of weeks before Christmas and told me that there were packages coming in the mail.  Once they got here I was instructed to wrap them both and stick them under my imaginary Christmas tree!  When I opened it up I had to just start laughing.  In  the box was my very own Kindle Fire!  She's cool like that ya know! lol

And in other news..... When we first moved out here to the homeplace there were piles and piles of debris from the house fire that needed to be disposed of. We took several truckloads of scrap metal (lots of siding too) to the recycling center.  Now, most of that is all gone but there is still lots of things like brick, firebrick and cinder-block that need to be removed from where the old house stood.  Much of the cinder-block isn't any good.  For the most part they pretty much break into smaller pieces when picked up.  Mars has used some for the parking area for the car, He also crushed up a bunch of it with a sledge hammer and used it to make walkways so we weren't walking in mud.  The newest thing to do with the old cinder-block pieces is to use them to build up the corner at the front of the property.  There's a pretty good slope there and that part of the land is mostly huge sandstone boulders with just a little bit of dirt and grass growing over it.  So the idea is to use the cinder-blocks to build up the corner.  Once that is done Mars wants to dig out the top few inches of dirt from where the old house was sitting and cover up the cinder-blocks with it.  Eventually there might even be grass or something covering up that little corner.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas Ya'll

   I've tried and tried to get some pictures of the ice, but it seems my poor camera has some sort of power problem.  I've changed batteries several times, bought new batteries just in case and tried with them.  Nothing.  All I get is a black screen saying Change the batteries.  Geesh.  

I've shared my photo's for pretty much the entire time I've been writing this blog.  It feels so strange to post without one so I found an older one today!

The storm that is moving toward the east coast left us here with everything covered in ice.   It looks like a winter wonderland around here.  So beautiful.  Boy is it ever cold though!  Temps haven't been above freezing in a few days.  Mars has been keeping the water turned off most of the time.  He'll turn it on and I'll refill the containers that need to be filled and get the dishes washed up.  Then he drains the lines and shuts it back off.  So far we've not had frozen pipes.  Keep your fingers crossed will ya?  Every time he goes out there to turn it on I sort of hold my breath till water starts coming.

There is a half an inch of ice covering everything.  It looks like a winter wonderland around here.  Absolutely stunning.  Especially when the sun comes out for a half a second!  hehehehe   The two little Redbud trees we planted last spring are bent over in half, icy limbs touching the ground.  All I can say is they haven't broken yet so that's a good sign, isn't it??  I've got my fingers crossed.

We lost electricity here  on Sunday for about 24 hours   Let me tell you it was COLD up in here huddled in multiple layers of clothing. I'm sure glad we both have our insulated coveralls.   We really are going to have to  work on getting another type of heat beyond the electric heaters.    We've put it off much to long and this isn't the first time we've been caught unprepared for the electricity going out. We're ok with the lights as we have oil lamps and a couple of battery type lights. but we've got to address an alternate heating arrangement besides the stove. .  Hey if it came down to it we'd just fire up the stove in the barn and hang out. I'd rather not have to do that So it has now moved higher on THE LIST. 

I'd really like to thank the reader who hit the donation button. You know who you are.  What an awesome surprise!   Your thoughtfulness has put me into the Christmas mood. 
Thanks so very much.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Real Life

  I try really hard not to get "down" this time of year.  It's been kind of hard this year for some reason.  We are just stretched so far that if the budget were any tighter it would snap and break.  Shoot, we're so broke that even Christmas cards and stamps were out of the question.  Along with the taxes being due, extra propane and the electric bill that has doubled with the cold weather there was the new battery we had to have for the car . With the little check we get by on that battery is our Christmas.  BUT I have so much to be thankful for.  Least of not which is our land.  We are just two more payments away from it being paid for!  We'll have a little bit more wiggle once that happens.

I've not said much of anything about the diesel truck I wrecked last Spring.  It's been harder here than you know without that dang truck on the road.  Mars is and always has been self employed and always needed a truck for the kind of work he does.  Fencing, welding, decks, small construction jobs.   Most all of those things require a pickup truck.  You have got to have something to haul the materials in. So the loss of the truck not only put us out of transportation for a bit (thanks to good folks we do have our little beater car!) but it has put him out of work for the most part. 

 Not to mention all the things that we've been unable to do around here without a truck.  It's hard to haul 8' or 1o' 2x4's in a little car. I swear I can't even look at Craigslist anymore.  I am always seeing free "stuff" that we could use around here for the house we will onc day build.   We just have no way to haul it. 

Geesh,  I don't know why I got off onto this subject.  It makes me sound ungrateful for all the things we do have.  I don't mean it to be. There are so many who are hurting worse than we are.   Once the land is paid for it will free up some money in our budget.  Then we can begin to tackle some  the problems that have been set before us.  We've just got to hang tight for now and know in our hearts that things happen for a reason. Even though we might not see it at the time.  

I hesitated sharing this, knowing full well that it is bound to open up conversations I don't really want to have.  I've pretty much always tried to see the positive and play down the negative here. I've tried to be honest though.  This is just the way things are.  This blog is as much for me to journal our travels and experiences in this new life that we have chosen, as it is to try in some small way to help others who are walking this path too.  Thanks for letting me rant for a bit.  I promise not to be such a Debbie Downer again this year. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Good Day Sunshine

It looks like here in N.E. Oklahoma it's going to be beautiful for the best part of the week.  I've been trying to take advantage of the weather to get some outdoor things done. It's amazing what all you can find to do when the weather has kept you indoors for awhile.

A couple of years ago we found an old washer and dryer on Craigslist .  The washer's kind of picky when the weather turns cold.  It seems that something (you'd have to ask Mars cause I'm clueless)  freezes inside the machine (pump?) and it won't agitate.  So it's either rig up some sort of light or heater OR just wait till the weather warms enough for it to thaw out.

All that just to say I need to get some laundry done in the next couple of days while the weather's nice.  The dryer's newer and works great.  I just don't use it unless I'm forced to so not only do I need warmer weather I also want it to be sunny out so I can use the solar dryer.

I'm having chicken problems. It looks like I might be trying my hand at raising some feedstore chicks in the spring.  I've read and read about chickens and there are all sorts of different opinions.  I'm about ready to put some hens in the freezer.   Three haven't laid in over four months.  I gave it some time because two that had chicks weren't laying eggs.  Then I gave them a chance because they were molting.  Bring that around to now and I've only  got one hen laying.  Part of me wants to say it's because its cold.  The other part is really tired of feeding them.  And we won't even talk about the three roosters who are on death row.  

Now don't get me wrong but one of my New Years Resolution is going to be "If you don't work - I swear I'm gonna serve you with some carrots, potatoes and onions"   I've grown really tired of taking care of critters that don't pull their load around here!  I'll also know in a couple of weeks if we are going to be raising rabbits or eating them too. The new buck seems to know what he's doing though so we'll see.  Ol' Bucky just might be on death row too.

Well I'm off to do some "while the sun shines" stuff.  It's time to scratch some things off the list today.  Who knows what in the world might happen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Staying Warm

I'd like to thank everyone for all the cool (no pun intended) insulation ideas you guys shared.  It's much warmer in the RV now. I'm thankful that Mars put up skirting around the RV last year.  It's helped a ton.   I've pulled out blankets and throws to cover the windows with.  It's amazing the difference it's made in retaining the heat.  It does sometimes feel like a dark cave in here though So I take them down on sunny days and use the sun's heat to help too.  I am one of those "sun" people.  I just function better when the sun is shining.  Dark and cloudy days are sometimes things that have to be endured until the sun comes out again.

We've been having temps in the teens at night and so Mars has been shutting off the water and draining the lines overnight to avoid pipes bursting. He also filled a big cooler with water and put it in the greenhouse to keep it from freezing up. That's the water I've been using to water the critters with.  I've been rotating out the water we've got stored and refilling when the water's on.  For a few days last week everything froze up and I was really glad that we've got several gallon jugs of water and a 5 gallon cooler for water in the house. They take up a lot of room in this little trailer but it's the only place we can keep it without having the freeze. It beats going without though. 

Our local grocery store has begun a new "service".  They have decided that they will honor other grocery stores sales ads.  I've been taking advantage it and last week I picked up celery at 2/$1.00. So I picked up six.  I still need to chop it all up and dry it but I was really happy to find such a great deal.  There is an Aldi's in T Town but it's almost a 90 mile trip round trip.  They have some killer specials on produce most every week and now I can still stay local and take advantage of the deals from Aldi's. For instance, the  week before Thanksgiving they had cranberries for $1 a bag. I realize now I should have picked up more than 2 bags. Especially when I found out just how easy (and yummy) homemade cranberry sauce is to make.

 It's hard to believe that just a month ago I was still enjoying the down time. Now I'm starting to think about spring.  Especially since I got my first 2014 Seed Catalog!  Baker's Creek even!!  I love reading seed catalog's and Baker Creek is one of my favorites. Just think, here in a few weeks I'll be starting tomatoes in the greenhouse.  Winter is a great time to go through my seeds and see what I have and also start planning what we'll actually plant in the spring. 

I think I'm going to bake a batch of cookies this afternoon.  Snickerdoodles anyone ?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday Check In

Like most everyone across the country,  we are getting our share of snow and cold cold temps. The low last night was  right at 3 *.  We've warmed up to 9* here now .  Now that's some pretty cold weather.  We got about 6"  of snow and it looks like it's not going to melt much anytime soon. 

 The trailer isn't very warm but we are managing.  The heater runs constantly though and I can only imagine how high our electric bill is going to be after all this. Layers of clothes, hats and gloves are still required though.  I'm thankful I have a pair of fingerless gloves.  They really are coming in handy.  

One of the things on "The Eternally Growing List" is to make some heavier curtains for the windows.  They really loose the heat.  I'm sure wishing I had bumped it up a bit higher on the list. Hindsight's 20/20 though!   There have just been things that were more important and I've just not had the funds for the material.

The critters are all ok.  I've been breaking ice out of the water for the chickens three times a day for the past couple of days.  The rabbits don't seem phased much by the weather.  We move them into the barn in late fall and they overwinter there. Mars had the foresight to fill a big cooler full of water and set it in the greenhouse for critter water. We've got a little heater in there for the few plants that we are trying to overwinter and it's nice and warm in there. 

  I'm sorry about no pictures lately. My camera has some sort of problem where the  batteries go in.  It's not making a "connection" for some reason. It breaks my heart because I like to take photo's of things around here for future reference.  Besides I just love taking pictures!  Mars hasn't taken a look at the camera yet.  I'm hoping he'll be able to figure something out. We've added a new critter to the mix and I wanted to show you how cute he is. 

Ya'll all take care and stay warm.  Be sure to check on your neighbors and especially  the elderly to make sure they are ok too.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday Is In The Books

Well Black Friday is over. What a spectacle. I cannot believe what some people will do for  cheap crap from China. Things that they probably don't even need and really can't afford. I watched the Black Friday crowds standing in long lines and almost all of them had their heads down playing on their iphones.  Interaction with those around them seemed to be minimal.   I watched them turn into savages as the doors opened.  Pushing and shoving. screaming and cussing and running over each other for a TV they probably don't even need.  I watched as fights nearly broke out over a set of POTS AND PANS.  Pots and pans? I suppose they need something to cook their GMO laden processed foods in.

You saw how people acted when their food stamp cards suddenly wouldn't work. It took no time at all for all hell to break out once they all jumped on their obammaphones and called all their friends and relatives to come to Wal-Mart for the free goodies. Again, no cares as to the consequences of their actions. 

You've probably heard about the Knockout Game.   Gangs   will roam the street looking for a white victim.   Innocent people just walking down the street are picked out and suddenly sucker punched squarely in the face with the intent to knock the victim out. And then they all laugh and hoot and give high fives.  I figure that one day soon they'll pick  the wrong person to mess with and someones going to get killed.

 What the hell has happened to this society?  It seems a majority of people no longer have any sort of moral compass at all.   The "me first" attitude has grown people who only care about themselves. People who will do just about anything anymore with no thought of the consequences of their actions and certainly no empathy for their fellow human beings.

Why should they though when even the POTUS is given to lying and only caring about his own personal agenda. I watch as each generation seeming to loose more and more of their inhibitions and human compassion.  There  has become a sort of a no give a shit attitude in this country. It's all about "me" with absolutely no care at all for others. If called out on it they will invariably try to put the blame on someone else's shoulders. Why not! It's what their illustrious leader does.

Can you just imagine just how bad it will be if those same people didn't have food on their table?  When there is nothing left in the stores except empty shelves?  Have you any doubt that chaos would soon follow?


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Day is Finally Here!!!

 I'd like to wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah! Do you happen to know just how often the two holidays share the same day? I had to do a bit of detective work (read web search) and found an interesting tid-bit of information.

"The last time the confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah happened was 1888. This year it occurs Nov. 28, which is the second night of the eight-day Hanukkah celebration.
The next time it will occur? Hold on to your dreidels: By some calculations, it won't be for another 79,043 years, thanks to disparities between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars."

Pretty neat huh? 

Talk to you all soon, I've got things to burn kitchen duty!!!  Take a look at all the wonderful things in your life today.  There's always tomorrow to do your worrying.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

Chili Stuffed Baked Potato
I think we are as ready as we can be for the big cold front moving in.  It's supposed to be bringing us high temps in the 20's and lows in the OMG ITS FREEZING.  It looks like most all of the country is going to be affected by this front as it moves to the east.  There are already deaths associated with this storm.  So batten down the hatches, check your supplies and make sure your all your critters are taken care of as well.

   I truly hope we don't loose power as our main heat source is electric.  It's something that we need to take care of as money allows.  A secondary heat source I mean.  If worse comes to worse we can always use the oven for warmth as it runs on propane.  We sure don't have to worry about ventilation as this old RV has very little insulation.  No matter how much we try to insulate it  will never be "air tight".  If the power does go out for an extended period of time there is always the wood stove in the barn That sucker can put out some heat and we've got wood stacked for it too.

 Do you have some meals that you like to make when it's cold out?  I always think of a big pot of chili when the weather turns cold. And this is definitely chili weather.  I made a big pot yesterday along with a pot of beans.  I wasn't sure if I wanted chili or chili beans so I made some just in case! Today I think I'll make some cornbread to go with the left-overs. I made a big pot just so we could have it for a few meals.  I like left over chili on a bed of rice. Or Chili Con Huevos.  Or chili stuffed baked potatoes. There are many takes on chili around the country.  Neither of us believe that chili should have beans in it. If you want beans in your chili then its called chili beans not chili!  I'm just sayin..... 

So how do you make chili in your neck of the woods?   Beans?  No Beans?  Red Chili?  White Chili?  Hot? Mild? Big pots or Small batches?  Winter meal or year round? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Star Banana Bread

This time of year I always seem to get bit by the baking bug. I'm sure it's the same for lots of folks.  What with the holidays right around the corner and a chill in the air it's time to dust off my baking skills (which are negligible) and fire up the oven.   I've been craving banana bread.  Not to mention I've got a bunch of bananas in the freezer I'd like to use up.  I've been experimenting for years with different banana bread recipes, trying to find "The One".   While there are hundreds of recipes out there I finally settled on the one I'm going to share with you today. I've made this one several times over the past couple of years and it makes a couple of wonderful loaves of yummyness.

Banana Bread

3 1/2 cups of All-Purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter ( or sub 1 cup of shortening if you'd rather)
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups of very ripe mashed bananas
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans.
In a big bowl beat the butter and gradually add your sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in mashed banana's and vanilla.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Blend into the banana batter.  If you want to add nuts, now is the time.  Divide the batter between the two greased pans.
Pop it into the hot oven.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the loaves comes out clean.

Here's where I like to start a pot of coffee and pour me a cup.  Cut a slice of banana bread and enjoy it with a hot cup of coffee just to make sure it's done.  Cut another slice to double check for quality control. Then and only then consider maybe... just maybe... sharing with the rest of the family.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I've seen around the blogosphere that some folks are doing this 30 Days of Thanksgiving.  Or something like that. Am I the only one who would start doing this and a few days later think  "Oh man.... I need to catch up on that" .  Only to find yourself thinking it of it again while you are stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey?  That's me.

I don't say it nearly enough but one of the things I'm thankful for are you guys.  It amazes me that there are so many wonderful folks all around the country that stop by here.  I'd like to say thanks to you guys who have recently hit that button up there. And an even bigger thanks for those of you who have been along for the ride for awhile. I didn't know what I was doing back then and I sure don't know what I'm doing now.  So I just want to say thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to stop by!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to Sue over at The Little Acre That Could for having me as a guest over at her Food Storage Fridays yesterday.  She did me a huge favor and dusted off and older post of mine and polished it up till it was all bright and shiny!!!  I had the honor of being her first guest "poster" (?) on her excellent Series.   So ya'll go check out The Little Acre That Could and be sure to say hello to Sue for me ok?  And be sure to check out her bi-monthly series.  You just might learn something new!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fall Fall Fall

Are you adjusting to the time change yet?  Yeah?  Me either.  The hardest part for me has to be the shortening of the days as Fall moves right along.  I keep running out of daylight.  No worries though, most any of the critters are quite happy to remind me that the sun's going down and there's no dinner in their respective bowl, feeder, etc. 
It's supposed to be beautiful here for the next several days. A bit windy but then it's Fall.  I wonder when I'll actually stop thinking like a transplanted Texan and stop saying things like "I can't believe I'm wearing layers this time of year".  Or "Wow, it's so pretty" while watching the leaves turn red, orange, yellow.  Sometimes I hope that I never really get *used* to it.  That each season will continue to be a new and exciting thing. 

As I sit here with my 3rd cup of coffee and my trusty pen and to-do list  I'm almost ready to start the day.  Almost.  LOL  My list of to-do things is taking on a slightly different Fall type slant.  I'm still adjusting to NOT going out in the garden first thing after the dew dries. I look forward to some time to do some crocheting and a bit of knitting.  Easy stuff of course. I've got some yarn found cheap at a garage sale I can use.  I've started a lapgan with bits and pieces of leftover yarn.  Yarn isn't very high on the list when your budget is as tight as it is around here. I might actually pick up some double pointed needles though and try those socks that a reader suggested.    Of course that would mean a trip to town AND a stop at a big box store. (Two of my most favorite things to do.  NOT!!!) 

I had another "procedure" on my back this week and I admit I do feel better.  Although my back issues are genetic and I know things will eventually and progressively get worse, I'm finding some welcome relief for now. Just another thing I'm thankful for this month.

Today's agenda includes bread baking day, a couple of loads of laundry, (I'm going to take advantage of this beautiful sunshine and wind to dry them) I've got a roast in the crock-pot so dinner will be easy peasy, go pull up some of the death by frost plants and haul them to the compost bins, start "winterizing" the outdoor kitchen stuff, (which really just means I need to get things picked up and put away) maybe make some cookies and get my "yarn fix" in. Much more than that probably wont be done around here today!

Do you remember last month when Mars DVD player took a dump?  We ordered one from Ebay and it came in two weeks later.  Hooked that baby up and it worked exactly 5 times and died.  Sent back and waited almost two weeks for a replacement.  This one didn't work AT ALL.  So back it went and finally just this week, they kindly gave me a refund but would not reimburse my shipping. *sigh*   Another DVD player from another company has been ordered.  Due to arrive in the next few days.  It seems silly for me to keep Netflix active but each time I think we will be back to watching our nightly movie, well... 
                                 I'm still waiting.........

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TSA Shooting

The TSA shooting last week is still in the news and very much on my mind.  I know a bunch of you will probably see what I'm thinking.  I also know there will be those who will call folks like me a twisted conspiracy theorist. (again)  At this stage in the game I don't think it matters much to me.  Call me what you will.  I'll still get up in the morning and go do my chores and do all the other mundane things that life requires of folks. A theory is a theory, a fact is a fact.

 But you just watch what is about to unfold. Because of that TSA shooting they will start clamoring to be armed.  It's bad enough they are already moving out of the "airport" realm and out on our streets. Of course they want guns.   Maybe some of those  BILLION bullets that the DHS purchased will help out the TSA.

Do you remember this?  Cause I sure do.  It rings in my ear each time I hear of all the alphabet agencies stepping up and stomping our personal liberties all in the name of safety.

In July of 2008, presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama stated that Americans could no longer “…continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
Let me just repeat that last line... We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” 

I'm pretty sure we are well on the way.

And if that's not enough to send me over the edge 

... Check this one out and consider the consequences.

Last US lead smelter closing in Missouri; 145 jobs lost

Let that sink in for just a minute...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Compost Bins

I can finally say that we are officially done with the spring/summer/and small fall garden.  I can't really say we had a fall garden this year.  A few squash and pumpkin plants pretty much was all we did. It's time to put the garden to bed and wait for spring.  Honestly?  By the time the summer garden was over I was seriously worn out.  It was a productive season but man I am so glad to get a break.

I don't talk much about my health stuff here and I'm sure most of you are pretty much ok with that.  LOL!  I'll just say that sometimes it takes me twice as long to get things done.  I get tired pretty easily and just have to take my time.  It aggravates me but hey... it is what it is. At least I'm on top of the dirt instead of under it!!!

Mars has been working on the composting station the past couple of days.  He's totally taken apart the compost bins and moved the area over some and turned it facing the opposite direction.  He had to take apart and move all three bins.  The grass was growing up from under the pallets and trying to take over the bins so along with moving the compost and the bins he had to fight all that grass too.
After he had moved the compost, bins and grass it was time to move it over to the new spot.  He actually didn't move it all that far, just a few feet actually.  He had some old tin stacked up from taking down the old stuff off the barn.  So he used some of the tin to lay on the ground under the bins, and this time he put some of the tin on the bottom of each of the three bins.  That should take care of the grass problem and it looks so much neater than it did before.  If you are wondering why there are three bins it kind of goes like this.  The first bin is the "raw" stuff we put in the compost.  Kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings all go in the first bin.  As the raw stuff breaks down it is moved into the second bin to "cook" some more. Eventually it is moved to the third bin and ready to use.  Black gold to be recycled back into the garden.

That big grassy pile on the right side is a load of horse manure that's been breaking down all summer.  He's working on moving all of it as well. 

   I will admit it feels kind of strange not having to head out to the garden every morning.  I might actually have time to work on some crochet or even some knitting now.  I need some new dishrags and some new wash cloths.  Don't laugh!  I still can't knit anything that isn't "flat".  Knitting things like socks is still wayyyy out of my league.  I still have a way to go before I get THAT good.  I will say this though.  If you want to learn crochet or knitting there are some great YouTube videos that can walk you through some of the "hard" parts.  

Well that's about all I have for now.  I hope this week is a good one for each and every one of you!

P.S I was wondering if you've noticed this page loading any faster?  I've taken down a whole boatload of pictures and "stuff" and even shortened all my fellow bloggers lists.  I don't have a clue if it helped or not.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday Stuff

I wonder just how long it takes to get used to having actual seasons.  Like a kid I find myself smiling at the cooler temperatures and the lower humidity. We listen to a radio show in Austin on the weekends. There's a real good natural gardening show on the weekends we both listen to. Old habits and all but I hear the weather there and sometimes I just grin.  We have SEASONS!!  We've had a couple of mornings that were down right chilly already. .  I've unpacked my big fluffy robe and snuggle up in it while I drink a little coffee and ponder what I can/might get done today.Being a list maker I'll scan through some of them and compile one for the day.
I've still got some squash that was pulled a few days ago that needs to be canned and an entire bag of green bell peppers to cut and dehydrate. I don't know why I'm still procrastinating on getting it done.

Most all of the other peppers that we pulled when we were expecting that frost/freeze several days ago are now dried and sitting in jars.  There are some pepper plants that didn't get totally frozen.  The leaves on top need to be cut back and I think they will come back.  We are expecting some warmer weather for a few days.  I don't really need (or want) any more peppers this year but....  It's hard not to want to get out there and cut them back to see if  I can keep them alive until a killer frost takes them.  I have to ask myself "Is this normal?"  I just can't stand to see them all sad and droopy looking when I can probably save them for a few more weeks.  Heck I might even dig up a couple and get them potted and stick them in the greenhouse for the winter. We'll see.

With the garden now pretty much done there is much more time to get other things done.  Lots of things tend to get neglected around here while the gardens going full tilt. One thing we've done every year since we've been here is to move the rabbits.  Their spring and summer accommodations are located in the shade under a big old oak tree.  We move them to the barn when it starts getting colder. Rabbits can take the cold, it's the wind that gets to them.

 Speaking of rabbits I'm going to be on baby watch this week.  If Bucky has done his job we should have bunnies soon.  If not I'll be taking the does back to the Rabbit Lady and have her breed them.  That would be unfortunate for ol' Bucky though. (kymber close your eyes) He's liable to be rabbit stew.

I want to give a shout out to Sue over at The Little Acre That Could.  She has started a series called Food Storage Friday.  Pretty cool, huh?  If you get a chance pop over and check it out. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to DehydratePotatoes

This picture from left to right.... Dried Okra, Dried Diced Potato's, Dried Tomato's

I was asked if I could explain the drying and re-hydrating process.  This is my attempt to do so. The question was about potato's but most vegetables use the same process.  Blanching times will vary with different vegetables.         

When dehydrating potato's, there are several ways to do them.  You can slice them for uses like scalloped potato's.  You can dice them in small pieces and use them in many different things.  You can cut them into french fries as well. You can shred them and use them for hash browns. This part is up to you.  Peeling your potato's is optional- there are lots of vitamins and minerals in the skins . They look nicer peeled but, again, its up to you.
I will explain the sliced potato's here, but they are all done the same way.
Slice your potato's approximately 1/4" thick.  This is where a food processor or a slicer comes in handy.  I do mine by hand but that's because I don't have either of them!   While you are cutting your potato's, put on a big pot of lightly salted water and heat to boiling. 

Put your potato slices in a vegetable basket or a French fry basket and drop them in the boiling water. When they start to boil again, let them blanch for for 5-8 minutes.  Have a large bowl ready with ice water. Plunge them in the ice water and let them sit for 15 minutes or so. Then spread the potato slices out on paper towels and daub dry.
Another method you can use (I would suggest doing this with things like hash browns) is to steam blanch them.

Spray your racks with some vegetable spray and place the potato's as close as you can get them without having them touch.  They need air circulation around them.  Dry them until the potato's are translucent and brittle.  You should not be able to "bend" them.  Let the potato's cool down, remove them from the racks and store them in jars or baggies.  Try to keep as much air out as you can.  This is where my FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer comes in handy.  I like to put them in jars and vacuum out the air.  (NOTE- If you are drying for long term storage DO NOT use the spray.  Oil can make anything dehydrated go rancid.)

To rehydrate them,  place the dried potato's in a bowl or pan and cover with boiling water. Cover the bowl and let them sit for about 20 minutes or until re-hydrated completely.  Drain excess water and they are ready to use.

 You can dry just about anything.  Carrots, peas, sweet corn, green beans, cabbage, spinach, swiss chard etc. I also dry tomato's for use in soups and stews.  I like drying  green peppers, hot peppers, and onions for use later in the year when these things are out of season.
I have had problems with re-hydrating green beans in the past and asked a true drying guru for some help.  She suggests blanching and then freezing the green beans before drying.  The freezing breaks down the cells so they will rehydrate better  otherwise, they will take a couple of hours to rehydrate.

Here are a few ideas for using some of your dehydrated vegetables. 

I like to do mixed veggies to use as soup starter.  Diced carrots and peas are good together. You can use dried sweet corn (ground up) and add it to flour when making cornbread.  
Scalloped potato's or au gratin ones. 
Dried diced potato's make a great hash when mixed with leftover beef and dried onions.  
Cabbage dices  and fried diced bacon and onions or leeks with bow tie noodles is good.Sometimes I add dried tomato's.
 How about cabbage soup with potato slices, carrots, and fried bacon? 
 Hmm, lets see.... pickled beet slices, gingered diced carrots, green pea and boiled egg salad.
Make white bread and roll it thin. Add re-hydrated hamburger, carrots, peas, onions and line the bread and make a pinwheel. Let the bread rise and bake. Slice and cover with gravy made from  the re-hydrating water.

The possibilities are endless.  So what are you waiting for? 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Early Frost

Coco Loves Peanut Butter!

Around here we aren't supposed to get our first freeze until around the first week in November. That's what they keep saying anyway.  That didn't work out to for us well last year.  We got a surprise freeze in the middle of October and everything in the garden froze.  Things happen.... We figured it was just a freak thing because the temps went right back up to normal for several weeks.  Well, as luck would have it this past Friday night we had a cold front move in and the forecasters were calling for a possible overnight freeze out here where we are.  It also brought in some seriously cold rain before dark. 

What do you do?  Well, we got out there in our raincoats and picked as much as we could ahead of a possible freeze.  We stripped all the pepper plants of fruit and picked as much squash as was ready to pick.  We started getting some of the tomatoes pulled off the vines but I got soooo cold and wet out there I finally said no more.  I called Uncle and went in the house to get warmed up and dried off.  It's not like we've not been blessed with a wonderful year for tomatoes. 

We didn't get a hard freeze but we did get a pretty heavy frost.  It was enough to kill off the squash and the pumpkins. 

The peppers look as though they'll probably come back. 

And the tomatoes .... well parts of the plants were burned pretty badly but there is still good growth mixed in with it that didn't freeze.  I don't know if the tomatoes that are still on the vine will do anything but I'm going to let them alone and take a wait and see approach.

So now I've got all kinds of peppers and squash that I need to get put up. I've got both of my dehydrators filled with serranos, hot banana peppers, cayenne (both red and green), jalapenos and haberneros.  16 trays.  I'll be hauling out the canner later on today and get the yellow squash canned up.

Some folks say that you can't can yellow squash. That it gets to soft in the canning process.  Have you ever seen yellow squash in cans at the grocery store?  I have.  Shoot, I've even bought it several times.  We happen to love squash even if it is sorta squishy, the flavors still spot on. This year I've experimented with chunks instead of slices in hopes that it won't totally fall apart.  I haven't opened any of it yet to find out yet but I'll try to remember to let you know how it comes out. 

Last years early freeze and then this years frost have me wondering if maybe we should look into some row covers.  What I've seen out there is pretty pricey though so I'll start poking around and see if I can come up with something more in our price range.  I've been told that using row covers on the squash helps dramatically decrease the  @#^% squash bugs too. 

I have to laugh.  We were having such good luck keeping down those #@$* squash bugs with the Eight.  And then they freeze. Go figure!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tyranny In America?

 You know it is true.
 What a mess.  I can't even find the words to express how I feel about what was once OUR government.  Yet again these fools have waited until the very last minute to do their job. What do they do when they finally reach an agreement?  They do exactly the same thing they did with Obama Care.  Passed at the last minute and filling it full of pork, they have again passed this mess  without reading it.  We are toast. A ticking time bomb is just waiting for the right moment to explode.
    At this point all I can say is that we are in for some deeply troubled times in the very near future.  If you don't feel the need to prepare for the coming days, if you choose to turn a blind eye to what has happened to our country then you will become nothing more than a burden.  I point to what happened last week when the EBT cards failed to work for a few hours. Their actions should be a wake up call to folks who think chaos cannot happen here. It can happen in a matter of hours.
   This president is hell bent on "Fundamentally changing America". It looks as though he is doing a bang-up job so far. Obama Care will destroy what little is left of this country. As folks start seeing just how much this "affordable" health care is going to cost them personally  maybe... just maybe they will understand what that fundamental  change "His Highness" was talking about.
   This government shut down showed those who didn't know before that the POTUS has no honor. His actions are juvenile at best. His version of holding his breath until he turns blue. Shutting down the commissaries on the bases?  Shutting down National memorials and National Parks. One park ranger told the press "we've been instructed to make things as uncomfortable as possible." ?   These actions and many others like it show just  what sort of cloth this POTUS cut from.  The emperor wears no clothes. Tyranny is truly upon us.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chipolte Peppers (and other things)

First things first, I want to apologize for taking so long to reply to your comments.  I've not been able to get into blogger.  I could use the dashboard and do anything inside but I couldn't comment or reply here or on your blogs. It just kept eating my comments. I finally got it figured out though. (I think anyway)  I've heard about it happening to others over the years but it was my first time.

I had a "procedure" on my back Tuesday and it's kinda got me laid low for a couple of  days. Since I've got to take it easy I  decided it was time to start shelling some of the dried beans.  It keeps my hands busy.  It's one of those things on "The List" that keeps being put off for more important things.  You know how it goes if you are a list maker.  Eventually you do it because you are tired of it hanging on the "List". 

Did you know that Chipolte peppers are red jalapeno peppers that have been smoked and dried? I didn't really know how they were done until reading an article about them a few weeks ago. I've been saving back the red ones until Mars fired up the pit. Well he fired it up  the other day to smoke a Pork Roast. I thought "What a perfect time to smoke those red jalapeno's I've been saving!"  So I spread the peppers out on a couple of baking sheets and set them in the pit to smoke and dry.  I'd have taken pictures but those rechargeable batteries I've got are garbage.  Every time I need the camera the batteries aren't charged.  Anyway..... where was I?  Oh, making chipoltle peppers!   It was pretty simple really.  I turned the peppers once about three hours into the smoking process and then let them sit until the fire went cold.  Some weren't dried yet so I set them in the dehydrator to finish drying.  That's it.  That's all you have to do to make Chipoltle peppers.  I put them in a quart jar whole and vacuum sealed them.  I've kept them whole because there are several ways to use them in cooking. If I want Chipolte Powder I'll just toss a few peppers into the little coffee grinder and whip some up! 

I finally got around to canning some of the yellow squash.  The #%$@ squash bugs have shown up in mass again.  I've been battling them but they are starting to win. I've got two plants that look as though they are on their last legs.  So I'm going to try and get enough squash canned before they win completely.  I'm also putting out some more Eight but the problem is that once they are up the plant and on the leaves they don't seem to leave until they kill the dang plant.  I've been real careful using it only on the stems and keeping it away from the blooms.  I don't want to hurt any bees.  The only other thing I know to do is just to pick off as many as I can as fast as I can.  Some folks would wonder why I keep trying to grow squash at all.  Because we love yellow squash! That and now those #$^@ have got me motivated to beat them. 

Our weather has been just about perfect so far this month. Cool nights and high temps in the 70's.  I just love it!  The tomatoes apparently love it too.  They are all putting out new growth and new blooms.  I don't really think we'll have time enough for them to fruit again before the first freeze but we'll see.  Last year we got an unusually early freeze about this time that pretty much ended the fall garden.  I'm hoping it won't happen again this year.  Not much you can do about the weather though.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Checking In

I've been feeling an urgency to get things lined out and double checked.  I'm not sure if it's because of the state of the Nation or just a natural instinct to get ready for the coming months.  Either way I've been staying busy around here.  With the internet throttled almost to a halt, I've pretty much taken a break from it for awhile.  It's frustrating. And honestly? I just don't need that frustration right now.  I'd like to post some pictures but trying to upload them to blogger takes more time than I've got.  I'll be back to my old "surfing" self soon and until then I'll do what I can to post here more regularly.

I picked up the new rabbits last week.    I brought home  one proven doe and one 10 month old.  I also got a younger one.  I hope I've made the right decision.  Now to see if we can finally get some rabbit things going. The Rabbit Lady assured me that if I had any problems that she would gladly breed them to one of her bucks. 

The garden is still producing some.  All the peppers are still blooming and producing.  Next year I'll scale back on the hot peppers.  Mars can only eat so many and the neighbors, (who love peppers) can't keep up either!  I've got some seriously hot habernero type peppers. Unfortunately the markers faded and I'm not sure of all the names. I'm going to dry some of them specifically for a hot pepper seasoning powder.  It should be good!  I think the tomatoes are just about done but I could be wrong.  They are starting to bloom again and the lower nighttime temps have been good for them.  We'll see how it goes.  The yellow squash is still doing well.  I saw a couple of those $#*@ squash bugs the other day and thoroughly enjoyed offing them.  Mars put out some more Eight around the bottom of the plants and so far it still seems to be working.  A couple of months ago when he planted the squash he also planted some butternut squash and what he thought was another type of squash.  Turns out it was pumpkin seed!  I'm really excited about that.  I've never grown pumpkin before!!!

 Lessons learned this year were huge ones.  One thing I absolutely MUST do is to keep a garden journal.  I try to get things all marked but have been seriously lacking in journaling what's going on.  Mars came up with what I thought was an excellent idea.  He's going to build me a box. (Think mailbox) I'll keep my notebook and pens out there.  I'm pretty sure if I had some place convenient to keep them, rather than trying to remember everything I did once I get in the house in the evening, I just might have better luck with keeping a garden log.  We'll see though, right?  hehehe

We've got our first cold spell of the season this weekend. I figure once the rain clears up later today it should be pretty nice. Highs are supposed to be in the 70's tomorrow. Lows in the 40's means it's time to start thinking about digging out the long sleeve shirts again. 

I think I'm going into blogger buddy withdrawals.  I've not been able to read much of anyone's blogs and I think I miss that as much as anything. This is such a neat time of the year and I feel like I'm missing all the good stuff!  No worries, I'll try to catch up as I can, I'll just have to forgo the comments for awhile.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Odds and Ends

Things have slowed down some in the garden.  There are tons of things that need to be done but nothing is really pressing right now. We are enjoying the weather and I proclaimed it a putter around day. So many little things I need to get done that sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. I'm just not as organized as I want to be, which might be a good thing since then I'd probably get all OCD. Thank goodness I'm a list maker.

I'm still getting tons of cayenne peppers. I've been drying them as they ripen and probably have at least 4 quart jars full. That sounds like a lot (even to me) but once they are ground to cayenne powder it won't be. 

 I had a couple of  ripe yellow bell peppers and a couple of red ones that found their way into the dehydrater too.  They will add some color and yummy peppers to soups or stews (or whatever) this winter.  I've got all sorts of regular bells dried as well.  Some are cut lengthwise and long, some are diced and some are done in bite size pieces.  I make up all sorts of one dish meals and I love having them on hand.

I was reading somewhere, (I'm sorry I don't remember exactly where)  about saving your vegetable "scraps" and dehydrating them to make vegetable powder.  I have a gallon baggie I keep in the freezer and just add the scraps as I go.  When the bag's full I'll dump it onto the trays and dehydrate it.  Once it's dry I put it in a jar and vacuum seal it for using later. I know you can go ahead and grind it at this point but I'll just grind it as I go.  That way I'm not running the risk of the powder caking up and becoming a vegetable rock! 

I've got one of the dehydrators full and running.  Cayenne, red green and yellow bell peppers and a whole baggie of veggie "scraps" will be ready by tomorrow!  Lately if the dryer isn't running I start feeling like somethings wrong. I can almost always find something that needs to be dehydrated.

I've got almost a quart baggie of jalapeno's that have turned red.  Once we get a few more the plan is to smoke them on the grill.  Once that's done I'll dry them and grind them into Chipotle powder.  Pretty neat huh?  Much of the stuff I'm doing now is helping to add a variety to our diets in the coming months.

I want to thank Sandy from over at Oklahoma Transient for sending me some of her cool pepper seeds.  And guess what else she sent!  Bluebonnet seeds!  I'm hoping they'll grow here and right now is about the time of year to plant them for next year.  Sandy, thank you so much.  Bluebonnets are special to me.  It's a Texas thing I suppose.  I owe you an email girl. (and some seeds)  Ya'll go check out her cool giveaway.  It's a good one!

Oh, I almost forgot!  I know I told you that we've been without our nightly movie for a few days now.  Very different kind of a rythem to things makes it interesting. I've been able to do a little reading.  I've got a crochet project going as well as a project "on the needles".
 I went to town again with a bunch of tomatoes, squash, grape tomatoes, green bell peppers and a variety of hot peppers.  I'm amazed!  All I came home with were three buckets ( think cool whip container) of tomatoes,  Folks around here really do like their tomatoes!  From what I understand many folks didn't have a good tomato crop.  I think it might have been that really late freeze we had.  Shoot, we were out there covering those babies every night and taking the covers back off once it warmed up in the mornings.  Anyway....  I made enough money to order a new DVD player.  We should be back to the Netflix by the first of of next week.  YAY!!! I really do miss our nightly movies, especially now since once again WildBlue Sucks has slowed our internet speed to slower than dial-up. *sigh*  It will probably take a couple of weeks to get to the level they'll speed us back up.  Geesh I miss high speed cable connections.   I've never had anything other than a cable connection to the interwebs until we moved out here.  Call me spoiled but it has been one of the hardest personal challenges to have such a limited internet service.  After 2 1/2 years you would think I could get used Sorry for the lack of pictures but trying to get them to load is pure torture.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Dehydrating Instructions For Vegetables

I found a good starting place for those of you who want to learn to dehydrate veggies.  Please note that dehydrators and methods for dehydrating vary. Vegetables may be dehydrated at temperatures starting at 100 degrees ranging up to 140 degrees. The higher the temperature the shorter the dehydration time. Also, with higher temperatures it is possible to cause case hardening of the vegetable. Case hardening occurs when the exterior of the vegetable dries too rapidly creating a seal that retains moisture in the center. When this occurs the food will spoil from the inside out. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Artichokes:
1. Wash the vegetables
2. Remove the outer leaves.
3. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters.
4. Steam blanch the vegetables for 4 minutes, then drain well.
5. Dehydrate artichokes at 100 degrees (F) for 18 hours, or until brittle.
6. Store dried artichokes in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)  
Use your dried artichoke hearts marinated (for salads, antipasto platters, topping on pizzas, casseroled) or in dips.
To rehydrate: soak in boiling water for about 15 minutes, adding a little lemon juice to help keep the color. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Asparagus:
1. Wash the vegetables
2. Remove any tough ends.
3. Steam blanch for 3 minutes. Drain.
4. Dehydrate asparagus at 100 degrees (F) for 35 hours or until dry and brittle (to avoid them molding in storage).
5. Store dried asparagus in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried asparagus is best used in soups, casseroles, or dishes that require mashed asparagus.
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 30 minutes and drain.  Stalks will likely remain a little tough.   

Instructions for Dehydrating Green Beans:
1. Wash the vegetables
2. Snip off ends and cut into 1” pieces.
3. Steam blanch for 4 minutes, then soak in iced water for 4 minutes.
4. Drain the vegetables.
5. Place green beans on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze for 45 minutes.
6. Dehydrate green beans at 100 degrees (F) for about 30 hours or until crisp.
7. Store dried green beans in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried green beans are best served in hot main dishes like stews, soups, casseroles. You can add dried green beans directly to soups and stews… just add a little extra liquid to the recipe.
To rehydrate, soak in cold water for 2 hours, or in hot water for 1 hour.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Beets:
1. Wash the vegetables.
2. Remove tops.
3. Cut beets in half.
4. Steam the vegetables until tender (about 20 minutes).
5. Peel and cut into ½” slices (or shred).
6. Then dehydrate the beets (slices) at 100 degrees (F) for about 12 hours or until brittle. Dehydrate shredded beets for approx. 10 hours.
7. Store dried beets in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried beets can be ground in your food processor and use for color or flavoring.
To rehydrate, soak in cold water for 1 hour and drain, or soak overnight in the fridge and drain.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Broccoli:
1. Wash the vegetables
2. Peel the tough skin from the stalks.
3. Separate the florets from the stalks.
4. Cut the stalks into ½” diagonal slices and cut the florets into uniform pieces.
5. dehydrate broccoli at 100 degrees for about 18 hours or until brittle.
6. Store dried broccoli in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration) Rehydrated broccoli is best used in soups and casseroles.
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 30 minutes or steam for 15 minutes (until tender).  For fresher looking broccoli, soak in cold water for 5 minutes before cooking.   

Instructions for Dehydrating Brussels Sprouts:
1. Wash the vegetables
2. Remove tough outer leaves.
3. Cut sprouts in half.
4. Steam blanch the vegetables for 3 minutes and drain.
5. Dehydrate Brussels sprouts at 100 degrees for 12 hours or until brittle.
6. Store dried Brussels sprouts in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
To rehydrate, soak in hot water with a little lemon juice for about 30 minutes. Drain before using.

Instructions for Dehydrating Cabbage:
1. Wash the cabbage heads and trim away the outer leaves.
2. Remove the core
3. Shred/grate the cabbage head.
4. Steam blanch vegetables for 2 minutes. (Optional)
5. Dehydrate cabbage at 100 degrees (F) for 18 hours or until crisp.
6. Store dried cabbage in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried cabbage can be added directly to soups or stews without re-hydrating.   Note:  Red cabbage loses some of its color when re-hydrated.
To rehydrate, soak in cold water with a little lemon juice for 30 minutes and drain. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Carrots:
1. Wash the carrots and trim off the tops.
2. Cut into ¼” slices (or shred).
3. Dehydrate carrots at 100 degrees for about 16 hours (for slices) or 12 hours for shredded carrots (until brittle).
4. Store dried carrots in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration) Dried carrots can be added directly to stews and soups without re-hydrating.
To rehydrate, soak in cold water for 30 minutes and drain.
 NOTE- Carrots that have been blanched for 3 minutes will keep their color better.

Instructions for Dehydrating Celery:
1. Trim away leaves and ends
2. Wash celery stalks and cut into ½” pieces.
3. Soak vegetables for 5 minutes in 6 cups of cold water/1 tbsp baking soda (helps preserve the color).
4. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain.
5. Dehydrate celery at 100 degrees (F) for about 18 hours or until crisp.
6. Store dried celery in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
No need to rehydrate for use in soups or stews.  Make celery flakes by processing dried celery in a blender or food processor.  For celery salt, mix ground dried celery with equal parts of salt.  
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 1 hour, drain.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Chard:
1. Wash chard well
2. Remove stems.
3. Dehydrate chard at 100 degrees (F) for 10 hours or until brittle.
4. Store dried chard in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
 To rehydrate, soak in hot water with a little lemon juice for 15 minutes, drain well.

Instructions for Dehydrating Corn:
1. Shuck ears and remove silk.
2. Steam blanch ears for 4 minutes, then drain.
3. Cut kernels from ears.
4. Dry kernels at 100 degrees (F) for 18 hours or until crisp.
5. Store dried corn in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried corn works well in casseroles, creamed corn, stews, chowders, soups.  You can even make your own cornmeal, by using a food mill or grinder to grind the dried kernels.
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for about 30 minutes and drain.  
 NOTE- Blanching corn for 3 minutes will help retain the color better.

Instructions for Dehydrating Cucumber:
1. Wash and trim ends.
2. Cut cucumber into 1/4" slices
3. Dehydrate cucumber at 130 degrees (F) for about 8 hours or until slices are rigid.
4. Store dried cucumber in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
To rehydrate, soak in cold water overnight in fridge.

Instructions for Dehydrating Eggplant:
1. Wash eggplant
2. Cut the vegetable into ½” slices.
3. Dehydrate eggplant at 100 degrees (F) for about 20 hours or until leathery.
4. Store dried eggplant in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried eggplant works well in casseroles.
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for about 30 minutes and drain.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Garlic Cloves:
1. Use firm cloves without bruises.
2. Peel cloves and cut in half.
3. Remove the sprout in the middle.
4. Dehydrate garlic cloves at 100 degrees (F) for about 6 hours or until crisp.
5. Store dried garlic in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
To make garlic powder, grind the dried garlic in a blender or seed grinder.  For garlic salt, mix ground dried garlic with 4 parts salt.
To rehydrate, soak in cold water for about 3 hours in the fridge and drain.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Leeks:
1. Remove the tough top and outer leaves.
2. Wash the vegetables in cold water.
3. Cut the stalks in half, lengthwise.
4. Slice crossways into ¼” slices
5. Dehydrate leeks at 100 degrees (F) for 18 hours or until crisp.
6. Store dried leeks in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
No need to rehydrate if using in soups or stews.
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 30 minutes and drain.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Mushrooms:
1. Rinse mushrooms quickly. If they become slippery blot dry with a paper towel.
2. Trim mushrooms and cut into ¼” slices.
3. Dehydrate mushrooms at 100 degrees (F) for 18 hours or until crisp.
4. Store dried mushrooms in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
No need to rehydrate if using in soups or stews.
To rehydrate, soak in cold water for 30 minutes and drain.

Instructions for Dehydrating Okra:
1. Select vegetables with tender, firm pods.
2. Trim the ends and wash.
3. Cut okra into 1/4" slices.
4. Dehydrate okra at 100 degrees (F). (until crisp)
5. Store dried okra in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Dried okra is good for using as a thickener in soups or gumbos.

 NOTE- You can re-hydrate okra and fry it as you would fresh okra.

NOTE:  Dehydrating onions makes the house smell very strongly of onions.  You may consider dehydrating them outside or in a less used space.
Instructions for Dehydrating Onion:
1. Remove outer layer/skin.
2. Dice onion or else cut into ¼” slices.
3. Dehydrate onion at 100 degrees (F) for 20 hours or until brittle.
4. Store dried onion in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
No need to rehydrate if using in soups or stews.  Make onion flakes and onion powder by grinding in a food mill or blender.  For onion salt, mix onion powder with even parts salt.
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 15 minutes and drain.  

Instructions for Dehydrating Parsnips:
1. Wash and peel (optional) parsnips
2. Slice vegetables into ¼” slices (or shred).
3. Steam blanch for 4 minutes and drain.
4. Dehydrate parsnips at 100 degrees (F) for about 16 hours or until brittle.  Dehydrate shredded parsnips for 10/12 hours.
5. Store dried parsnips in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Try eating re-hydrated parsnips mashed like you would mashed potatoes!
To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 1 hour, drain. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Peas:
1. Remove peas from the pods.
2. Steam blanch vegetables for 3 minutes and drain.
3. Dehydrate peas at 100 degrees (F) for 12 hours or until brittle.
4. Store dried peas in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
No need to rehydrate if using in soups.
To rehydrate dried peas, soak in hot water for 30 minutes and drain. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Peppers:
1. Wash peppers and remove core.
2. Dice or cut vegetables into 1/4" slices.
3. Dehydrate pepper at 100 degrees (F) for 24 hours or until brittle.
4. Store dried peppers in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)No need to rehydrate if using in soups.
For a little crunch in your salad, try adding dried bell pepper pieces.
To rehydrate dried peppers, soak in hot water for 20 minutes and drain. 


 Instructions for Dehydrating Potatoes:
1. Scrub, peel (optional) and rinse potatoes.
2. Dice, grate or cut into ¼” slices.
3. Soak vegetables in ascorbic acid or lemon juice solution for 5 minutes and drain.  (to prevent discoloration. If you don't pre-treat potatoes, they will turn black)

4. Blanch or steam potatoes for 3-5 minutes.
4. Dehydrate potatoes at 100 degrees for 8 hours or until crisp.
5. Store dried potatoes in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration) 

To rehydrate, soak in cold water for 30 minutes, drain and pat dry. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Spinach
1. Wash spinach well
2. Remove stems.
3. Dehydrate spinach at 100 degrees (F) for 10 hours or until brittle.
4. Store dried spinach in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
To rehydrate, soak in hot water with a little lemon juice for 15 minutes, drain well.

Instructions for Dehydrating Tomatillos:
1. Remove papery husk and wash tomatillos. Remove stems.
2. Cut in half.
3. Dehydrate tomatillos at 100 degrees (F) until leathery (can take a couple of days, depending upon size).
4. Store dried tomatillos in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
These make a delicious, sweet snack, if dehydrated once the fruit has ripened. Use rehydrated in salsas.
To rehydrate, soak for 15 to 30 minutes in hot water and drain.

Instructions for Dehydrating Tomatoes:
1. Wash tomatoes and remove stems.
2. Cut into ½” slices. If smaller tomatoes (like cherry or small plum tomatoes), then you can cut them in half.)
3. Remove seeds (optional).
4. Dehydrate tomatoes at 100 degrees (F) until crisp (slices – take 24 hours (avg) and halved plums take about 3 days).
5. Store dried tomatoes in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Use in stews, sauces or marinades.
To rehydrate, soak for 15 to 30 minutes in cold water. 

Instructions for Dehydrating Zucchini:
1. Wash zucchini
2. Trim and cut into ¼ “ slices (or grate).
3. Dry zucchini at 100 degrees (F) for 12 hours or until brittle.
4. Store dried zucchini in a clean, dry, airtight container, in a cool dark location. (Light can cause discoloration)
Grated zucchini works well in bakery like zucchini bread.  Slices work well in casseroles, or use seasoned dried chips as snacks. 

To rehydrate, soak in hot water for 30 minutes and rain.

Originally adapted from http://www.howtogardenadvice.com/harvesting/how_to_dehydrate_dry_vegetables.html and amended with additional information.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Would I Do It All Over Again?

When all is said and done here I've got to say that all in all we've had a pretty successful garden this spring. The biggest fail?  My beans. They just didn't produce well this year. I'll have to do the unspeakable and actually buy some over the winter I suppose.  It happens.  We've already got new plans for next years beans.

I'm just now starting to get the hang of this whole gardening thing.  It reminds me time and time again that those of you who have those seeds tucked away for an emergency don't have much of a chance in a SHTF situation.  I'm not saying that I do either, but I've got a much better shot at it than the "uninitiated". And lets be honest here, the fact that we've got the drip line irrigation is a huge factor in our success.

And speaking of gardening ...  Call me crazy but I want to get out there  in the garden to trim up and cut back the tomatoes.  There's a bunch of dead stuff on them and I want to try and get them healthy enough to make tomatoes for fall.  YES you read that right! I'm going to try for some Fall tomatoes. Since I've found there's a market for them around here it seems I'm not as tired of tomatoes as I thought I was!  With the cool front bringing us some lows at night cool enough to set fruit I'm hoping to get another round of tomatoes.  We'll see how that goes. I've been putting it off for almost a week now.  As soon as it dries out I'll get started on it.

I planted a little over half a row of Dixie Peas this year.  We both really love the flavor and even the texture of these peas/beans.  The thing is that they've got smallish pods with 3-4 peas in them that tend to grow toward the bottom of the compact plant.  They are kind of hard for me to pick at just the right time to get fresh ones.  They will/do dry on the vine.  That's fine by me but they have to be watched because once they dry you only have a small window of opportunity to pick them before they split their shells and the dry beans will fall to the ground.  All in all they're a pain in the a$$ but dang they are good!  I'm still pondering growing them again next year.

 The squash is still doing well.  I hold my breath and cross my fingers that the %$#& squash bugs don't show up.  I'd really love to be able to can some.  I know, I know.  Folks say you shouldn't can squash.  I say why not?  We don't mind if it gets soft during the canning process, it's still yummy! 

The grasshoppers won't allow new beans to get started.  It seems they think that bean sprouts are pretty tasty.  We've replanted them three times so far.  I don't know how much longer we have before it just gets to cold but once the garden dries up some, I'll stick some more in the ground. I've also got to get my garlic planted soon.  At least around here I've got a pretty good size window of opportunity to plant it.  It's on my "list".

Sue, from over at The Little Acre That Could asked if I would do  all this over again next year.  Absolutely!  As much as I fuss I just love doing this. (mostly) I really do love it.  It's a different way of life and I'm trying to embrace every last bit of it. This place is something I've dreamed about having for years and years.  Of course I didn't know we would end up in Oklahoma but I've grown ok with that! lol I honestly believe that we were meant to be here on this little piece of land.  Besides, it sure beats living in a R.V. park smack up next to the freeway! It's quiet and I get to dig in the dirt and there is close to NO traffic out here.  I can even see the stars at night. What's not to love about that?