Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Start of Thanksgiving Cooking 2022

 I'll admit that I use broth in a box throughout the year. It's not that I can't make my own stock. I absolutely can. It's just that usually I have no room in my fridge or freezer to horde chicken or turkey carcasses.
That changed. Our old little chest freezer gave up the ghost on us. We didn't realize it, and we lost a full freezer full of food. We bought a new chest freezer, however. I stocked up on several turkeys and turkey breasts. We don't eat turkey nearly enough throughout the year. I made us a turkey dinner, using one of the frozen turkey breasts that I had squirreled away, just because, not long after we moved up here to Kelpie Kapers Farm. I found whole turkeys for 98 cents per pound at Walmart. I bought 3 of them. Likewise, I found turkey breasts at Safeway for $12 or less. I bought 2. I purposefully kept room in that chest freezer to store my bones so that I can start making my own stock. My goal is to become less dependent on the supermarket supply chain and slowly work over to using my own home produced items. I will start with growing amaranth and quinoa next year.
I'm getting ahead of myself. I tend to get a bit excited when I talk about my self-sufficiency goals.

Back to making stock. The key component to any successful and delicious Thanksgiving feast is a good homemade turkey stock. Safeway had turkey necks for sale. I bought a pack of 3 of them. They were a bit on the spendy side, at over $3, for a piece of turkey that nobody really ever thinks of...but I sure do! Not only do turkey necks make a delicious stock to use for dressing and/or gravy, the meat off of the necks is some of the most delectable meat on the whole bird! It's just a major pain in the keister to pick it off the bones. That's why I only do it when I want to make a dinner that I want to impress Bob with.

I decided a few weeks ago to start collecting vegetable scraps to make my turkey stock with. They hung out in the freezer for a bit.

I bought my vegetables for Thanksgiving with the idea of most of them being multipurpose. I'm adding chopped fennel to my dressing this year. I bought a fennel bulb with a lot of fronds and stalks on it so that I could use it in my stock. Not only that, but I saved my asparagus ends for the stock. A word to the wise and because my sister, Ginger, gave me a heads-up about putting asparagus ends into stock. Too many of them will cause your stock to have a bitter taste to it. Use them sparingly. I'll still save them because I like to use them to make cream of asparagus soup. That's a different blog post for another time, though. 

I added in a shallot that I simply cut in half. I didn't bother peeling it. There's no need. The solids are all strained out and discarded (except for the turkey necks). I added in 3 or 4 bay leaves, celery, carrots, a whole head of garlic that I cut in half. I left the skin on the head of garlic. It's like the shallot. There's no need to peel it. I also added in a couple of parsnips that had seen better days that I had in the crisper drawer.  I also added in some Penzey's Bavarian Herb blend. It has all the good stuff in it. Some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper finished it all off.

I love that we have well water up here and we don't have to use city water. I added in 2 quarts of cold water and a good glug of a nice oaky chardonnay.
I put this over high heat just until it came to a boil and then I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer. It reduced by over a third. I added another half quart of water to it and let it condense down again.
When all was said and done, it took around 2-1/2 hours to get a quart of some rich looking turkey stock to use in my stuffing and gravy recipes on Thursday.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Sneaky Supermarket Tactics To Get You To Spend More Money

 Yesterday, Safeway's new sales ad came out. They advertised 5 pounds of russet potatoes for 47 cents as a digital deal with their Just For U program. I knew I wanted to partake of that deal and I wanted to get some other things that would finish up my holiday shopping for Thanksgiving. I can just sit back now and start cooking ahead of next Thursday. No stress. I like that.

I noticed a few things that gave me pause yesterday. The first thing is that Safeway no longer sells their onions by the pound. They sell them by the unit. I used to pay 69 cents per pound for their medium yellow onions. It's now 69 cents each. I haven't bought onions for a while, as I grew a lot of them in my garden and was simply using those. But, I ran out. I knew I would. I know I want to plant a lot more next year, but that's a different blog post.

The tags in the store still look as though onions are 69 cents per pound, if you don't read the fine print. I think it's sort of sneaky on the part of Safeway, too. They could have just been on the up and up and put a sign on their website that they were no longer selling by the pound. They didn't do that. So much for transparency.

So, for a week's worth of onions, it cost me $5.52. I used to pay around $3 for that amount. The cashier said that they implemented this just a few short weeks ago.

Next, I noticed the eggs. I haven't bought eggs for several months because we have awesome friends who gift them to us. Bob does handyman type stuff for 3 or so people who love to send eggs home with him. I'm completely grateful for them, as well. But, with all good things, that has come to an end for this year as chickens do take a break from laying. We are on our last dozen and decided to buy some more to stock up a bit.
That's all I can say about that.

Normally, if I purchase eggs from the supermarket, I buy them by the 18-pack. At Safeway, large eggs are $3.69 per 18-pack. I buy eggs 3 dozen at a time. I don't like to run out of them. Three dozen eggs, if I purchased them by the 18-pack, would have cost me $7.38!
Holy Expensive, Batman!!
I glanced over at the large 12-packs. They were $1.89 each.
Hold up!
If I buy 3 of those vs. buying 2 18-packs, it would be cheaper. It's like almost $2 cheaper. To be exact, it's $1.71 cheaper.

Here is the link to view yellow onions being 69 cents each on Safeway's website.
Here is the link to view the cost of buying an 18-pack of Lucerne eggs.

The moral of this blog post is to make sure you're doing the math. Use a calculator, if you must. There's no shame in it.If you have a smartphone, you have a calculator.  Read the fine print on the tags to make sure that they are selling by the pound or if it is the price each. Supermarkets are going to try to squeeze every cent from you that they can. If we remain vigilant, we can keep those extra bucks in our pockets and not into the coffers of non-transparent supermarkets, especially going into the holidays.
I hope this post helps you out and makes you aware. These supermarkets are, quite literally, banking on the fact that most people are rushed and not going to look that closely at what they are doing. Well, that rat race is going to have to make do with one less rat. I always take my time to get the best prices that I possibly can and, when I find something shady, I'll let you guys all know about it.
Take care!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Isolation or Solitude? Our First Year

It was this time, exactly one year ago, that we made the choice to move out of the (literal) rat race from the outskirts (suburbs) of town and go fully rural on property that would allow us to do what we want, how we want and when we want.

We moved in January just as we experienced a flood that totaled my husband's car. It started snowing on Christmas, we got quite a bit, and it was white out for a week and, then it warmed up quickly and started raining. With all that melting, the runoff, coming off the Cascades, came right down the rivers, and where did we live? Yep. Right on the banks of the Cowlitz River.

We had just hauled our first load of stuff up here that morning and that night, we went through this.

This view is one that I will never tire of seeing each morning.

In April, we got a good 6-8 inches of snow in a late freak snowstorm. I've never seen it snow in April before. Not here anyway.

After the snow melted, spring hit. It was a glorious sight to behold.

With the coming of spring, this herd of elk migrated up through our front yard.

Summer. Beautiful summer!

Now, we full-swing into fall and the leaves are changing colors, and it looks like a painting. Of course, the camera cannot adequately show what I'm looking at, and I don't know how to edit photos.

So, the question is this: Is this called isolation or is it called solitude?

I don't mind not seeing people every single day. I don't mind not seeing an approaching car every day. I don't miss hearing other people on a daily basis.

I'll go with solitude, and it's sheer and utter bliss.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Autumn Garden Relish

 I believe our incredible warm weather streak has finally ended as of yesterday. It's not a moment too soon that we got that canopy up over the fifth wheel, either. I find it satisfying to walk outside and not get wet when it's raining out. Bob was so kind as to go out and gleen all the tomatoes off of the plants and pick all the beans. We're going to see if we can get our remaining zucchini to get a bit bigger before picking it. I will plant garlic this coming week and, after that freak hot weather streak through October wiped out all of my fall seedlings, I'm opting to not do much of a fall garden. I'll tackle it again next season.

I have a ton of unripe tomatoes. I've put up 5 pints of  Picalilli. I'm going to be canning up sliced green unripe tomatoes this afternoon so that we can enjoy fried green tomatoes this winter. Yesterday, I put up 6 pints of Autumn Garden Relish. I used this recipe from Healthy Canning as inspiration. Click here to view it.

Without further ado, let's dive right into this recipe.

This recipe starts out with a lot of finely chopped vegetables. I used cabbage (leftover from when I made Picalilli), cauliflower, unripe green tomatoes, onion, green pepper, red pepper and celery. This gets tossed in a bit of pickling salt and I left it to sit overnight in the fridge.

The next day, I drained this veg mixture. I prepped 6 wide-mouth canning jars by washing them in hot, soapy water and then I boiled them for 10 minutes. I left them to sit in the hot water until I was ready for them. In the meantime, I prepped the brine for this relish.

I started out by adding in the spices I would be using: mustard powder, turmeric and celery seed.

Then I added in sugar and white vinegar. This gets mixed up and brought up to a boil before you add the veg.

Once you add the veg, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Everything will get a golden hue from the turmeric.

My stove only has 3 burners, so I wind up shuffling pots around so that everything has a place. I've finally got a system down that works for me.

These get processed in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Once these jars come out of the canner, I set them in a towel covered baking sheet (so that they can be moved easily) and I cover them in a couple of layers of towels. I want them to cool down slowly, over a 12-hour period. I don't want them to cool too quickly because that can actually weaken the jars.

After the jars are thoroughly cooled down and all the lids have sealed, I write what they are on the lid, date them, put them back into the box and we are storing these under our bed because it lifts up, it's very cool under there, it's dark and it seems like as good as place as any to put them. It's my canning pantry, so to speak.

Autumn Garden Relish

Yield: 6 pints

4 cups chopped cabbage
3 cups finely chopped cauliflower
2 cups chopped unripe green tomatoes
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons pickling/canning salt
3-3/4 cup white vinegar
3 teaspoons celery seed
1-3/4 teaspoons turmeric
3 teaspoons mustard powder
2-3/4 cups white cane sugar

Mix all veg together with pickling salt. Put in fridge overnight.

While you are prepping the brine, let the veg drain thoroughly in a colander.
Mix all spices with sugar in a large pot. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil, lower heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add drained veg. Bring back to a full boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Put into prepped jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, let jars sit in hot water for 5 minutes then remove to cool completely for 12-24 hours.


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Putting The Canopy Over The Fifth Wheel

 We moved up onto Kelpie Kapers Farm in January. At the time, we just wanted to get out of the RV park and up here, especially after going through that flood. We decided that we wouldn't put the awning up over the trailer at that time and would wait until summer instead. Well, summer came and went and a few weeks ago, I put my foot down and told Bob that I was tired of looking at the stuff lying around and it needed to go up. STAT. He availed to his friend, Frank, to come up and help. They got this up within a day and a half. Not bad for two old guys, if you ask me.

They made excellent progress yesterday. They got the frame up and 8 out of 10 of the cross-pieces in place.

They left the very end pieces for this morning after one slipped yesterday. No harm, no foul.

This awning is 13 feet high in the center.

Poor guys. They were up the ladders. They were down the ladders. Ugh! They had a ladder on the deck.They had a ladder in the back of my truck.

Here's Bob putting in the final screws.

Frank is up the ladder.

We have a small walkway between the trailer and the deck. I asked Bob to shove it up as close to the deck as he could, so he put it right there up on it.

I now have my full deck. There's no more sheets of canopy roofing on it! Next up is Bob getting the hot tub wired in.

As soon as the last roof panel was put up, I could feel an immediate drop in the temperature inside.

And we're able to fully open our outdoor kitchen hatch up.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Mid-September Garden Harvest

 It's that time again. It's been a minute since I posted a garden update. We are actively harvesting now. I've put up several jars of pickled items. I've made a lot of stuff with blackberries. We're picking our tomatoes when they've reached a blush stage. Ideally, I'd leave them on the vine to fully ripen, but we are running a month behind this year, so when they blush, they get pulled unless there is higher temperatures in the forecast and no chance of sprinkles.

The above photo is one of my Reisetomate tomatoes. They are an oddity, for sure. From what I've read, they aren't the greatest tasting things, but they are sure a conversation piece.

Don't mind my volunteer tomato. We still don't know how that happened, but we're going to roll with it and see what it does.

We got a small rain prediction for today, so we thought it best to pull all the tomatoes that were beginning to blush. I'll ripen them up inside instead.

We just need a few more weeks of warm weather and I'll get a harvest. It won't be enough to sustain us through the winter, but, at least, have an idea of how many I'll need for next year.

Growing my own, from seed, was easier than I thought it would be and it's opened a huge door as to the varieties that I can grow. I'm approaching the 200 varieties mark in my personal seed stash for next year.

The Sart Roloise tomatoes are stunning. Absolutely stunning.

This volunteer ....er tomato just cracks me up. It's starting to flower.

Bob's getting some weeds cleaned out by one of our strawberry patches.

We decided to see if we could find any potatoes. We didn't. We'll have to wait for a bit and dig down into the soil at the bottom and see if my method worked or not.

We only tried in one corner, to be honest. Who knows about the rest of this contraption.

These are cannellini beans that I'm growing out for someone else. How it works is that they send me a small number of seeds. I grow them out. I send them back between 60-100 seeds and the rest are mine to grow out from then on. I like doing that.

More cannellini beans. These are one of my favorites. I always have a can in my pantry and after next year, I'll be able to have a supply of them dried.

Here is the Sart Roloise I picked today. This is just a stunning looking tomato.

Tomatillos, tomatoes, and some Dragon Tongue beans so far.

I was able to find some cannellini beans that were dried out. Bob harvested some rhubarb and I picked the okra, cucamelons and the Tanya's Pink Pod beans.

That Jing Orange okra is pretty to look at. It tastes really good, too. I haven't cooked it. I just eat it raw.

A view of today's harvest.

More of the harvest.

Bob went down to the bean bed and harvested any that were dried. This is my collection so far. These are for our own personal use. I grew some stunning looking varieties this year, for sure!

My Black Beauty zucchini plant is starting to really produce. I'm going to be turning zucchini into crushed pineapple in a later blog post.

These are my Jealous Neighbor F1 cucumbers. You can see that we overlooked one and it got a bit big. These are a hybrid variety that I ordered from a company in Ukraine, so I won't be able to save seeds from them unfortunately.

Rose says THANK YOU for reading!