Friday, April 10, 2009
Here are photos of my niece and nephew. My nephew caught his first fish. Aren't they beautiful?
I got an email the other day from a recruiter looking to fill a position. It was a form letter and different categories relating to a job were answered yes or no. This was the first half of the form letter. I believe I could do this job!
Ability to Follow-up No
Ability to meet deadlines No
Ability to Work Independently No
Ability to Work with Others No
Analyzing and synthesizing qualitative data No
Communication Skills No
High Level Analytical Ability No
Team Player No
Since my last post, we went to Missouri to look for land while Jeffrey worked. Then a few weeks later he had to go back out to work and looked again. We haven't found anything yet. Plus, but the sale on our property here hasn't closed. Any day now the lawyers say.
Crazy maple syrup time is over. It's not hard, but it has it's moments of being time consuming. There are a lot of amber bottles back in cold storage that made it all worthwhile. It hit while Jeffrey was away working, so I was a little pooped. That should keep us for a while and a few gifts to boot. I want to re-write the maple syrup post because it's hard to follow and I've found a few ways to simplify it. I was able to make more this year and I was by myself.
The good thing about maple syrup sugaring time is that it's SPRING. Holy cow this has been a long cold winter. Someone said the 12th worst on record. At the end of sugaring it was raining and wonderfully warm. All the windows were open with towels underneath catching the splashes. Sometimes the heat from the wood stove and the cooler outside air would swirl by independently and was a treat for the face and feet. I tried to keep it under 76 in here but it was hard when it was 50 degrees outside and the woodstove was going all day.
We've been making a little money these last few weeks selling our stuff. Buying all our furniture cheap and used (but nice) and selling it for about the same or more is a great system. That's free furniture and it gets better. The stuff that doesn't sell, I donate, photograph and write it off later on my taxes as charity. I love resale shops especially Thrifty Shopper in Cortland (though not for their furniture, we've gotten all of that from other resale shops).
I'm trying to find ways to simplify my day, I'd like more time to read. By about 8pm the eyes are crossing and it's very hard. The life of the self-sufficient should also be about more time for leisure. I think the area I could cut the most in is the amount of time I cook. I do make big meals so we'll have left overs, but I'm still in there too much. I really like to cook, but I could stand to streamline it a bit. So I'm going to work on that.
I know a woman that cooks once a month. She comes up with several recipes that use the same base ingredients or stock. For me that would be beans, rice and vegetable soup. I want to come up with a list of recipes for the month and try it out. Take a day and go shopping early, come home and cook all day or till I get done. I guess the recipe sheet will need a summary of about how much quantity I'll need.
I hate frozen soup , but I could easily can it. A good base soup can be vegetable soup one meal, a different type of veggie soup another meal with the addition of a few more veggies and some left over rice or pasta, for another day add a tablespoon or two tom yum paste and you have a wonderful Thai soup; a few tablespoons of miso paste and there's your traditional Japanese soup with healthy fermented soy. Miso is on the list of things to make at home one day. Greens like Collards can be chopped and heated 5 minutes with the soup.
Most basic ingredients can be bought and stored a long time in bulk like beans, rice, wheat berries (cook like brown chewy rice or grind into flour), a variety of grains, flour, sugar, salt, and oil etc. It really reduces trips to, money and time at the grocery store. My once a month cooking would include mass quantities of beans and rice that can be turned into all sorts of things. I think I've posted before about bulk buying from health food stores. You don't have to join a bulk club to buy in bulk and it's easy to find locations online. There are wonderful books out there on food storage but to start, for just rice and beans all you need are a couple of metal trash cans. It's also nice to have emergency food on hand.
I've debated about posting this for a while. A lot of people are hurting financially right now and this is a great way to save money for those of you that use flea drops and heartgard type medication. There are a lot of alternatives like pyrethrum powder, marigold spray, and additions to their diet. Check out www.petshed.com and www.equine-megastore.com for flea drops and heartgard (I used the generic heart medication. It's not in a chewy treat, but it's cheap.) You don't need a vets prescription either. I'm don't remember where petshed is located, but I know equine mega-store is in New Zealand. On equine megastore, the money is in Australian Dollars with the U.S. dollars showing. When you check out, your total is in A.U.D. and you'll think for a moment you have just paid way too much. They have a conversion table, so don't panic. I used both of these companies for years and I'm not getting paid by them. They are the cheapest I've found anywhere and you get your orders very quickly.
For vaccines, except for Rabies, I used Omaha Vaccines. This was a few years ago, but when I needed help learning how to do it; the company vet called me and walked me through it. I ended up talking to her 3 times. By the last call I know she thought I was a big dummy, but I did it. You can even get the little vaccine card and use them when the animals go to the vet. The vaccines come in little ice chests and are still cold when they arrive. I re-used the igloos camping for tent air conditioning and all sorts of things. Tent A.C. is a story for another time - but basically cut notch in the top, fill with chest w/ ice, insert fan in notch, rock on lid, instant A.C., brrr turn off fan.
Tempeh "tips" and noodles
We're getting off of tofu, soy sauce and any other non-fermented soy products because of health concerns. Here's another link. The link was easy to share, but most of the herbalist I've been working with and books I've read state the same concern. One of my favorite meals that my mother used to make was beef tips and noodles. She helped me change it around so that it's vegetarian and I used tempeh. It was delicious. You can buy tempeh in the store or make it at home:
I didn't make nearly enough gravy the first time, so last night I made the gravy again for another recipe and doubled the water. That was enough gravy.
1/4 C Tamari (or soy sauce)
2 Tbl lemon juice
2 tsp chili powder (or Cumin or both)
2 tsp Olive Oil (to start, keep the bottle handy)
1/4 tsp black pepper
couple dashes liquid smoke
1-2 garlic cloves minced
1-2 Cup of liquid (I used broth). 2 cups of liquid if you want a lot of gravy
Cube Tempeh into small pieces and marinade 30 min - 2 hours
1 tsp Gravy Master
Start water to cook Egg noodles. Cut up 1/4 - 1/2 onion (I like purple). Saute onion in oil with salt and pepper. When onions are translucent remove to a plate. Add more oil to pan if necessary and put tempeh in, use slotted spoon or tongs to remove from marinade. Save marinade to the side. Dust tempeh while in the pan with flour and fry 2 minutes on one side. Flip over pieces and dust the other side w/ flour. Fry 2 more minutes, adding more oil if needed (I use a ton of olive oil and freely dump in more as needed). Add some of the reserved marinade to keep moist. Remove tempeh & put on plate with onions.
Gravy: Add more oil to pan if you need it for gravy (I like mine oily) and put in 2-4 tablespoons of flour. Stir till lightly browned. Pour left over marinade in the pan and stir. Let it cook slowly till gravy is desired thickness.
When done, I put the onions and tempeh back in the pan with gravy to heat and mix it all up. Serve over egg noodles.
The gravy was so good that I might use it for enchilada sauce. I made the gravy again to serve over Polenta and I just loved it. I had never had polenta before and it couldn't be any easier to make. Its just corn meal, water, salt and butter. Here is a nice video and recipe. This is another great staple that I'm going to try to find more ways to use. After I made it and it cooled, I tasted it for the first time. It was bland, but satisfying. I ended up nibbling through 2 slabs of polenta while preparing the rest of the meal, it was addictive.
I did not use the tomato sauce and cheese like this recipe recommends. I cut 1/2" slabs of the corn polenta shaped by the buttered bread loaf pan, fried them in olive oil and poured gravy over it. How much more American can you get?
P.S. from my friend Garo:
Home made vanilla extract, how cool is that!