How To Ferment Radish — The Ealy Homestead

I found this recipe from The Ealy Homestead, a site which I have been following for a long time. If you are interested in food preservation, self sufficiency and simple recipes, this is a recommended site!

Radishes are a spring staple on our homestead. They’re easy to plant and yield in just under 30 days, plus they do well in cool weather. So as soon as the ground is workable, these are usually one of the first veggies I plant. In our house, the first planting of radish is usually consumed […]

via How To Ferment Radish — The Ealy Homestead

Feeling Defeated – Did The Challenge Get The Best of Me?

I’m not quitting, I don’t think. But I am having one of those discouraging days when I just don’t think I can carry on with this challenge anymore. It’s difficult. I knew it would be when I started it. But it’s also…expensive. I can no longer go to my fave ‘cheap stores’ to buy affordable food. Instead, I’m paying €5 for a jar of mayonnaise.

My diet is extremely restricted – as I can only eat what’s seasonal and grown locally (with the exception of wheat powder, sugar, rice, eggs, butter, oil and dried beans that I’ve allowed myself) so that basically leaves me with red currants, cucumber, kale, summer squash, turnips and potato at the moment. In a few weeks we can add onion and carrots. Now this sounds like a lot. And it is, because its summer. That’s what scares me. If, during the time of plenty, I’m hungry and bored….what will happen in a month? Will I still be eating salads? Or will cold food be a thing of the past and I’ll be going the potato, cabbage and rice path. What am I supposed to do? And why can’t I buy a 20 penny bag of macaroni to save money and use as a filling in my salads to make them last longer? Why do I find myself spending more and eating less?

I keep telling myself that this is good for the local economy. Small farms that work hard to bring in any profit and that I would much rather give them my hard earned money instead of just throwing into the machine which manufactures our food as a multi-billion dollar industry. I mean, the machine doesn’t notice but the local farmer definitely does – and they are thankful. This one thought is what is keeping me on this challenge at the moment. Well ok, that and the hope that I will eventually find myself a bit healthier since I’m not eating a diet full of processed foods.

However, now that I mentioned that – I feel as though I’m actually eating a ton more processed sugars. You see, I have to preserve most of the food I have so that it will last me past next week. Since the harvest times are short and the crops do not last forever, I find I must buy when it is available (and more than I will be just eating for a couple days) and preserve, freeze, dry the rest so that I have at least a bit of something different to break up the monotony in the coming months. (Am I really planning to last that long. No. No way I can do it. But I do plan to at least incorporate this local buying strategy into our lives in the long-term. So in a way, yes, I guess…but nooooo.) But do you realize that 1/4 kg (about ½ lb) of sugar goes into each bottle of juice? I averaged it out. I use 2 kgs sugar per 10 liter pot of currant or rhubarb juice. Each pot makes between 8-12 bottles of concentrated juice. We then pour a bit of the concentrate and then mix with water. But that’s still ALOT and that’s only the juice! Jam, again –like 2 kgs sugar. Even pickling requires a bit of sugar in the mix. I assume this is why I’ve lost basically no weight.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at today. Any words of encouragement would be thoroughly appreciated at this point.

Thanks for reading

-Mliae

*Photo sourced via Pixabay

Extreme Lifestyle Experiment: Update #1

Two weeks. It only took me two weeks to completely lose my mind. I’m still going on the challenge, but I’ve already had a major slip-up.

This is how its been going:

IMG_8486

On the first day, I thought I had some potatoes remaining in cold storage. Apparently not, as they had all sprouted in the bag. That wasn’t a great start, but I was able to get to the local store (which only sells local dried foods) and I was happily surprised to find a container of salmon paté so that what was my dinner.

The next day I went to the market where I was able to buy summer squash, small cucumbers, tomatoes, kale and local made habanero mayonnaise (yum!). I felt quite proud of myself and like, Yay I’m gonna do this! However I realized I had made one very large mistake. I embarked on this challenge to save money, to pay off some debt. But guess what! Eating local is expensive! The tomatoes and the mayonnaise each hit me for about €5. ‘OK,’ I thought to myself, ‘You’ve GOT to get this figured out’.

I was eating fresh berried from our bushes for breakfast. A good money saver, can’t get cheaper than free and it fit within my rules. My husband was kind enough to cook rice for a few meals (I can’t make rice…yes, it’s that bad!). Rice is also on my list, so we’re good there. Just fry some summer squash and call it a day. Hubby also made some slow cooker pea soup, which I really enjoy for some reason, so we ate a lot of that.

I did tell my husband that he didn’t have to do this challenge with me. I knew it was a major lifestyle change and I figure since he didn’t actually sign up for it, it wouldn’t be so nice to force him into it. He’s been really great trying to make meals which include things I can also have and then I only have to make whatever I want with it. However, it’s proved extremely challenging to sit there and watch the man eat bread or drink fizzy water without pulling sad puppy dog eyes.

I did manage to tell a couple friends what kind of crazy thing I had set for myself. I was invited to join on a berry picking trip. So this happened…

IMG_8506

I got a whole bucket! 🙂 This went promptly into a jam making session. I’m not so great at jam yet. It turns out kind of watery. But, this turned out really well (for me to eat, at least) and I’m looking forward to having it on cabbage casserole and hopefully some bread too (if I can ever figure out how to make it).

I managed to get some info on local farms that might sell directly to me.  I went, I bought, I  will go back! With this place I now have access to peas, cherry tomatoes (OMG – SOOOO GOOD!), kale, potato, onion, summer squash and turnip. This alone is enough variety to do some canning, eat fresh and make some soups for freezing.

And then it happened. About 1 week in and I got hungry. Not normal hungry, but eat the chair kind of hungry. I don’t actually understand what happened. I have been eating. Quite a bit, actually. But maybe not having all the instant food and whatever in it to make it instant, threw my body into some kind of withdrawal or something? I was so hungry. I would eat and snack and eat but I was still as hungry as if I hadn’t eaten anything. So weird.

So when I got together with a longtime friend of mine the other day, I went off my balance. I cheated. I cheated in a major kind of way. I ate restaurant food (which actually wasn’t outlawed if I was away from home) but then I did it like 2 more times in the span of 7 hours and I got whatever my little heart desired. She was horrified, I’m sure. I don’t feel embarrassed though, because she had been sufficiently warned. And then I shopped. I bought gas water, donuts, cheese bread, mini pizza. Which I kind of hate myself for now because it’s like I’m having to start all over again. I also wonder – how in the hell did people do this? Are we really so spoiled that I thought I was going to die after only 2 weeks?! Two weeks not of dieting, but of eating whatever I wanted, as long as it was locally sourced/made/grown. You know, one really wonders about these things. 50 years ago, eating like this was the norm. Now? Not even remotely normal. Areas are growing singular crops, instead of the formerly diversified ones, because most of those crops are going into the processed food we eat. People were satisfied eating locally. People knew what to do, how to make it work, how not to get bored, what to mix it with so as to maintain healthy systems. Us in modern day? Hah.

I finally got it together and worked up the nerve to try a bit of ‘baking’. Bread is far too complicated at this point, but I did find a fantastically simpler recipe for wheat tortillas. I will be posting the recipe at a later date. I made the tortillas today and it turned out well! Not so pretty, mind you. But they work. You can put stuff in them and they wrap. Best yet, I’m not the only person here who will eat them. Win!

IMG_8545

So that’s how that’s been going. What do you think, is a occasional fall down acceptable in a challenge like this?

I still feel like I’m in for the win though. My husband bet I wouldn’t last 2 days, and I beat that wager by a long distance. (Although he’ll try to argue that I’ve been begging for food gifts from him all along. Don’t believe a word he says about that…). This is harder. Much harder than I actually thought. I’m hungry and I’m cranky but there’s also some weird sense of pride that I feel. Like somehow anyone but me cares that I’m eating berries for breakfast instead of diet shakes. I feel like I’m doing something healthy and constructive for myself (and I know hubby is glad I’m at least trying to learn to cook something). And I feel like I’m doing something good for the local economy. Not just wasting money, but actually investing in something that local people have poured their backs into creating.

To be continued…

Any thoughts on this?

-Mliae

My first canning experience

Heeeyyyy, I actually DID it! Step one of my New Years resolution to learn how to preserve food before this summer arrives. I must confess, that this was extremely intimidating at first. I spent a lot of time doing internet searches and trying to get solid advice from people I know. I managed to get a great recipe for pickled green tomato’s (have to wait until summer) and find some good options online. I also managed to almost talk myself out of it because there seems like there is so much additional stuff needed that I just don’t currently have room for. Anyway, that wasn’t the case…as you can see.

Since I’m a total amateur with this, I only did the one can. It would be so upsetting if I did make a huge pile of pickles which turned out horribly and ultimately made everyone ill. Yikes :/ OK, so I do the one jar. I kind of made my own version of an appetizer recipe that my mother sometimes makes.

What she does is places sliced cucumbers and sliced white onions in a dish and covers them with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. (This mix is heated so that 1 sugar cube can disintegrate and then pours it over the cucumbers in the dish and tops with a bit of pepper) She then puts it into the refrigerator to cool for about an hour before serving.

What I did was basically the same thing. (especially since I’m expecting that these will be opened and devoured ASAP) I sanitized the jar and lid, washed and sliced a large fresh cucumber and a white onion. I layered the cucumber and onion in the jar, topping each layer with 3-4 sichuan pepper corns. I repeated this until I had it all packed in up to where the jar begins to bottleneck. I boiled a really small pot of a 3/4 vinegar & 1/4 water mix, and added 1 sugar cube. When it was boiling rapidly, I poured the mix over the cucumbers in the jar until it just covered the vegetables inside. Then I put the lid on moderately tight and left to sit. After an hour, the little bubble on the lid was flat and it was sealed. Now it’s just sitting on the cutting board pickling and looking pretty 🙂

I have no idea how it tastes, but it looks good… so I’m thinking ‘Not too shabby, eh?!’ 😀

My next preserving experiment to come soon. How are your resolutions coming along? The daily post has a great feed discussing this topic.

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

New Years resolution time…

Whoop! Whoop! HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2016!! 😀

Aaahhh, it’s that time of year again. Time to look over your past achievements and failures, time to make that somewhat reasonable wish list for your year ahead, time to contemplate (and dismiss) all your former yearly resolutions. Some actually achieved and some that lacked.

For me? I’ve done the whole gung-ho ‘I’m going to diet and exercise and be healthy, wealthy and young for eternity thing.’ Guess what? Didn’t stick. Since I’ve already been dieting and exercising for the past 2,5 months, it seems like an unfair head start on a resolution. Time to find another challenge to add to the game.

One year, I did manage to make it an entire year without colouring my hair…and have actually managed to stick to it for the last several years since. I also managed to quit smoking Although I’m not sure whether to count that or not, as it took at least 15 tries before I put the pack down permanently. I also stuck to the plan that I wanted to get my degree abroad. At least long enough to actually get my degree! And this year, I purchased my first home. A farmhouse. A fixer-upper, but it’s mine and as of this minute, it’s still standing so I’m happy 😉 Which brings me to…this years’ resolution!

IMG_4624

 

Canning! That’s correct 🙂  Welcome yourself to another new experiment. This undomesticated female is starting, as of today, to learn how to preserve food. I mean to learn not only how to can, but also how to dry, freeze, preserve in oil, etc. Before you start scratching your head, let me explain. There is method to my madness. Although my land area is quite small, it’s also quite full. There are lots of berry bushes and some fruit and veg plants that have been growing for a very long time it seems. I plan to go on a planting binge myself when Spring arrives and I really really would like to be able to use everything I am able to harvest during the year. A) It’s the healthiest option as I don’t use pesticide sprays. B) I spend a fortune at the market, so it would help me to save money for the fun stuff, like traveling, shopping and this desperately needed home reno. C) Seriously, who doesn’t want to be able to enjoy their own home grown food?

So that’s the deal. I have nothing but vinegar and a few canning jars at the moment. I’ll be trying to learn the old fashioned way before all the extra pots and canners. (Mainly since I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, so simpler is always better) Today I was given my very first canning recipe for pickled green tomato’s. Yum!

I gladly welcome any advice, recipes, warnings or ideas about food preservation. Please share, as I am an amateur!

Stay tuned, I’ll be blogging about my progress while learning this.

Thanks for reading and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-mliae