Super Mom – No Cape!

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Archive for June, 2009

Independence Day Challenge – Update Week of Jun 22 -29

Posted by supermom on June 29, 2009

The following are the steps we took in the past week towards greater self-sufficiency (information on the challenge and my first Independence Day Challenge post):

1.  Plant something: This morning, I finally got the strawberries plants that I was given for Mother’s Day transplanted into the new square foot garden that hubby built last weekend and I painted during the week.

2.  Harvest something: Nothing this past week.

But on Thursday we picked up the produce from our CSA and on Saturday I bought green beans, potatoes and cabbage at the farmers’ market.

3.  Preserve something: Saturday afternoon we started a crock of sauerkraut.   It should be ready to can in 10 to 14 days.

Then Saturday evening we canned 4 pints of tomatoes (from the CSA.)

Sunday it was back to canning more french cut green beans.  Not sure if we’ve got enough to last until next season but I’m thinking the beans may be about done because I had to do a lot of picking through them to get enough to make it worthwhile canning.

4.  Reduce waste: Dave made our regular trip to drop off the recycling.

I fixed the waistband on a pair of our son’s exercise shorts.

And I’m currently working on a couple of quilts using leftover fabrics from other projects.

Used water from canning to water plants.

5.  Preparation and Storage: Dave put up two new shelves, one in the laundry room which gave us room to store our canning equipment and extra paper goods.  And the second, in the spare bedroom closet to hold some of the produce we’ve been canning.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: We found a source locally for raw milk and though it was clearly marked For Pet Consumption only, we made the sweetest butter from the cream we skimmed off the top of the jars and I’m looking forward to learning how to make cheese.   I’m also going to be making some of our old family recipes that require farm fresh milk and cream.

Also found a local farmer selling grass-fed beef.  Now we just need to find another family who is willing to do a shared purchase with us.

As mentioned above, we added a new square foot garden to the backyard.

7.  Eat the Food: I cook most of our meals from scratch, so the food definitely gets eaten.  This is some of what I made last week:

The last of the blueberries from blueberry picking were made into Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins.

Made a dish of braised turnips, leeks and squash (from CSA.)

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Independence Day Challenge – Joining In

Posted by supermom on June 22, 2009

Recently I came across an interesting blog called Casaubon’s Book by Sharon Astyk.  Reading back through the archives I see that she is doing a weekly post on Mondays in which she lists what she has done during the previous week to move her family closer to food self-sufficiency, hence the title: Independence Day Challenge.  She encourages readers to join her and even though I’m starting a month and a half late, here is a list of what I’ve accomplished in the past week:

1.  Plant something:  I planted four sweet potato slips.

Our CSA had been shipped more than they needed and were giving these away.  At first, I wasn’t going to take them because I know that sweet pototoes can take over a small garden, but when I learned that they can be grown in containers with a trellis, I decided to go ahead and give that a try.

2.  Harvest something:  2 zucchinis and a handful of basil from our containers and square foot garden.  We also picked 3 gallons of blueberries from a local u-pick farm.

3.  Preserve something:  Details of what we did with the blueberries can be found here.  Also later that same day, we made and canned mustard beans from the yellow beans we received from our CSA.

Then Saturday, I bought dill, pickling cukes and green beans, (as well as potatoes and sunshine squash) from our local farmer’s market.

We made four quarts of dill pickles and canned some more pints of french cut green beans.  We have a total of 11 pints of green beans now, but if there are beans available again this week, I’ll be buying more.

4.  Reduce waste:  Dave made his weekly trip to drop off the recycling we collect during the week.

Rather than buy new lumber for an additional square foot gardening box, we bought three pieces of used lumber of varying lengths from our local HomeMart (run by Habit for Humanity.)

I added another bucket of kitchen veggie and fruit scraps and trimmings to the compost bin.

And the water used for preserving from washing fruit and veggies to water-bath canning, pressure canning and blanching all got reused to water the plants (once it cools down, of course.)

5.  Preparation and Storage:  The Gamma Lids and mylar ziplock bags I ordered arrived so we transferred the rice I’ve been getting free after coupons into one of the food grade pails we picked up for $1 each.  (One of our local WalMarts sells the buckets that their icing comes in)

6.  Build Community Food Systems:  As you can see above, we are members of a CSA and I support our local farmer’s market.  I also buy eggs and honey from local farmers.

We have two 4 X 4 square foot gardens with another in the process of being built.  And I’m experimenting with growing zucchini, mint and now, sweet potatoes in containers.

7.  Eat the Food:  I cook most of our meals from scratch, so the food definitely gets eaten.

We’ve been eating blueberries with whipped cream.

The potatoes were boiled and used for two meals.

The sunshine squash were wrapped in tinfoil with onions (from our CSA), minced garlic and butter then cooked on the bbq.

We had toasted tomato sandwiches for lunch twice on the weekend.

With supper last night, we had corn on the cob (using up last year’s before the new corn is ready to be done) and we also had some of the mustard beans made on Friday and refrigerator pickles I made the week before last.

I’d love to hear how other’s gardening and preserving is coming along,  as well as, any preparedness projects you may be working on.  Please feel free to leave a comment.

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SuperMom Tip of the Day – Pick Your Own Fruit

Posted by supermom on June 19, 2009

In a bid to beat the heat of the day, we got up early this morning and headed out for our local blueberry u-pick farm.   An hour and a half later, we were back home with 3 gallons of sweet tasting organic blueberries.

After washing and sorting, we saved out a good sized bowl for desserts and snacks for the next couple of days.Bowl of Blueberries

Then we filled and canned 8 pints. (That’s how many pints will fit in my canner at one time.)

The rest were spread in single layers on baking sheets and placed in the freezer to flash-freeze.

Now for a quick cost analysis:

We paid $7 per gallon at the u-pick farm… so a total of $21.

The berries we saved out for eating now would be approximately equal to 3 of the plastic pint containers.  Around here those run anywhere from $3.00 to $4.00 per pint for organic blueberries.  So even taking the lower price: 3 X $3.00 = $9.00

As mentioned above, we canned 8 pints of berries.  At the grocery store, 14 oz cans of organic blueberries run approximately $2.50 per can:  8 X $2.50 = $20

As you can see… we’ve already saved $8 and that doesn’t even include the berries we have in the freezer waiting to be divided into bags.

Now there are those who will argue that I haven’t added in the time it took to pick the berries or the energy and water costs to can and freeze.

I don’t consider the time picking the berries to be a cost.  In fact… I consider it a blessing.  Dave and I and our son spent some wonderfully peaceful quality time together picking berries.  Our son is 17 and the last of our children living at home.  He’s going into his last year of high school this fall.   There aren’t going to be too many more opportunities like today to spend that kind of time with him building memories.

The energy and water costs are minimal when compared to the peace of mind I have in knowing exactly where our food was grown and exactly what has gone into preserving it.

And then when you take into consideration that hand-picked, fresh berries that have travelled less than five miles to get from farm to table taste so much better and are of higher nutritional quality than anything you can buy at the supermarket and I know we’ve come out way ahead.

This post has been submitted as part of Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom.

Posted in Budget Savers, Household Tip of the Day | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »