Super Mom – No Cape!

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Posts Tagged ‘Independence Days Challenge’

Independence Days Challenge – March 15th – 22nd

Posted by supermom on March 23, 2010

We were away last week for spring intersession so there isn’t a lot to report today.   Be sure to check out Sharon’s update for the Independence Days Challenge.  And don’t forget to read through the comments to see how everyone else is doing.

1.  Plant something:  Nothing, but I checked the garden and the peas are just coming up.

2.  Harvest something:  Nothing.  The collards that I moved before we left are doing well and I’ll be harvesting some leaves this week.  The brussels sprouts have buds that should be ready to harvest in the next couple of weeks.   This is our first time growing collards and brussels sprouts, so I’m pleased that we’ll get a harvest from them.

3.  Preserve something:  Nothing

4.  Waste not:   Brought home all bottles used on vacation to be recycled.

5.  Want not:  Made a trip to Costco before coming home to stock up on cheese and butter.  Also purchased a mattress pad with the hopes that it will extend the life of our bed.  (If last night is any indication and it wasn’t just exhaustion from driving for 11 hours, the mattress pad made a major difference.)

6.  Build Community Food Systems:  Nothing

7.  Eat the food:   I took homemade bread and rolls with us on holiday and cooked most of our meals in the hotel room.   I will admit to enjoying the meals that we did eat out as it was nice to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning up, but it’s not something I could ever get used to doing on a regular basis.

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Independence Days Challenge

Posted by supermom on March 9, 2010

Once again this year I’m taking part in the Independence Days Challenge being hosted by Sharon Astyk on her old blog that’s been newly named The Chatelaine’s Keys.  You can read more about the Challenge in her post here, but the gist of it is to list each week the things you’ve accomplished in each of the following categories:  plant something, harvest something, preserve something, waste not, want not, build community food systems and finally, eat the food.

Here’s my list for the past week (including today):

1.  Plant something:  Planted the first two rows of peas today in one of our square foot gardens.

2.  Harvest something:  Two very small broccoli heads from the broccoli that I planted late last fall.  With the unusually cold weather we’ve had this winter I was surprised that the plants even survived let alone produced.

3.  Preserve something:  Nothing last week.

4.  Waste not:  The usual; conserving water, keeping the thermostat set as low as we can comfortably handle (which to be honest is lower on some days than on others).  We had stopped composting once both of our barrels were completely full and we had nowhere else to put it  but today I emptied the finished compost into one of the gardens, so we’ll be starting back up again.

5.  Want not:  Stocked up on all purpose and white wheat flour while it was on sale last week.  I was also able to get some more icing buckets from the local grocery store.   I just need a couple more and then I can place a good sized order for some organic hard white wheat through our local health food store.  I’ve been reading about how much more nutrition there is in freshly ground flour as compared to the stuff you buy in the stores and so have been working towards getting ready to do that.

6.  Build Community Food Systems:  Purchased milk, eggs and grass-fed beef from a local farmer.  It was the first time we’d tried grass-fed beef and after trying the hamburger and then a sirloin steak… we will definitely be making the switch after we use up what is currently in our freezer.  To compensate for the higher price we’ll be paying, I’ve been trying to cook at least one meatless meal per week.

7.  Eat the food:  With all the freezing and preserving we did last summer and fall, our trips to the grocery store have been quite a bit fewer and the bills quite a bit smaller.

In the past three months, we’ve only purchased two loaves of bread as I’ve been baking all our bread.

And I’ve been slowly trying to eliminate as many processed foods from our diet as I can.  I can’t believe the number of products that have MSG added to them, not to mention the endless list of additives.  Some things, I’ll be giving up completely.  Others I’ll be substituting with homemade versions.  At least then, I’ll know what’s in the foods that I’m feeding my family.

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Independence Days Challenge – Aug 10th to Aug 16th

Posted by supermom on August 17, 2009

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: Summertime and the Living is… Sweaty.  Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: I haven’t been able to decide exactly where would be the best place to build my herb garden, so the herbs I bought a couple of weekends ago got transplanted into hanging planters and once they’ve had a chance to adjust for a few days, I’ll hang them from the old gazebo frame we’ve converted to a clothesline.

Over the past week, something got to eating the pac choi and it was looking pretty awful, so we pulled that out, added some compost to the bed and planted beets and collards.  We’re still having trouble with one of the neighbour’s cats using our gardens as a litter box, so we recovered the bed with garden cloth and we’ll cut slits in the cloth once the beets and collards are up.  There’s enough room in that bed to add swiss chard, which I’m going to experiment with starting inside this coming week.

Bought petunias that had been discounted and repotted them into hanging planters.  They look a little scraggly right now, but in a few days they should perk up and look nice.  And while they’re not food… they do attract pollinators.

I also divided one of the houseplants that had outgrown its pot.  That gave me one plant to bring back into the house and three to trade or sell.

2.  Harvest something: Tomatoes from the Lincoln tomatoes.  I’m really impressed with the Lincolns and hope to be able to save seed from them for next year.  We just have to figure out some kind of temporary covering to keep the birds out.  And then over the winter, maybe we can work out a better solution.

Picked up the veggies from our CSA.

3.  Preserve something: No

We have discovered that none of us really care for eggplant, so this past Thursday, I traded eggplants for tomatoes from the swap box when we picked up our CSA veggies.   With a few of the tomatoes from our square foot garden that the birds haven’t gotten, I may have just enough tomatoes now to make a small batch of salsa.

4.  Reduce waste: Dave made our regular trip to drop off the recycling.   Conserved water by catching water in pails while waiting for the hot water to arrive.  Used reusable bags when shopping.

All veggie matter got composted.

5.  Preparation and Storage: Our local fabric store had 50% off on all notions, so I stocked up on cheese cloth, sewing machine needles and thread.

Bought several lbs of various types of dried beans.  Wheat and oat bran.   And my order of clearjel arrived.  I should now have lots enough to making pie fillings and pressure can soups this fall.

Bought four cases of jars; on sale combined with coupons they were a pretty good price.   Also bought some replacement lids since those were on sale too.

With the three storms brewing in the Atlantic and Gulf, Dave decided it was time to refresh my memory and teach our son how to start the camp stove.  We’re not so far inland that a big storm couldn’t knock out power, so this was a good time to do this.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: I mentioned in a previous update that I had volunteered to teach a new friend to can and we’re getting together this week to can some pears she picked from her father’s trees.

Bought eggs from our egg lady and raw milk from a local farm.

7.  Eat the Food: I cook most of our meals from scratch, so the food definitely gets eaten.   This week we ate a lot of stir fry type dishes in an effort to use up all the little bits of leftover veggies from the CSA.

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Independence Days Challenge – Aug 3rd to Aug 9th

Posted by supermom on August 10, 2009

We had an interesting week last week as it was the first week of school and the first time for our son driving himself to school.  I’ll tell you, watching him drive out of the driveway by himself was heartwrenching.  He didn’t start his internship until today, but last week had appointments to get that set up and so needed the car to get to them.

It’s strange not having access to a vehicle during the day.  I haven’t had to do this for several years, so we’ll see how I adjust.

Anyway… on with the update.

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: Summer Visiting.  Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Nothing this week

2.  Harvest something: Picked up the fruit and veggies from our CSA.

Bought crowder peas and butternut squash from the farmers’ market.

A gentleman posted on Freecycle that he had 5 pear trees and hated for the pears to go to waste.  So I replied and we arranged a time for us to come pick some.  The trees really were loaded with fruit and ready to be picked as there were several pears that had already dropped.  It only took Dave and I and our son about 45 minutes to pick four 5 gallon pails full (three of one variety and one of another.)  The man even loaned us the use of a tall step ladder to pick the ones that were too high to reach.

We brought them home and washed them and they are now in boxes lined and covered with newspaper waiting to ripen fully before we can them.

The man didn’t know what kind of pears they were because they were there when he bought the place three years ago.  And the only way we know they are two different varieties is because the leaves of the two trees are shaped differently.    We’d love to know what variety these pears are, so if anyone can help identify them, we’d really appreciate it.

This is the first variety:  Pears from tree 1

And this is the second variety:Pears from tree 2

3.  Preserve something: Froze green beans (from CSA)

Sunday we ended up canning the pears with the red tinges on them.  Many, we only got half the pear as the other half was overripe or rotten.  Then there were some that weren’t quite ripe, but we decided to can the lot rather than lose them all.  I’ll test a jar in a week or so and see how they turned out.

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

Conserved water by using canning water and water saved while waiting for hot water to come to water plants.

All veggie matter got composted.  We also spread out the grass clippings on a tarp to dry and then dumped the contents of the compost bin on top, mixed it by spreading everything out, then lifting the tarp edges to put everything in the middle, then spreading it around again.  After several times doing this, it was well mixed and went back into the compost bin.

One good thing about the downturn in the economy is that in order to save money our landlord has quit spraying the lawns in our area.   It’s been several months with no spray and I feel safe adding the grassing clippings to our compost.

5.  Preparation and Storage: Purchased new axe and pick axe.   Bought four more 1 gallon water bottles for emergency drinking water.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Got to talking with the lady we buy eggs from and told her about the pears we’d picked and she asked if there were more, so I passed on the name and number of the man for her to contact.

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

Eggplant pizzas:  Slice eggplants in 1/2″ rounds and spread on baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil mixed with garlic powder.  Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and add a slice of tomato to each eggplant.  Sprinkle with dried basil, salt and pepper.  Return to oven for 10 minutes.  Again remove from oven and top with a thin slice of cheese.  We used Dubliner but use whatever you have.  Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes.  Then turn the oven off and leave for 30 minutes.  This will allow the eggplant to soften further without burning.

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Independence Days Update – Jul 20th to Aug 2nd

Posted by supermom on August 3, 2009

It seems like the only thing I have the time or inclination to post lately are these Independence Days updates.   And even then, this update is for the past two weeks, since I didn’t get around to posting last week.

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: A Day On, A Day Off.  Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Potted up seven more strawberry shoots.

Purchased some small herb plants at the farmers’ market and will get those into larger pots this week.

2.  Harvest something: Nothing from the garden.

Picked up the fruit and veggies from our CSA.  Bought Georgia peaches from farmers’ market

3.  Preserve something: Corn relish, canned chicken breasts, canned peaches

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

I’ve forgotten to mention this in previous posts, but we continue to use reusable bags for any shopping we do whether its at the grocery store or the farmers’ market.

Used water from canning to water plants.   We also save the water when we’re waiting for the hot water to come when we shower or fill the sink for dishes and use that to water plants as well.

All veggie matter got composted.

We purchased a new set of sheets for our bed, since the fitted sheet had worn so thin it kept tearing and repairing the tears was no longer lasting more than a day.  So I’m cutting the good parts of the old fitted sheet into several 17″ squares and after hemming, they’ll make really nice, soft hankies.   The top sheet and pillowcases are now stored with the rest of the extra linens.

5.  Preparation and Storage: Purchased good quality spade.

Found two old matching oil lamps at a farmers’ market/flea market… for lighting should power go out.  They need a good cleaning, but they are good sturdy glass.

Bought more canning jars and extra lids.

Stopped off a Costco on way back from a farmers’ market on Saturday and picked up sugar, olive oil, coffee and dried cranberries.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Supported local farmers’ markets.

I put up an ad on Freecycle asking for canning jars and the lady who responded offered to drop off some jars she’d been given.  We got to talking and she mentioned that she’d like to learn to can, so I offered to teach her.  We’re going to be getting together the next time I get enough from the farmers’ market to can something.  And then again in the fall, once it cools off, we’ll get together again so I can show her how to use the pressure canner for canning soups and stews, etc.

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 over the last two weeks:

Potato puffs from lefover mashed potatoes and fried chicken tenders (I cut these off of the chicken breasts before I canned them.)

Pasta with Pesto.  I’d never made pesto before, but we’ve got a basil plant that was getting tall and starting to flower and needed to be cut back more than just the little handfuls that I have been taking, so I decided to give it a try.  And the pesto tasted great, what I didn’t like was the after taste that last all evening long.  Oh well, not all culinary experiments work out.

I had a bit of corn relish left after filling jars.  That got put in a bowl in the fridge and I’ve been using it in toasted cheddar cheese sandwiches.

Yellow beans from our CSA as a side dish one night.

For snacks, we ate the melons from our CSA.  They were so sweet and clean tasting.  Melons bought at the grocery store simply can’t compare.

Used the sauerkraut that didn’t get canned to top off hot dogs and hamburgers.

Fried up zucchini with onions (both from CSA) as a side dish.

Made Peach Kuchen with the peaches that were too bruised to can and the cream I skimmed from our raw milk.

There was more, of course, that I’m not remembering right now.  I guess that’s what happens when you wait two weeks to do an update.

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Independence Days Challenge – Update Jul 13th to Jul 19th

Posted by supermom on July 20, 2009

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: Taking Credit Where None is Due. Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Potted up another little strawberry shoot.  I noticed there are a couple more almost big enough to cut and pot… probably this week sometime.  At this rate, I may just have a full 4’X4′ strawberry patch by fall.

2.  Harvest something: Basil

Picked up the fruit and veggies from our CSA.

3.  Preserve something: Last Monday, we canned whole kernel corn and froze corn on the cob.

Then on Sunday, we canned the sauerkraut that we started three weekends ago.  It turned out great, if I do say so myself.

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

Used water from canning to water plants.   We also save the water when we’re waiting for the hot water to come when we shower or fill the sink for dishes and use that to water plants as well.

All veggie matter got composted.

5.  Preparation and Storage: We collected some fire wood for using in our fire pit.  Last week, along different streets in town, people were putting out their downed tree branches for collection.  It was a great opportunity, so we drove along and collected the larger pieces (plus some smaller ones), brought them home and then Dave sawed and split them.  When our neighbour saw what he was doing, he offered to pick up some more firewood for us the next time he makes a trip out to his in-laws.  They had a bunch of firewood in their garage and decided they didn’t want it anymore, so they dumped it way in the back of their property and told our neighbour he could have whatever he wanted of it.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Bought eggs from local farmer where we usually get our eggs.  They should have more produce ready for sale soon.

Since we were canning sauerkraut and collecting firewood this weekend, I didn’t get anything at the farmers’ market this week.

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 over the last week:

We’re getting an abundance of onions from our CSA so I used several of those to make two large Zwiebel Kuchen.

Grilled pork chops and scalloped potatoes and corn of the cob (from CSA)

Last night we had sausages and sauerkraut (saved some out from the sauerkraut we canned), mashed potatoes and yellow beans (from CSA)

I’m adding one more subject this week…

8.  Learn something new:  Thanks to a post by Anais from Little Homestead in the City and her directing us to a post at Market Manila called Ubad/The Core of a Banana Stock, I now know that we can eat the core of the banana trees we planted in the back yard the first spring we lived here.

I missed having banana trees, so I took the chance and planted some outside our bedroom window that faces south. We use the leaves to wrap pork roasts to make kalua pork each fall.   They freeze off each winter, but new babies grow back each spring.

And then thanks to one of the comments in the comment thread, I now know that I might just be able to save at least a couple of the banana trees so that they will fruit for us.

Mark said:

” I’m in Dallas and I enjoy the tasty, free from pesticide fruit from my bananas. Before the first frost in late November or so, just cut the top of the stem off, leaving 5 or 6 feet of trunk on the banana. I then make an enclosure from plywood around the trunk and fill the enclosure with grass clippings. This protects the stem from freezing and next year you will have bananas.”

We’ll be giving that a try later this fall and wait impatiently for spring to see if they survive and set fruit.   It would be great to pick bananas right from the tree again.

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Independence Days Challenge – Update for Jun 30 to Jul 12th

Posted by supermom on July 15, 2009

I missed posting last week’s update so this will for the past two weeks.

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: If Summer Never Comes. Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Planted seven tomato plants that I bought at a local farmers’ market.

When we lived on our acreage in Alberta, I planted dozens of tomatoes and had great crops each year.  But here in Georiga I haven’t been so lucky.  Last year, I lost my tomatoes to worms and Mockingbirds, to blossom end rot and then to blight.   I wasn’t even going to plant tomatoes this year but the old couple selling the tomato plants was so sweet and encouraging that I decided to go ahead and try again.   I bought 4 Lincoln and 3 Gurny Girl.

To try to combat the blossom end rot, I’ve placed crushed egg shells around the base of each plant.  And I’ll have to be watching carefully for any worms and get them picked off each day, several times a day.  Then once they start to fruit we’ll have to  try to construct some sort of covering to keep the birds out.   As for the blight, I’ve changed to different planting spots and also changed my watering method.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and hope they don’t get it this year.

We’ve also had to cover the gardens with garden fabric (cutting out holes for the plants) in order to keep one of the local cats from using them as a litter box.  It only seems to be the one cat and I’ve tried spraying him with water and sprinkling cayenne pepper on the gardens but those only work for a short time before he’s back.  So far the fabric has kept him out, though I did have to go out and add some more to small patches that we’d left thinking they were too small for him to bother with.  Turns out we were wrong.

I also should note that I lost two of the sweet potato slips that I planted.  I’m not sure why they died.  The other two slips are growing well and climbing up their trellises in their containers.

And I potted up two little strawberry cuttings.   In the new edition of Square Foot Gardening, he doesn’t recommend letting the strawberry shoots take root because they draw too much energy from the parent plant, but I figured if I cut those off and root them in their own little pots and then transplant them once they get well rooted, I can still grow more strawberries plants without paying for new ones.

2.  Harvest something: Several basil branches to use in recipes.

On Thursdays we picked up the produce from our CSA.  Potatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic and then just last week corn was added.  I’ve been swapping the basil for more onions, since I have basil in our garden.

On Saturday, Jul 4th, I bought  4 more large heads of cabbage and 22 lbs of tomatoes from the farmers’ market.

Then on Saturday, July 11th, I got a really good price on tomatoes, so I came home with 75 lbs to can.

3.  Preserve something: Saturday, Jul 4th, we added more shredded cabbage to the crock of sauerkraut in an attempt to correct the batch we started the week before as was turning out way too salty.  It seems to have worked, but I think it’ll be at least two weeks, maybe three before it’s ready to be canned.  If the batches turns out as good as I think it now will, we’ll have plenty of sauerkraut for ourselves and some leftover to perhaps trade or give away.

Sunday, Jul 5th,  we canned 9 quarts of tomatoes.9 quarts diced tomatoes

Friday, Jul 10th blanched and froze the corn we didn’t eat from the CSA.

Then Jul 11th after we got cleaned up from the garage sale (see below), we started canning the 75 lbs of tomatoes.  We got 7 quarts of whole tomatoes and 7 quarts of diced tomatoes canned that evening.7 whole and 7 diced

On Sunday, we canned the rest of the tomatoes and ended up with 23 pints of diced tomatoes and 3 quarts of tomato juice.diced tomatoes and juice

The juice was an after thought.  I pack my jars as full as I can get them with tomatoes so the juice overflows the jars.    Dave suggested we save that juice.   I thought I might end up with a quart to put in the fridge but when it was more than that, I decided to can it.

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

Used water from canning to water plants.   We also save the water when we’re waiting for the hot water to come and use that to water plants as well.

All veggie matter got composted.

5.  Preparation and Storage: This past Saturday, we held a yard sale.  .  We didn’t make a whole lot of money but this cleared the boxes marked “for garage sale” out of the attic to give us more room to store non-perishable just as toilet paper, tissue, etc.

And in the process, we helped out a neighbour.  When they heard we were having a garage sale, they decided to have one too.  So I just included their address in our classified ad as well as on the signs we made up to direct people to the sale.  They managed to sell a few big items to help them with their debt reduction goals.

At our sale, I also sold house plants that I grew from slips.  I’ve had luck in the past selling houseplants, but this time I only sold 5.  I may see about renting a table at the farmers’ market later this summer and see if they sell better there.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Supported local farmers through our CSA and by purchasing from the farmers’ market.

Had some fun talking with the nurses at the dermatology office about gardening.  It was great to hear that their families are all growing gardens.

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 over the last two weeks:

Red, White and Blue potatoes (from our CSA) for supper on Jul 5th.  I had cooked them for supper on the 4th but everyone filled up on hot dogs and roasted marshmallows, so I sliced and fried them with onions for supper the next day.

Fried up the yellow and green squash with onions as a side dish.

We’ve been using the cucumbers from our CSA in turkey wraps.  These are so yummy.  Simply mix ½ c miracle whip with ¾ tsp curry powder.  Use that as a spread on tortillas.  Then layer sliced turkey, thinly sliced cucumbers and lettuce.  Roll up and enjoy.

I added some of the squash to my recipe for Creamy Shrimp Pasta.

Ate corn on the cob from our CSA and it was so good that I arranged to buy another 6 dozen which we picked up Monday.   More on that in next week’s update.

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