(This was published yesterday at the Wordpress site I decided not to use. Sorry for the confusion...I'm back here at Blogger like a bad habit)
Last week, we did make a little progress in some areas.
There were obligatory errands and such, of course. One of my challenges was to try to purchase groceries within budget, and now I'm taking cash...only what I allow myself to spend for that particular trip. I shop from a list rather than by wandering down the aisles, and I'm planning most of the week's meal in advance.
This past week, I kept to my budget. That's an accomplishment! I am now shopping on HALF the budget of a year ago, per week. My long term goal is to once again half that, if possible, but it'll only be possible as a garden comes in.
In the kitchen: I made meatloaf without a recipe...made up my own recipe basing it on what I remember my Grandma putting in hers. I'm enjoying slowly adding one recipe at a time that's tried and true, the sort I can do by memory and that the family for sure loves. LOVE is the operative word. If they don't LOVE it, I keep tweaking and trying it differently till I can tell it's at last a family classic. Finally the meatloaf is at the love stage. Next challenge...extending the leftovers.
Using leftovers -- The meatloaf found further incarnations. The next night, it became the basis for Shepherd's Pie, and the next, the start for Vegetable Beef soup. Both were eagerly eaten, so at least there was not too much Leftover fatigue :) I feel good knowing three solid meals to do well back-to-back with similar ingredients. That's stretching some ground chuck!
First Harvest of October! We harvested 5 1-gallon bags of what we call the Blood Sugar plant, Gynura Procumbens. We washed and bagged them, and are trying them in all sorts of dishes. Tonight's was enchildas...I chiffonaded (sliced in ribbons) the leaves and included them stirred in with the rest of the ingredients before filling the flour tortillas...the flavor was complementary, nothing weird.
I had to cut back the Blood Sugar plants, and from those, I planted out 28 starts for new plants (it's all we had containers for, presently). I also cut back and harvested most of the herbs except two mammoth cinnamon basils, and tied the pruned sections into bunches and hung them to dry. They smell delicious, especially the thymes :)
Jack did the lion's share...the cleaning out of all the weeds, the mowing, the replacing of landscape fabric under that weedy mess where the herbs were. We discovered some great volunteer plants, such as two avocados and a bunch of volunteer basil coming up here and there. We're leaving them in the soil even if they're sharing pots with existing plants...looks like they're making good companions, so why mess with a good thing?
He's having great success with starting exotics from seed. We now have some small established lychees, and have also planted miracle fruit plant seeds, mameys, plums, papayas, malangas, tamarinds, and I can't remember the rest. The mameys are 2 feet high now (3 plants), the malangas put out shoots within a week of being put into the soil. We are trying gingers. The tamarinds grow like weeds, as do the papayas, but so far have not been pollinating and turning the flower buds into any fruit...wahh..we're waiting for them to mature enough to have enough dependable male and female plants.
Some seeds that are awaiting planting, but we're out of containers just now...cherimoyas, royal poincianas, more tamarinds, calabaza. We should have plenty left this spring.
Jack has started a few trenches that will be filled with wood chips, grass clippings, compost, manure, and some soil and then covered with cardboard for the next couple months to ripen into a decent place to plant in the spring. Meanwhile, I'm lobbying for some dug-up space to plant winter greens...
We're doing the M. Fukuoku (sp?) Leave-it-alone method of leaving nature alone to grow naturally, and we're not putting in a hedge at the front of the adjoining property where Jack's starting those garden beds. We're simply leaving a 15 foot strip along the front and will mow evenly down its length, allowing it to grow like crazy and form its own wild plant strip. We don't plan on being here long enough to justify spending a single cent on anything a buyer would simply be bulldozing under. So let's see if it works...we need a thick strip of foliage to discourage 4 wheelers from decimating any plants we'd put over there. We'll post the progress :)
We also harvested 14 limes! About half were Indian Sweet Limes, and the other were Persian limes. I can't explain the craving I've suddenly developed for it, but I've been making hand-squeezed limeade, which is SO SO different from anything from the store. I don't know if it's the variety of lime, or the fact they're squeezed just off the tree, but there is NO bitter taste and just the most fragrant and delicious mild lime taste when mixed with some sweetened water and served over ice. JUST the thing to refresh after melting down in the humidity outside! Mmmmmm :) Those little limes trees are now 3 years old and are in pots, and are not very big at all, but that doesn't stop them from producing great normal-sized limes, yay!
It was my daughter's birthday today...Happy 20th, sweet Rachel!!!! I can NOT believe it's been that many years! What an incredible person I've been given as a daughter. My prayer for her is that she'll always keep God at the center of her life, and dare to live life to its fullest protected and guided by His wisdom. That's really the only thing I want, if a mother were to have a wish, because He made her so wonderfully...and I got to share in all these 20 years the wonder of watching her grow. I have a lump in my throat and a LOT of thankfulness :)
We had a fun celebration today between her work schedule and Jack's.
Repairs: I had to play early morning chaffeur to Jack when his vehicle decided it didn't want to start. Tomorrow should be fun, with round-trips to a service center somewhere, I'm a-guessing :)
Slowly stockpiling a few extras. I bought calabaza at 40 cents a lb. so that we can have some more of that fabulous soup, and save the seeds for the spring. I hope to have enough both to use and to share with friends out here who'd like some. Calabaza is absolutely delicious!
Kombucha success at last!!! Maria was so gracious and sent me a baby scoby way back about 2 months ago, smack before the world went upside down and we found ourselves living at hospice with Jack's mom, before she died. I was already very unsure of my Kombucha skills, and was pretty convinced that I was going to somehow taint a Scoby, or unwittingly do something wrong to it and render it harmful to us. I had no idea what one was supposed to NOT look like, so when Maria's baby scoby started getting more robust and had some beige-ish and light brown-ish floaties in the brew, I was SURE I had murdered it. But we were on the run at that point, so each week I made a new brew and poured off most of the old stuff, leaving just enough to help along the new. Now we actually have 2 scobies and are using the 2nd as the primary one, and are keeping the first dormant just in case we need it again soon. We ordered a couple of continual brew items, and...
We tasted our first homemade Kombucha! I do mean TASTE...we've been MAKING it for a while now, but I was always too scared to serve it to us. Then we went online and looked at pictures and different ways people make it, and it really put our minds at ease that ours is OK...so it was time to taste! It poured out looking like apple cider, and I did filter off the fibrous bits that were floating in it. Upon tasting it, it TASTED like slightly dry, lightly sweet and totally PLEASANT apple cider...Yay, SUCCESS!!! At this point, since I 'm still getting my sea legs with the whole fermentation thing, we'll just drink it fresh without fermenting it further (by bottling it...we're just skipping that stage). We LOVE it as is!
Scary skin cancer stuff...Jack has to have an area removed on his forehead. There 's nothing like the C Word to get us looking fast and furiously into prevention prevention prevention. That is one reason we're stepping up the kombucha and the blood sugar plant production around here. We're making them each daily foods (well, once the kombucha is ready! that's why we want the continuous ferment method).
Still saving the loose change for the Doing Not Thinking Challenge...collected another $2.00 to add to the kitty, now totaling $19.00...it'll go to Kiva.org's micro-loan program, can't wait :)
Weight loss? Haven't weighed. HAVE been trying to reduce our overall carbs (try doing that when trying to also cut the ol' grocery budget in half, hmmm!) while upping our green stuff and lots of water. But I'll tell ya, the birthday cake likely didn't help things much :)
Keeping on with the Homestead Acquisition efforts. Yes, oh yes. Never are we far from the conversations about what to do next. Then we do those things, often daily. It's a lot of hunting, researching, and mostly w-a-i-t-i-n-gggggggggg. But it WILL pay off, and these conversations have helped us to prioritize, and adjust, as we go.
Oh, yeah, I mopped the kitchen floor. Not a huge accomplishment, but if you'd seen it...um, yeah. Well, that's all I have to say about that...
I'm posting this post without pictures, even though it goes against my grain. More pics to come, tho! :)