Showing posts from 2013

Fingers hurt, muscles sore, a move-in marathon

I've given up on my nails.  At least for now. My goodness do my fingers hurt.  My nails hurt, the pads of my fingers hurt.  Thankfully the soreness in my knee, ankle, shoulder and hip joints has passed.  That is probably because we're taking small breaks now.  30 to 45 minutes here, an hour there.  Earlier on I was using our much larger soaking tub A LOT.   The quote from Under the Tuscan Sun keeps reverberating around in my brain.  "Pick one room and make it yours. Go slowly through the house. Be polite, introduce yourself so it can introduce itself to you." - Frances Mayer. Funny, this house was already mine, I already knew it. It already knew me.  Four years ago I moved away from this house. So for me, this is a getting to know you once again type of deal.  The house and I have both been dinged up a bit, we both might be showing our age a bit more, but we're working on getting comfortable with each other once again. 
We've gotten almost each and every box…

North to the Future

I always seem to feel this way when I haven't written in a while and yet in the past I always find myself at a loss of words. What can I share that is noteworthy? What can I share that would be interesting. Now instead I find myself overwhelmed. There is just so much, too much to share. How can I capture all the moments in a simple blog entry?

Approximately two weeks ago our journey began from Aberdeen Maryland to Fairbanks, Alaska. It all started with a small amount of downtime right outside of Washington DC. That was a long weekend spent relaxing, shopping, movie going and eating out. Almost all of those are somewhat unknown pleasures to us. We rarely go shopping in malls, we usually prefer to save our money that could be spent on eating out and use it towards building our savings or purchasing larger items that could be useful in the future. Even attending movies in the theaters, ridiculously expensive in my opinion, are a rare treat for us. The positive to this glu…

An unusual sort of life for us

Wow, the past few days have been...odd, filled with things we never get much time or money to do.
We arrived here to Washington DC, in the Falls Church, Tysons Corner side on Friday and since then we've been sightseeing, people watching, watching movies, museum visiting and shopping.
Well actually, sightseeing is not new to us at all but over the past several years shopping, the kind of senseless, walking around the mall type of shopping and buying whatever tickles our fancy kind of shopping has been more or less non existent. Our son has been in heaven as the three of us walk miles upon miles each day visiting malls and museums.  We even brought him to see Enders Game which he said afterwards was worth "two thumbs up".  As a parent of an almost 8 year old, I have to say, the movie was great.  
I can't wait till I can get my son to read the books!  
Today we took a break from eating boring leftovers, eating boring sandwiches and eating whatever we have left from when …

Moving Day is here

Wow, it's finally here. Moving Day.
The employees (three of them!) have been busy packing things up since about 2 hours ago.  The sound of paper tearing, packing tape and music from the packers IPODS fills the air.  It even smells like packing tape in here.  Already my hands are drying out from even thinking about unpacking all this stuff later on.  Edward asked me at one point this morning "when are you going to ever use this parrafin wax thingy for your hands?"
In about a months time I will.  Today there is not as much hard, back breaking, nail breaking, hand cracking work.  In a month from now things will get crazy.  So, after about tomorrow, for the next three weeks I get, somewhat, a life of leisure with just a bit of heavy driving and entertaining an almost 8 year old as he repeats for about the 30th time "are we there yet?"
Fun times are a comin'

Dehydrating and powdering Sweet Potatoes~ Careful! these babies are sharp!

My most recent item to dehydrate is a sweet potato we received as part of our CSA share from Brads Produce.  This, I actually did not research ahead of time like I typically do simply because I was in a hurry to "git'r done" so I am writing about it to simply remind myself later "uhh how did I do this one?".
First, I baked it along with some other items in the oven just until it was starting to get soft. I like to wrap my sweet potatoes in tinfoil because they make a horrible mess in the oven otherwise.
Next, I sliced them up and placed them in our 5 tray Excalibur dehydrator for about a day and a half.
I checked several times to see if they were "crunchy" yet.  Each time, even today these remain pliable and soft with crunchy parts around the edges.  Hhhmm, frustrating.
A friend had remarked how this can be difficult to dehydrate these.  I can see why.
Okay, so today I did a test .  I tried cutting up the now mostly dehydrated sweet potato pieces and …

Brewing your own Kombucha tea

I started making my own Kombucha tea over three years ago when I read about all the health benefits and I have to admit, only now I thought maybe I should write a bit more about it!
Kombucha is simply green, white or other varieties of tea that are fermented, and after a few weeks turns into an effervescent healthy beverage.  It is fermented simply with a bacterial and yeast culture that sooner or later, in the right environment creates a SCOBY.  Scoby stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacterial Yeasts.  The Scoby is not actually the main part of the kombucha tea, it is just a by product of the bacteria and yeasts at work.
First, a bit of the history behind Kombucha tea.  Kombucha originated in Northeast China or Manchuria and later spread to Russia and from there to the rest of the world.  It was thought that this showed up in China as early as 206 BCE.  It became the norm over time to always share your extra kombucha tea and SCOBY mamas as this allows others to enjoy this healthful be…


Yet another step made to prepare our backyard for our move from Aberdeen, Maryland to Fairbanks, Alaska.  This past weekend our goal was to dig up as many Jerusalem Sunchokes as possible and since the weather was dry and sunny we figured it was time.
First a bit of history, after all, you know if you've kept up with me in the past I love reading the histories of each plant we grow.
The plant commonly called a "sunchoke" is actually called a Jerusalem Artichoke. No, it is not from Jerusalem and no, it is not to be confused with a typical artichoke.  Supposedly Italian Settlers in North America named the sunchoke girasole which is the Italian word for Sunflower.  It is believed that English settlers corrupted the name girasole artichoke to Jerusalem Artichoke.  It is indigenous to North America and was cultivated for its valuable roots.  It is a perennial (meaning it grows back on its own every year) and is actually part of the sunflower genus; Helianthus.
Growing it, I ca…

One Last Seed Giveaway

Due to the limited amounts of seeds we have on hand, this seed giveaway will be, well limited.  Not like our past few.
This will include five of each of the following seeds:

Bhut JolokiaMild JalapenoSweet Banana Pepper And as a bonus, a mixed variety of winter squash (because you know how much I love winter squash!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway This raffle will only last for 7 days and there will only be one winner so get your entries in now!

Today is the day..

Three of these hot little babies are ready!
At one point this plant was an unknown.  We knew we planted seeds for a Bhut Jolokia plant but were uncertain if this was one.  That is until it started producing peppers, late into the season.  Now lo and behold, here it is. I harvested three of the fruits and just cutting them off the plant made my throat burn as if I was slicing up jalapenos.
At this point, I'm kind of afraid to cut them up but I know we want to dry them so it will have to be done sooner or later.

FYI, the spicy peach tomato salsa I made recently was made using UNripe Bhut Jolokia peppers. We used two of those and we got a pretty spicy batch of salsa.  I can't wait to see what these do now that they are fully ripe!

Oh and heads up, be looking out for a giveaway soon.  Bhut Jolokia Seeds & maybe a few sunchoke tubers.

Stage 2...Tomatoes & Squash exit stage right

This past weekend the three of us tackled more of the garden.  It had become apparent that the tomatoes, grapes and winter squash were done for the season. No surprise there since we are on the second week of October.  Of course, the weather seems to be attempting to contradict that fact as Wunderground is reporting it is a balmy 86 degrees outside as I write this.  Our preliminary housing inspection is coming up this week so we decided we might as well take the raised beds apart, throw them out to the street to be picked up with the trash.
My son and I went armed with garden shears and chopped, chopped, chopped.
 All but four tomato plants are now gone.  Almost all the winter squash plants are gone.  The grapevines were cut down to almost the ground as we fear the housing office would require their removal.  I would love to see the new occupants of this unit when they realize next summer that they have grapes.

The eggplants have suddenly woken up and are all producing so any plant t…

A taste of Autumn

This is what happens when you have too many fresh apples on hand and you cannot store them by canning and you've already got more than enough dried as chips. Unusual fruit leather combinations.
Today's experiment?
Vanilla Chai (decaf) with molasses and apples.
This idea came to me simply because we're running low on apple cider which I use in the crockpot as the apples are cooking down.  We add a bit of liquid here and there to make sure the apples or mixed fruit don't burn or stick too much.
Suddenly the thought hit me.  How would a chai flavor mix with apples?  The way I figured it was if it didn't turn out delicious, well then Edward and I would probably be eating the finished product or we'd just throw it away.  It doesn't take too many apples to make a basic fruit leather so its not an absolute waste.
The real positive to this is it uses very little ingredients.

ApplesStash Vanilla Chai (decaf)Molasses

I used two bags of the Stash tea in about two cup…

A few recipes

I'm going to keep this short and sweet.  I had a few extra tomatoes that I had already removed the skins off of, so these were going to a batch of tomato jam.
I scoured around a bit on the internet and this one appealed to me most.
Tomato Jam
Yield: Varies depending on the kind of tomato used, pan width and the finished thickness*


5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon red chili flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, simmer** the jam until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat.
When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in…

Overcoming Obstacles

Four years ago we moved from Fairbanks Alaska to Aberdeen Maryland. I was interested in gardening; loved growing (and sometimes killing) herbs, a potted tomato but no where near what we do now. I played around a tiny bit with aquaponics but I was like any other American who relies solely on the grocery store for my food.
When we moved into this house we were confronted with a soggy, muddy and mossy mess. Soil that consisted of a heavy clay mixture and was ridiculously difficult to work.  For the first year each time we tilled up our soil it would smell like a septic tank had dumped its contents into our yard.

We didn't know what we needed to grow anything there, we just knew that if we were to make it for the next year or two we better try growing our own fruits and veggies because financially we were strapped. 
The first year, we believed that you either
A. Put seeds in ground, seed sprouts and grows. Sprinkle liberally with Sevin dust and Miracle Gro and later harvest fruits an…