Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency,

gardening, food preservation, thrifting, cookery and more...

Jul 29, 2014

Goodbye Fiona/I Mean Fred, Homemade Non-Toxic Ant Spray, Tons Of Blackberries!!! Not So Much Chokecherries

What a nice couple

Goodbye Fiona- I Mean Fred-
Well you know how it goes- the hatchery gave me two pullets, and one's a roo. When I saw the larger comb and wattles developing I knew I was in trouble. Sad thing is he's a really sweet little guy, loved to cuddle, easy to handle and loves treats. I REALLY want to keep him, but no roos in the city. He also tried mounting one of the girls, Gwyn, last night. Ew, I'm done. I've already cried over this, but it's the way it is. I placed a posting in Backyard Chickens, but no one would take him. So last night he went on Craigslist. I hate to do it, but I don't have much recourse. He's just starting to get some amber and light brown in his feathers, and should be quite handsome! I'd really like him to go into a small flock, and for someone to keep him. Here's hoping... Lesson learned, no more "feather sexed" birds for me :(  Glad I bought four total, 3 different breeds. I was hoping to get my flock up to six laying eggs, but I'll wait until next spring...

Homemade Non-Toxic Ant Spray-
After seeing a small line of ants coming in near my back sliding glass door near my kitchen I panicked. I do NOT want ants in the house! I did some research and made a quick batch of homemade spray. I used the following, and put in a 1 Qt. empty spray bottle-
mix 1/2 water to 1/2 vinegar,
add 2 squirts of dish washing soap
Shake well. Spray well on all visible ants. Kills 'em good, drowning the guys, not too much odor. I also put out some indoor traps, but I was able to get the majority of the with this spray. Cheap and effective....

Tons Of Blackberries!!!-
The last 2 years we had a light harvest on our organic blackberries. This year, score! I picked 1 Qt. last night and they were dead ripe. All gone today :) Superb with good vanilla ice cream and on cereal. We can get quite a lot from a small area. We have 2 rows, about 4' high and 4' long, about 2 ' apart. There's another good Qt. there now, so I'll pick more tomorrow. I love to bake with them, and freeze some for winter baking. They are SO sweet! Worth all the scratches. I did minimize the scratches by trimming off any empty canes, with zero fruit. Makes it much easier... Yum, yum...

Not So Much Chokecherries-
This year I got a pretty small batch of chokecherries. I picked about 2 cups, which yielded about 4 1/2 of my small, mini jars. These jars are great for really small batches. I just water can them on the stove top. The flavor is the best jelly I've ever had and it's a very unique flavor. Everyone who's tried it, and most have never had it, love it. It's tart and citrusy. As sour as the cherries are, you still add lemon juice to the recipe. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. Luckily I have several jars from last year! Dave and I did a major trim of it this weekend, hopefully that will boost production. Also trimmed the lilac that was creating too much shade for it. I never know what creates a "good" year or "bad", ah well....

Jul 28, 2014

Tangy Goat Cheese Dressing, Are You An Apocaloptimist? Great Off-Grid Video, Fast No-Heat Fridge Pickles

Tangy Goat Cheese Dressing-
I'm a big fan of buttermilk and I'm always on the lookout for salad dressing recipes. I've never found a really great "ranch" dressing blend, but I did find this. It has goat cheese and buttermilk, what a combo!!! I saw this on PBS Ediblefeast show, but can't find it online. I took some rough notes when I saw it channel surfing, and modified it slightly. It comes out really THICK! This made 1 QT. exactly. and here it is-

10 oz. goat cheese (1 Costco log)
2 cups buttermilk (I used low fat)
2 TBS fresh Tarragon, minced
1 TBS dried tarragon
2 cloves minced fresh garlic (I used 1 TSP. garlic powder)
2 TBL. olive oil
3 TBL. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
You could also add other fresh herbs, basil would be nice!

Put goat cheese in medium sized mixing bowl. Chop tarragon and mix with oil, in a small bowl. Crush it into the oil. Mix vinegar with oil, and dried tarragon, and add to the cheese. I used a large spoon to break up the big chunks. Add the buttermilk and use a whisk to slowly mix the dressing. I went up and down with the whisk to break up the cheese more, then just whisked it until it was smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in the fridge a bit before serving. It's very tangy and smooth, nice on a chilled salad!

Are You An Apocaloptimist -
Someone who knows it's all going to sh**, but still thinks it will turn out OK. Example below:

"It" most commonly refers to the environment, or humanity, but could be other things as well.

Guy 1: "The environment is being degraded at an unparalleled rate, we're literally destroying ourselves... but, it'll probably turn out OK. If we fail, the planet will likely heal itself in our absence."

Guy 2: "Man, he's such an apocaloptimist."  From

 Great Off Grid Video-
This guy has incorporated so many brilliant ideas! Like turning a new freezer into a fridge, awesome!!!

Fast No-Heat Fridge Pickles-
I've recently moved away a bit from just canning pickles, to fermenting. Still waiting on those. I do like making fridge pickles, except for the heating of the brine. Why heat up the kitchen? Last night I stumbled on to some really fresh, big pickling cukes, so I bought some. I found this recipe Quick Refrigerator Pickles and decided to try it. I did use classic pickling spice instead of just 2 spices. I also added 1 tsp. of black tea leaves for crunch, 1 bay leaf, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. It was SO much FASTER! I had 4 QTs. done in 15 minutes and the kitchen is cool! I'll let you know how the flavor is in a week :)  If I can wait that long!!! They smell divine.  I'll be trying this recipe next Refrigerator Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, You-Name-It, photo below. I love other pickled veggies, especially carrot and cauliflower...

Jul 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday- A Day Late! Our Front Yard National Wildlife Federation Habitat

Throwback Thursday- A Day Late, Our Front Yard National Wildlife Federation Habitat-
Happily my daughter and I had an impromptu dinner last night, which sadly made for a late Throw Back Thursday. It was worth it :) After doing a lot of searching Dave and I realized we didn't have a photo of the lot, front and back, when we bought the house. I'm a Master Gardener, so I looked at it as a blank canvas. Here's a description for you to visualize...

The front was turf, no trees, only 2 shrubs over by the fence to the right. NOTHING ELSE. Empty beds, just dirt. The fencing was also falling over, so we replaced that front and back. Dave and I build it together:) We have planted everything else in 7 years. Most if the first 2. Now there are....

Three fruit trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, herbs, ground covers, grasses, berries, cherries, and medicinal plants. We also planted a Sumac tree, a memorial for Dave's Mom. I learned later that I can make wonderful lemonade from the berries. You can also dry them for lemony seasoning for fish, etc. Who knew?

I intentionally planted lots of pollinators. We qualified here, as did our last house, as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat. Info here if you're interested Garden For Wildlife We received a nice plaque :) We do this not for the plaque but for the way we like to live- support nature when we can, and produce some of our own food.

This was a barren, gravel, RV parking spot, on the other side of the drive way. It now has flowers, grasses, Service Berries, Choke Cherries, a lilac, and more. Dave built the nice cedar mail box post, as it was rotting-

Here's some color from our front yard-

Can you see the bees???

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