Rosey the Riveter

Monday, December 31, 2012

Homesteading Goals for 2013

I don't like resolutions.  Mostly, because I'm not good at keeping them.

I am much better at goals, so here goes:

1.  Chickens!  One of the reasons I was so bad about updating the blog this fall was that I was busy helping the group "4 Chesapeake Hens" to legalize chickens.  It involved lots of research, calling planning commission members and City Council members, and attending some meetings.  In the end, we got exactly what we wanted... up to 6 hens and NO 6' privacy fence requirement, which is what Planning proposed, along with only 4 hens.  I have ordered the plans for the tractor that I want to keep them in, and Stephen is heading to Home Depot tomorrow to buy what he needs to begin building.  We are very excited about this new endeavor!

2.  Food Preservation:  I'd like to rely less on the freezer, which will mean more canning and dehydrating.  Thanks to last years records, I feel like I have a better idea of what the family will need/use so I won't be flying by the seat of my pants.  I am in the middle of my 2013 Can Plan, and once that's in place, I'll be in good shape.

3.  The Garden:  There will be changes in 2013.  No broccoli or cabbage, for one thing.  The Cabbage Moths here are awful, and I know that I can buy them from a local farmer for $1/head.  It's not worth taking up space in the garden for that.  There will be more carrots and lettuce.  More medicinal herbs.  More Calendula.  No tomatoes (again, I know I can buy them cheap and they take up so much room!)

4.  Meal Planning:  With two FULL freezers, I need to be better about planning meals and using what we have on hand.  Also, it's less stressful in the afternoon when I know what's for dinner.  My grocery shopping has changed dramatically over the past year, and it's so nice to know that I don't have to make huge weekly stock-up trips.  Instead, I need to make a quick trip in for olive oil, or butter, or toilet paper.  We have chicken and beef in the freezer, fruits and veggies either canned or frozen, and I get our eggs and our milk in glass bottles from a local farmer.  I try to make our bread with fresh ground flour... and I've gotta tell you, I don't miss the supermarkets.

5.  Learn something new.  In 2012, I attempted knitting (which is not for me), crocheting (much easier!) making mozzarella, grinding my own flour, pressure canning meat, and, of course, beekeeping.  In 2013, it's going to be all about chicken keeping!  I'd also like to do more with homemade cheeses.  I've signed up for a queen-rearing class and hopefully we'll be harvesting our own honey.

I think those are enough goals for now.  I'm sure they'll change over the course of the year, but for now, it's a good place to start.

Happy New Year, my friends!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Great Can Plan of 2013

I have a bunch of kiwi in the fridge, freshly picked from a local orchard in Knotts Island.  That can mean only one thing... my 'break' from canning is over.  I've done a few things here and there since the last of the apple butter and mincemeat in October... mostly chicken as I've found the antibiotic-free stuff on clearance (and no freezer space to store it), but I gave a TON of canned goodness away as Christmas gifts, so my shelves are not as full as they used to be.

However, kiwi jam is the family favorite, so it's time to get going again.  And one of the things that I wanted to get done before starting up is my 2013 Can Plan.  I first made a plan last year, which I knew would be my largest canning endeavor ever (thanks to an amazing location with lots of local fruits and veggies).  It really helped me focus, and helped me to not be overwhelmed, when I was drowning in strawberries and cukes and everything else.

Basically, a Can Plan is a road map... for jams and jellies and pickles, I make a list of recipes I want to make in the upcoming season, organized by fruit/veggie.  When I have free time, I will photocopy those recipes and organize them in sheet protectors in a large 3-ring notebook.  I will sort them by season.  (For example, kiwis first, then strawberries, then peaches, etc. according to the order they ripen here in Hampton Roads).  For corn and greenbeans and other veggies that get canned straight-up, I will simply list how many pints/quarts I need to put up of each, and I will also estimate how many pounds of produce it will take to do so.  Last year, I kept a running list of the recipes I'd made and how many jars they made.  I also attempted to list how much produce I bought.  This will help in my 2013 estimations.  (For example, since we're about out of dehydrated peaches, I know that I need to buy more than I did last year.  Since we still have plenty of salsa, I probably won't need to make as much as I did in 2012.)

 This is a photo of the running list I kept.  It was taped to the inside of my cabinet door, so every time I canned something, I listed how much of it resulted.

This is a page out of my 2012 Canning Binder.  As you can see, I made notes about how many quarts it actually made, and also that it tasted amazing...  very helpful when determining which recipes to keep for 2013 and which to forgo.
And this is what the beginning of the new Can Plan looks like.  First, I looked through all my books for Kiwi recipes... then I went through and looked for cranberry recipes (since I have a ton in the fridge right now!).  I will do the same thing for all of the fruits I can get locally... so that when they are in season, I know exactly what recipes to make and also exactly what ingredients I'll need to have on hand to make them!  It also helps to make sure you have enough jars!  Of course, not pictured, is my Canning Board from Pinterest which also holds valuable information!  I'll print out those recipes I want to try and include them in my binder.
If you click on this photo, you can see my notes so far.  Like I said earlier, I'll photocopy each of these recipes and put them in my binder, and I will be all set for the great produce deluge of 2013.  It does take time, but it's so worth it in the end!

2012 in Review

This information will be coming in handy as I plan for next year (more on that later.)  I've marked with asterisks our favorites, which will be first priority in 2013.


Kiwi Jam: 5 jelly jars  ***
Kiwi Preserves: 3 jelly jars
Cider-Cranberry Jelly: 7 jelly jars
Kiwi Daiquiri Jam: 5 jelly jars 


Pear Ginger Jam: 5 jelly jars
Cinnamon Pear Jam: 8 jelly jars 
Wild Violet Jelly: 4 jelly jars

Strawberry Kiwi Jam: 6 jelly jars  ***
Strawberry Vanilla Jam: 4 jelly jars ***
Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate: 7-12oz jars
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: 8 jelly jars ***
Black Beans: 7 quarts

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam: 9 jelly jars
Strawberry Lemon Marmalade: 8 jelly jars
Strawberry Anise Hyssop Jam: 6.5 jelly jars ***
Strawberry Orange Jam: 8 jelly jars

Strawberry Anise Hyssop: 3 jelly jars
Peach Jalapeno: 4 jelly jars
Pineapple Coconut Jalapeno: 5 jelly jars  ***
Caramel Apple Jam: 6 jelly jars  ***


Cherry Lemon Verbena Jam: 4.5 jelly jars
Peaches: 4 quarts
Sweet Pickle Relish: 6 pts  ***
Cherry Peach Vanilla Jam: 3.5 jelly jars  ***
Peach Strawberry Cinnamon Jam: 5 jelly jars  ***
Blueberry Cinnamon: 4 jelly jars
Cherry Marmalade: 4 jelly jars
Corn: 3 pints
Corn Cob Jelly: 6 jelly jars
Peaches: 7 quarts
Cherry Vanilla Cardamom Jam: 4.5 jelly jars
Corn Cob Jelly: 6 jelly jars
Peach Jelly: 9 jelly jars
Spiced Blackberry Jam  ***


9 pts salsa  ***
7 pts bbq sauce
7 pts rotel  ***
3 jelly jars spiced grape jam
7 jj Peach Coconut Rum Sauce  ***
5 jj Ginger Peach Jam
13 jj Strawberry Peach Jam
6 jj Peach Jelly
6 jj caramel apple jam  ***
5 jj fig jam
9 jj mango jam
13pints hot salsa
14 qts grape juice  ***
5 jj strawberry watermelon jam
4 pts beef stock
15 pts pear sauce
9 pts B&B pickles  ***
7 qts Mrs. Wages Dill pickles  ***
6 qts Apple Pie Filling   ***
9 pts apple sauce
5 jj cantaloupe vanilla jam
5 jj peach salsa
7 pts rotel
6 qts Peach Pie Filling ***


4 jj concord grape jelly
5 qts mincemeat
17 qts applesauce
4 jj apple butter
5 jj watermelon jelly
7 pts wm marachino jelly


5 jj Carrot Cake Jam
5 pts Rum Raisin Pear Butter
5 jj Carrot Cake Jam w/o coconut
9 pts spiced apples
7 qts apple pie filling
lots of T.O.E. jam (Tangerine, Orange, Elderberry)
6 jj apple butter
5 qts mincemeat
9 jj whiskey raisin apple butter


32 pints chicken

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Handmade Ornament Swap

Last year, a member of my homesteading group hosted a handmade ornament swap.  I had such a fun time that as soon as it was over, I was already thinking about what to do for THIS Christmas.  I wanted to make something that represented some aspect of homesteading... so when I saw repurposed canning lids painted as snowmen, I knew that's what it was going to be.
 This is a pink one that I made especially for Abby, because it's her favorite color.
These are all the ones I made for the swap.
 My friend Kylene made the felt chickens.
 And Valerie got some Oyster Shells from a local restaurant and painted them up!

There were many more creative ideas, and I love that every year as I hang them on our tree, I will be reminded of a great group of people who have taught me so much!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

100% Whole Wheat Bread

It's been way too long since I've posted.  I've been trying to prepare for Christmas and I finally learned how to crochet correctly, so instead of being on the computer at night, I usually have yarn in my hands.

One of the things I've been experimenting with lately is milling my own flour from wheat berries.  Two summers ago, I was VERY lucky to find a Nutrimill at a thrift store for $7.  Truthfully, I didn't even know for sure at the time that it was a grinder, but knowing how expensive they were, I was willing to take the chance.  And I'm glad I did!  They are $259 new!

Unfortunately, most of the recipes for wheat bread call for half white flour, and I didn't want to have to use it.  So I decided to buy the book "No More Bricks" by Lori Viets, which is a great one for beginner grinders like me.  There are only like 4 basic recipes in the book, but it teaches you all sorts of ways to use them, along with discussing the different types of grinders and grains.  I have been extremely happy with the bread I've been baking, and even happier that there is no white flour in the loaves.

On a recent trip to the local Amish Bulk Store (it's kind of new, and I was thrilled to discover it!) I bought a package of 7 grain berries, excited about the possibility of turning it into bread.  Normally, I don't pay that much for wheat berries, but normally, I buy in 25 or 50 lbs quantities!
 This is what the Nutrimill looks like, with a pound of berries ready to go.
 And this is the flour that results.  It's just beautiful!
 The recipe for the bread can be found HERE.  (I tripled it) But these are the ingredients:
My apologies to those who are unable to tolerate gluten.  In my experience, it's a needed addition in order to get a great loaf of 100% Whole Wheat.  After dumping the ingredients into my mixer and kneading it, I just shaped the loaves and let them rise in the oven with the light on.
After an hour or so, when the dough is an inch above the pan, bake for about 30 minutes at 350.
 Delicious, healthy whole wheat bread!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dessert Auction

Some of you may remember that last year, I spent several days preparing for the annual CEC OSC Dessert Auction to raise money for decorating the Children's Ward at the Portsmouth Navy hospital.  You can click HERE to see what I made last year.

This year, I was determined to make things easy on myself.  No baking.  Instead, I went to the pantry and made up a couple baskets of homemade goodness.

This pint of homemade vanilla has been 'marinating' for a year and I paired it with a Seabee Cookbook and a couple of bee towels that I sewed up.  It went for $50

This basket contained a dozen different jars of my jams and jellies.  I was hoping it would be a good money-maker, because we all know how much time it takes (not to mention the cost involved in purchasing the fruit!).  I was thrilled when it ended up selling for $175!

Overall, we raised over $2300.  Next year, I am hoping to be able to donate some HONEY!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Larder Swap!

One of the reasons I haven't posted much lately (other than back-to-school chaos, hosting my folks for a visit, Joanna's b-day party, my get-away to Charlottesville, preparing for the Sustainable Living Fair, and canning the last of summer produce, anyway) is that I've been getting ready for the first Larder Swap hosted by the Virginia Urban Homesteaders League.  There was a great write-up about it in the local paper and you can read the article HERE.  My phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from people who have questions about canning or who want to attend.

I have decided that I'll be taking the Cowboy Candy that I made from local jalapenos, some Peach Jelly made from the orchard right down the road, and Rose Petal Jelly made from the bushes in my back yard.  Can't get a much smaller food-print than that!
I have several other canned items that I could take, but I decided to save them for the next swap.  I wanted to start out with unique items that people aren't likely to have made themselves.  There will be more pictures to follow after the swap, but I am super excited about it and hope everyone has a great time.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Heritage Harvest Festival

For months I'd been looking forward to attending the Heritage Harvest Festival held annually at Monticello, and two weeks ago my friend Nancy and I left here at 4:30 IN THE MORNING for our weekend away.  We chatted all the way up and arrived in time to be the first in line for the shuttle to the Festival.

Turns out, arriving early was genius.  We were able to meander through the tasting tent and sample all sorts of tomatoes and watermelons.  The line was very long later in the day.

We also took advantage of the seed swap and came home with all sorts of good stuff to grow for next year.
This is Roger Winn.  He's kind of a big deal in the seed-saving world.
I also got to attend some workshops.  This is Ira Wallace, who works at Southern Exposure.  It was her idea to start the Festival, and I'm so glad she did!  This particular class was about planting garlic and onions.

There were ample vendors selling everything from Hickory Syrup to Goat Gyros.  I picked up some Heinz Tomato seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and small Zinnia from Landreth.

I also got to meet Pat Foreman, author of "City Chicks".  She's coming to speak in Chesapeake next month, and I already have my ticket.

I very much enjoyed my 'premium' tour of the Monticello Garden given by Peter Hatch, who is the retired caretaker of the garden.  He is an amazing fount of knowledge, as he has had years of access to the records Jefferson kept regarding the planting and harvesting at Monticello.  I can't wait to read his book, "A Rich Spot of Earth": Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.

Early in the afternoon, I decided that I'd seen everything and asked Nancy if she wanted to venture out to check out The Cheese Shop.  (It's like an Amish bulk store).  Yup!  We found a great farm stand on the way where I picked up an entire bag of Habanero Peppers for a buck for my dad.  And I did some serious damage at the Cheese Shop, buying pretzel salt and whole wheat bread flour, organic rice, brown sugar, and lots of other bulk items, many of which are hard to find around here.

We had a heck of a time finding a place to eat dinner.  I am NOT a fan of parking in Charlottesville.  We ended up at Panera, and then went to Whole Foods to check things out.  We're getting one here in VA Beach next month, but I've decided that I can find bulk items cheaper at other places.

After passing out in the most comfortable hotel bed every, we woke the next morning and headed straight to Carter Mountain Orchard, where I had preordered three bushels of apples.  The view was amazing, the apple cider donuts really good... but the apple cider slushie was the highlight of our visit.

We meandered home via 460, which took us through small towns with fun antique stores.  It also took us through Peanut Country, so we stopped at Adams Country Store in Waverly, Wakefield Peanuts, and The Virginia Diner for a late lunch.  The Waldorf Salad with peanut sauce was incredible.  This is a dinner I can't wait to recreate at home.

When all was said and done, we had to come home because the car was FULL.

It was a wonderful weekend and I am already looking forward to next year's Festival!  I get the same feeling at Monticello that I do at Old Sturbridge Village... completely at peace.  It is definitely one of my favorite places ever.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rolling in Pickles!

I was so excited to get out of the house last night and head to the Produce Auction.  Prices were really decent, so I came home with almost 100 lbs of produce.
One box of cukes and also the zucchini was for a friend of mine who couldn't make it.  The tomatoes will ripen and then I want to make a batch of homemade Rotel with the jalapenos that have started coming in from the garden.  I tackled my box of cucumbers today and ended up with 6 quarts of Kosher Dills and 6 more quarts of Bread and Butter pickles.  I still have some more left, so they may be turned into refrigerator pickles.

The figs will be turned into strawberry fig jam, and the kids polished off the Watermelon this afternoon. 

School starts on Tuesday, so I am looking forward to having some uninterrupted processing time.  And gardening time, since fall gardening is ever so much more pleasant that summer gardening!

I am also super excited about the upcoming Harvest Heritage Festival at Monticello.  Hubby is staying home with the kids and I am heading up with a friend of mine.  Three hours of adult conversation to get there, a whole day of learning (including a tour of Jefferson's garden by Peter Hatch, himself), a night away, hopefully a visit to a local orchard to stock up on apples, and more conversation on the way home.  HEAVEN!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Where has summer gone?

This month has been a whirlwind.  I've been up to my ears in produce... most recently, apples.  I made apple sauce and apple pie filling (still have apple butter from last fall!) and an apple crisp... and I still have more apples needing to be processed.  I only started with 30lbs worth!

Other projects:

The Honeybee Festival at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.  The girls got to uncap the honeycomb and then spin the frames in the extractor to see honey flowing.  I told them they better pay attention, because next year we'll be needing all the help we can get!

The best discovery so far this summer has been the VA Beach Farmer's Market Produce Auction.  The photo below was my haul from my first night attending (they are held every Wednesday through the end of Sept, I believe).  I forgot what I spent, but I think it was like $63 for everything.  And I had a blast.
The second time I went, I had a smaller haul but I was so pleased to finally score some pickling cukes.  I made a batch of bread and butter pickles using my Aunt Audrey's recipe.  These are the pickles I grew up on and I was tickled pink when I tasted them... exactly how I remember them!
I wasn't planning on buying zucchini, but they were selling two boxes and I bid $4 thinking it would get things moving.  No one bid against me!  Luckily, my neighbor took one box.  I *ONLY* got 12 quarts of shredded zucchini out of what you see there!
There were 6 ears of field corn in the box I purchased at the first auction, so I dried them and ground them into cornmeal.  Works like a charm on the pizza stone!
I made this lunch bag from a pattern I got online... it's designed to hold two pint jars for those looking to eliminate plastics.  I was so thrilled with the way it came out, I bought a few more patterns and will be sewing some more bags this winter!

 My basil was wanting to flower, so I 'trimmed' it and had to make several batches of pesto.  Gotta love herbs!
This is what my canning shelf looks like (mind you, the jelly cupboard has been full for awhile!)  I am officially out of room.  But the vineyard opens 9/1 and I WILL be picking grapes for juice and jelly!

I didn't take any pictures, but this afternoon I finally got around to making mozzarella with the kit from New England Cheesemaking.  It really wasn't hard at all and I can't wait to have fresh cheese for our pizza nights!

This week I hope to stock the freezer with items for the kids' snacks and lunches so that once school starts next week, it won't be such a chore packing them.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh, Goodness!

It's been entirely too long since I've posted.  The days have flown by with family visiting and canning, canning, canning.

A couple weeks ago, my neighbors got together and we had a salsa canning party.  We prepped the veggies in the afternoon and canned in the evening.

And drank Margaritas while the salsa was in the canner.  Three of the five were canning newbies.  It was so much fun it is now going to be an annual event.  And they want to do applesauce in the fall and strawberry jam in the spring.

44 pints of salsa in one night!

Another really fun evening was last Wednesday when I was finally able to go to the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market Auction.  I met some new friends and had an absolute blast.

And I scored all these goodies for $63.  The corn was canned, the pears are ripening, the greenbeans were for my neighbor, and the potatoes and onions will eventually be dehydrated.  I used the peppers in This Yummy Recipe for Spicy Pepper Mustard and had enough to freeze and use in a second batch of salsa.  The figs were dehydrated and also made into a batch of jam.

In addition to peaches (more on them later), I also have been processing grapes.  The local orchard doesn't open for picking until September first, but the supermarket had some on sale for .99/lb and I decided to experiment with making juice to see if we liked it.  If so, I'll make a bunch with the local grape varieties like Muscadine and Scuppernong.

I used This Recipe which couldn't be any easier, assuming you have a pressure canner.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What's New?

My clothesline is back!  I'd had it on the deck in the middle of our table... until the winds knocked it over.  Hubby cemented it in the ground and with the recent rains letting up, I was finally able to hang out the laundry. YAY!
The Crepe Myrtles are in full bloom.  They are beautiful, but they are not lilacs.
The compost pile is heating up!  I've been adding about 2 grocery bags a day of stuff to it, and Stephen turned it over the other day, so the temp is really climbing.  I am hoping to get it into the 'hot' range to kill all the weed seeds.
This pretty little plant is a marshmallow!
I just harvested the Stevia the other day and already it is growing quite quickly.
I had to trim this Roma quite a bit... blighted leaves, but I'm hoping that the green tomatoes will ripen.  I'm hoping to try making homemade ketchup if I can get enough of them.
The Valencia Oranges are coming along nicely, but it'll be winter before I can harvest them.
The mathematician in me loves the Fibonacci patterning in sunflowers.  These seeds will be harvested and saved for next year.
Marigold seeds drying.  They aren't my most favorite flowers, but they attract beneficial insects to the garden, so I'll plant them again next year.
These peaches are 'seconds' from the farm down the road.  Normally, a peck sells for $18 but these seconds for canning are $10.  As soon as these get canned up, I'll be going back for more.  They are really good peaches!