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Waste not – and visit Yosemite with your food budget!

I don’t know about you, but whenever I try to do a “budget” for our household, FOOD is always the biggest category.

I spend most of our monthly budget on food. Granted, buying “real food” is more expensive than purchasing coupon support packaged food, but I know that part of my big price tag is mis-management.

I know this because my fridge is packed, as is my freezer, AND my pantry…..YET….the most common statement in my house from the kitchen: “We have NOTHING to eat!!!”

And, I throw a good amout of food away. It is a damn shame, really. It comes from stocking up, or buying things with a meal in mind that never happens.  Or, because I go purchase things while I am hungry. Sometimes, the food I grow comes in fast, and I don’t have the time or space to preserve it. If I can’t get it to friends or neighbors quick enough, it goes to waste.

Thankfully, I have chickens and a thriving compost, so at least the food does not go into the garbage.

I have decided to cut our food budget (with the saved money going into a vacation fund. I have never been to Yosemite, and will remedy that) and create

Fridge Challenge Meal

less food waste.

Steps:

  1. Use what is in the fridge/freezer/pantry NOW, only supplementing with fresh items that need to be replenished, like salads, milk, etc. Creativity, and the open mind of the family is important here :). 
  2. Every time I throw food away (aka, give it to the chickens or compost), I will write down the dollar amount on a piece of paper on my fridge. 
  3. Menu planning. It will kill me, but in the end, I think it will make things much easier. 
  4. Clear out freezer. I really need an upright freezer. I have chest freezer now, and I swear, I don’t know what is at the bottom. I am going to explore. Mainly, I am going to make it my mission to use all the meat, veggies, and fruit stored before I get more. 
  5. Prepare pantry for more bulk foods.  Ok, I just ate jam this morning that I made in 2010. :)…yes, it was still good, but really, it is time to hit that stash. Also asking friends if they would like some, because a girl can only eat so many sweet & sour pickles.

I could get more vigilante about it, but realistically, I won’t sick to it. These steps are doable right now, and will clear my freezer and pantry space in a about a month for a more organized food space.

I will be posting some of my “clear the fridge meals” on Instagram as I go.  Here are some things that I have noticed in the last days of putting together ingredients:

  1. Cut stale bread in cubes, keep airtight and add to soups. Makes them “meaty”, according to my son :). 
  2. Keep fresh ginger. It can be added to soups, veggies, salad dressings, and gives anything zing!
  3. Turmeric, again, a great spice for veggie combos, soups, stews, or meat. 
  4. Use your crockpot!!! Mine is now slowing cooking bone broth, a good base. 
  5. Family can get grumpy. Especially meat eating husbands. Make sure to find ways to make “real food” (which is what I cook all the time, but if it does not have SOLID meat, so no stew, it is not real for husband) and keep him happy. I will also show mine the dollar list from my fridge and vacation jar full of money…that works.  Get kids involved by letting them make up a meal with available ingredients. 
  6. Cook big pots of rice. Rice can be fried, added to soups, or made into delicious rice pudding :)…great for fruit compot that you make with aged fruit!

We live in an abundant world, now we have to learn to live in it :).
Warmly,
Heike

P.S. Due to the high amount of comment spam, I have closed comments for now. I DO WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!  🙂 Please come comment on Facebook!

Afternoon Musings & Snacks

Fresh picked “snacks” from the garden :).

My kids are at camp this week, and my husband could not get off work, so I am ALL BY MYSELF during the day! Just me, the dog, and the chickens :). It is like I have taken off to a retreat. It is amazing how your everyday environment can change its’ energy!

Don’t get me wrong, I miss them all for a few minutes, then I get back in to my serene state of peace. I am enjoying every minute.

I had a long list of things I was going to do this week, and so far I have checked off: 0.

And that is ok.

I have decided to enjoy this time, and do only what I want. This morning, I took my dog to the river, and we went for a swim. Now I am enjoying the back yard, everything is luscious after 3 days of rain, and even though it is already 90 degrees, there is a magnificent breeze. My chicks and the chickens have found a warm spot in the sun and are dozing, and I just hauled myself up from the hammock :).

These days have given me the brain space to work up a plan for my impending new business, and also to ponder on the things I want to continue, or not. If I could give every woman a prescription for a few days, or even hours, alone…I would. I realize now why I cannot focus, on a daily basis there are a thousand things tugging at me at once.

I made a list of things I want to do this summer (this differs completely from my above list of have-tos):

1. Refresh my Italian. I already started an online course. It is free through our library. It is called Mango. Great way to learn conversation in another language, also a great way to manifest that villa/orchard I am moving to in Italy.

2. Knit socks. I finally found a pattern I can follow, and already have finished one sock, ending up with EXACTLY the amount of stiches that the pattern shows. I am amazing, and will finally have to socks that match. Now I am knitting up all that cool wool I found at thrift stores, and we will all have happy feet. I just LOVE wool socks! Want to make some yourself? Find a picture tutorial here!!

3. If you are one of my vegetarian or vegan friends, don’t watch or read this.
I just bought a pig, Sweetie, at the County Fair. The girl who raised it is a friend of my kids. By buying from her, I support her and her 4H project, and I know that I am getting a healthy, well raised, happy pig. I met Sweetie and cuddled her. Today I watched an amazing video on harvesting. Actually, 4 videos. I grew up eating every part of an animal, so this hits close to home. Now I want to raise a pig myself and harvest it. With love. I need that ranch.  If you like pork, find a farmer where you can visit, support and buy from them, and be happy that you are have magnificent food. Watch the videos on pork butchery here.

4. I am seriously going to clean out my closet and sell all those fabulous clothes I no longer wear, lots of vintage…and buy myself some brand new, red, totally outrageous cowboy boots.

5. I am going to loose 10lbs by bouncing myself silly on my fabulous Rebounder! OMG…this so much fun. I actually bought it to retrain my muscle in my leg, but dagnabit!! It is a hoot! And guess what? According to some experts, this is the key to detoxifying, since you are activating the lymphs while jumping. Who knew???

6. After much YouTube watching, I am going to plant artichokes in my front yard, even if I have to water them.

That’s all for now. More may come, I have two more spa days.

Much love,
Heike

Stay away from my babies, and why I hoard coffee cans & pickle jars.


Spring has sprung here in my neck of the woods……and when spring springs, we PLANT!

It is like the sun awakens urges deep inside of me, making me want to dig, plant, nurture……

So I have planted tomatoes. Six varieties. As soon as I dug up the ground, tilled in the compost and alfalfa, nurtured those babies until the frost past…planted. After three day we had a freak cold spell.

Now you know why I save every coffee can and pickle jar (that is what I told my dh anyways, who likes to go through my stash and grumble!).

We have hung up a Topsy Turvey for strawberries.

I went to the Seed Bank in Petaluma and bought “Gypsy Tomatoes” and “Huckleberry” seeds. Sigh….this is the first year I actually grew cucs and the above, as well as Cistus Incanus (rockrose) from seed in little seed pods.

I set out my cucs a few days ago. Yesterday I went out to talk to them, and they have been chomped on my by “???”. Oh, you nasty little critters, stay away from my babies!!

Today, I will spray my babies with:

Garlic & Heat
Crush 6-7 large garlic toes. Put in sprayer with about 1.5 cups of warm water. Add 4 crushed chilli peppers (or a few tablespoons of tabasco). Shake. Let sit for 12 hours. Spray baby seedlings to keep away munching slugs and caterpillars!

P.S. Works on herbs too, but you will have to wash them well as they will absorb the taste of garlic…….

Blasting the SpiritZappers, Day 7


Today was a good day, and I dare say: I think the SpiritZappers are taking effect!

Today I had other plans, but they were diverted when I walked into my son’s room. I will not shock you with pictures, but even though he is only 7, he is a little SLOP. So instead of walking out with the child I went to retrieve, I was faced with the SpiritZapper of the day.

His room.

So we tackled it. He needs a new bookshelf, as his love for books and gooey stuff is apparent all over his floor.

He is lucky he is cute.

On a HAPPY note: Today I spent the majority of the day playing with food! We got some great deals on cherries and apricots yesterday, so I tried my hand at canning. I also made some more strawberry jam…Yum. If you want details, check out my new blog that is dedicated to our “aspiring homesteading adventure”. The Good, the Bad, and the Evil :).

Green Sub Mama

Spring Fever ~ about a month too soon….


Our weather is so strange. Here it is, the end of January, and the sun is shining bright, and my little temperature widget is showing 58 degrees. I was just outside, checking my backyard for survivors of our not very cold winter.

We need rain.

I want to plant.

This weather makes me want to get out there and plant tomatoes or something. But I won’t, because I know they will freeze to death at night. But my fingers are itching to dig in the dirt, to relocate beds, to buy little bitty plants….For those who know me, they are probably laughing. I always have these farmer aspirations in the early Spring, but I clearly do not have a green thumb. I forget to water things, and our Summers are so hot. This year, I am building a water system. Thankfully, I was graced with an inquisitive streak and a knack for experimenting, if not with a tendency to be consistant.

Plus, I want real food. Even though we are in CA, it seems organic, non-chemical food is at a premium price. It just kills me, I am on a artist budget with a taste for an organic lifestyle :).

So instead of digging in the dirt, I pooper scooped, cut my geranium back (this plant is a miracle, I think it is a moon specimen, I NEVER water it. Yet, it has lived with me and graced me with huge red flowers for over 5 years!), and got excited that the fig tree I planted last Summer is still alive. Rex adopted it’s roots as a bone storage….so I regularly had to cover the roots back up.

All is well…

What I am grateful for: Tomatoe catalogs and stories of Victory Gardens

What I am manifesting: Sales!!

A day at our house…..

Mama is the Green Machine, she makes our house smell yummy.
She always has something in her cabinet,
for sniffles or your yucky tummy.

B’s Lego people are ready to roll, all in a row, and funny.

And in our magic garden nothing grows,
except Rexi-Hexi’s,
and no,
that’s not a bunny.

What I am grateful for: Days of laughter

What I am manifesting: Health (seems to be the theme this week…)

Green Eggs, No Ham


Spring Greetings!

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite ways to welcome Spring!

Frankfurter Grüne Soße

This yummy concoction is not only super healthy, it is easy to make. When I was able to buy the Grüne Soße herbs packaged in newspaper at the fruit stand, I knew Spring was official :).

One of my favorite stories to tell with this meal is that the poor farmers collected these wild and free herbs in the pastures, serving them over the two things they had readily available: Potatoes and eggs. It is also tradition to serve this on the Thursday before Easter, for good health for the year.

Pokey Shmokey, here’s the recipe:

Chop up parsley, (each one bunch), chives,chervil,cress, dandelion, pimpinelle, sorrel, borage (if you live close to me, I have borage coming out of my ears in my backyard….)
Put in mixer. Add 1 garlic clove, and enough thick (greek style) joghurt to make a thick sauce. Add some mustard, lemon, and salt & pepper to taste.

So you can use sour cream instead of joghurt.

Serve over new potatoes and hard boiled eggs.
YUM!

In honor of this Spring day, meet Spring Goddess #2: