Saturday, February 28, 2009

California's drought and why we need to prepare here

California “has a drought emergency I don't live in California anymore, and even if you don't, this is a big deal. But beyond that combine that with a 10% unemployment rate in California, and the California economy tanking. The state is in huge HUGE trouble.

California is a big deal in our nation. Half the nation's fruit, nuts, and vegetables come from there, it is the number one dairy state, they grow almost all of the almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts. Get my point, they grow the majority of food in America. If California falters, you might go hungry.

Imagine that 25% of the onions that are in our food supply suddenly disappear (this is what is grown in California). The crop fails in California due to drought, or lack of workers, or transportation issues, or failure of the state government to pay agraculture subsidies. There are a whole myriad of things that are very possible in our current climate to cause this failure. The price of onions will go up by probably 100 to 200 percent. But not just onions, do you know how many products onions are in? Soup, breads, chips, salad dressings, potato salad, pot roast, fish sticks. Get my point?

California is in a serious situation right now and it would be wise to store some food for your family to weather the storm. I'm not saying to go out and buy seven hundred pounds of wheat berries and five years worth of toilet paper. I'm saying pick up a few extra cans of soup when you go to the store. Prepare. Higher prices are coming, as are possible food shortages.

Just be wise. Joseph saw the signs and prepared the nation of Egypt. See the signs. Prepare your family

my last jar of strawberry jam

I opened my last jar of strawberry jam from a canning session last spring before Huck was born. It is perfect. Sweet, but not as sugary as the stuff you get from the grocery as I typically like to use about half the amount of sugar as you get in the grocery (if anybody has made jam with natural sugars pass along the recipe!) I think there will be local strawberries here in about two months, so I have to survive without any strawberry jam for a few months. I suppose we can make it. It does remind me that I need to add some jars when I make jam this year. Now that there are three of us eating jam, and by this summer four, I'll have to step up my preserves a bit.

This is a quiet time of year in terms of eating, especially if you are trying to eat locally. Eating locally in Florida was very hard as there wasn't a lot of agraculture in our part of Florida. But we have a few jars of this and that left from last summer. I didn't do nearly as much as I wanted to because Huck was so little!

But I DID get some local asparagus a couple of days ago from a woman that I met online. Just a few spears, but if you have never had fresh local asparagus you have never had asparagus. It was sweet, and, almost buttery tasting.

Oh and we joined the Y. We wouldn't have done it, but our local Y offers free membership to military families, so that is pretty exciting!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

crazy busy

So much is going on here lately, lots of stuff. But all good things.

First we have wild sand plumbs growing in Narnia in the back. These apparently grow quickly and wildly where we live, and are supposed to make delightful preserves. So it seems when the fall comes I'll be making sour plum preserves. I'm also going to experiment with some sour plum pies, in the tradition of sour cherry pies!

Second in addition to my spinach plants which I've already had to thin, I also have some broccoli, fennel, tomatoes, eggplant, and onions started. My radishes are going to pop through any minute. Carrots in a week or so I hope.

And I found a wonderful source for raw cows milk. I don't like goats milk, so finding cows milk close by was a delight. It is very close to where the sailor works and is a healthy source. I met the farmer when he was feeding a little calf that had just been born! There is something so amazing about meeting the farmer, petting the cow, and knowing exactly where your milk is coming from. The price is amazing too! I'll easily be able to start making my own cheese and butter again!

In addition to all those amazing things we have also gotten free membership to the local YMCA. In an effort to bless the military population they are giving free memberships to military members. I was amazed and blown away when they told me that, I just couldn't believe it! We were planning on spending over 50 a month for a membership, and now we are free! I can't quite get over the shock.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New life

It is chilly outside. We have had a few days of warmer, some days even hitting 70 and that is the joy of living in the part of the country we do, but today is chilly. But this morning, as I went to give water to some desolate ground I found this


It doesn't look like a lot, but last week the bee and I pushed a tiny little spinach seed into those very spots. And now, there is tiny new life appearing where there was once just brown dirt. My first little crop has appeared, my first little step toward growing food this year to sustain my family. I've got about fifteen little tiny guys appearing right now!

And I'm giddy with joy!

I've got seed pots started with broccoli, tomatoes, fennel, and eggplant. Onions and carrots will hit the ground soon, carrot seeds perhaps today. Radishes in about three weeks in a direct sew.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

my goals for the year

Yes, it is the middle of February, and I'm only now getting to my goal list, but here goes anyway! The furthest from home my list takes me (aside from my trips to Narnia) is Arkansas, but that is okay. My home is lovely and my family a joy, and I need to work on our home and my little urban homestead.

1. Can enough tomatoes, juice, and sauce to last until the end of next summer when I have more tomatoes

2. Can enough jams and jellies to get us through next summer (2010) when I'll have more

3. Grow raspberries and blueberries and blackberries around the house

4. Make and freeze a massive amount of basil/mint pesto

5. Learn how to knit socks. I can at this time only knit washcloths and scarves.

6. Finish a quilt

7. build a chicken coop so we can start chicks in spring 2010

8. Build a root cellar in Narnia (we have on our property a wooded area by a creek with a gas lamp that we call Narnia)

9. Repair the gas lamp in Narnia

10. Make homemade Lacto fermented pickles

11. Take the kids peach picking in the summer early in the morning

12. Run a 5K. This will be tricky because I hate running more than anything else in the whole universe ever. However, I keep setting this goal. My husband loves to run and always wants to run with me. It is good for me, so I should probably step up and just do it.

13. Visit the western heritage museum.

14. Rid our home of more plastic, especially in the kids toys.

15. Start and maintain sourdough and use it regularly.

16. Move to grains beyond wheat, rice, and oats on a regular basis.

17. Grow potatoes in a trash can. How awesome does that sound!

18. Make Narnia look a bit nicer, since right now it is overgrown and full of fallen trees from the Ice storm a couple of years ago.

19. Increase my food stores to six months, and make sure we are not only eating them, but rotating them.

20. Dig for diamonds in Arkansas

21. Go camping at least three times

22. Live with the heat at 66 in the winter and the AC at 80 in the summer

23. Go fishing a couple of times a month

24. Take a gun safety course and learn how to hunt

25. Go hunting

26. Butcher whatever I can manage to kill on my great hunt

27. Eat vegetarian at least twice a week

28. Increase my veggie intake to the USDA recommendation

29. Make Parmesan cheese, and start making homemade ricotta and mozzarella again.

30. learn more kids songs to sing with them

Whats on your list this year?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

light dinner

The sailor came back from deployment a bit tired, so I'm trying to make whole nourishing foods to help bring him back to feeling better. But I'm also so excited to have him home I didn't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen!

So pasta is the dish when you don't want to spend a ton of time. Always.


I'm Italian and I think somehow the previous generations of women who cooked amazing Italian food deposited memories into my DNA and I'm naturally a good Italian cook. There are a few secrets though. Garlic, lots of garlic, never EVER garlic powder or garlic salt. Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil. Olive oil. Super fresh or frozen veggies. Fresh basil. Fresh mint. You get the idea. Fresh, good, real food. No imitation, no additives, nothing but real food.

True Italian food is clean and healthy. Americans have visions of Italian food dripping in marinara sauce with cheese from a green can sprinkled on top. Sure marinara sauce is a staple in Italy, but not at every meal! Not even on a weekly basis!

This dish isn't a 'true Italian" dish. You'll not find it in the Silver Spoon, which is the Italian cooking bible, and you won't find Mario Batali making it in his restaurants. But it is real, clean, fresh, and delightful. It has many variations, but probably no name.

*cooking note, you can substitute garbanzo beans for the chicken for a great twist! The garbanzo beans combined with the whole wheat pasta is a whole protein!

1 lb broccoli (fresh if in season, otherwise frozen is great)
2 carrots chunked or shredded
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 zucchini chunked or shredded
1 yellow squash chunked or shredded
1/4 jar sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil sliced in long strips
hand full of basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese to taste

2 chicken breasts or 2 cans garbanzo beans
1 lb farfarle pasta

simmer chicken until cooked through but still very tender. While this is simmering cook all other vegetables in olive oil until crisp tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta until al dente. Mix all together and top with basil, tomatoes, and cheese to taste.