Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meyer Lemons

This meyer lemon tree was a splurge in a moment of weakness at our local nursery. I am notorious for my ability to kill house plants, but since this one produces food, I have managed to keep it alive. After months of watching two small lemons grow, I now have two ripe fruits. They are tiny (golf ball sized). Today I picked the first one. It smells and tastes amazing! I made some hot lemon water to bring out the fragrant lemon-blossom taste of the fruit. Wowee!

Citrus trees fruit mostly in the winter, and the tree is now in full bloom. The house smells super, and I'm hoping that fruit will set and I'll have more lemons in a few months.

Meyer lemon trees can grow quite large indoors in containers, in most climates. They need a lot of light (mine isn't getting enough) and they like to be misted (hard to accomplish in dry-bones NM). So far, mine is struggling along ok. I hope one day it will be a large, productive, indoor fruit tree.

Meyer Lemon on Foodista

Monday, November 23, 2009

Opposite of Pantry Purging

Tristan brought home a whole bag full of strawberries from our favorite dumpster. Each carton had one or two bad berries in it, which we removed, and set about jamming. I have to guiltily admit that most times we have a bounty of dumpstered fruit, it gets moldy before we are able to deal with it. Not so this time. We promptly put a pot on the stove, and, pectin at hand, produced 7 beautiful pints of Strawberry Dumpster Jam.

Yes, this will add to our pantry. But we're not trying to be wasteful, here! Just trying to put to use all of the random food we would never get around to eating otherwise.

So, YUM!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pantry Purge Dinner #1

Veggie Chili

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 piece kombu
3 c. dry black beans
1/2 c. remaining kidney beans
1 c. frozen corn
1 can "fancy" carrots
2 homegrown onions
3 cloves leftover seed garlic
2 homegrown Hungarian hot wax chiles (dried)
2 chiles from our ristra
veggie stock and water to cover

I put all of the ingredients except the corn and carrots in the crockpot (without soaking the dry beans) and cooked on high all day. Added the carrots and corn in the last 10 minutes.

The pantry is now emptier. We used up: the black beans, kidney beans, frozen corn, 2 cans of tomatoes, veggie broth, 1 can of carrots (1 to go of those awful things. I think we found them for free at St. Johns move-out).

Oh, and if you're wondering why we would put seaweed in our chili, apparently it's supposed to break down some of the large proteins in beans that result in, um, discomfort...

Thanksgiving Week Pantry Purge

A few days ago, I bravely ventured into the pantry in an attempt to organize the chaos. I made some progress, but ran out of glass jars before I could completely make sense of the masses of plastic bags. During my expedition, I discovered 4 different kinds of couscous/quinoa type grains, 4 or 5 different kinds of flour, innumberable variations on the Chinese noodle, etc. Some of these redundancies exist in very small, nearly useless quantities.

So, this week, when most Americans celebrate bounty by buying and cooking enormous amounts of food, we will be celebrating by purging our pantry during the week. We're going to eat as exclusively as possible from the shelves you see before you, and from our freezer. For the sake of proper nutrition, we'll probably be buying some vegetables/fruit and protein, but we do have a fair supply of the canned/frozen variety. And we mustn't forget about the greens in our winter garden, and the cherry tomatoes in our sunroom. Bounty indeed.

I hope that the "after" shot of this pantry will be considerably sparser. This way, we can begin the new year with fresh dry goods and a hell of a lot more order.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Braided Rag Rug

I started this project a few weeks ago, and sadly it's been at a stand still lately. This is the beginning of a braided rag rug, made out of old sheets and t-shirts cut into strips. The idea is to make a really long braid, then coil it and sew the coils together into a rug! It's a pretty slow process overall. It takes a long time (and a lot of wrist power) to cut so much fabric into strips, and it takes longer than you would think to do the braiding, because you have to juggle the balls of fabric to keep them from tangling. The easiest way for me to collect the growing braid and maintain tension while braiding was to wrap the braid around the post of my canopy bed, thus the picture you see here.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

RIP Hester and Runt

This morning I awoke to a horror that most chicken owners are familiar with. The ground covered in blood and feathers, and a mangled chicken carcass frozen in the cold. The three chickens we have been keeping in the chicken tractor while one recuperated from a wound had been besieged in the night by a neighborhood dog. The dog ripped out all the staples that were holding the chicken wire to the tractor, on both sides.

Miraculously, one chicken, Darth Vader, survived and made her way back to the chicken run proper before daylight. I suppose she used her Jedi powers to escape the beast. Hester, the injured Rhode Island White we had been nursing back to health, was found dead at the scene. Runt, a Buff Orpington, has disappeared, leaving very little trace behind. One cluster of bloody beige feathers indicates that she was carried off.

We'll miss these two, who were both from our original flock. It makes me wonder if one of our neighbors found their pet with our pet dead in its mouth. And I wonder if said neighbor feels any remorse, and might be less inclined to let his/her dog roam the neighborhood in the future. Sadly, since that's the norm in New Mexico, we'll just have to up the security here at the homestead. The remaining girls are locked tight in the coop tonight, and chicken run reinforcements will begin shortly.

RIP, Hester and Runt.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wintry Dinner

Last night the low here was 17 degrees. We warmed up with a French Onion Soup, made from the 200 lbs of onions we dumpster dove earlier this year. To store them, I chopped them up, cooked them down, and froze them, which makes for a quick and easy French Onion Soup. I'm pretty thrilled about this, since it's one of my favorites and it usually takes forever to cook the onions down.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time Lapse

My day job is as a communications whiz and documentarian for a fabulous non-profit here in Santa Fe. A current project of mine requires the use of time-lapse photography. Well, it turns out that neither the video camera nor the DSLR I use have a built-in time-lapse feature. I attempted this cool hack from instructables, but alas, my DSLR does not have the needed input. So what's a girl to do?

Well, if said girl has a mac, she can use the Automator application to piece together a simple intervalometer, connect her camera to her laptop via USB, and voila!

Here's how I did it:

This won't work for all cameras, but it turned out to be the easiest/free solution for me. I thought it might be useful for some of you who've been dying to make a time-lapse of your various freaky homesteader projects.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everyday Apron

I've been breaking the sewing machine out with more and more frequency lately. This is a skill I'm desperate to learn but usually too impatient to practice. Maybe it's the time of year--but lately I'm finding sewing inspiration everywhere. This project is directly inspired by a post on Homegrown Evolution: The Modern Woman: Things to put in your apron pocket. I was particularly sold by items number 1 &2 in the post:

2. An egg. I certainly can't put an egg in my jeans pocket.
1. My iphone. Very convenient place for this indispensable item.

I've had this paisley fabric forever, and couldn't decide what to do with it--pillow? new seat cushion for my desk chair? I'm so glad I held out for the apron. Me and my apron go everywhere together now, especially when I spend an afternoon in the garden.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Check out this HUGE spider on the wall in our courtyard! No way was I getting close enough to provide a sense of scale, but I'd say her abdomen is about the size of a half dollar.

In other news, I seem to have lost my new digital camera at a homesteader gathering in Truth or Consequences last weekend. I'm super bummed, and it's going to be challenging for me to blog without it. Looks like photo booth pictures will have to do for awhile. Boo.