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A Freehold of My Own

Documenting my journey toward being a self sufficient family

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Self-sufficiency

Foraging and Production 

Hello folks! Things are crazy busy this year, making it very hard to keep up with my writing. I’m working on getting more time to write. Summer weather showed up a month early this year, combined with the drought we are experiencing has made for some interesting harvesting. The salmonberries were abundant, I have a large bag of them in the freezer that will be turned into jam. The blackberries are COPIOUS!! I want to bring my son to pick them so time will have to be found for that. Current projects include…

  
I’ve been wanting to make tamales for years now. Maybe months but it feels like years. I haven’t seen corn husks for sale and even if I did I couldn’t buy them in good conscience. I live in a region that produces a lot of corn so I have husks drying in the sun.

  
Hazelnuts! Or Filberts. I’ve recently discovered they are actually two different types of nut but are so similar to be all but interchangeable. I’m going to identify the wild trees I’ve been collecting from this week. I’ve got about a pound of nuts drying in a cardboard box on my patio. No direct sun but will still get all the warmth.

 
My foraging haul for the day: hazelnuts and red clover blossoms. The nuts are for eating, the blossoms for tea.

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Dandelion Oil Complete!

I finally had the chance to strain my dandelion oil. The picture I took does not do it justice. It has a wee bit of a green tinge from the olive oil but it was also this beautiful golden yellow! I’m really excited about trying it out. I really need to find my beeswax so I can make some salve right off the bat.

  

Crab Apple Pectin

Near my home there is a large crab apple tree. I never noticed that it was a crab apple but had noticed the tree itself. I was overjoyed when I realized what it was. I had originally planned to ferment some of them on the counter, not for booze but as a pickle of sorts. There had been talk of it in a fermentation group I am in on Facebook.

Life being busy this time of year I didn’t get out to the tree for a good four weeks. The fruit was still firm, some still with a pink blush but they were very spotty. I decided to use them for pectin instead. I didn’t use any one recipe in particular, just read through a few on Pinterest and Google.
Continue reading “Crab Apple Pectin”

Homemaking and Crafting – February 19th, 2013

Made 7 pints of organic apple sauce. First time using a food mill. Quite pleased with the results.

Made fish and chips for dinner, fish from scratch, chips from the store.

Washed and folded three loads of laundry

Cleaned kitchen and washed the kitchen floors

Oven Dried Bananas

I do apologize for the long delay. For a explanation please go here.

Shortly after the dried apple experiment I tried an old recipe with a new twist. Many years ago when I was diagnosed with IBS, one of the recipes I came across was oven dried bananas (or banana chips). When done this way they are AMAZING. Nothing like the deep fried greasy bits you find in stores. All I really did differently was dipping them in the water/lemon juice mixture and dried them for longer at a lower temperature. They were crunchy yet chewy when I first tried them. I tried them again about a week ago and they seem to have dried out a bit more and are quite difficult to chew on. I’m not sure if this is because my bananas were a little too green and therefore did not have a high enough sugar content, or if I just simply dried them too long. My tip for you is to dry them for 3-6 hours and see if they are at the consistency you want. If you prefer them softer like I do then store them in the fridge in a air tight container. If you like the super crunchy ones dry for 6-9 hours and store them in an air tight container in the cupboard.

Oven Dried Bananas

6 slightly green tipped bananas
1 L of water
2 TB lemon juice
2 Drying Racks (I use cake cooling wires)

1. Preheat oven to your lowest setting. Mine gets down to about 130 degrees F.
2. Mix lemon juice and water.
3. Peel bananas and break or cut in half. Using your thumb press into the middle of the flat end of the banana, it will split into three wedges quite easily. Put these wedges into the lemon water. Do this with all the bananas.
4. Place onto drying racks and place onto the oven rack.
5. Close door, propping open with a wooden spoon to help keep the temperature low. Let dry for 3-9 hours, depending on how dry you want them.
6. Let cool and enjoy!

Homemade Extracts

Since I got pregnant oranges have been my best friend. I don’t know why, it’s just the only fruit I seem to be able to stomach. Outside of the dried apples anyways. First it was those tiny mandarin oranges. It has recently switched to regular old naval oranges. The idea for this started with an abundance of mandarin orange peels. I hate throwing things out, especially when I know they can be used for something so I roamed the internet looking for ideas in what I could do with them. I tried putting a bunch in a jar with white sugar like I used to do with vanilla beans at work. I was a little over zealous though and overnight most of the sugar liquefied. Will have to give that another go.

I stuffed the rest into a 250ml mason jar and covered them with white rum. I’ve been sober for a year and a half and since my darling husband pretty much quit drinking with me as a show of solidarity, so the rum has been sitting there for ages. Something needed to be done with it. That started the mandarin orange “oil”, as it’s called online, in my universe it’s an extract but whatever. A few days later I rediscovered the bag of lemons I had bought, hiding in the back of the fridge. Once again, something had to be done with them before they spoiled. I peeled the zest off a few with a regular old peeler and stuffed those into a 250ml mason jar and covered those in rum. I juiced the rest. After a few weeks sitting in a dark cabinet I pulled them out yesterday and removed the peels. They both smell amazing, WAY better then any extract I have ever bought from a store. Below is a basic outline of the steps involved.

 

Implements:
2 – 250ml mason jars with lids and screw tops (I used lids that had been through the canner once already)
1 bottle of white rum (or vodka)
1 vegetable peeler
2-3 lemons
2-3 oranges (more of they are the little mandarins, possibly less if you are using naval’s)

Steps:
1. Ensure jars and lids are clean
2. Peel the zest (the coloured part) of the fruits off, filling a jar with lemon peel and the other with orange peel, leaving about an inch free at the top.
3. Cover with the alcohol, making sure to cover all of the peel.
4. Cover with lids, screw tops on, label and put into a dark cool cupboard for 2-4 weeks. About once or twice a week give the jars a gentle shake.
5. After a few weeks remove the peels and discard, closing the jars up again, leave them in the cupboard and use as you would any other extract.

*I haven’t used them yet, but I have a suspicion they will be stronger then the stuff you get from the store, so maybe try a little less then the listed amount on your recipe the first time just to be safe.

Mandarin Orange in the left, Lemon on the right

 

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