Giving Thanks

The other day, I made a homesteading wish list. On it were things such as a grain grinder, foods scale, pressure canner, berry trellis, beehive- about twenty items in all.

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As I looked at it, I realized what I had inadvertently said: If I had these things, I could have a full homestead. If I had these things, I would be happy.  It sounded terrible in my head, and looks even worse on the computer screen. Have I really just said that I wasn’t happy with what I have?

My mother is extremely passionate about the food bank- she volunteers there often, so we get many statistics from her. About 70% of my school qualifies for free/reduced lunch, and many of the kids came from very difficult backgrounds. My family would be considered fortunate to have what we have.

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And here I was, writing down a wish list of things that would make me happy.

I think that one of the most ignored proverbs is the one about things not equaling happiness. Our society has become so commercialized that one might only think of something, and then have it. At a push of a button on the computer screen,  supposedly we can become happy.

By no means am I anti-consumerist. I love Amazon, and local shops. I want to support people taking on old crafts, and selling their creations- regardless of whether they are overpriced.

But how far is too far? There’s a thin line between want and need. My mother has to constantly remind me that we are lucky to have fresh food on the table. Regardless of whether it’s the absolute best quality or not, meat from the grocery store is better than no meat at all. We might not get to buy the $15 whole, grass-fed, organic chicken from the market. And that’s okay.

(At least it should be. I have trouble reminding myself.)

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I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. None of us are perfect, and while we should strive to be, God doesn’t care what’s in our fridge. If we do what we are able to do, it’s good. If we can’t afford to put the best quality meat in our freezer, we shouldn’t feel obligated to. Healthy living, homesteading, half-homesteading- whatever we choose to call it- should come in small steps. All you need is patience, and a true desire to reach the goal.

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This Thanksgiving, remember the days in kindergarten, when your teacher had you and your classmates write down what you were thankful for. Do that again- make a wish list like mine- but right next to it, write down what you are thankful for. Don’t stop with the basic things, like food, water, and shelter- think about family, about life, about the wilted basil plant on the counter. Think about successes, and failures alike: you learned something from both. Find the simple things in life, and enjoy them.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Katie

Eggs Florentine- for one.

If you planted chard last April, you know what I mean. Chard is the year-round equivalent of zucchini in Illinois, and we have a major overabundance.

Now that the tomatoes and watermelons have (somewhat) slowed down, we are focusing on the other heavily-producing plants, and chard is on that list. I already posted the Chard Salad, now we have another chard recipe- Chard Eggs Florentine.

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First, shred 1/4 cup Swiss Chard. Two medium-sized leaves should do it.

Chop off the stems first.

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Then roll it up, lengthwise.

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Shred it roughly- I did mine at about 1/4 inch thick.

Heat a little skillet, and put 2 tsp butter in it. Once its melted, add 1/3 cup milk.

Recently, we were able to find an organic cream-cheese/Greek yogurt combination. I added 1 tsp of it to my milk, but you could also use regular cream cheese, or Greek yogurt. If you can find it, try it- it’s really good.

After that, I added a handful of shredded Parmesan. If I had to estimate, it would be about 1/3 cup, but it really doesn’t matter.

Finally, add your chard. Give it a pinch of salt, and a few grates of pepper, and stir it a bit. Then, crack an egg in, put the lid on, and let it cook for a few minutes.

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Watch it carefully- if you aren’t careful, the milk will scald, and it isn’t nearly as good that way.

That’s it! It doesn’t take too long, so it’s a good breakfast.

That’s not the only reason that it’s a good breakfast. It’s rich in protein, and all the stuff required to start your day on the right foot.

Did I just call food ‘stuff’?

Good night. My mind has escaped me.

Food Rule #64

Halloween is the time that people say to me- “Take it! Take it! It doesn’t matter that you’re too old, and that you’re not dressed up. Take this lovely chocolate bar (or two, three…) off of our hands!”

Halloween is the time I say back- “Oh, no, no- I couldn’t. No, no, keep it… well, if you really think so.”

Halloween is the time when, unfortunately, friends, I become a hypocrite.

Until Food Rule #64 comes into play: Break the rules, once in a while. Thank you, Michael Pollan. My infraction of the Homesteading Code (is there such thing? I hope not. I’ve probably destroyed it…) has been forgiven.

In the meantime, I’ll just finish off this box…

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Ciao!

Food Rules.

I really want to take a picture of every page in this book, but alas- that would not only be impractical, but also probably violating more than a few copyright laws. So I’ll say this- you should read it.

This book is incredible. It dictates what we should and should not be eating, in the best way possible. I agree whole-heartedly with the rules: they sum up my beliefs on food. Yes, we shouldn’t be eating foods with more than five ingredients listed. Yes, we shouldn’t be eating foods pretending to be something they’re not. A lot of these rules I’ve grown up with following, others are unfamiliar, but make sense to me.

Some of my favorites!

Rule 12:

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Hmm. Makes sense.

Rule 13:

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Hey, look- if it rots, there probably are no preservatives! (I didn’t make that connection until now.)

Rule 27:

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An excellent idea- you are what you eat, after all.

Rule 33:

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Yogurt! Kefir! Enough said.

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Ohhkay. True, but kinda harsh.

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It’s too easy to succumb to the apocalypse nachos. Try not to (and this is for myself as well as y’all) utilize it too much!

Read this book. End of story.

Shredded Chard Salad

This salad is incredible. I don’t like salad.

That was supposed to convince you to make it.

It is my hope that this salad converts me into a salad eater. It was delicious. And it took me literally three minutes to throw together. It kind of needs the dressing, and that takes a little longer, but it really doesn’t need that much.

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For the salad:

Several leaves of Swiss Chard (bonus points if the stems are colored)

A handful of shredded mozzarella

For the dressing:

1/2 a garlic clove, smashed and diced 

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Several grates of black pepper

Cut the stems off of the chard.

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Roll up the chard lengthwise, and chop into thin strands. It takes a couple tries to get the hang of it, but once you’ve got it, it makes you feel like you’re in the kitchen of some fancy restaurant.

It’s a lot of fun, too.

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If you have trouble, try using a back-and-forth sliding motion, but only lift the back part of the knife when moving it. It’s hard to describe- try imitating the cooking show contestants’ chopping motion. If that makes any more sense.

You’ll figure it out.

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This is what you’re going for!

Next, mix all the dressing ingredients together in a lidded container, and shake. Hard. It’d be a good idea to get the lid on really tightly, so that nothing splatters.

Add your handful of mozzarella to the chard, and toss with your hands. Drizzle the dressing over it, and serve.

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That wasn’t so bad! You may end up eating this three meals a day, seven days a week. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s easy to throw together!

And our chard plants are still growing like crazy.

And we’ll be eating a lot of this, this fall.

But it tastes too good.

Zucchini Relish

Zucchini Relish

There’s a reason it’s called relish. I would lick my plate after eating this, in the same way that I (have a bad habit of) lick pie plates, or cheesecake plates, or coffeecake plates, or cinnamon roll plates.

Shh- I’ve just trusted you with my deepest, darkest secret.

But I trust you, lovely readers.

I do feel absolutely awful about not having any pictures of the process, but it shouldn’t be difficult to follow the recipe.

Zucchini Relish

(Makes about 25 ounces)

1lb zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

 1/2 an onion, diced

1/2 a red bell pepper

1 garlic clove, smashed and diced

1 tbsp kosher salt

Mix all the above ingredients in a colander, and sit over the sink for two hours to drain. Rinse in cold water until all the salt is gone, and pat dry.

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional, but it doesn’t make it too hot- I’ve cut the original amount down quite a bit for our non-hot-sauce-loving family)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp mustard seeds, or mustard powder

1/2 tsp celery seeds

A few grinds of black pepper

A pinch of salt

Place your veggies in a stock pot with the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Check every five minutes, and mash as much zucchini with your spoon. In the meantime, sterilize two 12-oz jars, lids, and rings.

Note: The steam will smell very strongly of vinegar. It will definitely clear the sinuses- but don’t worry. That’s evaporating vinegar. It’ll help flavor the zucchini and pepper, but it won’t overpower it. Just turn on a fan, and try not to get a face-full of steam. Personal experience here, people!

When it’s thoroughly cooked, soft, and smushed (there should be a little bit of liquid in the pot), take it off the heat. Take the cans out of the water, too, and dry a little. It doesn’t really matter, but I personally don’t like working with wet jars.

Fill your jars. Smash as much relish in there as possible. There will be a little extra, in case your jar spills half of the relish (like mine did), or you want to freeze some, or in case you want to put some in a bowl and pick out the pepper and zucchini with a toothpick (like I did with my remaining piece of zucchini).

Put the lids and rings on. Don’t burn yourselves, people!

Process for about 30 minutes in boiling water. When you take them out, if they don’t seal in 10-15 minutes, let them boil a little longer.

Relish your relish! I’m not a huge fan of relish and pickles, but this stuff I had to try- and it’s tasty! Like the salsa, you don’t have to can it- you could freeze it, or eat it right away, or do all three. The main thing is that someone eats it, and gets to taste this awesome food.

Enjoy!

Hi y’all!

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Yesterday, I noticed that I had gotten a number of new visitors. Hi, new friends!

At some point in time, every blogger wonders, ‘If I’m not counted as a visitor, and the family hasn’t seen it for a while, who is coming to read the blog?

So- I’ll start. Hi, I’m Katie. I don’t live on enough land to fully homestead, but I have an obsession with preserving, gardening, and crafting. I am a teenager- not married, no kids. I do have an an almost-thirteen year old younger sister who loves to join me in my adventures and misadventures alike, and two incredible parents who love to support me- and pull me away from the kitchen when I am avoiding my homework.

I also really like pie.

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What about you? Do you have a homestead/half-homestead? A wilted basil plant? No judging on this blog. Any animals? Frighteningly large plants?

Seriously- I’m curious. Please, don’t be strangers!