Sunday, November 15, 2009

Swiss Chard

Gardening IS possible almost year round in OK, if one is willing to learn how to cook with the marvelous abundant greens that like fall and early spring.

Oh boy, I need to learn how to re-arrange these pics! Anyway, You simply saute onions and garlic diced in 3 or 4 tablespoons butter, then add the diced stems, saute a minute, then add the rest of the chard sliced into 1/2" ribbons piling it high as it cooks down rapidly. Saute' just until softened and then sprinkle with some gomasio and tamari OR a bit of himalayan pink sea salt and enjoy.
I'm serving this with baked sweet potato (mashed with butter and maple syrup) and a baked homegrown ham.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Knitting Swiffer Covers ought to get some sort of major award for what they've done in creating an awesome web community! Most recently some of the ladies there have shared their patterns for swiffer covers for those of us not into throw away lifestyles. I've just knit 2 different styles and dd#2 has caston and 1/2 knit yet a third style. and are my favorite places to buy cotton yarn for dishcloths, washcloths, baby sweaters, and now swiffer covers. Great prices, quick shipping, friendly service, and no driving an hour to the store to be assaulted by toxic synthetic chemicals in the air from candles, cleaners, and potpouri.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Manuel's Rye Starter

Making a sourdough starter isn't really difficult, keeping it going has been more the hurdle I don't always make it over. I'll let ya know how this one goes in a few more days, I hope to make sourdough tortillas and bread.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rendering Lard

Today's work was rendering 25 pounds of lard in preparation for some soapmaking. I'm doing a workshop later this month and need to replenish our home and a local store's supply of homemade soaps. Haven't gotten any further on my barrel-ponics setup yet.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dividing chives

Yesterday I dug up and made 4 new plantings of the chives. This is the first year my chives have actually done well, and they make a lovely little bush with purple flowers, so I figure that even if I forget to eat them, I do enjoy watching them grow, flower, and go to seed. I actually did dehydrate some for winter use and plan to do that again before winter.

We got the hoophouse frames up and while I was going to share photos, internet explorer crashed on my while attempting to load, so it'll have to wait another day when I have time. Today it's off to a gardening friend's house to return some pots and glean a few 'mater's and make either salsa or tomato sauce. I haven't put up anything to speak of food wise, and I would like to dry some more okra and make salsa and basil/garlic tomato sauce this week.

May everyone's fall gardens be bountiful!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Aquaponics -- cutting barrels

After reading the entire barrel-ponics manual and printing off the lists of pvc parts, taking inventory of tools, etc... I couldn't stand not making at least what progress we were able to today. I don't have the right size holesaws for the drill, so those will have to wait till payday, but saw and ruler and a colored pencil (no sharpie was to be found) we could find.

I know we own a T-square, but it was not to be found, so this yardstick ruler did the trick.

We still have to clean up the edges and cut off the lips of the grow bed barrels, but I'm happy with our progress for the day. I finished the additional cuts in the flood tank section after the photo was taken, in case anyone notices only one hole is cut out. Don't know who made this adjustment from the original floodtank design, but after seeing it in the photos, it seemed 'cuter' and more lumber saving. Used that for a simple real work math example for the kids of how to use those equations: circumference = 2pir, so if we need 8 sections (drawing topview of bottom portion of floodtank yields 4 sections up and 4 'windows' how wide does each section need to be?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aquaponics - great project to kickoff the new school year!

Everytime I think about academics, look at textbooks, I'm reminded anew of why I do so many difficult, time consuming, and widely different things. I want my children to know how to Think, have wisdom, and have practical skills, and that just doesn't come without hands-on projects, living creatures and plants, real raw materials and real tools.

Years ago I heard of aquaponics, but had too many other projects going at the time, though I did have the hoophouses up, one had french angora rabbits in it and the other just a few in ground veggies. Since moving several years ago to a larger property and house, we've added sheep, gotten out of milk goats for a season (I want superior genetics and Saanens since that's what my chief milkmaid is interested in), added bees, and studied applied aromatherapy. The large hoophouse has sat behind the barn unassembled, we got out of the rabbits due to high feed costs and time required for chores/grooming, and the small hoophouse is setup for the chickens.

So, after reading quite a few posts and looking at some system setups from the Backyard Aquaponics forums, the kids and I started assembling these things to turn them into our very own fish and food farm in the backyard. I chose this location because there was an old concrete pad with a flat area of sand and an electric pole from the previous owners. I've been praying about that old permaculture adage of doing what you can with what you have where you are. Now just need to pray in the remaining supplies, pump,tubing, right growing medium, new greenhouse film, and get to work!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dehydrating - chives today

Fall gardening, sprouting, and green smoothies have all been on my mind lately. The dehydrator's going with a tray of chopped chives and I gathered some chive seeds and seeds from a yellow onion that went to seed today.

These chives came from the garden of a wonderful garden in Inola owned by some people who can grow and cook up some of the best eats I've had. I was gifted a small pot of them and that 4inch pot has now become about a 12 inch circle at the bottom and I must dig it up soon and divide it, perhaps bringing one inside later this fall. It's a bit too close to a rose, making clipping chives risky business these days and for the rose, it's not allowing enough breezeway. They'll both be happier once I move and divide the chives.

I read in The Secret Life of Plants that dried veggies or herbs emit the same living frequency when once again fully hydrated, while canned emit no life force at all, though picked and consumed as soon as picked emit the highest frequencies.

I've got adzuki bean spouts ready to start eating or throwing into green smoothies and mung beans soaking. The mission is to get more greens and more enzymes into my family's daily diet and sprouts just give you a lot of mileage for your money.

My okra sprouts just went into the garden and into some pots and a seedflat this morning. I sprouted them first to make sure the seeds from 2004 were still good, and most of them were just fine.

Fall planted onion space is next on my to-do list. Once weeded, there are several spaces on my southfacing slope that I can plug in a few onion seedlings, but I'll be starting them first in a pot in my cold frame with wire fencing to keep the chickens or dogs from un-planting long enough for them to get growing!

Chickens ate the 2 lucsious looking almost ripe orange heirloom tomatoes that I was longing to share with my family and I thought surely they were up too high and in a spot they couldn't could be wild birds dug into them, since I didn't actually catch the chickens in the act this time...I really need to just fix my chicken coop roof and confine them long enough to enjoy my own tomatoes!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This morning's life journal reading selection was really an awesome reminder of the battle belonging to the Lord. Often we miss God in our lives because we don't read the Bible for ourselves and have no understanding of His character. As my daughter read IS 37, the vision of the Lord putting a hook in the nose of someone just came to life, having raised pigs last year, I saw all those with ill-intent towards the Body lined up awaiting a ring in their nose!

A common way to control Bulls or pigs from rooting where you don't want them to is to put a ring in their nose. I could digress here about the idoacy of people now doing this to themselves...but that's another post.

Psalm 76:6
At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.
Thou, [even] thou, [art] to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?

Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,
When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.

When I read this I'm again awestruck and humbly grateful that my redeemer is so ABLE and MIGHTY.

May my focus always be where it should be.

1 Peter 24-25 For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where's the Food?

A few days ago I needed to get something from Wal-Mart -- a store I normally avoid like the plague, but given the choice of driving to Tulsa or getting it there, I went to Wal-Mart. Since I was there already I thought I'd just go ahead and get the few other items on my list...

what a shocker. I wanted black-eyed peas and almost never buy canned, so went to the dried beans isle, where much to my surprise there were NONE. There were also no chickpeas, and very little of anything but pinto beans. The space for the dried beans also seemed much smaller.

Next shocker was the search for black olives and green chilis, only 2 brands offered (now I've heard for years, that canning companies typically use the same shipments of food for multiple labels, so I wasn't that surpised initially). So, I started looking around and realized that there were much fewer brands on the shelves, generally one 'store brand' and one name brand of many items and of those, the shelves didn't seem to be stocked nearly as full as what I remember from years ago.

By now, I was feeling very un-settled but wanted frozen peas to go with the new potatoes I had just bought from a local farm. Wow, was this sad to see, the frozen veggie isle was greatly reduced down to like 4 doors of stuff and very little was there in terms of variety. If I wasn't a longterm gardening catalog fan, I might not notice this as much, but if a person was to compare the number of veggies offered in the store to the vegetable seed varieties, and understood the limited nutritional options in the store, they might just get as upset as I was by that point.

It was a great reminder of why I want to garden in spite of the longterm comittment and day to day work involved. I want my kids to know what real food is and I want to nourish my family well for longterm health. Now back to working on fall gardening plans!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Ok, there's no basil in this photo, it's just pretty and I'm trying to blog about my garden and couldn't find the photo of the bed with some basil in it LOL! The plants are from left to right: monkey grass, dusty miller in bloom, and celery.

Back to Basil, while lots of people enjoy basil and pine nut pesto , my family doesn't care for it. I think it tastes wonderful! My family did fall in love last summer with a get this, drum roll please: Basil cheesecake!! Evidently the recipe was printed in an herbal magazine and some friends of ours latched onto it and shared one with us at a potluck. It's their basil that's blooming and going to seed in one of my flower beds right now, they grow some from seed everyyear in their greenhouse.

In Raindrop Technique, it's the Methylchavicol chemotype of Basil that is used and until tonight, I didn't know there were so many chemotypes of basil. This is important to know when buying and using essential oils the different chemotypes do not have the same therapeutic properties.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Something I like about echinacea is how tough the plants are once established. These just shot up out of the midst of a stand of peppermint and bermuda grass with no special care. I brought them from the other house 2 years ago and just stuck a shovel in the ground, dumped them in the hole and covered them up.
I love planting and growing plants with multiple uses, and while I've not used echinacea from my own garden yet for ailments, there is quite a list of common ailments that it can be useful for.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ginger Ale

From the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, last night we (as in dd#2 and I) assembled fresh grated ginger, sea salt, lime juice, filtered water, and in the cup/funnel/coffee filter is kefir letting the whey drain through. Using whey from kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk drops the acidity of your ferment, offering preservation while the veggie components have time to get culturing. It's been a while since we made this and I've been missing it. A few weeks ago, I did a wonderful tasting batch of ginger carrots. The carrots are wondeful to add a few tablespoons to a bowl of salad.
I attribute part of my own health recovery from systemic candida albicans and mold to the addition of lacto-fermented foods to my diet. This process is how people lived healthily without refrigeration, preserving and improving the nutrition available in the foods they had. And, it's actually a lot easier than modern canning methods.
The essential oil of ginger is also available through Young Living. Steam distilled from roots, it's great for arthritis, digestive difficulties, respiratory infections,/congestion, muscular aches/pains, and nausea (from EODR 4th edition). It doesn't smell nearly as good as fresh ginger, like you might expect, but has a rather more earthy aroma.
Last year I potted up a few fresh roots from the grocery store that had promising buds on them, and sure enough they grew lovely fronds. I brought them into the garage for overwintering, since our OK winters are a bit too chilly for ginger. At one point I thought I might have killed them, but the tubers were hard, fresh and had long fleshy roots extending downward into the potting soil. I moved the pot out of doors after the last spring frost and had almost given up hope, but there is growth again! I'll try to get a picture of it to post.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Seasons

Psalm 104:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

As my youngest turns 11 in a few days, I'm mulling over motherhood and the ups and downs of giving children a peaceful home, while trying to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I've been distracted so many times from my work, by worldly stuff, by other people outside of family (we've practiced hospitality housing families often for months), by family tragedy (6 years of trying to keep a child alive and still meet the 3 other children's needs), by my own shortcomings, etc...but here I am after 16 years of choosing to be a homemaker first, still thankful to have a husband who wants a wife who makes a home, and still thankful that I've been able to raise my own children.

One of my favorite Charlotte Mason quotes is something like: "Mother sets the attitude of home" or the man's version "if momma ain't happy, nobody is"

I've found the only way to not grow weary is to Seek the Lord always, putting on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and rejoicing in the name of the great I am, who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who healeth all they diseases (psalm 103:3) and enjoying watching His wonderous works:

John 7:38 (King James Version)
38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.