Monday, August 30, 2010

Artichoke Love

I *heart* artichokes! The tender morsels with a flavor and tender texture all their own are a delight.
Last night as I rummaged in the fridge to find something to make, I spied the two lovely fresh artichokes I had bought a couple days ago for an intended recipe--- that never got made, due to my packing frenzy.
Well, I simply could not let them waste away, unloved and lonely in the vegetable drawer!
Best way (IMHO) to fix artichokes is the simplest.
Steam them and serve with lemon butter.
Get all the tender morsels from the leaves, then go for the heart.

Directions and photos showing how to cook and devour an artichoke properly are here .
If you want to get fancy, the Artichoke Board has oodles of recipes here .
A lot of people by-pass buying fresh artichokes in favor of buying ones in jars, usually in olive oil and using those. That's fine, too, as you can go from simple (serving them as is on an antipasto plate) to elaborate (adding them to many Italian dishes).
When I buy them in jars, I drain them, saute them with fresh mushrooms and garlic in a bit of butter, then toss them with cooked chicken and a light alfredo sauce to serve over angel hair pasta.
If you are a risotto loving person, adding diced artichoke hearts to a risotto will win you raves at the dinner table.
Artichokes are thistles, more or less.
Easier to grow than you might suspect!
They are an organic medium loving plant, so lots of organic matter, compost tea and manure dressings help them produce their lucious little globes.
The plants get quite large...I have seen some practically take over a garden!
You can grow from seed or from root stock---if you can find it. A lot of nurseries do  not carry it, so you may have to hunt down and artichoke growing friend for that.
They can be grown in containers, but the container should be quite large with ample room for their roots. They like mild winters and mild summers.
Good article on growing artichokes here.

So...grow some artichokes, eat some artichokes, love some artichokes!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oh the pains of packing!

So, I am making a move of a little over 900 miles on the third of September.
I have been packing, and while I pack, I am sorting.
I have so many things that I have hung onto for so long for absolutely no reason.
For example, I still had every birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day card, etc that my ex husband had given me.
Into the trash they went! Along with several magazines I had held onto *for the recipes*, several catalogs I was *going to order out of--someday* and loads of other useless paper things that had followed me through the years. A full lawn and leaf style hefty bag was filled almost to bursting with the stuff!
Tonight I am going through clothes. Out go those things that no longer fit me, are hopelessly stained or torn, or simply don't look good on me. I have oodles of fabric for my quilting, so I refuse to be seduced into the time consuming task of cutting up said clothes to save the fabric for quilting! (and oh, the siren song of fabric is a hard one to resist!)
I am washing every item of clothing I am taking. Sort of an OCD thing, I suppose. I ALWAYS wash all my clothes and linens when I move. Otherwise, my clothes smell like my old house. I don't want to take the smell of my old house with me.
Okay, I am weird. We all have our own little idiosyncrasies, that's one of mine.
So, tonight is my *all nighter* laundry night.
As each load comes out of the dryer, it will be folded and packed in a sturdy Rubbermaid tote (my preferred moving boxes)
I have designated two, and ONLY two totes for clothing and linens as my moving vehicle is a friends SUV and I am limited on space.
Severly limited.
I am having to go minimalist here, people.
For a pack rat like me, it is almost physically painful!
My biggest priorities are my food preps and tactical supplies (guns, ammo). Absolutely NONE of the tactical supplies can be left behind. Too expensive to replace!
Kitchen tools are essentials. I have cast iron pans, food mills, sauce pots, etc. Also crock pot, electric skillet and yogurt maker, things like that.
I will be taking a few *knick-knacks* that mean a lot to me. Framed pictures of my kids.  Some lovely wind chimes I found at a yard sale. Just a few items, but enough to make the new place feel more like *home*.
Moving is exciting. It is stressful. It is an adventure.
I am trying to ignore the stressful part and embrace the exciting and adventurous aspects!
So, here's to new places, new people and a new home!
(And did I tell you I will have goats and chickens there!!! WOOOOO-HOOOOO!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Paradigm Shift...Shifted!

Okay...I am going to be UBER busy for the next two weeks as I am moving. I will try to post as I can, but it will be around the 5th or 6th before I can start doing so regularly again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Left-Over Mania!!!

I only go to the grocery store twice a month. One biggish trip and one smallish trip to restock those things we use a lot of or that don't last too long.
The week before the grocery trip, I rummage through the fridge and cabinets, trying to use up every odd and end, every smidge of whatever that isn't big enough for a meal, but far too much to be tossed in the compost heap.

As I have posted before, my home-made hummus is a staple here. While rummaging in the fridge, I found about a half a cup in one of my little covered bowls in the fridge. Not enough for a meal, really (I was feeding myself, my son and out room mate). Further investigation turned up a half cup of leftover cooked rice, a bit of mozzarella cheese and in the cabinets, a can of artichoke hearts. Seriously, I didn't buy them, have no clue how they ended up in my pantry. One of those odd cans that somehow migrated into the relative safety of my those cans of jellied cranberry sauce that always show up.
Anyway...I ended up draining and dicing very fine the artichoke hearts, adding the rice, leftover hummus...and as a bonus, the black beans ---about a cup, that I found hiding behind the milk carton. I mashed up the black beans before adding, though. A smidge of olive oil for flavor and smoothness as I mixed it altogether, along with a dash of lemon juice and some fresh minced cilantro. Sprinkled the cheese on top and heated through. Served with tortillas cut in wedges for *dippers*. With a salad on the side, a lovely meal for a hot day! And--enough for three, as well.

I actually enjoy the week before grocery shopping. It's fun trying to figure out how to mix and match left overs and odds and ends to make meals. I watch the Food Network, and they have this show called "Chopped". If you have not seen it, it goes like this ; four chefs are each given a basket of ingredients to make a dish from. After their dishes are judged, the least successful dish is chopped and that chef is booted out and then it is on to the next course with another basket of mystery ingredients and so on.
I LOVE that show!
The ingredients in the basket can vary wildly. They may face an appetizer round with catfish, cherries, mustard greens and oatmeal. An entree round with maple syrup, mussels, bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.
And they HAVE to use every ingredient in the dish or be disqualified.

So, when that week before grocery shopping rolls around...I imagine myself on "Chopped". I work with whatever ingredients I find and see what I can make!
Fun challenge!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things have not gone as swimmingly as I hoped the past couple of weeks. The heat index here hits about 110 by 11 a.m. and goes up from there. Heat makes me ill. Yes, ill.  When overheated, I get severe blinding headaches, stomach cramps, bad nausea...and I am miserable.
The past week has been pure hell for me. The only way I could cope was by taking loads of cool showers and baths and then air drying in front of the air conditioner. Even that doesn't cool me off sufficiently to be comfortable all the time, but it does lessen the frequency and severity of the headaches, etc.
So, my yard sale got stalled in it's tracks. I know there is no way that I am going to be running back and forth to the post office mailing things!
So, until we get a decent break in this heat, I will just go back to regular blogging stuff.
Try to stay cool, everyone!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And so today....

I was supposed to start my "Internet Yard Sale" today.
Unfortunately, life intervened. Best laid plans....and all that.
First, the digital camera I was using to take pictures of the items has caused me a great many problems. It apparently does not like talking to my computer. I don't know if I should fix them both a cup of tea, sit them down and have a nice chat to smooth everything out or what.My room mate, who is more tech-savvy than I am is working on the problem.
Second, I had to run around like crazy getting some errands done yesterday and today. I normally walk everywhere, so my life has a strolling pace. But, a friend was able to break loose some time and drive me around. I got a great deal done, but it cut into the time I would have otherwise devoted to my yard sale.
Third, I forgot to get the mailing boxes and envelopes while I was out! Totally a "brain fart" moment...lots of air in there, no thought! I had them on the oh-so-carefully thought out and written shopping list byt then I, o course, let the darn list at home!!!

So...yard sale is postponed for a day or two while I get everything back in line here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We have all heard of different mentoring programs...experienced mothers mentoring young first time mothers, successful businessmen mentoring high school students to help them succeed, etc.
I am proposing a new mentoring program; a Survivalist mentoring program!
Yes, we have all belonged to forums and such where we posted advice, etc for folks. A lot of us (including me and many of my dear readers) have blogs where we dispense advice, tips, etc to any and all that wish to read.

What I am proposing is that each and every person that reads this finds one person, just one, that has little or no experience at the skills/knowledge you already have (that are survival oriented) and teach them a few.
Now, at age 53, I have a wee bit of knowledge. After having a *passel o' kids*, I have a few more skills. After having raised gardens and canned/dehydrated/preserved their bounty, raised livestock and hunted game (and butchered same) to feed my family, plus worked myriad jobs to support my family---I realize I have quite a few skills and some knowledge that can help others.

I may not be able to wander hither and yon finding someone to mentor, but I can mentor through this blog.
I suggest other experienced homesteaders and survivalists do the same.

It is not like the old days, where you went to see the village elders to get advice on how and when to plant, how to treat a sick goat or what was the best way to thatch a roof...
In our electronic age, you can look up the majority of things you need to know in just a few minutes online.
What is missing is a personal touch.
Women, especially, need another woman they can count on , talk to, ask questions of, without fear of ridicule or embarrassment. (Sorry, guys, but sometimes the male version of this involves arm punching, horrible jokes and calling each other names. I know, it's a *guy thing* and you rough creatures are welcome to it!)

I think the reasons I see mentoring in the homesteader/survivalist community as a good thing are:
The better equipped others are, the less help they will need later on.
Passing on knowledge to a younger generation will keep that knowledge alive for them to pass on.
There are things you just can't learn from books!
Networking increases our collective strength.

So, here's the deal...if anyone has a question or needs suggestions/advice/etc on skills or knowledge in subjects I am pretty well versed on, send me a question!
I have sorta picked out a person to mentor...even if it is from afar, and will help them as much as I am able,
but will be happy to help anyone who has a question.

Happy mentoring, all!