Sunshine Dill Pickles – make them in your yard!

Perennials waiting to go into the ground

It’s 5:30am here and I’m trying a new posting scedule for Earth to Eats. I’ve been reading The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book: 20 Years of Food, Family, and Faith
and it has inspired me to try writing early in the day.  This book is an enjoyable read for me and helps me keep my work in perspective.  Reading all about an Amish family who get up at 4am and all they do before leaving for work or school motivates me to get more done.  It is just amazing all they accomplish – and it is important things too like cooking, preserving and keeping their homes clean.  It isn’t watching TV or playing video games.

I made some pickles last week in our front yard.  Yep, in the yard.  I forgot to take a picture of the jar, but they turned out good enough that I want to try them again.  I just put dill in and not garlic and something was definitely missing.  A little too much salt went in too since I didn’t have a gallon jar.  I’ll adjust all that next time.  You can find the recipe here.

I’ve been chatting with some folks from Paperbackswap this week and that is what pushed me to try a different writing schedule here.  The discussions and ideas we are sharing there would benefit so many people if they were put here in this public forum so hopefully I’ll get more posts up.  I especially want to thank Jamie G for chatting with me about frugality and making a better life for our families.  You’ve been inspiring Jamie so keep up the great work!!

Above you see a picture of perennials I purchased at our local flower shop for .99 a piece.  These are the ones she hasn’t been able to sell and it is a great way for us to extend our garden without spending much money.  I got 40 plants for $39 or so and put in a perennial bed the other night.  I need to take pictures of that and explain how I did it in another post.  Yes these plants are pot bound something awful, but if you bring them home and soak them and then break up the root ball they do just fine.  I even picked up one of my favorite plants – lemon verbena.  MMMMMM…..  Not a perennial sadly, but at least I’ll have it till frost.

Must get things moving here.  Hope everyone has a great day.

Celebrate Earth Day – read your children a book

Teach them early about the environment

Earth day will be here in a few days and now is a good time to head to the library and pick up a few books to share with your children about why it is important to take care of the Earth.

One of my favorite books on the subject is Earth: Where Would We Be Without It? (Look-Look). This book is a Golden Book and is geered toward preschoolers but an elementary student would find lots of new words in it to read as well.

The ideas covered in this book are water conservation, recycling, trash removal, energy conservation, rain forests and a lot more. This book is packed with ideas for conserving resources and has many places to jump out of the book and into some hands-on learning or field trips.

My teen had this book and I will use it again with my pre-schoolers. Just a favorite to pass along.

Holiday Book: Thanksgiving 101

Happy Teen at Thanksgiving

I love holidays but I have to admit that Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite holidays as an adult.  As a child I used to go to my maternal Grandmother’s house where there were always a ton of people and three shifts (or more) at the table since my Mom has a large family.  THAT was a fun Thanksgiving.

Now I’m the cook – except I try to get my Mom to do the turkey because I hate turkey – the smell, the taste, all of it.  Ick.  (My Grandma always had duck in addition to the turkey which I did like.)  And now that we have to deal with food allergies and diet restrictions for health reasons cooking the meal itself has become very difficult.  Cross contamination is hard to deal with in a big messy kitchen too.

Celiacs can’t have bread so that means no stuffing in the bird (which my dad likes), no flour based gravy (which is the only kind my Mom likes to make) and no pies (Eek!) for hubby which is all kind of disappointing.  Luckily he isn’t keen on turkey either so this past year we made a beef roast with cornstarch gravy for the two of us while everyone else had the bird.  I enjoyed that a lot better.

At the church booksale I found a neat book called Thanksgiving 101 which is written by a man who used to teach a class on “doing Thanksgiving.”  You can read my book review of it here
For those who have to put on this meal or who just want some more recipes or the history of the holiday, this is an easy and fun read. It does contain some gluten free recipes and others that can be easily adapted so there would be something for the celiac at your table in here too.

My favorite book on Homesteading and Self Sufficiency

In case you haven’t noticed there are a ton of new books being printed about Homesteading and Self Sufficiency.  Though they are all very beautiful books and in some cases they are worthwhile reads, I prefer a book that was printed back in 1979 when we were moving back to the land the first time.

Janet Chadwick published “How to Live on Almost Nothing and Have Plenty” to educate people on what her family did to make a difference in their lives by moving to some land and growing as much of their own food as they could.  If you read the early chapters of the book you can see that her family was concerned about losing skills, food safety and availability, dependence on foreign imports and keeping the earth in good shape for those to come later.

All of the reasons she moved to the land are reasons that people are still talking about today.  It is sad that in nearly 3 decades we haven’t learned a thing.  Perhaps with rising gas prices, world unrest and high unemployment we will finally see the need for change.

The book covers many aspects of home food production from gardening to bee keeping and the raising of small livestock.  The tone is conversational – as if you were over for a cup of coffee in the morning – but there is a ton of information presented.  Many of her sources are no longer valid (I doubt Sears still sells ducks and geese) but you can always source via the internet.  The final chapters are of recipes and gift ideas to keep costs low and life enjoyment high.

If you want to read a blast from the past about self sufficiency, pick up a copy of this book. It is far more genuine than any book being published today.


Great easy bread from the Tightwad Gazette: Cuban Bread

One of my ultimate reference books is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.  This book was written to discuss frugal ideas, but it also contains a wealth of information on sustainable living.  She discusses reusing, repurposing and upcycling (before it was called that!) on nearly every page.

When I need a quick loaf of bread to take as a gift or to go with dinner when Scott is away, I turn to her Cuban Bread recipe – it can be found on page 542 in my version of the Complete Tightwad Gazette. (I’m putting that in here because it is not listed in the index and I can never find it since the kids keep stealing my bookmark!  So now I know I just have to check ETE for the page number.)

This bread recipe is fast and requires no mixer or bread machine.  It is great with honey butter or other spreads.  It’s a little yeasty like a good homemade bread and it contains no High Fructose Corn Syrup like the packaged breads do. This recipe makes 2 loaves but you can half it or share that extra loaf with a friend.

We’ve modified Amy’s original recipe somewhat so here goes:

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 Tbl dry yeast (regular, not fast acting)
  • 2 Tbl sugar
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • 2 cups hot water (not boiling, just warm to the touch)

Mix all the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the white flour with the yeast, sugar and salt.  Add the water and mix until all the water is absorbed.  Slowly add the remaining white flour until the dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.  Depending on the weather you may not need it all or you  may need more.  Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.  (Get the kids to help.)  Place in a bowl, cover and put in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Punch down the dough until it is deflated and cut into 2 pieces.  Put these on a baking sheet lined with parchment or dusted with cornmeal.  With a sharp knife, cut an “x” in the top of each loaf.

Put a pan of hot water onto the bottom shelf of your oven and put the pan of bread on the middle shelf.  Set the oven to 400F and bake 45 minutes until browned.  Remove from oven and place loaves on rack to cool.  Wait 10 minutes (if you can) before slicing with a serrated knife.