Monday, January 11, 2016

What I read 2016

A running list of what I've read this year.  * is pretty good, ** is pretty great

1. **Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss  (amazing home goods, canning, personal care and more, nwedible.com blog)

2. Food Gift Love by Maggie Batista  (recipes and how to package them, just didn't jive with me)

3. *We are All Completely Beside Ourselves  (girl and chimp raised as twins, twisted way of telling story, but a good read)

4. *Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (world has fallen apart, story of traveling Shakespeare troupe and how people cope years later, all stories are connected and slowly you learn how)

5. *Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay (sweet read about an orphan grad student seen through her letters to her benefactor)

6. **Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher (great cookbook with easy, inexpensive meals, maple oat breakfast cake!)

7. *Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano (interesting take on what our exerience of heaven will be now and after the second coming)

8. * The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (saw movie a while ago so it felt like I was reliving that, rabid Eagles fan with mental issues, girl with a set of her own, withdrawn Dad, missing years, and a dance contest...yup, pretty crazy book)

9. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (funny, but way too worried about everything being liberal, series of essays some of which have him taking on different personalities)

10. *Missoula by Jon Krakauer (very disturbing account of how rape is deal, specifically looking at Missoula, but really applies everywhere, drinking and drugs are at the start of every. single. case. and I just am even more focused on raising our kids to make good choices all the way around)

11. *Wonder by R. J.  Palacio (a young adult book about a boy with physical deformity and heading to school for the first in 5th grade, quick read, well written)

12. *tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed (advice letters she has written as Dear Sugar, many dealing with the craziest of love situations, but also fairly univeral in emotion)

13. **The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle (funny, touching, real book about her marriage and her faith...last year I read Sparkly Green Earings by her about motherhood, also great)

14. *brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (free verse style, story of her childhood, mother leaving father, moving in with grandparents, then to NY with mom)

15. Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka (didn't make anything, lots of pretty photos, good sounding recipes, but nothing earth shattering to me and everything is lowfat, etc., pretty much real food, good advice on portions)

16. *365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O'Dea (read the blog during the year she made 365 crockpot recipes, yummy ideas including recipes not on the blog)

17. *the new Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown (everything you could ever want to eat made in a cast iron skillet)

18. **the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook (read it before, but wanted new ideas from it, Amish Chicken Bake and the Simple Berrry Cobbler are both favorites)

19. **Nobody's Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle  (another funny, great book by Melanie, this one about friendships and faith)

20. * Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay  (story of two sisters (one a chef) and their dad and cancer...their mom's cancer and Jane's cancer...sweet love story added in and lots of Austen references, just like Dear Mr. Knightly)

21. ** Listening is an Act of Love edited by Dave Isay (Storycorps project records every day Americans being interviewed by those they love, a collection of a few of the 10,000 they've recorded)

22. *Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Risfka Brunt (a young girl loses her uncle, the love of her life, to AIDS back in the 80s when it was new and scary, discovers his partner that her family hid from her and helps him in his last months, lots of issues with her sister, but in the end the family pulls together again)

23.  *All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  (WWII, a young blind girl, her museum locksmith father, a diamond, an orphan with a gift for radios and the sadness and desperation of the times...the story jumps between the two stories and timeline, but is not hard to follow and shows many beautiful things in the midst of horror, I don't have the same crazy love for it as many do, but it was a well written, wonderful read)

24. **For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (her writing is like talking with a great friend who can make you laugh and think all at the same time, she has big love for Jesus and wants us all to focus on that a whole lot more and being critical of ourselves and others a whole lot less, a wonderful quick read for any woman who is over scheduled, over Pinterested, and just wants to live their life in a fun, whole, Jesus loving, family centered way)

25. * Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Melton (Momastery.com writer who has had some posts go viral, so a few of the chapters I had read on fb or somewhere, thoughts on motherhood, faith, brokenness, and her past addictions, lots of good stuff, some uncomfortable stuff and generally a good read for moms doing their best to raise their babies to love God and people through our own stuff)

26. * Americanah by Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian love story of boy and girl who separate when she goes to America, starts a race blog and how they reunite many years later when she returns to Nigeria where he is married, with a child and also newly wealthy and all the ups and downs to them getting back together)

27. **The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (3 preachers kids, their parents, uncle, aunt, and grandparents, a lost job, a suicide, the creepiest, meanest neighbor, a saved boy, love, loss, strength, a bar, a store and so much more, I really loved this book and Swan is an amazing character)

28. The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (a bookseller, the boy she meets, the deception she is doing, the breakup, a trip to England with his Grandmother where she meets her criminal father, lots and lots of literary references, decent writer, but I think I'm done with this author for now)

29. **My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl (Gourmet goes under and she spends a year cooking in her own kitchen and figuring out what to do next, like her writing, love the recipes and the story too, 136 recipes that she says saved her life)

30. *Good Cheap Easts Dinner in 30 Minutes (or less) by Jessica Fisher (another good cookbook with fairly frugal, but also easy meals, Black Bean Tortilla Casserole was a hit)

31. ** The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (couldn't put it down, but heartbreaking too, memoir of her childhood growing up with an alcoholic, but dreamer dad and artist and most likely mentally ill mom, with four kids, a penchant for moving often, little food, heat or normalcy and how they got through and escaped to 'normal' life...not a great description of the book, but quite a read)

32. *Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl (a follow up to Tender at the Bone, so basically a memoir of her early professional life, her first marriage, affairs, early second marriage and attempt at adoption, so well written, a few great recipes, but also a very different lifestyle and value system than I have, she's lived a varied and wild ride of a life)

33. **Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Frank Drum tells the story the summer of '61 when four different deaths hit their town.  The first two happen quickly and set up the story, but the next one you know is coming, but you don't know who, just keeps you wondering and waiting and speed reading and then trying to solve it does the same thing, a very well written book)

34. * Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (her first fiction book, Billie works at the mag Delicious! and it closes unexpectedly, she stays on to work the phones and discovers a hidden room, letters to James Beard from the war and a librarian who had joy in hiding clues, there are great foodies folks, a handsome man, a sad back story, and some sluething, overall a decent read)

35. ** Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (everyone should read this book, about being sick, dying, aging and more, what we do right, what we need to do better, the conversations we need to have, important stuff to be talking about with those we love)

36. * The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball (city girl falls in love with farmer who falls in love with a 500 acre farm that has seen better days, they work to offer a whole diet CSA and she learns to stick and not run, made me gasp out loud in places, quick, good read)

37 and 38. * Nature Anatomy and Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman (painted sketches of all the curious parts and pieces of the natural and farm worlds, great info, a little bit about a whole lot of things, great for helping improve sketching as they are simple line drawings)

39. ** When Breath Becomes air by Paul Kalanithi (about to finish his training in neurosurgery and take on the world he discovers stage IV lung cancer, his story of being sick, of living, of his growing up years, his marriage and all the highs and lows, his love of literature and science are woven so beautifully)

40. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (centers around the 1984 murder of a woman and her child by her bro-in-laws, but mostly a look at the background of Morman faith, the fundamentalist sects that break off and the way that it led to those men committing the murder, found it very repetitive and not organized the best)

41. *Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (Julie marries Hank, moves from the mountain top to Gap Creek valley and deals with trials from her mother-in-law, to the man they live with and then his death, giving away money to crooks, almost starving and drowning, losing their baby, and on, good read about a strong woman)

42. **A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (Lily and Nick, spoiled Budgie and golden boy cheater Graham, Kiki, college and young adult life in the 30s, love found and lost, friendship and betrayal, family secrets and the daughter covering them up without even realizing it, high class life on Seaview during the summer, and the whirlwind of Lily and Nick finding their way back to each other and the hurricane that destroys the community the same day, loved this story)

43. **Essentialism by Greg McKeown  (the trivial many and the vital few, a millimeter in a million directions or a mile in one, lots to chew on here having to do with how we live our lives, the impact we have, lots related to business, but also just life, should reread often)

44. *All Stories are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer (Valentine's Day and an earthquake in San Francisco, Max and Vashti come together after years apart only to be torn apart again, Gene should have known about the earthquake, but shot information down and spends day trying to get back to his ailing partner Franklin, children trapped with some odd ducks, it was intense at times, okay)

45. *Bossypants by Tina Fey  (funny, likeable, self-depreciating, pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Tina Fey, she doesn't get overly political like so many comedians, mostly talking about her career, does address the differences in the questions she gets because she is a woman, but not overly hung up on making things sexist, mostly she talks about outworking everyone if you want to be the best)

46. *Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner (two sisters Emmy and Julia have to leave their mom and London for the country during the bombing of WWII, Emmy wants to be a bridal designer and her sneaking back to London, with young Julia in tow, sets up a horrific separation of the sisters for 20 years, wonderful country foster mother Charlotte and Thistle House eventually work together to reunite them in a most extroidinary way)

47. *Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Vivian is a 91 year old train rider, who started with a different name, lived through two horrible placements and finally found a family and yet another name change, Molly is a foster care teen who has had a rough go of it herself, they work together to clean out an attic and find an unlikely friendship as well as family in the end, a good fictional read about a real event in our country)

48.



  Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas books to watch for and request!

Here are some of our favorite Christmas books that we don't own (yet.)

The Legend of the Christmas Rose by Willliam H. Hooks
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
What Can I give Him?  Debi Gliori
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
Emma's Christmas  by Irene Trivas
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard H. Schneider
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
***The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski (now we own it!)
The Shy Little Angel by Ruth Brown
Only A Star  by Margery Facklam
The Legend of the Candy Cane  by Lori Walburg
The Biggest Snowman Ever  by Steven Kroll
Marta and the Manger Straw  by Virginia Kroll
The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
St. Francis and the Christmas Donkey  by Robert Byrd
Who's that Knocking on Christmas Eve?  by Jan Brett
The Tub People's Christmas by Pam Conrad
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
Silent Night the song and the story  by Margaret Hodges
One Wintery Night by Ruth Bell Graham
Jotham's Journey


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving books 2015

Some of our favorite this year!

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson
Three Young Pilgrims  by Cheryl Harness
This is the Feast by Diane Z Shore
The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower  by P.J. Lynch
The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell



Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston is a beautiful fall book!
The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Monday, November 9, 2015

Preserving 2015

This has been a big year!  Here is the run down...

Frozen Items

Beet Greens 1 big bag
Garlic Mustard  4 small bags
Swiss Chard  6 small bags, 3 quart bags and one huge bag
Kale 21 small bags, 3 large bags
Green Peppers approximately 100 peppers chopped and sliced for fajitas
Orange Pepper 4 quart bags sliced for fajitas
Mulberries  6 quarts, 5 gallons
Black caps 5 quarts
Red Raspberries 1 quart
Blueberries 9 quarts
Peaches 1 gallon
Garlic scapes 14 bags chopped, 10 jars of paste
Strawberries 6 jars of sliced, 1 gallon whole
Tart Cherries 2 gallons
Green Beans 14 big bags, 10 medium bags
Cauliflower 7 bags
Pesto 20 small jars
Zucchini 4 bags shredded
Garden Marinara 2 quarts
Garlic Lemon Veggies for bisque 5 jars (3 soup recipes)
Zucchini Butter 6 large batches
Beets 6 bags
Cinnamon Apples 6 gallons
Squash/butternut squash/pumpkin puree  17 pb jars
Pumpkin Butter 10 1/2 pint jars


Dehydrated
Apples 7 quarts
Cherry tomatoes 2 quarts, 1 pint
Thyme, Oregano, Chives, and lots of Mint

Canning
Garden Marinara  7 quarts, 2 pints
Tomatoes 22 quarts, 1 pint
Tomato 'water' 4 quarts
Salsa 16 quarts
Spiced apples 2 quarts and 9 pints
Pears 25 quarts, 5 pints
Peaches 12 quarts
Peach Juice 4 quarts, 1 pint
Cherry lime syrup 3 pints
Applesauce 51 quarts, 2 pints
Apple 'juice' 2 quarts
Pear 'juice' 3 pints
Dilly beans 9 pints
Garlic Dill pickles 20 quarts
Bread and butter pickles 7 quarts
Pickled garlic scapes 1 quart, 11 pints
Chard Stems w/ Sriracha  5 pints, regular 3 pints
Roasted corn salsa 9 pints
Fiesta Corn relish 10 pints
Spiced cranberry apple sauce 3 pints, 1 half pint
Sliced apples 4 quarts
Apple Bourbon Chipotle BBQ sauce 15 pints, 1 quart
Spiced Pear Pancake sauce 4 pints, 1 quart

Jam

Mulberrry jam 13 pints, 2 half pints
Blueberry cinnamon 4 pints
Black cap/Mulberry 6 half pints
Pear spice 7 pints, 4 half pints
Wild grape jelly 11 half pints
Rhubarb vanilla 2 pints


I still have about 15 butternut squash and 3 large other ones to freeze (one Hubbard and two other ones).  These got eaten and turned into puree and pumpkin butter.  I've got about 5 small cabbages in the fridge along with beets and turnips.  Kale, chard, turnips, lettuce and spinach still out in the garden and doing okay in the frosts/freezes so far.  Lots of maple syrup canned up, along with pinto, black and garbanzo beans, chicken and beef stock.  We put 21 chickens in the freezer (gave two away) and have a little pork (last year's pig purchase) and lots of beef (fall of 2013) left from previous years.  We get our honey from 2 miles away and our milk from 10 miles away.  Most of our produce came from our 10 raised and 1 in ground gardens, mulberry trees, and black cap vines.  The extra squash and peppers came from Brad at the market, garlic scapes from The Blossom and The Bean, apples from multiple neighbors and Orchard Ridge, pears from tree near church and Orchard Ridge, cherries from our tree and Korleskis, corn from McCabes and peaches from Kaufmans.  Really happy with everything turning out as good as it did with our incredibly challenging year and especially summer.  We foraged the garlic mustard and asparagus in the spring and just missed out on some puff ball mushrooms this fall!  Lots of jars are filled...makes me feel so content and secure to see them filled up.  Still had a decent amount of applesauce, tomato chutney and other items left from last year.  Last count put the jars filled right around 450 or so :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Chickens 2015

It is kind of amazing that I even raised meat birds this year.  But they did get ordered and they were raised and small that they were, they were butchered.  I started with 21 birds and ended with 20, 10 males and 10 females.  Jilleen and I butchered 10 and 1 hen at 9 weeks and Korleskis and Turners helped butcher the remaining 10 and 2 other hens at 9.5 weeks.  We also did Turner's 3 hens that day as well.

So, I kept bad records on food this year.  Like I'm not 100% on how many bags we went through.  It was either 7 or 8 or 9...seriously, not good records.  I won't have an exact numbers, but will do a high/low instead I think.

So the most possible I spent on food and chicks was $178.36, but I believe that includes 3 bags of food for the hens.  The least possible I spent was around $140.  They just got Farm and Fleet food, but it was fermented with apple cider vinegar for most of their life.  They were slowed down at the beginning on purpose, but also at the end because I could not take care of them for about 2 weeks due to my foot impaling issue.

Total weight on the 20 meat birds was 78 pounds, 10 oz, which is about 1 pound more than my 15 birds did last year.  The first group of males averaged just over 4.1 pounds, the second group of females averaged around 3.7 pounds.  We got an additional 2 lbs, 6 oz of liver and hearts for consumption and saved the 40 feet as well.

We butchered 3 of our old laying hens and they weighed out at 10 lbs, 4 oz.  The variance was crazy...the Wellsumer was 1 lb, 14 oz, one of the Black Austrolorps was 4 lbs, 10 ozs!

We kept 18 birds, giving two to the helper families.  We also butchered the three additional hens which ended up around 8 lbs total.

So meat chicken totals are somewhere between $2.26/lb and $1.77.  Honestly I think it is closer to the 1.77, which is right where it was last year.  Hopefully I'll keep better records next year and hopefully they can grow out as well as they did last year!  But again, I am very grateful to have almost 90 pounds of home grown meat ready for my family to enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Preservation 2014

So yeah, it is Feb of 2015 and I'm just getting around to this.  But at least I'll have the record of what was preserved in 2014.  This list may be less than perfect and it is less that I would have liked, but our lives basically exploded in August of 2014 so I'm content with what got done.  Here is a fairly good list of all the canning and other preservation that happened on our little piece of land!  Much of the produce was raised here or next door.  I did stock up on squash and potatoes as well.  The grapes were dropped off by a neighbor and the peaches and blueberries were bought from Kaufmans.  Not the most amazing year, but we did raise our first meat and have 4 hens laying eggs.  For all that happened this year I am okay with where it all ended up.  Here's hoping for a lot more home grown produce being preserved this year!

15 meat chickens raised and butchered for a total of 77 pounds, plus odds and ends and feet.

Mulberry jam  10 half pints
Strawberry jam/syrup  8 half pint/ pint jars
Wild grape jelly (2013's frozen grapes) 6 half pints
Peach pit syrup 7 pints

Frozen blueberries 32 pounds
Frozen mulberries 2 gallons
Frozen black cap raspberries 2 containers (2 quarts?)
Frozen strawberries 10 pb jars, 1 gallon bag
Frozen peaches 2 gallons

Dehydrated apples 8 quarts

Grape juice 32 quarts
Applesauce 56 quarts and 4 pints
Canned peaches 14 quarts and 1 pint

Frozen veggies
Yellow squash 4 bags
Roasted beets 6 bags
Zuchinni-shredded 15 bags
Corn 22 bags
Green Beans 8 bags
Kale 6 bags
Brocoli 2 large bags
Zucchini butter 8 cups

Canned
Garden Marinara  6 quarts
Dilly beans 5 pints
Zucchini Relish 8 pints
Quicker Kosher pickles 7 quarts
Dill pickles 8 quarts
Bread and Butter pickles 4 quarts and 1 pint
Sweet Jalepnos 3 pints
Addictive tomato chutney 4 pints
Roasted pasta sauce 4 quarts and 7 pints
Fiesta corn relish 7 pints
Crushed/diced tomatoes 28 quarts
Tomato Juice 2 quarts and 1 pint
Roasted corn salsa 12 pints
Tomato water/light juice 4 quarts
Pizza sauce 9 half pints regular 7 pints spicey
Pickled garlic cherry tomatoeos 4 quarts
V-8 juic 4 quarts
Pickled jalapenos 1 half and 1 quarter pint
Salsa didn't record, but guessing about 21 quarts

Dried Herbs
Mint, Thyme, Oregano

Dried yellow pear tomatoes 1 quart
Roasted roma tomatoes 1 quart  (kept in freezer)


We continued to get honey from a local family, raw milk from a local family, maple syrup was still from last year, but needs to be restocked, and the pig was from our local butcher.  We raised the chickens and our beef is still going strong.  I think we'll probably be able to go 3 years on the half we bought in 2013, it was huge!  We raised some of our eggs, the rest were bought locally. We also did get a bunch of things out of the in-laws freezer as we are cleaning out their house.  It was mostly food I would never have bought and a bunch of it was given to others, but we are eating quite a bit.  That may have lowered our budget slightly, but I'm not really worrying about it.  The grocery budget is impacted by the monthly bag we provide to the local food pantry and making homemade dog food.  That and the general raising of prices :)

So the total for 2014 was $3961.18.  $800 lower than 2013, but also no huge beef purchase, so overall probably higher.  It works out to $76.18/week or $3.63/meal.  Considering we are a family of 5 with three growing children I think that is kind of amazing.  With the general quality of food we are eating I am happy with where we are.  Crazy to think I spend about $.73/person/meal this year.  Yes, we do go away sometimes and Mike eats out at times during the summer, but overall we eat at home and pack food when we are away, so although it isn't an exact number it is fairly close and I am happy with where we are at.  On to more growing our own!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chickens!

Our first home grown meat is finished!  So excited that I took the plunge and just went for it.  It really wasn't hard, but did take time.  It cost more than I thought (isn't that always the case) as they went through about 2 more bags of food than I had figured.  And the butchering wasn't easy, but it also wasn't hard and it did go fast.  Next time I'll have sharper tools and a better set up and it should go even better!  I butchered 4 of the biggest roosters at 8 weeks and 1 day and the other 11 we did at 4 days.

So the breakdown...

Ordered 15 chicks, was sent 16, lost one at 3 days...in the end the remaining 15 made it to the freezer!  Chicks cost $25.

Went through 7 fifty pound bags of food at about $16 each after tax.  So total was $137 in chicks and food.  I did spend money to build the tractor, buys some dishes, some apple cider vinegar, etc, but most of these are reusable items, so only counting in the cost of this batch in figuring $/pound.


We ended up with 14 birds for roasting (or whatever) and one in pieces.  He had a broken wing that was starting to get infected.  To be safe I just took both wings off and kept his legs and breast meat.  Total meat weight was 77 pounds, would have been 2-3 pounds higher had he been left whole. Birds finished right around 5 pounds each with a few roosters going up to 6 and just over.  I also kept the 30 feet for making stock, the livers for making dog food (maybe 2 pounds worth?) and the 7 pounds of odds and ends (heart, gizzard and necks) for adding to stock.  Amazing how much  comes off those birds that were little puff balls 8 weeks ago. 

So total meat was 77 pounds and cost was $137 making our breakdown $1.77/lb.  If we include everything else it comes down significantly, but just comparing to roasters in the store that is where we land.  Of course, our birds have no solution added so that is the real weight and we know how they were raised and that they had a good life.  Many good days and a few bad moments hopefully means some great tasting chicken!

What an adventure!