More Freegan Zucchini

The neighbors are bringing us a lot of zucchini.

Not only is the quantity of zucchini squashes large, the size of those zucchini squashes is large.

Photographic proof.

I don’t know what the fuck they’re feeding these zucchinis, but this shit is ridiculous.

I’m going to have to go through those pins that Tia is finding me for ways to cook zucchini that aren’t stir fry.

Wild blackberries

We have wild blackberries growing all throughout the back portion of the property. They’re growing so thick that it’s like the briar patch in that old Brer Rabbit story.

I made Mollie come with me to pick some blackberries yesterday and she kept trying to run home. So I carried her around to share in nature’s splendor (which was probably lost on her) and crawled through the blackberry thicket carrying a baby Mollie in one arm (she wouldn’t be still long enough for a selfie, that little wiggleworm).

and picked a handful of blackberries.

a handful from 16 may 2017

I could have picked a lot more if I had just let her run home but I’m trying to get her to not be scared of the clearing out back. Sunshine thinks she smells predator cats or some other scary thing out there, which could very well be true.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there without her and pick more blackberries. They’re starting to ripen, and if I leave them then the creatures will eat them all up. I don’t mind sharing with them, but I want some too!

Simple living is a lot of work

There’s a lot of work that goes into living simply (or intentionally, or mindfully, or whatever you want to call it). It seems like there’s always something needing the attention of a human being. The cats need to be fed, the chickens need to be locked up in their chicken house at night, the grass needs to be cut, the garden needs to be harvested, the wild game needs to be butchered……

This week has seen a lot of perfectly edible but not pretty looking food go out the back door at work. My boss is like “nobody is going to buy the ugly squash” and tells me to do what I want with it, just make it go away. Which has led to a lot of squash getting blanched and frozen.

Just as an example:

The back door zucchini. It was lumpy and a bit wrinkled, but still firm and edible. But people don’t buy the ugly food. See how much is piled over the top of that giant stainless steel bowl? And that is about 3/4 of it. There was more.

side note: see how fucking tiny my kitchen is? That shit is ridiculous.

So we now have a bunch of frozen zucchini. It was quite the endeavor, cutting and washing and blanching and packaging all that zucchini. It was worth it, though. It’s food security. It’s one less thing we have to spend money on through the winter when Sunshine and I work a lot less. It’s one more thing that we’re doing for ourselves. It’s one less way we are participating in the consumer driven capitalist economy we live in. And I like it that way.

Final note: I ran out of freezer containers. I made a trip to the Dollar Tree when I made my grocery run. I did some damage to their shelves and filled up an entire shopping cart with reusable food storage containers. Yes, it was grossly consumerist. But at least I can reuse them again and again, which makes it feel like a far more intentional purchase

I forgot we planted that

I was out walking around with Mollie earlier, and we were meandering near the garden. I looked over and saw broccoli growing out of the top of a bushy looking little plant.

broccoli is growing

I had totally forgotten that we planted broccoli.

The garden is starting to look pretty green. The sprouts we planted most recently are still tiny, but I’m hoping that they do as well as all this other stuff seems to be doing. Our potato plants look like bushes, and we have at least 98593869385790468 kinds of lettuce and cabbage and greens and shit growing out there because Mr B only eats twigs and berries and shit.

(all joking aside, Mr B seriously eats a mostly plant based diet. However, he is only doing so because of the unethical practices in the meat industry. He will occasionally eat some of the meat from the wild game that Sunshine kills, because those animals were free range organic meat that has no steroids or antibiotics, and they weren’t crammed in a chicken house so tightly that they couldn’t move…. I digress)

I’m hoping to talk Sunshine into going out there and picking a lettuce while I am at the grocery store this afternoon. A mango salad sure would hit the spot for dinner tonight.

final note: mango salad… start with a bed of lettuce/spinach/greens of your choice. drop some chunks of mango on top, sprinkle with candied nuts, toss in some craisins. I top mine off with some raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing and call it dinner.

 

Garden Progress

We finally got out there Monday afternoon and transplanted the sprouts that sprang up from the seeds I planted weeks ago. It was a dusty, dirty, back-injuring affair, and I’m glad that it’s over. Well, it’s over for now, at least; there are more things to transplant when they get a bit bigger. Mr B saw how difficult it was to transplant some of those tiny little sprouts, and we decided we should let the rest grow a little before we tried to put them in the ground.

We planted some tri-color carrot sprouts, multi-colored peppers, Roma tomatoes, sugar snap peas, Lima beans, yellow and zucchini squash, okra, radishes, and I forget what the hell else. We have some eggplant, cowpea, multi-colored peppers, squash, and tomato sprouts that need to grow a bit more before we put them in the ground.

2 rows of sprouts

Sunshine has some turnip seeds he wants to plant, and I want to plant some black eyed peas. I just hope we’re not biting off more than we can handle since everybody is so busy with things that keep them away from the property.

My melon and pumpkin sprouts are going to be planted on a different part of the property. Mr B has plowed up an area at the bottom of the hill for a melon patch. I’m just hoping that the wild pigs don’t come in and eat them all before we can eat some of them.

future melon patch

The neighbors gave us a tray of things to transplant also–some herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. We ran out of daylight Monday, so we’ll have to transplant them later.

IMG_20170320_074920522

I’m congested and in pain, but I think it was worth it. It was so awesome to eat squash and peas that we grew ourselves last year. It will be really neat to make a salad with lettuce from our garden later this summer, and fry up some eggplant that we grew ourselves, and make some cornbread to go with Lima beans, …. well, you get the picture.

It’s exciting to be working toward food independence. It’s a lot of work, but the simplicity of it is comforting to me on some level, and that’s what we’re after out here.

My Kitchen Book

My girl Tia makes the awesomest shit. She made me this really cool kitchen book for Christmas.

It has categories so that I don’t have to search through every single page to find what I’m looking for.

It has pockets that will hold things I’ve clipped from boxes and such.

It has lots of different cool papers throughout so that I don’t get bored.

It even has meal planner pages and conversion charts

I sat down yesterday and started adding some stuff to it.

Stuff that I like to make, like pancakes

pancakes

side note: that pancake recipe is a total fucking pain in the ass but my gawd the pancakes are to-die-for

Stuff that I like to eat but may or may not ever make, like Granny’s coconut pie recipe in her handwriting

granny fowler's coconut pie

side note: mom says the recipe is a pain in the ass to make but she wouldn’t un-ass the recipe. Probably because it is her mother’s handwriting, for which I do not blame her.

Stuff that I probably will make like Grandmother’s vegetable casserole or Granny’s apple cobbler

And shit that I definitely will never make, like 10,000 chocolate chip cookies (for which I have a recipe used on the USS Forrestal)

uss-forrestal-cookies.jpg

 

 

This book is a way to keep my kitchen shit organized, yes. But even better than that, it is a way to preserve a few little pieces of family and home. I get why my mother wouldn’t un-ass the coconut pie recipe, and I’m glad she at least let me take a picture of it so that I could have a bit of my Granny’s handwriting too. I will probably be spending quite a bit of time either printing some of these recipes, or transferring them to pages in my little book. It’s a great way to feel like a productive homesteader even though I’m still not at 100% with my back and hip.

I think I’ll start by transferring that pound cake recipe to my new book.

final note: I need to get Tia to make me one of these for my clothes, shoes, and accessories. Many of my things are more than just clothes–they have stories behind them. Also, a journal about my clothes might help me shop more mindfully.

The freezer is almost full

Since the family B is preparing the pink house for habitation, the freezer in the kitchen is about to become their freezer, which means that all of that wild boar we had been storing in there had to go somewhere else. Now, I know that Mr B says that we can use that freezer and fridge, but Mr B is really just being nice. I’ve seen how the family B buys mayonnaise and shit and their bulk-grocery-buying habits make for a packed fridge and freezer.

So I got Sunshine to help me fire up our chest freezer (I couldn’t find an outlet to plug it into), and I packed it full of bottles of water to help it cool down and stay cool. Once it had been cooling for a couple of days, I got all the wild pig meat packed in it.

As soon as I thought I had that situation settled, we had to process Sunshine’s first deer of the season. The freezer is almost full now. We actually had to give away one and a half racks of wild pig ribs just to make some room for stuff that wasn’t wild pig ribs. We didn’t have time to cook them, and we still have two large wild pig rib racks that we need to do something with ASAP because we have another deer to process and package and freeze, and the freezer is really almost full.

side note: the fact that we smoked all the bones to make Mollie treats that are also now in the freezer isn’t helping the storage situation, but it sure helps our wallets. She will work a smoked bone for an entire evening, where a pupperoni or dentastix lasts about 3.2 seconds.

The good news is that there is a second chest freezer, kindly donated to the community by Mr B’s mom. We are probably going to have to fire that one up soon. Mr B and Sunshine seem to be on a mission to shoot enough squirrels to make a big ole pot of gumbo, which is ultimately going to take up a lot of freezer space.

side note: when I say big ole pot of gumbo, I mean a seriously big-ass fucking pot. I could almost take a bath in Mr B’s gumbo pots, and a petite woman probably could. Them’s some big-ass pots, because when a Cajun cooks, the cajun cooks for the entire Cajun Navy. If you have never read about the Cajun Navy, go google it now. The Cajun Navy is all those people in Louisiana that take their boats into disaster zones (which inevitably become flood zones in Louisiana) and rescue people trapped by floodwaters. Gotta love the Cajun Navy–they saved lives after Katrina (a tattoo artist I know had to have his thumb reattached after Katrina because it got smashed in a rescue), and they saved lives after thirty inches of rain fell on Baton Rouge in a day earlier this year. I digress…

It’s definitely a good problem to have. It’s much better than having the opposite problem; and it’s a problem that we already have a solution in place for. Which is a very good thing with another deer to butcher this week; and Mr B still has all of his deer tags left.