Friday, July 20, 2012

Saving Money on the Farm

 As you can imagine, keeping 4 growing children and twenty-some animals fed can be rather expensive. So I thought I'd share a few of the ways we save a little money around here.

  •  Instead of buying cleaners I use (much cheaper) staples like baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda makes a great, gentle scouring powder and removes odors. A scoop in the laundry can help get rid of that "boy smell" that's starting to be a problem around here. Baking soda also makes a great substitute for shampoo if you want to go 'poo free, which I did 2 months ago. Vinegar kills germs and cuts through grease, so it's great to use on counters. It breaks up mineral deposits, shines faucets, and cleans glass with the help of some newspaper. Mixed together, they can unclog a drain. We do still use store bought laundry soap and dish soap, but I hope to start making those once the big kids go back to school. I'm also going to start making hand and body soap for us and to give as Christmas presents to the families this year.
  •  Mike does the grocery shopping. He has this innate ability to track down good deals that I just don't have. Since he knows that I can make pretty darn good meals out of anything he brings me home, he buys whatever's on sale (with the exception of organs, I still can't bring myself to cook or eat internal organs.) He mostly buys ingredients, rather than boxed, prepared items, so that I have lots of options when it comes time to make dinner.
  •  I almost always cook extra and turn the leftovers into another meal. This saves time and money. When I make spaghetti, I double the amount of sauce we need for the meal and make what the twins call "Mama's Terrific Tomato Soup" the next day. When I make meatloaf I make a double batch and roll the extra into meatballs. bake and freeze for my Italian meatball soup. Leftover roast becomes tacos. I've found that no one in my house complains about leftovers as long as they don't look like leftovers.
  • You'll notice I mention soup a lot, yes, soup is our friend around here. We eat soup at least once a week during the summer and probably 4 nights a week during the winter. I make bean soup, lentil soup, split pea soup, vegetable beef soup, turkey frame soup, meatball soup...well, you get the idea. It's delicious, inexpensive, pretty good for you, and really simple. It's also a good way to sneak veggies into kids who don't particularly like them, like my youngest boy.
  • We shop at yard sales and on Craigslist. When the kids need t-shirts or jeans, we check the local yard sales (and I want to point out that country yard sales kick city yard sales butts.) If Mike needs a tractor part, or an incubator, or whatever he checks Craigslist. He's particularly good at this kind of shopping because he has Jedi mind powers. Really, he does!! When he leaves the room people say, "Well, crap, those WERE the droids I was looking for!" but, by that point it's too late. He often walks away with things that weren't even for sale to begin with.
 I'm going to stop now, because my children are being very quiet in the other room. Every mother knows that that means they're up to no good... 

Us? Cause trouble? Never...

Have a great weekend everyone, Blessed Be...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Squash fritters

 Here's my recipe for summer squash fritters, it's for all the gardeners that are getting overrun with zucchini and crookneck squash this time of year.
Summer Squash fritters
  • 6 small summer squash (zucchini, yellow, or patty pan all work well)
  • 3 green onions
  • Small handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • Flour
  • Pepper to taste
  • Lard (for frying)
 Cut the ends off the squash and grate finely, either using a box grater or a food processor. Place a clean dishrag in a colander and put the whole thing in a bowl. Put a layer of grated squash in the colander and salt heavily. Add another layer of squash and more salt. Repeat, ending with salt and then let sit for an hour.  Several cups of liquid will drain out of the squash, which will make for crispier fritters. After the draining time, pick up the dishcloth and ring out the rest of the liquid out of the squash and put in a bowl. 
 While the salted squash is draining, finely chop the green onions, including the green tops, and the parsley. Add to the drained squash.
 Mix in the eggs and just enough flour to make everything stick together. Add pepper to taste.
 Fry in a cast iron pan over medium heat in lard or butter until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and eat while warm. I like to put a small dab of sour cream on mine.

Here it is! Yum yum...

Link here

Planning my fall garden

The tomatoes are about all that's happy with the heat
 Last night I went out and did my evening walk through the garden. It's in really sad shape right now. Between the lack of rain, the bug infestations, the heat, and the weeds (which I haven't kept on top of, because it's been so darn hot) most of the plants aren't producing. It's time to start thinking about what I'm going to be putting in the fall garden. I have another 4 months of frost free weather, so I can start everything from tomatoes to corn and get another harvest.
 I've pulled all of my summer squash and put in some new seed in the plot that held bush beans in the spring. The Roma tomatoes have petered out and need to be pulled. The Beefsteaks are sprawling everywhere and have what I think is blight. I think they will come out soon too. To replace them I have 3 varieties of tomatoes started in a pot on the back porch. The cherry tomatoes look terrible because of hornworm attacks, but they're still producing like crazy.
 The hot peppers are doing okay, although a few have died off, the ones that made it are producing lots of peppers. The biggest surprise is the eggplants, which I had given up as a lost cause when the flea beetles went after them this spring. I had mostly forgotten about them and then, the other day, I realized that all 5 plants have small fruit on them!
 Mike's watermelon patch (which has grown to about 500 plants) are starting to produce fruit, but he's having a problem with blossom end rot. It looks like we'll be spreading a whole lot of ground oyster shell this weekend to combat that.
 The garlic I planted in February hasn't done very well, so I'm just going to leave it there over the winter and put in another bed (or 2) in October. Another bed will be seeded with green onions. If I cover it during cold snaps I should be able to harvest green onions all winter long.
 It's still to hot to plant lettuces, but I'm going to prep a bed for them, so that I can start some when it cools off some. The same goes for spinach. I'll be starting cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in flats next to the tomato seedlings on the back porch so that they can go in the ground in 6 weeks or so.
 The big question is where to put in another crop of cucumbers? Cucumber beetles have been a huge problem this year and my harvest has been lousy. I'm going to try inter planting with radishes and a sturdier trellis to keep them off the ground and see how that works to deter pests.
 Another couple of beds will be devoted to beets, carrots and radishes. I'm thinking of growing some turnips too. I've never had them, but we can always feed them to the goats if we don't like them.
 Anyway, that's the plan for now. I guess I should go out and actually work in the garden, rather than sit here writing about it. Have a productive weekend everyone, and Blessed Be.