Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles California where nobody I knew made anything from scratch, so the idea of making my own pumpkin puree was something I was unfamiliar with. For years I have wanted to make my own puree for pumpkin inspired baked goods, but never seemed to get around to it till this year. I never imagined how incredibly easy it is to do.
For many of you fellow homesteaders this is nothing new but I know there are plenty of people out there like me who grew up in very different homes where convenience was the only choice so for you I say if I can do it so can you.

I came home with a plain old Jack O Lantern Pumpkin that I bought for 2.99 and went online to research how to bake it. I quickly learned that pumpkin aficionados say that you need a small sugar pumpkin to make pumpkin puree for baking but that is not the pumpkin I had and decided to try it anyway. There are plenty of resources online including some pretty funny you tube videos to find out how to do the job but the steps are so easy and the results were delicious even from this plain old Jack O Lantern pumpkin.

First clean out the insides of you pumpkin, save the seeds for roasting, I also saved the stringy insides to give to Hamilton my pot bellied pig who loved the treat. Cut the clean pumpkin in half and place upside down on a baking pan and bake at 375 till soft to cut through. Let the pumpkin cool and peel of the outside peel. The peel became a treat for my horses making the whole pumpkin edible with the exception of the stem. Cut the soft baked inside of the pumpkin into chunks and place in a strainer mashing up a bit to allow some of the water to drain off. Once most of the liquid has drained away you can mash the remainder up up to make puree. I read that is can be pureed further in a food processor but I was afraid it would become to liquefied. I read online that is was not really safe to can pumpkin so I froze it in freezer bags about 16 oz. each (the amount in a can of pumpkin puree). My medium pumpkin filled 9 bags, so the cost savings over buy canned is significant.
 The house smelled amazing while the pumpkin was cooking. I used the puree to make pumpkin spice cake and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I loved this project and went right out and got another bigger pumpkin to make even more puree for the freezer. I see this a project to be repeated every year when pumpkins are in season. The only thing that will make it even more fun would be to use pumpkins that I grew in my own garden but I am not there yet...someday.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pretty addicting site.

Check out my pins on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/invited/?username=laurapike

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Florida Sunset

One of those life is good moments.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet Sampson

The newest member of my family a 10 year old Percheron named Sampson. He is a lovely disposition gentle giant that rides like a dream.



Blogging on the go

Somewhere along the way i got completely out of the habit of blogging. With the integration of a smartphone and Kindle Fire into my life I rarely log onto the internet from my actual computer. I do find that I miss the self reflection that blogging allowed me and the interactions and feedback i got from blogging. So today i am challenging myself to begin blogging on the go using my Android phone or my Kindle and to stop using my lack of time at home as a reason not to blog.
Tons of things have happened in my life this past tear that i w ish i had put in my blog but I let time get away from me.

So I'm diving in here from my phone with some pictures of my trip to New Mexico this past June.  
Some of these are from the Sandia Parkway Tram at an elevation of 10,000 feet. One is in Old Town Albuquerque and the last is the view from my property near Mountainair where I hope to live one day soon.






Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A fellow homesteader that I follow on facebook posted this simple illustration of the kinds of things that plague tomato plants. I am getting ready to plant a whole lot of different varieties this year in the hopes of having a large surplus to can and freeze. With her permission I wanted to pass it along to my fellow blogger.
Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A funny thing happened on my way to work last week


Last Monday I was leaving my rural neighborhood and as I rounded a corner there in the middle of the road was this tiny little creature. At first I could hardly tell what it was but as I got closer I realized it was a very very tiny little piglet. I stopped and got out and picked the poor thing up. It still had a cord attached to it and it was weak and cold. I looked all around trying to find some sign of the mother pig or a nearby home that it could have come from, but there was nothing and the one home in the rural area had a padlocked gate and some angry barking dogs jumping at the fence so I was not about to try to go in there. I was already running late for work so I drove the baby back home and asked my wonderfully understanding daughter in law to run to Walmart to buy milk replacer and baby bottles to feed it. It has been one week of round the clock feedings ( just like any new baby), but I am happy to report that Hamilton ( the grandsons named him) is thriving. We are pretty certain he is a pot belly pig and from what we have learned they make wonderful pets so he is now a member of the family. Last night I bought him a litter box and have begun putting him in there after he eats, he is making progress. I need to get him on the scale but I would guess he weighs about a pound maybe a little less. Funny what comes along when you least expect it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Family Grain Mill

Even though I enjoy all the conveniences of a fully electric home I hope one day to be at least partially solar powered if not completely.  I am fascinated with knowing how to get by should the luxury of electricity  become unavailable for whatever reason. I also just really like the idea of  passing along basic skills to future generations. Things like making candles, soap, cheese, gardening, and cooking real food from scratch should not be things our kids have no basic understanding of.  I admire those who live "the good life" to quote Helen and Scott Nearing and strive to get closer to the ideal working homestead that I envision.

One of the items I have had on my wish list for years I finally purchased last Fall. I would love to have the Country Living Grain Mill since it seems to get the best reviews and honestly the old fashioned design makes it look like what you think a grain mill should look like but it is really pricey. After a lot of research I found The family grain mill  which is a good quality hand grinder for under $200.00 that can be attached to a Bosch mixer or a kitchen aid mixer should you wish to power it by electricity. Here is a video demonstration of the grinder in action.
.http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Family+Grain+Mill+Video&mid=E151DFF488C1254A2FD8E151DFF488C1254A2FD8&view=detail&FORM=VIRE1
I see offered by many retailers online so it pays to shop around for the best deal.

 I have been  hand grinding Hard Red Wheat Berries to make whole wheat flour, my entire family has taken turns grinding flour and I am often surprised to discover a freshly ground batch left by someone who felt the urge to expend some energy.  Grinding flour is not easy work I have to say, but it is a great way to relieve tension as well as a great bicep workout. I mounted the grinder to my counter edge in the kitchen. I found that a simple plastic lid like the kind on a coffee can fits nicely over the open bin so I can leave unground berries in it all the time. I grind the wheat into a canister I keep on the counter below it so any time the urge strikes me I can grind wheat for a while. The Family grain mill is also supposed to grind other kinds of flour like bean, oat and rice flour and oat flakes but I have not tried any of those yet. I have been making the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipe  http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Artisan-Bread-In-Five-Minutes-A-Day.aspx experimenting with half wheat /half bread flour since my family likes a fluffy loaf but I like the grainy goodness of whole wheat. I have not been able to get the really light fluffy kind of flour you buy in the market and I am not sure if it needs to be sifted or if it has to do with the quality of the grinder or the type of grinding element it uses, but I find the flour very useable. I plan to experiment with making flat breads and pancakes over an open fire outside just because I think those would a good substitute for baked bread if needed in a pinch. I have had it for a few months now and it seems to be of good quality that will hopefully hold up over time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pinerest Addiction

I can not believe I have allowed myself to find yet another thing to consume my time online since I try so hard to limit my mindless foray's into the land of the lost but I am loving Pinterest so much.
Here is one of the latest things I have pinned to my boards Spicy Black Bean Burger. I have the beans soaking now.
For the recipe click on my link to pinerest and get started making your own fun boards
http://pinterest.com/laurapike/
When you click on someones board pictures it usually takes you to the original source of the picture.
It is a lot of fun.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pantry Organization Dried Goods.

I wish I could remember which preparedness blogger originally pointed me in the direction of these great inexpensive containers but they have really helped to get me started organizing a working pantry, one of my goals for 2012. 
 I ordered them from US Plastics
http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/search.aspx?search=PB%20safety&page=1

here are the three items I have ordered so far and the prices which I found to be very reasonable in comparison to similar brand name containers sold in local stores.

Item No.
66425

Clear Container With Handle and Cap

160 oz Clear Container 7.5” x 5.13” x 10.5”.

Comments: Standard Ground (UPS, USPS) $2.21 each

72035

11187

32 oz. PVC Pinch Grip-It Jars w/ Lid

Comments: Standard Ground (UPS, USPS) $1.35 each

66579

PVC Clear Canister With Lid

20 Oz Canister With Lid, 3.3" x 3.3" x 4.85"

Comments: Standard Ground (UPS, USPS) $1.28 each

The containers are the same as the kind you might find in your Warehouse stores like Sam's club holding dried goods, sturdy and washable.

Later down the line I may venture into long term storage in five gallon buckets for the same kinds of  dried goods but this is a nice start for now. I still keep the flour, sugar and other baking goods in canisters on the counter since I those often but these would probably hold two five pound bags of flour or sugar.

I store things I know I will use and cook with regularly.

Canned goods are another area that I plan to slowly build up. My short term goal is to have enough on hand to feed my family and my animals without going to the store for 1 month and then build from there. This will include water which I find to be the biggest challenge.

February Already?



Today I hope to have a never leave the house kind of day, my favorite kind of days since they are so rare. At noon it is already 79 degrees outside and I have been out and planted a flat of strawberries and one bunch of green onions in the holes of my cinder blocks that surround a couple of the raised beds. Little by little the garden is becoming more of what I knew it could be. I somehow broke my digital camera so I am left to take pictures with my phone these day which I find less satisfactory but for now it works, these are some pictures of the garden right now.

Yesterday was my grandson Cadyn's 4th birthday and I was happy to be off work and able to join in the celebration. It was a beautiful springlike day here in Florida and we had a crowd of guests. I saddled up old Red and took the 9 kids on horse back rides. My oldest grandson Logan who is now 6 has learned to ride on his own off of the lead rope which thrills me to death. None of my own 3 children like to ride so the idea that I might have a future riding buddy in the making really makes me happy. My daughter in law made pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. It was a perfect day.

The new years projects are going well, I got rid of 10 boxes of stuff out of the garage last week, so I am ahead on that goal of one box per week. This past week I planted carrots, spinach and more broccoli. So the goal of planting at least one new thing per week is well on track. I am brainstorming on how to find a place to plant seed potatoes soon. I don't have anymore raised bed space and don't want to spend money on materials right now so I am going to have to get creative. I certainly have the room here in this spread of property so I am sure when I get out and look around I will come up with something. More on this topic to follow.

On another note I was recently inspired to join Pinterest by another blogger Debbi and I have been having so much fun with it. It is like your favorites folders on your computer but with pictures which seems to make it so much more fun to save and organize the things you find on the web that spark your interest, its addicting really. You have to join the site and wait for an invite which takes about a day by email, but it really is interesting once you set up your own boards. You create your own virtual bulletin boards for pinning up things you clip from the Internet your favorite blogs and social media sites. /http://pinterest.com/laurapike/

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The New Year

While I hate the idea of putting any unnecessary pressure on myself in the form of resolutions there are definitely some things I want to accomplish this year and since my blog is my way of journaling my thoughts I guess I am gonna put those hopes out there.

First, I really want to get back to blogging again, I have seem to have hit a wall last year and the longer I was away from it the harder it became to jump back in, so this is me jumping in. I miss the interaction with my fellow bloggers, I miss actually putting a thought down in writing, it somehow helps me to clarify my direction and focus in life zeroing in on who I really want to be and where I want to go.

I got divorced October 25th 2011 and that day marked the end of a long hard journey but now that it has all finally sunk in, I realize I came through it alive and well, and the old saying really is true, what does not kill you only makes you stronger. So, 2012 marks the beginning of a new life for me. I feel no need to reinvent myself only to be more genuinely me, to truly live the life that nurtures my soul and to be more present in the moment and to make sure that my family and friends know I am there for them and support them.

Next, like so many Americans I need to lose weight, and I want to do it in the most sensible of ways by eating more whole foods, fruits, veggies, lean cuts of meat, less simple carbs and by increasing my activity. Losing one half to a pound of week would be lovely but if I maintain and don't gain but have made choices I feel good about then I am fine with that. I absolutely refuse to jump on any diet trends I want to make lifestyle changes that don't make me feel like anything is off limits.  I love food I just need to love it in a little more moderation.

Declutter, declutter, declutter, that has got to be the theme of 2012, I am drowning in 29 years worth of stuff.
With the divorce somehow I became responsible for all of our accumulated junk and man do I have a hard time parting with that stuff,, but it is really time to get rid of lots of it. So in that spirit I am again aiming for small manageable goals, to rid stuffed to the rafters garage of one box a week. Since I am starting late in January I figure I can manage to get rid of at least 40 boxes this year giving much of it to local charities. that should be doable right? I just have to learn to let go, I am such a pack rat and I really want to simplify my life.

I want to amp up the gardening efforts even more, maybe add a couple of more raised beds. The fall garden has been absolutely wonderful, my daughter in law and I have grown broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, collard greens,onions and herbs this fall and winter with really good success. I have discovered my grandsons will eat any green veggie when mixed with fruit as a smoothy via my Vitamix. Getting ready order the spring seeds and start them indoors soon.

Professionally, I have a goal to sit for my CCRN which is a certification for Critical Care Nurses that involves a really difficult test, so I plan to study for a year and take the test at the beginning of 2013 again not putting too much pressure on myself but taking it on in little chunks.

Lastly, I want to continue to focus on building up my pantry and cooking meals from scratch. I hardly buy convenience foods but there are some things my youngest son really loves like pizza and frozen burritos so I am hoping to convince him to learn to make his own versions from scratch, he likes to cook so it will be a fun project for us to experiment with together.

I am looking forward to the challenges of new year, I still am working way more than I want to be but for the next 3-4 years it is what I need to do to get to where I want to be so I will find ways to make it work and still have some quality of life. For me that means making sure to get plenty of rest, not allowing my inner critique to get the best of me and by reminding myself to be fully present at work, at home with my family, out with the horses and in the garden. I have so much to be grateful for, now I just need to focus on enjoying it all while working towards where I want to be say five years from now but that  is topic for another day.