Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rules of Engagement

posted be Melissa

Everyday Homesteading in Apartment #1
Whipping up sugar, butter and eggs.

  1. No Processed Food.   Everything that I eat or make for my family will be "from scratch."  There are lines to be drawn, of course.  I will buy flour, which is pre-ground, but I will only buy it from bulk at the Co-op.  I will use things I already have in my cupboards.  I did buy soy sauce today for the marinade recipe for the Korean short ribs (Kalbi) I am grilling tonight.  So, there is going to be some give and take on this one.
  2. Compost.  Every food scrap and waste will, I repeat, will go into the compost bin out back.  I have become lazy about this, and given the fruit fly situation of 2010, I had completely given up.  So far this month, I keep a big pot on the counter and toss everything into it.  It goes out every night.  Anything usable goes into a bag in the freezer for making soup stock.
  3. Re-use and create less trash.  I have also become lazy on this aspect of my home.  Admittedly, sometimes if a container has something super nasty in it, I throw the whole thing away.  Plastic, glass, whatever...right in the trash.  I feel horrible about it.  So, that it going to change.  Absolutely nothing recyclable in the trash, and if at all possible, I will re-use it.  
  4. Limit screen time.  This is going to be really challenging.  As Levi said today, "Why don't we all spend the day like we always do?  Tallulah can play with her babies, Lily can go up to Mary's, me and Papa can go to work, and Mama can sit in front of the computer all day."  Yes, this is a challenge.  The commitment here is to limit non-essential computer use.
  5. Turn off the lights.  I have a habit of leaving lights on.  I sometimes turn a lamp on in the daytime, just because I like to see the glow.  For this month, no amber glow in the corner, just the sun or lack there of during the day.  Except in the kitchen and bathroom, we need those.  
  6. Compost.
  7. No TV.  Another challenge.  I love Project Runway.  I love to watch movies at night after the kids go to bed.  Last night everyone went to bed, and I was all alone, with no TV.  I sat for an hour and finished unravelling that jumbled ball of yarn.  Luckily, I had some tequila nearby.

Bigger Picture Homesteading
Getting everything together for the Blackberry cake.
  1. Learn how to Can foods.  I was going to start this one right after we went berry picking, but as of today, have decided to wait.  Amy and I are going to a class at the Co-op (Madison Market) up the street on this Thursday that teaches the basics of canning.  I'll wait until then to can on my own.  And to use the blackberries, I am making a Blackberry Buttermilk Cake.  
  2. Make Cheese at Home.  I did this yesterday!  I made mozzarella cheese for the first time.  It turned out a little harder than the fresh mozzarella you buy at the store, but nonetheless, I felt pretty proud. I plan on doing more of this, and branching out into different kinds of cheese.
  3. Learn how to Ferment Foods.  I am doing this today!  I saved the whey form cheese making, well, just because it was something that I said I would do in my everyday homesteading rules.  I got on the computer (essential blog research) and looked up, "what to do with whey?"  Turns out you can ferment foods with it!  Lucky me.  Tonight my Mom and I are going to start a batch of kimchi via lacto-fermentaion.
  4. Make Bread Regularly.  I am thinking at least three times a week, I will bake bread.  Yesterday I made focaccia with rosemary and olives.  My young neighbor Mary had some this morning and she said it was her favorite bread ever!  Wow.
  5. Get Bulk Shopping Ready.  You know how I said that I am going to re-use things?  Well, that is going to create another job for me, to organize my kitchen so I have a designated space for bulk shopping supplies.  Jars and containers to use at the market, so I am not using all those plastic bags.  Which bring me to....
  6. Organize and Simplify.  Last August I spent the month simplifying my home.  I need to revisit that and get things back in order.  I can use what I have more efficiently if there is order.  So Virgo.  Maybe that is why this month fell in September, it is all so earthy and Virgo-esque.
  7. Get a Shelf in the Basement for Canned Food.  I am hoping to find a used shelf to keep in the basement of our apartment building to keep all the canned goods we make.  A space for shared food as well for my lovely neighbors in the building.  
  8. Find Ways to Make the Boathouse More Sustainable.   I want to look into getting rain barrels, Amy mentioned a worm bin,  and perhaps expanding the gardening here at our building to include herbs for medicine making.  There are lots of ideas I have here, and I am pretty sure that our neighbors will be on board.
Whey, cheese making by-product, to make kimchi.
That's it for now.  I know there are more things, and I look forward to any ideas that you all have.  Also, if you want to join us in some way along our homesteading path, let us know on our Facebook page.  I know we already have one person that has made the pledge to make at least one change in their month to be more self-reliant.  Thanks, Jen!

Onto lacto-fermentation....

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