Friday, May 20, 2011

Our Pantry

Now that spring is here and fresh veggies are starting to show up, it's nice to be able to get away from the winter pantry a bit. We did, however, take some time recently to make a few upgrades. We used to keep everything on two small bookshelves, but now we've moved it all together onto some sturdy permanent shelving with a sheet to block our jarred goods from the little sunlight in our basement.

There are probably enough beans here to last us about 7 months if we ate them everyday. Beans are great because they're really nutritious, versatile, good for storage, and very cheap even when you buy organic. We've started buying bulk dried goods like these from Amazon because of their new "subscribe and save" feature that makes them even cheaper than buying from the local grocery store, plus they have organic products we just can't find around here.

We also keep sunflower and sesame seeds, olive oil, sardines, canned milk and tomatoes, salt, sugar, coffee, peanuts and peanut butter, vinegar, pickles, jams, water, juice, and some convenience items in our pantry. Along with the frozen meats, seafood, and produce in the freezer, the eggs from our hens, the fresh veggies from our garden, and our well-stocked spice cabinet, I really only have to buy dairy on a weekly basis and I never have to worry about being able to pull together a meal!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bread and Yogurt

I recently used a King Arthur Flour gift certificate to purchase a few splurges, including the yogurt maker and 6 quart dough bucket pictured below. Bread and yogurt are two staples around here, so I figured it would be worthwhile to make both a little easier.

Sprout was a bit late to the solid foods game, but yogurt was one of the first things he decided he liked and it's still one of his favorites. Making yogurt is pretty simple - all you really need to do is use some store-bought yogurt as a starter which you mix with heated milk and then this little machine holds it at a temperature of about 110 degrees for around 8 hours. Once you make the first batch, you just have to make sure that you save some as a starter for the next one. Those little YoBaby 4-packs were putting a pretty good dent in the grocery budget, so now I can make Sprout his favorite apple-cinnamon flavored breakfast with homemade apple butter for about 1/4 of the cost.

We've also recently realized that it's been more than a year since we last bought a loaf of bread from the store. Using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day system works really well for me. What you see on the right in the picture above is a big batch of bread dough which I just mix together real quick, leave on the counter for two hours to rise and then I put it in the fridge until I'm ready to make a loaf. On baking day I pull out a 2 pound hunk which I shape into a loaf and then put it in a pan to rise again for about 2 hours before baking at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

Here's a whole grain rye loaf, fresh from the oven. Peasant food can feel pretty luxurious sometimes!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

I know it's a little bit late, but Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful mothers out there!  The Gardeness, Sprout and I celebrated by going into the city yesterday.  We walked the 5k Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Philadelphia.

Go Team Leigh!
We were proud to be there with my big sister, who walked this year as a survivor of breast cancer.  Joined by my mother, cousins and friends, it was a great way to spend time with the mothers in my life.  I was truly amazed to see all of the support given by the city, businesses and community members.

We walked with more than 40,000 people
Just to throw in a homesteading related note, we recently picked up a few bags of Purina's Pink 50 chicken feed.  It's all for such an important cause!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bock'n Out!

Today we had the chance to partake in a great and novel experience. The 2011 Sly Fox Bock Fest was held today at the Sly Fox Brewhouse in Phoenixville, PA.  Not only was this event a celebration of excellent local bock beers, it was also the 11th annual goat race!

Nearly 50 goats ran, trotted and bleated their way across the finish line.  We had a blast drinking good beer, listening to traditional German music and petting all the horned little speed demons.

The best part was when a three legged goat named Peggy beat out all of the competition. Word on the street is that Sly Fox will be naming this year's maibock in her honor.