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Topics - Sustainablehome

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 14
Gardens & Crops / Garden For This Year
« on: March 30, 2015, 10:02:29 AM »
Well, last year was pretty much a bust.  Even though I was growing in the same containers I used in this post, nothing worked out.  I had one heirloom tomato plant sprout but it didn't even flower.  I know why.  My laziness.  This drought is really bad (Central California) but this year will be different.  Why, you ask?  Well, I have decided I will not water lawn at all.  I was only doing it a couple times per week last year (mostly because I was hoping the trees I had planted would appreciate the extra water but they finally died, so that's it).  This winter, we developed a lovely yard of inedible weeds but they sure look like lawn when you mow them! 

This year, I decided I better use (or lose) some of my oldest seeds (most packed for 2011).  So, I just threw them in pots and watered with mostly what little water I saved in buckets when it rained.  Imagine my surprise when almost all of them (well, all except my heirloom tomato seeds) sprouted.  So, I have (all in pots) tomatoes, kolhrabi (growing this one because I saw a great recipe I want to try and can't buy this at the store), butter lettuce, cayenne, and summer savory.  I know it's not much but it's better than last year.  The tomatoes, in my opinion, have to best shot.  They are in a mix of old potting soil and some composted fruit and leaves.  They fared best when I thinned them out (everything else, in new organic purchased soil) went into shock but look like they will all recover).

My raspberries are going strong (and finally spreading) and the apple trees, apricot, and cherry have more blooms on them than I've ever seen.  My mint ... well, it's mint.  Even after getting ravaged by cabbage moths last year, they are flourishing. 

I also discovered that I did not plant just agave-like plants in the front yard.  Hidden in between two large agaves was a clump of aloe!  So, I donned my welding jacket and gloves (amazing how thankful you can be for leather arms on a jacket) and dug the poor thing out of that cramped spot.  I ended up with a total of 11 aloes!  I'm hoping to add to the front yard with lavender and salvia (maybe some poppy ... told hubby I should plant those almost under the agave ... if any druggies think they can get anything from the poppies and are willing to brave the agave, they are welcome to it).

Recipes / Sourdough Bread
« on: November 28, 2014, 12:15:55 PM »
I've tried many different types of sourdough (there's some kefir sourdough recipes on here somewhere) and this is one I have been meaning to try forever.  What makes this one special to me is where it originates.  This is from a baker at Boudin Bakery in San Francisco.  We used to drive over there once a year just to get bread (well, that and walk around Fisherman's Wharf breathing in pure seafood goodness).  Their sourdough bread is the best.  It's just sour enough without being overpowering and the crust is never hard, just crispy.  So, here are the links, then I'll type up my notes:

For Starter:

And Bread:

So, I started this process Saturday, hoping to be able to bake bread on Thursday.  I managed it but I'll let you know where I went wrong.

The starter is much more involved than others.  It's more of a dough than a liquid slop in a jar.  After the first fermenting, I was able to just peel away the hard bits (with the help of a spoon to scrape off the soft bits) and I used about 3/4 of a cup of flour for the first step.  You want it like dough ... not wet.  The rest of the starter process went smoothly.

As for the bread itself, the last rising (it's not specified) NEEDS to be refrigerated (or maybe just supported, in some kind of container to allow the dough to retain its shape).  I left it out, to rise on a pizza pan and ended up with a round loaf that was about 2 inches high and 12 inches in diameter (and yank apart rolls that were a little taller).  Despite that, the crust was crispy without wanting to break a tooth and the sour flavor actually got better as the bread sat.  The texture of the bread is chewy (not gummy) and I'm thrilled that I have so much starter in the fridge to do this again!

Recipes / Poultry Brine
« on: November 28, 2014, 11:55:21 AM »
A few years ago, someone mentioned brining their turkey.  Despite (at the time) me watching tons of cooking shows, I had never heard of it.  So, I went a searching and once we found this one, we never looked back.  We brine our turkeys and chickens (even chicken parts) always and I think this would help immensely to remove any gaminess from wild birds (or help with older birds you butcher yourself ... wish I had known of this when I butchered the roosters). I found this online somewhere and just wrote it down so I have no idea what the URL is of the original.

Basic Poultry Brine

I have made this with and without the sugar, used white sugar and brown sugar (was out of white), so I don't see why you can't use whatever sweetener you want (though straight molasses may be a bit too strong).  Without the sugar, your poultry just ends up moister.  With the sugar, it's moister and has a better flavor.  For diabetics (I'm type 2), I had no blood sugar spike from the sugar in this recipe.

1 cup Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 gallon Water

Boil the water, add salt and sugar, mix to dissolve, let cool, and pour over poultry.  Now, the water just needs to be hot enough to melt the salt and sugar so, if your hot water heater by itself does the trick, there you go!

For chicken: Let stand 4 to 8 hours, refrigerated.

For turkey: Let stand 1 to 2 days, refrigerated.

Bows & Crossbows / Archery Bracer and Finger Tab Patterns
« on: February 16, 2014, 01:43:13 PM »
From this EastWoodlandSurvival:

Recipes / Paleo Diet Recipe Sites
« on: December 28, 2013, 11:12:02 AM »
I'll posts whatever links I come across.  I love the fact that these use only natural sweeteners (mostly honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.) and could be a good starting point for adapting standard recipes.  Now, a word of caution/disclosure.  I don't like any recipes that call for special items like xanthum gum.  Even though the only sweetener I use was not created by nature (Splenda), I just don't like the idea of HAVING to order something strictly online in order to cook/eat.  Having said that, there are some really fantastic recipes out there (this first one is currently my favorite because it allows me to have the grain-like items I've missed so much, like crackers and cookies).  If you see recipes that call for erythritol, that is a powdered sugar substitute (I'll be including some of my favorite low-carb/keto websites also).  I'll add more as I stumble onto them.

Her thumbprint cookie recipe is awesome!

This one's vegetarian but has some great recipes

This one ... I don't like the way they set it up.  You'll have to scroll through all the blog posts to find the recipes but there are some good ones!

This one is strict Ketogenic (High Fat, Moderate Protein, Very Low Carb) but still has some great recipes.

This one has a banner add between each posting and the site is a bit of a mess but still, some good recipes

This one?  Use at your own risk.  I made one of her recipes for Double Mocha Cake and it was bad.  My post about it is here:

Recipes / Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
« on: December 28, 2013, 11:09:53 AM »
Want to learn to make sauerkraut but don't want to make tons?  Here's a smaller version (2 quart mason jars) so you can "get your hands wet".

How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

Makes 1 to 1 1/2 quarts
What You Need

1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)

Cutting board
Chef's knife
Mixing bowl
2-quart widemouth canning jar (or two quart mason jars)
Canning funnel (optional)
Smaller jelly jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
Cloth for covering the jar
Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth

    Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it's best to give the good, beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. You'll be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so give those a good wash, too.

    Slice the cabbage: Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.

    Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first, it may not seem like enough salt, but gradually, the cabbage will become watery and limp ó more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you'd like to flavor your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, mix them in now.

    Pack the cabbage into the jar: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the canning jar. If you have a canning funnel, this will make the job easier. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.

    → Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.

    Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.

    Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevent dust or insects from getting in the jar.

    Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.

    Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.

    Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it's fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature ó ideally 65įF to 75įF. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid.

    Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 3 days ó when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There's no hard and fast rule for when the sauerkraut is "done" ó go by how it tastes.

    While it's fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don't eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.

    Store sauerkraut for several months: This sauerkraut is a fermented product so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.

Recipe Notes

    Sauerkraut with Other Cabbages: Red cabbage, napa cabbage, and other cabbages all make great sauerkraut. Make individual batches or mix them up for a multi-colored sauerkraut!

    Canning Sauerkraut: You can process sauerkraut for longer storage outside of refrigeration, but the canning process will kill the good bacterias produced by the fermentation process. See this tutorial from the National Center for Home Food Preservation for canning instructions.

    Larger or Smaller Batches: To make larger or smaller batches of sauerkraut, keep same ratio of cabbage to salt and adjust the size of the container. Smaller batches will ferment more quickly and larger batches will take longer.

    Hot and Cold Temperatures: Do everything you can to store sauerkraut at a cool room temperature. At high temperatures, the sauerkraut can sometimes become unappetizingly mushy or go bad. Low temperatures (above freezing) are fine, but fermentation will proceed more slowly.

Recipes / How to make nut and seed flours
« on: December 28, 2013, 10:26:50 AM »

Grind Nuts and Seeds into Flours and Meals

Here are some of the nuts and seeds I grind regularly in my coffee grinder. Wonder if your favorite nut or seed will grind? Just experiment. You might stumble upon the next great "flour!"

Chia Seed: Due to Miles' egg intolerance, I bake with chia eggs. To make a chia egg I grind white chia seeds in the coffee grinder and mix with water (here's a post on chia and how to make a chia egg).

Flax Seed: Another great foundation for an egg replacer and a nice flour to add to baked goods. What to make with it: Kim Wilson's Soaked-Grains Flatbread over at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen is incredible!

Pumpkin Seed: Makes a great flour. I throw some into my pancake batter for added protein. What else to make with it: I've been wanting to try Maggie's Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Walnuts, Cashews and Pecans: A great addition to baked goods. With softer nuts like these, be careful not to over grind or nut butter will be the result. What to make with it: Grain-Free Breakfast Porridge over at Diet Dessert and Dogs.

Hazelnuts: An alternative to almond flour. What to make with it: My Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Egg-Free Hazelnut Brownies.

Almonds: What to make with it: Any of Elana's Pantry's almond flour-based recipes!

Buckwheat and Quinoa: A great addition to baked goods. Some prefer to sprout/soak, dehydrate and then grind.

Spices: And don't forget to use that coffee grinder for grinding up whole spices like cumin, coriander, peppercorns and small pieces of cinnamon stick.

How to Grind Nuts and Seeds into Flour and/or Meal:

    Fill a coffee grinder 1/2 to 3/4 full (maxmium) with raw nuts or seeds.
    Grind until you have a nice, fluffy flour.
    If the grinder sounds like it is slowing down, check to see if a nut or seed is lodged under, or stuck on, the blade. Dislodge and off you go.
    Repeat until you have the amount your recipe calls for.
    Pick out chunks and grind again or toss.
    Sifting the flour is optional, but ensures a consistently fine flour. I picked up a gently used turn-handle flour sifter at Goodwill (is it any secret how much I love that store?) much like this one. It worked like a charm to sift out the larger bits of hard nuts like almonds. Avoid the multiple screen style sifters like this one. I tried one and it made for a big headache.
    Store any unused flour in an air-tight container in the fridge.


I suggest purchasing a separate coffee grinder for this task. I have not repeated it hundreds of times and don't think it would damage a grinder, but at the same time I don't want to be responsible for damage done to anyone's precious coffee grinder. :) Grind flour at your own risk.

General Food & Water / Paleo Diet
« on: December 28, 2013, 10:11:49 AM »
I was just thinking that it would be prudent to stock up on Paleo recipes for those who use sugar.  There are so many good ones out there and they all use natural sweeteners that store for ridiculous amounts of time (like honey and real maple syrup).  Since they are all tested extensively, they would be a good starting point for adapting standard recipes using these natural sweeteners.  I'll post some links it the recipe section.

Pandemics / Disease / H1N1
« on: December 26, 2013, 06:21:03 PM »

And here's Alberta:

There's an increase in H1N1 cases in the Southern U.S.  I think it's strange this is happening the first year they have included the H1N1 vaccine in the flu shot cocktail.

General Clothing / Crochet/Knitting
« on: December 15, 2013, 04:00:24 PM »
At this moment, I couldn't knit if my life depended on it (I will teach myself to knit one of these days).  I am crocheting, though.  I've been crocheting since I was about 9 but lately I've been striving to learn how to actually do it properly.  I've also been investigating other things, but those topics can wait.  There are so many free patterns out there I wouldn't have enough memory on my hard drive to save them all.  I just wanted to post here, to show my progress and to prove that if I can learn to do these things, anyone can.  It's been rough.  I'm a visual learner.  Plus, having NOT learned the proper terminology, I was having to look up each stitch or technical term to figure out what these people were talking about.  But, once I get going and see the results, then I'm on my way.  I've been posting on my Wordpress blog about my crochet projects.  I'll post the link below so you can see.

I'm currently working on an afghan that I started a year ago.  I'm bound and determined to finish this blasted thing so I can learn weaving.  That I will talk about in separate posts.

General Clothing / Altering Clothes As We Get Smaller
« on: December 15, 2013, 03:38:16 PM »
I posted this on my blogs but forgot to here.  It's good to know how to do these things prior to anything drastic happening.

So, I think Iíve mentioned it before but hubby is losing inches along with me. Itís so bad (good) that our favorite shorts (yes, we both wear the same kind) are completely falling off of him and mine will once I lose a little more lower belly/hip. I love these shorts! They are cargo shorts we bought at Costco, so weíll just have to hope and pray they carry them again next year so we can get some smaller ones. We both hate (and I mean HATE) wearing belts. So, Iíve been wracking my brain since yesterday to figure out how to fix these shorts so we can continue to wear them. I refuse to purchase all new clothes. To be brutally honest, it wouldnít cost me that much. My clothing, like my actual menu, is very dull. I wear a handful of T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and bounce between two pair of pants. But all of this got me thinking about how to properly alter all our clothing so we donít HAVE to purchase new until we are ready for it.

For our shorts/pants, I turned to my favorite pair of pants: BDUs. While I donít mind ďcargo pantsĒ, official BDUs have always been my favorite pants to wear. The pockets are roomy, they hardly shrink at all, and the fit is perfect if you are in any way curvy. Standard BDUs have adjustable waists due to the fact that itís easier to make one pant that will fit multiple sizes than each individual size (and we all know that once a person finishes basic training, they tend to have lost weight). I have always hated tucking my shirts into my pants Ö always. I was going to pull up a picture of when I was little to show the one time that I did but even then, none of my shirts were tucked in. See? Dang Ö aside from some bangs my hair is the same!


Anyway, if you have never seen a BDU waistband, this is how the waist is adjusted:


Itís just a strip of heavy duty grosgrain ribbon threaded through a belt loop. I donít have any idea if I can get those belt loops at the fabric store or not (anyone know?). I donít think itís unsightly in any way but while Googling I found more stylish options.

On this page they discuss the style pictured and one that has an actual belt buckle. All three of these options require one waist adjuster on each side of the pant.

Thereís also this option, using button hole elastic and buttons inside the waist band but the idea of have buttons gouging into my waist all day doesnít make me jump for joy:

Now, take a look at these Levi jeans:

Itís one adjuster, in the back. I bet that would add a little volume to the posterior if you are lucky enough to have a flat behind (like me).

O.k. Now that Iíve went on and on about pants, here are a few links that discuss how to alter the rest of your wardrobe (Warning: you will need to know how to actually sew to do these):

At this link, a little over half way down, the user tcsewhat was a tailor and offers some suggestions:

This one goes into a little more detail about how to alter clothing (without tearing the whole item apart):

And this one (starting about 1/4 of the way down) does discuss tearing the whole item apart:

I hope this will help you to continue on your weight loss journey without getting clothing-inspired depression.

General Food & Water / Coconut Oil (and others) Supplier
« on: October 21, 2013, 07:09:07 AM »
I bought a 5-gallon bucket 9 years-ish ago, when I was making soap.  Of course, that's just about the time I stopped making soap but who knew I'd be eating this stuff and it makes the best natural (though greasy) moisturizer.  I just checked the price and it's the same ($105 per 5 gallons plus shipping).  I think I got the 76, which smells and tastes strongly of coconut.

General Food & Water / Me, Diabetes, Low Carb/Keto Food Storage
« on: October 05, 2013, 04:59:19 AM »
I'm not sure where to put this.  Wednesday, August 7, 2013 I went in to see my doctor (first time for a full-blown physical in 3 years).  Even though I was being lazy about my eating and checking my blood sugars, I thought I was fine.  It turns out I wasn't.  My blood sugars were out of whack, with a fasting blood glucose of 222 (a1c of 7.5)!  I know what did it.  I started eating cereal ... once I start, I can't stop.  That's all I want for lunch or a snack or both.  Even though it was "good for you" cereal (Ancient Grains from Costco), it was too much.  My body got angry.  So, I began (again) with the Atkins plan.  It helped (instead of 222, my fasting blood sugars dropped to the high 100s) but it wasn't enough.  My blood sugars were all over the charts.  No matter how few carbohydrates I ate, I couldn't stabilize my blood sugar readings.  After much searching (as in Googling for days) I stumbled on something I had never heard of: the Ketogenic diet.  It's basically Atkins but you count not only your carbohydrates but your calories, fats, and protein, too.  It's a high fat (roughly 65% of your calories), moderate protein, low carbohydrate (5% of your calories) plan and it's up to you to figure out how much of what to eat.  It's a whole bunch of math that I won't bore you with but attached is a basic "What is Keto?" description.  I began the nutritional Ketogenic diet on September 2, 2013.  Up until that point, I had lost 9 pounds.  Since then, I've lost another 5 and that's not why I started doing this.  My blood sugars, without medication, now run between the low 70's and low 90's throughout the day.  I'm doing great!  And that brings me to why I'm posting this here.  Food storage that relies on fats and protein instead of carbohydrates.  I'm not going to dump all my carbohydrate-laden foods (there are other people I need to feed) but shifting my focus is trying on my brain.  The only thing that keeps floating around in my head is jerky.  Of course, canning the meat will allow me to retain more of the natural fat but it's kinda hard to lug around if we have to bug out with only our bug out bags.  So, I'm working my brain.  We found out the hard way that this house just gets too warm to keep solid fats at room temperature (some lard melted through the unopened box), so pemmican, while a good grab and go food, would have to be stored in the freezer until used.  Anyway, I found out that I posted a list of links about low carb food storage 2 years ago (good to know I actually acted on those tips, huh?).  Here's the link for those who are interested:  So, as you can see, my focus for the past couple of months has been food and health.  If you would like to follow along on my journey (and see some great recipes I have been finding), go here:  You'll get to see some pretty awful pictures and watch my weight and measurements rise and fall on my stats page.  One thing, if you feel like commenting: I am allergic to all seafood so storing any of that would be worse than me eating a bunch of sugar.  lol  I sure do miss it, though.  Those cans of smoked herring fillets were so tiny (and GOOD) and fit perfectly in my bug out bag!

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