Category Archives: Homesteading

Sheller and Pitter and Shredder – Oh My!

These three items are featured in this week’s newsletter. Sheller and Pitter and Shredder – Oh my! Have we got what you need for mass food production!

Mr. Pea Sheller

Mr. Pea Sheller will shell your peas and beans. It’s fast, safe to use and built to last.

Cherry Stoner, Jr

Cherry Stoner, Jr makes quick work of stoning cherries by nearly effortlessly removing the stones from up to five cherries at a time. There’s no need to be careful to load the cherries just right, the Cherry Stoner, Jr can handle it.

Deluxe Cabbage Shredder

The Deluxe Cabbage Shredder is great for church suppers, sports clubs, restaurants and diners and other folks who make large batches of coleslaw, kimchi or sauerkraut. Cooperatives and groups of friends might get together to buy the Deluxe Cabbage Shredder to share.

Coleslaw Recipe

The sauce for coleslaw is key to making the best slaw possible. This recipe is easy to remember when you’re in the middle of cooking for a big dinner.

1 part vinegar
2 parts sugar
4 parts mayonnaise

Every cup of mayo gets a half cup of sugar and a quarter-cup of vinegar. That’s it. Mix it up, pour it over shredded cabbage and carrots and you’re done.

One cup of mayo will coat one to two pounds of cabbage depending on how creamy you like  your slaw.

Garlic Scapes – You do what with them?

Mary asked about picking and prepping garlic scapes in our last blog. “I’m sure. I’d love a few pointers regarding picking (how low down do you pick them?) and prepping (the flower bud goes in the trash, correct?)”

How to Pick Garlic Scapes

Don’t pick this much of the plant. I picked this to get a better picture.

A scape is garlic’s flower stem. On this stem, the flower is still developing and is closed. The scape is young and pliable. You might be able to pull the scape from the plant but usually you’ll need to snap it off. Snap or pull it from just above the last frond. If you pick early enough the entire stem is soft. If the bottom is woody you’ll need to cut it off and use only the pliable portion.

Pick garlic scape here

Pick garlic scape here

If I’ve picked them early enough the flower bud is tiny and I use it in my pesto and pickled scapes. If they’re larger, like the one in this photo, I use one or two for looks. They are edible but a bit more fibrous. This jar went into the fridge to be eaten first because it doesn’t have a cover that seals.

Garlic Scape Pesto

10-20 garlic scapes, depending on size
1/3 cup nuts (walnut, pistachio, pine nut, almonds; may also use sunflower seeds)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil

Remove flower buds from scapes. Chop scapes into one to two inch pieces that won’t get pushed to the outer edge of the blender or food processor.

Process scapes and nuts or sunflower seeds until smooth, adding olive oil as you go. Stir in Parmesan cheese by hand.

Garlic scape pesto is excellent on Bruscetta, pasta, crackers and even as a spread in your sandwich. Want to spice up your spaghetti sauce? Add some pesto, either garlic scape or basil. If you have leftover basil and garlic scape pestoes you can mix them together. It doesn’t matter whether the nuts match, it will be tasty.

Motivation Monday – Canning Jars

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday – a little inspiration to start your week on a good path. Please share your Motivation Monday link in comments. Or share a motivational quote. We’ll visit your blog and leave a comment.

A little inspiration was needed to get the strawberry patch weeded and mulched so I counted the empty canning jars to be sure I have enough for jam. If I don’t get that patch tended to I won’t have enough berries for all I want to put up.

Motivation Monday - Canning Jars

Motivation Monday – Canning Jars

Rain Days

Yeah for rain days! It’s raining today, perfect timing. After a long winter and a hurried spring, it’s nice to have a day indoors. I’m making Chicken Marsala for supper. It’s been a week of simple meals and I’m really looking forward to sitting down with the chicken, fresh asparagus and brown rice.

A few late blooming tart cherry blossoms.

A few late blooming tart cherry blossoms.

The washing machine is getting a workout today. It’s not the best timing but oh when you are a homesteader things sometimes get done when they get done. As much as I love to hang clothes on the line to dry, it’s not happening on this rainy day. I’ll miss sleeping on sheets that were dried in the sun and fresh air and scented by cherry and lilac blossoms, but I’ll fall asleep so fast tonight I won’t miss them for long. Today the dryer is running. Sometimes we compromise in order to get things done and that’s okay.

Also earning its keep today – the dishwasher. I sometimes like to hand wash dishes but this isn’t one of those times. I’ve cleaned out the refrigerator (bonus points for getting this done before science projects sprouted in the back corners), made the chickens happy with their windfall of leftovers, and filled the dish washer. Twice. I love being able to open the door and see what’s in there without squinting or worrying something will fall out and crush my toes.

Clutter gets on my nerves so on this peaceful rainy day, I’m de-cluttering. I am reasonably sure two people do not need eight sandwich containers (we seldom eat sandwiches to begin with). I’ve accumulated a half dozen candles that have only an hour or two worth of wax and wick left so one at a time, I’m burning them. Pine & Balsam in the living room, then Woodland Forest in the kitchen at the other end of the house, and when that was gone I’ll choose another scent. The candle jars will be passed on to a friend who’ll use them to plant succulents. Waste not, want not, yes?

I’m happy to see the rain for the sake of the strawberries. I’m growing Sparkle, a variety with a lot of runners. Some of the parent plants from last year have four or five babies. I’ve dug them up, transplanted them to a new strawberry patch, and have watered them daily. Today’s rain gives me a break from watering and gives the plants a break from the bright sun. They looked terrible yesterday but better today.

Dandelions and puddles

Dandelions and puddles

The apple, pear and cherry blossoms are almost gone. The bees had a nice long spell of good weather and got their job of pollinating done before the rain came. I sit here by the window, looking out at a young apple tree with a few straggling blossoms left, and think ahead to the apples I’ll be using for sauce and pies, leaving some behind for the white-tail deer.

Choke cherry blossoms

Choke cherry blossoms weighed down by the rain

I’ll make cherry jelly with the tart cherries if I can pick them before the robins and blue jays discover them. The choke cherries are left for the birds, and sometimes the bears, a bit more tart than we like.

Peaceful, lazy rainy days sure are busy. They’re a welcome change of pace at the end of a busy week and before the start of a sunny, hot weekend.

What do you do on rainy days?

Homestead Dumps

Old farming equipment, toys and kitchen ware were often left in private homestead dumps in New England. Without weekly trash pick up and landfills, each family had to take care of its own waste. These old items were found in Maine.

An old granite ware pail left in the woods

An old granite ware pail left in the woods

Old milking pail

Do you have an old dump on your homestead? What have you found on your property from years gone by?

Best Basic Cheese Kit – Let’s Make Cheese!

I’ve dabbled in a little cheese making in the past – just enough to know I want to make more, and I want it to be delicious. I love really good cheese. Jerri Bedell, our beloved owner of Homesteader’s Supply, sent the Best Basic Cheese Kit to me to try out. You see…I have an idea. I think we should make cheese together. All of us! Well not all of us. Of course not everyone wants to make cheese. But how about some of us?

Here’s my plan. On Tuesday, May 13, I’m going to make cheese using the Best Basic Cheese Kit. There’s time for you to order the kit, get familiar with it, and be ready to make cheese that day. We’ll compare notes as we go and talk about the cheese we made. If you write about this in your blog we’ll share your link on Facebook, Twitter and in a blog about our cheese making day.

The cheese kit is only $44.88, and shipping is free in the lower 48 states.

Best Basic Cheese Kit

So about that cheese kit! This is the same supplies and equipment used by professionals to make cheese.  It contains some of the same quality products in our larger kits, just gives you the basic products you need to try your hand at making all kinds of cheese.  And what better than to buy your kit from a store that takes pride in helping our customers!

Best Basic Cheese Kit

Best Basic Cheese Kit

Our kit does not contain any citric acid or vinegar, and there is no need for a microwave.  Let’s face it, real cheese takes time to make…some faster than others. But if you want the best tasting, all natural cheese, then this is the kit for you.

With this kit you will be able to make many types of cheese, as it includes both basic mesophilic and thermophilic cultures, enough to make up to 24 lbs of cheese from each type.   And, these cultures are the only  type where you can make a mother culture for continued use, so they can last you a very long time.  We include that recipe. The Reblochon Mold is the best one to use as a form for soft cheeses and mozzarella, and as a press for harder cheeses like Colby and Cheddar, making one pound of cheese from one gallon of milk!  The rennet is vegetarian, and usually only needs 1/4 or 1/2 half tablet per gallon of milk. The calcium chloride is for making cheese with pasteurized milk, necessary to help for the curds.  And the bonus is you can even make butter and sour cream with this kit!

Everything that is included in this kit and more information about the kit is available on our website. Please let us know that you’ve ordered one of our cheese kits (doesn’t have to be this one in particular!) and will be making cheese with us. We’d like to blog about the project, include your photos and comments, and if you have one, link to your blog. You may comment here, leave a message on Facebook or send Robin an email.