Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Graple? Grapple? GROSS

This morning a co-worker thrust an apple at me and said, "Smell this."

"Smell this" isn't usually considered a polite greeting, but I let it slide and did, in fact, smell the proferred fruit. The aroma was sweet but perplexing.

"It's a graple! It's a cross between an apple and a grape! It's, like, genetically modified!"

I, like, almost threw it back at him. Eww eww eww EWW.

When he saw that modified genetics were not the way to impress me ("oh yeah, I forget who I was talking to...") he decided to take another tack: "Well, it's organic."

The genetically modified food item is organic? ARE YOU HIGH??

Anyway, I couldn't find much about this fruit-like substance on the internet tonight, but it appears that the apple itself may not be genetically modified, it may "just" have had some grape juice (or grape juice substitute, I wouldn't be surprised) injected under its skin.

So maybe it's not the work of the devil. But it's still freaking weird and I will never taste it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Lost Weekend

Omigod Lost was soooo awesome last night, they should just rename the show "Awesome" and be done with it. Did I understand it? No. Did my friends understand it? Hell to the no. But who cares, it's baaaaaaack.

Which brings me to my (possibly upcoming) Lost weekend. Son has expressed an interest in watching my Lost DVD's, so we may watch a few; heavens knows I'm pumped!

Also on the agenda for the weekend, I know Son is looking forward to feeding the worms, but that only takes two minutes at the most. I want him to go through the seed catalogue with me and pick a few things that he wants to grow. He is involved in my garden planning and maintenance every year, not to a high degree but enough that I know he is slowly learning here and there. I love it when he calls me to ask how "his" carrots are doing, and I know how much he loves to eat "his" tomatoes. (even though "I" did all the work!)

I also know he was kind of intrigued when I told him I was learning to make cheese, so I may get out all my utensils, sanitize them, and try again with his help. Don't get me wrong: he thinks I'm absolutely crazy, but he is young enough to find it amusing and want to come along for the ride. Plus then he gets to make fun of me, so we all win.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And just because...

Damn, we're good looking.

Recommended links

have been updated. There are others yet to be added, but for now, here are my favourite homesteading / self suffuciency sites....plus my FAVOURITE rock n' roll site, my brother's band at www.automan.ca

I'm telling you, that kid is going to be a rock star and pay off my mortgage....

The Cheese Chronicles, Part Three: It didn't translate well.

When last we spoke, I had turned four litres of milk in to some kind of weird yogurt thing, and I was still hopeful it would turn in to cheese.


"Weird yogurt" was as good as it ever got, I ended up throwing the whole thing out. Still, I am not discouraged, I will try something slightly different tomorrow with this crazy liquid rennet. (I will ALSO be getting some tablet rennet, which is what the recipes call for, within a few weeks.)

This afternoon I realized that I was out of flour, and so I asked Hubandly One to picksome up at the grocery store. He brought home whole wheat flour, which he bought by mistake but I was glad to get, I have been looking forward to "sneaking" a bit of whole wheat in to my breads. But because all I HAD was whole wheat flour, I needed a new recipe. I picked the first one I found, and am now (gasp!) using my bread machine for the first time in years.

When I was a young, stay-at-home mother, I used my bread machine almost daily....just dump stuff in and bread pops out a few hours later. Since then, though, I have discovered how much I enjoy making my bread by hand, the old fashioned way. We'll see how this loaf turns out, maybe there's still life in that machine after all...

Oh, I almost forgot....on Friday, I mentioned to Supervisor how much I would love to keep chickens, but both my zoning laws and Husbandly One are keeping me from it. (Hey, the worms were a hard sell for him, I think adding chickens to the mix would mean "divorce".) Now, by chickens I meant layers, but she told me that some years she and her husband raise meat birds on their small farm. She is willing to grow some meat birds for me! She and her husband practice organic gardening / farming, so I am pumped. She ALSO promised me some sheep manure (they don't raise sheep, they just get truckloads of it from thier neighrbour.) We also discussed trading herbs: she will give me some of her dill for some of my garlic, etc.

This just shows the power of expressing your interests to people: in the last two weeks, I have struck a deal with one friend for free apples and cherries, and struck another deal for meat chickens, manure, and herbs. Things are going well...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cheese Chronicles, Part Two

As previously mentioned, I am not EXACTLY following the recipe I found through my beloved Internet, particularly seeing how my rennet isn't in the same form the recipe recommends.

So far ? I have some kind of weird yogurt...I hope this translates well!

The Cheese Chronicles, Episode One: This Is RIdiculous

We now interrupt the Worm Chronicles to bring you today's installment of the Cheese Chronicles.

I procurred rennet from an actual cheesemaker, someone who pays his mortgage with his cheese, as opposed to buying some anonymous powder.

I sanitized all my equipment by way of boiling water: my pot, my spoon, my thermometer, my glass bowls, my measuring sppons, my measuring cups, my knife... and lest this list of equipment convinces you that making cheese is "hard", it ISN'T. What IS hard is getting the milk to the right temperature so that you can begin. First my milk was too cold, then it was too warm, and now I'm back to cold again. I have been at this for FIVE HOURS, and all I have to show for my labour is four litres of milk at the wrong temperature....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pop quiz

What do you get when you combine heroin with crack? In my world, you get a seed catalogue.

My first seed catalogue of the season arrived today, and I almost asked Husbandly One to turn down the lights, put on some romantic music, and leave me ALONE with my precious catalogue. So many vegetables, so many choices.... I think my cooing got a bit annoying after a while, because he finally said, "Oh would you just shut up, you don't even LIKE radishes!"

In other news, I bring you The Worm Chronicles, Chapter Four: In Which Our Heroine Nourishes A Community. Tonight I fed my beautiful worms for the first time; Ilex had recommended waiting up to two weeks, but I just couldn't resist the temptation any longer. In my own defense, I didn't feed them much, probably just a few tablespoons, but it felt soooooo good. And even though I know there is no need, I carefully chopped and shredded their first meal in their new home; after all, I wanted it to be special.

(Don't worry, I will be seeking therapy shortly....)

And finally, an update on my 2009 so far as it relates to new skills and personal growth:

-- I have begun studying "A Purpose Driven Life" with my mentor, Pam....I know she will forgive me that I am now woefully behind in the daily lessons (after only two weeks!) but I AM enjoying it, and I AM thinking about things in new ways.

-- I have perfected baking white bread, and found a focaccia recipe so good that Husbandly One has specifically requested I make it twice in the last ten days. Both recipes were found at the blog A Year In Bread (I will update my recommended blogs shortly, I swear.)

-- I have read four novels and am starting a fifth.

-- I took pictures of all my favourite Christmas ornaments before I took my tree down. I plan to create a very small, very simple book with the photos and brief explanations as to why those particular baubles are so important to me. Someday, that information will be important to my Son, and what if I'm not around to tell him?

-- I have begun worm farming!!

-- I have been watching the sales for my flight to Spain this fall.

-- I am teaching myself how to make cheese this coming Saturday!! (blog post SURE to follow!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Worm Chronicles, Chapter Three: In which our heroine swears loudly

Okay, you already know Chapter One: the fabulous Kelz bought me a worm farm for Christmas. Much joyful noise was make by yours truly, and only a bit of grumbling and knashing of teeth from Husbandly One.

Chapter Two: the worms weren't really bonding with their new digs. The fabulous Ilex of Homesteading In A Condo told me this is very common. The best thing to do was take the cover off the bin and leave them in a room with the lights on for 24 hours or so, really make them dig in to the new bedding (the worms hate light.) The only thing she cautioned, though, was that I not turn off the lights while the lid was off, because they would escape the bin and end up all over my house.

(Cue ominous music now, by the way.)

Chapter Three: I got home from work this afternoon and went to check on the bin. I got to the bottom of the stairs, and realized there was no light shining under the closed door....

I SHRIEKED, I swore, and lunged for the door, imagining worms dripping from every surface. Husbandly One was upstairs and clearly heard my racket, because he called down, "What's wrong??"

"Nothing! Don't come down here!!"

Smooth, Irma. Because of course he came pounding down the stairs and was with me within seconds.

Miracle of miracles of MIRACLES, all the worms were still in their bin. Well, I mean, I assume they're all in the bin -- it's not like they have names -- but I didn't see any evidence of any worms outside the bin....and believe me, I checked everywhere!

The moral of all this is that, while the worms are my exclusive domain in the house, and taking care of them will always be my responsibility, sometimes I need to tell Husbandly One what I'm doing with them. He was, in fact, the one who turned off the light in the room last night, never dreaming for a second it was on for a reason, or what could have happened in the dark.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Leave me a plate

Late this afternoon, my step son called up from downstairs, "I'm going out."

His father: "Will you be back for dinner?"

Step Son: "Huh??"

His father (calling downstairs): "Do I need to think about you when we cook dinner?"

Stepson: "I don't know, I'm going out with my friends....but leave me a plate for when I get back."

And this? This has left me angry. Stepson expecting his father (I know I didn't make the tone clear) to prepare a meal for him, and wrap it in Saran, and put it in the fridge for him to eat whenever it pleases him....because he is too busy and wonderful to eat with us.

My Stepson, who lives here completely rent and utility free, is 24 years old. Twenty four. At that age, I was a married woman, chatelaine of my own home. I wasn't living in my father's basement, stealing his black socks, driving up his phone bill, drinking his beer, demanding rides, and bitching when I didn't like the free meals my stepmother cooked.

At twenty four, I cooked my own food or my husband and I went hungry. I dug through pockets and drawers, looking for change so I could do the laundry. I wrote our rent check every month, knowing that someday we would leave rent behind. And if I thought I needed something new? I found a way to make the old thing work, not wanting to be an expense to my new husband right away. I scrimped and I saved and I penny pinched and I paid my own way, damn it.

And, never once in my life, did I ever disrespect anyone by pissing on their offer of a good, homecooked, entirely free meal by shrugging and saying, "Leave me a plate."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today's helpful hint

I am quite busy in the kitchen today, cooking, baking bread, etc, and so I am wearing my trusty new apron. Now, a "real" chef crosses the long strings in the back and them ties them in front. Me? NOT a chef, just a chick trying not to get dirty, so I tie the long strings in the back.

So, if you're like me and tie in the back? And if you realize you need to go pee? You should probably pick up the strings in one hand before you sit down and piss on them.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

She knows me

Have you ever had a friend who just totally gets you, someone who knows you every bit as well as you know yourself?

In my life, her name is Kelly.

Today her Christmas gift to me arrived, two separate packages. Package one? A book of maps for the Camino de Santiago, which we are walking together this October. I have long wanted to make this pilgrimage (hellooooo? My blog is called Caminho, which is the Portuguese version) and I am finally going to do it with the best friend a girl could ever have.

Package two? A WORM FARM. Yes, a worm farm so I can recycle my kitchen waste into the most amazing compost in the world.

Now, when I told Husbandly One a few months ago that I wanted a worm farm, he looked me in the eye and said, "You can't really expect I'd buy that for you" because, umm, you know, it's WORMS. But Kelz? She goes right ahead and buys the damn thing for me, she is just as much of a Crunchy Granola as I am.

And Husbandly One? Well, he's not particularly happy with either Kelz or me at the moment, but he'll get over it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2009, I think we can all agree that, while 2008 held many charms, it is time to embrace the new year.

I am not going to bore you (or myself) with a list of resolutions, but I WILL tell you what 2009 has in store for me.

I WILL plant a "real" garden this spring and summer. I will eat of my labours, and I will preserve the summer's bounty for the depths of winter.

I WILL divorce my ex-husband, after all these years. I can't tell you that I will then marry Husbandly One, because I don't control that part of the equation....but I can tell you I will make myself marriageable, what he does with it after that is up to him.

I WILL not allow myself to feel bitter or sad if Husbandly One's reaction is less than stellar.I WILL allow myself to become as giddy as a schoolgirl if his response is favourable.

I WILL travel to Spain in October, to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Kelz. I will set off on my own spiritual path, and wait with great anticipation to see what the universe reveals to me.

I will.