Working For Change

Rambos_1466113268281_40484094_ver1.0_640_480

I don’t have much patience for folks who complain about life while sitting still. Anyone who knows me can attest to this.

If you want things to be different, step forward.

Here in our neighborhood, which has been our home for 3 1/2 years now, this is especially important. Historic Northeast has seen its share of problems. Home to some of the first residential neighborhoods in Kansas City, it has gone through a series of economics dips and crashes.

Urban flight.

Crime.

Good old urban decay.

People have walked away from some of these houses. Let the back taxes pile up and the houses crumble as they sought safer places to live.

But recently there has been an upsurge in folks moving INTO the area instead of out of it. There are still some magnificent homes here, ones that can be had for a fraction of what they would cost anywhere else in the metro. It was one of the reasons we moved here.

Our 117-year-old house has just about everything I could ask for:

  • Three times the square footage
  • Five city lots (about .4 acres) to garden on
  • Centralized location
  • Cost less than our 1,100 square foot home in the suburbs
  • Quality brick walls and hardwood floors
  • Excellent neighbors

And that last one, the neighbors, really make a difference. The community as a whole seems more invested in the area than my fellow suburbanites ever were in our previous home.

Last week we saw on Real Northeast, a Facebook page dedicated to keeping residents informed and engaged, that a new local eatery had suffered their third break-in since opening in October.

Someone broke out the side door glass at Rambo’s last night. They squeezed through the security bars in place. They stole a bunch of stuff. They cannot catch a break. Please make it a point to come eat at this place as soon as you can. He needs our support.

And a while later, an event was created to show this local restaurant that their neighbors cared…

Rambos

And then someone else (not me) had the bright idea of bringing in the media. I immediately jumped on board and emailed three local stations: KCTV5, FOX4News, and KSHB.

I’ve noticed a trend in news reporting around here. Or should I say a lack of news reporting?

KSHB is the only news station that I have seen actively reporting on news in our area. And so I wasn’t too surprised to hear from them. We set up a time to meet today, and I made sure that Michael Stringer, the organizer of the event, knew about it. He was the one who had thought of it after all, and I wanted the credit to go where it was due.

That said, his schedule didn’t allow for it, so guess who got tapped?

Yep. Yours truly.

By the end of the interview, I was a bundle of nerves. Josh from KSHB news also interviewed Michael Donnici, another local resident, and the news story aired on the 6pm news.

Local Residents Rally

My point in telling you all this is not to bang my own drum. Although I will admit to a bit of fangirl “Squee, I was on the news!”

Instead, it is this message: We can change things for the better. We can stand up. We can take part. We can bring attention to hard-working, honest businesses (instead of predatory payday loan companies) and support them.

Olivia and Rambo are lovely folks. They make the best damn fried okra I’ve ever eaten and the hamburgers and fried chicken are also delicious!

I want businesses like those gracing Independence Avenue. Not some damn pawn shop.

Whether you stand up and enact change by planting flowers, helping out neighbors, or organizing an event like today – just DO it.

We can make our street, our neighborhood, our community, our city a better place. All it takes is showing up.

Posted in Advocacy, Community | Leave a comment

Urban Farm Tour – Coming Soon!

UrbanGrown_Logo_Blue_noBground

Nope, we are NOT on the farm tour this year.

Can’t be on the tour AND visit local farms at the same time after all!

I am looking forward to the tour, though. It’s been several years since I got to attend one, and I’m rarin’ to go.

Here are the details, hope to see you there!

Website: Cultivate KC

The Urban Grown Tour is open Saturday, June 25, 9 am-5 pm at Sunday, June 26, 12 pm-5 pm.

Tickets are $8/individual or $20/family and good for both days to visit as many sites as you can.

There are 31 sites on the tour this year! I can’t wait to see some of them!

Buy your tickets here!

A lovely columbine

A lovely columbine

Posted in Advocacy, Events/Tours | Leave a comment

2016 Projects!

13130989_10153698328061872_5039512439278165314_o

I have exciting news! Our house, along with at least 3-4 others, will be on the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society Homes Tour this fall!

That's a rather holey wall there

That’s a rather holey wall there

NEKCHS truly represents ALL of Historic Northeast Kansas City – and this year they are focusing on Lykins. And while I listened to them reassure us, “Don’t worry about it being perfect, just open the doors and we will do the rest,” I couldn’t help but think of a multitude of projects we needed to finish in time for the tour.

 

IMG_0374

I was so excited that I sat down and made these lace and burlap curtains for the main level bathroom.

IMG_0372

They were sorely needed, believe me, and compliment the hand towels I had the other day with the same lace.

IMG_0352

You know those “bath towels” which aren’t really bath towels that actually fit around your body unless you are a career anorexic or a child under 75 pounds in weight? I took one of them, cut it into three sections and made hand towels from it!

IMG_0353

And isn’t this the prettiest lace? I had a whole bunch of it, but with three hand towels and four curtain panels, there isn’t much left now.

The back bedroom closet door after removing the moulding prior to wall demo

The back bedroom closet door after removing the moulding prior to wall demo

And upon returning home after the meeting, I made a list:

  • Finish painting hall downstairs and extend into upstairs
  • Clean, paint, re-wire and hang old light fixture in front hall
  • Widen front porch stairs
  • Print old newspaper stories and excerpts and put on boards on easels on the front porch
  • Fix stair banister piece DONE (Dave took care of this right away!)
  • Install portiere curtains in front parlor and upstairs library
  • Clean stairs and upstairs hallway carpet?
  • Hang pictures in front parlor
  • Eliminate clutter on the porch in order to use both front doors for incoming and outgoing traffic
  • Re-upholster old couch?  The couch is in the attic, I’ll work on it AFTER the tour!

And of course, we have our regular projects going on. These include continuing to work on tuckpointing inside the basement. We have begun work on the really bad wall – the north wall of the “dungeon.”

The back bedroom of The Cottage ready for demo

The back bedroom of The Cottage ready for demo

Also, although we cannot find financing for the renovation of the Cottage, we have begun demo’ing the interior walls so we can wire the house properly. We will take this on a room by room basis. We have the electrical wire we need, along with all of the electrical boxes, outlets and switches. Once we have power outlets upstairs, we can set in a window a/c unit to keep us cool during the summer as we continue to demo the walls and do what we can for a small amount of money and large amount of sweat!

My newest book - a sci-fi/dystopian novel now available on Amazon

My newest book – a sci-fi/dystopian novel now available on Amazon

Danielle and I are building the cleaning biz up, and when fall arrives and her classes begin, I’ll take over the clients she can’t work around her school schedule.

I’ve begun work again on the van, but it is limited due to my writing and marketing projects. My first science fiction book, Gliese 581: Departure is out and available on Kindle, and should be available soon in paperback as well. I’m busy marketing that while I flip back and forth from writing a non-fiction book and working on the beginning of a 12-13 book fantasy series.

I’ve got a busy life, but I do enjoy it!

Posted in DIY, Events/Tours | Leave a comment

Oh Boy…

 

This hole is directly below the fireplace in the front parlor

This hole is directly below the fireplace in the front parlor – see the cracks to the right of the picture? This mortar is hard on the outside but sand on the inside.

When we bought this property, the inspector told us, “Your foundation and your brickwork need tuckpointing.”

He meant “now” but with all of the other things on our plate, we didn’t start right away. There was a dog fence to build, family obligations, and a lot of getting used to in this big old house.

We have had stops and starts as well. About 18 months ago we managed to get the west wall inside the large middle room of the basement done. We also worked on an alcove on the east wall in the large middle room last summer.

Some of the area we have cleared of the crumbling mortar

Some of the area we have cleared of the crumbling mortar – those dark spots often go for a foot or more back

This past winter we managed to reinforce the limestone foundation on all three walls of the “front” room of the basement where the stairs are. This is actually at the back of the house. That was a biggie, we had some holes that were extending a full two feet to the outside of the house and blocking those icy cold drafts was huge!

In early spring we managed to finish most of the east wall in the large middle room. We still have some work to go in the little alcove which is directly below our living room, but the other day Dave asked, “Have you seen the dungeon’s walls? You are going to freak.”

A close up

A close up

The “dungeon” is the last room in the basement. It is under the front parlor and hallway. We call it the dungeon because it was creepy, full of old pipes from when the upstairs of the house was divided into apartments. Cobwebs hang from the ceiling and there is one lone lightbulb to light up an 12’x20′ space.

I walked into the dungeon with a extra-long standard screwdriver which I had been using to test the mortar, and discovered that the walls were horribly degraded.

How degraded?

The north and west wall - we haven't dug into this yet

The north and west wall – we haven’t dug into this yet – see how degraded parts of the north wall are? Wait until I dig out more!

Well, in some spots the mortar is a little better than the consistency of sand. Often there is a thin veneer of still intact mortar, which can be punched through with relative ease, then sending a shower of sandy mortar pouring onto the floor.

It’s bad.

Dave found a great deal on lights at Lowe’s. They were under $14 each. The nice thing about these is that we can easily move them if we need to, and they just plug into an outlet.

What a repaired wall looks like - it isn't pretty, but it will hold.

What a repaired wall looks like – it isn’t pretty, but it will hold.

Once we had light on the situation I felt better. It’s tough digging around in the dark. At least now I could really see what was happening. Some of the holes are at least a foot deep!

All of this section of the basement is nearly completely underground, so at least I don’t have to worry about breezes. However, some of these walls are scary in how bad they are.

Another patch of repaired wall

Another patch of repaired wall

So if I seem less than active here, there, or everywhere – it is because we are making it a priority. On top of these limestone rocks and now sand-that-was-once-mortar is a three-story building made of bricks. That’s a lot of weight.

Slowly we dig out patches, vacuum it out, then add the special mortar. Some of these holes are huge, folks. If we can get this done, completely, I have no doubt that our house will continue to be safe and shelter us well in the decades to come.

And if you are interested in learning how this is done, come on by and volunteer. I’m happy to put you to work!

The north wall of the "dungeon"

The north wall of the “dungeon” – we haven’t dug into this much, so right now it looks relatively intact, but most of this mortar is nothing better than sand

Posted in Challenges, DIY | Leave a comment

Our New Sign Is Up!

IMG_0341

Last year, at the last minute, I asked my eldest to make a sign for our garden. It was the first time we were on the Urban Grown Tour and I wanted to make sure folks could easily find us.

She did a great job, but the sign, made in haste, employed a wood that was not well-prepared for outdoor exposure.

IMG_0343

It quickly disintegrated and I winced every time I saw it, half peeling, wood sagging in places.

Dee mentioned it first, “I really need to re-do that sign for you.”

IMG_0344

Life got busy, especially with the advent of spring. But we were determined to get a new sign in place. So we took down the old one, found some pressure-treated wood in the basement, and painted it white.

IMG_0345

Dee spent hours on this and it was finally completed two days ago. I applied sealant to the lettering, and my husband, Dave, mounted it in the yard today. The white paint was outdoor paint, so I think we should be able to enjoy this sign for years to come.

Hooray for our new sign!

IMG_0346

Posted in DIY | Leave a comment

Yessssss…My Precioussss…

It started before we ever moved into this house.

IMG_0317

The only “modern” part I was cool with. It has an electric light!

The longing.

I wanted the versatility, the instant response, I was ready to “go pro.”

The original salt and pepper shakers. The timer doesn't work very well, but I had fun playing with it.

The original salt and pepper shakers. The timer doesn’t work very well, but I had fun playing with it.

I wanted….

The knobs, and removable drip trays

The knobs, and removable drip trays

A gas stove.

But I didn’t want a new one. Oh no. Not me. I had to get an old one. A real old one.

Dee, my pink-haired wunderkind re-attaching the hardware.

Dee, my pink-haired wunderkind re-attaching the hardware.

I didn’t want anything that would be considered electronic within it. No digital display, no computer controlled dealios. Just an old, OLD gas stove that I could use.

The "scientific cooking chart" on the oven door

The “scientific cooking chart” on the oven door

One that could handle my big old canning pots and also serve as a backup/secondary oven for bigger meals.

Yes, you heard that right – I wasn’t getting rid of the electric smoothtop range – I wanted a SECOND stove.

IMG_0323

When J & S, our lovely neighbors who sold us the house, renovated everything, they decided to create a new kitchen out of what was originally a servant’s living/dining area. It had a door into a closet, and also a door into the main level bathroom (yes, the main level bathroom originally had TWO doors leading into it) that were both walled over.

IMG_0324

Technically speaking, the room was probably two rooms at one time, a butler’s pantry occupied about 1/3 of it, but that was long after we or our neighbors had been introduced to it.

Storage on the left

Storage on the left

In any case, the old kitchen became our utility room. With the help of J, we created a bump out and ran pipes and electrical to one wall, creating a space for our washer and dryer.

A "scientific broiling chart"

A “scientific broiling chart”

Only the old farmhouse sink remained in the kitchen. It was here in the old kitchen that I decided I would put the second stove.

Second storage drawer

Second storage drawer

I began to haunt Craig’s List. And on Friday morning, I saw a stove that jumped out at me. It was priced at $145. We went to look at it, and I talked the guy down to $100 because we had absolutely NO idea whether it was functional or not.

How cool is this? The top folds down and covers the cooktop when not in use.

How cool is this? The top folds down and covers the cooktop when not in use.

Yeah, I paid $100 for a stove that may or may not work.

I’ve just spent the past two hours cleaning it and cooing over it.

I added a cookbook and this cool old juicer from the same era as the stove.

I added a cookbook and this cool old juicer from the same era as the stove.

There’s been a lot of cooing.

I’m figuring it is late 40’s early 50’s era. A Roper model.

Because everyone needs a little roast woodcock in their lives

Because everyone needs a little roast woodcock in their lives

Dave will be employed soon. After he is, I’ll be making some calls to find out what needs to happen to run a gas line and do a pressure test on it.

I’ll be crossing my fingers that I haven’t bought a dysfunctional stove!

IMG_0337

I really love it. And if push comes to shove and it isn’t functional, well, I’ll try to re-sell it for what I paid for it. I think it is absolutely lovely.

IMG_0334

Sir Maxwell inspects the cleaning job on the stove. He actually said I missed a spot!

Posted in Antiques, Baking/Cooking | Leave a comment

Quick and Easy Croutons

IMG_0309

I don’t like store-bought croutons.

You know why?

I find them too big.

Way back when they had smaller croutons, and then for some odd reason, the powers that be decided that consumer liked these annoyingly large, occupy a majority of a mouthful of food in your mouth, monstrosities.

It was like, take a bite of salad, now have a CROUTON.

I prefer a balanced approach. A crouton delicately wedged with a bite of lettuce and dressing to go with it. A delicate blend, if you will.

And then of course there is the cost of said stale bread jackballs. And I’m paying over half of what I would for a loaf of bread for a few ounces of not so tasty dried bread thing…why?

I ran out of croutons last week and almost bought more, before stopping myself. This is how I end up making my own. If it isn’t in the house, and I want it, I’m forced to either go without, leave my house to go buy it, or make it myself.

I had a small heel of bread left over from last Friday. I had made a family favorite, Chile Cheese Bread, and there was this small sad piece resting on the counter. Far too stale to eat, I figured it would be perfect for making into croutons.

So I sliced and diced it into reasonable sized human portions, drizzled it with a bit of grapeseed oil and baked it in our toaster oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Mmmm…

Tasty! No more store-bought croutons for me! And no more wasted somewhat stale bread!

IMG_0309

Posted in Frugality, Recipes | Leave a comment

Liriope on Steroids

IMG_0285

Okay, I’m exaggerating. To my knowledge the liriope I acquired today has taken no steroids. I could ask it, but I doubt it would answer, given it has no vocal cords.

IMG_0286

I was a little loopy when I wrote the bit above. I was in for my second break in planting and still had about half of the plants to go.

IMG_0288

In my usual daily “must check Craig’s List for free stuff” obsession I was rewarded for a bunch of free liriope. And when I sent my usual polite, friendly email, I was rewarded with a “come and get it all” response from Angeline G. in Overland Park.

IMG_0307

Thank you soooo much, Angeline!

IMG_0289

We literally filled  my van with liriope plants, along with a lovely lemon balm, sedum, peony, hosta, daisy, and more.

IMG_0290

And ever since I returned I have been digging, planting, and sweating. I have also come to realize the sheer scope of the project in front of me. Because, you see, I want to fill nearly every damn square inch of my half acre space of five city lots with plants that are not grass.

IMG_0292

I can see it when I gaze out of the window, the future of this enormous space.

IMG_0305

Meandering paths of brick threading their way through clusters of iris, daylily, fruiting bushes and trees.

IMG_0306

A large asparagus patch, and one of rhubarb. I imagine rows of vegetables in our main garden, along with perennial herbs everywhere I look.

IMG_0293

If I must have grass it will be a tiny 20×20 space of green. And even then, I’d far prefer to have clover.

IMG_0296

I told Angeline, “I want my farm to be a patchwork of love from gardens all over Kansas City, filled with beauty and plants to share with my neighbors and community.” She smiled at that, said she liked the image that brought to mind.

IMG_0298

By 6:30 I was finishing up the last of it as Dave arrived home from a meeting. The last thing we did was pull these amazing wrought iron pieces out of the back.

IMG_0299

These are amazing and so cool!

IMG_0308

I put this one in the ground, just to see how it looked. Tomorrow I think I will spray it with a flat black outdoor paint so that it doesn’t degrade any further.

This wild violet is simply stunning

This wild violet is simply stunning

I’m looking forward to playing with these and seeing what I can create with them!

IMG_0304

By 6:30 I had finished planting everything. I guess that means I’m ready for more free plants. Bring ’em on!

Posted in Frugality, Garden Planning | Leave a comment

Spring has Sprung at The Deadly Nightshade!

IMG_0265

The birds are singing, the spring bulbs are blooming, and we are getting serious about this garden!

Last week I co-opted the husband and youngest child. “Give me one hour a day,” I asked. It tended to run a little longer than that, but thanks to four more helping hands, a lot has gotten done on the ole homestead.

Here are the highlights:

IMG_0268

The Rest of Those Bricks

It took a couple of weeks, but we managed to get the rest of the bricks laid. I did a count as well and estimated that it will take me around 2,000 bricks to finish enclosing the garden and running pathways between the eight rows.

Yeah…2,000.

Our backs are going to be broken.

IMG_0277

I’ve just set these directly on the earth. Within a few go-rounds of walking on them, they naturally sink into the earth and stop being wobbly.

One nice thing about having the bricks enclose the garden (mostly enclose it, that is) is that we can create more orderly rows now. A set of three bricks, two pointed one way and the third going across is a “set.” Two sets wide equals a walkway and four sets wide (or deep, depending on how you look at it) is a row. We marked the rows with PVC pipe and twine.

IMG_0272

Tidying Up the Coop

I taught a Keeping Backyard Chickens class last Saturday through Communiversity. I was rather shocked, only three of the ten people signed up showed up. Folks who have paid tend to make sure they take the class since there aren’t any last-minute refunds.

Also a guy showed up at 5 p.m. (the class ran from 1-3) with a listing showing that the class was also listed from 5-7 p.m. in the Communiversity flyer. WHAT?! I had just returned from shopping at Savers and was hungry (low blood sugar = extremely grumpy Christine). I have no idea what happened, or if the poor guy was even registered in the first place, but I did my best, after shoving some food down my throat, to repeat the class I had taught earlier.

Wasp Season and Special Screams

Fact: My eldest is absolutely terrified of wasps.

Fact: Wasps can easily get into houses through old windows.

Fact: I have about 30 old windows that said wasps can get into.

Last year, as the wasps began looking for food, or shelter, or whatever the heck they were looking for when they came into my house. I learned just how terrified my daughter was of the creatures.

By July or so, after trying to combat them with regular flyswatters, I got out the big guns and bought an electric flyswatter, aptly titled The Executioner.

It is great, and still functional, but we have a big house. It becomes this panicked run, once I hear my daughter’s special wasp scream (this ululating freak out sound of fear) to not only find the electrified thing (it might upstairs, or it might be downstairs) and get back in time to kill a moving flying menace.

So I bought another, this one was only $9.99, half the price! I will get it tomorrow and then I’ll have one for the upstairs and one for the main level. Wasps, best find another house because you are going to die!

IMG_0271

The Big Garden

Our big garden is quickly getting “dug” into shape. We marked off the walkways and planting rows (all eight rows) with twine and PVC pipe. This keeps us digging in the right spot as we remove weeds and turn over the dirt before planting seeds.

So far we have five rows planted. Starting at the south end of the garden, nearest the chicken coop, we have:

  • Row 1: Mixed lettuce and Vulcan chard
  • Row 2: Beets and bush beans
  • Row 3: Cucumbers and carrots
  • Row 4: Okra and acorn squash
  • Row 5: not planted yet, but it will be tomatoes
  • Row 6: Kale and elephant garlic

We still have two more rows to plant, well three, if you count the row that gets the tomato plants. I’ll just purchase starters, or ask folks very nicely if they have extras they don’t need. Our budget for the lawn/garden this year is pretty darn tight.

Today I finished re-planting the elephant garlic, spreading the kale seed and watering everything thoroughly after we put a dusting of dirt/leaves/shredded paper out of the coop on top of the kale seeds.

IMG_0267

One of the things I love about living here is a lawn absolutely filled with wild violets. When we are clearing a row, I have been gently digging them up and relocating them to this corner where the dog fence and chicken coop connect.

IMG_0269

More Bricks on the Horizon

I continue to look for more bricks. It will take just under 2,000 to finish enclosing the main garden and laying the pathways between the eight rows, but then I want to finish the path in the front over to the herb garden, and begin on some meandering paths through the yard.

I found this ad on Craig’s List the other day and sent the following email:

We could come pick these up this afternoon if they are still available.

My husband and I run an urban farm in Historic Northeast and I’m currently working on a path around our main garden (25×50) and pathways in between the rows. I love old bricks, they go well with our old house, an 1899 Victorian!

I would be happy to pick up any bricks you might have…I only need to collect about 6,000 more to complete all of our pathway projects!

I wasn’t kidding. I’m pretty sure I need at least 6,000. For some reason, when I utter that number, my husband turns pale and just walks away shaking his head. Why does he do that? I am mystified.

She responded, writing:

Hi Christine,

I have someone else who wants the bricks, if they are a “no-show,” I will let you know. I will also keep your information for next time. My backyard is completely bricked over, I am having a new patio laid (early to mid May) and will use some of the old bricks for edging. There will be surplus bricks in mixed condition. It would be great to have someone who could take everything and I would be thrilled if they were re-used.

Helen

A backyard entirely bricked over? I am so there! I dashed off an email back thanking her for replying and offering up a small gift of farm fresh eggs in exchange for wonderful bricks. And now I wait, dying quietly inside, jonesing for those bricks.

IMG_0264

Enjoy the lovely spring weather…and the flowers…and so much more!

Posted in Frugality, Garden Planning, Pest Control | Leave a comment

Cold Day? Spend it in the Kitchen

IMG_0254

Canning Obsessed

Just color me canning obsessed. When I looked out of the window and saw the rain slowly moving into snow, I decided I would not step one single foot outside of my door today. Instead, I would focus on canning, baking, and cooking. Along with some editing – this is now Round Four of edits on Gliese 581: The Departure.

I wrote down what I wanted to do, but things don’t always work out quite the way you plan. Or at least, they don’t for me. In any case, I’m still working my way through the “to-do’s” which may very well span into tomorrow, but here is what I have so far:

  • 3 quarts of chicken stock, along with 4 quarts of garbanzo beans cooling after being processed in the pressure canner.
  • 16 pints of a hot version of green enchilada sauce currently in the canner.
  • Around 4 quarts of pork stock plus one more pint of enchilada sauce waiting to be pressure canned
  • A crockpot full of chicken thighs cooking that will then be de-boned and hot-pack pressure canned into pints or quarts (probably tomorrow).

IMG_0240

I’m also working on a few other things in between canning…

IMG_0255

Homemade Thai Peanut Sauce

My husband and I love the Lemongrass Chicken Sticks from Trader Joe’s. And they taste even better when dipped in Thai peanut sauce.

And you know me, after I emptied two bottles within two weeks and had trouble finding a regular source for the sauce (sometimes the stores had it and sometimes not) I figured I could make it myself for less, have plenty of it on hand, and save some money.

So I Googled Thai peanut sauce recipes and found this recipe. I altered it a bit, here is what I whipped together. I think it tastes pretty darn good. So smooth!

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tabasco sauce
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Just gently mix the ingredients together and place in a jar in the fridge. Happy eating!

IMG_0249

Taco Seasoning

Later in the week we have “Tacos and Tostadas” on the list as one of our planned dinners. We have plenty of the smaller flour tortillas for soft tacos, and I love deep-fried corn tortilla tostadas, hence the fusion.

We have our choice of canned chicken, leftover pork, or canned hamburger to use – so a little lettuce, cheese and sour cream, along with a side of refried beans, and we are in business.

I figured I would whip up some taco seasoning as well. I adapted a recipe I found on the internet so that I will have plenty ready and waiting to season the meat for 2-3 meals. Here is the recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (fresh ground is best!)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix it all up, store it in a spice jar.

IMG_0237

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

And since I had the can of coconut milk open and only partially used, I figured it was time to learn how to make coconut milk ice cream for my eldest. She’s lactose-intolerant, so all of the ice creams I have been experimenting with lately she hasn’t been able to eat.

I’ve gotten some seriously sad looks as I enjoyed homemade Butter Pecan, Mint Chocolate Chip, my own version of Chunky Monkey as well as amazingly tasty coffee ice cream variants.

IMG_0244

So this one is for Dee. She is off to help a friend move. Afterwards, she can kick back and enjoy this ice cream. I hope you like it my dear!

I Googled “coconut milk ice cream recipes” and found this recipe. And, as usual, altered it to fit our own needs. I made it the following way:

  • 1 1/2 cans of Thai Kitchen coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp homemade vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 oz of mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 oz of 85% caco dark chocolate, chopped
  • Green food coloring

IMG_0245

When Danielle was a little girl, this was her favorite flavor of ice cream. I think it still might be. Unfortunately, finding a wide variety of flavors of dairy-free ice cream can be challenging. From the beginning of my ice cream making experimentations I wanted to find one that would suit her as well.

IMG_0246

This ice cream set up well in the ice cream maker and I must say, it doesn’t scream “NON DAIRY” at me. It’s rather good!

IMG_0248

I’ll be trying other recipes as well using coconut milk. Stay tuned for that.

IMG_0242

Chile Cheese Bread

And while the stovetop and counters were filled with all of the canning and mixes – I added one that would take up room in the empty oven – chile cheese bread.

Super simple, super easy, and oh so tasty! Here is the link to that recipe.

IMG_0252

Yesterday’s Pork Dinner

I had seen in a flyer for Save-A-Lot, a local grocery store I have only visited once, that they had pork picnic roast for just 99 cents per pound. We bought a huge piece for around $7 and cut off the fat and tossed it in a bag. When I get enough of it, I just might try rendering it into lard. There was a large bone in the meat, so after Dave cut off the fat, he carefully cut the meat off of the bone and handed it to me to deal with.

Dave browned the meat and then we added proscuitto, sage, rosemary, pepper and salt, rolling it up as we went, and added more of the sage, rosemary, pepper and salt to the outside of it.

IMG_0253

We placed the roast into a pressure cooker, which already had a cup of white wine, and a tablespoon of bouillon in it, closed it up, and placed it on medium high heat. Once the regulator began to jiggle we turned it down to medium and cooked it for 70 minutes.

It was doggone good! We had our neighbors Kevin and Michelle over, they brought salad and fixings, and Dave had made a creamy gravy out of the drippings. Yum!

This morning I added the bone to a stockpot, along with a gallon of water, seasonings, garlic cloves, some carrots, onion ends and leftover cilantro (from the batch of salsa verde) and started it at a nice light boil. It’s been going for about four hours now. It was still a tiny bit bland, so I added some cajun seasoning to taste and will be prepping it for canning.

IMG_0251

All in all, it looks like I have at least three separate rounds of canning to do, possibly four. Ai carumba!

If I need to, I can stretch this into tomorrow, because the day is blissfully free of appointments of any kind. But I also need to prep for a class on Tuesday, so I am trying to keep Monday’s schedule clear of too much.

 

Posted in Canning, Recipes | Comments Off on Cold Day? Spend it in the Kitchen