Recipe & Reality

We ate so many strawberries this past week from our Mother’s Day outing that my son ended up at the doctor’s office covered in an “I ate too many red berries rash.” Uh-oh.
So, we used the rest and made Strawberry Freezer Jam. Have you ever tried this? It is terribly yummy and super easy.
I wrote about creating a frugal home and one of my goals was to learn to can. This is my first attempt.  (I’ve decided that going frugal is hard work. I’m much better at being thrifty. Is that too honest? I’m not giving up, just being realistic!)
And since I’m being so honest, remember this post about my urban homestead thriving? Well. My plants all have yellow leaves from too much rain. My rabbit’s furry white coat is stained with poop (too much lettuce), the compost pile stinks to high heaven, I’ve gained 3.5 pounds from all the bread I’ve been baking and I’m tired of the muddy boot prints all over the floor.
I feel better now.
Back to the Freezer Jam. Here’s the recipe (it’s included in the Sure Gel or Fruit Pectin jello package). 
To make around 3 pint sized jars, you need two cups of crushed strawberries, 4 cups of sugar, a little water and a box of Sure-Gel (canning section of the grocery store). That’s it!
Freezer jam is kept in the freezer and is delicious on warm toast and biscuits.
But apparently, over consumption of freezer jam causes a rash too.
{scratch, scratch}
Oh, and really honest blog posts.

Shades of Green

I thought we were on to something new when we decided to become more self-sufficient. It turns out I didn’t come up with the idea of an urban farm. There is a website, a book, an entire movement of Urban Homesteaders.
There’s even an article about it in USA Today.
(I also did not come up with idea of Mom blogging. It turns out there are 10,000,000 other Mom blogs out there. One day, I will have an original idea. You heard it here first!)
I bought this used book off Amazon (The Urban Homestead)and decided immediately that we weren’t real Urban Homesteaders. 
Because seriously? These people do not mess around.
Plus, I need a Chick Fil A nearby. 
So, there’s that.
But I learned some cool tips for making garlic sprout, so I can plant it. I’m learning how to set up a compost pile. I learned that people pay good money for rabbit poop for their compost pile and a whole slew of other disgusting facts that you wouldn’t believe
I also discovered that I don’t have what it takes to become a real Urban Homesteader. Because there are extremes, people. (Did you know that some die-hard Urban Homesteaders conserve the water from their roof and reuse it?)
But, I can say that: 
Our garden is thriving.

Our bunny is flourishing.

(I had to brag on my hubby’s hutch-building ability! Look what he made from mostly scrap wood. It even has shingles!)
Our boots are muddy.

Our urban homestead is growing.
We reuse, repurpose and recycle in small ways. But I’m learning there are many shades of green. 
On the one end, you have someone like me, who proudly saves (and resuses) plastic bags from the WalMarts. And then you have the other end of the spectrum…Did you know there are people who have composting toilets? (I’ll let you use your imagination).
What shade of green are you?

I Made Bread

I told y’all I wanted to create a more frugal home. And I’m starting with the basics. 
I googled “easy homemade bread” with emphasis on the word easy.
I found a great recipe.
I think it would have been perfect if I’d followed the recipe exactly. 
But I forgot to add salt. Turns out that is a very important ingredient. Who knew?
The loaf was also very hard (like a brick, according to my son) from over kneading, I learned.

We dipped the loaf in salted olive oil with cracked pepper. We ate every bite (even though it tasted like Communion). We’re not picky.
My hubby likes to tackle challenges. He found this recipe for a no-knead crusty bread. It is very easy, but requires some advanced planning because it involves 12-18 hours of rising.
But it is delicious:

We made a rye and a beer bread version. 

We have become bread making machines.
Our latest attempt?
My hubby wanted to perfect the shape and so he used a large saucepan for baking.
This is what he got:

Oh, and this:
P.S. My hubby burned his hand last weekend. I waited to post this to make sure his burns healed. Oh, and his ego.
Disclaimer: Someone was harmed in the making of this post. But did you really expect less?
I don’t think so.

Are you a bread-maker too? Tell me how you make it!

Green Acres Edition

I’m a city girl. I always have been.
I like the convenience and the accessibility.
In other words, I need a Target within 15 minutes with a Chick Fil A nearby. Preferably
But I am married to a country boy who dons a suit every day to support our family. Horses and farming are in his blood. The blood he passed down to my children.  And it must be contagious because a few years ago, I started dreaming of life in the country, well, within reason.
I have needs.
I see a big porch, a small barn, a little land, a couple of animals, and dirty boots, lots of dirty boots….
We’ve been on the lookout for such a place on the outskirts of our town for some time now. But with the condition of our economy, we’ve put those dreams on hold and are trying to create a more frugal life. I talked about it here.
A couple of weeks ago, my hubby and I decided not to wait for that bit of country. Even though we live in the middle of suburbia on a very small slot of land, we decided to plant a small garden. It’s a similar to a square foot garden. Next time it will be a square foot garden, now that I have the book (Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden.)
The place we hope food will grow:

We opted for a plastic fence around our garden in an effort to keep the squirrels (and our toddler) from destroying the small plants. I asked y’all a few weeks ago about squirrel deterrents and let me just say, “Wow.” We opted not to urinate in the garden, but the red pepper and plastic owl options really got my attention.

My 9 year old created a grid to keep track of what we planted.  She put it on a clipboard and hung it in the kitchen. It’s very official.
Have I mentioned I’m a city girl?
Check out some other Spring gardens at Rhoda’s!