I think part of why this blog is so spotty is that after spending 8-10 hours intensively in front of a computer, I just don't want to be there during my free time. If I could live my dream of just working on a homestead--perhaps I'd have more desire to sit and barf out my thoughts on a machine. I really do want to write here more often. I'm just so fatigued of seeing a screen by the end of the day that I'd rather be doing something than documenting it.
I have such limited time in my day to do the things I want to do (or rather, perhaps I do not properly manage my free time) that there just isn't enough hours in the day. I can't imagine how I am supposed to raise a child on top of all of this. I suppose we'll see. (No, that isn't a hint that I'm with child. I'm not. Just musing.)
The peas did not go in this weekend as I was hoping. No, instead I got bad news that the 10'x4' north bed was not to be. Our back yard is a hill. To properly raise the west end of the bed to be more level, I'd have to raise the bed almost 16". yikes. :( So, I've roughed in 2 4'x'4' beds. Relatively even. In that, I've lost 6 square feet of growing space. I'd be upset, but so far my 9 square foot garlic bed would be empty until mid-summer and I haven't still haven't rotated any crops in my main 100' area. There will be room for everything, despite those feet being gone. I just need to plan better.
So,ladies and germs--here is the main garden area:
Here is it from the side. You can sorta see the originally raised beds with the wood stepping areas every 4' (which actually might not do now that I'm trying to use it. I've stepped in my tilled dirt more than once already since the old concrete is sloping like crazy. I try to just be pleased the my foot sinks so far into the dirt.)
Ok, ok--I didn't actually get around to planting anything. But I bought basil, slo bolt cilantro, and parsley seeds this weekend. I also bought 6 rosemary bushes for the weird area out front (my rosemary bush at the side of the house with the rest of the herbs is about to die. This is the second year I've killed rosemary there. I think it just doesn't like to be there.). I also picked up 3 more blueberry bushes. So, I have 5 blueberry bushses to plant out front as well in the next week or so depending on the weather.
Better than nothing, I guess.
FoodI made cultured butter tonight. I've made butter before but was sorta "meh" about the whole thing. It's nice to do it myself (and even nicer that I have my lovely kitchenaid mixer so I don't actually do jack)--but bland since I don't add salt.
I actually did take some snapshots, but nothing turned out not-blurry. Basically, I used 4 cups of cream to 1/3 cup of Grace Harbor Farms Yogurt* and stick it somewhere safe. 14 hours later--I whip it all up and: there you go--cultured butter.
*I hate to admit this, but I splurge on that yogurt. I like it much better than the stuff I make myself. I think the cream on top is divine. Shhhh. I don't splurge on it often, but it is a decadent treat when I do.
Awesome Husband says he can't tell the difference when eating it off my finger, and that I must make some buttermilk biscuits immediately so that he can do a proper test. I say that cultured butter tastes about a bazillion times better than regular butter. It's worth the 3 minute hassle and the extra cost.
I have extremely clean-tasting chicken broth to can up tomorrow. I just haven't gotten around to it. I'm working crazy hours.
In final cooking news, "Ratio" just came in today from the library. I've been waiting forever to get my hands on Ruhlman's new book. I'm a brand-new cook and totally unsure of myself. I've been trying to find something that will teach me the basics of cooking. Not just "here is an awesome recipe"--but "here is the base of what you need to know so that you don't need a recipe".
I think it says a lot about me as a cook. I'm sure the whole idea of "duh! Just throw something together!" seems intuitive to most folks. 4 years ago, I said I burned water. My sister loves to tell tales about how when we were growing up, she used to cry to my father and beg him that I don't do my fair share of cooking. I wasn't just ignorant about cooking--I was a disaster. I mean, even 6 years ago, my sister refused to buy me a kitchen knife I requested because she was worried I'd somehow hack off my leg trying to cook. And she wasn't even being dramatic. I might have.
Hell, I still might. Just because I can make my way a little bit around a kitchen, doesn't mean I've lost my klutziness. Just sayin'.
The thing I love most about Admiral Radar Dolomite Burgertime, Esq. is that when I try to sing (belt out) him traditional folk songs or old-timey blues songs, he jumps on me and starts licking my face and mouth frantically. It's his way of telling me to Please For God Sakes, Stop it! Amazing that I performed opera during my teenage years. Very kind of that instructor. I am like a harpy.
I seriously need to get on the ball about my future. Not because I want a new job, but because I'm almost 36 years old and more than anything, I've decided I want to play the fiddle. I can't start learning until I do some unpleasant things that are on my to-do list first. But gads, its' time to play music. I wonder if my pops still has my guitar. I'd prefer to fiddle, but it would be nice to really upset the dog if I could both strum AND belt out songs.
You know what would be really awesome? If I could get together a group of folks where we could trade cheese, charcuterie, canned goodies, soaps, eggs, etc. on a monthly basis or something. We'd figure out how much we could spend at max (to make it fair) and just make batches for one another to take home. Sorta like those soup parties but with more varied stuffs.
I'd like to find groups of urban homesteaders. I'm sure they are all over (and probably a ton in my neighborhood) to build a community with. Create our own commerce. Trade food that we grow for goods that we make. Raise each other up.
I'm sure they are out there. Most likely right under my nose. I just have to do the work to find them.
I have other thoughts about my home and Shabbat and such--but that'll take a different post.