Urban Homesteading

What to Expect from the Lazy Homesteader in 2013

I’ve thought pretty hard about the “resolutions” I want to share on the blog for this year.  I’ve had a hard time thinking of specific goals, and I’m not really into the “lose twenty pounds” type of resolutions.  I’ve decided that instead of goals I wanted to focus on some themes that are both personal to me and yet very applicable to the homesteading way of life.

This year, you can expect to see posts (hopefully weekly, realistically a couple of times a month) having to do with one or two of the following themes.

Rick hikng with C on his backCommunity – In 2012, I established a monthly potluck to help build community.  I made some new friends and built connections.  In 2013 I want to do this more.  I want more connection, more real relationships.  I have realized that no one can live this life alone.  We need each other and I want more of it.  I have a challenge in mind for this theme this year.  I’m excited about it, though it’s going to be a tough one.

Preparedness – Colorado had the worst wild-fire of all time in 2012.  There were hurricanes on the East coast.  For much of the country, there were record heat waves and drought.  Across the country there were poor harvest and food prices are on the rise.  I’m not a panicky or prepper or anything like that, but I have started thinking about the benefits of being prepared in a real emergency.

Thrift – Expect to see more DIY posts this year.  From homemade to making-do to doing without, I plan to share more thrifty ideas this year.

Food Connections – This is the thing that sent me down the homesteading path all those years ago; being connected to our food.  I have plans to share about sustainable food sources, processing your own meat (including wild game and hunting), and of course the garden.  This year I am going to explore as many aspects of food connection as I can.  I hope to close some of the gaps we’ve had in our own food sources as well.

Grace – This year I plan to go easier on myself.  You guys know I love a crazy goal.  But I also need a little more balance, and my kids certainly need a sane mommy.  So I plan to cut myself a little slack this year.  I’ve realized that this journey to being green and crunchy and self-sufficient is just that, a journey.  I don’t have to do it all at once.  It’s ok to take small steps and find what is feasible for our family.  I’m not throwing the baby out with the grey water or anything, but I am going to focus more on things like simplicity, peace, and well, the categories mentioned above.  :)

I’m really looking forward to 2013 and what it will bring.  And I’m excited to share our homestead with you as always.

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Categories: Community, DIY, Simple Living, Thrift, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Seven Posts of 2012

Here we are, the last day of the year.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to welcome 2013.  Before we get there, I thought I’d recap some of my 2012 posts for you.  I published 80 posts this year (this post makes 81).

This year, pinterest came on the scene for my blog, and I had to start upping the ante on my photos.   I also started getting some movement on reddit.  It has been a fun year of writing for me, and I hope to do even more in 2013.

Below are the top posts in seven different categories.  Some of them are the most popular and some are posts that I thought were a bit overlooked.  Almost all of them have to do with food.

Most commented on post: Homestead Failures: Confessions of What I Didn’t Do.  Seems like you guys could relate!

Best food post of 2012Garlic Scapes Two Ways.  It’s hard to go wrong with garlic scapes, and they are pretty too.

The most overlooked food post of 2012:  Despite having quite a few comments, there were not very many hits on my Spicy Hot Lava Cakes recipe.  It’s a quick and easy dessert, and very tasty.  Check it out!

Most overlooked how-to post:  When to Harvest Garlic.  Was this old news?  Or not many people growing garlic?  Just bad timing?  I’m not sure why the hits here were low here.

The most popular post of 2012: Practical Ways to Store Food without a Fridge which, thanks to pinterest, surpassed my previous all-time most popular post: 2010′s Handmade Halloween – Garden Gnome Tutorial.

Most “controversial” post of the year: Five Things No One Tells You about Keeping Chickens.  I got some heat on reddit, where this post ruffled the feathers of the chicken huggers there.  Despite that, it has stayed in the all time top twelve of /r/homestead.  It was actually in the top ten until the middle of November.  So yay for that!

The 2012 post I’m most proud ofThe Gamey Taste of Game Meat, Part I.  I really love how this post turned out.  I worked hard on putting it together and it was well received.  I hope to do a few more hunting/game meat posts int he coming year.

If you enjoyed this recap, make sure to check out my top posts of 2011 as well.

I would personally like to thank you, my readers, for visiting my blog, especially those of you who take the time to comment.  Many of you are regulars and I appreciate your frequent comments:  Annie at Learning As We Go, Cynthia in Denver, Jessie: Improved, Robin at Seventh Acre Heaven, Laura H., City Sister, John (aka El Goucho), Alice, Roxanne, dixiebelle, and so many others (I’m sorry I can’t list you all!).  Seeing that people are interested in what I have to say keeps the blog fun and exciting for me.  All of you who comment add so much to the information here.  Thank you!  I hope all of you have a safe and happy new year.  See you in 2013!

Categories: Recommended Reading, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

2012 Resolutions Revisited

It’s the winter solstice.  The days are going to get longer and spring is on the way.  2012, you have gone by so quickly.

Around this time last year I set out a few resolutions for 2012.  Here’s a recap of what those were:

  1. Grow a giant pumpkin. 
  2. Grow enough in our own neighborhood gardens to feed ourselves for the summer.
  3. Process chickens.  
  4. Harvest Honey. 
  5. Start a monthly potluck circle.

So how did we do with those?  Well, we tried to grow the pumpkin.  We planted it, we watered it, we fed it compost tea.  But it only got to about the size of a volley ball.  So next year, we will have to try again.

Number two, well… not quite yet.  We’ll keep on that road.  We did process chickens this year, as well as harvest our own honey, though.

HHarvest10

The potluck.  We started the monthly potluck in February.  We have hosted one every month since then except in June (kids were all sick) and November (we were out of town, hunting).  And this is one resolution we are definitely keeping up with.

I’m still thinking over what my resolutions for the new year will be.  Do you have any resolutions for yourself yet?  How about ideas for me?  Something you want to see me try?

Categories: Community, Garden, Sustainability, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Stitching Up Stocking Stuffers

Hey, did you guys know that I have an etsy shop?  I do!  I’ve been cooking up a couple of little handmade stocking stuffers for the holidays.  There is still time to get them before Christmas, if you’re interested.

Wool Mistletoe

Felted wool mistletoe (not poisonous!), a reversible coffee cozie…

Birds & Butterflies Coffe Cozie

And, some reusable cloth food bags (two in a set), perfect for bulk items at the store.  These hold about 2 quarts each.

Bulk Food Bags

Have you been making any gifts for Christmas?

Do you have a shop on etsy?  Please share your shop in the comments!

Categories: DIY, Simple Living | 9 Comments

Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness DVD Winner

Drawn by a random number generator….. Cass is the winner!  I will email you, Cass, with instructions on how to get your DVD.

If you didn’t win, make sure you visit oldfedco.com and order a copy for yourself.   Thanks again to Alex and Old Federal Ax Co. for this awesome giveaway!

Categories: DIY, Giveaways, Simple Living, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce and Peach-Cranberry Pie

I hope you aren’t tired of all the recipes I’ve been posting lately.  These next two are actually reprints of recipes I posted back in 2009.  They are so good, however, that they’ve become Thanksgiving favorites.  Both recipes serve about 8 people.

I really love this cranberry sauce.  I have a couple of family members who still prefer the can shaped stuff, but this has been a hit with the rest.  It makes a large batch, which means leftovers and that makes me happy.

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
Makes 3½ cups sauce

2 packages fresh cranberries (24oz each)
1.5 cups sugar
4 large strips of orange peel
1/2 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

Rinse and drain cranberries.  In a large sauce pan, add cranberries, sugar, orange peel and water.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes.  Add rosemary sprigs and simmer 5-10 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and stir in orange juice.  Reserve 1 cup of sauce for the pie.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.  To serve, bring to room temperature and remove rosemary and orange peel, garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

The next recipe is a pie that went from a way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce (a great way), to a planned Thanksgiving day dessert.  Rick looks forward to this pie all year long now.

I typically use frozen peaches that we harvested from the Western slope in the summer time.  Fresh peaches would certainly work as well, but they are not really at their peak around Thanksgiving.  Sometimes the frozen peaches release A LOT of juice.  If they are super juicy, I throw a handful or so of rolled oats into the pie filling to soak it up.  This is totally optional, of course.  If you don’t like oats in your pie, just pour off some of the excess juice before adding the peaches into the filling mixture.

Peach-Cranberry Pie

1 home-made pie crust for a double crust pie
6 cups frozen, sliced, unsweetened peaches, defrosted and undrained
1 cup left-over orange-rosemary cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 – 3/4 cup rolled oats (optional)
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 375°.  Put bottom pie crust in a deep-dish pie plate.  Stir together peaches, cranberry sauce, sugar, flour and, if needed, oats.  Pour into prepared crust.  Dot with butter and top with second crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Cover edges of pie crust with foil if the top is browning too quickly.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

This pie is pretty topped with a lattice crust, like I did last year, but I’ve also just thrown chunks of extra rolled out dough on top, or even used a cast iron skillet and only a top crust with simple slits cut into it.  This year I plan to cut slits into my top crust to look like a rosemary sprig.  Wish me luck with that fanciness.  ;)

Next week I’ll announce the winner of the DVD giveaway.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Colorado Blue Grouse Potpie

Here is another recipe from this year’s hunting trip.  It’s a potpie that I made ahead and froze so that up at the cabin, all we had to do was pop it in the oven.

This recipe was originally inspired by a chicken potpie recipe I found in my Everyday Food magazine. I use dusky (blue) grouse in this recipe, but pheasant or other upland birds would be just as tasty. You can certainly also substitute chicken or some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Before making this recipe, I clean and cook the grouse to make a stock. In a large pot, add the grouse, an onion (chopped), celery, garlic, parsley and salt. If you skinned your grouse, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Cover everything with water and simmer for an hour or more until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and the broth is flavorful. Remove the grouse from the pot, shred the meat, and strain the broth. I usually end up with more broth than I need for this recipe. I freeze any extra for later use.

When we make the potpie, we try to use all locally grown ingredients (with the exception of the chili powder). We use green chiles and corn frozen from our summer CSA, onions and garlic from the garden, and tomatoes we canned ourselves. I like to use hot Chimayo chili powder from New Mexico.

Colorado Blue Grouse Potpie

Ingredients:
1 homemade pie crust
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 TBS butter
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 TBS chili powder
½ cup flour
28oz can of diced tomatoes (or a pint-and-a-half of home-canned tomatoes), juice reserved
4 cups grouse broth
2 cups corn kernels
5 ounces roasted, peeled green chiles, diced
Meat from a whole grouse or two, cooked and shredded
Coarse salt

For the filling:
Melt butter in a large pot or deep-sided skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder, and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in flour and cook until all the onion is well coated. Pour in the broth and tomato juice, whisking to make sure there are no lumps of flour. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in corn, chiles and grouse.

Assemble the pie:
Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured work surface, roll out the pie crust to ⅛-inch thickness. Transfer filling to a 9×13 pan (or other two-quart baking dish). Top the pan with the crust, folding over the edges. With a sharp knife, cut slits in the crust.

Place the pan on a baking sheet (to catch any spills), and bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove pot pie from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

The potpie can be assembled and frozen ahead of time. To bake from frozen, bake for 1-¼ hours at 425°.

Serves 6-8 hungry hunters.

 
Make sure to enter the Old Fed Co. “Ax Skills for the Homestead and Wilderness Survival” DVD giveaway before November 21, 2012!
Categories: Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

We just got home from our annual week-long hunting trip.  While hunting is a big deal in our family, the trip itself is a lot of fun for other reasons.  One of them is that my sister-in-law an I love to cook.  Here is one of the recipes we had last week up at the cabin.  It’s one of Rick’s favorites, that I’m happy to share.

This recipe serves about 4 people, but is easily doubled or tripled. I usually cook by feel so don’t be afraid to taste as you go and adjust the ingredients to suit your own tastes.  Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, and the strength of your bourbon, the potatoes can be a little strong.  It’s best to start with a 2-3 tablespoons of bourbon and add more until you like the flavor.  We like the potatoes bourbon-y but not boozy, if you know what I mean.  ;)

Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup cream or half-and-half
¼ cup good bourbon +/-
¼ cup pure maple syrup
pinch of salt

Place sweet potatoes in a medium pot and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Add the cream, syrup and bourbon with a pinch of salt to the potatoes and mix well. Serve hot with a seared back strap and a simple green salad.

 
Make sure to enter the Old Fed Co. “Ax Skills for the Homestead and Wilderness Survival” DVD giveaway before November 21, 2012!
Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 8 Comments

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