Sunday, October 30, 2011

an omnivore's chilli - eggs noodles 'w' kefir cheese 'n' porcini mushroom - smokey oatmeal cardamom sourdough slow to rise flatbreads

it's sunday and we though we have been up since early, we are not pushing the day along at a rushed rate of speed.  these are the days when it's lovely living in the central texas area.  the temperatures dive into the cool and shiveries at night while the days offer cool aire with sunny warming nice to take a nap in character.

it's 11:23am and i am still in my jammies.  keep in mind jammies for me are also equal to work clothes.  i have feed the chickens, wabbits and kitty creatures, been over to the neighbors to feed their puppy and kitty creatures, shared conversation with neighbors readying for a morning run and tending to bits here and there around the garden all in my jammies.  i love the fact that i live in a neighborhood where chatting in jammies on a sunday is celebrated.  even if it's not, i choose to see it that way.  so far, my jammie universe has not been shunned.  so far...

sunday is also the day i cook up goodie goods for the week's eating.  yesterday we made a loverly butternut sqash soup that proved divine.  today i'm cooking up an omnivore's chilli with smoked paprika - oh my, oh my the smell wafting from the pot - warm and seductive - no kidding!

hippychick's omnivore chilli

1 dry cup white kidney beans
1 dry cup red kidney beans
1 quart water
1 large onion (white or yellow)
1 lb carrots
1 lb corn - fresh off of the cob or frozen
1 lb ground bison (organic grass fed preferred)
2 quarts stewed maters in their juices (lovely to pull your own put up maters from the pantry)
alder smoked salt de mer  (or any good sea salt - i love smoked salts)
smoked paprika
fine ground black or white pepper
fresh chopped basil
fresh chopped rosemary
olive or walnut oil

cookery process

hydrate your beans - place your dried beans in a large container and cover with the 1 quart of water.  allow the beans to soak overnight.  you may skip this step if you choose to use pre-hydrated beans.

the next morning
- coat the bottom of your chilli cooking pot with 2 tbs of oil
- place the ground buffalo in your chilli cooking pot
- add spices to your liking (smoked salt, smoked paprika, marjoram, dill, basil and pepper)
- message spices and oil into the buffalo meat
- set your stovetop to medium high heat and place your cooking pot on the burner
- chop your carrots and onion and add them to the pot
- slowly cook until the onions begin to show translucence

- now add your beans with water, 2 quarts of stewed maters and corn.  the liquid from the soaking beans and stewed maters should prove enough to slowly cook the chilli, if not feel free to add more water and/or broth or liquid of your choice; possibly beer or wine for extra flavor.  a nice red wine would prove excellent in this case.

- turn the stovetop heat to just below medium, set the pots cover loosely over the top and slowly cook until beans are tender stirring every now and again to make sure goods to not stick to the bottom of the pot.  the chilli may take an hour or two to cook through, less if you have used pre-hydrated beans, more if your beans have not soaked a full 6-8 hours.

- while all is slowly cooking, you might consider prepping some yummy toppings
  • roasted pumpkin seeds
  • a good sharp cheddar cheese
  • a good reggiano cheese
  • creme fraiche
  • roasted chillis
- once all is tender, enjoy!
- we'll be munching ours down with a nice slice of home baked bread.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

eggs noodles 'w' kefir cheese
this one is easy
- cook up some egg noodles (homemade noodles are best)
- stir in kefir cheese (you may substitue yogurt cheese, creme fraiche or sour creme)
- add a dash of good salt de mer
- add several dashes of fine ground dried porcini mushrooms
- top it off with a handful of fresh chopped basil
- oooh baby!

*notes -  to make kefir cheese, drain kefir milk in a coffee filter or fine mesh strainer over night.  the process is very much in the same way one makes yogurt cheese.  as for the porcini mushrooms - i purchase dried mushrooms and grind them until fine in a coffee grinder.  it works great. i keep an old one for the purpose of grinding herbs and such goodies regularly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

smokey oatmeal cardamom sourdough slow to rise flatbreads

- i obtained my sourdough starter from cultures for health.  i use their basic sourdough bread recipe and change it up as i feel whenever the urge strikes.  here is their basic recipe.

  • 2 1/3 cups Fresh Sourdough Starter (see below)
  • 3 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup Water (approximate)
  • Scant Tablespoon Salt
 This recipe can be used to make a basic loaf of sandwich bread or artisan-style bread.
Mix sourdough starter, flour and salt together. Use enough water to make bread dough (a moist dough is preferable to a dry dough). Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test” (a small piece of dough will stretch between four fingers thin enough to allow light to pass through without breaking). Split the dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf. Place in a pan, proofing basket or on a board. Cover lightly with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 4-24 hours. If desired, a short (4-12 hours) proofing period can be used and the dough can be punched down, reshaped and allowed to rise a second time but a second proofing period is not required. If desired, slice an X shape in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife or razor blade.  Bake at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 190-210 degrees (use a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom or side of the loaf). Bake 30-60 minutes (depending on loaf size). Allow the bread to cool before slicing. Makes two standard size loaves

check out their how to make sourdough site for tips and tricks that help one make a great loaf.

here's how i modified the above sourdough bread recipe.

i substituted
- whey for the water

i added
- 1 cup of oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons of cardamom
- 1 cup of kefir milk
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (sprinkled on top)

i then followed the above directions, kneeding by hand.  i split the dough into four equal sized pieces and shaped them into small round flatbreads.  i then brushed each round with a bit of olive oil before sprinkling the sesame seeds over the top. 

they are now on the rise - photos and the yum yum factor report on the way.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

- cozy bits on a saturday - butternut squash soup -

a day at home
a day of happiness
a day of cozy cookery

hippychick's butternut squash soup
* no moo-ilk or butt-ahhh in this one *

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 quart preserved peaches
  • 1 cup raisins
  • sea salt
  • cardamom
  • clove
  • nutmeg
  • curry
  • mint
  • water 
cookery process
  • peel the butternut squash and chop into small-ish chunks.
  • place squash into a large soup pot.
  • add a dash of good sea salt.
  • add just enough water to cover the squash.
  • cook over medium high heat until squash is soft.
  • remove from heat - do not drain.
  • using a potato masher,  carefully mash the squash in the pot.
  • add peaches and raisins.
  • and spices to your liking.
  • place the pot over medium heat.
  • keeps goods at a slow simmer stirring often until desired thickness is achieved.
note: if you prefer a smoother soup - place all goods in a processor and process until smooth but be careful so as not to burn yourself.


chicken footie!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

later mater!

had a good morning
put up 12 quarts of later maters

yummy oh dear yummy yummy

that's all i could get through today as i'm now busy at work in the theatre
there is bread on the counter rising rising rising
long and slow goes the sourdough

tonight i'll bake
and eat bread with butter

come on now
*  *  *
who can resist fresh out of the oven bread

certainly not this here who
that's fo' sho'!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

it's raining! it's raining! it's raning in texas!

i am so excited i cannot even spell the word raining properly the third time out

- bless the gods of the wet falling skies -
- rain is falling in texas -

 the rainwater harvesting collection tanks are finally seeing some action.  the smaller of the two tanks is full to the brim while the large has room to spare.  given our chances for continued rain today, it might just fill.  it is nice to breathe a long sigh of rain relief.

we might just see some green before year's end
wouldn't that be fine?
quick planting update to start the day off
white carrots
daikon radish
a winter cover crop of winter rye, annual rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover and field pea for areas of the yard that need a bit of building up.

i am still in need of kale - they are seeds i currently have not.

now it's off to the metal shed to prep the wee chickie nursery for the babes that arrive this week. 
i love this part of chickenmamahood

Saturday, October 8, 2011

a few steps forward

 - happy day - 

i built a new pair of brand spankin' compost bins - out of recycled/repurposed wood pallets of course.  for me, there is no other way.  it was time as the few that have been in service for the last five plus years had finally rotted away.  they did a fine job while they lasted and now they too are headed into recycle land.
 - check out these beauties -
looking mighty fine if i say so myself.  

i made the decision to pull out one of the garden beds in the east side garden.  it was a spot that always proved particularly dry and thus required a regularly scheduled frequent and deep watering that current drought conditions cannot support.  i pulled up the raised bed frame thinking i might be able to use it elsewhere but no - it too had served its time and was ready for the reuse universe.  the boards simply broke into smaller bits.  i can use them to edge other smaller garden beds or construct a happy toad, lizard lizard, buggy bug woody wood pile.  over time the boards will break down completely - it happens faster than you think - don't blink.

we do our best to make sure that nothing gets wasted around here.

oh my aching back!
today proved to be a turn the soil over until you can't turn the soil no more kind of day.
i got a good bit of soil turned over yet there is a good bit still in need of turning.  there's a nice mix of soil, grass clippings and composted chicken bedding along with any smallish pulled up plants and such from the hotty hot hot summer garden fry fest.

things are feeling fluffy and nice and should hold water quite well given we are blessed with a good soaking rain.

i relocated a few veggie plants from the outback shady garden.  three pepper plants and five swiss chards now reside in the sunyside east garden.  they are looking a bit wilty at the moment from the shock of the move.  fingers crossed they perk up in the next few days or so.

and just look at all that darn johnson grass growing between the beds
it never goes away

 some of the beds were blessed with mr. bunbuns fertile poopy poops and discarded alfalfa from his nibbling bits.  rabbit poo is safe just as it is for garden soil.  it need not be composted but you may compost it if you wish.  

just turn it in like everything else. 

 i moved the loverly lemon grass today after giving her a good haircut
she's now a featured beauty on the southside of the beds.

all the while 
i thought i was working hard
until i spied those busy buzzing ladies who work far harder than myself

beautiful bees
feeding and flying and feeding and flying
collecting fall's bounty for the benefit of the hive

so at current the garden is planted with
fall maters
swissy chards
greeny peppers
fragrant basils
rosey mary
millet spires
cheery chives

it is a bit slim for my liking as i feel this is a very late start for a fine fall garden
but you just can't beat the
heat oh heat oh heat

and now that the temps have cooled
the list for planting grows
- up next -
and more kale

! super exciting !

Friday, October 7, 2011

guess what i'll be cleaning up this weekend - wooohoooo!

it all starts here with darn good dirt and compost

 then you've got to flip it and turn it and soften the soil
this is the sweaty - cursing part
give your sweeties a bit of support
and some sweet sunshine

stop a while to admire the flowers

and eventually the messy bits will begin to look a bit more like paradise

what you see above are the hearty survivors of this now famous drought ridden steamy texas summer - pretty amazing if you ask me.

i am just getting started.  
the garden at present is really quite a mess but we'll get there.
baby steps - baby steps

Thursday, October 6, 2011

coming back soon!

hey there!
yes i have been away a while but i'm coming back soon and very excited for it. 

for those kind folk who have asked about the condition and safety of the hippychick universe; first off thank you and second off, we were not destroyed by the fire.  all are well.  and there are new baby weechicks on the way. oh my, oh my!

outside of that
i am giving this new look of the blog a go
what do  you think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

holy moly she's a movin'

Video shot September 5, 2011 on the north edge of Bastrop State Park. All but about 100 acres of the 6,000-acre park have been blackened by fire. Firefighters have been battling blazes for 3 days. At this point, historic CCC buildings are still intact. For more information, see

mother nature cleaning house in bastrop texas

bastrop fires in the new york times

click me to view the photo slide show

Wildfires in Parched Texas Kill 2 and Destroy Homes
Larry W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency

The Texas wildfires have burned more than 14,000 acres of the drought-stricken state and destroyed hundreds of homes. More Photos »
Published: September 5, 2011

HOUSTON — Firefighters struggled to gain control of fast-moving wildfires that consumed tens of thousands of acres of drought-stricken areas of Texas on Monday, as high winds spurred flames that have killed a mother and her child, destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and forced Gov. Rick Perry to cut short a presidential campaign trip to South Carolina and return to the state.
Deadly Wildfires Burn Through Texas

Over the weekend and into Monday, the Texas Forest Service responded to dozens of new fires throughout Bastrop and Travis Counties and other parts of Central and East Texas. The biggest fire was in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, where 25,000 acres had burned, nearly 500 homes had been destroyed and at least 5,000 people had been evacuated since Sunday afternoon, according to county and state officials.

“It is the worst fire season in the history of Texas,” said Justice Jones, a spokesman for the forest service, “and Sunday was the worst fire day in the state’s history in regards to home losses.”

In Bastrop County, school district officials canceled classes for Tuesday and transformed the local middle school into a shelter for evacuees. In a rural area in Gregg County in northeast Texas, a young woman and her child were trapped in their mobile home and unable to escape the flames of a wildfire that destroyed their home and four others on Sunday.

“The wildfire situation in Texas is severe, and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property,” Governor Perry said Monday in a statement. “I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas.”

Mr. Perry had been in South Carolina, where he was scheduled to take part in a forum with his Republican rivals. But he returned to Texas on Monday to monitor the situation and to appear at a news conference in Bastrop.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

dry oh dry oh dry

hey folks - hippychick checking in -

don't know if you have heard, but here in texas, it's hot and dry. in fact, we remain in the midst of a historically hot triple digit and droughted texas summer. one that folks have not seen in a long while.

trees are dying and/or suffering.  cattle farmers and crop farmers are up against the wall in efforts to make ends meet.  everyone is making their best efforts to conserve and survive all the same.  the natural land is brown, dust flies when breezes pick up.  folks and creatures search high and low for that precious bit of shade and the sanctuary of a pool of water for cooling comfort.

while several areas in texas have seen rains along the coast and some up in the hill country regions,
we in bastroptown have not seen rain for a good three months, possibly longer.  

we had a few drops in the area but the clouds seem to avoid our specific parts.  the newly installed rainwater tanks are at the ready for their first filling.  fingers crossed that day is not too far from today.  the weather reports show no rain in sight but we hope just the same.  

the garden is holding on.  granted, there is not much growing this season. the okra, basil and lemon grass are holding on and blessing us with a bit of beautiful garden green.  there is mint in the back shaded yard area and several chards inching along in the front walk garden space.  the artichokes dried up.  the maters gave good harvest but have passed prime and the eggplant, though still alive are not fruiting due to the intense heat.  i must admit that i am looking forward to the autumnal season more than ever. 

i plan to plant late and lightly this fall/winter.  in fact, i may give the beds a good part of the fall/winter season to recoup and recover.  just this week, i cleaned out the old bedding from two of my large chicken coops.  rather than building compost piles, i decided to place the old bedding directly into my garden beds which means planting is definitely delayed.  

chicken compost is hot, hot, hot and will burn young plants quite easily which is why you want to compost it first before adding it to your beds.  i figured with so little growing in the east side beds, it might be good to give the beds a long and strong recovery period.  something i have not done for the six years that i have been gardening that particular area.  it will do the soil good but it needs time now which means no planting. in the mean time, i will continue to build up the beds with grass clippings and soil just as i would a proper compost pile.  and i will hope for rain as the moisture beefs up microbe action and the breaking down process.  either way, the beds will be in great form for a hearty spring planting and that's good.

i do have plans for the planting of the front walk area and i may even set up several container gardens as a supplement to the smaller beds.  i started seeds several weeks back and a good number are popping up.  it's up to me to keep them strong and healthy at this stage and that includes keeping the oh so sweet and dear kitty cats from enjoying a daily jaunt across the top of the seedling sets.   their dirty paw prints give them away every time the crafty buggers.  i guess we all enjoy a stroll in the garden inside or out.

so how fare the creatures?  
the chickenychicas are doing quite well.  i did lose two girls to heat after our first big spike in temperature.  since that time, i have set up small wading pools for the ladies.  they use them cool their chickenyfeets which in turn helps to cool their body.  early in the day when the water is still clean, they drink out of the pools and when the heat is as it is, they require a great deal of drinking water.  each coop is equipped with several large drinking fonts that i make sure to keep clean and full.  they've been drinking the fonts down to empty sometimes in a day, sometimes every other day.  

the egg laying has slowed considerably.  truth be told, i am surprised at the number of eggs they are laying.  i would surely be on egg vacation were i in their shoes.  the shells for the most part are still strong and thick but we do experience the occasional soft shell and/or brittle shell.  this is most evident upon egg collection.  the soft and or brittle shells will either crush under the weight of a setting chickenchica or collapse a bit in hand.  often times i will toss the soft eggs in the coop and allow the girls to clean it up.  the egg shells provide much needed calcium for the ladies as calcium builds both egg shells and feathers.  

bunbun is doing quite well.  he is gifted with several carrots each day and good bit of fresh alfalfa hay.  we've got him in a super shady spot which is important as rabbits do quite well in the cold but can struggle with heat.  he even has his own cooling fan - lucky fellow.  

there are many cats about the place.  they just keep coming and our universe and a sweet neighbor's universe proves a fine sanctuary for these lovely felines.  we feed them and love them and they keep the place free of mice and snakes. we see them most in the early morning in the later part of the day.  who knows where they going during the heat of the day but i imagine they all have their special shady spots for lying about. 

i have yet to harvest honey this season.  no rain, no nectar, no honey flow.  this has been a feeding season for my hives.  they seem to be holding on but population growth has been much slower this year than years passed. i hope the fall will bring rains, i would hate to see the bees suffer more than they already have. 

in other news - the fermenting continues - currently bubbling goods include
  • sourdough 
    • i have never been so pleased with home baked loaves as i am with my sourdough loaves.
  • sauerkraut
    • brother said it's stinky - and yes it is - but you don't have to open the tops of the fermenting jars if you don't want to - when closed the stink stays in.
  • milk kefir
    • revived daily and fermented at room temperature, one can enjoy a yogurt like ferment.  i have been using the finished kefir to make cheese, iced kefir (much the same as iced cream), smoothies and as a tart additive to sourdough bread.
  • water kefir
    • a light probiotic drink which i enjoy over ice with a dash of lemon juice - easier on the stomach than kombucha
  • kombucha
    • our old standby - a much stronger tang than that of the water kefir - more of a probiotic jolt too
new items in the pantry include
  • sweet onion jam
  • blueberry jam
  • strawberry jam
 we've still got plenty of  maters, bbq sauce and a varied smattering of pickled veggies to keep us going.  i did not can peaches this year as i did last year.  i'll be feeling that in the winter months i am sure.  i do have one last stash of frozen peaches to steal from.  i am going to have to make it last as long as possible.  

i caught myself considering baby chicks yesterday - danger will robinson - make her stop.  i am not sure if i will raise meaties this fall or not.  i go back and forth on this one.  should i raise my own or should i purchase from local farmers - i am still pondering - it is all based upon time.   it takes time to raise an excellent bird but when you raise it yourself, you know exactly what you are getting.  hmmmmmm... 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

strawberry preserves with cayenne and cardamom

here we are in high summer and gardens all around this northern hemisphere are blooming and fruiting and producing yummy goods.  and when there is a flourish, there is a need for putting up that which you wish to save for enjoyment later on.  and many of us do - we prep and preserve and can and pressure cook and ferment the bounty.

i put up a few pints of strawberry jam and homemade spicy sweet catsup just yesterday.  i started a jar of preserved lemons and limes today and i've got the makings for more jams and preserves in line up.

as many of you know, i rarely follow a recipe by rote but rather i riff.  here is the fine strawberry preserve  recipe i riffed from.  it is from local kitchen - a blog i enjoy peeking in on every now and again. 

it looks amazing and the 3 day process gives great results i am sure but i was looking to preserve my berries in a single day.  so i made a few adjustments in order to do so. 

it is important to note that my first go at this produced a jam that did not jam.  i tried to gage the gel stage by eye rather than my usual frozen plate method (see below) and harvested too soon so i un-jarred the  goods and gave the goods a second simmering bubble until the jam proved truly jammy.

the moral of this story - the 3 day process allows natural pectin to build which assists the process.  the 1 day process does not so if you choose to pursue the 1 day process, you'll need to use pectin gel and give the berries a bit more boiling down time to achieve a proper jam.  

hippychick's strawberry cayenne cardamom jam
  • 5 lbs strawberries rinsed, hulled and cut in half or quarters
  • 4 cups sugar
  • zest & juice of 6 lemons
    • do not omit the lemon juice as the acids are necessary for safe preservation
    • you may add more for your taste - do not add less
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • less if you prefer a lighter bite
  • 2 teaspoons ground or freshly crushed cardamom
    • i prefer freshly crushed from seed pods
  • 2 pouches of ball liquid fruit pectin
  • 1 tablespoon butter
    • this will help keep the foaming to a minimum as strawberries tend to foam a lot
    • you may omit the butter if you wish
  • combine strawberries, sugar, lemon zest & juice spices and salt. mix well to coat all berries in sugar and spice mix. transfer goods to a wide-bottomed preserving pan.
    • a heavy bottomed pan helps to keep preserves from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • slowly bring the simmer up to a slow rolling boil.  be sure to stir frequently.
    • note - you'll not want to leave the pan on it's own at this stage as it may be prone to boil over in a very short - hey i was away only for a moment - moment
    • ahem, take it from one who knows - the cleaning up is dangerously hot and very very sticky
  • note the depth of your preserves once you reach the boiling state.
  • reduce the heat to a steady simmer and reduce jam mixings by one third - you're still stirring!
    • no not every second but frequently
  • once your preserves are reduced by one third
  • some folks skim off the foam, i do not.
    • skimming gives you a clearer jam
    • not skimming might cause your jam to appear more cloudy
    • there is no taste difference and i find that the small bit of butter helps to solve the foaming issue to my preferred happiness.
  •  add the liquid pectin and stir in well
    • note you'll not want to add the pectin until you are sure you are near the gelling state (see below)
    • once you add the pectin - you want only to boil the jam for 1 or 2 more minutes before removing the pot from the heat. 
    • if you boil longer you may break the pectin and may be forced to start over again
    • so about the gelling state - read on
  • continue the steady simmer until you reach a gelling state
    • there are several ways to detect the gelling state here's my method
    • jam generally gels after you pass the foaming phase - you will observe the berries really cooking down and the mix will begin to feel thicker.  you can see this by simply lifting your spoon out of the preserves and observing the drip.
      •  a very thin smooth stream - not ready
      • a more intermittent drip feeling a bit thick - might be ready
      • you reach a temperature of 220˚f - should be ready after 5 minutes of additional boiling.
    • in order to tell for sure try the following odly timey trick 
      • freeze a small plate.  place a wee dab of jam on the frozen plate. if it looks like it's jamming you're good.  if not keep heating and stirring. try try again.
  • Prepare canner, jars and lids
    • great information here from the local kitchen blog - i could not say it better myself
    • read up for safety
  • Ladle into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch head space. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
    • great information here from the local kitchen blog - i could not say it better myself
    • read up for safety
  • my yield for this batch - 9 pints 

Now for the 3 day process from The Local Kitchen - it looks amazing!
Strawberry: Whole Berry Preserves
  • 2 and 1/2 lbs tiny strawberries, rinsed & hulled
  • 1 lb (2 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • zest & juice of 2 small lemons
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Day 1. Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon zest & juice and salt. Mix well to coat all berries in sugar. Allow to macerate for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, or bring to a simmer in a wide-bottomed preserving pan (to dissolve sugar), then refrigerate overnight.
  2. Day 2. Tip berries and juice into a preserving pan or wide-bottomed skillet. Scrape any undissolved sugar into the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; stir, then remove from heat. Return to a heat-safe bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Day 3. Repeat Day 2: Bring berries to a simmer, return to bowl, refrigerate overnight.
  4. Day 4. Prepare canner, jars and lids. Strain berries through a sieve, catching the juice in a wide-bottomed preserving pan; reserve berries (over a bowl, as they will continue to drip). Bring juice to a boil over high heat; continue to boil until juice is syrupy, bubbling thickly and foam begins to subside, or reaches 220 degrees F (about 20 minutes in my wide, 6 and 3/4 quart Le Creuset): boil at 220 degrees F for one minute.
  5. Skim foam carefully (it’s much harder to skim once you add the berries). Add berries, and any additional juice. Return to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture returns to 220 degrees F (is bubbling thickly and spits when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan), about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Skim any remaining foam.
  6. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Yields about 4 cups.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

in.gredients the nation's first zero-waste, package-free grocery store!

Our Story

We're Brothers Lane - i.e. Christian, Joseph, and Patrick Lane, three brothers who have a knack for innovation + business sense and a passion for promoting sustainable living - plus Chris and Brian, who don’t have Lane blood but share the same passions.

For years we've been finding ways to live more sustainably. After realizing that waste is actually just a human invention, we’ve each started home gardens; we compost, recycle, and more importantly re-use as much as possible, weeding out unnecessary waste. We’ve been able to reduce over half the waste our households generate, with only one major hurdle: groceries.

While we reuse food containers / packaging all the time, we still have to buy more food packaging at the store because it’s unavoidable. While we can use reusable bags for produce and carrying things, we can’t (legally or in a way that’s socially acceptable) get cereal out of cereal boxes or household cleaners out of bottles to take home. Because of this, a majority of the waste and recycling streaming through our homes is unnecessary, since we could have brought our own containers to the store to fill them. Of the 1.4 billion pounds of waste landfilled per day in the US, 560 million pounds is packaging - most of which is used just once, before another package is bought.

These alarming statistics upset us enough to set out to change things ourselves. Our project revolutionizes grocery shopping as we know it. Our goal is to reduce waste by ditching packaging altogether - creating the nation’s first zero-waste, package-free grocery store! The community-oriented store (named “in.gredients”) will (a) sell local, organic groceries, (b) host community events like cooking lessons, concerts, and garden days, (c) feature local artwork, and (d) promote sustainability. Most importantly, we’ll allow customers to fill reusable containers (even ones brought from home!) with their groceries, making waste reduction easy, fun, and convenient! Think of it as Groceries 2.0.

The Impact

in.gredients will be a collaborative effort between business, community, and consumers with the goal of eliminating food-related waste while supporting local businesses and farmers (after all, they usually keep just 15% of their food’s grocery store revenue). We hope the concept promotes opportunities for folks to learn the benefits of eating well, ways to reduce waste at home, and how easy it can be to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

We'll host:
Community garden nights
Cooking classes by local chefs
Gardening classes by local farmers
Homebrewing classes by local brewers
Classes on waste reduction in the home
Classes on rainwater collection / wastewater capturing

And offer package-free groceries like:
Baking supplies
Household cleaners

We hope to open in.gredients later this year if we gain enough support. The industry needs the fundamental shift we’ll demonstrate with our business model, so we can’t wait any longer! If we don't raise enough, we'll continue buying packaged goods from the supermarket while we return to the drawing board - so please, help us out!

What We Need & What You Get

We need $15,000 to get in.gredients up and running by the fall. That number covers some what-we-need-to-start-up costs:

1. Rainwater collectors
2. Wastewater capturing devices
3. Materials to build our community garden
4. Our signs
5. Construction, turning our building into a store
6. Paint for artists to make things pretty
7. Bins for our local groceries

All other funding for this project is coming from our pockets and contributions from friends and family.

We want to make donating fun for everyone - so we've come up with some fun perks our supporters. Check 'em out!

Other Ways You Can Help

If you like what you're hearing, share us with your friends! Our big-picture-goal is telling the industry "this is groceries done right." While in.gredients will teach us many things, we hope it also serves as a learning model for the supermarket industry - letting folks know there IS another way to do things.

Also Find This Campaign On
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Monday, July 4, 2011

food independence round the hippychick universe

sweet harvests
thanks to the squirrels and the birdie birds for saving us a wee few!

mini peaches - super-d-lovely eggs - figgy figs

they may not be huge in size but they are from our very own efforts and the grace of nature


and now for a slight interruption 
to our irregularly scheduled blogcast 
a blast from the past 
that is still oh so relevant today

Thursday, June 30, 2011

hippychicks' rainwater universe is alive!!! now if only for a few drops...

it's alive!!!!!!!

hippychick's rainwater system is up and ready for the drops to fall
just a short bit of chat before i need to run about this thursday morn

  • 305 gallon tank - located on the west side of the house
  • 1000 gallon tank - located on the north side of the garage
  • both tanks will be used for garden only
  • both tanks are filtered using a duel method
    • the old feed bag on the end of the feeder pipe tool
      • yes seriously
    • a 16" screened sieve that securely sits in the top of the tank
      • this screen is far finer than the feed bag
    • the bottom spigot is where i will attach a hose to draw for daily use
    • the spigot to the left is the overflow 
      • follow the plumbing to the top and you will see how this keeps water from flowing over the top of the tank
      • i will attach a hose to each overflow spigot and feed it to water trees
        • which means i have some trench digging to do so as to keep it from freezing in the winter
          • though i will probably need to drain the tanks for part of the winter - i have not fully figured that out yet. 
    well i have to run but i will be back to explain and blather on some more.  cheers!  this has been a long time coming.  

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    bread - it ain't brain surgery or is it?

    so finally finally finally i feel that i have grasped the art of a good loaf of homemade bread.  nope, correction correction, a most excellent loaf of homemade bread.

    i have been struggling for years to find the perfect balance of flour; which flour, rye, white, wheat, whole wheat, spelt, etc. to water; filtered or straight from the tap to yeast; pad or dried or starter which is a whole other art unto itself to sugar; to use sugar or not to use sugar that is the question and salt; some folk believe salt an absolute yes and others claim it may deactivate the yeast process.  add oil? add butter?  there are so many variations of bread doughs out there it can prove a bit overwhelming.

    and then there is the art of learning your own oven so that one can begin to understand the proper baking temperature and baking time.

    on top of that there is the option of the old stand by metal baking pan, the cast iron pot or the artisan clay cooking molds.   and the final question, should one add a small bowl of water in the oven to create proper humidity leading to that classic artisan wood fired crusty crust. 

     all this i have considered and experimented with and fudged with in search of beautiful rising dough with good crumb, fine flavor and a lovely crusty crust.  and many, many, many times i have failed.  you would think baking a good loaf (not even an excellent loaf) would be a simple process and for some i am sure it is.

    for me, crafting a good loaf has been an ongoing challenge littered with failures.  granted i eat the failures and they are not terrible but they are not great either.  they might be too doughy inside or too dense or even brick like.  they might be blessed with good flavor and bad texture.  the misfit combinations are many.

    well, fingers crossed, i have made a breakthrough and it all started with the purchase of a proper sourdough starter.  i have in the past attempted to make my own sourdough starter, some would do well for a while and then suddenly go nutty while some would never really pick up at all.  others would look good in the jar but not prove strong enough to give rise to a mound of dough.  so i figured i would  give the real stuff a try, follow the directions to a 'T' (ahem, not really but 90% mostly) and hope for better bread.

    i bought my starter from cultures for health, a very informative and well stocked collection of culture and ferment goods.  i went with the basic san francisco sourdough starter.  i have followed the directions mostly.

    when i say mostly - i mean that i used rye flour as a replacement feeder rather than white flour when i had exhausted my white flour stores.  i had the rye on hand and enjoy the sour-ish flavor it gives to bread so i figured it could fill the feeding bill until i could go out and pick up more white flour to continue the early growth process.

    i am using bob's red mill bread flour with fantastic results.

    i fed my starter as prescribed in the directions thinking i would not see big bubbles for a few days but no, no, no, i saw bubbles on day two.  i would imagine this is due to our hot summer temperatures creating an ideal incubation environment for the starter.  even with the a.c. on this house hovers in the low 80˚F range.  i set the a.c. for 82˚F which is comfortable enough for our living.  regardless of the quick growth, i fed the starter as instructed again with superb results.

    then when the starter was ready for splitting and the first loaf was in the waiting for making, i went back to the cultures for health side to view several of their many super helpful instructional videos relative to making sourdough bread.  after watching i went for it and walla! fantastic bread.

    i have now made three very successful loaves with the fourth in the rise stage as i type.  i have even swapped them up a bit adding herbs and spices, playing with a rye flour bread vs. white flour bread and cooking loaves in the old stand by metal pans and in my cast iron pot.

    i make my best effort to stick to the ratios of flour to water to starter to salt and find the closer i am to their suggested ratios, the better the loaf is.  so for now, i am sticking with this process and i am happy for it.

    i find it thrilling to finally finally finally have the where with all to craft my own mighty fine loaf of bread in the comfort of my own home sweet home.

    oh and here's the next dream - my own wood fired out of doors stove.

    the folks over at fast grow the weeds made their own wood fired stove and she is a real beauty.  i am inspired!

    she has even shared the process for building the masonry oven - most excellent.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    walkin' the fence - talk

    yes indeed folks - the time has at long last arrived - hippychick is going to fix that darn fence.
    and by fix i mean start replacing panels bit by bit as money allows.  it is the only way.  if i wait until i have all the money to fix the fence all at once it will never get fixed, it will simply fall over.  and we are very close to the falling over stage as it is.

    just look at the lovely work the ants have sculpted from the runner boards - brilliant!

    i plan to pick up the first sixteen panels today.  they will require priming and painting prior to installation or possibly a simple sealing natural stain.  i have not decided yet, i'll be investigating options in the next few days.  anyway the zen of the painting process will give me a bit of time to figure out the best way to piece by piece, break down the old fence before installing the new.

    overall, the new fence will require twenty two panels as i live on a corner lot.  i think the twenty two also include my cutting one down for the making of gates.  i have not priced replacing the back and side yard fences yet.  i'm considering asking the neighbors if they wish to split the cost but not quite yet as the manual labor plate is plenty full up.

    where am i purchasing the fence panels from?
    the price is right and they are currently on sale
    the material is pressure treated pine
    the pickets are a bit further apart from one another than i would like but i'm thinking that i might install a thin vertical piece between pickets after all is installed.  time will tell

    the old supporting uprights look to be in fine shape.  i'll need to make sure they are spaced properly and you all know the probability of that don't you?  uh, huh.  there's a good bit of cleaning up to do around the fence line as well.  a pesky batch of johnson grass has invaded the garden path.  and unlike other plants and seeds wilted by our just darn awful heat, johnson grass seems to thrive.  oh goody!  so i'll do my best to rip up the grass as best as i am able before setting in the new panels.

    once it's complete it will be lovely i am sure.
    anything worth while requires a whole lot of sweat and a fair amount of hard work.

    baby steps, baby steps
    here we go!
    i am not sure that i have any idea what i am doing

    fixin' that fence!