Tag Archive | urban homesteading

Soggy Beets? No Worries.

Every year we have a good crop of beets even though we don’t plant many. For some reason they grow and grow.  We store the beets and other root vegetables in our cellar which is essentially an area under the house that was dug out and filled (sort of ) with concrete in some places. In other places, there is just dirt. But it works.

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Here’s what it looks like:

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The partitions were put in many years ago by Ernie and his dad.

As usual, we left the beets until now and they got squishy. This happens when the air around the beets (and potatoes, carrots etc) is taking the moisture out of  the vegetable because it is too dry. We did put the beets in pails with newspaper, which works not bad to keep the ones that are lower down from getting soft, but were still left with many soggy beets.

What To Do With Soggy Beets?

First, here are a couple of things we can do to make beets last longer in storage.

The first thing is keeping them at the appropriate temperature. Also AS important for good beets is being at the correct humidity. Being at the right temperature is something that most people will realize right away. Obviously, root vegetables have to be kept very cool. But lack of humidity is what causes root vegetables to get soft. The air around them is too dry and sucks the moisture out of them.

The beets need to be between 3 and 7 degrees C and the air to have high humidity like 95%.

It is difficult to keep the humidity high in an open basic vegetable storage area, such as our cellar. You could use a humidifier, but that could be time consuming and you are continuously using power to keep it running which when it comes to beets, is likely not worth it.

If you have some containers without air holes you can put the beets in,  interspersed with crumpled up newspaper for air circulation. Occasionally mist the top of the beets to add moisture but be careful not to use too much or it could cause rot on the surface of the beet. In containers with air holes you won’t need to put newspaper as much if at all but misting is still a good idea, especially on the top. Don’t get the beets moist near the bottom or again they could rot.

Remedy For Soggy Beets

For beets that have already gone soft you can soak them in water until they get plumped up again to a degree.

Uses For Soggy Beets

If you’re beets are really soggy and you want to get rid of them, you can make soup immediately, eat some and then freeze the rest for later. If you make beet pickles, make sure you soak them in water for a bit since most people prefer crisp pickle. It won’t always work perfectly but it’s better than throwing them out.

We make beet soup or Borshch (traditional Ukrainian pronunciation) (it’s not “borsht” (anglicized pronunciation).

The process of making borshch is simple. Fry onions and garlic in fat (I used olive oil but you can use whatever you want), then add water, beets (I grated them with a large-holed grater we bought at a yard sale), dill, green beans, tomatoes and if you want carrots. I also put some garlic tops that I had frozen two years ago. After it is done cooing, you can add cream or not.

Beets are not a super versatile vegetable but are nice for a few things. Mainly, proper storage is what will prevent soggy beets. Otherwise, quick usage will help you save what you can of them.

Home-based Business Work Burnout

I am currently experiencing extreme burnout at work. So much so that I have to stop working and shut down my business. My job and business –  grooming, training and boarding dogs, has for years ( 9 years) made it so that there is no time away from dogs. I work from home and I have my own dogs here as well as other people’s as part of the business. The whole thing was part of my plan to be an urban homesteader: working from home at something I love to help support the homestead lifestyle.

mirandabath

Most people enjoy going home from work to be away from work. For me, there is no such thing. When I board dogs, the dogs live here with us so I am on edge 24 hours a day thinking about the boarding dogs.

Don’t get me wrong here, I appreciate being able to even HAVE a job that I can do at home and not have to commute. I know there are people who don’t have jobs. However, in my enthusiasm to work from home, I picked a career that was too similar to my home life and therefore had no separation.

Because we live in a lowly populated area, I am forced to take most if not all clients at the risk of not making enough money that year or losing clients. Sometimes there is overlap of clients so that I don’t have any days off for weeks and weeks. We can’t go anywhere or really do anything as there is always someone’s dog to consider, even if it is just one dog staying with us.

As a business owner, I also am in charge of promotion of the business in real life, and on social media. As well, I took on some extra work as a social media manager for several other businesses. These were not pet businesses, but added to the workload.

I discussed this with Ernie, and we both agree that the burnout is in part because of the long hours and no breaks, but I also believe that at some point my heart was not really into it. I feel that I may have been pursuing the pet professional business because I had something to prove. This, however, is a subject for a completely different post so I won’t elaborate here.

My burnout is so extreme, that I have even stopped going to dog shows which I used to enjoy, training my own dogs, and have completely changed my hobby interests. I am now painting.

winterscene

Strangely, I am OK with all this, especially the painting part. Yes, I am a beginner, but this is something that I am using to relax my mind as I recover from the burnout and is purely for the love of the process. I don’t care if it ever gets me anywhere. It is FUN.

So, I am a little depressed and sad about closing down my business that I have pursued for so many years, and leaving behind the clients that I enjoyed meeting and interacting with. But I think that I will be able to do more in another area of work when I find it because I learned what I did wrong with the previous one.

Happy Homesteading!

 

 

 

 

Eating Well On Little Money Part 1

Last year I started a project in which I was trying to figure out, if you start with NOTHING, and spend only $10 a day (and you live in the city and don’t have a garden) can you eat well?

In the documentary “Food Inc” there was a family that believed they couldn’t eat well because good food was too expensive, yet they went to a fast food restaurant for supper. They spent time at the grocery store lamenting how expensive everything was, but yet had money to buy ONE meal for each person in the family. I would think that taking $15 or $20 that they spent on fast food for the family ($5 per person) and putting it towards actual food would be more productive and cheaper in the long run.

This is what I am trying to show with my experiment: to demonstrate that it can be done, that two adults CAN eat well on $10 a day, and likely even less.

How To Start

I used the local Co-op food store and their sales flyer each week for 4 weeks. The food at the co-op here is more expensive than larger grocery chains in the big city, but my point is to be able to shop where you are and still eat well. The food had to be non-processed (food that has multiple ingredients but could be canned or frozen if it only has one ingredient.), and thus good food. Some was on sale and some wasn’t.

The daily food purchases for Day One and Day Two are as follows:

Day 1: Eggs, Butter, Pasta (made from white flour, not great but that is what we used for now), Salt.

From this you could eat for the day and if you did have some condiments left over from previous purchases of food (ketchup, mustard, oregano, basil, garlic, etc) you could use those to spruce things up.

At our food store, this all cost $9.54 cents. At other stores you could get it for less, I’m sure, but that is not part of the project. The point is use what is available. The belief is often that you can’t eat well and cheap, locally.

Day 2: Carrots, Bananas, Potatoes, Onion, Barley. Cost: $10.00

With the ingredients from these two days, I made a vegetable soup that was unbelieveably good. I expect that some people don’t know how to make soup from scratch, and therefore think that they have to buy canned and therefore can’t eat well. We figured out that our soup cost us 38 cents a serving while a store brand, canned, cream of mushroom soup cost about 24 cents. However the nutritional content of the canned soup is clearly lower.

One may wonder how this food can sustain you for days but what actually happens is that you build up your stock of food over the week and then weeks, and you are able to continue eating well day after day. Maybe the first day or two isn’t ideal, but when you are considering eating nothing as opposed to this, it looks ok. And fast food always costs more.

So the point of all this is to, again, show that you can eat well for little money IF you can use your creativity and figure out how to use the food that is available to purchase. I figure it is often the lack of knowledge in how to cook real food that contributes to eating poorly. Just my thoughts.

day 2 food

Make Pasta at Home

Eating well – or eating poorly is a matter of educating yourself on how to do this, not on how much you make.

Real pasta has has TWO ingredients – flour and water. I actually learned this method from a Lydia Bastianich, the famous Italian-American celebrity chef. I was shocked to see her do this in one of her TV shows and have been making it every since.

How To Make It

Take some water – about 1 cup – and add flour until you have a dough. You can mix it in a bowl by hand or use a food processor. Once the dough is fully mixed, cut a smallish chunk of it and remove from the bowl. Don’t take too much off at once if this is your first time trying this method. You will have a limited amount of space (likely) to roll this out and starting with a small amount is best.

Roll out the section and cut into long, thin pieces or use a hand crank pasta machine if you have one or can find one at a yard sale or auction. The key to making it easily is to use enough flour when you are rolling out the dough so that it does not stick to everything. You must shake the flour off the pasta somewhat before you cook it.

Here are some lasagna noodles that I made.

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It takes a little more time to make your pasta this way, but not really.  The pasta tastes better and is something you can do yourself without relying on anyone to make it for you. .

Make Your Own Garlic Powder

In years when a garlic harvest is poor many of the cloves can be kept anyway and used  to make garlic powder. Never throw away garlic that has dried out. If it is mouldy, that is a different story. Dried out garlic cloves make good garlic powder.

In the pic below you can see how much of the garlic is browning or blemished. Don’t let that fool you. It is still good.

wholegarlic

HOW TO MAKE GARLIC POWDER

Separate the cloves. Cut off the hard ends, rinse them na dry them. Then slice the cloves up into thin slices – not super thin but sliced. Put them on a flat surface such as a cookie tray or screen and let dry really well.

We use a homemade food drier to dry the garlic slices. You can find how we did that HERE.

Grind in”coffee” grinder.

Garlic powder and grinder

If you don’t let them dry all the way, they are still good. Whiz them up only part way and use them as garlic flakes. You don’t have to use a coffee grinder – use a small whizzer OR HAND GRATE. Works just as good.

Because we don’t know where the garlic that is in store bought garlic powder comes from (we do actually but we’re not saying here), spend a little time and save money making your own.