Sunday, November 30, 2008

Canning: 1 Freezing: --

Another reason why I love canning food more so then freezing them now...

I'm sooo annoyed right now, this is the 2nd time this month the chest freezer in the garage has gone off because the GFCI its plugged into tripped. I just got some butter out of there yesterday afternoon and everything was fine so it must have tripped sometime during the night. I went out today to pull out the turkey carcass to make stock and to my horror everything was thawed and mushy, but thankfully still very very cold ( alot still had frost & ice crystals) with a layer of water at the bottom. After it tripped last week ( and I caught it right away) I spent this week emptying ice cubes from our little freezer ice maker as added insurance in case it tripped again. Glad I did. I had to throw away the overripe banananas and cooled cooked spaghetti squash that was on top and the mushiest, but I'm at a loss at what to do with everything else that got sorta thawed in the ice water.

I mashed up all the raspberries and am going to make jam with them tonight, my poor husband had to drive to 3 stores to find pectin since (unknown to me) its a seasonal item they dont always have in stock.

I have 4 gallon zip lock bags full of tomatillos that are still mostly frozen solid and some a bit soft, 6 gallon bags of sliced bell peppers thats still firm but mostly thawed and 2 gallon bags of cubed cantaloupe thats frozen slush.

I'm heartbroken that a summer's worth of peppers and tomatillos might have to be thrown away, I'm not sure how well they'd hold up to being frozen again. I think I can make salsa from the tomatillos if I can go get some cilantro tomorrow, but the bell peppers? Anyone know a good chutney or something that uses ALOT of bell pepper?

UGH! I love our new place but I'm irked that we just had maintenance come out last week and replace the entire wall outlet because the GFCI would not come back on. I'm really afraid that theres something screwy in the wall thats not grounded correctly and thats whats tripping it, the freezer is less then 2 years old and never had a problem with it.

Goes to prove why canning & drying can be so much more reliable then a freezer- you're at the mercy of a $4 plactic outlet to keep your precious goods safe. I just bought about 20 pounds of ground beef for the month to portion out and freeze, looks like I'm going to have to babysit this freezer/GFCI outlet to make sure it doesnt go out again. The tiny freezer above the fridge in our apartment is crammed with kid stuff like (HG) nuggets, GF bread, flours and my beloved Haggan Daaz.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Humbling Thanksgiving, as well as a new Begining

(Meant to post this a week ago but between the world of warcraft expansion and out of state family visiting I've been short pressed for time with the 2 kids and all when I'm sitting at the computer- but for the record my night elf druid is lvl 76 with 450 alchemy, 450 jewelcrafting, 425 fishing, and 422 cooking woot! I don't need a powerleveling service thank you very much! LOL)

Hello all, sorry for yet another hiatus, but its been a hectic few months. I had been avoiding posting on here since well, I just didn't really feel like spewing my emotional turmoil and also because our whole lives were up in the air. But the long and the short of it is: my large organic garden paradise is no more.
Faced with the stupidity of a mortgage modification gone terrible wrong and the advice of family real estate lawyers, we 'chose' to walk away from our house,foreclose and start anew renting a nice 2 bedroom apartment in the same city....I say 'chose' with air quotes since its a very fine line between "choosing" to " walk away" from your beloved home vs. waiting till you get eviction papers. Its more of a mental game really, feeling like we somehow won and came out ahead by walking away with our heads held high ( while fighting back tears). For the sake of our sanity and the well being of the kids we didn't want to drag the whole thing out with government bailout programs, counseling, short sales, etc. Once we realized that the expenses ( with this new loan) were exceeding our income, and me having no luck in finding work in the last 8 months I have been frantically applying everywhere, we got no answers on how long we actually had before foreclosure would be filed against us, we had to move fast to secure safe affordable living accommodations before the foreclosure hit our credit and ruined it. Its frustrating to say to least to not even get a straight answer on how long the proceedings take to know when we'd have to move out. Its been utterly depressing, and I didn't want to get into it on this blog, I have had to explain the situation over and over again to the bank, friends, family, our former neighbors...I'm kinda sick of talking about it, I'm trying to move past it with positive energy. We felt utterly betrayed by our mortgage company for taking what was a very nice and safe loan, and (*&*(^% it up to the point that we couldn't afford to make the house payment and make ends meet, which is the total opposite of a loan modification is supposed to accomplish. We accept responsibility for our actions and are accepting the credit hit of the foreclosure. We fought, we cried, we researched options, made a choice, and have made peace with it. blablabla, wawawa, ok, I'm ok now.

It has all worked out for the best it seems:we had fallen in love with a nice new 2 bedroom 2 story town home in a new complex. Its actually the same sq footage of our old home (~1300 sq ft of living space) that had of all things a small (15 x 15 ft) but nice private courtyard. When I first saw it I immediately realized there was some potential here: I could garden in containers, not to mention without property taxes and a money pit of a 50 year old fixer upper hanging over our heads we'd be able to possibly budget in a CSA share or a plot at a community garden for "big" crops like winter squash and melons. But one can totally grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, salad greens, and herbs in pots. Citrus trees too! Unfortunately the monthly rent was at the uppermost limit of our intended budget ($1980) and there were no units of that floor plan available or showing as being available any time soon.
We had sadly thought it was a a far fetched option when by some stroke of luck someone who had a unit reserved backed out at the last minute, and prices dropped dramatically ( a sad upside to this crazy economy), and there was a new leasing special being offered, so the price was only $1775- for comparison our mortgage payments were $2,700 a $4,000 a year in property taxes, and $600 in insurance.
So here we are 2 months later, blessed with a brand new home ( they just opened this section of the community this summer) with a sunny south facing courtyard, and a beautiful view of my beloved mountains from the kids room upstairs. Both bedrooms have their own bathrooms and walk in closets- I am feeling rather spoiled after living in a house with so many things needing to be fixed! From my living room we look out at the mountains and to the tree lined bike path that leads to a park and an elementary school in an awesome school district. I am relieved and happy here so far.

Right now I have my large "Italian Herb" planter still giving us sweet and Cinnamon basil, oregano, and parsley. I have another container with 2 small rosemary plants, and my mango tree in its pot. We're still unpacking things so I haven't had time to set up my planned window boxes with 'Tom Thumb' lettuce and 'Bright Lights' chard, and of course some mesclun. For Christmas I am asking Santa for an 'Improved Meyer Lemon' on dwarf rootstock! LOL Gotta make some lemonade with those lemons ya know? *wink*
In the garage I have 4 milk crates packed with all the butternut squash from our garden that was ready to pick ( those crazy vines are STILL flowering) as well as a box of Pomegranates from our tree. We got 5 persimmons this year too. For thanksgiving dinner I made butternut squash soup and a awesome pomegranate reduction sauce for the turkey along with fresh herbs form my pot, so the spirit of self reliance was still there as much as we could.
Before we mail the keys to the bank ala jingle mail we're hoping the trees go dormant enough to dig some of the fruit trees to plant in my dad's yard and 'adopt' out to fellow gardening friends. Its been cool and raining (!!!) this week so hopefully that will finally get the trees dormant enough to transplant without shocking them. I just couldn't the bear the thought of abandoning my 'babies' to be ignored, not watered, or worse ripped out when they come re landscape the place. I also want t0 try and save my 'Misty' blueberry in a pot if I can. And take some cuttings from my fig tree. Yes the wheels of my mind are still whirling in how I can "downsize" my garden aspirations while maximizing production in a small space. I can do this! its another new challenge, and I love being challenged.

Anyway, theres an update for now, kids are asleep so I'm taking advantage to go play WoW with my husband for a little bit before my bedtime LOL. Plus I need to check on my after thanksgiving turkey stock simmering on the stove. (waste not, want not)

Stick aound as I plan to attempt making kefir, kombucha, and even my own cheese at some point this winter. :) Love thrives in small(er) spaces, and I fully intend to live it that way.