Sunday, November 22, 2009

Homesteaders up to our elbows in apples and potatoes

This fall a number of homesteaders from Alberta Avenue area have convened cheerfully in the Community League kitchen.

In October, six of us joined forces to process pounds and pounds of apples (picked from a couple very large trees!). At the end of a long day we had:
- 240 cups of frozen apple slices
- 30 litres of applesauce
- 15 jars of crab apple jelly
- 7 pints of crab apple syrup
- dehydrated apple slices for snack

Then in November, 14 people squeezed into the kitchen again. This time to produce a 1000 perogies. Neighbour Alice walked us through a recipe her Ukrainian neighbour had shared with her. Four delectable varieties were made: Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, onion, and blueberry (this last one was a surprisingly delicious addition!). Pictures yet to come...

Thanks to the City of Edmonton Matching Grant, our neighbourhood now has a Dehydrator and Food Processor to share. If you want to mash apples/tomatoes/potatoes or dehydrate them (or jerky/seeds/flowers/etc), email me and we'll arrange a way for you to borrow these.

If you want to be informed of other Homesteader Group activities, email me and I'll make sure to add you to our group's contact list.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Playdoh and Irish Cream have in common

Gift giving is a complicated social experience and there’s no other time like Christmas to pile on the complexity. How many of the following questions have you wrestled with?

Who and what circles should receive a gift? Should I give gifts only to those I know will give them in  return? What do I do when someone gives a gift and I’ve nothing to offer in return? What if I exchange a gift that is clearly cheaper? Will the receiver be offended if my gift is second hand/homemade/bought at an outlet?

I must admit that some years the myriad of potential problems pretty quickly saps the joy out of giving.
This season (spoiler alert for the loved ones/neighbours/useful acquaintances in my life) I may opt out. The very act of typing those questions made my eyes start twitching.

Then again, maybe I’ll make up some very large batches of the following items (they are sure to please most people). Hey, perhaps you can make some up too then we can exchange the same homemade gift and call it ‘even’!  

Mom’s Playdoh- (for the kids or kid-at-heart in your life)

1. Mix together in a small saucepan:
-¼ Cup salt
-1Cup flour
-1Tablespoon Cream of Tarter
-1Cup water
-1 Tablespoon oil
-Food Colouring (use lots for vibrant colour)

2. Cook over medium heat (stirring constantly) until mixture forms a thick ball.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Knead until smooth.

Bath Soak- (for the bathers or the people- you- wish- were- bathers in your life)
           1. Mix together in a large bowl:
-       4 Cup fine sea salt
-       4 Cup baking soda
-       4 Cup milk powder
-       10-20 drops essential oil
-       dried lavender, rose petals, citrus peal or favorite herb (optional)
2. Divide into pretty jars. Makes 3 litres of bath soak.

Pretty Convincing Irish Cream (this is a gift I give myself when I’m making the other gifts)

1. Mix together:

- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 Cup whiskey
- 2 Tablespoons Chocolate syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
-½ teaspoon coconut extract
-2 Cups- half and half cream
-1 teaspoon- instant coffee

2.     Bottle and refrigerate.  Makes 1 litre. Expires in 3 weeks (roughly).

Hope these tried and true gift ideas bring back (or carry on!) the joy of the giving.  And if I forget to give you a gift: May you have a very blessed Christmas from my homestead to yours.