Sunday, August 28, 2011

Junque Yard & Junque Food

I feel like it has been forever since I updated here.  I haven't because there hasn't been anything Earth shattering going on around here. My knee is healing well, and I'm off crutches and the cane I downgraded myself to last week.  So that makes me happy.

Yesterday I bought tons of veggies at the farmer's market - green onions to dehydrate, more garlic (homegrown tastes so much better than what is in the store, I cannot recommend it highly enough), more banana peppers (mine are still producing, but not the quantity I got last year, and I am running out of jars of pickled nanas at an alarming rate), cukes (I'm getting tons of flowers, but not so much are actually fruiting) for pickling. I keep picking and using the bell peppers I have, so they aren't turning red on the vine - however, I found a vendor that had an over abundance of orange and red bells for 75 cents a piece - SCORE!  Those will be chopped and frozen for putting into dishes.

My biggest score, and here's my nuttiness showing, was a 10 lb box of Michigan blueberries. A greenhouse I pass by on my way to work everyday has been advertising the blueberries for a couple of weeks now, and I realized that if I wanted to make jam and freeze a bunch for the winter, I had to get them NOW. So I did.

Now, I'm staring at the bounty in my kitchen, and wondering WTF was I thinking? Good thing I have tomorrow off, Imma be processing all this stuff for freaking ever.

I have my mother coming over today to help with the processing, which is greatly appreciated.

I have a friend from out of town coming over tomorrow, which makes me happy, too...She can yack at me while I'm chopping and canning.

It's a great thing that I work better under pressure. I have to finish cleaning the house, and then just dig in.

I couldn't be happier.  :)

To my East Coast peeps, I hope that Irene does you no harm. Take it easy out there...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Junque Yard

This morning's haul....cukes, beans, tomatoes, and nana peppers. YUM! The bowl weighed 15 lbs when I was done.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Musings from the Junque Pile

It's Friday, and I have to admit that this week went by very quickly. I'm ready for the weekend. *nods*

Last Saturday started off with promise. I'd written my blog post about getting organized and making breakfasts for myself again. I'd combed the sale pages of the grocery stores, looking for inexpensive things to buy for the week. I'm lucky in that I have 2 farmer's markets and 4 different grocery stores within a less than 5 mile radius around my house, so I choose what I buy and go onto the next store without worrying that money I'm saving is being used up in gas. And I don't shop for groceries weekly. We might pick up milk or an incidental once a week, but we are fortunate enough to have fairly well stocked pantry shelves.

So I have my list, and the weather is beautiful, and DaHubster and I take off for a whirlwind round of "get this at this store..." Around noon, some thunderclouds roll in, but we weren't concerned, having already been to the farmer's market, and pulling into the first grocery store on our list.  Getting what we need in that store, we go outside to the parking lot, and find a monsoon swirling in the parking lot. Heavy rain. Do we run for it? Sure...halfway to the car, it starts to hail. OUCH. Not large hail, but it hit with enough force to sting. They were the size of a Jolly Rancher candy. He's throwing stuff in the back of the car, and I'm trying to get dive into the car without getting cracked on the noggin when my foot slides on a bit of hail, and with a large CRACK, my knee dislocates as my lower leg flies in a direction not sanctioned by the laws of nature. OH.MY.GOD. That is the most sickening sensation I can ever imagine. Fighting the urge to vomit and scream simultaneously, I bundle my leg and the rest of me in the car to avoid anymore incidences with the hail, which is still pouring out of the sky. The scream won, I'm happy to say, as the vomit would have been a bit more than I can handle, but would you believe that it was raining so hard, that the poor Hubster didn't hear it?  He bopped into the car with a little grin that said, "Wasn't that an adventure??" Then looked at me trying to regain the ability to speak. After the "What happened?" and whatnot, I held up a finger for him to give me a minute. Then I told him. We had to wait for the hail and rain to let up a bit before driving anywhere, so we talked about whether to go to the ER or home. I voted for home. I've done this before, and I know what to do.

I still have crutches from the last time this happened. I'm using them for when I'm walking. But it's only for support. The knee is wobbly but holding. I can't wrap or immobilize, because the last time this happened, I developed a blot clot, or a DVT in the large vein in my leg. Movement is the best thing to do to avoid that. Of course, a clot could have still formed, and moving around means that it could lodge somewhere else, but I've been monitoring myself carefully, and now that it's nearly a week since the incident, I'm pretty well sure that that hasn't happened. No cramps, no shortness of breath or sudden headaches. I'm thinking I dodged a bullet this time. And I'm extremely grateful.

I have been wicked tired, though. Getting my crutching muscles back up to snuff has been tiring. Getting the "What did you do??" looks at work, not so fun. I've just spent most of the summer in a hand brace for my thumb, now to be seen using a crutch? Not so cool. I'm sure that someone somewhere thinks I'm being abused or something. I guess you could say that I am, but i't is Mother Nature who's doing the abusing. LOL. I've been laughing it off. I mean, it's a great story to tell. How many people do you know that have slipped on ice in the dead of August?? Well, in the Northern Hemisphere that is...

So the great breakfast experiment has been put off for a week or so. I'll be whipping up egg cups and healthy junk this weekend, barring Mother Nature's wicked sense of humor.

And if you see a chick with a crutch attempting to pull carrots out of her garden, stop and give her a hand, ok? She might feed you something good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Junque Food - Breakfast Challenges

Good Morning! Did anyone try out some of the homemade beauty products I listed in my last blog? If so, let me know...throw me a comment.  I get responses at my Face Book page, but rarely here. My blog needs some lovin'...  :)

Anyhoo, I was talking with my friend Vino, and we were discussing healthy breakfasts. As I diabetic, I need to eat regularly, and breakfast is not my most favorite meal of the day. Mainly because I don't have time to cook it every day. However, what I have been known to do is cook ahead, portion off, and take breakfasts and lunches with me to work. When I do that I generally spend a fair amount of time on Sundays doing this. It gets old, especially when the weather is nice, and I wanna go play outdoors (Please, Mom...can I?).

I am particularly fond of making a no-crust mini-quiche recipe I found in a South Beach Diet book a hundred years ago. That particular recipe isn't online, but it is super simple in that you whisk up eggs, add some low-fat/no-fat shredded cheese, any diced veggies you have on hand and bake it in muffin tins. 2 "muffins" are your meal. That's an awesome recipe as you can package up the portions into baggies, freeze them, and they zap in the microwave in a couple of minutes (take them out of the baggie first or YUCK!).

Unfortunately, I get bored of eating the same thing for more than 3 days. I need variety. And I need to plan ahead, or I do nothing and am completely unprepared. When I'm in a good organizational mood, I can plan a week's worth of meals (not just breakfast, but lunch and dinner too), checked against what I have on-hand, make a list of what I need from the store, get it, prepare it, and I'm golden. I also get SUPER WIFE points, but that's a story for another time...

I can admit that my organizational skills have not been up to snuff lately. And as a result, I've made bad food choices. And my pants are a wee bit tighter than they should be at the moment. THIS MUST CHANGE!

So, here's some ideas I have for mixing it up in the breakfast department:
Yogurt (home made if I can get DaHubster to make it - he's the yogurt guru around here) or store bought with home made granola and frozen berries
Different variations on the baked egg dishes like this one I just found off the South Beach Diet website that looks decidedly NOM.
Bumping up my salad intake, and eating it in the morning (I've done it in the past, and can do it occasionally, but I get bored with salads quickly)
Sliced turkey wraps with a homemade veggie in vinegarette dressing

I need ideas, people! Help a sister out. Don't worry about sugar content or portion, I can work with anything. I've been doing it a long time, and can work pretty much any recipe to fit my dietetic needs. The only requirement is that I need to be able to make it ahead of time, and take it to work with me (I have access to a microwave at work).

If I try your recipe, I will happily send you a glass bead pendant from my stock of lampworking days, along with my thanks and gratitude. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Musings at the Junque Pile - Home Made Beauty Products

I thought I'd give you, dear readers, a break from my garden for a minute.

I have a confession to make. I'm cheap.

No, really.  I hate to spend money on myself. Ask anyone. And I have a seriously hard time remembering to do girly things like get a haircut (yes, we won't talk about that here), go get a manicure (I'm actually a few weeks overdue for a fill - this is my one vice, but I'm ignoring it right now) or a pedicure. I buy the cheapest facial scrub I can, only because it is cheaper to buy it than make it (except for the stuff I will tell you about below). But I do have a few on the cheap things that I do here at the micro-mini ranch that proves that yes, I am a girl. A girls gotta get a boost every once in a while, right?

The bestest gentle facial astringent/toner out there: Witch Hazel. No kidding. It's like what, a buck a bottle? My current bottle is going on 3 years old. Wash your face, grab a cotton ball soaked in this stuff, and go to town. Cleans your pores, tightens said pores, and doesn't burn or smell overly astringent. Leaves your skin feeling cool and firm, but not dry or tight. LOVE this stuff, especially in the summer time, when I produce enough oil on my face to fuel my car for a week (Oh, I wish).

The bestest cheapest foot soak for cleaning your feet without scrubbing: 2 cups of vinegar in warm to lukewarm water. I am a diabetic, and I have a condition called neuropathy, where the bottoms of my feet and toes feel like they are always asleep. It is not recommended that neuropathy sufferer's get pedicures, as you can't feel how hot the water is, and any cuts, bumps or bruises may go unnoticed and get infected. As a result, I am very careful with my feet. I have found that a vinegar foot soak is a great way to exfoliate my feet without major scrubbing. It also helps alleviate mild cases of athlete's foot (when done every day for up to 2 weeks). I still scrub, but I don't have to really scrub hard. Most of the dead skin cells are whisked away by the vinegar. And I'm sure that I don't want to know how that happens. I'm just glad it does.

For scrubbing rough, dry skin patches on your feet or elbows (or where ever you might have them), the bestest cheapest body scrub is: mix up 1/4 cup of sugar and just enough olive oil to saturate the sugar, but not dissolve it.  Then rub briskly on your dry patches, followed by a good soaping and rinsing.  If you do this to your feet, DO NOT shower afterwards. Your feet will be too slippery, and I don't want to hear about anyone falling and knocking themselves senseless. Put on some socks and go to bed.

Try these things out and see if they do just as good a job as some of those spendy commercial products. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. If you find you do like them, make up small batches and add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to give yourself a special spa-like treat.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Junque Food -Banana Pepper recipes!

Whilst looking up some new 'Nana pepper recipes, I found some darn good ones (and not just peppers, too!)  to try!

Pickled carrots & jalepenos - YUM!

a pickled 'nana recipe that leave the 'nanas whole.

Stuffed Banana Peppers - these are breaded and deep fried (or pan fried, if you prefer)
Ricotta-stuffed Banana Peppers - a homemade take on "poppers"

Scrambled Eggs with Banana Peppers, Feta & Chives

Here's a comment on another blog that I will most definitely be trying: "Here's an easy recipe that I use all the time. Brown bulk sausage and drain thoroughly. Either melt a soft cheese product or make a quick white sauce and add your favorite cheese to it. Mix the cheese (or cheese sauce) into the sausage. Slice the top of the banana pepper off and make a slit down one side, seed the pepper. Spoon the sausage and cheese mixture into the pepper. Cover the entire pepper with store-bought canned crescent rolls to seal them up ( Large peppers may take up to 3 crescents, but with this , the more the better). Bake according to the crescent roll can. These are simply delicious. I usually make 6-8 peppers and refrigerate the left overs. A friend of mine gave me the recipe, but she uses hamburger instead. If you freeze your peppers whole, you can thaw them out and fix this any time of the year.

heck, I might go to the store right now and get some crescent rolls. :) 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Junque Yard

This morning is muggy but not hot. We had some rain overnight, but not enough to get rid of of the humidity. I'm debating turning of the AC, but I think I'll leave it as I do my chores. Sweating is over rated anyway.

We are finally starting to see some color in the tomatoes! Heavy with fruit, the tomato plants seemed to have been in an indefinite holding pattern. It's been warm enough, the sun has been out, they just seem to be taking their sweet time ripening.  But last night I spied a few lil buggers starting to tinge orange. YAY!

The peppers are growing like weeds.

The cukes have flowers like you read about. heh. I love that phrase, even if it doesn't make any sense.

My poor pumpkins. Still no female flowers. All male. My brain keeps wanting to make inappropriate same sex jokes, but I've far.

The raspberries are almost done. Did I say that last week? I really mean it this week.

I finally filled the bird seed feeders, and put up a new nyjer sock for the finches. They love me now. We seem to have an over abundance of birds in our yard this year - with or without the feeders. I think it might be because we haven't had to mow the lawn for over a month (not enough rain for the grass to grow). We have a lot of clover and thistle, and I think the birds are eating it up. We also have a LOT of worms, and the robins are feasting.

My flower garden in the front yard is pathetically choked with weeds. I really REALLY need to get off my dufus and take care of that.

*slurps coffee*

Maybe later.   :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Musings from the Junque Pile

There's an new indoor / outdoor farmer's market that recently opened a few blocks from my house. They've been advertising on Face Book, and since I'm all over that subject matter, I was anxious to see how it was going. We arrived on Saturday, and I would be lying if I didn't say that I was disappointed. There were only 2 vendors there, one of which was the owner's / directors.

They have a good sized building, and the space for close to 100 vendors. I understand that most farmer's and other vendor types who want to sell are probably already booked at other farmer's markets for the summer. My happiness in this new place is that it wants to be a year round market, and I am sure that the other local sellers will want to come here when the weather turns colder, and the usual outdoor shut down at the end of the season. I certainly plan on shopping there in the fall and winter. I want this place to succeed.

Which led me to wonder what could I do to help them along? I don't have a voice in the community. I don't particularly want one. I do, however, want to develop an extra income source, something that might get me out of an office every day, eventually. I'm wondering if I should attempt to sell at farmer's markets? I could start off with dried herbs - I have plenty of that. According the local laws, I can sell any canned food product that is highly acidic such as pickles and jams, without having to have a commercial grade kitchen. I could do that. I wonder if they would let me sell some of the beads and jewelry I used to make (and want to get back into in a big bad way)?

Definitely some food for thought, as it were. Do I want to pay the table fee? Get a vendor's license? Figure out if I need to charge sales tax? It would mean setting up a growing area in the basement with grow lights, etc.

Do I have the desire? Heck yes.

Do I have the stamina? Umm...maybe.

I kinda want to.

What do you think? Give me pros and cons, please.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Junque Food - Sunday meal

DaHubster and I have long been talking about buying meat locally from the farmer's market we frequent. The prices are more expensive than at the grocery store, but as we are wanting to try to eat more local it makes a bit of sense. Local farms produce grass fed meat, which is supposed to be healthier for you and the animal. Smaller farms have more expensive overhead than commercial farms. I get it. We are even rebellious enough to want to "stick it" to the government that dictates what and how we eat, even if it means paying a little more for it. Those of you who talk to me during the week have heard my political views ad nauseum, and I won't bring that hear. Sufficiet to say, we want to try locally grown meat, particularly lamb, which is claiming a premium in the grocery stores anyway these days, so why not?

There's a vendor at the farmer's market we go to who sells beef and lamb. They freeze it solid and take it in coolers to sell instead of taking orders one week and have their customers pick it up the next week. We discussed it amongst ourselves, wondering if we should try some lamb, and initially decided against it this week. Then changed our minds when the blueberries I'd wanted to buy for jam weren't available as I thought they would be. Hubster actually went back to the market to get it. Unfortunately, they were out of lamb steaks by that time, so he picked up 2 lamb shanks. Neither one of has cooked it, but the seller told DaHubs to cook it long and slow. He thought that meant indirect heating on the grill, more so than how you would cook a steak, but I had doubt. Calling on my best friend in the world, the internet, I saw that long and slow for lamb shanks really meant braising in a dutch oven for HOURS. The meat is tough. Looking around for recipes, I finally settled on this one. I figure if I have to cook it for hours, why heat up my house for it? So, the crock pot it is! this recipe has all the goodness we love in food: garlic, onions, more garlic, tomatoes, etc. It's going to be a hit, I just know it.

I also have a garden bounty salad marinating in the fridge of cucumbers, hot nana peppers, onions, and carrots. YUM.

I will let you know how it comes out.  :)