Winter soups

Time to start the winter soup making! This week its potato leek. Already did 7 quarts of chicken stock. For this soup dug out some of the saved Turkey carcasses from the freezer and got the stock pot going. This morning strained that, and added Bob’s Red Mill potato flakes (instead of dairy), some chopped up potatoes, and a nice leak that had been sauted in bacon fat and garlic. Salt and pepper of course. And after cooking a bit, into the canning jars. 9 quarts. Unfortunately, my canner only takes 7 – and not enough to get out the other canner. So 2 quarts will go into the fridge for more immediate eats. Did seal the jars with canning lids so they will keep quite awhile in the fridge.

Soup like this is a great base for a richer soup as a meal, or as is for having with a sandwich or salad.
To thicken it up, add corn, more potatoes, Kale or Spinach, ham, crumbled bacon, top with a sprinkle of grated sharp cheddar.

As I love to eat, fall/winter time is my favorite for hearty meals!

Posted in canning, corn, gardening, garlic/onions, gluten free, greens, homesteading, organic, potatoes, preserving, recipes, self-reliance | Leave a comment

Easy string bag

Back when I started knitting again, about 2 years ago, made several of these bags.  Used Peaches & Crème cotton, the 2oz/98 yard balls.  It took a little while to get a “design” down, although its not much of a design since all the variations worked!  But I get so many compliments on these bags that I decided to formalize the pattern so I could share it.

For all the steps and stages, its still open to variations depending on what needles you use.  Its all straight knitting, yarn overs, and the handles are a bind off/cast on.  A few places you might need to do increases, and two rows have decreases.  But you can cast on with what ever technique you’re most comfortable with.  You can increase with what ever technique you are most comfortable with.  K2tog works fine for the decreases.  Circular needles are best for the body of the bag as the stitch is too loose for using DPNs.  But if you use something to hold the stitches on the needles, DPNs will also work.  The lightest color bag in the pictures was all #13 needles, except for the change over to #9’s.  The others started with #13s, went to #15s, and then back to #9’s.  If you use #13’s, you will probably want to add an extra row of pattern to get the bag size.  But as you can see from the pictures, that little bag holds 10 lbs of potatoes!  You can certainly use more than a single ball of yarn and make a bigger bag.  But remember it will be that much heavier to carry!

The increases to make the bag opening, with the smaller needles is a  necessity.  otherwise the mouth of the bag will be small and hard to get objects – like 5 lb bags of potatoes – into the bag.  If you want a bag that will have a smaller opening so stuff is less likely to fall out, then go for it.

These are washable, but being 100% cotton, you will probably have some shrinkage. Still, they stretch open and hold a lot of groceries. always keep an eye on the balance of yarn on the ball as I’ve found these to vary greatly despite the label and have just managed to finish, or have had yarn left over despite extra rows of knitting!

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Yarn: Peaches and Crème 100% cotton, 2oz/98 yard, or any similar type yarn.  Acrylics will stretch too much and don’t have the strength you need

Needles: #13’s, straight or circular, #15 circular if you have them, #9 circular.  two markers.


cast on 9 stitches by your favorite technique on #13 needles (I like to knit on)

knit next row, increasing by one stitch at the second stitch to 10 stitches.  Do the same for the next row, increasing to 11 stitches. 

Knit 10 rows

Next row, knit1, k2tog, and knit to end of row, back to 10 stitches. Next row do the same, back to 9 stitches.  This is the bottom of the bag.

Switching to circular needles, pick up stitches around edge of knitted piece. 

You are ultimately looking for 60 stitches to make the body of the bag (plus or minus a few is not important.  less is a taller, thinner bag, more will make a fatter, shorter bag). You don’t need to pick up 60 at this point.  You can increase accordingly on the next row.

when you have picked up your stitches, count, and prepare to increase for the next row if necessary.  You will also switch to #15 circular needle if you want.

Knit the next row, increasing if necessary. Place a marker to indicate beginning/end of row.

Next row, (K1, yo) all the way around keeping stitches loose

Next row, Knit the knit stitches and drop the yo.   Repeat

Next row, (K1, yo) all the way around.    Next row, Knit the knit stitches, drop the yo, but now yo again before the next knit (K1,dropyo, yo).  Now knit the next row dropping the yo.   repeat pattern

knit next row

next row,  (k1, double yo).  Next row, knit the knit stitches and drop the double yo. 

knit next row.


If you are using #13 needles, you may want to put another double yo row to give yourself a deeper bag, but it is not necessary.

Next row will be a (k1,yo) through the row.

For the next row, time to switch to the #9 circulars, and to increase to 80 stitches.  The easiest way to do this here is to knit your knit stitches, dropping some of the yo’s and knitting others until you have your 80.  If you wind up with 78 or 82 its all good.

Knit next row.  Here you will want to place a second marker at the half way point.

Beginning the next row, bind off 10 stiches, knit to next marker, b/o 10 stitches.

Next row, knit into the first two bound off stitches.  This will give your handles extra strength. cast on 15 stitches, then continue knitting to next marker.  repeat for the second handle.  Now knit around until you have just enough yarn left on your ball to do the b/o round.  it should be at least 3-4 rows of knitting.  The more rows the more comfortable the handle will be in your hand.

b/o loosely and secure ends. Blocking is not necessary.  Putting in a five pound bag of potatoes will take care of evening out the stitching!

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zone map

Just want to keep this handy

although there is some disagreement from this map to other sources as to our grow zone, it does seem to be 7a to 8a
am looking to grow some container fruit trees. tried nectarines and they didn’t do well. anyone have any thoughts?

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must be fall


IMG_0466 (1024x768) everything is turning yellow/orange!

the big tomato will turn quite a lovely orange and they are delicious. the small tomatoes are yellow plums. Both are heirlooms that I keep going every year.  The pepper is a lovely dark yellow and they have been delicious.  store bought seedlings, so doubt that they are heirloom and won’t be saving.

Posted in container gardening, gardening, homesteading, organic, peppers, prepping, self-reliance, tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

just off the needles

and out of the washing machine

had bought this novelty yarn for the purposes of making a shawl. it is GALAXI, made in Spain, 3 x 100 gram balls.  Wanted a narrow, long shawl. first made a big rookie error on gauge and it was turning out to be wider than I wanted.  Would have ended up with a small (about 36”) nearly square.  Since the nature of the yarn made it difficult to unravel, set aside the piece that was started and took the needles and cast on 1/2 as many stitches as were in the original piece (50 to the 100) and knit in pattern.  Then sewed the edges together and finished it as a VERY WIDE piece.  Threw it into the washing machine this morning, but hanging it up to dry.  color is true in the first two outdoor pictures, shifted in the “model” ones.  it was knit on #13 needles, garter stitch for the lacy effect alternated { K2tog, yo } – knitting the next row- with {k1,yo} = knitting the next row, dropping the yo.  finished project about 52” wide and 17” long

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making yogurt

Had been off yogurt for awhile, but after paying the big $$ for some organic at the health food store last week, decided it was time to make my own again. this time was not so careful, not so persnickety about the details. Just dumped a quart of organic 2% milk into a pot on the stove on low heat (Using a simmer mat to prevent scorching) for several hours. added some non fat dry milk to thicken. stirred well, let heat a little longer and then set off to cool while we had lunch. After lunch the milk had cooled to probably about 100F degrees. mixed in some of that yogurt I’d bought and poured it into containers and put it into the dehydrator to sit at about 120F. Forgot about it until 6-1/2 hours later. into the fridge it went. This morning checked it out. Firm, smooth, delicious.

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Asian greens

Local garden center has been offering various Asian greens. Got some seedlings of Tokyo Bekana:

Small Chinese Cabbage, Tokyo Bekana

This is a Japanese version of Small Chinese Cabbage. Yellowish-green, frilled leaves and white flat petioles are excellent for stir-fry and soup. This fast-growing vegetable is very easy to grow all year round, excellent for home garden growing.

and have just harvested seeds from some Komatsuna I’d gotten in the spring:


An unlikely relative of the turnip family, this large leafy green is grown almost exclusively in Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Komatsuna gets its name from the Komatsugawa district, which includes Edogawa, Katsushika and Adachi wards. Tokyo was the second-largest regional producer of komatsuna in 2004. It is also called spinach mustard, Komatsuna has dark green leaves that are rich in calcium and often quite glossy. They can be harvested at any stage and prepared like spinach in the early stages and more like cabbage as they mature. The flavor grows stronger and hotter the longer the leaves mature. This versatile green can be stir-fried, pickled, boiled and added to soups or used fresh in salads.

Both are easy to grow and add flavor variety. Of course, we’re still growing a lot of brasilica, but they are tasty!

Posted in brassica rapa, container gardening, gardening, greens, homesteading, organic, prepping, self-reliance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment