Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Blog

Sorry I am behind but I wanted to catch anyone who comes to this old blog.  Join me at my new blog - Seeking Sanctuary At World's End.  You'll notice some of the information I share is from this blog.  I'll be slowly transferring my recipes from here to there.  Once that is complete then this blog will be no more.  I hope you have enjoyed Living Between a Rock and a Hard Plate but that you'll enjoy Seeking Sanctuary even more.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Website

My new website has been fully designed and ready to go.  We'll be going live on May 21st so until then you'll have to wait but I wanted to touch base and let you know that I haven't forgotten.  I'm writing some posts about what I've been doing lately and next week we're heading west to spend several days foraging along the ocean.  I can't wait to share but all that will be on the new site.  I'll keep this one live for awhile longer so I can move my favorite posts over - this time with pictures so you can pin it if you like.  I am bursting to share my new site with you and have to restrain myself because if you go there, there's nothing fun to look at yet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I got nothing

I'm struggling with this in-between time of finishing this blog and starting the new one.  I have been so busy that I don't have anything to share and I want to wait to write the great posts for the new site (isn't that just a terrible thing).  I'm stuck.  It happens.  Life is in transition and I can't really move forward until all the parts are in place.  The domain has been set and the site is being built.  I love the creation of the site and that's consuming me.  I like the art of it.  The content will come later.
This Saturday is the first Farmer's Market and we're working towards that.  I can't wait but we'll be busy getting ready.
Forage season is starting and Sunday is a mushroom foray that I hope means the start of mushroom season here in the Palouse.  I have discovered Oregon Grape and now I see it every where.  It will be a long wait before the berries come and we'll have jam and juice for the first time. 
We're leaving for holiday in two weeks and that means days of clamming and crabbing, seaweed and sea salt as we're on the northern beaches of Washington.  I can't wait to try some foraging there - mushroom and fiddleheads are on the plan if we can find them.  I'm thinking of trying some new things such as sea cucumber and snails but there's a huge ick factor that I need to get over first.
I'll post the new site as soon as it's up but here, I'll be getting rather quiet until that final fateful day when Living between a rock and a hard plate says goodbye.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Food Dehydration Ideas

On Saturday, I helped at an Emergency Preparedness Fair with the Red Cross. The event was hosted by a local Mormon church. The information tables were provided by organizations and individuals. This is the second year and I have been both times. It's a great program. One table was an older couple who were sharing information on dehydrating foods and sprouting. He had made this huge dehydrator that looked like a cupboard and was nearly as tall as me. I stopped and talked to the woman when I noticed her collection of dehydrated foods. She had glass jars of all sorts of things from cheeses to vegetables to fruits to other stuff. She told me that she dried everthing. Her husband told us about her jar of vegetables that they used for soup. When items came out of the garden they went into the dehydrator and then were mixed in a gallon jar to be turned into soup and it was the best soup ever. I believe him but I was just stunned by the cheeses and the soup starters. She told me that when she has left overs such as split pea soup - she dehydrates on sheets of plastic (like you would fruit leather). She reconstitutes it later. What an amazing idea because dried foods take up less space and are so versitile. Lately I've been loving my dried oranges in my tea. I drink my first cup and then keep refilling with cool water so I can enjoy those oranges all day. Last night, I started a batch of tomatoes in the dehydrator. The woman told my husband that she dries her tomatoes and then grinds them into a powder with seasonings. When she wants spaghetti sauce she mixes the powder with water and voila - she has sauce. I can see so much potential. Ground tomato with a little water easily becomes tomato paste. More water and some chucks becomes canned tomatoes. I have 25 pounds of romas and this one batch barely touched the surface. I will can some but I can't wait to see what I can do with the dried tomatoes. I picture quick soups and sauces in our future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seeking Sanctuary At World's End

When I started this blog, I was struggling with feeding my family a gluten free diet on a tight budget.  Over the past few years, my life and diet have changed but I am still striving to feed my family on a tight budget.  My focus had changed but I was still me so I kept up with this blog and tried to make it work.  I appreciate each every reader but I just haven't been able to make this blog the success I imagined.
Recently, I started working with a friend to build this blog and my etsy business.  She pointed out that this blog no longer fit it's title.  As we got to working together I realized the reason this blog is not as successful as I would like is because I'm only sharing part of my life.  I write several blogs on several topics because I had learned that blogs should be topic specific. 
That had become my life - everything was topic specific.  I was so compartmentalized and divided that I couldn't be successful because I was no longer whole.  My friend is building me a new website but it was my job to give it a name.  I hate naming things.  I write fiction (did you know that?) and most of my stories are saved under the character's names because I just hate coming up with titles.
This was hard.  I had discussion after discussion with friends and family.  I put it on facebook.  I needed feedback because I just couldn't make this decision on my own.
There were so many reason's this title was hard - I wanted something that I could keep forever.  Something that would encompass the many parts of me and could become the name I call my dream farm when I finally buy it.  I went through a lot of names - some serious contenders, some just silly but needed to be shared.
I was left, in the end, with two - Dark River Oasis and Seeking Sanctuary At World's End.  Last week I was leaning towards Dark River Oasis.  It was well liked amongst my friends but then I realized it had to be personal - it had to speak all the parts of me.  The second name did that.
I am a wife, a mother, an artist, a writer, a soap maker, a forager and so many other hats.  I love victorian gardens, haunted houses, animals, horror stories, and spring flowers.  Do you know how hard is to have all these little parts and not share them when I share myself?  I felt censured.  I felt like I was missing something.
I read a fair amount of blogs that share my interests.  One blog last week talked about having the freedom to be who we wanted to be.  The list the author shared had to do with those who homestead - I was right there with her until the last line which had to do with homeschooling.  Hmm - I want to homestead but I have no interest in homeschooling my son.  In fact, the only reason my son would be interested is because he doesn't like getting up in the morning.  He loves school otherwise so why would I take that away from him.
It made me start thinking about how I am different from others who blog about homesteading topics.  I'm a country girl at heart but I live in town in an apartment.  If I could, I'd live like the Addams family.  I love the idea of a big spooky house filled with gothic decorations.  I would wear long flowing dresses and all sorts of hippy like clothing.  I don't think I'm a hippy but it's what I like to wear.  I'd love to drive a horse and buggy but there is no way I am giving up my computer.  I'm not a Christian but I like to read the bible.  I feel so outside of the box but I realized I might not be the only one.
This post is getting a little long and I like to keep these short (since I have a short attention span) but I wanted to give some reasons why Seeking Sanctuary At World's End fits.
World's End has a lot of meaning for me - first it makes me think of Pirates of the Caribbean.  I can't help it but I love that movie.  I love Johnny Depp but more so I love that world they live in.  I love the dark fantasy and the humor. 
I figure World's End would be a great name for a farm but the reason I thought of that name is because of two things - I write horror/fantasy and Zombie Apocalypse was just not fitting into any of my titles.  The other is because I am terrified that the world is going to end.  I don't know how and I don't think it's going to be a big apocalypse but I feel that things are going downhill and I want to stay above water.  It's the biggest motivator behind learning to forage. I want to be able to provide for my family regardless of what happens.  I want chickens so I know we'll have meat and eggs.  I want to learn to hunt and clean animals because I don't want us to starve.  I get a little weird because I see the economy getting tougher and I'm scared.  If I can provide food and shelter then the rest will be okay.
Adding to that - I want peace.  I want sanctuary.  I want to provide sanctuary.  I want to share my knowledge to help other's survive these scary times.  Someday I want my farm to be a place where people can come to relax, to have a spa experience in the middle of a farm.  I want fairy rings and castle walls to welcome people into a fantasy world where bathtubs over look flowers and water.  Where organic is comforting and not weird (or yucky).  I want others to know the world I want to live in and that is what my new site is all about.  It's coming soon and I hope you will join me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lamb Ribs and Dandelion Greens

Last night my husband made lamb ribs (as I mentioned yesterday). He made a sauce with molasses, soy sauce and something else that I can't remember. I sauteed our dandelion greens (maybe 1/2 a pound) in 2 tablespoons of butter and about that much garlic. The scent was heavenly. The ribs were barbaric - meaty and greasy. I told my son I had this urge to yell out "Wilma don't spare the spare ribs" - they were that good. My husband and son felt they were too greasy. I loved it. I just loved the whole idea of them. They were not easy to eat. My first one I ate with my hands so the second one I tried using a knife but they were so tight and so many bones that it was an impossible task. I still loved them. As for the dandelion greens - I loved them less but they were tasty. Slightly bitter, as expected, but not as bitter as eating them raw. A cup of dandelion greens has about 25 calories. I did cover them in butter but not so much that they were calorie prohibitive. For survival, I'd need a lot more butter to keep the weight on but for a spring low-cal treat they were good. It didn't take me long to gather the leaves and I did have to wash them (and pull out several stray grass bits as I was cooking) but all in all, I found them worth the work. I keep seeing dandelions everywhere. It makes me excited because there is a food. I don't have a ton of root but I can't wait to play with that either. I, also, keep finding more and more oregon grape plants. I can't wait for the berries. The berries are not tasty (the books say) but they are high in pectin so will be a great addition to making jellies. I'd love to be able to stop buying pectin and use the berries. I thought about juniper berries yesterday as I was walking. I'm going to look that up and see what I can do. I would love to harvest some berries since I come across recipes that use them every now and again. I've been adding some dehydrated oranges to my tea every morning. I really like it. When I finish the tea, I pour water over them and have a great treat. I've been drinking so much water, I might just float away. It's good though, the temperature went from 50 to 80 practically overnight. We got a good season this year if the warm weather holds. I hope to get my garden started. I'll be putting in some zucchini seeds and the like, saving the plants for a little while longer to make sure they are hardy enough for the weather. I did see a wonderful idea for protecting your plants outside - surround them in hay bales and cover with windows. I might just use plastic or pick up a piece of Plexiglas. I do recommend going out and trying dandelions - bitter greens are supposed to be great for digestion. Supposedly the bitter causes the stomach to produce more acid (heartburn is actually caused by not having enough acid not an excess as we have been lead to believe). The added acid helps the body be more efficient, reducing problems like heartburn.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fishing and Foraging

This weekend was a blur of activity as we finally got a weekend of amazing weather. It's the start of fishing and foraging season in the Palouse. The fish hadn't gotten the memo but all the lakes and ponds will be stocked for next weekend's big opening so the fishing will happen. Dandelions are out and about. I keep finding lots of yards filled with them. We've been picking from empty lots and public spaces. I managed to get several roots and a bucket of greens that we'll be eating tonight with lamb ribs (doesn't that sound yummy). The roots make great tea so I'll have enough for a few cups. I'll get more later. Right now I am focusing on flowers. I plan to make dandelion jelly. If all goes right I'll be making it with honey and sugar. My goal is to learn to can with honey and stop using white sugar all together. We went out to Rainbow Lake. The fish were not biting and our winter white skin was not liking the 80 degree sun (my arms got burnt and made me very sad - I knew I should have worn a long sleeve shirt). We were careful and all wore hats so the burns were limited to forearms (and my husband's neck where he had let a few buttons go open). My son did catch one nice little trout and it went into the freezer. We went on a search for mushrooms but none were found (not a single one, edible or not). We did find an oregon grape so I dug up two of the roots. We have oregon grape all over WSU but I didn't think they'd like us digging up the roots. They probably won't mind us taking the berries when they come (especially since there are a ton of plants). We did find something we thought were cattail shoots and then got to looking. They weren't cattails and I'm not sure what they are but we ate some as we picked and it didn't kill us. I do want to identify the plant before we eat what we have left. Most grasses are edible but I don't believe in taking the chance. We did find Arnica as we were heading home. The hills are covered in the plants but they were not easy to harvest. We got one and my mother is working on cleaning it up (except she might be allergic so I'll be cleaning it up and playing with it). No baking or even cooking happened this weekend. We did get a bountiful basket and added a box of tomatoes to the mix. I have 25 pounds of tomatoes that will be canned and dehydrated so we have some until our garden starts producing them. My mother bought a thing of culture so we can make our own cream cheese and maybe even some kimchee. Lots of great experiments coming soon. I'll be shifting this blog over to the new website in May and I am excited.