Monday, May 28, 2012

My Friend in the Little House

Every year or so I pull out my "Little House" books and follow along with Laura and Mary as they grow up during the pioneer days. As a kid I read the series to tatters and had to resort to duct tape, twine, super glue, and anything else I could get my hands on, to keep the pages together. I finally bought a new set at the age of 25, in the same blue binding, and when I look at the old illustrations I always have to smile.

Growing up I was the only one my age in a 10 mile radius. The nearest kid lived 3 miles away and was 5 years younger. During the summer, except for 4-H and the rare playdate, I hardly saw anyone who wasn't an adult. We didn't have Internet back then and there were only 10 channels that came in clear on the old satellite. To play with was the neighbor and my own much younger siblings. I ended up reading a great deal. Grabbing a book and finding a shady spot by the river, or hiking up to the barn and laying out in the pasture with the horses, I would open up the pages and go on wild adventures with kids my own age, who understood the trials and tribulations I was going through.

My favorites were the "Little House" books. Just like Laura I would help with butchering and canning, working in the garden or caring for the livestock. I preferred to be outdoors helping Pa rather than cooped up inside. I liked to write and kept a journal though the entries always seemed quite boring in comparison to hers. Laura was, in a way, my imaginary friend during a time of loneliness and difficulty.

Reading the "Little House" books now makes me homesick. I wish I could trade this suburban house for a little farmhouse-someplace close enough to town so my own children can have friends and playmates, but far enough away to have pastures and livestock. As a kid I wanted to live in town, to have friends close-by but now I want breathing space, to not hear the neighbor's arguments or have other peoples' pets using my flowerbeds as a toilet.

I've started looking at farm and ranch properties and I've set a goal to be moved out in 5 years. I want to get back to the ranch, to get back to muddy boots and Wranglers, to cows and pigs and fresh garden veggies, to fishing in the rain and the warm smell of freshly baled hay. I want my kids to know the freedom of going for a walk without worrying about bullies yelling insults or needing to carry pepper spray. I want them to attend a small school where the teacher will actually have time to help them, and where bomb threats and shootings are things that happen somewhere else.

Its going to take me at least 5 years but who cares. Five years is nothing. In that time maybe I'll finally learn how to sew and crotchet! And when I get discouraged of ever finding the perfect place (or figuring out the finances) I'll read the "Little House" books out-loud for my kids and dream of our perfect farm, just waiting to be found.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Veggies are In!

Yay! Got the veggie garden half-way planted. Put in sweet corn, pumpkins, garlic, onions, bush beans, broccoli, Swiss chard, and carrots. I need to get a stock panel for the vertical-growing plants otherwise I would have gotten everything in today.

So, whats left: pole beans, lettuce, spinach, and bok choy; plus going to the nursery and picking up tomato, squash, more onion, and yam plants. And since so many plants will be growing vertically I suddenly have more garden space. I'm thinking of putting in some herbs, maybe basil and dill.

Its been a tiring day getting all the seeds in. Got a great workout though, and I am definitely browner than I was this morning. I can't wait for everything to be up-I think this may be the best garden plan yet.

After getting the vertical stock panel set up and the rest of the stuff planted the next big goal will be to re-sink or somehow straighten some of the fence posts that are leaning a touch, remove the nasty orange road fencing and replace it with real fencing, and put in a picket gate. Next will be building a combo shed and chicken coop with run but that will have to wait for next year since there some apple saplings that will need to be transplanted. But..slowly yet surely, the garden is coming along.

Now to wait for stuff to grow...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day!

The clouds and rain rather dampened my enthusiasm for May Day but after cleaning the house and doing several loads of laundry I decided to cook up something special to celebrate. Normally we would have a traditional Swedish meal to celebrate but I wanted to do something different this year. At first I was going to go with an Asian style meal, something spicy and fiery and bright, but unfortunately every new recipe I found contained soy in one form or another and with munchkin's allergies I had to throw them all out.

So, I went with BBQ (at least I got to play with fire, even if we didn't have a bonfire). I had stumbled on an Asian salad dressing that was safe for munchkin and while digging through the fridge I found some cabbage that needed eating up. So, I made coleslaw! I've never made coleslaw before but it turned out awesome (even if I ended up with enough to feed a small army). Here's the recipe:

Dressing (Here's a link to original recipe, I did a few things different)
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix everything together until smooth. Chill for 30 minutes before using (I mixed it in the coleslaw and let everything chill together).

1 medium head green cabbage
1/4 medium head red cabbage
1 large carrot
2 green onions

Thinly slice everything and mix together. Add dressing and mix again. Let chill 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Not sure how many servings this is, it filled my largest bowl to the top so I'm betting 8-10 people. I plugged the recipe into Calorie Count for 8 servings and came up with 99 calories a serving and 14.1 net carbs. Lots of vitamin C and it is a very bright and pretty dish that everyone enjoyed.