Blogging for Real

My husband keeps trying to convince me to write a blog about all my “adventures”. I finally have 2 weeks off from work and a free afternoon, so I get up the courage to come onto the internet and find a blog page to start. I went to wordpress to begin my blog, and lo and behold, I already established a blog here 2 years ago and wrote one post titled “Why I love food” and all it said was “Food is life.” Ok… very to the point. Obviously I never got much further than that. But since my Facebook status updates seem to be consisting of blog material, here we are.

So what to write in my first real blog? I guess the whole point is to put out the information and thoughts floating around my mind. So then, let’s start with the new name for the blog “Adventures in Self Sufficiency”. I have always wanted to be as independent as humanly possible. I left home at 17, off to college and never came back (except on weekends to do laundry, of course). I thrive on being able to do things on my own and really hate it when people tell me that I can’t do something and usually try to prove them wrong (this ends up of course backfiring when I really can’t do it, such as the time that my dad told me I couldn’t life a pot of aloe vera plant that weighed over 200 pounds on my own…). Now that I’m a real grown-up with a husband, 2 dogs and a mortgage, I need to figure out how to be even more independent. It’s all about pushing the limits.

So I have a garden where I grow some of my own food. I had to re-learn how to garden in Aptos on the side of a cold foggy hill. This put a serious damper on my food growing ambitions. Over the last 3 years that we have lived here, I have carved out the hill, put some good planters and stairs and paths in so that the land is usable. I’ve been able to grow my own garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, artichokes, beans, peas and copious amounts of oregano. Oh, hops too! Still not the rows of every kind of food imaginable that I had previously hoped for, there truly just isn’t enough space. But it’s a constant evolving work in progress and I’m growing to love it, and growing to eat it!

An interest in both beer and science brought my husband (from this point forward Brandon) and I to begin brewing our own beer. We’ve tried all sorts of beer, mostly just using extract but we’ve done some partial grain brewing. I’d love to get to an all grain setup and to a bigger, outside sort of brewing system, but money and space are our enemies. Someday I will get to have a 10 gallon brew system. When I have a garage and some flat land (so no time soon). I’ve grown to love interesting unusual beers such as my herb beer brewed with sage and lemon balm and dry hopped with rosemary and lavender – which by the way, I’m going to be entering into an organic home brew competition! In the fermenter right now we also have a batch of ginger brew (picture on the right – the brew on the left is Brandon’s extra special bitter, ESB). So that’s beer made the regular old way, but with 3 pounds of ginger, 2 pounds of honey and several lemons and their rinds. It sure is SPICY, and amazing. I can’t wait until it stops bubbling and we can get it into a bottle.

But here to describe the latest obsession: canning. Jam for the most part, but I’ve done some pickles too. When I say that I’ve been obsessed, I mean that so far I’ve produced 52 jars of jam/pickled things over a 3 week period. And I’m still going to do some more today. So here’s the rationale behind this current obsession: I can eat the fruits of summer all year long, preserved as I saw them, picked fresh and local. I can rely more on myself for food that I would typically purchase in the store (and we go through a lot of jam and pickles), and I can re-use the jars over and over again. I can also have a really good feeling about how independent I am being – independent of grocery stores! Ideally I suppose, I would want to live on a farm where I never had to buy anything from anybody – but we live in the real world, and I do like things and being served from time to time. Hence my love of going out to eat as well… another blog post.

Jam is an interesting way to do this, but I’d like to figure out how to do more whole fruit canning. For example, we just bought about 6 pounds of ollalieberries and I have already made quite enough jam. I’d love to have canned ollalieberries in the winter, because our poor freezer only has so much space. I’ll look into this and maybe that will be my next blog post.

Anyhow, I think that here I would like to document this journey. Gardening, beer making, food making (and eating!), and a variety of other home-improvement/home-making projects that I find myself in. I don’t expect that too many people will read this, but if someone does, thank you! And welcome to my mind (not usually too scary of a place to be – I’ll warn you ahead of time if it gets that way). So let’s see if I get more than 1 post every 2 years.

And now to go address those ollalieberries… 🙂

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