Friday, January 2, 2009

IT WORKED!! WOOHOO!!

Well, we did it!  We have made the move.  We will keep this site up and running for now but now you can go to our shiny NEW (and still developing) blog.  There will be all kinds of exciting new features... as soon as we figure them all out.  LOL

So... head on over to our new space and say hello!  Everything from here is over there!  So don't stay here... go there... shoo... go on...  see ya there!

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz

Moving day...

Keep your fingers crossed... after a hiatus from all/most things electronic, we have decided today is the day.  After some research and endless decision making, we're moving our blog.  Again... just keep your fingers crossed while we get everything set up.  See you all on the other side!

talk to you soon...
(hopefully)
The Shibaguyz

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Still here...

Yes, we know it's been a while since we posted but you know how it gets.  Between crazy work events and all of the present making for the holidays we've been pretty well swamped.  Can't complain though... well... less of the J-O-B and more of the work here around the house would be nice but hey... at least we HAVE jobs so we're thankful for that!

Unfortunately, because so many Nosey McNosersons read out blog (i.e. friends and family), we can't tell you about ANY of the gift making we've been doing because then everyone would know what they are getting for Christmas.

Anyway...

It finally snowed here!  Yup... we're at the top of the crest line here in West Seattle and we just got pummeled with high winds and rain then, last night, SNOW!  WOOHOO!!  We got home from a work event around eleven last night and the snow was already starting to accumulate and cause some icy roads.  As long as we were home safely, we didn't care.  We made hot chocolate with orange brandy in it and sat on our butts working on Christmas presents and watching movies in front of the fireplace.  Perfect...

Until...

This morning arrived.  Mind you, because of the crazy work schedules, we haven't been to the market for a few weeks.  Thank goodness for our stock pile in the freezer of meat as well as that HUUUUGE turkey we had from Thanksgiving.  We've been eating yummy turkey sandwiches, turkey and rice and, our favorite, turkey and dumplings since Thanksgiving.  That said, our stocks of fresh veggies and meat have run VERY low.  The Ballard Farmers Market was a MUST this morning.

HA!!

We woke up to four inches of snow.  I know to you hard-core snow country dwellers that's not a lot... here in Seattle... it's a lot.  Most of the roads were pretty clear but our hill as well as the main road to get out of West Seattle was a solid sheet of ice.  Perfect.  But, still, off we went and have just returned home cold and tired.  Even now in the middle of the afternoon, the sun has gone away and the partially thawed roads have frozen back over again... ick...

The most horrific part of this little snow storm was the damage to our French Chenille row cover.  The weight of the snow collapsed one entire side of the cover causing some damage to the young broccoli, snow peas and shallots.  Today found me running around out there with a broom clearing away snow and talking to plants that looked like they were on their last leg.  Fear not, however... all is well in the garden now and it looks like minimal damage was sustained.  After this snow clears, we'll put in some more cross supports to help out our brave little row cover.

So there you have it... the condensed version of where we've been and what we've been doing.  Thanks for all the notes and emails but we're just fine... just a LIIIITLE busy.  LOL  We'll get a market report up today and maybe even a recipe or two.  Now excuse me while I go have some coffee with bourbon... mmmmm... knitting in front of the Christmas tree with a hot cup of kicked up coffee... gotta love this.  Like you always say, little brother:  Life is good...

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Projects... a lazy day...

First priority of the day... be totally lazy!  LOL  After a loooong but satisfying week of giving thanks for our friends and family and sharing time with those we care about, we're crashing today.

We're going to head to the market to do our version of fast food shopping... meaning we're only picking up a few basics... Then it's home again to make stock out of our turkey carcass, knit up a rag rug, and maybe make some yummy concoction from the leftovers of Thanksgiving.

Oh... I also have to thin out the broccoli seedlings under the cloche and replant the Chinese cabbage that was obliterated when I forgot to water the cloche on a particularly sunny day.  It gets hot under there!!

That's about it!  Throw in some blogging to get out some more recipes and this sounds like the perfect lazy day for us.  Gotta love days like this...

What are you all doing with your Sundays?

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Rant... What is wrong with people???

This post was started yesterday but had to be put on hold because the emotions that came out were more of anger and shock.  What results today, is an edited version that is a little more palatable.  We hope our message is made clear here.

Okay... I still can't calm down enough to write very clearly about this and maybe that makes me a bad writer/blogger.  TOUGH!!  We had a perfectly wonderful post to put up about our meal from yesterday along with the recipes.  But that post won't go up until we get this rant over with.

In case you haven't been near a news source all day, let us catch you up:

Last night, a 34 year old man named Jdimytai Damour had Thanksgiving dinner at his half sister's house.  Right after dinner, he went to his job at the local Wal-Mart.  He stocked some shelves and did some maintenance work around the store while a crowd of over 2,000 people gathered outside.  At a little before 5am, that crowd ended his life when they burst through the glass doors of the store front and trampled him to death.  All in the name of consumerism.

One witness said people were irate when they were told someone had died and they needed to clear the store.  They kept shopping...

There's a new meaning to the name "Black Friday."

 Yes, we are consumers as well.  We do not make every stitch of clothing on our backs nor do we make our own shoes.  However, the past two years has brought us a new awareness of the futility of over consuming.  And, as regular followers of this blog can attest, we have been focusing on a more frugal lifestyle to curb this voracious appetite we had in us to buy buy buy every time we needed some "retail therapy" or whenever a little extra cash came our way.

We're not trying to sound self-righteous.  Just making a point.

That man has a family and, although we don't know anything about him as a person, there is no person who deserves to die in the name of consumerism gone raging mob.

What is wrong with people?  The mob was so focused on buying cheap consumer goods that they didn't notice or even care that a man was lying dead, literally, under their feet?  Does this make anyone else sick to their stomaches?  What has happened to us?  What have we done to our minds that we believe this was an acceptable behavior?  When did the attention to human life become so reduced for the sake of "getting the good stuff before it's all gone?"  What have we done?  Who are we becoming?  What is wrong with us?

Over quoted probably, but ringing loudly in our ears today: "Be the change you want to see in the world."  You don't have to subscribe to all the teachings of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to understand that this is important in so many ways.  Right now, to us, it means that we must change first.  We have made the commitment this year to cut back on our consumerism and use what we have on hand rather than buy new.  Fix it, mend it, make it ourselves.  If we must buy it, try finding it used or free (LOVE Freecycle).  When we must buy, look for goods that are produced in a sustainable matter.  If none of the above works... see if we can do without.

In addition, this year for Christmas we have committed to making our gifts from what we already have rather than buying yet another gift that people may or may not need or want.  Gift baskets full of canned goods, knitted dish cloths, hot pads, scarves and gloves and pj's Jason is making are in our plans for this year.

As with the rest of this journey we have taken along this two year path, we did it with one step at a time.  It is true that a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.  First you take one, then the next then the next.  What step are you, our readers and friends, going to take first?  Have you already taken the first step?  If so, is it time for another step?  Tell us here what commitment you are making or would like to make next in order to further the human journey toward a more frugal lifestyle and away from the mentality that murdered a fellow human being yesterday.  What steps can you take?  What advice do you have to offer those of us not as far down the path as you?  Speak.  Share your knowledge with us now so we can maybe spark some ideas amongst ourselves that will lead to a world where it is unacceptable for a man to die trying to fend off crazed shoppers.  Help us become a planet where children and families are not exploited to produce cheaper and cheaper goods for corporate entities to market in our retail stores.

Speak.  And end this mess.  Help us see that there is hope out there.  Speak.

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Preparations...

Our little homemade family of five will be sitting down to one heck of a meal tomorrow.  Jason has been baking bread and making sure everything is ready for our cooking extravaganza and three of our friends who can not travel this Thanksgiving will be joining our family table.

So far, we have a few loaves of bread and cranberry relish along with our homemade cranberry jelly for the turkey tomorrow (and for sandwiches the rest of the weekend... YUMM!!).  *Post-publication addition!!  Jason also made a pumpkin pie (you won't believe what he puts in his crust to make it PERFECTION!) that will be accompanied by an orange brandy whipped cream and a cheese cake flavored with chocolate and espresso.  Had to come back and add those items to the list.*  In addition...

THE MONSTER IS IN THE BRINE!!  LOL  Sorry about the dramatics but seriously... it's a 22 pound turkey... that's nuts.  We are brining it in our ice chest for the next six hours then, right after we watch the parade, we'll take that bird out of its bath and prepare it for some heat!  WOOHOO!!

Hope you all are having fun with your prep and, to all of our friends all over the world...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Don't worry... we'll be snapping pictures and including recipes for EVERYTHING we make tomorrow.  But, for now, here is one recipe to hold you over:

Shannon's Cranberry Relish

I have made this for Thanksgiving for as long as I remember making my own Thanksgiving meals.  It is, at this time of year, where even localvore, homesteader folks like ourselves allow ourselves a luxury item or two.  In this case, Washington State is the second largest producers of cranberries in the country.  How cool is that?!?  I get to make my favorite condiment without going too far back to the commercial food grid.

The one pleasure we allow ourselves to add to our holiday meals is oranges.  Hey... even Little House on the Prairie got an orange in their stockings!  So, this is where our lovely friend the orange is focused in this meal.
  • One orange
  • 1, 1/2 cup of cranberries
  • Hazelnuts

This is soooo simple...

  • Put the cranberries in the food processor.
  • Zest the orange.  This is the part I LOVE doing.  While you are running your zester along the orange, you will find your hands covered in the oil from the orange.  After you have all the zest into the food processor, go splash a little water on your hands.  Then, rub the fragrant oil all over your hands.  Even tonight as I was knitting, I could smell the scent of oranges.  mmmmm...
  • Next, throw in a few hazelnuts.  I used about a dozen in my relish this year.  A note about the nuts you use.  We could not get any locally sourced walnuts this year so we used hazelnuts instead.  Hazelnuts are grown here in Washington State and our source is just barely within our 100 mile requirement... whew... However, if you can get walnuts, go for it!  The walnuts add a darker flavor to this relish and I would have used them had I been able to get them.  However, hazelnuts are local and that's what we're using.  The end result was a different flavor than previous years but still totally yuuuuumy!
  • Give everything a good whir in the food processor until the nuts and berries are chopped well.  Then, get out your reamer and break open that orange you just zested.  Work the orange over until it is dry to make sure you have enough liquid for your relish.  Add the juice and any pulp that comes free into the food processor.
  • Pulse the mixture a few times to incorporate all of the ingredients then turn the whole shebang on low for about five seconds.  This should give you a wonderful consistency that is not smooth by any means but all parts are evenly chopped fine.
  • Empty the contents into a dish and cover.  Allow the relish to chill overnight in your fridge.  This will also give the individual flavors to mingle a bit and really come out lovely the next day.

The color is wonderful, the fragrance is fantastic and it has just the right kick to accompany the rich foods you will be serving throughout your meal.

Now, I LOVE the dry, sour flavor of cranberries and the orange is usually enough for us to sweeten the relish sufficiently.  However, if you have to have a little more sweet, you can add a little bit of sugar.  NOT TOO MUCH!!  Remember, these flavors are meant to be a little more sharp.  If you want, the next morning, you can add a little sugar to it and put it over your hot cereal.  Or, use it as an addition to your favorite muffin recipe.  Personally, I can just about eat this stuff with a spoon and be happy.

Okay... that's enough for now.  gotta be up in six hours to watch the parade then the National Dog Show!!  WOOHOO!!  Can you tell we love the holidays??  LOL

We'll post up some pictures tomorrow night.  What all did YOU do tonight to get ready for your Thanksgiving meal?  Any brilliant recipes you have for preparing the night before and either doing very little or nothing to the next day?  Share 'em here!  Tomorrow we'll put up a post and have everyone share their Thanksgiving menus with us.

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Market Day!! WOOHOO!! 11/23/08

You all know how much we love going to the farmers market on Sundays.  To be more specific, we love going to the Ballard Farmers Market because we have grown to be friends with so many of the farmers.  This Sunday was particularly exciting because it was our trip to pick up the fixin's for our Thanksgiving dinner.

We really enjoy sharing with our home with our friends and Thanksgiving signals the start of the holiday season for us.  It's time to fling open the pantry doors and be thankful for the bounty the Earth has assisted us with this year and it's also time to be thankful for the farmers who worked so hard so we could have real, good food.

So, without further ado... We bring you Market Day for Sunday, November 23, 2008.  Enjoy!
Starting on the left and moving across the table...  by the way, please note Atlas trying to get into the picture from under the chair in the lower right hand corner.  It's like a game of Where's Waldo.

Yes, that's one HUGE bag of carrots from Oxbow Farms.  You'd have to taste them to understand why it seems perfectly reasonable to buy a seven pound bag of carrots.  They are also fairly easy to store for a month or so in the fridge as long as you don't let a lot of moisture get to them.  Besides, right now we're eating them like candy around here.  In addition, they are a welcome addition to all of our soups, stews and casseroles right now.

Also from Oxbow Farms, one Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.  Adam told us about this heirloom when we were looking for butternut squash.  Says they make everything from pies to soups and anything else you can imagine.  Apparently they are very versatile and we can't wait to try this beauty.

Whole, raw milk from Sea Breeze Farms on Vashon Island per our usual weekly purchase.  Again, nothing goes better in my morning coffee and Jason just loves cooking with it.

Leeks from our little flower stand.  No idea where they are from yet because they always just smile and nod.  It's enough because there is still that connection.  We'll find out who they are eventually and let you now.

Eggs from Skagit River Ranch.  Yes, there was more than that from George and Eiko this week but we'll get to that later in this post.  No scrolling down and peaking!!  hehehe...

Garlic, yellow onions and brussel sprouts from our friends at Sidhu Farms.  We're roasting the brussel sprouts for Thanksgiving and then tossing them with Jason's Free Berry Vinegar and feta cheese.

A few pounds of potatoes from Olsen Farms.  Again, we are using the Viking Purple potatoes this week.  Just a wonderful all-purpose potato that makes its way into most of our meals in one form or another.

River Valley Ranch feta and ricotta curds are in the little round tubs.  Can't wait to see what Jason's going to do with the ricotta this week.

Lacinto Kale and Chard from Oxbow Farms as well.  Jason cooked some of the kale up tonight with caramelized onions and garlic to accompany his famous meatloaf recipe.  YUMM!!

Two jugs of cider and one heck of an overflowing box of apples.  Of course where else could that have come from but Rockridge Orchards.  Once again, Judy came through for us after a quick call on Saturday late afternoon.  On Sunday we picked up our usual jugs of cider and that MOUND of apples destined to become more apple sauce, dried apples, apple butter and canned apples for pies and cobblers.


Here's another shot of the same table but this time Hera had to get in on the action from her usual perch on the arm of the couch.  Such an attention hog... LOL


And here's the big catch of the day....
TAADAA!!  From Skagit River Ranch... our 22 pound turkey.  No, we don't really think we need a 22 pound turkey for Thanksgiving but we are looking more for the leftovers and the bones for broth.  We decided my hand for perspective would help you all see exactly how huge it is.  H-U-G-E!!!

And here was part of a serious coup from Skagit River Ranch...  We called Betty and asked her to talk to Eiko.  With the turkey coming, it turned our thoughts to broth and making stock.  When we asked Betty to see if they could set aside some "ugly stuff" for us to make stock from.  Lo and behold, we were met at the market with a HUGE bag of "ugly stuff" including these two pots of chicken necks...

We simply boiled the necks all day reducing the liquid and adding more until we had two pretty intense pots of the most incredible stock.  One of the pots turned into dinner that night.  Jason threw in some garlic, onions, carrots, a couple of potatoes then made some drop noodles.  Some of you all might call them dumpling noodles.

Let me tell you... when he brought that to the table, it was the PERFECT meal.  I went back for a second bowl later that night and had the other for lunch today.  The only thing we'd do differently next time is we'd make more.

Right now, the rest of the stock is chilling in the fridge waiting to be canned tomorrow night.  I don't think we've ever seen such rich broth and we're looking forward to using it this winter.

Other meat from Skagit River Ranch included some ground beef, ground pork, bacon, bacon ends and two packages of short ribs for braising.

Total bill for non-meat items was around $75.  Our meat bill came to $165.  Consider that was a 22 pound turkey, the eggs, two packages of ground beef, two packages of ground pork, three packages of sausage, bacon, bacon ends, two packages of short ribs and two very very large bags of chicken necks.  You stock up when you can!

Please note:  last week we did not go to the market and next weekend we only plan on going long enough to pick up milk and greens.  We suspect we have enough meat to last us now for nearly a month.

It looks like we are reaching our goal of getting off the commercial food grid and even being able to survive without large weekly trips to the market.  Mind you, that doesn't mean we won't go... remember, we actually like hanging out with these people and it is the relationships you build that actually make it possible for you to learn and benefit from supporting their farms.


We hope these little trips through our weekly market purchases are helping you all see how accessible and affordable it can be to become a localvore.  We're going to keep these updates going all Winter so feel free to ask questions and we'll give 'em a go!  Looking forward to hearing from you!

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Winter Jungle... The Tour

Farmer Jason preparing the soil for planting his cover crop of clover.  Time to put the nutrients back into the soil for our tomatoes and some new guests arriving next Spring... gonna keep a lid on that one for now... hehehehe... you KNOW how we love a good teaser...


And here it is ladies and gentlefarmers... our sophisticated rain catching system.  LOL  Ain't it great??  The first time, it happened accidentally but now we do it on purpose and use hardly any water from our hose to water the row cover and pods.  This will have to do until we get our actual rain barrel system in place.  More on that little stroke of genius later as well... see... more teasers...

Cabbage

Purple Cabbage

Early Dividend Broccoli and...  MORE Early Dividend Broccoli


Purple Cape Cauliflower


MORE broccoli...

And now we pause for some completely gratuitous pictures of one of our non-edibles.  This was just too stunning to not shoot.  This is our Smoke Bush all decked out in the garb of Fall.




Back to the edibles...
Rainbow Chard, Volunteer Garlic and Kale.  Everything here has been off to a slower start than we anticipated.  Thinking we need to start these about a month earlier next year... live and learn...


Second seeding of Chard.  Kinda spindly... we're planning on putting in a row cover to help these along a little.


And now under the French Chenille
Snow Peas lookin' gorgeous inside their row cover a la Francaise.

The Shallots are coming!!  The Shallots are coming!!

Happy Happy Broccoli... in DESPERATE need of thinning.  Guess we'll be having some young greens to munch on this week... YUMM!!

Looking out over the broccoli into the back of the cover, all of that green carpeting you see there is beets, beets and more beets then Chinese Cabbage.
And this is one of the alien Pods with its cover drawn back to reveal purple bunching onions.  These are going to be yummy in our greens about the end of December or January.

More gratuitous Fall color.  This time on an edible... our strawberries go out in a blaze of glory and, just when we think they are finished...

The new growth starts from the root stock.  These will be divided up and put into other pots for next year's berries.

And, finally, a few shots panning around the garden.  We think you'll find it's quite a difference from The Summer Jungle.
The Western Wall.  Lots of herbs still chugging along and those green vines in the back (and some of them not so green!) are the last planting of fresh beans still kicking out some tender little morsels.

More fresh herbs along the Northwest Wall as well as the last of the second planting of beans.  You can see the top of one of the pods in this picture.  That particular one has garlic in it.


South Wall with more herbs at the base of the pear tree.  You can see the potato condo now and onion tower with Walla Walla Sweets and yellow onions.  The two pods on the ground are garlic (uncovered and almost out of frame) and salad greens.  These little pods are really turning into a great little tool in changing over to a four-seasons garden.

More pods with onions and garlic.

Yes, this is our first tour of The Winter Jungle and we couldn't be happier with it so far.  It looks like we'll definitely be building another row cover of some sort to help boost things along that aren't growing as quickly.  More updates as the Winter Jungle here at the Shibaguyz Micro-Farm unfolds.  Thanks for coming along on this inaugural tour!!

talk to you soon...
The Shibaguyz