Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cheese Emergency!!!

We have been having terrible luck with online companies lately. First there was the bee suit fiasco last week. We took a top bar beekeeping class last Sunday. I had ordered some bee suits and had specified the shipping method so that we would get them in time for the class. Well, the company (that shall remain unnamed) didn't ship them how I specified and we quickly realized on Saturday that we weren't getting them. We ended up having to run and find another store that could sell us what we needed. The store we found ended up being about an hour and a half away. So that was our first shipping problem.

Then there was the cheese fiasco.

My stepson is turning 13 tomorrow, so on Saturday we're having a birthday party for him. The plan was that we were going to make lasagna completely homemade, including the cheese. I have all the milk and cream needed, all I needed was the mozzarella kit that I had ordered last week. I ordered it from a company I use regularly with good luck. The kit was in stock and their site said they ship out within 1-2 days. Not only that, they are located in Northern California as well, so shipping should only be about a day.

Well, by yesterday it dawned on me that I should have received it by now so I called and left a message. They called me back today and left a message saying that they would be shipping it out next week! I was so mad I actually started stomping. I promptly called them back and canceled my order

It was too late. I can't order online anywhere else in time. I don't know of any storefront around here that sells cheesemaking supplies. Then it dawned on me! There's a woman that sells homesteading supplies in Oakland! Her shop is Farm Curious. I emailed her the following:

I have a cheese emergency! I ordered the 30-minute mozzarella kit last week and, of course, need it for a dinner I'm hosting on Saturday (Oct. 2nd) and even though they say they ship in 1-2 days they aren't shipping it until later next week!!!!! So now I'm in need of a kit by Saturday. "But why can't you buy some mozzarella from the store?" you ask. Because starting tomorrow, my husband and I are giving up buying food at the grocery store for a year - yes we are gluttons for punishment.

I'm in Vallejo. I know you're local, in Oakland. Is there any way I can buy the kit through your site and then pick it up or something? Pretty please? Thanks!

Apparently I had her at "...cheese emergency!" She had what I needed. Yes! Traffic sucked, but we've got our kit now!

The Last Day

This morning I walked into a grocery store to pick up something for lunch (ran out of time to fix something this morning). It's hard to believe that it was the last time I'll be buying food at one for at least a year. If things go right, and it works for us, we may quit going permanently.

Last night we had sushi at our favorite sushi place. It was rather ho-hum. The sushi was really good, but it wasn't as phenomenal as I expected our last meal out would be. Maybe the weight of the situation hasn't hit me yet. I mean, THIS IS IT.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Planning our First Dinner

Hmmmm, what shall we have as our first dinner for The Project? It has got to be memorable and something we don't do too often. We've got a freezer full of beef and some chicken, though we're not opposed to vegetarian. Basically the only parameters is that it must be made from what is in season. Unfortunately we don't have a farmers' market between now and then, but we can hit up a produce stand if need be.

So does anyone have any EXCELLENT ideas for the first dinner? Do you have a fantastic recipe you just HAVE to share?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This is it

We've got 4 days left. 4 days!

I feel like I'll never be ready. But I guess I'm going to have to be come Friday. One of my coworkers told me I need to have a big, bad dinner on Thursday night. I think we're going to have sushi. Of everything we eat out, I'm going to miss sushi the most. I'm kind of bummed out about that. I do have a sushi kit so maybe I'll just need to buck up and learn how to make it myself.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


We've got a freezer full of grass fed, humanely raised beef! I'm excited about that.

Soon we'll have chicken - chicken that we raised. In a few months we'll also have more rabbit.

Our transition to home-raised meat has been interesting. It started with our rabbits. We had two pass away recently and rather than waste them we dressed them and put them in the freezer. Now, I've had rabbit before, at a restaurant, and I enjoyed it. But there is just this kind of block I had about eating animals that I had raised. Maybe it was an uncertainty as to whether it would actually be edible? Kind of like, I wasn't confident enough in my skills to raise something and cook it properly to where it tasted good? I honestly don't know.

This past week we had my mom over for dinner (a good bye dinner, she moved this week half way across he country) and decided to braise one of the rabbits. This was the first time I had ever had home raised meat, and it was delicious! I was pleasantly surprised.

Then last night we went over to some of our homesteading friends' home for a dinner party. We had given them some of our older hens for eggs, and due to unforeseen circumstances, she had to slaughter two of them (which we are totally cool with because we were going to do it anyways). She stewed the older of the two (she was probably at least 4 years old). I wasn't sure how I was going to like it. People had warned me that non-cornish cross chickens would be like rubberbands and would have a horrible flavor. Granted our friend stewed her for a really long time, but the meat was delicious. It tasted like chicken - nothing like store bought chicken.

Now our coming meat issue is with pork. Out of all the meat we eat, pork is the one we eat the most. So our plan is to buy a piglet in the Spring and raise it for a few months until it gets up to slaughter weight. Well, that leaves us with quite a few months of no pork.

So now we're looking for a good butcher. Apparently that is easier said than done. There's one butcher here in Vallejo. It is in the G-H-E-T-T-O. It is scary. I don't want to go there. I have a feeling they don't sell humanely raised meat.

Then there is the Fatted Calf in Napa. Um, yeah, we can't afford to buy anything there. I had called them to buy a whole pig once. They wanted $700-800 for it. It is Napa after all. We ended up buying a live pig from a gentleman who raises hogs for 4-H and having it slaughtered for $180. That's a HUGE difference. So the search continues.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Timing is Everything

Originally we were going to start this project on January 1st. It seemed so far off, but it was a good date to start - kind of like a new year's resolution. We moved the date up though because I was worried about my job. Back in May we got back onto a full time schedule, which was great after being part time for over 18 months. But I knew it was only temporary and I was just waiting for the return of part time.

I'm glad we decided to do that because starting next week, sure enough, we're going back to part time. Fortunately it's not as large a cut in hours as the last time. And surprisingly I'm completely OK with it. We were making it work before and we will make it work again. It will also allow me time to write more.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shampoo and Conditioner

I dye my hair. I don't like the natural color and since I'm already over 30% gray I've decided to just dye it black. What I like about the black hair is that all of a sudden my eyes have an actual color to them. With my natural hair color they were always kind of an unremarkable washed out gray-green-blue. With the black contrast they are more blue now.

My hair is also oily and fine. Not a good combo. Add onto that the fact that I am prone to outer ear infections, which are of course exacerbated by commercial shampoos, specifically products that contain Sodium Lauryl (or Laureth) Sulfate or SLS. It just so happens that the products that contain that ingredient also ruin your color. So I had switched my hair products to a brand that didn't contain SLS, parabens or phthalates. Of course these more expensive and you have to use more of them to get oily hair clean. So I am always in search of a better product.

I came across this post on One Green Generation about using baking soda and vinegar to wash and condition your hair.

Today I gave it a whirl. I'll be honest, I was totally skeptical. Afterall, I have oily hair and the non-SLS shampoo I have been using is so-so at cleansing. Since it's Saturday I figured that if it didn't work I could just pull my hair into a pony tail the rest of the day and just go back to my regular routine tomorrow.

I don't think I'll need to do that. I'm totally sold. Not only is my hair CLEAN, but it's softer and smoother than it ever was. It's the same texture as if I'd been standing in the rain for a long time and then let it dry naturally. You know, that smooth, extra soft texture. So I think I'm going to keep this new routine. It's MUCH cheaper than even bargain shampoo.

Now all I need is a good all-natural body wash.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Falling into Place

At least that's what it seems. This weekend a friend of the family told us she knows an organic dairy that we might be able to get milk from directly that is near us. That's beyond awesome. Dairy farms totally get the shaft and I'm amazed we even have any. While milk prices have gone up drastically the actual farmer rarely sees enough to cover production. Where does all that money go to? The supermarkets and distributors. I'd much rather get my milk directly from the farmer and pay them market price.

Tonight I also made my first batch of granola with the rolled oats we bought from the co-op. I'm impressed. They seem to absorb the liquids and flavors a lot better than the other oats I was using. I'm not sure the difference. Maybe the thickness is different. Anyways, it's a lot tastier.

Tomorrow we go shopping for our new freezer. We still don't know where we are going to put it, but we'll figure it out....somehow.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Today I finally got word that the beef will be here in time! We pick up our 1/8 of a steer the next Saturday. Phew! I was starting to get a little worried. We don't eat much beef, but I'm sure an 1/8 of a steer won't be enough since we won't have any pork, which we use a lot of. So that's our next task - to find a pig ASAP. We have grand plans to buy one next spring, but then we have to get weight on it, so we're looking at not having it until next June or so. That's 8 months without pork and that just ain't gonna fly! So off to searching for a pig...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can We REALLY Do This?

Well, we're about a month away now from beginning this crazy idea of ours. I'm worried about meat right now. We were supposed to get part of a grass fed cow last month but I haven't heard anything about it yet. Sure we can without meat, but it's not necessarily what I *want* to do. Fortunately, right when we begin this project we'll have several chickens to slaughter. We'll probably get more right away. We do have 2 rabbits in the freezer right now and hopefully in a few months we'll have even more.

OK, the freezer. We are out of space in our chest freezer and we'll be needing to get a second one. This is where the problem lies. We don't have space for another freezer! We don't even have space for a larger one if we get rid of our current one. We're going to have to get creative here, or finish the kitchen and breakfast nook so we can empty out some of the boxes in the garage.

So much to do and think about! I thought we'd have enough time to work things out. Oh well, we'll just have to go with the flow.