Renovation Update: Tile, Doors, Stairs and a lot of Dirt

Another Homestead Renovation Update!

Today, the lil guy and I stopped up at the house to check in on the renovation progress.  The hubby was there with a ton of workmen and so much has been done.

The tile is down on the floor in the kitchen and the bathroom, as well as the shower walls.  The strip of glass tile is how the accent is going to look in the shower when it wil complete.

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The bedroom and closet doors have been installed.

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The original stairs leading down to the basement were crazy dangerous, so we replaced them and framed out for a new door.

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The hubby hand mixed 9 bags of cement, by hand, to make a pad for the AC unit, came out great!  Also, the trench is filled in and the front walkway was torn out.

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Its hard to tell by the picture, but the back 1/3 of the property has been graded and a retaining wall will be built.  In the spring this area will be home to our vegetable garden 🙂

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Putting Up the Garden; Pepper Jelly, Tomato Sauce and Homemade Vicks

Our garden seems to be coming to a close for the season.  We are processing the last of the tomatoes, peppers and watermelon.  Although we did not grow any hot peppers, I still wanted to make pepper jelly, so I used a variety of sweet peppers.  It took all summer to find a pectin I actually liked the taste of an was easy to work with.  I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  It is great because it is activated by calcium, not sugar, so you are free to add as a little or as much sweetener as you would like.  Also, you do not have to cook it for hours ont he stove, just a few minutes and its done.

I just followed the directions ont he box to make this sweet pepper jelly.

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Tomato sauce was my next adventure.  I felt uneasy about water bath canning my fresh tomato sauce, so I decided to freeze the jars instead.  I made a basic recipe of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flake, peeled and seeded tomatos, basil and seasoning.  It should last 4 months in the f freezer

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Lil man has caught a cold and is all congested.  I went ahead and made him a homemade Vicks rub so help loosen some of that junk.  Simply melt a big scoop of coconut oil and add essential oil.  I used peppermint and rosemary essential oils and stored it in a small ball jar in the fridge.

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What are you putting up?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything thats recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Canning Simple Tomato Salsa

Our tomatoes have finally started to turn red and now we need to use them up.  What better way then sauce and salsa!  Because I do not own a pressure canner, I had to find a highly acidic salsa recipe to water bath can.  This is a pretty simple tomato salsa recipe from Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars. It is far more tart then I am used to due to the cider vinegar, but I am sure after sitting awhile the flavors will come together and it will be just as enjoyable as any other salsa.

If you do not own this book, here is a pretty comparable recipe for free on the internet 😉


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Do you prefer a canned salsa or a fresh pico de gallo?

[Disclosure:  Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything thats recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Canning Sweet Pickle Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles

We planted 4 small cucumber plants in our garden this year.  Those 4 plants sure did produce a whole lot of cucumbers.  We had dozens and dozens of the those crunchy green guys.  What we couldn’t eat or give away we decided to preserve.  Since refrigerator pickles only last a month, and there are only so many pickles we can eat in a month, canning bread and butter pickles as well as relish was our best bet.

I used both the sweet pickle relish and bread and butter pickle recipes from Liana Krissoff’s Book Canning for a New Generation. I highly recommend this book if you really want to do some yummy canning, as well as Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars.  If you do not have either of these books, I found some pretty comparable recipes for free on the internet: Sweet Pickle Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles.

I cannot wait the 4-6 weeks they take to cure to try them!

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Do you have a favorite pickle or relish recipe to share?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Preserving the Summer Squash and Zucchini Harvest

Our summer squash harvest was UNBELIEVABLE this year.  We had an over abundance of the green and yellow squash cluttering our countertop for weeks, and still do. We also received a ton in our CSA.  This seems to be the norm.  Even if you do not have your own garden, I am sure family, friends and neighbors are practically begging you to take some off their hands.

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So, what to do with all this fresh and nutritious produce?  You can simply eat it now; sauté with olive oil and garlic, roast in the oven with other squash, make into pasta and toss with pesto or shred and use in muffins and breads.  Speaking of muffins, here are our favorite! YUM!

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Besides eating all your zucchini and yellow squash right away, you can also preserve it for use later in the year when squash is not in season or available.  We chose to preserve a lot of our harvest by freezing and dehydrating.  You can also can it if you like, we have not tried this method yet.

We make a really great stuffed squash with rice and ground turkey, but it is hot and time consuming to make in the summer.  So we made, blanched and froze the boats to stuff when the weather gets cooler. Also, we sliced and blanched squash coins to freeze.  With these you can just deforest and sauté for a quick side dish. Make sure you blanch your squash before freezing, this will insure it doesn’t get frost bit or go soggy before using.

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Utilize the dehydrator as well for preservation.  This is one of my favorite methods, it doesn’t take up room in your freezer and the dehydrated product last for a very long time.  We shredded and then dehydrated our zucchini.  Find the how-to here.  Later, we can rehydrate the squash with a little water and use in breads, muffins, sauces and sautés.  So many possibilities with this.

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How was your summer squash harvest this year?  How are you eating or preserving it?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Summertime Strawberry Crisp (with Dairy Free option)

Strawberry season is finally here in the Northeast and we have been taking full advantage!  We are lucky enough to have multiple pick your own berry farms within driving distance and have so far visited 2.  Our bounty of berries, all 23 pound worth, have made their way into pineapple freezer jam, classic strawberry freezer jam, strawberry sorbet, frozen berries for smoothies, strawberry puree and my favorite of all a sweet summertime strawberry crisp!

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Here is the recipe for the Crisp:

Summertime Strawberry Crisp (with Dairy Free option)

Wash, hull and chop strawberries if they are large, about 5-6 cups worth.
Toss with 1/2 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Mix 2-3 T of cornstarch with 2-3 T of lemon juice, stir that into the berries.
Pour into greased 8 by 8 pan.
Mix equal parts, brown sugar, oats and flour in a gallon ziplock bag (about 1 cup each)
Add 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of butter or solid coconut oil and knead in bag until crumbly.
Pour evenly over berries in pan.
Bake at 350F for 30-45 min. Enjoy!

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Do you prefer crisp or cobbler? or maybe neither?

Our First Fruit Tree: San Pietro Fig

As I look at my window and see little snow flurry wisps falling from the sky, I am dreaming of Spring.  Dreaming of tilling the land, planting our harvest and enjoying our delicious sun ripened bounty. Hating to sit dormant, I went ahead and pre-ordered our first fruit tree, the San Pietro Fig.

Order Yours Here

We live in Zone 6, and although it is fully feasible and people do grow fig trees in ground here, it will take a lot more work to keep them alive during our harsh winters.  Because of this, we have decided to plant ours in a container and bring it inside before the frost hits.  Planting in a container will only allow this tree to reach 6-8 feet, instead of its normal 12-15, thus producing less fruit.  We are fine with less fruit if it means our tree will last for years.

If your first reaction was, “figs YUCK,” then you more than likely are basing your feelings off of fig newtons and dried figs.  Up until a few years ago, I felt the same way and had never enjoyed a fresh juicy tree ripened fig.  After that first fresh fig experience, you will never be the same! OK, I am being dramatic, just don’t knock it til you try it, k?

Figs are not only yummy, but they are SUPER healthy!

Health Benefits of Figs

There are so many things you can do with fresh figs! My favorite is a fresh fig stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped with prosciutto and drizzled with honey, so good!

 

Recipe Here

Update: May 25, 2014

Our Fig Tree was delivered in the mail this week!  The first sunny day we had was filled with soil and plants.  Our little tiny stick with two leaves made its way into the big boy container it will call home.

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How do you like to prepare fresh figs? Any tips from seasoned fig tree owners about caring for this varietal?

Our Mean Green DIY Compost Bin

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Good Morning,

Would you look at that beauty!  That my friends is our homemade trashcan rotating compost bin and I cannot wait for spring to get here so we can use it.  I know, I know, you are supposed to start your compost in the fall when you have all of those nice fallen leaves, but we missed that season and now we start in spring. Oh well.

How did we come to own this wonderful contraption?  It was made by my husband… at 2am one night at his office.  Earlier in the day I sent him THESE plans, asking “would you be able to make me something like this?” and not twelve hours later we a have finished project.  What a man!

It is pretty much NOTHING like the plans, leave it to John to ditch the plans and just make crap up! If I get him to explain the step by steps I can write up a quick DIY for this one, stay tuned.

Even though we have about 12 inches of snow on the ground and over the next week expect to add 14 more to that, we are dreaming of wonderful, beautiful compost!  Any tips or suggestions from seasoned pros?

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Welcome to our blog! What is this all about?

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Hello! Welcome to our blog, our home, our family and a peak into our lives.  My name is Colleen, I have a fantastic husband named John and an adorable son, John William.  A little over a year ago, we moved from our one bedroom condo and are slowly starting our way towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle on our own homestead.

You may be wondering, what is this homestead thing all about?  Well, UrbanHomestead.org defines a suburban or urban homestead as, “a suburban or city home in which residents practice self-sufficiency through home food production and storage.”  Also, it is not only about food, but personal energy generation and getting “off grid,” as well.

On our list of homestead goals are:  find a house with land that allows for us to pursue this new life style, compost, start a garden or implement a lawnscaping plan, build and maintain a greenhouse, collect and store rainwater, can and preserve our own food, and build a source of self-supplying energy.

Join us on our journey as we try to make this dream a reality, while having tons of fun on the way! OH! and the name? Its a play on our last name, near and dear to our hearts 🙂