Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Cabbage- Use It or Lose It

Now, if you're like me, I've got whole heads of cabbages in my cold storage bins leftover from my late fall harvest. But after four months, they are looking a bit rough.

I could have dug a hole, placed my heads in them, and covered them with heavy mulch. They probably been good for a few months buried like that. But I didn't. It's one of those would of, should of, could of things. The one where you make the best choice at the time.
I haven't found an old, broken freezer to bury in the ground like I describe in my book, Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper? Shameless plug (grinning).  I had this set up on my old homestead. Instead, I've got a well insulated storage building. It stays cool during our extremely hot summers and well above freezing during long, cold winters. I can run the small AC unit or plug in a small heater if I need to, but I haven't had to yet.  

Even though it sounds like an ideal situation, it's not. We've had periodic rodent infestations and maybe a snake or two with food supply to boot especially winter. They are enjoying the climate controlled, dry haven we built. Though we are diligent, with ugh- poisons and traps, we still have losses due to this. Bins of over wintering fruits and vegetables are a prime target. I've lost an entire case of sweet potatoes due to this in the past.

I was going through my cold stores this week, when I noticed greater interest (droppings and chew marks on the plastic bins) around my container with my four remaining heads of cabbage. It's a use it lose it situation. You know me, I chose use it.

I detest the taste of boiled cabbage. So I never can it. I've never frozen just cabbage before. Mel will only eats cabbage in eggrolls or spring rolls. I peeled the wrinkly unappetizing leaves away (the rabbits will love them) and gave them a good soaking a brine solution just in case there was any dirt or creepy crawlies alive in them.

My first though was to make cabbage rolls and stick them in the freezer. Mel could always unwrap them before eating them. I found these foil tins in my Dollar Tree that made for a perfect serving for two and there are 3 tins for a buck. To me it makes cents.

If you've ever made cabbage rolls before, you only use the larger outer leaves to make them. That leaves the inner portion of the cabbage in tact. I made up nine pans. Once cooled, I put them in the freezer for three hours. As an extra measure, I vacuum sealed each container. I used ground lamb and beef as the meat filling in these because that's what I had on hand.

Next, I took one of the leftover cabbages and corded it.  I mixed 3 Tbs of soft butter, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black  pepper , a pinch of red pepper flakes , and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and stuffed the core space with the mixture. I wrapped it with foil leaving a quarter sized vent hole. I baked this in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes a pound. I let the cabbage rest for 5 minutes, and then cut into serving  size wedges. I poured the cabbage/butter mixture over top of each wedge. I froze the wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet for an hour, and then vacuum sealed them. Now I can nuke and eat them whenever I want.

The other three left over cabbages I shredded into fine pieces. This was destined to be half eggroll and spring roll filling. 

Jo's Fancy Eggroll/ Spring Roll Filling
4-6 cup finely shredded cabbage
6 pieces of shrimp, deveined and minced tossed with 2 Tbs corn starch
4 boneless chicken thighs, fat removed ground
1/4 lb red meat,(lamb, beef or pork) ground
3 garlic cloves, minced. Can substitute 2 tsp garlic powder.
1" knob of ginger, minced. Can substitute 2 tsp dry ground ginger.
6 green onions, chopped fine
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
 1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/8 cup soy sauce
 2Tbs oil
Salt and pepper  to taste

  • Prepare meats and vegetables.
  • In large wok or pan, heat oil. Add garlic and ginger.
  • Add meats in the following order: red meat, chicken, shrimp. Stir fry until no longer pink (except the shrimp) about two minutes for each meat. Remove meat from pan leaving oil and some garlic and ginger in the pan. 
  • Add vegetables in the following order: carrots, onions, mushrooms, cabbage, bean sprouts, green onions. Stir fry about two minutes after each addition. Do not wash the pan after cooking the vegetables.
  • Add soy sauce, salt and pepper.
  • Cover and let cook for three minutes.
  • Return meat mixture to the pan. Mix well, cover, and remove from heat.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, Place a 2-cup measured scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Place each mound in a vacuum seal bag. A 2- cup mound will fill 4 eggrolls or 8 spring rolls.

This mound of vegetable meat mixture can be added to three store bought ramen soups packages for a tasty dinner or lunch.

So that's how I handled my use it or lose it cabbage scenario. How about you? What dishes would you make?

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cleaning Out the Junk Room

After 4 hrs!
If your honest, everyone has one, or one spot that everything ends up there that one day, you promise yourself, you'll straighten it up. This week was this room's turn. Originally designated as an office/crafts room...it hasn't been used as that in a long time.

The picture is after FOUR HOURS of pulling stuff out of the room. At least you can now see the floor. The room also has a huge walk-in closet at the back left of the room jam packed with stuff. We still have a long way to go. Mel had made a shelving unit in her bedroom a few years ago for her yarn stash. She actually built three of them to hold all her yarn and yarn stuff. Here's her video on building and installing her first one.

Between the dogs and the cats (especially Flynn), they pretty much knocked the yarn off the shelves daily. We started storing yarn in tote bags. These tote and paper bags ended up in the office/craft room. Right place, but not the ideal storage solution. We could never find what we were looking for. The shelves Mel built are now dismantled.

So Mel started pulling out all the big, plastic tote containers, boxes, tote and grocery bags of yarn out of the room. I couldn't even walk into the room without the risk of falling. I had cleared the table in the breakfast nook and started sorting the skeins by color. I'll worry about the different types ( bulky, worsted, dk, fine) later when I put them away in the new shelving unit Mel's building. In the meantime, each color was put in plastic totes and paper bags until it will be installed. Not shown are 18 gallon totes filled with green, red/pink, and green yarns. Four in total. One tote is designated for Mel's UFOs (Unfinished or FUBARed Objects). One bag has knitting, crochet, and other needlework gadgets. Another reusable grocery tote bag has scraps of yarn leftover from finished projects. This alone took multiple hours.

We have tried doing all of this systematically. Next was tackling the office stuff. Most of this was in order, but stuffed into file cabinets, cluttering the desk in a dozen piles or more, and in paper boxes. Still, it all had to be gone through and sorted.

Next all the cookbooks formed three piles on the breakfast table. If I didn't see 20 recipes I wanted, the book was placed in a donation bin. I might mention here that I only brought three with me. Those three still are in the keep pile. Mel had moved them into the office on one of her tidying sprees.

Each day we have tackled one area within the space. After that was sewing stuff and miscellaneous stuff. There is much discussion over what to keep and why. 98% of all of this is Mel's stuff. I did this all before my move here. I simplified my possessions to the bare minimum. Mel carried it all (hers and her mother's belongings) with her when she moved here. A three bedroom house with an attic does not equate into a three bedroom double wide trailer. But I understand the sentimental attachments things carry. Most of the keep or donate is up to her. It just needs reorganizing. Marie Kondo's Tidying Up series on Netflixs has worn on her.

We wanted to try either laying wood laminate on the floor or brown paper bagging the floor as the first attempt of ripping out the ratty carpet in this house. I'm searching for cheap wood paneling to replace the falling/sagging ceiling tiles. Once we remove everything out of the room to remove the carpeting, we'll spackle and paint the worn wood paneling on the walls too. It should be a bright, light, well organized space when finished. A joyful experience to be in rather than dump and run. A place to craft, sew, and spin in, or plan and do recordkeeping in.

I'm not under any misguided notions. This project will take months to accomplish with all the goings on with the homestead. But little by little, it'll get done. In the end, we'll have a gorgeous multipurpose room that we won't cringe when we open the  door to enter. Then, the challenge is keeping it that way.

Last winter, I had considered swapping bedrooms with this one, but changed my mind. I like my little room. There is less space for me to fall in. I only go in there to sleep and keep my clothes in anyhow. The bigger the space, the more possessions I feel I need. Also, the bigger the space the more you have to clean. Makes sense and cents to me.

Y'all have a blessed day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cooking With Chef Jo- Homemade Sourdough Bread

Now I realize many of my readers aren't as back to nature extremists like I am. To make my flour, I'll buy Montana, non GMO wheat kernels from the Amish store or use my home grown Einkorn/Emmer wheat to start with. I'll soak it for two days in our spring fed water to sprout it, and then lay it out by the wood stove to dry completely before I hand grind it into flour. Yeah, I'm a dyed in the wool homesteading extremist for wanting to know where my food comes from. If this is not you, no worries any good quality wheat all purpose flour will do.

Do Not use municipal water supply in this. Use bottled spring water.

Day 1 & 2-To Make my sourdough stater is two ingredients 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. That's it. I'll place the mixture in a half gallon mason jar. To cap it off, I'll use the ring and screw over a piece of cheesecloth. I'll leave it to do it's thing for two days. You may notice tiny bubbles in your mixture. This is a good thing.

Day 3- Stir the mixture. You might notice a slight yeasty smell as you do this. Add 1/4 c of water and 1/4 cup of flour to your mixture. Stir well. Replace the cheesecloth cover. Return it to its spot on the counter.

Day 4-6 Repeat day 3's instructions. You may notice a dark liquid forming in your jar. This is the by product of the yeast eating the sugars in the flour. You will also notice the yeasty sour smell getting stronger. This is very good thing.

Day 7- Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and water.

By now your starter is inflating and bursting to the cheesecloth. Pull out a cup of this mixture and make bread or rolls with it.

My recipe for sourdough bread is this.

Sourdough Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
1 cup of starter
1/2 cup of water, lukewarm if fine.
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 c flour

Mix all ingredients until a soft, elastic dough forms. Knead about thirty to fifty times on a floured surface. Place dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover. Let dough rest and double. Depending on the natural yeast in the starter, this can take several hours.

Once the dough has doubled, fold one edge towards the center and continue around the bowl in this fashion. There is no call to punch the dough in the center to deflate it. The dough did nothing to you to warrant this kind of violent treatment.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it about thirty times. Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand. With a pastry brush lightly brush the flattened surface with water. Roll the dough into a cylinder shape. Place the cylinder into i generously buttered loaf pan tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Press the dough firmly into the loaf pan. Brush melted butter on top and cover with a damp cloth.

When the loaf has dough has doubled in size, it's time to bake your bread. 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You'll know your bread is done when you thump it with your knuckle and you hear a hollow sound.

Although you'll be tempted to cut into it right away wait. Let the bread sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Brush the top with melted butter. Turn it out onto a cutting board and lay it on its side for 10 minutes. After that, cut yourself a slice. Before you slather it with butter taste it. If the bread is sour enough to your liking slather away and enjoy.

I cut slits in the top of mine
If your want it more sour, Continue doing doing Day 3 for a few more days and try making bread again. Repeat until you get the taste you enjoy.

To feed your starter add 1/2 c flour and water weekly. If you do not make bread every day or every other day, your starter can be stored in the refrigerator.  If you do, keeping your starter on the counter is fine. Remember, your starter is a living organism. Feed it and care for it lovingly and you will be rewarded with years of sourdough.

Y'all have a blessed day.