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, July 31, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Sushi from Your Pantry

We are continuing "It's too hot to cook" series.  Today offering is a fusion Japanese sushi recipe you can make from pantry items. It's my goto when I haven't got nori ( seaweed sheets), rice wine vinegar, or raw seafood available in my pantry but want sushi. This is my pantry version of a California stacked sushi and a traditional Gunkan Maki (cucumber roll) recipes.
CA Stacked Sushi
Gunkan Maki

It doesn't happen very often that I don't have these Japanese traditional goodies in my pantry, but it does happen. My bottle of rice wine vinegar slipped out of my hand and shattered when it hit the floor. I found out that rats really like nori. The greedy buggers ate THREE packages! All that was left was the shredded, rigid plastic wrap and the silicon pack. GRR! They even ate my dried shitaki mushrooms. Now, these things are kept in a metal box in the storeroom.

But that didn't help me at the time. I wanted sushi! So being the creative chef that I am, I came up with this recipe that was in my standard pantry (other than the cucumber and green onions).

Jo's Pantry Sushi
Serves 1-2 as a meal or 8-12 appetizers
What you'll need
1/2 to 1 cup rice, medium grain cooked
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS white vinegar
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS water
1 (3 oz can) tuna, in water is best- drained, or 3 oz of any canned seafood
1 and 1/2  English cucumber
2 green onions, fine diced white and green tops*
2 TBS toasted sesame seeds
1 TBS dehydrated sweet red bell pepper, rehydrated
1 TBS dehydrated sweet yellow bell pepper, rehydrated

* Notes- It seems I've always got onions or green onions growing in my window sill. 

Putting it together
  • Slice one room temperature cucumber long, lengthwise with a vegetable peeler or with a knife to 1/16" slices. Take the half cucumber and fine diced it.
  • In small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, water, and salt until dissolved. Sprinkle over warm rice and toss to combine well. Set aside rice mixture and allow to come to room temperature. If the rice is from last night's dinner and refrigerated, microwave until the rice is warm.Warm rice will absorb the flavors better than cold rice.
  • Mix the red and yellow bell peppers together.
  • On a bamboo sushi mat or plastic wrap lay our the cucumber slices.
  • On each slice, place thin layers in the following order rice, bell pepper, cucumber, green onions, and tuna/seafood.
  • Roll each cucumber slice and either secure with a toothpick or wrap in plastic wrap to hold it's shape. I'll usually roll all slices, and then use plastic wrap to tightly bind the sushi. If you are doing individual rolls held by toothpicks, cover with plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Remove the toothpick or plastic wrap for service. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.
 Serve with soy sauce or Japanese white (Yum yum) sauce, What?! You don't know how to make white sauce? Let me give you the recipe.

Japanese White (Yum yum) Sauce
What you'll need
1 1/4 c Hellman's mayonnaise*
1/4 c water
1 tsp tomato paste
1 TBS melted butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika dash(es) cayenne pepper, depending on the amount of heat you want.
  • *Notes- Break down and buy a small jar of this name brand mayonnaise. Other brands will alter the taste of the sauce greatly.

    Putting it together
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours. 
  • It will take that long for the flavors to meld and taste yummy. Don't just take my word for it. Taste it just after you make it, and then again after 12 hours. It's worth the wait.
This sauce recipe will make 8 to 12- 2 TBS servings. BUT, if you are like my girls and their spouses who love it, it'll make 4. :o)


Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Rethinking This Self Sufficiency/Homesteading Project

We've been rethinking our self sufficiency/homesteading project during my time off from posting. Mostly on my part.

I came to realize a few things about my partner in this endeavor over the past three years. Mel was just in love with the idea of living a self sufficient/ homesteading rather than making it a reality. While she loves to plan and tinker, she rarely continues a project because of losing interest in long term projects. Being in love with the idea of being self sufficient, and actually living towards self sufficiency are two different trains of thoughts and actions.

I know this is in part because of her TBI (traumatic brain injury) as a child which manifests with an ADD component. I have 30 years experience dealing with this type of condition. So I thought I could rein her in a bit and make this work. I was partially wrong in this. In my experience, there was a slew of testing and treatments to alleviate certain components of her TBI behavior which helped tremendously. That is not the case with Mel. She is anti doctors and anti medication that could/would really help her. I believe she has learned to actually likes being the victim, miserable, and complaining about everything. I've known a lot of people who are like this. I have thick skin and a discerning hearing (I hear what's important and ignore the rest). I can deal with this.

Me, on the other hand, I'm a commitment driven type person. I plan, follow through, and am proactive. I'm committed to living a self sufficient/ homesteading life. I made a commitment to making this work within reason here. I take my commitments very seriously. Didn't I sell/give away almost everything to do this? I think I did. So what do I do to steer her in my direction. How do I change or mainly work around Mel's lukewarm homesteading/self sufficiency in love with the idea attitude and get my dream too?

I had some decisions to make over the break. I could leave, I have other options. I was seriously thinking of moving into an assisted living/senior living facility. I'm ill enough to warrant such a move, but not ill enough to warrant nursing home placement. I could move back home and start again from scratch with a homestead. A little bit financially worse for wear. Yes, that last car accident in May really hurt and shook me up that bad.

I was contemplating giving up my vision of my future. I imagine there would be continued options back home either in assisted living or senior living apartments to continue gardening on a small scale. But there's also the church's widows and orphan garden(1/4 acre), could supply ample opportunities to get my hands dirty and grow produce to can or freeze. Of course, hens and rabbits, would be out of the question.

Now that the worst is two months hence, I'm reevaluated my options and commitments. What I decided... I'm staying. Although the other options are still out there. I don't feel like a very good Christian leaving Mel in a lurch with no income coming in. Not to mention reneging on my commitment. I can be very stubborn like that.

Mel holding Moira
Losing four Angora rabbits since my accident, has downsized our rabbitry to where I can handle the bunnies alone. I would rather of sold them than having them die to recoup my investment in these furry creatures, but God knows best. I would have hated to sell them and have them die a month later. Not good for any future business. We still have four angoras: Moira, Alby, Lil Albert Einstein, and Cara. We also have our mutt/fiber rabbits Ebony, Buddy, and Snowballz. I haven't even tried to sells the off crosses. Each one is special in their own way just like the angoras we have left.

Mel has lost interest in raising and caring for the rabbits after 4 years. Me, not so much. I still love, groom, care for them, and spin their fiber into yarn. Yes, the angoras are a lot of work, but they offer a lots of love and laughter also.

The loss of  six of our hens, put is out of the egg business. We are down to three layers and two older, disabled hens who lay sporadically. We have enough eggs to feed us and maybe a dozen extra to sell/barter with each week.

Mel hates killing and butchering animals that stopped my meat chicken and rabbit meat production endeavors on being self sustainable in our protein source. It's mighty hard killing and cutting the heads off of chickens with one hand. Now, the plucking and butchering is no problem for me. Although I'm slower at it than I once was. I used to do 10 chickens a day, now it's 2.

Hanging carcasses of larger animals, for me, like deer, hogs, goats, and sheep would be less daunting if they didn't spin while cutting various pieces off. I no longer have the hoist nor the skinning knives to do the job. You kind of have to have two working hands to do the that big of a job of skinning and butchering.

Of course for me, I could always grow soy beans and other legumes to substitute for a meat based diet. That's not Mel. Anything less than a hunk of red/white meat is "fake" protein and she wants none of it. Kind of a contradiction in wants, isn't it?

I read there is an upland rice you can grow for our areas over at 5 Acre and a Dream. I'm waiting until Leigh's first harvest to determine if I should grow it too. We love us some rice. In case you didn't know, rice and beans/peas together make a complete amino acid chain aka protein in a vegetable based diet. There are several other combinations too. I've had enough nutrition courses, over the years, to substitute plant based nutrition for a meat based one. I was even a vegetarian for a half a dozen years or so in an attempt to lower my Germanic high cholesterol to no avail.

Growing my own rice in these Appalachian foothills is one less item I'd have to buy in the stores. I don't know if they've got around to genetically modifying rice yet, but I know all the rice we buy in the store is not organic. My budget doesn't allow for me to buy all things organic unless I was earning six figures again. That will never happen again.

So we're compromising. Mel will be allowed her space for what she thinks will be a viable income producer and feed us, while I will continue to do what I know works. She can play around as much as she wishes until she loses interest again. I'll keep plugging away in my tried and true methods.

After the spring and summer disaster of a garden doing it Mel's way this year, I'm taking it back. Having food on the table is more important than experimenting with what might work. I'm just thankful we produced what I produced in 2017 to carry us through this busted garden year. Call it poor planning on my part, or a blessing from God for the abundance. It's both. While the food storage building is looking a little thin and sparse, it's still supplying us with meats, fruits, and vegetable choices that will last us another year. All I know is I've been a canning/preserving fool the last two years and will be again in 2020 because the storage pantry will be bare again...quite literally.

So I'm doing my thing and she's doing hers. The compromise is somewhere in the middle. A few years ago, I mentioned to Mel about planting all low crops in elevated raised beds. To placate me she built two. I knew our older bodies couldn't keep up with the pace with in ground gardening. She found that out this year. The rest of the pallets to build more still sit. One has been currently been moved outside the garden and the other is down in the orchard. Everything planted in the orchard one (Mel's project) died of neglect and is overrun with weed growth. The other one has produced enough sage and oregano for us and others for years now. The tire which I planted rosemary in is flourishing so much, I thinking about splitting it into two tires along the back opening of the garden.

Mel never did build another gate for that opening so it held together by overlapping the fence wire and rolled up when access is needed. Sigh! It's not like we don't have the materials to build it...it's in the barn/workshop and has been since we put the other one up. To Mel, she loves figuring our how to build something from nothing much. Once accomplished, she loses interest of doing it again. It can be quite irritating when building a homestead and trying to be self sufficient where often repetition and multiples of projects are needed. It's about building for the present and the future for the long term.

While each of us have a common goal of being self sufficient or as self sufficient as we can be, our approaches and commitment level to the goal are different. If continual experimenting, and trial and error are Mel's thing more power to her as she finds her way. Who knows, maybe one of her experiments will succeed on a small scale and we'll change directions again. I'm just continuing to continue my way to get it done the way I know works.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo