It’s a 75% World!

The plan, to keep me focused and to make it a challenge, is to eat at least 75% of our food, by weight from local sources.  That starts with our yard and then goes out to local farms which offer CSA’s and even delivery of their goods.  There is a wealth of food grown in our area so most standard vegetables and fruits will not be so hard.  Finding grains locally grown will be a little harder.  Managing cost will be the other challenge.

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As you can see above, our own back yard offers some selection.  Our chickens provide us with eggs.  They have been molting and are just starting to lay again.  We are in the transition to fall and winter gardening.  That can be a slimmer time, but there are still choices to be had.  We have lettuce and greens of all kinds and will be planting onions and garlic next weekend.  We participate in a CSA and also receive veggies from a farmer who takes orders for specific items and delivers those once a week.  You can’t ask for much more than that.  There are other sources available in the area.  I will be updating the links to include some of the new ones.

Yesterday, we managed to do a pretty good job of local eating.  Greens from our garden and cornbread and local sausage for lunch.  We still have a cherry tomato producing and had eggplant, peppers and squash from the CSA, So we are relishing the end of summer with ratatouille, a cherry tomato salad and a little more of that local sausage for supper.

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Local Eating Becomes the Center…..Again.

We are embarking once more on focusing on eating local, by which I mean anything from the state of Georgia, but the closer to Covington, the better.  We have lots of farmers in our area who grow some amazing organic and Certified Naturally Grown produce.  There are many foods to choose from, dairy, meat, vegetables and fruit that are sustainably and humanely grown.  I’ll add to and update my resources and post recipes and tell you about our progress in this adventure from which I had taken a leave of absence.  I’m ready to be there again.


The first Sungold tomato from our garden.  It was delicious.

The first Sungold tomato from our garden. It was delicious.

My husband brought my garden back to life about 2 1/2 years ago.  We working on making it a source of a large percentage of what we eat.  I don’t think we will ever be able to survive on it for more than a few weeks at a time, but we have farmer friends from whom we can get plenty to supplement what we grow.  I’m excited about embarking on this adventure, once more.  I think our health and our self-sufficiency will be much improved.

The first digging of the potatoes. These are from the first digging of the potatoes.  We are letting most of it go a little longer to get bigger potatoes.  We have roasted them and cooked them with the green beans and made one of my mama’s favorite dishes, parsleyed new potatoes.  All good.  The plan for this week gets finalized this evening.  I’ll be reporting how it goes.


Chicks in the Coop

Tag-team hens and their chicks.

Tag-team hens and their chicks.

It’s spring again and we have baby chicks.  One of the young hens from last summer started setting back in March when it was really cold.  The other hens kept laying in the same nestbox, so there soon got to be too many for one little hen to keep covered.  I didn’t think it would work but then one of the older hens started setting with her to help keep them warm; then another young one joined them.  It was very crowded in there but warm.  We have 4 babies and they have a few more eggs that have not hatched.  I don’t know if anything will come of that, but they have made a valiant effort.  Hope they all turn out to be hens.

Glad to be back.  I have more to share.  So check in with me often.


Dark Days Challenge

I’m doing it again.  The Dark Days Challenge.  It is a blog challenge in which bloggers prepare and eat at least one meal a week that is composed of locally grown or raised food.  Then you must do a blog post about your meal.  Check out the link above if you want to get in on this.  You have until tomorrow to officially sign up, but if you don’t want the responsibility of doing that you can still follow the recaps each week of everyones’ meals and get some great ideas and recipes for veggies and such.  I’ll be posting each week about my local meal.  Last year I tried but did not get very far.  This year I am determined to do better.  My first meal post will be tomorrow.  Wish us luck as we head into the dark days where local eating becomes just a little more challenging.

New Look

Yes, things do look different here.  For some reason, which in my technically challenged state, I do not understand, my old theme got all messed up yesterday.  It may have already been messed up, but I just discovered it yesterday.  So I found a new one which I am getting accustomed to.  I hope you like it also.

We have new chickens in our coop.  The old set had gotten to where they had really cut back on laying and Pat was having problems getting out to take care of them, especially in last winter’s cold.  The rooster hated me, so I was not much help.  We gave them away to a younger couple with more stamina and more chickens right before Christmas.  We got 8 half grown pullets a few weeks ago.  They are getting close to being ready to start laying.  We look in the nest boxes every day.  We will have multi-colored eggs from 3 Wheaten Marans, 3 Ameraucaunas, and 2 Olive Eggers.  Can’t wait!

Some of the new chickens.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup, but I made mine spicy.

It has been a great summer for tomatoes.  Last year was awful.  I only had the small cherry types.  This year they are everywhere, big heirlooms, new roma types, all colors of cherry tomatoes, hybrids that actually taste good.  I’ve canned about 12 quarts of quartered tomatoes but the thing I have really wanted to do since last summer, is to make ketchup.  I never buy regular ketchup, it just seems like the total opposite of what I am about; high fructose corn syrup, highly processed, coming from who knows where.  There are probably organic versions out there, but it just did not seem worth it.  But every now and then someone eats with us who asks for ketchup and I have none to offer.  Well, now I do.  I can also put it on my purple hull peas and dry beans like my daddy did.  It is not hard to do; it just takes a really long time and a lot of stirring.  The tomatoes, bell peppers and onions came from the local farmer’s market.  The lone jalapeno came from my garden.  After finishing my batch, I read on the internet about someone who used a crockpot with the lid off, to do the long slow cooking.  I think I will try that next time.   The recipe I used was from Well Preserved by Mary Anne Dragan.  I made a few changes, but not much.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup

For Spice Bag, gather:  2 cinnamon sticks, broken; 1 tsp whole cloves; 1 tsp whole allspice; 2 Tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp celery seed.  Tie all up in a cheesecloth bag.

10 lbs Roma type tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 red jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds (this was my addition)

The cooked tomatoes in the food mill.

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Quarter tomatoes and put them and peppers and onions in large pot.  Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Let cool some.  I actually put mine in jars in the refrigerator at this point and went to bed.  It was late.  The next afternoon, I put all the veggies through the food mill into the heavy enameled dutch oven.  You could go for the crock pot at this point.  Add the brown sugar, salt and vinegar, put the spice bag into the pot and cook.  The recipe says 1 hour, but I must have had mine at a much lower temperature than they did.  I cooked it for at least 5 hours.  I did not want to have to stand over it constantly to keep it from scorching.  When it as thick as you like it, take out the spice bag, spoon into half pint jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.  I got 7 half pints.  The recipe says 6.

Spice bag in place.

The ketchup is delicious, much better than anything out of a bottle.  I may actually come to like ketchup.

The lids have popped.

Local Food is Everywhere!

Here in Covington, Georgia, the supply of local food has increased dramatically in the past couple of years.  Some new options have sprung up this Spring.  Two new farmer’s markets have opened, one on Saturday mornings in Porterdale at the old train depot and one at the Episcopal church on Clark Street on Wednesday afternoons.  They only have a few farmers, but the quality is exceptional and as more people discover them, the better they will become.  I got herb plants, beets, cabbage and eggs at Porterdale a couple of weeks ago, and this week at the Episcopal Church I got soap, red onions, pattypan squash, pesto, and the first tomatoes of the season.  They were bigger than your average cherry tomato, but not slicers.  They were delicious in a salad.  It is so wonderful to have real tomatoes again.  

The old stand-by’s are still going strong.  Our CSA with Mary Denton of Denton Flower Farm continues on this year.  Had a lovely arugula salad at lunch with her arugula, that red onion from the farmer’s market, some goat cheese from Split Creek Farm, through Conyers Locally Grown and a little Dijon mustard viniagrette.  It was scrumptions.  The little Green Livin’ store on Floyd Street is bursting at the seams.  They always have Johnston Farm milk, and lovely artisan breads.  Now that summer has hit, they have tomatoes, new potatoes, blackberries, squash and corn.  They grow locally and without pesticides so that is good. 

I was very slow starting my garden this year so I do not have any ripe tomatoes.  Tomatoes were terrible last year; I hope they will do well.  So far all the plants except one are healthy and I ripped that one right out.  I’ve got zucchini and cantaloupes, pole beans and okra also.  And of course my usual herbs.  They are right by the back door so that they are convenient.     I’m back on track and eating locally as much as possible.