Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 22- Kitchen Organization

Either I'm up really early, or everyone else is really sleeping in this morning.  It's still dark out, but that doesn't mean much at this time of year.  The wall clock is stuck at 3:45.  When the battery starts to die it can't seem to push the hands up and over the twelve.  I have more batteries, but I don't know what time it is.  I'm sure I've been up for over an hour already though.

I drink my tea and read a bit.  I can't seem to get into this book though.  Nothing else in my pile has grabbed my interest either.  I suppose I could make another trip to the library today, but I don't really think that would help.  I'm pretty sure it's me, not the books.

I give up on the book and go in the living room.  I start clearing off my desk.  Might as well sort through that pile of unopened mail, file and put away the bills, and whatever else has taken up residence there.  I sort, file, toss, tidy and declutter for awhile before Husband gets up.  My desk is clean for the second time in five years.  Tidying it up usually makes me forget where I put things.  Husband gets his coffee and watches me for a bit.  I shove my computer, printer, keyboard and monitor as far as I can to the back of the desk.

"What are you going to do with the desk?", he asks. 

"I don't know.  It gave me something to do this morning though."  I start sorting through stacks of old disks.  There's a bunch the boys haven't used in years.  I've been meaning to put some of them on the fence posts around the turkey and chicken pens.  They supposedly ward off some sort of predators.  I suppose I could still use them for that.  I stack the rest of the disks neatly on the shelf.  Usually when I tidy disks they're scattered all over the place again within a couple of days.  This time they might stay tidy for awhile.

The boys get up.  I decide to make bannock for breakfast.  I found the recipe scribbled on a piece of paper while I was cleaning.  I had meant to try it awhile ago.  I need lard to fry it in.  I put the pot of bear fat back on the stove.  In the excitement of the rain and butchering the turkeys I haven't finished rendering it.  Once warmed up I should be able to strain off enough for breakfast though.  The rest of the fat will take a day or two of constant cooking to render all of the lard.

I mix up the bannock ingredients and let them rest.  I get the turkey off the freezer from yesterday.  I put it on one of the side grills just slightly overlapping the stove.  A pot of potatoes and a vegetable would be nice for supper, too.  #1 gets potatoes from the basement and helps me peel.  #2 goes out to the garage freezer and comes back with a bag of beans.  He puts them in a pot on the counter.  Then he drains the liquid fat from the pot into a metal bowl.  It's more than enough for the bannock, so after pouring some into a cast iron pan, the rest is left to harden on the counter.

Once hot, I fry the bannock up, and we top it with jam.  It's not too much of a change from pancakes, but any bit of a change seems good at this point.

After breakfast Husband and the Bigs go out to work the horses.  Today they want to hook Samson to the cart and see how he does.  Knightmare is finally getting the hang of the reins.  Shiloh is lead broke, so #2 gets a feed bag with some sand to start adding weight to her back.  Just a couple of pounds, so she can get used to it.  Husband and #1 give Samson a quick work out with the reins and the stone boat, then hitch him to the cart.  He's bigger than Tori and the cart actually fits him better than her.  He takes to it eagerly- a little too eagerly.  Wheels move much faster than skis.  Overall he does well, but he'll need to work on taking it easy. 

They drive him up to Sanya and Roam's place.  We haven't checked on them in a while anyway, and Husband wants to know if he was broke to pull before.  Sanya greets them as they pull in.  She's in the ring working with one of her horses.  Roam comes out to chat.  They traded all but 10 of their horses to the Hutterites for hay.  They kept their expensive stud, two brood mares, four well broke horses, and three yearlings.  Sanya plans to trade the yearlings as well, but knows they'll be worth more after training. 

They're doing fairly well.  They have an artesian well, so getting fresh, clean water is easy for them.  They offer to let us fill our barrels there, rather than having to filter water from the creek.  Their food supplies are holding out ok.  They don't have enough to last through the winter, but they're planning to visit the Hutterites once one of the yearlings is ready to trade.

Sanya had been working with Samson, but had just started him on the stone boat, so she's surprised to see that he's already pulling the cart.  She's impressed with how well he's doing.

While Husband and the Bigs are busy, the Littles and I walk to Mom and Dad's.  I bring the clock with me so I can reset it.  They're surprisingly not squabbling so much now.  I think they're out of denial, and have accepted that this is how things are going to be.  They've cleared out a lot of electric appliances, making room for their non-electric counterparts.  Between their camping equipment and things they've just always kept, they seem to be doing ok.  I give them a couple loaves of bread and tell them to come over when they run out instead of waiting for us to bring them some.

Dad has built an outdoor shower off the end of the deck.  Basically a camping shower bag in a little shelter.  They have to heat the water for it on the stove still, but it works.  Their food supplies are holding out ok, but I notice they've got a list started on the counter.  Eggs, sugar, peanut butter.  I need more chickens.  Four hens are not enough to supply every one with eggs.

We walk back home, where Husband and the Bigs are waiting for lunch- which of course I haven't planned.  We've ate sandwiches for lunch almost every day for years, with an occasional pot of soup, or bowl of potato salad for a change.  Feeding people three meals a day without any convenience foods is simply exhausting.

I decide to open a couple of jars of soup and heat them.  The freezer food should be used first, in case of a thaw, but I just can't keep up.  At least supper's planned for tonight.

Husband asks what I want to do for the afternoon.  We still need firewood.  There are dishes stacked all over the kitchen- again.  The Littles haven't had any lessons in weeks.  I want to curl up and have a nap.

Husband takes the boys out to cut and pile firewood.  He leaves me in the kitchen to deal with the food and the mess.

I start a pot of water to boil for dishes.  I slide the turkey over a little further onto the stove.  I  drain more fat out of the pot into the bowl.  It hasn't started to harden yet, so I set it outside on the freezer.  I grab a couple more stock pots from the shelf above while I'm out there.  I clear all the dishes off the counter, and put the pots in their place. 

I start an assembly line for the stove.  Potatoes and beans are already waiting to cook for supper.  Doggy Stew pot to cook overnight, as it's become the routine to put it on before bed.  I clean the cast iron pan for breakfast, set a bowl inside of it, a spatula, wash the hand mixer, and put it in as well. 

Lunch tomorrow.  I place an empty stock pot next to the pan.  Soup.  I go downstairs to get more potatoes, and notice one of my squash has a soft spot.  It'll need to be cooked.  I'm not ready to start baking pies, so it will be cut and chopped into soups and stews.  Maybe I'll freeze some. 

Back upstairs, I cut it up and put about a third into the stock pot for lunch tomorrow.  A couple of chunks in the doggy stew pot.  The rest goes into the small roasting pan to cook for later.  Between the squash and the beans, that's two winter veggies that won't be saved for winter.  I've been slipping on picking weeds too. 

I take the dried weeds off the plant stands and stuff them into jars.  Then I go out to pick more.  I add some to the doggy stew pot and the soup pot for tomorrow.  Supper tomorrow will be turkey rice casserole.  I get out another roasting pan, chop up a couple handfuls of weeds and toss them in.  Ok, everything is planned for tomorrow.  Except bread.  There won't be any room to put the oven on the stove to bake tomorrow.  I start two batches of bread.  They can bake after supper.  Problem solved.

The dish water is boiling, so I clean out the sink and pour it in.  After a marathon dishwashing session, things are starting to look better in the kitchen.  I roll out the bread.  This isn't so bad.  I just need to get organized like this every day.  Ha.

I grab some paper and an old calendar and start planning meals.  Supper's are easy.  I divide the beef yield by 250 days- about 8 months.  49 roasts, 1 every 5 days.  12 stews- 1 every 20 days.  11 meals of steaks- 1 every 22 days.  I work my way through the list.  I add in the turkeys, balogna rolls, partridge, etc.  I soon have nearly every supper planned until June. 

Now for lunches.  Lunches are harder.  Soup of course, it's easy and filling, but we tire of it so quickly.  Turkey salad sandwiches for a few days after cooking turkey.  Leftovers of any type, really.  It's hard to plan for leftovers with most things though.  Macaroni salad for a while, until we run out of pasta and cheese.  Chili.  Sloppy Joes.  It might not be too bad.  I only write in a couple of months worth of lunches.  If I start a 'new' pot of soup every 4 days, and add more water, leftovers, weeds, and veggies to it, there should always be something ready for lunch. 

I decide to cook and can some beans.  They'll be easier and quicker to work with that way.  I get out another stock pot and start dumping beans into it.  It's a combination of white northern beans, black turtle beans, and kidney beans.  I fill the pot with water to soak overnight. 

It's about time to get supper ready, so I slide the turkey further onto the stove, and put the potatoes and beans on to cook.  I give the floors a quick sweep.  Things are looking much better, and I feel much less stressed. 

I check on the rendered fat, and it's hard.  I lift it out of the bowl and dust the crumbs off of it.  I break it up and put it in an old coffee pot on the stove to melt.  I wash the bowl out, then drain the fat from the pot into it and put it back on the freezer to cool.  I go to the basement for old pasta jars to put the rendered fat into.

Husband and the boys come in.  They help with the turkey, mash the potatoes, and make gravy.  I pour the fat into jars and set them on the counter to cool.  I put the oven on top of the stove and pop in the first batch of bread.

We eat supper, then switch the bread.  I divide the leftover turkey and chop it up for tomorrow's turkey rice casserole and a bowl of turkey salad.  I put them in the entrance way on the freezer.  They'll be cool enough there.  The boys go in the living room to play monopoly.  I put the doggy stew on to cook overnight, and then decide to put the beans on as well.  They'll just simmer, but it should work.  Once the kitchen is tidied back up I head to bed with a book.


  1. thank goodness for this newest post! i was really in withdrawals - bahahahahah!

    question - what do you put in your doggy stew?

    your friend,

    1. I know, I was really slacking this week, eh? Just couldn't get into the writing.

      I have a couple of doggy stew posts if you want to look them up, but the basics are
      1/3 protein
      1/3 carbs and starch
      1/3 vegetation

      I save hearts, kidneys, liver, bones, (everything we don't eat) from everything we butcher, as well as anything that gets freezer burned, or everything that went 'bad' in the freezer power loss in the summer, and bag it up in about 2 pound portions. One bag is used at least every other day, more often if it's a bag that's heavy on the bones. All 'on the plate' leftovers, as well as 'how long has this been sitting in the fridge?' food goes in the pot. I also buy cheap meat at the grocery store- last day sales- when it's a really good deal.

      Carbs and starch is usually rice, sometimes potatoes or pasta- three cups twice a day. I add 1/2 cup of flour to thicken the water to gravy.

      Veggies are generally dandelions and plantain- fresh from spring through fall, and a few bags frozen for winter. A lot of carrots, beets, potatoes and turnip through the winter. I usually divide peelings and trimmings from what we're eating between the dogs and the birds.

      Water to cover. A dash of diatomaceous earth once a week. I bought one of those single burners to cook it on, so it's always on, on the counter.

      I generally only buy dog food when I'm low on rice, and the 8kg bags of rice are more expensive than dry dog food. I try to keep enough stocked up that I don't have to buy anything between sales, but it seems that sometimes the grocery stores still like to mess with my storage, lol.

      The dogs generally prefer doggy stew over dry dog food, but will happily eat cat food over either. Which is pretty funny when the cat is eating doggy stew...

    2. thanks Wendy. i have been looking at various recipes for dog/cat food and just wanted to know what yours was....i always trust someone that i "know" rather than use a blind recipe off the net.

  2. And this is where the saying "a womans work is never done" if from. You're done a wonderful job on this story line. I've not commented much but check everyday.

    1. Thanks, Katidids.

      I was having trouble accepting in my head that I had to go back to a traditional housewife roll here. Husband was on the road for so many years that pretty much anything that needed to be done around here, I was generally in charge of, or at least directing. Meals are all too often a grab something out of the freezer at the last minute affair, but thankfully all of the boys can cook, so it didn't have to be me in the kitchen.

      In this type of situation though, I think the Littles would be pretty much out of the kitchen- between the danger of cooking on a woodstove and the inability to regulate temperature. Husband and the Bigs would be physically drained from the manual labour they're putting in every day.

      That leaves me. Which is ok, except I kept getting to the end of the day (much like in real life now) and I hadn't planned or started anything in the story to eat. Right now I have hot water and a microwave, so defrosting isn't that big of a deal. In my story I kept backing up to when I should have decided what to cook for supper and adding it in. Time travel doesn't work so well in real life. Additionally, cooking on a woodstove takes longer for most things than on an electric stove. Add in the loss of convenience foods like sandwich meat, and wow, seriously- do I ever get to leave the kitchen? lol.

  3. Really enjoying your story. We had power out for 6 days from Sandy and just got phone Friday evening. I've been playing catch up on back blog posts and have learned a lot from your writings. You must be so pleased with how your green houses are improving your production. My husband says he's going to try putting one up with your instructions. Thanks for all the great info you share

    1. Thanks, and welcome, Missy. I hope you fared well through the storm and the aftermath.

      It's kind of unfortunate that I wasn't blogging when we moved here. Those first few years were abysmal in the garden. The greenhouses have made a huge difference in the production, as well as in my comfort levels. I was getting to the point with every blasted frost that I would just sit and cry and wonder why I had even bothered trying. With the greenhouses, I'm certain to not lose everything at once, as well as just getting a better yield from everything in them. I hope it works out for you!

  4. Very nicely done. I am not sure there is enough time in the day to do everything in the post but I am definitely enjoying reading it.

    1. Really? I figure the morning stuff and breakfast should have all been finished by 9:30-10am. 4-5 hours for horses and visiting. Lunch between 1:00-2:00pm. That leaves Husband and the boys getting firewood til around 6:00pm, and me messing in the kitchen for 4-5 hours. Ready to eat by 7:00pm, clean up and prep done by 9:00pm, and I'm pretty much ready for bed.

      Most of the kitchen stuff isn't done though- just in progress. Go figure that I always have a mountain of dishes to wash, eh?