One Big Adventure
An opportunity to log in some of the thoughts and activities of our homeschooling family of eight. We love books and good food and aspire to a Christ-centered, multi-generational, agrarian life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Granny Miller Challenge--Food and Water


We ate well during the weekend. I think, the main reason we did, was that we menu-planned to the nth degree--kind of like we would have if we were taking a trip. It helped us to stay focused and organized to already have the decisions made. I wonder how that would work in any sort of a long term situation, because I know that I am often hit or miss on meal planning on a day to day kind of a basis. (Note to us: work on being more consistent with menu planning, so the habit is there when the need is.)

For dinner Friday evening, we had planned Vegetable Beef (venison) Stew. Plan A was to cook it in wood-fire coals, but Owen worked with a neighbor off the farm and it rained, so we cooked inside on the propane cooktop instead. We all became fans of the long butane lighters over the weekend and laughed at ourselves for turning off burners and trying to light them by the knobs, without any flame.

Saturday morning, we had planned coconut flour pancakes and homemade, homegrown pork sausage with eggs. We thought it would be handy to use an old-fashioned hand-powered hand mixer to mix the pancakes, but it turned out the whisk was much more effective with a batter. The sausage was easier to make than I thought it would be (I used this family favorite recipe from Alton Brown, and used 2 and a half pounds of already-ground pork.) I used an old cookbook holder from the farmers' market box and really learned to appreciate how much easier it is to read from a cookbook or recipe binder that is propped up in a holder and lit with a lamp on the counter. We cooked the pancakes and sausage over the coals outside. Owen and Becca set up the awning to protect us from rain and Owen's Boy Scout fire-making experience kept us in plenty of hot coals. It was hard work to bend and cook over fire just a foot off the ground. The cook cooks just as much as the food does! We decided to leave off the eggs. The pancakes were egg-y enough and plenty filling with the sausage.

We wondered aloud if homemakers of bygone days wore a towel over their shoulder with 'designated spots' for different 'messes'. Perhaps they wet one end and used one corner to wipe their hot, cooked face, and the other wet corner to wipe off dirty hands. Maybe they saved the dry end for wiping only what was clean, like washed hands. We decided that cooking over the fire is almost too difficult and time consuming for everyday meal preparation. We will be improving our dutch oven cooking skills, learning and trying pit-roasting, looking into making and using a solar oven. In the long run, we'd like to build an outdoor stove and wood-fired oven that will allow us to cook in a more upright position without our faces directly over the fire.

Saturday lunch was more of a snack... rice cakes on hand with hummus or egg salad or pb. It made for a nice break in the day and we visited at the table as no one was distracted.

Saturday supper Hannah and Owen worked together over the fire again. We had pork ribs--they had already par-cooked so they warmed over the fire mopped with sauce, foil-wrapped potatoes cooked in the coals, we had sauerkraut that had fermented in our crock (as a side note, the kraut we have made with homegrown cabbage has been much more flavorful to us than that which was made with boughten cabbage), and broccoli steamed on the stove inside. Dessert was dutch oven-baked applesauce hung over the fire.

Sunday breakfast was home-made yogurt, apples or bananas. The yogurt had already been made using a heating pad for incubating. We talked about options for making homemade yogurt without power. One idea would be to place the yogurt in jars in a cooler and adding some jars of warm water to keep the cooler warm. Perhaps this could be done in an oven as well.

Sunday 'lunch', after church was eggs, bacon, refried beans, corn tortillas, salsa, avocado, lettuce. We cooked inside on the propane cooktop (and wondered how many butane lighters or boxes of matches we should keep on hand).

Sunday supper was our celebration meal. We hand-churned coconut milk ice cream, and popped popcorn on the stove. We agreed we had survived the weekend very well, indeed.

The next post will be about Water. I think it will take longer than I originally thought...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A new hobby...

Last weekend we did the Granny Miller challenge. It was a great weekend for us. We learned a great deal and agree with Granny Miller that everyone learns so much more from a hands on experience. We sure did.

It seems that some level of preparation has always been important to us. I grew up in a home that had a stocked pantry (even though we didn't grow our own food, my mom always had the next boxes of cereal, bottles of catsup, cans of tuna and bars of soap in a closet in our hall bathroom). Vern grew up in Minnesota and his mom always had extras in a closet in case they were stuck at home after a snow storm. We have generally carried that with us and expanded on it some. In our first country home in Minnesota, we expanded on the idea more. Since we have moved to our current country place, we are sometimes overwhelmed with how much more we seem to need to expand our skill set.

When we read about the Granny Miller Challenge Weekend, we pretty much all agreed that we should give it a try and test out just how prepared we are for a power outage. We altered the plan a little to suit our family.

For our first challenge weekend, we intentionally chose a weekend that would likely be neither too hot nor too cold. We left the power running to the fridge and the freezers. We also used power to process 18 roosters that have been needing to be culled. We used power to run the well pump for water and the plucker. We do know how to process chickens by hand, and realistically, if we had no power for freezing, we would not process 18 chickens at a time anyway.

In general, we would all say that the Granny Miller Challenge weekend for us was like having all the benefits of camping (reduced stress, time together, minimal interruptions, quiet...) without the negatives (we weren't in a leaking tent when it rained, we slept in our own beds, we didn't have to haul a flash light down to the bath house for a middle of the night run.)

Over the next several posts, I plan to cover more specifics in the areas Granny Miller recommends:

1. Food and Water
2. Shelter
3. Clothing/linens/laundry
4. Hygiene/toilet
5. Recreation/communication
6. Miscellaneous
7. Review/what next?

If you have any general questions, please comment and I will try to address them as I work through the list. Please feel free to share your own helpful tips!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Frontier Logs

 We've always enjoyed Lincoln Logs. I don't even remember when we Owen got his first set that he shared, naturally. Up in Minnesota, we had a huge tub full of the newer Lincoln Logs... they, however, didn't make the cut for moving.
 Daddy and Momma have mentioned that there used to be Lincoln Logs sets that were all wood. I never saw any till we moved to Georgia. One of our neighbors, Grandma Dean, has some old Lincoln Logs that her sons used to play with. James really likes going over to Grandma Dean's and playing with the Lincoln Logs.

I looked for all wood Lincoln Logs sets, but didn't see any till I looked on CSN Stores. They have a whole bunch of Lincoln Log or Frontier Log sets. For Christmas, we got a set. It was a 160 piece set for $21 plus shipping. Total was $25. Which wasn't a bad price considering some other sets I had, by then, come across.

Owen, Becca, Carrie and James have really tested it out. James in particular. It has stood up very well to being catapulted, tossed, dropped, stepped on (ouch!) and so on. That is, except for the cardboard sign "Cavalry-US". It looks like James has bent it! 

Most mornings, James will pull out the tub of Frontier Logs, dump them out on the floor and ask for help in building a house. "Nahhhhnieeee, haowshhh.  Meessss" translated to "Hannah, house. Please". So we build a house and he knocks it down and asks for another one.

I really like these Frontier Logs and hope to slowly build up our Frontier Logs to build the mansions Katie, Owen and I used too. From the use love these Frontier Logs have received, I think they will last a good long time. When we buy more sets, we'll get them from CSN Stores because the shipping is quick and the price is reasonable.

Ideal - 300L - Wood Construction 300 pieces Frontier Logs in CanisterWe might even get this set. It's only $36.24 plus shipping. I don't know that I like that it also has 20 plastic figures (More to keep track of, IMO). But I'd bet James would. Because they're 'western', Becca would too.

Did you play with Lincoln Logs/Frontier Logs when you were growing up?

***sponsored by CSN Stores. This is my honest opinion of CSN Stores and Frontier Logs... all words are 100% my own. Pictures taken by Becca or Carrie or from CSN Stores website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Large Family Logistics

One of my online friends has been talking about this book and then she posted this link. As a former logistics officer and having a large family, I'd love to get this book. But if you enter, win it and don't want it, I would love to have it. :)