Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Inital Post

Welcome! my menagerie. I've entitled this a suburban homesteading blog and that is primarily what I intend to write about: my journey to become an authentica homesteader in my little suburban home. Homesteading encompasses so many topics though, many that I am interested in pursuing at some time: gardening, soap making, candle making, fiber arts, sewing, frugality, animal care, raising children, organics, healthy living, cooking...I could go on. First, lets start with an introduction...

Hi! My name is Amanda. I worked at a bank until the economy took a nose dive and my position was eliminated in the fall of 2008. I've been home ever since. I have never considered being a writer but something about sharing my journey appeals to me. Lately I have desired more and more to get back to my roots so to speak and learn more about what has been coined as urban homesteading. I've always had an interest in gardening and crafting but I'm ready to take it to another level. The definition of an urban homestead from is a suburban or city home and garden of a person or family who practices self-sufficiency through home food production, storage, cottage industry and simple living in a sustainable way.

One thing I have already learned, and this is a very important lesson...ONE THING AT A TIME!!! Too many goals all at once WILL quickly get overwhelming and then you end up not accomplishing anything at all. My first goal, and this was a new years resolution last year that I'm just now getting around to addressing, is to learn how to cook. I'm a horrible cook. I tend to burn things, in fact I actually lit my oven on fire the other day trying to bake biscuits from scratch on a flat cookie sheet. Note: get a cookie sheet with sides if you're going to make biscuits from scratch so that butter doesn't drip into the bottom of the oven. Anywho, I occasionally baked cookies with my mom growing up and worked in a bakery for a couple of years in high school, so I have a good foundation for my first goal: quit buying bread. Nothing beats the taste of fresh baked homemade bread and butter, nothing. (Well, maybe fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, but that's another post!) :)  I have a whole list of bread products that I am currently working through in an effort to perfect my baking. Here it is:

Whole wheat all-purpose loaf bread, bread pudding, bread crumbs, croutons, pita/flat bread, bagels, pretzels, biscuits, dinner rolls, herbed loaf (rosemary and olive oil), quick breads; cranberry, banana, zucchini and lemon poppy seed, pizza crust, carrot cake, and to diverge slightly- sugar cookies and icing. I also have a list of breakfast items that seem to fit in this category: scones, coffee cake, blueberry muffins, baked donuts, pancakes, waffles and cinnamon rolls.

So far, I've mastered bread crumbs (who knew they were so easy!?), bread pudding, pancakes, blueberry muffins and a nice thick pizza crust that I ate as a child. I have a good honey wheat bread recipe but it never rises above the pan. One commenter on the recipe site recommended just combining the three loaves that the recipe calls for into two. I intend to try that next time. I've also tried recipes for several of the other items but I don't feel they've been perfected yet.

Here are links to the recipes I've decided to stick with so far. I'm also working on a family cook book...more on that later.

Bread Pudding:

Pancakes: (These are so light and fluffy and buttery! I like to throw in some peanut butter and/or chocolate chips. I also triple the recipe to make about 2 dozen. Extras can be frozen for later.)

Blueberry Muffins: (I triple this to make about 2 dozen regular sized muffins, and throw in extra berries.)

Bread Crumbs: Just throw some stale bread (Leave it out on the counter for a couple hours if you don't have any.) in a food processor or blender and pulse until the desired consistency is reached. Use herb bread or add seasoning as desired.

Pizza Dough:
Combine in a large bowl:
     1 c. warm water
     1 pkg yeast
When dissolved, add:
     1 T sugar
     1 1/2 t. salt
     2 T veg oil
     1 1/4 c. flour
Beat until smooth. Add:
     2 c. additional flour, or enough to make stiff dough (may use part whole wheat)
Knead until elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double, about 45 minutes. Form 2 balls . Pat and stretch to fill 2 greased pizza pans (or one cookie sheet). Let rise an additional 10 minutes.
Spread with prepared sauce and top as desired.

(From the More-with-Less Cookbook: suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources. c. 1976)

So, that's where we are right now. I am just jumping in where I am, as recommended by certain other wise bloggers, and running from here. I have been doing other things lately. I've made a couple of really good dinners recently; shepherds pie and chicken noodle soup. I finally finished my raised bed boarder along the foundation on the south side of the house to be planted this spring. (Hopefully I'll get them filled up and ready to go. And if I really keep it in gear, maybe I'll get some garlic planted!)

My new salsa, herb, and what ever else I can fit garden!
 I made a necklace recently that I'm pretty proud of.

My latest piece of creativity.
And last but definitely not least, I've been super busy doing stuff with the family! We spent a week in Jamaica in early September and I have to say, I am in love with the country. It was a week spent at a resort but I sooo want to go back, rent a car and explore everything there is to see. (Although driving on the left could pose a bit of a challenge!) The people are friendly, the music and food are great, and the countryside is beautiful. What more can you ask for, oh, sun and sand and lots of it!! After all it never rains in Jamaica, it's only liquid sunshine. And everything's always Irie :)

View of my middle child from our breakfast table.

My oldest and youngest enjoying the surf.
This month we went to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for the first time, very cool. The boys got to throw knifes and ride an elephant! Last weekend we headed to the old home town to enjoy a fall festival and visit family. Next weekend, the pumpkin patch at Johnson Farms (highly recommended if you're in the KC area!- make sure to partake of their roasted sweet corn, grown right there on the farm...the best!!), one more trip out to Worlds of Fun before the end of the season the following week, and Halloween festivities the week after that. Not to mention the start of Ice Hockey season for both of the older boys. Whew! And then right into the holidays.

I'll end with a brief explanation about the name of the blog: KC Irie. Obviously, I live in Kansas City, one of the southern suburbs actually. The definition of Irie (Jamaican Patois) is to be at total peace with your current state of being. The way you feel when you have no worries. When I am learning and growing and doing things to improve my life and that of those I love, I feel totally Irie. Life is good when you accept that you are not perfect, but strive to be better. Be ok with where you are at. Take one step at a time and don't let things overwhelm you. Make one thing a habit before moving on to the next and know that every new change you make benefits your family in some way, no matter how small.

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