Friday, June 29, 2012

Family Produce Stands

Don't you just love them? I remember when it was very common to see a
table set out in a front yard loaded down with fresh garden harvest.
Families who had a bountiful harvest would sell off the extra produce
that their garden provided. Sadly, it is not as common here in
Oklahoma. At least, it is not a common sight in our area. Today, I
found one while driving home from town. A neighbor, about 3/4 miles
from us, had a little sign at the end of his driveway. There, parked in
the yard was a pickup truck with the tailgate loaded down with the day's
harvest. Needless to say, I stopped for a look see. His prices were
very fair. The cucumbers were 4/$1.00 and the squash was $1.00 per
pound. Yeah, the squash was a bit high, but still less than the stores
are charging. He is selling the long skinny type of eggplant at the
same price as the squash. I asked about the eggplant and he is saving
the next pickings for me to buy in a couple of days when it is ready. I
love it!!! I am in heaven finding a family produce stand. In all, I
spent $6.00 for the produce that I bought today, but the amount (and
it's quality) is well worth it.

This brings to mind the few times that our family set out extra produce
when I was a kid. Strawberries were the main thing we would sell.
Vegetables that were not used fresh were always canned up for our pantry
as well as shared with both Grandma and Aunt Sarah for their pantries.
There were times when we would buy produce from Katie's garden. She was
Old Order Amish and raised a very large garden for her family.
Sometimes, she would have extra to sell. It wasn't often, but we always
bought from her when she had the extra to sell.

I wonder if the current economics of our nation, will the family produce
stands come back into popularity? I know that there is a definite
market for it. Yes, I could grow produce to sell at a Farmer's Market
in town, but I have children to look after. Having a way to sell a few
extras from home would be a blessing. If not selling, I know that I
would be quicker to stop at a family produce stand than go to a
supermarket to buy in season produce. Not only is the produce
guaranteed to be fresher, but we prefer to help out our neighbors
through supporting them in this way.

The downside to all of this is a simple one. Depending on what state
you live in, there may be rules to follow in having a small stand. I
keep hearing of children getting their lemonade stands shut down. If
that can happen, it would only be a matter of time before there are
rules against selling your surplus garden produce from your front yard.
I am so grateful that we live where we are. I could set up a stand and
even sell fresh baked goods as long as it is not run as a regular
business that is meant to support the family.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pineapple & Quinoa Salad

This recipe is one of my experiments that turned out to be a good one.
I had a recipe for Pineapple Salsa that I had found in a gluten-free
cookbook of recipes for autistic children. One major problem with the
recipe was that it contains black beans and a couple other ingredients
that I knew Pookie would not eat. So, I played with the recipe a bit
and came up with my own variation. I used quinoa in the recipe. Eating
vegetarian diet that is very close to being vegan, I like to introduce
protein every chance that I get. Quinoa is a grain that resembles the
tiny round tapioca. It cooks up exactly the same way as rice. You use
a 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water ratio. By itself, quinoa has a nutty
flavor. In a recipe such as this, the quinoa loses the nutty flavor and
blends very well with the other flavors present. Ideally, I would make
this recipe the night before I planned to serve it. The flavors are
able to blend and mellow.

Pineapple-Quinoa Salad

1.5 cups of quinoa
3 cups water
1 can of crushed pineapple with it's juice
1 small bell pepper, finely diced*
1 Tbsp. dried minced onion, rehydrate in warm water
2 Tbsp. orange juice**

In a small pan, bring the water and quinoa to a boil. Cover and reduce
heat enough to allow it to gently boil, bot not boil over. After 2-3
minutes, turn off heat and set aside until all water is absorbed and
quinoa is fully cooked.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. There should be enough
pineapple juice to allow some to absorb into the quinoa while chilling
in the refrigerator. If you need to add more juice, a small single
serving sized juice can should work well. Once the mixture is mixed
together well, cover and place in the refrigerator and chill overnight
before serving.

To serve: We love this recipe both as a salad and as a refreshing dip
for flour tortilla chips or flat bread. My beloved enjoys simply eating
it with a spoon also.

* Our son doesn't like to see his vegetables as he eats them. When
making a recipe such as this one, I nearly have to mince the veggies so
that he cannot see them well enough to identify them. Just another way
to hide a veggie from a picky eater's notice.

** Depending on the amount of juice in the can of crushed pineapple, you
may need to add a single serving sized can (abt 4 ounces) of pineapple
juice to the mixture. You want enough juice to allow it to be absorbed
into the quinoa, thus adding the flavors to the quinoa. If doing this,
go ahead and experiment with juice blends such as
pineapple-orange-banana. If adding a juice blend that contains orange
juice, you can omit the 2 Tbsp of orange juice from the ingredients list.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Music and a Teaching Tool

I have been working on teaching Pookie sign language over the past
year. It has been very slow going. I have been wanting to teach Little
Miss to sign also. It is much easier with her, as you can imagine. I
am finding that she is very easy to teach, especially lately. I began
teaching her using songs that she enjoys. Teaching them ASL version of
sign language is the easiest form. In most music interpreting, ASL is
used. The interpreter does not sign exactly each word. Instead, the
important words needed to convey the message is signed while body
language and facial expressions fill in the gaps. It is a very
beautiful and flowing language. I love teaching Little Miss to sign.
By teaching her more words first, she will be able to interpret for
Pookie when they are at Grandma's, Sunday School, or other times when I
may not be right with them. Who knows? Maybe one day Little Miss will
have the chance to serve as an interpreter herself.

By doing a search on YouTube, many videos can be found that show songs
interpreted into signing. I began by looking up the names of songs that
we sing at church. Some videos are better quality than others, but they
all serve as a lesson. One video that I watched was done by someone
very new to being an interpreter. She didn't use facial expression and
body language effectively. Another video by a more experienced
interpreter gave a beautiful example of how to sign. Through these two
videos, I not only learned what signs to use in the songs, but I saw the
importance of using the facial expression & body language. The first
video, the interpreter knew was very good in her signing, but the
stiffness in her body language didn't seem "right." In the second
video, the difference was amazing. The interpreter was so flowing in
the signing that it was like a dance. Her movements were graceful and
the body language & expressions matched the feeling in the song. It was
an excellent reminder to me.

Years ago, when I was a teen, I did a bit of interpreting for some
missionaries. They were teaching a deaf-mute couple and neither of the
missionaries knew how to sign. My skills were very elementary at that
time, but sufficient to be able to interpret. It helped that I knew the
couple and had a friendship with them. They were the ones who had been
very helpful in teaching me to sign. We understood each other well.
That time in my life has always stuck with me in my heart. I loved
being able to communicate with them through signing. I took a course in
sign language years later, but never had opportunity to put that
knowledge to use.

In teaching the kids to sign, the knowledge is coming back. I watch the
videos and so much is familiar to me. I found a couple of books at the
local library and they also are refreshing my memory. I have been
wanting to add a couple of good books to our family library so that we
can reference them as needed. The books that I am using are from the
1970's. I am hoping to find updated editions so that they will include
the signs for modern terms and technology. Beloved found a program that
I am going to be able to use to record short videos for him. When I
learn to use it, I will be able to record a video for him showing him
the signs that the kids are learning. This will help him while on the
truck. When he comes home, he will be able to understand the signing
also. I already catch myself talking with my hands from time to time.
My theory is that if we using signing as well as speaking at home, then
Pookie will be able to pick up on both as we go along. It is a form of
total immersion. It is so much better than simply teaching one sign at
a time. Both kids will also be learning the signs in context instead of

Using the songs that the kids enjoy listening to as a launching point,
Little Miss is learning a wider vocabulary faster. Pookie loves doing
fingerplay type songs, so this is just another form of it for him. He
is very receptive to the lessons and doesn't realize that it is therapy
as well.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homestead News

I have been neglectful where this blog is concerned. It seems that the
days get away from me. My Beloved is still truck driving for the same
company, but on one of their accounts. It is nice. While on the
account, he will be home each weekend. That is a blessing indeed! Most
of the time, he has been out on the truck 3-6 weeks at a time. The way
the trucking company works their days off (called home time in trucking
lingo) is that he gets 1 day at home for every week spent on the truck.
The company requires that the drivers not on an account have to stay on
the truck 3 weeks before getting time off. After the 3 weeks, he would
have 3 days at home. To get 6 days at home, he will have to stay out on
the truck for 6 weeks. That is the most he will be home. Like many
companies, this one has a policy that limits how long you can be at home
without having to remove your gear from the truck also. In this case, 6
days is the limit. Any more than that and he has to remove all of his
gear and there is a high probability that his truck will be given to
another driver. He is currently in a new truck and so is not wanting to
risk being given an older truck.

Having my husband home on weekends means that I am working my daily &
weekly chores around so that the weekends are free for our family time.
Last weekend, we went to a store and picked out the paint colors for all
of the rooms of the house. We are going to be working on them
throughout the summer. We are hoping to have the house nearly done by

Luckily, the plans that we have for the house will not be too hard to
work out. We are following our dreams of taking this home back in
time. While we will have a few modern conveniences, they will be
minimal. We found a place to buy the old fashioned lamps that run on
natural gas or propane. These were a precursor to the modern electric
lights. Many Amish families still use gas lighting today. They provide
a very nice amount of light that is comparable to electric lights. The
only adjustment that we will be making is to have a separate propane
tank just for the lights. The reason is very simple. If the lights
share a propane tank with the refrigerator and stove, then the lighting
will be dimmer. By having a separate tank for the lights, we will be
able to get the most out of the lighting.

Over the past month, I have found that the refrigerator is becoming
wasteful. It is a full size refrigerator similar in size to the
electric ones. With my home canning everything and not cooking enough
to have a lot of leftovers, the refrigerator is at least half empty at
all times. It seems a waste to keep that refrigerator cold when so
little is stored in it. A quart of almond milk, cheese, butter and eggs
are the primary items stored. The only other thing in there are a jug
of water and one of sweet tea. While in the store, we looked at smaller
refrigerators. We are considering getting one the size of an RV
refrigerator. It is about 50% larger than the small square office-type
refrigerators. The refrigerator that we have now will be kept as a
back-up for during holidays and for use in our outdoor kitchen.

As I think about our plans for our home, I am enjoying the thought of
taking it back in time. Having an outdoor kitchen will be a blessing in
the summer months especially. No heating up the house while cooking or
baking! The shower house will be great also. In the summer when we are
doing some really dirty/muddy work, the ability to clean up before
coming to the house will be nice. We will still have a bathroom
indoors, but the shower house will be used the most often when the
weather is warm.

Our home is gradually going to become an old homestead again. It will
have the old fashioned feel while still being modern enough to manage to
meet the technology needs. Beloved is going to put up a tower similar
to the windmill towers behind the house. On the tower will be our wind
power generator that we will be building along with the solar panels.
The batteries will be stored in a sheltered box within the tower
structure. An electrical line will carry the power to the home. We
plan on getting a good quality power inverter to make all that energy

This week, I am working on sorting more things for our upcoming yard
sale. Beloved chose to have it the weekend after the July 4th holiday.
He will be home then and will be helping to tend the sale. Overall, it
is a busy time for us. The kids are homeschooling through the summer.
Mornings they do school and in the afternoons they play in the pool or
we go out for the afternoon after their rest period. Though the days
are warmer, the breeze keeps the house about 10-15 degrees cooler than
the outdoor temperature. We are enjoying it. The kids' play yard now
has a small pool and other water-related toys to keep them cool as they
play outside. Add the shade from the trees and they are very comfortable.

The apple tree is loaded down with apples for the first time. They are
the Winesap variety. In previous years, the tree either has done poorly
or the insects & birds got to the apples just before they ripened. I am
hoping that the apples will survive so that I will be able to can some
up as pie fillings and chutney. If possible, I would love to dehydrate
some also for snacking.