Anticipating the Return Move

Anticipating the Return Move

Last summer, when my husband retired from teaching high school, we moved out to our property in what he calls “the toenails of the foothills of the Ozarks”.

We have been back in Texas during the winter, for four and one-half months, for his seasonal business, helping children from various organizations build their pinewood derby race cars.  (

Today, he finishes his final session and we drive back to Missouri.  I can feel the peace invading my soul like a gentle mist rising from the ground from morning dew.

I can feel myself watching across the meadow as the sun line advances, and relearning where it is at various times of day.

I can see myself walking down to where the solar oven gets the most sunlight to adjust its angle as it cooks our food.

I feel myself walking back and forth from the cabin to the covered deck to cook.  I eagerly anticipate filling the two fifty-five gallon drums with water.  Our total available water at any one time has been fifteen gallons.

I see myself in the loft of our 12 x 20 cabin, sewing journal covers on my hand-crank sewing machine.

I see myself listening for the inspirational ideas to fill them and writing them on cards by hand.  (

I love to write the chants, fingerplays and songs to continue my dialog with very young children.  ( (

I love the steps it is taking to establish our homestead.

Even as I keep reading more and alternative building, biogas, rainwater catchment, gray water systems, we have decided that we will simply implement what we know at this point in time to finish out our cabin.

We will add more insulation.  I will get someone to weld a terra-char stove together.  It is more efficient than propane or even a rocket stove.

We will start a small strawbale garden.  I will use thick mulches and food-grade absorbent pellets for enhancing our garden moisture.

In short, we will take the next steps.

After all, it is already begun.

Sharing the peace,


Barley, Beans and Greens

For today’s canning adventure, I started by putting a couple of tablespoons of barley in the bottom of each pint jar. I had cooked two cups of barley with five cups of water and it made a very chewy and tasty grain with more substance than oatmeal. (It works great as a cereal with butter and cinnamon also.)

On top of the barely, I added a scant half cup of organic red chori beans which I soaked over night the night before. I got them at the India market. They look like half-size black-eyed peas only with a red eye instead of black. They soaked up more water than any of the other beans I have canned.

For the remainder of the space in the pint jars, I added greens. I cooked down chard, beet greens, kale, and lettuce, along with the usual starter of onion and garlic cooked in sunflower oil. I added cumin, salt, pepper, and mango-habanero seasoning.

Once that had cooked down, I added a jar of previously canned broccoli. The mango made it taste a little sweet, so I counteracted that with jalapeno salt. Last year, I canned quarts of single vegetables, but I am converting everything into pints of ready-to-eat meals.

The total number of pints of Barley, Beans and Greens is twenty-one. I usually make fourteen or fifteen with two pounds of beans, so you can see the red chori beans really produce more for the same number of pounds.

In addition to canning the chori beans, I baked a small spaghetti squash. I will scoop it out and put the barley, beans and greens in it for another meal.

© 2015 Kathryn Hardage

Jazzed About My Salsa

I am so jazzed about my salsa! It was so easy to make this time because I used a food processor, in this case a Ninja. It turned the tomatoes into puree in a couple of seconds. It cut up the onions in a couple of seconds. All I had to do was chop the garlic and the celery, the chipotle pepper (a small one) and add the seasonings and lemon juice.

It didn’t have to cook down because the tomatoes were already pureed. It only had to blend the flavors a little before the jars went into the water bath canner.

Today, my cousin asked if she could just eat my homemade salsa and take a little bit for her lunches. Well, yes!

I was excited because when she left, I still had to go out to the garage (very cold!) to get the canner, but instead she brought it to me…and she even knew which canner it was!

We are all enjoying the many aspects of the canning experience.

© 2015 Kathryn Hardage

A Bird in the …

We discovered that a  small bird had made a nest holding tiny eggs and one hatchling on our kitchen deck.

My husband found the nest in the nail pouch of his tool belt.

It had been hanging over a saw horse since Spring Break.

In order not to disturb the nest, we moved our camping burner, pancake ingredients, pot for mixing, matches, plates, mugs, tea pot and utensils to our shower pallet next to the cabin for cooking that night.

After cooking, eating and washing dishes, we carried it all back.

Mama Bird is continuing to mind her nest.

It is all right for us to keep cooking at the other end of the deck.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Comparison and Contrast

This week we are back in town after a month in the country.

We are surrounded by all our “stuff” in a big house instead of operating out of a weekend bag and living in a small cabin.

It is an interesting comparison.

While we have been downsizing in general, this really brings the contrast to light.

We don’t need or want the “stuff”.

It is getting easier and easier to release everything.

There is no comparison to just being able to look at the clouds and the trees and soak up the peace.

The air smells good and there are Farmer’s Markets and Agricultural Extension workshops and quilt guilds and beekeepers.

I can do all the work I need to from our location there, with occasional trips to be within cell phone and internet reach.

Establishing the basics for shelter, food and water to be able to have classes, camps, retreats, and establish a certified wildlife habitat and learn more about other forest products is a good way to spend one’s time.

2013 Kathryn Hardage,

First Pressure Canning

My first project in pressure canning is homemade chicken soup.

I used organic chicken, wild rice, and some organic veggies.  I had homemade stock which I defrosted.  Since my stove has a low overhanging second oven, my pressure canner would not fit under it.  I took it to my daughter’s house to use her stove.

Carefully following the directions, I had lubricated the seal between top and bottom (it is an All-American Canner so I put a thin layer of olive oil between the top and the bottom of the canner), added water, made sure to tighten the nuts on opposite sides simultaneously and set up a stool near the stove.

I watched the time, waited for the steam to vent and timed it for seven minutes.  Then I put the pressure gauge on, ten pounds for this altitude.  Once the gauge started jiggling, I nursed the temperature so the timing was right, between one and four jiggles per minute.  I counted seconds and kept track of the jiggles.  On my daughter’s stove, the setting was about “five” on the burner regulator knob.

During the cooking time for seventy-five minutes, I helped my granddaughter with her homework.  We also watched a cooking show.  When the time was up, I turned off the burner, watched the pressure go down to one PSI, removed the pressure gauge and left it to sit overnight since I did not want to deal with opening it up with the hot steam right away.

I will check it today and bring home my first pressure canned goods.

One more step in homesteading!

© 2012 Kathryn Hardage