Heat, Window Boxes and Soup!

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Isn’t this the cutest window box you’ve ever seen?  I just loved it!  This was captured last year on Nantucket Island.  My husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary there with a long weekend getaway.  We had never been there and I completely fell in love with the picturesque village. It was low on tourists being in October, and the atmosphere was welcoming and the people warm and friendly.  One afternoon my husband, who is a craft beer officienado, wanted to tour the brewery on Nantucket, Cisco Brewery.  He is a beer geek, makes his own and loves to see how others do this and taste different beers.  No mass quantities of Bud Light for this guy!  He savors and makes last each beer he gets. I am not quite as enamored with beer, don’t drink it, don’t like it (though he can attest I sure know enough about it to buy the stuff he would like, and I actually get giddy when I find one I know he hasn’t tried yet.  But this has more to do with surprising my husband with something I know he will enjoy then the actual beer itself).

While he was off touring the brewery for the afternoon, I went on a walking tour of the village.  A self guided window box tour, if you will.  I took over 50 pictures of different window boxes in the village. I want to add window boxes to our little Cape Cod style home, so I notice them more then the average person might. They do the most amazing job of decorating them, so many wonderful ideas and pride in their little village is obvious.  There are also many flower pots and barrels filled with flowers for the places that can’t have window boxes.  It was a wonderful time of year to be there, and made me excited for someday returning when the town is lit for Christmas.  From what the locals told us, they really do it up for Christmas time! Perhaps next year we would be able to squeeze that trip in as a family.  I would love to show the boys the island, too.

Okay, back to the homestead news.  Michael spent some hours under the house in the two feet deep (no, not kidding, that’s all it is) crawlspace trying to get the new ducts connected and get some heat in our little abode.  We had a couple of nights in the thirties this week and so it was pretty necessary for him to do it sooner then later.  Now, my hubby is a very good sport most of the time when it comes to the renovation stuff.  However, this dirt crawl space that was barely deep enough for him to be on his side inching into it, was more then he could handle with grace.  He also has some claustrophobia in tight spaces, who doesn’t, right?, and this coupled with the flexible duct work not cooperating as well as it could in spaces where it barely fit…well…let’s just say this. There was a cloud of swears hovering over the house for some time.  I felt so bad for him down there in the netherworld, trying to breathe through the respirator mask, crammed where he shouldn’t need to be.  Discouraging for him for sure.  Old houses have their charms- dirt crawlspaces, I assure you, aren’t one of them!  But, hero to us that he is, he got the heat on in the majority of the house.  The great room and our bedroom are still not getting heat, but he needs to remove a lot of rocks to be able to get under that space as it is also crawl space that is not accessible from the actual basement. There is a small hole going through the foundation of the main house to allow the duct work through, but for some reason, the heat isn’t getting that far.  He’s going to need to get to that sooner then later, but I was thankful for the main part of the house to get heat as it includes the boys’ bedrooms, so they have been toasty warm in the chilly mornings so far.

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As fall arrives, I also get a hankering for soup.  I make a lot of soup in the fall and winter, it is warming, comforting and delicious.  I enjoy making it and really enjoy eating it, usually with an accompanying bread of some kind.  The above soup was a new recipe that I tried.  Having tried butternut squash soup, I wanted to give other squash soup a try as well.  This one was made with a base broth of mushrooms and Kombu seaweed, and then added the squash and some miso along with fresh grated ginger root to finish the flavors, pureed it and served with toasted spinach tortillas sprinkled with chili and garlic powders. It was the perfect brisk night meal and everyone loved it.  I wasn’t sure how well the miso would go over, but I knew the family would like the kombu and mushroom broth.  My husband is not a mushroom fan, but if I hide it in broth, he likes the flavor, just not the consistency of mushrooms.  I, myself, very much enjoy mushrooms of any kind.  I was a vegetarian for 5 years in my younger days, and I was able to successfully replace meat and the cravings for it with mushrooms.  They are substantial and chewy just like meat and that worked for me. I am sensitive to most soy protein replacements, they make me nauseous, so mushrooms were the key to successful vegetarian living for me.  This soup called for finishing it with sauted mushrooms, which I left out of my husband’s bowl, but they were wonderful with the soup itself.

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The soup called for kombucha squash, which locally here is called “Sunshine Squash”.  Do you have sunshine squash in your area or is it called something else?  This one was grown by local farmers and I purchased at their farm stand. Isn’t it gorgeous inside?  I believe the sunshine squash is aptly named, the flesh of the squash is bright and the flavor clean.  It was great in the soup, but I have also grilled this and roasted in the oven as well as chunking for canning and serving mashed, like most people enjoy butternut squash.  It is a little sweeter then butternut and has a deeper flavor to me, quite delicious!  It pares well with chicken or beef as well as holding its own with whole grains or other vegetables.  If you’ve not tried it and can find some locally, I recommend you give it a try!

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I have also been busy canning lots of good stuff.  I got apples free from a friend of mine who’s neighbor’s tree had more then she could use on it.  She offered to let me go pick with her and so I did. Nothing like free food for the larder!  We have quite a few apple trees in our area, so finding some isn’t all that hard, just getting permission to pick them is a great way to go about getting free stuff for the family.  I was able to save about $25.00 in apples by picking them on her tree, plus they are organic, which is hard to find in our area.  I don’t care if I have to cut out a bad spot or some insect damage here or there, to have the organic apples to put by is wonderful.  I also ran out of most of my canned beans, we eat a lot of beans here, so I did lots of kidney and pinto beans for chili and I still have black beans and more chick peas to do as well.  I was finally able to find organic potatoes, I have been looking for a long time this year!  Someone tipped me onto a small farm stand here in our community and the owner has lots of smaller organic potatoes.  So, I canned 10 pounds last week, and have 20 more pounds to get to.  I am officially completely out of space for storing our food, it’s now stacking on the countertop in the kitchen as I need to prioritize getting some shelving up on the kitchen for storing these.

 

DSC_0197Ah well, soon enough we’ll be in the house all winter, and more projects will get accomplished.  Right now, I’ve been enjoying having the wonderful weather outside with the beautiful autumn foliage as our backdrop.  What have you been up to on your homestead?  How are you preparing for the upcoming winter?  Hopefully it will be a short season for us, but the trees are telling us its gonna be a long, hard one.  They are providing food in earnest for the wildlife with very abundant pinecones and acorns right now.  Amazing how nature knows!!

Until next time, be well, be kind to one another and blessing to you all!

 

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