The Privilege of an Afternoon at the Dentist

VERT mailbox bed house in rear interesting

The current street view of the Small House Homestead in its summer glory.

My days are beginning to blur….paint the coop, weed and spread bark chips, water fruit trees, cook a meal, and take care of the chickens. This is one of those day that I shake my head and when I remember that….is my l-i-f-e-and I chose it.

Pnik daylilies close Lupine greens show corner

Day lilies add beauty to the brick planter. If you don’t like it, hide it is my motto!

I am feeling a sense of urgency now that it is mid-July to get things done and projects wrapped up. Visitors are coming soon, I’ve offered to help a friend pack up her house and load the U-Haul for a long drive to the Northwest, the RIR chickens need to get into their new coop ASAP. I am sick of putting down bark chips and just want to that job to be done. And some days, like today, I feel like I am just spinning my wheels and going nowhere fast.

Yesterday we took the day off to drive to our dentist in a distant city. While the day was almost a loss work-wise, the older I get the more I am grateful for another good dental checkup and cleaning. I’ve had gum disease and gum surgery so any checkup where I get a gold star, is a good one.

We don’t have dental insurance but even so I know that being able to have access to a highly competent dentist is truly a privilege, because all too many people in my own community and in many other countries do not have access to dental care at all.  I know that I am indeed privileged.

I’ve been thinking a lot of privilege lately. Even though I left home at age 17 without any parental support or insurance coverage and have experienced hard times my life has been better than many. Divorced at age 45 and starting over again without any support or alimony I made it through creativity, hard work, German stubbornness and perseverance.  I took in renters, cleaned houses and did what had to be done.

VERT close trelli front garden and sidewalk

The entrance to our front door.

The fact that I am white, that I live in a safe, dry home that is paid for, have a car to drive, that I have been able to retire, enjoy affordable health insurance, dependable electricity, food to eat and clean water to drink…. all help me to remember every single day I am indeed a privileged person.

Living in a poor, agricultural county I could easily have a landfill or a fracking sit in my backyard…

fracking sign in whisket barrle close

I have a no more fracking sign in my front garden. I am totally opposed.

I did cook a healthy by scratch meal when we got home from the dentist so I accomplished something good yesterday. I made a baked sausage in fresh pepper meal that was delicious and picked enough greens from our garden to make a tossed salad. I don’t really have a recipe per see, I just make it up depending on experience and what I have on hand.

West side of house front fracking sign

 The July garden at the Homestead.

Stuffed peppers USE

Baked Stuffed Red, Orange and Yellow Peppers

1 lb. of Meijer’s mild sausage

3/4 of a medium onion, chopped

3/4 cup spinach, chopped

2 organic eggs

½ to ¾ cup of Italian bread crumbs

Garlic to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

Chopped oregano to taste

I also like to add cooked brown and wild rice to my meat mixture but I got a very late start today so skipped the rice.

Mix the sausage, onions, add the bread crumbs, and stir in the eggs. Mix well.

Cut off the top of the peppers and use a spoon to dig out the inside of the peppers (save the seeds and pulp for the chickens!)

Fill the peppers with the meat mix

Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes until the peppers are cooked thru and browned on top.

I hope you had a productive day and a great dinner as well.

Small House homesteader, Donna

Kicking off July 4th Week on the Homestead

Today marks the beginning of our July 4th holiday weekend.

Some of our dear friends are in town from Chicago and Gene took their house guests fishing on a small inland lake near us. One guest is a 15-year-old grandson from the city and the other a man who emigrated from Cuba to New York three years ago. They are fishing for pan fish; bluegills, small mouth bass and the like. Gene is a catch and release kind of man due to his environmental belief’s that tells him to put them back in for another days fishing.

Gene is probably the only man in the state, beside an actual licensed fishing guide, that can outfit four men on a moment’s notice but he did.

Fishing Expedition 4 some

 The motley crew fishermen dressed.

I stayed home to finish todays chicken coop painting and then I started cooking our main meal for the day. My actual big project for the day is to finally do a deep clean on our three season porch. Because this room is unheated it acts like a magnet for cobwebs, buds and dirt, especially living off of a gravel road. Even the heavy-duty fabric chairs are thick with road dust so everything from the ceiling down to the floor gets a good solid vacuum. Even the vinyl vertical blinds have to be washed of dirt and mold spots. It’s been a cold and wet spring and summer thus far in SW Michigan so the mold has grown in this unheated room. Then later on this week Gene will wash the floor to ceiling windows.

Threesome fishermen

No fish….but muscles galore.

We have been working really hard for months to get our garden planted, our big yard in shape and house cleanup because July is the beginning of our guest arriving for the summer. A girlfriend will be coming out later on this weekend to pick herbs for drying and making tinctures. Our granddaughter arrives on Sunday for a few days stay. Another friend arrives from Oregon and I promised to help her pack up her home here and lift furniture and pack it in a U-Haul. Then the third week of this month our grown daughter from NC comes for an extended stay. So everything we have been trying to accomplish since the snow melted in March has been leading up to this month.

I also began to soak the beans for the big crock pot of “Blacksmith Baked Beans” I am taking to our family reunion on Sunday. I will cook them tomorrow; put the mixed into the crock pot to cook on low so that the molasses and BBQ sauces gets soaked clear through. Yum! I have included the recipe below.

Cast Iron pan with rice USE

The rice casserole with sweet potatoes in our cast iron dutch oven.

Today I am cooking the following for dinner;

  • Baking organic sweet potatoes
  • Baking my favorite baked brown and wild rice with kale casserole
  • Steamed green beans
  • And of course a big tossed salad using some of the early greens from the garden
  • Compare equal portions of brown and white rice and you’ll find that brown rice has fewer calories and more nutrition. I use all organic ingredients.
  • Ingredients:
  • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup cabbage, minced and saluted 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced 1½ cups long grain brown rice 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth 2¼ cups water
  • 2 cups chopped kale or spinach
  • 1 green pepper (or pepper color of choice)
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash or sweet potato
  • 1 cup (or 4 medium sized) sliced organic Bella mushrooms
  • Cooking Method:
  • 1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375° F.
  • 2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Then add the minced garlic, chopped cabbage, green peppers and cook while stirring for about 30 seconds.
  • 3. Add the rice and cook stirring occasionally until the grains turn translucent around the edges.
  • 4. Add the broth and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the rice so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. If you are using a 10-inch Dutch oven or smaller, cover the rice, place it in the oven, and cook until the rice is tender. This should take about 45 to 50 minutes. If you are using a larger pot, transfer the rice mixture to a suitable-size casserole and cover tightly before placing it in the oven. (Larger Dutch ovens will cook the rice too fast and create too many problems.)
  • I like to add my 4 mushrooms to the top of the casserole for looks.
  • 5. When the rice is fully cooked, remove it from the oven. Gently fluff the rice with a fork, and set it aside for about five minutes before serving
  • Casserole with top USE

The kale rice casserole in its baking dish on its way into the oven.

Blacksmith Baked Beans:

  • The original recipe called for any 5, 15 ½ oz. cans of beans, drained. I used 4 to 5 cups of these dry beans; pinto, navy, black beans and great northern beans; soaked, rinsed and cooked.
  • Put beans in a crock pot and mix in the following ingredients;
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBS prepared mustard
  • 6 slices crumbled bacon (I use ¾ cup of soy bacon bits)
  • 1 large onion chopped and sautéed
  • 1 clove garlic minced (I use 3 TBS of crushed garlic from Sam’s’ Club)
  • ¾ cup KC’s BBQ sauce (my secret ingredient!) (Look for a sauce with catsup as the first ingredient not corn syrup- as that syrup is a bad, bad thing for your health.)
  • 1 ½ lb. smoked kibassa or sausage
  • Mix up and cook until done. This recipe has a bit of zing to it due to the garlic and the BBQ sauce
  • Pan of sweet poatoes USE

Oven baked organic sweet potatoes…so simple, so delicious!

I hope you enjoy a great holiday weekend too!

Small house homesteader, and cook Donna