In my case, it’s a basement, one that I let get out-of-control cluttered. I go through about 1 dozen canning jars a week. I stack them in a box and take them to the basement promising myself I will get them put away properly later. It’s a lie. The same goes for the cartons of canned fruit I bought on sale, and the baskets I got at the tag sale and the high chair my grandson outgrew. The candle making equipment? Oh Yeah. I put in the cabinet. But it was a mismash of molds and wicks and assorted tools and boxes of wax. So, as Friday was a snow day And I had nothing else pressing to do, I got myself dress in my grubbies and tackled the mess. Now I can pretend that the space looks great; it’s your basic 1860’s kind of cellar with stone walls and a compliment of spider webs and low ct hanging duct work but it looks pretty darn good. The jars are organized by size, the food all organized and rotated. I found a place for the high chair and even the candle making supplies are neat and tidy. It was good work. I like to accomplish something when the results are so obvious and make my life easier. To reward myself, I went shopping.

Gasp!!! Choke!!! You must be joking!!! But I’m not. I went shopping at our little, general store and bought, wait for it, books! Honestly. I’m an addict. I have had my eye on a couple of books for weeks now and, as I got paid for some workshops I presented, I bought all of them. I got:

Basic Butchering of Livestock and Small Game. We have only butchered chickens and it occurs to me that having information on other animals would be a very good thing.
Cider: Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider. We make a lot of cider and I want to learn more about the process so I can expand what I do with it.
Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing; Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage and Lactic Fermentation. This is what I’m reading now and it’s got me all jazzed up for spring.
Tending The Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources. I was not excited about this one. It was chosen as the read for my permaculture’s book group but it looked too academic and too West Coast centric for me to get excited about. I began it on Friday evening and was so engrossed, I finished the 60 assigned pages in just a couple of hours. The book now has highlighted sections, notes in the margin and sparked a conversation with Bruce about the role of religion in the destruction of the planet and feminism, two subjects not even talked about in this work but it’s that kind of book. I love it when a book raises questions and makes me dig deep for answers.

I also treated my family when I finished the basement. I wanted to use up some of the food I found lurking in forgotten corners so I mixed up a batch of quick bread. I rather made up the recipe so I can’t sure of exact measures but this is what I came up with.

Carrot/Pineapple Bread

1.5 cups of carrots ( used some carrots I had dehydrated so I rehydrated them. The were not shreds but small chunks. You could use shredded carrots.
1/2 can crushed pineapple with the juice
3 large eggs
a bit of lemon juice (a tablespoon or so)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
Beat this together really well
In a separate bowl, sole stir together
1.5 cups of mixed flours. I used some whole wheat, white, oat, rice and soy. It was just bits and dabs of what was left in the bottoms of some jars in the pantry. Just make sure you have 1.5 cups.
1 teaspoon each baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and 1/2 teaspoon each cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. I added some crushed nuts and some raisins and some dried apples. Now mix everything together and bake for about 55 minutes in loaf pans. I ended up with two big loaf pans and two tiny loaves. The batter was pretty runny. I maybe should have added more dried apple to soak up some of the moisture. The loaves didn’t rise much and were quite dense but delicious. We gave away 1/2 a loaf and the rest is history.

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