Sunday, 29 November 2020

Christmas comes early 2020

In her last blog my friend and distant neighbour Deb from Kastle's Journey posted about filling their home with Christmas cheer early because-- well, it's 2020 and we all need a little extra cheer this year. This post inspired me to do ours as well.. traditionally, I put up Xmas on Dec 1st every year but I think Deb is absolutely right - we all need a little extra cheer this year.

Having moved to this house from living in our RV for 2.5 years, because I made the decorations last year, we needed some stuff so off to Canadian Tire we went and I bought a bunch of decorations and because we had tied the shopping to Brad's massage, I was doing it on Black Friday.... yup, that Friday. I managed -- but someone almost lost a kneecap... ;)

This is the tree we picked up for $10 off of the exchange on Salt Spring Island 1.5 years ago, we used it outdoors last Christmas as you may recall... so it needed a good wash first off. Then a good shake and finally left to drip dry in the corner with the fire on to dry it out. Once dry, I set to work putting it together... turns out, we didn't need more stuff after all and now I have to take some back. I did use the tinsel and garland and I am keeping the nutcrackers and acorns for product pictures but the massive box of ornaments I spent $80 on is going back next massage day (Monday)...


Having purchased a 200 light string to run along the pathway outside I noticed as I was setting them out that they were indoor... yup, it was black friday alright... so crazy I bought the wrong lights, so I strung them up around the windows instead. I think it looks pretty good but this picture doesn't really do it justice.

Back to normal life now:

Pickled beet challenge

I am in the process of making a deal with a local woman famous for her pickled beets to use her product for selling freeze dried, I put her quart of beets on 1 tray and mine on another ( I only processed the one but made 2 several weeks ago). I must say I much prefer the flavour of mine but we shall see what they taste like once they are processed in betty as that can make a big difference.

I am making pictures to use for my online store.

I have submitted the paperwork for the local online shopping store but have yet to hear anything back. I will finish setting up my etsy store in the meantime because as we all know bureaucracy rushes for no one.

I have a decent amount of the candied items prepared now and have begun the vegetables and fruits. I now have 3 different size bags: Small for the Unicorn Poop, Large for Asparagus and Astronaut Ice Cream Bars and Medium for everything else. Naturally, I will have a large option for fruits and veg as well.


Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Prepping for sales

I haven't had a chance to post anything as I've been super busy getting everything sorted for my foray into the local market scene.

The rules say you have to list the items you wish to sell and provide all ingredients. Well, I didn't know what items I wanted to sell so I have spent the last couple of weeks feeding bits of this and that to Betty to see what I would submit... they tell you to include anything you may do eventually so you do not need to apply later.

And here's me creating samples of tomatoes with seasoning on them to determine which seasoning I will be using so I can provide the ingredient list of same....

After getting a bit cheesed off with it all, I rang the woman in charge today and discovered that NO, in fact, I do not need to do all that. Just to say that I will be doing fruits and vegetables, candy and powders, dog treats and providing the FD as a service- should anyone have a favourite Grandma recipe they want to preserve... or, whatever...

So now having sent that paperwork off to the 'authorities', I now await their verdict of whether or not I shall be accepted in to the local market club. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I have been making batches. I have a good stock now of Unicorn Poop and Rainbow Chunks and now that my list has been finalized (so to speak) I can begin doing the fruits/veg/powders and dog treats.

I had ordered bags which arrived rather small and I then ordered larger bags which arrived rather large so Goldilocks has finally ordered what she hopes will be just right bags and they are expected in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, the small bags are great for 'unicorn poop' and the large ones will be good for 'asparagus' and 'astronaut ice cream', everything else will go into the medium bags. 

Next, I need more labels... hopefully I can get ones that are big enough I can put all the required information on one instead of how the unicorn poop ones turned out and I had to put a second label on the back with the ingredients.

Most of what I will be doing will be just product ie apples with no additional items, but ingredients of pickled beets, seasonings and candies will need to be noted on the packaging.

So this is what I've been doing lately... going rogue but with food.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Candy and a power outage

As I'm going to be doing the market, Brad picked up some candy samples to see what works and what doesn't.

Salt Water Taffy, Caramels, Skittles original, Blue Whales, Skittles berry.
Regular caramels do not work, btw but everything else was great. Apparently I need to get Werther's Chewy Caramels for this purpose but I have decided to go with Milk Duds instead -- I'll pick some up today to try them in Betty first.

We decided to rehydrate some Thai Green Curry Chicken for dinner to have with some naan bread I had made that morning.

Oranges were finished, time to bag them up.

Salt Water Taffy

Because the Salt Water Taffy expands so much, they must be cut into quarters

Filling the trays with Salt Water Taffy

The after result of Salt Water Taffy, each quarter expands to the size of the original piece. Cup for reference as this massive jar is one of two I picked up a few months ago for just this purpose.

Just as I was pushing the button to start the Salt Water Taffy run, the power went out. Literally, just. I thought I'd blown up the machine for a minute until I realized the whole house was out. Whew...  as Brad was not out of bed yet, the power outage soon woke him up... but with no power --- no morning coffee --and neither of us wants that, believe you me.

This is where 2.5 years of RV Living comes in handy.... I put some water on the woodstove to boil and pulled out the handy MyJo from our boondocking days.

Water on the stove to boil

means a Tim Horton's coffee pod injection to his bloodstream is imminent LOL
Note the coffee pod in the middle

3 pieces that go together like this

Fill with water, then you place it on the cup and push the top plunger down.
Priceless in an outage.

The power returned about 5 hours later but we had already decided to make Tandoori Chicken for dinner and it was waiting in the fridge.

As it was packaged on Oct 30/20

Out of the package and in to a dish

Add water and allow it to sit, I put it in the fridge to absorb the water while we await suppertime.

Meanwhile, it was time for lunch

On top of the woodstove with a lid, okay so its 2 bread pans - but it worked.

When it was time for supper, I made some rice -- haven't freeze dried any rice yet. We've only had Betty for about 6 weeks remember....

Warmed up the Tandoori Chicken on the stove.
Delicious.

So I have finalized my list of things I want to sell at the market. I completed the MarketSafe course and I also took the FoodSafe 1 course again to allow flexibility as my previous one expired long ago. Now I am able to do 'high-risk' foods in a commercial kitchen should I want to later.

As I have a corporate mind, it is very difficult for me to 'keep it simple'... when I first decided to sell FD items, I set up a whole website and massive online presence before I remembered that I'm retired and I like it that way... so I cancelled it all. Just a local market presence and an etsy shop.... plenty enough for me right now. Just a little something to do. 

I have chosen 5 fruits, 5 vegetables, 3 candies and 8 powders (for people to make their own smoothies)... Stacey and I spent a whole day trying to find a perfect recipe for smoothies to sell, without any luck --before it dawned on me to just make the individual powders and let people create their own combinations with the fluid base of their choice at home.


Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Pickled beets and easy dinner

A friend suggested pickled beets as she is sure they would be delicious FD'd, I laughed. The next day, I saw a local ad on FB that someone was selling beets, $2/lb... so why not - I'll surprise her. I'm pretty sure she doesn't read the blog just because of what she does all day, so I'll tell you guys... 

I made 2 jars of pickled beets... never tried them before but I think it went well. 

Don't think I've eaten more than 2 slices in my life, and that was when I was 8, but... what are friends for?! I have them awaiting their turn for a tray, once a tray is available then they will go into the freezer before being fed to Betty.

This morning I fed her more grapes, mangos, green onion, celery and mandarin oranges

Last night we did more Skittles

I added a couple of StarBurst to test, they didn't expand or anything but the new texture was very intriguing. I'm planning to sell the Skittles as 'Unicorn Poop' at the local markets so I wanted to run a batch and check weights, etc. (I'm sure I've posted an FD'd pic of Skittles so I won't bother here)

5:45pm...Time to put the kettle on....

We haven't reconstituted any meals yet. We've done Individual items but last night I didn't remember to take anything out for supper - actually, we've FD'd it all so there wasn't anything to take out.. and we had pizza just the other night, so....

I had to boil up some corn since it is still waiting its turn in Betty

Here it is straight out of the package. Ham and Mashed Potatoes. Just add hot water and wait a couple of minutes.... my kind of cooking!!! :D :D

Kettle and corn both boiled at the same time - bonus.

Dinner is served. 
It was delicious, just like fresh.

Almost forgot to take a picture. We ate in the upstairs living room last night as our TV is being wonky and The Curse of Oak Island Season 8 started at 6pm. We've watched it since the beginning and were not about to miss the Covid-19 version.



 

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Betty is 1 month old today

Betty has been with us for 1 month today and we are so enjoying having her. Its fun learning all the things we can freeze dry and then actually freeze drying and reconstituting different items to see what works and what doesn't. So far, very little doesn't reconstitute well. And we have already done so much. Keep in mind we've been snacking on it too...

Since we moved Betty to her own room upstairs, it has been a bit of a nuisance to keep going up and checking on her status. In typical Katie fashion, I got a gadget for that! 

I ordered a baby monitor and an arm to put it in so that it could be held in a good position for viewing. And the baby monitor connects to wifi so I can view what's happening on my cell phone when I'm away from the house. I have an old iPhone 4S that I have set up as the designated monitor beside my chair in the living room for ease. But it is also on the iPad and Laptop.

Baby monitor set up

Monitor View

I was able to get the apples that were not quite finished in with the next batch which finished them completely, I had 1.5 jars of apples and they lasted about 2 days but not because of moisture.... sooooo good. :D 

FD'd Apples

This is our meats shelf and it is over full except for the fruit department at the top (we've eaten all but 1 package of bananas and even that has been dipped in to for samples for friends/family.

Our jar shelf is finally filling in. Everytime I start to do fruits/veg Mr. comes home from his massage in Nanaimo with a bunch of meats that are always mysteriously on sale.

In trying to find cool stuff to do for the Grandkids this Xmas, I ran Jello through after freezing them in molds and they are great. Not really something I would eat as a snack but I've no doubt the Grandkids will think they rock.

I think I mentioned that on my birthday we were at a local restaurant which had Sticky Toffee Pudding but I was too full to eat it and we had birthday cake at home at the time, so I passed on it - a first!  Well Stacey and I walked to town one morning (return trip of 5.3km) about a week later only to find they do not open until 4pm (Covid, I assume). Well the other day I was driving by at 3:50pm and decided to pull in and wait for take out. Really delicious, as expected... I was too driven to eat it and didn't think of taking a pic, but I remembered after.... :D :D

Sticky Toffee Pudding remnants

2 trays of Romaine and 2 trays of Onions

At the moment I have 4 trays of Seitan Chicken in Betty with 2 trays of BBQ'd Steaks and 2 trays of BBQ'd Chicken waiting their turn. Seitan is a Vegan meat alternative, so clearly this load is not for us.

Mr. made more Chicken Green Curry last night and I have put my foot down, we need fruits/veg done now, enough with the meats already. In fairness, he did come home last time with a bunch of fruit/veg to feed to Betty so I guess bananas and grapes are after the curry.


Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Election day snacks

In preparation of catfight night in the U.S, I wanted to have some munchies for the event.. 

When Brad was in Nanaimo yesterday for his massage (he gets 2/week until year end), he grabbed some Vietnamese for tonight so we don't have to cook.

I pulled out 3 small jars of my Salsa and put some dehydrated jalapenos in and left it in the fridge to marinate overnight... we have a couple of large bags of tortilla chips and I wanted some healthy veggies too. 

I prepped Zucchini with Mrs Dash, Cucumber with Salt, Lemons and Limes with Sugar and some Apples (which have to go back in to Betty). I froze the apple peels too and then powdered once Betty dried them.

L-R: Cucumber, Lemons, Apple peel powder, Limes, Zucchini

The apples which I thought were dry - when we went to have some they were soft so clearly they were not completely dry, I put them back on a tray and they are in the freezer now awaiting their turn again after the jello batch comes out.

More Skittles - done. Mmmmm
The few in front are pre- Betty Skittles for comparison

Skittles in Jar with a moisture absorber.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

The Secrets of Living (Pilot Episode 2020)

A locally made video about our island and the community we have here, even through Covid-19.


This video is edited by someone we know, who has been mentioned many times on this blog: 


We have been following Simon's journey for 5 or 6 years now and never imagined back then that we would be on the same island one day, especially since we were on the far east coast at that time. Yet here we are.

Views of this video aid in the promotion of healthy, sustainable community living -- as well as helping Simon fund the mast he requires for the Catamaran he is rebuilding from scratch. Please watch and/or share to help in this effort. 

I hope you enjoy the short video about our beautiful island.

Thank you.


Sunday, 1 November 2020

We're moving -- NOT.

Our neighbour Kane and our friend stacey both recommended us to their mutual friend (even though the two of them do not know each other) who is moving to Vancouver and wants someone to rent her house. After viewing the Acreage and discussing it for 3 days, we accepted the offer. It is a fantastic property with an outside (modern version of) clawfoot bathtub with hot and cold water (inside bath as well, btw)... the house is wired up to an 11000w generator for the many power outages here.... there is room for a big garden and even a 'she shed' as well as a big shop in the backyard, which i absolutely loved. However the water had an incredible stench and so we accepted the offer with the condition that a filter system was put on the well water coming into the house, which was agreed to.

The owner has recently replaced the kitchen entirely but the installers made a right cockup of it, so it was agreed that we would fix the kitchen and also paint the house prior to moving in (at no charge) and we offered to do the gardens and make the house more presentable which would help her to sell in 5-10 years when she retires, as she wants to keep the home as an investment for that time.

Anyway, we were very excited and have been a bit preoccupied with the prospect. Unfortunately, in the last week since this process began the arrangement has been altered so many times and so many inconsistencies have come up that we have opted not to take the property. We are comfortable where we are and with housing being in such short supply on this island, we felt it better for us long term to stay put given the problems which have occurred with this deal in such a short time.

Racoon at the bottom of a tree at Stacey's house

Hoping to find a baby monitor so that I can keep an eye on Betty without having to go up and down the stairs, I went to GIRO which is essentially a ReStore. Everyone drops off the things they don't want anymore and GIRO (non-profit) re-sells them, minimizing the human footprint.

Tree trunk turned fairy garden at GIRO


I did not find a baby monitor and have since ordered one from Amazon, but I did find a ton of molds. I've heard it said that Jello through the FD is Amazing.... and as I said previously, I am looking for fun and tasty stuff to do for the Grandkids - so I bought every mold they had -- for $10 and I could not be happier!! Those things are something like $10 each new... and I got 18 of them... What a coup.

New molds, plus I had a rather large one already so I'm set.

The last batch were raw steaks we put into Betty and it took a long time (27hrs) but they finally finished and today we have a $50 ham which Brad cooked that is going in - shredded. 

I have the next batch sorted already and that is Lemons, Limes, Zucchini, Cucumber, Apple slices with peels separately to be blended to powder. 

Of course, yesterday I filled the molds with 3 different colours of jello which are now ready to be popped out and the other 2 colours I picked up can be put in to cool. They will be the following batch. I also picked up 5 flavours of pudding.... so you know where that's going.

Today I think I am going to Salt Spring to visit with Dana. Its a long day though since I've been up since 3:15am and didn't get any sleep.... 

PS Rick & Kathy, I may have fixed the comment thing... we'll find out soon enough.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

All this food requires more walking

I'm sure you've all become fed up (pardon the pun) with my betty feedings so I haven't been bothering to take pictures of anything going in or coming out.

So just briefly:

The pork chops are out and packaged, then Chicken Green Curry. Right now I have Indian Butter Chicken in and tomorrow is Tandoori Chicken, cooked Ground Beef and more Indian Butter Chicken. 

Oh, and also somewhere in there I did Skittles and Gummy Bears. The Skittles blow up to the size of marbles and kind of have a 'Pop Rocks' thing going on and the Gummy Bears blow up to Fuzzy bears. Pretty neat. Great gifts for the Grandkids... I'm thinking Skittles, Ice Cream scoops, Taffy and something else their parents will hate....... I'm mean that the kids will really enjoy.  😁😁😁

Dealing with Betty doesn't take much at all - just put stuff on the trays and put the trays in the freezer to await their turn. Granted, Brad has been cooking -- which naturally takes effort but the actual Betty part is pretty simple. Put them in and turn her on, wait anywhere between 12-40 hours depending on the water level of what your doing and then take it out and put it in a bag with an oxygen absorber or put it in a jar with a moisture absorber. We've had her 4 weeks and even with Brad coming home all the time with more food, we've managed to empty the fridge freezer and made a dent in the deepfreeze too.

Other than that I've just been playing pickleball, cleaning the house and nagging Stacey to get out walking... we went through about a week there where we were both busy with other things and we've just got back to the walking. The orchard is on a pretty significant sized block and with a trail on one end we are able to walk the whole 'block' which takes half hour at a pretty good clip and has substantial grades going both down and up, today we went the hard way with the steepest grade on the up, I have yet to forgive her - hahaha. We haven't been to do a proper hike for awhile but we'll get to it.

I sent some samples of candy, bananas, strawberries, grapes and banana loaf to Brad's brother in England and all of the above with an addition of Thanksgiving leftover ham and turkey to his Mum in SK and my Dad and his new wife in ON so they can all get an idea of what this is all about.

I actually saw someone today on a FaceBook group say that because they wouldn't be able to spend time with their family as usual this Thanksgiving (in the U.S), that they were making thanksgiving dinner which they would freeze dry and send it out to family members. They could all then have the same Thanksgiving meal together via Zoom or the like. I thought this was pretty ingenious idea. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Feeding betty and 2 Birthdays

I have a banana loaf recipe that everyone loves, it is soft and moist and delicious which is very odd for my cooking -but anyway, I decided to feed some to Betty. It turned out good, more like biscotti which is expected. It is certainly tasty and rehydrates well but I probably won't do it again, we prefer my banana loaf fresh.

Banana loaf bites

After the banana loaf bites, I did 2 full loads of strawberries which I didn't bother taking pictures of since I've shown that here previously.

Friday was my birthday, I've decided to start counting backwards (MIL taught us this trick) so I am now officially 50. Yup, the big 50.

I had a fabulous day, it was massage day so Brad went to Nanaimo in the morning. I made porridge for breakfast, then had Pickleball at noon, Big Brother was on that night, we went out for supper to a local restaurant and I finished the night off (after cake, that is) with one of my favourite things -- a hot bath. Perfect day.

Our reservation was at 6:20, we were seated right away and not 5 minutes later, the power went out. We had a candle lit dinner at the restaurant (I didn't get a pic apparently). Pretty good meal, but knowing the power was out and betty was eating had us a bit concerned. Power was out for 1.5 hours.... well...

Without power, the ice (moisture removed from product) inside betty began to melt. When we returned home we cranked up the generator and got betty eating again - except she started over in freeze mode. I didn't think anything of it at the moment but then realized it wasn't right. I pushed cancel (10 or 15 min later) and it went to the main screen which showed the product was finished.

I released the pressure valve and nothing came out.... screen advised the vacuum pressure sensor was broken... "Oh, that's just great!". I released the pressure by loosening the hose on the vacuum pump... Then I checked online and thought through what had happened... 

At home eating bday cake in the dark. We played crib until the power came on.

Stuffing my gob as usual

Inside betty's stomach

Cutting a long story short, I realized that because betty had sat for 1.5 hrs without power, that the ice had begun to melt, pooling at the drain and then the freeze cycle started. This clogged the drain with ice and would not allow the pressure to release. Whew. I allowed her to defrost naturally overnight and then in the morning I ran the original from factory tests to ensure everything was working properly - and it was! Beautiful.

Chicken Thai Green Curry that Brad made yesterday to feed Betty, it is packaged into serving sizes and freezing in preparation for its turn in the machine.

At the moment Betty is eating 7 double servings of soup and a small leftover porridge, I expect this to finish early afternoon today, then....

Pork Chops, prepped, cooked and ready for Betty

We will mostly do pre-cooked foods as it just makes sense to have them ready to go, although you can - and we probably will - do some raw meats as well. Just add water.

Today is my good son's bday (I have 2 good sons, btw)... Happy 32nd birthday little man! (He is a father to 3 now and 6'3 at about 225lbs but he used to be 8 lbs 5.9oz.) Those were the days.

Here with my grandson Royce

Yes I was 20 and 2 days when my youngest was born - he's a Scorpio too. Yikes.