Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You have a what ? Why ?

Thursday, January 25, 2007 - You have a what?
Of all the low tech methods that we use on our homestead by far the one that causes the most disbelief and curiosity is our cira 1930's low end ice box.
It all started about two years ago when my huge freezer on the bottom never had the need to fill it up-3 y.o. refridgerator blew the blower motor for the second time.
$90 + labor. As par for the course the warreny had expired. I wasn't paying Sears to fix what is a product defect.
On cleaning it out i found that we had 3 jars of fancy mustard, 2 of plain mustard, 2 bottles of ketchup, 6 jars of pickles, at least two of every type of known sald dressing opened. Not much in the way of real food. Nothing that wouldn't fit in a cooler keept in the cellar next to the freezer stocked with ice packs. Good solution to buy me time.
Since the majority of our meals are prepared from both home canned goods and commerical canned as well as fresh and frozen, we have few leftovers. Lack of refridgerator space isn't an issue. Freezer space is on occassion since we have a small 12 y.o. upright freezer in the cellar. Making ice isn't such an issue but getting the ice into the ice box requires it to be listed on the chore schedule.
By the sixth month of not having a fridge i learned that it's no big deal. My electric bill is less, and i have a bigger kitchen. That huge fridge didn't fit in my vintage cupboards.
Refridgerator was freecycled to a young couple who inaddition to buying their first house was expecting twins soon. Plenty of need for fridge space.
About a year or so ago i bought the ice box for $75. It's metal over a wood frame later painted gray inside and out. Added a rubber drain hose from the hardware store which i threaded thru the floorboards (old house) into the pipe that the washer empties in.Also did a quick gasket replacement using foam weatherstripping.
Three gallon milk jugs frozen = two days of 36 degree ice box tempature just below the section where the ice is kept. Directly next to it it is about 38 - 42.
Not very efficent but did beat the method of placing food in a bucket of water on the cellar floor. If you were lucky you had a deep well or cold creek to place food in.
Last fall i got in a mood and took apart one of the doors to see what was used for insulaton.
Resembles saw dust packaged into a square using brown wrapping paper. What is left of a yellow & green circular decal states - This cabinet insulated with (missing portion of decal) ?Wool, True Insultion, Sanitary, Ordorless, Permanent.
Plan is to strip off the paint, reinsulate using highest R factor that will fit, replace door gaskets, polish up the chrome hardware, and paint it white with black trimming like white enamel ware dishes.
Currently our ice box is a plastic tote out in the enclosed front porch since winter has finally arrived. Low tech and free.

Mom, where's the bread ?

Thursday, January 25, 2007 - Mom, where's the bread?
Monday we bought a Back to Basics dough mixer for $18 from an upscale Big Lots type store. Our free bread machine gave out a few weeks ago. Likely due to having to kneading four loaves of 50% whole wheat dough a week Gonna miss that handy little machine both due to ease of use and low electrical useage. Sure puts my 1949 electric Hotpoint stove to shame.
The dough bucket plays a part in the large scale plan to install a wood stove this spring. We already have four cords of wood split and stacked along with a stove top oven cira 1920's. Four sad irons, trivets, cast iron fry pans, pots, muffin pans, and two soap stone squares for bedwarming.
Gotta say that there is a bit of a phyiscal learning curve much as there was with the manual grain mill. My arms ache. Sometimes i am such a cityslicker.
Last fall we bought two bushels of organic grain from a local Mom & Pop heath food store costing $32 each, winter wheat and rye. Buckwheat would have been a better choice in that quanity for us. Goal is to find a less expensive local source for grains and gluten flour.
First made 100% whole wheat bread. Reality is that i made bricks good for knocking the iceles off the house.
Below is a pic of one of the three 50% whole wheat loaves i made. Slightly better.
The bucket doesn't knead exactly simular to how a upright stand mixer with dough hooks will. Also the version that clamps to the counter would be good. But for the price i'll be quiet.
Practice makes perfect and in this case stronger arms.