The End

Dear Reader(s),

After about two years at this domain, I have decided to pack it in.

Now, considering the millions of readers I have, I’m sure all of you will be crushed to read this. After all, where else will you go to get your fix of the mundane but green? :)

So, on second thought, I’ve NOW decided I couldn’t bear the hundreds of thousands of emails and tweets that I was going to get begging me not to go, to keep filling Google readers and searches with the enlightenment that my blogging provides.

Ok, ok, all joking aside, I’m not going anywhere.  But I am moving to a new address. It’s time for a fresh, new start, with a new domain that’s a little easier on the tongue, and a broader lease on life.

It’s at http://crunchychelle.com and I hope you will update any readers or bookmarks or subscriptions and follow me there.

My hope is that it’ll be a bit more broad than Little House was. I always felt constrained by Little House, to post only things related to the house in some way. Silly, I know; I definitely created my own limitations, but it is what it is. Or was. I’m hoping I can break out of my own self-created limits and start blogging about even more things, but still with a green focus. I’m taking a lot of Little House over to Crunchy Chelle with me but I’m excited to branch out a bit too.

I won’t be updating here anymore, so I want to thank you for reading Little House! Get ready for more crunchiness though and head over to…

Green Tomato Pie

We’ve had lots of green tomatoes sitting in our garage for over a week, ever since we heard we were going to get a hard frost last week that would pretty much end the growing season for the year.

Well, the hard frost never came (although now it’s supposed to come tonight) but K had already picked most of the green tomatoes in the garden.  A few nights ago he made Green Tomato Pie.

Green tomato pie proves that green tomatoes aren’t only for frying.  Created as a way to use up end of the season tomatoes that don’t have time to ripen, this pie doesn’t taste much like tomato!

Green Tomato Pie by Paula Deen

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cups shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Filling

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (but we used lemon zest because we had it)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (we used ground nutmeg)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 5 green tomatoes, or enough to fill pie crust, thinly sliced

Glaze

  • 1 slightly beaten eggwhite
  • Sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

To make the crust:

Sift together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.  Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir 1/4 cup of the cold water, then add remaining 1/4 cup and mix until combined.  Cover dough and rest in refrigerator for 30 min.

To make the filling:

Preheat over to 425F.  Mix sugar, tapioca, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins in a large bowl.  Lay tomato slices in pie crust. Sprinkle mixture over tomatoes.  (Overlapping will occur but tomatoes will shrink in size when baked).  Gently lay top pie crust over filling, tucking in extra crust around the edges.  Pinch dough with fingers to seal edges.  Using a knife, make 4-6 slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape.  Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar to give your crust a shine.

Bake for 25 min. at 350F, then reduce to 350F and bake for 20 more minutes.

Even though this is a sweet pie, it’s supposed to be a side to a meal and not dessert.  I guess that’s how southerners do it!

The Mabee Farm

I love history. I mean, I go through non-fiction history books like people go through toilet paper.  (Oh yes, lovely image, I know).  And I especially love local history.  Learning about the people and events that occurred on the very streets or buildings that I walk on or go into on a daily basis thrill me to no end.

Going to the Mabee Homestead out in Rotterdam Junction a few weekends ago provided such a thrill for me.  First off, it’s been on my 101 Things to Do in 1001 list for a while, but second of all, a house from the 1600s?  Any history buff would be thrilled.

The Mabee (the name has been spelled so many different ways over the years) Farm Historic Site, as seen above, is the oldest standing home in the Mohawk Valley, at 300+ years old.

We drove out there before realizing that the homestead isn’t opened on weekends after September 30th, but we didn’t let that stop us from wandering around the beautiful grounds.

The house sits on the banks of the Mohawk River.

It had poured for several days before we went and the docks bore the brunt of the storm.

Above us, we saw some parachuters gliding down to the landing field across the river.

We walked around the back of the house.

And checked out the old outhouse.

There’s a couple of animals kept back there.  Not very authentic though – one sheep and one goat?

We headed toward the family cemetery.

The cemetery isn’t as old as the house. The first burial here took place in 1771.  Before then, the family was buried in Vale Cemetery in Schenectady.

Given the number of people that probably worked on the farm, though, I wonder where the servants and such were buried.  Probably somewhere on the property…spooky.

It was a gorgeous day after a rainy week, and we’ll definitely have to come back and get an inside tour of the buildings.

The Mabee Farm Historic Site is open May through the end of September, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment year round.

Tours are by donation, $5 per adult, $4 per senior or child 13-17. Children 12 and under are free.

Drying chili peppers

Cayenne peppers from my garden now hung up to dry.  I feel so southwest!

The Bears

A few months ago, I learned about The Bears from work friend who’s husband was a college roommate with the son of the owner (or some such relationship).  It’s a steak restaurant in Duanesburg that got started out of the owner’s own house!  Pretty cool, I thought.  Another work friend turned out to have gone there as well, and with both of their rave reviews I knew I wanted to go there for my birthday.

The Bears don’t have to advertise for themselves; their number is unlisted (although easily found by now if you Google on the ‘net – there are way too many reviews out there!).  There are two seatings per night – and it’s only open Wednesday through Saturday.  Making a reservation in advance is definitely necessary; K was told he needed to order either the Chateaubriand or the Prime Rib by Wednesday for our Friday dinner.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera, and the place was pretty dark inside – you’re in for some VERY dark and fuzzy iPhone photos.

We started off with a delightful locally made appetizer.  Fresh, HOMEMADE mozzarella with tomatoes and roasted red peppers.  I was surprised that we also go a few slices of apple thrown in there as well. The mozzarella was delicious, and the tomato was obviously local (probably homegrown), it was juicy and full of flavor, unlike most restaurant tomatoes.  It also had a ton of onion and garlic that I loved, but it was too overpowering for K.

After the appetizer, we got our second course. I ordered the soup of the day – a chicken broth with veggies and homemade sausage.  K ordered the salad.  I don’t normally order non-cream based soups but I had to try something made with homemade sausage! K’s salad looked typical of restaurant house salads, but my soup was one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever tasted!

K ordered us a terrific bottle of wine to have with the meal.  I normally only like sickeningly sweet wines, but this Pinot Noir was delicious – and not sweet.

It wasn’t local, but we really loved this about it:

Carbon-neutral, solar-powered and sustainably farmed.  Yes, please!

Since we had ordered the Chateaubriand in advance, there was no need to hem and haw over their menu.  As soon as we were done with our second course, our server, John, brought out this huge platter.

Even with this poor quality photo, you must be able to tell it’s deliciousness.  Man, and it was huge.

Even with a great cut of meat, I admit I’m a sauce-person.  So despite K’s disapproving glance at me, I requested steak sauce.  Luckily, our server said he was the same way. He disappeared into the kitchen and brought me some au jus. John is the owner’s son, and he told us that he was the one that made the Chateaubriand for us (and this delicious juice).  It was fantastic. I dipped away to my heart’s content.

After the meal was over, John told us that every single dessert there is homemade.  Now, granted, there’s nothing super complicated, but he listed so many different cakes and pies that I was mind-boggled.  He told me their carrot cake would be the best thing I ever tasted, so for that alone I decided to try it, even though I don’t normally think carrot cake is anything special. K decided to try the coconut cream pie, which John said was their best-selling dessert.

Oh my. So. Good.  And K’s coconut cream pie was even better I think.

Such a good meal, and definitely one of the best I’ve ever had.  It’s pricey, but for a special occasion, so worth it. K and I had enough for two more meals each!

The Bears is located on Rt. 7 in Duanesburg, NY (there’s no street number, but you can’t miss it if you follow Rt. 7).  To make a reservation, call 518-895-2509.

 

Guest Post: The Local Me

I’ve never had a guest post on here before, so when Cynthia from It All Changes asked me about writing one for my blog, I was very excited.  Over the couple of years I’ve known Cynthia, we’ve both learned a lot from each other, and I think she is really starting to understand my borderline obsession with living sustainably. I love how she tries to implement her own green living techniques based on her own lifestyle.

Here’s Cynthia!

_______________________________________________________

Hi, I’m Cynthia.  I’m Chelle’s nutty friend from It All Changes who trades quilting lessons for canning lessons.

I don’t know about Chelle, but this worked out great for me.  I learned to make blueberry jam in one afternoon that we devoured in less than four months.  Ooops!  Now all the blueberries are gone.  :-(  Even so learning to can was probably one of the best things I did all summer.

Every year I think I’m going to plant a garden.  My mom has a little garden.

Peppers and Eggplants and Berries, Oh my!

Chelle has an awesome garden that I enjoy weeding vicariously through her blog.  I bought a starter kit last year and have some topsy turvy planters my mom bought me for our porch.  I can do this right?

Not really…at least not yet.  With my job we can move at a moments notice and the chances double around Mother’s Day.  I may not know much about gardening but I know planning and even planting should start before the middle of May.  By that time all our community garden patches are gone and I’ve missed out on some prime planting time.  So my garden stuff sits in storage until we are settled…at least for a summer.

Maybe I can’t grow my own fruits and veggies…but there are lots of farmers around me who can.  My little community has not one but two farmers’ markets I like to explore the second they open.  It’s a wonderful scene to watch as the produce rotates through the seasons.  This is what it must have been like before tractor trailers and factory farms.  Even better, I get to know the farmers and how they grow their product.  I learn about varieties, seasons and the community in which my food is grown.

This food doesn’t have to travel cross-country to arrive on my table.  Price can be an obstacle so I do my best to buy as much as possible at the market and suppliment at the grocery.  Buying in season is a big help with this.  I save lots of money buying in season at both the market and the grocery.  Sometimes I still want a banana or avocado but with the money I say perhaps I should start a fund to move to the tropics?  Double bonus is my grocery actually stocks local produce when possible.

Local produce is all well and good but it doesn’t last too long.  Canning helps me to extend the seasons of the local produce I love…that is unless you eat it before it’s out of season :-D  I missed out on strawberries this year and ate all my blueberry jam but now I know I can keep salsa and apple EVERYTHING on my shelves all through the winter.  My pantry shelf taunts me each time I open it but I’m doing better with not eating it all at once.

The biggest benefit I’ve found with canning and eating local is knowing what is in my food.  Let’s just say I have some food issues.  With canning I make jam without sugar, heck anything without sugar, and know exactly what is going into everything.  My salsa can be full of cilantro and I can make things I’ve never seen on a market shelf.  Also the local produce is often grown organically which means less problems with pesticides and other nasty buggies that make me sick.

I may never be able to live like Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle but I can take my small little part of the world and make it more local, more fresh and more me.  That little bit helps us all :-)

How do you try to live more sustainably?

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Thanks Cynthia!

Today is my birthday

One of the anniversaries of my 25th, I’ve decided. Because 25 was the ultimate year – the year where you celebrate the finality of adulthood by being able to rent a car.  After that, well, I can’t say it’s all downhill, but there aren’t any new privileges. :)

I took off from work today, slept in, and enjoyed watching several episodes of my birthday present from K:

Damn, I haven’t watched these in YEARS. I was so excited.

I went to the chiropractor because I’ve been practically bedridden all week after throwing out my back last weekend.

I ate some of the chocolate frog my friend Mela sent me from Harry Potter World last week.

I finished another square of my quilt.

And I had one of the best dinners of my life. I believe that dinner will require a post by itself.

But all in all, I had a pretty good birthday, hearing all day from friends and family that made me feel very special.

It will definitely keep me going another 365 days. :)

 

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