Here’s the menu for our Thanksgiving Feast
Click on the item for the recipe.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Baked Bread
Wow what a wonderful Thanksgiving week we had. We went to the property on Wednesday and just came back today. We are making great progress on the Ghetto. Thanks to my incredible husband, we have running water (from 55 gallon water barrels), a flushing toilet, LED lighting (all 12 volt), a 12 volt refrigerator, propane hooked up and stove and oven working. He also got the drywall up inside the ghetto so we don’t have to look at the insulation anymore! We are still sleeping in the motorhome, as it got into the high 30’s low 40’s at night and we have no heat in the ghetto yet. We did lose the water heater in the bus as the regulator took a dump and because of it we burned through a bunch of propane because of a leak. But I just heated water on the stove for dishes and we got along just fine. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with our friends Barb and Jim and our family, Cousin Brian, daughter Samantha and grandson, Matty. I made pumpkin pie and dips and appitizers (beefy onion dip, spinach dip, stuffed celery and deviled eggs) on Tuesday while I was babysitting Matty (here at the house). The rest of the dinner was cooked at the Ghetto including the turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, bread and gravy. I didn’t even think about a microwave all weekend! Barb brought some creole turkey, sweet potato pie, and a wonderful blueberry cobbler.
We are learning as we go with our solar power. We now have 8 batteries and three panels. We have a 12 volt refrigerator, water pump, tv, digital box and dvd player, as well as 12 volt led lighting in the ghetto. We are using the generator much less for our daily needs now, which is a blessing as it not only eats gas, but it is noisy. My propane stove requires 110 volt because the pilot is 110, so we had to run the inverter for it while the turkey was cooking. The good news is that it worked fine all day and didn’t really eat much power as the panels were charging the batteries while they were being used. We did kick on the generator for a few minutes to use my electric knife, but outside of that we didn’t use any generator power to cook dinner. We also have the generator wired so it charges the batteries whenever we do use it, so we are making use of every ounce of power we can.
It is a good thing to live “off the grid” for several days. You not only learn to conserve every ounce of power you have, you also learn to plan your usage more wisely. If you need to use 110 power, you should use it during the daylight so it doesn’t drain the batteries, the solar panels will have a chance to give you back a full charge before nightfall. While eating dinner, I start boiling a big pot of water for dishes. It helps to heat the ghetto while we are eating and hot water is ready for washing dishes after dinner.
I have been wanting a front loader washer and dryer forever. Unfortunately, the price tag that comes with them made it more like a pipe dream. My husband was driving down the road and there was a pair for $100. He stopped, looked at them (they looked like they had literally fallen off a truck, they had some dings and skid marks on them) and offered the guy $80 and said if they didn’t work he was bringing them back. Well, the washer wouldn’t drain and after a quick internet search, we discovered a filter the owners manual doesn’t mention and a pump, both of which were clogged. After emptying the junk out, he then discovered a small leak, which being the MacGuyver that he is, he fixed easily. Then he went one better, he sold my washer and dryer for $100, so we came out $20 ahead! I get my dream washer and dryer and we get an extra $20, you can’t beat that. I’m on my 2nd load of laundry now and man are these machines quiet! SO HAPPY! They are also a mismatched set, as one is white and one is charcoal, but who cares?
Don’t think that cheap cuts of meat are inedible or that you have to sacrifice flavor and tenderness for money. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can save big bucks and eat like a king. My newest find is a pork shoulder, aka Boston Butt. At between $1.59-$1.79 per pound, this is one of the best deals I have found for meat. There are many different ways to cook them and a search on the internet will list several hundred. A pork shoulder contains bones and has a large fat cap on it, but cooked low and slow, will produce the most amazingly tender, moist pork you have ever eaten. I spend approximately $28 for two large pork shoulders (about 18 pounds total). I get approximately 24-30 meals out of them. So the meat portion of my meals equals about $0.93-1.17 per serving. If you have ever used one of those disposable turkey roaster pans, I fill one with nothing but meat when I’m finished. I then transfer the meat to Rubbermaid containers and freeze. I love the pork with seasoned rice or mashed potatoes, but you can use it for stir fry, make pulled pork sandwiches (by the way, this is so good I have had people request the sandwiches WITHOUT barbecue sauce!), or any other side dish you prefer. It is almost addictive it is SO GOOD!
You can try my take on Kalua Pork by trying my recipe Kalua Pork My Way or you can do a search on Pork Shoulder/Boston Butt/Kalua Pork and try another. Whatever recipe you decide on, make sure you cook low and slow. This is like pot roast…if not cooked low and slow, it will turn out like shoe leather. I like the brine technique, as it is supposed to help break down the fat prior to cooking. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it is worth the extra effort in the end, as the result is pure heaven. Don’t skimp on the sea salt, it is what makes the brine work…this is not a marinade, it literally changes the molecular structure of the meat before cooking. That is the purpose of a brine. And a brine is composed of water and salt and other ingredients. The other ingredients will add flavor, but it is extremely subtle. I add an entire head of garlic to my brine and my husband says he doesn’t even taste a hint of garlic. I do, because the first time I made it I didn’t use it and there is a difference. Which is why my recipe is Kalua Pork My Way…the original recipe called for only sea salt and sugar in the brine and liquid smoke and sea salt in the rub. I changed it up a bit and it is so subtle you hardly know it’s there. Check it out. If you are willing to spend about $35 (for the meat, garlic, sea salt, celery, onion and aluminum foil), what do you have to lose?
So I got a bunch more free tomatoes. These are the grape tomatoes and there were just to many to eat in salads before they go bad. I decided to make some Tomato Soup out of them. I searched the web for recipes and found many that sounded good, but weren’t quite to my liking for one reason or another so I have decided to wing it and do my own version. I had fresh garlic, onions, and got carrots, basil and cilantro from my garden.
There is nothing like Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Try this with my recipe for Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
In a large stock pot over low heat, add extra virgin olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, stir to mix oil and butter. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with sea salt, stir and cook until onions are soft and semi-translucent but not brown. Add basil, cilantro, thyme, red pepper, parsley, Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer until tomatoes are broken down (about an hour). Remove from heat and let cool at least 15 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture. (Or using a blender puree in batches.) Using a mesh strainer push mixture through to remove skins and seeds.
If you like your soup thin, then serve as is with garnishes of your choice. Ideas are a slice of lemon, a basil leaf, croutons, crackers or french bread.
If you like your soup thick like me then read on…
In a 2nd stock pot, add butter/oil and flour. Stir to mix well (this is a Roux, which will thicken the soup). Cook on medium low heat STIRRING CONSTANTLY until medium brown (about the color of peanut butter). NOTE: If you burn it…start over…do not use this in your soup, it will ruin it! Making roux is considered an art form, as it burns very easily. The key is patience and CONSTANT stirring. It won’t burn or scorch if you keep stirring and you don’t have your heat too high. If you have never mad e a roux, I suggest using extra virgin olive oil, as it has a higher burning point than butter, therefore will be less likely to burn or scorch. I actually cheat a bit and use both. Half olive oil, half butter. I get the butter taste with less chance of burning. When the roux has reached medium brown, add about 1/2 cup of the strained tomato mixture and stir well to combine until there are no lumps. SLOWLY add the rest of the tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Simmer for about 15 minutes to thicken.
Cream of Tomato Soup
Follow recipe as above. In the last few minutes of simmering, add 1 cup heavy cream or sour cream and stir well to combine.
If you like your soup thin, (and at this point it will be REALLY thin) then bring mixture to a simmer to reheat and serve as is with garnishes of your choice. Ideas are a slice of lemon, a basil leaf, croutons, crackers or french bread.
Our floor is finally down. Diatomaceous earth should be here today. If you don’t know about Diatomaceous Earth, check out this website Earth Works Health. They have a wealth of information and are the least expensive I have found on the internet. Say goodbye to fleas, flies, scorpions, ants, roaches an many other pests. We will dust the interior walls with it and then put up drywall. We will also dust the land around the ghetto and mix it with water and paint a white wash on the deck. I will dust the dogs with it to get rid of this year’s horrible flea infestation. I will feed it to the dogs and I will take it myself. Then I’m going to sprinkle it into my carpets and furniture to kill those pesky fleas once and for all. I love that it is all natural and non-toxic to humans, pets, and livestock. I am so excited, I can’t wait for the Fed-ex man to get here!
Just came out of the oven~ smells fabulous! Pulled pork sandwiches for dinner tonight!