[Manic Mondays] Suburban Homesteading Recipes

I thought I’d have more funny stories to tell about my terrible failures as a hipster suburban homesteader but I suspect that swan song is being saved for when I get to the baking parts.  There aren’t any food pr0n pictures to accompany this because my house is a mess and I only have so many hours in the day to do so many things.  Use your imaginations.

I will say a few things about these recipes that always stopped me from trying them:

1. They sound a lot more complicated than they are.  It’s not haute cuisine here but it is manual labor intense, even if you’re being a filthy half-assed homesteader like me.  I mean, I work full time.  Ain’t nobody got time to sterilize everything.  This just means you need to use the refrigerator you likely own and containers to store your stuff in.   It also means you should eat everything between one and two weeks so don’t go crazy.  Baby steps.

2. I also tended to get intimidated by people who do the whole hog (proper canning/jarring, booze that requires equipment, etc, etc).  I’m not quite sure which I found more intimidating – the people who are super cas’ about it or the people with the gorgeous blogs dedicated to it and/or the people who treat you like a moron for being raised by women who had ideas about how they spent their time and homesteading was not on that list.  I give you permission to be a half assed weekend homesteader who sometimes wants to do other things besides growing/jarring food, making fabric/sewing/homestead crafts.  It’s okay if you only make (1) small jar of pickles ever.  It’s okay if you’d rather go to the store and buy cheese like a first world citizen.  I will not tell the homestead po-po on you.  Pinkie swear.

3.  ZOMG woooooooooooooooooooork.  It is work.  I’m not going to bullshit you on that.  But with a little help from Jow, I’ve been able to do these things on week day nights with an early bed time after a long day of toddler/infant shenanigans with enough time to surf Facebook and/or watch Marriage Bootcamp: Bridezillas.  Priorities.

It makes me feel more in touch with my Disir, as Beth would say.  I’m still wrapping my head around the concept of Disir, especially as someone who has no Norse leanings at all and what it means to me as a modern middle class Worker.  But I like feeling more in touch with my Disir/my old country ancestors.


Baked Kale Chips (One Cookie Sheet’s Worth, Scale Accordingly)

I always wonder why they charge so much for so little.  Having made a batch, I think I’ve found an answer to this question.  1 cookie sheet = (1) literal sandwich bag full of kale chips.  Annoying!  But a whole bunch of kale costs about $2 (and that’s with the new “I know you’re making kale chips with this” surcharge) and one sandwich bag sized bag of kale chips at the store costs $6.  I don’t know about you, but I can go through a bag of those during one reality tv show.  So it’s either $2 for the week or $42 in kale chips which . . .is a lot.

4ish Kale Leaves (use the stems for something else – pickle them if you want)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning

Sea Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200. Hand tear the leaves to about potato chip size. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. In a small ramekin, mix together a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, a tablespoon garlic powder, sea salt to taste and about a teaspoon of McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning. Whisk the seasoning together. Using a silicon brush, brush the seasoning onto the kale. Bake for about a half hour. Let cool for about ten minutes. Bag.


Pickle Everything

We just had an amazing dinner at Agricola to celebrate Jow’s promotion to Clinic Administrator.  They served pickled vegetables with the martini which were great but sweet.  I frown upon sweet pickles.  If you want to pickle sweetly, google it.  Everyone makes pickling sound so complicated but it’s really not.  

You will need:

Some Wide Mouth Pint & a Half Mason Jars (Grocery stores and big box stores sell them)

Vegetables to pickle

Pickling spice mix (I got mine from Savory, but the grocery store sells it.  You can also make your own.  I don’t have that level of interest/time)

Fresh Herbs

Crushed Garlic Cloves

Lemon Slices

Apple Cider Vingear


Wash out your jar and lid in the dishwasher.  Slice your vegetables however you want them.  Fill your jar half with water, half with vinegar.  Empty into a pot.  Boil this mixture.  I didn’t add salt and I’m usually the queen of salt and I found it to be fine but you’re the captain of your ship.  Boil some water in a pot big enough to fit your vegetables.  Add vegetables to blanche for one minute.  Empty into a colander in the sink while running cold water over the vegetables.  Put your fresh herbs, 1 crushed clove of garlic per jar, one small lemon slice per jar and 1 tablespoon of the pickling spice in the jar.  Put your vegetables in.  Pour the vinegar/water into the jar.  Put the lid on.  Let it sit out on the counter for about an hour and then put in your refrigerator.  Let sit for three days.  Then eat.

I did these combinations:

Kirby Pickles/Dill


Radishes, Carrots, Oyster Mushrooms, Green Tomatoes and Parsley


Jerky for all

This is another financial issue for me.  A small pouch of “not full of a million chemicals” jerky costs about $4.  There’s two servings in said pouch.  A whole brisket costs somewhere between $8-$15 for several pounds of meat.  This sounds a lot harder than it is to make.  

Get a large fatty-ish piece of meat. Cut your meat thinly into jerky sized strips. If it’s beef, I used this humbly named marinade with a half teaspoon of curing salt. Let your meat marinade overnight. Line the bottom of your oven with foil. Take the racks out of your oven. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Over your sink using skewers, pierce your meat strips towards the top of the strip of meat so the meat is hanging down vertically. Place the skewers horizontally across the rack with the meat hanging in between the slats. Hang all your meat this way. It will look like a less elegant version of this.  Then put the rack back into the oven towards the top of it. Let cook for about 2 hours. Let cool and then pack up.


Lucrezia’s Lament: Suburban Moonshine

1 Mouth Pint & a Half Mason Jar (Grocery stores and big box stores sell them)

Enough clear liquor to fill the jar (I used Absolut)

1 pint blueberries

1 bunch basil

4 tablespoons honey


Simmer the blueberries, honey and basil on low for about fifteen minutes.  Pour into your jar.  Fill the rest with the liquor.  Put the lid on and keep it out of sun light on a counter.  Shake it once a day for at least a week.  Imbibe!

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


8 Responses

  1. Hooray lazy homesteading!

    I am also not so much in to the whole canning thing, although I like preserving shit. Honestly, my chest freezer is my best friend, because a lot of stuff you’d can – sayyyy, fresh tomato sauce – freezes really well.

    I definitely have to try the booze recipe. So far my booze-making has been along the lines of “chop up some blood oranges and pour good vodka over them”, but yours sounds deeeeelicious.

    • Thank you, Wench! I would add some simple syrup to it which can be bought at the store or made by using a 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar and simmering it on medium on the stove until the sugar dissolves! Oooooh blood orange, I can’t wait to try that!

  2. Re: Sterilizing Everything: Uh. Okay. I’m very lackadasical about proportions and such-like, but pH and making sure your jars are clean actually *are* really important. Botulism CAN’T grow in an acidic environment. V important if you want to store your jam or whatever in a cupboard rather than a fridge.
    BUT: You can use the dishwasher to do your sterilizing for you. Just run it through a hot cycle, the way you would when you’re washing your silicone toys.
    Handy. 😉
    Alternative: A steam-bath (boiling water in a frying pan, with the jars mouth-sid-down, and letting the steam – hotter than boiling water! – do the sterilizing) takes *way* less time than bringing a giant vat of water to a boil and it means you can do it at the same time as you cook the fruit for your jam. That’s how my mom does it, and I find that it works fine with my stuff).

    Anyway. Handy info for folks who do want to keep things in the cupboard, although honestly? I’ve been doing a lot of freezing so far this year. (Berries: easy to freeze. Great for baking and smoothies later on).

    Re: Don’t go crazy and Baby Steps: Hell Yeah to this one. The first year I did canning? I made two jars of pickles and two jars of jam and that was IT. Also: small-batch canning (where you start with, like, two cucumbers or one bunch of asparagus or a litre or less of fruit) is the way to go. It’s way less intimidating (for me, anyway) than trying to, say, can 4 gallons (that’s, what… 64 cups?) of tomatoes in one go. Plus: Variety! (I like making jams in half-cup jars because (a) it makes my small batches stretch a lot farther, but also (b) it means that I only have to eat so much of X flavour of jam before I can open a jar of something comepletely different).
    My pickles are pretty basic – garlic dill and cukes, but I’m having a grand time experimenting with flavour combinations (made chocolate-balsamic strawberry jam today – So Easy! Doesn’t even need pectin!) in some of my other stuff. 🙂

    I like the look of your jerky recipe. I admit that I’m scared to death of preserving meat. I’m all “That’s what feezers are for, yo!” But I love knowing that I can just do this in the oven and call it done. (Thank goodness).

    Re: Desir: This! 😀 I’m not Norse, and I don’t do Norse Pantheon-Focused religion/practice, but I can *very much* identify with hanging with (a) House Goddesses, and (b) ancestor ladies while working in the kitchen and garden. This is a big part of What I Do. Huzzah! 😀

    Anyway, in short: Yay Preserves and half-assed urban homesteading! 😀

    Moi. 😀
    Meliad recently posted..Strawberries, Sour Cherries, and Red Currants (Jam and Fool)My Profile

  3. I love this, and am going to try the kale chips recipe as soon as the temperature goes down enough to use the oven. 🙂 The jerky, too; I’ve never tried making my own, but I can go through an expensive store-bought bag like nobody’s business.

    Disir for the win! It’s not just a Norse thing.
    Beth recently posted..Lesley Hazleton: The doubt essential to faithMy Profile

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