I am moving most of my blogging back to my livejournal over at fiddledragon.livejournal.com…it just makes more sense for it all to be in one place, and then I can use my assorted happy Digger icons :-)

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I just got my first interest payment from Microplace!  I am now $1.78 richer ;-)

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Warm Fuzzies

I’m using part of my charity fund this iteration to buy delicious green wool to spin up and send to Afghanistan.  Or when a4A doesn’t have a drive going, I may also make things for Warm Woolies, a similar charity distributing to tribal reservations in the US and orphanages in Central Asia and Russia.  I shall make hats.  Lots and lots of warm hats.  Today I ordered some Icelandic wool in green and brown pencil roving (very very thin roving that you can just spin up as-is) that should work out to a couple pounds of yarn in only a few hours spinning.  When I say Icelandic, I mean not only the breed of sheep, but that it is actually from Iceland.  With remarkably cheap shipping for being from Iceland.  And very reasonably-priced wool.  Icelandic wool is not the softest in the world, but it’s not too coarse, is amazingly warm, and is water-resistant.  This will keep small children’s heads warm and dry :-)

This week’s schedule has been weird.  I’ve totally lost track of what day of the week it is.  It was the “weekend”, then it wasn’t the weekend, then it was the weekend, and now it will never be the weekend again. (Counting days where I’m being paid to be busy and days where I’m paying Simmons to be busy, I will be working for eight days straight.)

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More jars

— 4 pints and one 10-oz jar corn-tomato salsa

— 5 half-pint jars watermelon jelly (I hope…otherwise it’s watermelon…um…flavoring syrup?)  Edit: Yeah, the little leftover bit that I stuck in the fridge doesn’t seem to be setting.  But I bet one of those half-pint jars would nicely flavor a pitcher of seltzer for homemade soda :-)  I wonder what’s up with my pectin problems?  It’s supposed to last more or less indefinitely and I think I put it in at the right time this batch.

— Some experimental slices of watermelon in the dehydrator.  Yes, you can evidently dry watermelon.  It concentrates the sugars and gets intensely sweet.  This concept amuses me.

Note to self: do not clean the kitchen floor in the middle of canning season.  I mean, get the macroscopic gunk and spills off it, but wait to actually scrub until you’re not planning to coat it in corn and watermelon juice the next day.

(And yes, I have the day off again.  I work on Saturday and Sunday this week.  And Labor Day.  I am not exactly thrilled with this plan, but I enjoy food and rent.)

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What To Do With Dried Zucchini

Because that’s one of the most common search terms used to find this blog, and I don’t think any of the other posts really give it a thorough treatment :-)

To make dried zucchini:

— Slice your zucchini into thin rounds or slices — about 1/8 inch works well.  This is most easily done with a mandoline, but you can also use a vegetable peeler, grater, or knife.

— Put slices on dehydrator trays or on parchment paper.  Set them in your electric or solar dehydrator, or in the oven on “warm” (prop the door open a little).  In a good electric dehydrator in reasonably dry weather, they dry in about five hours.  In wet weather and/oror substandard equipment, it may take longer.  Keep them in until they are brittle.  Pay particular attention to the seeds, as they will take longer to dry than the rest of the slice.

— Keep in a sealed container in a cool dry place.  Check them every few days for mold — if it’s been a couple weeks and they don’t mold, they’re probably fine.

What to do with the zucchini:

  • Sprinkle a little salt or other seasonings on them and eat like chips while they’re still very brittle.  If this will be your primary use for the things, you can season the slices before you dry them, so it will stick better.
  • Sprinkle cheese on them and toast until the cheese melts for a tasty snack.
  • You could probably deep-fry them if you were quick enough with a fryer to get them out before they burned, but I have never attempted this.  It would probably be easier to just fry them *instead* of drying.
  • Throw in vegetable soup and cook until they rehydrate.  Rehydrated zucchini slices will be a bit chewier than fresh ones; in many applications, this is an advantage.  They’ll almost never go mushy like fresh squash sometimes does.
  • Rehydrate in warm broth, then use in casseroles or lasagna.
  • Grind or chop them up and use as part of homemade instant soup powder
  • Add powdered dried zucchini to sauces, veggie burgers, or bread for extra vegetabley goodness.

This will, of course, also work with yellow squash or other assorted cucurbits.  Does anyone else do anything nifty with dried squash?

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Productive day off

I had the day off from work today because this is Wacky Schedule Week, and so far I’ve been very productive!  I finished spinning delicious Blue-Faced Leicester wool, then made three more afghan squares, then went to the thrift store.  At the thrift store I got frustrated with pants, but then found…several…wool sweaters (I lost count) one damaged but not felted cashmere sweater that I’m going to dismember and make other things out of, one warm, water-resistant, and extremely yellow anorak, and rather a lot of yarn.  Good-quality cotton and silk yarn.  Probably at least 50 or 60 dollars worth, that I paid about 8 dollars for.

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Preserving summer

Finally, we’re getting enough of a share to preserve!  So far I have:

1/2 gallon or so dried hearty greens

1 gallon dried zucchini

Dried 1 pint fresh raspberries; still in dehydrator

5 6-oz jars raspberry-peach compote (was going to be jam, but I messed up the pectin)

Raspberry-peach popsicles with rice milk

Upcoming: tomato-corn salsa and Doing Something With That Watermelon

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I am now on Twitter as SarahTheEntwife.  If you are on Twitter and would like to be “followed”, I would be happy to do so :-)  I am mostly doing this as a professional development tool, since the library world tends to glom onto new social networking tools with all the enthusiasm and finesse of a poorly housetrained puppy.  But sometimes awesome things result.  My tweets will most likely consist of announcements that I have made popovers or jam or afghan squares.

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Microfinance Update

I’ve now loaned (or in one case, tried to) through all of the microfinance groups I posted about in my last entry (click on the “microfinance” tag to find it), so I thought I’d post a quick update on general ease of use, since  it will be quite a while before I have any confirmation of how often I get updated, whether I get the money back, etc.

MicroPlace: Very easy to use.  The sorting feature is a bit counterintuitive at first for me, but allows you to search by a number of useful features, such as level of poverty, focus on women, fair-trade, repayment term, interest rate, etc.  You get to see the entire 20-40 page loan prospectus, so in terms of transparency they’re golden so far.  A little overwhelming, but golden.  The “my account” feature is easy to understand, with a nice little table of when and how much each loan will repay.  As part of the registration, they ask for approximate income and investment experience, and have helpful notifications to make sure that you aren’t investing more than you can afford and that you realize the investments are risky. (Individually, microfinance clients have an extremely high repayment rate.   They’re just often in areas that have a higher chance of, say, descending into civil war at the drop of a hat or getting swept away by a hurricane.)

Lend For Peace:  Easy to use, but only allows you to lend to one entrepreneur at a time — you have to go through the whole payment process again to lend to someone else.  I’m going to contact them and ask about it; I may well have just clicked on the wrong button.

United Prosperity: Very easy to use.  You can lend as little as $10 to each client, which let me lend to several to spread my funds around nicely.

Wokai: Very nice loan writeups — much more detail than any of the other sites.  Selecting loans went very smoothly.  Like United Prosperity, you can lend as little as $10.  They also tend to have smaller loan amounts than some other sites, so it feels like my money’s going further.  But they don’t seem to allow payment through Paypal, which messes up my “recycle Kiva funds” plan somewhat (Kiva credit can only be repayed through Paypal), and I had a glitch with Google Checkout.  I’ve asked them about it, and I’ll try again later.

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I have ice pop molds!  Starburst shapes and big flat shapes and rocket-ship shapes :-)  With reusable sticks and handy drip guards.  I now have six starburst lemon-flavored unsweetened ice pops.

And of course it’s much less hot today…

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