Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Layer in the Nutrition

by Chiot's Run

There are many simple steps you can take to layer extra nutrition and nourishment into your food. Spices and herbs are one of the best ways. Many people assume that they just add flavor and don't realize the nutritional value that they add to the foods that you eat. Most herbs and spices are very valuable in terms of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals they contain. Consider cinnamon for example, it has a regulatory effect on blood sugar. It's not a coincidence that it's often paired with starchy foods like pancakes, french toast, oatmeal and bread. It's also a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. It can fight e-coli and inhibit bacterial growth in the food it's in.

Layering in Nutrition

Consider also cayenne pepper, which we add to most of the meals we eat. It adds vitamins A, C, B6, K, and manganese to your diet. It helps with digestion, helps relieves ulcer pain, and can rebuild stomach tissue. It boosts circulation and is said to help stop heart attacks. Whenever I'm sick I drink plenty of cayenne tea and it works wonders to break up congestion. Cayenne seems like a wonder spice when you read about it.

Homegrown Garlic, Rosemary & Lemon Thyme

Cinnamon and cayenne are not unique either, all spices and herbs are nutrition powerhouses. If you're not in the habit of adding lots of herbs and spices to your food, get a few books from the library or spend some time on-line reading up on the health benefits of various herbs and spices. You'll be amazed at the amount of vitamins and minerals you can add in and some wonderful flavor with it!

Do you add lots of herbs and spices to your foods for the health benefit?

Monday, 4 April 2011

Making Compost Tea

by Throwback at Trapper Creek


Gardening season is just getting underway here in the form of starting transplants in the hoop house. Once the seedlings get their true leaves I like to water them with a weak solution of compost tea, at least once a week or more often if they need a boost. I also like to have compost tea on hand for transplanting to help the plants get over the shock of handling. Compost tea a great make-at-home fertilizer.

Covered compost pile.

We compost our livestock manure, so that is what we use, but any compost will work fine.
Supplies you will need:

Container - anything from a 5 gallon bucket to a 55 gallon drum.
Tea bag - recycled mesh onion bag works great.
Shovel
Stick or dowel for dunking.
Compost

I'm making about 30 gallons of tea, so I am filling my onion bag about three fourths of the way with aged compost. The more compost you add the stronger your tea will be. It can be diluted or applied directly as long as you use aged manure or compost.




Using the tie on the onion bag slip the stick through.

Place tea bag in container of water. I used spring water - rain water would be great and if you have municipal water, fill your container and wait a day or so to let the chlorine dissipate before making your tea.

I leave my tea bag on the stick so I can dunk it if needed, or take it out when I need to use the tea. It's no fun fishing around in a murky barrel for the top of the bag.


The initial dunking produced a fairly dark concoction. I will let this sit about a week before using to make sure it is full strength.

It's best to keep the container covered, to keep out rain.

Warmer gardening weather can't come soon enough for me. Our weather is vacillating between snow, sun, rain and hail these days. How is your gardening season starting out?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Eggs for 18,000, Please

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
With Easter coming up, you might be thinking about dying some eggs for your family. But what if you'd like to host an Easter egg hunt for the whole town? Here's a post from my blog how to go about it:

My fingers are orange. I've been dying Easter eggs. I've been dying a LOT of Easter eggs. Sixty-three cases, holding 24 dozen each, equals 18,144 eggs; plus the 2,000 plastic eggs we filled with candy, and a select few more with vouchers for bigger prizes.

Those whose egg dying exploits are limited to a household dozen or so might be curious about procedures for Easter egg production on such a scale. First, you send out a plea to the community for helpers on the Saturday before Easter. Find an egg source, and some sort of refrigerated space. Then, figure out how you're going to hard-boil all those eggs. In years past, the Nevada National Guard has helped by bringing out their emergency response cooking vats to boil our vast quantities of eggs, but their services and personnel have been stretched too thin to help the past few years.

So, you ask the community to lend their deep-fat turkey fryers. I didn't count, but we probably had at least 15 lined up and cooking. Get the water simmering, and add lots of salt to keep any broken eggs from sticking to the rest of the batch. Make egg baskets out of chicken wire, two per cooker. Set up an unpacking station - taking the raw eggs out of the cartons and filling the baskets. Each basket holds five dozen eggs.

Start boiling. Cook each basket of eggs about 30 minutes. Normal cooking time at our altitude would be around 20 minutes, but adding that many eggs to the water cooled it down some, and no one wanted to take a chance with an undercooked egg breaking in a child's basket. The cooks would test-crack an egg to check doneness, so there were plenty of eggs for snacking. In the meantime, get your hot dog crew to start setting up - these volunteers are gonna want some lunch soon. Having a beautiful spring day for an undertaking of this size is a definite plus.

Set up your dye vats with cool water and plenty of vinegar. We use food coloring dye by the pint and vinegar by the gallon. Do your primary-color dye batches - red, green, yellow, and blue - first. When you have enough of those colors start some mixed and diluted batches to get orange, purple, apricot, pink, and yellow-green.

Dip and dunk and swirl and tip the baskets of hot eggs in the dye until the dye chiefs are satisfied with the color. Take the eggs over to the packing station and dump them (carefully!) into that color's tub. If you're working this station, an old shirt and latex gloves are a necessity - those folks are very colorful, to say the least. Repack the eggs into single-color cartons and pass them over to the people packing the cartons back into the cases, also labeled by color.

The cases are then wheeled over and packed back into a refrigerated truck, for delivery to the Sunday egg hunt the next day. Get more volunteers to scatter the eggs, line the kids up, and turn 'em loose!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

I Occasionally Want But I Don't Need

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches


















I'm not sure about you, but for many of the people I know I am the only person they know who lives a simple, green, frugal and downshifted life. Many of them would never elect to go without their SUV's, drive through dinners, busy schedules, quest to climb the career ladder, extensive clothing/shoe/jewelry collections, the convenience of disposable diapers or even the use of paper plates {I have a friend who uses paper plates, cups and cutlery for all their meals - going through 72 of each per week!}. One of the main things I've noticed is they struggle to understand why anyone would choose to wash dishes by hand, hang clothes to dry, live without a vehicle, wait for books at the library and wonder how anyone can want those things. I try never to seem perfect or totally put together either on my blog or in real life and I certainly share that there are times I do really wish for a little bit of convenience {usually after a long hard day!} and yes, occasionally I want. The other day after a long day, I thought about all the things I occasionally want and I wrote them down. A few minutes later I countered my wants by identifying what my needs were...

I want to drive a car down a big open road, listen to tunes on the radio & gaze at the sky...but I don't need to own a car.

I want a week of no dishes...but I don't need a dishwasher, I have two hands that work perfectly well

I want a weekend where I don't have to make time to take my food waste to the city compost when my vermicomposting worms aren't quite up to the challenge...but I don't need that time, in fact I like my weekly walk and I certainly like my worms {most days!}

I want to be able to eat 3 mouthfuls of a cookie {which contains gluten} without spending the night with skin bleeding {like it is tonight!}...but I don't need to eat cookies to survive, in fact going without cookies is a good way to make my frugal budget stretch further

I want to have some reprieve from life & eczema by sitting on a beach in the sun for a week or more {just like my Dr. recommended!} and enjoying a good 5* service...but I don't need anything except inner peace and the earth certainly doesn't need those carbon miles!

I want a much healthier bank account...but I don't need anything more than trust, sacrifice and perseverance and I certainly don't need more work hours to give me that bigger bank account

I want a microwave to make my meals in 2 minutes flat...but I don't need things to be ready at the push of a button, there is a rhythm to waiting for good nourishing food that fills my evening routine, which I'd be sad to say goodbye to

I want a week of no dishes...but I don't need a dishwasher, I have two hands that work perfectly well

I want a new wardrobe that doesn't need to be built around my skin issues or a non-existent budget... but I don't need anymore than I have, even if compared to the world it is more than frugal.

I want my clothes to be dried in a dryer with no creases and no extra work of hanging to dry...but I don't need a dryer and there is something exceptionally mentally cleansing about hanging clothes to dry!

I want land with lambs, donkeys, rabbits and chickens {oh my!}... but I don't need anything more than myself in order to live the frugal, simple and green life.


Once I finished writing out my list, I reflected on what life would be like if I had all those wants. The truth is, my life wouldn't be something I personally would want to lead. I have enjoyed my little journey in downshifting, learning self-sufficiency skills and the peaceful rhythm which finds its way into my daily and weekly life. I like that my choices reflect the values I have and that I aim to tread lightly on this earth. Yes I occasionally have hard days, every so often I wish there was a little button I could push to make that particular day easier, but the truth is, I wouldn't swap my new life, or my new choices, to return to my old ways. Nope, no going back!

What things do you occasionally want that you don't need? Do you think about what life would be like if you weren't on this journey? Could you ever go back?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mmmm Eggs

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

Our pullets born here on the farm last year are just coming into lay. And those hens who chose to moult over summer are also laying again. So at last we have an abundance of eggs again. Eggs to make quiche for dinner, to have boiled for packed lunches, to poach and pop onto sourdough toast with cracked pepper and herbs for a delicious brekky... Pink eggs, brown eggs, white eggs, blue eggs, big eggs, tiny eggs and even giant duck eggs sometimes!



Some of my favourite egg recipes are...

Asian Omelette

few cups of cooked noodles
6 eggs (large)
garam marsala, chili or preferred seasoning
a little Massel chicken-style stock powder

Cook noodles as per packet directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Beat eggs with spices and stock powder. Add noodles to egg mix and combine.

Heat a little oil in a heavy-based frypan. Add enough of the mix to cover the base of the pan. As it’s frying, push around the edges so a nice firm ‘cake’ is forming. Once the cake is golden on the bottom, fold in half, omelette-style. Fry a little longer, then flip to fry the other side if you’re not sure it’s done through…

Remove from pan and continue until all the mix is done.

We cut our omlettes in half as we used a large cast iron frypan. We serve them with some plain boiled basmati rice and green vegetables, tamari and some chilli and garlic sauce. Very simple, cheap and filling.


Pumpkin & Spinach Frittata

900g pumpkin, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbspn olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup cream
40g spinach leaves
sprinkle of parmesan & grated cheddar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Bake pumpkin, brushed with oil and garlic, till tender. Line baking dish with paper. Whisk eggs and cream and season. Layer ingredients in dish & bake for 25 minutes.




Zucchini Slice



400g zucchini, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup wholemeal flour + 1tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil
5 eggs, beaten
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients and stir. Smooth into a baking tray and cook for 40 minutes at 180 degrees C. Slice and serve. Can be frozen for lunchboxes.




Custard



2 eggs
3 tbspn cornflour
3 cups milk
3 tbspn sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix and whisk first 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Place onto heat and keep whisking until it becomes thick and creamy. Take off the heat and add sugar and vanilla and whisk through. Don’t add sugar whilst on the heat or custard will stick to the pan.

You can add cocoa (about 1/2 cup) to make chocolate custard or add cinnamon, lemon rind or other spices for a different flavour.



Do you have a favourite recipe to use up excess eggs?