Tuesday, 31 August 2010

What the World Needs Now

by Gavin, The Greening of Gavin

As Burt Bacharach wrote “What the world needs now, is love sweet love”! Not in the physical sense, but in the community sense. Things like pride of place, which is a sense of community love or to put it in a better way, pride of where you and others around you live.

I have described previously I believe that to live fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle, you need other like minded people to share the journey with you. It is a lonely place to be in if you attempt to down-shift in isolation or take steps to build a sustainable community without others to help and to share the passion and to bounce ideas off of.

I have found that people who attempt to live this kind of lifestyle, usually are involved in at least one community group, sometimes two or three depending on their interests. This is a great way to meet like minded people, learn new skills and to build long lasting friendships. However, with these connections there comes a greater responsibility to other than self.

You have the needs, desires and well-being of others to contend with. I liken it to an extended family, who care about each other, which I believe leads to a deep sense of belonging. Humans want to belong, other wise we would not have congregated into hamlets, village, towns, cities or megalopolises over the last 10,000 years.

With these communal structures in place other needs begin to become fulfilled, like security of food, water, shelter and the like. Even in bad times, a tight knit community looks out for one another.

Now, having a strong and dare I say, loving community structure is a great goal to achieve and it reminds me of the country town I grew up in. I must admit that I had forgotten about the one resource that is sustainable, renewable, abundant and is not peaking - love and compassion:

Personally, I for one will not stop caring for my community, the environment and planet Earth. I believe we can create a sustainable and peaceful future together because I truly believe in human nature.

I know we can show this planet we love it!!!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Wildcrafting and Cheap Entertainment

by Danelle @ My Total Perspective Vortex

One of the ways I am expanding my pantry this year is to explore the natural resources in our timber. Look what I found....

Wild plum and elderberry. I found these while taking a walk with the girls on Friday. Last year a friend made me elderberry syrup that I used whenever I felt a cold coming on and I was the only one in the house who didn't really ever get sick last winter. Awesome. I hope to make some syrup of our own for this winter.

The wild plum was unexpected. It is in a place that it should have been obviously blooming in the Spring and we totally missed it. How is that possible? Very excited about the plums.

And.....I have these in flower vases. My girls love to pick flowers and these little beauties are EVERYWHERE. Flowers really do make me smile and a tiny girl with both hands full of flowers for mama makes me smile bigger than I ever imagined was possible.

Here they are riding along side of my walking. Lily is teaching Holly how to "drive".  Taking long walks in our back yard/woods is a wonderfully simple way to spend an evening. We packed some peaches and juice and called it a night.

I think with all the entertainment options for kids and adults alike we can easily forget the free option of a nice walk outside. We did this when we lived cityside too. And while taking these walks in the city we would meet neighbors and find fruit trees, much like we do out here in the country. Right now our neighbors are breeding cows and harvesting silage and hay.

There are hidden resources to be discovered. What are some you have found?

Friday, 27 August 2010

Dutch Oven Baking

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
It's summertime here, and for me, that means camping. My dad loved being outdoors in the Colorado Rockies - hunting, fishing, and camping - and passed that love on to his children. I now live in Nevada, my sister four hours away in California. Between us lies the Sierra Nevada mountain range - a perfect halfway meeting area for joint camping trips whenever we can manage it.

When we meet, shortly after setting up camp, it's show & tell time - to share any new camping gadget or accessory we've found. A couple of years ago, my latest toy was a small cast iron dutch oven. This is a real one - not a flat-bottomed one designed to be used on a stovetop or inside an oven, but one with feet and a rim around the top to hold the coals. And I wanted to learn to use it as an oven - serving up fresh, hot baked goods in my campsite.

As with all my cast iron cookware, I took the time to season the oven before using it, then clean it without using soap and heat it to make sure it's completely dry after use. It's pretty much non-stick now anyway, but I also grease it well while still cold, each time before baking, just to make sure.

I've turned out some pretty good cornbread, using my regular recipe, and camping pizza is next on the experimentation list. For these photos, I used a pop-open roll of refrigerated cinnamon rolls (a special treat for my nephews).

Maybe someday I'll be able to correctly judge the heat from campfire coals, but for now using charcoal briquettes is my best chance for something edible. Each briquette equals about 15 degrees F (-9.5C) of cooking heat, so for a 350F (177C) oven I need 23-24 briquettes. I count those out into my little starter chimney and get them going first thing. When they're pretty much completely covered with ash, I dump them out to start baking.

A set of tongs is useful for setting the briquettes in place. For baking, you want mostly indirect heat so a 2:1 ratio, top:bottom, is ideal. I evenly space one-third of the coals around on flat ground, set the oven on top of them, and then arrange the remaining two-thirds evenly around the top. If I have the heat right, timing is about the same as in a regular oven. My nose is also a pretty good guide - the smell of cinnamon is soon wafting on the breeze.

When done, a claw hammer makes a good tool for lifting the oven off the coals, and then lifting the hot lid without tipping the coals into the oven. With a metal spatula, I can then tip up an edge of the bread, and lift it out of the oven in one piece (for pizza, I'm thinking I might make lifting handles from a strip of greased foil pressed into the bottom before adding the dough and toppings).

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Summer Season in Review

by Francesca


My garden is showing the first hints of autumn, and since this is my last post at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op for the month of August, it seems a good opportunity to look back at the summer season. I take my lead here from Amber of Strocel.com, and her neat tradition of “A Month in Review” in which she lists and briefly comments on the main things she's learned during that month. I'd like to do the same today, as some of the things I've learned during this gardening season have come from the readers of this blog.

So, here are some of the things I learned so far:

  1. Intercropping requires careful short-term and long-term planning. I made two main mistakes this year: I intercropped radicchio, chili peppers and carrots, to combine a leaf, a vegetable, and a root vegetable. However, it didn't occur to me that I was growing three plants of the same height, quite close together, and all three with long growing cycles. As a result, the plant stuck in the middle (the chili peppers), which happened to be the one I was most interested in, didn't grow very well. Also, I intercropped perennial flowers of the Asteraceae family, like calendula officinalis, with my vegetables, not considering that the perennials will make it difficult to hoe and work the soil next spring without damaging them.

  2. I planted potatoes for the first time in many years (here), and learned from Brenda of Sense of Home how to cure them before storing them here.

  3. When in doubt, it's wise to over-plant. I planted enough tomatoes for eating fresh, but not enough for canning. I knew I was going to be on the road for a whole month, and I was afraid the tomato plants might not make it. As it turned out, they were among the vegetables that did the best during my month away (here). Had I planted more, right now I'd be putting up tomato sauce.

  4. Mulching is a great practice to use while you're on the road, as Sue of Garden Notes suggested in the comments here: it retains moisture and it suppresses weed growth.

  5. Neem oil is a natural remedy that diluted can be successfully used in the garden as a parasiticide and an insecticide, as Theresa of All of Us, and AG Ambroult of Elemental commented (here, with more suggestions on homemade insects repellants).

But perhaps the most important lesson I learned – or rather, re-learned – this season is that when it comes to gardening, you can never stop learning.

What did you learn in your garden this season?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Saving the Freshness of Summer

Here at Chiot's Run we make sure we're enjoying all the fresh tastes of summer. Since we've been trying to eat more seasonally and not spend as much time canning & preserving, I've been making sure to enjoy things as they're at their peak. That means we've been eating sliced fresh tomatoes with every meal.

One of our other favorite fresh summer tastes is pesto. I usually make a batch and we enjoy it on; homemade pasta, pizza, toast, vegetables, etc. My pesto recipe is very simple, I use walnuts or pecans instead of pine nuts because I always have some in the freezer.

1/4 cup of walnuts
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup good olive oil
3 T. butter
1/4 cup romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Add walnuts, garlic and basil to food processor and process until finely chopped. Drizzle with 1/3 cup of good olive oil and process until combined, add 3 Tablespoons of butter and pulse until blended. Empty contents into bowl and stir in cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to rest for a few hours before serving.

This particular batch of pesto was enjoyed over some fresh linguine that I made last night. There's enough left over for something else, I'm thinking make a white lasagne with cheese and pesto and no marinara.

What are you enjoying at the peak of it's fresh flavor?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.