Monthly Archives: June 2011

Best Summer Gift: Food Wisdom

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Traveling over 35 hours in the car, down to LA over to Lake Havasu up to Las Vegas and back to Bend, all in three days, needless to say, my dad and I talked a lot. One of my obvious main interests as of late is canning and preserving, and my parents are canning gurus. So, I was filling the tiny, hot cab of the car (it was 109 in Lake Havasu at 830pm!) with many questions, “But what about botulism?” “How much water should there be” “When did you do…” And with my father’s answers, along with a book on preserving, I was beginning to feel better prepared to start this summer of preserving. But one thing was missing, the right (expensive) tools.  When we returned to Bend, my dad, being the saint he is, pulled out an old dusty silver pot. Immediately I knew what it was; his mother’s pressure canner, complete with canning racks. He told me I could have it, or at least use it for as long as a wanted. And voila… my canning adventures have begun!

Though I did not can this kimchi, I finished it a couple of days ago and it should be ready to eat by tomorrow or the next. Extracting the whey from the yogurt was a simple as leaving yogurt in cheese cloth in the fridge while I drove down to cali, and coming back to about 4 cups of whey and 4 cups of potential cream cheese (just need to stir in some salt or spices for flavor) from a big Nancy’s Organic Plain Yogurt container. The recipe only called for about a quarter cup of whey, so I put the rest in the freezer to use again later. I thought the kimchi process was going to be a stinky, unpleasant one, but it was quite the opposite. My house smelled of ginger and garlic for the next few hours and even the fermented cabbage now smells just as a good as when I first placed it in the jar. I recommend!

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Oh, forgot to mention, my california trip also resulted in “smuggling” back 75 pounds of no spray oranges for a  mere 18 dollars. Only 25lbs are mine, but it still looks like I will be making some juice to freeze, marmalade, orange syrup, and candied orange peel soon. Christmas gifts? :)

Last thing… had my first solo baking shift last night, everything turned out great. A little large, but hey, guess the customers are getting a little more bang for their buck.

I am so grateful for the gifts of food knowledge everyone is bestowing on me this summer. This is truly the kind of stuff that the UO should be teaching me. Thank you to the Urban Farm, but we students, youth, children, generation x,  need more life and self-sustainability knowledge. What can I do? How do I spread the information and help get the future generation interested?

Operation Preservation Commence

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A constant mist during a Eugene Saturday Market causes misfortune to farmers, but great fortune to bakers. All the farmers wanted was a nice comforting cookie, or a sweet thing to take their minds off of their soggy feet, and, in exchange, a pint of strawberries, a head of cabbage, a bunch of basil; before I knew it, I was knee deep in produce. I managed to come home with a half flat of strawberries, two heads of cabbage, carrots, spinach, fennel, dill, basil, mushrooms, cilantro, and more! Certainly more then one girl can eat alone. So, let the early summer preservation commence!

I am actually going to test a couple recipes and refrigerate them, before beginning an all out canning spree. The first of my tests is Kimchi. Kimchi is an asian fermented food similar to sauerkraut but with added vegetables like carrots and onions, and the typical flavors of many asian foods with the sweet and spicy kick. I was loaned the book, Nourishing Traditions, that has a Kimchi recipe that uses whey. Lacto-fermented  foods have more probiotics and nutrients and are generally more “traditional.” Whey is very simple to acquire, simply pour a nutritious organic yogurt in a cheesecloth lined strainer over a bowl, leave out for a few hours, and there’s your whey! Whats left over is somewhere in between cream cheese and yogurt. Enjoy! (Find the Kimchi recipe under the “recipe” header).

Another easy recipe is pesto. Just throw some basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and your choice of nut (I am fortunate to have pine nuts right now, but walnuts are in season and work just as well), and blend up. There is also the option of using Parmesan instead of salt, but I like to keep my pesto vegan. Also, adding sun dried tomatoes, lemon juice, thyme, cilantro, etc., are all great ways to mix it up. If the pesto needs to be “beefed” up a bit, throw in some extra greens from the fridge: spinach, arugula, etc. Pesto freezes very well.

I plan on making freezer jam (seeing as though I am low on finances and cannot afford to buy canning supplies just yet…) within the next couple days, as well as heading over to Me and Moore farms in a couple of weeks for some U-Pick cherries. Its a little bit of a late season, but I can’t wait to try making some cherries preserves, which will eventually turn into wine when Shane gets home!

Oh, one more thing… already the ants have come marching in, and this year I refused to give into the chemical option of exterminating the ants:

  1. first try: 1/2 lemon juice, 1/2 water= sticky mess and sticky ants,
  2. second try: vinegar= slowed down ants, killed on contact, but more later
  3. third times a charm: cinnamon= no death and no pests. the ants wont walk over the cinnamon i sprinkled in front of the door and along the edge of the cabinets. the strong scent deters them because they cannot follow the trail of the other ants.  Yay cinnamon!

More summer fun to come!

The lonely girls guide to a fulfilling summer…

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A write this with swollen eye lids from the day past. After hours spent in mass hysteria to figuring out how to get an individual from Seattle to Paris, we said our final good byes, and the count down began… 84 days til my best friend and love returns. I can do this right?

Well for the next few days I will have the distraction of cleaning and unpacking our new home. Shane gave me a plant to take care of while he was gone and a clock with the time set to France time, I think those may be the centers of attraction in my decorating.

I have also created my lonely girls guide to a fulfilling summer:

  1. yoga at least three times a week at the Y
  2. pottery classes once a week plus one extra day in studio (need to make a pot for my plant and hoping to get a dish set going)
  3. cardio 4-5 times a week (long lush bike rides are included in this), weights 2-3 times a week
  4. write blog once at least every two weeks (meaning finding new recipes, resources, projects, etc)
  5. brew a batch of beer/cider every 3 weeks (next batch ideas= orange heff,
  6. sew more! grocery bags, earrings, dresses, etc
  7. attend more around town events: i am hoping to go to more cozmic pizza events since i live 5 minutes from The Strand, also bingo nights on mondays at Sam Bonds
  8. Start bellydancing classes once a week at the Y
  9. Go to the Urban Farm at least once a week.
  10. Skype with Shane once a week

I think this is a really good start to keeping my schedule busy, but exciting, and good for my body and soul.

My heart hurts now, and I think will continue to hurt. But I am also overwhelmed with the happiness and experiences he will have in the months following. For nearly 5  years we have been  in each others arms, the time apart will hopefully teach us that we are still individuals with skills and interests, and hopefully, when he returns, we can share those with each other and become more enlightened as a whole.

Shane Home Countdown

New home new start.

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So, I figured the best way to get my start off on the right *green* foot is to begin fresh with a new home. This new home will be about efficient use of products, little waste, and just overall happy fresh livin. The first thing I am going to do is call EWEB to set up my electricity. But this time I will be signing up with EWEB’s GreenPower option; for just $0.01 more per Kilowatt hour I will be using green energy. 72% of the electricity comes from wind power and the rest comes from biogas and solar energy. Last month I used about 550 Kilowatt hours and at hour highest I think it was around 800. So thats between 5 and 8 dollars extra a month. There is also the option to sign up for Kilowatt blocks, so that you just exchange portions of your electricity for renewable energy. This is so simple, I cant believe I did not do it earlier.

Also, thankfully our new landlord has already replaced all the light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which last much longer and save a ton of energy, not to mention he put a ten year battery in the fire detector. 

The next thing I would like to do is switch all my shampoo and soap containers to reusable one and begin refilling them at Sundance. Its a very simple process and will help to keep me from using that  not-very-easy-to-recycle plastic. I plan to do this with many things in my house: dry food, cleansers, soaps, etc. Speaking of cleansers, I also plan on just keeping bottles of vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda water around for cleaning (found some recipes for more heavy duty cleaners that include Worcestershire sauce strange I know!).

Other simple green ideas include:  (1) set up a three (four sort of) refuse “station:” One for recycles, one for cans/bottle return stuff, one for trash, and outside I will have my compost bin as always (which i have been doing already, but I want to make it more efficient). My goal is to only have to take out the actual trash once a month. I think that is a pretty good goal and hope to cut it down even more than that. (2) sew more grocery bags for family (got about 4 done for myself). (3) use a linen coffee filter (4) continue growing herbs and hang strawberry plants. Also, some more expensive things I would like to get eventually are organic cotton or wool sheets and comforter, as well as organic cotton towels. Some day…

These things all feel very manageable and a simple, yet logical next step to lightening the load I place on the Earth.