Aquilegia formosa

I’m in! February 26, 2010

Filed under: Fight Back Friday,Food,Sustainable — aquilegiaformosa @ 6:38 pm
Tags: , , , ,

With NDiN’s Real Food Challenge, that is.
Yes, I just declared my intention in the comments on this post 🙂 I’m feeling a little nervous, but my kids are on board. They’re excited to help ‘save the planet’ (their term.  7 yr olds are so precocious!)

And I’m also counting this as my very first Fight Back Friday post! I’ve been wanting to participate since the New Year. I finally feel I have something that ‘counts’.

Our goals are:

  1. homemade bread (borrowing sil’s bread maker)
  2. homemade tortillas (stepson prefers these to bread in school lunches)
  3. crackers and granola bars (we’re going to experiment, the kids are going to keep an open mind)
  4. homemade pizza crust every Friday (Pizza Movie Night, our ‘hooray for the end of the week (again, their term :))!’)

Basically, I’m working towards all our own bread products. Cereal will take awhile for my boys, but I’ll try an alternate breakfast every other day. Muffins, or pancakes. Maybe granola or oatmeal? (Granola might be a tough sell!)

The big project is how to fit it all into my crazy schedule. We started eating these foods for a reason – convenience. While I’d dearly love to slow my lifestyle down to the point where it’d be easy to make all these things, the reality is, I’m on the home stretch, education-wise (finishing up 4 out of 5 years to get my BSW), and I just CAN’T slow that down. So I’m looking at how to add on 30 to 60 minutes of baking time a day, when to make what, all that stuff.

For starters, I’m going to pick up the bread maker this weekend, and try a batch. I’ll also try a batch of my stepmother’s 18 hour no-knead bread, and search for some cracker recipes. I’ll make the pizza dough on Thursday during dinner prep, and let it rise in the fridge. (I used to do this a lot, but then I went back to university, so it’s been a few years.)

Wish me luck!

 

in which I lower my expectations February 12, 2010

My intentions for this blog have been overwhelming me. I want to post a well-written, carefully thought out article about 2 or 3 times a week. I am just too busy to meet my own expectations! Thus, time to lower the expectations. 🙂 Maybe a post a week, maybe more journal like, and less article like.

I’ve been reading lots of great stuff on the ‘net. A particularly good source has been Surviving the Suburbs, a new-to-me blog about prepping for a low-energy future. Today’s post includes the following:

the key to transforming the world is starting from a mental place of abundance, not scarcity

and

even though we seem to be surrounded by so much, with the consumeristic mindset, we’re actually in a scarcity model, in which we work at meaningless tasks so that we can earn, essentially, worthless currency to buy more stuff that we probably don’t really need.

Another post included a link to the Archdruid Report. That post included this lovely gem:

empire is the methamphetamine of nations

Love it. There isn’t much separating the haves (in the post, the US. I’d say the whole global north) from the have nots (third world countries) except for our high standard of living and our massive energy and resource consumption. It’s a slippery slope, and we’re halfway down.

I also just finished reading the novel “The Book of Negroes”. It was fantastic. It describes how England and other European nations were able to create their empires – by exploitation.

 

time to try the home creamery? February 1, 2010

Filed under: Food,Sustainable — aquilegiaformosa @ 2:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Those folks over at Not Dabbling in Normal posted this which discusses making butter and ghee at home. There are also links to the author’s blog, Chiot’s Run with step-by-step how-to guides. The ghee is meant to be a (partial) replacement for non-local olive oil, I believe, but I think it better replaces other vegetable oils like canola, etc, due to the higher smoke point. I wonder if it’s a good choice for deep frying?

The NDiN post also mentions using milk that had soured a bit to make a quick pressed cheese. I love this frugal tip! It makes me think of my grandfather (who grew up in England during the 30’s and 40’s) saying “use it up!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about dairy products lately, as well as the pros and cons of trying raw milk. Many of my favorite sustainable, frugal, local food blogs talk about buying local raw milk. However, these writers are American, and are thus choosing not to use a very different kind of milk than what is sold in Canada. For example, my cousin, who is very into the Slow Food movement, says Canadian milk does not contain antibiotics. I’ve only her word to go on at this point, as I haven’t researched either the Canadian or the American mainstream commercial product, but it’s certainly food for thought. This site from California has some raw milk facts.

The idea of healthy, raw, local milk is somewhat appealing, however, it is illegal(!) to sell it in British Columbia. Home on the Range has a creative solution; interested individuals can buy a “share” in the herd and hire an “agister” (“one who takes care of cattle for a fee”) and then pay a weekly “maintenance” fee. I love the political subversion of this, which is likely more common than just in BC, as the NDiN post mentions doing the same thing in Ohio, as does this Globe and Mail article about an Ontario farm.

One share is $17.50/week for a gallon of milk. That’s $910/year, plus the share price. If I want butter or cream, it’s an additional $8, for 8 or 16 oz., respectively. $8 for half a pound?! That’s at least $8/week, or $416/year, plus extra when I bake, so maybe another $100/year. Right now I pay about $4 to $4.50/lb for conventional butter and less than $3/litre of half and half (10% m.f.) cream. However, since this is about baby-steps, instead of freaking myself out looking at costs per year, I could always start low-key, with a quarter share, for $50 and $5/week for a quart of milk. That’s $260/year, or $22/month.

The jury’s still out on this one, but I think it’s time to give yogurt a try. Maybe also look into soft cheeses, and purchasing the necessary cultures.

 

homemade iced tea January 28, 2010

file this one under baby steps:

My husband, a major consumer of Nestle’s brand iced tea, decided to make his own today. He had stayed home sick from work, and was apparently feeling better in the afternoon. He made two batches about 3.5 L each. One was sweeter than the other, and we’ll do taste tests to see which one still tastes best tomorrow and the next day. By then it’ll likely be gone, so we’ll have to have gotten enough data to choose!

I’m so impressed, I made one comment about how it’d be cheaper, and we do have tons of Earl Gray tea, his favorite. I also read the label, because I’m becoming a Food Renegade (see button on side bar 🙂 ). Step 1 is ‘become a label Nazi’ and the commercial brand has high fructose corn syrup, which, according to the video, below, must be from GMO corn. Ew.