Living and thriving through regenerative practices and a sustainable worldview.

Food

The Nitty Gritty Guide

Check out a new project from Alli and Carlo Manzella, called “The Nitty Gritty Guide – Our Guide To The Good Life“.

The Nitty Gritty Guide

The Nitty Gritty Guide

An excerpt from their site states: “We are a growing number of individuals from various different backgrounds who have come together to share and learn time honored skills, traditional art forms and revive the knowledge that kept our ancestors alive and thriving without the dependency on modern conveniences, imports, petroleum based products, the commercial agricultural system and conventional food.”

These two are interviewing people who are doing work in the areas mentioned above within their local community, in order to spread the word and educate folks about what they’re doing.

Check out their latest interviews here!


Healing Maiden Soup

Healing Maiden Soup

Healing Maiden Soup

OK, ladies.

It’s that time of the month and you’re feeling crampy, bloated, and maybe also dehydrated all at once. Maybe you get headaches and are a little weepy, too.
I’ve found that sometimes, the right food can really help. Hence, my Healing Maiden Soup.

This soup is nourishing, has lots of vitamins and minerals, and is comforting and re-hydrating.  I may be called a blasphemer for this, but… once in a while, there are just some things that chocolate can’t fix. For those times, there’s soup.

Our first ingredient is Stinging Nettle. Nettle is a treasure trove of  nutrients! The dried leaf of nettle contains 40% protein, and also vitamins A, C (perhaps fresh only), D, E, F, K, P, b-complexes, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, high content of the metals selenium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, and also boron, sodium, iodine, chromium, copper,  sulfur and sixteen free amino acids.
Source: http://www.herballegacy.com/Vance_Chemical.html

During this particular phase of a woman’s moon cycle, she needs all the extra nutrients and metals that she can get, particularly iron and selenium. This is what makes nettle such a great ingredient.

But there’s more…

Reishi mushrooms have been known to boost the immune system (which can take a hit when your body is using most of its energy on your moon cycle),  fight viral infections,  help with fatigue and stress, and a whole host of other things. Reishi is also known for emotional and spiritual healing, and can be useful during a time when we are more susceptible to the emotional tides of our moon cycles.

Shiitake mushrooms are good for the kidneys and liver, which helps with the overall load of stress your body is delegating to those organs.  I would theorize that it may also aid the nearby adrenals, which sit atop the kidneys and are considered part of them, in Chinese medicine. Overworked adrenals make handling stress a nightmare, and who needs that?

Sidenote: All mushrooms produce vitamin D2 upon exposure to the UVB rays of sunlight or broadband UVB fluorescent tubes. You can literally take mushrooms you just bought or grew, throw them in a window gills-up (try not to heat them up) for a day or two, and get a higher Vitamin D content from them. This is a great trick in the winter, when sun exposure is lower.  You also always want to heat mushrooms in order to receive their nutritional value. Uncooked mushrooms are essentially just fiber, as the nutrients are not available to our bodies without being heated in some way.  High heat and alcohol also kill those nutrients, so a simmering tea or soup is best, rather than frying or tincturing.

Next, we have some roots. Ginger and turmeric add flavor, but are also great anti-inflammatories, which can help with feelings of being bloated, and also with cramping.

Escarole, the featured green in this soup,  is a member of the chicory lettuce family, and its nearly 50 micrograms of vitamin K per serving supplies between 60 and 74 percent of an adult’s daily vitamin K requirement. Vitamin K is essential in proper blood clotting, which is important for menstruating women.  It also contains approximately 1.9 milligrams of vitamin C and 64 micrograms of folate, as well as 16 milligrams of calcium — 1.6 percent of the RDA of calcium for all adults — and 0.46 milligrams of iron. This amount of iron only fulfills 2.5 percent of the RDA of a woman’s RDA of iron, but having a high iron content is not always good, so in conjunction with nettle, we have multiple sources available, without risk of too much.  Escarole is also high in calcium and potassium, two essential nutrients that we are often lacking sufficient amounts of.
Source: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-escarole-lettuce-2188.html

Leeks contain 52.2%  RDA of vitamin K, and together with the 60-70% found in escarole, make sure that our blood remains healthy. They also contain important amounts of the flavonoid kaempferol, which has repeatedly been shown to help protect our blood vessel linings from damage, including damage by overly reactive oxygen molecules. They are also high in folates and manganese, contain Vitamins A, C, and B6,  calcium,  potassium and iron.

As you can see, this soup is a powerhouse of nutrients, so without further adieu, here is the recipe.

Healing Maiden Soup

Ingredients:

Water
Reishi mushrooms – dried
Shiitake mushrooms – fresh
Dried Nettles (can also use fresh, instead of Escarole)
Fresh Escarole
Rice noodles
Leeks
Fresh ginger root – 1/2 inch (do NOT use ginger powder, as it is too strong. If no fresh ginger is available, skip it.)
Sunflower, sesame or other oil – 1 TBSP
Turmeric
Applewood Smoked Sea Salt (Yakima), or other flavorful sea salt – 1 Tbsp or less, if desired
Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free version is available)

  1. Fill a small-medium sized saucepan with water and heat on medium-high setting until water begins to boil slightly.
  2. In the meantime, cut fresh mushrooms, ginger and leeks. Slice escarole into ribbons and then chop in half, so they’re not too long to eat.
  3. Crumble the dried reishi mushrooms or pull into pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a simmer.
  5. Add all mushrooms, leeks, ginger and escarole, and simmer on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the dried nettles, rice noodles, oil, turmeric, and sea salt and simmer until rice noodles are done.
  7. Add Tamari to taste, and serve.

Enjoy!

 


Spring Wild Edibles – Chickweed pesto!

It’s May and there are a lot of wild edibles and medicinals to be found!So far I’ve found violets, trout lily, nettles, fiddleheads, daylilies, oxalis(sourgrass), and mayapple (not edible until later in the summer).
Also… I helped clean out someone’s yard and scored more chickweed than I could have ever imagined!

I quickly made up a jar of tincture, and the rest became a beautiful green pesto.Here, I slathered a huge spoonful of pesto onto a hemp & greens burger.

I’m not a food porn type of person, as I think it’s a rather gluttonous fad, but damn, that pesto made the meal when paired with some sweet potato fries and a dollop of spicy dipping mustard. Mmmm!

Chickweed pesto
My Chickweed Pesto “recipe”:

  • Throw some chickweed into a food processor with a little bit of olive oil and pulse until it starts to blend into a kind of “paste”.
  • Add some pine nuts, or in my case, all I had on hand were some raw pumpkin seeds, aka “pepitos” and some sunflower seeds. Add more olive oil and maybe a little water to get the right consistency.
  • Pulse again.
  • Add a clove or two of garlic, depending on your penchant for garlic. (mine is fierce)
  • Taste, and add salt and little lemon juice to taste.
  • If it’s too thick, add a little more water and oil until it reaches the proper consistency. If it’s too watery, add some more nuts or seeds (you may have to add more of other ingredients to even out the flavor).

YUM!!

Trout lily

Trout lily

Chickweed ID

Chickweed ID – see that little one line of hairs on the stem?


Grow your own caffeine!!!!

Grow your own caffeine!

To make this planter, go here: http://lisapace.com/2011/04/coffee-cup-planter/

With SO many folks dependent on caffeine for their morning wake-up call, it’s a little unnerving to think what might happen if coffee and chocolate imports suddenly stopped flowing. Can you imagine morning rush hour? I’m picturing lots of people on the roads half-asleep and really cranky. A scene ripe for some sloppy, half-hearted, road rage with zombie-like motorists. Not pretty.

While I do not personally choose to partake of things that get my heart-rate speeding,  I do appreciate the occasional shot of caffeine for things like migraines and other health-related nuisances.  So, in order to avoid being left out in the cold if there should be a great coffee or cocoa bean famine, I wondered what can be grown here in North America, that can caffeinate folks and keep ‘em easy to get along with in the early hours.

I found the following crops, with links to more info:

Black tea (C. sinensis) - http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/6466/grow-black-tea-in-your-garden

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) is native to the Southeastern states. This holly features short leaves, about ½-inch long, bright-red berries, dark evergreen leaves and grey bark with white patches. The Youpon holly contains caffeine and it was a popular drink among Native Americans in the area. In fact, it is named “Ilex vomitoria” because people would drink it until full and vomit it up – the plant does not actually cause vomiting. Yaupon holly grows best in USDA zones 7 to 9.
More info also found here:  http://people.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/ilvo.html

Yerba Mate  (Ilex paraguariensis): Another type of holly that can be grown in Zone 10 and higher outdoors, or indoors in a greenhouse environment.
http://www.ehow.com/info_8348882_can-grow-own-yerba-mate.html
http://www.logees.com/Yerba-Mate-Ilex-paraguariensis/productinfo/H8095-2/

A nice table of caffeine-producing plants: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/tilling/sources.htm


Make your own stove from a catfood can!

Andrew Skurka has a great tutorial on how to make your own stove from a catfood can over here.

All you really need is one clean cat/dog food can, a hole punch, and some denatured alcohol to fill it with. Sit your pot on top, and viola!

  

For more info on how best to use it, check out this link.


Lessons from Hurricane Sandy: infrastructure and resilience

I’ve been thinking a bit about this whole hurricane thing, and as is often the case, it has turned to more permaculture-related thoughts.

When my grandfather was a boy, he had a little kerosene lamp to light his way to bed every night. You see, they didn’t have electricity yet. During Hurricane Sandy, my mother used this very same lamp to read by and navigate through a darkened house.
I find it amazing that in around just one generation’s time, we’ve gone from having no electricity, to being so UTTERLY dependent upon it.

I recognize that this is largely due to the fact that electricity has been built into our infrastructure. Generally, we don’t put wood-burning stoves in new homes or apartment buildings. We think of fire as a potential hazard, even if we cherish the warmth of a fireplace enough to make electric versions of them.

All of this brings me back to my grandfather. In his childhood, they had a lot less “infrastructure”, but stronger social relationships. I’ve had a lot of discussions about alternative infrastructure, how to strengthen it, getting off the grid “in order to be self-sufficient”, etc.
But none of those are really the same as talking about the idea of infrastructure ITSELF as being a crutch or a potential obstacle to resilience.

Back in the day, my grandfather’s community, in a town next to where I still live, had a very important discussion. These people were very hard-working folks who believed very much in the church as center of community, and in helping your fellow person out. These people also invented the very first insurance company in the U.S., and the idea of “insurance”, and this was almost a scandal inside the church.

Why? Because they recognized that it had the potential to “relieve” folks of the moral responsibility of helping their fellow community members, since insurance would step in and do what had traditionally been done by people: re-build houses after a fire, loan resources, etc. In the end, it was decided that they would only make “insurance” available to “heathens outside of the church”, in order to not make their own people complacent and apathetic. Obviously, the idea grew past those boundaries, and we now have a nationwide epidemic of insurance fraud and a litigious court system. Our good natures are now actually HAMPERED by insurance liability in many cases. Which is exactly the kind of thing that they were worried about. Oops.

My point is this: is infrastructure that is not based in social relationships, but rather, in contracts, actually an impediment to resilience, both physically and morally?


Word of the day: "Balanoculture"

So, what the heck is “Balanoculture“, you ask? Apparently it’s just a fancy-schmancy word for the process and practice of eating acorns.

It’s already made the rounds a LONG time ago in Greece, Arcadia and even North America when Native Americans were still able to live according to their indigenous cultural practices. And now, once again, as America is jumping on the trendy foody/self-sufficiency bandwagon by casually slinging around the term “Balanoculture” in certain circles.

But lucky for you, I’m on the blunt edge of such fancy-schmancy-ness, and have found a great tutorial on how to make your own acorn flour.

Here it is!

Acorn

Acorn


Think you have no place to grow? Think again!

I just LOVE when people get creative with growing food!


Seed Bombs!

This weekend I’m making seed bombs, or “seedballs” at a children’s festival.
Everyone has been so awesome, both kids AND adults.  I think I’m having as much fun as the kids, if not more!

Seed Balls

But first…  “What are seed bombs?”

Well, basically, they consist of a variety of different seeds rolled within a ball of clay and compost.
The clay keeps the seeds safe from animals and wind, and binds the ball together. Once placed outside, the rain washes the clay slowly away and waters the seeds. (You can also place the ball on top of a pot of soil an water it.)

The compost inside the ball provides nutrients for the seeds to grow.

Many people like throwing the balls over fences into vacant lots to grow flowers. I know someone who throws them up a hill onto railroad tracks where they grow into tall stalks of corn that they have seen others come along and harvest. Whatever YOU do with them is up to you, but I”m sure you’ll have fun!

If you’d like to make your own seed bombs, here’s the recipe I’m using, adapted from the “Heavy Pedal” website:
(Click on image to launch PDF)

Ingredients:

5 parts dry red clay (non-toxic)
3 parts dry organic compost
1 part seed
1 – 2 parts water

Directions:
Step one: Measure three parts of dry compost. This provides a growing medium for your seeds.

Step two: Measure five parts of dry powdered clay. Once mixed with water, the clay will hold the seed balls together.

Step three: Add one part seed.

Step four: Add one to two parts water, and combine.  You want the mixture to be moist,
but not really wet. Add water as you go.

Step five: Roll the seed ball mix into balls 1-2 in. in diameter. Be prepared to get messy!

Step six: Set aside on newspaper for a few days to dry.

Throw your seed balls over fences or into vacant lots. Plant them in containers. Use them anywhere!
(The best time for them to grow is in early spring.)


Make Your Own Korean "Honey Tea"

Found this interesting blog post from Catherine Boley on how to make Korean “Honey Tea”.
It looks delicious and I’m sure going to try it! But I’ll be adding ginger too, per the comments on her post. Mmmmmm.

http://catherineboley.blogspot.com/2009/08/preparing-for-winter.html

 


How to Save Seeds!

Here’s  a GREAT little primer on seed-saving, from the Seed Ambassadors!
http://www.seedambassadors.org/docs/seedzine4handout.pdf


Dehydrating/drying food…

While I’m talking about food, here are a bunch of links on drying food.

Preserving Food: Drying Fruits and Vegetables (almost everything you’d need to know, including re-hydrating and how to build a homemade solar dryer.

I’m also pulling a few links out of the Toolbox (right menu), as they’re classics:

How to Build A Solar Dehydrator For Nearly Free!
How to Make a Solar Food Dehydrater From Beer Cans
Backpacking Chef – How to dehydrate food, and tons of recipes!  Before this website, I had never thought to dehydrate pumpkin pie filling.

*drool*

 


Canning!!!


I’ve been experimenting with canning more and more every year, and it’s really becoming a fun thing to look forward to. I still don’t have a pressure-canner, and it might be a good thing for my social life that I don’t!I found a few resources that are great, and I thought I’d share them here.

Ball has some great stuff in PDF format:

Harvesting and Fresh Preserving Guide (what’s in season, when, and where)
Weights & Measures Conversion Chart (how many pints in a quart, etc.)
Pectin Calculator

Also, some other stuff I ran across that’s helpful:
How to use honey in place of sugar in recipes
Recipe Conversion Calculator (to scale down/up your quantity from a recipe)
This year, the Pick Your Own.org website has been invaluable for recipes that use honey or white grape juice instead of processed sugar (which I won’t use!).

I’ve also learned that you can make straight pectin from tart under-ripe apples or crab apples. Here is a link to a recipes from the Oregon State University Extension Service, but I’ll admit that I have not used it myself yet.
Homemade pectin

Yum!


Food Co-ops Toolkit

A simple guide to setting up food co-ops. :)

http://www.sustainweb.org/foodcoopstoolkit/


Fall Planting Calculator!

Johnny’s is a great seed source, and also has a wonderful Fall Planting Calculator, among other resources, located here:
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-InteractiveTools.aspx


9 Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

Source: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/

Excerpt:

Nine Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

  1. Mow or cut your lawn, weeds, or other vegetation right down to the ground.
  2. Plant any crops that will require a large planting hole (including woody plants, perennials in large pots, and large transplants).
  3. Add soil amendments (as determined by your soil test).
  4. Water the whole area thoroughly. You are going to be putting a layer of cardboard or newspaper over it, and rain and irrigation won’t soak through very well until that weed barrier breaks down. Water also helps the decomposition process get going.
  5. If you have compost materials that may contain weed seeds (like fresh manure, leaves, or hay), spread them in layers on the ground. Put a dry, carbonaceous layer of hay or shredded leaves below any manure layer. Avoid thick layers, and make sure to get a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio just as if you were building a compost pile (see Start with the Soil or other gardening books for details). Water this layer well.
  6. Lay down a weed barrier. I prefer to use large sheets of cardboard from appliance stores, because these last longer and are quicker to lie down. You can use layers of wet newspaper too. Make sure to have a 4- to 6-inch overlap where sheets meet so buried weeds can’t find a route to the surface. If you have already planted crops, or have other preexisting plants, don’t mulch over them. Cut holes in the cardboard to make some breathing space for each plant (or leave some room around each plant when laying newspaper).
  7. Now you can add your weed-free organic materials. I like to keep it simple, and just add a nice layer of compost. You can also do some sheet composting here, alternating layers of nitrogen-rich materials like fresh grass clippings with carbonaceous materials like weed-free straw.
  8. Now you add your final top mulch layer, at least 3 inches thick. Water the whole bed thoroughly once again. Your sheet mulch bed is complete.
  9. You can plant right into your bed if you like. To plant tubers or potted plants, just pull back the top layers until you get to the weed barrier. Cut an X in the cardboard or newspaper. If you are transplanting a large plant, peel back the corners of the X. Throw a double handful of compost in the planting hole and then put in the plant. Pull the layers and top mulch back around the plant, water well, and you’re all set. Planting seeds is easy too. Just pull back the top mulch to the compost layer and plant your seeds. You may want to cut through the weed barrier below first, depending on weed pressure below the barrier. If you are planting seeds, be sure to water regularly, as compost on top of cardboard can dry out quickly.

See that itty-bitty yard space out front?

BAM!! Awesomeness!

Please go visit http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/ for more!


Make your own yogurt in a crock pot!

Source: http://www.thankfullythrifty.com/2012/03/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crock-pot/

Minimal effort plus 13-17 hours of waiting time= yogurt awesomeness!

Check it out here!

Make Yer Own Yogurt!


Produce Calendars

From: http://chasingdelicious.com/produce-calendars/

Awesome charts for eating seasonally from Chasing Delicious!

Seasonal Vegetables


 

Seasonal Herbs


 

Seasonal Fruit


A Disturbing Trend

A snippet from a great piece of writing on permaculture, race, and good intentions. Please click through and read the whole article, it’s a very good read, and is something that I think is not being discussed as much as it should be within the “sustainability” community.

Source: http://www.beblackandgreen.com/content/disturbing-trend

“Over the past few years, I have attended several national, state and local good food conferences at which various non-profit organizations doing work in schools and/or community gardens in urban communities were featured in powerpoint presentations or slide shows.  Invariably, at least one of the images features a group of inner-city Black children posing in a garden or kitchen with one, two or three young white adults, standing with them, smiling broadly…”


How To Store Produce Without Plastic

So… I received a DMCA Takedown Notice from:

http://myplasticfreelife.com

for re-publishing their content on “How To Store Produce Without Plastic”.

I’d normally publish an apology, but noticed that THEIR content is actually taken directly from http://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/veggie-storage.pdf 

So there you have it- the ORIGINAL source in PDF format, freely given.


Portable Poly Pipe High Tunnel Hoop House Construction Plans‏

The Noble Foundation poly pipe hoop house was developed in response to the needs of growers for a low cost, portable structure. It is the product of three years of research and development conducted at the Foundation’s Headquarters Farm.

Download plans here in pdf format:
http://www.noble.org/global/ag/horticulture/poly-pipe-hh-plans/nf-ho-12-01.pdf


CSA model applied to fair trade coffee

For you caffeine junkies, a way to sip with a conscience – 100% farmer owned.

http://coffeecsa.org/

 


DIY Herb Dryer

Old window screen attached to picture frames and some chain.
Brilliant!I think you could also use old stockings instead of window screen, as long as the weave was large enough to let air through.

Here’s a tutorial!

 


Support 'Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act' to help decentralize food system

http://www.naturalnews.com/035214_local_food_farms_jobs.html#ixzz1op3dOqMu

Sunday, March 11, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Federal food policies that distribute billions of taxpayer dollars every year to subsidize the growth of commodity crops like genetically-modified (GM) corn and soy are largely responsible for the dismal state of food quality and health in our nation today. But Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) have introduced a new bill known as the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act that would help decentralize the food system and promote diversified, small-scale farming operations capable of meeting the growing demand for clean, fresh, local foods.

At least $12 billion a year is currently allocated to subsidize industrial-scale agriculture systems like pesticide-ridden GM crop mega-farms, and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that hold tens of thousands of animals in filth. Meanwhile, only about $100 million a year is allocated to support local food programs that grow and distribute fresh, clean food.

But all this can change with the passage of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which will provision more money from the Farm Bill for small-scale, organic farmers, and help bring more clean, local food into public school lunchrooms. And since hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill, which will establish federal food policy for the next five years, are already taking place, now is the time to contact your congressmen and urge support for the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act.

"American consumers want access to healthy, fresh foods and farmers should be able to sell it to them," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) about the bill. "Local and regional food systems help the communities where farmers and consumers live growing the economy and creating jobs while improving public health and nutrition."

You can read the entire Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act by visiting:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.1773:

Investing in local food systems will help reverse the obesity, chronic disease epidemic in America
Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are among the top chronic conditions that afflict millions of Americans today, many of whom consume a steady diet of corn- and soy-laden processed foods that are artificially inexpensive because of federal food subsidies. And while more and more people are learning the truth about processed foods and seeking out healthy alternatives, federal policies make it difficult for small-scale farmers to earn a living and provide healthy food for their communities.

“For too long, funding provided by the United States’ most far-reaching food and farm legislation has primarily benefited agri-business and large scale industrial-scale commodity farms that aren’t growing food,” writes Kari Hamerschlag on the EWG blog. “Instead, they’re growing ingredients for animal feed, fuel and highly processed food — at a high cost to our nation’s health, environment and rural communities.”

The federal government has no place interfering in agriculture in the first place, but if it is going to redistribute taxpayers’ money into the food system, it needs to promote the systems that lead to improved nutrition and better health — small-scale, diversified farms.

To learn more, visit:
http://www.ewg.org/local-farms-food-and-jobs-act

To contact your congressmen and urge support for the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, visit:
http://action.ewg.org

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ewg.org/local-farms-food-and-jobs-act

http://www.ewg.org

http://www.farmbillfacts.org/agenda-2012/farm-bill-timeline