Living and thriving through regenerative practices and a sustainable worldview.

Posts tagged “food

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


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!


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…”


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


USDA Plant Hardiness Map – 2012

Seed catalogs are out, and garden-planning season is abound!
While crazy weather has been the norm lately, it’s still a good idea to plan for seasonal conditions, at least for now. ;)

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map  – 2012

 


Secondary Edible Parts of Vegetables

From:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/newsletters/vpmnews/apr02/art4apr.html

This article by M. J. Stephens, University of Florida, Department of Horticulture, appeared in “Vegetarian,” 98-05.

The culinary reputation of most vegetables is based primarily on the edible qualities of one or sometimes two primary parts of the plant. For example, the tomato is the leading garden vegetable, due to the popular appeal of its fruit, while the turnip contributes both its root and its leaves as table fare. For home gardeners who grow and have the entire vegetable plant at their disposal, other plant parts may be edible, although perhaps not so tasty as the main product. For non-gardeners, however, there is little option for eating parts other than those offered for sale.

The following is a list of ordinary garden vegetables with both commonly-eaten parts and less-frequently eaten parts. Obviously, in a list such as this, there may be quite a few omissions.

Although many of the secondary plant parts are edible, their popularity as food items is diminished by lack of proper flavor or unfavorable texture. For example, the leaves of practically all the cabbage family are edible, but the strong flavors of some species are disagreeable or too strong for most people’s taste.

The edible leaves and stem tips of sweet potato vines are well known in many parts of the world. Often considered a poor man’s food, sweet potato foliage has a rich protein content that helps supplement the nutritional value of the roots.

As for all vegetable parts, there is a great deal of variation within varieties in flavor and culinary characteristics of these secondary parts. For example, some sweet-potato stem tips in certain varieties are bitter, with a resinous flavor that is too strong.

Quite often, cooking is necessary to make the parts edible. Raw leaves eaten fresh may even be slightly poisonous in some cases.

Vegetable Common Edible Parts Other Edible Parts
Beans, snap pod with seeds leaves
Beans, lima seeds pods, leaves
Beets root leaves
Broccoli flower leaves, flower stem
Carrot root leaves
Cauliflower immature flower flower stem, leaves
Celery leaf stems leaves, seeds
Corn, sweet seeds young ears, unfurled tassel, young leaves
Cucumber fruit with seeds stem tips and young leaves
Eggplant fruit with seeds leaves edible but not flavorful
Kohlrabi swollen stem leaves
Okra pods with seeds leaves
Onions root young leaves
Parsley tops roots
Peas, English seeds pods, leaves
Peas, Southern seeds, pods young leaves
Pepper pods leaves after cooking, immature seeds
Potatoes, Sweet roots leaves and stem shoots
Radish roots leaves
Squash fruit with seeds seeds, flowers, young leaves
Tomato fruits with seeds leaves contain alkaloids
Turnip roots, leaves ———-
Watermelon fruit — interior pulp and seeds rind of fruit

Making butter

From:
http://herbanhomestead.blogspot.com/2010/04/making-butter.html

Thursday, April 8, 2010

lately we have been enjoying the taste and experience of making our own butter. since we live in the year 2010, butter making is super easy. easier than loading up the kids and heading to the store. trust me!

we use raw milk from a local source. i buy a gallon specifically for butter/yogurt making. see in the picture below the distinction between the cream and the milk? typically, if i were going to drink it, i would shake it up to mix it all together. but for butter, i need that cream.

1) i slowly pour the cream off into a jar. i let the jar sit out to warm up a bit (room temperature is nice, but not necessary).

2) after the cream is a nice temperature, i pour half of the quart jar into my blender and set it on a medium speed. on my vita-mix it is set on 4. by the way, you don’t have to use a fancy blender to do this- any will do.

3) pretty soon (about 5-8 minutes) the butter begins to separate from the milk. it looks kind of clotted (see picture below).
4) in the above picture you can see the solid separated from the liquid. i stop at this point and pour off the liquid into another jar. this is buttermilk. do not pour it down the sink! i use it for corn bread or pancakes. yum!
5)after the liquid is poured off, i give it another spin on the blender on a low speed. by this point it looks nice and smooth. a little more buttermilk will have seeped out, so i add that to my jar. next, i add cool water and pour it off. i do this over and over until the water runs clear. the less buttermilk that is left in the butter, the longer it will last.
6) after the water runs clear i put it in some cheese cloth to drain a bit more. while this is draining i start on the other half of my cream. i just do the whole process over again!
you’ll notice that the butter is yellow. that’s because it is from nutrient dense, grass fed, raw milk! no food coloring used here!
7) when i’m all done, i spoon it into a little glass bowl that has a lid and place it in the refrigerator.

that’s it! super yummy butter, with little effort!
if you’d like to read up on the benefits of raw butter check here.