Thursday, May 29, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 4

Planted: Moved fish boxes of greens to Mom's, and planted 5 containers of tomato plants at her house. Transplanted more spinach and mustard into empty spots in my planting beds. Dug a new planting area next to the path and transplanted basil starts.

Harvested: Lettuce and herbs. I see peas on the vines! We tasted teeny carrots when I thinned a few more.

Preserved: Bagged dried lemon thyme and hung lemon balm to dry.

Prepped: Not much on this front, but I have been thinking a lot about cooking arrangements. Our gas stove stopped working and we had to reply on small appliances for a little while: hot plate, toaster oven, crock pot, and a little electric kettle. That led me to look at various types of alternative stoves and ovens. I am thinking about how I would arrange buildings to make space for indoor/outdoor cooking, laundering, kitchen gardening and other household activities in various seasons. Old farms have wash-houses and summer kitchens to separate fire hazards and heat from the main house. I want to look more closely at outdoor propane burners, solar cookers, and rocket stoves. Lots of plans for the future.

Cooked: Not really cooking new things - but it is interesting to notice how much packaged food I used to buy, and now do not even look at. Ignored all the prepared food, and spent 10 minutes just looking at various corn meal grinds. Looking forward to my first "One Local Summer" post on Sunday, when I have to report on a meal made completely of food produced within 100 miles of home - I suspect it will be breakfast.

Managed: Checked out an organic garden with a small CSA this past weekend, and found a source of locally-grown spelt. Made a trip to my favorite grocery liquidator and found pectin ($0.25/box), canned tomatoes (.40/can), molasses (.50/jar), Grey Poupon mustard (.40/jar), and other goodies. Also checked out Echo Hill Country Store, a Mennonite bulk food store. Some was local food, but most is re-packaged bulk from commercial suppliers, and not as well-priced as I might have hoped. Beans and lentils were over-priced. Bought 10# of organic rolled oats. They are catering to the "trendy" organic crowd, but I found local grass-fed eggs, and they had lots of supplies for baking, sausage-making, and cheese-making. DD11 expressed an interest in bread-baking when I said my hands were too arthritic for kneading. I will take her up on that: I bought yeast. DD15 does a lot of the other cooking, and DD11 needs something that is her own area of expertise. She liked the bulk candy aisle, too, but came sneaking back to me with a shocked whisper that cereal was $7 a box. We pay $1.49 for Rice Krispies at the liquidator.

Systems: Still mostly focused on Mom and her house/yard crisis. I am sure I could organize a food discussion group at church, and possibly some co-op buying - I put that in my Idea File for the future.

Reduced Waste: The usual recycling. Need to get back to work on the worm bin.

Learned: Nothing in particular, but always reading more about vegetable gardening, food and farm system issues, alternative building and energy systems. I realized that no matter where I live, I want to work on assembling a guilt-free way to take a long, hot shower - rainwater collection, solar water heating, greywater recycling, building a bath house, researching composting toilets. A Japanese-style family soaking tub, maybe a sweat lodge. My own home eco-spa, and independent of municipal water and power.

Library: Boy Scout Handbook, found as a yard sale - knot-tying and other useful information.

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