Sweet Potato Salads and Other Joyful Things

Well, we still have power, and the irs.gov website still indicates its advanced warning of many pages’ inaccessibility due to “a power outage” from 4:00 p.m. November 9 – 7:00 a.m. November 12. Although some areas did go down yesterday, we’re still wired in today in Goshen. Who knows what’s up and when? According to an increasing number of folks, “It Is Not a Matter of If, but When the Lights Go Out.” Maybe so, maybe not. Meanwhile, I’m feeling mighty joyful due to some of the silliest and simplest things: sweet potatoes, flower pot heaters and coolers, and a brand new thermos, among other things.

Let’s start with the sweet potato salads, because they’re just pretty. And delicious. Here are two different batches I made recently — the first was last night (hummus, mixed greens, leftover sweet potato ‘fries’ and microgreens) and the next two photos were from a few weeks ago when I made hummus-sweet-potato-nasturtium-calendula salads on a bed of greens. I do love edible flowers! Plus, the sweet potato complements the slightly spicy, savory hummus so well, and fresh greens make everything yummy:

Sweet Potato Hummus and Microgreens

Sweet Potato and Flower Salad

Sweet Potato and Flower Salad 4

Moving on to the flower pot heaters and coolers. I’d heard of these before, but was reminded of them again last night. Although we have kerosene heaters for emergencies — along with lemon essential oil to make them smell better — I’d much rather make some of these. In fact, I shared the idea with David’s sister, and she’s going to make a few for their lovely back porch that normally gets closed up in the winter due to no heating vents. Simple, cozy, and full of candlelight:

You can also make a flower pot fridge:

Oh, how the faery in me loves off-grid flower pot fun!

And now for the most unexpectedly joyful part of yesterday. I bought two Stanley thermos bottles, because I had heard that you could cook rice in them, and I also thought it would be a great way to keep water hot or warm for an extended period of time with only one boiling. For some reason, I am over the moon with these thermos bottles! David thinks it’s because I never really had a thermos as a kid, except the cheapo lunchbox variety. I suspect it’s residual from reading The Vegan Lunchbox blog from 2005-2006. I think everyone who followed that blog secretly wanted to be little Schmoo with his goodie-filled bento box and thermos of homemade soup!

More recently, I’ve seen some Amish men riding their bikes with a big Stanley tied to the back. “What’s in there,” I wonder! I am continually fascinated by the Amish, and I love trading recipes, tips and gardening ideas with our Amish friends. (444 word count right then. As Doreen Virtue explains, “444 — Thousands of angels surround you at this moment, loving and supporting you. You have a very strong and clear connection with the angelic realm, and are an Earth angel yourself. You have nothing to fear—all is well.”)

Anyway, yesterday, I decided to buy two Stanley thermos bottles — one’s a 2-quart stainless steel thermos that keeps things hot for 24 hours; the other, plastic one was about 1/4 the cost and keeps 1.5 quarts hot for 12 hours. I tested the larger one by filling it with half a gallon of boiling water early yesterday afternoon, and it was still piping hot over 16 hours later.

We don’t eat many grains, but I love the idea of soaking my brown rice overnight — which I do with leftover “starter” from the soak water of previous rice, in order to remove as much phytic acid as possible — and then, instead of spending 45-minutes worried about bubbling over pots, just pouring boiling water over soaked rice in a thermos and letting it sit for 6-12 hours. Yes, that takes more planning, but it takes almost no electricity, and no fussing over the stove. It’s a perfect solution for grid-down scenarios, everyday energy conservation, and those hot summer nights when you want rice, but really don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

Apparently, you can make all sorts of things in a Stanley thermos, including split pea soup from dried peas! I would modify the linked recipe without the ham, but yum! In fact, this Boat Galley site offers some really cool ideas for cooking (and living) with minimal energy, space, water and options. I never thought about it, because I’m not a boater, but living on a boat requires hauling in your own water and propane, minimal electrical options, and that results in some creative energy efficiency ideas.

Given how much I love this planet, I always enjoy finding ways to walk a little lighter, consume a bit less, require less transportation … . Growing much of my own food and supporting local farmers not only tastes amazingly fresh and saves money and transportation resources … it’s also beautiful and deeply satisfying, especially the edible flowers! 😉 And the flower pot appliances? I don’t know, but it makes me giddy to know all the amazing things one can do with flower pots in addition to growing herbs and flowers. The stainless steel Stanley thermos takes the cake, though. I’ve been on cloud nine ever since I bought that thing. Just sharing the joy, bizarre though it may seem.


12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Toshia on November 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    While reading this post, right when I got to the part about 444, I looked at the clock on my computer and it was 4:44! I have been asking to open up to intuition and guidance. It must be working! Much love and gratitude to yo Laura!



  2. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you for all the useful links and info, the beautiful images of yummy looking food and the welcome dose of joyfulness;-) I too love it that there are so many beautiful and practical ways to conserve while also having fun.
    Day by day we discover that the old fashioned frugality and practicality often turn out to also be part of the old fashioned grounded in the moment, laugh out loud and sing together happier and more contented way of life. I love it that we can share our discoveries and our joy across large distances like this as well:-)



  3. […] this morning, I read a post by Laura Bruno on, among other things, emergency preparedness by utilizing flower pots to both heat and cool the […]



  4. Posted by D. Dorner on November 11, 2013 at 3:34 am

    I have read the new Stanley thermos are now made in China and nothing like they used to be….do you have a vintage one?



  5. Well, the plastic one is noticeably cheaper construction than the stainless steel one, but I bought both of them new. As mentioned, the plastic one is rated for only 12 hours, whereas the stainless steel one says 24 hours. The plastic was about 1/4 the cost, and I haven’t tested that one yet. I am super happy with the stainless steel one, though! It is about 42 hours after filling it with boiling water, and the water inside was still hot enough to make a decent cup of instant Reishi coffee this morning. I even opened it again last night to use the water to rehydrate dehydrated tomatoes, and I actually burned my fingers a bit when I mixed the tomatoes around in the water.

    Soooo, I would have to say, that the stainless steel one freakin’ rocks! I bought it from a little hardware store in downtown Goshen. It was the only one of its style/size on the shelf, and I have to assume that it’s not been sitting there for years. They tend to keep only one or two of each item in stock, replenishing as needed. Maybe they didn’t change the design/manufacture of the stainless steel ones but just added plastic options for a lower price point? I don’t know, but I bought the plastic one just for cooking rice over a period of about 6 hours. If it doesn’t keep things piping hot for the full advertised 12, I’m cool with that. SOMEWHERE, David has another stainless steel Stanley, but we’re still not totally unpacked from our move. We haven’t seen it in a year!



  6. […] Sweet Potato Salads and Other Joyful Things […]



  7. The Stanley 17 oz is perfect for lunch or a hike. The bottle looks well made and rugged like my older and larger stanley thermos. I was surprised however that this Stanley product is made in China. That does not take away from the quality but I have associated Stanley products with “Made in the USA”. The other issue is that this bottle does not have a handle as decribed in the advertisement – it has no handle at all. The circumferance is just manageable by a medium sized adult hand. A handle would be nice when you have several things to carry – otherwise this bottle needs to be in a bag or other container.



    • Mine has a handle. Maybe it IS an older model. Goshen is an odd little town. Sometimes, I swear we’re in some kind of time warp or alternate reality where people and situations are just nicer. So, who knows? I see people with Stanleys around town, but maybe they’ve had them for decades, and there’s not fast turnover anymore at the hardware store. That’s possible. Odd if the same one has been in stock for years, but it could be so. 🙂



  8. I have the Stanley 24 oz “Classic Vacuum Food Bottle”(!) and I LOVE everything about it. Have never tried cooking grains by this method but I will do now. Millet should take even less time….Thanks, Laura!



  9. The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

    The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

    Makes 1 loaf

    1 cup sunflower seeds

    cup flax seeds

    cup hazelnuts or almonds

    Taken from Nesara Rumor Mills 17/Jan./14

    1 cups rolled oats

    2 Tbsp. chia seeds

    4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks

    (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)

    1 tsp. fine grain sea salt

    1 Tbsp. maple syrup

    (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)

    3 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee, melted

    1 cups water

    In a loaf pan, combine all dry ingredients.

    Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a separate bowl.

    Add mixture to the dry ingredients and combine until everything

    is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick, adding 1-2

    teaspoons water if dough is too thick to stir. Smooth top and let

    sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.

    Preheat oven to 350F.

    Bake bread for 20 minutes, then remove bread from loaf pan, place

    it upside down, directly on a rack, and bake for another 30-40 minutes

    (it should sound hollow when tapped).

    Let cool completely before slicing.

    Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 14:18:38 +0000 To: contramaryy@hotmail.de



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