Archive for the ‘What to eat if you are an empath’ Category

Vegan Treats!

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I would be very hard pressed to call this health food, but we just picked up some beautiful gluten-free vegan cheesecakes from Vegan Treats for my mom’s birthday celebration tomorrow, along with a mandarin orange white chocolate giant gluten-free vegan cookie for now. 😉

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Those who prefer compassionate Easter candies or just general vegan decadence might enjoy their online shop. Here’s what the in-store stash looked like today:

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I’m always blown away by their gorgeous cake designs (and the sugar rush) whenever I visit. Sweet times, and Happy Birthday, Momma Jane!

Summer Squash Recipes and the Fall Garden

People keep asking, “So, have you put your garden to bed for winter?” The short answer is: “No.” The longer answer is:

“No, not by a long shot! I’m still  swimming in summer squash — so much that I spent most non-session moments last week creating and freezing all sorts of ‘zucchini’ recipes to freeze for winter. I’ve got green striped cushaw still maturing, lettuce, kale, waist-high chard, collards, beans, sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, raspberries, Brussels sprouts and more still trucking along. I waited so long to harvest my bags of potatoes that they sprouted again and began a second round of production. I’m still gathering loads of chocolate mint to dry for my nephew, best friend, brother and us. I’ve got garlic to put in the troughs as soon as I pull out the pepper and bean plants, which I can’t bear to do yet, since they continue to produce gobs and gobs of easily harvested yum’s.”

We also have flowers, since I aim for blooms as early and late as possible. This year the daffodils started in late March, and if all goes well, we should have blooms into late October or early November. Here was David’s mom’s birthday bouquet from yesterday:

birthday-bouquet

Colors have muted with the cooler nights and change of seasons. Above, you can see a selection of zinnias, sedum, bachelor’s buttons, snapdragons and shiso I’ve let flower and hopefully go to seed for next year. That shiso makes an amazing pesto with hazelnuts, homegrown garlic, olive oil and a bit of raw manchego.

The big news this past week was squash, specifically, white scallop squash and green striped cushaw, shown here with a lone eggplant:

harvest

I don’t grow zucchini, but zucchini recipes translate well for the ancient Native American heirloom known as white scallop squash. We far prefer it for texture, beauty, and taste. I know some readers decided to grow this low carb, high fiber wonder food after I blogged about it last year, so I thought I’d include recipes and links to recipes I’ve made with this summer squash. The main difference between white scallop squash and zucchini is that if you freeze zucchini or use it in baked goods, you really need to squeeze out a lot of water and drain it. White scallop squash lends itself better to freezing and baking, as it’s slightly drier. It also won’t color your dishes green like zucchini skin will. You only need to peel if the skin grows tough.

In case a temperate autumn has you swimming in summer squash, too, here are a bunch of treats I made last week or in previous weeks or years:

Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Corn Muffins

I significantly modified the above linked recipe, so I’ll share my own creation here, shown half-eaten, with dandelion-chicory tea:

zucchini-blueberry-corn-muffin

I’ll call my creation Blueberry-Elderberry-Squash Cornbread Muffins, since I took the opportunity to use up some of the many elderberries I had previously harvested and frozen.

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cups organic cornmeal
  • 1 1/3 cup organic sprouted red fife flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated white scallop squash
  • 1 flax egg (1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP warm water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup hazelnut milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen elderberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (We use silicon muffin cups — highly recommended, with no paper waste. This recipe made 16.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together. In a separate large bowl, stir together squash, flax, hazelnut milk, maple syrup and olive oil. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the blueberries/elderberries.
  3. Fill your muffin cups about 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or almost clean — just a few crumbs.

Again, I modified the original recipe to use clean, easy to digest, vegan ingredients. Coconut oil would probably have been even yummier. I was just too lazy to melt it. I usually bake gluten-free, but our co-op had the organic, sprouted red fife flour on sale, and I’ve found that works well for pastry flour. The sprouting helps with digestion, too. I wouldn’t live on it, but it packs more protein than most gluten free flours. I also prefer hazelnut milk to almond milk, since we can grow hazelnuts right here (in our yard!) and they do not require the volume of water that almonds grown in drought ridden California do. Here’s the link to the original recipe I modified.

Other squash delights:

Vegan Zucchini Bread

I modified this recipe, too, using a combo of organic sprouted rye flour and the organic sprouted red fife flour. I used white scallop squash instead of zucchini, a combo of coconut sugar and birch sweetener (hard wood xylitol) for the sugar, and raw cacao nibs for the chocolate chips.

Savory Olive Oil Rosemary Zucchini Bread

Yum! I modified this one so much that I’ll list my own recipe below:

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups organic sprouted rye flour
  • 1½ cups organic sprouted red fife flour
  • 1 tsp. aluminum free baking soda
  • ½ tsp. non-GMO baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • a handful of garden fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary; finely minced
  • 3 TBSP ground flax powder mixed with 9 TBSP warm water
  • 2 tbsp. hazelnut milk
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups of white scallop squash; shredded, then left to sit over a colander
  • ¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray two 9 x 5 loaf pans with cooking spray (or use non-stick pans); set aside.
  3. In a bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, parsley, garlic powder and rosemary; mix until well combined; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add flax combo, hazelnut milk, apple sauce and olive oil; mix until thoroughly combined. Add squash and green onions; mix until incorporated. Carefully stir in flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Pour batter evenly between both loaf pans. Place in the oven and bake for 30- 40 minutes or until center comes out clean with a knife. Let cool in loaf pan for 10 minutes, then carefully take the loaf out and place on a cooling rack.

I served this bread with an easy lentil-salsa-squash soup, and the bread tasted almost like biscuits. We froze over half this recipe, as it’s dense and filling.

Easy-Lentil-Salsa Squash Soup

This recipe doesn’t have any measurements, as it’s the sort of soup you can prepare when you have leftovers or excess shredded squash that needs a use pronto!

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups dried brown lentils
  • 1 two-inch strip of kombu (optional, but adds flavor and makes lentils more digestible)
  • 1 jar of your favorite red salsa
  • as much shredded squash as you want to use here — 3-5 cups
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth (optional, you can sub water instead)
  • herbs and spices, to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the lentils and kombu in a large pot of water (about 4 x as much water as lentils) and bring to boil, then lower to simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until tender. You can drain off excess water or use as broth for the soup.
  2. After lentils have cooked for about 30 minutes, add salsa and squash, stirring in and covering until the squash gets tender. You can also add vegetable broth at this time, if using.
  3. Add any herbs or spices you desire. I used garden fresh thyme, celery leaves, and rosemary, plus a little sea salt. If you use a homemade veggie broth, you won’t need to use as much seasoning, depending on the flavors in your broth.

Zucchini and Black Bean Vegan Veggie Burgers

Um, wow! These are the beefiest, most authentic hamburger tasting veggie burgers I’ve ever made or tasted. Crazy. I followed the linked recipe exactly, except that I used white scallop squash, and I did not have steak seasoning. Instead, I used two different blends of grilling herbs and a couple splashes of vegan worcestershire sauce. Granted, I have not had a hamburger in over 14 years, but this was so similar to a beefy burger in color, texture and taste that it almost freaked me out. David can’t wait to try these now frozen treats!

Vegan Faux Salmon Patties

This is David’s new favorite thing! I threw these together in a spontaneous attempt to use up even more shredded white scallop squash. All measurements are VERY approximate.

Ingredients (all are organic and vegan)

  • 3-4 cups cooked red lentils
  • 1 two-inch piece of kombu (adds fishy flavor and aids digestion)
  • 1 cup dried rolled oats
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1/2-1 onion
  • 1-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup walnuts (I used raw, sprouted and dehydrated, but use what you have)
  • optional celery
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dulse (seaweed)
  • small handful of dill
  • Splash of ketchup, to taste and for color
  • any leftover grains or lentils (I had a little leftover quinoa and brown lentils)
  • olive oil (just a few splashes)
  • 1-2 TBSP red miso paste (for taste and color)
  • a few splashes vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • lemon juice to taste
  • ground flax to thicken (depends on moisture and amounts of other ingredients. I probably used around 3-4 TBSP)
  • 1-5 DROPS liquid smoke (optional –for a smoked salmon flavor)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. While red lentils are cooling, finely chop or throw onion, celery, and garlic into food processor. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped by still chunky.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, mixing together until desire taste and texture. Add flax towards the end and let the mixture sit for five minutes to thicken and determine if you need more flax.
  4. Pour into loaf pans or form into patties.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on thickness, desired texture, and browning. We liked these crispy on the outside and still warm and tender on the inside.
  6. Serve warm or cooled like a fried fish, in veggie sushi, or as patties on a salad or sandwich. (I served over large lettuce leaves and topped with a homemade tartar sauce made from homemade pickles and Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise. David also added a little Fabanaise to homemade sauerkraut for a spontaneous cole slaw.)

Vegan Zucchini Brownies

These were another wow — so much so that I made them twice, once as brownies and then again as cupcakes for David’s mom’s birthday yesterday. As cupcakes, I used a little less applesauce and no nibs, since I knew we’d be serving them with (a moist) vegan vanilla ice cream. As brownies, they were ooey-gooey yum. We now have frozen healthy desserts for any sweet cravings or unexpected guests.

I did modify the original enough to give my version here. I’m sure the original rocks; I just don’t use canola oil, and I found that the recipe needed more chocolate powder to cover the taste of our olive oil. Here’s my version, but do check out the original, especially if you are using zucchini rather than white scallop squash. I have a feeling my drier version was due to my squash being drier, as well as the ingredient substitutions.

My version:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup birch sweetener/hardwood xylitol (not the GMO corn version!)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sprouted organic red fife flour
  • 1 cup sprouted organic rye flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao, since I had that on hand)
  • 2 cups shredded white scallop squash
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ cup raw cacao nibs (optional, or other unsweetened vegan chocolate chips)
  • applesauce as needed if your baking mix seems too dry or unable to mix

 

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray, oil, or use a cornbread pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and flour until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add cacao, squash, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the nibs or chocolate chips.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean but with a few crumbs clinging.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve. ALTERNATE: pour batter into cupcake tins or silicon muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake 40-50 minutes (watch to prevent burning, but you want the cupcakes cooked through). Cool on wire rack.

Faux-lenta

This recipe makes a corn-free substitute for polenta. If you want a creamy polenta, use the less ground flax. If you need something harder, just add more ground flax towards the very end of blending. Do not let ground flax sit in a blender! It does firm up and will become very difficult to clean if you leave it in there.

Ingredients

  • 1-3 white scallop squash, roughly shopped
  • pinch of turmeric (for yellow color)
  • whatever Italian or other herbs you desire for flavor
  • 2-4 TBSP ground flax

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Blend the white scallop squash in a powerful blender until smooth. If you need to add a little hot water to help blend, that’s fine. It just might require more flax to harden the faux-lenta.
  3. Add pinch of turmeric and blend, checking for desired color. Then add in whatever herbs you would like. Polenta is normally quite bland, but we have made this with a slight curry flavor to serve alongside sauteed garlic and Swiss chard, as well as an Italian version to accompany pesto and chopped tomatoes. Less is more with the herbs, but you can coordinate them to your final desired flavor set.
  4. Add in the flax, a little at a time and blend until the mixture is like a very thick soup.
  5. Pour faux-lenta mixture into a pyrex or other baking dish and bake until desired solidity, 40 minutes-1 hour. The recipe described makes a creamy polenta substitute.  If you want round faux-lenta circles, bake in mini springform pans and add more flax.

Summer Squash Bundt Cake

I made this recipe a couple times last year, but it was very popular. Here’s the link to my recipe, and here’s the original SunOven Zucchini Bread I modified.

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

This is another older recipe, and typical me, no real measurements. Just do it to taste:

Ingredients

  • White scallop squash (peeled zucchini or yellow squash might also work, but we love the white scallop squash)
  • extra virgin organic olive oil
  • nutritional yeast
  • garlic
  • a bit of hot water to aid blending of the above in a Vitamix or other highspeed blender
  • Optional: dried then soaked porcini mushrooms, peas, cooking sherry, wheat free tamari

Amounts really do vary, so taste test as you go.

Instructions

  1. Add to a pot and bring to a slow boil, continue to taste test for creaminess and add more nutritional yeast if needed.
  2. I usually soak dried porcini mushrooms and use peas from our garden, adding those towards the end, along with a splash or more of sherry and just one splash of wheat free tamari.
  3. We salt and pepper to taste at the table and garnish the sauce with chopped fresh parsley and chives, served over quinoa pasta (elbows or penne). It is super yum, and don’t be shy with the garlic!

That should keep you busy. I know I was a cooking, baking maniac last week, waking up early, prepping between and then baking things during sessions, and freezing like a champ. I still have so much squash coming that I’ve arranged a Thursday donation to some farm fresh loving family friends who will deliver any excess to the local soup kitchen, on which our friend sits as Board President. It helps to have connections.

In any case, no, I have not put away the garden for winter. 🙂 Things look a bit subdued, but I have many harvests to go before the garden sleeps.

fall-yard

 

The Faery Referral Network Strikes Again

One nice synchronicity of my not going to the North American Permaculture Convergence followed by a Madison visit, as planned, is that I’ll be home tomorrow when my brother and his wife pass through Goshen en route from Toronto. My brother and I have been joking about them “picking up some produce at the Bruno Market Garden,” so imagine my giggles when yesterday’s mail contained this flyer:

Bruno's produce

And check out who’s offering to print this Bruno’s Produce apparel:

Pixy

Too funny! Someone’s been eavesdropping on my texts and emails, and methinks it’s not the NSA. I do love the Faery Referral Network. 😉

Leftovers

Just a quick post today to share why I love summer gardening season and the gorgeous raw food creations we can make with fresh food. David’s been working only five minutes away from home this week, which means we get to have lunch together. Yesterday, I made a raw almond mock “tuna” pâté (complete with homegrown lovage instead of celery and the first green pepper of the season), and featured it over freshly picked salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, chives, and edible flowers from the garden, along with carrots and beets from a local farm:

July 21 salad

salad two

And today, we had the leftovers, made into something completely different:

leftovers

leftovers with flowers

Bouquet picked this morning, plus nori wraps filled with leftover nut pâté, carrots and another cucumber, and then tree collard wraps filled with nut pâté, avocado, fresh tomato, carrots and cukes. We spread a little umeboshi plum paste on the wraps at lunch for a sweet, tangy, salty pop! No, I did not grow the avocados or almonds in this dish, but yes, we do have a cold hardy avocado tree. One day, those avo’s will be reallllly fresh! Until then, the co-op works well.

Raw food delights all the senses. So grateful for such beauty and bounty!

Why You’ll Want a Garden This Year

Long term blog readers know I love my organic garden and all the adventures and delicious produce it provides. I generally like to focus on the positive motivations of gardening: fresher produce, grounding with the planet, chance to observe and commune with Nature, greater independence and cost savings. This year, though, the world –particularly the US — faces some potentially major food shortages. All of the greatest food providing regions in our country and many others around the world are experiencing either severe drought, unprecedented snowstorms, or major floods. You can read articles like “How to Beat Coming Killer Food Shortages” and “California Drought Threatens Entire Country. Three Pictures Show How Bad It Really Is” to find very sobering maps, photos and statistics.

I’ve already suggested people on the West Coast build orgone chembusters to break up the geo-engineering chemtrails exacerbating the situation. You can find substantial evidence for weather manipulation if you look for it. Some theorize that “someone” is trying to keep the Fukushima radiation cloud from hitting the West Coast, but even assuming this as a “benevolent” intention, the fact remains that most of America’s food comes from California. After hearing that the Fed’s won’t provide them water (or worse, are trying to allow private companies to claim available water!), farmers have decided to plant far fewer crops or none at all. Fruit and nut orchards face devastating consequences from the worst drought in 500 years. Prices will skyrocket as the longer term effects play out — unless other regions step in to fill the void.

Every crisis presents opportunities to grow and thrive. With the technology and know-how now available for growing in small places and growing indoors in off-grid greenhouses, people looking to fill a definite need would be wise to investigate ways to produce organic foods in their area. Next winter will likely highlight the worst effects from the California and Western droughts, since the rest of the country doesn’t tend to grow food in winter. We have about 9 months to shift that dynamic, and we would be wise to do so. Those reading from other countries would also be wise to explore ways of becoming more self-sufficient, especially with an eye towards fall and winter. California exports a lot of food to other countries. If you value food, you’ll want to find ways of replacing those imports into your own nation.

People without their own land can join community gardens or team up with neighbors who have yards but don’t garden. Offering a share of produce in exchange for the land brings benefits to both parties. People who have a little space can learn from this earlier post about maximizing vertical growing space. The Organic Prepper article I linked to in the beginning also shares great information on intensive gardening. Those who have land but not much sun, can look forward to a future article I’ll post on tips for gardening well in moderate shade. For getting the most out of very small spaces, I suggest tiered raised beds like the InstaBed Cubic Foot Gardening system or The Garden Tower Project.

calendula

I used three of the InstaBed’s last year, and the black beds raised soil temperatures enough that we had tomatoes far earlier than anyone else we knew. In retrospect, I would suggest building those in concentric circles rather than the “cascade” setup and also splurging on the extra soil mixture to fill the beds completely, rather than backfilling them with compost. Ours sank a lot! We did, however, have highly, highly productive plants. The InstaBeds work better for backyard gardens, as they look less attractive until your plants cover the black plastic. The Garden Tower Project, by contrast, offers a complete system –vermicomposting, gardening, fertilizing and extra compost creation — and looks especially attractive in the terra cotta version. You could totally display a Garden Tower in your front or side yard! I plan to order one myself just to demo for our town. Maybe some locals will decide to buy them for winter gardening or an off grid greenhouse by next fall.

Those who already do garden and who love to garden: please consider planting extra this year. I’ve composted and mulched our entire front yard as an experiment but also because I anticipated the coming food shortage. I intend to plant edible ornamentals far beyond our own needs, just in case neighbors can’t afford their own food. If we don’t need all that produce, then it will still look pretty, or I can donate to food banks, but in the event we need an urban farm … um … we’ll have it! LOL, but seriously. I’ve layered up so much compost and wood mulch that I hope the front won’t need much, if any watering, especially after all this snow. You can’t put wood mulch right next to veggies, as it will rob nitrogen, but in between plants, the wood mulch stores many times its weight in water, slowly releasing it to the soil as needed. Leaf mulch works great closer to each plant, and the more organic matter you add to your soil, the more water it will hold.

All these tips represent practical, 3D things you can do, and I highly recommend doing any or all of them. Even if you can’t become 100% food self-sufficient, you’ll still save money on produce and eat fresher food. On more metaphysical levels, those in drought areas can pray for rain, make offerings to the water spirits, and/or do rain dances. I’ve shared before just how effective rain dances and working with the Elementals can be! Every time I mention this again, more people tell me their amazing stories of Nature’s response. We can also work with the plant Deva’s, asking them to nurture our gardens and farms. Organic and heirloom plants work best for this, since Nature and Nature Spirits don’t dig on GMO’s! At all.

Companion planting and certain “stinky” flowers will help with unwanted bugs. Marigolds and red geraniums not only look pretty; they also repel unwanted eaters. Various herbs and flowers like lavender, borage and zinnias attract beneficial insects that eat the eaters. By working with Nature, you can let Nature do much of the work for you. Gardening need not take massive amounts of time. Work smart and sacredly, not hard. 🙂

On an even more metaphysical/magical level, you can practice generating “supply” with your mind. This takes instant manifestation up several notches, so that you can actually create something out of the ideal in your mind. Thanks to Ariadne Stardust for the suggestion to read Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East by Baird T. Spalding. David owned this set when we first moved in together, and I’ve reached over it every day to answer the phone since we moved to Goshen! Whether or not you believe the adventures occurred exactly as written, the techniques work. I’ve long practiced versions of them just on my own — manifesting things I need within moments to days of visualizing and requesting. Someone either gives them to me, I find them on super-duper sales, or sales clerks remark that they’ve “never seen this item in inventory before. It’s not even in our computer!” Hmmm, well, fancy that. 😉

I don’t tell this to many people and no one believes me when I do, but I will share it here as relevant: I once created seven $10 bills out of thin air. They literally appeared as crisp, new $10 bills inside a previously empty hat. It freaked me out so much I never did it again that way, but I know for an experiential fact that we can supply ourselves with what we need. Emphasis on need, not for party tricks. My late friend Leigh went through a period of extreme poverty before she passed. She would often go to the grocery store with no money in her purse, select everything she needed to purchase, and when she checked out, she’d find exact change in her purse to pay for her goods.

While married, I went through a period in which money flowed out more than it came in, and I remembered Leigh’s experiences. I would select whatever we needed without tallying up the cost. Every time, it always came in just under what I had to spend — even if that took 75% off sales to make it happen. It always did. I also frequently found unexpected $20 bills in pockets or wrapped around credit cards, which I know did not exist until I needed them. I share these details here not to brag, but as testimony that we have many ways of meeting our needs. Whether food or money to buy food, the principle remains the same: tuning into the pure image of what we need and then allowing the Divine Spirit to respond and create through us.

I truly believe all the challenges facing our wold today offer opportunities to return to our Divine connection, spiritual tools and natural abilities. Faery tales — great repositories of truth — describe so many situations in which people with pure hearts receive even the most impossible gifts. People say with scorn, “Oh, that’s just a fairy tale, a myth,” in order to dismiss something as ridiculous. I could not disagree more. Our weakness, disconnection and “need” to struggle are the biggest lies ever told. Faery tales, folklore, ballads, and myths — real ones, not Disney — give us clues and wisdom for a return to more magical lives.

Blessed Be, and be the blessing!

A Grievous Sin

Colette shares some important thoughts on the TTIP treaty under as secret negotiations as the dreaded TPP on the other side of the US. “I call this manifestation of utter madness, GMOs, a weapon, because that is precisely what it is…and a weapon that will cause more devastation to the environment than anything concocted in laboratories ever before!” I’ve posted before about flushing the TPP down the toilet with strong intention for purging magick, but that suggestion holds true for all these treaties, including the big one they’re based upon: Codex Alimentarius. Where’s the vanishing cream and banishing scream? Are we really going to give these sickos total control over our food? Not if I can help it. … But it will take strong determination, non-compliance, intention and a willingness to fight for real food. Julian Rose’s book, “In Defense of Life” calls this what it is — a fight for life. How much do we value life?

Bealtaine Cottage ~ 14 years of Goddess Permaculture

midwinter cottage 012The biggest threat to our food security lurks in the shadowy depths of the Halls of Power…the buildings housing the European Parliament in Brussels.

www.bealtainecottage.com 037You may or may not be aware of something called The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

www.bealtainecottage.com 002TTIP is a trade agreement presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006In my estimation, this will allow full and unfettered access to our food production, from multi-national corporations, such as Monsanto, that carry the weapon of GMOs.

Polytunnel at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens in April 2013I call this manifestation of utter madness, GMOs, a weapon, because that is precisely what it is…and a weapon that will cause more devastation to the environment than anything concocted in laboratories ever before!

An early bee in April 2013 at bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensThis is already the case in the US, as small farmers, producing Organic food, are hauled before courts accused of property rights violations by Monsanto.

April 2011. Permaculturecottage 001Monsanto claims ownership of any plant material infected by their…

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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.

Thermoses