Welcome

Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

December 30, 2007

Ooops I was snoozing..(resolutions '08 additions)

Alright, if you happened to notice the posting time on my resolutions post from yesterday, you will have seen that I posted it up at 1:15 AM. I was snoozing I think, because there were two pretty significant goals that I omitted. I want to take a minute to get those on the record if you'll bear with me.

• I want to focus this year on changing a behavior of mine that is a nuisance from time to time, a stress in my marriage and just a plain bad habit. That is to finish all the things that I start. I have a tendency to be very eclectic in the things that inspire me from day to day. I think this is a good trait in itself, but when I zing off to the next project before I have finished the last one, I end up with a bunch of half finished stuff around the house. This needs to change.

• My second amendment is to make an effort to stay on top of my clutter. My garage is probably my greatest testament to this problem. This is something that my wife and I both want to work on. That is to say I want to work on cleaning up my clutter, and she wants me to work on cleaning up my clutter too! Kidding aside, we talked even just today, about making a conscious decision to dramatically reduce our purchasing. We will try to dramatically de-clutter and then take a serious look at whether a potential acquisition is a want or a need before getting it.

Well, there they are, the last two things (for now) that I want to work on this year. It should be a good year. I'm looking forward to it, and the challenges.
Again, be safe, and enjoy the Holiday!

Happy New Year!

Resolutions '08

Preparing for the new year I have been reflecting on my last years goals and the things that I want to focus on for the upcoming one. Let me break it down for you.

List of 2007 goals and accomplishments:
• Lose some weight. - I was fairly successful in this. I shed nearly 25 lbs, without any noticeable denial of anything. I made a conscious effort to stop eating when I was full, not satisfied and to eat more healthful and natural foods.
• Alter diet to reduce input and help with goal (1). - I did alter my diet for much of the year. Although I did slack off here lately (holidays and all that.) I made choices that were healthier such as chicken rather than beef when the option was available and focusing on home made and vegetable based dinners.
• Read more. - I did really well on this I think. I Read a number of books, some for entertainment, some for inspiration and some for guidance.
• Watch less TV - I did reduce the amount of Television that I watched for most of the year, but after the summer passed, the TV moved back into the room and the viewing went up. What else can I say. Over all, I feel good about striking a healthy medium.
• Start some exercise routine. - I feel good about this one as well. I began riding my bike to work and really got to where I enjoyed it. I look forward to spring thaw so I can begin again.

List of 2008 years goals.
• My goal for personal health this year is to get to 190 lbs consistently. I want to get to this goal by June 1st. At this time I want to begin exercising more vigorously to increase my muscle tone.
• I want to start phasing out more meat in my diet. I am not planning on going fully vegetarian, I love meat too much, but I have over the last year realized that I feel more healthy and full of energy when I eat a mostly vegetable diet. I'd like to get to a point where all the meats that I do eat, either come from local producers, or that are meat or fish that I harvest myself. I think I will be much happier and healthier, eating really good meat once in a while rather than poor quality meat regularly.
• For my garden this year, I want to really get a head start on it. I want to prepare early and get a good start so that I am able to get a good early season crop. I also want to make an effort to plant things that I can over winter, such as potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, squash and onions. I made available a good bit of space in the yard this fall and I want to make sure that I use it.
• I want to begin moving my garden towards having more open pollinated and heirloom varieties and to begin a seed bank for myself to save seed from one year to the next.
• Another thing that I want to start doing is recycling. I know I know, I should be already, but it's not readily available to us, and we haven't been making the effort other than when we have a bunch of cardboard.

These are the things that I have identified as definite things that I am going to work toward. They are not all encompassing I'm sure; as with last year, I foresee evolution in my goals throughout the year, but they give me a direction and identify a few areas of who I am that I would like to work on. I have read a few others goals, and look forward to reading more in the next week I'm sure. I hope all of you have a Great New Year. Please be safe, and I'll see you in '08!
P~

December 28, 2007

Getting to be that time of year...

Well, the garden catalogs are on order, so we’ll see what we have in store for this next year. A lot of people give me a sideways kind of look when I tell them that I will start getting ready for the upcoming gardening season in January. As this will be the first year of me doing so, I don’t really have a better answer for their “why’s?” other than because every other year I end up behind schedule and miss what I think would be one of my favorite parts of the harvest because of it. I say I think it would be a favorite because 1) I love all the greens, mesclun, peas and early crops that that part of the season offers, and 2) because mentioned, I never get an earlier enough start to get a harvest of those crops. I hope to this year. My wife’s on board too, and this year we’ll be picking the things we want together so hopefully we’ll be able to really start making our  homegrowns a bigger part of our diet. In years past it’s really just been me picking the things I wanted, and a lot of the time I ended up with things that, while they freeze well, don’t get eaten enough through out the year to warrant the effort. (i.e. my bumper jalapeno crop from this year.) I’ll be posting my garden plans here for future reference, for those of you also blogging, I’d love to see your plans as well; it may give me some good ideas. Otherwise, if you’ve had any really good ways of planning and charting your layouts in years past, please share them so I can get better will ya? Thanks all, and have a good weekend!

P~

December 24, 2007

I'm dreamin, of a ....

White Christmas of course! But this year we don't have to dream, only to look out the window. It's just started to snow in the last hour, and is projected to keep going all night. So tomorrow we'll open presents, put together puzzles, and watch "A Christmas Story" all with a view worthy of a Norman Rockwell cover right out the window. I just managed to finish the Christmas presents for the boys. I wasn't sure I'd make it, I was a bit ambitious and started late so I consider myself lucky. I'll post some pics of the final product, and a little jig I came up with to use for them, probably this weekend.

I hope all of you are having a great weekend and just enjoying the heck out of each others families. To my family who is scattered far and wide. I want to let you all know how much I miss you, and love you all and wish you a Merry Christmas. To my new friends around the world, Happy Christmas, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Joyeux Noel; there are too many ways to say all of them, but I wish you all peace and happiness tonight.

I took a little video from my front porch at the same time as this picture... Thought it would be night too share.
Merry Christmas.
P~


video

December 21, 2007

Interested in Scribbles?

I’ve been thinking about opening up a whole other facet of myself to all of you. It’s a piece of me that I have held very close and only shared with a very very few people over the last 20+ years; my scribbles. I know that doesn’t really give you any idea of what it is that they are, but that’s what I call them. Essentially they are just that, scribbles that I have put on paper and collected since I was in high school. Some of them are poems and some merely thoughts. Some are organized and thought out, while most are more like the ranting of a madman.

In high school and the period shortly thereafter I allowed myself a lot of, shall we say, creative license with my writing. A lot of these scribbles are very amorphous and really make sense only to me. (And very little sense at that.) Later, while I served in the military, I made two tours in the middle east; Saudi Arabia to be exact. A lot of the writing from that time was so I could remember the things I saw, impressions I had, and the anger and frustrations that I sometimes felt. I carried a notebook in my BDU’s and pulled it out to scribble in it when I had the need. Some of these writings jar me now when I read them, others paint a picture in my head so that it is almost like I am there.

My question to you, and I need your input here, is whether or not you would even be interested in reading them. I sometimes wonder if I should even go off on some of my tangents like the “Philosophical Divergence” I went on a few days ago. Maybe this blog has evolved itself into a primarily simple living, gardening, explore the greener side of things type of blog. Perhaps I should just do as I’ve thought about and create a separate blog where I can post things of that nature. I want to get these things down in a form more stable than the notes that I currently have which are literally falling apart from age and mistreatment, I just don’t know if I should share them, and for that matter if I do, will anyone really care? My thought was to just kind of work them in here or there like I do with “Thoughts for Today”, not all at once, just a scribble once and a while, kind of like the way I collected them.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. I suspect traffic online will be rather slow (as it should be) due to family gatherings and generally enjoying our time together, I do intend to post a little this weekend, but if I don’t I will be back to regular next week for sure. Enjoy your weekend, and in case I don’t get the chance, Merry Christmas to you all.

I leave you with this, a “scribble”, to help you decide whether your interested in more or not:

Like cattle fighting to get in their stalls first,
Soldiers prodded by the gently hand of impatience.
Hurry up! Run! Run! Can’t wait to wait…in a cell.
Slowly, methodically they move,
Drones of repetition. Starved.
Not I. This one waits; watches the fools squander freedom.
P~ (Oct 92, Saudi Arabia)

December 19, 2007

I'm so sore; I gotta change that!

Oooh my sore body!! I went and played indoor soccer last night with a bunch of guys from my neighborhood. I had a great time, although I was greatly shocked by my startling loss of skills in the, what has it been now, 6 yrs since I last played. Yeah, I was thirty then and gaining on forty now and it showed.  I stretched out well before the game and after, and took a hot bath and Motrin before bed, but I still hurt. So what’s my point in complaining to you about it? Sympathy of course!! No just kidding. Really it brings me to something I’ve been thinking about lately, New Year resolutions. One of mine will definitely be to get in better shape. I hate not knowing that I can go and do something active at a moments notice and not suffer for it later. Last year was the first in many years that I made resolutions that I actually followed through on the best that I could. Your reading one of them right now; this blog. I am going to be spending the next week and a half leading up to New Years day trying to really think about the things about myself and about my habits and lifestyle choices that I like and don’t like or that I want to improve on. I will try to be as realistic as I can in setting not only the resolutions (goals) for this next year, but why I want to make them and how I plan to attain them.

I think it is an important thing to do; making the goals that is. We all have things about ourselves and our lives that we would change if we could and this is a natural break in the progress of time when it is appropriate to make them. I think it is equally important to remember why we are making the change to begin with. That way, a few months into the change, we can reflect and remember our dissatisfaction with whatever it is and why we wanted to change in the first place. I feel the final part, the planning, is the most crucial part to the success of any goal. We can know where we want to be, and why we want to be there, but if we have no idea how we are going to get there, we’ll just end up lost with no map.

So my questions to you are, do you agree? What do you want to change? Why do you want to change it? How will you get there?

You don’t have to answer me, but answer yourself for sure.

P~

December 17, 2007

philosophical divergence.

I thought this would make an interesting amendment to the post I made Friday regarding curiosity and continuing to explore and learn. It may get a little philosophical and slightly confusing, but if your interested in how my head works then it may be interesting to you.

I read last night at a blog I’ve been checking into, who’s author and I seem to be very close on many things, about his struggles with the inevitable quandary that can come from questioning the things around us, and the things that we “know”. As we question things with an open mind, and analyze the things we learn, eventually we come to a point where we will be forced to question some of our beliefs. He points to religion and patriotism, and rightly so, as targets of potential conflict. Many of us, if not all, have had a time when our beliefs have been challenged. After the untimely loss or illness of a loved one; “If there were a God, why would he let this happen?”. When learning about backroom dealings, and misdirection in our governments; “Why should I hold allegiance to this Government that just wants to stick it too me?”. If you haven’t had these moments I dare say you’ve led a charmed, if not sheltered, life. I’ve had them time and time again; many times with regard to the same thing as more information has revealed itself.

Plato believed that knowledge is a subset of both Truth and Belief. That is to say that merely believing something does not make it knowledge. By contrast, if a thing is true and irrefutable, yet is not believed, neither does it count as knowledge. Let me present you with a thought I’ve had that challenges this idea. “The sky is blue.” Simple enough right? I can prove it by taking a picture of it, or dragging you out to see it. And you can believe it because it is right before your eyes. Does this make it knowledge? The Truth and Belief arguments have been met; or have they. Can something be proven one way and still not be so? I say yes. In fact the sky is not blue, merely the light waves of the blue spectrum that our eyes are able to discern are blue. The sky is clear (Essentially speaking, Los Angeles not withstanding.) So what then constitutes truth? If I have seen or experienced a thing that cannot be proven outwardly, it is true, or merely belief? Perhaps we have not evolved to a point where some things that can be “felt” can be “proven”. Did Black Holes exist before Steven Hawking provided the method for proving them? Was the earth still round even before we believed it? For that matter, perhaps some things that seem to be provable are not true at all. We once “knew” that the atom was the smallest form of matter in existence, but now “know” that it is not.

Why do I bother to make this point? Because in my life I have learned that there are things that I choose to believe, regardless of their current state of provability or subjectivity. To me they exist as knowledge; at least for the moment. Things like God and good and evil, the existence of self-fulfilling thought and that soul-mates really do exist (And that I found mine by the way.). If we adhere to provable knowledge for everything it would be a dull life indeed. So while I advocate curiosity and the search for knowledge, I would add that that search be tempered by a willingness to believe that which you “know”, yet cannot prove. Search on friends.

P~

 

December 14, 2007

Thought for Today (And a little commentary)

Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance.

William Wirt (1772 - 1834)

 

There are few statements I could agree with more. I have been referred to as scatterbrained, eclectic, or even a little geeky based on my passion for researching and experimenting with things. As a child I had an innate curiosity about things. Books that I remember fondly from being a child were a Disney series with Donald Duck and the other characters called “How it works… In the home, In the city, On the farm.” I loved them. I could look inside something and see how it worked. Later I graduated to Time-Life How-To books; yeah, I was hitting the hard stuff. I learned a little bit about a lot of things like botany, plumbing, electricity and mechanics. It hasn’t stopped either. Generally speaking I get some question in my head at least once a day that I need to answer. What are the actual names of the components of a bow? What is Hjorthornssalt and why does it make my Moms oatmeal cookies so good? What the heck makes yogurt into “Greek” yogurt? These are a few questions that I needed to know the answer to this week.

As I “grew up” I lost my curiosity. I knew what I needed to get along in the world and life had caught up with me. Family matters, work and day to day life gave me an excuse to stop examining the world around me. It’s amazing to me how easy it is to let that happen. Luckily it’s also amazing to me how easy it is for us to make a profound change in out thinking and our outlook. We all have our curiosities; it’s something that’s hardwired into us as humans. “Why” is one of our first words as children. Don’t let yourself lose that curiosity. Sometimes it’s not convenient to stop and investigate something right away, I understand that, so I keep a small notebook at my office, and one in my nightstand for those questions that come up, and for the ideas that hit me all of a sudden. That way I can look back at them later and take as much time as they require.

 

We are so lucky to live in a time when the information that we want is only as far away and as inaccessible as we make it. We have Google, Wikipedia, Instructables and so many more resources online. We have Public libraries that we can sometimes get up to 12 or 13 books at a time from. (Don’t ask how I know that?) And we have, through our blogs and the web in general, the ability to share and collaborate on a scale not before seen in human memory. I encourage you to embrace your inner “Why”. Your mind will thank you. Your children will thank you, and life will be a little more interesting.

 

Carpe Momentum!

P~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murmur.

It's been an interesting couple of days. We learned yesterday that our 11 yr old has a heart murmur. It was significant enough to get our generally goofy family doctor to get a solemn face and tell my wife that it was pretty serious and that we need to schedule a pediatric cardiologist appointment as soon as possible. That, as it turns out, is not until January 12. I have read a little about murmurs and it seems that, in children at least, they tend to more often than not be benign. Still it catches you off guard and makes you pause. What if the doctor hadn't caught it? What will come of the coming appointment? I have made a decision to stay of a positive mind and to truly believe that all will be well. I hope all is well with you and yours and that the Christmas spirit is creeping up on you and bringing smiles to your faces and joy to your homes.
P~

December 11, 2007

Well that was a bust.

The sourdough bread that we tried this weekend rose nicely, and was forming into a well rounded loaf, when life stepped in a changed our plans. A Christmas event at our church came up that we weren't aware of and we were out for the evening. By the time we came home it was too late to cook it, so I crossed my fingers and waited till morning to try to knock down, second rise and bake the bread. Well, fingers crossed or not, it didn't work. I didn't take a picture of it because this is my blog and I don't have to yuck it up with a picture of an ugly flat gooey loaf of sourdough if I don't want too.

I did get into the garage and got the start of the bows going. I was making good progress with the form of the first one. The handle was coming along and the upper limb was taking shape, when... SNAP, busted it. I was testing the flex and I guess it wasn't as flexible as I thought it was. So strike two.

While being a lazy butt Sunday afternoon and watching my Chargers come back to beat the Titans in O.T. I started working on formatting and rebuilding the laptop, and nope, strike three. The disk would boot and begin to prepare to allow me to do what I needed to, and then BSOD. (blue screen of death.) Actually it wasn't the true BSOD, but it wouldn't allow me to continue, so I'm still working on it.

In the mean time, while I'm trying to get things working I figured that I ought to at least get on here and act like a blogger for a night. Moral of the story, sometimes things just don't go the way we want them too, but you keep on trying. We picked up a packet of a special San Francisco sourdough starter this week, so we may be trying again this weekend. I changed my plans to build the bows from all oak, due to it's inflexibility, and have made some good progress toward my new design which uses 1/2 inch PVC as limbs. And as for the computer, I'll try a few more tricks and if all else fails, call Dell and see what options I have available to me.

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
~Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

December 8, 2007

Well it's shaping up to be another eventful weekend. A~ and I just made a "sponge" out of our sourdough starter, so we can use it to make some no-yeast sourdough bread tomorrow. We've never tried this before so we'll see how it goes. It would be a really useful thing to know, how to bake bread without yeast that is, in case of who knows what. So we'll see how that goes, Ill let you know of course.

Another thing that'll be going on this weekend is me working feaverishly in the garage to catch up. You see over the years I've always made my boys something by hand. One year, I made shields out of plywood and carpet scraps, another I made them swords from leftover hardwood flooring and last year I made small tanto knives from some maple that I picked up in a scrap pile. See a pattern there? Wooden weapons. My boys are boys, what can I say. They've used all these things regularly and I'm proud to say they're still in one piece. Anyway, the point of the story is that I thought this year, they may be getting too old for my handmade cheapness, not to mention wooden toys. Well I was mistaken; it seems they were talking with A~ the other day about not being able to go over to my side of the garage because I might be making something for them. She said she didn't think I was and they were very unhappy with that. It seems I've started a tradition more valued than I had thought. I did it more for me, too see their surprise and to show them that I loved them. Little did I realize it would become something that they look forward too. I should have guessed it, they are suckers for tradition. So this year, with the abundant leftover hardwood flooring, and some maple or ash scraps from the cabinet makers, I will venture to make bows. They are after all getting older, and are responsible enough for them. (They won't be big powerful ones mind you.) We'll see how it goes.

Lastly, I may try to format and rebuild our computer. It's been acting up lately, and the last time I did it, I incorrectly partitioned the hard drive. So if If I'm out for a few days, don't give upon me I'll be back.

P~

December 6, 2007

A Posse Ad Esse - Numero Uno

Well I just learned last night, via a very proud wife, that I have recently become the number one result on Google when a search is made for “A posse ad esse”. In other words, whenever anyone anywhere is interested in the obscure Latin phrase that I adopted for my blog, they get sent to me first. I know it’s not the greatest accomplishment in my life, but I have to say I’m pretty proud for it. I had actually noticed a recent increase in the number of first time readers popping in from around the globe, but never put the two together.

 

I wanted to take a second to offer a welcome to any new readers that may have stopped by, and wondered what in the heck this place is all about. Could a guy (And yes, despite all the references to gardening and cooking I am a man.) possibly be more eclectic in his interests? Well, yeah probably, but it’d be hard too. Life is a fascinating journey, and one I hope to make the very most of. I feel like for so many years I was asleep, letting the world tick away around me. I found myself focusing on what was wrong with things and what couldn’t be done; what do you know, the more I focused on that, the more that’s what I found. A posse ad esse, roughly translated, means “From possibility to reality” and sums up the way I want to focus as opposed to the way that I was. I have found that when I focus on what is possible, not probable or feasible but possible, I become like a lighting rod for ideas. I fumble my way through them, explore them, learn about them and many times diverge into something completely unrelated. If the ideas don’t manifest today, I’m not worried about it, they may just be fodder for an idea yet to come. The point is that I believe that we have the unique opportunity as humans to guide ourselves based very greatly on what it is that we focus our attentions on, and on our state of mind as we focus it. You’ve heard the phrase, “Think positive, and you’ll be positive”. Well add to it, “Think possibilities, and you’ll find possibilities”.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. The change that I want to see is for more positive thinking, more sustainable living and greater enthusiasm for life. I welcome you and hope you’ll check back in again. And for those of you who make me a regular stop in your day already, let me say how humbled I am for the time you give me.

 

Namaste

P~

 

December 5, 2007

More weekend chores.

You may remember a post I had a while back where I talked about food storage and posted a picture of some of ours. The picture that I posted was zoomed in a bit because, frankly, the cold storage room had become a mess. A little bit at a time, one thing after another, things got added, stacked and piled. Well, this weekend no more!

I finally got in there and went through stuff, checked dates, rotated and re stacked. I moved all the edibles in the storage up to the higher shelves, so they are harder to overlook and forget about. I also made space to stack and store the bags of wheat that we recently acquired. I'm much happier about it and with any luck I can stay on top of it and keep it this way. I'll be taking a note from Farm Mom, and trying to set up a system to keep track of our storage.

While I was down in the cold storage, I went threw the storage potatoes that we bought from our local grower at the end of the season approx. a month and a half ago. We haven't eaten any of them yet, and we don't plan to until into January. The reason for this is that we want to get a realistic idea of how long and how well they will store for future years. We don't want to make an investment in growing or buying a large number of potatoes until we know for sure we are able to keep them properly. Anyway, as I was saying, I went threw the mesh bag that they came in and picked out the few that were bad or getting that way. Then I repacked the remainder in a cardboard box with a bit of paper crunched into the bottom and a couple of sheets over the top loosely. A few of the potatoes were beginning to sprout eyes, and I have read that this is caused by too much light, I hope that the covering will keep them in the dark and prolong their dormancy. We'll see huh?


Finally, yogurt. The last thing I did this weekend was the last thing I did last weekend as well. I made a batch of yogurt. Last weekend I tried a new recipe, that I really liked. It was a vanilla yogurt and was the best I think I've ever had. Smooth, rich, almost custardy. This weekend I tweaked it a little for the vanilla batch that I made, adding just a little less dry milk at the end to see if I could lighten the texture a bit. I also tried making some just for the kids. I added a tsp of orange extract, and a 1/4 tsp of vanilla to half the batch to make a "Orange Creamsicle" type. To the other half I added root beer flavoring. I know, Root beer yogurt? I asked them what they thought would be good and that's what I got, so what to do? They said they were both alright, but needed a little bit more flavor. I'm close, next batch perhaps I'll nail it. I have really grown to love this stuff though. The vanilla yogurt topped with a spoonful of our homemade plum jam has become my breakfast of choice. The best method that I have come up with to incubate the jars is to pour the hot water from sterilizing the jars into a cooler with a little cool water, close and leave over night. It's cheap, it's available, and best of all, it works every time so far.



Well, as I said the other day. This weekend was a bit of a homesteading weekend. For those of you wondering if all we did all weekend was work the answer is no. I think we're beginning to feel like a lot of the things we're doing around the house aren't actually work, because the benefits are so good. We get to spend time together, our kids are eating better than most, and hey, I still got in a couple of hours of football to boot! (Even though my wife is clobbering me in our football pool; must be beginners luck. I wonder why I never get any of that?)

Till next time.

P~

December 4, 2007

Thought for today

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.
~James Beard (1903-1985)

 

December 3, 2007

Our Daily Bread

Oh what a weekend! A~ and I seemed to be going from one thing to another, but strangely I never felt rushed? I have found my blog linked to on other sites being listed as a homesteading blog, and I guess from time to time I could say "Yeah I guess I am." but generally speaking I just feel like a guy who's curious about the world around him, and who loves to experiment and learn how to do things on my own. This weekend however, I could say I really did get the feeling of being kind of a "Little house in the suburbs".

Today I'm talking bread. I've heard about this no knead bread recipe that was first made popular by a NY times article on it. (The recipe is on the link.) And it sounded so good we had to try it. A~ and I both love good bread, but as most home bakers have discovered, you just can't get that bakery quality crusty crust at home. Well now people you can. A~ mixed the dough Saturday afternoon, but Sunday I did the majority of the work on the bread. I say this to let you know that anyone can make this bread, I am not a baker by any means, I was entrusted once to take bread out of the mixer and form it into the pans and managed to wait too long and got airy mutant loaves. This bread was nearly idiot proof. Not only that, but besides the fact that it takes a long time to make in wait time, in actual hands on time it takes no more than maybe ten minutes! How was it? Oh man, I tell you it was good!

Another thing we did this weekend was to feed our little kitchen pet. No it's not a pet rock, it's a sourdough start. If you've not begun a sourdough start of your own, you just don't know what your missing in sourdough pancakes alone. It's easy to do, keeps essentially indefinitely in the fridge, and can be used for all sorts of goodies; although we've only used ours for bread and pancakes. I know that it's possible to make a start from wild yeast, and in fact A~ and I did manage to successfully get one going, but it was just a little too ripe for us and I would bet even a little unpredictable. When using wild sourdough one of the instructions is that if it begins to smell sour or just generally funky, toss it and try again. Now this would be absolutely acceptable to me in a survival situation, but for general day to day baking we decided we wanted a more predictable and controllable start. To get this we mixed:
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Water
1 packet dry active yeast
1 Tablespoon Sugar

This, we let sit in a bowl covered with a paper towel at room temperature for 1 week to 10 days until it began to smell, well, beery for a lack of a better description. Then we placed it in a 1 qt Mason Jar and refrigerated it. All we have to do is take out what we need for the recipe at the time, then feed the remaining start with 3/4 each of flour and water and let it sit covered at room temp overnight. If we don't use it for a little while, we will occasionally need to "feed" it by stirring in a tablespoon of sugar. The start in the picture is ours and it's a little over 2 months old. We've noticed that as it begins to mature, it's flavor has begun to become more full and tangy. Give it a try, I'm sure you'll love it.

And what would all this tasty homemade goodness be without a little bit of fresh homemade butter. Last week we bought a container of whipping cream for making mashed potatoes. The remaining bit of cream has been sitting in the fridge. We don't generally use a lot of cream at our house so I was afraid of it going bad. So while we're talking about the baking that we're doing A~ and I both come up with the idea of making butter with it. It's something that we've both wanted to try, and the kids were a little spazzy that day so why not harness the energy for good use right. I added the approx 1 pt of cream, to a 2 Qt canning jar that we had and started shaking it. Shake Shake Shake, Shake Shake Shake, Shake your Butter, Shake your butter... (yeah I grew up in the seventies.) All of a sudden it seemed, the butter separated from the buttermilk and we were in business. I shook it a but more to finish binding the butter fats, and then poured off the buttermilk. (Buttermilk biscuits this week??) After pouring off the butter milk I added cold water to the jar with the butter and shook again to "wash" it. Continue this, emptying the cloudy buttermilk water and refilling with fresh until it shakes and the water stays clear; this removes all the buttermilk that could cause it to go rancid over time. All told it took about 20 minutes, but we were watching You Tube music videos at the same time and dancing around the kitchen so it flew by! last step is to use a spatula or big spoon to work the butter in a bowl forcing out and discarding any water remaining in the butter and turning in a pinch of salt for flavor. That's it, fresh homemade butter. The kids loved it, have yours try it, they will too!

P~

December 1, 2007

A Must Watch

I wanted to share something that I found on a blog that I regularly read, Red State Green. The link is to a 5 part series of videos on You Tube. It is on how How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, and I encourage all of you to take a minute, or rather an hour, to view it if possible.

Peak oil isn't something that I talk about a lot, but I don't think any of us would have to stretch our imaginations to accept the premise that one day the wells will dry up or at least slow down dramatically. The only real debate exists around when that time will arrive, or if it already has. Ask yourself this, "What will the world look like when it begins to impact our daily life?" What challenges will we be faced with? If your like me, and you have given this any thought, then you've probably come to a point where you say, "Everything we could ever expect is really just a best guess, there's no way to know what it will really look like." Well, Cuba was essentially thrown into that situation with the fall of the former Soviet Union, and the subsequent drop off of their oil imports from 13-14 million tons of oil to approximately 4. These videos illustrate the changes, challenges and solutions that Cuba had to come up with.

When I see things like this, it reminds me of some of the reasons I do the things that I do. There are so many skills that we've lost; baking bread, using whole raw foods to make meals, preserving food, growing food and repairing things rather than replacing them. Of course a goodly part of that is also because I am cheap, but what can I say?

I hope you'll take a little time out of your day to take a look at these videos, especially any of you that are not familiar with the idea of peak oil, or that don't generally buy into such ideas. I'd love to hear your opinions if you do.

Tomorrow... Bread, Bread, Butter.
P~