Please head on over to The Chatelaine's Keys to see a full description of this project!
Here are our categories:
Eat the Food:
Build community food systems:
I can honestly say that the only seeds I planted this week were the seeds of curiosity in my students’ minds. Hopefully, they’ll flourish! Our ground is frozen one day, then muddy the next right now, though I have been considering starting a cold frame of lettuce since it has been a mild winter here in Pennsylvania. It’s been a busy week; the end of semester one coincided with the end of my new bathroom construction; the new semester started on the last day the workmen were in my home. I look forward to this weekend to reorganize my first floor; my classes are nicely reorganized already! First things first!
I DID harvest something! The miracle tree in front of my farmer-friend’s house put out a nice bloom of oyster mushrooms! I even had enough to share with a friend or two! Yummy fresh mushrooms in late January…awesome! I was too excited to take a picture, so I pasted in one I took during the summer.
Last weekend, I made a batch of clean and humanely raised beef jerky. I used a pepper flavor that I knew my husband would like (he tells a funny story about how his best experience with steak au poivre made his eardrums burn). I also separated a new kombucha mother from my main one, and put it up in the fridge “in case”, and have set aside a smaller jar of the kombucha to grow a mini-mother. Those gallon jars make too much for me!
My picky indoor cats often leave a good portion of their expensive cat food uneaten. I’ve been cycling this out to the poor alley cat who is very happy to clean it up for them! He’s afraid to be petted or come too close, but I’ve made a warm straw bed for him under my glider, and he’s getting regular meals. I’ve made some very good cat friends this way in the past. If he gets friendly enough to handle, I'll do the cat world a favor and neuter him. Maybe he knows that. Maybe that's why he stays out of reach!
Two days ago, I felt myself coming down with the beginnings of a nasty winter cold. My previous summer stockpiling paid off nicely. I’ve always been interested in both herbs and foraging. Last summer I teamed up with a colleague of mine who is also an herbalist, and we collected a nice supply of both elder flowers and elder berries. SCORE! I made a tonic using the berries and some of the flowers plus equal parts of honey and gin. The recipe called for brandy, but juniper, a key ingredient in gin, is an anti-inflammatory which helps my achy old joints. Well, I took a tablespoonful yesterday morning, then a tablespoonful last evening, and slept with clear sinuses and woke up refreshed after a good, comfortable night…with no sore throat! YAY nature! YAY elderberries and juniper!
Eat the Food:
Those aforementioned mushrooms have graced my dinner plate three times this week, in various incarnations. The last one was a GREAT stir-fry, paired with some local frozen chicken mushrooms and maitakes from the fall, some frozen organic veggies from my garden, and some finely sliced organic pork strips from the farmer’s market, all seasoned with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce. Of course I made too much; the leftovers went into lunch-sized freezer containers so I could carry them to school for my mid-day meal. Win-win!
Build community food systems:
Since Peter has been traveling for work, and has had two long-term remote placements, my fall canning stockpile isn’t being used as quickly as I thought it might. I recently connected with an old friend who is having some challenging times, so I sent her home with a box full of goodies, and will continue to stock her up until she’s tired of them or I run out. She promised to save my jars for me for next year! And she loved my pepper jerky and mushrooms, too!
I have a new friend who supplied me with my kombucha mother a month or so ago. I was lucky enough to find a dehydrator at a thrift store, and got it to her (she’s been looking for one), so I was able to return a foodie favor. I also shared a bag of those nice fresh oyster mushrooms with another relatively new friend, my mushrooming buddy. He was happy to have them, and kindly offered me a few shiitake logs in the coming spring. SCORE!
Have you ever noticed the cosmic law that goes something like this: The more you give, the more you’ll receive? It’s true. There is such abundance in our world, if only we all remembered how to pass it around.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this one, but here goes: during the past two weeks, I had a new bathroom built on my first floor for my elderly mother, who will be coming to live with us. Prior to the construction of the bathroom, I had absolutely no idea how the plumbing worked…I didn’t know which pipe took out the waste, or if the sink water, shower water and toilet water were sent to the same place or not. One week before the contractor arrived, I had an emergency visit from the plumber, but not before I learned exactly where the upstairs toilet went. Since then, I’ve seen the plumbing adapted to the new bathroom, and have figured it all out. I can’t believe I never cared before. It’s such a simple thing…