Saturday, September 28, 2013

Trimming the Fat

Most people who visit here probably never noticed links to books or self-sufficiency products. I have been an Amazon Associate for a very long time, although I've never made more than enough to get a "free" book every so often. While I occasionally share links to books or products that I like (often more for informational purposes than for income), it's never been a huge part of the blog.

As such, most people probably won't notice that I've removed the affiliate links, because a recently passed Maine law now requires Amazon (and probably other online vendors) to charge Maine residents a sales tax (and to forward that tax to the State of Maine). According to the email message I received, is closing the accounts of all affiliates from Maine and will no longer accept applications from Maine residents.

I also learned that shipment of our book Browsing Nature's Aisles, which was preordered through by some people here in Maine, has been delayed. I don't know if it is related to this law or if there was some printing SNAFU, but I do know that the book has been printed and is available, because I have 100 or so copies in my dining room, and the bookstore at the Mother Earth News Fair had copies.

If you live in Maine (or anywhere, really), and you're interested in getting a copy of our book, and you'd like an autographed copy, you can order it straight from us, right here.

If you've preordered a copy from, and you don't live in Maine, but your copy has been delayed, please let me know. I'd be curious to find out why the book is being delayed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mother Earth News Fair

Deus Ex Machina and I gave our talk entitled "Schooled by Nature" two times today. It was wonderful, both times.

Being at an event like this really renews my faith in humanity. We're meeting so many people who really care to be more careful with the earth we live on.

We've had a blast meeting all of the people who've stopped to say hi.

The best part is sharing this adventure with Deus Ex Machina and our girls.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For a Million Dollars

I was listening to a radio show this morning, and the DJs started talking about this survey in which participants were asked if they would give up some thing for the rest of their lives in exchange for a million dollars. The two they mentioned were fast food and alcohol, and the DJs were surprised that more people would give up fast food than alcohol.

Personally, that doesn't surprise me. I wouldn't EAT fast food (e.g. McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.) for a million dollars (well, I might ... once), but I very much enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of cold beer, especially if we brewed it ourselves.

Anyway, no one would pay *me* a million dollars not to eat fast food for the rest of my life, because I already don't eat fast food ... unless by "fast food" one is talking about canned pumpkin bread. In which case, I might have to decline the cash ;).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fast Food

I think the best thing about canning is the convenience. Oh, I don't mean that the actually process of canning is all that convenient. It's not. It's time-consuming drudgery.

But months from now, when we need something quick to eat, those jars of stuff that I took the time to prep and save will be what we eat. It will be fast, and easy, and hopefully delicious.

One of my girls' favorite canned treats is this canned pumpkin bread I've been making for years. Our local farm stand has pumpkins, and so I picked up a few the other day.

Making the bread is a several step process. It's not quick or easy, but broken down it also doesn't have to be difficult. I use fresh pumpkin, which I cut in half and bake until its soft. Then, I scoop out the cooked pumpkin and add it to the batter.

I baked the pumpkins earlier today.

And tonight, I made pumpkin bread. I love the convenience, also, of baking it right in the jars in which it will be sealed.

It just came out of the oven and smells wonderful. The best part is ... ah! there's that sound. That ping that tells me that the jars are sealing, and the bread is locked safely in the jar until we're ready to break the seal and enjoy it.

If history is our greatest teacher, those jars won't be on the shelf very long, and in fact, I plan to take at least a few of them on our trip to the Mother Earth News Fair this coming weekend as our travel food.

When we get back, though, I have another pumpkin to bake.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Here!

The UPS guy dropped off a package. Looks like everyone was very excited.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Field Trip

Even on an overcast, rainy day with fog right off the coast, the beach is a fun place to be.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red is Better than Gold

A friend asked me today how my garden was doing, and my answer was, kind of, blah. It's not that the garden is doing poorly, I said, but rather that I'm just not a very good gardener.

I guess it does okay, and maybe I'm being too hard on myself, but compared to some other, wonderful, gardens I've seen recently, mine is kind of sad.

I harvested a bunch of orange-tinged tomatoes today and put them in the window with the ones I harvested the other day.

They look pretty in the window, and looking at them, I think, maybe the garden isn't doing as poorly as I think ... and if it is, it doesn't really matter, because they sure look pretty on the window there, and they'll taste great!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wealth Not Measured in Dollars

I've just finished this book - Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison (and if you choose to read it, be aware that it is rather disturbing). In the book, the narrator, Ruth Ann, a.k.a. Bone, looks around the Woolworth store and thinks what a lot of junk is on the shelves. She thinks of her Aunt's house, where Bone spent the summer helping her Aunt put up a year's worth of food - tomatoes, blackberries, peaches .... She thinks, "That's something." And the implication is that her aunt, though incredibly money poor, has a wealth that cannot be found on the shelves of the department store.

I was thinking about that scene, that sentiment, this past weekend. Last week, we butchered the four young rabbits who had grown much too big to still be with their mother. We had already decided we were going to make this rabbit sausage - although we substituted our homegrown Shi'take for the porcini mushrooms in the recipe (because we had those, but we didn't have Porcinis ;)).

We were also gifted (in what turned out to be a barter - we dog sat and were given 30 lbs of canning peaches - good deal!) some canning peaches, and so this weekend, we made 11 lbs of sausage and put up 16 pints of canned peaches.

When we start to get mired in worry about the brakes on our fifteen year old Honda with 260,000 miles and the fact that we might really need to decide to be a one-car family, but our other car is a ten year old SUV that's starting to rust underneath and has a myriad of other aches and quirks common to cars that have traveled over a 160,000 miles, I stop and think about those sixteen pints of peaches and that eleven pounds of rabbit sausage ... and the 40 frozen chickens, and the several quart jars of dehydrated greens, and ... and ... and ..., and I realize that we are fortunate. We are incredibly wealthy, and even if we don't always have a dollar every time we want one, we have a lot more of what really matters.

We harvested our first maple sap in 2007. It was boiled to syrup on our gas grill. We've since started boiling our sap over a wood fire, but it was an incredibly empowering to note that we could ... even when most people were telling us that the suburbs is no place for self-sufficiency.

If you're thinking about coming to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA this year. I'm scheduled to talk about becoming self-sufficient in the suburbs ... with kids on Sunday at 5:00 :). If you go, please be sure to stop by and say hello.

And Deus Ex Machina and I will be talking about lessons we learned while foraging the suburbs.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Homestead Fun

Mexican-inspired Homestead Meal

1 farm fresh egg
half sun-ripened tomato cut into small chunks
half small hot pepper diced small
1/3 c spicy beans*
a handful of tortilla chips
grated cheese
dollop of plain yogurt

1. Warm beans.
2. Put tortilla chips on plate.
3. Spoon warm beans over tortilla chips.
4. Sprinkle grated cheese over beans.
5. Fry egg until the whites are cooked but the yolk is still "runny."
6. Place egg on top of cheese.
7. Top with tomato, pepper and yogurt.

**Any kind of dried bean will do. I prefer red or black beans, and I usually use red kidney beans. For same day use, put beans in a pot, rinse and then cover with cold water. Bring beans to a roiling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook - covered - until beans are soft. Be sure to keep an eye on the beans and add water if it gets to low (or the beans will burn, and there's nothing worse than burned beans). When beans are soft, season to taste. I use salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and cilantro. Cook until the bean water is thickened.