Veggie Crock Pot Soup

July 15, 2009

Wanted to share my latest crock pot soup. I went to the farmers market this past Saturday and picked up many things. Last night, I used some of them in my latest crock pot creation.

1 eggplant-diced
1 yellow squash-sliced thin
1 half bag of baby carrots-from the freezer
1/4 cup lentils
1/4 cup brown rice
6-7 small ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
many cherry tomatoes, very ripe, whole
2 cups black beans
2 leftover packets of salsa from taco kits

The eggplant, squash, and tomatoes, were all fresh, and all local. I put everything in the crock pot, added just enough water to keep it all moist and cooked it all night. I put it on around 7pm and cooked it until 5:30 this morning. Everything is fully cooked, and wonderfully flavored.   I am having this for lunch today, and for several days to come. I am thrilled with how delicious it tasted as I scooped it into storage containers this morning. I love my crock pot, and I love how much easier it makes my life.

This dish was a great mix of using fresh ingredients, plus what I had hanging out in the freezer and fridge. I like coming up with interesting combinations and having something delicious be the result. What’s your favorite crock pot meal?


Camping Fail

July 13, 2009

So this weekend I thought I’d drag my tent out and set it up. I wanted to make sure it was in good shape so I can plan a camping trip, perhaps for this fall. Well, I found out I have TWO tents. One is a very very old canvas contraption. I knew it was in the shed, but I really thought it was an old large tarp. When I unfolded it, it was in fact a large old tent. I found the tent poles and all the tent stakes that go with it, but, I didn’t really want to struggle with it too much.

Next I found the tent I was pretty sure I knew I had, a lighter weight, nylon (four person?) tent. This one was made by Coleman, and I again had all the tent poles and stakes and such for it. So I laid it out and went to assembling.Flat Tent

You can see the old canvas tent behind the newer nylon one. What you don’t see there are any instructions. At that point, I couldn’t find any. I causally looked in the bag the tent and the poles were in, no luck. I checked the bag with the stakes, nothing. I went inside and looked in my file where I have owners manuals to everything I own and some stuff I have thrown away, but for some reason, still have the manual. Nada.

So, I went back out and tried some more to figure out how exactly all those poles connect to each other. Did I mention the last time this tent was put up was well over a decade ago, and I was the helpful cheerleader, not the putter-upper? True it took two of us back then, but I’m handy, I should be able to figure this out.

I was about to give up with I noticed a pocket, this pocket in fact:

The pocket

The pocket

It was on the canvas duffel bag that had contained the tent, the poles, and the stakes. And inside…



Yes, the instructions. Unfortunately what the instructions do not say in their helpful three steps is how many people you need to complete the three steps. Well, lemme tell you. MORE.THAN.ONE.

This is as far as you can get with one person.

Two sheets to the wind

Two sheets to the wind

That is the center of the roof, and if it looks unstable, that would be because it is. What you need is two people holding this part while someone else proceeds to put up the next poles. What you have with one person is a comedy of errors. After trying and failing way past the point of sanity, I gave up. The next day, I put everything back in the proper bag and put it all back in the shed.

So, will there be a camping trip this fall? Only if I can find enough people to help me put up a tent.


Sharing Some Link Love

July 10, 2009

Fake Plastic Fish has a great post up about some of the problems with bottled water: It’s not the bottle

365 Days of Trash lets us know about the secret life of t shirts.

Have a bunch of cassette tapes lying around? Recyle Dead Media

Allie’s Answers has a great guest post about grilling out without the meat.

The Sierra Club has a great new wiki trails site up.

The Chicago Tribune has a wonderful article about how to stretch your food taste, and food dollars.

Harvesting the power of water as an energy source. Free Flow Power thinks it can be done.

Hope you enjoy these. Found a site or read an article that you love? Lemme know in comments.


To Cut or not to Cut

July 10, 2009

I have a fairly big lawn. I say lawn, but really it’s more of a pasture that I cut with a lawnmower. Do not picture uniform green grass, weed free when you think of my lawn. No, my lawn is full of byhalia grass, the kind grown for cows. I have plenty of wild green onions, thorns, thistles, baby trees, and baby privet hedges shoots coming up in my lawn. Part of the reason is I have never tried to kill all that stuff and grow only grass. I have never seeded or put down turf. I have never fertalized my lawn.



What I have done is cut it when most of the grass is over mid calf. Yes really. Byhalia grass is the kind that grows very tall, and splits into a ‘Y’ at the top. It grows faster than everything else and from one week to the next, it can grow knee high, if there is enough water. That’s something else I have never done, water the grass. I figure, if it dries up and dies, less for me to cut.

We got some rain last week (after a month of nothing) and now the grass is growing. I would love to cut it with a reel mower, but as I said, it’s a big lawn and I can’t see me chopping down a thistle with a pushmower. A reel mower would be quieter, more of a workout for me, and certainly easier on the land. However, I don’t want to spend all day on the lawn, so I think my riding mower will be what I choose one more time. Plus, the riding mower is paid for, and I would have to purchase a reel mower if I wanted to use one.

Back yard

Back yard

I have decided to let some of the back yard go back to full pasture though. See where those three trees are, the evergreen and the oak and whatever that other tree is? I used to cut behind them, but now, I’m just going to cut in front. That still leaves me plenty of space to have a yard. It’s hard to tell, but this is standing on my back porch and looking out. See how there is a line with high grass and such, then my yard? That higher part gets cut with a bushhog about once a year. So, now everything behind my trees will match that.

If you have a largish yard, how do you decide what to cut and what to just ignore? I heard someone say the other day, if you are keeping your yard up just because you think you are expected to, but you don’t enjoy it, then stop. I think that’s a very freeing idea. I don’t ‘play’ in my yard. No outdoor games, no running in the grass. No one can see my yard, or my house from the road. The state of my yard has no impact on my neighbors house values, so, I am tempted to completely stop. What would it look like if I never mowed it again?

If you felt you could stop mowing completely, would you?


A talk about mushrooms

July 9, 2009

I saw this a month or so ago and I found it to be amazing. I have always liked mushrooms and fungi and I remember enjoying when we talked about them in school. There is so much more to them than I ever realized. I just enjoyed this video so much and I had to share.

From the TED site: Entrepreneurial mycologist Paul Stamets seeks to rescue the study of mushrooms from forest gourmets and psychedelic warlords. The focus of Stamets’ research is the Northwest’s native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.

Check out his video


The food we eat and how we eat it.

July 9, 2009

Saw a link to an interesting article talking about how we eat, and how that’s changing. The trend is still toward food that is fast and easy, but we are moving to healthier choices. Food Trends

A blog I follow frequently is all about Wasted Food and how people, universities, grocery stores, and businesses are trying to cut down on their food waste. Wasted Food

If you have not seen the trailer to this new movie about food yet, check it out. Food, Inc.



Déjà Poo: The Living Machine Sewage System

June 18, 2009

Déjà Poo: The Living Machine Sewage System

Posted using ShareThis

From Wired.com

Picture the lobby atrium of a new, green building, one filled with leafy plants and trees. Now imagine that those trees are growing in waste collected from the building’s toilets.

If that idea has the whiff of failure about it, well, sniff again. Increasingly, building designers are managing sewage in-house—really in-house. The Port of Portland, for example, is integrating waste management into the lobby of its new headquarters under construction. The Living Machine uses soil and bacteria to filter out pathogens, essentially turning wastewater into nonpotable water. But the signature element of the system is the plant life that grows up and out of it—right into the lobby. “It’s going to provide a kind of greenhouse feel,” says Greg Sparks, engineering design manager for the port. “It’ll soften the hard edges of the typical office building.”

Everybody likes trees, but (aesthetics aside) sending poop from the bathroom to the lobby may seem sort of icky. In environmental terms, though, it’s a solid choice. Just as photovoltaics can help take a building off the power grid, living machines take strain off the pipes and municipal wastewater facilities on the “sewage grid.” They also show that being green means thinking more creatively about our brown and yellow.

1 Wastewater from the entire building flows into a holding tank where solids settle, like in a septic tank. The reclaimed liquid up top gets pumped to the lobby.

2 Garden-like “wetland cells” layered with plants, soil, and rocks collect the water and capture biological compounds and pathogens.

3 On its way out of the garden, the water is further sterilized by ultraviolet light in the pipes. Then it’s recycled back into the plumbing system.