...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Chasing Fairies

It's spring mushroom hunting season.  Last Friday on the way home from work I drove past the park and in a flash noticed some rings of tall grass growing in the park.   I  knew right away from my scattered mycological experiences that these were fairy rings, which, according to my dusty copy of Common Edible Mushrooms by Clyde M. Christensen, were once thought to mark the path of dancing fairies.  What a lovely thought!  They are formed when a few spores of the fairy-ring mushrooms fall upon a favorable place and begin to grow.  I really wanted to snap a picture of these perfectly circular rings so Vera and I set out with the stroller this morning to look for them.  This required a bit of off-roading with the buggy; after much backtracking we found nothing.  It was like they disappeared as quickly as they showed themselves.  Must be another spring ephemeral like spring beauties and trout lillies.  The picture here is one from the web.

But have no fear, our morning walk still proved to be interesting.  Instead of chasing fairies I, for a moment, almost thought I was going to be chased by an urban coyote.  We were strolling through the seminary grounds and in the distance in a clearing I could see what looked like some sort of wild animal.  At first glance it appeared to be a bobcat or a dog.  It was standing very still as if ready to pounce.  I couldn't believe what I thought I was seeing.  I didn't think coyotes showed themselves much in the daytime.  I was a bit nervous about it so I clapped my hands a few times as I peered at it through the bushes.  No movement.  So we pressed on deciding not to try disrupting it.  As I came around a bend another "coyote" was just yards from me.  It was then that I realized these were some sort of taxidermy decoys most likely placed there to scare the real coyotes that I've seen trotting around the grounds and up the street in the wee hours on my way to work on Fridays at dawn.  We were so glad to learn they were fakes though it still made me shudder.

I've been working outside for the past week at least to get our new raised beds installed, remove any excess grass in the new walkways, and replace the brick edging.  It's been quite a project, but I know it will be rewarding when I'm able to grow more veggies this year.  I was looking at the backyard from an upstairs window and feeling so lucky that I have this palette to work with everyday of the growing season.  It's so therapeutic.

Sunday we continued the Sunday dinner tradition started last fall by hosting some Chicago friends for lunch.  We enjoyed the first real green salad from our garden.  We cut sorrel aplenty, but I was able to complement it with enough baby greens, mesclun mix, and herbs to serve at least a small bowl for each guest.  There's always so much hope in that first bite.

Last night was my first Transition Milwaukee meeting at the Urban Ecology Center.  I'd wanted to join since I first heard about the group over a year ago, but wasn't able to manage the commitment with my own to Vera and her feeding needs.  Since that has gotten a bit easier I've been able to get out a little more.  It was wonderful to be in a room with so many like-minded people working towards a sustainable, alternative, post-carbon community.  There were many familiar faces and many I had never seen.  It's great to know there are all these people out there striving towards to the same goals and we've never met until now.

And, of course, I won't leave you without a new recipe.  As a baker with a science background I'm not usually one to suggest tampering with a baking recipe.  In fact, the precision of baking is what drew me to the field of pastries in the first place--it brought together my love of food, my sweet tooth, and countless semesters of chemistry (not to mention the hours are more reasonable than the average restaurant cook's schedule.) But I have been experimenting lately with "bean-nut butter," a higher fiber substitute for straight peanut butter made of cooked garbanzos and peanut butter.  In baking it can be directly substituted to give your recipes even more bang for your buck.  I've adapted this recipe to be egg-free, dairy free, gluten-free, and delicious.

Bean-nut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes about 1 dozen

3 ripe bananas (can use frozen bananas)
3 T. flax meal
3 T. water
1/2 c. sucanat
1/2 c. bean-nut butter (see recipe below)
1 3/4 c. rice flour (could also use garbanzo or coconut flour)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/3 c. melted coconut oil
1/2 c. rice or almond milk
1/2 c. chocolate chips (can be dairy-free if you choose)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix first 5 ingredients in a food processor.  Blend for 1 minute.  Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  When thoroughly mixed, add to food processor along with coconut oil and milk.  Blend well.  Add the chocolate chips and pulse once or twice.  Ladle the batter into a greased muffin pan, filling each hole to the top.  Bake for 15-18 min. or until muffins are firm to the touch.  Cool and serve.  These also freeze well.

Bean-nut Butter 
Makes 3 c.

2 c. cooked garbanzo beans
3/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. hot water

Mix all ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  Store in the fridge if you plan to use in a few days or freeze in cubes to thaw for later use.

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally making these this week!