...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.


Power Down Week

Tomorrow we begin observing Transition Milwaukee's Power Down Week, an opportunity to challenge ourselves and others to make our carbon footprints as small as possible.  Ben and I have agreed to keep the television and our computers off for the whole week.  I am also planning to not use my car all week but bike or use public transport as needed, not use the oven but cook our meals outdoors on the grill or in the solar oven, and to otherwise spend time outdoors, in the garden, and not rely on electricity as much as usual (also hoping Ben will cut down his toothpaste usage, though that's not the place for the most impact). Perhaps there will be a candlelit game of Scrabble one night.  I think this week will be a blast and I can't wait to see how much I can accomplish (or relax) without the distraction of my computer.

Last week Vera and I headed down to Pinehold Gardens for our CSA's strawberry U-Pick.  As part of my worker share, I am the personal preserver for farmers Sandy and David so I picked extra berries for that project.  With help from Sandy's father, I was able to collect 10 quarts fairly quickly while Vera sat on the sidelines begging "more" for any berries I could spare.  I think she's sick of them now because she hasn't eaten one since.  She must have consumed a whole pint; the mess on her face and coat proved that.  I will freeze some berries and make a low-sugar jam with the rest.  Of course, we saved some for eating fresh on yogurt, cereal, and pancakes as well.  In fact, I tried a new pancake recipe this morning.  Didn't have any eggs in the house so I tried a vegan pancake recipe from my Holistic Moms Network annual cookbook and was pleasantly surprised at the texture and flavor.  Strawberries go beautifully with these tasty breakfast cakes.

Vegan Pancakes
Makes about 8 pancakes
You could place sliced strawberries on top of the batter on the griddle or toss the berries with a bit of sugar or honey and pour them over the pancakes to serve.

1 c. whole-wheat flour
2 T. sucanat
2 T. flax meal
2 T. wheat germ
2 T. hemp seeds, ground (optional)
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1 c. soymilk
1/2 c. water
2 T. oil
1 T. white vinegar
1 t. vanilla

Mix together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients, then combine with dry ingredients.  Cook on preheated oiled griddle.  To keep from sticking, be sure the griddle is nice and hot before pouring batter and re-oil the pan between each set of pancakes. 

Vera and I traveled via train and bus to my hometown of Paris, Illinois for the latter part of last week to visit my folks.  It was a wonderful visit with lots of great time spent with Grammy and Papa.  When we returned the garden was a jungle.  I spent at least a couple of hours outside this morning weeding, trimming, caging, cutting, and pruning.  While I was lopping a little bit off the cherry tree I stumbled upon this year's harvest hidden under a couple of thickly leafed branches--two lovely Black Tartarian cherries.  One for me, one for Ben.  Of course, the bird's got most of the cherries I'd spotted earlier in the season.  Honestly, I didn't expect to even taste one so I was very happy with this treat.  We hope for more next year.  In the meantime, I'll keep pruning the tree little by little this season so sun can get through to my veggies that are slightly in the shade beneath it.  Today I also went to the next level of Operation: Protect The Corn.  I removed the gallon jug tops that had been weighted with bricks and replaced them with hand-rolled chicken wire cages.  I staked those into the ground then wrapped the bottom of each "cage" with hardware cloth.  A couple were slightly toppled and nipped this afternoon, but the real enemy is Vera who thinks it's fun to lift up the cages.  We'll see what happens.

I will return on the 28th.  Join me in powering down if you can.  Enjoy the Summer Solstice tomorrow!

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