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Posted on Dec 4, 2013 in Inspiration

Wordless Wednesday: Opening This Spring

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Posted on Nov 29, 2013 in Inspiration

A Day to Pause

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For a lot of people, today is for action.  To me, the day after Thanksgiving is a bonus day.  The holiday is over, and if you are lucky, there is plenty of leftovers to eat, so cooking is not on the schedule.  We spent the day yesterday in gratitude, and we still have the weekend ahead to do all the errands and chores.

Today can be a day to pause, even if it is for a few minutes between shops, to be still and reflect.

Happy Friday.

 

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Posted on Nov 27, 2013 in Inspiration

Wordless Wednesday: winter

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Posted on Nov 24, 2013 in Inspiration

Simplify your Cooking with Dehydrated Foods

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A couple of summers ago, I took a class in food dehydrating.  I have some experience with preserving with freezing and canning, but I thought it would be fun to take advantage of the long, hot days of summer to hold on to those fresh fruits and vegetables all year.  The first thing I tried was a solar dehydrator.  I put some of my crop of tomatoes out in the sun to dry.

It was a disaster.  The humidity and flies collaborated in turning my tomatoes into trash in only a few hours.

Next, I tried an indoor dehydrator with a fan that blows heated air over three racks of food.  I wanted to try to make jerky and fruit roll-ups.  These were sort of successful, but the roll-ups were very sour, and took a long time to dry completely.  You can dry tomato paste, mashed potatoes, smooth soups and refried beans the same way, and use them later in recipes.  The jerky requires a lot of salt to be sure it is stable to store.  Here ( also here, here and here) are some resources in case you want to try dehydrating.

But the fruits and vegetables are great.  Some work better than others, and some are brilliant.

This is a whole pineapple

This is a whole pineapple

These work great.

  • mushrooms
  • strawberries
  • cantaloupe
  • pears
  • onions
  • chives
  • cooked rice (that’s how they make the instant rice you buy in the store)
  • pineapple (my favorite!)
  • zucchini
  • kale
  • broccoli (chop first)

These work OK, but change color or flavor when they are dried.

  • bananas
  • potatoes
  • asparagus
  • cauliflower

These don’t work well

  • watermelon
  • blackberries
  • blueberries (unless you cut each one in half)

My dehydrator has a temperature control, that suggests to use a cooler level for herbs, and higher for fruits and veggies, with the highest setting for meat.  A mandoline can help to get slices thin and even so you food dries quickly and evenly.  If you dry strong-smelling food, expect your house to be fragrant for a while.

Instant vegetable soup

Dehydrated rice

  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 2 c white or brown rice (medium or long grin work well)

Cook rice according to instructions, and allow to cool slightly.  Spread on racks in dehydrator and run until completely dry. Store in ziplock bags in freezer or cool, dry place.

Soup

  • 4 c water
  • 1 c dehydrated rice
  • 1/2 c dehydrated zucchini
  • 1 T dehydrated onion
  • 1/4 c dehydrated veggies (one or more: asparagus, tomato, broccoli, green beans)
  • 1 t dried herbs

bring water to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Add other ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes, or until veggies have rehydrated.  Add more water or stock, and season to taste.  If you mix the ingredients together dry, this makes an excellent camping or hiking meal.  You can also make inexpensive instant lunches to take to work with you.  These cost a fraction of the price of the kind you buy in the store.

 

Before

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on Nov 13, 2013 in Inspiration

Many Hands Make Light Work

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There are many things I like to do by myself.  I like to get lost in thought while working in the garden, sing out loud to the radio while driving, and read a great novel or scientific article (wait, is this just me?)

But, some things are chores when I have to do them myself, and I don’t mind them at all when I’m with a friend.  Folding laundry and shopping in big-box stores, for example.  Doing dishes is a chore in my kitchen, but sort of fun with help.  Even better, I enjoy doing dishes in someone else’s kitchen.  Why is this?

It’s less work when you have help.

This is definitely part of the picture.  Still, I would not enjoy doing half of the dishes at my own house.  Maybe I’ll give this a try.  If I’m putting off a chore, try doing half of it.  I think it would be more likely to get me to finish if I get started, but I don’t think it would make it fun.

It’s less tedious when we have someone to keep us company.

True, but then watching TV or listening to music would have the same effect.  Connecting with another person over a shared activity is different from just distraction, though.  Sort of bonding over a less-than-pleasant activity.  The dishes can be an excuse to spend time with someone, too.

It doesn’t seem as bad if someone else likes the activity.

It’s true that enthusiasm can be contagious.  It worked for Tom Sawyer, right?  But, this effect works even if both parties are doing a tedious job.

It’s more fun to do things for others than ourselves.

I think this is the big reason for me.  I enjoy doing something without being asked to make someone else happy or reduce their work load. Now, how do I learn to enjoy doing this for myself?

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 Photo credits: peapod labsowlpacino
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Posted on Nov 6, 2013 in Inspiration

Look Up, Please

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I spend a lot of time walking outdoors.  Four times a day, I walk my dog, and I walk around campus during the day to get to classes and meetings at the university where I work.

In the mornings, my dog and I encounter people who are walking to the bus stop, and even walking across the river to work.  I love my walks, unless the weather is particularly terrible.  I like to see the animals and plants changing through the year, and the way my dog encounters the world through his eyes (only things that move are interesting) and his nose (some kind of doggie version of Twitter).

So many people are walking with their eyes on their phone or even a book as they walk along.  I don’t know how they manage this multitasking feat! Students regularly walk around campus, and even across busy streets this way. One student walked straight into the side of my car the other day.  I don’t know how many times I have been run over while standing in line at the airport by someone with one hand texting while the other rolls their suitcase along the floor.

Aside from the safety issues, seriously, how can you read and walk?  I can barely do one of those activities at a time!

The beautiful world is out there. Leaves are being blown into crunchy piles. How can you resist kicking them up when you walk through them?  Those puddles will not stomp themselves.  The last flowers are blooming.  New graffiti is popping up along the river.  Someone yarn bombed the fence by the railroad tracks. There is so much to be noticed.

Who’s with me?

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