Matt and I have been planning to live in a campsite in the woods for over 6 months now. On September 18, our plans came into fruition on a small homestead in Annapolis, California. Our woodland adventure is an opportunity to reconnect with nature and start to learn primitive survival skills – which we will ultimately hone over a lifetime if we keep up with them. To some this conjures up images of secret stashes of spam and artillery. While we expect at some time to learn our way around guns, planes, and blades, we don’t share a doomsayer outlook nor an appreciation for meat “foods” that will outlive humans. We simply want to expand our awareness and learn to adapt, survive and enjoy the experience of the wilderness. Of course we’re still working remotely, so it’s not an entirely off-the-grid dirty hippy holiday.1 Comment » Keep reading »
I did not grow up in a family that did a lot of jelly making or canning of anything whatsoever. My Mom was very happy about the frozen vegetables that were newly available to her in the 50s and was quite content to go buy a bottle of Smuckers strawberry jam.
My grandmother had canned on a routine basis in her day and made lots of jams. By the time I was six, though, she was already 65 and winding down a little. But she would take me to pick wild strawberries. We would come home and put up a jar or two of strawberry jam from that very precious fruit. So I knew theoretically how it was done. In other words I knew just enough to be completely intimidated by all those huge pots of boiling water and the necessity to sterilize bottles and lids. It all seemed rather mystical and out of reach to me. But I had such fond memories of those delectable little jars of wild strawberry jam and how different they tasted from a store bought jam.10 Comments » Keep reading »
When I get to be an old, old lady, scrawny and skinny, all elbows and knees and just can’t imagine growing a vegetable garden anymore, I will still grow my herbs. Returning to my garden from being away I go to my herbs first. They anchor me. There is something so timeless about them, magical even. Who knows, maybe in a past life I was a shaman or a witch, poking around in my herb patch, passing out love potions and remedies.6 Comments » Keep reading »
I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Sally Fallon or her cookbook Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon spent ten years putting together recipes that focused on Old World traditions before cheap and easy were the primary objective of our meals. Her research and inspiration were the provactive studies conducted by a dentist named Weston Price in the 1930s. Dr Price traveled the world to document the teeth and bone structures of different peoples. After extensive research, Price came to the conclusion that people with good bone structure and strong teeth – full, wide jaws and well-formed, even teeth – came from pre-industrialized villages that all had common nutritional threads. The people whose villages had already switched to more processed food tended to have crooked, crowded teeth, narrow jaws and unbalanced features. Dr Price’s own book, Nutritive Degeneration is a fascinating, if dense read, illustrated by smiling faces of people Dr Price encountered in small villages and towns.2 Comments » Keep reading »
During the winter as kids my brother and I would make little pine cone feeders so the birds would have some fat to tide them over until spring. We’d have already collected and dried the cones. Mom would give us a jar of peanut butter and a bunch of bird seed. We’d rub peanut butter in the little crevices of the cones. Smelling of roasted nuts and dripping all over the place, I’d want to lick them. Then we’d sprinkle them all over with sunflowers seeds and maybe some cracked corn, tie them with little ribbons and hang the cones around in the yard. The chickadees would invariably come. With their melodic chicka-dee-dee-dee singsong, little black heads and puffed out bellies, the chickadees were a family favorite. While everyone else was blanketed in a snowstorm, the chickadees would happily hop around, foraging and taking advantage of the quiet. They’d hop right along on those ice-coated tree branches to visit our cone feeders.11 Comments » Keep reading »
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I grew up in a family that still made good of our leftovers. We pan-fried leftover grilled corn, made meatloaf, stuffed all sorts of vegetables, made soup with bits and bobs of meats and leftover rinds and things. At times I thought it was amazing and at times a cruel joke. Do they really think I’m not going to notice that the corn in my fritter is from the half cob I refused to finish yesterday?! My attitude towards leftovers depended on age, and whether at that age I saw my parents as gods or messengers of evil, plotting against me. Reinventing foods to make something new and possibly more satiating is no laughing matter. It requires gusto which my mother has in spades. Many of the soups, stews, loafs, and stuffings we revere come from these humble roots.
Tomatoes are awesome this year. They’re plump, juicy and bursting with flavor; no rot, no blights. YEAH! Tomatoes are such a satisfying thing to grow. Once you get the hang of it, your tomatoes will taste and feel infinitely better (and be infinitely cheaper) than what you can buy. As long as you stake them, you can grow tomatoes in the most minuscule of places – even on a fire escape in the heart of a city. Tomatoes, generally a vine crop, like to grow up, so you just need to give them a little support. You can grow cherry tomatoes in a pot, too.Leave a comment » Keep reading »
The summertime chores ground me. To get the most out of the harvest I have to be in the rhythm of the earth; in tune with the seasons and the weather. It is something farmers know, but not us suburbanites. We normally do what we want when it suits us. To pick oregano when the bouquet is most fragrant, you have to do it just as it flowers. The peppermint needs to be picked in the early morning before the sun heats it and dries up its oil. If I don’t pick the blueberries when they just start turning blue the birds will enjoy every last one. If I don’t pick them when they are just ripe they will turn into hard kernels and drop off. These simple tasks, performed at the optimum time, keeps me in touch with the earth. It makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself.Leave a comment » Keep reading »
Rocky Durham said in a cooking class we took with him back in Santa Fe, if you put grilled in front of just about anything, people will buy it. Seeing as this Santa Fean chef launched a series of successful restaurants, all called Santa Fe with exactly this premise in mind, let’s humor him and give it a try. Salad. Grilled salad. Watermelon. Grilled watermelon. Pizza. Grilled pizza. Springer spaniel. Grilled springer spaniel. Well, you get the idea.3 Comments » Keep reading »
The other day it was easy and breezy in Portland and I was missing steamy NY. This is the yin and yang of the journey. As I get farther away from where I’ve been, I am closer to realizing what matters to me. This Portland summer is altogether wonderfully mild… and sometimes that makes me feel complacent and underwhelmed. We’re about to take a plunge and attempt to live in the woods OFF THE GRID for a few months by ourselves. While this is something I have been dreaming about, here I am missing the most urban place on the planet.5 Comments » Keep reading »