Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mushroom Barley Soup

Here is a wonderful soup taken out of the original Moosewood Cookbook. One of my faves since I am a big mushroom fan.

Mushroom Barley Soup

1/2 C raw pearled barley
6 1/2 C stock or water
1/2 - 1 t salt
3-4 T tamari
3-4 T dry sherry (I have used white wine with great results)
3 T butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 heaping cup of chopped onion
1 pound of fresh mushrooms, sliced
freshly ground black pepper

* Cook the barley in 1 1/2 C of stock or water until tender.

* Add the remaining stock or water, tamari, and sherry.

* Saute the onions and garlic in the butter. Wgen they soften add the mushrooms and salt. when all is tender, add to the barley.

* Give it a generous grinding of black pepper and simmer 20 minutes on very low heat.

* Enjoy


Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's Time To Subsidize Mass Transit

I've been arguing that the United States needs to start subsidizing mass transit systems for awhile, but today I was handed another reminder. By February, northern Wisconsin will no longer have Greyhound service. Currently, the closest airport is an hour away, the closest Amtrak is close to four hours (all of the railroad tracks are being converted to snowmobile trails), and by early next year the closest bus line will be an hour away. The area will be even more isolated. This is ridiculous. With gas prices rising, talk of peak oil, and global warming no longer a debated issue, we are going backwards on transportation.

Personally, I am a big fan of railways. I have ridden the Amtrak several times across the country and had a wonderful experience. However, because of their limited stops, I often am not able to get near my final destination. Also, because they are a company trying to make a profit, their rates are often much more than the gas money I'd pay to drive. Transit systems shouldn't have to try and turn a profit, it should be a service. Our government should be trying to promote less driving by allowing for reasonable mass transit systems even if it requires subsidies. Our highways are already partly subsidized through various taxes.

This is just a quick complaint. I'm going to try and do more investigating on the popularity of railsystems in cities and other countries, as well as the subsidies other governements offer to their transit systems. To be continued......

Friday, December 29, 2006

Finally....The Snow not the Baby

We woke up to a little bit of snow this morning which continued all day. Still, we have a lot of catching up to do to meet the normal snowfall here in the Northland. I am envious of those Coloradoans or Coloradorites? You know who you are.
Home Sweet Home

Driveway Sweet Driveway

The View During a Walk in the Woods

In other News I have been tagged by Monica at Small Meadow Farm. So following the rules I present 6 weird things about myself:

1. I have only one first cousin and come from a very small family.

2. Even though I love the outdoors and canoeing, I can't swim. I don't like being in water.

3. I love board games, especially Ravensburger products.

4. I don't have a cell phone or television...and never will.

5. I want to live in a bus in the Mountains this summer.

6. I used to have bright green hair, but still have my nose pierced.

I'm not going to tag anyone right now, so anyone who wants to be let me know. Happy Gregorian New Year Everyone.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Honey-Maple Granola

Well, if my auto, computer, or environmental posts didn't stereotype me enough-here is the ubiquitous granola recipe.

Honey-Maple Granola

Dry ingredients
6 C rolled oats
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
1/2 C flax seeds
1 C wheat bran
1 C oat bran
1c wheat germ
1 C instant dry milk
1 C shredded or chipped dried coconut
1 C slivered almonds
1 T ground cinnamon

Wet ingredients
1/2 C maple syrup
1/2 C honey
1 C cold-pressed oil
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract

1 1/2 C raisens or currents (add at the end)

*Preheat oven to 250 F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

* In a large bowl or pot, combine all dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.

* Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until evenly moistened. Spread onto baking sheets. Bake in oven for around 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

* When done, stir in raisens and let cool.

Note: Varying nuts and fruit is a great way to add variety.

I buy almost all of my ingredients bulk organic and it is still much more economical than buying pre-made bulk granola.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Future of Subdivisions

The sprawl of American cities today is transferring our landscapes into identical eyesores. Dropped on the edge of city, amidst the Olive Gardens, Home Depots, and Super Wal*Marts, it's tough to tell Eugene, Oregon from Paducah, Kentucky. To worsen the matter, sprawl creates an almost entire reliance on the automobile. Except in large cities, there is usually little or no mass transit to the sprawl. Bike paths or decent sidewalks? If you're lucky. Even then, if one plans on buying a shopping cart worth of junk from a big box store, a bicycle basket is of little value.

Subdivisions go hand in hand with sprawl. Many of the subdivisions being built today contain wastefully large homes that are not located near any type of store, which once again causes reliance on the automobile even for a bottle of milk. Even if they are near a mall located in the sprawl, one would have to climb fences, walk through drainage ditches, and risk crossing four lanes of traffic to get there. Newer subdivisions also tend to consist mostly of the upper-middle class population, often because zoning prohibits apartments. This creates more resentment among the lower-class and a disconnection from reality for the upper-class.

Well, it doesn't have to be like this. In Freiburg, Germany a wonderful example of planning has emerged. The Vauban development contains 2000 new homes, free tramway passes for all residents, a 10 minute bike ride to the center of Freiburg, and a ratio of 150 cars for every 1000 residents (the US has 640 per 1000). In addition, instead of being energy guzzling homes, all homes are built with improved low energy standards, and many are passive solar or contain solar panels on the roof. There is even a highly efficient co-generation plant that burns wood-chips connected to the heating grid. The development also strives for a balance of social groups. This is a great example of communities that we should be striving to create. We need to replace the American dream of a McMansion on circle drive with two SUV's in the three car garage with a model of living that is more sustainable.

A Couple of Related Links:
The Christian Science Monitor published a story on Vauban.

National Geographic has an interesting post on New Urbanism against Sprawl.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More Great Bread

I tried another recipe out of my well-used Baking Bread: Old and New Traditions by Beth Hensperger. This one was called Miller's Hearth Bread. It contains a variety of grains. If you have a hand grinder, the milled grains will make this bread even more satisfying.

Miller's Hearth Bread

1/4 C raw pearl barley
1/2 C raw brown rice
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 C whole wheat flour or wheat berries
1 1/2 T active dry yeast
1/4 C brown sugar
2 1/4 C warm water
4 T melted butter
1 T salt
3 1/2 - 4 C bread flour (I used part ww pastry flour and part gold-n-white)
1/4 C cornmeal for dusting

* Grind barley, rice, oats, and wheat berries or ww flour in a grinder or food processor

* In a small bowl sprinkle yeast and a pinch of brown sugar over /2 C of the warm water. Stir until dissolved and let sit 10 minutes or until foamy.

* In a large bowl whisk remaining water, sugar, butter, salt, and whole-grain flor mixture. Beat until creamy then add the yeast mixture and 1 C of white lour. Beat again for another minute. Add remaining flour 1/2 C at a time.

* Turn the dough on a floured work surface and knead about 3 minutes. (I needed to add more flour, but be careful not to add too much).

* Place in a greased deep container and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

* Turn the dough on the work surface and divide into 2 equal portions. Form into round loaves and place on a cornmeal-covered peel for stone baking or cornmeal-covered baking sheet or form into rectangular loaves for 2 greased 9-by-5 inch loaf pans. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled again. About 45 minutes. About twenty minutes before the dough has doubled, preheat oven to 400 F and place stone in if using.

*With a serrated knife slash the tops decratively not more than 1/4 inch deep. Place bread in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until deep brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove from pans or stone and cool on racks. Enjoy.

I love the texture of a bubbly yeast mixture

I love this hand grinder. Moh picked it up at a flea market back in Sagle, ID. I use it for small batches of flour, but I've been too lazy to grind larger amounts of red wheat berries.


Friday, December 22, 2006

After the Solstice: Still No Baby, Snow

I hope everyone had a great Solstice. We were sort of hoping for some snow and for Moh to go into labour, but neither happened. We didn't have a very lively celebration, we mostly sat in front of the fire and did a lot of reflecting. We reviewed our lives since the Summer Solstice and made our goals and expectations for the year to come. Heres to the return of the sun.

We are the rising sun
We are the change
We are the ones we are waiting for and
We are dawning

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We Are What We Drive?

I drive an older model Subaru Wagon. It has the roof rack, ski box, and bike attachment, so yeah, I know I look like a yuppie kid. It doesn't get very good gas mileage (just under 30 mpg), but is still better than most SUV's. I also wish it was diesel so I could run it on veggie oil. Still, the car has met my purposes; everything from traveling the mountain roads of Idaho, a cross-country journey to New York, living in it for a summer (I can actually sleep in the back of it), and hauling my giant rototiller around. Moh drives, or well did- we left it at my mom's in Illinois, a beat-up old Mazda (above), which gets awesome gas mileage.

One thing I never thought about was how my car spoke of my political philosophy. Then the other day, while filling up at a local gas station, I pulled up behind another green Subaru. While standing at the pump, an older gentleman came out of the station, took a double take at my car, perhaps at my anti-war and anti-free trade stickers, and then approached me. He told me that he has always been conservative politically, but ever since he sold his big truck and bought a Subaru, his friends call him a "goddamn liberal". He told me the story very light-heartedly and jokingly, but it made me think. Do we associate our autos with political philosophies? Volvo's have always been regarded as a lefty yuppie car. I can't imagine a green progressive driving a Hummer or even a Cadillac. BMW's are for rich Republicans right? Beats me. We need one of those online quizzes for our answers. What does your car say about you?


My Ice Capades

Being a snow lover, snowless winters are pretty much the lamest thing imaginable. There are only three things that I can think of where the lack of snow is beneficial.
1. better roads.
2. No shoveling
3. Enjoying clear ice

That's exactly what I did. There is something about walking on frozen water. Here are some photos from my own personal ice capades on Fish Creek in my backyard.

Mister walking through the ice bubble galaxy


Ahhh! That water doesn't look frozen, Emma must be Jesus Dog.

Craters of the Moon Animal Tracks

I encountered a bunch of fish trapped beneath the ice. I have a bad feeling they will meet their fate like the poor fish below.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Grosbeaks are Here and Other Observations From Fish Creek

This morning I was pleasantly interrupted from my morning lounging by Moh's excitement of large yellow birds at the bird feeder. I knew before I got up that the evening grosbeaks had arrived. I spotted 3 pair in all. Now I'm hoping the pine grosbeaks will appear.

I have a brisk hike through the woods surrounding our home that I try to walk regularly. It's interesting to take note of the new activity that happens-whether it be the freezing creek, new mushrooms, a fallen tree, or an old nest that blew out of a tree. Yesterday I discovered a bunch of wood chips around the base of a tree. When I got closer I noticed two large holes in the tree from what I am guessing is from a pileated woodpecker.

A little farther a long I noticed a hole at the base of a snag. I'm not sure what has made it's home down there. Surprisingly the dogs, Emma and Mister, weren't too interested.
Crossing the creek I was treated to a glorious view of the setting sun shining on the towering birches.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Spices of the Solstice

With the Solstice approaching, I enjoy baking with traditional spices associated with Yule, such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Today I made a gingerbread flavoured with a bit of rum. I got the recipe out of the Quivey's Grove Heritage Cookbook. Quivey Grove is a restaurant in Madison. I have never been there (I picked the book up second hand), but they have some great recipes with a lot of emphasis on Wisconsin cuisine. Anyhow, here is the recipe:


6 T butter
3 T white rum (I used golden)
6 T sugar
2 C Flour
1 egg
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/4 C molasses
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 C honey
1 1/4 t ginger
1/2 C + 2 T hot water
1/2 t ground cloves

* Grease and flour 9-inch square or round pan (I used a pie plate). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
* Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg. Beat in molasses, honey, water, and rum.
* Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients. Stir to blend well
* Pour into prepared pan. Add chopped crystallized ginger if desired.
* Bake for 30-35 minutes (until an inserted toothpick comes out clean)

On another food note, we bought the new cookbook put out by our local food co-op. The brief time I spent thumbing through it, tells me there are some great recipes. There seems to be plenty of focus on regional foods, still with plenty of variety. I'll share some recipes out of it as I try them.
The new Chequamegon Co-op cookbook. As members we got to vote on which cover to use-obviously this was the winner.
The rum I used in the gingerbread. I'm surprised the right-wing bigot lawmakers here in Wisco haven't tried to ban this yet. Afterall, liquor marriage should be between 1 drunken male and one drunken female.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Get with the Program Steve Jobs

I admit that I am a big fan of Mac computers- their energy efficient design, easy to use style, artistic qualities, no Microsoft programs, etc, but they are slipping environmentally. They have been leaders in certain areas in the past, but recently they have been doing little to reduce toxic plastics and flame retardants in their products. Earlier this month Greenpeace named them the worst electronics manufacturer on environmental issues. This sparked some more protests at the NY Apple Store.

Greenpeace has a campaign called Green My Apple. The site has a wealth of information for taking action as well as some resources for turning activism into art. So please, if you are a Mac fan take action. Otherwise that new notebook I planned on buying this spring may be a *uhggh* Dell *cough*.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Books of My Adolescence

I have been reading a lot of posts about books lately. Some are listing their top 10 or 15 favourites others are simply reviewing books. Well I would like to speak of the all-important junior high /high school reading era. This is the age that we are highly impressionable and eager to seek out philosophies, dabble in new religions, and have a fascination with the taboo. For me, there were some books that gave me a new perceptive on life. I have read books since, such as the Sandcounty Almanac, that has been meaningful to my outlook, but the books of my adolescence seemed so monumental at that point in my life. Here is my list (In no particular order):

1. Illusions by Richard Bach- I have reread this book since, but with little enthusiasm. When I was 15 it seemed so significant.

2. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn- I thought this book was the truth.

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- Plath was my favourite poet. After being denied reciting Ginsberg's Howl for English class I did Plath's Daddy. Quite the change from other student's Frost and Silverstien poems. Her novel was a great rad for me.

4. The Stranger by Albert Camus- I still have the Sterling High School copy. I guess I "forgot" to return it.

5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac- Perhaps this book helped shape my traveling fetish-well being a sag helps too.

6. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger- I thought I would name my child Holden.

7. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse- The riverman part still sicks with me.

8. Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell- The gloom seemed so real at the time

9. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman- Another pseudo spiritual journey

10. Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach- Helped shape my love of the Northwest and the environment.

11. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous- Drugs really weren't that fun

12. Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types by David Kiersey and Marilyn Bates- Psychology was fascinating for me.

13. Selected Poems 1956-1968 by Leonard Cohen Religion, death, sex, and

14. Magritte edited by David Larkin- Art was my life in high school and the surrealists were my idols

15. Dali edited by Max Gerard- see number 14.

Other notables were A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Now I am entering a journey in my like of seeking out books on parenting, nature, nutrition, and agriculture-but I still enjoy a thought provoking novel.

Labels: , ,

Name that Location Part 2

Two more random photos out of my collection. These were taken in May of last year.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Just Don't Feel Safe In My Community Anymore

I guess I should have never left Illinois because the violent crime here in the Northland has increased. The front page of our local newspaper issued this disturbing headline "Vandals Slash Santa, Steal Elmo". Read the whole story here.

I hope the local law enforcement are working in shifts to solve this case.

Still, whenever I see one of those blowup holiday dolls I can't help but think how inviting they are for vandalism.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Quote of the Day

"McDonald's has been providing nutritious menu options to all of our customers for 52 plus years."
Danya Proud, McDonald's spokesman

When I went to check my email this evening I couldn't help but notice this article regarding "gyms" being incorporated into McDonald's. I guess those plastic balls covered in disinfectant and greasy food from the fingers of children no longer constitute as enough exercise. The new gyms are supposed to have stationary bicycles hooked to video games-which as goofy as they are, are not a bad idea. Still, this is just another attempt by a corporation to improve its tarnished image. Most likely McDonald's is simply trying to stay one step ahead of the lawsuits that are coming its way involving obesity and health issues.

Which leads to my question "Is the fast food industry to blame for the obesity epidemic or is it the poor choices made by consumers?"

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Slow Food

I first heard about the slow food movement three years ago. At first, I thought it had more to do with quality food that takes time to prepare. I soon discovered that it also involves the idea of ecoregions and honouring traditional and heirloom foods. I have to admit, I believe some of the groups involved with the slow food movement to be a bit too disconnected and elitist for my taste, but the general idea goes hand in
hand with local foods.

Slow food originated in Italy as a response to the fastfood restaurant invasion and the monoculture the industry brought with it. It's disheartening to see the havoc that fastfood and large supermarkets have on regional food producers and small artisian food shops. I am currently reading Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. The book illustrates how globalization truely is creating more homogenous eating among the world's population. Even countries like France, which is renown for it's specialty grocery shops, are seeing these shops being replaced by large supermarkets because of convenience and price.

What about here in the states? Well I belive many areas have nearly lost their traditions. Here in northern Wisconsin, we seem to have an understanding of tradition, but often lack on delivery. In the summer I frequent berry farms and farmers markets, but winter and spring allow for few options, so I do almost all of my grocery shopping this time of year at the local food co-op. Luckily, I am still able to buy regional cheeses, preserves, fish, meats, wild rice, and for awhile longer-squash. Unfortunately, there is no longer a local option for canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, which leads me to buy organic produce from Califonia. Still, I try to eat many of the regions' "slow food". So I'm putting together a list of regional foods that could be included in a slow food meal.

*Wild Rice (the true Great Lakes variety-It's greener and takes less ime to cook)
*Fish (Lake Superior white fish and Lake Trout or walleyes and bluegills)
*Venison (I recently was given 2 hind quarters)
*Apple Cider
*Blueberries (I still have some frozen from summer picking)
*South Shore Brewery Beer
*Maple Syrup

This list seems to be a good representation of the foods in this region. We do have wild edibles such as mushrooms and leeks (ramps), that are wonderful when their season arrives.

For some links on the slow food movement check out
Slow Food USA and Slow Food International

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Name That Location

Okay, can anyone guess this location?

Looking West

Looking East

Labels: ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cookies and Cold

December in the Northland has made up for the warm temperatures of November. We have returned to normal 20 degree highs and single digit lows (last night I think temp went below zero). Today I was out and about doing early yuletide cookie deliveries and enjoying the views of the lake. I also decided I need a new camera-mine just takes awful pictures in bright light.
The Bay is Almost Frozen Over
These icicles were so sparkly in person-damn my camera
A Plate of My Homemade Cookies (I got to use my homemade wildplum jelly for the thumbprint)

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You're Better Off With A Lot Of Butter

I'm sure anyone reading my blog already knows the dangers of Teflon in non-stick cookware, but if there are still some naysayers out there here is yet another on the subject. Perfluorochemicals are in more than Teflon-they're in Gore-Tex waterproof clothing, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and carpets. Although I still have a few Gore-Tex garments myself, I have become very leary of them and will most likely not buy any in the future. I guess my only consolence is that I don't eat or cook off of my shoes. However the manufacturing of the perfluorochemicals also causes danger to the environment and eventually ends up in our water. So once again here is another example of convenience being more harmful than good. We're better off with wet feet and cooking with butter or oil.

Labels: ,

Advertisement Alert

I really don't want to use this blog to advertise, but I just ordered a date book and wall solar calendar for Moh's birthday (Dec 31). The We Moon calendar or planner is more geared towards womyn and has a wealth of important lunar dates, pagan holidays, etc. It doesn't even have the typical christian holidays listed. The pictures in it are beautiful an inspirational.

The wall solar lunar calendar is produced in Wisconsin by a group of horticulturists. This calendar is aimed to aid with gardening and farming, but it's circular nature also allows for easy following of the moon cycles.
Okay, my commercial spot is over.........Now.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Forest Ranger Like Ranger Rick

Well at least that's what I thought when I was seven. Now I am thirty and have less insight on what I want "to be" than when I was a child. Of course this indecisiveness has always been with me to certain extent. In highschool I was sure I wanted to be an artist. I dropped most of my accelerated preparatory classes and took mostly art classes, literature classes, and study halls. Then, before I graduated highschool, I took off to Oregon with a friend and we lived out of his car. I thought being a street kid may create more inspiration on an artistic level, but I was wrong. All that happened was I got homesick and depressed. Before the rainy season hit, I headed back to Illinois, finished highschool and started working in a factory. I quickly decided that I wanted to go to college because the monotany of the factory started to get to me. So three colleges in three different states, seven years, four majors, and 20 grand in student loans later, I have a bachelor of science degree focused on environmental studies. I have done two internships in environmental health, but neither were entirely what I was looking for. I have contemplated getting a masters degree in library science because I have worked at so many different libraries. I would really enjoy working for a University library. But that means more school. teaching has also crossed my mind. Even nursing. Agriculture? Keep pursuing environmental related jobs? I really don't know anymore. I guess I never did.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Emma: My Great Travel Companion

The other day I was going through some pictures and was struck by how many different photos I have of Emma around the country. She has been coast to coast and from Canada to the desert Southwest. Truely a great companion. Here are a couple (Sorry if you have dial-up)
Cooling off in SW Colorado
Base Camp: near Moab, Utah

A Day at the Beach-Washington Coast
The Giant Sitka- Olympic Peninsula, WA
Cave Dog: Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
Montana Mountains
Olympic Rainforest, WA
Cape Lookout Oregon Coast

Labels: ,