Tag Archives: Food

New (ancient?) growing method drastically increasing crops

Low tech farming in India is far outpacing GMO and pesticide intensive farming. The super yields are from a growing method called System of Rice (or root) Intensification (SRI). This method has also dramatically increased yields of wheat, potatoes, sugar cane, yams, tomatoes, garlic, and many other crops, and is considered one of the most significant developments of the past 50 years for the world’s millions of small-scale farmers and the two billion people who depend on them.

Nobel prize-winning economist Jospeh Stilglitz visited the area in India using this system and was amazed, saying “If any scientist or a company came up with a technology that almost guaranteed a 50% increase in yields at no extra cost Continue reading

Shelby the 13 year old chicken farmer

happy chickensIf you’re low on money and looking for a way to bring in a little more to make ends meet, take a page out of this 13 year olds workbook.  Shelby saved her parents from medical bankruptcy.  She got a loan from her grandma when she was 9 years old and purchased chickens.  She not only takes care of them, but she does personal delivery of the eggs as well, earning about $15,000 a year.  She’s also the youngest farmer to be awarded the Animal Welfare Seal Of Approval – meaning her chickens are very happy. Shelby used her compassion for her family, her care for animals, and her work ethic to make a positive difference for herself and her community. Maybe her example can spark ideas for us on how to use our simple skills in creative ways?

Here’s the video from CBS news:


Thanks to the Good News Network for this story.  (P.S. above photo is of our backyard chickens, not Shelby’s.)

Rosemary: easy-care evergreen cooking/tea/medicinal herb

Rosemary plantRosemary is an easy-care edible evergreen herb for your yard/garden/patio.  It smells great, and can be used in cooking fresh or dried – especially with meats and roasts.  I keep dried rosemary in a jar next to the stove and take out about a teaspoon, crush it, and add to turkey burgers or other meats.  I also prune off a fresh sprig, rinse it with cold water, then let it steep it in cup of hot water for a refreshing and revitalizing tea.  I’ve heard you can use it as a hair rinse to keep brown hair shiny, and in bathwater to revive achy muscles or droopy Continue reading

‘Pets’ with a work ethic: Put a worm bin in your fireplace

worm bin in fireplaceWe live in a 1920’s bungalow.  It has a fireplace that doesn’t work very well, so instead of using it for fires, I use it to store our Worm Factory worm bin year round.  We hide the worm bin behind a large silk scarf draped over a tension curtain rod near the front.  It doesn’t smell, so no one knows it’s there but us (and now you).

worm bin lidThe worm factory is easy to use since the instructions are printed on the black plastic lid.  I like the spigot near the bottom where you can siphon out ‘worm tea’ to feed plants indoors and out.  Not only is this a great way to recycle kitchen veggie scraps, but also to recycle paper from the shredder, lint from the Continue reading

Fresh evergreen huckleberries from your backyard this winter

Evergreen Huckleberry

If you who want a year ’round garden, Evergreen Huckleberries are a must.  They’re the best fruiting plant for shade.  In fact, they grow up to 6 feet tall in the (moist) shade, and only about 3 feet tall in the sunshine, so the shade is the best place to put an evergreen huckleberry if you want a lot of fruit.

I took this photo today, January 11th 2013, and as you can see the plant STILL has ripe fruit on it!  I picked quarts and quarts of ripe berries in  Continue reading

Sorrel: year ‘round lemony spicy greens

SorrelAs a frugal and lazy gardener, I’m always on the lookout for edible plants that look nice, are easy to care for, and dependably give me food (even if they suffer a bit of neglect in the watering/weeding department).  An all-season veggie/herb in our mild Oregon climate that fits all three criteria is a plant family called sorrel.

Common sorrel or garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a perennial herb or Continue reading

Bare Bones Budget: budgeting time, money, and more when under stress

We are gainfully self-employed now, but when my husband and I both lost our full time jobs back in the 1990‘s we were rather stressed.  So we revamped the way we looked at our work/business/home life.  One of the things we did was come up with what we call our Bare Bones Budget.  This isn’t just about budgeting money, but also budgeting/balancing time and the enjoyment of life.  So for those who are looking for a different approach when under stress (besides doom and panic), here’s what helped us – and we continue to follow today.

The Bare Bones Budget Mantra Continue reading

Hand powered spice grinder keeps one healthy in two ways

Spice Grinder

Ground up Chia and Flax seeds. These have been recommended by my health professional.  I’m thinking ‘but the seeds are already so small – how/why grind them up more?’  The why is to get all the nutrition out of them.  The how is through a spice grinder (many people use their coffee grinders for this purpose).  I figured since 1. I only need to grind up a little at a time,  2. I want to go cheap, and 3. I want to save electricity; I’d look for a manual spice grinder.

This is a photo of the Tulip Spice Grinder, which I picked up at Continue reading

Sweet tradition: cookie day!

Cookie DayLooking for a holiday tradition that doesn’t involve drinking to excess, shopping into poverty, or watching TV until your eyes fall out?  Here’s all-age, interactive fun involving friends and/or family…and it ends with good times and sweet gifts for all.  My friend Sue Warner-Bean – who the tradition belongs to – tells the story in her own words:

Hi! Oh gosh yes — happy to have you share it with others. It has become a Really Big Deal for all of us, including the kids. Cookie Day started about Continue reading

Cook a turkey in a solar oven

Who would have thought you could cook a turkey in a solar oven?  My how solar ovens have improved.  It wasn’t that long ago when the only solar ovens were the ones you made at home with a pizza box and tin foil.  Then, websites became available to donate solar ovens to people in countries with not much firewood, or who had trouble affording gas/oil/etc. for cooking.  Now, people in first world as well as third world countries can purchase and use solar ovens to bake, boil, and steam food, enhancing taste and benefitting Continue reading

A taste of home: Bob’s Red Mill has different grains and a good work ethic

Bobs_Red_Mill-LogoI’m thrilled with Bob’s Red Mill.  They’re an icon in Oregon with values and customer service that go beyond outstanding.  They grind their own grain, supplying grains for authentic shows such as PBS’s Frontier house.   They have mill tours so you can see how a working mill does its thing.  In fact, they practically act out the part of the Little Red Hen (except they share the work and at the end let you eat the bread).    The company is now employee owned – a little gift from Bob when he retired.  Bob Moore Continue reading

Vegetable/herb garden, worm bin, and fish tank all rolled into one

Wouldn’t it be great to have a vegetable/herb garden, worm bin, and fish tank all rolled into one?  Such an invention already exists, and the easy at-home version is called a Fishy Farm.  I like the littler version for a fun take on indoor gardening with fish tank aquarium, but in the bigger outdoor version you can grow rainbow trout or tilapia for consumption as well.  The fish wastewater is piped up to the veggies/herbs to be used as fertilizer.  No soil is used, only clay type balls and volcanic rock, and around those balls are red worms that eat anything that the plants don’t use.  The water then drains Continue reading

Why do our celebrations encourage a race to the bottom?

The other day a friend posted on facebook that he cooked up potato skins with cheese and bacon for Thanksgiving.  When his friends reminded him that turkey would be better for him (he’s had heart surgery and his health has been touch-and-go) he responded he doesn’t like food that’s better for him.

A young mom  described her drinking binge, and how ill she was today.  Her partying friends retorted,  “I’ll drink for you!”  Another has a family history of alcoholism and “needs to drink to feel sociable”.  Her addiction is placated by her friends.

A middle-aged woman trying to lose weight confided in her friends that cheese is her downfall  Continue reading

Pumpkin Pie leads double life

This is the best pumpkin pie ever.  I  invented this pumpkin pie recipe when my kids were small so they’d eat more beans and veggies.  In fact, this basically is a pumpkin/tofu/egg casserole disguised as a pie.  We always double this recipe to make 2 pies.

Pumpkin/Tofu/Egg Casserolle (Pie)

2 large eggs Continue reading

Paw Paws – North America’s easy-care native tropical fruit

The Paw Paw is a native American fruit.  It looks tropical, and the mature fruit is about the size of an avocado.  It’s a carefree tree that grows to about 12-15 feet tall in a pyramid shape, with long green leaves that turn bright yellow in the fall before they drop off.

Also known as ‘the poor man’s banana’, Paw Paw’s are high in protein and a good source of vitamins and minerals.  The fruit is delicious – like banana/vanilla/mango pudding.  When it’s ripe, it just drops Continue reading

Build-A-Building: The all-in-one doghouse, chicken coop, playhouse, shed

Imagine a backyard building system that was so easy to put together and take apart that a 5th grader could do it.  Imagine instructions you could download free online that were as accurate and easy to follow as IKEA or Lego kits.  Imagine not having to get rid of the dog house, the shed, the chicken coop, the play house when you were done with it…. but instead be able to re-form the components from the old building you no longer use, into a new building you CAN use?

Wouldn’t it be great if you had re-usable, interchangeable building pieces that you could reconfigure as your needs changed?  Let’s say Continue reading

“Farm My Yard” connects home-owners with urban farmers

Maybe you’re a homeowner with a brown thumb and no interest in doing anything with your yard.  Or maybe you want a garden, but just don’t have the time/skills/energy/patience.  Or maybe you’re elderly, a busy executive, disabled, or a parent of small children who wants access to fresh organic garden food but the expense or effort is just too much.  Wouldn’t it be great if some green thumb gardener would come, do all the work of putting in a garden or edible food forest in your yard…and then you could have some of it for free?  Well, that’s the premise behind Albert Kaufman’s idea, Farm My Yard.

Maybe you’ve got a green thumb and want a garden, but it seems the few community garden plots available are always in use, or too expensive, or too far away from where you live.  Maybe you live in an apartment, or your own yard is too shady for the heirloom tomatoes you want Continue reading

Supporting those who grow local organic food

Will Raap takes local food seriously….all over the world. Will is involved in several ways to make choosing to grow organic food – or support those who do – a reality.

Will is the chairman of employee-owned Gardener’s Supply Company  which sells home gardening tools and household helps, but also provides FREE extras like an online kitchen garden planner.  He’s the co-chair of the New Economics Institute who’s goal is to collaborate with business and government to create common sense policy.  Will co-chaired the task force set up by the Vermont Business for Social Responsibility that led to the creation of the Farm to Plate (F2P) initiative, putting better policy in place to create more farm jobs and get local food into the hands of consumers.

Will is involved with Continue reading

Get juiced

After watching the movie Food Matters, my husband Chris decided one of the things he’d like to get is a machine to make smoothies using whole fruits, veggies, and ice.  We purchased a Vitamix during a demonstration at Whole Foods, and Chris has been a smoothie-making-fiend ever since. He learned early on to follow the directions closely, because too much of something Continue reading