Life’s Passages Continue

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

Helen Keller

I have returned to this blog after an absence of more than one year to give my readers (all five of you) an update. When I last updated you, I was becoming interested in Permaculture and had begun converting my yard from a conventional yard with lawns and ornamental plants to a Permaculture style landscape filled primarily with edible and medicinal plants.

As I became immersed in learning about Permaculture, I also began examining my life and goals for the future. The time I spent learning about Permaculture and working on implementing it in my surroundings was very satisfying to me. I decided it was time for me to move towards a different path for my life.

I set the following goals for myself:

  1. Become debt-free so that I have more flexibility in my employment requirements
  2. Obtain a Permaculture Design Certificate so that I could start a Permaculture business
  3. Find a piece of land 2-5 acres in size to use to develop a Permaculture Farm
  4. Identify multiple income streams that could be produced by me from the products of the farm
  5. Transition from working full-time for someone else to working full-time on my farm.

I have made progress in achieving these goals.

  1. I expect to be debt-free (except for mortgage) in 18 months
  2. I have obtained my Permaculture Design Certificate from Geoff Lawton/Permaculture Institute
  3. TMOTH and I are actively working with a realtor to find a property, concurrently with preparing our home to sell
  4. I am currently working on the administrative details to start my business, Rancho Seabow Permaculture

I have identified the following potential income streams for my business:

  1. Jams, jellies and sauces
  2. Eggs
  3. Essential Oils and Herbal products
  4. Dried value added products like elderberry and moringa powder
  5. Dried gourds and items made from gourds (e.g birdhouses, candle holders etc.)
  6. Depending on property, may list secondary housing units for vacation rentals
  7. Fresh fruits and vegetables

This weekend I’ll be setting up a Rancho Seabow Permaculture blog.  My Paleo Passage archives will be accessible.  Either url will direct to the new blog.  Hope to see a few of you there as I journey through the creation of a Permaculture business.

Stay tuned!

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I got a lot of things done this weekend.

First, I put four trays of strawberries into the dehydrator on Saturday morning:

DSCN5309This yielded just under a quart of dried strawberries:

Dried Strawberries

Dried Strawberries

Then I reloaded the dehydrator with Tomatoes:

DSCN5311My major project for the weekend was to can some Italian Meatballs in Spaghetti Sauce (homemade).  Here are the meatballs ready to go into the oven:

DSCN5312The sauce is simmering on the stove while the meatballs bake:

DSCN5313The sauce has tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, green peppers, onion and oregano.

Finally, I combined everything in wide mouth quart jars:

DSCN5316I wiped the jars down and processed in my pressure canner for 90 minutes at 11 psi pressure.  I’m at sea level.  People at higher elevations will need to adjust the pressure based on their altitude.

The five quarts are cooling on the counter.  All of them sealed.  I figure each jar will provide a dinner for TMOTH and I, plus enough leftovers for my lunch.  We’ll serve this on shredded Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini Noodles.

While I was monitoring the canner, I mixed up a batch of deodorant.  I’m sure those of you who see me in real life are relieved.  As my five loyal readers may recall, I went “No Poo” in November 2011.  Basically this means that I stopped using shampoo, soap, deodorant and toothpaste. I’ve developed, or found, alternatives for these products that don’t have harmful chemicals in them.

Deodorant was the thing that was the most difficult thing for me to find a satisfactory replacement.  Rubbing coconut oil in my armpits and powdering with baking soda was just not cutting it (to say the least).  I found a recipe that has essential oils, beeswax and other magical things in it.  You mix it all up and pour it into a standard deodorant dispenser.  It hardens and then is just as easy to use as standard deodorant.  Best of all, no stinky armpit funk at the end of the day,  I’ll blog the making of the next batch for those of you who may be interested.

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Today’s Harvest

Today is going to be a pesto day again.  The basil is going crazy.  I also have lovely garlic that I harvested.  When I last spoke with all y’all, I promised to share my basic pesto recipe with you.

Pesto

Pesto

Every batch is different.  It depends on what I have on hand.  The basic recipe is:

  • 1 cup Basil
  • 1/4 cup Nuts (walnuts, pecans, pine nuts)
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic
Pesto ready to puree

Pesto ready to puree

Throw it all in the food processor and puree until smooth.  My food processor holds three batches.  You can make Pesto with other herbs also.  Simply replace the basil with cilantro, parsley or mint.  The Parsley version is really good with a nice steak.

I preserve my pesto by freezing it.  Heating up basil can give it a bitter taste, so I don’t can pesto.  My favorite way to freeze pesto is in an ice cube tray,  Here it is ready to go into the freezer.

Preparing to freeze

Preparing to freeze

Once the pesto is frozen, I remove it from the ice cube tray and pack it into a freezer bag labeled with item and date.

Frozen and ready to store

Frozen and ready to store

I find that each cube is the perfect size for an individual serving.  This makes a very convenient and tasty lunch.

My 4 or 5 loyal readers are aware that I eat Paleo/Primal and cannot tolerate gluten.  I also try to stay low-carb, so gluten-free pastas are not for me.  I have however found the perfect conveyance for pasta sauces:  Zucchini Noodles.  I use this tool to make them: Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable

Here’s how it looks in action:

Spiral Cutter

Spiral Cutter

For a quick lunch, I make one zucchini into noodles and place in a Pyrex container.  I top the “noodles” with some protein (usually 1/2 of a spicy, pork sausage from one of the local producers), one cube of pesto, and whatever other veggies I might have around.  Sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan Cheese if you can tolerate dairy.

Lunch prep

Lunch prep

At lunch time I microwave briefly and mix.  Yummy!

This is a great way to utilize zucchini during those times of plenty that every gardener experiences.

Posted in Food Preservation, Harvest, Locavore, Recipes, Suburban Homestead | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Today’s Harvest

The weekend is my prime time to harvest and process food from my garden.  Here’s part of what I harvested today:

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena for Tea

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena for Tea

I also harvested Basil.  I made this from the Basil:

Pesto

Pesto

We’ll be having this for dinner tonight, served on zucchini noodles.  I’ll post a recipe later this week for the pesto, and the meal I’ll be making from it.  I had enough basil to process 5 batches of pesto.  I’ll show you how I preserve and use the extra in the recipe post.

The Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena were loaded into the dehydrator to be dried for tea.  In a few days when they are done, I’ll show you the results.

Later today, I will engage in battle with the ants that are herding aphids on my precious artichoke plants.  My plan of attack is to wait until dusk and then hose the plants down, washing as many of the aphids and ants off as I can.  I will then release ladybugs under all the artichoke plants.  The nursery told me they won’t fly away if I release them at dusk.  They’ll wake up and see all the yummy aphids.

The second phase of my attack is to mix some Borax and peanut butter for the little devil ants to take back to their nests.  Do not try this in areas where small children or pets have access.  Queen Bartifah and Muffie Stuffie Sucker do not access the front yard where the artichokes are.

If anyone else has any other organic/non-toxic suggestions for dealing with the ant/aphid issue, please comment.

Posted in Coming Attractions, Food Preservation, Harvest, Natural Pest Control, Suburban Homestead | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life’s Passages Continue

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.  James Taylor

It’s been a long time since I have had the time and space to put my thoughts down and share them.  Life has continued, and I have continued to journey through many transitions and passages.

The past several years, I have been working on a very challenging and difficult project at work.  I hadn’t realized how difficult it was until it ended.  After a few weeks, I felt like I was starting to get my brain and creativity back.  I started to think about writing this blog again.

Several times during the past few years, I toyed with the idea of just shutting down the blog.  TMOTH encouraged me to keep it going.  He felt I’d have something to say again.  He also thought I was doing many interesting things that I should share on the blog.  My response to that was that if I had to take the time to document the things I was doing, I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do them.  I felt it was more important in the maintenance of my sanity during this stressful time to do.

Another catalyst to getting back to blogging was reviewing my blog stats for 2012.  In 2012 I had 6,941 views.  The last post I published was May 27, 2012.  This year, I’ve had almost 5,000 views, and this is the first post of the year.  My most popular category appears to be my recipes and food experimentation.

So, what have I been doing all this time anyway?  When last I left my five loyal readers, I had evolved into a low carb, paleo, locavore.  Since then, I have added permaculturalist, and suburban homesteader to the repertoire.

We have been evolving our yards into permaculture style food forests.  I have begun experimenting with preserving our harvest.  Some of the things I have been doing include pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and pressure canning.

Moving forward (at least for now) the focus of my blog will be the progress of developing our food forest, recipes for using our harvest, and my food preservation activities.  I’ll post when I have something to show, or say.  I’m aiming for one to three times a week.

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Coming Attractions, Locavore, Musings, Permaculture, Recipes, Suburban Homestead | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Interesting (Yet Disturbing) Food Industry News: Paleo Diet is on the Multinational Food Company Radar

Because of my job, I subscribe to several Food Industry, web-based newsletters.  Last month this article was published.  I’ll quote bits of it, but you should also take the time to read it.

The gist of the article is that Unilever R & D has started a three year project to “identify nutritionally valuable varieties of fruits and vegetables from the past, in order to produce natural food ingredients for the future.”  The project will be focusing on five plants which the team feels has the most potential.  These are mangos, apples, onions, bananas and tea.

The article goes on to state the Unilever has been studying the Paleolithic Diet in its lab for several years.  As a result of these studies the researchers have “recently realized” that the plants that our ancestors thrived on were nutritionally different than the inbred, high yield crops that most people are currently eating.

Unilever plans to identify ancient, or heritage varieties of various plants which have a better nutritional profile than the modern varieties generally in use.  These “Paleolithic” foods will then be incorporated into Unilever products which will be sold as natural, Paleo foods.

I had really mixed reactions when I first read this article.  On one hand, it shows that the Paleo Diet is being viewed as a nutritious, healthful diet in the mainstream. The R & D teams at multinational food companies are very skilled at identifying and capitalizing on the latest food trends.  The Unilever R & D team started looking into this several years ago.  They have decided to put a lot of money into developing Paleo Processed foods.    This strikes me as the ultimate nutritional oxymoron.

It appalls me that in a year or two the multinational food companies will be marketing these Paleo Processed Foods to the masses.  They are gambling that people eating the SAD will have heard that the Paleo Diet is healthy, and will incorporate these new and improved Paleo “food” products into their family’s diet.

It’s the same sort of thing that happened when the Low Carb diet was trending and all the major food companies had low carb line extensions.  Unilever has identified an emerging food trend and hopes to capitalize on it.  I expect the other multinationals will also have Paleo offerings in their lines.

I’m concerned that when these “Paleo” products hit the grocery store shelves, they will create confusion about what the ancestral or paleo diet really is.  This low carb, paleo locavore is going to continue spreading the word that everyone should be eating real food:  unprocessed meat and vegetables, grown in close proximity to where they are eaten.

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Getting Into the Groove: 4/23/12

Hi all!  I’m hanging in.  I walked for 30 minutes yesterday.

I’ve not been inspired to write anything.  I’ve been very busy with cooking, work and family things.

I developed a yummy recipe for Paleo Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with a Coconut Milk White Sauce.  I created it Sunday whilst cooking a turkey dinner.  I was too busy cooking to photograph it.

I’ll have to make it again (I don’t think TMOTH will complain) so I can properly blog it.

Posted in Coming Attractions, How Julie Got Her Groove Back | 2 Comments