Saturday, June 26, 2010

Crow Planet

How, exactly, are we connected to the earth, the more-than-human world, in our lives and in our actions?
And in the light of this connection, how are we to carry out our lives on a changing earth?

These are the questions we are called to answer in this kairos, this graced moment of opportune crisis. I have come to believe that opening ourselves to such inquiry and participating daily in the process of discovery it implies is our most urgent work as humans in the new millennium. And not because engaging these questions will make us happier, or smarter, or make more of our moments feel enchanted, though it will certainly do all of these things. It is urgent because an intimate awareness of the continuity between our lives and the rest of life is the only thing that will truly conserve the earth - this wonderful earth that we rightly love.
from Crow Planet: essential wisdom from the urban wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

This book written by a West Seattle Mom and director of educational programs for Seattle Audubon, made me realize a few things:
  • Calling myself a naturalist is a much grander title than I had ever thought, I correctly shall now be called a nature enthusiast.
  • I see crows in an entirely new light. What their numbers say about our ecosystem and their relationship to humans is enlightening.
  • Finding fascinating behavior among the most mundane of urban animals is important work for us and our children

Somewhat of a Fruit Leather Miracle

One sunny day this June, we made strawberry apple fruit leather.
Now getting from here:
to there,
was somewhat of a miracle.

Here's my photo tutorial.
I followed the recipe from Vintage Chica.

First, rinse

Next, chop
Then, place in a sauce pan and cook down with water
(I added apples to extend the recipe.)
Spread and bake for 5 hours at 170 degrees
(or your oven's lowest temp.)
Roll it up. Now at this point, the despair set in.
Although it was delicious, our fruit would not separate from the wax paper I had used (instead of plastic wrap.) We were eating more paper then fruit and I thought it was undercooked and mushy in the center. The edges were hard and cracked. Next time, I would cook it less than my 6 hours. I now know more mushy like thick jam is fine and less hard edges are better.At this point, I put it in a glass jar in little ita's snack drawer and thought, "Oh well, we've got a yummy activity that takes a lot of time and patience."

Then, with much surprise, we opened it the next day to find the fruit had moistened enough in the jar to pull away from the wax paper and it was perfect, east to peal real fruit leather!So now I say, making fruit leather is flexible (as it should be) and even if it doesn't bake or dry evenly, it all works out great in the end. Enjoy the fruit season!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eating In the Garden

A little garden tour is in order right about now. What once was a small slab of grass in my neighbor's side yard, has now after three years, become a true community garden. Read more about how I dug up my neighbor's yard at Gardening Together and Facing the Sun. This year, only half of what is growing here is ours. I love that I started this tradition and now it is being carried on by other folks in my building . . . making friends with our neighbor and growing food in her sunny plot.
As we approached the garden yesterday morning, I went straight to the tool shed and I hear "Awwww... look Mama," (as if she has seen a kitten) "the carrots are starting to come up. They look so cute." My smile is wide. How incredible it is that carrot seedlings elicit such a response.My intention with today's post is to show you how we have been eating IN the garden. As my daughter said the other day, "No greens in my smoothie! I only eat my greens in the garden now." Both of us are having a hard time getting our greens. She just has the will of being three and I'm green in the gills with first trimester nausea.
So one day we were having lunch outside, the fresh air helping my appetite and we started dipping pea vines and leaves in some leftover sauce. We both loved it and ate a LOT of greens this way. The peas may produce less this year, but mmmm.... fresh pea vines are delicious.So we moved onto the sunflowers that needed thinning yesterdayCombine a handful of sunflower sprouts with some leftover soy sauce and tofu. ... and gobble it down! I'm hoping the dipping sauce idea works for chard, kale and lettuce too!Chocolate Peppermint and SteviaNow onto dessert, these two herbs are a treat. Little Ita walks by and snips off a leaf or two just for pure taste. The choc mint tastes just like it sounds and the stevia is used as a sugar substitute and just that sweet. I may soon have to limit her to one little nibble a day until the plant is bigger. Look for the "culinary" label when shopping for delicious herbs. Wishing you and your little ones, creative ways of eating plants!