Monthly Archives: October 2010

So… Soapnuts to Soyabella

A few things I’ve discovered that really make a difference in our lives around here.  The soapnuts are not ingested, but used for cleaning. It’s mostly what I use for laundry now. In the past I have been loyal to Tide, even paying more for it, convinced it was the only way to get my good work clothes or, when kids were really little, poopy diapers, really clean.  Now, I use my new toploader (which was kind of hard to find with all the front loaders) and a bag of about 6 soapnuts with Seeds Removed! They are so weird, but 3 lbs were $12 or so; it comes out to 2/3 usable shell so ultimately 2 lbs has lasted me over 6 months, and I do laundry every day and I still have half of it at least left.  It’s worth looking into – we have a septic system so I’m very careful.  Ideally, hot water & agitation activates the soapnuts. In a hot wash – let it fill with cotton or muslin sturdy drawstring bag of 6 shelled nuts. Let agitate for a few minutes; you can see the saponins foaming a bit.  If you’re doing a cold water wash -shake the soapnuts in a large jar of hot water a few times making “tea” & add this to the wash.  If Mike’s clothes are really bad & greasy it’s a mess & he goes to cleaners or we use bottle of reserved Tide (or Seventh Generation! now.)  I’m also experimenting with other ways to use it as a cleaner. I use it on me sometimes.  It’s antibacterial & antifungal; would probably be good to rinse the dog with..

OK, now the Soyabella! I have made really good soybean milk with organic (of course) soybeans.  It used to be that 2/3 of the worlds’ soybeans were GMO; now I read it’s more like 91% so it takes looking to find your organic soybean. It would defeat the purpose to use GE soy. I’m also drinking raw Jersey cow milk which I absolutely love, and it makes me feel good and it tastes wonderful.  So because it’s expensive,  I use less and drink my soy, nut or rice milks or paste; all which can be made with Soyabella.  This can all be done by hand too, but this little machine makes it so much easier and in just 15 minutes, after the beans are soaked for 3-4 hrs or overnight.   You can even make biscuits from the soy residue. BUT I’ve done more than that… soups are great.  We’ve made squash tomato & bean soup & corn potato onion chowder. They suggest Broccoli, onion; Squash & curried cashews; Carrot, ginger, curried cashews; Potato, leek, garlic; Butternut squash, onion, carrot; and Kale, corn combinations.  You can make broths, creamy, pureed or chunky soups.  It is also a mill for coffee or spices, grains, nuts or seeds.  Other drinks like Sunny Sunflower or Thanksgiving milk, Five Bean, salty soy, black soy & sesame, peanut and soy milk, red jujube & green soybean milk or lotus seed milk, walnut, almond, peanut or Honey Black Sesame milk are all recipes i’ll try!  Millet and sunflower seed porridge and Brown rice and pine nuts sound good to me for breakfast.  Well, enough about those subjects.  It’s a cold, gray & stormy day outside but yesterday I planted clover up in the vegetable garden, we’ll see if it grows enough for a cover crop, late I know…  lights are flickering hope power stays on.  Off I go Hasta la vista


Help with Organic Gardening

Four books that I am enjoying and that have lots of information to get us started can have you reaping the benefits on even small areas. Biodiverse & companion planting can have very high yield in small spaces.  The book “Homegrown Whole Grains” by Sara Pitzer can have you grinding corn meal & flour next season!  Small farms or backyard growers don’t need the machinery & equipment that larger farms do; with some ingenuity & common sense the work doesn’t have to be back breaking. “The Contrary Farmer” by Gene Logsdon and “The Backyard Homestead” walk you through “producing all the food you need on 1/4 acre”  or working with what you’ve got.  Changing a lawn to grains or nut or berry producing trees & shrubs can be done.  Work with natives & you have less work managing plants.  An old old friend “The Basic Book of Organic Gardening”  Robert Rodale shows that even back in the 30’s, people had concerns about human impact on the environment.  This book printed in 1971 states: the idea of conservation & natural living is on the verge of being a vital necessity … In fact, the unpleasant conditions of pollution & degradation  which so many people are experiencing today were predicted almost 40 years ago by founders of the organic method. …  anyway he goes into the history of organic gardening starting with Sir Albert Howard in the Indian state of Indore.  The area he worked was too poor to buy imported fertilizers so he had to device ways to recycle the natural nutrients available locally like the manure of animals & waste plant materials. The native farmers didn’t understand their value. He invented the Indore method of composting. Lacking machinery & power, the native farmers had no means to deal with those wastes. By composting,  they created a valuable soil conditioner & fertilizer to replace the nutrients & humus lost by growing of the crops.  Well, it’s interesting to note that now 40 years after that, we are still concerned about the impact of our methods on the soil, but we have the added problem of GMO, GE and nano contamination to deal with also. Back then, organic just needed to mean grown without synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Now it also means non-GMO. It’s the ONLY way we have in this country, of knowing that this is food originally from Mother Nature herself.  So – whatever you have in mind – however small ; even container gardens on a patio; Grow something to eat from heritage seeds or ones that are being brought back from the brink. Your body will thank you!

Blazing New Trails

This experience is opening up my eyes to the food chain, and my husbands too. He just wouldn’t believe that the flowers on our plants turn to fruit & seed… until he really watched this year – problem is not many things did flower at all. The sun wouldn’t show it’s sunny face for the length of time needed for the flowering to complete.  Anyway, I kept wondering where the seed to plant comes from. Is it the same grain that we grind for flour and meal? I ground up organic popcorn today and made a polenta. Then added fresh corn sliced from the cob and fried it (no oil) on the iron comal. We had organic squash & tomato soup with nettles.  There’s bread made from ground wheat berries and rest of the Ezekiel mix.  Oh, I forgot to put in the wheat sprouts. Last time I sprouted the wheat to just a milimeter and ground it up with hot water, then added it to the Ezekiel bread recipe and it was even better.  Sprouted bread I’ve tried before I haven’t liked very well. The sprouts were too big and I wasn’t used to it. Ground up they just make a moister bread, and you still get the incredible benefits of sprouted seed.  I could make wheatgrass.  I see that everywhere.  We’ll try that with my ricotta and last of red huckleberry jelly from last year.  Not as many red huckleberries this year, we left them for the birds.  I gave 18 eggs away to family – which they’ll love. The yolks are such a rich gold and those 2 hens each produce an egg every day.  And they’re fertilizing my future 3 Sisters garden; Squash, corn & beans; with Amaranth & sunflowers on the North side.  I have old varieties of squash & beans & mountain corn (a colorful, multi purpose variety, very hardy for the NW).  The field of crab grass and buttercup will be a field of various grains and maybe pawpaw and huckleberry or elderberry.  Our present apple tree is growing along the ground & is a tangled mess that produced one apple this year and we have 2 fig trees that have a hard time getting ripe. When they are, wow the chickens go crazy over the ripe ones they can reach, but are thinking to replace those with something else.  Musings for the day.  In my next post I’ll discuss my Soyabella, which I’m having fun with. ttyl

Celebrating Say No to GMO month – October

This is my quest; simply to “Go Organic” not just this month but as a lifestyle choice. But it is not so simple at all. I could go myriad directions from Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualization and my journey in that direction, the Five Tibetans and new interest in yoga & the spiritual side of it all to the politics of legislation and keeping up with the Center for Food Safety site & all my political news to holistic interconnectedness of all things and herbalism and how to utilize those pesky dandelions, nettles, burdock & comfrey to your advantage.  I could just write about how crazy it is to quit smoking – probably part of the reason i’m doing a blog to keep from thinking on that. I think I’ll concentrate on the nuts and bolts of trying to find and prepare food.  Try to balance out the damage I’ve done to my body in the last decade or two.  Breaking my chips & diet Coke addiction. I was surprised to see how much i depended on processed foods w/corn, soy, cottonseed & canola GE foods.  Even homemade stuff was baking powder, cornstarch, refined flour and sugar. I was woefully unaware while raising my kids of what was going on out there in the world of corporate food.  So part of this is to raise my awareness of what goes into my food and what I consider safe. Too bad the bad stuff’s so cheap, feeding a family on a budget … OMG i bought huge bags of stuff. Thought i was doing well because i always had carrot celery sticks broccoli & lots of canned vegetables. Hot cereals for breakfast; but were they GE grains? At this point now, it’s all pervasive.

So far I have bought a cheap mill – it’s just 2 of us now so it’s reasonable to use in small quantities. I need to find a way to keep a supply of grain. I have a book coming on that, turning our grass area to grains,  but to find a local supply of organic chicken feed also. Scratch & Peck is a mill dedicated to that up north a ways. I’ll check them out.  That is another accomplishment. Fresh beautiful eggs from our hens (2) & 1 rooster unintended but he could make a nice chicken dinner one night.  He is a beautiful white Leghorn and we have a Welsumer and a black Java. I want two more Leghorn HENS.  They fertilize my garden, which is another project… a Three Sisters garden with squash, beans & corn.  We do get corn from a neighbor who uses no pesticides & grows heritage corn but wonders if the steer manure fertilizer might be from cows that ate GE hay from E WA.  Poor guy tries!  The hard part is going to the grocery store, so much reading. And is organic really organic? Natural is not usually natural after all..   OK better check chickens. Another project to build some sort of STURDY portable pen, so far they’ve been breaking out of my makeshift ones! Do not want to see them at the neighbors, even though they are cute.

His “motto” is the fire under my feet in my quest…

“Montsano should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food, our interest is in selling as much of it as possible”. 10/25/98 Phil Angell   still true and Yes yes it’s up to the FDA to prove that it’s safe, but all they have to prove is that it’s not dangerous enough to kill you – in the short term anyway. Like finally taking a drug off the market after 60 YEARS;  that took them a whole lifetime to figure out that it wasn’t very safe for you after all, oh dear.  LOL so i’m supposed to trust this agency privately “funded” with a public facade as our safekeeper? BS They approve tons of things that aren’t safe at all just for profit and control. that’s how i feel

Journeys or Quests

I’ll start by ramblin’ a bit…

We are all journeyers in life. By the time we hit the halfway point, we’ve all traveled many roads.  We all have stories to tell.  Many of us have experiences we want to share to help make the world a better place for those that follow. Sometimes the journey turns into a quest … something hits a cord that makes it a more passionate issue than just enjoying the ride. Sometimes you need to act rather than just observe and listen.  Although observation and listening are certainly underrated skills! Ones I try very hard to hone and i think i am getting much  better at as I get older.  Anyway, this Idea Mine will explore the quests and then the journeys of my life and if I find like minded souls who choose to share in any adventures or fellow word querners that contribute their written produce, ah sharing is what it’s all about!  Thanks for reading my first blog!