April, 2014

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Artichoke update

Friday, April 25th, 2014

As an update to our last post on the artichokes, we harvested the first one today.

On that same plant where the first one popped out, there are now 6 artichokes with new ones coming every few days so far. And several other plants have their first artichoke buds as well.

All in all this is seeming quite successful.


This is the same plant that had its first bud just a couple weeks ago. There are now 6.

Who are you?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

A son of a friend of mine left college to pursue organic and sustainable agriculture, working on farms with a plan to do this long term.

I recently sent him a link for the National Young Farmers Coalition, a group that works with young farmers to help them succeed. The response to this was “I’m not a farmer.”

That made me think about identity. Who are we? How do we think of ourselves? What makes us one thing and not another? How important is all of this?

When I worked a regular job 60 or 70 hours a week, I had a very clear answer to the question “Who are you?” At various times, I was an executive producer, a teacher, a small business owner. This defined me in many ways. Some that were good; some that were constraining.

Now, I’m not sure what I am, and this is somewhat unsettling. I would never call myself “retired” — I still work and still need to work. But I no longer have a job that I spend as much time on nor one that I feel as strong an identity with. I freelance and do various jobs off and on, some of which I love, others of which I don’t, but none of which are “me.”

There are many other things I spend time on as well. I grow food. I bake and cook. I read. I write. I do wood working. Some of these seem more than hobbies, but none is a full time occupation. None is “who I am.”

Sometimes it helps me deal with these metaphysical questions to make up a narrative, and the story I’ve toyed with for this is that instead of working a job to buy things like food and housing, we’ve just jumped right into producing our own food and housing. That’s not quite exactly the whole story though (not to mention the fact that we still rely greatly on the outside world).

How did this work a hundred years ago? Did people ask each other “What do you do?” Did they think about identity in this way or some other way? Or did they just go about what they needed to do to survive without existential angst?

The slow cooker period of karen’s cooking

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

As you might remember, a couple months ago, when the new kitchen provided more space, I got a slow cooker (aka a crock pot).

I started out slow with it, making some things you’d expect like soups and stews.

Then I started thinking about it as a way to save propane. (Since we’re on solar, using anything electric is preferable. And surprisingly, the slow cooker doesn’t draw a lot of electricity.) So I went to the library to get some books on what exactly you could do with one of these things, and I found two of the most amazing cookbooks ever (which I promptly ordered several copies of):

Oh my gosh! I had no idea.

Here are a few of the things you can make with a slow cooker: granola (which I often make…it takes hours in the oven, not only using a lot of propane but heating up the whole house), baked breads and brownies, breakfast porridges, baked potatoes (which I love, but hesitate to heat the whole oven up for), enchiladas, eggplant parmigiana, curries, fruit butters, chutneys, and much more!

Here are some more pictures of things I’ve made so far.

I’m gradually working my way through many new recipes and will update this picture set as I do.

If you have a slow cooker and haven’t used it much, do yourself a favor and get one of these cookbooks and give something new a try.


First artichoke!

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

These are in their second year. They were grown from seed last year, put outside in June, 2013, and came back strong after this winter. Today we saw the first actual artichoke. Exciting.