Friday, 23 September 2005

Cooking and Baking to Celebrate Autumn

Last night's dinner:

Crab & Artichoke Quiche
6.5 oz. crabmeat (can use imitation crab meat)
1 c. shredded cheese (mixing different kinds is good)
5 large eggs
1-1/4 c. milk or half-and-half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. artichoke hearts
1/4 c. chopped onion
One 9" unbaked pie shell

First, prepare the pie shell according to your own recipe. Next, sprinkle cheese into pie shell. Beat eggs, mix with milk and seasoning, and pour over cheese. Sprinkle onions, crabmeat and artichoke hearts over pie. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serves 5.

Today, Kai decided to bake 2 loaves of banana bread for his cooking lesson. We used this recipe:

Banana Bread
1-1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1-1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped nuts, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into loaf pans. Bake about 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of loeaves from pans; remove from pans. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days. Makes 2 loaves (24 slices each).

Thursday, 22 September 2005

The Coming of Age of a Spooky Kid

I like his music so much that I decided I just had to read his autobiography. The Long Hard Road Out of Hell chronicles the life of Marilyn Manson (a.k.a. Brian Warner) from his childhood up through the release of AntiChrist Superstar and his band's 1997 tour. I've seen enough interviews with Marilyn Manson not to be particularly surprised that he is intelligent and can write well. For a short time, he was actually a rock journalist. Manson grew up in Ohio, moved to Florida after graduating from high school, spent some time in college and writing, and then went on to fame and fortune after much effort with his band Marilyn Manson (originally called Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids). I often wondered why Manson was so obsessed with themes relating to Christianity (or anti-Christianity, as it may be), but all became clear after reading about his experiences attending Christian school up through the 10th grade. Did you all see the movie Saved? Well, his description of his childhood sounded just as frightening as what you see in that movie. :-)

I also opened my mind a little bit. Learning about Manson's experiences with philosophical Satanism spurred me to read up on the subject, and I have to admit that I believed a whole lot of fallacies about the religion that just weren't true. I am ashamed to say that I've been just as judgmental about it as I have been about Christianity in the past, and it really doesn't deserve that kind of contempt. There may be some freaks out there who say they're Satanists and are sacrificing animals and doing all of that horrible stuff we fear, but the great majority of Satanists are not like that. I also learned that one does not need to believe in Satan to be a Satanist. Somehow that seems like an oxymoron, but there you go. Anyway, Manson was friends with Anton LaVey for several years before his death, and LaVey made him an honorary Reverend. I'm not sure that Manson has ever taken the title seriously, but he did have a lot of respect for LaVey.

Manson has lived the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll lifestyle to the hilt, according to his book, and one would expect no less from the self-proclaimed Antichrist superstar. One thing that struck me about this autobiography is that it feels very raw and real, just like the author's music. He is out there--outspoken and honest--and I think that is what makes people either love him or hate him and is also the reason for all the controversy surrounding his music. He tells it like it is and doesn't mince words. He uses profanity. He's real (underneath all of the make-up). It might make people uncomfortable to hear about how his grandfather's cross-dressed and liked bestiality porn, and we might also be shocked to hear that he seriously contemplated killing someone who was ruining his life, but if any of us is really honest we'll have to admit that every family has skeletons in the closet and we've all probably had murderous feelings at one time or another. Do people like to admit these things? No, but Manson does it for us. We hear the good, the bad and the ugly, and secretly we like it.

Thursday, 2 June 2005

The One About How I Became an Environmentalist

I guess I first thought about sustainable living when I read the book that has been probably the most influential in my life, Walden by Henry David Thoreau. The first time I read it was back in high school, when I was about 15. Studying the transcendentalists (I had a great English teacher that year) really helped shape my current spirituality and religious beliefs as a pantheist, also. As a kid, I was required to help out for entire weekends at a gargantuan garden my dad grew at a cousin's farm, so gardening was something I loathed for many years. I would often work in that garden for up to 8 hours a day on the weekends. We grew most of our own food and it had always been my dad's dream to have a small farm of his own. I think his inability to attain that ideal and my mom's unwillingness to go along with his goal is one of the reasons he was so incredibly unhappy and bitter in his life. Anyway, when I left home I was determined to remain a city girl. I lived around the Seattle area and wasn't the least interested in sustainable living during that time of my life (my early 20s). I did have concerns about the environment and did some reading here and there. I didn't really *do* anything to try to make a difference, though.

I remember getting interested in sustainable living and having more of an interest in the environment around the time we moved to Whidbey Island. We moved to the country, were much closer to nature, and I began to meet people who had mini farms and lived more naturally and organically than I did. In 2000, I got a new computer and got back onto the internet (my old one had died and I'd been without one for a couple of years). I began reading more and more about the environment and writing letters now and then to support local environmental organizations' efforts. As a Pagan, I began to see a real connection between my spirituality, which is earth-centered, and the protection of our environment and its resources.

In 2002 when I went back to college, I took an environmental science class. Taking that course proved to be a major turning point for me in my thinking and in my urgency to do more to protect the environment. It really hit home that each act we do can make a difference, and I learned some startling facts about how much we have degraded the earth and used up some of its resources. I remember all of the students in my class expressing their total surprise that we would literally be out of oil, at our current useage, by around 2050. I remember being totally flabbergasted when I learned that fact. Then there is global warming, energy waste, genetically-modified foods, desertification, degradation of shorelines, loss of hundreds of species of animals, etc. That class made me feel that I wanted to start making a difference with my daily actions. I began shopping with my own canvas bags, making the choice to buy locally, and looking for organic foods (particularly from local farmers). I became more conscious of how much gas I was using and how I could combine errands in one trip. I lamented over my husband's use of so much gas for his commute, although he did have a fairly fuel-efficient car at the time. I would have grown my own garden and even raised some chickens, but it was not allowed where we lived at the time. Instead, I frequented the local farmer's market.

Last semester, I took a class about nature writing and read some fabulous books. One of my absolute favorites was Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply by Vandana Shiva. After reading that book, I will never knowingly eat anything genetically modified and I have a new understanding as to why the World Bank and World Trade Organization are basically evil entities. Had I known before what I know now, I would have been out there with all of the other environmentalists protesting the WTO when they had their meeting in Seattle. Another good book that turned me on to ecofeminism (as some of you know, I've become quite the radical feminist in the past few years) was Off the Map: An Expedition Deep into Empire and the Global Economy by Chellis Glendinning. And then there is the guru of Pagan ecofeminism, Starhawk. Her ideas about the relatedness of environmentalism, feminism and spirituality match my own, and her concern with social justice in her writings opened my mind to a lot of new issues.

When I was still on Whidbey, I began wanting a small farm of my own where I could raise my own food and try to become as self-sufficient as possible. Barbara from Good Neighbors became my hero. In the meantime, I decided to try to make some small steps that were both environmentally conscious and sustainable. I changed all of our light bulbs to compact fluorescents and redid the insulation around all of the doors and windows. I sealed cracks galore. I made my own enclosed composter out of a garbage can and began taking my recyclables to the local recycling center. I began really following the adage: reduce, reuse, recycle.

When we moved back to the city, I sort of felt a bit depressed about not moving to a place where my dreams could come true. Then I remembered a great website I had discovered about urban homesteading, Path to Freedom. The family whose experiment in sustainable living in the city is reported on are my new heroes. They live on a typical small lot in the city and have managed to institute many permaculture and self-sufficient practices into their home, land and lifestyle. Last year, they grew 6,075 pounds of food. They raise chickens, ducks and rabbits--they may have other animals but I can't remember. They make most of the things they use, including biofuel for their car. If these people can do it in the city, then anyone can do it anywhere they live. We all make choices everyday and we have the ability to make choices that will truly make a difference to the earth.

In the future, I hope to move towards my own truly sustainable lifestyle. I plan to grow a garden this year, and I just found out I can have 6 small farm animals or less on my city lot so long as they are penned. I am thinking about a couple of chickens and some angora rabbits. The chickens will be for egg production and a 4H project, and the rabbits will be for wool. They will all be pets and won't be killed. I broke the news to Angus the other night about the chickens and he wasn't entirely thrilled. But, he knows I'm determined and won't stand in my way. I also plan to get a clothes line to put in the backyard. That should save money and energy, at least when it's not raining around here. My bigger intellectual projects for the future include writing some environmentally-oriented articles and a book about urban homesteading/sustainable living. I'm also thinking of doing some volunteer work writing grant proposals for local environmental non-profits. I was talking to my friend TC today about my future career goals, and I think I'm once again leaning towards becoming an independent grant writer. The pay is good, I can work from home, and I can feel good about what I'm doing each and every day. What better career could I have?

Sunday, 29 May 2005

New Comment code added

New Comment code added
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Unfortunately, when this code was added, it wiped out all previous comments. To those of you who have been here but whose comments I can't see anymore, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

New Beginnings

I've had this blog for about the last 3 years but never really used it. I find myself needing a place to document my journey on the path to sustainability, my adventures in homeschooling with my son, and some of my writing. I've kept a blog elsewhere, but the person I was doesn't feel like the person I've become.