Monday, June 28, 2010

going to the zoo, zoo, zoo...

We went to the zoo yesterday.

 the rest of the family watching some birds


most of these won't have captions

 can anyone identify this kind of tree? (the blossoms are rather perfumed)

 the zoo had a large peacock convoy... and the males were all being showy

and what was the most common (by at least a factor of 20) animal at the zoo?
and they were cheeky and impertinent too... as soon as you looked at them they'd start begging. sad, really. particularly as there must have been THOUSANDS of them in the zoo's grounds.

While beautiful, i always find zoos and other enclosures such melancholy places; you can tell the animals have issues, both physical and emotional, from their captivity.

What i found saddest was a sign (which i didn't photograph) explaining that a lot of captive species at the zoo now have fewer non-captive animals left than there are captive ones, and explaining how the zoos were working together for healthy breeding practices and maintaining the captive populations without further capturing of wild specimens. yeah. so we've messed up enough of the wild that some of these beautiful and majestic animals are now more prevalent in cages than in the wild. gee. that makes me feel so good about our species and its' practices.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thinking about the present and the future - oil gone bad

Now, i feel i must preface the following rant with a little info. I'm NOT a prepper, nor do i think that I'm an Eco-guru or some such. In fact, i tend to avoid the news, particularly world news, as it's ALL BAD NEWS, all the time. Quite frankly, i don't need more reasons to get depressed about the state of things as they stand globally than i already know about.


That being said, hubby and i have in the past talked about and loosely planned contingencies for apocalyptic disaster (a la Dies the Fire, but without the weird alchemical changes) and i think the plans are sound, as they stand, but that's all they are at this point, plans. We have yet to get to the point of being 'settled in' to somewhere for the long haul, and more easily able to be prepared for a long emergency.

Recent global events, however, have made me think about new possibilities of disaster, and their ramifications long term on the planet-wide ecology. Scary thoughts, too.... it may well be that our looming disaster is of Mesozoic proportions (just replace the dinosaurs with us, and the asteroid {or whatever the current theory is} with a giant oil spill)

So my current ponderings on the subject have been on the 'what if's'  ... what if the worst case scenario really does happen? they can't close the leak, and it pumps itself dry, they use Tons of dispersants, which just serves to spread the oil and chemical-laden water effectively throughout the worlds waterways. Within a couple years (or less) all the oceans and waterways are considerably more polluted because of the bungles and stupidity occurring RIGHT NOW. Are we looking at an Oil Apocalypse? Might we even kill off the larger part of our oceanic species?  Sadly, i think the answer might be yes.  This, in turn, will affect all  It's up to us to do what we can: look foreward, and do what we can to plan for the worst, but also take action right now, and contact your local government representatives (US folks try here)

other interesting links:
a peek at a worst case scenario here and here
Locally inspired Preparedness info
Current state of affairs in Oil Disaster - from  the huffington post
Witchcraft to stop oil - hey, it's no more far-fetched than using human hair!
views of the oil - as seen from space! yikes!

Anywhoo.... i think that's enough depressing forethought for the moment.  What i wanted to stress to everyone is this: be aware of which way the winds are turning. be prepared for short term emergencies, and start planning for long ones. everyone can do it, even if you live on a fixed income or in an appartment. Plan ahead, spend a couple of dollars every paycheck towards emergency planning, and before you know it, you'll have all the basics for at least a short emergency.  Everyone take care, and keep your eyes open!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


my camera is missing in action. unfortunately that means i don't really have much urge to post, as most of my planned posts included photos. oh well.

i might as well do a 'life update'. what's going on? well, the monkeys; er i mean children, are growing by leaps and bounds, and driving me up the wall. Daughter is getting more and more kinder-ready, albeit slowly. Son is learning new words (and ways to get into mischief) every day.

I have been making slow progress on my crochet projects. i have the crochet kids play rug over half done now.
I have been crocheting wool socks for the kids for our Viking activities, as well as working on small projects.

we are currently putting together a camping event for our Reenactment group. I am excited to see how many show up, and how much we can get done as a group (and individually). hopefully this will motivate me to finish some of my ongoing sewing projects!

i've been watching the wild flowers and plants grow oh-so-fast with all this rain we've had. too bad everyone's gardens aren't doing nearly as well!

Shea (aka Lard Butt) has proven himself to be an admirable mouser, which is both good, and unfortunate that he has to be (he is a fully inside cat). I will be glad to move, and deprive him of his hunting skills.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to bake almost all the bread my family has eaten in the last month, and i hope to continue, now that i've gotten into the swing of it a bit!

well, that's it for now folks. hope all is well in your worlds. keep smiling!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dandelions 2.0 - now for breakfast!

Hey there. if you're local, or watch the weather network, you've probably seen stuff about Manitoba having a huge amount of rain fairly recently. yeah. Well, they weren't joking! we had close to 5" in about 3 days, and the ground is just saturated!
Now, i've been contemplating trying my hand at this recipe for quite some time now, but never really had much motivation... my brain kept saying 'that's a lot of work digging those roots out... would it be worth it?'

With all this rain however, the soil was so nice and soft that i pretty much HAD to take the opportunity, so out i went to my 'flower beds' (ie: war of the perennials and dandelions, with the dandelions winning!) and went pulling a bunch of 'weeds'
such pretty flowers, but wait... that's the wrong end!

aah... there we go. that's more like it. Not as pretty though....

Dandelion 'Coffee' - or Adventures in Roasting!
 The instructions i used came from this web site and this one. neither ended up being entirely what i did, recipe-wise. That being said, here's my 'notations' (i don't think this really qualifies as a recipe!)

1. Pull out roots - I pulled mine out of a flower bed that was sodden, and the plants were only a year or two old, so i just pulled them by hand. you may need to use a weeder or shovel to get them out in drier conditions. note: apparently, the ones in a lawn have little piddly roots not much worth pulling. using roots from recently disturbed sites (construction, garden beds, etc) will be more efficient.

2. trim and wash roots - i cut the roots right at the 'join' where the root bulges and separates, becoming leaf.  The roots were then placed in a large tub, and swished with various changes of cold water (being allowed to sit for a while each time, to soften dirt) until they were rinsed clean.

3. cut roots - i decided to chop mine coarsely, to about 2x the size of a coffee bean (or pieces about 1/2" long on average). i then rinsed them in a couple more changes of water, to help leech out the bitterness, as well as remove any remaining dirt and leaf bits.
chopped roots

After pulling, washing and chopping about 100 roots, i got about 4 cups of chopped root total.

4. Roasting - This is where I found the instructions to be completely different, and neither quite right!
I ended up roasting mine for most of the day, starting at 250 F for about three hours, then when i got frustrated, i turned the temp to about 350 for another 45 mins or so, until they were roasted to a nice dark brown. NEXT TIME: i will let the chopped roots air dry (or dry in a low oven) for as long as it takes to be completely dry and then JUST do the roasting process, using a 375F oven. this should only take 15-25 minutes. (to tell if they are done, crack a piece apart. if the inside is nicely browned, it's good.)

roasted root in my coffee grinder. It is actually a darker brown, but the photo is a bit washed out with sun.

5. grinding - i ground my root with a hand coffee grinder to about a 'medium grind', though the grind itself has chunks of longer fibres mixed in with the ground and powdered root core.

four cups raw chopped root = 1 cup dandelion 'coffee' grounds

6. brewing - all instructions that I've seen recommended steeping the brew for 5-10mins.  I made mine by folding a Tablespoon of grounds into a coffee filter, stapling it closed, and dunking it in a cup of hot water for about 5 mins. I then prepared it as i usually do for coffee.

the result?
No, it doesn't taste like coffee. I didn't really expect it to. After Hubby's horror stories, i expected it to be rather noxious (his description was that it tasted like Icelandic sock coffee, only using a used sock, and pond water!)
Honestly, though, it was pretty good. Dandelion brew has notes of cocoa, a coffee-like bitterness, and is really rather pleasant to drink (hot at least. I found the cold brew less palatable).
I also foisted some on hubby, Mom and Dad, and all decided it was a palatable substitute for coffee (if you needed a substitute) (and if you're a coffee kind of person)
Future tasting:
I`m going to try brewing a pot of 1:1 coffee/dandelion blend and see how it tastes.  I'd also like to try making up one of the chai recipes listed here.

So what do you think. Would you be willing to have a cuppa?  You know, you can come on over.... i'll put a kettle on!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless wednesday

you know you're just a little bit redneck when your kids plastic cloth diaper cover is 'accented' with duct tape!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

mystery project resolved!

Well, my mystery food project has been completed, and it was definitely a success! 

Candy Lemon Slices!  

I found this recipe at brownie points blog (which has lots of yummy ideas and recipes!)

i followed the recipe pretty close, only i used 5 average lemons instead of oranges

here's a bit of a photo montage of the process to get yer juices flowing (pun intended!):

day one in syrup

after a week (the color is actually the same... just the lighting is different)

slices drying on a rack 
(I dried mine on low in my oven for a few hours, then let them air dry the rest of the way)

translucent, juicy lemon sweetness!

same slice after sugaring

a few slices awaiting nibbling

Recipe results: FABULOUS!!!!!   sweet slightly juicy candied fruit, rind without excessive bitterness, and the pulp slightly syrupy within the slice, and still containing a hit of acidic juice. 
I am definitely going to be making this again, perhaps with oranges.... or cherries when they are in season.... or strawberries.. yum!