Posts Tagged ‘Internet’


What’s been put up?

October 31, 2009



My friend over at Fessenden Farmstead had a piece on preserving fruits and vegetables, which made me think I hadn’t talked about what has been put up at our house.  I’ve been derelict on that because I’m not the putter-upper – my husband is (and I am ever so grateful). 

I suppose that isn’t totally true (it’s true that I’m grateful, not true that I’m not a putter-upper).  I am the runner of the dehydrator – and in fact, I intend to dry parsley today.  I am also the freezer of fruit.  This year it was only blackberries (wild) – it is also often peaches, but apparently peaches are biannual and this is their off year I guess (plus a frost came and killed the blossoms last spring… that couldn’t have helped). 

Peaches look fine frozen, but as soon as they thaw they start turning brown.  Last year I “solved” that problem with camouflage – I froze spiced peaches – the spices (heavy on the cinnamon – but I can’t remember what else) already colored the peaches brown so the discoloration wasn’t as off-putting this year when I used them (great in my oatmeal).  Next year I’m also intending to freeze in single serving sizes.  That should do the trick.

Berries are easy – wash, dry, freeze on a cookie sheet, dump in a container or bag.

I dry tomatoes – and have been enjoying them in many things already.  Salads and sautéed with onion and polenta being my two favorites.

My husband is the tomato freezer.  We stopped canning and went to freezing, primarily because I didn’t like the lemony taste of the tomatoes when they were canned.  I’m sure we could have adjusted his approach, but freezing is so darn easy (we won’t discuss the power usage of the freezer – although a full freezer is more efficient than a 1/2 empty one – and the tomatoes really help keep ours full).

My husband pickles also – and they are soo good.  Pickled green beans are to die for!  And pickled asparagus, and pickled banana peppers – – and pickled cucumbers too.  He most recently made green tomato relish – I haven’t had a chance to dip into that yet.  I made green tomato relish once in my single years – and my face got blotchy and puffy – the doctor said it was probably the steam off the green tomatoes causing an allergic reaction.  I now avoid the kitchen on green tomato cooking day.

So the pantry is well stocked with the fruits (and veggies) of the garden.  All set for the Dark Days Challenge.  That’s the once a week meal made of SOLE food – sustainable, organic, local, and ethical. For more information you can click the badge in the side bar.  Sign up too!


Blog Action Day ‘09: Climate Change

October 15, 2009

Perusing my favorite blogs and I found that a friend who doesn’t typically do “green” (not that she isn’t environmentally conscious, just her blog is not devoted to that topic) had a post on endangered species.  There she mentioned Blog Action Day.  Blog Action Day is always October 15th, when bloggers around the world blog on the same topic.  This year’s topic is Climate Change.

The first thought that comes to my mind is an illustration I saw this summer in a Union of Concerned Scientists report.  It showed how Illinois’ heat index measures will increasingly approximate those seen in more southern states over the next century.  A quick search (I love Google – or more specifically The Eco Key) and I found The Union of Concerned Scientists, July 2009 report: Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Midwest: Illinois.  And here’s the picture.

The yellowish states are what Illinois will be like in 2040–2059 and then 2080-2099 if the world meets the lower of two emission standards.  The red depictions are what Illinois will be like if the world meets the higher of the two emission standards (and the higher standard is still lower than the emissions of up to at least 2008).



The report describes how climate change has already and will continue to affect Illinois, particularly how it will affect Chicago and how it will affect agriculture. [They have reports for all the regions of the country and an international report.]  Long story short: it will be hotter in the summers and wetter in the winters, springs and falls with more heavy downpours.  Flooding will occur more frequently in the winter and spring, but droughts will increase in the hotter, drier summers.  How this will affect crops is somewhat unpredictable, although most models are suggesting it will be for the worse.  Livestock is also likely to suffer from almost constant heat stress under the hot dry summer conditions.  The report shows how the effects will be much more severe by the end of the century if emissions follow their higher emissions model rather than the lower one.

It isn’t all doom and gloom.  The report makes some fairly concrete suggestions for how to minimize the effects of climate change on Illinois.  They suggest:

• increasing energy efficiency and conservation in industries and homes;
• boosting the use of renewable energy resources such as wind power, advanced biofuels, and geothermal energy;
• improving vehicle fuel efficiency and reducing the number of miles driven; and
• improving agricultural practices to reduce the release of heat-trapping emissions from soil tilling and fertilizer application.

I wonder how the people of the United State and the world will react to global climate change.  Will we ever make any changes or just let climate change and deal with the aftermath?

Meanwhile, this website is just chockfull of information – it’s going to be a new go-to site for me.


My Spring Break Part II: Road Trip

April 13, 2009

I got back from my weekend with my best friend from high school and 16 hours later left again.  This time I with my two kids (S is 13, D is 9).  We went to St. Louis – about a 2.5 hour drive – for a 3 day vacation.  This is the first trip I’d ever taken with the kids but without their father – he had to work.  Despite that we had a great time.  I suspect DH had a pretty nice time home alone too.

Tourist activities were the Arch, The Gateway Arch


A City Museum crawling tunnel

A City Museum crawling tunnel

the City Museum, which is more fun place to play than museum with exhibits,
 and the Zoo.    
St. Louis Zoo
St. Louis Zoo

We also had dinner with two women friends and their children.  I had never met the women before – in person – but I’ve known them via the Internet for over 8 years.   We filled in a few gaps we hadn’t gleaned from our Internet conversations and chatted like we’d just seen each other the day before.  Next thing you know two hours had passed.

After we got home I suggested that our trip had not been very green.  The kids pointed out, however, that we walked to breakfast both mornings and to dinner one evening.  The St. Louis Zoo is known for it’s conservation efforts for animals and their habitats, but they also make a practice of conserving resources on site.  Other than utensils and reuseable plastic cups with attached straws, I saw no plastic.  It was refreshing.

How could we have done the trip more eco-consciously?  I found a comparison of air, train, bus, and car travel on Planet Green.  Ideally, we would drive a Prius or other comparably high gas mileage vehicle, barring that, the bus would probably emit the fewest emissions (but can you hear me say, “ewww”).  Then in the city we should take the commuter train for jaunts under 20 miles.   Instead, we drove our Focus wagon (averaging 28 mpg and not the Prius’ 46).  Hey, at least it’s not a Hummer.  And we did walk to dinner.



Internet Searching the Green Way

March 22, 2009
A new eco-friendly search engine

A new eco-friendly search engine

Yesterday I discovered The Eco-Key.  It is a search engine connected to Google.  You can do a plain google search or you can do a green-filtered search.  For instance, when I search cars on Google I get links for buying cars online, links related to the movie Cars (4 out of 10), links with new car reviews, and a link to Ford Motor company.  When I search using The Eco-Key I get 8 links to green-car related sites, and two dealing with selling or buying cars online.  If you are looking for something eco-related this can be a big time saver.

There is an incentive to use The Eco-Key also.  They donate a percentage of their ad revenue to organizations that remove litter in the world’s most polluted communities, parks, and beaches.  They would like people to make The Eco-Key their homepage so that every time you boot up a little more litter is picked up.  I use Explorer, so The Eco-Key is now one of my homepage tabs – in part because it’s a cause worth supporting and also because it’s a tool I’ll actually use.  My recent searches for eco-friendly paints, siding, and treated lumber might have gone a little faster. Live and learn.


p.s. Simple Savvy wrote a great review on The Eco Key if you’d like more information.