Posts tagged ‘challenge’

Independence days challenge – 7th July 2008

I’ve changed my goals with regard to the Independence Days challenge, because I was making it too easy for myself with only two a week (and generally did more anyway). I’m aiming to do one thing from each category every week instead.

Planted: I didn’t plant them, but I have received into my care a lemon tree and a bay tree.

Harvested: First peas!!! They were yummy!! And rocket and lettuce. We also went to the PYO and got about 5kg of fruit! Some hunter-gatherer instinct kicked in, and since we could see ripe berries, we just had to pick them.

Preserved: I rescued the rhubarb and ginger jam from its rather solid state and turned it back into something resembling jam through the judicious addition of a bit of water and recooking it. Haven’t tried any yet, but it looks more jam-like. I also made 5 jars of raspberry jam and have 1kg of strawberries in sugar, ready to be made into jam when I can brave the rain and make it to the shops to get more sugar. Also drying some lavender. Nik resourcefully used the scum from the jam to make raspberry champage. I remain to be convinced.

Prepped: Not a lot, unless you count stocking up on muesli – Waitrose have yummy posh muesli for about £1.30 a pack and we now have 5 boxes of it on top of our fridge. It’s been a bad knitting week. Everything needed unpicking.

Cooked: Had Scientist Boyfriend’s family over for dinner, all in varying states of sunburn,* stress and distress thanks to (variously) an impending house move and two weeks sleeping in a tent. We fed them: a Jamie Oliver recipe for chicken with new potatoes and cherry tomatoes, this salad with rocket and peas from the garden and foccacia. I was terribly worried about the foccacia as it didn’t rise, but it sorted itself out in the oven. Also a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake concoction, made by combining these two recipes. http://www.bentonsbrasserie.co.uk/recipe2.htm and http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/580382.

Managed reserves: Nothing in particular.

Worked on local food systems: Aside from the PYO, we’ve done rather badly on this. The butcher was closed so we had to get a chicken from Waitrose and I stupidly forgot the chocolate and we had to go to T*sco for that (which I came out of utterly depressed about the future of the human race, on which more in another post 😉 ). Also, the lady who ran the gardening course and who we get eggs from is moving abroad and the cookware shop run by the slightly intimidating American is closing. I wonder what we’ll get instead.

We’ve also bought a garden table so we can eat outdoors. I think we’ve cursed summer. If it rains every day between now and September, you are perfectly within your rights to blame us.

* I don’t know what category this comes under, but the looks on Scientist Boyfriend’s family’s faces when I produced a leaf from my aloe vera plant for L.’s sunburn were priceless.

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July 7, 2008 at 10:18 am 2 comments

Independence days update…

This is waaaay overdue. But I have done much this month. I’ve also decided learning new skills comes under prepping!

Planted something: did a second sowing of pak choi, rocket and lettuce; potted a strawberry runner.

Harvested something: few more strawberries; picked some elderflowers; cut and come again lettuces are sooo close! pick

Preserved something: tried to make elderflower cordial but it didn’t really work. Hmph.

Cooked something new: broad beans in various forms, made veggie bean-burgers, used the pea shoots from the veg box.

Managed reserves: Waitrose own-brand pasta was back so we stocked up on that. Using up some of the older dried beans in the cupboard and wondering where to get more from as the supermarket ones all seem old and fall apart.

Prepped something: learned various new things at the Downsizer weekend, including making sausages, using a scythe, gutting a chicken 8) and lots of things about bees. Have been inspired to join the local beekeeping association and learn things from them as a long-term project. Got to the end of one sock, now just got to graft the toe. Also going to the fleece workshop this Saturday!

Worked on local food systems: have given lettuces to two friends and herbs to one – muahahaha. Talked about bees to anyone who will listen. Plugging away with the leaflet too. Also bought some local flour at the independent health food shop, and I could get spices from there (not that they’re local) but they come in plastic bags and Bart ones come in glass jars. Ohh, I hate when it gets all complicated….

June 18, 2008 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Independence Days Update

I’m off to Carmarthen this weekend to share some skills with some Downsizers (largely their skills, I have very few) but here is what I have achieved this week:

Harvested: four strawberries!!!! Wooooo!!!

Cooked: onion and herb bread (delish, will link to recipe at some point)

New skills: learnt how to turn heel of sock

May 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

Independence days update and a book!

Planted: I haven’t planted anything per se, but I have done a lot of work in the garden, tending things and generally furthering the aim of feeding myself – potting on, planting out, weeding, thinning out lettuces, watering etc. The potatoes are trying to escape – must be all the rain. The peas really need some more supports or some mesh. Must get around to that.

Harvested: herbs. Not much doing there yet.

Preserved: I FINALLY got around to making some rhubarb schnapps. My lime vodka is now ready for drinking and is excellent with bitter lemon.

Managed reserves: I found some good bargains in M&S the other day and have lots of organic mince in my freezer.

Cooked: made yoghurt, found something new to do with asparagus.

Worked on local food systems: I started putting together a directory of suppliers, markets and other green things, as well as leaflets on suggestions for cooking with seasonal produce, for FOE.

In other news, Chile Chews posted a trailer for a book about an ‘artificial peak oil’, Last Light by Alex Scarrow, which all sounds very tense and scary. I’ve just impulsively ordered it second-hand through Amazon marketplace, because I’m totally intrigued to see if it’s any good. I’ve long said that while the environmental/ethical/anti-rampant-uncontrolled-capitalism/anti-war counter-culture has produced a lot of good documentaries (Inconvenient Truth, Fahrenheit 9/11, Black Gold, The Corporation, Crude Awakenings to name but a few) there is precious little fiction about any of these issues. A lot of the literature I studied for French was hugely subversive, hugely satirical and hugely powerful – Voltaire’s criticism of the church and the Inquisition, Sartre and the Resistance, or closer to home, think of the impact of Dickens’s works on conditions for the Victorian poor, or the power of WW1 poetry over a textbook.

I remember seeing The US versus John Lennon (another good documentary) about 18 months ago and being struck by the parallels it was making between the Vietnam war and the Iraq war and how all the musicians and artists nowadays who have the highest profiles (and therefore most clout) are people like Paris Hilton, who is, in fact, neither a musician nor an artist, but was the first and most vacuous celebrity who compels the media’s attention to spring to mind. I would be more than happy to be proved wrong on this point, but I don’t quite envisage her leading a movement to cut consumption and start digging for victory any time soon….

May 26, 2008 at 2:21 pm 3 comments

Extremely frugal with food. Don’t like meringues.

I have, to the surprise of everyone who knows how terrible I am with numbers and knows my phobia of Excel spreadsheets extends to me having to check all my invoices by hand when I was freelancing, become finance coordinator for FOE. I won’t say I had my arm twisted, I’ll just say that any reasonably public-spirited person could not have just sat there and not volunteered. I don’t really mind: it apparently takes up very little time and involves very little work, and I think it’s very important that people do these things, and not just retired people, so that pretty much entails me being prepared to do these things from time to time, but, oh, WHY oh WHY did it have to be the one with numbers and money?

In other news, my Independence Days update for the week is:

  • Planted – another go at tomatilloes (I only had one) and the rest of my potatoes; earthed up some of the first earlies.
  • Preserved – have vodka, have rhubarb, will make schnapps this evening.
  • Worked on local food systems – continued badgering FOE about the seminar/film showing plus exhibition-type-thing and am in the process of compiling a directory of local food suppliers (plus other things).

I had a bit of a baking frenzy too. I was hunting through the freezer, assessing how soon we could order another half a lamb, and kept finding egg whites all over the place. I had such a vivid image of myself dying in 60 years’ time or so, and my relatives opening my freezer, discovering the accumulated saved egg whites of a lifetime’s cooking and immortalising me with the epitaph:

Extremely frugal with food.

Didn’t like meringues.

So I made coconut macaroons. And flapjacks for good measure.

Also trekked across to the Swindon Literary Festival last Sunday to see Andy and Dave from Selfsufficientish talk about their book and had a nice chat with them over lunch. There were some other interesting speakers there too and lunch was superb. I also managed not to get sunburnt. Result! (As they say…)

May 16, 2008 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment


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Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."