My Tips for Sustainable Living

I am loving Nathan Crane’s series on sustainable living.

I am learning a lot from the people in this series and gaining new insights and new ideas. I am also realizing that almost every change I have made in my life over the last 20+ years, including my focus on organic gardening, has brought

Community gardens are gifts.

Gardening is good for body and soul.

me one step closer to living more sustainably. That was not why I made the changes.

Being sustainable never entered into my choices. Watching, listening, seeing and, at some deep level, awakening, knowing and choosing to make changes in my life and my home that are ethically in tune with me began with a diagnosis of cancer.

Once started, the changes didn’t stop. Here are some simple things I did, you can do, to just start down the path of being kinder to yourself, your loved ones and your world.

Buy organic meat and poultry. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. Everything changed.  And this was one of the first changes I made.  I found neighbors who were farmers who were organic and we bought our first pasteur-raised, free-ranged food.  I am a vegetarian now but we still buy organic meats from our friends.

No paper towels.  Sounds silly, small, but it was the first choice I made.  I weaned the household (and my husband) off of them in a year.  We have not had paper towels in our home for 7 years.  I buy fabric napkins at thrift shops and use them and wash them and use them again.

Drying clothes on a line.  I live in a relatively affluent neighborhood where

Breezecatcher 4 arm dryer

My Breezecatcher dryer saves me $100’s every year.

there are no clothes lines.  My solution? Buy a “solar dryer” that I can put out in the morning and take down in the afternoon.  I save about $80 a month on electricity just by drying towels, sheets and heavy cloths outdoors, year round.

Lettuce is an easy crop to grow and so tasty.

Lattuga in any language is a great addition to your garden.

Growing My Own – organic gardening has moved from an idea to a full-blown love of mine and it all started with lettuce!  Twenty plus years later, I have never looked back.  I am cheap, pragmatic and able to raise almost every veggie or fruit we eat using nothing but time, sunshine, water and love.

Making my own laundry detergent.  I decided to do this because I live in well country – and there are a lot of families downstream from my septic system and tile field.  Commercial laundry detergents are pretty harsh so I found a recipe (on the internet) using washing soda, laundry soap – Fels Naptha – and water. I add a few drops of Thieves oil for scent and make 3 gallons at a time for pennies on the dollar.  And I get the peace of mind of knowing that I am not poisoning my neighbors’ wells.

Making kombucha and sauerkraut.  This is my newest venture and I LOVE it. Fermented foods are so easy to make and so inexpensive to prepare.  You can pay $6.50 for a pint of sauerkraut or make a gallon – 8 pints – for $2.00.  Same with Kombucha — fermented black tea.  Pay $5.00 a bottle or about 15 cents a bottle.  It’s easy to make, delicious to drink and again, so very good for you.  Save money, feed your family and save resources.

Don’t listen to me.  Listen to yourself.  Take a step that works for you. Grow something. Save something. Make something. Don’t wait for someone else; make the change you want to see.

Let’s go back to Edward Abbey’s America.

“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others.”                                                                                           Edward Abbey

Gleanings from Sustainabilty Series w/Nathan Crane

Day 3 of this fabulous series and I am just learning so much and being validated in a whole lot of ways as I enjoy the Search for Sustainability.

Episode 3 is about health, your health and how you can get it back.  and do so without medicines, doctors, surgery.  The easiest change? Get rid of processed foods.  Just get rid of them and grow your own!

Organic gardening depends on dirt.

Growing your own organic veggies is easy.

You will save money.  You will save yourself.  And you will feel better.  Those messages come through loud and clear and I am living proof that they are true. I’ve lost 60 pounds I didn’t know I had to lose.

My husband has lost 45 pounds and is still losing.  His blood sugar is normalizing — after 20 years of Type 2 diabetes.  It’s good news and it is easy to do just by making that the choice to grow or buy organic produce.

Organic gardening for everyone who thinks it's hard.

Tips & tricks to make gardening easy & fun.

Growing organic veggies and fruits is easy, it’s fun and it’s a way to share what you learned from your mom or dad, your aunts and your friends like I did in my book.

There are other choices that are also coming through loud and clear in this series.

Do it!

The motto of a very famous shoe company should also be your motto.  Just do it.  Once you start, you will find it just gets easier and easier because you start feeling better.

Live it!

Live this life of health and renewal and joy.  Step back into the real world with other people who are choosing health and growing or buying organic foods.

Teach it.

There is nothing more rewarding than being able to share what you have learned on your journey through life.  This is where Nathan Crane is.  This is where many of the people in this series are – teaching it.  This is what I do in my book.

Even if you don’t feel you are ready, just watch. Maybe just take one small step because that’s what sustainability is all about.  Make one small change, today.

Sustainable Living Advocates Offer Information & Hope

If you have ever felt alone in your quest to grow your own food, shrink your carbon footprint, learn new ways to help yourself, your family and your community be healthy and happy, watch this free series of videos from Nathan Crane.

Crane traveled with his wife and daughter, met with an eclectic group of people who aren’t just talking about sustainability; they are living it.  There are, “…49 Concerned Citizens, Environmentally Conscious Educators, International Authors, Green Business Owners, School Teachers, Hip-Hop Artists, and Politicians…” who participated in this 12 part series.

These are my people. They make me smile. The give me hope.  They let me know that I am not alone; you are not alone.  We are out there and each of us is making a difference.

Watch and hear their thoughts and feelings about our current state and get ideas for how each of us can make changes.  Small changes can become big, very quickly as those of you who are fighting Monsanto know.

I don’t know what will happen to this series after its web debut – each episode is only available for 24 hours after posting so watch and learn, be heartened, be part of the change that might help save the planet.

Source: Watch The Search for Sustainability Documentary Series FREE! — The Self Reliance Summit

Taking Summer Stock – What Worked? What Didn’t?

I love and hate the end of the summer.

I hate that it has ended.  I love that I can spend quiet hours cleaning up, organizing and getting ready for the next garden.

And I love some of my online gardening friends for their insights, their humor and their ideas.

Check out this post from Chrystal.  Gardener extraordinaire, keeper of bee hives

Bees making honey in Chrystal's garden.

Bee hives enjoying Kale Grower’s garden

and sharer of good advice, good recipes and good humor, she gardens a bit north of me (British Columbia) and catalogs the good and the bad from her 2015 garden!

And shares some wonderful pictures in the process.

Read up and learn how Chrystal copes aphids (suggested she get some lacewings which devour lots of irritating bugs).

Find out how her tomatoes grew (like mine, they didn’t) and check out what she made with her lovely red raspberries.

Reading about her adventures helped me with my end of gardening season blues.  Isn’t it nice to know we have company in our back yards?

Happy planning for 2016!

Veggie Recipes for End of Summer

I promised to share two zucchini recipes – one for chips – delicious – and one for zucchini fritters.  The chips recipe is below — a tasty way to use up the zucchini you have on your kitchen counter.

Zuke fritters will be posted this week but I wanted to share some ideas for using eggplant, as well since I am experiencing an abundance of beautiful white and purple globes.

Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes

End of summer eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

I went looking for recipes for using even more eggplant (having already made eggplant parmigian, roasted baby eggplant and baba ghanouj) and found some truly wonderful and healthy recipes from the New York Times Cooking team.

I am going to try Israeli Couscous, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin (using quinoa instead of couscous) today.  Oh, and I will be making my own mayonnaise, going forward. Now for the promised Zuke Chips recipe!

Zucchini Chips
Zucchini, sliced in thin rounds, make chips that taste better than any you can buy and are good for you.  And, the recipe is simple!

Zucchini chips baked

Zuke chips are crispy, salty and tasty!

Preheat the oven to 235 degrees (that’s not a typo).

Slice 2 zucchini into super thin rounds using a mandolin or food processor.

Put parchment paper or silicone mats on cookie sheets.

Put a single layer of zucchini rounds on each cookie sheet then, using a basting

Use a basting brush to spread the oil.

Basting is better than drizzling for even spread of oil.

brush, brush each chip lightly with olive oil.

Sprinkle the chips with salt or, as I do, you can use a mixture of brewer’s yeast and salt.

Put the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 2 to 3 hours, checking them during the last hour as some chips will finish faster than others. Combine the fully baked chips on 1 sheet, remove them from the oven & let the other chips crisp up.

Dehydrated zuke chips

Zuke chips from the dehydrator are not as good.

FYI – I tried making these in my dehydrator and was not too impressed with the taste or the crispness.

The chips looked a bit prettier but they were also chewy, not crispy. And the flavor was nowhere near as buttery or rich as the chips I baked in the oven.

Later this week week, I promise I will post my zucchini fritters and avocado/lemon dipping sauce.

Enjoy your end of summer bounty and please, share your recipes, too!

Healthy Mushroom Burger You Will Love

Organic Italian produce

Zucchetta, peppers and onions from my garden.

End of summer and I still have tons of healthy, tasty Sicilian zucchetta, sweet Italian red peppers and my sweet Italian red onions -detect a theme?  Italian is what happens when you marry one and cook for him for 30+ years!

Mushroom burger

Healthy, tasty mushroom burgers served with avocado dip.

So I am in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.  Here are my two of my favorite recipes – tasty and healthy – for this end of season bounty Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Mushroom Burgers
I live in mushroom country – near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania so I have easy access to all kinds of mushrooms at very reasonable prices.  My husband’s a diabetic with serious insulin issues that made us change everything about the way we eat.

This recipe is one of results and it’s one of his favorites and one of mine.  The base was from a 2010 Bon Appetit recipe but I made some changes in ingredients and cooking method.

2 T butter or ghee
2 T olive oil
1½ lb sliced cremini mushrooms
2 sliced Portabellas
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small red onion diced
2 eggs – beaten
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 T chopped basil
2 T chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 c almond flour
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Melt butter or ghee with olive oil in deep pan over medium-high heat.
Add all mushrooms and sauté until crisp – about 14 minutes.  Stir often.
While mushrooms cook, preheat the griddle to medium heat.
Add garlic to mushrooms, stir for 1 minute.  Transfer mix to food processor.
Add eggs, parmesan, herbs, almond flour, salt and pepper to processor and pulse until mushrooms are chopped – medium coarse.
Put English muffin rings on griddle and do a quick spray with olive or coconut oil.
Scoop mushroom mix up with your hands and place inside each ring, filling each ring and patting mix down to level the mix off.
Grill for 7 or 8 minutes on one side, flip with the rings and cook for 7 to 8 minutes on the other side.  If the centers of the burgers still seem a little soft, flip again and cook for another 5 minutes.

If you want to have a melted cheese center, put half the mix in the English muffin ring, place shredded cheese on top then put the rest of the mushroom mix over top of the cheese and pat to level inside the ring.

I’ve already posted a recipe for Zucchini Crusted Pizza that is DELICIOUS!  Next time, I will share my recipes for Zucchini Fritters and Zucchini Chips – delicious!

Saturday Night at the Strathcona Community Garden | kalegrower

Gardening inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes but here’s one I hadn’t thought of…a community garden.

Community gardens are gifts.

Gardening is good for body and soul.

I know they are big in England and there are some here in the United States but I’ve never seen one, visited one or lived near one.

Blogger Chrystal’s post on the Strathcona Community Garden shows how peaceful and beautiful these places can be.

Located in Vancouver, British Columbia, this verdant community garden opened my eyes to the joys of so-called “city farming” — places to grow food and friendships.

Do you participate in a community garden?  Live near one?  Please share your thoughts on this growing trend of shared space and shared gardens..

Saturday Night at the Strathcona Community Garden | kalegrower.