I Can Can

I had such a great time last night!  I joined a group of fellow members of the Oklahoma Food Co-op for a canning class at the home/classroom of Kamala Gamble, owner of Kam’s Kookery and Guilford Gardens, a suburban CSA.  First of all, the environment was both lively and peaceful.  Her kitchen/classroom is all Mexican tile and bright colors.  Her back yard is shaded and lovely with flower beds and comfy chairs.  But the greatest thrill of all was walking through the arbor and entering the one acre organic garden behind her house.  At some point, Ms. Gamble purchased the property behind her house in NW Oklahoma City and moved the structure.  Then she turned the one acre lot into a magnificent organic garden that is both inspiring and intimidating to behold. 

After walking through the garden, all of us ooh’ing and ahh’ing, we went inside for a wonderful dinner of Caesar salad (watched Kam make the dressing from scratch), pork tenderloin with her peach mango chutney, chicken with her marinara sauce, and fresh chard.  Yum!  While we ate, we traded cooking tips, looked at her favorite cookbooks and watched her demonstrate hot water bath canning.  She gave us tips on roasting tomatos, freezing fruit, pickles, and on and on.  It was a total blast! 

Here are a few more pics from the evening. 

  

  

Kamala is a huge supporter of buying local foods, organic if possible.  She shops through the Oklahoma Food coop for her meat and dairy needs, but grows a lot of her veges.    Such an inspirational evening!  Now that I’ll be free of the dog treat business soon, I can dream some real dreams of my own garden.  The next workshop I’m going to attend is on building hoop houses for winter gardening.  Only $10 to learn how to extend the growing season for the whole year.  There is so much I don’t know, but its going to be fun learning. 

Recommended by Kamala:  Cooks Illustrated (online membership), The Joy of Cooking, any Rick Bayless cookbooks (he has a show on PBS). 

Need to check for more okra.  Keep it simple,

Sherry

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Lasagna Gardening

I actually had a little reading time this weekend so got all the way through the first chapter of Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza.  I’ll never dig another garden.  Her method makes so much sense.  Start with a layer of wet newspaper and build up layers of peat moss, mulch, compost, whatever you have on hand and then let it “cook” or just go ahead and plant.   I can’t wait to try it!  Everyone is trying it. Check out the blog entry at http://freshgreens.typepad.com/.

My compost pile is going just so-so.  I have plenty of kitchen scraps I add on a daily basis, but not so much of the yard waste that is also needed.  We were adding our grass clippings until I discovered that bermuda grass is not a good idea.  We added two mowings-worth before our snafu was discovered, so we may have some grass to contend with in the beds in the spring, but at least I found out before we put the whole summer’s worth in there!  I may start collecting fallen tree waste from my messy neighbors who don’t clean their yards.  This fall I’ll have an abundance of leaves to add so that should bump up the pile quite a bit.  We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so the pile is staying wet right now and is hard to turn. 

My husband and I have also decided to do a little updating to the house and put it on the market at some point, in the hopes of still finding that perfect piece of property – affordable, a decent house and an acre or two.  I know exactly the piece of property I want, too.  Its in the city limits – not way out on some forsaken dirt road, has a lovely older home on it and 2 pristine acres that would be perfect for a biointensive garden.  Its currently being used as a business location and so has a small parking lot.  The front has great trees – the perfect site for a herb festivals, craft shows, gardening festivals,  and the back is wide open and gets plenty of sun.  The neighbors have horses – a great source of manure for the garden.  God can do anything, right?  I know there is the right property for us out there somewhere – we’ll just take things one step at a time. 

Speaking of baby steps,  I’m going to a food preservation workshop tonight.  This is so much fun! 10 pods of okra and counting!

Keep it simple,

Sherry

The House on 2.5 Acres

Never got to see it.  We drove out there and after much turning around and turning around and looking for street signs that didn’t exist, we finally decided that THIS road must be the one leading to the A-frame house being sold in “as-is” condition on 2.5 acres.  The dirt road was in very bad condition, in need of grading years ago.  There were two “dwellings” if you can call them that, as we turned in.  The first one looked like a meth lab with kids play equipment in the yard and a delapidated basketball court obviously being used for a dump.  The lopsided mobile home in the next lot had an even more delapidated car parked in front, but we couldn’t even get that far because the road was so rutted out.  So, we gave up.  It was truthfully kind of scary.  When we got back to the house, we Googled the address on the satellite map and sure enough, guess what was standing on around the road at the dead end – just like the listing said?  An a-frame house on 2.5 acres.  Of course, there was no way to tell what condition it was in, but there is no way I’ll ever get to see it.    I can just imagine what it must look like judging by the company it keeps.   Oh, well.  We’ll keep looking. 

In the meantime, I bought a book on lasagna gardening: smothering your lawn and creating 24″ raised beds rather than digging, tilling, etc.  Looks interesting. 

Keep it simple,

Sherry

What if you wanted to change your life?

So, I put this question out there.  What if you wanted to change your life?  I’m not asking “what would you do if you could do anything with any amount of money with no consequences,”  kind of pie in the sky question.   I’m asking, what if you seriously wanted to change your life? 

I’ve been faced with some involuntary changes lately.  Precisely the fact that my husband and I are now “empty-nesters.”  While I am MUCH MUCH better about our son not physically being in the house and I’m okay with the fact that I only speak to and see him occasionally, still, our lives are very different.  So, I am feeling this intense need to improve my life in some major way. 

I have a tendency to launch off on new projects only to find myself unhappy and dissatisfied, unfulfilled.  The dog treat business is a HUGE example.  I should have shut it down last summer when I was so miserable, but….I digress.  For a while now, I think God has been brewing something in my heart.  I need to do something that has some value for now and the future.  I want to leave a legacy behind.   Every time I get discontent with my MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING job, every time I pray, “God, I need you to show me a new path,” the same thing keeps returning to my thoughts.  Sustainability.  Learn sustainability, teach sustainability.   

I see a possible future ahead that is scary if unprepared for.  I see a time when our global food supply may be in danger for any number of reasons.  I want to do something about it.  Well, I certainly can’t change things on a global or even national level, but I can learn how to grow my own food, store my own food, live off the grid (a pipe dream?), live in a way that is not dependent on the national supply chain.  If I can learn to do it, can I teach others?  Whoa!  I know nothing about sustainability.  Yes, I have been collecting lot of reading material.  I lurk on the Path to Freedom website sometimes daily and am increasingly inspired by it; I have started a compost pile, I am growing a few okra plants that are finally yielding a few pods, I have signed up for a canning class – a starting point, I guess, but MILES, IONS, LIGHT YEARS away from being able to eat off the land, much less teach anyone else how to do it.  You see, I’m one of those people who wants to know how to do something NOW.  I hate a learning curve, which is exactly what I am faced with – a HUGE one! 

So, this is the change I want to make in my life.  I keep telling myself that when the summer ends and the dog treat business is wrapped up once and for all, to just be content with my job (for the insurance), get back to my quilting and maybe get into an intense Bible study.  All well and good, but I know myself too well.  I HAVE to have something challenging going on in my life, some way to actively engage some brain cells.    So, on a whim yesterday I contacted our friends who are real estate agents and asked “How much land can you buy for X amount of dollars?”  They replied with several listings and one looks intriguing.   2.5 acres of land with an A-frame house on it.  “The property is being sold in as-is condition.”  That could mean anything from no roof to who knows what.  But, I think I will persuade my husband to drive out with me this weekend and take a look.  Couldn’t hurt.  

So much to think about.  So, back to my original question.  What if you wanted to change your life?  What is burning in your heart (not last night’s enchiladas :o)?  Let me know.  I would love to hear from you.

Keep it simple,

Sherry