Posts Tagged 'cooking'

Getting Dirty With Spring Planting

Today I am getting into the dirt and planting food. I’m not doing it by myself. Our housemate Scott and eight year old friend Nick are planting and getting nice and dirty with me. Big fun.

My husband Thor loves to cook (and not get dirty) so he gets excused from gardening. I don’t understand why he pulls away from the affectionate hugs I offer as I’m planting. He is so cute I keep trying anyway.

Our summer garden, 2007

We’ve got in pots on the patio: two little apple trees, a pear tree, lots of strawberry and blueberry plants, a gooseberry and a raspberry bush. It all looks like a bunch of sticks this early in the year, except for the strawberries. The Willamette Valley’s rich soil and reliable rain will help transform all these bare, spindly branches into delicious food, with the grace of God. I give a lot of credit to the Creator around the miracle of life.

Why do hours of hard physical work to grow at most a couple hundred dollars worth of food per season? Because it’s FUN! Moreover, it creates food security. City-dwellers forget that food doesn’t grow in grocery stores. Even a week-long collapse of oil or gas supplies could send us into shortages and chaos. Another way to increase our food security is to eat less, i.e. more moderately.
My favorite writer about food-growing is Barbara Kingsolver and her book and website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.


Cooking For Climate Change, Part 2

My husband Thor and I love to have people over for dinner. At the same time I’m addicted to sociability, I ‘m also passionate about choosing food with the smallest possible carbon footprint (similar to ’embodied energy’). Our guests keep coming back, so I gather our cooking tastes pretty good.

Here are the major guidelines we use:

  • Buying local food lowers carbon footprint more than the ‘organic’ label
    Example: Australian wine doesn’t make the cut for Oregonians
  • Build meals around what’s in season where you live
    Examples: citrus & avocados in Sun Belt; salmon & pears in Northwest
  • Avoid frozen food (freezing uses a lot of energy)
  • Exception: unless frozen food clearly reduces your car-trips to the store
  • Meat holds huge embodied energy, i.e. fossil fuel inputs
  • So, use meat sparingly as an accent or not at all
  • Build meals around pasta, beans, lentils, and whole grains
  • Right-size our servings of food
  • I.e., a normal serving of pasta is the size of one’s fist

Sidebar: When it comes to a quick bite out, we find that Burgerville is very diligent about sourcing from local farmers. And I understand they treat their employees well, too.

Cooking For Climate Change, Part 1

Last night some friends and I had one of our periodic ‘Green Girls’ dinner parties at my friend Colleen’s house. We had a blast sharing news, laughter, viewpoints and encouragement around sustainability. Colleen’s meatless eggplant mousakka was a hit.

We all eat more than 1,000 meals a year, for a big percentage of our carbon footprint. If we want to lighten our carbon footprint, the principle to embrace is that heating anything is a surprisingly big deal. It burns the fossil fuels that releases global warming gases. So if we’re cooking to combat climate change, we want to conserve heat at every turn. Some tips: (please write in with your own, too)


  • Make and post on fridge a list of your favorite no-cook meals
  • Examples: tuna salad, tasty sandwiches, crackers & cheese w/ fruit
  • Defrost any frozen foods before cooking them
  • Cook double amounts to create meals you can quickly reheat later
  • Use a stovetop burner no larger than the pan (40% of heat can be wasted otherwise)
  • Cover anything cooking on stovetop with a lid to conserve heat
  • Copper, glass and ceramic all conserve energy better than metal pans
  • When food is close to done, turn off and let coast on existing heat
  • Cook and eat with others whenever possible! — to cultivate community as much as to conserve energy

Coming up next: conserving embodied energy in Cooking For Climate Change, Part 2.

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