Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Playing with Pizzas

So, lately, we've fallen in love with pesto as a pizza sauce replacement, and boy, is this a nice way of using some of the pesto in the freezer!

Pesto is a lovely replacement for the traditional red sauce, especially on primarily-veggie pizzas like the one you see at the right.  It allows toppings like sliced tomatoes to shine, and it is a nice balance for toppings of greens, like the fresh kale that I used.

On a standard pizza crust (I'm still playing with crust recipes, but this one is promising), put 1-2 ounces of lightly-salted pesto.  If you are making your own pesto, you probably want it more lightly salted than the pesto you would use for pasta.  Since I don't put salt in my pesto to freeze it, I was fine with it as is.

Use plenty of veggie toppings.  Because it is so early in the season, I splurged on some organic tomatoes and topped them with just a light sprinkling of cheese.  Greens are a nice touch if placed on as soon as you take the pizza out of the oven; they'll wilt but not overcook.  Use hearty-flavored greens like kale or arugula; fresh dandelion leaves might be nice too.

Voila, a whole different pizza taste.  I promise it won't disappoint.
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Monday, April 18, 2016

In the Aftermath

Well, we finally made it through the power outage around here.  Eleven days, but we came out the other side with a lot of really good improvements to the electrical system for the house. This seems to be our MO: we wait for something to break, and then we make all sorts of improvements when we fix it or have it fixed.  I've gotten a new roof and a couple of new floors that way, too.

But from a sustainable living perspective, those couple of weeks were a bit of a disaster. I should have repotted my tomato plants, but it was sleeting outside and 52 degrees in the house and I had no grow lights or warm mats for them to sit on, so I left them in their baby pots. So, that means that my tomatoes are now a couple of weeks behind. I just repotted this weekend, and they are enjoying their first days in the sun.

We also are trying a new experiment this year: asparagus. Assuming it takes, we won't, of course, be able to harvest any for a year or two, but I figured it was time to try this crop. Every year, I've wanted to put in asparagus, and every year I say that we won't be living here for the next season, so why bother? Maybe the act of actually planting some asparagus will get us to be able to move.

Gardening season is ramping up quickly, though. We're enjoying lots of fresh baby kale on sandwiches, and I'm hoping to plant some pots of mesclun tonight. Pretty soon, we'll be making a dent in our grocery budget once again, which will be a welcome event. I plan to tell you about the way we rotate our seasonal projects very soon.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Prepper Dress Rehearsal

So, all the good "prepper" books and web sites tell you to be sure to practice with your gear once in a while so you are ready for emergencies. Mr. FC&G inadvertently have been running a little dress rehearsal for the past week, which, heaven willing, is almost over even as I type.

It started when we began to lose power to certain parts of the house. The local tree trimmer was working near the power lines, and we naturally assumed something had been hit or dislodged, and we waited until they were finished to call the power company.

Well, the power company came out and said that our 50 year old meter box (unsurprisingly) had taken some damage over the years, and it needed replaced. And then they unhooked all the power to the house and said to give them a call when it was fixed and took off.

So, while Mr. FC&G did the repairs (thank heavens for marrying an electrical engineer!) and we waited for an inspection, we've been living rough. But along the way, we have gotten the "opportunity" to test our preps. Some lessons:

1. It's always the first world problems that get you.
If unplugging the house meant that the entire world were unplugged, we'd have had a much easier time of it. Most of our anxiety involved running a generator to drive, in part, the computers and internet access we would need to work our jobs. Our second problem was running the refrigerator and freezer. I've been in the process of converting more of my food storage efforts to pressure-canned food for this very reason, but our expensive meat from the CSA requires us to keep running that freezer so we don't take a loss.

2. Thank heavens for the fireplace insert.
I used to hate the look of a fireplace insert until I weathered a few power outages around here. Then, I started loving the fact that I could heat the lower level main room and even cook meals on the thing. If you have a largely-decorative fireplace, I'd say a stove insert is one of the best things you can buy.

3. Your gear is not irrelevant.
Every time I buy prepper gear, I feel profoundly stupid. But every time I have to live without power, I'm grateful. In the photo above, we got out the small cast iron skillet (the large one is theoretically packed safely away in the garage in some location that we can't remember!) and the two-cup tea pot. That made things a lot more bearable.

4. I'm just putting it out here: you need more underwear.
I've wanted to buy some "travel" underwear for a while. You know: the easy-wash, quick-dry stuff you can take on vacation and wash up each evening. I figure, I'm getting tired of packing 20 pairs of undies to take a week long trip to Key West (hey, don't judge...), and 5 really washable pairs would take up less room. After spending this week waiting for a sunny-ish day to wash my unmentionables, this has risen to the top of my list.

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