Friday, April 18, 2014

Stalling Techniques

            After a long week in the computer lab with Honors Ninth Graders, I know  new and updated technology stalling techniques. It is not as if the entire class is off task at one time, but when you put thirty eight (yes, 38) kids in one room with a computer in front of each, you are going to have off task behavior.  At least no one was taking the “what color is your aura?” quiz that has been making the rounds on FaceBook….

Preferred stalling techniques:

  • Check your grades.
  • Change the grades that you see on your screen so that you have all “A”s.
  • Change the announcements of the school website to suggest that your teacher is having a “going away party” very soon.
  • Say “Hey, Dude” in a stoner voice while staring at rainbow colored pot leaves.
  • Crawl under the table to eavesdrop on the opposition for the debate you are researching.
  • Check your “Bacon” score (4).
  • Check Adolph Hitler’s Bacon score (2).
  • Check your teacher’s Bacon score.
  • Find the very annoying “soothing” music. Turn up the volume.
  • Re-arrange the cords on the opposition’s computer while he is in the bathroom.
  • Google Earth your house.
  • Google Earth a college campus—then check the GPA requirements. Then check your grades. Then ask the teacher what will happen to your grade if you bomb the essay you are writing.
  • Lean to far back in your chair.
  • Co-ordinate the beep on the computer with five friends so that it bounces around the room.
  • Scroll down “ModestWear” swimsuits and laugh. Call over your friends. Laugh some more.
  • Play “Six clicks to Jesus” on Wikipedia.
  • Watch your seventh grade video on the Romans.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Work List

April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot said…and he may be right. One day, we’re basking in the sun and the
next, being pounded by hail. And all there is to eat are green leaves, eggs, and a few asparagus stalks. It’s a tough month.

April Work List:

  • Raise two baby chicks, so that we always have eggs.
  • Mow the grass. Trim the garden beds.
  • Add a beehive or requeen the hive as needed.
  • Finish the pruning as winter damage becomes more apparent.
  • Raise summer seedlings: leafy greens and flowers are started early in the month, followed by all of the vines a few weeks later.
  • Mow the grass. Trim the garden beds.
  • Direct seed some root crops, like carrots and parsnips.
  • Arrange the soaker hoses in the beds as soon as they have been planted.
  • Check out the wildflowers blooming at Finley; there is an explosion of blooms in April.
  • Mow the grass. Trim the garden beds.
  • Fence the chickens out of the gardens.
  • Consider where to plant new bulbs this fall.
  • Late in the month, plant out the tomatoes. If it’s chilly, wrap the cages in plastic.
  • Celebrate Spring! Eat dinner outside; hold egg-boxing competitions; watch the bees bring pollen into the hive.
  • Give away tomato plants!
  • Mow the grass.

Rhubarb Cake: from Moosewood Deserts

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1.5 cups flour (half whole wheat)
1 T BP
¼ t salt
1 t vanilla
2.5 cups of chopped rhubarb

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add dry ingredients, then the rhubarb. (you can add any fresh fruit, truly.)

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mud Season


   The fog comes
   on little cat feet.

   It sits looking
   over harbor and city
   on silent haunches
   and then moves on.


The mud comes

On little cat feet.

It sits watching
On pillow and paper
On rainy days
And then moves on.

C.E. with thanks to Carl Sandburg

Salmon and Peas—When you can no longer face another round of greens…fifties comfort food.

Make a bit pot of mashed potatoes—more than you think you will eat.

Make a white sauce from one tablespoon of butter, one tablespoon of flour, and a cup of milk. This is an old-fashioned sauce, but very handy to master.

Clean the little bones out of a can of salmon (or tuna, if you prefer). When the sauce has thickened, add the salmon and a bag of frozen peas. Heat thoroughly, without boiling.

Pour sauce over  the mound of mashed potatoes and add a sprinkle of paprika for color. Eat!

If there is any sauce left over, eat over toast for lunch the next day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wild Flowers--March 23, 2014.

  It was a sunny weekend and we finished all of the housework on Saturday, as well as planting the potatoes and mowing the lawn, so Mark packed a picnic—tuna sandwiches on new honey wheat bread, bread and butter pickles, an apple, and some chocolate macaroons—and we headed out to find Spring at Finely.  The Mill Hill and Woodpecker loops cruise through Oak Savannah, Ash Swales, and some Doug Fir forest, as well as meadows and streams, so they are the perfect walk for wild flowers. No actual Elk, although their tracks were everywhere. Just wildflowers.

 Wild Flowers Blooming at Finely Wildlife Refuge—March 23, 2014

Daffodils—around the old house
English Daisy
Indian Plum


Heal All
Spring Beauty
Trillium—two types
Fairy Slippers
Fawn Lily
Yellow Wood Violet
Evergreen Yellow Violet
Oregon Grape

Squash Gnocci with Arugula: yet another way to eat greens

Gnocci (I usually make a big batch over Winter Break and freeze most of them.)

2 cups of mashed squash
.5 t salt
.25 t pepper and nutmeg
3-3.5 c of flour
.5 c of Parmesan cheese, grated

Mix into a dough. Divide into two or three lumps and roll out into long coils about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut into pieces about an inch long. sometimes I roll them out a little more. Dust with flour and freeze. When ready to eat, drop gently into boiling water and cook for about four minutes, until they rise in the pan. Scoop out gently.

Chop a large bunch of arugula. Suatee in olive oil with a couple of cloves of chopped garlic. 

Grate some parmesan cheese while waiting.

Put gnocci in the bowl, then the arugula, then the cheese. Eat hot! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Planning for a New Garden Bed

Building a new garden bed is like planning a Major Event. It must happen over several weeks, if not months.

Months before: Contemplate the need for the bed. Study the light patterns in the back yard. Is there enough sun? Is it right in the bike path? Does it balance out the space? Will the blueberries be happy here? It will be their fourth home, but they were quite happy here in pots last summer.

Weeks before: Evaluate supplies. Study the wood stored in the shed. Examine the hoses in the basement. Hunt down the three foot section of garden hose to tie the soaker to the last bed.

Three or four days before: Arrange to borrow the old pick-up truck to haul soil. Check and make sure the Bark Place is open on Saturday.

The night before: Discuss the plan of attack for the next day. Who is going to haul the tools out of the basement and screw the boards together; who is going to borrow the truck and pick up the Fertile Mix? Decide on the amount of dirt actually needed for the project. Do not over estimate. Storage is limited. Fall asleep dreaming of the new bed.

Morning: Bribe Sweetie with oatmeal waffles for breakfast. Make a large pot of tea. Project Creep is about to begin…

Actual Build:
·        Haul the needed wood down from the shed.
·        Realize that, yes, the rats did have a play space up there.
·        Take the rest of the wood out.
·        Sweep off wood.
·        Rake out shed.
·        Put all of the wood not needed for today back in the shed, cleaned off.
·        Chase the cat out of the space.
·        Climb in yourself to place a few pieces of wood far in.
·        Remove screws from the post. Realize that the removed screws are just the right size for today’s project.
·        Chase Bunzilla out of the shed.
·        Get binoculars; the wild hive is back in the willow tree!
·        Cut wood to size.
·        Pre-drill holes for screws.
·        Assemble bed.
·        Mattock up the ground under the new bed.
·        Place the new bed and true up using the “my foot” measure.
·        Half fill the bed and  arrange the blueberries.
·        Fill in the rest of the bed.
·        Stop for a snack.
·        Fill every possible container with extra soil.
·        Move some plants around to make room for soil.
·        Shovel what is left into the yard waste bin you nabbed from the abandoned lot just for this purpose a few years ago.
·        Clean up. Put away all of the tools. Return the truck.
·        Admire the new bed.

After Work:  Go out from dinner to Tarn Tip, the neighborhood  Thai restaurant.

Polenta and Greens

We are coming into the time of year when greens-- all sorts of greens-- dominate our dinners.  We have eaten all of the root crops and most of the squash, so we fall back on mustards, kale, collards, arugula....whatever is huge at Sunbow that week.

Polenta: 1 to 3 ratio of cornmeal to milk. I use half a sup of cornmeal to one and a half cups of liquid-- some milk, some water. Heat the liquid and pour the meal in slowly, whisking steadily. Add salt, pepper, and a half teaspoon of sugar. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until thick. You can add cheese if you like. I like to toss in a small handful of dried tomatoes and some basil.

Greens: Start with a leek and garlic. Chop and saute in a bit of olive oil. Chop a large bunch of a bitter green, or maybe smaller bunches of two types.  Toss in the frying pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, while watching the polenta.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Top Twenty Plants List

What plants was essential for a happy yard? What plants can not not imagine living without? Think quick!

  1. Crocus
  2. Daffodil
  3. Rosemary
  4. Lavender
  5. Lilac
  6. Daphne
  7. Mums
  8. Marigolds
  9. Calendula
  10. Columbine
  11. Blue Iris
  12. Apple trees—MacIntosh
  13. Broccoli
  14. Lettuce, mixed colors
  15. Leeks
  16. Pole beans
  17. Peas
  18. Boston Marrows
  19. Potatoes, blue and red
  20. Mint
  21. Raspberries

Yeah, who can stop at twenty….

Hazelnut Shortbread

½ pound  of butter
½ cup of sugar
½ cup finely ground roasted hazelnuts
2 cups of white flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add flour and nuts. Roll out about a ¼ inch thick, cut in nice shapes, and bake in 350 oven until golden.

Eat some warm. Dip others in melted chocolate. They also freeze well and the recipe can be doubled easily.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Work List

March Work List

March is the transitional season in the Pacific Northwest—some days cold and rainy, others soft, warm, and sunny. Plum trees bloom. Bees  haul in pollen, dipping under the weight, dodging raindrops. In the woods, Indian Plum is the first shrub to bloom, but the early wildflowers will be out by the end of the month. Inside, hearth fires dry out the house and we leave the front door open for fresh air.

To Be Done:
  • Start peas and sweet peas inside to foil the wireworms in the garden beds.
  • Finish pruning and bed building.
  • Turn over the soil in garden beds to expose the leaves to soil.
  • Finish off any transplanting.
  • Send out a call for four inch pots.
  • Bump up tomatoes started on Candlemas into four inch pots.
  • Transplant spring crops into garden beds protected by the hoop house or cold frame.
  • On the Equinox, plant summer greens to grow under lights for a month or so.
  • Inspect the beehive.
  • Order bees and chicks.
  • Go for long walks in the woods, watching for wildflowers.

March is also the transitional food season. One day, we are eating fresh eggs, arugula, and chanterelle mushrooms with fresh honey wheat bread and canned grape juice, the next, a split pea soup with root vegetables.

Finnish Spilt Pea Soup

Cook 2-3 cups of yellow split peas in the crockpot for several hours, preferably while taking a long walk in the woods. Add one or two carrots, a large parsnip, two or three small potatoes, a stalk or two of celery and an onion, all chopped fairly small.  Add spices: cumin, dried mustard, marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for a couple more hours, until everything has broken down into a chunky puree.