Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Night Suppers-- June

Kale and cous-cous salad, green salad with alpine strawberries











Pasta with    new peas, walla walla onion, and lemon ,
 cookies decorated by the neighbor's granddaughter



   










Black Bean salad with kale, corn, and onion,
Roasted cauliflower,
Bread from the Otis Cafe




 


Bulgar and artichoke salad with chard
and pickled  beets











Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Queen Returns

       
    The Queen Bee is back home.

            On Monday, I went into the hive to check on progress and make some adjustments to the comb bars. As usual in a natural comb hive—at least, I believe it is usual because it always happens to me—a few combs broke off in the process. Honey spilled everywhere. Several combs were pure honey, so I placed them on the already prepped harvest platter. Two had some brood and pollen on them, so, when I was finished, I laid them back in the hive across the top of the last box. I know, probably a bad idea, but I didn’t want to lose brood, so…I put the hive back together, tidied up, placed various honey coated tools near the hive for bee cleaning and didn’t think too much about the clump of bees on the bench, right in the middle of the honey spill.
            Tuesday afternoon, Mark pointed out a clump of bees hanging from the bottom of the bench. Hmmm, I thought, that’s a bit weird. I looked in my bee keeping books. Nothing. That’s no surprise. There is lots of writing on how to build a langstrom hive in the bee books and often cute recipes for honey, like finding something to do with the stuff is difficult, but never anything on Bee Weirdness. And I have a lot of Bee Weirdness.  Bees are the weirdest thing I have ever tried to figure out—and I teach ninth grade boys.
            On Wednesday, I tilted the bench board on its side to see if the bees would move. Nope. Even in the rain, they stayed put. A few came and went, several performed Bee Dances, there was considerable negotiation for prime position, but no movement towards the hive. We had several visitors that day and they all stood watching the Bee Clump. It was transfixing. And weird. Tomorrow, I thought, weather permitting, I’m moving them back into the hive. I installed the bees a few months ago; I could use the same spray and dump technique to pop them back in. How hard could it be?
            Come Thursday, it was raining again. Downpours followed by warm sun that brought all of the hive bees out at once. Not good weather for Bee Popping. Once again, I turned the board to see what would happen. When the bees spread out, I saw Her. Long, slender, yes, elegant…the Queen Bee. Outside. On the board. Heading down into the honey soaked crack.  Time for action.
            Using a clear glass bowl, I captured a group of the bees and slid them slowly away from the crack. Yes. She was still in there, being, as Mark said “dogpiled” by the other bees. I slid a piece of stiff paper under the bowl. The rest of the group flew about my head. Quickly, I opened the hive and dumped the bowled bees in. Looking around, surrounded by confused insects whose home had been invaded twice in one week, I glanced down. Dang. There was a large bee on the ground. Queen? Drone? Did it matter? I scooped it up on a leaf and popped her in. The roof went back on. The hive bees settled down. They really are very tolerant.  The board bees clumped together again, but, in a few moments, were flying around, acting confused. Wasn’t there a Queen here, just a little while ago? Where is she? Did we lose her?  

We went in for dinner. When we came out afterwards, all of the bees were home once again.
           


Black Bean, Kale, and Corn salad: yet another way to eat kale…

1.5 cups of cooked black beans
15-18 large leaves of kale, chopped
1 walla walla onion
some garlic
1.5 cups of frozen corn
3-4 T of apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice—I used both, because we had both
Salt, pepper, and cayenne

Sautee the onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add kale and corn. Cook until tender. Mix together with vinegar and spices. This can be eaten warm or cold and makes great left-overs for lunch the next day.

           

            

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Slow Work

            


We’ve been painting the house this week—washing, scraping, sanding, then painting. It’s a familiar ritual and we know what we are up against in terms of time and labor. And, once I get going, I love the slow work. I love standing on the top of the fourteen foot orchard ladder, painting the point of the house, and surveying the early summer, early morning world. Watching the students come and go, the house turn deep gold, the sun shining on the fig tree leaves. When I come down to shift the ladder, progress is made, easily measured. There is plenty of time for my mind to wander, tied down only by the rhythm of the task. It is a good thing.
            Painting is just one such activity. There is also weeding and mulching at Sunbow which I did this morning, alternatively sweating and shivering in the greenhouses as clouds and showers chased the sun across the sky. Knitting blankets, endless rounds of stitches, slowly building up on your lap.  Pitting cherries and slicing apples for the food dryer falls into the same category.  Skinning fava beans or shelling peas. Long drives down the highway. Kneading bread. All of these tasks take some skill, some consideration of the most efficient way to proceed, but, once the pattern is established, there is plenty of time to contemplate the nature of the universe. I feel my brains slowing down, pooling out, moving into new territory, losing focus. Time stretches out beyond me, endless.

Ful and Flatbread—the best mid-June dinner

Ful is best made from fresh  fava beans, which are labor intensive. They need to be shelled, then par-boiled, then skinned before they can be eaten. I usually pick a canvas bag full of the pods before beginning the soup.

Once the beans are prepped, mix with salt, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. Then add enough water to create soup and cook slowly until yummy. It is hard to give proportions without knowing how many beans you’ll have, but it should taste strongly of garlic and lemon. More olive oil can be swirled over the top before serving.

Flat Bread

1.5 t yeast
1 cup of warm water
1.5T olive oil
1 t salt
2.5 cups of flour—I mix wheat and white

Proof the yeast, then add the rest of the ingredients. Knead briefly to bring the dough together. It will be somewhat sticky. Let rest and rise for two hours.

After rising, divide into eight clumps of dough and roll out in circles, like tortillas. Cook quickly on the stove, using a cast iron skillet. I usually keep the heat on medium high or high. Watch closely. When the dough begins to puff, turn over and cook the other side. It only takes one or two minutes!

Sprinkle with salt for savory dinner or cinnamon sugar for breakfast.

You can add garlic or herbs to the dough. You can also cook half of the dough tonight and save the rest, covered, in the fridge for several days. It will taste more yeasty, but that is not a bad thing.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Signs of the end... of the year.


  1.  Green sign-out sheet appears in our boxes. Cheers!
  2. Blue sheet-- how many seniors are failing and will not graduate?-- appears.
  3.  Grade Grubbing begins as everyone calculates how many points they need to either pass or get an A. People in between do not Grade Grub.
  4. Last day to turn in work announcement is on the board.
  5.  Variations, the school magazine, is published.
  6.  Memorial Day, followed by sun, followed by "Can we read outside today?" (no.)
  7.  Yearbooks appear during class and are confiscated for the day.
  8.  Seniors Last Day and the school is quiet.
  9.  Graduation on Monday night.
  10. Grade Grubbing continues.
  11. Tuesday after graduation is silent and focused.
  12. Room is cleared of junk-- it is amazing how much stuff piles up in corners over a year.
  13. Erase all  of the boards. Take down the art. Hand back papers.
  14. Recycling is hauled out.
  15. Grades are done.
  16. Last Grade Grubbing conversation is finished.
  17. Green sheet is turned in.
  18. SUMMER!

Sun Tea

We drink gallons of sun tea in the summer...

10 Red Rose tea bags-- decaf or caf.
4 springs of orange mint
half a gallon of water in the old glass martini pitcher from 1968.

Set it all in the sun for several hours, then squeeze the water from the tea bags and add a large wooden spoonful of honey. Stir well and chill. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Household Waste Stream

Where does all of our waste go? Mostly to compost...

Composted by Mark in his bins:
·        Branches and tree trimmings
·        Christmas tree branches (we burn the trunk as the “Yule Log”)
·        Leaves
·        Pompost
·        Rotten food
·        Trimmings from veg.
·        Paper towels for cleaning up cat barf
·        Clothing, cotton and wool
·        Cardboard
·        “compostable” plates, glasses, silverware, as well as all food soiled paper bags and napkins
·        Newspapers

Composted in the Gardens:
·        Grass trimmings
·        Leaves
·        bunny and chicken poop

Recycled through the chickens:
·        garden trimmings, like oversized kale leaves
·        household veg trimmings
·        stale bread ends and old muffins that have not molded
·        old beans and tofu
·        thousands of bugs

Recycled curbside or otherwise:
·        Glass
·        Plastics with appropriate numbers
·        Cans
·        Newspapers
·        Milk containers
·        Films and plastic wraps, plastic bags
·        Batteries, lightbulbs
·        Occasional packing peanuts and bubble wrap

Reused:
·        Cloth napkins and real plates, even for parties
·        Canning jars—for everything!
·        Clothes  into  cleaning rags
·        Plastic bags are washed and reused
·        Plastic containers are washed and reused, or brought to the co-op for others to reuse
·        Magazines have several readers, then the Senior Center



Yet another recipe for kale….
It’s been a good few weeks for the kale plants—the leaves are bigger than my head.  We’ve had Kale and tomato soup, kale and tofu with rice, greens over toast, and this one. I like to say cous cous over and over again while it is steeping.


Kale with Cous-Cous            From Recipes from the Root Cellar
1.5 cups of cous cous, cooked
One lemon, zested and juiced mixed with about .25 cup of olive oil and a teaspoon of mustard, whisked together and stirred into the grain.
About six cups of chopped kale, quickly cooked and cooled, then well drained. I gave it a good hand squeeze.
.25 cup of crumbled feta, some olives
Mix it all together and eat still warm of cool for lunch the next day.