February 20, 2006


Presidents Day. No big whup to me. I don't have to go to work so you can call the day whatever you like. To me it means running errands nice and early before anyone hits the road to go to the sales. Another excuse to buy crap you don't need and spend money you don't have.

Once back from my errands I set to work whipping up a pan of roasted sweet potato, a little bit of carrot, some onion and some garlice for another batch of Accidental Roasted Sweet Potato Soup. This batch is far better than the original. That little bit of carrot added a wonderful, natural sweetness. Less garlic, and less onion (this time it was white onion). Also, only organic veggie broth was used. I didn't add any other kind of soup just to use it up. I pulled out a frozen, roasted ancho chil and diced it. Man oh man - way too hot to add more than a couple small pieces. Whew! How we are ever going to use up all of those in our freezer, I don't know. The soup went into the freezer to take it home with me to C-town. I leave in the morning.

I'm also in the process of baking a batch of Apple Cinnamon Sweet Potato (Banana) Muffins to take home. Using up a couple mushy bananas that way. Plus, the two egg yolks remaining from the recipe get mixed with some egg beaters to form a fine breakfast sandwich. Plop the eggs between two slices of toasted Honey Whole Wheat from Old Mill Bread Co. and it's delish. This is a local bakery whose bread we really enjoy, especially because it is made from just a few simple ingredients: Freshly milled whole wheat flour, water, honey, salt, yeast, and soy lecithin. No white sugar, no white flour, no words we can't spell or pronounce. Each slice has 3 g of fiber and 5 g of protein. No cholesterol and no saturated fats. Along side goes the remaining apple from the muffin recipe and you are all set with a tasty meal.

Having second thoughts about the garden. I think I can still get away with planting some things before we move. Moving might be farther off than we planned assuming the place isn't sold by the property owner. All the greens and some peas, beans, zucchini can be planted and probably enjoyed.

The search for a house, though only days old, is already tedious and discouraging. A road trip down to Olympia didn't make us feel much better, though the homes are affordable. Back to baking and soup making, packing, dishes, laundry, etc.

February 17, 2006

TO SOW OR NOT TO SOW (and I don't mean wax museums)

At at time when we have just vowed to live like paupers for the next 2-3 months in order to boost our house down payment, we also have decided to forego planting the garden. The garden aids in reducing our produce costs. We buy lots of produce! But, things are changing. A couple of reasons for not planting: We want to move in the near future (meaning end of Summer, beginning of Fall. We are mentally prepared and physically up for the challenge of packing up the junk and searching for a house. Renting has been a very affordable option. We are fortunate enough to pay a very reasonable rate for a house, deck and a yard. However, we can’t modify this house any further. We have done a lot of work on it but we want to do more. But we can’t justify the labor or expense when the place simply isn’t our own. We have lots of ideas we want to implement and philosophies we want to practice. We need a place of our own!

Secondly, we were recently informed that the wife of the owner of the house died a few months ago. The lawyers are assessing taxes and such. So appraisers will be coming round soon to size up our place and neighbor G’s place (also owned by said property man). While this doesn’t necessarily mean that our place will be sold, we aren’t taking any chances. We’re taking it as a sign that we should stay right on track with our plan to move. Frankly, we don’t understand why the guy has held on to these two lots as long as he has. Property is at a premium around here and a condo developer could squeeze in several urban units in this space. For all we know, the joint’s already gone. Either way, I hope we are given ample time to get out.

Alas, this brings me to the subject of this post. It makes me very sad. All winter I look forward to spring. When should I start my plants? Which plants will I grow? Where will I put them this year? Any gardener knows what I mean. But now there is no need to do any of it. And after I spent all that $$ on an entire new garden’s worth of heirloom seed. So I took it as another sign when I spotted Winter Gardening In The Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook while poking around in Twice Sold Takes. It’s an easy read and very informative.

Since winter gardeing might be my only gardening this year, I felt the $5 price tage was quite reasonable. This gives me something botanical to look forward to. Regardless of how insane the process of searching for, buying, and moving to a new place might be, I’ll be damned if I’m not going to sow some seeds as soon as I get there. I don’t care in what I sow, the ground, a pot, an old bathtub, but I will sow seeds and I will have a winter garden.

So we will be content with the local co-op and the farmer’s markets. We love those options and use them often. Still, it’s so nice to pick fresh lettuce and pull a carrot or beet minutes before cooking. And we will be doing more freezing and canning this year anyway. So what if the stuff isn’t from our garden? I still haven't purchased the pressure canner that was my Christmas present from my mom. Another thing to look forward to. And we are going to do more U-pick visits this year since there are some things that simply haven’t grown well in my past gardens here. Like peppers. Not to mention things we just don’t grow like fruit and berries (at least not yet).

Go with the flow even if you don’t sow.

February 16, 2006


Keeping with our daily goal to save more water, J ran out and purchased an Anystream showerhead, a "low-flow" showerhead. Well worth the money and easy to install, this shower head will limit the flow of water to 2.5 gallons per minute, half the normal showerhead rate. We were already using some homemade techniques in the shower to limit the flow - mainly, just turn the water on only half way and get your butt in and out right quick. A great Christmas present from me to J was The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices compiled by the The Union of Concerned Scientists. According to the UCS, the most significant, individual choice a person make can to conserve the environment and its resources is to ditch your car. Second to this is installing a low-flow showerhead. People talk about peak oil but I can walk to the store - I do now. But there is no substitution for water. Start saving it today!

If you are motivated by money, know that saving water saves energy and that saves money. If you need some ideas on how to save water, check out this info from the Union of Concerned Scientists website.


*Don't use your toilet as a wastepaper basket. Throw tissues in the garbage.
*Don't run water unnecessarily. Turn water off while shaving, brushing teeth and scrubbing dishes.
*Keep drinking water in the refrigerator, rather than letting the tap run till the water gets cool.
*Instead of using water to thaw frozen food, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
*Scrape dishes, instead of rinsing them, before loading the dishwasher.
*Take showers instead of baths, and make them short. When you do take a bath, close the drain first, then turn on the water. Don't fill the tub more than halfway.
*Use your machines efficiently.
*Wait for a full load to run the dishwasher.
*Use the shortest wash cycle your dishwasher allows, unless dishes are very dirty.
*Select the appropriate water level or load size on your washing machine.
*Use a broom or rake instead of a hose to clear debris from driveways and other paved areas outside.


*Water your lawn and plants in the early morning or late evening when the temperature is lower.
*Put a layer of organic mulch around your plants.
*Keep a pool cover on the pool when it's not in use.


*Put a small basin in your sink to collect water. Reuse the water for plants and cleaning.
*Take your car to a commercial car wash that recycles water.


*Replace conventional toilets with ultra-low flow toilets, and save an average of 4 gallons per flush. Alternatively, put plastic containers filled with water in your toilet tanks. This saves less, but still helps. (Just keep the containers away from the flush mechanism.)
*Install low-flow aerators and showerheads to save 2-3 gallons on average per minute.
*Get a horizontal-axis washing machine. They're more expensive, but they reduce water usage by about 50%. Contrary to popular belief, top-loading models are available.
*Control water flow in hoses with automatic shut-off nozzles.
*Repair all leaks, which can cost tens of thousands of gallons a year. A leaky toilet alone can waste 200 gallons per day—and the leak is often invisible. To see if you have one, add food coloring to the tank water. You know there's a leak if colored water appears in the bowl.

February 10, 2006


Cats like laundry, folded and warm right from the dryer. Idgie prefers to crawl under things, including the clean laundry. This action I observed earlier. So I sacrificed a pair of pajama pants to her efforts. I tossed the pants over her and she was happy. She is still sitting under them, 20 minutes later, and she will stay there for probably a few hours. Why move? She got what she wanted.

February 09, 2006


Wasn't planning on making soup, it just happened. Had planned on roasting sweet potatoes for tomorrow's lunch but it turned into soup. Into the oven went two sweet potatoes, a red onion, several heads of garlic, a little olive oil, and salt, curry powder, garlic powder, cardamom, cumin, ground corriander, and homemade sambar powder. This I roasted until tender. The whole house smelled wonderful. It was at this point that, instead of packaging up a portion for lunch, I dumped the whole thing in the food processor and ran it with some veggie broth, water, and a splash of store-bought butternut squash soup. A dash more salt and I had roasted sweet potato soup. It's simply delicious and healthful.

The ingredients before my spark of genius (and before I cooked anything).


For lunch Stephanie and I had delicious sandwiches from Chaco Canyon Cafe in the U District. I chose the Hot Rueben: Local Field Roast, sauerkraut, vegan cheddar, marinated onions, Dijon mustard, sprouts, and tomato on Essential Bakery Rye bread. Stephanie opted for the Barbecued Seitan: Marinated housemade seitan and barbecue sauce grilled with onions and vegan mozzarella and served with tomatoes and sprouts. We chose as our sides the terra chips and slaw. Slaw was more like salad and very tasty. Not a heavy cream-mayo thing. I would eat there again, any time. Thumbs up.

And the sky is blue and the mountains are out and the rain is not raining.

Stephanie had much more to say about the lunch. Here is the complete review of lunch. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of bodanzarama cuz none of what bugged her bugged me with the exception of the loud convo about connecting flights.

Chaco Canyon not all it's chalked up to be
By Stephanie Germani
Staff writer

I've eaten at holes in the wall that are better than Chaco Canyon Cafe (Hole in the Wall, Second Avenue, Binghamton, N.Y., vegan).

Right off the bat the cafe lacks presentation. If I wasn't dining with a friend I wouldn't have known where the restaurant was. And when we did find the door, I lost my appetite for a healthy vegan lunch because the cafe is located next to the Flying Apron Bakery whose scrumptous-looking baked goods are displayed next to Chaco Canyon's door.

But my appetite quickly came back when I had to listen to these two granola girls gab about their connecting flights between Brussels and Beirut. After 10 minutes I just wanted to get my grilled BBQ Seiten sandwich and split.

While I was waiting there there were other people to annoy me. There was the nerdy-looking bald guy who asked for another shot of wheatgrass. There was the hippie chick who worked there, read there and ate there - I guess a good sign. Then there was the chef, who ate chips while preparing my food and didn't wash his hands.

When my order finally came up it was delivered in a cute, eco-friendly looking box. The terra chips that came with my sandwich weren't what I expected. They were more like wholesome tortilla chips than the Terra brand chips sold in stores. Also, the coleslaw -- which wasn't your mayo drenched usual -- wasn't contained in the box. I would have like a little separation between the chips and slaw. My sandwich was good. The rye bread from Essential Baking Co. was awesome. The sprouts fresh. The barbecued seitan yummy. But the vegan mozzarella cheese was unnecessary. I got through half the sandwich before I figured out that was the cheese.

So go to the Chaco Canyon Cafe, order a sandwich or one of the raw entrees they serve, run next door to the Flying Apron Bakery and get a scone, get your sandwich 10 minutes later and split.

Stephanie Germani is a staff writer for Bodanzarama.blogspot.com. She can be reached at imnotgivingyoumye-mail.com.

February 08, 2006


This beautiful broccoli was part of my dinner last night. It was tasty and tender and added a good crunch to the cabbage stir fry. In with that I chopped carrots, onions, celery and lots of garlic.

February 06, 2006


Wow, I'm glad I didn't waste my time watching the Pooper Bowl. It sounds like even hardcore sports fan were disappointed. I'm glad I don't like sports.

February 05, 2006


A few days ago, while climbing the stairs to my door, I stopped, head tilting to the side, to listen to a bird call I'd not heard before. I recognized the call as being new to the yard but, of course, I couldn't identify the bird. And I couldn't spot the bird. But I'm hearing it now as I sit in the living room.

I miss being in the yard. The weather is particularly dreary this winter. I'm afraid to see what's going on in the yard anyway. Overgrown this and that and overwatered everything. Damage assessment will have to come soon. And soon it will be time to prepare the seeds and get some soiless mix and clean out the seedling trays and fire up the grow lights. Scary and exciting at the same time.

February 04, 2006


Well, I've purchased the yarn for my sweater and a new pair of size 11 needles, long ones and really nice wood. But I'm afraid to begin. First of all, last Monday's kntting class was cancelled and in that class we were to learn a few of the stitches I will need to make this sweater. Secondly, I'm plain scared. So to satisfy my knitting itch, I started another scarf. Planend on using the white, sparkly yarn for my sister's scarf but i really don't like the thin yarn and the thin needles. So I decided to use two strands together. But I was only about 10 rows into the thing when I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn for this method. For 30 minutes I painstakingly unravelled and picked apart the yarn and rewound the skeins. So, Steph's scarf will not be white and sparkly, at least not yet. In the meantime, I took the initial yarn I received from Iva as the birthday gift that started it all and paired this with the white yarn. And I've been wanting to try knitting two yarns together for a while. It's really no different from one yarn at a time. And the result is a nice dense feel which is what I wanted but couldn't have accomplished with the thin yarn alone. Here is the result so far. If someone likes the colors, they are welcomed to the scarf though the finish date is far off - the sweater will very soon be the priority.


The wind is crazy today. Wind and storm warnings all over Puget Sound. Sometimes the walls shake and the windows rattle and the noise sounds spooky. The cats hate it. I was at the Y when they opened at 7. That's the only way to guarnatee you get a good machine. Even the short ride from here to there rocked my car left and right. When I got home and got out of the car, a gust hit me and had to bend into the wind to make it to the house.

But I've been going ever since I got up at 6. Once home I whipped up a natch of healthy muffins to take to a card party later. This is a recipe I found on a sweet potato website. Last week I made the sweet potato version. Very good. Today I had to use up ripe bananas and again, very delicious. No white sugar, oat bran, whole wheat flour, no oil, fat free plain yogurt, etc. Good for you and tasty. Here is the recipe. Replace banana with fresh, mashed sweet potato for a delicious alternative. Sweet potatoes are very good for you and I love them. I've retained the original recipe and in parenthesis included my alterations.

Apple Cinnamon Sweet Potato (Banana) Muffins

3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar (I used almost 1 C brown rice syrup and 1/2 C honey)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I added 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. cardamom)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup apples, skinless, finely chopped
1 cup mashed fresh sweet potato (banana)
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
3 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce)
2/3 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine bran, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apples. Add banana, egg, egg whites, oil, and yogurt. Stir all ingredients thoroughly. Spray muffin tins with vegetable cooking spray and spoon 1/4 cup of batter per muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done. Makes approximately 20 muffins.

I made one dozen bigger muffins the first time I tried this using sweet potatoes and today I made mini muffins and tried to mini loaf pans. This is a wet batter and the muffins are very moist but not heavy. I think muffins work better than the mini loaves. I suppse a bit more flour could be added if you need a loaf or perhaps replace one of the liquid sweeteners with a granular version (non white preferably). Experiment.

February 01, 2006


I decided that this year's garden would be full of as many heirloom varieties as possible. I feel that heirloom varieties are essential to a sustainable life. Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties. This means that if the seeds produced from the plant are properly saved, they will produce the same variety year after year. This cannot be done with hybrids, which are a cross between two separate varieties, as the seed produced from those plants will either be sterile, or start to revert back to the parent plants. I think it's important to preserve the plants'diveristy. Heirlooms usually taste better too. Hybrids often have the flavor bred out of them in the name of productivity and disease resistence. I also like the idea that heirlooms have been grown for generations. I like the idea that I am growing the same variety as someone's grandmother did in the old country (or in America during the Civil War!). This year will be an experiment. Frankly, it might be our last year in this house so I'd like to try out these seeds now and determine what works and what doesn't. I've got books coming to my library on growing heirlooms. Because they don't have the same resistence to pests as hybrids, I'm sure there are some additional measures I should take to have a successful heirloom garden. But obviously it can be done.

I suppose it was a bit of an expense for all these seeds at one time. Especially when I consider that I needed no new seed for this year. Then again, I would have purchased some plant starts anyway. This year I'd like to go back to starting all my own plants, including tomatoes. We will also be growing chard and kale for the first time. Not worried about those. Greens and the like always do well here. And when organic was offered in the variety I wanted, I chose it. That's important too. In case you are wondering what I will be tending this year, here is the order that I placed tonight. Exciting and scary at the same time. I completely forgot broccoli and cabbage so I will have to make due with hybrids again this year.