Monday, April 6, 2009

A Book To Check Into

Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook:
Recipes for Changing Times
by Albert Bates


Over the coming years we will need to move from a global culture addicted to cheap, abundant petroleum to a culture of compelled conservation, whether through government directive or market forces. The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook provides useful practical advice for preparing your family and community to make the transition.

This book takes a positive, upbeat, and optimistic view of "the Great Change," promoting the idea that it can be an opportunity to redeem our essential interconnectedness with nature and with each other. The many rifts that have grown up since oil became the world's prime commodity can be mended: between cities and their food sources; the design of the suburban-built environment and its car-oriented sprawl; runaway greenhouse warming, and the clearing of forests and toxification of rivers, oceans, and land. Topics covered include:

Rebuilding civilization
Changing your needs
Water and waste disposal
Energy and transportation
Equipment and tools

ISBN-13: 9780865715684

Friday, April 3, 2009

Baltimore Herb Festival - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Herb Festival, May 23, 2009 from 10am - 3p
@ Leakin Park

Herb and plant vendors from five states will gather for the
Herb Festival on Saturday May 23rd. In addition to plant
and garden related sales, entertainment will include two bands,
Art of Meaning and Durham Station Bluegrass, free rides on
real miniature steam trains, attending herb and gardening lectures,
touring the historic Crimea Mansion and walking in scenic Leakin Park.
Lunch with an herbal twist is also available.

To get to Leakin Park, take Exit 16 (Rt. 70) off the Beltway
(Rt. 695) toward Baltimore. Turn off on Security Blvd.
Right at first light onto Forest Park Ave. Right at next light
onto Windsor Mill Rd. You’re at the Festival! Follow signs for parking.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Drought and Food Ravages Future Food Costs

Did anyone see the national news on ABC on March 28, 2009?
They did a story about the 3-year drought in California causing drops in crops. Last year the drop was noticeable, a loss of 100,00 acres in Central Valley in 2008. But this year the acreage planted is dropping by as much of 450,000 (in Central Valley alone), there will be a loss of as many as 40,000 jobs, and a lose of as much as 1.5 billion dollars in revenues. Current unemployment in Central Valley is at 35%.

How that translates to you…food costs are going to rise, swiftly! The cost of fresh California produce will go out the ceiling this year. Frozen vegetables and fruits, and canned products based on California produce will skyrocket as well.

You saw the stories on the Fargo, North Dakota floods, on the late winter blizzards over the plains states as far south as Oklahoma in late March, and the flooding all the way through the Gulf Coast of Mississippi all these coupled with drought in California will cause massive impacts on your food budget. Did I say budget? Forget a budget, just to eat you will have to increase your outlay for food by gargantuan amounts.

Now add into the above natural disasters the increase again in gas costs occurring, and then you swell the energy and transportation costs as well. Add all this up and you spell disaster on a grand scale for the simple American just trying to support their families with just the basics.

All of the above news supports the concept of returning to the Victory Garden. Plan and plant a garden this season. If you have never done it, now is the time to start! If you have had a garden in the past, consider enlarging it, so that you grow enough for the year, and maybe have some to share. Learn to freeze, can, and dehydrate your foods for storage. Learn about safe storage practices! Prepare, prepare prepare!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning for your families needs. Buy what you think you will need of the staples that you cannot grow, in advance of the rising costs. Flour and sugar, rice and oatmeal, toilet paper and other paper goods can be gotten and stored for future use while the costs are still down.

If you live in an apartment the issues become more difficult. There is virtually no room to grown food in and very little extra storage space in an apartment. But here are a few ideas people have utilized for many years: use the patio or balcony for potted and hanging plants, store food in plastic containers under beds, behind the sofa against the wall, and buy locally! Buying locally grown food cuts all the shipping costs out, keeps the food fresher and healthier, and keeps the economy stronger in your area. Try finding Community Garden spaces; some people will even rent out an area on their property so that others may garden.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Victory Gardens - An Old Idea Revisited

During World War II when food and so much else was rationed, people made their ration stamps for food go further by growing Victory Gardens. Today when there is so much pressure on us all to cut back our family budgets, going back in time and revisiting the Victory Garden seems a wise idea. If we just shuffle through our memories from last summer we would dredge up the salmonella scare on fresh fruits and vegetables. By growing our own, we eliminate that threat to our families. Two very good reasons to plan a garden now…. plant it…. tend it…. and harvest it.

It is time to stop complaining about rising food costs and try and do something for our own benefit for a change. It is time to stop looking to the government and big brother for the next fix. Our new president is doing everything in his power to help the American people come through this economic crisis. They are even planting a garden on the White House grounds this season…If the Obamas can do it, why can’t you?

An idea I was toying with was encouraging everyone to write Mr. President, request him to remind people about the Victory Gardens of the WWII era, and ask him to encourage the American people to follow his lead in just that effort. The rest of us can go to our local Town Councils and ask for Community Garden Space to be made available. We can grow more than we need, and knock on the single mothers door down the street, or the aged guy in the apartment complex where your elderly mother lives (you know the kind of people I mean!) and share your produce. Some food banks even accept produce that is locally grown, call, and find out if your excess can feed someone else this year. Someday you may need the same help!

Many of us have already cut expenses to the bone…. we own no credits cards, no loans, drive as little as possible, cut the car insurance back to state legal limits, have cut off cable or satellite TV, and have started our own Victory Garden…. We are making the effort to conserve…how about joining us?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Clean & Green

Recent clinical findings show that we are not staying healthier by cleaning with anti bacterial products, but the reverse, we are becoming sicker! But how do you clean so that things are clean, really clean? We do not want to spread viruses or bacterial infections, so what are some other effective ways to clean?

Baby Bottles…. Back in the day before disposable liners in baby bottles women sterilized bottles in a boiling water bath. Now that seems like lot of work, and it is. But there is a simpler method if you have a dishwasher…. just clean all the parts of the baby bottle (bottle, ring, and nipple) in the dishwasher. The water temperatures in the dishwasher are high enough to sterilize all parts of the bottles.

Vinegar…. especially apple cider vinegar, is disinfecting. Vinegar is actually weakly acidic, making it a powerful cleaning agent. The acid in vinegar cuts through grease and germs found on counter tops while also inhibiting bacteria and mold. Vinegar can be used to naturally disinfect bathrooms, counters, and floors. You can clean using a diluted solution (1:1) of vinegar and water. Far less cost and just as good a result. If you’re worried about the odd smell of vinegar being left behind in your home, don’t fret. The smell will dissipate and you’ll be left with an odor free home. Add a ½ part of rubbing alcohol to the mixture and use it to wash windows and glass surfaces. Apple cider vinegar can be used to rinse your hair after washing it with baking soda. Your hair will be shiny and soft as if you used an expensive shampoo after using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combo for a while.

Cuts grease and removes stains; removes soap scum and cleans toilets (add a bit of baking soda if you like). Pour down drains once a week for antibacterial cleaning, and add to water in a spray bottle to kill mold and mildew. White vinegar in the washer will soften the water and help remove stains from laundry. In fact, if you put a cup of vinegar in a wash load of colored articles, your colors won't "bleed" into white clothing.

To clean showerheads and faucet aerators with calcium build up that has affected the nozzle function, either remove the showerhead and soak it in the vinegar or fill a plastic bag with vinegar and place the bag around the showerhead like a feedbag for a horse. Fully immerse the showerhead in the vinegar. Tie the open end of the bag with a twist tie and let it soak for 24 hours. Let it run for a minute after you remove the bag and then use it.

To clean showerheads and faucet aerators with calcium build up that has affected the nozzle function, either remove the showerhead and soak it in the vinegar or fill a plastic bag with vinegar and place the bag around the showerhead like a feedbag for a horse. Fully immerse the showerhead in the vinegar. Tie the open end of the bag with a twist tie and let it soak for 24 hours. Let it run for a minute after you remove the bag and then use it.

Baking soda… is great natural cleaner for scrubbing tubs and showers, freeing stoves and pans from baked on grease and neutralizing odors. Make a paste with water and baking soda and scrub away. More water will equal a softer, more liquid scrub and less water will give more oomph. Baking soda can also be used for brushing your teeth, washing your hair, and exfoliating your skin. It is the gentlest, while it will still be extremely effective, scrubber to be found in the chemical-free cleaning world.

An all-purpose cleaner especially effective for cleaning glass coffee pots and glassware, and removing red-wine stains from carpeting. A paste (made with water) can shine stainless steel and silver, and remove tea stains from cups and saucers. Make a paste with a castile- or vegetable-based liquid soap and a drop of essential oil (tea tree or lavender) to clean sinks, countertops, toilets, and tubs. Pour 1 cup down the sink to clear a clogged drain, followed by 3 cups of boiling water or better yet, hot vinegar. Baking soda and vinegar also clean the toilet bowl.

Use baking soda to freshen up the scent in any room that has carpet by shaking some into the carpet. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes to absorb any odors, and then vacuum it up. Sprinkle some into the bottom of hampers, trashcans, litter boxes, ashtrays, or anywhere else that bad odors reside. And of course we all know about leaving a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb smells. You can do this trick in any cupboard or closet as well

Drain Cleaner
Pour approximately ½ cup of baking soda into your drain, followed by a generous cup of white vinegar. This will start fizzing and popping (the best part!), cleaning away any moderate grease or dirt blockages in your drain. Cover with a stopper for a few minutes, and then pour boiling water down the drain for a final clean. Great maintenance recipe!

Alcohol, Rubbing…a natural cleaning product that will kill germs is easy with rubbing alcohol. Along with removing gum and paint, rubbing alcohol can be used to disinfect surface after they are contaminated with raw meat. However, rubbing alcohol should not be used on wooden cutting boards at all because they will dry them, crack them and allow more bacteria inside. Hydrogen peroxide is a good natural cleaning product choice for cleaning wooden cutting boards.

Bleach…. Bleach has been used for ages as a disinfectant on glass, plastic, and wood! It is not just for your clothes! To insure that water is drinkably safe after a disaster, bleach can be added to the water, allowed to sit for 30 minutes, and consumed safely.

Coarse salt… Cleans copper pans and scours cookware. Sprinkle salt on fresh spills in the oven, then wipe off. Sprinkle salt on rust stains and squeeze a lime or lemon over them, let sit for several hours and wipe off. When you burn the inside of a pot while cooking, put some water in it, add a generous amount of salt and this will loosen the burnt food, which you can then scrub off more readily with steel wool.

Grapefruit seed extract… Add to water in a spray bottle for an odorless way to kill mold and mildew. I use only 20 drops to a spray bottle of water. You can also use it to wash produce to get rid of pesticides, and take it internally to kill parasites and most "bad" bacteria and viruses. It's also a better way to disinfect kitchen surfaces than by using bleach or other cleaners. I use it on and find that my counter tops feel cleaner than when I use commercial cleaning products.

Lemon juice: Lemon Juice is one of the strongest food acids, marked by its sour taste. Because the pH is so low, lemon juice can kill most household bacteria, while also leaving your home smelling fresh. Lemon juice is an all around natural cleaning wonder. With it, you can remove lime scale, make windows and mirrors shine, polish copper or brass, clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and remove sweat stains. Use as a bleaching agent on clothing, and to remove grease from stoves and countertops. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice to 10 drops of (real) lemon oil and a few drops of jojoba oil to clean and polish wood furniture.

Olive oil: Use to lubricate and polish wood furniture (three parts olive oil to one part vinegar; or two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice).

Furniture Polish recipe #2
Mix together ½ cup olive oil to ¼ cup lemon juice. Add a couple of drops of lavender oil to this mix – smells amazing! Rub in a small amount to the wood surface and then wipe clean with a soft dry cloth. Lovely shine with a hint of lavender!

Tea tree oil: Can be added to vinegar/water solutions for its antibacterial properties. Use it to kill mold and mildew, and on kitchen and bathroom surfaces instead of chemical products. Add 50 drops to a bucket of water to clean countertops and tile floors.

Borax or Boric Acid… Borax has many defining properties that make it an excellent cleaning agent. When mixed with water, borax reacts to make a hydrogen peroxide / water solution. It also can act as a chemical buffer when cleaning, so the pH is what it needs to be to make something effectively clean. Borax is best known as an alternative to bleach. However, this natural cleaning product also cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, and effectively renews painted and wallpapered walls.

Add Borax to deodorize laundry. Also use ½ cup Borax with ½ -cup vinegar & 1 gallon of hot water as a general purpose cleaner. 2 Tbsp Borax, ¼ cup lemon juice and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle is a good cleaner, too.

Note: While borax has a wide array of uses, and is naturally occurring, it can irritate the skin, and is toxic if ingested. Please keep borax out of reach of children and pets, and make sure to rinse clothes and surfaces before use.

Cornstarch… is actually derived from corn and is known for its fine, silky texture. Since it is a great deodorizer and can get into very small spaces, cornstarch is great for cleaning carpets and shining smooth surfaces. Also, as a starch it can be added to water to make a liquid starch solution perfect for ironing.

One of it’s most amazing cleaning qualities is its ability to remove grease stains. Not many products can claim to do that!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Depression Era Revisited

The economic outlook for America is pretty gloomy right now. Much like the Great Depression of 1929-1932. Our Grandparents made do with less. So can we. Bringham Young once said, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” If we live by that as our motto, as our grandparents did in the Depression, we too will survive as they did.

Following are a few of the recipes from that period. I have laid them out like menus. It makes it easier to imagine eating it! There is something here for any meal, so browse, try them out, and enjoy spending less, doing with less and doing it well!

Day 1


Depression Rice Pudding
½ cup long grain white rice
½ cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk, diluted to make one qt [must use evaporated milk]
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Cinnamon to taste
Grease a glass 9" x 13" Pyrex dish with solid shortening.
Preheat oven to 300F.
Place all ingredients except cinnamon in pan.
Generously sprinkle top with cinnamon.
At least once during the baking, stir cinnamon crust into the rice and sprinkle top again with cinnamon.
Let bake until rice is tender, or approximately 1-½ hours.
Let cool and serve either warm or cold.

Hard Times Coffee
Mix well 2 qts. Wheat bran and 1 pt. yellow corn meal.
Add 3 well-beaten eggs and 1-cup sorghum molasses.
Beat well, spread on pan and put in dry oven, on very low heat. (Wood stoves were kept warm at all times.)
Take great care to stir often while browning.
A handful is enough for two people.


Potato Soup

4 large potatoes, rinsed, peeled, cubed
salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp plain flour

Cook potatoes in water until overdone and falling apart.
Take some of the broth in a coffee cup.
Add the flour and wish with fork until smooth.
Pour into the potatoes and stir. Add Butter and serve.

Quick, Muffins

1/2 cups of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup of butter or butter substitute

Mix into a bowl the flour, and baking powder, salt, sugar and egg.
Add milk, pour gradually into the bowl with other ingredients, beating with a fork as it is added. When the mixture is smooth, add butter or butter substitute melted.
Beat until the dough is smooth and creamy; this takes but a moment.
Grease the tins and only fill them half with the batter.
Place in hot oven 400 degrees F. Bake 25 Min.

Blackberry Tea

Pick the blackberry leaves and dry them. When you want to make tea, just crumble a couple of teaspoons of leaves to one cup of boiling water. Steep for five to ten minutes, and you have blackberry tea.


Meatless Loaf

1 cup rice
1 cup peanuts crushed
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients together.
Bake in a loaf pan, for 30 minutes, or until loaf is good and set.

Scalloped Corn

1 can corn
3 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups sweet milk
1/2 cup soda cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Beat eggs separately, put 1 teaspoon of butter in baking dish and 2 tablespoons butter melted butter into cracker crumbs. Add yokes of eggs, milk, salt and sugar to corn, fold in whites of eggs. Bake in casserole dish for fifty minutes in moderate oven.


Candied Orange Peel

4 oranges, peeled
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
8 drops oil of peppermint
1/2 cup cinnamon candies

Cut orange peel into thin strips with scissors.
Put in a saucepan, cover with cold water and let come to a boil.
Drain, cover again with cold water and bring to a boil again.
Drain; Add sugar and water.
Bring to a boil; Add cinnamon candies, continue to cook slowly until all but one tablespoon of syrup has boiled away.
Dredge in sugar.

(My kids are adults now….and every Christmas my son still begs for this candy!)

Day 2


Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

Makes a white sauce with butter melted in the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and add flour until it is a thick paste. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to keep smooth. Add enough milk to dilute to the consistency you want. Slice on package of chipped beef and add to the white sauce. Turn the heat back on and warm though.

Serve over toast


Depression Salad

1 can yellow hominy, drained
1 can black eyed peas, drained
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1/4 cup cooking oil, optional
1/4 cup vinegar salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the above ingredients together and serve hot or cold.


POOR Man's Casserole

1 small head of cabbage
2 large potatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds of hamburger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less.
Depending on taste pepper to taste
Dash of paprika

Cut cabbage into cubes, salt and pepper to taste and cook until well done.
Drain. Peel and quarter potatoes. Salt and cook until well done.
Drain and mash potatoes with butter but make sure the mash potatoes are on the dry side.
Place hamburger in large skillet, add onion and cook until well done.
Drain off all the fat. Stir in the cumin. Line baking dish at least 3" inch deep with cabbage.
Place the meat mixture on top of cabbage.
Cover the top with the mash potatoes, sprinkle with paprika.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350/o. makes 4 large servings.
In the casserole you had your whole meal.

Wilted lettuce
1 large bowl of fresh clean garden picked lettuce pieces
8 slices of bacon fried and crumbled. (More if you like)
1 small onion diced small
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar

Break lettuces into a large bowl and salt and pepper.
Add remaining ingredients to bacon fat in frying pan. (Use not more than 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat)
Bring this to a boil stirring constantly, pour over the lettuce, and toss lightly with salad fork and spoon until the lettuce is wilted.

Poor Man's Bread

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Stir in enough water to make a batter and pour into greased skillet. (Use a cast iron skillet.)
Fry until brown on each side like a pancake.
Tastes great with homemade butter and jam.



A piece of bread dough into a 8" rope, twist, fold in half and pinch ends. Fry in hot oil until golden brown, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. (This was always my favorite part of the meal!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saving Money with Cooking Basics

With the economy in the state it is, with people losing their jobs, families moving in together to conserve, and costs rising while incomes dwindle we all need to find ways to conserve. One of the best ways to do this is to make your own…go to the basics and find ways of conserving.

Stale bread – Why waste it? As long as it has gone stale before it has gone moldy there is no reason not to still use it. Granted it will not be very good for a sandwich anymore, but we can still keep from spending money on bread based items using stale bread.

1. Seasoned Bread Crumbs:
6 slices bread, dried out and crushed
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheeses mixed

Mix these and store in a recycled glass jar with the lid secured.

2. Dry Bread Crumbs: Save all your stale bread in plastic bags and store in
the refrigerator. (Whole wheat and rye bread crusts are also useful, but store and prepare them separately.)

Place bread on jellyroll pan and dry completely in a very slow oven (about 250º) until golden brown. Remove from oven and pulverize small batches in a blender. Or, put the dried bread crusts in a plastic or paper bag and crush with a rolling pin. These crumbs will keep several months if stored in a tightly closed container and, kept in a dry place.

3. Croutons: Croutons are an essential ingredient for Caesar salad, split pea,
or lentil soup, stuffing and many other dishes. To make them easily at home:

Bread (any type will do)

Remove the crusts from slightly stale bread. (Save these crusts to make breadcrumbs). Before bread is completely dried, cut into half-inch cubes, spread them out on a dry, flat jellyroll pan. Set the oven as low as possible (sometimes the pilot light will make it warm enough) and place pan in center of oven for about 3 hours, or until croutons are very dry.

Storage: They will keep several months in the refrigerator if stored in a heavy plastic bag or airtight container, and even longer in the freezer.

4. Garlic Croutons:

1-cup croutons
2tbsp butter
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Take all ingredients and sauté in a large skillet until golden brown. Let cool and use as desired

5. Italian Croutons:

1-cup croutons
2tbsp butter
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
1clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (or 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano. 1 tsp parsley)

Take all ingredients and sauté in a large skillet until golden brown.
Let cool and use as desired

Bouquet Garni: Is a collection of herbs (traditionally fresh parsley, fresh or dried thyme, and bay leaf) that are bundled together and cast adrift in your pot to flavor a soup, stew, or broth. They are tied together so they can be removed easily at the end of the cooking. Below are some suggestions.

1. Fresh Herb Garni

Make a fresh herb bouquet garni by gathering together

3 sprigs of parsley
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf.
If you want a hint of citrus, add a curl of lemon or orange peel.

Tie the herb sprigs together with a piece of kitchen twine. Drop the herbs in the pot and tie the other end of the twine to the pot's handle or the top of the lid.

Remove the garni from the pot when ready to serve the pot's ingredients. Simply untie the string from the handle and throw the garni in the trash.

2. Dried Herb Garni

Cut a square of cheesecloth or tulle and lay it out on the counter.

Measure out herbs and spices appropriate to the dish you're making.

Place the herbs and spices in the center of the square. Gather the corners together and tie with kitchen twine. This bouquet garni will be easy to find in your dish so you don't have to tie it to the pot handle or lid.

Use a slotted spoon or small hand-held colander to remove the dried garni from the pot, and then throw it away.

3. Bouquet Garni Seasoning
2 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. thyme leaves
2 tsp. oregano leaves
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. basil leaves
1 tsp. marjoram leaves

In a small jar with a tight fitting lid combine all herbs; shake well. Store in cool dry place. Shake before using, measure and crush slightly. Use 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon for 4 servings. Can be used in stews, soups and with meat, fish, poultry or vegetables.