Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Waste Not Want Not - a Booke of Cookery

In the introduction to Waste Not Want Not: a Booke of Cookery - Some Interesting Recipes of Old Acadia, author E.F. "Ted" Eaton, answers his own question of why he's written yet another recipe book:

"Mostly because we feel that the culinary customs of our ancestors, with their very limited facilities, are now, and will be of increasing interest and concern to us as we deal with rising energy costs and perhaps shortages. Our forbears ate extremely well without the aid of micro-wave ovens or pressurised dairy products. Perhaps we have something to learn from them. Moreover our forefathers believed very firmly (and with reason) in 'waste-not, want-not' so that Dear Old Granny was well acquainted with the virtues of such things as heads, tails and tripe which we have tended to scorn in our affluence but which we'd better learn to use in the future."

The reference to "rising energy costs and perhaps shortages" caught my attention when I began to browse this 1978 recipe book, which I picked up on the weekend from the London Public Library annual book sale. 1978. It was 1978 when this came out. I was 23. Did I know anything about rising energy costs or potential shortages way back then? Several years earlier, I'd handed out flyers in high school about the evils of phosphates in detergents. I'd heard the term "appropriate technology" - a term that is not in fashion in 2011 but is still around through the .....and, for me, is still a sensible, understandable term.

I certainly didn't have much sense of the interconnections of political levels in one country, let along internationally ... heck, a lot of those interconnections were not even formed yet. Fossil fuels usage back then must have been a lot less than it is now - not just because there were fewer people worldwide but because the appalling levels of production and consumption of badly made, cheaply produced junk was nowhere near what it is now. Think your latest cell phone - Ipod - Ipad - computer anything - interactive game. Every one of them obsolete before it even reached the store you bought it from.

Yet here, in 1978, is a cookbook author talking about rising energy costs and potential shortages.

I wonder if this was a bold political statement on the part of an historian (Mr. Eaton seems to have had a connection to New Brunswick's King's Landing Historic Site), or just a dig at his contemporary society which wasn't cooking frugally, as did our great-grandparents.

Mr. Eaton would probably never have contemplated that someone - like myself - reading his book today, would have to investigate whether the Corn meal she uses to make Johnnycake is produced outside of Canada and whether the corn was grown using a genetically tampered seed developed to not die if doused by RoundUp herbicide (several times in a season) and equipped to kill any caterpillar that happens to hatch on its leaves. He might not believe that sometimes she has to be grateful that something is grown within two provinces distance. I hope he would be horrified to know that in New Brunswick and every province the number of family farms has decreased tremendously over the years and the production of food generally has become specialized (monocrop) so that farms - previously the most self-sufficient production units in society - have far fewer abilities than in previous times.

(I'll take a bit of heart in supposing that someone involved in farming could still fix more things that break than the average urbanite. I'd better take heart too in knowing that there is a trend happening for (especially younger) people to buy small acreages and begin small scale farming.)

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, that these days environmentalists and groups like those in the Transition Network are trying to help us "re-skill" - learn how to do things for ourselves again - and be more "resilient" - more adaptable and able to recover from negative changes. There is (finally) a realization that we are going to be living in times where there is not abundant fossil fuel, where we will have to be aware of the resources we use, where myriad adjustments will have to be made because of negative (if not disastrous) consequences of climate change.

Yep, to quote the driver of the Night Bus in Harry Potter: "It's going to be a bumpy ride."

After all that, I'd better leave you with the Johnnycake recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cornmeal 1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tsp Baking Powder 1/4 cup melted butter or oil or shortening
1/2 tsp salt 2 eggs

Sift together the flour, corn-meal, baking powder and salt. Add liquid ingredients and the eggs, stir everything together only long enough to mix. Bake in greased and floured loap pan (11" x 7" x 1 1/2" at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Serve hot with butter.

Mr. Eaton notes that you'll get different results with different types of cornmeal and proportions of maple syrup to milk. You can also use honey in place of maple syrup, which will give a different flavour indeed.

If you are using maple syrup, please use the real thing, from a real farmer. If you use honey, thank the bees for millions of trips to make your honey. Make 3 or 4 pans of this at a time - if you've got the oven on, never bake just one little pan.

Enjoy the cooking.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Permablitzing and conference thank you!

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are all well.

Thanks to Brian H. who handed me the word "permablitz" in an email and relied on my curiosity taking me to Google search. Here's a bit of what I discovered.

Permaculture is a design system that is inspired by deep observation of natural systems. It learns from them how to apply ecological principles to the design of human systems. Often used when discussing bounteous food-producing gardens, it extends to neighbourhood design and beyond.

A "Permablitz" is what happens when people get together to install a permaculture environment in one day, based on the plan/preparation that has been done ahead of time to suit the space.

The first permablitz resource I looked at was on the website of Permablitz Hawaii: Hawaii's Edible Garden Revolution - www.permablitz.net There's a video there at triple speed - always fun! - showing how a parking lot is transformed. I love the faces of the volunteers, the enthusiasm. The post went up in early October, so the site is up to date.

The other links I've browsed so far are:

A short film of an event of Permablitz Bellingen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8oycpIHNn8

The text box under the video opens to a list of resources.

Permablitz Brisbane, is on a page asking how we connect food consumption and people.


is on the website of OpenIDEO, which lists the principles of an OpenIDEO community as: inclusive, community-centred, collaborative, optimistic and always in Beta. I don't know what "in Beta" means - a computer reference? or brain waves? - but I like their principles.

Over the last months I've met several Londoners who are involved in permaculture. Their upcoming events include:

On November 19 and 20, there will be a two day Transition Training held at the Living Centre. Shantree and Lorenna Kacera are the principals of The Living Centre; all they do is permaculture based. Their place is beyond amazing. The left hand side of the Events page lists this event: http://www.thelivingcentre.com/cms/

On November 26, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Jessica Roder of Wild Craft Permaculture, and Becky Ellis, environmental educator, are pairing up to offer an introduction to permaculture ($30.00 - details on www.wildcraftpermaculture.ca ). At 1:00 p.m. there is a potluck lunch and from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. there is a food swap for people with baked goods, preserves, fresh food to swap. You don't have to go to all of these events. I'm sure it would help their planning, however, if you pre-register for the permaculture workshop.

The four mentioned above were amongst the nearly 60 people who brought their ideas and enthusiasm to the From Community Gardening to Urban Agriculture in London gathering last Sunday. There were nearly 60 people there, and they all talked with each other. There were so many ideas generated that we are still working our way through conference notes and the where to next. I sure want to thank everyone who came. I stopped by so many conversations and was so taken by people listening to each other, really interested in what others had to say.

Big hug for everyone!

Why's Woman

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Southwestern Ontario Food blog is really interesting!

Hello everyone,

I love the internet for its connections and synchronicities.

All I did was try to find out a bit about the Crunican apple orchard and store, ten minutes north of London, and the first thing I came to was a blog titled Southwestern Ontario Foodie

which is written by a woman who goes to all sorts of interesting places and eats and finds out how food is grown or prepared or celebrated. She visited the Kernal Peanut butter place in Vittoria, Ontario recently ... and coincidentally ... since I bought peanut butter from there less than two weeks ago.

Scroll down Dallas' site to find out about some recent garlicky food events in Stratford - my home town that I visit far too seldom.

I've bookmarked the site.

Best wishes to you all,

Why's Woman

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why I am an organic farmer


I just ran across a great little video titled: Why I am an organic farmer.

Narrated by Gavin Dandy, Farm Director of Everdale Farm and Evironmental Learning Centre, it is a what the NFB would call an animated short.


Have a look.

Then check out Everdale at www.everdale.org

Hope you enjoy it.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Taking a break

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all well.

I'm still working on getting the word out about From Community Gardening to Urban Agriculture in London, Oct. 16. see the News page of www.communitygardenslondon.ca

Lots of details, and I wake up in the morning thinking about some of them - and go to bed at night thinking about others. It's an extreme exercise in Saving the World in My Spare Time ... that's taking all my spare time.

I just used two minutes of that spare time to read Jenna Woginrich's Cold Antler Farm blog. One of her October 2 entries mentions that she heard Joel Salatin talk at a Mother Earth News event (and I admit to envy for both parts of that!). He was talking about the importance of sitting around a table and having dinner with your family ... and Jenna goes on to talk about that as something her family did. It's worth reading: http://coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com/
[just realized Jenna put several posts on today ... when does that woman sleep?!]

And worth doing. I admit to a certain separateness in our household when it comes to dinner. We sit down too many times in different rooms ... not paying good attention to each other or the dinner (that my husband makes most days, and he's a good cook and deserves praise!)

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman