Thursday, May 20, 2010

Solar Soup

With another warm sunny day before me, I got motivated to make a solar oven. Armed with a sharp butcher knife and duct tape I set out on my mission - to construct an oven made out of materials found in the junk heap behind the shed:

2" thick hard styrofoam panels - check
glass panel from a window - check
black rubber tarp - check

Within short order I had a solar oven assembled with an approximately 30 degree slant (per one of the web sites I visited beforehand). I discovered that duct tape doesn't stick very well to dirty pink styrofoam, propping the sides up with some old boards works for now. I then lined the inside with the black rubber tarp, and threw in a solar windshield shade for some additional power.

Next to go in was the food:

Bernis' Home Grown Soup recipe:
dehydrated onions, carrots, tomatoes, tomatillo
chopped up potatoe
chicken bullion cube

Wheat Montana Cookie Recipe:
3 eggs, beaten well
1 t vanilla
1 c raisins soaked for one hour in egg mixture

1 c butter, beaten with:
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar   (how about honey next time)

2 1/2 c white flour (I'd like to try whole wheat pastry flour next time)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 c 7 grain Wheat Montana oatmeal mixture (oats, hard and soft wheat, spelt, triticale, rye, flax)

Are we getting hungry yet?!

Within 15 minutes, at 11:00 a.m. and with an outside temp of 73 degrees, the solar oven had heated to 155F. An hour later the air temp inside the oven was 170F and the cookies were almost done. The temp dropped quickly when I opened the lid to check the cookies, so I left them in another hour, and OH OH OH were they ever good. I don't know if it was the anticipation, the fresh air, or if solar cooking truly does bring out the flavour, but they truly were much tastier than the oven baked ones I prepared earlier in the morning.

With such good success, I set some rice into the cooker along with a cast iron fry pan containing a couple of fillets of fish. I think I'm hooked on solar cooking.

There is lots of good info on the web, such as at and there are organizations that are promoting solar cooking internationally such as the Minnesota based

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fair Isle Sweaters

My big project this winter was knitting a Fair Isle sweater. Then I decided to knit a second one before I forgot how! For the colored part of the patterns I pretty much made it up as I went along by getting ideas from other sweaters and patterns. I discovered that Fair Isle is very forgiving. I was never sure what I was going to come out with until it was all finished! It took a few trials and errors to get the hang of what combination of colors would go together for a good balance and contrast, but I am pleased with the final results. Just don't ask me to repeat it!
My ultimate goal is to make a Norwegian sweater with snowflakes! Anyone out there have a favorite pattern they would like to share?
I must give credit for this year's project to my dear friend Anjali's mom - Kanta Sethi - who inspired me through the gift of a sweater about twenty years ago before I ventured off to Colombia, South America. That sweater travelled with me pretty much everywhere. It always seemed to be the right weight and warmth for any but the hottest climates, and always warmed my heart to wear this loving gift. It reminds me of the clothes and sandals that did not wear out as the children of Israel travelled through the wilderness, for no matter how many times I washed and wore this sweater, it seemed indestructable! I continue to get compliments on the original sweater! Thank you again, Anjali & Mama Sethi for your many kindnesses over the years.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ABC Garden Tour

Last nite when the rain broke I went for a walk around the yard to record how many plants had made their appearance in April. As I named the files I saw I had "A" through "D" and then a few more!

Asparagus - 2nd year - next year we can eat it and other sprouts that hopefully spring up around it.
Bleeding Heart - Thanks Dad, for this special gift a couple of years ago, in memory of Grandma Eliason who had them around her white farm home in Saskatchewan.
Chokecherry - just about ready to blossom at the entrance to our acreage.
Daffodils are the first flowers to show their pretty faces!
Ferns unfurling their pronds.
Iris, chives and poppies, as well as a few other unknowns.
Lilacs - at least I got a picture. The deer trimed every single bud off last nite :-{
Mayflowers and daisies
Rhubarb and winter onions are some of the first plants to emerge in spring.
I awoke on April 29th to find the Saskatoon (Juneberry) bush covered in blossoms!
I got serious about weed control this year and put down some "plastic mulch" over the strawberries. Recycled lumberyard plastic that they take off of lumber piles works just fine.

I have a friend who likes to garden, but says, "I don't like to weed, so I eat them instead!"
She has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, so she does know what she's talking about!
It was quite funny this spring as I saw my own attitude toward weeds take a u-turn after attending a talk that she gave at a local garden club on natural herbal detoxification. I have already made up a brew of "organic, homegrown" dandelion and burdock tea! It turns a pretty green color and it quite palatable accompanied by a dab of honey! But I'm still going to pursue plastic mulching as there are plenty of weeds in the wild to eat!
Gen 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth tender sprouts (the herb seeding seed and the fruit tree producing fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself) upon the earth; and it was so.
Gen 1:12 And the earth brought forth tender sprouts, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree producing fruit after its kind, whose seed was in itself. And God saw that it was good. (MKJV)

The everlasting God Yahweh is the
Creator of the ends of the earth
Isaiah 40:28

 For a fascinating study on the Hebrew meanings of the names of God see Jeff A. Benner's book, "His Name is One"