Sunday, 31 May 2015

What Inspires?

Writing prompt: "What was the last thing you read, heard, or saw that inspire you?"[sic]


Interesting question. What does one count as inspiration? I've seen a lot of interesting things lately so let's take a quick aside to check the definition.


Okay so it can't just be something cool that I think would be fun to copy (like the dandelion jelly) or something that is just another in a long line of interesting think-pieces. What was the last thing that actually motivated me to do something new or create something artistic.

I'd have to say Dungeons and Dragons. The weekly games have been a great creative outlet for me. It feels like a mix between improv acting and board games. The fact that I'm the record keeper for one of the two campaigns has also helped me write regularly. It's not the same as making it all up myself because the plot is sort of by committee, but the perspective I put on it through my character's eyes is sometimes really tricky and creative.

If you're interested in reading my campaign notes, they're in the form of a young woman's journal and are available here. There are some adult topics like alcohol, drugs, and sex so if you're offended by that stuff please avoid.

So what's the last thing you read, heard, or saw that inspired you?

Friday, 22 May 2015

Dandelions (and How to Turn Them Into Food)

photo of dandelions in a forest

I kept telling myself I'd make dandelion wine, or learn how to cook dandelion greens, or really anything to get some free food from this plentiful weed... and then realizing that not only had spring passed me by, summer was mostly over and I should start looking at getting ready for canning season.

I decided that this year I was not going to (yet again) miss out on dandelion season. I did some web searching and found a few links that looked promising and got to work.

Dandelion Jelly

Phase 1:

I called Bard and invited him over to hang out. He didn't know I'd be putting him to work so he was kinda surprised when I told him we were going to pick dandelion flowers in the park. It's an odd sort of date activity to be sure but we talked and laughed and had a great time looking like lunatics to the neighbours. When we thought we had a little over 4 cups it was getting late so we came back home to chill for a bit before I started the next phase.


Phase 2: (15-20 min)

The next bit was easily accomplished while watching part of Logan's run with my mom. Taking the flower petals in one hand I cut off the base of each flower and discarded it along with any green bits around the petals. I quickly figured out that I had way too many flowers. the petals are compressed in the head and when free of the base, they take up more room. I soon had a full 4 cups of petals and the bag of flowers didn't really look like it had been touched. I didn't really want to make a double or triple batch in case the first time didn't turn out well, so they got discarded along with the trimmings.


Phase 3: (overnight or at least a few hours til cool)

This part is easy, it just takes a bit of time and a heat proof bowl. Boil some water then add 4 cups of boiling hot water to the 4 cups of petals. Cover to keep out dust and let sit at least til cool. Do not speed up with fridge, you want it to steep.


Phase 4: (5 min?)


Ladling dandelion tea into coffee maker basket filter over a measuring cup.Coffee maker basket filter with dandelion petal and pollen residue.First thing to do in the morning is get the petals out of our lovely dandelion tea. I just reached right in and grabbed a small handful at a time and squeezed out as much as I could. After a couple of those it became almost impossible to grab another so it was time to strain the rest.

A coffee filter works really well to strain out the petals and pollen. I had to ladle it in at first and then slowly poured the last of it from the bowl.

It looks really cool... but yeah I definitely don't want to eat the pollen.



Phase 5:(10 min)

Stirring mixture in a pot on the stove.
Here's where the magic starts. In a pot goes the dandelion tea, lemon juice, and pectin. Once it starts boiling, add sugar and stir til it comes back to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes more and take it off the heat to ladle it into jars.


Phase 6:(15 min)

I realized before I started that I didn't have a proper water-bath canner but the important part is keeping the jars off the bottom and completely covered in water. I figured I could manage these two things by using our potato pot with a squiggle of scrunched up tinfoil on the bottom. Once boiling, I set the timer for 10 minutes... and promptly realized I had no way to get these boiling hot jars OUT of the pot.  :-/
Squiggle of scrunched up tinfoll in the bottom of a large pot.Jars in pot supported by squiggle and covered in water.Pot with lid on and water covered jars inside starting to boil.
I figured out how to carefully scoop a jar out using two cooking spoons and put it on to of another jar so it wasn't IN the water, and then picked it up with oven mitts and put it on the cutting board. I did that for all of them and then the last one I just scooped out with the spoons like a big potato. Very dumb, very dangerous, do not follow my example. I will be buying proper jar tongs before next time.

Phase 7:

All that's left is for the jars to cool in a draft free place then you can put them in your pantry.
Seven finished jars of golden yellow jelly.

I only had enough room in the pot for five little jars so I had another little jar, and a random jar that didn't get canned. Since we were planning to eat some right away anyway I just refrigerated them. We'll make sure those two get eaten within two weeks, the rest will last in the cupboard for months.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peak into my messy kitchen and I look forward to more culinary explorations.

If you'd like to try your hand at dandelion jelly, I got my recipe from SimplyCanning and she's right about the taste.

It's kinda like honey, and really tasty.

What should I try next time? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Weeds, aka Wild Edibles

Not-a-dandelion (Agoseris)

Taking a look through NorthernBushcraft.com I saw so many familiar faces it makes me homesick. When I was a kid I was curious about the plants like the one I called not-a-dandelion, but I thought that unless it was a "proper" plant that people grew on purpose there would be very few people who knew anything except how to kill it.

I'm happy to be living in an age where whatever you might be wondering about has at least been mentioned somewhere on the internet. Using the example of edible "weeds", I can now quickly find the healthfulness of many many plants without having to dig out 5 different feild guides and encyclopedias.

With Hugslut's no-kill diet(long story that gets it's own post) I've been looking more and more into permiculture and edible wild berries and greens. If I can harvest wild onions or salad greens that happily grow in areas I'm not tilling, why would I go through the effort to plant their cultivated counterparts? It's a waste of time, effort, and money. I will be planting chives in pots near the house however because my girl loves her chives.

Permiculture has it's appeals too. Just set up guilds around fruit & nut trees on the edge of the forest and all that's left is to protect them from choke weed vines. That wouldn't be our main food supply of course and assuming we have a pig, it might make more sense to house the pig under the fruit & nut trees (unless we can somehow combine the two).

Any readers in BC? What's your favourite wild edible perenial?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Moderation

My dad had a few saying that stuck in my memory. Some I've decided were unhelpful like, "don't do anything half-assed" (to the point mom and I now joke about doing things full-assed) and over time I have matured to find better mantras for my life such as, "good enough is good enough".

One saying my dad had, I have found is very true, especially when it comes to health and wellness. He used to say "everything in moderation, including moderation" at least once a day almost every summer weekend to absolve himself of guilt when over indulging in alcohol. It started to get on my nerves. It grated as only those who have known someone who says "variety is the spice of life" Every. Damn. Day. can understand.

Years later, I can now look on this mantra as a source of wisdom. It's obvious that too little of everything will hurt you. Little food, little exercise, soon you're a walking skeleton. Too much of anything is equally bad. Everyone knows too much food leads to obesity, but too much strenuous exercise also leads to health issues. These things were simple to discover, but it took years for me to realize that completely controlled moderation will also cause trouble.

Our bodies are marvellous. They can take many blows and keep ticking along. The one thing they can't seem to do well is boredom. After so many, many years becoming efficient at not only converting food to energy, but also storing that energy for lean times, and doing work with the least energy expended possible.... it's really hard to convince your body to loose the fat it stores.

What has been proven is that whether you're trying to beef up or trim down, if you do the same thing all the time you will hit a plateau. You can be working more than you eat and not loose a single pound past a certain point because our bodies are amazing at adapting.

The same applies to weights. If you keep using the same weights you will not gain any strength once you plateau. Now if you're not trying to get stronger, using the same weights may prevent you from sliding back... but if you haven't reached your goal yet, you're just wasting your time.

My commitment to health may look strange to those who are eating steamed rice and fish every day, or scouring Pinterest for new "guilt-free" desert recipes that will quell their sweet-tooth. It will probably look equally strange to the gym-rats who pump iron every other day like clockwork and drink protein shakes every two hours.

I plan to enjoy becoming healthier and stronger. I plan to say yes to full fat, full sugar cheesecake without the slightest qualm. I plan to spend relatively little time lifting weights or using cardio machines and surprisingly more parked in front of a screen. I plan to walk often to enjoy the nice weather as it arrives, but not force myself out in the rain when it comes.

All this is going to happen AND I am going to meet my goals of becoming stronger and more fit overall. My beginning fitness assessment is scheduled for Monday morning. Stay tuned for the details.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Intro

Last year I was sporadically writing in my old blog certain that I wanted to keep writing there because it would tie my past to my future. I created the ID Sinnah Saint for YouTube and Twitter reciently because I realized I couldn't truely be free to write about myself in any blog that could be linked back to my work self.

The reason I wasn't making the number of vlogs I wanted to simply because of the amount of post production required for a newbie with a 8 year old webcam. The last vlog I never got around to making was written and storyboarded and never filmed let alone edited... then it kind of hit me yesterday that I had already done much more work than a blog post and had nothing to show for it. I'm not saying I'm giving up on video alltogether but I'll probably save it for things that I want to show you in a game or walking down the street rant type videos I can just upload with no editing.

That said, welcome to my new blog and I hope you enjoy the stay. I'll be updating regularly because although I don't always had quiet for filming, I can write anywhere. this isn't exactly a topic focused blog and although I write article type posts sometimes, I also write personal story type posts, and take lots of photos.