Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: January 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

The Best Way to Eat an Orange

I’ve rediscovered oranges after years of passing them by! I never liked peeling them, never liked the pithy white part or chewing forever on the membrane that covered each segment. Never liked juice dribbling off my elbows as I ate them, or the sticky fingers at the end.

Well, it turns out I’d been doing them wrong.

And when you do them right, they’re like a different fruit — easy to eat, juicy, and refreshing! And in January, refreshing is precisely the taste I’m after.


Cut off the north and south poles.

Slice off the rind in strips from top to bottom.

Cut the orange into rounds, latitudinally (like the equator).

Slice the rounds into wedges.

Sprinkle with cinnamon if you like, and eat with a fork.

Springtime Dandelion Salad

Light lunch: Dandelion salad & raspberry leaf tea with grassfed cream

Spring’s in the air! (…till Tuesday, at least, when it’s supposed to get down to -8!) It’s been shorts & t-shirt weather here — the robins have been chirping their summertime songs, and I opened all the windows yesterday to let the fresh air in. My body also seems to know that spring’s coming and it’s time to eat light, clean, liver-cleansing foods. I’ve been craving juicy oranges, fresh lemons, and bitter dandelion salads. Bitter is usually my least favorite taste, but I’ve been eating dandelion salads almost daily lately. Dandelions won’t be growing in the yard for another couple months yet, so I buy the greens at our health food store.

I’ve been really enjoying this particular salad:

dandelion greens mixed half and half with lettuce (sometimes I leave out the lettuce altogether)

green onions


sunflower seeds

fresh lemon juice and flax seed oil generously drizzled over, with salt & pepper to taste

Chop the greens up nice and small and eat the whole thing with a spoon!

Blend Your Own Russian Caravan Tea

If you like smoky flavors in your food, I bet you like Russian Caravan tea! I absolutely love it! It’s black tea with a smoky twist, thanks to the addition of Lapsang Souchong — black tea that’s been smoked over smoldering pine or spruce wood. Legend has it that the tea absorbed the smoky aroma of nighttime campfires during its journey from China to the Russian Czar. Others say the tea was smoked as a way of preserving it for the 6,000-mile trip. Either way, the name is enchanting and the flavor is an unusual treat!

I used to buy Russian Caravan in teabags at our local health food store, but when they stopped selling it, I decided to blend my own using the ratios below. I like to measure the tea by weight rather than volume, because I happen to have a food scale and because equal weights don’t always have equal volumes (oolong seems to have more volume), but either way it’ll work.

Once blended, I use 1 tsp of tea per mug of hot water (about 12 oz) and I love to add milk or cream. If you prefer decaf tea like I do, take a look at my post on How to Decaffeinate Your Tea.

Russian Caravan Tea

1 part Lapsang Souchong

1 part black tea (English Breakfast, Assam, Ceylon are all good, but don’t use anything flavored like Earl Grey)

2 parts Oolong tea

Where to source these ingredients? I like Mountain Rose Herbs. Although I think their shipping is a little pricey, I always get my stuff from them because it still comes out cheaper in the end, and I like the company and their products.

Equal weights don't quite have equal volumes...


Living Room Transformation!

Lately I’ve really been in purge mode…get rid of all that stuff! Do you ever wonder how the stuff piles up so fast? I swear it breeds in the night.

So today I took the Christmas tree down (always sad) and Hubby and I tackled the living room, closet, and a little bit of the bedroom. Our apartment is 650 square feet, so we have to be vigilant about clutter if we want to avoid the storage-unit look. So after our purge-a-thon, our place is starting to feel more like a sanctuary! It feels so good, and today I was especially relishing the sweet, sweet sight of sunshine streaming in the windows of our freshly cleaned living room. Ya know, a clean house really is under-rated.

And so take a look at the transformation!

The Before picture was taken this morning while I was un-decorating the tree, and the After picture taken tonight. In the After picture, there’s actually supposed to be a white wool rug in the center of the living room to break up the expanse of carpet. But I was airing it out today and the wind blew it down onto the roof of our landlady who lives below us. Woopsy! She’ll probably be wondering what in the world a rogue heap of wool is doing outside her second floor window…




On My Mind: The Artificiality of City Life

This past weekend, Hubby and I were in line at the deli of an upscale gourmet food market in the city where we live. I was tired and not feeling well, my feet were screaming, I wanted to go home, and our order was taking forever.

While standing there, I began to look around me at all the expensive food items, for the first time seeing the complete picture of city life, brought into crystal-clear focus at this little market.

The meat we were in line for…we could have hunted that. The beautiful selection of mushrooms…we could have grown those, or gathered them. The cilantro in our basket…it could have come from our garden. The pricey sushi-grade fish we purchased…we could have caught that ourselves.

And so it is with cities. They’re artificial. Some folks thrive on the city lifestyle — and more power to ’em!

Here in the city… We wake before we’re rested. Trudge to work day after day after day. So that we may sit in a tiny cubicle and stare at a computer. Wasting our precious life force on things we care nothing about. We come home stressed and exhausted. All to make money. Money, so that we can afford to live in the city so that we can be close to the jobs we need in order to make money. Money, so that we can afford to buy the food we aren’t growing ourselves because we’re too busy working, and because we live in the city and have no land.

See what a circle it is?

It’s self-sustaining. Vicious, indeed!

And so how do you get off the merry-go-round if you were born into it? If your family no longer owns land?

The cruel answer is…with money!

You hunker down, trudge to the job, and live below your means. Get a cheaper apartment. Get rid of your car. Visit the library instead of the bookstore. Eat out less. Kick the Starbucks habit.

All the while, stuffing as much money into your savings account as you can. And then, decide when you’ve saved up enough. Don’t keep saving and saving till you’re dead! When you’ve reached “enough,” quit your job and buy some land — with cash; no debts, no banks. Someplace where you can hunt and fish and garden and forage. Live in a temporary shelter and build a house if there isn’t one there already. With your neighbors, trade the goods and services that you have for the goods and services that you need. Follow your passions…create things…and chances are, you’ll earn the little money you need from those soulful pursuits alone.

And you’re free! You’ve broken the cycle that dates back to the Industrial Revolution, when our ancestors left the land and came to the city.

And you’ve created a new self-sustaining circle that’s healthier, happier, freer…lighter.

You were the maverick! You broke away! So pass that land onto your children; tell them not to sell it, but to pass it down to their children, and on down the generations. Show them by example how being self-sufficient on their own land is the key to their freedom!

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