Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

The Not-So Normal Birthday Carrot Cake

My Dad had a big day a couple weeks ago.  He turned 65, retired and moved all in one day. Somehow, my sister, mother and I had failed to foresee this day coming and we had nothing planned in terms of celebration besides knowing that we’d go out for dinner.  So, I took the Friday afternoon off (from what you may ask? hah. I keep busy) and made a cake.  My sister requested “no funny business” and “just do something normal for once Kim”.  And so I truthfully set out to do just that, to make a normal, white flour and white sugar Birthday cake.  I don’t know what happened along the way, or how it ended up being sugar free…..and whole wheat…..with raw cashew icing.  My eco/health conscience is so strong I think I lose friends because of it sometimes…..tough go for my family, they can’t unfriend me.  hah.

I merged 2 recipes into one for this one and I’m quite proud of the esthetics of it all.  I don’t know where I got the idea for using dried mango to cut little carrot triangles out of, but it must have been a brilliant post somewhere.  I came across the little green christmas tree candies at the Bulk Barn and voila! Carrots.  The Bulk Barn apparently only sells candy corn (those awful candies that look like carrots) around Halloween, and I’m glad that’s the case because it forced me to get creative.  Why carrot cake?  I don’t really know.  I just know that we have killed my dad with Chocolate over the years, he doesn’t like things too sweet and I think he likes muffins. Solution: carrot cake, naturally.

I set out to find a winning carrot cake recipe, but in that search came across a winning recipe that happened to be sugar free and whole wheat.

http://sweetandnatural.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/yogurt-glazed-carrot-cake/

It uses a lot of agave nectar and I even threw in a handful of raisins, so I figured it would be sweet.  The yogurt glaze from the recipe wasn’t quite enough for me to decorate with, so I put it in the middle layer of the cake and then iced the top with a thick layer of raw cashew icing.

Check it out, home-grown carrots for this special man’s birthday cake! That odd shaped orange thing on the bottom left of the cutting board is a carrot that got super stumped by the clay-pack at the bottom of our raised beds so it grew a lil’ round.

And you mix it all together….. (I had a hard time believing that this would turn out to be a cake…it was very carrotty)

But, after 30 min in the oven: amazing, cake!  Icing with the cashew icing was awesome and easy.  It is the perfect consistency to stick around and be thick and yummy.

And tadaa!  Not bad for an amateur if you ask me!  The “Definitely past half way” is an inside joke, but look at those dried mango carrots! They were my favourite thing about the cake.

And even though they knew it was healthy, they all loved it.  To be honest, getting my father to eat some pure food and giving my diabetic-in-denial mother a treat without the sugar high is more important to me than buying their love with refined sugar and white flour.  And they ate it all!  Mission complete.

Rubber boots and Mittens

I went for a hike today,

A dead hike mom would say.

“Everything is brown,

The colours all down

Not a time for hiking

And too late for biking

You should have done this a month ago.”

As you can guess,

I left mom for a rest,

And to my surprise,

The place was alive.

First I was spooked,

By a nesting goose,

As I followed a path

That circles her bath

Then further I crept

And a whitetaileddeer lept,

From her exposed graze

To a pine tree maze

I next took the track

To the maple syrup shack

Followed “frostbite ridge” trail

To a flock of wild quail

and stood still to listen

to the morning dew glisten.

I stooped low to investigate

What a bear or fox ate

And took a wrong path

When did that maple collapse?

It began to snow

The wet stuff, you know.

When I found the track back,

I was met by the cat

He hopped on 3 feet

To the house where we sleep

So we completed the loop

Lured by scents of soup

To find Mom in the snow

Waiting with hot cocoa.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Desperate to cook with something from our garden, I decided I would make use of our only crop of a decent size at the moment – garlic scapes.  Since I just learned what scapes were last year, I can imagine there are some people out there who also don’t know (ahem *city folk* cough cough).  Well, they are the first shoot that comes from garlic that had been planted the previous fall.  Yes, you must plant garlic 3 whole seasons ahead of time before you can harvest the bulbs in the summer.  So, at least we get garlic scapes in June – that taste just like garlic and can be used kind of like green onions – otherwise I’m sure some of us would get anxious and pull up our garlic too early (I’m dying to know how big those bulbs are under the soil). It is also essential to cut the scapes before the flower blossoms, to keep the plant’s energy going into making your garlic bulb nice and plump.  I got the idea for pesto from Stacie at the Kimberley General Store (who is always full of great local food ideas).  One of our first garden recipes!

I started out processing just olive oil and scapes, a la pesto style, until I lifted the lid of the food processor and got hit by a wall of garlic.  In a desperate attempt to cut the overpowering and overstimulating effect of garlic, I added some parsley, basil, ginger, parmesan and honey.  I don’t know if you could taste any of these other flavours, but it didn’t matter because it was delish, and also because now all I can taste is garlic still.  I bet some lemon would be a great addition also.  Even though Dylan says he will taste it for days, it was sooo good while we were eating it.

(I couldn’t get this first photo to flip properly, so please turn your head to the right to view the beautiful garlic scapes).

All in the food processor…

Mixed up with some brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choice), some salt and pepper and voila!



Talk about a Flexible Platform: From Poulet Chalet to Greenhouse

In the fall we began to build a chicken coop.  I say “we”, but I assume that everyone knows that I mean: Dylan built a chicken coop and I complained that my fingers were numb as I held the measuring tape, took some photos and then ran inside to start a fire.

This is as far as “we” got before we learned that the chickens that someone was hoping to hand off to us had been handed off to another loving home.

So we hummed and hawed about buying some chickens but decided it would not be wise to try our hand at them just as the cold season was approaching.  So the chicken coop stood, just as you see it, through the winter, gathering enough snow to hide it from our sights and thoughts.  When spring arrived, we moved the chicken coop to behind the shed and I wondered how long it would remain an unfinished project.  I began growing seedlings for a new non-profit that I am “executive director” of and when I had run out of light space indoors, our “president” loosely joked that we should use the chicken coop as a temporary greenhouse.

A couple days later I bought some plastic from the hardware store and posed the idea to Dylan.  Thank goodness he’s a carpenter and came up with a much more sophisticated creation than my idea of velcro-ing a corner of the plastic for me to get in and out.  He used re-claimed windows and put them on hinges to open down so I can open the whole side of the coop for ventilation during the day.

It’s an awesome concept, except I got a bit excited about it and let the tomato plants get too much sun all at once and they all got sunburned.  So we put some lattice work up on the other side of the coop to provide some shade relief on really sunny days and every day I check the plants a couple of times praying for those white-ish spots of sunburn to disappear.

My Sustainable Future…

In my sustainable future, No Frills will be a farmer’s market.

Wal Mart will host trade-ins, where you pay with credits that you’ve earned for bringing “stuff” back.  No one will work more than 30 hours away from home a week, and that work will be meaningful, inspiring, fulfilling and will always contribute to the greater good (why on earth most jobs do not seems terribly self-destructive for a species).

Sunday’s will return to a day of rest and family.  The plastics loop on the planet will be a closed system, only using and re-using what we’ve already made, no more new plastics.  Population growth will be an oxymoron.

The standard forms of transportation will be bike, horse (this is “my sustainable future” after all), wind powered boats, sun powered planes (they’re mighty close to the bright light) and food powered feet.  My love will be my life will be my work will be my pastimes will be my partner will be my children will be me.  We will live in a community of small, natural homes, surrounding a massive food forest.  Our compost heap and the sun will heat our greenhouse where we will grow an avacado tree. We will have a shared outdoor kitchen, even with a bbq. We will also have our own, private kitchen with a solar dehydrator, some new eco-kind of refrigerator, root cellars, and renew-ably powered appliances.  I will teach yoga, including handstands and cartwheels, and sustainable living and writing to youth and adults.  Children will be afraid of “strawberry candy” because they learned what a juicy, ripe, organic strawberry was long before the candy imposter.  Thus, “food” that in fact is not food, will not be sold as such.

Our community will have a huge library, with windows, plants and big spaces where we can lay on cushions, read and discuss.  Somehow, computers will have a role, maybe they will take the shape of a calendar on the wall listing everything that needs to be done that day, including baking cookies in the solar oven, meetings and having the youth learn to build a home.  My sister will be my neighbour, well maybe down the street, and my brother will be dreaming up designs for whole systems of communities that include not only building designs, but land-use, retrofits, and cradle to cradle principles.  We will know our neighboring communities, and while we may not always like them, we will compete with them in sport wholeheartedly.

Consumption will have been recognized as a black hole of human potential and a perpetuator of unhappiness. Clothes will be simple, natural, functional, beautiful and biodegradable.  We will have slowed the production of all forms of toxins enough so that nature will have removed those that she could, and enough to be able to exist forever with the ones that nature will never know what to do with.

The idea of going shopping as an activity, without a true need, will not be an idea.  Instead, that time will be spent thinking, creating, repairing, discussing, reflecting, and being still.  The only packaging that food will come in, will be the packaging that nature gave it.  You will carry your own basket or storage container to the store, fill it up from their storage container, weigh it, exchange some form of currency for it, and be on your merry way.  There will be one rainbow a day.  Two on holidays. And sometimes, just sometimes, you’ll actually see a flower open one of it’s buds, witnessing one of the most beautiful events this life brings.

I will feel joy with every breath I take, I will use intellectual intelligence every day and I will listen deeply with compassion and love for even the people I do not understand.  I will still feel pain, loss, sadness and despair.  And because these feelings seem innate to our species – a natural balance to my butterfly and unicorn fantasy – maybe the world will go on as it does.  We are in the Kali Yuga, the age where human civilization degenerates according to Indian scriptures.  There are systems that I can not paint in pretty pinks and sky blues, such as the legal system, the finance markets and the human ego brought to you by the letters “I”, “Me” and “Mine”. I don’t doubt that a sustainable future will indeed occur, but that does not mean it will be in our favour.  We are not the centre of the universe.  We are a mere manifest of it, and the Universe will sustain itself, not us.  But that does not rob me of my imagination and my heart.  So I will go on seeing the world through my rose-coloured glasses, picking flowers and singing on my bicycle.  I’m pretty sure in any future, I will still get to ride a horse and grow an avacado tree.


Awesome Parody!

Watch this video, this version of the song will get stuck in your head for sure!

Our 10th Home of the Year!

One year since The Local Gypsies Spot was born, we are moving into our 10th place of residence for the year.  Similar to this time last year, we are renting a cottage for a longer-term stay which always gets me both excited and apprehensive.  It will feel nice to unpack our bags (that we otherwise just leave open on the floor and live out of)

The cat loves our out-of-the-box way of life

and in this place we even have some space to set up our own paintings, decor etc.  What makes me a little nervous is that we’re committed to live here for a year, maybe more!  The commitment gets even deeper in that we’ve built a chicken coop for a family of chickens that we are expecting on the property!  Luckily, the coop is movable (like us), however we must confess that it will never fit into our gypsy-mobile/Range Rover.

We are expecting!....Chickens and a rooster!

I have also committed to working for an organization that runs out of this house (you may know it – Free Spirit Tours) and the owner/entrepreneur/my friend has got me nicely wrapped up in several projects that will keep me busy for a few years by the sounds of it.  Could this be the end of our nomadic life?  Not likely.  I don’t think Dylan will completely settle until we’ve purchased land or a house, and even then, we will move on.  It just may not be 10 homes in one year, perhaps one home every ten years. wow. that seems just crazy.  Ten years in one place?! Are we getting old?