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Activity: Simple Autumn Applesauce

One of my all-time favorite parts of autumn is applesauce. My granddaddy taught me how to make his mother’s applesauce from scratch (although they threw RedHots, a candy, into theirs to make it pink – I have a different method), and now I’ve adapted it into my own simple treat. If you’re not much of a cook or nervous to try applesauce homemade, this recipe is perfect for you – it’s easy, relatively quick, and fun. When you share it with family and friends for the holidays, they’ll gaze at you wide-eyed and compliment your culinary prowess. Just shrug and smile smugly, ‘cuz you got this in the bag. (Also, they’ve probably only ever had applesauce from the grocery store, which is terrible by comparison, so it’s win/win.)

First: You must select your apples.

Apples come in two kinds: good for cooking and good for eating. It’s not that there’s a huge flavor difference, it’s more of texture difference – apples that are good for sauce are mushier and mealy, and fall apart when heated. Apples that are good for munching raw are crispier and not mealy. (Sidenote: for something like an apple pie, you may want them to stay firm, in which case do not select mealy, sauce-type apples!) It doesn’t matter which one you want to try, it’s just that the stronger, harder apples for eating raw will take longer to cook down and may not create a smooth sauce. But who cares? Experiment to see what you like best.

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Being a Carnivore While Loving Animals: 6 Reasons I Eat Meat

Having lived in Oregon has given me an automatic label amongst even my most inner circle: vegetarian. Friends that have watched me eat meat half-jokingly say it. I don’t take offense, by any means, but it is confusing, since the only time I’ve spent as a vegetarian was a handful of months nearly ten years ago. Apparently that kind of thing sticks with people (especially if you then move to the West Coast), but I fairly quickly came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t for me. And that was a tough decision, because I’d done a heck of a lot of reading about how meat is produced in this country. I’m positive that I’m not alone – that others, too, must struggle with the juxtaposition of compassion for other living creatures and consuming them.

Let me make this explicitly clear: I am not denouncing vegetarianism or veganism. If it’s working for you, super. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s who this post is for. If you’re wondering how to juggle a deep love for animals with the prospect of eating them, maybe my perspective can help you. Maybe my opinions will push you to be vegetarian, and that’s okay too. That’s what this post is: my opinion and perspective.

Barred Rock Chick

Barred Rock Chick

I have always been deeply attached to animals, domestic and wild alike. When I started to learn about the horrors of the meat production industry (and it is most certainly an industry) and how it affects us, I took some time off from eating meat. My protein came primarily from soy products, beans, nuts, and the other standard newbie-vegetarian fare. However, it didn’t take long for me to decide that keeping meat products out of my diet wasn’t for me. Here’s what’s going on for me. Read the rest of this entry

[Video] Elise’s Sweet Potato Project

Well, I’ve just had my Wednesday morning cry and I thought I’d share it with you. The reality that children are learning so early on how we hurt the planet (and each other) and doing something about it just fills my heart up so much sometimes I can’t hold back the tears.

Elise had a simple science experiment to do, but couldn’t seem to make it work with conventional produce. You’ll be impressed by what she discovered, and how its implications may affect us all. Cross the jump to check out the 2-minute video and make the “OMG THIS KID IS SO CUTE” face that I’m making right now. Enjoy!

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The Roaming Naturalist’s Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Guide

Welcome, December! Hello, holiday shopping season!

For years I was a habitual procrastinator when it came to holiday shopping, but this year I’ve finally kicked the habit. Kind of. All of my money-spending is finished for the most part, and I plan to spend December hand-making the rest of the gifts I have in mind. Getting creative and gifting the unexpected is a skill that anyone can master, and I’ve put together a little holiday shopping guide to give you wonderful folks some ideas if you’re tapped out.

Because I don’t know if you know this about me, but, well..

I. Love. To. Shop.

Which is typical for someone of my financial standing. Being low on cash doesn’t stop me though – I’m honing and mastering my thrift-store skills and drinking a lot of coffee instead of seeing a therapist for how much suffering the trial-and-error of crafting causes me. I genuinely dislike blatant consumerism and the culture of spending we’ve developed, and how “Christmas” is more about going into debt than celebrating with loved ones. I don’t do Christmas necessarily; I like to welcome in the new season, winter, which is about withdrawing to do some inner work and prepare for the renewal of spring. That being said, I also love giving presents, and have an impossible time waiting to give gifts when I already have them. (I recently had to wait FOUR MONTHS to give one of my bestest friends her birthday present and I almost had a breakdown.)

That’s why I love the holiday season. It’s an excuse to give your loved ones – all of them at once! – a little something to tell them how special you think they are because, to be honest, when the heck else do we think about it? We don’t. Or if we do, not nearly enough. The holidays are an opportunity to stop, consciously focus on someone, and present them with something as a token of our love for them. Giving gifts is as old as our species, and it doesn’t have to bankrupt the whole nation (or cause shoot-outs in parking lots or pepper-spraying in crowded lines).

Anyway, I’m done with the hypocritical ranting; I know I’m telling you not to get caught up in the hype of consumerism WHILST presenting you with a holiday shopping guide. But I hope you take this holiday to enjoy finding or making that special something for that special someone, and manage to avoid the unnecessary stress of it all. Focus on how much you love the person you’re trying to gift something to, and don’t worry about what the gift is. Do it from the heart and the rest is cake. Take the leap to see my recommendations for this year!

“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The Truth About Chickens. (And cute baby chicken photos.)

I’m going to play it cool like I haven’t been MIA for the last week+ and treat you to some gratuitously cute photos. Deal? Okay.

I also want to talk to you about chickens. Do you have a minute?

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