Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ash Grey Pollen

I finally got my bees on Sunday April 15th. They seem to be doing ok, but I have nothing to really compare to what is ok and what isn't. Today I looked in the hive for the first time. I have been feeding them a 1:1 ratio of sugar water, but feeding them does not require actually opening the hive. When I looked at the frames I noticed a lot of capped brood, larva and eggs. Capped brood looks a little like someone spread peanut butter on the frames. The queen is judged by beekeepers as being beautiful if she lays a lot of brood in clusters and lays a “peanut butter smear.” By those standards, I have a remarkably beautiful queen.
I like to watch the bees coming and going. I put on my bee veil and sit in a lawn chair by the hive. They sometimes like to land on me and crawl on my arms. So far, I have not been stung. One even crawled into the veil, so I calmly took it off and shook her out. I think I have a good temperament for being a beekeeper because I’m not nervous around them and they actually have a calming effect on me. Bees are the most fascinating animals and I could easily watch them for hours.

On the 16th of April, I noticed a lot of yellow pollen coming into the hive. There were two bees which carried in pure white pollen and a few with orange. Today they were mainly carrying ash grey pollen. The bees are collecting from blackberry bushes. According to a random website, ”Blackberry honey has a light amber color, and a unique taste with a lot of sweetness and a light hint of berry flavor.” I’m looking forward to becoming a honey connoisseur and being able to experience the wide variety of honey tastes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fast Food

I have finals next week, so I have been insanely busy finishing projects. Today I even ate fast food from Sonic because I didn't plan ahead. I will be back on track tomorrow with my eggs, rice and vegetables :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Goat Cheese

Random picture of goats from my photos

I have recently started eating real cheese. Why do I write real cheese instead of just cheese? Because most of what I have consumed thinking was cheese was not really cheese but something called “cheese product.” Through the course of my life, I have also consumed imitation cheese, cheese food, cheese spread and cheese analogues. Very rarely have I ever eaten real cheese, but I was unaware that it was not cheese. Hopefully, you will go and look in your fridge to read the packages of the cheese-like things and discover if you’re really eating what you think you’re eating.  

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a couple pounds of goat cheese from a local farm. I bought garlic and chives variety along with a pound of plain. Cheese is something I have missed. I like to put it over vegetables and on tortilla wraps. It has made a great addition to my food challenge. I bought it in frozen containers and broke it into smaller pieces with a hammer because I only use about a tablespoon at a time for broccoli, asparagus or spinach. The lightly salted cheese has only four ingredients: pasteurized goat milk, cheese cultures, microbial rennet and salt. 

It was so strange how I met the dairy goat farmer because I had been considering buying cheese for quite some time from that particular producer. In late February, I mentioned to a student-friend about how I would love to have a cheese pizza and how much I missed cheese, when another student happened to walk in and overhear our discussion. She said I should try Dark Cove Goat Cheese and that I could buy it at the vegetarian restaurant on campus, so I immediately googled the dairy with the intention to seek out the owner. I didn’t quite follow-through with my cheese quest, though, but it didn’t matter because fate had already found the dairy goat farmer for me. During a fieldtrip, with my class on local botany, we went to the farm I had been thinking about. Isn’t fate a wonderful thing? It took all the leg work out of my search and brought me in a school van directly to where I wanted to go.

Since the dairy farm isn’t open to the public and is way out in the boonies, here is a list of places to buy Dark Cove Goat Cheese:
Tuckeseegee Trading Company
Guadaloupe Café
Lulu’s on Main
Papous Wineshop
Bryson Farm Supply
Eric’s Fish Market
Bryson City
Cottage Craftsman
Eric’s Fish Market
Cashiers Farmers Market
The Orchard
Mountain Fresh Grocery
Rosewood Market
On the Verandah
Highlands Falls Country Club
Highlands Country Club
Classic Wine Cellar
Sunburst Market

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Eggs

Jesus in an egg painted on the ceiling of a small church in Munich.
Eggs appear in many myths throughout the world. They are usually a symbol of birth. One of my favorite Greco-Roman myths is the world hatched from a giant egg. Here is the summary from Bulfinch “…the creation, according to which Earth, Erebus, and Love were the first of beings. Love (Eros) issued from the egg of Night, which floated on Chaos. By his arrows and torch he pierced and vivified all things, producing life and joy.” In other words, chaos and darkness gave birth to love which created the earth. I find the symbolism so beautiful. Later Gaia (Earth) has children with Cronus (time). I have often thought about the image of Cronus eating his children and that is what time does to all of us. Eventually we will die and go back to Gaia, but the cycle of life continues.

Today, I don’t want to go too much into the Germanic fertility goddess myth involving the rabbit and eggs, which is directly attached to western Christianity. Instead I want to talk about the significance of the egg within Christianity. I have spent many Easters in Europe, mainly in Bavaria, which is a predominately Catholic state of Germany. In Oberammergau there is even a famous Passion play that runs from May to October. When I lived in Munich, I went to an egg art show where all kinds of eggs were decorated and for sale. In the grocery stores one can buy the eggs already boiled and colored. I learned from living there that the eggs are specifically colored and have different meanings within Christianity: Red symbolizes the blood of Christ – Yellow for wisdom – White is purity – Green for youth – Orange is for endurance.

When I was looking up information for this post I was surprised to find how many legends involving Mary Magdalene and eggs. One of the legends says that she was brought cooked eggs to the tomb of Jesus to share with the other women, and the eggs turned red when she saw the resurrected Christ. The egg itself symbolizes Christ’s resurrection. The hard shell symbolizes the tomb that Christ was placed in after his death.

The Divine Comedy has much symbolism involving Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension to heaven. In Inferno, Dante descended to hell on Good Friday. The language used in Inferno and Purgatory are completely different. In hell everything is dark, hopeless and without a sky. At the very beginning of Inferno, Dante begins to ascend a hill but loses all hope. Virgil, his guide in hell and purgatory, even asks him, “Why not climb up this blissful mountain here, the beginning and the source of all man’s joy.” We know during that time, Dante was not allowed to ascend the mountain because he needed to be led through hell to fully understand sin. Dante goes through hell and afterward begins his ascent of Mount Purgatory on Easter Sunday. In Purgatory the language changes and there exists hope. The colors that are described such as “the heavens lit with joy” and “the tender tint of orient sapphire” they are a reference to hope. Green grass is in Purgatory and a man is even described as wearing a green robe. Green is the color of hope.

I love the colors of spring. In western NC the trees do not become green all at once, but instead become green slowly climbing up the mountains like Dante ascending the blissful mountain. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Taking a Bath

Chicken Bath
Chickens love to take dust baths. I let my 8 hens free-range on a daily basis, and usually the first thing they do is run to the nearest place of soft dirt and roll around for a few minutes. It is a great way for them to remove parasites and excess oil. The oil chickens produce is a natural water-repellent, which causes rain to bead up and roll off their backs rather than soaking through to their skin.

Recently one of my cousins came for a visit, and his wife’s mother keeps a flock of chickens in an enclosed building with cement floors. My cousin’s wife said that the chickens have room to walk around, but they can’t take dust baths. She said that they roll around on the cement as if they are taking a bath. I found that chicken behavior somewhat disturbing. Giving chickens a place to take a bath is an easy problem to fix. Her mother could put a shallow box filled with dry dirt and the chickens would be happier.

Here is an equation for hen happiness:

Happy Hens (water, food, 10ft2 of individual space, dust baths, no predators, sunshine) = More Eggs

Unhappy Hens (crammed in small cage, cement or wire floor, limited food and water) = Less Eggs

There is a caveat to my equation and that is the model used by factory farms where the chickens are crammed into small cages and drugged to keep their egg laying and growth rate at a “normal” frankenchicken level.  A recent news article said poultry from factory farms are given caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and arsenic. Arsenic is fed to chickens to reduce infections and makes the flesh appear a healthy pink color. Sounds yummy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wasted Stuff

Compost Bin
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” WWII slogan

I recently read a news article which stated 50% of the world’s food goes to waste, and the average American throws away 400lbs of food per year. I find that statistic astonishing, but it is probably true. 

My mother is incapable of wasting food. Over the years she has tried many methods of saving food, from unstaling stale cereal by drying it out in the oven to watering down the milk. She really instilled in me and my siblings the whole concept of not being wasteful with food, toys, clothes, pets, heating or money. Wasting food is indicative of over-consumption and being wasteful in other areas of life. My brother makes his living by buying used stuff from flea markets or yard sales, and then reallocating the objects to ebay or antique malls. He is one of the few people I know who actually enjoys his job. It is an interesting concept that a person doesn’t need to create, grow or invent a new product to make money. My brother simply moves an already used product to another location and sells it for a higher price than what he paid for it. His business should be the ultimate model for people wishing to lead a less wasteful life by reducing, reusing and reallocating.  

There is a group of people called Freegans who do something similar to my brother’s business, but they are more motivated by lofty morals and ethical concerns.

According to their website:

“Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able.”

In other words, they are dumpster divers with a large vocabulary and a college education.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March Food List

Here is my food list for the month of March. I have added meat and dairy to my food possibilities, but I met the woman who raised the rabbit and the lady who raised goats for their milk and meat.

I have two "whatever days" this month when I ate junk just because I felt like it. Well, it wasn't all junk because I did eat a lot of mashed potatoes and a piece of chicken. Also, on the 28th I ate a brownie during a class fieldtrip. I do not view my food challenge as something I have to do or feel morally obligated to do. I like feeling connected to my food and knowing where it comes from. If I don't enjoy doing something, I won't continue doing it.

1st1c applesauce, 1c bush beans, 3 eggscr, 1/4 bread, 1/4 pound cake, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
2nd1c bush beans, 3 eggscr, rabbit (cooked with 1 scallion, thyme, flour, oil) 1/4c rice, 1/4 bread, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
3rd1c applesauce, 1/8c green peppers, 3 wild onions, catnip, rabbit, 1/4c rice, 1/4 bread, 1med tortilla, 1tbs butter, 1 tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
4th1/2c dried apples, 1c applesauce, 3 eggscr, 1/2c rice, 1med tortilla, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
5th2c greasy beans, 3 eggscr, 1/4c rice, 1/4 bread, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee
6th1c dried apples, 3 eggb, 1/2 bread, 1/4 pound cake, 1tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
7th1c greasy beans, 2 eggscr, 2 eggb, 1/3c rice, 1/3 spritz cookies, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
8th3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/3 spritz cookies, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
9th1c greasy beans, 3 eggscr (yolk only), 1/3c rice, 1/3 spritz cookies, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
10th1/2c dried apples, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/4 pound cake, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
11th1c blueberries, 1-1/2c blackberries, 1/2c lettuce mix, 1c bush beans, 1c broccoli, lemon balm, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/4 pound cake, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1tbs honey, 1 pot coffee
12th1/8c green peppers, catnip, 3 eggscr, 1/3c rice, 1/2 bread, 1/4 pound cake, 1tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
13th1lg turnip (boiled and mashed), 1c bush beans, 2eggscr, 1/4 bread, 1-1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
14th – whatever day
15th2 grapefruit cubes, 1/4c lettuce, 4 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1/2pot coffee
16th2c applesauce, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/2 spritz cookies, 1/2tbs butter, 1-1/2tbs sugar, 1-1/2 pot coffee
17th1-1/2c blackberries, 1c blueberries, 1c lettuce, dill, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/2 spritz cookies, 1/4 pound cake,  1/2tbs butter, 1tsp vinegar, 1-1/2tbs sugar, 1tbs honey, 1-1/2 pot coffee
18th2 limecubes, 1/8c green peppers, 1c greasy beans, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, 1/2 w-bread, 1tbs butter, 2tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
19th – whatever day
20th1c greasy beans, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/2tbs butter
21st1 limecube, 3/4c dried apples, 1/4c lettuce, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar
22nd1-1/2c dried apples, 3eggscr, 1/4c rice, 1med tortilla, 1/4 pound cake, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
23rd 2c applesauce, 3 eggscr, 1/4c rice, 1/2  bread, 1tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
24th2 limecubes, 1c peanut beans, 1c broccoli, 1/4c spinach, 1c lettuce, dill, 1tsp garlic, 3 eggb, 1/4 bread, 1/4 pound cake, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar
25th1c peanut beans, 3 eggb, rabbit (cooked with 2 garlic and rosemary), 1/4 w-bread, 1/2 spritz cookies, 2tbs butter, 2tbs sugar, 2 pot coffee
26th1 limecube, 1 grapefruit cube, 1c broccoli, 3 eggscr, rabbit, 2med tortillas, 1/2tbs butter, 2tbs sugar, 1/2 pot coffee
27th1c raspberries, 1-1/2c blackberries, 1sm radish, 3 eggscr, 1med tortilla, 1/4 spritz cookies, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee
28th2 limecubes, 1/8c green peppers, 1 scallion, chickweed, 3 eggscr, 1/3c goat milk, 1/2c rice, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 brownie with nuts
29th2c applesauce, 3 eggscr, 1/4 pound cake, 1/2tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee
30th4 grapefruit cubes, 1c bush beans, 1c broccoli, 3 eggscr, 1tbs goat cheese (gc), 1med tortilla, 1/4 bread, 1tbs butter, 3tbs sugar, 2 pot coffee
31st1/2c blueberry syrup, 1c bush beans, 1c lettuce, 2 eggfrtst, 2 eggb, 1/2c goat, 1tbs goat cheese (gc), 1med tortilla, 1/4 bread, 1/4 butter cookies, 1tsp oil, 1tbs butter, 1tbs sugar, 1 pot coffee