Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quick and Easy Crisp

This is my go-to dessert for parties - a fruit crisp (which is a variation on a fruit cobbler) can be prepared without gluten, sugar, or dairy. It is super flexible, really easy to make, and yummy year round. (Though I prefer to eat hot desserts in wintertime, this is really good with summer fruits that are overly ripe). You can use fresh, frozen, or canned fruit.

Today this fruit crisp took me exactly 5 minutes to throw together, and 40 minutes in the oven. Measurements are approximate - I'm bad like that. Use enough fruit to fill your pan (I used a 9" square glass pan) about 2/3 of the way full. Make enough topping to cover the fruit.

Preheat oven to 350F. No need to grease the pan unless you want to.

2 cups frozen rhubarb
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup applesauce
4 TB water


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature (can substitute as needed with non-dairy shortening of choice: margarine, coconut oil, etc.)
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
1 cup brown sugar (can use another granular sweetener like stevia if preferrred)
2 TB flour (optional)
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Dump fruit in pan. Spoon applesauce over the top. Sprinkle with water. You can also sprinkle with sweetener if you would like.

Put ingredients for topping in a bowl and using your hands or a pastry blender, crumble it up, distributing the shortening evenly throughout the oats and sugar.

Spread topping over fruit and bake for 1 hour (or if using canned fruit, until top is brown and insides are bubbling :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Green, Step One: The Laundry. I'm green because I'm nauseous.

So I am just back from the farm and feed store, where I picked up a huge galvinized metal washtub, and an actual WASHBOARD! Who knew? Using this washing machine is all about the Man keeping me dependent on his foreign oil, and wasting our precious resources. I eschew this lifestyle, and I am going to be a better person for handwashing my family of five's laundry - including cloth diapers!


You know I'm kidding, right? I think we all know I do not have enough motivation to even load the washing machine on a daily basis - never mind hand wash all of our clothes. If you do, that is awesome. Huzzah. I wave a white flag in your honor.

Me, I'm sticking with my energy star rated front loader.

But there are things I can do that are going to make me feel better about the massive amounts of laundry, and try to get a handle on our skyrocketing electric bill.

1. Timers and passive use of electricity
When you leave anything plugged in, it slowly takes small amounts of energy from the outlet. Not as much as it needs to function, just a slow leak of kilowatt hours. So we have taken a few steps to plug the holes. We have our dryer attached to a switch, and we only turn it on when we are actually using the dryer. And we have a small electric hot water heater for rainy days, that is on a timer - we can turn it on, let the water heat up, and know that it will turn itself off automatically in an hour or two.

2. Solar Hot Water
We have solar hot water. We are lucky enough to have our own roof, and live in an area with an abundance of sunlight, so having solar hot water is the very least we could do. I have my eye on a full rooftop solar power system, or perhaps a wind turbine - but not right now.

3. Biodegradable detergent, baking soda, Borax, and white vinegar. I use all of these every time I wash clothes, and I also use them for cleaning the bathroom. They are cheaper, and can I just tell you that Baking Soda kicks mildew's ass in my shower?

What more can I do? THE BIG SWITCH:
I am so late to this game that it is almost embarrassing - many of my friends already do this and I need to get on the bandwagon. My front loader has a very aggressive spin cycle, and really spinning the laundry before drying cuts down on drying time significantly, so from now on I will be doing a load of laundry every weekday morning, and hanging that laundry to dry on our covered porch (big items) or on a drying rack inside (small and/or delicate items). The dryer will only be used in case of last-minute needs, for softening crispy air-dried jeans, on rainy days, during a major vomit-fest, or if someone else offers to do the laundry. Because if someone else offers to do the laundry I want to make it as easy and agreeable as possible, so they offer to do it again.

This is my solemn vow (cue angels singing and light shining down from heaven).

'Tis a gift to be simple

Mommy's got a whole new year in front of her.

She needs a project.

I have always been inspired by families who live "off the grid", or recycle everything save for a small ziplock bag of trash for an entire year, or grow almost all of their own food, or build amazing houses using salvaged building materials, or wood from their own land.

I'm not going to do any of those things. I'm just saying I find them fascinating. And inspiring. Which almost rises above the shock and awe factor and the good old fashioned guilt I have for being such a wasteful, lazy American.

So how do I combat the guilt and the waste? What can I do that will help me feel more comfortable with our choices, and not as freaked out by the electric bill? Baby Steps. I'm not moving into a yurt and farming and raising chickens and setting up a kick-ass apiary. Not yet, anyway. I need to find small, simple ways that I can make a difference. Reduce waste, expenses, and dependence on services and machines.

So stay tuned. Don't be scared - this is going to be easy, and I won't make you feel like crap for eating Twinkies and using the dryer to make your jeans soft and warm before putting them on. I am going to figure out how we can make a difference, without making ourselves miserable.

Suggestions welcome.