Archive for the ‘Observation (surface & evaluate)’ Category

Jan 2016 Resolution thoughts

January 6, 2016

Using the analytic categories from last year about reducing my carbon footprint, here are things I’ve explored and directions for 2016.

Substitution. In December 2014 we bought a 2010 Prius to replace Krista’s 1994 Subaru Legacy. The change in mpg was from mid-20s to high-30s (most of her driving is in Moscow, it does better on longer runs on the highway using cruise control so it can do more of the thinking).

Our milage data shows her car drove about 7300 miles in each 2014 and 2015, the latter with a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency.

Replacement. On the other hand, my work has me driving around Moscow. I find that I need to get between places faster, or take things larger, than bicycling facilitates. That is, I can’t achieve the driving reduction behavior I want, so I’m thinking about replacing my ’89 Toyota wagon with a used Nissan Leaf and moving to a carbon free automobile. I drive almost exclusively in Moscow and occasionally to Pullman and rarely to Lewiston. It seems the Leaf will meet my needs.

 Year 2012 2013 2014 2015
Krista’s car (red) 7927 6313 7370
My car (white) 5241 2336 4472 4107
My pickup (blue) 1059 2078 1576  966
Krista’s Prius (silver) 7318
totals  14227  10727  13418 12391

In 2014 I gave away our 15 year old riding lawnmower/snowblower. For two years now I’ve contemplated replacing the remaining gas lawn mower (self-propelled walk behind) with a reel mower and/or an electric (corded or cordless) mower. I think a purchase needs to happen in 2016, even if I keep the gas mower as backup.  Key issue is storage, I need a way to put either of those devices away out of the weather.

More Substitution. Karina and I used a Kill-A-Watt to measure the energy used by our refrigerator (part of a campaign to get a new fridge). Over a 3-day period (73.75 hrs) it used 9.06 KWH for an annual rate of 1076 KWH/yr. Karina has found replacement refrigerators with Energy Star ratings and energy usage ratings as low as 466KWH/yr and multiple options below 650KWH/yr. Now, realizing that the rating is like an EPA milage number (your milage may vary), it’s still hard to imagine we can’t get a better performing fridge.

We pulled out the fridge, it was made in Aug 1998 (17+ years ago). Googling how long a fridge lasts we found 3 sources: 80% last between 9-15 years; 10-15 years; and average 13 years.

SO, owning a refrigerator for its lifetime has 2 energy costs: operational cost and construction cost. One is paid daily, one is paid every 10-15 years.

As an aside, I wondered if there were a fridge that would pay for itself in energy savings (compared to keeping our current fridge (if it would last another 15 years)). I looked up the Avista power rate and multiplied by the KWH savings/year of our current vs potential new fridge = $45/year.

Karina was reluctant to search for a refrigerator that was 18+ cubic feet, 450KWH/year and priced under $700, but she found one (I think). Her reluctance stems from a desire to buy the features in the more expensive fridges she has found– which maybe should be a new category for this analysis: Too much vs Enough.

However, the analysis raised another question. When talking about payback period, are we talking the best sale price we can find, or the suggested retail price? That is, what does price measure: cost of inputs or other intangibles in the merchandising process?

Generation. I regularly observe that the solar air heater is in operation in the Cookhouse. I have resolved to get its water heater running. I intend that project to be the pilot one, with the home water heating to follow. The Barn is partly ready for solar hot water and solar air heating conversions, but it will be the third project to tackle. The house uses gas for hot water, the Barn uses gas for both water and space heating, so I have several opportunities to reduce direct carbon use through generation.

More data on solar air heater

December 12, 2013

The recent cold snap let me collect some interesting new data. Previously I had reported on temperatures in the building with the solar heat on and off, but that didn’t tell how much energy was being captured by the collector. At the end of that post I speculated on a way to approximate measuring the energy.

Each day during the cold snap I read the power meter at 10:30pm. The Weather Depot website gave me the Heating Degree Days for each day. (Heating Degree Day is the indoor temperature minus average outdoor temperature; a measure of how much heating is needed. Colder days have more HDDs.)

This gave me a table, and I could calculate a ratio HDD/KWH which should be a constant

HDD (55F indoor) KWH/day Ratio
52 62.44 0.839
42 51.32 0.824
33 39.75 0.825

The ratio lets me predict, knowing the HDDs, how much energy the building would use.

I turned the solar on Wed, and collected data. It was a fairly clear day, high haze but strong shadows. If the solar is effective it should save me energy, ie, reduce the KWH that would be expected to be used for a given number of HDD

It Worked!  The Solar heater came on for 4-5 hours. While I never saw the temperature inside rise above the 55F thermostat setting, I used 6 KWH fewer than the HDD on Wednesday would predict.

6 KWH is 22% savings – about 1/4 of the energy, which roughly agrees with the collector operating for 1/4 of the day. The building has no thermal storage, its like a greenhouse that warms up in the sun and cools again when the sun sets.

The water heater portion of the system is the way I will store energy. I hope to do a final system leak test on that system this Saturday.

First data from solar air heater

November 30, 2013

I have been making (slow) steady progress on the “Cookhouse” project. The utilities got installed over the summer by some great contractors: Nolan Heating, Jeff’s Electric, Don’s Plumbing, Jamin at Energylock for the spray foam insulation and Tom at Avista for the new transformer. I spent Sept-Nov working outside on the siding which caused me to need to get the solar air and water heaters finished up enough to put the glazing on.

collectors on the south wall. Air heater is the set of tubes at the top, water heater is below

collectors on the south wall. Air heater is the set of tubes at the top (above the scaffold deck), water heater is below (click to enlarge)

I built two things into one collector. The lower 12 feet is hot water (pre-)heating. But having watched the sun angles I realized that there were 5 feet above that which get winter but not summer sun. I made an air heater in that area. I suspect the air heating gets some heat rising from the water heater — I didn’t seal them off from one another.

The hot water system is inspired by this design and will be the subject of another post.

For the air heating, I did a variation on the “solar can heater”  I used pre-made ducts rather than messing with a bunch of cans. I have a fan that draws air from the upstairs ceiling, thru the collector, and blows near the floor downstairs (opposite flow from the illustration).

To control the hot air system, I installed two conventional thermostats. One is typical house heating thermostat (on when cold) and the other is an attic fan controller (on when hot). The combination (hot in the collector, cold in the house) turns the fan on.

When the electric and heating was turned on I hooked up the solar air heater. In late October I measured 172F in the collector, 60F air going in upstairs and 122F air coming out downstairs.

indoor and outdoor temps for experimental and control days

indoor and outdoor temps for experimental and control days (click to enlarge)

Last week I was able to do some more systematic data collection on two sunny days with similar outdoor conditions. Nov 21 was the experimental day, Nov 22 the control. What I found was that the heater can warm the downstairs by 10+ degrees F over the warming I get without the heater (just the sun in the windows and warming the south wall).

I need to get some better instrumentation to take more data, but that will have to wait for another post.


Footnote. I have been mulling over how to get a better measure than these temperature data, what I want is units of energy. Since the only energy use in the building now is heating, I can read the meter for KWH in a 24 hour period. I just found this site where you can get heating degree days (1 degree-day = 1 degree difference in temperature for 24 hours). Even better, you can control the indoor reference temperature.

SO, if I turn the solar off and pick a cloudy day, I have a measure of KWH/day and a measure of delta-T/day which will let me estimate the building overall R-value/day. I think I can use that estimate of R-value along with the KWH & degree-day for a sunny day to estimate the energy gathered by the solar system.

UPDATE 12/29

I made 2 of these manifolds to fit 9 3" duct. Duct material is 5 foot. Backing is 1.5" of TuffR rigid insulation painted black. Once installed the pipes were sealed in with spray foam.

I made 2 of these manifolds to fit 9 3″ duct. Duct material is 5 foot. Backing is 1.5″ of TuffR rigid insulation painted black. Once installed the pipes were sealed in with spray foam.


Inside view upstairs. Hole at top is air going out to collector. Light comes in because collector not installed. 4" duct below goes downstairs where fan draws air down.

Inside view upstairs. Hole at top is air going out to collector. Light comes in because collector not installed. 4″ duct below goes downstairs where fan draws air down.

This is a conventional attic fan thermostat (on when hot) set at 90F. This (plus indoor temp) decide when fan comes on to draw air thru heater.

This is a conventional attic fan thermostat (on when hot) set at 90F. This (plus indoor temp) decide when fan comes on to draw air thru heater.

Recycle Less

February 7, 2012

Latah Recycling does not actually recycle glass, they take our offerings to the landfill, crush them with a dozer, and use them as fill over the demolition wastes. This has the dual cost-savings for them of keeping the glass out of the waste stream they truck to Oregon and reducing their need for gravel. This practice may keep people in the habit of recycling glass so Latah Recycling could return to selling it if market conditions improve.

BUT, this dumping has been their practice for a decade and it is leading me to rethink recycling glass.

Last spring, I decided to stop drinking Diet Pepsi. It was a cost saving move. Then I noticed that my choice reduced my recycling stream. From the perspective of my carbon footprint, reduced Pepsi and reduced recycling represent only a small improvement. More interesting, the observation got me exploring the landscape of “refuse” in the hierarchy “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle.” Now I’m noticing that my glass waste stream contains a number of beer bottles. Hmm….

New Year’s Resolution: Reducing my carbon footprint

January 3, 2012

Making my Resolution was pretty easy, figuring out how to implement and assess it, not so much.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading over the holidays, Bernstein’s Aquaponic Gardening, Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses and some of the blogsphere including Roberts’ Brutal Logic posts here  and here as well as some discussion about the “marketing” of climate change with scare tactics like Roberts vs. a gentler approach to reach the electorate, see two sides here and here.  I’ve also glanced into some alternate perspectives including Worstall at Forbes arguing that delay in addressing climate change can save money (I think his logic is faulty). Also supporting the go-slow path a friend recently wrote me “But considering that 50% of American’s make less then $26,000 a year [what with] buying food and paying rent…well there isn’t money for those high end [climate saving] purchases. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.”

I’ve got my monthly utility bills from Avista for gas and electricity in 2010 and 2011 which gives me some baseline. Avista’s electricity comes from a mix of fuels, including coal, gas and nuclear. They give information that should let me adjust my KWH to the fraction that is carbon-based. I don’t have records of gallons of gasoline purchased. My house is heated with wood, which raises some different issues about pollution and I have no handle on the amount of wood I use or its carbon content. And then there is the issue of adjusting my use of heating energy to account for the weather in the 2011 and 2012 heating seasons. Avista gives degree days in its bills but with a wood stove, there are days when you just don’t heat because you are not around to stoke the stove.

So, I am going to make my Resolution more specific:

Regarding gasoline – I will track how many miles I drive and how much gas I use and return to this challenge in 2013.  I put log books in each vehicle to begin tracking miles and gallons purchased. I can use these logs to also record gas purchases for lawnmower, chain saw and the like.

I previously challenged myself to buy only one tank of gas a month, but that challenge is complicated by having multiple vehicles and by using the in-laws’ vehicles at times. To give me something I can assess for 2012, I will aim to buy no more that 150 gallons of gas for the white car and blue truck I drive and for my various gas powered tools. Bicycling around Moscow has shaved my waistline, this is a path to continue.

Regarding electricity and natural gas – Last January I was thinking about these issues in terms of “buy local” and how to shift my purchases from Avista to spending locally. I have experimented enough with a clothesline in the greenhouse that I can see some reduction in electricity use. I need to build on this effort to reduce our footprint with Avista.

Sharon Cousins has advocated solar ovens enough to get me to try one and to build one, but I’ve not lived with them enough to make any claims that I am substituting solar energy for Avista energy. This is a path to continue. I’ve played with a mud oven and retained heat cooking, again not enough to make any claims about substituting wood as my baking fuel. Recently I found a hybrid idea, retained heat solar oven. Something to explore designing into the shared use commercial kitchen I am building.

In the Peterson Barn Guesthouse, my next steps are probably to use solar to supplement space heating and in our house, I’m working on pre-heating our hot water with solar. Both projects are low budget, a fan and ducting to blow excess warm air from the greenhouse and a homebrew rooftop solar collector.







Blog as ePortfolio

July 29, 2009

I’ve been thinking about blogs as ePortfolios for quite awhile, in a WSU blog system (now defunct) and here, here and here on the Educause blog site in posts going back as far as Feb 15, 2005.

In the earliest of those I reported on Washington State University blogging experiment:

We (CTLT) began hosting a university blogging tool last August. Because we had an [OSPI] ePortfolio initiative underway at the same time, I tried to keep our smaller blogging project out of the ePortfolio space, but I came to understand that was not possible. A blog is, at minimum, a presentation of a repository of journal entries. But since those entries can be selectively reflect on other posts, the blog can occupy the entire eportfolio space.

Yesterday I was reminded of how nice it is to have a blog of the work I’m doing at WSU. We were giving a webinar on our Harvesting Gradebook ideas and I could answer questions in the chat by pasting URLs of past blog posts.

In a conversation with colleagues after the webinar we were recognizing that the blog is our ePortfolio and when combined with the Harvesting ideas we are exploring, it may well be a totally adequate and perfectly simple solution to the ePortfolio problem.

My, how it takes time to fully recognize the obvious.

[Addendum Sept 28, 2009]
I just wrote some feedback to a writer working on a story about ePortfolios. It got me thinking that for me my several blogs are a portfolio, (several blogs concurrently and several blogs over time), but I’m not advocating blogs as everyone’s portfolio. What is valuable for me is the ability to find many of my pieces of work (which may actually be stored in other places) and to be able to quickly direct a person to my latest thinking. When my thinking updates, or I get asked a question for which there is not already a blog posted answer, then its time to write a new post. None of this is to say that, from a practical standpoint, my comments in the link above about Google being my portfolio are invalid. Google is the de facto tool that would be used by someone looking for me, so its representation of me is my (most public) portfolio. Managing that (and to the extent possible, being in control of key resources so that I can manage it) are my ongoing challenge.

Another baking experiment, smoked roasts

April 20, 2008

The weather is really chilly for late April, about 40F at mid-day when it should be in the mid-50’s. The oven has been staying pretty dry in its tarping since the last adventure. I decided to make white sour dough and roast a chicken with rice. I had a hankering for brown/wild rice, and the COOP has a nice blend.

I was raising the bread in the kitchen where it was cool because I got ahead of myself and put the yeast in at 9AM. By 1PM it was ready for the first punch down.

Here is the timeline:

  • 1:40 ignition, on top of a “V” of 4 bricks to funnel the air and to keep the floor of the oven cooler.
  • 2PM clear smoke, added fuel, roaring chimney; Whole chicken into Lil Chief smoker.
  • 3PM more fuel, it had burned down to coals
  • 3:30 more small fuel for hot finish; oven is warm on top; bread shaped to rise
  • 4PM Fire pulled out to Weber grill, a couple cherry pieces pushed to the side and bricks in place to shield it. Extra brick covering chimney hole. Sealed door and chimney to soak; Pork sirloin roast into Weber, not very hot. The experiment I tried was putting some green cherry pruning’s into the bottom of the Weber before dumping in the coals. Resulting smoke was not very appealing.
  • 4:15 Oven steaming/smoking. Underside of floor warm, not smoking, but there is char visible between the 2×6 floorboards.
  • 4:25 650F, bread in (I was worried it would burn on the bottom) Chicken had been in smoker most of this time, without marinate. Its skin is warm and smoky. I placed chicken on top of onion rings and put pre-cooked rice on the sides. Chicken’s dish is covered.
  • 4:50 Bread looks beautiful, but not done.
  • 5:10 Bread out, oven 425F; pork, carrots and potatoes in covered dish go in.
  • 6PM Chicken out, its great
  • 7:15 Roast out, temp 300F

Since I am not yet coming up with uses for the 300F oven after cooking the second meal, I’m starting to think about enclosing the oven in a room to capture the heat like from a masonry stove.

Authentic problems weave together many strands

March 14, 2008

At work we have been working on some case studies of learning portfolios and among our observations are that the authors are using the portfolio (or some might say Personal Learning Environment (PLE)) as a means to work on a problem facing themselves (and some community) and they are weaving together multiple modes of thinking, such as art, politics and science.

I’ve been writing about my explorations of a mud oven I built and have found the fringe edge of a community exploring cob building, mud ovens, baking and the arts therein. The quotes below struck me as a demonstration of the weaving of multiple strands while working on a problem.

A home of this community is Kiko Denzer and Hand Print Press.

Here is Kiko’s statement from the Introduction to Dig Your Hands in the Dirt:

“Art is…”

Art is many things, but here what I mean by “art” is that kind of experience by which humans learn.

Working with mud, sand, and straw is a way to teach geology, engineering, physics, history, drawing, composition, and design. It is also a way to teach social skills, like cooperation. But more important than just what it teaches is how it teaches…

The artifact below will be dated when you read this, but look at the weaving of art, craft, food, science (emphasis mine).

Circa March 11, 2008, by email:

What follows is a schedule of hands-on workshops on how to make wood-fired ovens out of earth, good sourdough bread, and natural plasters to sculpturally enhance any building; also a list of slide presentations on earthen and natural building. These are offered by Kiko Denzer, and others, as noted. Feel free to share/forward the info; or let me know if you’d like to be removed from this list. (We also have a possible APPRENTICESHIP opportunity for the right person(s). More about this at the end of the email.)

Below are dates, locations, and information specific to each workshop. Registration info and a general description of the workshops are at the end.


April 12-13
Ovens & Bread
Philomath, Oregon, Gathering Together Farms
Gathering Together Farm is a local, community-sponsored farm. We’ll be building an oven for their public restaurant and event operation. Limited number of openings available. $175, includes lunch.

MAY 26-27 OR May 31-June 1
Ovens & Bread
NE Portland, Oregon
A residential oven in a neighborhood setting. Probably bi-lingual, English/Spanish! Limited openings. $175, includes lunch.
(This is also a good time to make mud in Portland, during the annual Village Building Convergence, featuring speakers, events, and natural building projects around the city. See for more.)

June 9-13
Earth & art for your home: design, sculpture, & decoration with natural materials
Coquille, Oregon, at the North American School of Natural Building, with Linda Smiley and others
Natural plasters, paints, and finishes to design, sculpt, and help finish an existing cob cottage. We’ll start with a review of the principles of design, site analysis, 3-dimensional space and spatial dynamics, and practical beauty. Then we’ll get muddy; work will be interspersed with discussion and demos covering technical, design, and materials issues, including a full range of earthen and lime plasters, clay paints, and sculptural mixes. Explore and experiment to gain practical experience to apply to your own design problems. The site features a broad array of earthen and natural buildings and related techniques. Contact the school at 541-396-1825, or see fee and registration details online at

July 10-20, or 26-27
Ovens & Bread
Pringle Creek Community, Salem, Oregon
Registration is limited

August 23-24
Ovens & Bread
near Burnt Woods, Oregon, at the site of the future Oregon Folk School

Sunday, March 16
Building community out of the mud, at the Community Built Association CONFERENCE,
Asilomar center, Monterrey, CA
A conference of public artists, park designers, and community builders. Founded in 1989, the Community Built Association is a not-for-profit association of professionals who work with local communities and volunteers to design, organize, create, and reshape their own physical environments through the creation of parks, playgrounds, murals, or sculpture. Or contact Leon Smith:

May 30th, noon
Mud 101: Earthen building and other arts
A slide presentation at Portland’s Green Home Show
Portland Expo Center, Portland (

June 1-8
Oven demos & presentations
Ashland, Oregon:
Demos and presentations will accompany a special workshop for students and members of the Willow Wind alternative school community. For more info, contact or call 541-438-4300, after April 31.

How Workshops work:
If you can make mud pies, you can build with earth. Good material is often underfoot. Practical, beautiful, dirt cheap, and faster than you think, mud is also sculptural, colorful, and rich, whether you make ovens, benches, garden walls, or houses. And you can do it with your kids! “Mud ovens” were the original masonry ovens (brick is, after all, fired clay). The ovens we make bake beautiful bread (and anything else), and perform as well as the fancy $4,000 Italian ones. You can build a simple one in a day, learn about cob and natural building – and make the best pizza and breads.

Workshops cover everything you need to know to make an oven and bake anything in it, as well as Hannah’s simple approach to naturally leavened, “artisan” breads. Kiko & Hannah have taught at Bob’s Red Mill, Andrew Whitley’s Village Bakery (UK), the King Arthur Flour Company, and at the Bread Baker’s Guild of America’s “Camp Bread” in San Francisco. Kiko is an artist/ builder and author of Build Your Own Earth Oven (bread chapter by Hannah), & Dig Your Hands in the Dirt: A Manual for Making Art out of Earth (Hand Print Press). Hannah baked professionally for organic bakeries in the UK, and is also an organic gardener and massage therapist. We don’t have a conventional oven — every other week, we bake 25 pounds of whole-grain sourdough in a mud oven. It’s a staple food. Our philosophy for workshops is that we all participate, we all learn, and we all teach. Groups are generally interesting, diverse, and fun. We also believe that the cooking (and growing) of food is essential to true culture. Our hope is that , by working, cooking, learning, and eating together, we maintain the living fabric of a peaceful community and culture.

FORMAT: Both days combine oven-making with bread-baking, adjusted to suit participants. By the second day, we’ll have a “temporary oven” to bake in, and a more permanent oven to finish. We start working at 9 am, and are done by 5 pm.

ACCOMODATIONS are not provided, tho some hosts may have space and and facilities for camping.

FEES: $175 per person for two days of hands-on learning, lunches, and snacks. For those with limited, low, or fixed incomes, we can and do reduce fees; please inquire.

TO REGISTER for the “earth and art in your home” course in Coquille, call 541-396-1825, or goto

TO REGISTER for all other courses: Send a check or postal money order for 50% of the course fee, payable to Kiko Denzer, at POB 576, Blodgett OR 97326. Note your first and second choices for workshop dates. Registration fees are non-refundable unless we can fill your space immediately. 20% discount for full pre-payment by 3 weeks before your chosen workshop. When we get your payment, we’ll send confirmation and other info.

MORE INFO/QUESTIONS: Please call 541-438-4300, or email

BOOKS: The new oven book features a super-insulated design, Hannah’s bread chapter, a chapter on mobile, community, & “rocket” ovens; plus lots of new photos & drawings and completely revised & updated text. Price is $17.95, shipping is free (check or money order to Hand Print Press, POB 576, Blodgett OR 97326. Look inside it (and other titles) at

OTHER COURSES (Please note: separate instruction/contact/registration info):
SEE,, &/or do a websearch for your local area (“natural building,” “earth” or “cob” or “clay ovens” etc.). In CA, look up Emerald Earth, the Permaculture Institute of N’n CA (PINC), and many others.

APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITY: This is a home-and-community based invitation to share in and learn from the life of a family that is trying to live, learn, grow, and eat as close as possible to their (rural) home, inspired by a vision of “every man (& woman) ‘neath their vine and fig tree, living in peace and unafraid” — and in community with their (urban and) rural neighbors. Projects include gardening, infrastructure (greywater, etc.), plastering, repair/maintenance of cob buildings, rural community events (including a local folk school start-up), ovens, art & sculpture projects, bread & other food prep, watching out for noisy boys (2 & 5 yrs), playing in the creek, a small publishing business, etc. Asking 4 days/wk of help, cash contribution for room and board, plus (reduced) workshop fees. If you’re interested, write and tell us about yourself and your interests.

Baking at 20F

December 9, 2007

I’ve been waiting for a chance to continue with the ideas from the last post. I decided to make potato herb bread today, despite the weather. Its been cold and dry for most of a week and was about 20F when I got out to the oven at 10:30am. Pealing the plastic covering off gave a surprise — a layer of ice condensed between plastic and oven.
Mud Oven 1

  • 11 AM fire lit
  • 1 PM still frosty outside, installed R-19 cover over much of the oven
  • 2 PM pulled out most of the fire, pushed some coals to the back and placed a brick in front to shield. Should have put the brink in the oven an hour earlier to warm
  • while to oven soaked, I tossed an unstuffed chicken into the Weber, as planned. This time, the coals were not smokey — they were really just coals, so I dumped on a handful of alder smoking “chips” more like really coarse sawdust — huge cloud of smoke almost immediately. I placed chicken on aluminum foil to protect if from the heat.
  • The chicken got stuffed with wild rice brown rice, plus onion, and herbs
  • 2:30 PM the oven was 300F when the food got in, including 3 sweet potatoes. It started to snow
  • 3:55 PM going to pull in the food, it smelled nicely smoky when I peaked at 3:40

Mud Oven 2
Reflection-in-action: the small baking dish I used for the chicken was too shallow and the fat from the chicken was overflowing when I tried to slide it out.

Reflection, the oven cools off too fast in this environment, I either need to learn from Kiko Denzer’s new book about super insulating the oven (Kiko’s new book promises this) or get it into an indoor setting. One thought is to build a new one in my greenhouse.

Reflections on lifestyle integration

December 2, 2007

I’ve been thinking about integrated living for awhile. (most especially on this project where I was trying to understand design choices in a Norwegian Stabur, and more recently trying to learn to use my oven) and yesterday I made the best I’ve ever had. I thought I’d share the recipe because it connects to integrated living. As you read this, play John McCutcheon song, “Water from another time” that talks about someone before to you saving a bit of water so that you’d have it to prime the pump (and you should do the same).

Soup from another time

Have your mother-in-law cook turkey for Thanksgiving, take the gravy with giblets and some of the white meat.
Go to the cabin and make Turkey noodle soup with some of the gravy, meat and assorted veggies; save the leftovers.
Roast some beef, but find its tough. Cube and make beef veggie soup; save the left overs.
Make ravioli with commercial spaghetti sauce doctored with lots of sautéed garlic; dump the leftovers back into sauce jar.
Make Bubble and Squeak, grate too much cheddar cheese, save the extra cheese. (Alas, we do this recipe from scratch, rather than from left overs.)
Make chicken korma over white rice; save a leftover serving of rice and topping.

In large pot combine all ingredients above (except cheese) with enough water. Simmer slowly until hot. Stir in cheese. Eat with bread; save the leftovers.

Today I have been making potato bread in and around my other Sunday chores. I cut corners and used instant mashed potatoes; should have boiled extra spuds for the Bubble and Squeak and saved a cup. With the bread I’ll bake the last of our pumpkins to make pie later in the week. BTW, turns out its much easier to clean a pumpkin that has frozen solid and then been allowed to thaw enough to be cut but with lots of ice crystals still inside. The guts are just not gooey (work fast, they thaw quickly).

This reflection is intended to help me remember the satisfaction of these experiences and to encourage me to move forward towards tighter integrations (for example the pumpkin seeds just went into the toaster oven, when they could well have been toasted in the residual heat of the mud oven if I were using it for the bread and pumpkin. (I’m not using it because its outdoors and we are having 20 mph (gust to 40) winds and the air temp is 32F., need to have a baking shed heated by the oven. (maybe partly baking shed, partly sauna?))