Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Well

After a long, full day of helping supervise the guys who are drilling our new well, dogs are tuckered out.

Some stats:

The well is 185 feet deep.
The diggers tell me they hit top soil, white limestone, gray limestone, slate, and red clay, in that order.
It took about 4 hours to complete the digging.

I would have posted pics of the well, but there's nothing much to see. Just a capped off pipe sticking out if the ground. And the dogs are so much cuter.

The main thing, in my mind, about the new well is that it means we can garden again, on a large scale AND we can be more waterwise. Before, when we were on the community well, it was really hard to attach meters, for reasons I won't get into. So the first thing I'm going to do is investigate water metering systems and devices for measuring moisture in the soil.

Black Bean Chocolate Cake, Part II: A Warning

I've been making this cake for a good while now. I've made it for Widget Man and for company. I've taken it for a pot luck. I served it at a writing workshop once and people who had just met were licking their plates. In front of each other.

You'd think I'd have the recipe pretty much down by now.

You'd think.

But here's what happened. My eighty year old dad has been living with us for a little bit and he needs a fair amount of care. And I've been a fair amount of tired. But I wanted some cake! I mentioned making a cake to Widget Man and he wanted some too. So in a fit of greed and laziness, I used canned beans to make the cake. This was not my first fit of greed or laziness, and not the first time I've used canned beans for this cake either.

But this time, something went very, very wrong. So wrong that Widget Man took one bite of the cake, put his fork down, and looked at me with a very carefully neutral expression on his face. Then I took one bite and gagged. Then he felt free to make really loud gagging noises and bulge his eyes in a dramatic fashion. And I thought that was quite enough, thank you very much. No need to be rude.

The cake tasted, not to put too fine a point on it, like a big plate of crazy. I mean, not just bad, but crazy. Crazy because it was a moist, rich, chocolate cake, with icing and pecans, infused with the most intense flavor of bacon. Wait, not bacon: overwhelmingly powerful, fake bacon flavoring.

So I blame the canned beans, although the only thing on the label that looked suspicious was the word "spices." And let me reiterate that I've used canned beans before and the cake came out fine. Delicious, even.

And just in you want to use canned beans in your cake, I should tell you I've used Progresso brand beans with complete success in the past. I hate to name names but I will, for the sake of those who might want to avoid the shrieks of grief that accompany throwing an entire chocolate cake in the compost bin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Window Farms

Most of my adult life has been spent gardening in very small spaces -- a tiny urban yard, a deck, a porch, a windowsill or two. Only recently have I had the luxury of gardening on several acres. And I still feel a great fondness for tiny gardens. They're smart; they're what most people can manage; they make peak oil sense; they can be really stinking cute.

So when I came across Window Farms I spent hours browsing through the site. Window Farms is a non-profit based in New York City helping folks grow food in really innovative ways. Do check it out.

By the way, my own little low tech window farm is shown here: some tomato starts.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Brothers and Sisters in Haiti

Here is a list of NGO's responding to the crisis in Haiti. A really good place to start if you're wondering where to send money.