Split Pea Soup With Spring Garden Vegetables Recipe

Leeks on cutting board Soup

I like to make this hardy soup for lunch after working outside during these cold, early, spring, days.  Only the hardiest plants like kale and leeks have survived in the garden over the winter and they taste strong and sweet.
250 ml (1 cup) split peas
750 ml (3 cups) water
30 ml (2 tbp) grd turmeric
300 ml (1 -1 /4 cup) chopped leeks
50 ml (1/4 cup) oil
15 ml (1 tbp) grd cumin
15 ml (1 tbl) grd coriander
15 ml (1 tbl)  grd allspice
4 clove spikes
500 ml (2 cups) chopped kale
salt to taste
Combine split peas, water & turmeric in a pot. Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down. Simmer for 20 minutes.  Set aside.  In a skillet heat  oil until rippling.  Add  leeks and fry for 5 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, allspice and cloves and cook for 1 more minute.  Pour  leeks and spiced oil into the soup pot.  Add water if necessary.  Add the kale and cook 5 more minutes.  If you have any leftovers so much the better!  The longer this soup sits the more infused with flavor it becomes.

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Root Vegetable, Cheddar Cheese, and Kale Soup Recipe

Kale under snow 1

A kale plant bursting with ediable greens in early March

Curly Kale Under snow

Curly Kale is a rought, tough and tasty survivor of the winter

I started off to make this soup without the kale but on way to dig the leeks out of the garden I couldn’t resist the green temptation of my over-wintered kale.  It is soooo sweet and so full of life force that I had to have some.  Both the leeks and the kale have over-wintered in my garden under six inches of hay and two feet of snow.  Now, as my root cellar empties out in late winter these hardy garden biennials feed us.  I also have a big crop of claytonia (miner’s lettuce, winter lettuce) in my cold frames to keep me in greens through the early spring.

Leek Under snow and hay

Signs of leek life after a snowy winter

Cheddar Cheese and Root Vegetable Bowl

A hearty bowl of late winter goodness

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
300 ml (1 1 /4 cup) chopped leeks
175 ml (3/4 cup) chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) chopped carrots
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) chopped turnips
300 ml (1 1/4 cup)  chopped potatoes
10 ml (2 tsp) dried thyme
10 ml (2 tsp) dried sage
325 ml (1 1/3 cups) vegetable stock
325 ml (1 1/3 cups) milk
325 ml (1 1/3 cups) cheddar cheese
In a large pot or a wok, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add root vegetables and herbs.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add the stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  With a slotted spoon remove 75 ml (1/3) cup of the vegetables and mash with a fork.  Return to pot.  Add Kale.  Add Milk.  Heat but do not boil.  Stir in cheese until melted. (serves 4)

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Scavenging Is Part Of Sustainable Living Or Wood Chip Gold By The Side Of The Road


One of the interesting things about living an alternative life is that you come to value things that society in general considers worthless. The other day, as we were coming home we saw many piles of wood chips that a road crew had left on the side of our road only 1/2 kilometer from our homestead.   A lot of trees have fallen in the past three months because of the extreme weather that we’ve had over the winter.  Apparently the County sent out a crew not to just cut the logs but to chip them!  It is a sign of our times when those in charge of these things decide to blast this precious resource with an expensive, wasteful  gas powered, machine in order to deal with it.  They left the chips at the side of the road on top of the snow filling the drainage ditches.  When the snow melts those chips would be carried down the hill in the rush of water from the spring thaw and clog the stream.   Why not instead, of cut the logs into smaller logs for people to pick up as firewood or to compost?  This is a waste of public money when everyday we are confronted with cuts in the education and health care system. But we know a valuable natural resource when we see it.  We will use these chips in many ways; as covering material for our 5 gallon toilet bucket, in the garden’s walkways to prevent the weed from growing and as bedding material on the floor of the chicken coop.

It took us 15 trips with our small car and trailer, to pick up and carry all these chips home! I called our local Home Hardware store, to check out how much wood shaving/wood chip cost at their store .  A 10 liter bundle cost $4.69.    In other words, we gathered, in about 8 hours, around 300 bundles of wood chips, for a value of $1,200.00.  Of course, if we had bought a truckload of the same amount of woodchips, it would have cost less than buying small bundles.  We would probably have paid between $300 and $500.  We would have had to work 20 hours  at $15.00/hr. in order to buy these chips, that is if we find the work and doing what? Spending all day inside in front of a computer? Or, we can say that we made between $15 to $60 per hour, considering that we were two people.  Not bad for a day’s worth of work, outdoors, under no pressure but our own.

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Root Cellar Gingerbread Recipe

This bread gets better as it ages and the spices flavors infuse into the bread

Grated Root Vegetables Ginger Bread Closeup
125 ml (½ cup) butter 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
125 ml (½ cup) sugar 1 ml (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
2 eggs 1 ml (1/4 tsp) allspice
75 ml (1/3 cup) molasses 1 ml (1/4 tsp) cloves
75 ml (½ cup) milk 240 ml (1 cup) grated beets
15 ml (1 tbsp) vinegar 150 ml (2/3 cup) grated carrots
500 ml (2 cups) whole wheat flour 150 ml (2/3 cup)grated turnips or parsnips
15 ml (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon 75 ml (1/3 cup) minced candied ginger

Preheat oven to 180 C (350F).  In a cup combine the milk and vinegar and set aside.  Grate the root vegetables.  Mince the candied ginger  In a large bowl blend the butter or oil with the sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the molasses and milk mixture.  Combine the dry ingredients and beat them into the wet mixture.  Stir in the root vegetables and the minced ginger.  The batter will be quite thick.  Transfer the batter into a greased, 22.5 cm (9 inch) square baking pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center.

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Alternative Wood Harvesting In Winter

Alternative Energy-Bonnie In Forest

Bonnie in the forest studio

View From Bonnie's End of the saw

Sylvain on the other end of the "marriage counsellor"

Part of living off the land in Canada, involves finding ways to stay warm and gathering your own firewood.  We have worked with chainsaws before but found them too destructive and disruptive: the noise and the fumes they create prevent us from enjoying the contact with nature; the sensation and the sound of the wind, the feel of the sun and the smell of the wood. It  scares the animals and it’s also an environmental and health hazard.  Cutting wood is like anything else.   It’s about enjoying the process, being mindful and in the moment. What else could be more important than securing a resource that will keep you warm and doesn’t fuel war and suffering like petroleum and coal do ?

We try to work outside as much as possible because staying active keeps you warm and keeps you in good shape.  An old Chinese proverb goes like this: Wood heats you twice, when you cut it and when you burn it.  In fact, while we cut our wood outside, we don’t heat our cabin. The Cabin actually heats itself with heat stored in water.  See how we do this in the posts about heating.  Sound extreme? Not really, people have live longer like this than heating 24/7.

In order to get our wood, we carefully select trees to be cut, weeding out the ones that are growing too close together, interfering with each other.  We open spaces around special trees that we want to keep for food, medicine or aesthetic reasons.   It is a privilege to be and feel part of nature. Birds, hares, deer, ,squirrels and porcupines make their presence known through scats, tracks and the results of their foraging and noises.

Porcupine Close Up

Porcupine munching on a tree

Be de Be inspects the tree tops

Boulle de Buerre inspecting the tree tops for life

We have a number of different pruning saws that we use to delimb and a variety of bow saws.  Bow saws, if of good quality and used proficiently become almost effortless. We have realized that it’s more a matter of increase blood flow than building muscle.  As you keep at it, the diameter of your veins increase.  The body can adapt to almost anything.

We have a two person bow saw for cutting large logs.  I can recommend this tool as marriage counseling aid.  Sylvain has also made a number of wooden saw horses for cutting down the logs.  This is much easier on the back and safer than trying to prop logs up on stumps.  We have about four of these saw horses that we leave in the areas where we are working, so we don’t have to move them very far.  Some of the wood we harvest, we cut into 2 foot lengths and stack it to dry in order to use it for a cord word cabin we are planning to build in the next two years.  The wood not only has to dry for the cord word cabin but the bark has to be removed too.  Debarking sapless wood in the winter is a torturous task so we prefer to let nature do the work by letting the bark dry and fall off in the coming year.

Stack of wood for cordword project

One of many stacks for the cord wood housing project

Sylvain with wood saw horse

Sylvain fully equipped

Community is about like minded people working together. People interested in learning about hand tools and harvesting wood in winter can contact us and we’ll organize an outing with snowshoes.  You have to have your snowshoes but we provide the tools to cut the wood.  The session last two hours.  This includes a vegetarian meal made from our garden and most likely a good discussion.  Not for fainthearted, the discussion, we mean !. We  charge $45.00 for a couple.  We will also show you how to build a log cutting bench that you can take with you, if desired, for $20.00

The Porcelain Forest

“Spirituality without a ground in daily work tends to be abstract and ultimately irrelevant. Practical labor without a spiritual base is unconscious, narcissistic, and one-dimensional. It lacks the richness of good ideas, deep ethics and inspiration. The spiritual and the practical need each other. Without the spiritual, work is a mere job.” Thomas Moore

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Free Valentine’s Day e-card

Just right click and copy enjoy!!!

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Valley Garlic Mushrooms and Vegetables Soup

½ litre (2 cups) sliced mushrooms ½ litre (2 cups) sliced cabbage
4 medium cloves garlic chopped ½ litre (2 cups) root vegetables
Water 60 ml (4 Tbls) oil
5 ml (1 tsp) salt 5ml (1 tsp)Italian Spices or Herbes de Provence

Put the garlic and mushroom in a bowl.  Cover them with water and stir in the salt.  Let them rest for 4 or more hours.  Steam the vegetables.  Drain the mushrooms and reserve the water.  In a heavy skillet or wok heat the oil until rippling.  Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Stir in the cabbage.  Add the reserved water and 5 ml (1 tsp) spices.  Cook for another 4 minutes.  Add the steamed vegetables.  Cook for 2 more minutes.

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