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Double Smoked Bacon

A wood-burning pizza oven baking a pizza.
Look at this nice, controlled fire. I can handle this kind of fire. And, of any uncontrolled fire, I would prefer it to be in our modern oven. But, still scary. Image via Wikipedia

I am writing this at 8:00pm, January 30th, 2011.

“Man,” I thought, “That’s kind of a lot of smoke billowing out from under the teapot.”

The teapot is (nearly) always on the burner that also serves as our electrical stove‘s oven vent.

“That is a lot of smoke.” I am cooking bacon to go with our blueberry pancake dinner. It’s late. I read too long and chatted with my mom a little too long.

I open the oven door. Smoke billows out, but I don’t see anything. So, I close the oven door.

More smoke comes out from the vent. I remember it’s been a while since I last turned on the auto-clean.

I open both kitchen windows. I sort of giggle at our broken smoke alarm (still within, hopefully, it’s warranty period).

Then, I also reflect on last night’s meatloaf that seeped over the sides of the loaf pan. (Note to self, ix-nay the milk in that recipe.)

“Uh, Peter,” I call to my husband who is on the phone with his father. “Will you take a look at this?” I begin to sound panicked.

I open the oven door. Even more smoke billows out. I close it. Then, I see orange.

I shout at Levi to LEAVE the kitchen and go to the living room. Panic mode entering, more.

I open it for him, and now the entire bottom of the oven is caked in flames. I stand, agape, my jaw slack, in frightened awe.

“What do you do with a fire in the oven?” Peter asks his father. Peter repeats, “Smother it.”

I hear, close the oven door. “Right, no oxygen,” clicks my brain as the wheels begin to turn. I turn the oven off.

“Pour water on it,” suggests my husband.

“NO!” I shout!

“My dad says put a towel on it,” offers Peter.

I don’t respond, except by shaking my  head. I stand holding the door closed, as if the flames will leap from around. Suddenly thankful we have a modern stove. With insulation to accommodate the self-clean function. (You know, the function that allows the oven to reach (sometimes) upwards of 900 degrees, Fahrenheit.) Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember baking soda.

About a minute passes, the smoke from the vent decreases, there is no more orange gleaming. I wait. When the smoke continues to dwindle, I cautiously open the oven door – no flames.

But, oh, there is smoke. Everywhere, there is smoke. Mostly, of course, in the kitchen. So, I open more windows. I instruct Peter to open some, and help with the fans. I demand the doors remain open. That was a lot of smoke.

It’s now, about an hour later. The double-smoked bacon tastes pretty good. I wouldn’t recommend the cooking though: buy smoked bacon, heat oven to 425, ensure bottom is greasy, wait 7 minutes, let the fire do the work. No, I could definitely do with NOT repeating this adventure.

How to Put Out Kitchen Fires

When a fire starts in the kitchen, you need to act fast to keep the fire from getting out of control. But how you act depends on what kind of fire you have and where it is. Follow these instructions for putting out kitchen fires:

  • If you have a fire in the oven or the microwave, close the door or keep it closed, and turn off the oven. Don’t open the door! The lack of oxygen will suffocate the flames.
  • If your oven continues to smoke like a fire is still going on in there, call the fire department.
  • If you have a fire in a cooking pan, use an oven mitt to clap on the lid, then move the pan off the burner, and turn off the stove. The lack of oxygen will stop the flames in a pot.
  • If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use your fire extinguisher. Aim at the base of the fire — not the flames.
  • Never use water to put out grease fires! Water repels grease and can spread the fire by splattering the grease. Instead, try one of these methods:
    • If the fire is small, cover the pan with a lid and turn off the burner.
    • Throw lots of baking soda or salt on it. Never use flour, which can explode or make the fire worse.
    • Smother the fire with a wet towel or other large wet cloth.
    • Use a fire extinguisher.
  • Don’t swat at a fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. You’re likely to fan the flames and spread the fire.
  • If the fire is spreading and you can’t control it, get everyone out of the house and call 911! Make sure everybody in your family knows how to get out of the house safely in case of a fire. Practice your fire escape route.

Read more: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-put-out-kitchen-fires.html#ixzz1CaGz5fPH

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Values

Diagram showing the hierarchy of needs based o...
Diagram showing the hierarchy of needs based on Abraham Maslow’s theories in the 1950s. Image via Wikipedia

Democracy Lab, the Co-Intelligence Institute, bottom-up planning, grassroots activism – this type of problem solving often begins with a premise that we need to figure out what we value and build upon that to figure out what we want to do. Sometimes, life can feel so big, so overwhelming, so locked-in – that we can feel we don’t have  a choice about how life works. I don’t believe this to be true. I believe that we need to talk to each other to figure out what we want together. Like going to a movie with your sibling or close friend: you figure out what collective mood you might be in and overlay that with the current movie-playing options. Maybe you scrap the whole thing and go to a video store instead! On a bigger scale, I think we need to have these conversations frequently so we can make active changes in our lives.

This is a recurring theme, thought process for me. I created this poll-daddy account a few years ago to do that. (On a side note, I’m struggling with getting the WP-Polls plug-in to work properly, so I thought I’d go back to Poll-Daddy, which is where I found this!) I don’t remember which version of my blog I originally posted this poll on, but I thought I’d give opportunity to add to the already 10 responses.

This poll is loosely based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.

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Chicken Curry with Toasted Peanuts

Curried chicken and toasted peanuts
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I enjoy making too much rice. I really enjoy turning it into a Walnut-Cheddar loaf.

I don’t have anymore walnuts. It is proving more difficult to order than I think it should be. So, unsure of the peanut-lemon-onionnutritional yeastcheddar cheese combination – I brain stormed curry.

  • Heat pan.
  • Add a few tablespoons toasted sesame oil, heat oil.
  • Add 1/2 onion, chopped, and a few cloves of minced garlic.
  • When browned, add a tablespoon of a spicy curry powder.
  • After a minute or two, toss in 1/2 cup of unsalted peanuts, toast lightly.
  • Add (fresh or frozen) corn and peas (1/2 cup to 2 cups each).
  • Add 4 cups chopped (cooked) chicken (preferably from Taylor-Made Farms, previously roasted with lemon pepper and garlic).
  • Add leftover rice (minimum 2 cups).
  • Serve, and enjoy.
Exploring the Taylor-Made Farm field.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr
Looking at a baby chick at the Taylor-Made Farm.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr
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A Food Revolution

Food - 1
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

The Organic Elite Surrenders To Monsanto: What Now? Now what indeed.

I have so many thoughts on this subject, it’s difficult to put into words. This is why I write (blog). To make sense of the senseless.

Bottled milk
Noris whole, organic milk, used in my hot cocoa made from my organic Dutch Process cocoa from Hummingbird Wholesale. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I co-coordinate a food buying club. (I do not run it on my own, that’d be VERY hard and time consuming. We do this TOGETHER because together, it works a lot better.) In my food buying club, I am in frequent contact with people who have similar food desires that I do. We want our food to come from someone we have met, or can meet. We want to know what goes into our food, so for us it means knowing what fertilizers are out there in the animal feed or plant feed or whatever. We want to know are farmers are more than getting by, and we want to know they are paying their employees surviving wages. We want to know how things are picked and who’s doing the picking. We want to know what temperature our milk is pasteurized.

Chicken Leftovers
Taylor-Made Farms chicken. These leftovers yielded more than 7 cups of shredded chicken! I know my farmer. Do you? Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

We want to know all about our food. Why? Because we want to know what’s going in our bodies. We are horrified when we learn about all the chemicals in breast milk. We are horrified about all the environmental cancers. We are horrified that people cannot get access to fresh water because it is being bottled in their backyards and sold back to them. We are horrified at this pathetic mess of industrialization that coops itself as food. It is not food. It is poison. And we want no part of it.

So, how do we get out of it?

Go local. Ask yourself now if Organic is more important than Local. The hierarchy should be, yes should be, LOCAL first. Why? Because you create food security and community. Food security lends itself to the local economy, while community overall helps us be less lonely and more connected to the things that matter.

Food nourishes. Food should nourish. Food is the center of our communities. Food holds us together. We can choose to live on pills, vitamins, protein bars, shakes (Thank you Aldous, our Brave New World is here), or we can enjoy ourselves. We can eat slowly, savor moments, tastes, and experiences. And, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

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Daily Post: My Childhood Idols

A Hero is Part Human, Part Supernatural
A Hero is Part Human, Part Supernatural.

Suggested Topic: Who did you idolize when you were a kid?

No one. I always thought it felt silly to idolize someone on T.V. I wasn’t into sports, so why would I have a sports hero? In a class assignment, once, I chose my Aunt because she pushed herself through school as an adult. I guess that answer still remains, but I still like the idea of no one.

The no-one idea was given more credibility when I was in my early twenties. I was working at a not-for-profit (aka, non-profit) Health Maintenance Organization (aka Medicaid HMO) in Michigan. It would be considered a medium sized non-profit since there was over 50 employees. I smoked at the time, so I always got my federally-okay-ed breaks. Had to get my nic fix in. There was one gal who would often go outside for breaks, but not smoke. We’ll call her Suzette. Suzette was a saucy middle-aged woman who’s husband worked for another non-profit. My brain is telling me Red Cross, but it was more like a local Food Bank. His job was to pick up near-expiring produce from the local grocery stores.They were both very active, involved, citizens.

Suzette and I would regularly chat about family, life, work. One day, she told me how her eldest daughter got into trouble at school because she didn’t do a homework assignment to the teachers liking. The assignment was to pick a hero and write about the hero. Her daughter, who was maybe 15, picked herself. Suzette explained that her daughter wrote a very thoughtful essay on why idolizing others was silly and she’d rather look to herself to build herself up. The way it was explained, I thought it was fantastic. I find it ironic that our society, which sometimes claims Christian Morality – a tenant being there should be no idols (before God) – asks its youngsters to routinely identify and praise other idols! And here, this spunky teenager said NO and defended her claim – but she was chastised and punished for it.

Okay, so, whatever, learning curve for the kid. But, in answer to this question. The only hero I claimed as a child was my Aunt because someone born after me was able to articulate better why I don’t believe in idols. We all have good things we can bring to the table, so instead of idolizing one another, why don’t we simply learn from one another?

Powered by Plinky

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Surprised

Levi & Peter admiring the view.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

“We have a problem,” stated my husband.

“We do? Besides not budgeting correctly?” I questioned.

“Besides that.”

“What’s our problem?”

“Our babysitters have all moved.”

“You’re right,” I replied.

We counted off, two recently-made close friends (united through food and similarliy aged children who get along really well) moved this year, and the babysitter Levi was born with has long since married and moved.

But, why the sudden concern for a babysitter. It’s not as if we go out. Seriously. We don’t. We do things as a family. Not because I don’t want to go out, but the act of going out requires two willing parties, not just one. The other party often changes his mind at the last minute so that I frankly get tired of suggesting it. I find other things to do, with Levi, or by myself. I get tired of talking about it. Pondering about it. Figuring it out. Fixing it. I’ve more or less accepted it, even with twinges of hurt, frustration, anger. One of (the many) reasons I volunteer. I’d rather we do these things together, but repeat (lack of) interest on the second party.

We have not had a honeymoon. (Funds, pregnancy, and school didn’t really allow, but we’ve never made room for one either.) We have never celebrated an anniversary – alone. Sure we’ve had a few movie dates, but it’s been so long I can’t even remember when that was.

We do things as a family. So, maybe that’s just what our family does – things together. If I want a night out, it often means I go out alone.

So, we finish off the babysitter conversation. I question why we need a babysitter. In a silly, roundabout way, we land on my upcoming birthday (one month from today (the day of this writing, not the posting!) the 25th of February).

My husband wants to go out, with me, alone, on my birthday?

Oh the fantasies.

What about Italian?

He suggested a somewhat spendy fishhouse.

Could we? Will we?

Oh the dreams. Oh the pleasant surprises.

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Allergies, Asthma & Your Immune System

Farm Shot
My brother, his daughter, and The Farm. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

It was the year 2000. I was chatting with my favorite professor (or soon to be) after the MSU class. We did this occasionally. Since, I love idea swapping and learning all that I can, and my friend enjoyed sharing all the various things he knows, it was a good combination. We’d go to Crunchy’s. He’d have 2 or 3 beers. I’d struggle with one and a half. We’d talk all sorts of ponderings and meanderings in modern philosophy. Utah Phillips, Politics, the length of a cold, extra education from the class I took. The recurring themes: religion, environment, and how it all meshes with politics.

These conversations had a large influence on what I believe or choose to believe of religion and how I justify my understanding of it and especially the words within. These conversations also helped shape or give ideas and momentum to my environmental passions.

One of these conversations centered, albeit briefly, on the difference between allergy and asthma in city kids compared to kids who live in the country. Six or seven years later, I wrote about it for one of my final Sustainable Urban Development classes. The idea that we are building up our immune system by subjecting ourselves to “untidy” animals was and is fascinating to me.

My mother grew up with nine other siblings. They lived on a 160 acre farm (80 acres on one side of the highway, 80 on another) with their parents, my grandparents. My grandfather worked at the Munising Paper Mill (until he retired), planted and sold potatoes “on the side”, and my grandmother tended the garden (although she hated it) all the while my grandfather was at work. Their garden preserved the family through winter with most essentials. My grandmother made 16 loaves of bread weekly. They milked their own cows and pasteurized the milk on the counter. They’d make their own butter, slaughter their own meat, preserve their own food. They farmed. One year, they shelled so many beans not only was the kitchen sink full but so was the claw-foot bathtub. There was always an assortment of cows, dogs, cats, and pigs. Less common in my growing up years were horses, poultry, and rabbits. All said, this is The Farm. The Farm is what I consider home.

When I was in fifth grade, I started to itch and loose my breath around cats. I had been 3 years away from my constant Home. Although we didn’t live with my grandparents, we were there nearly every weekend until we moved downstate when I was in 2nd grade. Someone told me along the way that body chemistry can change (dramatically) every 7 years. So, the question, always on my brain, was how can my limited farm experience lend itself to moderate to severe cat allergies. Now, this past summer (of 2010), I was tested for allergies. The doctor did a scratch test of over 40 common allergens to the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. I scored a significant reaction on more than half. I have year-round allergies.

So, again, the question begs: what’s the connection? How much of an affect to our sanitized cities have on our reaction to the environment? Am I just an allergic person, written into my DNA? I always thought I came from stout, healthy people – but now I’m not so sure. I have two considerable immune issues that require constant handling. I think that’s fairly significant, even if I’m not overtly bothered on a daily basis.

I think I need a couple of more beers at Crunchy’s washed down with one of their burgers and my friend to ponder this one out.

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ICF v. Cob

Dogon cob houses in Mali.
Image via Wikipedia

This will be a sort of series describing the differences between ICF construction and Cob(b) construction. When I started my new job, I quipped the basic difference between my husband and me is that he’s ICF and I’m Cob housing. My husband likes to insist that when we build our dream house it should be ICF, especially if it lines up next to some State Game Area somewhere. I have many sustainable desires, and I want our dream house to be formed from the (local) ground in a thoughtful, heat tolerant (slow to cool and slow to heat) manner.

One of the gal’s I now work with, a gal on our Sustainability Team, is building an ICF house as her dream house.

Maybe it’s not as bad as I thought.

November 23, 2001, Tulsa , OK (Disaster Ally i...
November 23, 2001, Tulsa , OK (Disaster Ally in the Eastland Mall) -- A safe room wall section is shown here. The insulated concrete form is cut away to show reinforcing steel. The cavity is filled with concrete. Photo by Kent Baxter/ FEMA News Photo. Image via Wikipedia

So, I’m going to explore it in this series. The goal is to examine differences in a post at some regularity, weekly or monthly, the difference between ICF and Cob(b) to come up with at least guidelines I’m comfortable with or arguments why ICF won’t work. That is, I’m either going to convince myself it’s sustainable or have a list of cons why we shouldn’t pursue this form of building when we get to the time build our dream house.

You’ll be able to find these posts in the menu under “ICF v. Cob” and through the many sustainability tags.

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