Category Archives: Living with Less

Hot Goat’s Cheese Salad with a Honey Mustard Dressing

By Karen Burns-Booth

Karen shows how the melted unctuousness of  hot goat’s cheese paired crisp, cool and perfectly dressed salad leaves makes for a divine combination.

It may seem like a cliché, but a hot goat’s cheese salad is still a favourite with me. I particularly like the combination of hot and cold – the melted unctuousness of the cheese with crisp, cool salad leaves makes for a divine combination, and a nice bit of “chèvre” is always welcome on my table, whether it be in salads, with bread and/or crackers or with fresh fruit and nuts. Continue reading Hot Goat’s Cheese Salad with a Honey Mustard Dressing

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Sauteed Bittermelon with Egg

By: Sherry Sorono | We call it “Ampalaya”. In the Visayas Region of the Philippines, they call it “Amargoso” because of its bitterness. In Southeast Asia like in India, Pakistan and Banladesh; they call it “Bittergourd” or “Bittermellon”. Photo credit: Tastebuds Unlimited by Beth Celis

Ugly they are! and bitter too. But it is that bitterness that health expert s claim rids the body of its toxicity. We have gotten around that bitterness issue by concocting so many recipes, versions and twists in dealing with it.

Chopped in thin slices, its innards are scraped away by a spoon and then the slices are sprinkled with a little salt and after they are mixed in a mixing bowl, they are squeezed to take a little f that bitterness out.
Continue reading Sauteed Bittermelon with Egg

Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Za’atar Roasted Eggplant

A Reblog | By: kabcphotography | In Tel Aviv, with 85 degree weather,  its hard to say that its Fall. As much as I love long summer days filled with the beach and watermelons, I truly miss the feeling of Autumn. I miss apple orchards and pumpkin patches and the scent of warm spices.

While patiently waiting for soup season to kick in, I’ve prepared a light, whole grain salad filled with mediterranean flavors.
Continue reading Whole Wheat Couscous Salad with Za’atar Roasted Eggplant

Six Writing Lessons From The Garden

veg gardenBy: Deborah Lee Luskin  |  A Reblog  |  I love to garden. It’s a meditative activity – something I can do while my mind freewheels. Last Sunday, I found myself thinking how preparing a small vegetable patch is like writing a book.

Lesson 1: Writing is Solitary.Scarecrow

For the first time in thirty years, I’m planting the garden solo. My husband helped me install the fence posts (just as he built the studio where I write), but he prefers to nurture the orchard. I’m on my own, just as I write by myself during the week while he’s off tending to his patients’ health.

Lesson 2: Selectivity is Good.

There was a time when we grew and preserved all our food – but no longer. We’re now supplied with locally grown produce from a neighbor’s organic farm, so I’m only planting high-value items that are harder to find in local markets – shallots and leeks, fennel, veg garden2escarole and Brussels sprouts – as well as items we consume in quantity – cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and a wide assortment of culinary herbs.

I’m leaving the prosaic vegetables – the zucchini and green beans, the carrots and potatoes – to the production professionals. In a similar way, I’ve retired from the teaching, managerial and editorial jobs that others can do as well as or even better than I can. No one else can tell the stories I imagine, so I’m concentrating on them.

Lesson 3: Limits are Helpful.

GardenPrep050513I started by limiting the scope of my garden. I’ve fenced off an eight- by sixteen-foot rectangle to keep the free-range chickens out, and to keep my intentions focused – and manageable. Our previous gardens were huge, time-sucking affairs, and sometimes we raised an equal quantity of weeds as tomatoes. Similarly, over the past year, I’ve drafted thousands of words about my character’s life. But recently, I’ve come to realize that the story I’m telling takes place over the course of nineteen months. So that’s what I’ll develop; everything else must come out, just like the weeds.

Lesson 4: Wrisundialting Takes Time.

At the outset, a hundred and twenty-eight square feet looks just as big as a 100,000-word novel, and turning it over with a hand fork appears as daunting as filling a ream of paper by pen. My husband offered to do this heavy task for me; he would have had the garden-plot ready in less than an hour. I thanked him and said I would do it myself. It took me three hours, during which time I meditated on how preparing the garden is like writing a novel. I stopped only for water and to take pictures for this post, which I was composing as I dug.

gardenprep10

Lesson 5: Small Tasks Yield Success.

A week earlier, I’d covered my plot with a tarp to warm the earth and kill weeds. The weeds continued to flourish, however, and the prospect of turning the soil by hand and pulling the weeds out by the root was too much. So I put the tarp back in place and working a small section at a time uncovered only a quarter of the space. After I turned those thirty-two square feet, I peeled the tarp back again, turning and weeding the next section. Now, the job was half done. I folded the tarp back again and again, always giving myself a small, measurable task that I could reasonably accomplish. Writing a book is just the same: I break each chapter into sections, and each section into paragraphs, each paragaph into sentences, each sentence into words. Each time I stuck the fork into the soil, it was a reminder that books are written one word at a time.

Working a small section at a time.

By the time I had raked the soil into beds and outlined the footpath with string, my neck was sunburned, my back was sore, and I was ready for a bath. I was done – for the day. I now had a well-defined garden plot with clearly outlined beds as weed-free as a clean piece of paper. Even though I was done-in, I’m anything but done. In fact, I’m just ready to start.

GardenPrep8Ellen, the novel I’m crafting, is further along than my garden. But the garden is a good reminder about how to maintain forward progress on this first draft. My afternoon preparing my garden yielded these six truths: 1) Even though I work alone, I’m deeply engaged with my characters; 2) every time I cut out a scene or a character or an unnecessary word, I gain a clearer sense of what aspect of the story to nurture; 3) knowing the limit of the narrative has helped me focus on the story I have to tell; 4) drafting the novel is taking a long time – and I make progress daily; 5) I experience the elation of success when I set myself small, measurable tasks; and 6) every time I finish a section, a chapter, an entire draft, I’m ready to begin another section, another chapter, another draft.  And even when that’s done – even when the writing and revision are finished – there’s another whole set of steps to see a book to completion, but those are chores of another season.

This growing season has just started. I tell myself, if I write word by word, weed by weed, my effort will blossom, and in time, I’ll see my book in my readers’ hands.

Meanwhile, I have a lovely garden bed ready for seeds.

photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Author Deborah Lee Luskin gardens and writes in southern Vermont and can be found on the web at www.deborahleeluskin.com

Building a Bamboo Future

The founders of Green School gave the award winning design-firm, Ibuku, the task to build the world’s “Greenest School.”

Every step of the design and construction process was unique. Instead of traditional blueprints, architects build bamboo models to scale with bamboo sticks. The sticks were bent, cut, and woven until the perfect model was created. The usual onsite visual of bulldozers moving the earth was nowhere to be found. The land remained as it was.  Buildings were designed to rise out of the earth’s natural contour, ensuring as little disturbance to the surrounding environment as possible.

Green School in Bali - Instead of traditional blueprints, architects build bamboo models to scale with bamboo sticks

Given both the setting of Bali and the sustainable task at hand, it is hardly surprising that Ibuku choose bamboo as their building material of choice. It is one of the fastest and most resilient growing plants on earth, and as such, environmentally-friendly.  “With very few resources or attention, a bamboo shoot can become a structural column within three years,” says Elora Hardy,  CEO of Ibuku. “And a building built from that bamboo could stand strong for a lifetime.” (View Slideshow)

The choice of bamboo, created strong buildings but also allowed for unique designs. Unlike the typical four-walled, cement classrooms, Green School rooms were woven together, creating spectacular webs of bamboo. Every formation there is unique and more complex looking than the last. Dynamic spirals and shapes spring from the ground creating spectacular open expanses, reflecting the magic spaces present within nature.

Green School in Bali completed architectural design by Ibukuarrow green with text

The designers, architects and local Balinese craftsmen behind these living structures have done an excellent job in imitating and integrating the beauty and complex perfection of the school’s tropical surroundings. Buildings weave harmoniously through the beautiful backdrop, integrating with the environment instead of standing apart from it. Aesthetically these bamboo structures entice a great sense of wonder and achievement. They are bamboo works of art that stand as a true testament to the creative potential and infinite possibility that lies within this resilient building material.

GBTV brings you the second in a series of guest blogs from Green School in Bali.  Their first blog, Welcome to the Greenest School on Earth, was an introduction, not only to their building practices, but to their amazing concept in teaching. This blog takes us behind the scenes to the details of building with bamboo.

Visit Green School for more information, Like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter. Find out more information about Ibuku and their work with Green Village Bali.

Bloglink: http://greenbuildtv.com/blog/building-a-bamboo-future/#more-12016

Your Life is Too Valuable to Waste Chasing Possessions

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West

By: Joshua Becker | A Reblog | There is more joy in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more. In many ways, this is a message that we already know to be true.

It’s just that, since the day we were born, we have been told something different. We have been told that possessions equal joy. And because we have heard that message so many times and from so many angles, we have begun to believe it. As a result, we spend our lives working long hours to make good money so that we can buy nice stuff.

But when we again hear the simple message that there is more joy in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more, it rings true in our hearts… because deep down, we already know it to be true. We know that possessions don’t equal joy. And we know that our life is far too valuable to waste chasing them.

It just helps to be reminded from time to time. So today, remember…

  • Our life is short. We only get one shot at it. The time goes by quick. And once we use it up, we can’t get it back. So make the most of it. Possessions steal our time and energy. They require unending maintenance to be cleaned, maintained, fixed, replaced, and removed. They steal our precious attention, time, and energy and we don’t even notice it… until it’s too late.
  • Our life is unique. Our look, our personality, our talents, and the people who have influenced our lives have made us special. As a result, our life is exactly like no one else. And just because everyone else is chasing material possessions doesn’t mean we have to too.
  • Our life is significant. Far more than success, our hearts desire significance because significance lasts forever. On the other hand, possessions are temporal. They perish, spoil, and fade. And most of them, by design.
  • Our life is designed to inspire. Let’s make footprints worth following. Nobody ever changed the world by following someone else. Instead, people who change the world live differently and inspire others to do the same. Possessions may briefly impress, but they never inspire.
  • Our life is important. Our heart and soul makes us valuable. Don’t sacrifice your important role in this world by settling for possessions that can be purchased with a card of plastic.
  • Our life deserves better. Joy, happiness, and fulfillment are found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, peace, and relationships. And they are not on sale at your local department store. Stop looking for them there. People who live their lives in the pursuit of possessions are never content. They always desire newer, faster, or bigger because material possessions can never satisfy our deepest heart desires.

Be reminded that your life is far too valuable to waste chasing material possessions. And find more joy today by choosing to pursue “better,” rather than “more.”

__________

joshua-becker-becoming-minimalist1Bloglink: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/your-life-is-too-valuable-to-waste-chasing-possessions/

Joshua Becker is an author and blogger and host the blogsite: Becoming Minimalist.

My First Time Away from Home

A Reblog | Steph’s Shenanigans <>Up until I was 23, I lived at home with my parents.  I was sitting comfortably in a rent-free home with all the food I can ask for.  I was going to school and working part-time.  All the money I made from my job was to pay for my cell phone bill, going out, and buying crap food that was terrible for me.

Throughout most of high school and pretty much all of my undergrad, I lived off of chicken fingers that were pre-cooked, packaged, and frozen: with a side of sweet and spicy Thai sauce, of course.

Because of the inconsistent schedule of university and working nights, I was on my own for a lot of meals.  Mom started to give up when she was making two different dinner dishes a night to accommodate my picky eating habits.  But in all fairness, it got to a point where a lot of what we were eating at home was a lot of the same meals and unhealthy ones at that.  There was a lot of fried meat, potatoes, and homemade French fries.  Of course, the logical conclusion I came up with in my late teens to early twenties was to just either eat those chicken fingers, warm up frozen pizza, or go out and buy fast food.

When I started to hang out with my friend Chris, those habits just got worse.  We were studying hard (at this point I was in teacher’s college), working part-time jobs, and having really late nights.  We would order from KFC and have them deliver to us, go to McDonald’s late at night, heat up all sorts of frozen, pre-packaged foods, and more.

After teacher’s college, I decided to try and find a job away from the GTA and I moved to Ottawa with my fiancée, also named Chris.  Mom’s main concern? I was either going to starve to death or I’d be wasting all my money on junk food and eating out.

Just to give you some clarity, my “cooking skills” consisted of making killer scrabbled eggs and putting food in a toaster oven and forgetting about it until I heard the timer’s chime.  I tried making an orange chicken once with my mom under heavy supervision.  That was when I felt like I had a lot of time on my hands.  ONCE.  I always avoided cooking because it took too much time and effort, ingredients we didn’t have in the house, and it took me away from my all-important TV-video games-internet I had set up in my room.  Cooking is boring.  Sure, I was always vocal about my disappointed about what was on the menu, but I never did anything about it because I was still able to get by.  Mom’s super foreign and European attitude was to always make sure your family ate, so I knew I wouldn’t go hungry.  Because I was the last child to leave home, I was able to be a brat and get away with it.  Mom was, mostly, accommodating.

Mom and pretty much everyone who knew me was convinced I was done for.  Moving away from mom’s cooking, starting to pay for rent and other bills, meant the end of this spoiled child.  As the years leading up to my departure went by, I told everyone (and was convinced myself) that once I was thrown into a situation that I was unfamiliar with, that I would successfully adapt and figure it out.  No one really believed that I would change overnight and decide to start cooking, something I had always loathed.  Why cook? Spending hundreds of dollars at the grocery store in one shot, when it’s just a $7 snack here and $15 meal there.

Well, I moved.  Luckily I had Chris with me and I got away with not cooking for a few months.  We compromised.  He cooked and I would do the dishes.  I did laundry and he would fold the clothes.  It was sweet, sweet living.  Then we moved out of our first apartment and into a house with a dishwasher.  The compromising was over. I had no leverage.  We were still doing a lot of frozen pizzas, chicken fingers, and the sort, but once our schedules became a little more stable, we started to explore the kitchen.

I was now forced to help cook. I started demanding healthier meals and Chris was just not as lenient as mom.  So I started to take over our side dishes…

* This is just an introduction to my blog.  My posts won’t be this long again.  I just wanted to give a little bit of background as to why it’s important for me to keep a record of how I start to mature as a cook.  Expect to see photos of some meals I’m proud of, meals by others, ideas, tip and tricks, etc.  I don’t know what will come up on this post, but just believe it will be about food, somehow.

Bloglink:  http://mmmlowbudgetfood.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/my-first-time-away-from-home/