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Solar Oven Cookery

Home Grown New Mexico - Sun, 2020/10/04 - 3:42pm

Solar Oven Cookery
by Alessandra Haines
September 2020

Looking back on this extraordinary summer of environmental and social turmoil a bright spot (quite literally!) has been regularly cooking in the solar oven. It is super easy, safe and versatile. It’s near impossible to burn anything and can be left unattended while you are out. No fossil fuels are used and no fumes are produced.

The oven I have been working with is a Sun Oven. It is basically an insulated box with a glass top and mylar reflectors. It works very well for patio use and is easy to move about and store. There are many varieties of commercial solar ovens available and a plethora of DYI designs. It is an incredibly simple device with really nothing to break down or go wrong.

The beauty of solar cooking is that you can eat well and NOT HEAT UP THE HOUSE!!!! As our temperatures rise keeping our interiors cooler in the summer is paramount. We all know that fossil fuel powered AC is not really a solution to a warming climate!

There are things that cook especially well in the solar oven that require long cooking times and I probably wouldn’t bother to cook in the regular oven or stove top in the heat of the summer.

For example, it works very well for any type of simmered soups or stock, stew, posole, cassoulet and polenta. Dried beans can be cooked in 2-3 hours with no soaking. Simmering only requires about 220F so even if the sun is less than optimal your liquid based dish will cook.

It’s perfect for roasting or baking: potatoes, yams, beets, turnips, carrots,
tomato, summer or winter squash as well as any type of casserole, enchiladas etc.

For baking anything in the 350-400F range is possible. My solar oven tends to max out at 350F so if its a cookie that wants 400F it might just take a bit longer. Smaller baked goods will cook faster. For example, banana muffins might be a better choice than a huge loaf of banana bread. The temperature can be adjusted by adjusting the angle of the oven to the sun and by cracking the lid open a bit which also releases condensation on the glass.

Cooking outdoors with the sun does require you pay attention to the weather. On occasion, if it clouds up, you may have to finish up your baked potatoes or whatever inside in the kitchen oven. The optimal cooking window is from about 11 am to 4 pm.

Cookware should be dark and heat absorbing rather than reflective such as foil or stainless steel.

Dark enamelware (black, red, blue, dark green) heats up the quickest as it is lightweight.

Cast iron or dark clay cookers also work very well and a black enamel toaster oven tray is the perfect size for roasting vegetables.

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Foraged Flavors of Santa Fe

Home Grown New Mexico - Sun, 2020/10/04 - 3:30pm

Our friends at Slow Foods Santa Fe are putting on the following event:

Foraged Flavors of Santa Fe/ZOOM Event

Speaker: Ellen ZachosDate: Tuesday October 6Time: 5:00-6:30 pm
For more info on this upcoming event and to sign up,
go to: Foraged Flavors of Santa Fe

 

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Superfood Security is a Seed Away: Doug Fine’s AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is here.

Doug Fine - Mon, 2020/04/13 - 2:54pm

 

Doug Fine’s AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is here.

As are many of us, I’m feeling grateful for a lot of things at the moment. In particular, I’m sure glad it struck the three-years-ago-version-of-me as a fun idea to write an optimistic, humorous book that also provides a blueprint for establishing food security in your backyard.

For whatever reason, folks seem to want “funny” and “uplifting” at the moment. And laughing your way to food security? Seemed like a pleasant route. Still does. I’m doing it today – my fingers are still dank with humus as I type. Hemp farming is pretty easy, it attracts bees, and it’s all around about the most fun you can have outside the bedroom.

What I’m describing (and living) is  my new book, AMERICAN HEMP FARMER. It details a season in the burgeoning and newly-legalized hemp industry from a regenerative farmer perspective. The premise is this: a billion-dollar industry is great, but only meaningful if the actual farmers benefit at the retail level from the hemp renaissance.

For customers, the  win-win is that regenerative farming modes result in by-far the best hemp products. It’s not even close. Like fresh squeezed OJ beats frozen concentrate. All while sequestering carbon.

Turns out we have friends in low places. In nurturing a hemp field, we’re not the only species midwifing our hemp crop by planting time. To name one of a few hundred million, I recently gathered and brewed some fluffy white steaks of my watershed’s mycelium allies (fungus), which my family and I applying to our preseason soil in a compost tea this week.

Which leads to the core reason I wrote the book, from the introduction:

Six years ago, a bear fleeing a wildfire in our New Mexico backyard killed nearly all of my family’s goats in front of our eyes. It wasn’t the bear’s fault: he was a climate refugee. It was June of 2013, and drought had weakened the ponderosa pines and Douglas fir surrounding our remote Funky Butte Ranch. Beetles took advantage, and all of southern New Mexico was a tinderbox. Ho hum, just another climate event that until recently would have been called a “millennial” fire.

That’s the paramount reason I’m an overworked employee of the hemp plant: The people I care about most are one blaze away from joining the world’s 20 million climate refugees. At least I get the pleasure of putting “goat sitter” under occupation on my tax form.

The conflagration convinced me that I had to do something, personally, to work on this climate change problem. After some research about carbon sequestration through soil building, it became clear that planting as much hemp as possible was the best way to actively mitigate climate change and help restore normal rainfall cycles to our ecosystem.

This is why I treasure much more than just hemp’s flower gold rush (CBD, CBG, etc.). I also love hemp seed’s superfood and hemp fiber. It’s why I carry a 3D printed hemp plastic goat nearly everywhere I go.

A biomaterials-based economy doesn’t just perform better in our stuff, it means goodbye Pacific Garbage Patch. That is, when everything, even our batteries, is compostable or reusable (I mention batteries because next-generation hemp-based supercapacitors are discussed in AMERICAN HEMP FARMER).

We actually have been given a realistic opportunity to bridge humanity’s climate stabilization mission with its digital trajectory. In AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, I endeavor to connect the dots in my work, my food, and my whole life, with the thinking that if enough of us do the same, humanity’s got a shot in this here bottom of the climactic ninth.

It’s a solution-based book. Which is to say, it’s chock full of my own mistakes, as well as the triumphs and travails of many of my regenerative farmer friends and colleagues. Michael Pollan argues that we have co-evolved with certain plants, including cannabis. To be sure, hemp/human relations do go back 8,000 years. AMERICAN HEMP FARMER broaches the proud history of government-supported Hemp For Victory gardens going beyond the well-known World War II “Hemp For Victory” effort, all the way back to George Washington himself: in fact, at Mount Vernon last fall, I helped harvest the first hemp crop since President Washington’s time – I did this in colonial clothing and with (trust me) a very sharp sickle.

And that was before nutritionists knew about hemp’s ideal Omega 9-6-3 balance, high mineral content, and rare amount of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) — a fatty acid associated with anti-inflammatory properties, Whereas my family’s own hemp diet once bankrolled the Canadian economy, for the past there years it’s been free. Hemp got federally legalized in the 2014 Farm Bill, and I and my sons get in the soil at this time every year and grow it ourselves. In AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, you’ll even read about a study that indicates a hemp diet might combat obesity.

Sowing hemp is pretty easy, and the harvest is both copious (around 1,000 pounds per acre) and extremely delicious. And I eat a lot of it. Easily a cup a day. As do both my human kids and my goat kids. Indeed it’s very hard to keep the goats out of the field. Hemp seeds are an essential part not just of my family’s health maintenance plan, but of our food security plan. And anyone can do it.

AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is available everywhere now in book, e-book and audiobook form (I narrated the audiobook, which was super fun). And I hope that you find yourself at once giggling and learning as you read it. You can order it here.

Please feel free to share this Dispatch with your friends, family and professional networks. It would be great for folks everywhere to know that not just food security, but superfood security, is a seed (and a permit) away.

Meanwhile, it’s spring on the Funky Butte Ranch, and as AMERICAN HEMP FARMER advises, I’ve got my own hemp permit application filed, I’m building soil (just as the Funky Butte apricots burst into bloom), and I’m ready to grow another scrumptious crop. I like the feeling of knowing my family will thrive for another year no matter what.  When you read AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, you’ll see that you and yours can too. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.

Some reviews follow below, and I’m sending immense thanks for your support/ in ordering this book and telling your friends. OK, I’m off to the field to dump more goat poop and alfalfa on the soon-to-be-planted Funky Butte Ranch hemp field

-Doug Fine

Funky Butte Ranch, New Mexico

April 13, 2020

Order AMERICAN HEMP FARMER here

Book Doug’s Live Event here.

 Subscribe to the Dispatches From the Funky Butte Ranch newsletter and follow Doug on Instagram and Twitter @organiccowboy

 

Reviews of AMERICAN HEMP FARMER

American Hemp Farmer would have been in George Washington’s library. President Washington grew hemp and was a passionate, regenerative agriculturist. Washington sought advice from those that practiced their trade. Doug Fine‘s American Hemp Farmer is a scholarly, practical and impeccably enjoyable work and a must-read for those who cultivate hemp or are interested in leaping in.”  –J. Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

“With American Hemp Farmer, Doug Fine shows he is not just our preeminent hemp author, he is one of the most important authors of our time. As I’ve watched him leap between tending goats on his Funky Butte Ranch and hemp fields in Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and who-knows-where else, it sometimes occurs to me that he might be the most interesting man alive. The resulting book is an absolute must read.  –Eric Steenstra, Executive Director, VoteHemp

“A fantastic piece of Americana that shows the way to a sustainable future.” -David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner’s Soaps

“I hope every hemp farmer and policymaker reads this book carefully. It details a roadmap for success, for farmers and the planet. And that’s probably because Doug doesn’t just write about hemp, he lives it.” —Cary Giguere, State Hemp Program Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

                                  Further Praise for Doug’s Work
“Fine is a writer in he mold of Douglas Adams.” —Washington Post

“Fine is Bryson funny.” —Santa Cruz Sentinel

Doug has written the best book of the year and a blueprint for the future of America.”                       –Willie Nelson

About Doug Fine

Doug Fine is a comedic investigative journalist, bestselling author, and a solar-powered goat herder. He has cultivated hemp for food, farm-to-table products and seed-building in four U.S. states, and teaches a college hemp class. Willie Nelson calls Doug’s work “a blueprint for the America of the future.” The Washington Post says, “Fine is a storyteller in the mold of Douglas Adams.”  A website of Doug’s print, radio and television work, United Nations testimony, Conan and Tonight Show appearances and TED Talk is at dougfine.com and his social media handle is @organiccowboy.

Book Doug’s Live Event here.

 Subscribe to the Dispatches From the Funky Butte Ranch newsletter and follow Doug on Instagram and Twitter @organiccowboy

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs
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