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Food & Drink

Too Cool in the Kitchen

Oven Glow Bar Igniter

If you can't stand the heat in the kitchen, your oven is probably working. We had the opposite problem recently - a decidedly cool kitchen. After weeks of our oven taking longer and longer to heat up, it suddenly stopped heating at all. Thanks to a classic Fix-It-Yourself book, Google and a bit of DIY troubleshooting I found the problem. The Glow Bar Igniter in our oven was no longer heating sufficiently to start the gas oven. Happily, it was an easy fix.

The Map Moved Under My Feet

2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for New Mexico

Did you feel that? It felt like the earth moved under my feet. Actually, it was a shift in climate, as marked by the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The PHZM (Plant Hardiness Zone Map) is the guide gardeners use to decide what plants will likely grow, or not, in our yards. The 2012 version of the PHZM shows that the hardiness zone lines have shifted for most of the U.S. My home has shifted from Hardiness Zone 5b (1990 map) and is now solidly in Hardiness Zone 6b (2012 map) which is 10°F. warmer.

Let's Stay in for Coffee

Fresh Brewed Coffee

It's been a tough week or so here at the EcoFamily homestead. Our ~16 year old (yes, it really lasted that long) drip coffee maker died. Don't worry, we didn't go without coffee. But, my skill at coarse grinding coffee beans with a 'whirly-blade' grinder for french press coffee has much room for improvement. Of course, I did try to repair the old coffee maker, but the thermistor that died didn't have any useful markings.

A Toast to Fall's Harvest

Homemade Hard Apple Cider

The Winter Solstice has passed and short, cold days are here. If you planned ahead, the fruits of Summer and Fall are stored in your pantry. We preserved some Gravenstein apples in a very traditional American way - by making hard cider! After all, there are only so many jars of applesauce, apple butter and dried apples you can use.

Like Farmers, Only Younger

Quivira Coalition New Agrarians Conference

When is the last time you met a farmer? Did you happen to notice how old that farmer was? It's an unfortunate fact that in the United States farmers are generally an old and aging group. Given that without farmers we wouldn't have food it is important that more young folks start working in agriculture. The Quivira Coalition has dedicated their 10th annual conference to these new agrarians. If you would like to meet a young farmer, here is a great opportunity.

What: The Quivira Coalition's 10th Anniversary Conference - New Agrarians

Looks Terrible, Tastes Great

Gumbo z'Herbes with Rice

There has been so much great produce that I’ve been cooking up a storm. For example, this looks terrible, tastes great Gumbo z’Herbes. It is apparently a spring tradition to serve this type of gumbo that goes nuts with the greens. It just so happened that half of the refrigerator was occupied by bags of greens: kale, spinach, mixed cooking greens. This recipe took care of them all and more: the Andouille hiding in the freezer, small bundles of scallions and parsley, that cup or so of vegetable broth, and the last few squares of blue cornbread on the side.

From Grey Water to Green Plants

Grey Water Drain Pipe with Cleanout

Have you heard of La Niña? Despite the name, La Niña isn't a person 'she's' a thing - specifically a weather pattern. The important thing to know about La Niña is she tends to bring dry winters to the Southwestern US and that means drought. In my efforts to use water more efficiently I've added a grey-water system from our washing machine to irrigate a planting bed.

Secret Agent Man

Santa Fe County Extension Agent touring Bob's garden

Somewhere in your county, a secret agent stands at the ready. He (or she) is the local County Extension Agent, ready to answer your home garden and landscape questions. County Extension Agents aren't supposed to be a secret but they are lower profile than the 'Double-O' kind of agent. I just met the local Extension Agent and learned quite a lot about the art of growing plants and animals in my county.

Plant a Garden, Harvest a Community

Plant in Hands sketch

What: Santa Fe Community Garden Tour
When: Saturday, September 17, 2011 from 1-4pm
Where: 7 Gardens across Santa Fe, NM
Price: FREE!

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