Monday, November 18, 2013

Coming Soon: Canning Demo at EcoHouse (Salsa Sneak Preview....)

Howdy Howdy!

So following up on our inspiration from Black Eyed Susan's, a few of us have been thinking of experimenting with more canning and preservation! Ultimately we will be running a demonstration or perhaps a small-group workshop in the kitchen at Sprague. Andrew Brown was kind enough to lend his hot-water canner for this first round of experiments  - - making our own salsa! I had never even made my own salsa before, and had never canned anything, so this was a leap into the unknown (ok maybe not that dramatic....)

But! There certainly quite a lot of little details to remember while the canning process is unfolding....and I was lucky to have some more experienced canning friends come over to the farm on Friday night to lend a hand (all of them members of UConn's Soil and Water Conservation Society - be sure to check them out!)

Anyway, the final product was DELICIOUS and we ended up with 3 quart jars! They all succesfully "popped" following their hot water bath, which means that they will all successfully keep in the pantry until they are opened! It is hard to imagine this first experiment going any better. I look forward to a little more practice and research.... and then bringing what I've learned to EcoHouse!

Yay. Happy Salsa :)


Saturday, November 16, 2013


Hey Guys - come join the EcoHouse showing of "Forks Over Knives" this Thursday (the 21st) at 7 in the EcoHouse Lounge.

Forks Over Knives is a documentary looking at the effects of diet on our health. The two featured dietitians promote a plant-based diet as a means of controlling cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Come learn about the health benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet in honor of No-Meat November!

Check out the trailer:

Despite the apparent success of the dietary approach, some critics say eating this way is extreme.
Caldwell Esselstyn Jr.: Now, with the western diet, this guarantees there's going to be what, a half a million people in this country this year who will have to have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, then veins will be taken from their leg and sewn on their heart. Some people would call that extreme.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Meat the Problem

Hey all,

Shout out to all of you EcoHousers who came out to our veggie event. The vegetarian bacon seemed to be a huge hit!

Here's the video narrated by Paul McCartney (this time with some sound to it!)
Enjoy my favorite Beatle!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jamming with Black Eyed Susan

     This Sunday a few of the farmers were treated to a FREE jam-making workshop by Susan Wilkerson of Columbia. Seven of us made the short drive to Susan's beautiful country home, where she and her husband maintain a large vegetable garden, chickens, and Susan's home-making/crafts studio known as Black Eyed Susan's (I know - so cute). Susan is a champion of all things home-made and her delightfully decorated house is filled with knitting projects, baked goods, and crafts that she has made - including lots of jams and jellies! With berries from Susan's own garden, we chatted with our hostess as she demonstrated the proper process of canning using a boiling pot of water. I personally found the workshop very inspirational - it showed me how easy it is to make jam! You don't even necessarily need to purchase a canner (although that would be ideal) - a large pot will do as long as it is heavy-bottomed and has a wire rack set inside so that the glass jars do not contact the pot. The water-boiling method can be used to can anything that has high enough acid (such as tomatoes and fruits) or anything that is made with vinegar (such as pickled vegetables). I believe that preserving food is just as important as learning to grow it, and I hope that in the near future the farm will be able to purchase its own canning equipment, including a pressure-canner which would allow us to preserve meats, seafood, and vegetables (without vinegar). This would help to make our education as farmers more well-founded and complete, and would allow us to host workshops for the UConn community as well! Susan was very keen on the idea.
     I have already contacted Susan about the possibility of a knitting workshop on another Sunday in November, or possibly December! You should see the beautiful things she has made. Susan's Aunt taught her how to knit when she was 10, she has been doing it for 60 years and still loves it! More to come on this, although definitely let me know if you are interested in attending!

Jam On!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

No-Meat November

To start the month, EcoHouse is kicking off No-Meat November, a month long vegetarian challenge that hopes to raise awareness for sustainable lifestyles while also highlighting the humanitarianism, environmental, and heath benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet.

Here’s 6 reasons to go vegetarian and take back our planet!

1. Lower your carbon footprint. CO2 produced from livestock, slaughterhouses, packaging and transportation is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon emissions. One year of eating meat has the same CO2 emissions as driving a car for an entire year!

2. Reduce methane and nitrous oxide production. Cows and sheep produce 37% of methane. Methane and nitrous oxide are two of the largest contributes for global warming. Keep our planet cool by going meat free!

3. Water conservation. Water estimations to produce one kilo of wheat is between 1,000 to 2,000 liters whereas one kilo of beef is between 13,000 to 100,000 liters!

4. Reduce water pollution. Hormones, antibiotics and animal waste used in factory farms find their ways into our rivers, streams, and oceans. Farmed animals have 130 times more waste than the entire human population!

5. Topsoil/tropical rainforest and endangered species conservation. Much of our land – 30%! – is used for farming animals. Farming can cause soil erosion, desertification and deforestation. This deforestation ruins land for native animals, and results in long term harm of the natural wildlife.

6. Reduce chemical usage. Growth hormones, antibiotics and other harmful chemicals are used in large qualities for meat production. These harmful chemicals have long-term negative effect on the health of our environment.