Skip to content

Category Archives: Sustainable living

Two theories of gardening

A thriving squash plant, with lots of room and some pampering. Notice how dry the soil is. I’ve already learned a lot from my experiments with this year’s garden. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my plan this year was to plant sparsely, leaving plenty of space between things for cultivating and for weed control. […]

Roasted okra

Okra roasts beautifully. The seeds are tender, but with a slight crunch. They’re a bit like fresh corn kernels, or fresh peas. If seared and not overcooked, I think okra would be great in curries. I also want to experiment with using okra as a thickener in sauces for stir-fries, avoiding the dreaded cornstarch.

Refrigerator pickles

It takes 10 minutes or less to make a quart of refrigerator pickles — just long enough to heat some vinegar and sugar, throw in some spices, and pack the jar. Three days’ worth of cucumbers from four flourishing cucumber vines yielded enough surplus cucumbers for two quarts of refrigerator pickles. If you Google, you’ll […]

The squash kicks in

Squash-tofu curry, cucumbers in sour cream I picked the first yellow squash today. I already had decided that it would go into a squash-tofu curry. The abbey’s cucumber plants are climbing high and producing excellently. Unless one has enough cucumbers to pickle, cucumbers have to be eaten fresh every day. I decided on cucumbers in […]

First pesto of the season

Cucumber-pasta pesto. Click here for high-resolution version. In the summer garden, the basil and cucumbers won the competition for who gets to the kitchen first. The yellow squash will be about one day behind, the first tomato about five days. It has been an excellent gardening year, at least for the summer garden. The rainfall […]

Garden report

Click here for high-resolution version. I’m not the sort of gardener who does everything the same from year to year. I experiment. I try to learn from my failures. After all, gardening is an exercise in adaptability, since conditions are never exactly the same. This year’s garden strategy was to plant sparsely in such a […]

Return to Mabry Mill

Click here for high-resolution version. The abbey is only 15 miles south of the Virginia state line, and the new Fiat 500 drives like a mini-Ferrari (while sipping gasoline). I can be on the Blue Ridge Parkway in a hop and a skip. Road trip! You’ll find Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway at […]

Some nerd talk about gasoline

The gas station nearest me actually has what I need. Liberals don’t generally talk much about gasoline. Conservatives do. But I’ve done some reading up on gasoline during the past few days, so let’s have a bit of liberal-oriented nerd talk about the technicalities of gasoline. Both for fuel efficiency and the life of your […]

At last, lilacs

Click here for high-resolution version. I have been waiting for years for the lilac bush to bloom for the first time. This year it finally did, though only in a small way. The apple trees are looking great. There was a chance of frost on April 16, which I was afraid would ruin the apple […]

Old Salem farmer’s market

I don’t get out much. But spring weather and the prospect of food are pretty good motivators. One of the best farmer’s markets in this area is the Cobblestone market at Old Salem. Old Salem is the Salem half of Winston-Salem, a place with colonial roots going back to the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania […]