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Category Archives: Sustainable living

Fall sproutings

My attempts during the spring of this year to get an early garden going under a cold frame were pretty much a total failure. I’m not sure why. But my guess would be that the soil was just too cold for good germination, because spring was unusually cold and dry. Now I’m using the cold […]

Fall desserts

Poached pear. Click here for high-resolution version. Though it’s mid-October, it was nice for Ken to be able to have some abbey-grown foods while he was here for a five-day visit — persimmon pudding from persimmons he picked from the wild persimmon trees that grow in the yard, a poached pear from the abbey’s orchard, […]

The moral status of animals

The gorilla Ndakasi, shortly before she died in the arms of her keeper, Andre Bauma. Source: Virunga National Park via Twitter. Ndasaki was 14 years old when she died, after a long illness, according to the BBC. When Ndasaki was a baby, her mother was killed by poachers. Andre Bauma, who remained her keeper at […]

Persimmon season

Persimmon season has started. Ken picked (and shook trees) for only a little while this morning and got more than enough for the first persimmon pudding of the year. This is only about a tenth, Ken said, of what we’ll get this year just from the persimmon trees in the yard. We’ll make a video […]

Summer 2021: Some of us had it easy

Tomato bisque from tomatoes I grew and canned Nature was not kind to everyone this summer. There were terrifying fires in California and Australia, and deadly floods in the United States, Europe, and Asia. But here in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, it was like 1950 again. The temperature here in my woods never […]

Remember the stars?

The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars. Jo Marchant, Dutton, 2020. 388 pages. Marchant is concerned about how modern people and our cultures have lost touch with the sky. Paradoxically, we think of ourselves as living in a larger world than our ancestors. But in truth, by cutting ourselves off from the sky, we live […]


When I was a young’un growing up in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley, corn of the type one wants for corn on the cob was called roastnears. I learned in school, around the fifth grade, that roastnears means roasting ears. Back then, I thought of that as just the way people talked. Now I would see […]

Tomato day

Canning is serious work. But it’s very satisfying to put up vegetables for the cold winter that you yourself grew during the hot summer. I canned tomatoes today. I have so many tomatoes that I probably will need to do it again. I worked on the deck to the keep the heat out of the […]

Fried apple pies

I already had decided that, if the squirrels left me any apples this year, then instead of making a big apple pie that I’d have to eat all by myself, I’d make fried apple pies, with a vow to eat no more than one a day. The squirrels did leave me some apples, I did […]

Squash and cucumber Kung Pao

I think of cucumbers as a vegetable to be eaten raw. But a little Googling reveals that many people use cucumbers in stir fries. Because I’m rich with summer cucumbers from the garden, stir-frying cucumbers had to be tried. To make Kung Pao dishes too often would risk getting tired of it, and I wouldn’t […]