30 March 2009

Spring Break Adventures

Spring break has come and gone. I was ready for it to be over with. It was full of house hunting, meeting with others for group projects and getting only one skirt done. I wanted to get a lot done but I didn't and it was very frustrating.

However, there were some high points, though mostly at the end. Joel and I have been reading Sally Fallon's " Nourishing Traditions" and a lot of books by Gene Logsdon. Both are advocates of simple traditional diets including animal fats, fermented beverages and dairy products, and eating as closely to the food's original form/state. Through their fermented beverage advocacy we were introduced to kombucha, a fermented tea drink. In order to make kombucha you need a kombucha culture (scobi, mushroom, lichen, it has many different names but I'm not sure which is correct). So Joel and I found a person who would give us a mushroom for trade and we gave her a loaf of homemade bread and some heirloom seeds left over from our plantings. Kelleigh, the mushroom giver, gave us an in depth lesson on making kombucha and the chemistry behind it. It is really simple to make and it's surprisingly cheap as well.

1. Boil a gallon of water to get rid of chlorine found in tap water (or use purified water), for five minutes

2. Add a 1 cup white sugar (this is for the mushroom to feed on)

3. Add 6 plain caffeinated white, green or black tea bags for 5 minutes (use tea WITHOUT oil in it, the oil will prevent fermentation, this includes earl grey, flavoured teas, etc.)

4. If this is your first time add 1 cup of vinegar or a store bought raw kombucha, this prevents bad bacteria from growing.

5. Add the mushroom. It may float, sink or lay about half way, it will eventually get where it needs to be and work fine. Don't worry if it sinks!

6. Store in a glass, stainless steel food grade, or non-lead containing ceramic container and keep in a dark dry place.

7. In warmer temperatures it will take about 3-5 days, in colder temperatures it will take upwards of 2-3 weeks, so be patient. Periodically test the kombucha after it's had time to ferment until it is to your satisfaction.

Just thought I'd share it with you. :0) Its been an interesting process to watch and be part of.

We also made ginger ale prior to getting our kombucha mushroom but it didn't turn out so well. We botched the amount of salt we were suppose to put in and it ended up tasting like a ginger flavoured tide pool.

In order to make the ginger ale (and many other lacto-fermented drinks) we needed whey. What is whey you ask? Well, it is the milk water left over after the milk has separated into water and solids. To achieve this we left out non-homogenized milk for 5 days. This creates the whey and a yoghurt/cream cheese/creme fraiche spread. Out of one gallon of milk we got over 1 quart of whey and 3-4 cups of cream cheese.

Also, something I learned as a result of reading "Nourishing Traditions" is that polyunsaturated fats are really bad for your body, they are made up of unstable fat cells that break off and adhere to your natural fat cells. You generally find polyunsaturated fats in anything processed or chemically altered, specifically vegetables oils (with the exception of olive oil). You can tell whether its a polyunsaturated fat or otherwise (and there are many kinds of fats) if the oil/fat solidifies and becomes opaque in the refrigerator.

That being said, Joel and I bought pork lard at the farmer's market on saturday and spent all day rendering the fat down to the oil and the cracklings (or in Spanish it's chicharrones).

After 6 years as vegetarians we are pretty much now just omnivores. Albeit picky ones, we've decided that unless we know where the meat came from and that the animals were not factory farmed and fed antibiotics and corn (not ethically produced/farmed/taken care of) we won't eat it. So we bought bacon at the farmer's market too.

We had french toast and bacon for lunch on saturday and BLTs yesterday for lunch. It was good. :0)

Also at the farmer's market we got seeded arugula and leeks and on our way home I picked dandelion leaves for salads and daffodils for lovelying up our home. It was a splendid day!

Later that evening we went to our friend Clara's birthday party, she is turning 22 on wednesday. The food was Mexican themed so there was a lot of delicious beans, cheese, rice, chips, lettuce, and many other delicious foods. Clara's roommates brought a Mexican beer by Pacifico called Clara which was a very sweet coincidence and another girl made Mexican hot chocolate, yummy!

And yesterday I planted our tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers, hurray! There's a house that we're interested in but there's already an application being processed on it so we're second in line. The house has a massive backyard AND four bedrooms and two full baths, EXACTLY what we're looking for. They're also cool with pets so we're really hoping the other party doesn't go through with getting the house. We'll see what happens. The backyard is big enough to house our entire garden and have space to play frisbee or put a table and chairs out for outside summertime dining, hee hee.

And lastly, I planted some basil and some succulent cuttings. The basil are an Italian sweet basil and an Opal basil which is actually opalescent in colour, its great!

20 March 2009

National Kitchen Garden

So, I have some wonderful news regarding the White House lawn: its going to be a garden! Yes indeed a kitchen garden for the white house. I have been following this progression from being a lowly little campaign by Kitchen Gardeners International at Eattheview.org and now the Obamas will officially be breaking ground tomorrow on their 1100 square foot kitchen garden. Hurray! You can check out the article here: http://www.kitchengardeners.org/ Anyways, just wanted to let you all know. :0)

15 March 2009

Beach: Water and Fire

Saturday, Joel, Clara and Kathleen (a MICA painting senior) and I went to Cannon Beach (where part of the Goonies was filmed). It was pretty blustery but it ended up being a really wonderful day in spite of that. We walked along the beach and got completely soaked from all the water in the air. I wanted to take pictures but thought better of it because I didn't want to mess up my camera.

So after getting completely drenched we went to a sheltered picnicking area where a Russian family had built a fire and they said we could hang out too. One of the boys in the family was carving "CCCP" in the tabletop, which seemed to go along with what 12-year old boys do, I think. :0) So we brought our lunch up and ate and dried off.

Our feast:

I made welsh eggs and bread and Clara and Kathleen brought vegetables and fruit. It was a really nice and filling meal. Then we toasted up by the fire which made our clothes steam (even after leaving the fire they still steamed!) and Clara found a nice little area to huddle into. Luckily she didn't catch fire! And neither did anybody else.

We found a seagull interested in our food so we threw him tomatoes. He loved chasing these (though I'm under the impression he would have enjoyed running after any food we had thrown) and then after gulping them whole we could see the little tomato lump go down in his throat.

After a couple hours we braved it back to our car and drove in town for a light dinner at a brewhouse and I got a delicious red lager and to finish our little meal we shared a molten lava cake. The restaurant was really nice and relaxing, very unpretentious as I feel often is the case with brewhouses. There was a wood stove burning and all the booths and tables were made of wood which lent it a lovely calm feeling. All in all it was a good day and we all smelled wonderfully smokey for it.

On monday I had my first Wood crit. Yes, my first, we only have two projects the whole semester but as a medium, wood is very time intensive. Since I'd never worked in wood before I didn't feel confident in making anything until I'd seen my professor make something, then I felt like I knew what I was doing. It was kind of crazy not knowing anything about this seemingly common medium. When my professor showed us how to turn wood I felt like a door had opened for me. And this is what I made:

The caps are red maple and the middle core is turned from narra. And the outside is basket woven reed. The narra is a really beautiful wood from Australia that turns like butter and when you lathe with the grain it gets a wonderful natural sheen to it. This photo doesn't show how red it is but it shows the contrast. There's no real meaning behind the work, it was more about form and line and working with those elements intuitively.

A lot of people have been griping about my work not having a meaning behind it, specifically in my wood and intermediate sculpture class. However, those classes are really open ended and not having anything to interpret is difficult for me. I do better when I'm translating a basic concept that I then elaborate on and then make my peace accordingly. That's why I do much better work in my Theory in Context class -- because its theory. And I understand that.

What I don't understand is why art can't have no meaning, or no direct meaning. Can art not exist as its own entity that interacts with space and deliberately exploits form and line but not 'meaning' or 'symbolism'? That is frustrating to me. In a gallery space, there is only so much text the artist can give. If I were a real artist I would probably never speak to my viewers, because I wouldn't have anything to say that work doesn't say. Does that make the work weak? I'm not sure. This is something that I am still wondering about and working on.

09 March 2009

New Post

Lots of things have been happening lately. I've been doing lots of great feeling work. Which means, I like school because I feel confident in what I'm doing and how to do it, etc. Here is some of what I've been doing:

Joel and I were going to move in with (only) my friend Clara after our lease was up at the end of April but now we're moving in with three other people beside Clara (one is temporary)! All together there will be 5 of us. We had a community meeting last night and we just kept adding people to the list of who we're living with. :0) I'm really excited about living in a community/family again, I think its the best way to live. We're going to have a garden in our own backyard, most likely, because we'll actually have a yard. We're all pretty excited about getting a dog and sharing the responsibility of taking care of it. And if the landlord doesn't like it then we'll get a cat. But its all very exciting.

Today Clara and I went to the Oregon Zoo. It was really cold so the animals were subdued and sleepy.

Real wildlife...

Sleeping bears

The mom's name is Packy (like short for pachyderm, not the racial slur for a Pakistani... we've had this discussion) and the baby's name is Samudra (Suh-moo-drah). Samudra weighs 900 lbs., meanwhile her mother weighs a whopping 7300 lbs!

I didn't get his name but he's an old bull elephant, he seemed very thoughtful and wise. I suppose it was because he was so quiet and kept walking around in circles like a an old man deep in thought. You could even see the path where he had trodden, the exact same foot prints/trail every time.

And then there was this moment between the orangutans and a small human child. It was very interesting. One orangutan was looking at the baby through the glass and then left and then another one came and also stared.

And one of the orangutans was wearing a t-shirt while another tugged on it. It was really amusing because the one in the shirt had pulled her head all the way into it and the other one was trying to pull it off of her.

It was a good short time. And only $1 since we had ridden the MAX lightrail to get there, plus it was $2 tuesday so they gave us a super super cheap discount, hurray!

That seems to be all for now. Portland is a good city and we're definitely looking forward to the summer and warm weather. The weather has been rather spastic, snowing hard then half an hour later full sunshine and clear skies. Summer is really dependable when its sunny and hot and warm all the time. But right now... I'd just like some stable weather.