Well, we still have power, and the irs.gov website still indicates its advanced warning of many pages’ inaccessibility due to “a power outage” from 4:00 p.m. November 9 – 7:00 a.m. November 12. Although some areas did go down yesterday, we’re still wired in today in Goshen. Who knows what’s up and when? According to an increasing number of folks, “It Is Not a Matter of If, but When the Lights Go Out.” Maybe so, maybe not. Meanwhile, I’m feeling mighty joyful due to some of the silliest and simplest things: sweet potatoes, flower pot heaters and coolers, and a brand new thermos, among other things.
Let’s start with the sweet potato salads, because they’re just pretty. And delicious. Here are two different batches I made recently — the first was last night (hummus, mixed greens, leftover sweet potato ‘fries’ and microgreens) and the next two photos were from a few weeks ago when I made hummus-sweet-potato-nasturtium-calendula salads on a bed of greens. I do love edible flowers! Plus, the sweet potato complements the slightly spicy, savory hummus so well, and fresh greens make everything yummy:
Moving on to the flower pot heaters and coolers. I’d heard of these before, but was reminded of them again last night. Although we have kerosene heaters for emergencies — along with lemon essential oil to make them smell better — I’d much rather make some of these. In fact, I shared the idea with David’s sister, and she’s going to make a few for their lovely back porch that normally gets closed up in the winter due to no heating vents. Simple, cozy, and full of candlelight:
You can also make a flower pot fridge:
Oh, how the faery in me loves off-grid flower pot fun!
And now for the most unexpectedly joyful part of yesterday. I bought two Stanley thermos bottles, because I had heard that you could cook rice in them, and I also thought it would be a great way to keep water hot or warm for an extended period of time with only one boiling. For some reason, I am over the moon with these thermos bottles! David thinks it’s because I never really had a thermos as a kid, except the cheapo lunchbox variety. I suspect it’s residual from reading The Vegan Lunchbox blog from 2005-2006. I think everyone who followed that blog secretly wanted to be little Schmoo with his goodie-filled bento box and thermos of homemade soup!
More recently, I’ve seen some Amish men riding their bikes with a big Stanley tied to the back. “What’s in there,” I wonder! I am continually fascinated by the Amish, and I love trading recipes, tips and gardening ideas with our Amish friends. (444 word count right then. As Doreen Virtue explains, “444 — Thousands of angels surround you at this moment, loving and supporting you. You have a very strong and clear connection with the angelic realm, and are an Earth angel yourself. You have nothing to fear—all is well.”)
Anyway, yesterday, I decided to buy two Stanley thermos bottles — one’s a 2-quart stainless steel thermos that keeps things hot for 24 hours; the other, plastic one was about 1/4 the cost and keeps 1.5 quarts hot for 12 hours. I tested the larger one by filling it with half a gallon of boiling water early yesterday afternoon, and it was still piping hot over 16 hours later.
We don’t eat many grains, but I love the idea of soaking my brown rice overnight — which I do with leftover “starter” from the soak water of previous rice, in order to remove as much phytic acid as possible — and then, instead of spending 45-minutes worried about bubbling over pots, just pouring boiling water over soaked rice in a thermos and letting it sit for 6-12 hours. Yes, that takes more planning, but it takes almost no electricity, and no fussing over the stove. It’s a perfect solution for grid-down scenarios, everyday energy conservation, and those hot summer nights when you want rice, but really don’t want to heat up your kitchen.
Apparently, you can make all sorts of things in a Stanley thermos, including split pea soup from dried peas! I would modify the linked recipe without the ham, but yum! In fact, this Boat Galley site offers some really cool ideas for cooking (and living) with minimal energy, space, water and options. I never thought about it, because I’m not a boater, but living on a boat requires hauling in your own water and propane, minimal electrical options, and that results in some creative energy efficiency ideas.
Given how much I love this planet, I always enjoy finding ways to walk a little lighter, consume a bit less, require less transportation … . Growing much of my own food and supporting local farmers not only tastes amazingly fresh and saves money and transportation resources … it’s also beautiful and deeply satisfying, especially the edible flowers! And the flower pot appliances? I don’t know, but it makes me giddy to know all the amazing things one can do with flower pots in addition to growing herbs and flowers. The stainless steel Stanley thermos takes the cake, though. I’ve been on cloud nine ever since I bought that thing. Just sharing the joy, bizarre though it may seem.