Monday, March 30, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

I made a chocolate cake tonight. Basically because I needed it. Elyssa and I have talked about the fact that plants should grow in chocolate cake batter. This may or may not be because of this:

My batter did not look quite like that. But I bet it tasted better.

Anyway I got the recipe from Hello Veggie, but I made a few small changes. These changes are in no way enough for me to take any credit for this yummy cake. So thank you Jenn at Hello Veggie for making my night.

1 cup soy milk + 1 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 unbleached white flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup softened (not melted)non-dairy non-hydrogenated butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw sugar
2 T maple syrup

Preheat Oven to 325ยบ. Add the vinegar to the soy milk and set aside to curdle. In a large bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and sift if needed. In a medium bowl combine butter with sugar, maple syrup and extracts. Then cream these ingredients until smooth and add the milk. Next add the dry mixture and stir together until a smooth batter forms.

Grease your cake pan well and fill 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in center. If the toothpick comes out clean, it's done. If it's got batter stuck to it, continue baking for 5 minute intervals until done. Allow cake to cook in the pan for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

After a few days of staying in bed, I'm feeling much better. Most people, after being sick for a while, eventually get over it and feel better and go on with their lives. Well, I apparently don't do that. On the day I was finally feeling better I got a canker sore just so my body could prove how much it hates me. I don't mean to be a big baby about this, we've all had canker sores, they hurt a little and then they go away, no big deal. This one keep getting caught on my tooth, but I'm trying to ignore it. The thing that bothers me the most is that after a month of being ill, I really just wanted to be better. Well now I can't sleep so well on my left side. Bonnie gave me some clove essential oil, which is pretty amazing. As soon as you put it on you can't feel the sore anymore. It lasts for a long enough time as well. I haven't been using it lately because it doesn't really hurt so much anymore and I had a feeling it was making my cut angrier.

Enough of that. I finally ventured out into the greenhouse a few days ago to see what I had been missing. I took a bunch of wonderful pictures of wonderful growing things. The cucumbers in particular make me happy. They grew so fast and they look so cheery and happy. I also moved my sprouted eggplants to bigger soil blocks yesterday. It's so great to finally be planting after months of winter and trying to find ways to stay busy. I've been living on a farm for 6 months and I haven't done much growing and planting.

Last night we had a little house meeting where we talked about what needs to get done this week. We started off the meeting by saying what kind of machine we felt like (I felt like a soil blocker, but then later reconsidered and decided I felt more like bellows because I'm coughing so much), and then we talked about our favorite and least favorite things we've done since getting here. I mentioned the fact that we are growing things now and the incident with the moldy hay.

This week looks pretty good. More planting and transplanting. Some people who want to help Bonnie and Oliver buy a farm are coming by on Tuesday so we've been cleaning up a bit for them. On Wednesday we're going to visit Jay's property in Jamaica (yes, Jamaica is in Vermont). And then more and more planting.

I had some pictures to put up, but I can't seem to find my camera at the moment, which is odd. I'll look around for it tonight and maybe add some pictures later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

I don't have much to say about the farm today. I'm still sick and I've spent most of the last three days in bed. I know there are things happening, but sadly I am not really part of them. I'm glad that we got two more WWOOFers when we did because I am being utterly useless right now. I can't wait to get back out to the greenhouse.

I have spent a lot of time catching up on Vegan Radio episodes and also reading articles that fellow twitterers send out. Someone posted this one, which I found pleasing. The only thing lacking from that article is the wrap-up sentence of: JOIN A CSA. I've also been looking at lots of food blogs recently and I want to update my links section. There is a lot of really good information out there and anytime someone can compile a useful list is great. I'm not really doing anything better with my time, so I'll be working on that today.

Oh, I almost forgot. Last night our friend Jay brought his dog Kira over to spend the night here. I never really caught why, but I assume he had to go somewhere and couldn't bring her. Nisi freaked out and harassed her for a long time, while she mostly just tried to mind her own business. I guess after a few hours of Nisi's harassment Kira finally snapped and the two have been barking at each other non-stop. They slept inside in different rooms, so we had a quiet night, but they have been at it all day again. They don't really do any serious scuffling unless they end up on the porch where the food is and the space is small. I've heard Oliver go out there twice and yell at them. I think it's good to see a dog stand up to Nisi, as long as it doesn't get out of hand. Nisi is so used to being growly and vicious sounding to other dogs and they end up backing down, so she never stops. At least this dog doesn't seem to be putting up with her, or hurting her, so it could be a good thing. They teamed up for barking at the garbage man, so maybe they're friends now.

Oliver came in here and brought me a mysterious orange drink and told me that it would make me better. I believe he called it switchel? It kind of looks like orange juice and honey, plus I trust Oliver so I took a sip. NEVER TRUST SOMEONE WHO WON'T TELL YOU WHAT THE HELL THEY ARE GIVING YOU. Garlic, ginger, honey and lemon juice. Oh my god, that is spicy! But he claims it will make me better and I keep hearing about how good it is to have ginger and garlic when sick. Probably because nothing living in my body will survive this drink very long. Ugh.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

I'm tired of this being sick thing. I've had some kind of cold since I got back from NY. I'm thinking it may have been two or three colds all in a row, not counting that short-lived stomach thing. I'm so glad today is a day off because I feel pretty awful and I need the rest. The kids have been sick as well and I'm thinking we just keep giving things to each other.

Yesterday Oliver gave me the project of installing outlets in the greenhouse to have a system of fans that circulate the air and are all on one switch. Normally this is the kind of job I would really enjoy, but I just ended up frustrated because I couldn't focus very well. Oliver had to explain things to me several times because I just wasn't able to follow him. Guv was also at my feet talking about Oliver's birthday (which is not until summer), so that made it even harder. Finally I told Oliver that I needed to go inside and get a bit of lunch and a break and then I'd be able to focus.

When I went back out I got the general idea of the whole thing and started working. I've never installed outlets before because that's not really something I would normally do in theatre. Generally the power you need is already there in some form and we rarely use Edison plugs anyway. I understood what I had to do, but the chair I was standing on was just a little too short and the sun was really in my eyes. Oliver and Jay offered me their sunglasses which helped, and I should have had the sense to go and get something taller to stand on, but I just wanted to get it done. It's 90% finished now, it just needs a male Edison for the end beginning of the system and a switch. The whole project took me so much longer than it should have, but I'm happy with the result and once it's totally complete it'll be so useful.

To end, I will post some pictures of what's growing in there.




Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

The Logger and I headed back to Manchester on Monday after our week of being shunned. The drive back was wonderful because I noticed just how much of the snow had melted. This grass stuff is EVERYWHERE. The weather has been so warm and nice, I've been able to go out in my sweatshirt, without a coat and gloves and scarf. I finally said out loud, "Spring is here!" Later that day I did the thing I had managed to avoid all winter and thought I was safe from: I slipped on ice and fell on my ass. No one saw this, so I of course had to tell everyone about it (hello internet).

Finished soil blocks

Things in Manchester are great. The greenhouse looks so promising with all its soil blocks lined up in trays. Some of them have started to grow just a little and Elyssa (another WWOOFer) and I have voiced our wish that we could eat this stuff already. Today we plant cucumbers, which I would like ready by dinner time please.

Soil block makers

Yesterday I was making soil blocks for a good part of the day. Oliver had first shown me how to do this with micro blocks, which are teeny tiny and I got into a fight with them. Alone. In the kitchen. Bonnie had told me she thought the bigger ones were even harder, so I wasn't looking forward to it. However, the bigger blocks are about a thousand times easier for me. No troubles. Oliver walked up to me yesterday and said "Nice blocks!" which I was super happy about. Then I paused for a minute and realized that if some random person had said that to me in New York I probably would have been pissed, and maybe also a little confused. Yep, I do like farm life better than city life.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Logger's House - Pawlet, VT

Yesterday The Logger went back to Manchester to do buckets for me, and while he was there he did me the amazing favor of picking up my computer. Its poor little battery was dead. And then I also dropped it. But it's fine now, I apologized and it seems to have accepted. I even hooked it up to the internet so now it must love me extra-special. And that's what I'm telling myself.

After two days I'm finally feeling better. Yesterday I didn't really get out of bed. My body felt pretty crap-tastic. I woke up with a horrific kind of migraine, which I have not experienced for years, probably due to severe de-hydration. I spent all morning drinking water and staying in bed, and manged to eat some yummy Teleion salad, and my headache is mostly gone. I can have the light on now and my head doesn't feel like it's being bashed in with a sledge hammer every time I move. Triumph! The one good ting I can say about this flu is that it comes and goes quickly.

I found Lord of the Flies on the bookshelf today I decided to finally finish reading it. If I'm going to be here for another day then I'll need a way to occupy myself. I picked up that book years and years ago, read it to the climactic point and then put it down. It was some weird phase I was going through because I did it with several other books at that time as well. I must have only been about 10 or 11 at the time, because I was still living in New York. Lord of the Flies is the only one I never finished. Better late than never.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Logger's House - Pawlet, VT

Last night, a few chapters into the fourth book, I finally put down The Chronicles of Narnia and have no intention of picking it up again. Why I got three books into this awful series, I'm really not sure. I always had bad feelings about it and I proved myself right. I clearly have a very serious and personal issue with C.S. Lewis, because I find him pompous and preachy. I didn't even take it personally when he insulted a character by pointing out their vegetarianism, but I can't deal with his underlying brainwashing in children's book. It doesn't help that the books are transparent and the characters are boring and two-dimentional. And I'm not going to take the fact that they are children's books as an excuse for over-simplified writing. The Hobbit was written for children. It probably didn't help that I put the book down while I was hanging out in the bathroom because I was feeling so sick and was tired of going back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom, so I just brought a book to take my mind off of it.

That stomach bug finally caught up with me. I got it two days earlier than expected, but I'm glad to have gotten it over with. Mostly. Obviously I'm not going into details here, but there was a moment when I was curled up on the bathroom floor trying to use positive energy to make myself feel better and heal by thanking the virus for coming early and making my immune system stronger. This did not work. Maybe because I'm not sure that I really meant it. Telling myself that I had felt much much worse at other times in my life didn't work either. I knew I'd been through worse and that this would only be a few hours of my entire life, but man were those some terrible hours. I'm glad the worst part is over with. Why can't these things ever happen in the middle of the day when you're wide awake?

Getting sick meant that The Logger and I missed the bris today. Oliver called to tell us that the baby's name is Eden. I can't even say how much I love this name. I'm so excited to get back to Teleion Holon after I'm feeling better. Maybe another day or two. So glad we came here, because it would have been terrible for anyone else to have caught this, especially Bonnie and little Eden. I can't seem to get over my excitement of having a new baby in the house.

Today I feel achy all over, like I've over-used my body somehow. I had a strawberry popsicle this morning and it was the best thing I had ever eaten in my life. Or it was while I was eating it. I don't even like popsicles, but this one was made with real strawberries and had no artificial anything. Crazy how being sick will make the simplest things into life changing events. So today has been a popsicle and water day. I grumbled to The Logger a few times about how he was not allowed to talk about food in any way. I'm feeling a little hungry but eating sounds like the worst idea ever. Actually, I think I'll never eat again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Logger's House - Pawlet, VT

I'm currently under quarantine in Pawlet. The story behind this is a little frustrating. Almost two weeks ago, The Logger's sister went away to Spain and her son came up here to spent time with his grandmother. While he was here he came down with a stomach flu. Six days later The Loger's mother came down with it, though somewhat worse and he came out here to take care of her and his nephew. Bonnie thought it would be best if he stayed in Pawlet until we were sure he didn't also catch this flu and give it to her and the kids. One bad way to welcome someone into the word is to give him a stomach flu in his first week.

Six days passed and The Logger still felt fine, so he came back to Teleion. That night he got ill, thus exposing me to the virus. I told Oliver in the morning and we all thought it would be best if The Logger and I went back to Pawlet until the whole thing passed. If he had just waited one more night I would still be at Teleion, having something to do and not worrying about a stomach flu. I'm still fighting off this silly cold, so hopefully I'll just get this thing quick and get over it. I tend to get over things pretty quickly and my stomach is used to feeling crap-tastic now and again (for no apparent reason my stomach often gets upset for a few hours every now and again. I usually try to ignore it). Stomach flues don't usually last too long or hit me too hard.

So now I'm here. I forgot my computer, which is a little annoying. There's no wireless internet here, so it's not like I could post from it anyway, but I do like to type in the morning and also play that damn solitaire game I'm addicted to. Not to mention it has music and podcasts on it, which are endlessly more entertaining than watching TV. I've already finished the one book I brought, so it looks like I might end up reading The Chronicles of Narnia after all. I've been avoiding that one my whole life, but the whole series is sitting right there on the shelf and seems more promising than the pop-up Christmas book next to it.

Seriously though, I just need to get this virus, get over it, and then head back to Manchester. My computer needs me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

Some exciting news today! Yesterday there were two newcomers to the Teleion Holon home. The first newcomer was the newest Levis. The little guy arrived while I was out feeding the chickens. He made his arrival known in the middle of the night and finally joined his family the next day. Max and I switched off watching the kids all morning and in the afternoon everyone took a little nap. We're calling him Zusha for now, but that will not be his real name. His name will be announced next weekend with everyone here.

He's a cute little guy and if he's like his older siblings he'll only get cuter. My mother never misses an opportunity to tell me what an ugly baby I was and how appalled she was that when I was born I looked like my paternal grandmother. She yelled at my father for this. Thanks mom. It is kind of funny how babies can look like old men or women, while being so new to the world. Little Zusha may have his old man moments, but they are cute and also rather red.

Guv is very excited about his little brother and didn't miss an opportunity to hold him. I'm sure that the closeness of Oliver and Max brings even more meaning to Guv having a younger brother. Talula seems curious and also a little concerned that this new baby is taking her mother's attention away. Yesterday was a long day for her and she was mostly over-tired and behaving as such. It might be hard for her to understand what is happening at this point, but I'm sure that as time goes on she'll find that her mother still loves her just as much as before, but has made room in their lives for another person to love.

I'm going to hold off posting pictures until later. I think it's fair to let Bonnie and Oliver send out pictures to family first, before I unleash little Zusha on the internet. Internet, you will have to wait.

The other newcomer I mentioned is a new WWOOfer, Tyson. He was sort of a last minute addition who called the day before to tell Oliver he needed a place to stay for three weeks. Another WWOOFer is coming on Sunday. This is going to be a busy, busy house compared to what it has been.

Oh Oh!! and I also wanted to link to this awesome website I found.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Teleion Holon - Manchester, VT

How crazy that there is going to be another person in this house soon. I'm not even referring to the new WWOOFer that is coming in a few days. I'm talking about the new baby. It's a bit of a waiting game at the moment, but any day now there will be another little Levis, though probably louder and more opinionated than the current Levis family. I'm so excited to meet this tiny person that we've all been focused on. Bonnie wants to have the baby at home, so I'll be watching Guv and Talula if they don't sleep through it, or are not at daycare. I was hoping The Logger would be around to help me (i.e. keep me happy while I attempt to keep the kids happy), but his mother got a nasty stomach flu so he is off taking care of her, and has been kind of quarantined. If a stomach bug made its way into this house it would be a huge and awful mess. I couldn't even begin to imagine giving birth while fighting a stomach flu.

I find it so strange that a woman has so little control over when her baby is born, even though it is her own body. Of course I find most things that the body seems to do on its own with no prompting from the conscience mind rather odd. Carsickness especially baffles me. A friend of mine started going into labor six months early. She knew it wasn't right, but could not stop it. Evolution seems to have a much stronger hold on the body than the mind does. Luckily the doctors were able to help her and she gave birth to a healthy boy only a month early.

I'd like to mentally help my body fight a virus because I've got a little bit of a cold at the moment, which has been going through the house. It did a good job of keeping me awake and cranky last night, so I'm happy that Bonnie didn't go into labor. Oliver told me to take this nasty-tasting echinacea & goldenseal herbal supplement to boost my immune system. I hope it's doing something, because the taste really lingers in your mouth forever, and it's not pleasant. I'm not really into taking medication, but since this is holistic and aimed at strengthening my immune system, instead of impeding it, I'm all for it. I feel quite certain that taking medications aimed at relieving cold symptoms actually make you worse, because those symptoms are the ways your body fights illness.

In other news, I made rice flour tortillas again, this time with an egg and they came out slightly better. They also lasted for more than a few hours and were still soft the next day. They don't stay together so well, but I think a blend of flours will help that. It's an ongoing experiment. When I finally get it right, I'll post it. I'm hoping to find a way to not use an egg, because I always prefer to cook vegan and I especially prefer it when people are not using commodity eggs on account of my recipes.