Welcome to The Pauley Principle!

The Pauli Principle, named for Wolfgang Pauli, deals with atoms and electron-sharing that results in new, stronger bonds. Think 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen, a shared delectable (!) electron and VOILA! Water!

Similarly, when you prepare whole food to share with family and friends, especially foods you've grown, something amazing happens. Meals become tastier and healthier. Your soul, not just your stomach, becomes fulfilled. You live life more abundantly as a result. During a shared meal, the bonds that people create grow stronger and become something new: GREATER than the sum of the parts! I give you The Pauley Principle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wanted: A Newly Designed American Dream



As I brought in my herbs in time to beat the first frost of fall, I was reminded of an earlier post about getting started on the road to being more self-reliant. I still believe growing tomatoes and herbs is a good place to start building toward a better future and defining a new American Dream.

   Our country is at a turning point. Each time we hit a turning point, the American Dream changes. My simple gardening approach is much more practical for most Americans than following books from the early 40's or mid-70's that touted having five acres and independence or becoming independent on an acre. In today's reality, buying and working an acre of tillable ground is out of reach for many and simply not practical. By contrast, herbs and tomatoes can be raised in pots on a patio and don't require much money. 

    The American Dream that sprang up in the 50's, in between the " back to the land" movements, resulted in the Smallvilles, Pleasantvilles, and even the literary Stepford. The public perception was manipulated so that "living off the land" was thought to be for poor but proud people, those who were willing to work hard just to keep food on the table. The boom times of the 50's in the U. S. had many people feeling rich, living rich, in comfortable little housing subdivisions. "Living off the land", in fact gardening itself, was no longer the thing to do. Ad execs did a fine job of painting the landscape. They showed land ownership as costly, inconvenient and undesirable for the American family. People were persuaded that, with their new leisure time, what the newly-planted American family needed was a 40-hour work week followed with activities such as ball games, bowling and family vacation spots to fill time and serve as diversions from agrarian life and crime. People were happy, and for a while crime was on the decline. Farming and food production, done largely by big corporations, was believed to be a more efficient way to feed the masses.
    At some point and for many Americans, the last train to the American Dream left the station unexpectedly, passing by many young people before they could even buy a ticket into Pleasantville or out of Fear or Hopelessness. For many, the only place left is Poverty, where people have little control. The ticket to Poverty is practically free, costing only a little self-respect. That's an extreme price to pay for both the individual and the country. That lack of control, that anger, leads to higher crime rates and drug use as means of getting by or coping with problems that poverty brings. The "lost generation" is those people in their 20's, the ones who are hurting the most, especially those who are un- or under- employed and have a college loan and/or health costs to pay off. No one should live in hunger or despair, and if this generation is allowed to slide under the train of dreams as it pulls out, our entire nation will suffer for it. 

    Number one in my attempt to make this a better world is to get people "back to the land", no matter how small their piece of the rock, whether rented, bought or shared with others. We gain balance as we work the soil, plant and nurture. And with that balance comes a sense of purpose.

    Since the unattainable American Dream of the past makes a lot of people very angry, and rightly so, the old paradigm needs to shift. What will the new dream look like? It's anyone's guess, but a new version, an adjusted and attainable American Dream that pairs Pleasantville with Farmville, should  be within reach. If we can just find and plant the magic bean, one that will bring jobs and needed productivity, then people can again work an honest, good-paying job to afford decent housing and good food. We need that magic bean as a way to help people get up on the platform for the next train, one that leads to a newly-designed American Dream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

HI HO, HI HO, It's home from work we go!

Look closely and you'll see the chimney smoke wafting up into the sky while the rain makes a faint mist.

    Fantastic fall days reluctantly gave way to the wind and the raindrops that had been teasing at us, threatening us with a cold front. Even as I plan to work with Second Harvest food banks about the drastic effects Ohio's Issue 3 would have, Chris and I were pushed to get the last of our harvest in while I could still get into a dry garden and Chris could process our chickens in good weather. 
    The lawn isn't mowed. Flowerbeds aren't tended. Those things have had to wait while I gathered and processed the last of the garden veggies and Chris worked in a mad frenzy processing the last of our meat chickens. We both finished the same day, just after the rain began pouring down and the wind lifted the tarp that covered the chicken plucker.

    I didn't take time or have the inclination to get photos of the chicken processing out of my respect and reverence for the animals that are making such a huge contribution to our food supply. Processing chickens for food is not an easy thing to do, no matter how well designed the set-up is.

    Next year, I'm looking forward to eggs from our little Speckled Sussex hens. I also hope our fruits do better and with a little more attention, they should. And I would love to fish more!

    Chris and I work at it. Chris, all the time. Me, not so much anymore. Although this year was not good for our strawberries, apples or grapes, we've processed maple syrup, venison, chicken, corn, green beans, salsa, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, pickles, and pumpkin. And we've laid by potatoes, zucchini, butternut, and acorn squash in winter storage. Admittedly, it's hard work, but it's not all for us. Almost every day we give someone some food. Not everyone can do this. We've been blessed. So now as I write, it's raining outside but it's cozy here with the warmth of the fireplace. Chris just came in from chopping wood and making sure it stays cozy.   

    My letter to the editor of our local paper regarding the unfair treatment and consequent shrinking of the middle class as it slides into poverty has just been published. I have spoken. I feel that, for now, for just this moment in time, with the canning and freezing equipment all cleaned and put away, supper in the oven, and the food laid by for winter, my work is done. Just for now.

    Tomorrow, I will speak again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Puree, No Can Can

For preserving pumpkin, consider freezing, consider drying, but don't can.
    For days I calculated the number of pint jars I would need to put up pumpkin. Never had I seen our pumpkin patch produce like this!  Even after we had our fill of pumpkin blossoms (I love those things! Great little appetizers!), we still had dozens of pumpkins. Even after I gave away pumpkins to friends and relatives and then made pies, still I had a lot of pumpkins! So, with jars all gathered and lids enough to do them,  pumpkins gathered, I just happened to read a blog I like to follow, and  learned unexpectedly that the USDA does not recommend the canning of pumpkin puree, not even with a pressure canner. So, before I proceeded, I checked the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving. They have guidelines for drying and freezing, not canning.
    Then I looked up the USDA guidelines for preserving pumpkin.

 The USDA Extension Service in 1989 revised its canning recommendation for pumpkin, saying pumpkin puree is NOT a good candidate for canning since pumpkins have too much variation in thickness, acidity and water content to recommend a single process. 

I decided to puree and freeze my pumpkin pulp in 16 oz. vacuum packs, just right for a pie or pumpkin roll. If you are interested in cooking cubed pumpkin, 
the USDA says you can can that
but, cautiously, the current Ball Blue Book is not showing that method for home canning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blue Ridge Rendezvous

      Chris is ready to share the "pic-a-nic basket" which he offered in his best Yogi Bear voice.

    Chris and I had both been feeling the fatigue of the harvest. He had been processing poultry every chance he got while I had been processing vegetables. When we got the chance (our anniversary seemed a good excuse), we took off for the Blue Ridge Parkway to a northern section we had not yet seen. Trees were at their peak of beauty, weather stayed gorgeous, and we did a whirlwind two-day loop. 

    Near the end of our old Caddy's cruise on that segment of parkway, we headed up Narrow Passage Road off VA state route 43. That drive took us out to where some of the real people live. For all you bikers, I made a mental note that it looked like a great road trip for two wheels, offering plenty of twists, turns, and switchbacks through the mountains on surprisingly smooth pavement.

    We followed that winding route for several miles to Shiloh Drive and the Blue Ridge Winery where homegrown grapes had been turned into wine which evidently flows freely at their frequent parties. We had the opportunity to join the vineyard staff at one of their parties and taste their wines.

    The only bears I saw on this trip:

     Not only did they offer tastes of their wine but they also had a band that played songs of the 80's. The band helped set the tone of their barn party and benches, tables, and occasional haybales allowed plenty of seating for the crowd to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells all around. Smoke drifted into the open barn from a nearby BBQ stand. The food on site came right out of that smoking trailer and tasted so good. Pulled pork sandwiches topped with a sweet BBQ sauce and cole slaw~YUM!!!
Eugene, the purveyor of Smokehouse BBQ, had quite an operation going with plenty of hardwood smoke and a hopping business that gave people huge servings of delicious pulled pork or chicken for a most reasonable price.