Just What America Needs… to Play in the Woods

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERWhen the weather turns beautiful and everyone wants to head outside, what better way to do it than to have an idea in mind. Some people like to river raft down the nation’s free-flowing rivers. Others like to ride bicycles or motor scooters. And America loves to garden and man, do we ever love to camp. What else do we like to do? And how do we get ideas for trying new experiences? Robin Blankenship, of Earth Knack, an organization that has been teaching primitive living skills for decades, has a new book out; How to Play in The Woods. Her new book gives “many easy and accessible activities and ideas about how to have fun out there.” How to Play in the Woods is a handy reference book for campers and outdoor enthusiasts who need to brush up on basic survival skills. If you need encouragement and motivation because you want and need to be interactive with nature… check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/How-Play-Woods-Activities-Survival/dp/1423641531

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

What’s the Difference Between Horses and Mules? This May Surprise You

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I’m lucky to have two beautiful mules move in next door. They are gorgeous. They’re tall, sleek and exceptionally friendly. They carry packs for hikers in Yosemite. They’re a little aggressive, they’re pushing the field fence over but I can fix that with a strand of electric fence tape. (Much as I hate to.)

I’ve discovered there are some differences between them and my Quarter-pony, “Sugar.” For one thing, they graze everything. It looks evenly mowed. Every horse I’ve ever had grazes what it likes and leaves the rest, allowing the things they dislike to go to seed and proliferate.

Another difference is… where’s the manure? They’ve been there for a couple of months and they gravitate to my pony. They’re always out there with him but they leave no droppings. Go figure. They must be tidy about it and have a spot somewhere else. Works for me. The last thing I need is two equines just over the fence leaving droppings that I can’t rake up. Did I say they’re gorgeous?

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

Take it Straight from an Italian Girl… Bread and Pizza Dough

My daughter-in-law comes from a large Italian family. When I watched her whip up a loaf of fresh bread, I was taken back by the ease at which she went about it. It was a hot summer day, so she would have no problem with the yeast rising. We went hiking in the Arboretum while the dough rose and when we got home, she stuck it in the oven. We had fresh bread for dinner.

When I bake bread, I make four loaves. It is a big deal and consumes a lot of my day and my time. But today, when I pulled out an Italian cookbook and looked up pizza, I found my answer. The recipe calls for one cup of warm water and one pound of flour. I looked up the equivalent of one pound of flour and found that it was only two cups. I got out a big wooden bowl and prepared the dough. It was so much easier than the eight cups of flour I usually have spilled over my kitchen counter. The recipe was for pizza dough but I can use the same simple recipe for making one little loaf of bread at a time. Here’s the pizza recipe:

2 cups of flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup lukewarm water

1 cake yeast or 1 tablespoon yeast granules

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl mix the salt, yeast, honey, olive oil and lukewarm water. (I used a rubber spatula.) Add the flour. Mix and knead it for about fifteen minutes. Shape it into a ball and cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. Set it in a warm spot on your counter for about three hours until it doubles in size.

After it has risen, oil a cookie sheet (or pizza pan if you have it) and spread the dough onto it. Add your toppings, sauce and cheese and bake it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. If you like it browned, lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake another ten to fifteen minutes.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

First Thing in the Morning… a Sharp Knife and a Good Cutting Board

In the morning, before I get up, I think about what I’m going to fix for breakfast for my hubby and myself and what kind of sandwiches I’m going to make for his lunch. Because I am still half asleep, when I get downstairs to the kitchen, I like a sharp knife and a large wooden cutting board. Standing at the counter cooking at 7:30 in the morning is one of many things I do to keep healthy and energized and having a sharp, long, slender, serrated steel knife that slices through tomatoes quickly, on top of a stable, wooden cutting board, gets the job done. The sooner I get the breakfast routine done, the sooner I can move on to things I really enjoy, like gardening, writing and ironically, cooking and baking… once I’ve woken up.CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

I Have Re-discovered Waxed Paper

I’m the chef around my house… I enjoy cooking. And I make sandwiches for my husband five days a week. But being the environmentalist that I am, I hate wrapping them in plastic. Every time I use a plastic bag I think about the horrendous video I watched on Facebook about seabirds who ingest our cast away plastic bags and tons of other plastic items. Even though I recycle bread wrappers, etc., it is still plastic and winds up in the garbage eventually. I bought a big roll of waxed paper for only $1.50 and this morning, the sandwiches wrapped up really well in them. It was kinda fun using it. I looked all over the box for the “ingredients.” I couldn’t find anything. I “heard” that waxed paper is more ecological because it breaks down. I think it’s a step up from plastic and I’m pleased so far. On the box, it had several other uses for it but for now, I think I’ll just stick with a new, old-fashioned way to wrap up sandwiches for my hard-working fellow. (He’s a surveyor in the Sierras… he climbs mountains.)CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78