Thursday, January 31, 2008

Closing the loop

Today it was time to transplant my baby garbonzo bean plants out of their egg shells. (We save the halves of our egg shells and put them back in the egg carton to make a no-mess seed starting pot. It beats the heck out of those peat pellets, which are environmental nightmares!) It's too cold to put their fragile selves outside, so I just took a couple of Trader Joe's Graham Cracker boxes, filled them with potting soil and a special amendment, and then popped the little egg cups full of baby plants into the dirt. Okay, first I squeezed the egg shells so they would be full of cracks and holes at the bottom, giving the plants' roots plenty of places to creep out and find their new soil.

That special amendment? Worm castings! I finally got enough worms out of one end of the bin to harvest the castings today. I've been feeding only the front end for about three weeks now, just waiting until I needed some delicious compost. It looked like pipe tobacco, a rich warm brown, and smelled nice, very earthy. Not stinky at all! Then I threw down some more bedding and rotated the bin. I'll be ready to collect the next half in a couple of weeks, and then I'll let it hang out for a few months, building up matter.

I love my worms!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


So another goal for this blog is to post regular ecotips, with labels, so they are findable.

Right now I am happy to say we are the proud non-owners of plastic wrap. During the Christmas season, I used the last of the roll that we brought when we moved into this apartment, and now we have NO PLASTIC WRAP. It's a good, but challenging situation. I find myself saving the plastic bags that tortillas and tempeh come in and reusing them. That's a good feeling. But my main tip is: you can use a plate to cover bowls of leftovers, just like your mom (or grandmother) did in the 50s! It works fine, although for the bigger bowls in my house, I had to use an inverted aluminum pie plate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Simple food, simply great!

So here we go. New look, new focus, new Opera Buffo. I'm pretty excited, although I have a feeling the picture of the squirrel won't last long. The biggest excitement is the labels. They matter because I plan to finally post recipes here, and the labels will let you find something good to eat! Let me know how it works for you.

A lot of the food projects that I will be posting will be easy, easy weekday recipes, and they should all be vegan. It's fun to share the mad brainstorming that can happen in the kitchen when you just throw together a meal, and I really want to help more people tap into that. I keep meeting people who only cook from recipes and it blows my mind. Recipes are fun, but it's like following a paint-by-numbers kit: confining and style-less.

So let's jump in! Here's the bare bones of a great soup that you can tinker with by adding or subtracting spicy elements and crunchy toppings.

Corn Chowder

This recipe is modified from a chowder recipe in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, and it just doesn't get easier than this.
Basic soup recipe:
2-3 cups corn; if using frozen, run under warm water to thaw
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
3-5 cups hot water (3 cups to start, add water if you prefer a thinner soup)
Bells & whistles (optional):
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp ground cumin
1 chipotle chile and 1 tsp adobo sauce (more to taste)
Handful of cilantro leaves
1 or 2 chopped green onions

Place all the basic soup ingredients in a blender. Add as many or few optional ingredients. Blend on medium until smooth.

Top with any of the following ingredients:
Black beans
Avocados, sliced
Green onions
Corn chips


Friday, January 25, 2008

The times, they are a-changin'!

Prepare to see a new look coming to this blog! I've gotten a little bored with the look and content of Opera Buffo and I hope to do a little bit of remodeling.

See ya soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Seed Catalog

It's officially seed catalog season, friends! I keep finding myself going through mine, over and over, visualizing this year's garden. Could I really put in enough stakes and strings to support all those beans? And how much space does a zucchini plant need, really? Visions of weird lettuces and obscure herbs are dancing in my head.

I can't wait to get planting! In fact, now that I know that Everybody's Garden Center has moved, and is now only ten blocks from my house, I just might pick up some grow lights and start spring early!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sleep is good food

Okay, that is a nonsensical title if ever there was one. But it is amazing how much better the brain works when you've had a little extra sleep. Instead of struggling for words and logic, I'm actually putting ideas together with ease and facility. Or at least I sound like English is my native tongue.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Eat to live

So I started reading a book called Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, MD. Susan, over on, has mentioned his stuff a number of times, and her recipes often draw on his work. I finally broke down and got the book from the library.

The funny thing about this book is that all the nutritional information lines up with a book I read last year called The Sun Food Diet Success System, by David Wolfe. Now this was one of the most fascinating book I have ever read. A combination of in-depth nutritional research, surfer/hippy stories, bizarre spiritual poems and recipes, all combined in the ugliest design you'll see on a book shelf (although the new edition looks pretty, the old one was green with Greek-ish clip art). Fuhrman bills himself as a mainstream weight-loss and heart health guy; Wolfe presents himself as a far-out guru.

But their information is fascinating and I think accurate. They are both advising to people to make raw greens the majority of their diet, because that is the best way to get your protein, vitamins and minerals. Yes, that's right: protein. For every 100 calories of romaine lettuce, you get 11.6 grams of protein. For every 100 calories of top sirloin, 5.4. Of course, 100 calories of romaine is like an entire pound of romaine, but that's an entirely different story...

Well, I just realized that bedtime is calling and I didn't do an of the "real" work I planned to do tonight. You know, that real writing stuff I try to squeeze in around my glamorous regular life. Crap. But what the heck--at least I started my third novel today!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy freakin' New Year

After six days without service, I finally have a dial tone. And if you don't think I've missed the Internet, then you are craaaazy.

See, a month ago I paid my phone bill. And those charming people at Qwest applied my payment to the account of the person who used to have my phone number. I know, because they told me today. They couldn't figure it out when I first called, December 14th. Or the second time, December 28th. Even the nice lady I talked to on January 3rd--after my phone was disconnected--didn't understand it. But they could see that I had made a payment. They just couldn't tell my account that I had. And apparently knowing that you made a payment isn't reason enough to actually fix your f*cking phone.

Needless to say, I don't have a lot of good to say about the phone company right now. In fact, if you ask me, having spent one month, five phone calls, and almost two hours of hold time, I think we're switching providers. They didn't even offer me any discounts for not being able to use my service for a *week*.