Thursday, October 18, 2012

Local Apple Recipe: Apple Sharlotka

Pick some apples, and find local eggs and bulk flour at Elm City Market! Adapted from

Apple Sharlotka:
Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan
6 large, tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
Ground cinnamon, to finish
Powdered sugar, also to finish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan. Peel, halve and core your apples, then chop them into medium-sized chunks. (I cut each half into four “strips” then sliced them fairly thinly — about 1/4-inch — in the other direction.) Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
Pour over apples in pan, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter so that it covers all exposed apples. (Updated to clarify: Spread the batter and press it down into the apple pile. The top of the batter should end up level with the top of the apples.) Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out free of batter. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter. Dust lightly with ground cinnamon.
Serve warm or cooled, dusted with powdered sugar.

Thinking about Trash

Sometimes I think that trash cans epitomize this giant lie we tell ourselves--the lie that there is an "away" when we throw things away.  It's wonderfully convinient to have this receptacle that will indiscriminately accept all of our junk, so we don't have to look about it or feel guilty about it or think about it anymore. 

Make a mess in the kitchen?  Reach for some paper towels, wipe it up, and throw them away. It's gone! On the other hand, if I was to find a dishtowel or rag, it would be more like transfering the counter mess onto my rag, which would then just be another mess that I'd have to look at and wash later.  

Washing dishes? Finding a container for my compost and reminding myself to drop it in the compost bin within a reasonable amount of days is a whole extra step (or several)--and the all-accepting Trash Can is just right here.  All I have to do is scrape those veggies into the trash and I won't have to think about them again!

I cleaned out my backpack before taking a train trip yesterday and found lots of old papers, candy wrappers, broken pens, and receipts.  The receipt from my 3-item purchase at the grocery store was 17 inches long!  But, not having time to sort through all of this junk in my bag, it was easiest just to dump everything into the trash.  Problem solved...

I will never forget a conversation  I had with a friend in Haiti two summers ago. As we walked along the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, I commented on all of the trash that lined the road.  Mass quantities of donated clothes, shoes, and household items.  The little plastic baggies that used to contain UN water rations.  Candy wrappers, soda bottles, styrafoam.  Had we somehow been able to pick up and bag all of the trash, there would have been  no place to put it.  "In Haiti, there is no away," my friend said. "We are the 'away' for the United States and all the rich people."

To live in a city with relatively little litter, in a house with an uncluttered room and a clean kitchen, and to carry a backpack that is no longer junk-y--these are not marks of virtue. They are marks of privilege.  Privileged to believe the lie of the trash can that says that convenience has no cost, and that anything we don't want to see can be made to disappear.

Day 1: Consumption
Not having a great deal of time or money available to spend on shopping sprees, I don’t feel like I should have a hard time making commitment to not buy anything this week.  But as soon as I say I’m not going to do it, of course, I want to. All of a sudden, I need new jeans, the “7” key on my cell phone doesn’t work, and my inbox is flooded with coupons for Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  So many things!  I was able to talk myself out of buying anything this week by visiting the Stuff Swap in the Common Room.  But, even there, I found myself suddenly “needing” the most random things.  I picked up a couple of jars, just in case...I might need them...maybe they’ll come in handy.  And a mini crock pot! How exciting! And how incredibly useless (sorry if you were the kind donor of the crock pot)!  It’s big enough to hold about half a ladle of soup, but I’m sure I will find a fantastic use for it, after it sits in my cabinet for a few years.  Some books, a bag, and a few more of those handy jars, and my spree was complete.

Somehow, I think I lost the main point of resisting the compulsion to accumulate stuff...

Monday, October 15, 2012

From the thoughts of Kate Lichti...

Kate says:

This poem seems fitting, the line about "Everyday do something that doesn't compute," for our no-impact week. I like to think about paying attention, slowing down, doing things like taking a look at our trash, as a rebellious act. 

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

One of the articles in Reclaiming Politics (IC#30)
Originally published in Fall/Winter 1991 on page 62
Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Looking forward to walking through this week with the 42 (and counting) folks who have signed up for No Impact Week 2012!

To learn more about the official No Impact Project, visit And if you know of someone who would like to join our challenge this week, have them send me an email at so I can put them on the list!

Luanne Panarotti sent me this reading this evening; it's beautifully-written and a good way to kick off the week!

From The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor

One Sunday he asked me to sit up close to the pulpit.  He wanted me to hear his sermon, he said, and as I listened to him talk about the beauty of God’s creation and our duty to be awed by it, all of a sudden I heard him telling the congregation about a little girl who kept tadpoles in a birdbath so that she could watch over them as they turned into frogs, and how her care for those creatures was part of God’s care for the whole world.

It was as if someone had turned on all the lights – not only to hear myself spoken of in church, but to hear that my life was part of God’s life, and that something as ordinary as a tadpole connected the two.  My friend’s words changed everything for me.  I could no longer see myself or the least detail of my life in the same way again.  When the service was over that day I walked out of it into a God-enchanted world, where I could not wait to find further clues to heaven on earth.  Every leaf, every ant, every shiny rock called out to me – begging to be watched, to be listened to, to be handled and examined.  I became a detective of divinity, collecting evidence of God’s genius and admiring the tracks left for me to follow: locusts shedding their hard bodies for soft, new winged ones; prickly pods of milkweed spilling silky white hair; lightning spinning webs of cold fire in the sky, as intricate as the veins in my own wrist.  My friend taught me to believe that these were all words in the language of God, hieroglyphs given to puzzle and delight me even if I never cracked the code.