The last show of the season…

Well, we did it – Amelia and I ventured out in -35 and set up shop at the Moonlight Madness Market last night in Melville (40 minutes north of us – for those not sure where Melville is).  037

Coffee cup and thermos in tow, we set up shop and waited…and waited…and waited…

It would seem that there were not too many souls willing to brave the -30 some temperatures in a quest for Christmas gifts.

Rather disappointing really.

 

Ya win some, ya lose some.  Such is the way that these thing039s tend to go.

 

My crafting partner in crime, Amelia (E.A.R.T.H Jelly and Sisterhood of the Craft) is a real pro at these sorts of things and doesn’t let a bad night get her down.  Her hot pepper jellies (ALWAYS a hit) and the majority of last nights sale involved sock monkeys…usually, it’s the crochet caps that sell the fastest…go figure.

There are a few things that I have noticed over the last bit though – and keep in mind, these are strictly my own observations…

When it comes to the foods that are sold at these fairs…and there are ALWAYS tons fine local goods (from home made fudges, to cookies, cupcakes, canning…the list is almost endless…) people tend to ask a lot of questions.  Did you make this?  How much sugar is in it? Did you grow them yourself?

To a point, this is wonderful!  Quality ingredients, crafted with care and attention to the smallest ingredient. The customers are quite willing to pay top dollar (myself among them) for quality foods.  There was one lady in particular that eschewed trying Amelia’s jelly based on their sugar content…claiming she was trying to lose weight.  I found this odd – but then again, she most likely had a tin of diet soda behind her table thinking she’s going to make a difference in her health by consuming DIET everything…but, I digress – that is for another topic.

However, of the dozen or so folks that stopped to peruse Hippie Ways products last night – only ONE actually asked what was in it.  I found this somewhat sad.

To my Hippie mind…what you put ON your body is equally as important as what you put IN it.  Your skin is your largest organ.  It breathes, it detoxifies, it absorbs.   Pick up a package of pretty much ANYTHING in the average bath room these days and you will see list after list of things that 99% of people can’t pronounce, let alone fully grasp WHAT the ingredient is.

Bubble & Bee Organic  (a small Utah company) has an excellent article on commonly used ingredients – and why you should avoid them.  Here’s a quick rundown:

1. “Fragrance” can be one or more of 200 chemicals. Companies don’t have to disclose the actual components of each fragrance, under the guise that their fragrances are trade secrets. Fragrance has been known to cause many side effects, including headaches and allergic reactions.  The Environmental Working Group has an extensive database of cosmetic chemicals and their corresponding danger rankings. “Fragrance” recieves one of the highest rankings possible in their score system.

2. Methylparaben, or anything ending in “paraben.” These preservatives act like estrogen in the body, throwing off hormonal balance. Parabens have been shown to accumulate in cancerous breast tumors.

3. Tetrasodium EDTA is a preservative that’s made from the known carcinogen, formaldehyde and sodium cyanide. (see how) It is also a penetration enhancer, meaning it breaks down the skin’s protective barrier, going right into your bloodstream. Many companies trying to be “natural” will use Tetrasodium EDTA instead of parabens to preserve their products.

4. Diazolidinyl Urea readily breaks down in the product or on the skin and releases formaldehyde. It’s an endocrine disruptor, a possible neurotoxin, a known immune system toxicant, and has a possible link to cancer.

5. Propelyne Glycol, among other things, is a penetration enhancer, meaning it’s a carrier for other chemicals, bringing them into your skin and your bloodstream. It’s a known skin irritant, it has been shown to cause cancer in lab tests, a possible endocrine disruptor, and a possible neurotoxin. You can find it in over 3000 products, including lotions, deodorants, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner and body washes.

I also find that a lot of “natural” body care companies use many of the same ingredients.  Personally, I think that’s dirty pool.

I’m exceedingly proud of these items I’ve crafted.  Here’s to hoping that the next round of “show season” will bring more questions, more answers and whole lot of information sharing.  One hippie at a time.

Mayonnaise and Philosophy – The making of a hippie?

There’s a certain philosophy involved in calling one’s self a Hippie.  To some, it’s an entire realm of anti-establishment beliefs.  To others, it’s a movement – born in the 60’s, held over through modern times.

To me is a simple, natural, inexpensive way of doing things.

As a child of the 70’s with both parents being career minded individuals, my sister and I were pretty much brought up never having wanted for anything.  The life lessons that are usually passed from parent to child were present, but only in small amounts.

My first realization that I had missed out on certain things was standing in my first apartment, with my first room-mate, and looking at the large white box in the corner of the kitchen.  When I asked my roommate what “that” was, she looked at me like I’d lost my mind.  “It’s a stove, stupid”.

It was glaringly apparent that I had missed something along the way.

So, now that I had figured out that the family housekeeper does NOT come with your first apartment and that toilet paper did NOT miraculously arrive unbidden to the holder,  I had a little real life catching up to do.

Since then, I’ve made a point of never closing my mind to anything that could bring me information.  Learning how to cook was the start.  Learning how to survive has been the daily lesson ever since.

As with many,  life tends to get in the way of things.  Marriage, children, keeping everyone clean and fed on a daily basis takes over everything.

But it’s the little things you collect along the way that truly count.  For instance, doing something out of dire necessity and then realizing that the end result is far better for you, your health and our world.  A prime example, mayonnaise.

Yes, mayonnaise.  Sounds right silly, eh? (there you have it, 100% Canadian)  I had run out of mayonnaise.  Two babies in the house, oldest child in Kindergarten, husband at work, no vehicle, lived in a house on the hill and the LAST thing I felt like doing was loading up a HUGE baby stroller and stomping all the way downtown to buy mayonnaise with the two dollars I had in my purse.  So, what to do?

While the little ones were sleeping (a grace period any parent appreciates) I took the opportunity to flip through old cookbooks that belonged to my grandmother.  Having learned ( a few years prior) how to the work stove, cooking had become a bit of an enjoyment and I’d taken to collecting recipes.  Lo and behold!!  A recipe for mayonnaise!

Eggs, oil, salt, sugar, dry mustard, lemon juice, vinegar.  That’s it.  Everything needed to make something I had never given a single thought to.  The first attempt, was not so great.  Bit of a soupy disaster, but I soon discovered that a hand-blender (just about everyone has one) is the key.  To get the mayo to set properly, you need to whip it at high speed.  It takes less than five minutes, all ingredients are generally in the cupboard at any given time, I know EXACTLY what’s in it, and I don’t have to go to the store to complete my tuna salad.

The point?  I already have everything I need.  I don’t need to spend more money on something I can do myself.  AND – here’s the really cool part.  It’s environmentally intelligent.  No output (car, time, cash).  No waste (more packaging to get rid of).  And for the truly die-hard anti-establishment types – no input to the corporate giants!

Little things definitely make the biggest difference.

Hold the Mayo? I think not!

Being the adept Facebook junkie that I am brings me WORLDS of information and insight along with my morning brew.  One of my favorite Facebook groups is a collection of folks that call themselves “Alternative Ways of Survival”.  They’re a heartfelt, outgoing, no-BS bunch that post all sorts of wonderful articles on topics such as gardening, survival strategies (in all types of situations), local foods, do-it-yourself projects and a host of other generally useful information.

If you’re the type that is hell-bent on seeing to your own in tough times, maybe pop by the group and surf around.  You can find them at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AlternativeSurvival/

In a previous post I expounded on the virtues of Local Egg Salad.  See my Location, Location, Location post at https://hippieways.com/?p=138.  In order to be as local as possible, you will also need to have a small garden (or a few herbs in pots) for such perennials as chives, parsley etc.

In the course of conversation on a particular post regarding Spanish Mayonnaise, I decided to add my two-bits worth to the conversation in Alternative Ways of Survival.  The mayo that I’ve been making all these years is a little more complex and I did find that the technique of adding the oil has EVERYTHING to do with the success or failure of the recipe.

So, without further ado, I present to you the recipe for Hippie Ways Mayo – please note that I take absolutely ZERO credit for this recipe.  I found it in an OLD  cookbook.  The credit for this recipe goes solely to the Co-Op Cook Book of 1946 published by the Outlook Women’s Co-Operative Guild of Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I have tweaked the formula over the years , but the inspiration from the ladies at the Outlook Co-Operative (and this beat up little cook book) have put many a hearty meal on my table (for VERY few dollars!)

Hippie Ways Mayo

1 egg (get real ones, not that factory farmed crap)

1 teaspoon salt (REAL salt, not that iodized garbage – sea salt, high-altitude (pink-ish) or other good quality salt)

1 teaspoon sweet (you can use granulated sugar in any form or honey)

1 teaspoon of dry mustard powder (or a little prepared Dijon or German for something different)

1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled – either will work)

2 tablespoons white vinegar (plain or pickling, doesn’t seem to matter)

1 cup of oil ( depending on what I have in the cupboard on any given day – usually canola – lighter olive oil works well too)  The only oil I have found that does NOT work is safflower – it’s too thin.

Method:  In a deep glass bowl, blend together the egg, salt, sweet, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar.  With a hand held blender, blend the contents until they are pretty much foam.

 

Here’s the tough part….while blending, begin adding the oils ONE DROP AT A TIME for the first quarter cup of the liquid.

 

 

 

 

This is the hardest part to master, since patience is not a real strong suit with me.  Once the mixture begins to thicken, you can add the rest of the oil and just work it around in the bowl until the desired consistency is reached and all of the oily appearance has disappeared.

 

 

The egg should be COLD.  Don’t let it get to room temperature, or the mayo won’t set at all.

As you can see, I tried Xylitol in this round.  For those not familiar, Xylitol is a plant based (lesser evil for diabetics) sweetener.  I found the mayo didn’t set as well as I would have liked, but the taste was certainly spot-on.

So, one day in the not too distant future, when you happen to be in the grocery store thinking you need mayo – think like a Hippie.  You don’t actually NEED mayo from the grocery store.  It’s not some sort of mystery-miracle in a jar.  It’s a few simple ingredients that you most likely have in the kitchen already…all you need is five minutes and an apron.

Trust me on the apron thing!  This recipe doubles VERY well, and will make less mess if you make a double batch.  I find the single batch method splatters beautifully with the hand blender!  The only real DOWN side to mayonnaise making is that without the use of a hand blender, you would have to use a whisk.  I have experimented with the whisk method and the recipe still turns out as it should.  However, you will have cramped up pecs like you’ve never experienced!!

Rational, positive, creative…even on your sandwich!

 

 

 

 

Location, location, location!!

It’s a bit of a buzz-term for a lot of things.  Really, I think location has to do with pretty much EVERYTHING these days that is pertinent, intelligent and mindful.  I am inspired today to NOT change my LOCATION in my quest for food.  Project du jour….egg salad.

What does this have to do with anything??  It’s quite simple really.  Maintain a LOCAL FIRST policy with all things.  How is this accomplished, you ask?  It all fits in with my Hippie way of being, and making conscious and intelligent choices when it comes to parting with my money.

First things first:  how to make egg salad.  Boil up a few eggs, and peel them.  Chop them up with a little parsley, chive (or green onion) maybe a little celery and carrot.  Blend with a little mayonnaise and ta-da…luncheon is served.  Takes all of about 10 minutes and you have a fresh feast at hand.  Now, for the tricky part…local first.

Item One: make your own mayo.  I do, it’s simple, I’ve written about it before and if you’d like the recipe just ask.

Item Two: Parsley, chives, bunching onions (the little green dudes), celery and carrot are ALL ridiculously easy to grow in your own backyard, patio, windowsill, etc.

Item Three: Local Eggs??  Short of having chickens in your own backyard, this is tough one for a lot of folks.  I will eventually have my own chickens, but in the interim…I buy from a local farmer.  I find the farm eggs to be FAR better than the factory farmed-serial numbered eggs that you find in the grocery stores.  The farm eggs actually TASTE like something.  You can even water poach them (anyone who like Eggs Benedict knows what I’m talking about) and NOT end up with a pan full of tasteless foam!  I purchase my eggs for $3.00 per 18-pack ($0.65 cheaper than the local grocery store) and the eggs are SSSOOOOO much better.

The best part of this is that I know exactly where the eggs come from, whose farm they are raised on, how the birds are treated, and so forth.

Item Four: The base of all decent sandwiches….BREAD!!  Pretty much EVERYWHERE has a little bakery within a decent walking distance.  The next time you buy bread, here’s a cool idea – read the label.  If it’s on a store shelf…it had to come from somewhere.  How many miles are on your toast before you ever see it?  Take your daily bread seriously…

Frankly, I don’t really give two hoots about “food safety”.  Common sense, although less and less common these days, still rules my decision making processes.  To my mind, it just is more intelligent to purchase my food items from someone that I KNOW rather than trust my government to look after me.  I do get the occasional odd look over my choices, but here is my rationale:

Would you trust a food source you could neither see or touch?  I don’t.

Would you trust a building housing upwards of 200,000 birds to provide you with clean, wholesome eggs?  I don’t.

Would you be inclined to eat something that had spend X-number of days sitting in a warehouse?  I’m not.

Would you be inclined to eat something that had then spent X-number of days in the back of a reefer truck?  Nope.

Well, there you have it.  If you are going to stuff it in your face, a little common sense would tell that you should know where it came from and exactly what it is.  Remember your Mother yelling at you??  “DON’T PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH!!!  YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S BEEN!!”

And for the record…my egg salad had ZERO miles on it, no carbon footprint, no diesel-market ratios or other statistical anomalies, and no other green-washing necessary.

The best part…my location didn’t have to change one bit.  🙂