Looks like it’s not going to be a “pane” after all.

We had a local window guy, who came highly recommended, stop by yesterday to take a look at our windows to give us an estimate on installing energy efficient ones. He said that our windows were in such good shape for a 90 year old house that he wouldn’t bother to even touch them and that energy efficient windows are over rated especially here in Southern California where it really doesn’t get that cold. We figured that but wanted an outside opinion.    The only thing he suggested is that the windows be re-glazed and one of the cracked windows in the kitchen replaced. He went on to say that he’s seen newer homes in worse shape than ours and that he spends most of his time replacing the newer windows.

So one less “green upgrade” to worry about. We are truly blessed that our “2nd-hand” house is in such good shape.

“100 Foot” Diet

On Tuesday, an LA Times writer came out to interview us. One of the many questions he peppered us with was “what do your winter meals consist of?”

It’s all about KISS&L (keeping it simple, seasonal & local).   Taking the “100 Mile” Diet one step further, we strive to eat most of the fruits, vegetables and herbs that are grown within 100 feet of our home. Winter is one of the most challenging times of the year – even more so this year due to the construction interruptions that plagued us throughout the summer and fall months.

Meals on the urban homestead are simple, and we use what we have growing in the yard or in our bulk pantry.   Breakfast is very simple – either homemade granola or oatmeal topped with fruit from the yard.   We usually eat a green and citrus salad twice a day for lunch and dinner accompanied by a main dish either a vegetable soup made with vegetables from the garden, winter squash either in soup or baked, bean soups made with dried beans from our bulk pantry, lentil loaf (again made with dried beans from the bulk panty, “2nd-hand” bread from one of our clients, and our duck eggs), pesto (made from the dozens of frozen pesto cubes we put up in the summer), or rice with homegrown broccoli. And not to forget a slice of homemade bread to go with a good hot bowl of soup or tangy salad.    On hectic days it’s simple organic mac & cheese dish with a huge portion of salad, or leftover lentil loaf sandwich (with homemade sliced bread). In the winter, besides the usual staples (oats, flour, rice, beans) we do purchase organic potatoes and onions to supplement out diet. For dessert, homemade brownies (made with duck eggs), canned peaches with shortbread, frozen blackberry (from our garden) crisp.

And, not to forget, for special Friday night dinners, homemade elderberry wine (vintage Oct ’06) Before we bottled it back in October, we did sneak a taste or two, which one of our friends (and wine connoisseur) deemed “interesting.” Well, we are happy to report the wine is aging nicely and it now has a typical wine/alcohol taste.   

Keeping in tune with the seasons, we won’t eat fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, corn or beans for months until they are harvested from our garden. With such restrictive “if it ain’t growing in my backyard” eating habits, one appreciates food even more and the seasons of plenty.

This week as we approach our third week since grocery shopping, we feel a certain solidarity with “ol’ mother hubbard” – our fridge and some of our cupboards are bare.   The last few days leading up to the “going into town” trip are always the most interesting and creative. You curb your modern instinct of “if I could only run to the store to get…” and make do with what you have. Such self imposed limits make one more aware of our modern food system and develops one’s creative side.   I recall a scene from a BBC WWII series where a husband and wife were eating dinner at a restaurant and the waiter brought them dessert. The husband took a bite and his eyes lit up. “This is banana!” “No dear,” his wife answered incredulously.  “It’s probably turnip with banana flavoring.”

During the war years our grandparents had to make do. Such restrictions were imposed on them; however, we new pioneers have the luxury of choice – the choice to choose to “make do or do without.”

Hard Freeze

After enjoying a week of 80 degree days and 50 degree nights, this weekend night time temperatures are expected to dip into the teens here (the urban homestead is normally 10 degrees colder than forecasted).   Our first hard freeze of the season. We are going to have to give extra protection to a few spots in the garden and add some extra insulation to the animal enclosure.

Dark and gloomy clouds have moved in and are backing up against the San Gabriel mountains bringing nippy weather and a chance of rain today and into tomorrow.


Barren larder, heavy heart {Guardian}

Trying to reduce the food miles involved in my weekly shopping is a fraught process.
..If our shopping habits are to adapt then it will have to come from government pressure on food retailers, not from consumer pressure. So I start the year with a sparse larder and a heavy heart. On the plus side, I’ve made a lovely winter-vegetable soup, and the pencils are all in the right place.
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  1. Brian says:

    You should think about making (or buying used) some window quilts. With all those windows you say you have, the quilts would be useful to keep in the heat after the sun goes down. Just remember to take them off in the morning to reheat the house via the sun.

  2. Esther says:

    Hi! I was wondering if you can grow veggies like tomatoes and peppers in a small glass house of some sorts in your yard or maybe indoors. My CSA in San Diego County provides us every few weeks with organic tomatoes and strawberries to my surprise. They quality and flavor is definitely less but it was a nice surprise to see strawberries in January!