It’s a warm July 4th morning here in northern Ontario, but looking at the news these days makes me think that this is one of the best places in North America to be right now. Our electricity works, there’s no flooding or wildfires near by, and when the humidex index gets to be unbearable, there’s always the lake to cool off in. We don’t have air conditioning, because the really hot days (for us, that’s around 30 degrees Celsius) are never so extended that the house becomes unlivable; we get by with ceiling and floor fans, and by jumping in the lake. The worst thing we are contending with these days is a nasty cutworm infestation in many gardens in the community, including ours. We’ve seen cutworms that “chop” down seedlings, but these awful ones climb up into the plants and destroy them by devouring them. Here’s a photo a friend shared recently, grieving the destruction of her usually incredibly productive garden:
Our garden looks a little better. Mark is using Safer’s BTK Biological Insecticide to control them. But it’s discouraging for gardeners like Chrissy and Mark who have taken the time and effort to grow much of their garden from seed, starting indoors in February and March. And it’s a timely reminder that although we 21st Century humans like to think we’re not as dependent on our natural environment as we used to be (otherwise why would we be trashing it the way we are?), in fact it doesn’t take much to upset things as important to life as our food supply.
Speaking of food, I’ve spent my morning processing some of our plentiful rhubarb harvest. I made rhubarb ginger jam yesterday, and cooling on the counter right now are the jars of rhubarb orange marmalade, “blubarb” raspberry jam, and rhubarb sauce that I cooked up this morning.
Inspired by all the jam-making, I also made bannock for my family this morning.
Here’s the recipe for Bannock, which is a type of non-yeast bread that is part of the First Nations culture here in northern Ontario. Often it’s fried and/or made with lard. I’ve adjusted a recipe from my well-used Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbook to make it lower-fat but still, according to feedback so far, just as tasty. I like the recipe because you don’t need to cut in the butter or margerine (anything that makes a recipe easier is good, in my books). The trick is to bake it on a preheated stoneware pan or pizza stone:
4 cups flour (I used half wholewheat and half white. I’ve also used spelt before)
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine (I use a combination of butter and grapeseed oil)
2 1/2 cups milk.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with pizza stone in the oven. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in mixing bowl (I use my kitchen aid mixer). Melt the butter in a medium sized bowl, add the milk, and stir. When well mixed, pour it into the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Spread the batter onto preheated pizza stone with your hands (you can use extra flour or dip your fingers in oil to prevent the dough from sticking to you). Bake at 425 degrees F for ~20 minutes. Yum.
I noticed that Anne Jisca over at Anne Jisca’s Healthy Pursuits just posted a Whole Wheat Bannock recipe today, too, if you want to compare.
So, Happy July 4th to all the American friends of 350orbust. Perhaps this Independence Day will mark the beginning of the kind of independence America (and the world) needs right now, freedom from our fossil fuel addiction. But first it’s going to have to hurt – a lot; I don’t think America is there yet, but it may be close, after this summer of extreme weather events. The tipping point could be impacts on food production in the “bread basket” of America, the Midwest (it, like much of the U.S., is experiencing a severe drought). As I recently read somewhere, change happens when the effort to resist change becomes more painful that the effort to change.
If this scenario isn’t acceptable to you, DO SOMETHING! Not sure where to start? Check out Citizens Climate Lobby, The Transition Network,or the Post Carbon Institute, to give just a few examples. Unplug the TV, which dumbs us all down, and find out everything you can about building resilience in your community and your family. Reach out to your friends and family, discuss what’s going on with the weather and what scientists (not Fox News!) are saying about it. Call your MP/Congressman or woman, or whoever represents you locally, regionally, and/or nationally, and tell them this is NOT okay with you. The window of opportunity to respond to this crisis is still open, just.This might be humanity’s finest hour, or our worst. It’s in our hands.