Monthly Archives: October 2011

Ted conference presentation about Urban Farming in LA

Check out this video of a unique service in LA that farms backyards for people who want the fresh food but don’t want to do the work.  I’ve also heard of SPIN farming people doing this same thing in some other places.


This seems like a rather short term project, not unlike paying for landscaping maintenance.  It can last while people can afford to pay for it but when money or if money gets tight they’ll have to cut this back and then actually do the work themselves so they can still have the food.  Good interim step though between now and then.

Farmscape website

Via City Farmer





Parenting rules

I happened to be reading the Zen Habits blog today and saw a great post on kids.  I thought I would share it here.  It’s about how to effortlessly raise kids.

It got me thinking.  His 10 rules are the same things that we do with our kids.  And they are so true.  (well, we don’t do #2 much mostly because I was the older kid who helped with their siblings a lot and I know how that feels and we only have 2 and not 6)  So many of the skills he discusses are skills that are so important to daily life, but sadly, so many kids now aren’t being taught them.  Think about it, how many kids do you know who are going off to college and they can barely think for themselves?  How many don’t even know how to pay their own bills or manage a bank relationship?  Worse, what about cooking, laundry and cleaning.  It is so crazy how they get to be adults and just don’t know how to do anything.

If you spend the time upfront investing the time into showing them how to do things, making them question what is around them and generally treating them like little grownups (instead of little kids) your kids will be amazingly easy to raise.   I have to give the credit to my wife on her role around here being the person who shows the kids how to do things.  I just flat out don’t have the patience for it (for most things) but she is great at it and the results really show now.  Heck, we have 9 & 7 year olds that can run circles around a lot of teenagers with their skill levels.

I feel like I have more to say on this topic, so you may be seeing more in the future.  One thing I’ve been mulling over are some posts about teaching your kids finances.  We’ve been doing some interesting things and I want to share them all with you.

Boiling potatoes in the oven

Did you know that you can boil potatoes in the oven?  Intuitively it makes sense.  The oven is a heat source and it boils liquids.  But I had never tried it, until tonight.

We had to be out of the house tonight while a brisket was braising in the oven.  Normally I boil the braising liquid down and make it into a gravy.  But how to make the mashed potatoes if we were going to be here?  Well, the oven was going anyway so I figured I would throw the potatoes in and give it a shot.

I cut up some Russets into normal sized pieces, added them to a cast iron pot with water and salt and toss them in the oven at 325.  We got home about 1.5 hours later and they were perfectly cooked and ready to be mashed.

I’m amazed and shocked.

Now I’m thinking of all those times I’ve been boiling up potatoes to make mashed when I could just toss them in with the roast chicken or the ham.  What a great new piece of information!

Good luck ya’ll!

Paleo apple fritters

Well, sort of Paleo.  I have a plethora of apples sitting on my counter and I had a hankering for something special so I made some apple fritters.  I followed this recipe and just substituted gluten free flour for the regular flour and doubled the egg.  They turned out great.  I had the oil a little hot so they were too brown, but otherwise they were pretty darn good.

Apple Fritters


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped apple


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Directions:   Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon.  Stir in milk and egg until just combined.  Fold in apple.  Pour oil into skillet so that it is approximately 1 1/2 deep.  Heat oil on high.  Oil is ready when dough floats to top.  Carefully add dough to oil in heaping teaspoons.  Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then flip.  Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned.  Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack.  Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl.  Drizzle over apple fritters.  Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side.  Best served warm.

I paired them up with a roasted in a pan chicken that we all really enjoyed.  Recipe here.  And, the soup base for some chicken soup is already in the pot and ready to be made!

Update: I made the chicken noodle soup and it was enjoyed immensely.  I’m not sure if there is a better soup in the world than chicken noodle soup.

Urban Farming videos

Another video about being a Greenhorn.  Very inspiring video.  Coe College will be showing this full movie at 3PM on Nov 5th at a film festival.  I’ll be speaking at a panel following the movie about being a greenhorn.

From: Cold Antler Farm

I guess I’m a hipster?  Funny, I don’t feel like a hipster.  Check here.





Changing maturity

Not my kids but you get the idea...

Lately I’ve been struggling with the fact that my kids are growing up and they want more freedom.  But it is soooo stressful.  We’ve been letting them walk home from school, and leaving them at home a little bit for short errands.

I am able to not stress too much when I leave them at home watching TV while I run to the store because I know where they are.  But the 20 minutes after school that it takes for them to make the 10 minute walk home is just excruciating for me.  I can’t figure out how my parents were able to handle me being gone from the house for hours at a time and not freak out about it.  Heck, when I was Zach’s age (9) I had a paper route after school and wouldn’t come home until closer to dinner.  The idea that I was just wandering around (albeit on a set route) is just crazy to me.  I guess I should be happy that I had that kind of freedom, but it’s hard to understand.

How am I supposed to handle this when they are teenagers?  Already their friends have cell phones so they can “check in” with their parents.  That would certainly make me more comfortable but is it really necessary?  I’m not sure.

This is tough.  Any of you veteran parents want to enlighten me?


Just wanted to let you all know that if you are so interested you can get to my blog via  It will redirect you to the blog address.


Urban Agriculture update

If you are on Facebook with me you’ll have already seen these, but I wanted to share them anyway.  One of the big initiatives I’ve been working on over the past year or so is a plan with the city to turn some of our vacant abandoned home sites into an urban farm.  It’s finally coming to fruition.  Almost.  :-)

The ordinance modification necessary to allow Urban Agriculture passed it’s first reading.  Our development proposal also passed so we can now begin talking with city staff to work out an agreement to gain access to some land to we can start farming.

I’m going to post more information as it becomes available.  I’d like to post a link to our Urban Ag ordinance so other places can look at it as an example as well as our development plan which I think is top notch (and the city staff members have told us that as well).  If or when I can find them I’ll post them up here so ya’ll can see them.

KCRG TV story featuring an interview with me

Gazette Online story discussing these developments.

Bananas for bananas

So, one downside of my thriftiness is that I, on occassion, buy things when they are on sale that don’t always work out.  But, in my defense, it’s not always my fault.  For example, last week I bought a huge bag of partially ripened bananas because it was $1.99 for the whole bag vs. $.59/lb.  Normally this works out fine, but for some reason no one ate bananas this week.  So I ended up with a ton of leftover bananas.  I can put them in the freezer and wait to make bananas bread, but that is so cliche.

I couldn’t think of a better way to use them up than to make a dessert.  Bananas foster here we come!  Heck, who doesn’t love a dessert they can set on fire?

In case you’re interested, I found this resource online as well with 100 different ways to use bananas, though I got the bananas foster recipe online from the original place, Brennens, in New Orleans.

It was delicious.

Slideshow with pictures from the farm

I’ve created a slideshow on the urban farm book page if you would like to see some pictures of the farm we created through this summer.  It was a ton of hard work form dedicated Americorp VISTA members as well as local volunteers and youth on mission trips.  So far it has been a great success.

Now that the summer is slowing I think I’ll be up for more writing.  Watch out, I’ve got some stuff saved up!