I am not a baker.

Seems to me, there are two kinds of people in the world.  Well, actually, that’s total crap, but for the sake of this argument, work with me.

There are bakers and there are cooks. Bakers are exacting, precise, accurate. Cooks are inexact, get-it-in-the-general-area, close-enough kinds of people.

I used to read cookbooks like novels.  Every word, every recipe, every comment.  I am at the point where I can almost taste a recipe as I read it. Over time, I have become much less dependent on the exact recipe, and more confident to figure it out as I go along.  A little more or less garlic is perfectly fine.  Got some extra pesto?  Bah — just toss it in, it will be great.  Oh!  Sausage would be good in this.  Ginger?  Not so much.

This hubris gets me into trouble with baking.  You have to have BOTH baking soda and baking powder.  I’ve made cakes that are hard as a rock.  Muffins that act like hockey pucks, etc.  Why? It has something to do with chemistry. Chemistry is a mystery and makes no sense.  Don’t even bother trying to explain it.  (Fingers in ears LA LA LA LA).

Baking is to cooking what carpentry is to gardening.

When I build things, they are crooked, and messy and sometimes have a zillion pilot holes.  I actually see crooked, so even when something looks straight to me up close, at a distance I can see that the left side is always down a bit.  This is true of labels on jars, lines on pages, trees that I’ve planted, you name it.  It’s annoying, but I prefer to use the word charming, thank you very much. It’s a charming characteristic.

You would think that, knowing my eyesight deceives me, I would err in the opposite direction.  Well, I do.  And then when I stand back — it’s still crooked.  Still by the same amount.  No matter what.  I try using a level, but they don’t work for every application.  So I have sort of given up with the whole “be exact” thing.

When it comes to carpentry, there is the old adage “measure twice, cut once.”  For me, I really should measure sixteen times, get ready to cut, and measure again just to be sure.  Then cut.  And then stand back and see that it’s still crooked.

Eventually I have learned that, if it matters, have Todd build it.  Case in point, the Playhouse:

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It matters.  It will stand for years.  It houses a lot of equipment.  Better to have the expert, exacting, detail-oriented person I am  married to build it.  Early on in the building process, he had to get a floor joist level, and it took many tries. When it was done, it was a total victory.

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Had I been in charge, it would have taken 15 minutes, (BOOM! Done. Eh, it’s close enough). And today, the building would not be level, things would all roll to one side, and it would probably leak.

I am a gardener.  I wanted a better way to grow strawberries than this. So I decided to turn some pallets on end, cut and chop a little, and voila!  New strawberry stands!  That I don’t have to bend over to harvest! That save water!  Yeah, they are a mess.  Crooked, tilt-y, leaky, etc.  I couldn’t care less.  These pallets are not going to house me.  They are not intended to protect me in an earthquake.  They are not going on the front page of Fine Gardening (I don’t think.  They haven’t called).  They hold soil and plants.  They are off the ground.  They are visually interesting from the street.  They do everything I need them to do.

 

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The point is not for these strawberry planters to stand forever.  The point is to have a great place to grow a backbreaking crop in an upright structure, using free materials, and not letting the crookedness be a problem.

Totally charming.

 

 

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It’s a fair question.

Recently, at a family party, I asked my sister if she wanted to come see the new wheat field. “Sure!” was the reply. So out we went. Katie asked me about how much yield I will get. I told her I would expect about 25 pounds this year. She asked what that meant in terms of milled flour. Probably 18 pounds. She looked at me and said “That seems like a lot of work for three bags of $5 flour, doesn’t it?”

We all sort of chuckled.

But it got me thinking.

That’s a LOT of work for $15 worth of flour. Why do I do this? Why spend the time, effort, money, energy, etc. And here it is: the cost of food at Safeway is a minor reason why I garden – very minor.

Money: If it were about the money, I wouldn’t spend so much of my hard earned cash on the garden – (hand tools, equipment, amendments, seeds, plants, membership to the Garden Club and the BeeKeepers group)… all in, it’s more than I would spend on therapy and a gym membership combined, but it serves the same purpose PLUS gives me food, and a reason to talk to my neighbors.

Time: I often have passers-by ask me how much time I spend in the garden — and I really couldn’t tell them. I’ve decided to start keeping track. It’s May 10 and so far this month I’ve spent 16 hours.

Local: Most wheat is grown in Kansas. I’ve never been, but I know its 1500 miles away. That’s far. How does it get here? Truck? Train? How clean is the facility that grinds it? Where is the paper produced for the bags? I don’t know x 5.

Nutrition: As soon as wheatberries are milled, they start to lose vitamins and also start to oxidize. Bagged flour and freshly milled wheat are about as similar as Safeway tomatoes and homegrown — different food groups altogether. Freshly milled wheat? Nom, nom, nom…. Delish!

Environment: Fuel to power the water pumps to water huge fields, fuel for the combines that harvest (to say nothing of the critters lost to the combines), massive quantities of fertilizers, (even if organic, because farmers have to allow for runoff and wind erosion), pest abatement in mills, diesel fuel to get from the farm to the mill to the packer to the train to the warehouse to Safeway? That’s a lot of diesel.

Big business: Big business (Cargill, Kellogg, General Mills, Unilever, Nestle, the evil-Monsanto, King Arthur, Pillsbury, etc.) are not in business for my health. They are in business for their health. Their health is measured in dollars. My health is measured in life expectancy, energy, gut flora, alertness, and happiness. Generally, big business doesn’t really give a rat’s ass how they get my dollars. In fact, more and more, they load food up with sugar/salt/fat to get my vulnerable little taste buds addicted. Very, very healthy for their bottom line. Very, very unhealthy for mine. And wheat? The processing causes vitamins, fiber and nutrients to be stripped out, which they then add back in so they can call it “enriched”. Yeah… who’s paying for that circular logic?

But really? Why do it? Because whoever controls my food controls me.

The most essential ingredients to life are air, water, and food. Monsanto currently controls 80% of the US corn market and 90% of the soybeans. The biggest seed companies are Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, Dow, and Syngenta. Together, they control over 50% of the WORLDWIDE seed supply. And they are all primarily chemical companies. Does that seem weird to you? It does to me. And lest we think the US Government is going to protect us, bad news there, too. Michael Taylor is the Deputy Commissioner of Foods at the USDA. Guess what? He used to be the VP for Public Policy at Monsanto. And before that he was a lawyer and helped draft a document to allow companies to hide carcinogen levels in foods. Nice guy. What we have here is a fox-henhouse situation.

So really, as long as the USDA is run by the assholes who want to control the food supply, and the creeps who control the food supply are more interested in chemicals and genetic modification than stewardship and/or my health, I opt out. I say no.

Whoever controls my food controls me.

Besides, it’s a fun project for mommie and me!

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