Donkey Doodle Dandy On Fire Watch Duty
There are many things to love about living on a very remote farm. You can, for instance, go outside and howl at the top of your lungs at the coyotes at midnight, blast the stereo until the speakers threaten to blow, or run around the yard naked because there's no one around to care. (Not that I ever do the naked yard thing.) You also don't have to worry that the neighbors are going to complain about the dogs barking or the donkeys braying or the sheep baaing or the rooster crowing.
On the other hand, there are certain luxuries that I completely took for granted before moving to the middle of nowhere. Like mail delivery. And Chinese food delivery. And garbage pick up. Yes, you might want to take a few seconds to contemplate the enormity of that last one; I'll wait.
We're very fortunate, however, to have a wonderful recycling center only 35 miles away, which is practically down the street by rural Missouri standards. They happily take the feed sacks we've refilled with glass, metal, plastic containers labeled #1 and #2, cardboard, newspaper, and even glossy junk mail.
When you add in the food waste that we toss to the chickens and in the compost bins, plus the bag of stuff earmarked for the thrift store, the magazines headed for the library 'free' box, the empty wine and champagne bottles we leave at the natural foods store for people who make their own wine and beer (we put our homebrewed beer in 12-ounce bottles that we reuse over and over), plus the pile of newspapers we keep for starting fires in the woodstove, we have no fewer than 13 different garbage receptacles. Houseguests are terrified to throw anything away and ask things like, "Do chickens eat avocado skins?" "Can you compost dryer lint?" and "What should I do with this band-aid?"
We also reuse as much stuff as we can around the farm. Styrofoam mushroom containers and plastic food containers become seed starting pots that are labeled with strips I cut from unrecyclable #5 plastic sour cream tubs. Rows of large, clear plastic jugs that once held peanuts now neatly organize metal nuts and bolts and nails in Joe's shop. Plastic seltzer bottles are refilled with water and turned into long lasting ice packs for coolers. And #5 cottage cheese containers hold the homemade dog/cat/chicken food I make up in big batches and freeze.
Paper that's wet or dirty is burned, and anything else is put in what we call the 'trash trash' bag. It usually takes us at least a week to fill up one small plastic grocery sack with trash trash, which I think is pretty neat. You can pay a per-bag fee to dump trash trash at the recycling center, but because we generate so little they usually take ours for free. Plus I bring them cookies.
Burning all of your trash is very common around here, and before I moved in with Joe he routinely burned a little more than he does now, using what he called 'accelerants' to 'help the fire get started.' His motto was Everything burns eventually. He did recycle large glass beer bottles, but I suspect that was only because he couldn't get them to ignite. One day about ten years ago, noticing that some dead batteries had something like 'please call for proper disposal information' printed on them, he decided to call the toll-free number.
As Joe tells it, the guy who answered the phone said that yes, batteries did indeed need to be disposed of properly, "but he wouldn't actually tell me what the proper way to dispose of them was." So they went round and round until finally Joe said, "Well then I'm just going to burn these dead batteries."
"You can't burn batteries!" the guy said.
"You just can't!"
"Oh yes I can, I just toss them in the burn barrel. I've done it before."
"YOU CAN'T BURN BATTERIES!"
I think this was about the point where Joe hung up the phone. Or maybe it was the battery guy who hung up on him. "He was getting really worked up."
Fortunately even borderline pyromaniacs can be converted into good little recyclers, and we all breathe easier now that my reformed hunky farmguy burns much smaller, more easily ignitable piles of trash. While we do still have the occasional discussion as to whether something is flammable or not (usually as I'm plucking it out of the garbage can saying, "You can't burn this!"), the battery issue was solved several years ago by the purchase of a couple of battery chargers and a bunch of rechargeable batteries.
I highly recommend this Sony Quick Batter Charger, which is the bestselling charger on Amazon.com for good reason. I've been using mine for over two years and love it. It comes with four Sony 2500 mAh AA Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries and is an absolute steal at around 20 bucks, especially considering the price of disposable batteries these days. I'm still using the original batteries that came with the charger, along with a few four-packs of extra batteries I bought so that I always have four spares charged and ready to go in my digital camera, as well as enough for other things like flashlights. I use my camera several times a day, pretty much every day, and these batteries will last for several weeks. You can also charge AAA Ni-MH batteries with the Sony charger.
So the next time your batteries run out of power, I urge you to consider investing in some rechargeable ones. You'll be easing the strain on your wallet, the environment, and that poor guy answering the battery help hotline. Plus no accelerants required.
And if your own batteries could use a little recharging, I suggest a warm bowl of this deliciously simple broccoli soup. It tastes so good it's easy to forget how good it is for you.
Now if only you could plug in the empty pot and have it automatically refill itself.
Easy Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup
Loaded with onions, garlic, broccoli, and garbanzo beans - which are some of the World's Healthiest Foods - this cozy soup packs a powerhouse of nutrients. It's broccoli season right now, so you should have no trouble finding bunches that are both flavorful and inexpensive. In cooler climates, start looking for freshly harvested, organically grown broccoli at farmers' markets in the coming weeks.
I used to thicken my broccoli soup with a few tablespoons of uncooked rice, but one day I tossed a can of organic garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas, and one of my favorite foods) into the pot instead. I got the thickness I wanted along with more flavor, more fiber, and more protein.
Cans of organic beans are versatile pantry staples and can often be found for the bargain price of about a dollar apiece, or even less when they're on sale. Some stores such as Whole Foods will give you a case discount if you stock up and buy 12 cans at a time.
I like my soups thick and almost sludgy; simply add more chicken stock if you prefer yours thinner. If you're feeling decadent or in need of a calcium boost, you can stir in a cup or two of some nice cream after blending. It'll make your soup taste positively dreamy, but it really isn't necessary.
As with most soups, this one tastes even better after lounging around for a day or two in the fridge. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever possible. They really do make a difference - in so many ways.
2 to 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds onions, coarsely chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large bunch broccoli (about 1-1/2 pounds), stems (peeled if tough) and florets, coarsely chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
4 to 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, then add the onions. Stir to coat with oil, cover, and cook until onions are soft and starting to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Make a space in the center of the pot and add the garlic, stirring so it all touches the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring, two minutes.
Add the broccoli, garbanzo beans, and chicken stock. The soup will look too thick; it is not. It's okay if the broccoli isn't all submerged in the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer with the lid barely cracked until broccoli is tender, about 25 minutes.
Purée with an immersion blender (I can't say enough good things about - or imagine life without - my KitchenAid Hand Blender; it's probably the best $50 I've ever spent in the kitchen) or very carefully purée in batches in a countertop blender, then return to the pot and cook a few more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve topped with whatever you like: chopped fresh chives, a drizzle of olive oil, some coarsely grated Pecorino Romano, a dollop of sour cream, a slice or two of sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack, some nice blue cheese crumbles, or absolutely nothing at all. Curl up in a cozy spot and devour, making sure to spend a few moments between slurps feeling grateful for the existence of something as wonderful and warming as a bowl of homemade soup.
How about some bread to go with your soup?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (my most popular recipe)
Whole Wheat Beer Bread
Onion Rye Beer Bread
Savory Feta Cheese & Scallion Scones
Parisian Four Hour Baguettes
No-Knead Crusty Freeform Bread
Oatmeal Toasting Bread (makes great rolls, too)
Fresh Tomato & Basil Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Italian Black Olive Cheeks
Carrot Herb Rolls (And A Bargain Bread Book For Beginners)
Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza
You might also enjoy my other Less Fuss, More Flavor soup recipes:
Susan's Super Spinach Soup
Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup
Hearty Lentil Soup With Smoked Sausage
Use It Or Lose It Lentil & Escarole Soup
Spur Of The Moment Summer Squash Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup (The Autumn Version)
You'll find links to all my sweet & savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the sidebar of the Farmgirl Fare homepage under PREVIOUS POSTS: FOOD STUFF WITH RECIPES. Enjoy!
© Copyright 2008 FarmgirlFare.com, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres, and "Come on baby light my fire" isn't just part of a song.