2 Old Hippies

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Making the Most of the Delay, Part II

The Westy is back in the driveway, and packed to go. We’ll leave tomorrow –  Tuesday 9/9 — the day before we should have arrived in West Glacier, had the trip West not been called off. But we are staying with our Plan B — heading east on US highway 2, and taking it to the end — the border of Maine and New Brunswick. We’ll continue on east to the Bay of Fundy for a stay in Saint John and on Grand Manan Island (with high hopes the waning Harvest Moon will be visible on the Bay at night). Back here September 21. We’re leaving Mt Desert Island and Acadia park for another time.

But no time was wasted while waiting . . .




This weekend we dehydrated a 1/2 bushel of plum tomatoes, and put another bushel  in the freezer as tomato sauce (we freeze it flat in ziplocks so they store like file folders – learned this trick from another blogger) I also husked and quick froze a few pounds of tomatillos for winter salsa verde.



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Turkey Jerky – breakfast, lunch and dinner of road warriors

To prepare for our cross-country journey in the Westy along US 2 (yep, from Burlington to West Glacier, MT), I’ve been experimenting with jerky. Found a great recipe from Alton Brown, and our Excalibur dehydrator (the “cadillac of dehydrators”) does a great job. This may not look appetizing, but man, is it tasty. We determined in several fishing/camping trips around Montana in the 1980 and 90s that jerky and beer make a complete protein, perfect for camping trips.


Mushroom Update

March 2nd and we’ve eaten our first oyster mushroom harvest. Here are the before and after shots:


The next TeePee is coming out of the fridge today. The one that produced this yield is going back into the dark for the next round. I made the amateur mistake of cutting off the entire fruiting section – it could have yielded more had I been patient. Here’s the next TeePee. The longer time in the fridge (one additional week) has produced more fruiting bodies. This is all about patience, and a good test for me.


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Long Trail Ale/Angry Orchard Cider Standing Desk Hack

I reviewed lots and lots of hacks, and the most interesting involved IKEA parts. The closest IKEA is 90 minutes from here outside Montreal, so I researched other options. I looked at new and used coffee tables whose legs might be chopped off. I thought about building a shelf. I considered raising my entire desk, instead of adding on top of it. Then, thinking back to my university cement-block-and-salvaged-wood bookshelves, I looked around for what was on hand.

Turns out that Long Trail Ale and Angry Orchard Cider (and most other craft brews) 12-pack boxes are exactly the height I needed to raise my keyboard and monitors — 9 inches above the desk top. I knew that stored up in the rafters of our cellar we had some old melamine-covered shelves we hadn’t used for years. Putting it all together (using, of course, duct tape to create the whole thing as a single unit to place on my the existing IKEA desk top), I now have a wonderful standing desk, at exactly the correct height, with plenty of room for my monitors, keyboard and mouse pad, and for my elbows to rest on while I’m typing.


I still have space on the right side for when I want to sit and work. The low profile and compact size of my HP P1006 laserjet printer means it fits nicely underneath the new “desk top,” saving me more surface space.


To get the depth I needed to hold screens, keyboard and have enough room for my arms to rest, I used two 12-inch wide boards (Duck taped together lengthwise, so there’s no slipping.) That meant using four 12-pack boxes.


Cost: $0. (And a pantry full of ale and cider in bottles that are returnable for deposit.)

So far, I’m really loving this. It keeps me moving while I’m working, I can shake my booty to the music I play while I work, and the research shows that by doing this, I might have a couple more years alive here instead of in Purgatory….

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The Mushoom TeePee

Friends Jessica and Derrick introduced me to Field and Forest Products, a source of mushroom spawn. Always wanted to grow our own, so I selected the “Mushroom TeePee,” which is a kit for growing mushrooms on (get ready) toilet paper. (Unused, of course…) According to FFP, TP provides an excellent substrate for growing oyster mushrooms – and is especially easy for growing them indoors.  Perfect for keeping two old hippies busy over the winter.

The kit arrived in less than a week, and as advertised, contained everything I’d need except the six rolls of TP the kit will innoculate.


For the TP substrate, I choose some from Seventh Generation, a local and extremely environmentally aware producer of household products. Clean, plain, chemical free.

Seventh Generation TP

From inoculation to harvest takes approximately 8 weeks, so I’ll be succession planting two rolls at a time for a steady supply once we get rolling. Following the directions, I soaked the TP rolls until good and wet, squeezed out the excess, tucked them into their baggy homes and packed the center tube with the spawn.



I used a quick-read cooking thermometer to find a space in the warmest room in the house between 65-75 degrees F, where they must be kept in the dark. (I put the bagged TP in a cardboard box.) After 3 weeks, we should see the mycelium, fluffy and white, growing on the TP. Another 1-3 weeks in the dark and the rolls will be ready to for us to “stimulate fruiting.” Mushroom omelets during Town Meeting week, in other words…

UPDATE 2/24: After six weeks in the dark @ 65-70 degrees F., the roll of TP is all but unrecognizable – enrobed in mycelium.
I put the TP in the fridge to “stimulate fruiting.” Pulled it out 48 hours later, and behold: a weird little glob on one edge, a clump of nascent oyster mushrooms.


Doesn’t look too tasty just yet but we are patient. Left one roll in the fridge, and started a new roll in the dark.

Update 2/27: Three days later, that blob looks like this… Looking very tasty. Must be patient.