This week: I’m on Patreon, the architecture of mental illness, a fantastically versatile miso dressing, surviving lettuce-pocalyse, and a quote on minimalism to ponder.
Soft Launch at Patreon
I soft-launched my Patreon page Wednesday night and wasn’t planning on saying anything until June but some actual people found out about it and came and supported me. Whoa. That was crazy and amazing and humbling. So I guess I’m really doing this.
I’ll make a formal “real” Patreon Announcement post eventually but if you are a Five Things Friday fan, you’d probably like what I post at Patreon. It’s pretty unscripted, casual, and off-the-cuff.
I make short, impromptu videos when I’m out working in the garden or cooking to share tips and techniques as I think of them. That kind of thing. And since trolls don’t pay a buck for the privilege of trolling, I think it’s gonna be a nice spot.
So if you have an extra dollar (or three!) a month and want to support this site while getting lots of cool extra content, check out becoming an NWEdible Patron.
Mental Illnesses as Architecture, Visualized
This is a really interesting video, and worth the 1 minute 40 seconds to watch. Spanish artist and architect Federico Babina depicts 16 different mental illnesses and neuro-atypical conditions as abstract houses.
I’ve spoken before about depression. I’d say that house does an effective job of visualizing depression as I experienced it.
Weekly Yum: Miso Sesame Dressing
I made this dressing as part of a recipe test of a soba noodle salad that still needs work. But the dressing is super delicious and very versatile. So I’ll give you the dressing now, and if I ever get the noodle salad just right, you’ll have it all ready in your fridge.
Miso Sesame Dressing
Yield 3 /4 cup
- ¼ cup white miso
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 3 tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- In a small bowl, whisk together the miso and hot water until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk everything well to combine.
- Makes about 3/4 cup dressing. Keeps well in fridge for at least a week.
How To Use Miso Sesame Dressing
As a salad dressing. Great for any Asian style side or entree salad.
With fish or white meats. Marinate fish filets, chicken breast, or pork loin in the dressing for several hours or overnight. Bake or grill to doneness. Alternatively, baste with the dressing while cooking.
As a stir-fry sauce. Saute a big mess of mixed veg, like carrots, onion, green beans, snap peas, summer squash, mushrooms….whatever you have handy. Pour in some of this dressing towards the end of cooking.
As a dip. My son prefers it with cucumber slices, carrots, and his fingers.
As a rice or noodle bowl drizzle. Make rice or noodles. Add some combo of appropriate leftovers (tofu, meat, shrimp, greens, roasted vegetables, etc.) that sound good to you and slap those over the rice or noodles. Pour Miso Dressing over everything.
Surviving Lettuce-pocalyse, 2017
Extremely heavy winter and early spring rains forced California farmers in Salinas Valley (where over 80% of US salad greens are grown) to delay planting for early spring harvests. This in turn led to a national shortage in lettuce and other cool season staples.
Consequence? In April and early May, wholesale prices for lettuce tripled essentially overnight. Grocery stores ran out of lettuce, restaurants made last minute adjustments to recipes, and salad-shoppers got sad.
One lesson? The productivity improvement of agricultural centralization is fantastic…until it isn’t. There’s a good chance increasingly centralized agriculture + increasingly erratic weather patterns + just-in-time distribution systems will lead to more of these kinds of price spikes.
But you know who never even noticed Lettuce-pocalyse 2017? The cranky old guy harvesting Black Seeded Simpson and Parris Island Romaine out of his garden cold frame and yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. Let’s be like that guy. Except not an asshole.
What I’m Pondering: Minimalism
Saw this one on a thread on Reddit the other week: “Minimalism is just another word for outsourcing.”
As someone who feels perpetually torn between minimal sensibilities and messy, productive proclivities, it kinda stuck in my craw. What do you think?
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That’s it for this week’s Five Things Friday. Have a great weekend and thank you again to my amazing Patreon supporters.
That miso dressing sounds lovely!
Also, yay for getting greens out of the garden! I did not notice the lettuce spike. (Granted, I’m also generally not buying imports, but… same deal, basically). I think you’re right about the “just in time delivery” and weather spikes and centralized growing being a recipe for food insecurity.
Uhm… Honestly, on a related note? I think minimalism IS, in a lot of cases, just another word for out-sourcing.
Or at least it’s another word for “assuming you can always go out and buy (or otherwise find? but usually buy) what you need, prepared by someone else”.
Look, I get it. I have more Things than I actually need. I don’t NEED three spinning wheels, two of which need repairs to even be functional. Not by a long shot.
But I don’t think that minimalism – which *does* require, I think, a fair bit of out-sourcing (whether that’s a reliance on other people to make your clothes, or other people to grow your food, or even just other people to STORE your food so that you can pick it up “just in time” when you want it) – is inherently a virtue any more than having a lot of tools and materials on-hand for creative labour (cooking, growing, sewing, mending, building, painting, writing, sculpting, music-ing, you name it) is inherently a vice.
From reading your blog, the understanding I have is that your eat from the larder challenge, your pantry, the whole idea behind the DIY stuff you do – in addition to the fact that you actually enjoy it, which I agree is very important and necessary – is that you’re not going to be dependent on cash to get your needs met, because someone times that cash isn’t there, and sometimes – even when it IS there – the resources aren’t available from elsewhere. And this has very much been my experience.
Minimalist spaces are… airy and open and they feel really freeing. That’s their appeal, and it’s a real one. It’s so much easier to keep a place tidy and functional when there isn’t enough stuff in it to generate clutter.
But well-organized, un-cluttered spaces that are still FULL of creative tools and materials, and the products of creative work? Those are airy and open without losing their warmth.
People come into our over-stuffed house and see spinning wheels and musical instruments, canning jars and home-made bread, hand-thrown pottery & knitting projects and the latest thing my wife is tinkering with. And they see birdseed that the birds have pitched onto the floor, because birds are gonna bird whether you like it or not. But they know our door is open, and if they show up messy, they’re welcome.
I think the middle ground between a messy-productive-creative life (which tends to be stuff-intensive) and a minimalist aesthetic (That tends to be anti-accumulation) is just… may every Thing have a place to go home to at the end of the day. (That and having some machines to do the work for you – my kitchen wouldn’t be half the mess it is if I could just shove everything in a washer and get the machine to do the dishes).
Anyway. I try (and typically fail, but try again) to keep my very full, very productive home organized (and to do regular purges of stuff that *isn’t* being used towards that prolific productivity), rather than sheering away all the things that make my home somewhere I want to be.
Aaaand… those are my thoughts on that subject. Onwards!
Thanks for this, Erica. I don’t know about minimalism being another word for outsourcing. We grow and preserve food, make beer, cook from scratch, make soap, etc. And yet I definitely have minimalist tendencies. Yes, I may have a few more kitchen items (dehydrator, canner) than a “real” minimalist, but I also have a smaller than average home, pared-down closet and space vs clutter and rampant consumerism.
I don’t think minimalism is necessarily incompatible with DIY.
Curious to hear more thoughts on this.
Katharine van der Hoorn says
First of all, awesome that you’re on Patreon. Can’t wait to become a supporter.
When it comes to minimalism vs/and preparedness, first of all, I am literally launching a website that at it’s core is partly about this exact issue. (SimplicityMade.com, coming soon to a browser near you…as soon as I have five minutes that don’t involve two babies and my outside job.) So I’m so excited that it’s coming up in conversation.
My general attitude is that minimalism is a shitty word. Who wants “minimal” to be their goal? I don’t know about you, but I believe that life is short, and I don’t want to get to the end of life and be known for “wow, she really managed to not have a lot of stuff.” That said, as a person with chronic anxiety/depression as well attention priority issues, I know how much better my mind works when my space is clear, I don’t have a billion projects going on at any one time, or thirty books to read. My goal is to be balanced, or “whelmed,” most of the time. I also believe in preparedness, and in an ideal world, having enough to share in cases of emergency, including food, water, and basic necessities.
Instead of minimalism, my goal is essentialism. I want to have the physical goods that feel essential to me (note, this includes a coffee grinder, AND a camping coffee grinder, because, well, priorities.) To me, joy is about half a step less essential than food, so items that bring me joy qualify, including wonderful art and textures that make me feel embraced by my home. Emergency preparedness is also unequivocally essential, as is generosity. We have two water barrels of 55 gallons each, and plan on having a water tank out back as soon as we get our act together. Hopefully, these can provide not just for our family, but also for our neighbors in a longer state of emergency. I have a “collection” of about 300 mason jars to fill with food, for the same reason. You get the idea. Also essential to me is space, time and self awareness. I know for me, when I have more than 3 books out from the library, I read exactly zero of them. When I have more than two art project options available to me, I get overwhelmed. For me to be productive, my options have to be limited. That’s my truth, and my journey through minimalism/essentialism has allowed me to find that out.
Anyway, so thrilled to have this resource back and running. Happy weekend!
“Instead of minimalism, my goal is essentialism”
I really like this idea. I have two hand crank coffee grinders as well, and I know how much better I feel when my options are (somewhat) limited.
Suzanne Wenner says
Thank you for doing what you do:)
Oh have I ever lived in that depression house. I think we need to be bringing attention to the connections between mental illness and art and creativity. I’m not bleeding out over my FB page, but Chris Cornell’s death stunned me. And yet I know Euphoria Morning came out of the depression house..and yet..art. No answers.
Cabbages. This is a “cabbage year” and yet my cabbages have just been hanging out in the ground, not really doing anything, so I don’t think you’re too late. But, I don’t have any season extension going on, so that should really help. When I can’t grow cabbage, I think what I want this year is a mid-summer into fall garden. The perennials can do their thing and I can be super duper supportive of my local farmers.
I too am pondering minimalism. Oh, all right. Not so much pondering as obsessing over and pretty much for the same reason – the tug of war between reducing and producing. This is probably why it has taken me the whole weekend to write a comment.
The more I think about it, thought, the more I disagree with Some Dude On Reddit. The implication is that Minimalists use just as much material resources and goods as the rest of us; they just don’t own them. In fact, in trying to square this circle, I’ve had a sudden insight. I think messy productive minimalism does the opposite. It doesn’t shift the use of resources to someone else. It produces a resource for others to use. Take all the minimalist sensibilities – get rid of what doesn’t matter, what gets in the way of what does matter, have less, use less in order to have more – and produce something, something that is then moved on to somewhere else. Writing is an example of this. Art is too. Gardening. You grow something, create something and it moves on. Only if it stays does it become clutter, becomes what minimalism fights, becomes consumerism and materialism. Write the book/post and publish it. It’s done, gone. Messy productivity has become Minimalist sensibility. Start the seeds, plant the seedling, grow the veggie, pick the crop, fill the larder, feed your family. Done, gone. You’re not out-sourcing. You’re being the source that’s going out.
I think I’m going to stop there. I’ve written and rewritten and cut out a whole lot more. None of it really address the source of your pondering, I think. Besides, I really need to think more about what I wrote above. I mean, I literally came up with this idea in the middle of writing this post.
Nancy Sutton says
It sounds like one, minimalism or productivity, has to be ‘better’ than the other….the usual comparison, judgment, etc. Why can’t it just be ‘what I like most’… and we’re all different ? I enjoy being in a tidy, spartan room (actual minimalism is too far from ‘nature’ to be appealing for me) but I wouldn’t want to live there. I like a room that is a ‘workshop’… full of potential. Some people are ‘makers’.. it’s where their joy comes from. And others are ….. what does give minimalists joy? Getting out of the house? Maybe they are more extroverted and socializing is what they like most … so ‘stuff’ just distracts from their goals. (Plus the ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ cultural meme… now being show to be detrimental to our health.)