Waldorf Style Blocks

Or, mulberry log slices.

This is our block city.

The kids love playing with seashells.

They’re not perfect, and we’ll be making more, but here they are!

The real trick to making “branch blocks” or “natural log blocks” or whatever these are, is curing the wood. “Curing” the wood really means heating and drying it out to kill bugs/bug eggs, as well as to prevent warping and mildew.

To cure the wood, you can either bake your wood in the oven at 175˚F – 200˚F for a few hours. I hear you can also microwave the wood for 1 minute. I preferred the oven, because that meant I didn’t have to cut the blocks while the wood was still moist and green, so I just put a couple logs in the oven to cure before they became blocks.

Sometimes simplicity is easy to find.

More to come.

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Lentil Joes (Vegan Sloppy Joes)

This post is written by Samuel, Bonnie’s husband

For dinner a little while ago my wife and I made Lentil Joes with homemade BBQ sauce. This is a delicious meal that is fairly easy to cook, cheap, and makes getting some vegetables into dinner easy. It will take around an hour if you make the lentils. I don’t know if I’ve seen canned lentils, but you could use other beans and it would probably still work well. For meat eaters, using half ground beef and half lentils is a great way to save money and add some nutritional variety.

The pictures unfortunately are from more recently. We tried it again and added quinoa. Bonnie really liked it; I could take it or leave it.

I expect this is enough to feed 5-8 adults.  Other commentary is below the recipe.

Recipe

Ingredients:
Sauté oil
2 onions
1 cup other vegetable*
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 ½ cups dry (about 5? Cups cooked) lentils**
1 heaping Tablespoon vegetable broth (I estimate we used about 4 teaspoons)
1/3 to ½ cup BBQ sauce, or just to taste (we used this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and it was wonderful)
¼ cup tomato sauce***
3 Tablespoons ketchup (one big squirt from a big bottle)

Note: If too thin, you can add a little bit of cornstarch dissolved in cold water. Our lentils were ended up with extra water and we needed to thicken it a little bit, so we did.

 

Instructions:

Sauté the onions and vegetables in the oil, and add the salt and garlic as they are sautéing. When they are sautéed to taste, add the lentils, veggie broth, and sauces. We added the tomato sauce because it was left over (and we did not measure). We don’t think it really mattered, and would be comfortable omitting it.

Mix well and simmer for at least a minute. Serve on toast

*I did not measure, but I polished off a nearly gone bag of peas and added around ½ cup or more of frozen spinach. The vegetables did not seem to affect the taste. I wanted to add grated carrots, but we were out of carrots. The amount of 1 cup is arbitrary and reflects somewhere close to what I did, but I would have done more if we had carrots.

**I cooked about 2 ½ cups, but I saved what was supposed to be about 1 cup dry for another meal. I think I used the equivalent of 2 ½ to 3 cans of beans. Instructions to cook lentils should be on the lentil bag, and they’re easier and much faster than most beans.

***We had a small amount of tomato sauce left from making barbecue sauce. I don’t think it is actually necessary.

Ours came out wetter than we would have liked, so we simmered for a while and it got better. I still expect the consistency will be a little more sandwichable as leftovers.

It’s enough like Sloppy Joes to satisfy me, and definitely delicious. Just like in this recipe, I don’t usually do meat imitations, and although I’m new to vegan eating, I found I hardly thought about the fact that it didn’t have meat. We made a very large batch, so if needed, cut it in half. We weren’t close to throwing any away between my wife and I and our two-year-old boy.

I alluded to this above, but if you don’t want to or don’t have time to cook beans, you can try canned beans, but I haven’t seen canned lentils or tried other beans. Lentils are much faster than larger beans to cook from a dry bag of beans, taking only about 45 minutes. If you try with canned beans, be sure to leave a comment and let us know how it went. I expect it will work well if you use a smaller bean such as a black bean.

I will consider doubling the garlic when I make it again. With Bonnie’s homemade BBQ sauce (recipe here) it was flavorful, but more garlic might have kicked it up a notch. Bonnie made the BBQ sauce by taste more than by exact measuring, and it came out great.

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Goo Gone (or, what to do with homemade deodorant)

I made some baking soda deodorant for myself the other day. (Ok, it was a longer while ago than that…)

And it just didn’t work for me.  It was nice-smelling, and I really, really wanted it to work. But I guess my skin is a bit sensitive, and the format was just a bit messy, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Vanilla-scented Goop in a tin. Sigh.

 

So it sat on the shelf. I didn’t want to throw it out.

Fast forward to sometime last week, when I discovered that making a paste of oil and baking soda is a recommended way to remove goo from glass. I had some glass jars and bottles I was hoping to re-purpose, so I had to try it!

 

Put the gunk on the goo that you want gone.

It worked perfectly!

Squeaky clean!

Keep in mind that removing the actual sticker goo takes some scrubbing, and that you should wash it with dish soap to remove the oil. But I sure love being able to repurpose those lovely glass jars and bottles that accumulate in our house.

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