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The Work Ahead

May hits us like an ice water dousing on a drowsy morning. It is simultaneously shocking and deeply refreshing. Winter’s leisurely breakfasts are suddenly a thing of the past: Bob and I scarcely have time to join each other for a cup of coffee before we find ourselves on our hands and knees weeding asparagus, donning nets to check on the beehives, pounding posts to trellis new grape vines, digging holes for new fruit trees, or heading down to the farm to make sausage before the farmer’s market starts. I help my dad vaccinate the sheep and bag fleeces for the mill; he examines the flock for parasites, moves the broilers out to pasture, checks the fences, hauls hay bales to the cattle to tide them over until the pastures are amply lush, and monitors the grasses and our very pregnant ewes. My mom faces an endless barrage of dishes to wash following our luncheon feasts (made larger to accommodate our springtime appetites), handles the incoming meat orders, and helps us care for the girls. But despite all our activity, we still feel as though we are in the calm before the storm that will hit when lambing season officially begins. All other away-from-home plans are subject to the whims of nature as our family readies to welcome the spring crop of newborns.

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The Case for Sustainable Meat

Can meat have a place in the life of a “radical homemaker” trying to live sustainably? Farmer Shannon Hayes believes it can. posted May 12, 2010   I recently released a new book, Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. The result of three years of obsessive research, the book is something of a […]

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The Kid Question

How one woman decided whether reproduction had a place in her quest for a sustainable life. By Shannon Hayes When I first began sharing my newest research endeavor—to explore the role of homemaking in healing our current global crises—I spoke with a slight tremor in my voice. I was afraid of what people might think: […]

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The Birthday Balloon

Do children need a pile of wrapped toys in order to know that their family and friends are delighted and honored that they share this lifetime with us? Somewhere in our consumer culture, we have confused material items with expressions of love. My youngest daughter, Ula, and I have birthdays one week apart. Thus, the […]

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Can Money Buy Education?

This past November, I began a home school unit with my six-year-old daughter, Saoirse, on money. We opened our investigation by reading stories on the history of money. To paraphrase, early people originally made the things they needed. Then they began trading for the things they needed or wanted that they couldn’t make. The barter system worked out fine, as long as each party in the exchange had something that the other wanted. When that was no longer the case, money entered the marketplace as a tool to facilitate exchange. Eventually, in an effort to devise something that was relatively portable and of somewhat universal value, the Sumerians came up with the first silver coins.

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Prudent Carnivore: Meat Broth and Demi-Glace (Shannon-Style)

If asked to select the single most important ingredient in my kitchen, it would have to be the little glass tub of demi-glace that jiggles in the back corner of my refrigerator.  Admittedly, I use the term casually. A French chef would likely have me strung up by my toes for awarding this wondrous gelatinous […]

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Radical Homemakers: Ecological, Social and Economic Transformation…all under one roof

Long before we could pronounce Betty Friedan’s last name, Americans from my generation felt her impact.

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The Grassfarmer Meets the Radical Homemaker

Who is sustaining the local food movement? The wealthy? The foodies? Neither. Check out the homemakers.

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Tender Grassfed Steak, Inside and Out

Last month brought two splendid, nearly 30-month old steers through the cutting room for the fall harvest. Our freezers were filled with glorious, full-flavored, prime beef. And I mean prime. Incredibly, there are still folks who assume beef cannot marble without the aid of grain fattening. Balderdash, I say! The steaks coming out of the cutting room throughout the late fall have been deeply marbled and rich in flavor. Typically, early December in the Northeast has many customers leaving the steaks off their shopping lists in favor of the stew meat and roasts. But those who pause over our beef display just long enough to notice the marbling seize upon the rib eyes and porterhouses…Beef that approaches 30 months in age results in grassfed steak that is truly magnificent. The trick is to know how to handle it properly, whether you are cooking it indoors, or outside.

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Pastured Turkey Cooking Tips

For those of you who are new to this process of buying a pasture-raised turkey direct from the farmer, here is a list of tips to guide you through the process and make sure that you have a delicious holiday feast.

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