Building A SustaInable Life...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Quest for Felt (Felt-Quest?)

So I just need to bitch a little. And yeah, I'm gonna blame Wal*Mart. Because as trite as it has become, and as easy as it is to fall back on, sometimes it's the plain and simple truth that the retail giant is, in fact, responsible for the things we always say it's responsible for.

I was looking for felt. I have a 20-month-old, sometimes you just need felt. This time, I wanted to make Superbear a cape, but I'm sure the coming years will see me looking for felt on numerous occasions. It's been many years since we've had an actual craft store in this town. For a while we had the giant craft emporium, practically a warehouse. Before that, there were two outlets of a chain craft store, one in each of our main malls. I'm guessing, if you go back far enough in time, there were actual independent craft supply shops owned by actual local people.

Now, we have none of those options. So I searched the dollar store, no dice (well, they probably had dice. But no felt.) I searched Zellers, which is like KMart, only cleaner. Our craft department consists of yarn and thread." And all kinds of pre-fab scrapbooking supplies, I could add.

And there is literally no place else, except the Big W.

I'm not saying the Dollar Store or Zellers are in any way more local, more just, or more sustainable than Wal*Mart. They import the cheapest goods from foreign sweatshops and sell them at prices that necessitate somebody along the line getting massively screwed. Even the craft chains were not much better. But the latter at least represented some specialization. Like pet food shops, bookstores, fabric outlets - they offer an alternative to one stop shopping", the ultimate conclusion of which is Wal*Mart pet food, Wal*Mart books, fucking Wal*Mart health insurance. And, you know, for as long as this town has had (two!) Zellers, as far as I know it never put anyone out of business. Though stocked with similar offerings, it arguably operates under a different business model. It used to be that the mall was blamed for killing the downtown core here; now, on my last pass through I actually spotted mall stores closing up shop.

I won't go to Wal*Mart, so I guess I'll be buying my felt online. Shipping it from a long distance, though I suppose that would happen regardless. But you know, I've just realized that it would be really nice to have some bean-bag chairs for the sprogs. Guess how much luck I've had so far?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cooking: Lentil Sausage Stew

I won't call this a recipe, as I'm seldom very accountable for things like measurements. But this was yummy, and it generated some pretty photos. So, you know. :-)

2-3 spicy sausages (if you can find a local specialty all's the better)
1 medium onion
2 medium apples
2 ribs celery
1 cup red lentils
handful fresh spinach
4 cups or so stock

Cook sausages by simmering in a little water until cooked, but don't worry about browning. You can remove the meat from the casing first or cook the sausages whole and slice them later. Set aside.

Sautée chopped onion with a little canola oil until at least translucent. For this recipe I pretty much caramelized them and then deglazed the pan with a little apple juice. Add chopped celery and sautée for a few more minutes. Add chopped apples, give it a good stir, then add whatever stock or liquid you like.

Bring to a boil, then add lentils and sausage and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 25 minutes. Toss in spinach leaves, let them get hot and happy, and you're done.

I served this with a dollop of good plain yogurt and some toasted pita bread, and a side of brown rice. Yummy - hearty but with a touch of spice and sweetness.