Welcome to Splitsville, at the Abundant Pantry project

A tad squirrely
Winter’s Coming… Going a tad squirrely?

It really is worth remembering that one of Skookum’s recurring benefits to members comes through our The Abundant Pantry (TAP) Bulk Food Buying Club that runs every two months. The next deadline is Sunday, November 10 at 11:00 PM sharp. If you haven’t used it yet, you’re missing out on the benefits of gaining access to the best quality organic and conventional foods, at the lowest possible prices.

It’s easy.

  1. If you are already signed up as a TAP member… move to step 2 (if not, click here)
  2. You shop online anytime you want (up to 11:00 PM on Sunday November 10 for this next cycle)
  3. Check out the existing splits offered or enter your own invitations to split an order
  4. Show up on Delivery Day (Thursday November 14) at the set time and location  in Wildwood and pay there. Want to help at the distribution location? Ask Wendy, the program coordinator at bulkbuying@skookumfood.ca

Buying in bulk has many advantages, especially with the colder weather on its way…

  • You save money when you buy in bulk (we have food and non-food items, plus pet food, with some local products too)
  • You store more and better quality staples for the best price (which means you can often buy Organic food via The Abundant Pantry (TAP), for the cost of non-Organic at the supermarket, or less!
  • You will tend to eat better, less-processed and Organic food if you have better food in storage!
  • You generally reduce the need to rush off to the store (saving money, gas, time, effort, annoyance, especially in the winter when it can be an extra chore)
  • You generally reduce the amount of packaging when you buy in bulk (it depends on what you’re buying, but generally the larger the quantity, the less packaging and the more recyclable the packaging is)
  • You get to contribute a little bit to Skookum (a very small fraction of your bill is to help pay for the coordination and rental of space)
  • More importantly, get to know your fellow members; it’s all part of building a resilient community that will benefit us all
  • …and if you’re worried about having too much of a good thing (i.e. overbuying some products) do we have splits for you! It’s our program’s Splits Page, and it doesn’t end there, you can also use our Skookum members email list (just email members(at)skookumfood(dot)ca) or our Facebook page  and let them know you have food to share, either before you buy or afterwards. You can set up arrangements between yourselves.
  • It happens every two months, with the next order being November 10, so start browsing and check out the 1,500+  products available to you.

All the details are at The Abundant Pantry site. Any questions at all? Contact the development team at bulkbuying@skookumfood.ca.

Thurs. Oct 17: Coop Week Film/Discussion with Tom Shandel

Skookum_CreditUnion_event
Click image for larger version pdf. Please feel free to print a copy and put one up somewhere. OPEN TO ALL. We are asking for $5 donation at the door.

Please join us at the Cranberry Seniors’ Centre on Thursday, Oct 17 at 6:30 PM (show at 7:00 PM) for an evening with Tom Shandel, visiting film-maker, producer, writer, and board member of Duncan BC’s Cowichan Co-operative Connections, for a screening of his short documentary film Civilizing the Economy (read on below) and clips from some of his other work, plus a discussion on building and maintaining cooperatives in our region and beyond.

This event is co-sponsored by Skookum and First Credit Union to celebrate Co-op Week (Oct 13-19) and Credit Union Day (Oct 17). Everyone is welcome to attend; arrive early as seating is limited, plus we will have some delicious snacks conjured up by Chef Jacqueline Huddleston. A $5 donation at the door is much appreciated, as this is a fund-raiser for future Skookum projects.

Click image to view trailer

“Civilizing the Economy

The Corporation documentary showed us how bad they really are. But there is an alternative way to organize enterprise better than no-public-liability en-corporations. And it’s been around for years…and built a lot of western Canada. How come we stopped? 

 

Produced for British Columbia Cooperative Association and directed by Tom Shandel, written by John Restakis with strong support by Robert Williams, CIVILIZING THE ECONOMY, narrated by Patrick Watson, shows there’s another way to do business in a more or less free market: COOPERATIVES!
CIVILIZING THE ECONOMY explores one of Europe’s most successful economies, featuring three interdependent sectors, private, public/state and cooperatives. ” From: http://shandel.ca/?page=Civilizing%20the%20Economy

 

The What, Where and Why of Dry

Dried local peaches, nothing added.

As you may have noticed in our recent Facebook posts, Skookum members are drying up a storm this year, preserving the local (and local-ish) harvest of peaches, plums, squash, tomatoes, peppers, apples, pears, berries and more.

David and Brownie cutting up apples to make applesauce that was then dried into fruit leather.

A crack team of 6 members have been buying, picking and sharing in-season produce from Bernie’s Fruit Truck (a.k.a Vitamin Express), and attending dehydrating work parties at the Community Resource Centre (CRC), which houses two food dehydrators. Part of the bounty is always put aside for CRC client use, thus fulfilling our community share. Additionally, Skookum’s newest project is a bulk order of dehydrators, where members of our cooperative got together and saved on shipping/ brokerage fees to have five Excalibur dehydrators delivered, making at least five local families more food secure.

Black Diamond plums, dehydrated and delicious.

What is the buzz on drying food?

      • What can you dehydrate?
      • Does it replace canning, pickling, or freezing?
      • What are the advantages and drawbacks of drying?
      • What can you dehydrate and what do you do with the dried food anyhow?
      • How long does it take to preparea and dry stuff?
      • How much does it cost?
      • How do I get started?

 

Despite being an ancient form of food preservation, dating back to biblical times,  dehydrating is coming into its own in our less-than-arid climate, through simple technology: a dehydrator. At its most basic level, this is a vented box with heat elements, fans and porous shelves upon which to place sliced, diced, shredded or even select whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, meat, fish, etc. The ‘devil is in the details’ though, as uniformity of dehydration and the ability to set accurate drying temperatures and lengths of time are attributes that only the better machines offer.

Why dry?

            • Dehydrating foods provides “living ” or uncooked foods. If done properly, only the water content is extracted, leaving much of the flavour and nutrients behind
            • They are easy to digest, rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and are highly nutritious
            • Many modern methods of preserving foods through refrigeration, freezing, canning, pasteurizing, and chemical or even natural additives like sugar, salt, pectin, Sodium Bisulfite, etc. reduce the nutrient content in food, or provide unwanted extra calories/sodium
            • Easily stored in air and light-proof containers, dehydrated foods weigh considerably less than fresh or food preserved any other way (useful in camping and backpacking: easy to carry!) and can sit on your shelf for up to 20 years making them excellent for disasters and hard times (think food security here!)
            • It’s cheaper than freezing, in the end: a few hours of drying at a few cents per hour, and you’re done. This frees up freezer/pantry space for other goodies that must be preseved in other ways.
            • See some seasonal food on sale or have a glut of local food? Pick it or buy it and dry it during any season. Dried pineapples and mangoes make great (if non-local) snacks; autumn is a great time to ponder dried chanterelles…
            • And you can mix and match your foods to create dried culinary delights like pear-apricot leather with embedded walnut pieces, a mixed dried vegetable soup mix (with a different vegetable on each tray of your dehydrator), an entire dehydrated spaghetti dinner, stews and chile, even jerkies of all kinds (salmon, chicken, turkey, beef); think of it as gentle ‘cooking’, in slow motion
            • Using dried food is a dream: either use it as is (as in fruit leathers) or mix it with wetter foods or soak to rehydrate dried food in water or broth to create flavourful concoctions with super-concentrated flavour
            • Dehydrators can be used to raise yeasted bread doughs, make yogurt, teas (out of leafy herbs or bits of  fruit), cheese, seeds for planting, and even dry flowers and leaves for crafts – anything that can benefit from a low, sustained, dry heat (this includes me—Swedish sauna, anyone?)

Drawbacks?

        • As in freezing or canning food, there are some upfront costs, namely for the dehydrator (here is a review of  some of the more popular types; they range from about $80 to $2,000+) and for containers in which to store the food (plastic bags, and even glass jars preferably with the air sucked out via a vacuum sealer); add to this the electricity use in the actual dehydration process
        • Time is of the essence: you need to be able to collect or buy food at the peak of freshness and ripeness to get the best results, and it does take some time to peel, pit, check (drop briefly in boiling water to remove some of the waxy coating on things like blueberries or grapes) and slice certain items like pears, peaches or cherries to prepare them for dehydrating. Also, getting the dried food off the racks and in air-tight containers is best done sooner rather than later because the dried food will act as a sponge and collect ambient moisture!
        • Certain foods just don’t dehydrate that well, such as:
          1. whole items (be it fruits, vegetables, etc.); this reduces access to the moister parts; sliced or shredded food works best and fastest
          2. fibrous food like sliced artichokes or carrots (unless they are sliced really thinly)
          3. high-moisture foods like watermelon and cucumber that take a long time (but they are interesting just the same!)
          4. foods with lots of fat/oil in them that can go rancid without other preservatives like salt/sugar, etc.
        • You need to make sure that foods are dried and stored properly, to avoid mold and spoilage, so home-made dehydrators are not recommended in our climate
        • You need to pay attention and respond to your dehydrating foods as needed; factors such as the type and variety of fruit/vegetable you are dehydrating, its ripeness and sugar level (both increase drying time), and ambient humidity, all factor in the final drying times. While you cannot really over-dry things at the recommended low temperatures, you don’t want to be wasting energy either or producing food that is overly dry for no reason; some moisture content is okay, depending on what you are drying.

Want to get started? Contact us (just comment below or use our contact page)  and we’ll see what we can do to get you drying at least some food this year!

Home Tanning Workshop: Part Deux

Home Tanning Workshop Part 2: Saturday July 28, 2012 11:00AM-3:00PM FREE! (Donations to Skookum  always graciously accepted)

Home Tanning Workshop: Part 2

(Click here for the lovely poster 262kB pdf)

With Hana Turtle Granny and Jacqueline Huddleston

For hunters, homesteaders, craftsmen, seamstresses and those with a serious intent to learn the basics of home tanning leathers and furs

This second workshop will focus on the techniques used to “break” the tanned hide. We will also introduce you to working with larger hides, including: deer, goat and sheep. If you missed the first workshop “green” hides (untanned) will be available to practice fleshing, with instruction.

  • What: Part 2 of a 3 workshop series on tanning local hides
  • When: Saturday July 28th 2012
  • Where: 5905 Fraser Street, Powell River BC
  • Time: 11:00AM to 3:00PM
  • Fee: Free of charge*

(*donations to Skookum always graciously accepted)

We recommend: Tan Your Hide, by Phyllis Hobson (IBSN # 0-88266-101-9) if you want to preview some of the techniques we will be using.

Important: Bring your own tanning kit including:

  • 2 old towels
  • Rubber gloves and apron
  • 1 pair of utility scissors
  • 1 skinning or fleshing knife or other tool i.e.
  • Ulu
  • spoon, shell or something with a rounded edge
  • 1 piece of plywood 3/4 ” thick 2 X 2
  • Your tanned rabbit hide from workshop 1 (if you attended this)
  • Participants should also bring lunch and a thermos

To register please email jaxhuddleston@me.com or call 604 483-9902!

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