Friday, December 14, 2018

against chemicals, for better health care, and Bolognese

We bought this giant copper pot two summers ago to use for dying wool. What's nice about dying wool with plants (we use calendula, elderberry, birch bark, nettles) is that you can use the same pot later for cooking and not worry about toxic things too much. Which is the main reason we don't use pesticides or flower food in our fields and cut flower buckets -- theres always a dog or chicken looking for a convenient drink. In the city I would always bleach my flower buckets -- here we use vinegar instead since the run off ends up in the stream and pond which waters our sheep and gardens. I don't want my animals drinking water laced with chemicals. We might call decisions like these no-brainers.

The opposite of a no-brainer is the American healthcare system. A complicated chutes and ladders system devised to earn gigantic profits for insurance and drug companies. An attempt to understand my own health plan options and potentially renew at a cheaper monthly premium ended up in an epic tantrum I performed over the phone standing in the middle of Bleecker Street yesterday. It is a personal assault to put my health in the hands of a large corporation which immediately converts me into a statistic and puts a dollar value on the probability of my wellness (determined in seconds over the phone solely on my height and weight, a yes or no question about drug use, and whether I plan to be pregnant in the next few years (planning a family essentially bumps you up to a few more hundred dollars a month).

If health insurance companies could only grow to 150 people* then they -- like me and my chickens, sheep, apprentices, co-inhabitors at Worlds End, and friends -- would want the best for their clients and co-workers because they would know their names, know of their families, and feel connected to them in a way that was tangible and obligatory. You can remember 150 peoples names, and 150 people will certainly remember your name should you be the one holding the purse strings and deciding to fuck a groupmember in the ass.

(Is this sex-positive socialism?)

My solution to health care: form you're own group. Find 100-150 people with varying age ranges and start putting 400 dollars a month into an account. For the first 6 months no one can use the fund for care unless it is for a catastrophic emergency like an accident or sudden sickness like appendicitis. In three months you'll have 120,000 in six months 240,000. Write your own rules. When someone you know gets sick, you'll know about their struggle and not begrudge them for drawing on the account to pay for care. If possible have a few of those in the group be skilled in herbs and homeopathy. A recent rash of urinary tract infections made me realize that what I really needed in health care was a witch who could recommend some herbs and talk to me about my feelings rather than a gynecologist who never remembers my name and doesn't listen to me when I tell her that that YES of course I pee after sex.

I started writing this to tell you about a giant lamb Bolognese we made with everything grown here. I want to tell you that this is how we feed ourselves and it's great and this is how we're going to feed you if you sign up for one of the 4 weeks of residencies I'm releasing next week. We're selling these residencies as a fundraiser to raise some money to finish the second big barn which will house our giant farm kitchen. We'll still often cook outside, but having this barn finished means that we can make tea on a stove rather than on a bbq grill outside of my house. It means also that we can house people comfortably in private rooms with real plumbing.

It's uncomfortable for me to charge for experiences here at the farm, I think you know that by now and I think you know that I like to be transparent and honest with our work here. I want the residencies to be free: I don't want to charge people for experiences in nature. But I also don't want to lose the farm over my ideals. If I am serious about creating a paradise where hopefully one day things won't have to cost money and where we can operate more on an exchange basis then I have to keep the whole thing moving forward and exploring various modes of production, creativity and exchange. I need you to come and share your ideas with us at the dinner table, and at least for right now, I need some of you to be willing to pay us for the experience.
Did I mention we eat very, very well? ...I'm smiling as I type this.

The following is a very simple lamb Bolognese recipe given to us by a friend. Half of my favorite expression 'fast and loose' applies here: It's loose - in the sense that you can adjust the ingredients as you like; add garlic, use your own fresh or canned tomatoes, add chili flakes, etc - but it can't be fast. This is an all day affair. Recently for us it was a 60 pound, two day affair cooked over a wood fire which imparts a nice flavor...but isn't necessary. When our friend Sophie first made this for us in August she cooked it inside on a single electrical burner.

Sophie is one of Zoe's best friends, and though I don't know her that well I have gleaned that she really knows how to take care of herself. It's been rumored that when she's sad, she cooks this Bolognese. I aspire to be that sort of woman...and I firmly believe that taking good care and feeding oneself and others belongs in any worth while health plan.

Old World Lamb Bolognese

• 1 onion finely diced
• 2 celery sticks finely diced
• 2 carrots grated
• 1 lamb shank (bone in)
(• if shank has no bone then add bone, if possible w marrow)
• 1 28 oz can of san marzano tomatoes
• olive oil
• salt

In large sauce pot on medium heat sauté mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) in olive oil + salt just until onion becomes translucent (not more than 4-5 mins).

Turn up heat. Dump in raw lamb shank + bone + canned tomatoes. Add enough water to cover everything in pot. Add a generous amiunt of salt + olive oil. Stir. 

Bring to a boil uncovered. Lower heat so that sauce is bubbling gently (medium low to low flame). Cover with tight fitting lid and let cook like this for at least 3 hrs. Keep in mind: time permitting, the ideal way to cook this sauce is slow and low - it is my fantasy to one day cook it at lowest possible flame for a full 12 hours.

It is important to check in on it now and again, especially at the beginning and near the end, to ensure it does not burn. 

Near the 3 hr mark take the meat out and pull it apart + remove any gristly bits. Put the pulled lamb back in the pot, discard the gristle. (Zoe, for making feast amounts of sauce maybe it would be easier to cut the meat up into bite-sized cubes when first plopping them in the sauce. That way it won't be necessary to do this annoying pulling part. And maybe only using large, easily retrievable bones will also help here.)

If it hasn’t already happened naturally, push the marrow into the sauce. Leave the bone in until the sauce has evaporated all water and reduced to a perfect saucy consistency. (Sometimes getting the sauce to its final stage requires turning up the heat a little. Don't be shy to really bubble off all that water.) Remove bone. 

Reduce heat to lowest simmer. Grate a ton of parmesan or romano into the simmering sauce (per can of tomatoes I grate half of a wedge of cheese, so sue me). Taste. Adjust seasoning. 

Combine pasta + sauce and there ya go. 

*in the 1990's British anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that 150 was the limit to the number of stable relationships any one person could maintain without loosing track of intimate details about any one relationship. Essentially it shows a possible cap on healthy communities where members can feel intimate enough with each other so as to support and be supported without superstructural elements such as laws and governing bodies.


Unknown said...

Dude. Roast that shit in the oven! Covered for like, 10 hours, then uncovered for 2. Relatively low heat, ya know... Seriously, doing ragus in the oven is the way to go. I tried it out of necessity, and it changed my life. Also, this technique is amazing for fruit butters, and basically anything else you don't want to worry about burning.

Anyway, carry on!

Anonymous said...

juice a lemon in water, once a day: it can change the ph in your system. that could help with urinary crazy.