Monday, March 12, 2012

Dinner for Many

having a large community of people to pitch in on meals makes dinner time easier and more economical.. but even as a group funds can be tight at times. this doesn't mean we have to go hungry, just be smarter about how food is distributed.

as an example, i wanted to make a stew for dinner today, but only had enough meat and veggies to make dinner for 4-6. most times there are 6 to 8 people at the table, so in order to stretch the meal for a larger group, we had to get creative.

i took my basic stew recipe, and cut the meat and veggies into thinner pieces than i usually would. i then thickened the liquid to more of a gravy consistency by adding a little more flour and bisto, and a different mixture of spices so that it would taste good over some rice. since it's winter, fresh leafy vegetables are more expensive being not in season, thus many meals consist of root vegetables and starches.

rice is cheap, filling and delicious, and makes it much easier to stretch a meal to feed more people. pasta works well too, but with this particular meal, rice is the better choice. now for a breakdown of the cost of today's meal.. keeping in mind that only small portions of each ingredient are needed, not the whole bag or bushel.

steak- $5
potatoes- $1.5o worth
carrots- 25 cents worth
onion-25 cents
garlic-15 cents
rice- $1.oo
spices, flour, bisto and water- less than a dollar

so for just under $10 [canadian] enough food was prepared for 8-12 servings, all bellies full and tastebuds satisfied. this is far cheaper than each individual making their own meals, buying frozen dinners, pre-made pasta packages or fast food.. and far more economical considering the energy used to prepare it. judging by the round of silence at the dinner table, it must have been a tasty meal:)

Friday, March 9, 2012

CalmUnity ReBirth

and we begin again from the beginning...

The White House [on the Corner] has undergone many changes in the past month. the biggest change being the overall atmosphere of the house as a home.

the rotation of occupants had continued throughout the month of February, and finally we have collected the peaceful, community-minded group of individuals the house has always needed.. of friends that i like to refer to as my family.

there is a long list of projects and systems that we would like to build and implement as a community, to make this house more efficient and cost-effective. system numero uno... mealtime. over the past few weeks we have been working out a meal plan starting with the biggest meal of the day, dinner.

the food in the house is no longer kept separate, with a couple minor exceptions.. one occupant of the house is passive in his presence [ie. not here often enough to contribute to community meals] and myself having to supplement meat with other protein [hemp protein etc.].

preparing one large dinner instead of 4-7 individual meals saves on energy when we only use the stove and oven once at dinner time, saves on water for clean-up, and saves money with everyone pitching small amounts towards community meals.

when spring rolls around and we get the garden growing once again, we will add 4 feet to the width to fit more produce, and possibly a fruit tree or two. last year's attempt at a garden went well enough, but without having the right people living in the house to care for it, harvest and consume the produce, there was far too much waste.

this year, everything produced will be consumed, canned, dried and saved.. and excess shared with friends and family and the surrounding community. the cost of food in the spring and summer will be far less having fresh produce available right in our own back yard.

once we get mealtimes in order and properly budgeted for, we will work on delegating other chores and responsibilities. 4 of us cook [3 of us are good at it lol] and the others pitch in on kitchen cleanup. this week we will be testing a new method of post dinner cleanup in which the sink is prepped at the same time as dinner, and the dishes are cleaned and rinsed right away as each person finishes their meal.

speaking of meals, it's just about that time again... time to get our cook on!

that's it for now, stay tuned for further updates on the calmunity rebuild project at The White House [on the Corner]!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The White House [on the Corner]

back in 2008, my partner shawn and i gave up our downtown apartment to take off backpacking across Canada. we gave away and sold all of our furniture, put our essentials into storage and left the city behind.

when we returned, the money we had saved up for first and last month's rent was spent in a kitty emergency,.. mister shaggy had fallen ill while we were gone and needed surgery to keep him alive. so instead of paying for a place to live we saved him.. and was offered a shell of a house to stay in from one of our good friends. it barely had walls, or floors.. there was no heat or running water and it was the dead of winter. but it was pretty well free until we got it fixed up... and thus the white house [on the corner] began.

for the first little bit, it was almost like winter camping. we had lights and a radio, had to go down the street to use the washroom, to visit friends and family members for a shower, and kept big 10litre jugs of water for washing and drink. we had a futon set up in what would eventually be the living room, and helped the owner to refinish it bit by bit.

as soon the first three rooms upstairs were habitable [and we had running water and heat], we designated a room for my brother to stay in.. and as the basement grew a couple more rooms, they were filled too. the owner had no intentions in starting a rooming house, but it ended up working out for the better. the house was slated to be finished and re-sold, and instead it became it's own entity, a housebound community was born.

over the years a couple of the rooms have seen multiple tenants roll through, the couches have seen many surfers, and the house has accumulated it's own group of friends. it's central location is perfect as a drop in, and the yard and spacious common area became popular hangouts for the nerds and hippies alike. we accumulated such a large group of 'regulars' that game nights, rockband parties and potlucks became a regular thing.

the house and the community is evolving still. as we enter our fourth year as a collective, we have achieved much as a community. we have a network of resources amongst each other that we can rely on, and a rounded selection of skills to share. the backyard went from having a tiny vegetable patch, to having a large community permaculture garden, which is maturing into it's second year with plans to expand. the backyard itself sees it's share of passers through, as there is plenty of space for visitors to set a tent and stay a while.

i plan to use this page to write about how the community came to be, an ideal framework for functioning as a community, and to document the changes and growth within the collective and the garden. also, to touch on other group homes and spaces from the past.

thanks for reading, stay tuned!