Pedaling for Peace

On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food Basics Part V - Lori's Special Egg Fried Rice

If you have not had a chance to read the previous blogs in this series, here are all of the links:

Food Basics Part I, Food Basics Part IIFood Basics Part III, and Food Basics Part IV.

In this installment I will go through the basic recipe for my "Special Egg Fried Rice".

Ingredients and Directions are as follows:

Make 5-6 Servings of cooked brown and wild rice

I mix one bag of Trader Joe's Brown Basmati with one bag of Trader Joe's Wild Rice when I store it. (If you buy in bulk, it's 1 Part Wild Rice to 2 Parts Basmati or Long Grain Rice.) I prepare the rice as follows:

1 Cup Brown/Wild rice mix, rinsed
2 Cups water plus two Trader Joe's Concentrated Chicken Broth packets

In a medium pot, bring the water/broth mixture to a boil. Add rice. Reduce heat to slow simmer, cover and let cook for 45-50 minutes. Turn heat off and leave rice to finish absorbing remaining liquid for another 10-15 minutes.

If you find the water boiling out too quickly during the 45 minutes, either reduce heat or add slightly more to the recipe at the beginning. Too much water left over, increase heat slightly or reduce water.

Whatever you do...leave the lid ON the whole time the rice is cooking.

Makes approximately 5-6 servings.

In a medium to large skillet or wok, heat 1-2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (or some other regular cooking oil) and 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seed Oil on medium to medium high heat.

Add 1/2 lb coarsely chopped carrots (rounds or quarters depending on the size of the carrots). Let cook for approximately 1 minute.

(Images are of a smaller skillet, doing two portions at a time. However, this can all be combined in a larger skillet.)

Add 4 oz. frozen peas. Keep in mind the frozen peas are going to cool the oil down for a few minutes, so give it time to heat back up as it is cooking everything.

(At this point you may also add other stir-fry ingredients of your choice, cut in roughly the same size as the carrots, mushrooms for instance work well.)

Prepare 6 eggs by beating them slightly in a bowl with the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1-3 teaspoons soy/tamari sauce or Braggs Aminos.

Alternatively, use approximately 3.5 - 5 oz soft tofu instead of eggs by cutting it into small cubes and tossing with salt, pepper, and soy sauce before adding to cooking carrots and peas.

Pour eggs over cooking vegetables and stir until they are "soft scrambled".

Tofu just needs to be heated through.

(For the following three ingredients, review the Food Basics Part IV blog for directions on how to prepare.)

To the stir fry mixture, add One Pint Jar of Lentil Sprouts, One Pint Jar of Mung Bean Sprouts, and 1/3 cup soaked sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Continue cooking only long enough so that eggs dry out more and sprouts are only lightly "steamed".

Turn off heat, but leave skillet on stove.

Add prepared rice and layer over stir fry mix.

Cover with skillet lid, and let heat through for another 5-10 minutes.

Remove lid. Mix all ingredients together.

Serve topped with about 1-3 teaspoons dried Dulse Flakes for eating immediately.

Otherwise, store stir-fry mix in containers in the refrigerator for up to a week or more.

To reheat: put a small amount of water in a small to medium size pan. Add stir-fry mix. Cover. Let water steam through mix. Add Dulse as above before eating.

This concludes the "Recipe/Food Prep" part of this series. In the final blog, I will explain why I have personally chosen these particular foods over others to take with me on my trip, and even now, to eat on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Highlights: Florida Peace Conference and First Leg of My Journey

March 3, 2012 I was able to attend the Fourth Annual Heart of Florida Peace Conference held in Winter Haven, FL (Heart of Florida Peace Conference). My friend Alisa and I camped out at the nearby Orlando S.W./Ft. Summit KOA before heading on down to the event.

This is a picture of our campsite after we'd taken down our tents. It did not rain, but the dew was so heavy it might as well have rained. You can see the contrasting dry patches where our tents were.

Quick review of the site: Eh...cheaper than a hotel, but mostly populated by RV's, and there were really bright street lights everywhere which made it much harder for me (as I have a lot of trouble sleeping with lights on). No trees to speak of so I was glad I brought my free-standing Eureka tent as a back-up to my home-made one (although I do intend to test my home-made tent with free standing support at some point before I leave. : )). Alisa was kind enough to park her car to block one of the worst of the lights, which helped, but it was not nearly the pleasant experience I had at Astor Landing a few weeks ago (Astor Landing Campground Review).

The bath house was fine - clean with multiple showers, etc. Funny thing...I managed to lose one of my (very special) wolf earrings down the sink, so I had to do a little plumbing to open up the trap to get to it. Luckily, I was successful in that, hardly skipping a beat with my "morning routine", but it made for an interesting conversation with another woman who was there at the same time. She suggested I start hiring myself out as a plumber, just for that purpose alone! : )

Even with the earring incident, Alisa and I managed to get ourselves to the event site in plenty of time. As the heavy dew had indicated, it was still quite humid, but the temps were nice. On our way to the conference center, we passed this Sandhill Crane quietly enjoying its "morning routine" as well.

Of course, the highlight of this trip was getting a chance to meet and listen to the featured speaker, Paul K. Chappell (Paul K. Chappell), Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF). Although there was a relatively small group gathered of about 20 or so people, they came from very diverse backgrounds, and posed many challenging questions.

Where Paul's talk focused on confronting long-held beliefs about the nature of "national security" and the fundamental nature of human beings (being non-violent as opposed to violent), he also had to field questions and comments regarding the current economic system and the best way for activists to present themselves in public so as not to detract from their mission and message. True to the videos I had already seen of him, Paul was the model of patience and respect for his audience and I think everyone walked away with a renewed sense of hope for the future of humanity as well as the motivation to get more involved in whatever way they could.

As for me... I came to the conference with my own particular peace mission already determined. And the next day, March 4th, in spite of the 20+ mph head-winds, I set off on my bicycle from Jacksonville Beach, FL.

Here are a couple of videos highlighting the beginning and the end of my first leg. I start out christening my wheels at Jacksonville Beach and end up in Orange Park, FL approximately 35 miles and six hours later!

Christening in the Atlantic Ocean, Safe and Sound in Orange Park

In addition to the 20+ mph headwinds, I was carrying approximately 85-90 lbs of gear. Because I have not been able to get my two-wheeled trailer yet, and for safety reasons, I did not use the top rack this time which might end up adding another 10-15 lbs for the rest of my journey. Furthermore, although there were no major natural hills, there were several man-made ones to surmount in the form of bridges and overpasses.

For instance, the first bridge was around the 2 mile mark from the beach and it took a lot of determination to get over that one. I felt like it was my first "test" to see just how committed I am to my mission. As I was pushing hard at the very top of the hill I started breathing the words "I - Want - Peace", and that is what kept me going.

Overall though, it was a relatively easy trip. By choosing a mountain bike instead of a road bike for this journey, I have more capacity to "gear down" then I would with a road bike. In addition, I've added a "super low" gear with a new cassette on the back wheel, which made riding my bicycle, into the wind, up a hill, and under a heavy load possible.*

So, I am glad to report that after those 6 hours in the saddle, and with very little pre-training, I am none the worse for it, and I expect the next part of my journey will continue on that foundation - as I will be "training myself into this" as I go.

Thanks again to my friend Alisa for helping, not only with the videos, but with transportation and payment for the campsite (and a celebratory "Stella" beer at the end of my ride). I feel really lucky to have her and other friends who have been and continue to be so generous with their support.

If you would like to join their ranks, please take advantage of the "Donate" button in the top right menu, and thanks again to everyone who has already contributed thus far. : )

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Cheers! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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*Note: For those of you who may not be cyclists, and especially for anyone thinking about becoming one or even attempting a trip like this, I think it is important to mention that gearing that allows for easy, steady, revolutions per minute (rpm), or "spin rate" is crucial, especially for a very long ride like the one I am planning. Easy spinning minimizes the stress on the body and gives it more of an opportunity to adapt over time. It is similar to the difference between lifting a light weight many times and lifting a heavy weight only a few times, or running a marathon instead of a sprint. Yes, the ride took me 6 hours (Yeah! Turtle Power! : )), but as far as I'm concerned, that's a day's work. Furthermore, with a couple of (generic) "Aleve" prior to and a couple after my trip, along with my regular yoga exercising the day of and the day after, I actually experienced relatively little pain - even though I have not really been on my bicycle that much in the last several months.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Food Basics Part IV - Sprouting Beans and Seeds

This blog is Part IV in a series. If you are new to this blog and have not had a chance to read the previous related blogs here are the links:

Food Basics Part I, Food Basics Part II, and Food Basics Part III.

So, after Green Smoothies and Finger Salads what's the "main course" that goes into my lunch bag?

It's is a combination of several things including:

1. Carrots
2. Peas
3. Eggs or tofu
4. Mung Bean Sprouts
5. Lentil Sprouts
6. Soaked (i.e. semi sprouted) sunflower seeds
7. Soaked pumpkin seeds
8. A combination of brown Basmati or long grain rice and wild rice
9. Dulse (added when eating).

Of this list of ingredients, I am first going to describe my basic method for sprouting Mung Beans and Lentils. Since the Lentils usually take a little longer to sprout, I start them first.

For a single person like myself, I have found that small pint jars (specifically Green Mountain Salsa jars, with ring and seal lids), work best.

Start by adding approximately 3 oz of beans. Notice how the beans come up to roughly the "1/4" mark on the jar.

The next step is to close the jar with a ring and plastic mesh cut to fit. I have used both standard needlepoint canvas and small circles of canvas that had to be cut down slightly for this purpose.

Once the jar is closed, I rinse with water two or three times. If I see any obvious "floaters", i.e. discolored or deformed beans that float to the top, then I will remove those.

After rinsing, I fill the jar with filtered or purified water to about twice the volume of the lentils.

In order to sprout properly, most beans and seeds need a little warmth and darkness. I have found two places that work well for this purpose: on top of the water heater or inside the dishwasher.

Granted, you do not want to run the dishwasher while you have beans soaking in there, but since I prefer to wash my dishes by hand and use the dishwasher racks for air-drying only, then this works well for me. In either case, hot water heaters usually end up in dark closets, and once the door is closed, the inside of the dishwasher is dark as well. The hot water heater has the added benefit of usually being a little warm on top, but not too warm. I have found this to be an optimum circumstance for encouraging germination of beans or seeds.

(Note: The seeds really do need a little warmth to germinate properly. If your hot water heater is not convenient, and/or if your ambient room temp is low [60's?] you can heat up the filtered water to hot but not boiling, and pour that into the jar so all of the seeds will soak and warm up at the same time. The temperature does not have to Stay Warm the whole time, but it has to be warm enough at some point, to cause the seeds to germinate.)

Here is what the lentils look like after soaking overnight.

Keep in mind, I'm starting my lentils 12-24 hours before the mung beans. If I soak the lentils overnight, then I will rinse them in the morning and prepare the mung beans to soak at the same time. The process for starting the mung beans is the same.

Rinse the beans several times and fill the jar with approximately twice as much water as beans. Store the beans in your preferred dark and/or warm and dark place.

As you can see in this image, the mung beans have started sprouting at the top of the heap of soaked beans, while at the same time, we are seeing more significant growth in the lentil jar as well. Ideally, you want the beans to soak up all of the original soak water, because, as they soak, some of the nutrients leach into the water. If all of the water gets soaked up, then the nutrients go back into the beans rather than down your drain. Otherwise, at this stage, you simply continue to rinse and drain the beans in both jars once or twice a day, for the next day or so. I usually store my sprouts when they are between 1/4" and 1/2" long..

I always put the metal lids on Only After the sprouts have had 8-12 hours to dry out (i.e. I do not rinse them one last time before putting the lids on). Too much moisture in this final stage can actually encourage mold growth, especially with the lentils. The mung beans tend to be a little more resistant.

Here's a note on lid storage: I often leave the plastic mesh lids on the jars when I store them in the refrigerator. That way, I don't lose track of them, and they will get washed along with the jar and the metal lid and ring after I empty the jars. Otherwise, if I have multiple lids, mesh covers, and rings going, I like to hang them in a plastic mesh bag so they always dry out completely.

You are still going to get some rusting, but at least this will keep any mold or bacteria from accumulating on the lid seals, or on the plastic mesh (although, as you can see, they do tend to get discolored over time).

Finally, on the last day that the beans are sprouting, I will start my sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds soaking.

It is basically the same idea as with mung beans and lentils, I just put them in a smaller plastic container, and I soak the seeds together. Also, I only soak them overnight, and then rinse and store them in the refrigerator the next morning. Since these hulled seeds have had more exposure to the air, etc. they will start to oxidize much more rapidly once they have been soaked. So that is why I wait to soak them last, and then use them up within two or three days if possible.

To sum up: These soaked/sprouted beans and seeds have been a staple in my diet for many years. Although I am now in the routine of cooking them (slightly) with my "Special Egg-Fried Rice" recipe (which I will elaborate on more fully in my next blog in this series), I have been adding the raw versions into pretty much every other "main course" meal I would make: lasagna, chicken pot pies, soups, other stir fries, etc. In effect, I see these sprouted, nutrient and enzyme dense foods as the Most Important part of the meal while my more conventional entrees are just "flavoring"! : )

Furthermore, what I have outlined here is roughly a three day process, especially if the temps are right for rapid germination of the beans. So, it really is not that difficult and these quantities, for me anyway, will last about a week, if I am using them regularly. I may have to make a fresh batch of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, but otherwise, I have no trouble keeping the lentils and mung beans that long. When I'm down to what I recognize as about three days worth, all I do is start the whole process all over again.

(As I have said in my previous blogs, I will bring all of this together with respect to the specific Nutritional Value of these foods at the end of this series.)

Please feel free to comment or ask questions about anything I have shared here thus far.