Cooking with the old gods

We interrupt the usual philosophical ramblings for a cooking class. This is; Cooking with the old gods, or; tiny house cooking 101.

Today: How to cook Rosemary chicken with port-braised potatoes, red cabbage and hazelnuts. Yum.

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and today’s wine is from a city I fully intend to reclaim

step 1: Risk your immortal soul by heading out into morning traffic to get to the nearest shop that sells wine and whole chickens. Get stuck in all the diverted traffic to London as the road to the very nearest shop is closed for road work. Curse the self-important gits who push past you as you try to keep within the speed limit because you don’t want to attract too much attention.

step 2: Get lost in a roundabout, see Woodhenge, go back to the roundabout, head the right way to the shop, very slowly this time as there has been an accident on the road involving one of the Very Busy and Important People who pushed past you on your way to the shop.

step 3: Shop tings. Get asked for two different types of ID to buy the alcohol because while you don’t look twenty, you look less human with age and difficult to place.

step 4: Find your way back to where you have parked your house. Scream a lot while doing this.

step 5: Have a very large coffee and possibly a drink.

step 6: (some time later) Make the actual food. This is done by carefully carving the chicken in four while preforming a small rite of memento mori for its short and brutal life, as all lives in essence are, and cursing the industrialization of everything. Brown the precious thing in olive oil with a bit of salt and a large spring of what is hopefully rosemary that you pinched from a near by bush. Let it all simmer on your alcohol stove under a lid for about 20 minutes, also remembering the hell of a time you had getting the burning alcohol for the stove as no shops apparently sell it anymore because some idiot found out it was dangerous.

When the chicken is done, let it rest on a plate under the lid while you fry the peeled and cut potatoes and the shredded red cabbage in the chicken fat along with some extra butter from the local farm. Add a handful of hazelnuts. When the potatoes are almost done, slosh over what’s let of the port you had. Or about half a cup.

If you’re not a carnivore, you can just drop the chicken from the recipe. Double or triple then the amount of hazelnuts and simmer the meal in the fat of your enemies choice.

step 7:

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No, cooked meat never looks appetizing, ever. It always looks like something from the book I’m currently reading. 

Eat outside because the rain stopped for ten minutes. Hurry back inside when the thunder clouds gather.

step 8: Find a way to keep the rest of the chicken cool. And rest.

Exploring the great indoors

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they’re mistletoe

I’m following a few groups online dedicated to various ways of forming a life beyond the ready-made one. It’s hardly a single thread that doesn’t in some way post the question ‘yes, but is it authentic?’

For everyone taking a step to the side of society, you’ll come across the question of authenticity. An expectation that your goal is and should be to be completely self-reliant and exist in a sort of feral snow globe.

For me, reducing the presence of modern housing facilities, like washing machines, coffee machines and basically most types of machines, is a choice of comfort and beauty, not driven primarily by a desire for a life seen as authentic or free.

The western idea of ‘free’ has come to mean detached and closed off, yet few people really feel at great liberty when they’re all alone and isolated. Quite the contrary.

It’s easy when lifting your gaze from the treadmill to get the idea that you should go off into the wild, that is, go outside our house, and aim to become one with whatever ecosystem you find yourself in. But the wild can be further away than you’d think. Not everything green is living, functioning nature.

As I drive and live and form different patterns of everyday life, sometimes completely outside modern facilities, sometimes on the outskirts of them, the borders of human habitation come into view. And the idea of the authentic emerges as something a part of, not apart from, modern society.

In groups of people longing away from cities, away from an oppressive society, there is a story, one of many, but a prominent one, about the free individual as someone who sleeps under the stars and own nothing, no possessions, no obligations, no attachments. But this form of living requires a large habitat where you have the means to find what you need, and this kind of nature is inaccessible to most as it’s regulated or built on, overpopulated,  poisoned or eradicated by industry. Most people who are homeless are far from free, and have no access to alternative ecosystems beyond the urban one, that relies greatly on houses to shelter humans from the ugliness, dangers and diseases caused by urbanization.

While I do wish for a greater insight into what I actually need and how to find it, it’s interaction I seek, not the idea of independence. Dependence is to me a reduced means of interaction, and freedom an expanded interaction with your surroundings. But to urbanized humans, they link interaction to communication with what they see as sentient, not co-existing with physical, living creatures.

I think for a lot of people it’s this interaction with a world beyond the one defined and fenced off that is meant by ‘real’. There is very little language to explain why, very few stories. But it’s the amount of possibilities, the greater network of creatures interacting, that increases freedom and approximates the idea of ‘real’.

Also, most animals will have some form of nest, den, sett, or form of living quarters. They don’t just sleep where they stand. If healthy, they will spend great parts of the day keeping themselves and their dwelling clean, beautiful and comfortable. If ill, they will ignore their grooming or in some cases, overdo it, washing away all their fur if stressed.

A house need not be any more unnatural than an ant hill, but the lengths humans have gone to in order to simultaneously expand and remove themselves from their habitat is absurd. And disruptive to anything living, including humans themselves.

In western society the house has become something like a religious matter. It is seen as a micro cosmos in itself. In many cases, as a reflection or expression of the dweller, their innermost self, their soul.

I like having beautiful and meaningful things to look at. I want my house to be a wunderkammer, a place for magic and dreams.  It’s also a physical place to sleep warm and soft, to read without having the wind carry my books away, to cook without being invaded by over eager insects. I don’t however, want to be trapped, or have other things trapped in it.

The house, the dwelling, is only one small part of the whole habitat. The whole habitat of any creature will include the space to find food, find company, having an array of plants, predators, bacteria, the ecosystem, if you will. All the things the body interacts with.

I will explore the vast, strange world of the habitat in my next post.

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a slightly more permanent glimpse of the strange

ps. I made it beyond the London vortex, with help from my counter part, which is the only way to cross a maelstrom.

Rediscovering the radio

Video might have killed the radio star, but living with close, warm walls have revived her in my world.

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When I was little, I used to listen to the radio all the time. This was before cable TV, certainly before netflix and The Internet was still a wild idea somewhere at CERN.

Gradually, these new and noisy things took the place of the radio, filling the space between walls with more and more light and colour. Somehow, around the same time, the walls grew hard and glaring. The interior of the modern appartement became increasingly impossible to look at, harsh and vast like a blazing desert of chrome and white. In this new and hostile environment, filling the void with sound and colour from a screen became the go-to option. So much so that I didn’t even notice how the need for outside stimuli grew. Silence was simply not an option, then the walls would simply start screaming at you until you drowned out the noise with more noise.

When I built La Chouette, it was with hope for silence in mind. To be inside a space where the walls had an integrity and a beauty of their own, walls I did not need to hide from, and where the distractions of a single book or a small radio was more than sufficient company.

I’m happy to say it does. The soft wooden panels and leather tapestries echoes Bach, Mendelssohn or Modest Musorgskij, radio plays, the occasional mindless chatter of an early morning news programme, or weather forecast in a way that quite filles the space and from where there is no need to hide.

Winter crossing

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These past weeks I have been moving la Chouette out of the country. I’m still in Scandinavia, it’s still winter. And the best way to move, is by boat.

I have always had a love for the sea and I was a bit worried that building and living in a house on wheels would make me too land-bound. But using ferries to get across borders has so far been surprisingly easy. Of course, I can’t live in the house during transit. But I can park it near the ocean when I reach my destination.

During moving and living more actively on the road I have also discovered quite a few repairs and adjustments I need to make. So now I’ll try to find somewhere slightly secluded, preferably near the sea, where i can work on my house, preparing it for further adventures.

I also notice more than before the dual pull of comfort and push of the road. Having found somewhere I’m comfy I find myself both longing to move on after a short while, felling that I’m done with that place for now, and a desire to stay inside my newfound comfortsone. Having the possibility to leave and live somewhere else on very short notice has brought this internal conflict into the light. I suppose the friction of these kind of conflicts are what keeps life truly interesting. Never do I wish to be without any doubt. I think. Possibly.

Christmas and the tiny house

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I do love christmas. Always have. But in recent years it has taken on a deeper meaning than simply my love for food, alcohol and a glam-rock fascination for everything that glitters.

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Mistletoe has always had a special place in my heart.

I live mostly in Norway, and from October on, it’s dark here. Cold and dark. The sun barely, if at all, rises and the more time you spend outside, either out of doors or out of society, you notice. And in a smaller house, where the walls are thinner both against the cold and against the things that lurk in the shadows of the world, you notice even more. And after the first horror, come to appreciate that there is still a time and space for the darker and stranger things in the world. It is a time for those things that are never given any space the rest of the year, chased away with light and noise, things that are needed and beautiful and necessary.  It is a time for secrets, for nature to rest, a time for freezing or starving to death either physically or mentally and while it’s a challenge to secure against the first, it’s even more difficult to secure against the latter, for you rarely see it.

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That merry tinsel on your tree? This is what it’s meant to be.

Therefore,we sing happy songs, and light candles, and decorate and make room for the deeper colours, read poetry and light fires and drink. As the line more or less goes; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you’re probably dead. It is a sacred time, even for us who are not christians, possibly even more. because while the christian idea is one of the quick fix, the permanent solution, we know that winter will come again next year also, and after that, a new spring.

Waste not…

Living in a very small house with no running water or other means of quickly disposing of your garbage brings awareness to one thing; humans are bloody disgusting creatures. I mean really. The sheer amount of waste and rubbish and filth and dust created by one (quite small) human is staggering.

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I will spare you the illustrations on this one and instead post a picture of some lovely and not at all symbolic waterlilies 

I spend now probably two to three hours each day just keeping things clean and that still leaves me with the question of what to do with such things as dishwater. Now you may think that when you live in a large house with plumbing all your waste is brought by fairies to a magical land of loveliness, but all sanitary stations rely on chemicals, creating on the whole more problems than they  solve.

I still use the ‘normal’ garbage system with local recycling opportunities for household rubbish, and my toilet remains is neatly disposed of in appropriate compost heaps (the toilet is actually my least problem, sanitarywise, I thought is would be te greatest)

The biggest problem is really the water, the water used for dished and laundry and me. Humans create a great deal of mud. I really believe that the greatest problem is the idea that we are meant to live all our lives indoors, so that even the largest house will be small compared to the amount of space needed to not overtax one space with our treading, our weight, our waste and water. All of this is not a problem when spread over a large area (and, of course, properly dealt with and not just left anywhere) but when clumped together on a small space by too many of us creates nothing but death and suffering, to put it dramatically. Living in a small space has really made me aware of how much space one human being takes up, and how little of that space needs be indoors.