Let’s Get Cooking: Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

“Cashew cream cheese is rich, slightly tangy, and incredibly satisfying,” notes Chef Simon.

Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese (gluten free, dairy free, & vegan)

Ingredients:

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of cashew nuts. Soaked in ample water for 12 hours. Drained and rinsed.

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of coconut milk

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of soy sauce

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of sea salt

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of agar agar (a seaweed based thickener, available at Asian grocery stores). You can play around with this quantity. The more you use, the firmer your cheese will be.

Process:

In a blender, combine cashews, oil, 1 cup of the coconut milk, (if you have coconut yogurt, you can use 1 cup of this instead to result in a more tangy cream cheese), plus the soy sauce and salt. Blend at high speed until very smooth.

In a saucepan, combine the other cup of coconut milk and agar agar, bring to a boil while stirring. Boil for 2 minutes.

With the blender running, introduce the boiled milk/agar mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Do this while the mixture is still hot and runny. When completely combined, pour into a container and allow to set in the fridge for several hours.

Chef Simon says that recipes such as this one aren’t replacements for cow’s milk. Instead, they are worthy for the most discerning foodies out there, vegan or not. “If their creaminess, tanginess, and plain satisfaction factor remind you of dairy, well, lucky you” (UbudLife Vol. 21, Dec.-Feb. 2015, p. 43).

Enjoy.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Yogurt from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

According to Chef Simon, this coconut yogurt is just as delicious as the most amazing Greek yogurt – and it’s simple to make.

Coconut Yogurt (gluten free & optional dairy free)
– 1 litre (4.227 cups) of good quality coconut milk
– 1 spoon of live yogurt
– 4 250 ml (1 cup each) screw-top jars – or any other packaging, which stores a litre of yogurt. Preferably use glass.

Make sure you use a coconut milk with a reasonably high fat content (a real coconut would be best- about 3 grams of healthy fat, the boxed kind perhaps not so good. Check). This will guarantee deliciously rich and creamy yogurt.

If you want your yogurt to be completely dairy free, you’ll have to use a spoon of existing dairy free yogurt, such as soy yogurt. Non-dairy culture starters are available too.

The live yogurt or dairy-free starter is for the probiotic bacteria to turn our coconut milk into yogurt. If you’re okay with a trace of dairy, use plain unsweetened live yogurt. Check the list of ingredients; it should mention the bacteria cultures it contains (and say “live culture.”)

In a thick-bottomed pan on a low heat, bring your coconut milk to a gentle boil. Let it bubble away for about five minutes – stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and let the coconut milk cool down to about 40 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit). If you’re not sure, stick your clean finger in the milk. If you’re able to keep it there for at least a minute, you’re on the right track.

Now introduce your bacteria to the milk by stirring it in.

In another pot of boiling water, boil your jars and lids for two minutes to sterilize. Allow them to cool down before pouring in your yogurt mixture. Screw the lids on tightly.

If you’ve got access to a warm place, simply storing these jars for 24 hours will be sufficient to create yogurt. If not, you can use a cool box. Line up the jars and cover them with 40 degree Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit) water. Close the cool box and leave for 24 hours. By then, your yogurt should have cultured and can be kept in the fridge for at least another week (but it tastes so good that it’s not likely to last that long).

Enjoy.

Aloha and sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Let’s Get Cooking: Creamy Cashew and Vanilla Milk from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

Vanilla cashew milk

Vanilla cashew milk

<http://ohmyveggies.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/cinnamon_vanilla_cashew_milk.jpg&gt;.

In Bali, not only can you eat wonderful Balinese and Indonesian foods (think peanut sauces and chili, coconut and lemongrass and pineapple), but also a wide range of delicious food, especially in Ubud, for health-conscious yogis.

One good example of someone creating healthy, tasty choices is Chef Simon, a whole foods chef, energetic healing practitioner, and a permanent resident at Bali Silent Retreat. In his article, “Dairy and Beyond,” he writes, “There’s no surer way to feel deprived than eating or drinking a watered down, gluten free, dairy free, cruelty free alternative of a glorious food product. Most dairy alternatives are a great example. . . .

Milk was once stored in bags made out of a cow’s stomach. Allegedly an ancient cowboy left his bag lying around in the sun for too long and thanks to an enzyme in the cow’s stomach called ‘rennet’ this produced, solely by chance, the first cheese. It took generations of sheer brilliant invention, luck and determination to create the dazzling range of cheeses that the world knows today. . . . The Europeans are still leading . . . to create alluring nuggets of salty, crumbly, creamy and often plainly addictive cheese. . . . [Although] moldy cheese is mainstream, I’m not sure whether Mediterranean maggot cheese will ever make it to the supermarket shelves though.

I digress, as this is not about dairy. Nor is it written for people who somehow are deprived of dairy. These are recipes that are delicious. They don’t involve animal products. They are super-healthy. I prefer to drink cashew milk; it somehow feels fresher.

Creamy Cashew and Vanilla Milk (gluten free, dairy free)

– 1 cup (236.6 ml) of raw cashews, soaked in plenty of water for 2 to 6 hours, drained, rinsed

– 4 cups (946.24 ml) of water

– 1 teaspoon (4.5 grams)  sea salt

– Stevia or sugar to taste. Suggestion, 1 tablespoon (14.3 grams) sugar or the stevia equivalent

– 1 vanilla pod, scraped.

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes depending on your blender. Taste and make sure you can’t detect any bits. Serve cold. Or use as you would use milk in any recipe. (From: UbudLife,  Vol. 21, Feb. 2015, p. 44-45).

Enjoy.

Coming soon, Chef Simon’s recipes for coconut yoghurt and for cashew and coconut cream cheese. Aloha and sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Thought for the Day: Look Closer

In the Museum Laksi xx Pura, Ubud, Bali

In the Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, Bali

“With so much contradictory information available, there is more reason to travel than ever before: to look closer, to dig deeper, to sort the authentic from the fake; to verify, to smell, to touch, to taste, to hear, and sometimes–importantly–to suffer the effects of this curiosity,” says Paul Theroux in The Last Train To Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari. 

Go — find out for yourself, and then don’t be too sure that what you see is true.

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I see?

Aloha and Sanpai jumpa, Renée

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Jerusalem: Inside the Old City Walls

Following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948,  Old City Jerusalem was captured by Jordan, and the Jewish residents were evicted.

Nineteen years later on June 5, 1967, Israel was surrounded by enemies says Steven Pressfield in The lion’s gate: on the front lines of the Six-Day War, “The Soviet-equipped Egyptian Army had massed a thousand tanks on the nation’s southern border. Syrian heavy guns were shelling her from the north. To the East, Jordan and Iraq were moving mechanized brigades and fighter squadrons into position to attack.

Egypt’s President Nasser declared that the Arab force’s objective is ‘the destruction of Israel.’  The rest of the world turned a blind eye to the new nation’s desperate peril.

By June 10, 1967, the Arab armies have been routed, ground divisions wiped out, air forces totally destroyed. Israel’s citizen-soldiers have seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. The land under Israeli control has tripled. Her charismatic defense minister, Moshe Dayan, has entered the Lion’s Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem to stand with the paratroopers who have liberated Judaism’s holiest site-the Western Wall, part of the ruins of Solomon’s temple, which has not been in Jewish hands for nineteen hundred years. It is one of the most unlikely and astonishing military victories in history.”

Changing borders

Changing borders

From: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/8f/da/23/8fda238e8c9210992e7aa99c24516cde.jpg

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Old City Jerusalem, a walled area of a 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) is within the modern city of Jerusalem.  Today the Israeli government mainly controls the area, which it considers part of its national capital, but Jews are not allowed by the Palestinian Authority to visit some places holy to the Muslims within the city walls; internationally the Old City is considered part of occupied Palestinian Territory.   However today, Jews, Christians, and Muslims can visit sites very precious to each religion: for Muslims, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque; for Jews, the Temple Mount and Western Wall, and for Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  In 1981, Old City Jerusalem was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Within Jerusalem Old City Walls.

Within the  Old City Walls of Jerusalem.

From – http://wikitravel.org/upload/en/7/70/Map_jerusalem_oldcity.png

As of 2007, the total population within the walls was 36,965; by religion, 27,500 Muslims, 5,681 Christians,  3,089 Jews, and  790 Armenians. [4]Wikipedia}

At the Lion Gate xxx - after prayers on Friday - lots of Muslims coming from the Dome of the Rock xxx

At Lion’s  Gate – after prayers  many Muslims coming from  mosques in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City Jerusalem.

At the gate next to the new gate xxx More Muslims coming from prayers.

At New Gate – Muslims coming from prayers.

On a Friday early afternoon, as Barry and I walked down from the Mount of Olives toward  Old City Jerusalem, we saw thousands of Muslims, mainly men and boys,  leaving through the gates of the Old City.   Buses had brought some – perhaps from Jordan or other nearby communities. One friendly Muslim man suggested that Barry and I go to a cafe and wait until most of the men left before making our way into the Old City.  However, we kept walking (and saw more Muslims than I’ve ever seen in one place).

Small stalls sell to the temple goers.

Small street stalls selling to those leaving the mosques.

Muslim couple

Muslim couple

A Muslim girl in Jerusalem.  Photo - by Barry

A Muslim girl in Jerusalem.
Photo – by Barry

A Muslim girl surrounded by a sea of men.

Muslim men after prayers in Jerusalem.

Muslim men after prayers in Jerusalem.

We felt safe - but these two young Israeli soldiers were the only military we saw.

We felt safe – but these two young Israeli soldiers were the only military or police we saw.

The Dome of the Rock - the temple sacred to Muslims and the site of the Jewish temples before they were destroyed.  The Muslims pray at their temple, (the gold dome was paid for by King Hussein xxx.

The Dome of the Rock – the mosque sacred to Muslims and the site of the Jewish temples before they were destroyed. The gold dome was paid for by Jordan’s King Hussein.

The Jews, who feel they are not holy enough to pray at the site of their first two temples and the place where man was created, go to the remnant of the Western Wall (“The Wailing Wall”) of the Second Temple.

Near the Wailing Wall of the Old City, Jerusalem.  Jewish boys and their teachers.

Near the Western Wall of the Old City Jerusalem. Jewish boys and their teachers.

A Jewish woman, who gave us blessings (because we gave her money) near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

A Jewish woman, who gave us blessings (because we gave her money) near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Neil, our great guide, explaining the succession of holy places built, destroyed and then rebuilt at what is now the Muslim Dome of the Rock xx

Neil, our great guide, explaining the succession of holy places built, destroyed, and then rebuilt at what is now the Muslim Dome of the Rock.

The Second Holy Jewish Temple (between 516 BCE and 70 CE), replaced the First Temple, destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jews went into exile.  Jewish belief is that the Second Temple will in turn be replaced by a future Third Temple after the Messiah comes.

The remnant of the wall from the Jewish second temple - now known as the Wailing Wall or Western Wall.

The remnant of the wall from the Jewish Second Temple –  “The Wailing Wall” that is now known as the Western Wall.

Women at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Women praying – and leaving wishes – at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Jewish men at the Wailing Wall.

Jewish men at the Western Wall.

Women hanging over the separating barrier to watch a Bar Mitzva xx on the men's side of the Wailing Wall.

Women hanging over the separating barrier to watch a bar mitzva on the men’s side of the Western Wall.

Jewish men and women have access to the Western Wall, although at different sections.

The women prayed too.

The women praying – at the Western Wall.

Coming from prayers

Coming from prayers

Kids dancing on a metal grate near the Western Wall; they can have a good time any where.

Kids dancing on a metal grate near the Western Wall; they have a good time everywhere.

Birds flying near the Western Wall.

Birds flying above the Western Wall.

The Temple Mount area above; below, the Western Wall.

Police presence is very discreet.  This is one of the only times I saw a mass of law enforcement officers - near the Wailing Wall.

Police presence is very discreet. This is the only time I saw a mass of law enforcement officers.

In the Old City streets –

The Jewish bride and her family had been evicted from their home nine years ago - and still don't have enough money to give the daughter a bridal shower.  These Jewish girls want to help.

The Jewish bride and her family had been evicted from their home nine years ago – and don’t have enough money to give the daughter a bridal shower. These Jewish girls want to help.

Lots of small business entrepreneurs.

Lots of small business entrepreneurs.

Inside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, with Barry, Danny, & Ruth.

Inside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, with Barry, and good friends Danny, & Ruth.

It seems that everyone has a presence within the Old City wall.

Lists of the Catholic & Protestant Churches and Muslim Mosques inside the Old City, Jerusalem.

Lists of the Catholic & Protestant Churches and Muslim Mosques inside the Old City Jerusalem.

The Swedish Christian

The Swedish Christian Center.

Christ Church, Anglican inside the Old City, Jerusalem

Christ Church- the oldest Protestant Church (Anglican) in the Middle East – inside the Old City Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox and the Arab Orthodox Centerxx

The Greek Orthodox Patriachate and the Cultural Centre & Museum, Arab Orthodox Society of Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Scplacure xx- many Christian pilgrims

Church of the Holy Sepulchre – perhaps the most sacred of Christian sites.

Within the Christian Quarter of the Old City is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,  venerated for its last  four  Stations of the Cross, the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, his burial, and resurrection.   Christian pilgrims have been coming here since the 4th century.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Christian pilgrims

Christian pilgrims

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

P1050701

Today, the church is controlled by Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, & Roman Catholics under complicated arrangements.

Orthodox Christians

Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is controlled by Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, & Roman Catholics under complicated arrangements.

Besides coming to Jerusalem for the religious and historical significance, many come to shop.

Many things to buy inside the Old City, Jerusalem.

Many things to buy inside  Old City Jerusalem

The Nigerians are the biggest shoppers in Jerusalem!

The Nigerians are the biggest shoppers in Jerusalem!

Modern Muslim girls in the Jerusalem market.  They had been taking photos with their iPhones.   Modern Muslim girls in the Jerusalem market. They had been taking photos with their iPhones.  :)

Everyone is there: Jews, Christian backpackers, xx.  Can you find the woman with a hijab covering her face? xx

Everyone is here: Orthodox Jews, Christian backpackers,  secular people. Can you find the woman with a hijab covering her face?

For some, the Old City is their home.

School girls

For some, Old City, Jerusalem is their home.

Old City Jerusalem is divided into four unequal sections: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter.

Welcome to the Jewish Quarter

Welcome to the Jewish Quarter

Jewish man

Jewish man

Jewish man coming from prayers.

Jewish man coming from prayers.

Near the Wailing Wall - pizza and prayers

Near the Wailing Wall – pizza and prayers

The Fiedler Family's mailbox in the Jewish Quarter.

The Fiedler Family’s mailbox in the Jewish Quarter.

Bagel anyone?

Bagel anyone?

Snacks of  humus, shackshuka, lahme bahagin . . .

Snacks of humus,
shakshouka, lahme bahagin . . .

You can find wonderful Middle Eastern food within the Old City walls.

Stop for coffee in open plazas within Old City Jerusalem.

Stop for coffee in open plazas within Old City Jerusalem.

And if you don’t have money, the Jewish Chabad provides free meals near the Western Wall.

P1050821

Come explore.

Come explore.

The doors are open within Old City Jerusalem.

The doors are open within Old City Jerusalem.

Old City Jerusalem is waiting for you.

And what’s outside Old City Jerusalem?  That report is coming soon.

Shalom, Renée

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Thought for the Day: Life Stands Explained

P1050950

 

“When we remember that we are all mad,

the mysteries disappear

and life stands explained.”

 

– from the Bali Advertiser, 21 Jan. – 04 Feb., 2015, p. 39.

Aloha,

Renée

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Kibbutz Lotan: Where Every Individual Can – and does – Make A Difference

At Kibbutz Lotan

At Kibbutz Lotan

In the Kibbutz Lotan garden

In the Kibbutz Lotan garden: “AND THE ETERNAL GOD TOOK THE HUMAN AND SET THE HUMAN IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN TO TILL IT AND TO TEND IT”      Genesis 2:15

When I knew that Barry and I were getting to go to Israel, one of the first things that I wanted to do was experience working on a kibbutz, one of the communal settlements.

The first kibbutz was founded in 1909, about 40 years before the establishment of the State of Israel. The kibbutzim were founded on Communist and Socialist principles: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

The founders, young Jewish pioneers, mainly from Eastern Europe, wanted to create a new way of life, but they had little or no experience with agriculture, and the land was barren and dry – desolate, and they have had to fight repeatedly for the land and their country.

Near Lotan

Near Lotan

Lotan without soil enrichment or water :(

Lotan without soil enrichment or water :(

From their inauspicious beginnings, the kibbutzim have played a dominate role in creating thriving, productive communities in Israel today.

At Lotan, constant experiments create new ways to grow food.

At Lotan, constant experiments create new ways to grow food.

I wanted to find a kibbutz where I could work and learn something about the agriculture there.  The Israelis have created fertile, productive farm land from the neglected desert.  To accomplish this, among many other techniques, the Israelis invented the drip irrigation system that delivers an appropriate amount of water to the roots of the plants, and they are leaders in desalination.

In the middle of the desert - lemon trees are loaded with fruit.

In the middle of the desert – lemon trees at Kibbutz Lotan are loaded with fruit.

Kale, tomatoes, lemon grass, dill, . . . - all organic and wonderful!

Kale, tomatoes, lemon grass, dill, . . . – all organic and wonderful at Kibbutz Lotan!

Today,  most kibbutz  want 20-30 year olds as strong volunteers.   Or they charge to stay in a hotel room on the kibbutz. But I wanted to work and learn.  So what about us?  In a Google search, I found Kibbutz Lotan, located near the southern tip of Israel (in fact, only about 800 meters (1/2 mile) from the border with Jordan).

Kibbutz Lotan is close to the Red Sea, Jordan and Egypt.

Kibbutz Lotan is very close to Jordan and not far from the Red Sea and Egypt.

Kibbutz Lotan - art

Kibbutz Lotan – art – made from clay, mud, and straw.

As part of their sustainability program, Lotan offers a week stay that includes attending classes, working in the gardens, and living on the kibbutz.  Yeah!  That’s for me.  Barry wasn’t as eager as I, but he was willing to come for the experience.

The program started on a Sunday.

It was by early bus we left Eliat on Sunday morning and made it to Lotan in time for a tour and then breakfast.

Entrance to the Lotan visitor area.

Entrance to the Lotan visitor/volunteer area.

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This is one of the 10 visitor/volunteer rooms built of straw bales: mud, clay, and straw – over a geodesic dome.  We stayed in dome nine.  The thick walls kept the room cool in the day when the sun beat down and warm at night when the desert cools.  Our windows looked out onto the beautiful desert, and we loved our room!

Each dome is decorated in a unique way.

Each dome is decorated in a unique way.

Adam, who grew up at Kibbutz Lotan,  gave us a tour:

Adam showing us a wood- burning oven.

Adam showing us a wood- burning oven.

Hilary - from Chicago - a kibbutz volunteer, in the field kitchen (mud dome).

Hilary – from Chicago – a kibbutz volunteer, in the field kitchen (mud dome).

Behind the kitchen where yesterday's food scraps turn into biogas - and then used for cooking.

Behind the kitchen where yesterday’s food scraps turn into biogas – and then are used  as the heat source for cooking.

Fat worms are kept to make compost "tea" for healthy vegetables.

Fat worms are kept to make compost “tea” for healthy vegetables.

Adam showed us various "sun ovens."

Adam showed us various “sun ovens.”

Another kind of "sun oven."  Lotan recycles many things.

Another kind of “sun oven.” Lotan recycles many things.

The green door - bomb shelter, library, and classroom.

The green room – bomb shelter, library, and classroom.

Down to the classroom & library.

Down to the classroom & library.

If you had to spend time in a bomb shelter, the Lotan shelter with all its books would be a perhaps tolerable place to be.

The Lotan campus.

The Lotan campus.

Lotan buildings - created and decorated with sustainable materials.

Lotan buildings – created and decorated with sustainable materials.

Older buildings - but still beautiful and functional.

Older buildings – but still beautiful and functional.

Homes of the permanent Kibbutz Lotan members.

Homes of the permanent Kibbutz Lotan members.

Plants grow in  all kinds of pots.

Plants grow in all kinds of pots.

The Kibbutz Lotan Dairy does much to  support the community.

The Kibbutz Lotan Dairy does much to support the community.

Date palms in the kids' orchard.

Date palms in the kids’ orchard.

The sale of dairy and dates help sustain this kibbutz.

Like a date palm, all are useful on a kibbutz.

“As no part of the date is wasted . . .”

As all parts of a date palm are useful and needed, so too are all members of the kibbutz.

Besides living collectively and productively in sustainable ways, Kibbutz Lotan has a mission to educate others.

Come to learn at the Kibbutz Lotan Eco Kef

Come to learn at the Kibbutz Lotan Eco Kef

Besides wanting to live in sustainable ways, Kibbutz Lotan has the mission to educate others as well.

How a solar cooker works.

A school group comes to learn.  We saw groups from Vietnam, interested farmers, an Israeli army unit all come to visit and learn.

A school group comes to learn. We saw groups from Vietnam, interested farmers from around the world, an Israeli army unit, and more  – all come to visit and learn.

Welcome to the Lotan Eco Kef - where you can learn many sustainable techniques including how to plant vegetables, make mud and straw brick, use recycled material in creative ways, and make pancakes over a wood oven.

Welcome to the Lotan Eco Kef – where everyone can learn many sustainable techniques including how to plant vegetables, make mud and straw brick, use recycled material in creative ways, and cook pancakes over a wood oven.

Pancake rolling.

Pancake rolling.

Pancake grill in the Eco Kef

Pancake grill in the Eco Kef

The kids loved their pancakes – and I did too.

Mine tasted wonderful - especially after I added Nutella!

Alex told me how to make my pancake  taste wonderful –  add Nutella!

Give the Eco Kef old stuff

Give the Eco Kef your old stuff

Even after this old VW Bug had been decorated and put in the Eco Kaf playground, someone wanted a part, jacked up the car, got what he needed, and then set the car back down - where it is giving much pleasure to kids today.

This old VW Bug is in the Eco Kef

And if you think the kibbutz is just about working and being productive, look at how they  recycle.

Even after this VW Bug had been decorated and put in the Eco Kef playground, someone wanted a part, so he jacked up the car, got what he needed, and then set the car back down – where it is giving much pleasure to kids today.

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Other Eco Kef playground structures.

Kid created Eco Kaf mud art.

Kid created Eco Kef mud art.

A tent made from posts and a climbing vine.

A kid tent made from posts and a climbing vine.

This classroom is just a bigger application of the frame and vines idea.

This  shaded classroom is just a bigger application of the frame and vines idea.

The volunteers, staff, and everyone at Kibbutz Lotan  encourage each other  to create and make a better living environment for everyone there.

Are these volunteers creating a new herb garden under a shading tree?

Are these volunteers creating a new herb garden under a shading tree?

No –

Par 6

Adam – Par 6

Welcome to Kibbutz Lotan's new disc golf range!

Welcome to Kibbutz Lotan’s new disc golf range!

Some of the creative ideas are just for fun; some are for experimenting for new sustainable ways of planting or building.

We  from Ethics from our fathers

The kibbutz farmers are constantly trying different types of plants and different ways of cultivation.

For planting, they must take into account the salty water, high temperatures, and intense sun.

“It’s not for you to finish the task – nor are you free to desist from it.”

— from “Ethics of Our Fathers”

Experimental water garden.

Experimental vertical garden.

This garden is made from old wooden pallets turned on end.  A drip system waters from the top.

This compost bin also made from wooden pallets allows air to reach the depth of the decomposing  pile.

This closed compost bin also made from wooden pallets allows air to reach the depth of the decomposing pile.

Someone is trying a snail-shaped rock herb garden.

An experimental snail-shaped rock herb garden.

How well will this “snail-shaped” garden do in the heat?

Constructed wetland

Constructed wetland wasteland treatment system

Waste water treatment

Waste water treatment

R2D2 is now living at Kibbutz Lotan - and reminding people to recycle cans.  Who knew? :)

R2D2 is now living at Kibbutz Lotan – and reminding people to recycle cans. Who knew? :)

The art classroom is being repaired.  The tires under the mud/clay/straw brick keep any the water on the ground from undermining the walls.

The art classroom is being repaired. The recycled tires under the mud/clay/straw bricks keep any water on the ground from undermining the walls.

A fence made from old bicycles.

A fence made from old bicycles.

The showers and bathroom sinks have solar heated water and are housed in the mud/clay/straw structures built by the kibbutzim.

The builders added colorful decorations.

The builders added colorful decorations.

A shower stall

A shower stall

Now we come to the serious part of being ecologically conscious in this desert setting.  The following may be too much information; if so, just skip ahead.

The deposits here go directly into a covered bin and used (somehow) as fertilizer.  Note the nice desert view.  There is a door behind.

The deposits here go directly into a covered bin and used (somehow) as fertilizer. Note the nice desert view. There is a door behind.

Entrance to toilets.

Entrance to toilets.

Compost toilets - I promise, they are kept clean and do not smell! Ash from the ovens and chopped straw are added every day.

Compost toilets – I promise, they are kept clean and do not smell! Ash from the wood-buring ovens and chopped straw are added every day.  My favorite one had classical music playing – really!

Behind the toilets - the "contributions" mixed with the straw and ash is collected and left to decompose and then used as fertilizer for trees.

Behind the toilets – the “contributions” mixed with the straw and ash are collected and left to decompose and then used as fertilizer for trees.

6,600 gallons of water are saved every year by using these compost toilets!

6,600 gallons  (25,000 liters) of water are saved every year by using these compost toilets!

And there is a choice for doing your laundry:

A washing machine hooked up to a bicycle.

A washing machine hooked up to a bicycle.

A boy trying out the bicycle washing machine.  I don't think many clothes get washed this way, but it is an idea.

A boy trying out the bicycle washing machine. I don’t think many clothes get washed this way, but it is an idea.

The kibbutz is focused on eco-friendly life.  This “washing machine” was near our dome.  We could just lug over water, add soap, and, of course, our dirty clothes-then peddle for 20 minutes to agitate the clothes; then drain the soapy water, lug over and add clean rinse water, peddle more, then drain – and wring out and hang up the clothes to dry.  I kept thinking I would try it, but it never happened.

The kibbutzim mainly use the communal system.  So for this chore, they just turn in a basket of dirty clothes to the laundry.  A night security guard puts the clothes in the washer and dryer, and then the owners  pick up the washed and dried clothes in the morning!

Not as romantic as the bicycle washing machine, but these units are practical.

Not as romantic as the bicycle washing machine, but these units are practical.

A day at the kibbutz begins at 6 a.m., so it was still dark when we made our way over to the Eco Kef, grabbing some fresh mint along the way to add to hot water to make tea.

Sianai mint in a raised bed - great fresh tea.

Sinai mint in a raised bed – great fresh tea.

As we did  loosening  up  exercises with Mike K., the sun would be rising – spectacular!

Sunrise at Kibbutz Lotan- from the Eco Kef xx

Sunrise at Kibbutz Lotan- from the Eco Kef

Mike K.  also gave us our assignments for the early morning – most often weeding for me, but I got to plant and harvest too.

A herb garden

A herb garden

Kale, onion, and green pepper beds.

Kale, onion, and green pepper beds.

Karren xx, who grew up on a kibbutz in the north of Israel,  at Lotan's reconstructed wetlands.   She was often our able work leader.

Keren, who grew up on a kibbutz in the north of Israel, at Lotan’s constructed wetlands. She was often our able work leader.

At about 8:00 a.m. we headed over to the busman, the field houses where we were all living, and got our assignments for cleanup of the communal areas.  The first day, I got the compost toilets!  But Hilary showed me what needed to be done, and we shared the task, so no big deal.

Then about 8:30, we went for breakfast in the communal dining hall where there was always a lot of healthy food and as much as we wanted.  We could join groups already there, sit with other volunteers, and eco-staffers, to enjoy our breakfast and learn more about what everyone was doing.  Then it was back to the gardens until 10:30.

I was too busy eating and talking to ever get more than this one photo of a Lotan meal :)

I was too busy eating and talking to get more than this one photo of a Lotan meal :)

At 10:30, it was on to classes or to another work assignment until about 1 p.m.  For some, it was Hebrew lessons.    Our first one was a case study of building a straw bale building at Wadi Al Naam.

Building a health clinic with and for Bedoins.

Alex sharing his experience of building a health clinic with and for Bedouins: what went wrong and what worked.

Another class that Barry and I had was on Eco-Zionism with Michael, one of the early members of this kibbutz.  It was interesting to see the questioning and discussion among the participants too.

Those who stayed longer than we did also learned practical skills such as welding and bicycle repair.  That week, Keren got to learn how to drive a massive tractor!

Then lunch – again many choices, and it was all ready for us in the dining hall.  The afternoons were varied.  Lotan encourages participants to be creative – and useful.

Some people learned to make the clay/mud/straw bricks that was used to build much of Lotan.

Some people learned to make the clay/mud/straw bricks that was used to build much of Lotan.

These bricks will be used later for building projects.

To the front of his dome, this volunteer was adding a vertical garden (made out of plastic soda bottles)!

To the front of his dome home, this volunteer was adding a vertical garden (made out of recycled plastic soda bottles)!

During the time we were at Lotan,  Hilary proposed to build a Hugel Mound, a no-dig raised bed of decomposing wood that retains water, maximizes surface volume, and builds fertility. In most climates, Hugel Mounds allow plants to take as much water as they need, when they need it, and the mound avoids the set-up and maintenance of a irrigation drip system.  So we joined Hilary and other volunteers  a few afternoons to build the Hugel.

Adam and Hilary at the mound.

Adam and Hilary at the mound.

Wood to be buried in the Hugel mound.

Wood to be buried in the Hugel Mound.

Measuring the size and depth of the hole.  Don't worry, he's alive and didn't stay there. :)

Measuring the size and depth of the hole. Don’t worry, Ori’s alive and didn’t stay there. :)

Yes, the Hugel needed good soil, so here is Barry and other volunteers shoveling dried cow manure.

Yes, the Hugel needed good soil layers, so here is Barry and other volunteers shoveling dried cow manure.

Mike (with turban) and others adding layers and water to the Hugel.

Ori, Mike (with turban), and others adding layers and water to the Hugel.

Etai from Berlin in the foreground and others adding water, compost tea, tree branches to our Hugel.

Etai from Berlin in the foreground and others adding water, compost tea, and tree branches to our Hugel.

Then came the logs that had been soaked in water.  We lugged  that water to the Hugel too.

Then came the logs that had been soaked in water. We lugged that water to the Hugel too.

When Barry and I left at the end of the week, the Hugel mound was looking like this.

At the end of the week, the Hugel Mound was looking like this.

By the time we left Lotan, our Hugel needed a few more layers of compost and mulch, and then the planting could begin.  I’m sure by now, sprouts will be growing all over it.

It will be interesting to know if this mound will require less water and less compost than other beds.   It was fun to be part of this planting experiment.

In the evenings, it was back to the dining hall – and more food.  Some people gathered to play instruments or hang out around the field cooking fires.  Israeli dancing was once a week.  One night, we saw a documentary about a backyard in Australia being converted to a permaculture garden. But many just went to their rooms and read.  Night comes quickly in the winter desert, and we needed to be back at the Eco Kef by 6 a.m.

However, it was a special time during the week we were there – the start of Hanukah!  And we were in Israel.

On the afternoon of the first day of Hanukah, several of us tried to make pesto as our contribution to the evening.  What should have been a rather simple task considering we had lots of basil and lots of hands – didn’t work.  Everything that could go wrong did – including the blender blowing up!  Oh well, we took fresh basil with us.

The pesto brigade.

The pesto brigade

Since Barry comes from a Jewish family that always told the Hanukah story and made latkes, those oil soaked delicious potato and onion pancakes and such to celebrate, we went to the first night of Hanukah in the dining hall expecting a similar experience.

We arrived to find food, salsa dancing, and things for sale!  The first night of Hanukah was a fundraiser for needy kids in Eliat!

We arrived to find food, salsa dancing, and things for sale!

The first night of Hanukah included a farmer’s market and a crafts fundraiser for needy kids in Eliat!

These kibbutzim sold terrific Jaffels, toasted sandwiches to raise funds.

These kibbutz kids sold terrific Jaffels, toasted sandwiches to raise funds.

Banana pancakes on a stick were a choice as were lavender sachets (on the table).

Banana pancakes on a stick were a choice as were lavender sachets (on the table).

You could pay to have tea with a Brit.  A raised pinky finger was required!

You could pay to have tea with a Brit! A raised pinky finger was required!

The many practical, tasty, creative offerings during this first night of Hanukah raised over $1,0000 U.S.  for needy kids in Eliat!

Of course, there was singing and lighting of Hanukah candles too.

Of course, there was singing and lighting of Hanukah candles too.

Latkes too were available to eat, but they were a healthy version made with carrots and little oil!  They were one of the many things that surprised us in Israel.

The second night of Hannaka.

The second night of Hanukah at the field kitchen – Barry, Zoe, Hilary, Keren, & Jeremy

Several of us including Jeremy, the new volunteer from the States who had decided to immigrate and was getting the kibbutz experience before looking for a job in Tel Aviv, all got together for the second night of Hanukah. We each made something to contribute to the meal; Keren roasted red sweet peppers from some we had picked that morning – yum!  And we lit Hanukah candles.

So overall, we had a wonderful and interesting time at Kibbutz Lotan.

There are some issues, however.  Although everything was peaceful at the kibbutz, we weren’t to go beyond the Lotan fence.

That's Jordan we can see from Kibbutz Lotan!

That’s Jordan we can see from Kibbutz Lotan!

No walking beyond the fence.

No walking beyond the fence.

Are the kibbutzim changing?  Well, yes.

Besides the Eco Kef playground, there is this modern one for the kibbutz kids.

Besides the Eco Kef playground, there is this modern one for the kibbutz kids.  And most of the toilets are regular, not compost.  We could get the Internet from inside our straw bale room! And the  solar hot water and biogas are augmented with regular electric and gas.

Only about 2% of Israelis now live on kibbutzes.  The economic reality is that many kibbutzes are becoming more capitalistic rather than solely socialistic.

Soon you will be able to buy land and build your own house at Lotan!

I think I could live happily at Kibbutz Lotan.   However, I did sleep until 11 am the day after we left Lotan (which I haven’t done that since I was in my 20s and had stayed up all night).   It was a workout!

The work and the learning are never ending, and the community life means it is shared work with a sense of purpose.    It’s a place of beauty and community.

Birds in the desert.

Birds in the desert.

Several of the young adults there say they will probably work somewhere else after doing their army service and going to college, but they would like to return to the kibbutz to raise their children.

The kibbutz seems an ideal place to raise children.

The kibbutz seems an ideal place for  children.

We'll be watching to see if the kibbutz can survive.

We’ll be watching to see if the kibbutz can survive.

Kibbutz Lotan offers several terrific ecology and sustainability programs.

To find out more, go to <http://www.kibbutzlotan.com>.

At Lotan, you can be creative in many ways.

At Lotan, you can be creative in many ways.

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“You need only ask the beasts and they will teach you, the birds of the sky will tell you, .  . .”

Come join the table.

Come join a Lotan table.

There’s likely to be a program for you at Kibbutz Lotan.

And you never know where the learning you get at Lotan will lead you.

After his program at Kibbutz Lotan finishes, this Swiss guy is off to Africa to help with water issues there!

After his program at Kibbutz Lotan finishes, this Swiss guy is off to Africa to help with water issues there!

Sunset over the Kibbutz Lotan cow shed.

Sunset over the Kibbutz Lotan cow shed.

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I loved being at Kibbutz Lotan and am looking forward to applying my new knowledge at home.

Shalom, Renée

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