Page 1

LATE SUMMER 2013

Sustainability

Raising backyard chickens

Building a sustainable house ‘Why I love my solar’

Cooking real food from scratch Killing weeds without herbicides


FEATURES

CONTENTS

Sustainable 1: Capable of being sustained; that which can be maintained over time 2: Of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

3

FEATURED HOUSE: Sustainablity house By CASS COLLINS

16

The homestead flock: Raising backyard chickens By AMANDA AVERY TEMPLETON AND BILLY TEMPLETON

18

TASTEMAKER: Turning a house into a home An interview with interior designer Sharon Carroll

24

EAT: Cooking real food from scratch

DEPARTMENTS

By JANE BOLLINGER 8

DIY: How to build a rain barrel

12

GARDEN: Killing weeds without herbidices By LISA DENARDO

22

Cover photograph by Cass Collins

29

SHOP: Sustainable light bulbs By ISABEL BRAVERMAN SUSTAINABILITY: ‘Why I love my solar’

Have a comment or idea for the magazine? Jane Bollinger: 845/252-7414, ext. 29, or jbollinger@riverreporter.com

2 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

In the decades that lie ahead, our homes and our lifestyles will inevitably become more sustainable as we learn to waste less energy, create less trash, reduce our rate of consuming non-renewable resources, consume renewable resources only at a rate that nature can replenish them and introduce fewer harmful substances into the environment. While these challenges may sound daunting at first, we can learn to adapt. In fact, we already are. This issue of Our County Home focuses on sustainability, starting with a visit to a new but rustic house on the Upper Delaware River that was built with many sustainable features, including its high energy efficiency and many salvaged building materials. By any measure of sustainability, this house is a thing of beauty. Perhaps you’ve noticed on a drive through the countryside how many more people seem to be raising their own chickens. You don’t need a barnyard, just a plain old backyard to raise a small flock, whether for eggs or Sunday supper. A do-it-yourself feature on how to build a rain barrel is right up the home gardener’s alley. Why use fresh water from your home to water your outdoor plants when they will be more than happy with the rainwater you can trap under your downspout? This issue’s Tastemaker, Sharon Carroll, is an interior designer with a special philosophy whether you want to fashion a space that facilitates having fun in your home or to create a personal sanctuary to sustain yourself. Whether you’re into landscaping and flower gardening or growing your own vegetables, we have some ways to help you control weeds without chemicals. We have information to share when you’re making a choice on what kinds of light bulbs to buy to conserve energy. And we have some seasonal recipes to share for those who crave real summertime food made from scratch. Sometimes it is daunting to look at the big picture of sustainability, but it’s the little changes you can make on a daily basis in your life that can lead way to global changes. We hope that this issue of Our County Home will help you to take some of those small steps and inspire you to think about sustainability in your own life.

OUR COUNTRY HOME A RIVER REPORTER LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

PUBLICATION DATE: AUGUST 15, 2013

Stuart Communications Creative Services

Our Country Home, a special publication of The River Reporter, is published by Stuart Communications, Inc. Entire contents ©2013 by Stuart Communications, Inc. Mailing Address: PO Box 150, Narrowsburg, NY 12764 Phone: 845/252-7414 • Fax: 845/252-3298

Publisher: Laurie Stuart Section Editor: Jane Bollinger Production Manager: Amanda Reed Advertising Sales Director: Barbara Matos, ext. 34, barbara@riverreporter.com Advertising Sales Associate: Denise Yewchuck, ext. 32, denise@riverreporter.com Advertising Sales Associate: Eileen Hennessy, ext. 35, eileen@riverreporter.com Would you like copies for your place of business? Contact: Breann ext. 21, or breann@riverreporter.com


Sustainability house By CASS COLLINS

R

ebekah Creshkoff dreamed of a straw-bale house. A dedicated birder, she had spent her adult life in New York City riding her bike to work every day across Central Park. There, a downy woodpecker had gotten to know her well enough to eat out of her hand. In 2010, she and her husband Lenny Friedland rented a house for the summer in Narrowsburg. They liked it so much, the next year they found themselves dreaming about building a home. Another rental on River Road in Callicoon turned those dreams into plans. Their real estate broker, Elise Freda, pointed them to a lot on a blissful stretch of the Delaware River and to Jeff McMahon, a local expert in sustainable building. Jeff saw the lot and quickly dispelled Rebekah’s notion of a straw-bale house, but he merged with the couple’s vision of sustainable, energy-conscious architecture. He told them he could build them a house that was 100% energy efficient. They were savvy New Yorkers, so the concept of 100% anything stretched believability.

They suspended their disbelief long enough to listen to McMahon’s ideas. With local architect Michael Chojnicki, Jeff designed a simple twostory structure clad in recycled barn-board on a poured concrete slab. “Michael is my number one go-to on construction issues in the river valley,” says McMahon. “I learn from all the people involved in the construction process,” he says, including the clients, who taught McMahon about bird-friendly building. Rebekah is involved with Project Safe Flight, an Audubon Society program that collects data and Photo by Jeff McMahon

This two-story house with many sustainable building features is clad in recycled barn boards and galvanized steel.

Photo by Jeff McMahon

The kitchen is all-electric with an induction cooktop.

Photo by Cass Collins

The contractor designed his own light fixtures made of barn board and recycled galvanized metal.

advises builders on bird-friendly practices. The windows of the River Road house are marked with a special bird tape (www.abcbirdtape.org) that prevents birds from colliding into them. It also has a pleasing graphic quality. Deep overhangs over windows also help by minimizing reflections. “Sustainability means being sensitive to the outside,” says McMahon. “This is my first experience with a client whose sensibilities were so attuned to the avian species.” The couple’s white-faced cockatiel, Snowflake, slept under cover at the time of this reporter’s visit, but he is reported to prefer the calm of his new country home to the noisy city life. He now exhibits anxiety when he spends too much

This a a panoramic view of the downstairs interior in the sustainable house on RIver Road near Callicoon, NY.

time visiting the city. But the river house was designed primarily for people living comfortably inside. Lenny says the all-electric boiler that McMahon specified for the house keeps it comfortably warm in the winter. “When we leave the house in winter for a few days, it’s at 72 degrees,” and using a remotely monitored thermostat, the Eco-Bee, he can see it takes three days for the house to cool down to 60. The floors are radiant-heated polished concrete. The structure’s high insulation value also makes the house quiet, even in a rainstorm. McMahon specified a type of polyiso foam insulation that is recycled, has a high thermal resistance value, is cost-effective and environmentally responsible with zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and virtually no Global Warming Potential (GWP). The homeowners are happy with the energy availability of the house too. “I turn on the hot water upstairs and, boom, it’s there,” says Friedland. Soon, solar roof panels will add to the efficiency. A town resolution recently gave the go-ahead on installation of a 7 kilowatt panel system designed by Gordon Smith that will cover the south side roof. Inside, the living space is open, with views all Continued on page 5

Photo by Jeff McMahon

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SUSTAINABILITY HOUSE Continued from page 3

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around—the river in front and the fields and mountain beyond. The couple is “committed to furnishing via yard sale,” says Rebekah. She is delighted with the choices McMahon made in the building process, like using old recycled porcelain sinks and furniture in the bathrooms and designing his own light fixtures made of barn-board and recycled galvanized metal. “Letting Jeff make those choices hastened the building process” and was in tune with their sensibilities, she says. In the master bathroom shower, an old exterior four-light door serves as a wall adding to the inside/outside aesthetic. The original house design called for an all barn-board exterior, but when raw materials were expended, Jeff turned to galvanized steel. The result is a home that is a study in light and dark, yin and yang, with the rough brown wood juxtaposing smooth Continued on page 6

Photo by Cass Collins

Overhangs above the sliding doors help shade out summer sun to keep the house cool. Being built on slab also provides cooling in the summer.

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A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 5


SUSTAINABILITY HOUSE Continued from page 5

ribbed steel that is the color of a cloudy day. The deeply-pitched roof seems to be built at an angle perfectly aligned with the tree line behind it. The look is spare and not for everyone, the couple admits, but it seems to suit these New York City transplants. Rebekah took an early retirement recently from her job as a writer at a financial services company. Lenny still commutes to the city two days a week. On a recent visit, with their birding binoculars always at the ready, the couple pointed out a great blue heron next to a flock of young mergansers just across the riverbank. Rebekah likes to sleep on the screened porch in summer, with the stars as her nightlight. Two old upholstered rocking chairs make it easy to imagine the couple spending long evenings listening to the river as it passes by. The porch was a must-have for Lenny, who remembers the one of his boyhood in Brooklyn, its breezes cooling the city heat. McMahon makes his client’s budget a priority in his planning process. He won’t compromise on quality of materials, but he wants to build

sustainably with smart solutions. The kitchen in the River House has an induction cook-top, as do many of his homes and is all-electric. You won’t find oil, gas or propane in any of the houses McMahon builds. He is committed to energy that is sourced locally. Appliances are part of the GE Profile Series with a stainless steel look. The electric boilers he uses are rated at 100% efficiency. When the solar panels are installed, they will be tied to the grid and will refund any over-production back to the homeowners. You might think a house with so much new technology would take time to design and build, but McMahon has streamlined his processes since he built his first home in North Branch five years ago. The owners of the River House saw the property on Earth Day in 2012, closed the deal on June 1 and were in residence by December 2012. Now they get to enjoy the pride of ownership and recognize its commitment, too. As Lenny says, “As a renter you see the sun come up and think, ‘I should get the kayak out.’ Now I think I should mow the lawn.”

Photo by Cass Collins

Avid bird watchers, the owners used special bird tape on the windows to help keep birds in flight from crashing into the windows.

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6 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

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Rain barrels help conserve water

So let’s say you want to build a rain barrel. Where to start? First ,get the lay of the land. Determine where the runoff from your roof goes now. Overflow from your rain barrel should also be discharged to this same location. Based on where you will use the rainwater you collect and where the current stormwater discharge point is, choose the location of your rain barrel, locating it at the base of a downspout from your roof gutter. Keep in mind that you can move the downspout if necessary to suit conditions. Overflow All rainwater collection systems must have a disposal location for rainwater overflow. While the average rain barrel holds 55 gallons, runoff from a 1,000-squarefoot roof yields 623 gallons of water. Depending on roof area, a rain barrel will fill up with as little a 1/10th inch of rain. Even if you

Maintenance When cold weather approaches, you will at least want to drain the barrel completely of water by using the bottom spigot, and drain all connecting hoses as well. It is also recommended that you then flip the barrel over to drain out any remaining water, and store the barrel and hardware in a protected place over the winter months to keep the barrel in good shape for the following spring.

8 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

1. Inlet:

Create an opening with fine screening through which the rain barrel will collect water from the downspout elbow. This can be a single screened opening large enough to accommodate the downspout elbow (as shown in the photo), or a series of smaller screened openings directly in the top of the barrel.

Drill a hole near the top of the barrel to accommodate an overflow pipe that is at least 2 inches in diameter. If the overflow pipe elbow seals and seats securely, it can be threaded directly into the barrel opening. If not, it should be secured with washers on both sides of the barrel and a nut on the inside. Use Teflon tape around the threads and a bead of silicon caulking around the opening to ensure a tight seal.

2. Overflow:

Doing it yourself

have multiple rain barrels, you must have an overflow to a safe discharge location. (Note: If the downspout to be connected to your rain barrel currently drains to an infiltration area in your yard, the overflow from your rain barrel should also discharge to that location.) Safety Considerations • Your rain barrel must be secured on a firm, level surface. A full 55-gallon rain barrel weighs over 400 pounds, and tipping is a risk if it’s unsecured or on uneven ground. • The barrel must be structurally sound and should be a foodgrade container made to hold liquid. Containers such as trash cans are not designed to withstand the pressure of the water. • The barrel must have a lid and a sturdy fine mesh covering all openings to prevent mosquitoes and debris from getting inside. • Never use water from your rain barrel for drinking, cooking, or other potable uses. • Your rain barrel must have an overflow to a safe discharge point. Larger or more complex systems More complex rainwater collection systems have a much larger storage container (a cistern). For rainwater collection projects of this scale, you should consult a professional to review design, construction and safety considerations.

3. Foundation:

B

uilding a rain barrel is a worthwhile do-it-yourself project. Rain barrels help conserve water and have a number of other beneficial purposes. Perhaps their best known use is for watering plants, whether for gardening or landscaping, but don’t forget about indoor plants that also thrive on natural rainwater. Rain barrels also can be used to help control flooding in your yard, and water released slowly from rain barrels can help recharge local groundwater resources (rather than the stormwater simply running off in a downpour). But don’t stop there; water you collect in a rain barrel is also good for washing your car. Rainwater does have some limitations, however; it’s important not to use rain barrel water for drinking, cooking or bathing. Finally, and this is a big plus: if you live in a town with municipal water, using water that doesn’t come from the tap can help save on your water bill.

Construction in 7 easy steps

And you can build one yourself

Create a raised, stable, level base (like concrete blocks) for the rain barrel to sit on. You might want to test stability by filling the rain barrel with water before attaching to your structure. A full rain barrel is very heavy and tipping is a risk if it’s unsecured or on an uneven surface. Continued on page 9


6. Outlet:

Set up the barrel beneath the elbow and secure the barrel to the house with a strap. Cut and attach the overflow pipe to the overflow elbow and direct to the existing discharge location.

After a rainfall, fill a watering can using the bottom spigot or attach a hose to use the water where it’s needed.

7. Use:

4. Downspout: 5. Attach Barrel:

Cut the downspout with a hacksaw so that the elbow will sit just above the rain barrel inlet. Attach the elbow over the downspout with a screw and secure the downspout to the house with the strap.

Drill a hole near the bottom of the empty barrel to attach the drain spigot. If the spigot seals and seats securely, it can be threaded directly into the barrel opening. If not, it should be secured with washers on both sides of the barrel and a nut on the inside. Use Teflon tape around the threads and a bead of silicon caulking around the opening to ensure a tight seal.

[This information has been excerpted from “How to manage stormwater: Rain barrels,” which can be found at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/ article/182095. It is used here with permission of the City of Portland Environmental Services.] Local sources of information for constructing a rain barrel include the Wayne County Conservation District at 570/253-0930 and Pike County Conservation District at 570/226-8220. Special note: In the coming school year, local high school students will learn about rain barrels through a DEP Environmental Education Grant to the Pike County Conservation District. Art classes will then paint the barrels, which will be displayed at local businesses before being auctioned off at a 2014 Earth Day Festival.

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How to kill weeds without By LISA DENARDO

At this point in the growing season just about everyone who grows a garden or tends a flower bed has a common nemesis: the common garden weed. Of course, this common weed is not just one measly pest. Instead, it is a compilation of many different plants that all want the same thing: to invade our space. There is dandelion, sow thistle, carpet weed and crabgrass to name a few of the more intrusive varieties. While we all wish that our gardens were tame and beautiful from all angles, we must realize that this is the way it works. Growing a garden means you will be growing weeds as well.

The issue comes down to learning how to manage weeds. At this point in time, people are starting to really question the continual use of herbicides and chemicals in and around the garden. There is an awakening drive in finding safe and sustainable ways to control weeds in the garden. It is not just our own health that we need to take into consideration, but also that of our planet and future generations to come. There are a number of preventative measures to take in the initial stages of garden planning at the beginning of each season that can help minimize weed growth and ease management.

1 2 3 4

If hand weeding is not your thing, any kind of hoe is a good tool to combat weeds. The author likes to use an oscillating hoe against established weeds in heavy soil.

Use raised garden beds: Raised garden beds provide clear pathways and work as barriers against invading plants. The soil conditions are able to be more controlled with less exposure to foreign seeds.

Weed often and early: Young weeds are much easier to pull then mature plants. Hand tools are useful in digging up long tap roots, however, a stirrup hoe, also known as an oscillating hoe, is one of the best tools a gardener can own. It works great for fighting established weeds in heavy soil and will alleviate the strain on your back of bending over to weed.

Mulch your plants: There are many different methods of mulching your garden. My favorite method is to layer wet newspaper, or cardboard, around your plants and top with straw. The newspaper will prevent the germination and growth of weed seeds and the straw will give it a tidier appearance. Once the season is over, it will all break down, adding nutrients and organic matter back into the soil.

Plant cover crops: Cover crops are also known as green manures, providing organic matter and nutrients to garden plants as an alternative or in addition to compost. Although cover crops are usually incorporated into the soil before they flower, they can also be used as dead-plant mulch. Cover crops can be mowed down to create thick deadplant mulch, into which new plants can be planted in. Not only do cover crops work to suppress weeds without herbicides, but they also discourage disease, enrich the soil, and keep rainwater in the garden. Cover crops also boost the microbial life in the soil, fostering fungi and bacteria that are helpful to growing better plants. The best dead-plant mulch for the home gardener comes from fall planted wheat, triticale, or rye. It will be ready to be cut down into mulch the following early summer, right before the plants starts to flower. (See editor’s note on page 12.) Continued on page 12

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HOW TO KILL WEEDS Continued from page 10

All weeds steal nutrients, water, and sunlight from young crops. Not only is it an eye sore, but a carpet of weeds can seriously stunt your harvest. Figuring out the different methods of maintaining a sense of harmony and balance in the garden is a must for everyone interested in growing a garden. With a bit of time and effort, and finding your own personal rhythm, you should be able to find a gardening pace with less labor, in letting the garden work in harmony with nature, so that you can sit back and enjoy the time you have watching your garden grow. [Editor’s note: The Wayne Conservation District will hold a Cover Crop and Food Plot Demo on August 24 at 9 a.m. at the County Farm, 247 Bethel School Road off of Rte. 652 between Indian Orchard and Beach Lake. This program is for both farmers and home gardeners. Learn about the different varieties of cover crops and their purposes. Call 570/253-0930 for information and/or directions, or visit www.wayneconservation.org.]

Straw mulch discourages weeds and helps keep moisture in the soil. A thick layer of dried grass clippings from your lawn works well, too.

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Boiling water is another alternative to toxic herbicides. Just boil some water and dump onto the area you want to kill. The boiling water will “cook” the entire plant, including the root system, and surrounding areas.

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MLS # 35375 Private riverfront home in PA, set high above the Delaware with extraordinary views of the water. 13 acres of mixed secluded land. Get away from it all and go fishing or just meditate on the clear flowing water from the large deck. The house, in very good condition. Walk in and the big fireplace welcomes you. Living space on 3 levels provides 5 bedrooms, 2 full baths, an open floorplan, and a downstairs family room with woodstove. There’s a detached garage for 2 cars plus a workshop and a unique guesthouse for friends or family. Fishermen and-women will find heaven here, and anyone who loves the river will value their very own sanctuary - $ 475,000

A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 13


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A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 15


The homestead flock girls who will come loping over for treats. We have motherly brood hens that defend their eggs with raptor-like Like any new parents, we wonsquawks and beak stabs that require dered what we had gotten ourselves gloves. On the other hand, hens (and into. Standing in the post office, the chicks) will peck an injured comrade incessant, frantic peeping coming to death should a tempting flesh wound from the box, which seemed way too appear, or the temperature in their quarsmall to contain 50 baby chicks, sugters becomes too hot/crowded/boring, gested that our free-wheeling, homeor they just feel like it. While a hierarchiafter-dusk days were over. Like many cal pecking order is natural, keep a careful watch out for bullies. These need to beginning “neo-homesteaders” these become chicken soup pronto, unless you days, we began our foray into livelike coming home from work to scenes stock husbandry with that seemingly of cannibalized carnage. fool-proof barnyard staple—Gallus While it is true that chickens are techgallus domesticus—the chicken. After a few minor tragedies that we nically susceptible to a host of gruesome now consider inevitable rites of pasdeaths, they are not fragile hothouse sage for chicken keepers, including flowers. The key is to meet your chickthe sad, but often correctable “splay- Raising backyard chickens has become increasingly fashionable in recent years. ens’ food, shelter and behavioral needs leg” chick, the totally preventable as efficiently, cheaply, yet healthily as suffocation by “pile-up,” the unfortupossible. This means being fastidious nate neighborhood dog pullet chowabout a few simple things: clean water, than a handful will totally decimate your maridown and one horrifying nocturnal marmot frequent moves to fresh ground, and predatorgold bed, your mulched shrubs, your kid’s sandrampage, we’re now solidly in a more confident proof but not airtight shelter. We have had chickbox and for absolute certainty any type of vegand comfortable stage of poultry parenting, but ens recover from extremely splayed legs due to etable garden you dare tempt them with. Simply it didn’t come easy. This is not to say that chicknutrient deficiencies, mink bites to the neck, put, a fully realized chicken will scratch. They ens aren’t wonderful beginners’ birds; they are. and run-of-the-mill sniffles. We have also lost will eat ticks, but they will gladly de-root/de-foliThere are many things to consider when starting some to the same. In our opinion, there are few ate to do so. “Free-range” is great, but be sure to your own homestead flock. chicken emergencies (apart from disease outfence them out of areas you’d like to keep intact. Like many people today, if you didn’t grow up breaks) that require calling a veterinarian. Once Chickens are both equally endearing and horwith your Sunday dinner clucking around the mature, chickens are remarkably resilient. rifying in turns. We have roosters that will cover back door or have a grandmother who could Lastly, every day as you admire Mrs. Fluffybutt hens with their wings on cold nights while their whack, pluck, and cook a bird faster than you the Jersey Giant or Mr. Flappy the Rooster cooing combs shrivel from frostbite and a few friendly could stop at the store for a Tyson and clucking around your yard, remind rotisserie dinner, it is easy to become yourself of the primary purpose of your overwhelmed with the details. Today, homestead flocks as first and foremost since chicken keeping has become a source of sustenance. A particularly not just a good idea, but fashionable friendly pet bird here or there is fine (I as well, there are copious books and admit to having one or two), or if setting websites to assuage your newbie frets a place at the table for a bathed and and hand wringing. But that is not diapered Henrietta is your thing, well, what this is about. This is about the I guess that’s fine, too. But here we are nuances that only come from learning concerned with managing a primarily the very best way there is: the newbie utilitarian homestead flock. They will hard way. Let us put it nicely and call eat you out of house and home if you them Chicken Quirks. (To be clear: I find yourself not up to the task come love my chickens.) butchering day. The first thing to understand is that [The Templetons keep a flock of 40 chicken habits can often be both a treto 70 heritage breed chickens at their mendous benefit as well as an infuriSugar Street “Farmden” in Bethany, PA.] ating liability. For instance, a few hens Editor’s note: Reprinted with perscratching and fluffing around will mission from “On Track,” the newspretty up a suburban yard with mini- There are many books and websites to help novices through their initial foray into letter of Transition Honesdale (July/ mal damage to landscaping; more “poultry parenthood.” August 2011) By AMANDA AVERY TEMPLETON AND BILLY TEMPLETON

Contributed photos

Chickens make good beginners’ birds if you’re looking to raise some of your own food, whether just to harvest eggs, or for roasted chicken or homemade chicken soup.

Motherly brood hens will defend not only their chicks but also their eggs, so wearing gloves to harvest eggs may be helpful.

A heirarchical pecking order is natural, so keep an eye out for bullies..

16 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

There are many perks to raising backyard chickens, but their habits can sometimes be an infuriating liability. (They will happily demolish your flowerbed or vegetable garden.)

Chickens require clean water, frequent moves to fresh ground and predator-proof but not airtight shelter.

A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 17


Tastemaker: Turning a house into a home A conversation with interior designer Sharon Carroll

on a project for a client? A: Obviously the primary goal is to get Sharon Carroll is an interior designer. the project done right, and as close to She helps create personal living spaces that reflect on-time and on-budget as possible. the kinds of lives her clients want to enjoy in their But besides that, each person has homes. The job involves more than constructing a time of the year, or a season, or functional spaces that meet the homeowners’ needs; a couple of weeks or weekends Carroll also wants her clients fulfill their personal when they can get away, when desires for finding fun activities and pleasurable their work life or personal life is pastimes to enjoy in their homes. Fun, enjoyment slower, less hectic. Quite often and pleasure are important words in Carroll’s it ends up that part of my job is working vocabulary. assisting that person to make plans In the life of any homeowner, a construction for how to have fun, unwind, kick or remodeling project, or a makeover (whether back and enjoy their personal time large or small), is a big decision, and throughout more fully in their home. Especially the process, Carroll not only is the project planner while the process is going on, I want and coordinator, the one who oversees a team of them to let me worry about moving subcontractors, she’s also a listener and a handtheir project forward. holder to her clients. Q: What are some of An interior designer is not the same as an interior the functions you help decorator, who helps find and choose furniture homeowners with? and window treatments, make decisions about A: Always in the planning fabrics, colors and accessories. As Carroll explains phase, we sort out something the difference, “Designing is a systematic approach they would really love to do, how to a creative process. The end result interprets the they want to enjoy the fruits of occupants’ taste in an attractive, functional space.” their place. Amazingly, it’s usually Many of Carroll’s clients are what we locals call something quite simple and really very “second homers,” but much of the advice she has to attainable. Maybe they picture themselves offer and the philosophy she advocates also offer a playing board games at the kitchen table with good foundation for “first homers,” who are taking their kids, or sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner on similar projects. with the whole family, or sipping iced tea under Recently we asked Carroll to share some of her the shade tree with a friend, or working in the herb philosophy about designing a living space. garden, or sharing locally grown food and laughter Q: What do you see as the goal when you take with neighbors or friends, or working on that novel they’ve been writing, or just enjoying a glass of wine on the porch, or on a winter weekend enjoying an afternoon activity in the snow and then indulging in a hot toddy [to take off the chill], or even sitting at the computer working on a report that is due on Monday morning. Q: Once the homeowner has identified this little scenario as you’ve just described, where do you go from there? While moving the project forward, we keep that “little event” Photo by Sharon Carroll in mind and plan it to Original art, antique stone sculptures, collectables and custom cabinetry are some of the happen. These moments An interview with JANE BOLLINGER

appointments used while preserving the original architectural elements of the space to create this bright cheerful sanctuary. 18 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

are the things that keep us going in our busy, hectic lives. I encourage my clients not to take these “little events” for granted. Too often a whole weekend or a whole month goes by, and we find we’ve gone from morning to night forgetting these things that nourish the spirit. Look around and appreciate your home, with all the challenges and time and money you have invested. The dividends are pleasure. Q: What are the steps involved in a project of designing or redesigning a living space? A: The most important part at the beginning is to plan the spaces to function easily, efficiently and enjoyably for how the homeowners live, and to set priorities, also to agree on a budget and get a monetary commitment in dollars. Setting a timeline is essential and working toward each milestone. And then there’s the] ordering, and taking deliveries; by the way, there can be surprises. It’s a process. You can’t shortchange or shortcut the process. Q: What does a designer bring to this project? A: Each client, each project requires a blending of form and function. [A designer needs a] strong working knowledge and relationships with capable, honest tradespeople in the area to pull together a cohesive working team to accomplishment (for the short term and long term) not simply a house but a home. Continued on page 20


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Photo by Susal Carroll

Carroll restored this antique wicker chair with a new set of pillows and several coats of Benjamin Moore soft gloss finish outdoor paint.

TASTEMAKER Continued from page 18

A designer has to be able to interpret, plan and complete how the clients want the home to look and function. She needs a sense of style and balance and an understanding of the use of color, materials and textures, plus the ability to pull a cohesive working team of professionals together who will turn a house into a home, not only for the short term, but also for the long term. Ideally, as the occupants and functions of the home change over the years, a designer will have a long-term relationship to assist in the future. Q: How does one choose a designer? A: Besides the obvious, look at their portfolio to see their finished work as to their capabilities. Talk with the designer who did your friend’s home if you like it. Ask what professional organizations they belong to and what organizations they have they been involved with as a volunteer or on a pro bono basis and for how long. What are their avocations and interests, their passions? These areas are what breathe life into the designer and, most importantly, your home. As with any professional, choose someone you feel has the experience, depth of knowledge, skills and time in the profession to get the job done. Someone with whom you are comfortable working, in whom you have confidence in to see progress made, and someone who can create that sprit you look forward to upon arriving at your home. [Sharon Carroll lives in Lake Ariel, PA and can be reached at 570/698-6620.] 20 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

Photo by Sharon Carroll

This small space is turned into an inviting multifunctional sanctuary using18th century coconut vessels trimmed with silver to adorn the modern coffee table; original Italian prints from the 19th century grace the walls; and an artist’s floral canvas covers the ceiling with custom bedding for the daybed.


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Everything is illuminated Watts up with light bulbs? By ISABEL BRAVERMAN

S

ustainable light bulbs bring up a lot of questions: which one to use, how sustainable are they, and what will the cost savings be? It could leave your head spinning, but worry no more. The River Reporter is here to shed some light on the world of light bulbs. The two types of sustainable light bulbs are LEDs and CFLs. Below, we break down the benefits of making the switch from incandescent bulbs (the “normal” type of bulb we all grew up with) to one of these two options.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) Long-lasting: LED bulbs last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, and far longer than typical incandescents. Durable: Since LEDs do not have a filament, they are not damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb might be broken. Because they are solid, LED bulbs hold up well to jarring and bumping. Cool: These bulbs do not cause heat build-up; LEDs produce 3.4 btu’s/ hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs. Mercury-free: No mercury is used in the manufacturing of LEDs, as opposed to incandescent and CFL bulbs. More efficient: LED light bulbs use only 2 to 17 watts of electricity (1/3 to 1/30 of incandescent or CFL). Cost-effective: Although LEDs are initially expensive, the cost is reimbursed over time. The cost of new LED bulbs has gone down considerably in the last few years and continues to go down.

CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp)

Efficient: CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. A 22-watt CFL has about the same light output as a 100-watt incandescent. CFLs use 50 to 80% less energy than incandescents. Less expensive: Although initially more expensive, you save money in the long run because CFLs use 1/3 the electricity and last up to 10 times as long as incandescents. A single 18-watt CFL used in place of a 75-watt incandescent will save about 570 kWh over its lifetime. At 8 cents per kWh, that equates to a $45 savings. Reduces air and water pollution: Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL will keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb. (It’s not the actual light bulb that produces CO2 but rather the generation of electricity; thus, a light bulb that uses less electricity results in less CO2 being produced at the power plant.) If everyone in the U.S. used energy-efficient lighting, we could retire 90 average-size power plants. High-quality light: Newer CFLs give a warm, inviting light instead of the “cool white” light of older fluorescents. (Info via Eartheasy at eartheasy.com/live_ energyeff_lighting.htm)

Other tips: • Buy the bulb that gives off the amount of light you need (lumens), not the amount of energy you’re used to wasting (watts). For example, a typical 60W light bulb produces around 800 lumens. But CFLs that produce 800 lumens only use 15W. To help consumers make the transition, bulb packages will likely contain a claim like “as bright as a 60W bulb” or “15W = 60W” to indicate the bulb is a suitable replacement for your old 60W incandescent bulb. (See www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/22/energyefficient-light-bulb-tips_n_1157984.html).

22 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

• The standard incandescent bulb—what we typically think of as a “basic light bulb”—is a pretty inefficient piece of technology, wasting 90 to 98% of its electricity use as heat rather than useful light. (See www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/10/seven-thingsyou-didnt-kn_n_780617.html). • Finally, for energy-savings, choose a bulb with an ENERGY STAR label. [For more about LEDs and CFLs, read Marcia Nehemiah’s columns in The River Reporter: www.riverreporter.com/column/our-hands/26/2012/10/10/we%E2%80%99ll-have-wait, www.riverreporter.com/column/our-hands/26/2012/09/12/still-dark and www.riverreporter.com/column/our-hands/26/2012/08/14/lights-out.]


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Cooking real food from scratch Avoiding ‘edible food-like substances’ By JANE BOLLINGER I love farmers’ markets. Not a farmer myself, I nevertheless belong to an organization of farmers who practice sustainable agriculture. I support the blossoming food movement to Buy Fresh Buy Local and the local economies movement to shop locally because I believe that our global economic model is unsustainable based as it is on the unsustainable use of fossil fuel energy. I shop at farmers’ markets because they are a source of real food, which is pretty much the only food I want to eat anymore. For me, real food, grown locally is a starting point for sustainable living. For nine years every summer Saturday I present cooking demonstrations outdoors at the Wayne County Farmers’ Market. This year—with mixed feelings both of nostalgia and eager anticipation for discovering new summer Saturday projects—I finally hung up my apron and retired. There is one pleasure I will miss, however, and that is introducing people to new and exciting ways of preparing vegetables. I still remember one Saturday years ago when The Anthill Farm showed up with a large quantity of the prettiest little white turnips (the size of radishes). Sadly they couldn’t sell these little gems because people didn’t know what to do with them. The next week I featured those same turnips by preparing a pureed, creamed soup with the white root of the turnips and stirring in cooked, chopped tender turnip greens (the tops) into the soup. It didn’t hurt that for a second recipe I simply sautéed some thinly sliced turnips in butter. (Most vegetables taste pretty fabulous cooked in butter and sprinkled with a tiny bit of salt.) Being an avid supporter of local farmers’ markets and eating real food cooked from scratch, I came to the conclusion over the years that people are not likely to patronize farmers’ markets or farm stands or start a garden if

they don’t know how to prepare this kind of food. Sadly too many people have lost the basic skills our moms and grandmothers took for granted, relying instead on already prepared

meals made by cooks at the local grocery store, on highly processed foods made by big manufacturing companies, or on fast foods eaten on the run (or in the car; did you know that 20%

of food is eaten in the car?). What a shame that so many Americans have lost those basic cooking skills. No wonder so many are so hesitant to try some unfamiliar vegetable or some new recipe. (I’ve been told that the average home cook knows how to make about a dozen dishes that he or she makes and serves over and over again at family mealtime. This is why I like to encourage everyone to expand their cooking horizons. There is a whole exciting world of real food out there waiting to be discovered.) To me, counting on fast food, manufactured/processed food, and other people cooking for me all the time would make me feel too vulnerable to food resources over which I have so little control. I want to know what’s in the food I eat; I don’t want to eat chemicals; I do want to eat food with more nutrition in it, i.e. food sold closer to the source that produced it; this includes not only local farmers, but also my own very small garden plot. Recently I found a website I like a lot (www.sustainabletable.org), where my favorite section is called “real food, right now and how to cook it.” I encourage you to think about the idea of sustainable food, a sustainable kitchen, and to share your thoughts with us at The River Reporter. Meantime, I’d like to share several recipes from nine years of cooking at the farmers’ market. It’s still there— located at the Wayne County Visitors Center, trackside at 32 Commercial St., Honesdale. Hours of operation are Saturdays starting at 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (or until the farmers sell out their produce for the day). There’s also a mid-weed Wednesday farmers market from 4 to 7 p.m. at The Cooperage, 1030 Main St., Honesdale, and a market on Fridays in Hawley in Bingham Park from 2 to 5 p.m. For information about Sullivan County, NY’s many farmers’ markets, visit, www.sullivancountyfarmersmarkets.org/ Continued on page 27

24 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013


Eat food (real food); avoid ‘edible food-like substances’ Michael Pollan’s seven rules of eating Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

40 Main Street, Narrowsburg, NY 12764 (845) 252-3333

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.

Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions— honey—but as a rule, things… that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.

It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.’”

Sit down together at the table (not in front of the TV) and enjoy meals with the people you love.

“We proudly use Far Farm Fresh Ingredients Sourced from Local & Organic Farms.”

Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. (In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.)

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Michael Pollan’s seven words of advice about food:

TheHeronRestaurant A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 25


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26 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013


COOKING REAL FOOD

RECIPES

Continued from page 24

Corn cob soup with leeks, potatoes and bacon 7 cups fresh corn kernels (from 5 to 6 medium ears, cobs reserved) 1 Tbsp vegetable oil 4 strips of bacon 4 medium leeks, white and light green parts, sliced thinly 4 cups milk 1 1/2 pound red-skinned potatoes, (peeled or not according to your preference) cut into 1/2–inch dice Salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

1. Cut kernels from ears of corn; and then over a bowl (to catch any remaining kernels and their milky juices), scrape the cobs, pressing with the back (dull side) of your knife. Add kernels to the bowl and set aside. 2. In a large pot, place corncobs with enough water to cover (about 4 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Pick out and discard cobs. Reserve 3 cups of this corn “broth.” (Discard remaining broth.) 3. Dice bacon strips and add them with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil to a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon fat is rendered. Add leeks, and continue cooking until bacon is crisp and leeks have softened, about 6 minutes. 4. Add corn “broth” to the saucepan, then milk, potatoes and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer gently until potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn kernels and milky juices, and continue to simmer gently until corn and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. 6. Puree 2 cups of soup in blender and return puree to soup pot. Reheat gently. Stir in chopped parsley. Serve immediately Variation: To make this a vegetarian soup, substitute roasted red peppers for the bacon. Under your oven broiler, over the open gas flame on your stovetop, or outdoors on the grill, roast red peppers, turning as necessary, until skin is blacked all over. Enclose charred pepper in small paper or plastic bag and set aside for the pepper to sweat. When the pepper is cool, rub off the blackened skin. Remove stem, seeds and veins from inside the pepper. Cut into 1/4-inch dice. Stir into finished soup.

Baked butternut squash and apples with maple syrup Serves 8 1 3/4 to 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, quartered lengthwise, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/4–inch-thick slices (about 4 cups) 1 1/2 pounds medium-sized tart green apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into 1/4–inch-thick slices (about 4 cups) 1/2 cup dried currants Freshly grated nutmeg Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup pure maple syrup 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Parboil squash in large pot of boiling, salted water to soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Combine squash, apples and currants in a 13-by9-inch glass baking dish. Season generously with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine maple syrup, butter and lemon juice in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk until butter melts, pour syrup over squash mixture and toss to coat evenly. Bake, uncovered, until squash and apples are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. (Can be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Rewarm, covered, in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.)

Encouraging people to cook real food from scratch was the author’s mission for many years at the Wayne County Farmers Market.

Tomato and corn sauté 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears) 1/2 cup diced shallots 1 pound tomatoes, diced 1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or basil 1/4 tsp salt

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add corn and shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tarragon (or basil) and salt.

A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 27


Visit Crystal Run Urgent Care. When you or a loved one experiences an urgent medical need or an acute condition needs attention outside regular hours, Crystal Run’s Urgent Care ensures you have health care options when you need them. Just walk right in. If you’re a patient of Crystal Run, our providers will have access to your electronic health UHFRUGV²HQVXULQJWKHFDUHWKH\SURYLGHZLOOQRWFRQÁLFWZLWK\RXUUHJXODUPHGLFDWLRQVRU health conditions. Plus, your Crystal Run physicians will have all the information needed at your follow-up visit. If you’re new to Crystal Run, your visit to our Urgent Care may just be a great introduction to the value of Crystal Run Healthcare, and avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.

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28 OUR COUNTRY HOME SUMMER/FALL 2013

With three convenient locations, Crystal Run’s Urgent Care in Middletown, Rock Hill and Monroe are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year — with walk-ins welcome.


‘Why I love my solar’ S

olar panels can save you money, and there are many people who hope they just might help save the planet. While the initial cost may be high (to power the average American home, solar PV installation costs around $50,000, a portion of that money can be recouped. Many people, for example, eliminate

their monthly electric bill entirely; the federal government and many states offer sizable rebates; if you make more electricity than you use, you can sell the power back to the grid; and installing solar panels can increase the value of your home. We asked a handful of local residents to tell us why they installed solar panels at their homes.

“We decided to go forward with the installation because we all need to take steps toward renewable energy and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. “People see the panels and they stop [at the store]; it sparks conversation. They want to see all the working parts and learn about it.” —Anne Hart, The Cutting Garden, Youngsville, NY

“I’ve studied sustainability my whole life and championed those who were and are committed to living lightly on our planet. This homestead is my Walden Pond, and by having those panels here I feel like I am doing one more thing to reduce my impact upon our mother earth.”—David Falvo, Dyberry Township, PA

TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

“You know, you talk about energy savings and being sustainable, so it became more than a bumper sticker, it was something that we wanted to invest in.”—Joe Koerner “We were putting our money where our mouth is.”—Mia Koerner, Town of Callicoon, NY

“The most exciting thing in the beginning was watching the electric meter turn backwards. We haven’t had an electric bill since we installed it.”—Lynne Goodwin, Dyberry Township, PA Continued on page 31

A RIVER REPORTER MAGAZINE 29


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‘WHY I LOVE MY SOLAR’ Continued from page 31

Federal tax credits for consumer energy efficiency Tax credits for solar water heaters: ENERGY STAR qualified solar water heaters are eligible for 30% tax credit on the cost; program expires in December 2016) For solar systems: You may deduct 30% of your costs through an investment tax credit (ITC). See: www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index. This webside includes links for how to apply.

New York government solar energy rebates and incentives See: www.solar-new-york.org/home-solar-power-facts/cost-of-solar-financing-lease-options/

Pennsylvania government solar energy rebates and incentives See: www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/grants_loans_tax_ credits/10395/PA_Sunshine_Solar_Program/821790

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