Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

Cooking With Fire #1: Spanish Tortilla

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Tea has been running rampant through the office. Our electric kettle, decorated with orange and brown flowers, first began its journey at the PPRS Research Station, made it’s way to South Platte, and finally to the offices of the Sanborn Blog. But don’t let word get out to the wonderful men and women working downstairs– the kettle barely makes 2 1/2 cups as is. Tea is our major defense against the cold days, along with fleeces, flannels, and beanies (or knit caps, toboggans, bobcaps, stocking caps, a tabby cap, a watch cap, or in Canada, a tuque; this interactive map will help you decide: How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk). But we’re here to talk about eggs and sprouts, not if you say hoagie or grinder.

Spanish Tortilla, along with Brussels Sprouts and Chicken

1 red pepper

1 onion

1 large sweet tater

12 eggs from Marty’s chickens



3 cloves of garlic

coconut oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

chili powder

chicken breast with lemon

Brussels sprouts

JB scrambled up the eggs along with a bit of milk. He put the cut veggies into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and sauteed them with coconut oil, salt and pepper to taste, and some butter. Once the veggies started to brown he poured in the egg and cooked over medium heat. Some recipes call to flip the tortilla halfway into cooking it, but JB chose not to. A little chili powder was added. On the side he baked chicken breast at 400 degrees till done, along with lemon, onions, and salt and pepper to taste. The Brussels sprouts were sauteed in a 12-inch skillet with salt and pepper.

The Spanish tortilla is best served with friends and family on a cold, snowy night. 3 year old children seem to like all elements of the Spanish tortilla, yet 5 year olds seem aversed to certain vegetables. Broccoli was a hit with all ages. If there is no side of chicken, along with growing children in the household, ham can replace the sweet tater in the tortilla. Theoretically.

JB takes a quick moment to battle local wildlife.

The Good Earth

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Our First Session Big Spring Outbackers refitted this old horse coral right above the BS Barn (used to be called the Elephant Pit, according to Mr. Jerry) into our very own garden plot!

The combination of horse poop, hay and shade made for great soil conditions. The Outbackers were stoked to be able to create something that will be turned into a Sanborn summer gardening program as well as curriculum on high altitude farming for our new Sanborn Semester. We created a low-flow irrigation system for such hot days, as well as rows to separate such vegetables as beets, carrots, radishes (mainly rooty items, due to our altitude). It’s a fun project for the kids to see progress in just a few weeks (with help from our friendly skies of late) and they can go home knowing there is something growing here that they planted.

Fresh cilantro, arugula and beets (with help from worms churning soil and creating better organic material underneath) growing in an ol’ water tank.

Our compost bin (full of 2 lbs. of red wiggler worms) is filled with vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and other brown, carbon-rich material (eaten by the worms–crazy) to make this lovely, four-week-old compost! This will be spread as a top layer over our garden plot to add sufficient nutrients to our crops.

Down in the Dump…and happy about it

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Co-mingling at the Dump...not what it USED to be.

Ahhhh! Remember the Good Old Days…

When the dollar was worth more than the Swiss Franc? When Apples and Blackberries were still fruits? When we threw our trash in the dump?

The Dump has been gone now for more than a decade. Today we have a trash compacter, and a 1962 (not kidding) semi trailer that we fill with cardboard and haul down to Colorado Springs three or four times a year for recycling. We spend $600 hauling it down and receive about $400 for the cardboard—but it is the thought that counts, right? We also have three huge recycling bins—one for paper, one for aluminum and one for “co-mingle” which sounds vaguely suggestive but actually means that glass and various metals can get tossed together in there.

But please DO NOT put garbage bags in the co-mingle bin!

Things are not always perfect with the trash compacter either. On at least three separate occasions, the compacter was so heavy when the driver came from Waste Management (don’t you love that name?) to haul it away, that his front wheels would not stay on the ground and he had to dump all the trash out on the ground. Apparently, they can only haul 13 tons or something like that.

But I digress. Back to the dump—which was the ultimate co-mingle. Everything went in the dump. You remember…it was about 50 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 15 feet deep…large enough to hold several trucks. And over the years, it did hold several trucks–when the garbage man miscalculated while backing up or forgot to set the emergency brake (or did set the emergency brake but it didn’t work). Sandy was not happy when this occurred.

The dump was also a fabulous wildlife refuge. How many of you remember hopping in a van in the evening to tour the dump and watch the bears that were always attracted by the pungent aromas coming from the area? There were a few garbage men, however, who had rather frightening encounters with bears at the dump, because, as you will recall, our garbage trucks rarely had windows. One poor guy was seriously upset and ran back to Big Spring when a bear came right through the no-glass back window into the cab. Now the bears walk mournfully around the trash compacter and head off to the back porches at the Big Spring and High Trails Lodges where the aroma is still pungent. It is a sad loss…

Another advantage of the dump was that, if something was accidentally thrown away, you had a chance to retrieve it. The classic example is the retainer that someone wrapped in a napkin during the meal and forgot until a couple of hours later when the trash had already been hauled away. I have personally retrieved at least five retainers from the dump by focusing in on what we had for lunch that day (“Ah! I see taco remnants) and crawling into the dump to search the trash. (always checking of course to make sure no bears were around). It was messy but effective and the retainers could be washed and returned to their grateful owners. Today, however, if a retainer gets to the compacter…you can imagine.

We are much more environmentally conscientious these days, and much more in compliance with a whole bunch of rules made by a whole bunch of bureaucracies, but there are times when I long for the old Dump.

-Jane Sanborn-

Sustainability at Sanborn

Friday, March 18th, 2011

The Rocky Mountains: A Metaphor for the Capacity to Endure

‘Sustainability’ – this word has become the center of a quickly growing movement focused on developing new ways for humans to live on our planet without depleting the resources we use to survive here.  This winter, the year-round staff at COEC began to fully address how our organization should develop more sustainable practices, while simultaneously striving to become innovators and leaders through our sustainable efforts as a camp, an outdoor education center, and an adult retreat center.

As the spring season for the High Trails Outdoor Education Center approaches, we’ve been working hard to brainstorm and put some of these new ideas into place.  We started our thought process by nailing down a definition of the word sustainability, and then by deciding how it should apply to our spring program.  This word has a variety of meanings, and we decided explain it as ‘the capacity to endure.’  As an organization, we want COEC to contribute to humanity’s effort to function in a way that will allow future generations to enjoy life as we do today, and we want to be a role model to the children and adults who we teach and lead in all of our programs.

Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics + Widespread Sustainability 'Best Practices'

This spring at HTOEC, we’ll be focusing on reducing our environmental footprint and building our knowledge of how life works on the planet Earth.  We’re working on improving our facilities to reduce our consumption across the different buildings on our property.  Compact fluorescent light bulbs, toilet-tank bags to reduce the water in each flush, a composting and greenhouse program, and a 30-panel solar array on the roof of the Sportsplex at The Nature Place are all reducing the amount of energy we consume and the amount of waste we produce.  We plan to teach participants about all of these additions, and to continue making more of the same sort in the near future.  On-demand water heaters, low-flow showerheads, and more solar arrays are all hopeful.

Inspiring Stewardship with Every Sunset They See

However, these are small steps, and serve to augment our main goal: education. In all of our cabins, we will teach students and teachers how to make small changes that can have a big impact – turning off lights during the day, turning down the heater when the students leave for classes, and taking less frequent and shorter showers, to name a few.  Likewise, during meals in our dining hall, we’ll encourage groups to consciously think about their consumption by measuring the amount of food scraps and waste they produce each day.  Daily results will be posted so that students can quickly and easily learn how much waste they are producing, and try to reduce it each day they live here.

"We need more long lookers if we are going to look much longer." -Sandy Sanborn-

All of these steps will help us spread our belief in creating and upholding sustainability in all that we do.  We want our organization to have a capacity to endure, but more importantly, we want our Earth to endure as we continue to live on it, so that future people will be able to enjoy the outdoors as we do here.  Spreading this message to every person who comes through COEC is our most important educational effort today and into the future.