Monday, December 28, 2009

Aussie Available for Adoption: Sugar in Florida

(This is a picture of Sugar in Tallahassee...she's up for adoption)

I'm totally in love with our adopted Australian Shepherd (Kaleb), and so is Jack. He gives us something to laugh about and enjoy every day, but takes his job of being our canine companion very seriously. He's his happiest when he's all but attached to our persons 24/7.

We can't imagine a better fit for our family than Kaleb. That doesn't mean I don't still look at the remaining Aussies Awaiting Adoption, though. I'm not only in love with our fella, but I love the breed. I'm sure there are some challenging individual dogs out there that may not have been nearly the best option for our family, even with this breed, but I often run across many that seem by their descriptions to be great dogs.

So I'm going to periodically post listings I see for some of these, in the hopes that some folks who have the time and attention to devote to an Aussie of their own might consider adoption as a real option. Some are purebred and some are mixes, and all are special dogs. For us, adoption was ideal. There are always unknowns going into it, but the experienced rescue organization folks are skilled in helping match the right person to the right Aussie.

Here's today's beautiful girl, Sugar, in Florida. If you'd like to read more about her, here's her page and more pics. She's just the sort of Aussie we'd be looking at if we were looking to add another fabulous furball to our family right now ...maybe she's meant to be a part of yours :)

Florida too far? Here's a map link to more states so you can find a wonderful Aussie for adoption in your neck of the woods...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chaya/Mayan Tree Spinach

We read about this plant only this summer, and ordered a start, which was pretty small. At different points it looked a little puny, but even so it withstood the heat really well.

It turns out that this plant should reach a quite tall and broad shrub size. We're not sure how long that'll take. It's not the sort of plant that can be pruned to a formal hedge shape, but since we're not exactly formal hedge folks, we're hoping to propagate some more through cuttings to achieve a loose, informal grouping that can be used as a cut-and-come-again source of edible leaves.
I did find out (since I'd forgotten) that the leaves are NOT edible raw...there are toxins that shouldn't be eaten, but, as with some other types of subtropical plants, they are neutralized if the leaves are cooked. And like so many other tropical leaves, they are described as tasting "like spinach" when cooked. We haven't gotten to that point yet. Let's see how this one weathers We'll also see how it does as the temps dip, and whether frost kills it back. Many of our plants we lost last year came back from the roots (except ALL the papayas and coco plums, wahhh), so we're hoping that's the case with this one if we go down that same road this year.

We'll probably put several layers of cardboard down around it this year before the heat sets in, to help keep the bermuda from choking it out. It does not like standing water or damp roots, so it's in an area that dries out fast.

I'll report back when we taste-test it one of these days. It is said to be hardy in zone 8 and warmer. If it's hardy AND tastes good, it's a keeper :) Will keep you posted....

A Few Plants A-Thriving

Kaleb's enthusiastic about romps in "the jungle"...

Here's the side lot, facing the back swale. Moringa tree is to the left, some seedlings being clustered at its trunk in case of frost, pigeon pea bush to the right, forefront is a cranberry hibiscus/false roselle badly in need of a good prune. Jack's letting it recover from being transplanted first.

What we initially mistook for hips really proved to be the buds prior to flowering. The leaves of this plant are edible raw or cooked, as are the flowers. The leaves have a bright lemony flavor some compare to sorrell (I've never had sorrell)

We have about ten or so each of the moringa trees and the pigeon pea bushes planted out. The 5 gallon buckets we started with three years ago (for seedlings) are now clustered under and around these because the weather here in the last couple days has dipped to nighttime lows in the mid-thirties. There are various tree and shrub seedlings in the buckets, and while they are (imho) rather an eyesore, grouping them in clusters near buffer plants seems to help them through the lower temps. I was out there today checking on some of them and among the buckets we still have some tamarinds, malangas, guavas, etc. The papayas, which are more tender at least at the height of four feet that ours are, have been moved to the interior corner of our back lanai, out of the wind and protected on two sides. We lost ALL our papayas last year, so these are from this year's seeds and we hope they'll survive. We don't even try covering everything this year when it's that cold. If the forecast says below freezing, we'll blanket the small citrus and that's about it. We have old cardboard boxes saved for cutting down and putting around the bases of some of the other plants, but mostly Jack uses them around the bases anyway to cut down on weed burden.

We've never grown the pigeon peas before, and I had no idea they'd be blooming right in December and putting out peas! Here are some of the pods that just matured, before picking them. Again, I'm not used to Florida yet...can't believe I can pick this in December...

Here's the faithful guard of The Jungle. He's next to some pigeon peas and cranberry hibiscus, with a chaya plant just behind him (in the forefront). I'm reallyyyy hoping the chaya makes it if there's a freeze. It's the plant that at first glance seems to be a thistle.

Here's the chaya closeup. It's another of those plants, I think originally from Mexico or thereabouts, that is supposed to thrive in this climate. It has multiple uses and this is the size after having ordered a small starter plant this summer. I believe it can be propagated by cuttings and the leaves are edible, though we have yet to try it. We got it because of its usefulness as an edible cut-and-come-again green that can form nearly a hedge. I don't know yet if it's edible raw.

More to come, but my computer's slow at downloading, so I'll call it a night for now. Please send pictures of snow...I miss a fireplace but otherwise have no complaints, since it gets chilly enough at night here for my liking :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My New Toy!

Here's a zucchini in the new manual spiral slicer...this is on the skinnier strand setting Zucchini was the first to be tried, then a Daikon radish

Mix 'em up with a tad of olive oil, pinch of sea salt, squeeze of lemon, and grind of black pepper...and of course garlic...
I can't believe these are raw and vegetable and not really pasta...they have a great flavor. I'm going to let them stay in the fridge till dinner tonight. I can't wait to get my hands on some different things to try spiraling...turnip, rutabaga, beet, sweet potato...wonder about carrots...oh yes, pumpkin!
Hooray for flourless raw veggie pasta! My world has just opened up...with diabetes, pasta has been off the table for a long time now. more :)
Jack just gave the "noodles" his fork of approval.
Just had to share before heading to bed after a long night's work. Hope your day is a happy one!
Update...I just had a bowful of these with some more garlic and some softened sundried tomatoes. It was great! I bet a quick blending in the blender of a couple pieces of sweet pepper, sundried tomato, garlic would be great mixed with finely diced veggies for a "spaghetti sauce" and poured over these noodles.
Other things I could also spiral...celeriac, cucumber, fennel bulb?? oh the possibilities. After sitting in the light dressing of olive oil and lemon, salt and garlic for the day, they were softer. There's no way these taste like actual grain pasta, but they are wonderful and light and easy to eat, and something about the strands makes them easy and fun to eat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Open, Sesame!

My newfound love of sesame continues. This is a variation of the beanless zucchini hummus I recently learned to make, the main ingredient besides the zucchini being raw sesame butter/tahini (the kind with just the ground seeds and not other ingredients). This time I substituted part of the olive oil with some dashes of sesame oil and hot chili oil, and added black pepper and flax seeds before blending them with the few other ingredients, namely lemon juice and garlic.

This recipe is so easy, it literally takes two minutes to make, and it's easy to have something completely raw that eats like a meal, depending on what you use to dip it with. Any raw veggie works well for dipping...tonight I had cauliflower. I topped it with chili flakes and after taking the pictures above (bad lighting, sorry), also topped it with more sesame seeds. Why I love them so much right now I do not know, but who cares? They're wonderful!

Some like it!
Then I made another really quick raw goodie...and again with the sesame seeds. I can't say these are completely raw, though...the seeds are the toasted kind. But the banana and the sunflower nut butter are raw...that's all there is to it. Top the slices of banana with the nut butter (preferably raw) and dip to coat with sesame seeds. SO good :)

As you can see, I am really suffering through this raw eating experience ;-) Green smoothies chock full of whatever dark leafy greens I want to put in there, topped off with frozen blueberries and a couple of bananas and blended to a cold thick pourable milkshake consistency, are split between Jack and myself. A small portion of fish or lean meat, if desired, with some raw veggies in different variations such as the zuke hummus shown here, or some gorgeous emerald spinach tossed for a few seconds with just-cooked salmon and eaten up. Any fruit out-of-hand, or a fruity smoothie ice cold for a sweet tooth.

Or seedy things, like these banana bites.
we're suffering ;-)
P.S. I'm feeling very, very good these days. I hope you're all safe and happy during these holidays. Eat well, and hug the ones you love. And invite in others to the comfort of home. It's a better gift than anything storebought.
Blessings to you and yours!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Raw Pumpkin Sushi Rolls

OK, I know I just lost the Deep South and Interior Farms portion of the readership with that title :) Who knew I love sushi rolls? I was very resistant for years until one day a friend decided to treat me to some (back then it more of a dare). It was unfamiliar territory, and I prefer salmon or avocado as the main ingredient inside mine. Old hat to most folks, but it was all new to me. I'm sort of a few decades behind whatever the current rage is...

But the kicker for me was tastebuds fell head over heels with the combination of wasabi (for the uninitiated, it's a powerful Asian horseradish that can't adequately be described beyond "green," "potent," and "WOW") and soy sauce..mixed together and into which edibles all wrapped in substantial bites of rice (sometimes), a dry crisp seaweed sheet, and maybe rolled further in sesame seeds...are dipped. Into the sauce. Till they soak some of it up.

And your mouth goes POW. And then repeat.
Well, if it's an acquired taste, it didn't take me long to acquire it. Oh. My. Gosh...I love wasabi. I must have brain explosions of happy chemicals as a result of eating it, and it may be the closest substance in my life I probably need a 12 step program to address (heh heh) It's also about the only time I eat soy sauce, since I avoid most other soy like the plague. But anyway...

I used to visit a family-owned restaurant off and on when I lived in Memphis (it's no longer there now) and they served made-on-the-spot sushi rolls back when it was more of a novelty (well at least in Memphis it was). I liked the combination of avocado, minced carrot, cream cheese, minced shallot inside the seaweed sheet then rolled with rice around the outside and finally toasted sesame seeds. My body must have wanted the iodine or something in that seaweed, or maybe the wasabi, but several of my trepidatious friends, after trying these, became addicted, too. We called them "Robbyn rolls," and I wish I knew how to make them like Andy did. Andy barely spoke English and was from an undisclosed nation in Asia, but chose the name Andy for his English moniker, and he was the master touch for our veggie roll get-togethers. Thankfully they were inexpensive, so it was a fun way to while away some social time with friends over pots of hot green tea.

Well, I've failed miserably at making sushi, but I still keep trying.

Here's my latest attempt, but the NICE thing about this is that I was trying to find something that would hold together well but not have the consistency of carrot. Carrot's just not my favorite texture in a veggie roll. Enter the idea of pumpkin. Winter squash would work fine, too. I thought it might pair well when ultimately dipped in the wasabi/soy.

I peeled a piece of calabaza, which is simply a tropical pumpkin, and shredded it on one of those box shredders...I don't have a food processor and my blender would make mush of it. Instead of rice, I diced some cauliflower really fine, and layered it on a sheet of seaweed, cauliflower first and then the shredded pumpkin. Then I topped that with toasted sesame (I don't have any raw), and rolled it up and let it sit a minute. I put too much filling in this time, so they came out fat and bulky, but at least this time they held together all the way through this stage.

I sliced them carefully and turned them on their sides. But there is no way they were secure or small enough to hold together to dip. So I mixed up some soy sauce and wasabi (found in the ethnic section of the regular supermarket) and dribbled some over each roll, to soak into the filling (not the wrapping, or it would collapse). They held together well enough for me to pop them into my mouth and chew, so hey, I've improved!Ok, YES. YES YES YES. It worked! It's not going to replace the really great fillings that normally come with ones made by a pro. But the textures worked, the flavors worked, the taste was great!! (But I say that meaning that ONLY with the wasabi/soy mix does it taste right...otherwise, not so much)

Can we say YAYYY??? All of it was raw but the sesame seeds. It would taste even more wonderful with a little cream cheese inside. But that'll hafta wait...

I can SO handle eating this again :) And I just found a fun use for our pumpkins, woo!

I've included pictures of my victims (the ingredients). While not the most artistic, my tastebuds and wasabi-craving brain receptors did not complain :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quickie Update

The week flew by. Happy Hannukah to all :) We kept things simple.

I've been trying to get my sleeping schedule back to some semblance of normality. Eating "high raw" (a high percentage of only raw foods) is going well with the only real bumps being some flubs with hamburgers on my work days...I really am trying to stay away from those. But I had run out of the leafy greens and the fish both, so I planned better when shopping this time around.

Jack and I both watched a documentary about some people who went to Gabriel Cousens' center and spent a month eating raw food only, and reversed their diabetes. The CD couldn't have come at a better time, since I was needing some direction. Correction...we, Jack and I both, were needing some.

I did vary from the smoothies and tried two recipes in the last couple days. One was raw "popcorn" using raw cauliflower cut up and tossed with nutritional yeast (which has a cheesy/nutty flavor) and savory spices like sea salt, cayenne, and paprika. We did like that for munching. It doesn't do well refrigerated, though, because the seasonings turn to mush.

The other recipe I LOVE is one I saw on a video. Supposedly it's a beanless hummus. It's made with raw zucchini, tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, pinch of sea salt and cayenne and cumin. [[later edit...I forgot to mention garlic...lots of garlic! ]]] OH MY. I forgot the cumin and even so it was SO SO SO good. A beautiful pale green, and we sliced raw veggies and cherry tomatoes and used them as "chips." I'll definately be using that again. SO easy in the just blend the ingredients together. Jack loved it, too.

I think his body is in shock. He's eaten more greens IN his food in a few days than he usually has in a month ( or maybe more). I fix us smoothies in the blender daily, and vary the fruit and the greens that go into them. But I love the frozen blueberries and have started freezing the bananas in chunks because it gives a great texture and sweetness that masks any strong flavors that might be unfamiliar for us starting out. We eat a lot of kale, parsley, romaine, collards, and will try turnip greens coming up...all in the smoothies, cleverly disguised (haHA) :)

I've not lost any more weight. Since that's my secondary focus at first, I'm not panicked. I do feel so much better overall it helps keep me from getting discouraged. I do eat a lot of what I think of as "oily fish"...salmon, and tinned kippered smoked herring, whitefish, the like. My body seems to be having a party with all those omega-3s.

We ordered Cousen's book about reversing diabetes. We're getting serious about it. So far we're resisting the urge to get too much "health store stuff" because of the cost and the fact we need something that works for us for the long term.

There's more to write, but I'm sleepy and just wanted to check in here.

What's going on in your world?? :) Hope your days and weekend are great :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Raw's Going Great

I'm doing better each day, and this is quite an education for me. It will impact what we focus on growing, and teach me better, further in, how to plan around what's seasonal. At present, I'm far too dependent on storebought produce. This is due to some factors situationally, because we've decided to hold off on putting much more labor and time into permanent beds on this property, but from all the seeds and seedlings Jack nurtured over the past two years, we have a mini Moringa forest going next door, tons of things in buckets yet, and mostly small trees of many sorts (mostly fruit) in the ground in hopes they'll survive the milder months better that way. Trees aren't yielding immediate harvests, as they're longer-term plantings, so we're short on the harvestable things presently.

But moringa is on the docket, as it's plenteous and now we need to learn how to best harvest and use it. I anticipate this week using it in nearly all the smoothies.

I'm sleeping WELL.

I'm eating WELL.

It seems this raw food experience should be a more difficult transition, but so far, it is just great!

Up this week, besides the moringa, will be starting sprouts. And making vegetable "sushi" rolls. Anything to get my wasabi fix :)

For the daily updates, ad nauseum, on the raw experiment, it's here at my Raw Green Blender Queen journal page.

I'm off to blend :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Do You Make Of This?

I have a question for those of you who know about growing corn...

(yes, I know it's December now, and fully winter here in the ol' Western hemisphere. And the corn growing season is done, here in Florida, too...I think??...but we had this prodigal plant make it till now because of our warm temps...don't be hatin'...I need your advice!)

This is an ear of a South American type of corn planted from a seed I got from a rare seed company some time back. It was definately planted at the wrong time this year, just before the weather turned cooler. I think Jack only had planted three seeds, and one of the resulting stalks just kept on going despite the dips in temps.

It turned out to be a beautiful black purple, and even the husks stain my fingers purple...the color is deep and gorgeous. I do have some questions...I know there's somebody out here who'll have some answers :)

1. I may have picked this too early. How can I tell? The tassells had turned brown, so I guessed at it, but I don't know how to tell.

2. Why are so many of the kernels missing? There was only one other corn plant that survived, and it looked pretty puny. Does this have something to do with it? Or could it have been soil infertility? The soil was top dressed with composted manure, but underneath the soil was hard sand.

3. The few developed kernels seem to be fairly big. Why did they develop, and others did not? I did not notice any sign of insect damage either outside or inside the husk.

4. If we grew more of this, how would we best select and preserve the seeds for future plantings? Do we husk them and let them dry, and if so, at what stage and how would they be stored?

There's the closeup of the developed kernels (aren't they gorgeous?) and the ones that never made it.

5. These husks as well as the cob and kernels have a rich coloration that comes off on my hands when handling them. How would I make a dye of any or all of these, and is there a particular mordant I'd have to use to keep it from fading or running?

6. Last but not least, we heard that in some South American countries people make traditional drinks with their purple corn. Have any of you tried anything like that? Can the cobs be boiled and the liquid used as a sweetener, if they are sweet? These are genetically pure seeds and I wouldn't have the same hesitation using all parts of them as I might with some of the other corns.
As always, thanks for sharing your insights! We'd rather learn from the collective wisdom than try to muddle about a few more seasons.

This Is the Color of a Green Drink

This picture can't do justice to the color of these blended veggies. This is a gorgeous and delicious way to get those greens. I had no idea I'd be able to stomach it this turned out like a slightly thick homemade cranberry puree and very bright with a pleasant sweetness.

For the basic stats on my 30 day experiment, the weight and such tallies are over here.

The one surprising thing I'm learning, since I've never really done raw blended things before, is that it really doesn't take big quantities of anything. In fact, I could have cut the quantity to one third instead of having a lot leftover to eat/drink later. With the price of produce (which we're still having to buy, but someday won't, hopefully), I only have to use a few stems of this and that, and it really is going to last longer than I'd anticipated.

I used one fresh beet (scrubbed) and its those ruby red stems. I also used raw collard leaves, parsley, and kale, and blended in some raw chunked sweet potato, some pear, and a banana. To help with blending, I wet it all with the storebought 100% juice cranberry, which has a mix of apple and white grape juice, I think, instead of cane sugar. Anyway, this came out a lot sweeter than I'd thought, and I actually liked it...I had prepared myself to drink it no matter what it tasted like, anticipating holding my nose and getting down a few good gulps. This drink has a copious amount of greens in it...all raw. I'm pretty surprised! There's enough left over for about three hearty servings later, if I'm even hungry.

This is the first blender I've owned, ever...just got it yesterday. All the produce showing in the pic, minus one banana and the lemons, were what I blended just now.

I need to wear an old shirt when blending. I have some splats from the beets that make me look like I sustained some chest trauma, ha :)

I just finished a very large glass of this concoction, and I need to adjust my quantity...I need only a third, which now that I'm thinking about it would mean I'd get several meals off the amount I just made.

I don't know the exact $$ amount, but with this being so fiber and nutrient-dense and so filling, I'll be surprised if I can empty the veggie bin in my fridge before some of this needs to be made into soup. Let's see!

At any rate, look, Ma...I ate my greens :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

30 Day Experiment

So, yes, I'm going to incorporate a lot of raw fruits and veggies into my eating for 30 days and see how I do. Here's what I decided so far...

1. I don't have a juicer but I do have a blender, so I'll blend one fruit smoothie and one green smoothie per day, and the other food will be straight up veg and fruit eaten whole.

2. The exceptions to this will be fish, if I feel like I need it, cooked light. If I really crave protein, I'll eat a couple bites of something lean like steak.

3. The only real cooked food besides the fish will be bone/meat/veggie broth homemade, if I feel I need it. I'll never stray very far from the Weston A. Price thoughts on the benefits of these. Bone broth has had a very soothing effect on my joints and any aches. Oh, and I will use some of that 100% juice cranberry juice from the store, which I'm sure has been heated before bottling, but so far I'm using it to moisten the fruit before blending into smoothies.

4. No preservatives.

5. If wilting a green or dehydrating some pureed veggies makes it more palatable, I'm likely to try that.

6. Haven't decided yet if I'll take a once-a-week break and have a shabbat meal with whatever I want (as long as nothing processed). I'll figure that out by this Friday, but if I do it, it won't count as one of the 30 days.

7. I'm trying to keep it 80% raw. I'll guesstimate the percentages. I'm a firm believer that some foods simply are easier for our bodies to assimilate and absorb nutritionally when cooked. A good example are some tropical tubers and greens, which often have concentrations of things that would act as poisons if not cooked and drained first. But for now I'm choosing foods I know are fine without cooking, because I want to nutritionally pamper myself and regain all my old energy back. I'm looking to lose weight as a result, but that's not my sole motivation in doing this.

8. I will track the way I feel and if I lose any weight.

9. Drinks will be water, lemon-and-stevia or lime-and-stevia ades, tea, and herbal teas. Mostly water, though.

10. I'll be trying to figure out Florida again, to find which of these things would actually be grown during this season. I know I don't have it together enough right now to adhere to the best practices in tracking down solely local and in-season produce. That's my ultimate goal in how we should eat. But baby steps. For now I need to educate my body to want a range of greens (I feel sure we have those here year round) and to a much greater degree...and raw foods, which I almost never ate at all.

11. Fats are nuts, avocados, olive oil, flax seed and flax seed oil, seeds.

12. No restrictions on quantities, but striving for balance and staying active.

13. I'll stay on my regular meds, the hyaluronic acid supplement, and an after-shower refresher of spritzing with some water with tea tree oil drops added in before toweling off. That should help mitigate cleanliness as my body detoxes via my skin.

What can we use from what we have growing in Bucketville?

We don't have any standard crops growing right now, mainly due to my sucky illness that lasted so long. But we do have some non-standards ones that I can't wait to use daily, namely the Moringa and the Cranberry Hibiscus (using the leaves of each). Moringa leaves are supposed to be a nutritional powerhouse rich in so many things it would take a paragraph to list, and also high in protein....and we sure have plenty of those growing on the lot next door, hooray! The cranberry hibiscus has a bright lemony flavor and gorgeous magenta color with of course nutritional benefits of its own, so I'll use it in smoothies along with other players, and I'll blend it to include in the Stevia limeade or lemonades. I'll explore tomorrow to see what herbs and plants are still looking good enough to harvest and add to this list as I go. Even without a standard late garden, we still have about 11 tropical pumpkins/calabazas I can utilize.

I'll keep my thinking cap on, and I really need to study a planting chart again, because I still can't always get my head around when to begin things's still very strange to think of growing things in the winter. But I'm not complaining!

I'll talk tomatoes in my next post, maybe. I've made a short list of the easiest things we've grown so far for this climate, and since next year may be full of this and that, I want to have the basics planned out in case we can't get more ambitious with the garden while busy. I still want us to have a nice rotation, still using the buckets for the baby plants. I'll take some pics soon, as there's a really big difference in the soil since two years ago before manure and compost applications.

All that later.

Oh, and I'm keeping the 30 day raw experiment details here...Raw Green Blender Queen

Let's see how this goes!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Contemplating Raw Food

I'll make this quick, as I'm short on time. I'm about to go in for allergy testing tomorrow, at my doc's recommendation. But I have a lot of reluctance to go down this road. I don't want to put more medications in my body. I don't presume to know what will be recommended, so I'll wait to hear, but in the meantime, I need to take better care of Me.

And so I've been doing some more reading up, as well as contemplating what would fit with our family goal of growing most of our own foods. That in itself will require a change of eating, because typically we can't afford right now to eat as much produce as we'd like. BUT (isn't there always a but?)...that has to change. As we DO grow more of our own food, our appetites will have to accomodate a lot more green things as well as some veggies that do well in our area but that I never grew up eating.

I'll go out on a limb and say that I never see myself totally eliminating animal products from our diets, or at least mine, by choice. That said, I DO see our transitioning to raw milk and milk products, unmedicated meats, and a completely different ratio of raw and veg foods than we eat right now. Eggs, too.

I simply don't know if I can do this, but I am trying very hard since the months-long run of having been ill and now feeling stronger, trying to listen to what I need to do better "self care"....I'm not hard on myself and don't ignore myself. But I need a more specific type of healing, I think, and I believe that means unburdening my body from complications and giving it what it needs to heal and be less toxic.

I'm seriously contemplating a modified raw food regimen (with some frozen berries thrown in), the exception being the occasional inclusion of meat/bone broth and fish. I am thinking of trying this for 30 days and charting the process, if for no other reason than to help me transition to a different ratio in my eating, changing over to mainly fruit and veg. It would also do a lot to help me eliminate the temptation of processed flour and other processed foods, as well as find other ways to get the taste I enjoy by un-learning some of my grab-and-go standbys and exploring some equally tasty but more nutritionally dense alternatives.

Maybe I just want to know I can do it and maybe I feel the need for a cleanse. Anyway, I'm thinking about it.

Strangely, and gladly, I am at a different mindset going into this than I have been at other points in my life. At other points, I felt the urge to nurture myself because of feeling depressed, and other emotions linked to situations present at those times. I did experience welcome breakthroughs when I did that back then. But this time is markedly different because I am very content and happy in general and the strongest emotion I have driving this desire is to be able to enjoy my world physically as much (and as long) as possible, to improve some conditions that I'd like to see gone healthwise, and to really invest in having as many years possible to enjoy my husband who is the dearest friend I have.

It's been important for me in the past to work through challenges when making life changes, especially to be motivated for the positive rather than through feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and such. Negativity or fear can't drive me. My weight has always been a challenge, but I can say that though I have a lot to lose, I've been both thin and very overweight, and I accept my body and am comfortable in my own skin wherever on the spectrum I am.

I made a conscious decision years ago to never diet again, therefore I won't. But old dogs can learn new tricks, and giving my body what's best is no prescribed diet...but it's a dietary change. I've lost 30 lbs in the past two years, most of it during the past year, ten of it while sick. I'd like to see more shed. If it happens, I'll applaud better choices and ride the momentum.

For now, I have to get used to eating foods I need, enjoying a broader range. (I already love veggies and fruits anyway). Lots and lots of different greens. A completely different ratio of raw and cooked, fruit/veg to starches and meats.

I'm contemplating whether 95% raw is something I should try for 30 days. That's enough time to see where I'd like to go from there. I'd include fats from fish, avocados, flax seed.

Thoughts? Experience you'd like to share?

I'll report back here about what I decide. I'll continue thinking about it while I fix myself a blueberry smoothie...yum :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting Caught Up

Boy does it feel better to feel better! It's done wonders to be back on my feet and tackle the backlog of chores that built up in the past few months. I'm about to have my kitchen completely back on track probably by later tonight, and that always gives me some peace of mind. There are still plenty of chores to go, but the pending list is growing shorter.
Soup's still our "fast food" and can always be changed according to what's on hand and our preferences. Some gorgeous sweet potatoes were on sale the other day for 25 cents a lb. so I got two bags full. I never used to like sweet potatoes growing up, but they were usually only prepared a couple of different ways with a lot of added sweetener...too sweet to me. For whatever reason, either changing taste as I grow older, or just finding different ways to use them, I really like them now. My favorite ways are roasted, baked and eaten like a baked potato with butter and a bit of sea salt, oven-style home fries, or in soups.
Yesterday, we feasted on baked sweet potatoes and they really filled us up fast. So into soup they went tonight, from a rich chicken broth that's as easy as putting a whole chicken in a crockpot with some sea salt and water and leaving it till it's falling off the bone...mmm. Stir in some veggies and spices on hand and yum!
Nothing much to report other than things keep good and busy and it feels nice getting caught up. Still wading through the red tape resulting from the truck theft, but we hope that concludes soon, too.
I hope everyone's geared up for a relaxing and happy Thanksgiving!
Be back soon :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feast of Thanks

An early Happy Thanksgiving to you all from our house to yours! We're celebrating early, potluck style, at some dear friends' house this weekend. (And there'll be some good eatin' and talkin', woo!) Yes, we two hermits do occasionally emerge from our cave a couple times of year ;-)

I was asked to contribute a few simple things. They basically amouted to Things That Require Stirring. Some are even more basic than that.

Six pans of good cornbread. Check!
Several gallons of fresh brewed tea, some sweet, some unsweet. Check! And ice. It's still warm here...

And pumpkin pies. Check! Doubtful on the pie crust, as I am one of those unfortunates who have not yet mastered the art of the pie crust. And those Pillsbury All-Ready ones? Well, dangit, I had to go and read the ingredients and sure enough, O Lard, there's lard in it. I have nothing against the piggies, but we just don't eat 'em, so I had to scramble to find some sort of easy crust to substitute. I found an easy recipe online with a simple list of ingredients that can be basically stirred and pressed into the pan using a bare hand and some waxed paper. It's not so pretty as the rolled out sort, but I need to work on my crust skills. So this sufficed for now and hey, the taste isn't bad. The actual pie is the same recipe we grew up Grandma used the recipe on the Libby's label no matter what, and if you jazz it up with a few more shakes of spice than called for, it's tradition.

Oh, and the other true confession...I've never made homemade cranberry sauce. We've always chilled a few cans of the jelled sort from the store. I know this probably makes those who have real cranberry skills cringe. But alas, I am sticking to the familiar, so cans it is, woo! Nope, not even molded into the shape of pilgrims and turkeys, just the cylinder shape straight from the can, sliced into slices. No worries, we have cranberry-a-holics a-plenty and it never lasts long enough for anyone to critique.
I do have to say, having stocked up on frozen turkeys last year, and STILL having several in our freezer to date to cook and eat, we're looking at the Thanksgiving turkey with different eyes. We won't buy nearly as many this year, and will probably go for chicken instead so those turkeys we do eat are treats instead of standard fare (good fare, that is).
But anyway, that's our contribution to the full sideboard this year. Our hearts are even fuller than our stomachs will be. We truly have so much for which to be thankful. More than we can count.
Thank you, God. For so, so much!
I'm really grateful for my online friends here, too. Thanks each of you for what you add to our days every time you stop in here for a friendly hello!
Shabbat shalom!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Quickie update:

1. I'm now in the care of an ear/nose/throat specialist. I'm feeling relief and can hear now out of one of my ears and both are so much better. We're working on the right ear to get the stubborn infection nixed. I really love this doc. He sees the yuck and gets this tube thingy and suctions it all out. Ohhhhh, so very great (total relief, ah :))

2. The losers who stole and wrecked our vehicle recently now have been making their way through our personal effects, namely the checkbooks and outgoing mail (checks sealed for mailing for monthly bills) that were among the stolen contents of the truck. It looks like we may be dealing with three counties in question, so I am doing due diligence trying to coordinate hubby/bank/case detective/copies of all the paperwork in question so that it can all be linked to the one same crime...and if fingerprints, checks, etc ever produce a break in the case, they can be busted for ALL of it. And oh, how I hope they are.

3. Been making the most of the library. The past few weeks it was espionage-ish type novels, then made my way through various sets of authors and their collections, then had a dry run of some authors I've never tried, with varied success. I'm now in the middle of one of Barbara Kingsolver's older ones, and just replenished the stack with some books of letters/logs/diaries (historical), some history local and of cuba, and various random selections from my ongoing author search in the fiction section, trying to locate others I've never read but might enjoy. I'm keeping the stack to about 15, and rotating out as I go so it stays fresh. I devour books.

4. Pulling things together for an early thanksgiving celebration with friends this weekend. Every minute between now and then is accounted for and I have no idea when i'll get the items in time (the things to cook and take...I was given a list of things to make that we don't usually have at home) because the work schedule (shared rides) have really screwy hours, PLUS Jack is having to handle driving time to banks to keep following up on the #2 above. But that said, my husband is very relaxed and seems to be immune to The Disaster Which Is My Kitchen presently, knowing that I will someday knock out the nuclear waste that is my stack of dishes in the sink. That, too, rotates, but quickly gets behind. I'm feeling SO much better physically! And perhaps too relaxed?? Well, I'm getting plenty of sleep, and am feeling so much better by the day!

5. And that's its own point. I'm so much better by the day, and I feel more like myself...HOORAY!!! Thank you to all who prayed for my health! There are still tests being run, but the feeling like I was hit by a bus is definately OVER. WHEW!!

6. Pup's good! Kaleb is thriving on his regimen, and is so well-knitted into the fiber of our family I can't imagine it without him. If you want a dog to not only be a faithful companion but to be totally in adoration and keep tabs on you 24/7, that's an Aussie. He's bonded well with Jack, too...they have their special "man talk" they do. but Kaleb is like an old mother hen about me and if one of us goes outside and the other stays in, he'll opt to stay close to me and worry about me while still going frequently to the window and worrying about's really sweet. So we play and spoil the daylights out of him, and he seems to be thriving...yay :) His coat is looking like a whole new dog. We have to be careful not to be in the direct line of fire of his exuberance on these cooler days when he rockets around the yard outside when we take him out. He doesnt understand that he's the equivalent of a 65 lb freight train :)

7. Still researching the technologies I mentioned in a recent post, adn following up on the comments you guys left there. We LOVE those and love chipping away at those things!

8. Land search news on the horizon. Mum's the word till there's anything to report. But it still is being labored on.

9. I've never owned a gun. I've shot rifles and a shotgun before, but never a handgun. I've always been somewhat intimidated by handguns. But for whatever reason, we've made a couple trips to shops where I can see and feel handguns, to satisfy my curiosity and try to get over my irrational fear of them. I'm doing this for myself because I'd rather be educated than intimidated and ignorant of something. To know if I like it or not, and if not, to be sure of my reasons why. Doing some reading and going to these shops has at least gotten me less shy around them. I'm curious about them and am contemplating a gun safety class. And if I reach a comfort level, I'd like to go to a firing range and get more comfortable operating them. And possibly contemplate a class on concealed weapon licensing? Dunno, we'll see. Any thoughts?

10. I've gotten outside more and have been walking more. As my health has been better, I've craved walks in this beautiful weather that's mild but with good strong sun coming down...perfect! Been enjoying walking Kaleb, and I haven't gained back any of the weight I lost while sick (yay!). Now to get on a regular sleeping schedule.

all for now....

going to finish out the demanding week, and get in my great stretches of rest, especially since Jack's encouraging them. In spite of the stack of dishes.

I love my husband :)

P.S. Sometimes Kaleb snores like a little old man. And as he naps at my feet, sometimes he makes dog noises that freak me out because they sound like someone whispering. He also makes jealous dog noises, or pouting noises when Jack and I snuggle up asleep at night. But he gets over it. You should hear his sigh of resignation when we're all cuddled. As in "hey you two, get a room." And then he settles back into his deluxe pillow-stack condo beside my side of the bed. Yeah, he's got it so rough... It's a dog's life... :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Things We're Researching

I've been remiss to mention some of the things that have come along the pike that have piqued our curiosity recently. Jack's passed along some of his links for me to add to mine so we can both be in on the research for down the road. I thought I'd pass them along here.

Before I go further, I'd like to say that I personally lean to the less-is-more concept of simplifying life. In fact, I'm not a technology bandwagon person. I'm also not a spend-more-to-be-green person.

My hubby loves technology and finding ways to innovate. I am a crusty codger about technology, and am more drawn to kerosene lamps and open fires, and very low-tech tools. That said, it would be a big adjustment for me to learn to live with average daytime temps of high 90s F for most of the year, and nights in the 80s F and up. But we keep looking for options and ideas.

Here are some things we've been reading up on, but have come to no particular conclusion about yet...but they continue to interest us in a closer look:

1. The Coolerado Air Conditioner. Here's a pic from their site --

Features of this type of A/C? It needs no refrigerant, and Jack believes that means it would cut out the A/C service costs completely. It supposedly is priced competitively with standard A/Cs, and it uses only ten percent of the normal energy of conventional A/Cs, which means it can be easily connected to solar panels without a huge drain of energy. It also thrives in heat and gets more efficient the hotter the weather. And so on and so is a youtube video where they go into a bit more detail. Needless to say, this is on our curiosity list to follow up on and keep researching. It would mean A/C would be possible even off-grid, for the price of an airconditioner.

This video is about the larger A/C unit that would cool a larger building exceeding 1500 sq ft.

2. Getting Drinking Water from the Air: EcoloBlue 29 Atmospheric Water Generator --- this is something I ran across when googling off-grid living and was wondering about water options. The three downsides I see from the outset for this product are the cost and the fact it has a plug (needs electricity), and needs filters every 3 years or so. The up side being it produces clean drinking water from the air (yeah, that is very cool!) , needs 480 watts while running, cuts off when done....ergo, it could be fueled by solar panels as well. It's completely portable, meaning it's not fixed to plumbing or functions like a water cooler/heater drinking station. It can be used simply as an R/O system with existing water systems, if desired. But it needs no water source other than the air, since it uses the air humidity. It claims to produce 7 or more gallons of water a day, and switches off when full until the next time it's needed. Cost is in the ballpark of $1200. That's a big downside. For folks like us with filthy and very VERY hard to stomach well water due to the high sulfur content (we have to BUY all our cooking and drinking water weekly, ugh) We do have a Berkey filtration set-up, but it does NOT remove the sulfur smell...which is not something you'll find in their literature. So we're definately interested in these claims, especially since we live in a high-humidity area, though the literature states that it will run in any area.

Here's a video about it

Here's the pic from their site:

Reading comments from users seemed to show they were satisfied and also noted that periodic flushing of the unit to keep it clean was the only real maintenance that came up. We'll be checking this out more, but at this point, the price for our situation is too spendy.

3. The Rocket Stove. I first saw this at one of my favorite blog sites, La Ferme de is one of the posts where you can see it in use. This has REALLY impressed me, since its biggest selling points (to me, at least) are its ease of construction from really inexpensive materials, its ability to realllyyyy get hot fast, and the fact (this is HUGE) it needs VERY VERY little fuel...a few corncobs, or small pencil-sized sticks, leaves, things you'd find easily without chopping a lot of trees or paying for fuel. Here are a couple of links I found you might enjoy. This handmade technology is SIMPLE but EFFECTIVE. It really will get our attention as we hammer out alternative ways to cook, especially if we relocate, without being dependent on paying for fuel or chopping wood. I'm not sure if I could adapt it for outdoor canning, but it's certainly worth finding out.

Here is one of my faves...I love the ease of construction. This one's made of adobe bricks.

This one below is constructed of basic metal containers and Parts one and two show the ease of construction from about any metal container (note: the author notes later to use black metal for one of the components)

This one is my favorite of all. This shows several being used in Africa. Each one is made of 6 bricks and is the rocket stove concept, using very very little kindling or wood, mostly just a few twigs.

This one shows the above 6-brick stove's construction. They apparently are later mudded over to customize the exterior shape for the owner.

That's it for now...what's caught your interest lately? I'd love to know what's worked best for you...any a best solution for your homestead :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Thank you, everyone, for your prayers! We really believe God allowed our truck to be recovered this quickly because of them...thank you, thank you, thank you to God and to you all, woo!

We got a call late evening last night that the police had found our stolen truck lodged in the mud on the side of the road on a two lane heavily partied area near a popular beach. These are photos taken in the dark, but they give some idea of what we found when we got there.

Probably, because the area is well-traveled, the location may have prevented them from stripping down the vehicle all the, etc. As it was, EVERYthing from the interior that could be removed by hand hastily was. Registration papers, everything from all compartments, our many tools and supplies we kept in the back for our work, and even stupid stuff...all gone. The gift they left us was the aroma of pot smoking and spilled beer, damage to the inside and outside we're not entirely sure yet the full extent is till we get it to a mechanic, and an abandoned cooler left in the truck bed.

One of the dents. The side door doesn't close well as a result. And soon I will discuss my FEELINGS about people who do this to other people's property just for the fun of it.

These smudges are where the deputy dusted for fingerprints...and got some good ones. I hope some are in the state computer and that they get prosecuted.

Darn, they'll have to funtion without their cooler! Here's the one they left behind. The party's over, losers.
We are VERY fortunate that the vehicle was recovered in this good condition, even though it might not be such good condition. It IS driveable...though we don't know if safely so. But being violated with this theft goes way beyond the inconvenience associated just with the vehicle itself. This has cost us a lot of money, and will until it's fully repaired and useable. It's cost us security...think house keys, driver's license, garage door opener, car alarm controller, wallet, cash, checkbooks, credit cards, SS cards, clothing with work logos, bills to be mailed...well, the list goes on and on, and so will the damage control. I'm not saying this feeling sorry for us...I'm saying it's a huge pain in the neck to try to outthink crooks fast enough before they can do us more damage from afar, to our bank accounts and so on. We moved quickly on those things...hopefully we covered all the ground we needed to, without forgetting something. There's still a lot of follow-up needed as a result.
I don't usually post on the blog on our day of rest (Saturdays). I did want to shout a huge THANK YOU and YAY to God and our friends here (you guys!) and let you know the truck's found.......whew!! :)
And because I'm me and it's shabbat, and because I feel violated by some drugged-up thieves who would still be running our only vehicle into the ground were it not for their bad driving while drunk and high, and our good fortune that they couldn't get the truck un-stuck from the ditch they wound up in, I'm going to wax "religious" for a moment (though I don't prefer the term, but for lack of a better one am using it)
Some people have a lot of mistaken assumptions about Jewish belief. Or I might just call it scriptural belief usually associated with Judaism, since Jewish belief can really run the gamut depending on the Jew. So I'll be referring to MY personal belief, but anyway...
Here's one of the myths. "The Old Testament is about judgement, not mercy or grace"
Here's Robbyn's take from being a child of both "sides" of that view. There is a distinct difference between doing justice and taking vengeance. In any just society, there must be laws that uphold right and give consequences for doing wrong, or there is no right and wrong. Doing justice is talked about constantly in the Bible as the distinguishing characteristic of those who love God and want to live peaceably with their neighbors. Where this ever got confused with wreaking vengeance and was determined to be wrathful and unforgiving, I have my personal suspicisions based on history, but it has nothing to do with a lack of grace and mercy.
As much as I might feel I've like to find the perpetrators who stole our vehicle and trashed it, and take a baseball bat to their vehicles, and maybe even to them, there are laws in place that determine the right and wrong ways to prosecute these people if they ever come to light, and to deter them from victimizing others in the same way again. The law, which in this case is our government's law, is there to protect the victim and to insure that the consequence for the crime does not surpass the crime itself...that vengeance cannot be exacted. Were someone to stalk and physically injure thieves for something like this, our government's law states that that is way beyond an appropriate measure for the crime committed. You don't do the electric chair for a traffic violation, and so on.
There are those who would say that having a changed heart for God means you turn the other cheek and negate the need for law and its judgements. Well, it might be interesting to count the occurences of the terms "judgement" and "justice" in the Tanakh/OT and realize they were there to protect both the victims and the perpetrators from unfair measures. The oft-quoted and much-misunderstood phrase "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is a perfect example of this. In most quotes, it's maligned and used for a quick-reference quote to supposedly illustrate that if someone hurts you, you have the right to hurt him right back, eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth...take THAT! No, that's out of context, if anyone cares to read the surrounding verses where it occurs. The meaning of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is amid the instructions of not wreaking vengeance, but that no consequence should ever exceed the crime itself. We have no right to over-prosecute someone out of anger and revenge. Someone back into our fence and damages a section of it? They pay restitution for the replacement of that section of fence, but don't have to re-fence our entire property. Someone tailgates and rear-ends a car? They pay for the damages that result from that, but don't have to buy new cars for every passenger who was riding along that day.
The grace part comes in where? That there is a just system found within the Bible and it is neither thrust on those who don't want to be a part of it, nor is it denied to those who do. It's interesting that most christians don't realize that Jesus was a Jewish leader who promoted the keeping of the law and taught that it would never go away, never presented a message that went counter to it, or it would have disqualified him as messiah to his followers.
But I'll stop there :)
I'm angry about our truck, but grateful we have it back. If they do find the thieves, they should be prosecuted to keep them from doing this to anyone else. I'll forgive them and won't indulge in any baseball bat-to-their-personal-property scenarios. But yes, they need the consequences, the "just measures" determined by law, or they'll do it again and again, or worse.
This momentarily ends my diatribe. Back now to relaxing with my hubby and also our endearing canine furball.
Shabbat shalom...

Thursday, November 5, 2009



Tonight was not the night to leave a full set of keys, a wallet, and a lot of personal and work items locked in our only vehicle at work. At least for us, it wasn't the best of nights...but for some lowlife professional break-and-enter car thief, it was probably high cotton.

Our only vehicle is gone. Practically right in front of my eyes. Right at work.

Prayers are appreciated! We're making all the necessary calls to try to mitigate any compromises of identity, financial data/accounts, etc. What. A. Headache.

We would love the vehicle to be recovered in good and driveable condition. We're really happy no one was hurt (me!) and that we seem to have a pretty good basic insurance coverage (helps).

I need to send a big thank you to everyone who has offered health recommendations and encouragement in the last post, too...I've read them carefully and implemented many of them. I have an appointment with a specialist early next week, if I have a replacement driver's license and rental vehicle to drive by then.

Shall be back to post periodically, but wow, hmmm...what can I say? Just very grateful no one tried to take something more precious than some transportation...such as one of our lives.

Makes me hug my hubby tighter! And my sweet daughter, who was great about taxiing us home (wow, shoe on the other foot...memories of how many times we taxiid her ...thanks, Rachey!)

Hug the ones you love. Cars (or trucks) can be replaced....(we hope!!!)


Love you guys :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Coincidence

It's probably no coincidence that my blues are occurring at the same time as this cycle of physical stuff recurs. I'm not going to write more about the specifics. Yes, I'll be making some necessary changes, and I continue to try different remedies.

Long story short is that I don't much like my personality just now, and normal life ups and downs just seem more intense, though they probably aren't. I feel irritable even in regular conversations with those I love. That's not "me."

I don't get really low often, but my spirits are really not in a good place. I'll be back here when I have something positive to contribute. I can't seem to shake my irritability, and it's got me wanting to just take a bus and disappear from everyone, period, till I find my good humor again.

My "sky's still the same color"'s just my own perspective of it that needs a readjustment.

Hope to be back soon when I can find my smile :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So Done With My Doc

This is getting ridiculous. Way past time for a change.

She charts everything by computer, and every visit is more or less as if she has no idea what we've done prior or what's even wrong with me.

It's a small office and they downsized and no longer even have a nurse in the office. But I think they're milking this office visit thing for money.

They used to have good communication via phone when there was a regular nurse, but now I have to go for an office visit for everything...and begin all over again as if the doc didn't just see me three days ago (argh!) She actually asked me why I was there last time I came in and I said Because I'm SICK and you told me to come back in??? (maybe it comes out more polite than that) Their office has a phone line where you leave the doc messages for refills or other communications. At her instruction, I've called with updates she requested. She's answered none of my calls. At the last visit, she said she is not going to do anything via the phone, and is just going to have me come in each time since I get confused. I'm the one confused???

I really think at this point that in my case she has no idea what she's doing, and I can't believe I've waited this long to change docs. Dang dang dangit!

And now how to get a referral to someone better without paying my current one for another office visit...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Soup's On!

We're soup rich! I think the success of our recent batches has been making it all from scratch as much as possible, and making really delicious broths from the poultry and bones/carcasses.

This is a quickie update...let's see if I can keep each bullet point to six words or less (??!)

1. Doc ordered bedrest.
2. I don't do bedrest well.
3. Went to health food store.
4. Got eardrops, mullein/garlic, teatree/grapefruitseedextract.
5. Taking enough meds to sink Titanic!
6. Am beginning partial Budwig protocol.
7. I chose it. It can't hurt!
8. Eating homemade soups/bonebroths daily.
9. Losing weight a bit (no complaints!)
10. Jack bought me fresh bed linens :) :) :)
11. Breathing is a good thing.
12. Periodic sun soaking feels great.
13. Baked 2 turkeys for more......SOUP :)
13 1/2. Two HUGE stockpots of SOUP.
13 3/4. And 4 gallon freezer bags of meat!
14. I love my dog
15. I love my daughter
16. I adore my husband
17. Must kick this pneu/flu permanently!
18. Am tied to the kitchen, no complaints!
19. I believe health converges there.

Soups made in the kitchen in the past 5 days:

1. Homemade chicken soup. Broth from boiling whole chicken and straining the broth. Skimmed most of the fat off. Sea salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, onion, celery seed, ginger, turmeric, paprika, parsley. Carrot sections added last. Added chopped meat if desired to individual portions before serving. Made from the first boiling...the best of the broth.

2. Homemade vegetable chicken soup. Took carcass and darkmeat of above chicken and boiled second time, then simmered a couple hours with sea salt and onion, covered. Strain and add in the small pieces of meat, chopped fine. Add canned tomatoes, onion, celery, similar spices to above, simmer. Closer to serving time, peel and chop several potatoes into small chunks, few large chunks of carrot (whatever veg desired) and cook till soft, adjust seasoning. Toast a couple leftover biscuits till hot and golden and break into pieces in individual servings of soup, or serve with open faced toasted cheese toast.

3. Chicken corn chowder. Take leftover soup of #2, mash any large chunks till small, heat up, add a good quantity of creamed corn and turn heat down, add splash of milk or cream, serve.

4. Turkey soup is similar. Spices vary slightly. For calabaza/winter squash cuban soup...Veggies include mix of calabaza/winter squash cubes, sweet potato/boniato cubes, potato cubes, celery, onion, garlic, cassava/yucca chunks, green plantain chunks if available toward end of cooking. Use richest availabe turkey broth and add in small amount of chopped dark meat...adjust spices...sea salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, sofrito, turmeric, thyme, cilantro. Serve with hot basmati rice and whatever else you beans, a dense homemade bread chunk, some melted cheese toast. I like it by itself and Jack likes it with the rice served in a scoop to one side right inside his bowl of soup. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whine-Free Update

Just an update on some of the plants that have graduated from Bucketville to The Bermuda Rectangle (the lot next door where we've spread horse barn compost throughout the year, giving rise to a jungle of Bermuda grass and various other lawn-mower-defying growths....oh for livestock!)

Last year, this lot was flat and bare. Now we have a good collection of test plants going. Seen here are a pigeon pea and some moringas in the background.

We see these both as potentially valuable crops to us beginning now, but even moreso in the future. Rather than back up and reiterate the many uses of these under-utilized (in our country) plants, here are a couple of good links from one of our favorite resources, ECHO (an hour away, practically in our own backyard, yay!)

Pigeon Peas link

Moringa link and Another Great Moringa Resource list from another site

And not pictured in this post, but something we're trying to encourage the proliferation of is the Chaya plant (the link is a's worth a good read) Jack's trying to get some cuttings of our very small plant going in the Bucketville nursery.

If there's anything that can pick me up from the doldrums, it's seeing that some of these plants are hardier than our horticultural learning curve, and the joy of spending time reading many of the resources from lists like inspires me that we have so many underutilized plants that we really NEED to gain the wisdom (regain, more often) to use in our own backyards. And we DON'T have to have fancy equipment...there is so much we CAN do at the most basic level (reminder to self!) Here's such a list...

MJ had recently requested pics of the pigeon pea progress here, so here are a few. We didn't know when to plant them this year, so we may have planted them pods on them yet, but one of our intentions in growing them was as a fodder plant for livestock. (We're working out the growing part ahead of time... no livestock as yet) See how tall this one is? Kaleb's size lends perspective to how much growth we've seen in these in a relatively short time. I think Jack planted the pigeon pea seeds in July, starting them off in (what else? ha) 5 gallon buckets. Things learned?

1. They prefer being in the ground
2. They're vigorous enough to skip the bucket stage and just be sown directly at their permanent site.
3. They prefer a drier location that's not often waterlogged.
4. They really put on growth quickly.
5. Of all our plants, they are among the ones that take the most abuse...heat, drought, extremes of weather. Let's see how they do this winter...
6. They make good nurse plants to give partial shade to smaller seedlings. That's what the buckets beneath are in the pictures shown.

Shown below are the moringas, started at about the same time, or even later than the pigeon peas. The growth is amazing...I think these are in the 8 to 10 foot range high. We were supposed to cut them at the 3 to 4 foot height if we wanted a coppice sort of rotational leaf/limb harvest, but we have to get our act together and read up on it before we start hacking away. Thankfully, there are excellent resources ( see those lists above) to familiarize ourselves with. But to answer the question of whether they'll grow? Yes! They are not much good as a shade tree, but the leaves and the entire tree all have individual uses...the leaves are packed with so much nutrition, they're said to be the cure for malnutrition in most of the known warm-weather world, even where there are weather extremes of heat and drought. And I believe they are cheap and easy enough to grow that their harvests should benefit the entire world at large nutritionally, without science and marketing putting a hefty price tag on it.

Here's some idea of our little jungle we have going. There's something really encouraging about seeing this where before I couldn't get a shovel to penetrate the hardpan. Jack gets the lion's share of credit for the brawn and sweat involved moving a lot of that manure and digging all those holes! He told me once he never knew he could grow things, but I have to say the plants and he seem to have a symbiotic enthusiasm for each other. Most likely my biggest contribution is fueling the plant addiction...ha! (that's not really an exaggeration)

Below, a closeup of a pigeon pea bush/plant

Here is another superstar say they grow like weeds falls short of describing how, in plastic bins, these things grew so fast they now top seven and eight feet in fast we got preoccupied with other things and didn't get them into the ground fast enough! But the ones transplanted even at this late date are going gangbusters. These are the cranberry hibiscus, also known as false roselle. It looks along the lines of a japanese maple, and the leaves are simply delicious picked at the small tender stage and eaten fresh...they are a fresh lemon flavor, and the color is gorgeous. It's on my To Do list to expand my use of these in the kitchen...I have many ideas I just haven't tried yet. In the meantime, they just continue to grow. Our plan is to keep these much shorter so they'll take on a bush form instead of more vertical leggy growth. One thing we've learned is that the leaves have to be utilized immediately upon picking, or they wilt quickly. They can be prolonged by cutting a branch and keeping it in a vase of water...and make beautiful leaf bouquets that way.
I can't get enough of this color...

Here is a closeup of the moringa leaves, with morning dew. All parts of the moringa are edible. The leaves can be cooked, or dried and powdered. They are edible fresh, too, but have such a strong peppery flavor that way that a little goes a long way. Cooking them or drying them for additions to soups and so on de-intensifies the sharp flavor significantly, and it's not very noticeable...but oh, the nutrition! Super great, and responsible for keeping whole populations of third world babies from malnutrition, and mothers in milk. Don't get me started on breastfeeding as a topic :) My baby is 21 and I was fortunate enough to be able to nurse her for a great start in life. Ok...back to the post :)

One of the few branches of medicine I'm really enthusiastic about :)

Well, that's about it, but no post is complete without Kaleb photos. I'm sorry about my rant in the last post. Besides my hubby, Kaleb is a bright light every can anything be really terrible when you have 100% devotion and adoration from this soft and loyal companion?

Regal canine... and his squeaky toy.

He's not always asleep on the floor. I took these pics to illustrate that wherever I am, he accomodates me, but HAS to be next to me. I love those instincts. I have to be careful not to step on him sometimes...he's truly a Velcro dog.
See what I mean about having to be careful? This is the wheel of my computer I am sitting in it.

Love own personal bodyguard glued to whatever I'm near, if he can't be glued to my person. Love you, Kaleb!

And of course, the frog leg pose always makes me smile!

Thank you so much to you all for encouraging me after my last post. I really love you guys!
I know it's time to go now because Kaleb's run out of patience and trying to get my attention with a very insistent wet nose. I'm not alert enough to read his mind just now, and just got a blank stare from him when I asked him if little Timmy is trapped in a mine shaft. Plus we're in the wrong state for mine shafts. But outside we go for some air and sun :)