Monday, October 24, 2011

More Dehydrator Juice Pulp Uses

Oatmeal made with addition of apple pulp from juicer

The juicing continues!  The resulting juicer pulp also continues!

The  nice thing about juicing is that it fits into any diet, ramping up the veggie and fruit content considerably.  We're all for eating those good things fiber and all (fiber's good!).  It's just that we're concentrating our nutrition for some specific targets nutritionally for the time being, and the concentration of fresh juice is really benefitting our bodies (they can really feel the difference).

I did a practice round with the pulp (as written about in my last post) by mixing it with oatmeal and seeds/nuts and dehydrating.  They turned out pretty well, but for it to be perfected I'm going to have to play around with it some more. 

In the meantime, we separate the apple pulp (as it comes out of the juicer) and save it since we remove the seeds before juicing.  The pulp itself is sweet and pretty moist, so it certainly merits some dehydrator experimentation, something maybe with cinnamon? 

But anyway, the pulp has never made it yet as far as the's the perfect pairing with hot cooked oatmeal.  When cooked up with some oatmeal, it actually lightens the oatmeal ( I was surprised), giving it a texture less gummy (quite pleasant, really!).   It's wonderful with some walnuts and maple syrup, or raisins and honey, or cinnamon, etc.  It's a great homemade "apple cinnamon oatmeal" and cooks up in no time if your oatmeal is the faster cook kind (but if not, is great in the slow cook kind, of course).

Next up for experiments will be some of that lovely soft fruit/veggie pulp mixed in with seeds and nuts and oats and raisins to make homemade granola!  I'm not sure what additional pulp we'll use besides the apple, maybe a little carrot?

So....what to do if you are inundated with extra pulp and you don't have time to do any particular experiments those days??

I'm mulching a tree seedling that's suffered a bit.  Lots of lovely veggie pulp right around the root line.  And the wonderful surprise that greets me these days as I go to empty the overflow there again?

Butterflies!!  The viceroy butterflies seem to love carrot pulp!  There are usually a half dozen or more at a time, perched on the fluffy orange compost, finding some way to feast on their own version of a carrot juice pick-me-up...ha :)  I'll try to capture that on camera if I can pretty!  And the tree seems to be holding is own...I know the microbes and little crawlies must be enjoying a new lease on life as the fertility ramps up.  (It's the lazy woman's composts, indeed).

If you have any suggestions for uses for the good juicer pulp, let me know!  I'll post the results of the granola experiment, if any of the apple pulp makes it that long without being snacked on beforehand.  Chilled in the fridge, it's almost like apple sauce.

Hope your fall is refreshing and full of color!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Juicer Pulp Dehydrator Crackers

(Pics enlarge if you click)

I don't know how many times I've been in my local supermarket produce section and have passed through the small organic section after curiously eyeballing the only bulk item they carry there...carrots.  I'm not much of a carrot eater per se, at least raw carrot sticks.  Sure, we use them in stews, but never to the point where I need 25 lbs of them in my refrigerator at a time.  But, wow, they seemed like a good deal...priced at $14.99, that comes to about what, 60 cents a pound?

So now I guess it's time for true confessions.  We were given a Champion juicer a while back, and had not used it yet, despite the best of intentions.  Why??? (head banging time, ha)  I don't know!  But I succumbed to a sudden urge to ramp up our nutrition as I stood there in the produce section, and knowing that that many carrots would be a pretty good buy for some serious juicing.  I've juiced before, and I'm used to the taste, especially with a carrot and apple base.

We had never used a Champion juicer, and Jack manned it after we watched a couple of  youtube videos to get all tutorialed up.  It was really easy to use and clean and it did make a lot more juice than some cheaper juicers we've used in years (wayyy) past.  So we juiced up some carrots and a couple of apples, and it was oh, so good!  The juice was drunk right on the spot by us both.

But what to do with that good clean carrot pulp?  Kaleb got a snack of some, some went into the evening soup pot, but the bulk of it was the stuff of experiment.  Having made some dehydrated raw foods in the dehydrator in the past couple years (but never crackers), I wondered if I could approximate some of those dehydrated crackers I've had in the past from the health food store.  I needed to use whatever ingredients we had on hand, bits of this and that.  We're trying to stay away from most flours, but we do eat oatmeal and seeds and nuts.  I also don't have one of those convenient tray liners to make thin spreads on, so I have to make the mixture thick enough to not fall through the dehydrator spaces on each rack.

I put about 2 parts carrot pulp (a tiny bit was apple) to about 1 part uncooked quick raw oatmeal and added sesame seeds, raw hulled pumpkin seeds, some flax seeds, a few pinches of sea salt and some pepper, a little olive oil, and a few spices, namely powdered garlic.  Then I mixed in 1/2 of a onion, minced fine.  It was still too crumbly at that stage, so I added water enough to really wet the whole thing, and let it set for about five minutes so the oatmeal could get sticky enough to hold everything together a little better.  I tried to patty out portions as thinly as I could between my hands and then transfer them each carefully to the stacking dehydrator trays. 

I had no idea how they would turn out, but hey, it would be a shame to waste that really good organic carrot pulp!  I let the deydrator go and didn't really pay attention to how much time it took, but I think it was in the neighborhood of about 4 or 5 hours (???)...till they were very dry.  I didn't want them still moist in the middle because I'd like them to last without molding for a while, or at least until they're eaten  :)

They didn't turn out badly!  Not a 10 but definitely way above the category of a dog biscuit (ha!)   Not bad for a first attempt.  They're crunchy and very full of fiber and have a sweetness from the carrot that pairs nicely with the oatmeal binder, and the seeds and onion and garlic are nice.  This will go well with soups or with some farmer's cheese topped with herbs.

We're already glad we got supplied with enough carrots to begin juicing again's been way too long!  We watched some clips and full length videos about the Gershon Protocol and have tweaked our eating once again.  It seems we're always having to hone our focus in the area of our eating, and get on track with better choices.  With the carrots going into juice, soup, and now dehydrated crackers all at one shot, it really makes me feel like we got a very healthy bang for our buck.

How do you use the pulp from your juicers?  Have any great dehydrator recipe along those lines, or other ways to use it?

I can't believe this is the first time we're doing this.  Jack's already requested a sweet version with raisins and maple syrup or cinnamon.  If you have any experience or ideas, help, I can use it!

I hope you all are well and are having wonderful cooler weather with some relief from those high temps.  The days here in Florida are simply beautiful just now, and the nights a bit cooler.  Ah, I miss my Tennessee autumns!  But no complaints from down here in paradise right now...

:)   Robbyn

Sunday, October 9, 2011

5772: Thoughts for a New Year

These are calabazas from a prior year....our version of the fall pumpkins!  We're headed into the fall and today is the day after Yom Kippur.

The slate is clean and white, a new year ahead!  What am I determined to remember heading into the upcoming months?

1.  The dream is not dead.   Dreams change, alter, of necessity.  When I began this blog some years back in 2007 (or was it 2006?? ack, my memory!) Jack and I were making preparations to relocate eventually to acreage where we could be more self-sufficient.  In the ensuing years, I experienced discouragement as that dream would seem to be on the precipice, yet fall through time and time again.  It was not for a lack of effort and creativity, and patience, on our part.  I said I was discouraged, and I'm sure Jack was, at times, but he has the gift of a resilient outlook on life and an irrepressible optimism.  I'm so glad, otherwise I'd be tempted to let my sometimes dour outlook on adversity have freer reign.  So, instead, God has taught me to cherish what I do have, especially the partner He's given me.  Jack is THE best.  No dream for me would be happy without his being the main ingredient within it.  I also am so grateful for being right where we are, even as I hope to one day relocate.  Jack is behind this desire...he wants to see us settled to his satisfaction where we have fewer monetary obligations, namely mortgage.  Until then, here we are.  This place is simply beautiful and has sustained us so well.  If we remain here, it's because God has decided it's where we need to be for the longterm.  We planted out all those buckets of plants right here...put down roots, literally.  We remain poised for change but dig our weeds right here, right now :)

Dreams delayed can sometimes make one heartsick, but dreams can be tools to change us.  I'm different now, much the same at heart, but having made concessions for real life, and learning to bend to fit dreams to reality.  I also allow for the open door, not just the closed ones.  As God directs our path, we continue to knock on doors.  If the door ever opens to "that dream," the one where we're on some land where we can build something very small and have no mortgage, I believe the delay has been a learning experience.  And a lesson not to allow hope in something future to lessen the living in the Now.

2.  Remembering to be present in my own life. Life is so short.  The other day, I was putting together some pictures for my daughter from photos collected over the last few decades.  I realized something as I went through the albums and boxes of old pictures...I had left myself out of almost all the shots, and had not included any of the few pictures of myself, with only a few exceptions.  It was weird.  It was as if everyone else had lived through those birthdays and holidays, special events and candid shots, but either I was the one behind the camera lens, or had excluded my picture intentionally.  It was as if I were absent from my own history.  I'll probably always be camera-shy, but this was somewhat ridiculous!  So I went on a hunt for a few pictures to include, and I did finally find a few.  So into the albums they went.  Some passing vanity of not wanting my photo to be viewed unless I were at an ideal weight, a cuter outfit, a more flattering shot instead of that one laughing with my mouth completely silly I had been to be so superficial.  Those who know me today would seldom realize that as a child I went through a period when I was so painfully shy I would cry if I were forced to say hello to someone I had never met before.  At my core, I still have a shyness that wars within, but I've learned appropriate ways to push past it, most times.  But I think it's that latent "pull-back" tendency that kept my image from being among the photos of family and friends.  I resolve to be present TODAY, warts and all, and without apology to myself.  If I'm caught in a photo laughing with food in my mouth or on a bad hair day, or at a size I wish were smaller, fair warning...too bad, it's me!  I refuse to be invisible in my own history any more.

From a wonderful book I'm reading called Making Loss Matter, by David Wolpe, he quotes Thomas Merton:  It is a foolish life which is lived in the minds of other human beings.  Freeing myself from the constraints of what I believe to be the opinions or conviction of other people is allowing me to do something that would otherwise not happen --- mature.  I need to have enough confidence in the lessons I've learned about what's important to me and how to walk out this life that I am not edged out, by my own omission, into a life where I don't appear in any of my own life's scenes.  I need to trust the wisdom God has gone to the trouble of teaching me.  I'm quick to listen to others, and learn, and defer.  I need to quit pretending that I, myself, have less to offer and I need to actually use my talents and knowledge, or I'm living a shadow life that mimics others, rather than being present and vital in my own.  I need to make my time here count in a meaningful, sometimes bolder way, and not as the child who is plagued with fear of failure or embarrassment and retreats to the safety of shyness...or invisibility.

3.  I'm resolved to delight in my Judaism. I rarely write about this here, but today is the exception.  This figures largely into my life, so on the list it goes!  Did you know when you're a Jewish convert or are at any specific point in the process of conversion, it's going to be very controversial?  It's not for the faint of heart :)  I'll leave it at that, but I'm not talking about friends in christianity who don't understand my choice that way, but rather some Jewish sects who have very concrete ideas of what that means and how it should happen.  And, of course, I'm not the perfect fit for some of these groups.  :)

I'm an odd fit theologically and spiritually--there is no cookie cutter formula for me other than my credo "to the Torah."  The quest of going "scripture only" flies in the face of some element of ALL religious groups at some point.  That my conclusions don't agree with most of the people who made up my life for my first three decades and more has meant loss and being misunderstood, but my focus remains simple  "Seek God."   Most of my friends are christian, as I was for most of my life until several years ago, and my love and appreciation for them has not diminished.  For some, my conversion was a deal-breaker, for others, they chose to "trust me to God." (that's how one lifetime friend puts it :))  The funny thing is that as a convert to Judaism, there are certain religious Jews who do not welcome me (yet!) because my conversion did not match their established traditions for such. That's not to broadly generalize, nor to denigrate any group, but it is a reality I was blissfully unaware of.  Nevertheless, I'm at the point where I've got to be ok with that, after all, I'm happiest on this path. 

I am happy to be the oddball (with some caveats, ha)!  But it can be rather like being the one schoolkid not picked to be on the kickball team at recess :) Where some people are born into a culture of belief and never ask questions beyond the "approved ones," I will always reserve the right to ask and seek and want to know the scriptures.  Question everything.  Truth can always bear up under the asking of questions.

Judaism, by my definition of following the Torah as the covenant between God and Israel, is broad enough to include me and endlessly rich in equipping folks for its primary goal...tikkun olam...the bettering of this world, or literally in the hebrew "the repair of the world."  It expects participation, not resignation, and includes a motly crew that very much now includes me.  It's messy work, but it means one person CAN and DOES make a difference, here, and now.  So this year, I'm going to FLY.  I'm going to continue to learn, study, and pray.  I'm going to look for ways to make the ordinary meaningful, and do what I can to make this a better place, to fix little wrongs and add enthusiasm and some elbow grease to existing efforts already doing this.

I'm not anything "typical" as far as being Jewish, but the one unifying element among "practicing Jews" (meaning ones who have Jewish belief, not just ethnicity) of any "variety" is the Torah...a love of living its precepts,  love for fellowman, love for God.  I may have to piece together my own place along this path, and that applies to finding a congregation.  There's not an orthodox one to be found within driving distance, plus the orthodox don't drive on shabbat.  Our work schedules thankfully allow for Saturdays off at this point (Yayyyy!!!) but we're so tired on that day, we usually rest here at home instead of finding a service somewhere.  We participate in services via the internet, but that, understandably, has its limitations.  We study regularly, but not with others, and my attempts to gain an internet study partner through some better known sites has so far resulted in my being told that my conversion was not orthodox enough to make me eligible to study with the orthodox . Which is beyond ironic because I'm what most Jews would think of as quite "observant."  This only means I'm now fully in my usual comfort zone of being...a square peg in a round hole!!!! HA!   It's be original :)  Which leads me to my next point...

4.  My definition of success and of myself is not going to look like anyone else's. Sometimes the fact that I find myself not squarely in ANY camp is a bit unsettling.  But we have to strive for authenticity, being true to the unique qualities God created in us individually, and the values which anchor us.  "Success" will be defined personally much differently for me than how our surrounding culture defines it. 

I love love love the Steve Jobs quote (may he rest in peace).   See if this has meaning for you, too.  I know of NO authentic person to whom this quote would not apply:
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.~ Steve Jobs
Thank you to Steve Jobs.  This is a very powerful quote, and I won't forget it soon.

5.  Be more deliberate.  This will mean having my goals before me, becoming more disciplined, getting healthier, organizing certain areas of my life better, using what I have at hand to utilize my talents, and not starting too many new projects until I see through the worthwhile ones at hand.  It will also mean being kind, and investing more effort into relationships and keeping them nurtured.  It also will help me focus attention on being true to my core values in ways that support integrity even in small details.  Specifically, I'm going to be aware of things that I do and how I do them, such as how I use my time.  What do I fill my moments with, my mind with?  What company do I keep, and what have I been rationalizing under the guise of entertainment, relaxation?  I've found that as much as I enjoy watching movies, I've slowly over the years compromised some of my core values in what I allow myself as far as "enjoyment" and entertainment.  There often is so much yuck along with the fun stuff, I've lost my barometer many times by justifying junk as entertainment.  Being a really easygoing person in this area (I don't like santimoniousness in myself or others), I've gotten TOO relaxed.  So this year I will exercise more deliberateness (is that a word?) in being honest with my choices and honing my focus a bit more in areas I'm slack or unproductive.  This also goes for Bible study, career, household, relationships, and so on.  Here's to a gentle and consistent raising of the bar to gain the best rather than settle for counterfeits :)

6.  Joy!!  This is a choice and an attitude.  I've had many times of grief and loss in my life.  I've also had great blessing.  No matter what befalls, there is something to be grateful for.  To not cultivate joy and choose to see the extraordinary in the everyday is to miss the gift we're given every morning when we wake up and have been given one more day to live.  I'm no stranger to adversity, but without it, I'd still be a child and not an adult.  Our focus AS we go through things is our choice.  I'm determined this year to celebrate JOY any time I can grab it!  Life is to be tasted, handled, marveled at, experienced.  It's way too short to settle for mediocrity, and too precious to not appreciate its worth.  I resolve to grab joy at any turn possible.

7.  Cultivate community.  I need to continue to do this, even though a large part of my makeup is to be a hermit.  I need others and have much to offer.  I'm the person who is uncomfortable in a crowd unless it's a crowd of people I already know well, and even then I prefer to interact with one or two people at a time.  But it's time to push past this big rock of reluctance and discomfort I have, so I can become more connected.  Whenever I've done that in the past, I've seldom regretted it.

And there we have it!   This past month has been one of reflection and contemplation, and as is the case this time of the year for me, I was waiting to see which things rose like cream to the surface, as far as how to proceed from here.

I'm so grateful for all the blessings we've been given, and so aware of how fine a thread holds things up.  Jack and I are so very aware of how God's protection and mercy have been the only reason we're still here, with a house over our heads and money to pay the bills so far.  Our dreams and hopes are in His hands.  Our hearts our full of gratitude!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have to share, even if this is not yet your own new year.  I so appreciate the many comments and emails I receive and I thank you for sharing your life with us.  Every comment, email, is cherished!

May your year ahead be full of good!!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stinging Chaya: Butterfly Buffet

 (all photos can be clicked on to enlarge)
Here's a closeup of a Gulf fritillary, one of dozens surrounding these half-feral stinging chaya bushes with fluttering clouds of color. We initially planted the stinging chayas for their prolific growth of nutritious edible (cooked, never raw!) leaves.  We discovered their modest white flowerets lure certain butterflies...constantly!

Don't be fooled by the freeze frame here...I'm proof that an avid nature watcher armed with camera can still take a LOT of pictures of butterflies and still come out with only two that aren't total blurs.  These little nectar hunters do not sit still for a good pose!  Here's the same shot from farther away, showing the floral landing pads that stick up from the bushes, singing their siren song for winged passersby.

If you live in a hot climate, do consider the stinging chaya plant.  It needs to be sited somewhere casual contact won't be common, as the leaves cause contact dermatitis (nearly instantly) to bare skin.  The leaves are harvested with cloth or other gloves for that reason.  Once rinsed and cooked in boiling water, it is rendered edible.  And full of amazing nutrition, which is why we even bothered, but we're so glad we did!  Jack simply clips an entire "branch" from a more mature plant, sticks it in some ground where he's dug a hole and worked the earth a little, adding some compost if he has it, and watered it in for a few days.  Even in the hottest part of the summer, they soldier on and grow pretty fast, going from branch to waist high bush in a couple months.

The bushes have a nice rounded form that do not need trimming to keep a shape, but may be trimmed to keep the growth down.  Harvesting the leaves doesn't hurt the plant, and I think it actually encourages more growth.  Ours die back each winter all the way to the ground, but they come back in the spring from the roots.  The original one we have that is three years old has now surpassed 10 feet tall...that thing is huge!!

I'm 5' 5" tall and these are chaya plants Jack planted from single "branches" about 8 weeks ago in an area that is not particularly fertile...they come up to my shoulder height or more.  It is hard to get a good pic of them.  They're in an area where we've tried several different types of plants to see which are best for a fast growing hedge.  Minus the fact that they wimp out in the wintertime, for the warm season, these work well.  Hard to pass up something you can EAT that grows faster than the national debt!  :)

Sorry for the overexposed pics today...the sun's shining so beautifully and the world's all lit up!  Here's a midday shot of another area in which we planted the more "domesticated" non-stinging chaya plants we got from ECHO.  To date, we have yet to see any flowers on any of them.  They do propagate just as easily as the stinging, more feral, variety...from cuttings.  But as far as butterfly attractors, nope!  These two shown here were planted in April and then immediately feasted on by our wandering mutant Bambi zombies intent on wiping out entire species of edible plants DEER, right to the ground. I put tomato cages around their sad little remains and they did stage a comeback (the plants, not the deer), albeit a bit shyly at first. They're certainly keepers, but won't be on our Butterfly plant list.

There are some other things luring our pollinators these days.  The blue butterfly bush (clerodendrum, not shown) has consistently been repeating flushes of flowers and growth spurts throughout the hot months.  Some of the butterflies and bees love their blooms.  This (above) is a pic of a branch of the jujube tree I can see from my window.  Its flowers are, like the stinging chaya, modest rather than showy.  But they add to the pollinator buffet, though butterflies are less frequent visitors to them than the other insects.

And here is a gratuitous shot of....our first real papaya fruit, EVER!!!!   Jack has planted papayas from seed for several years now, only to get really healthy plants that never put on any fruit, and then die back in the rare freeze or two we have each winter.  We never used purchased seeds...our bad, perhaps.  We took our chances sowing seed from storebought papayas, which may have been one of the factors in the fruit eluding us all this time.  They are SUPPOSED to be easy to grow here.  Well, two of them came up after the freeze this spring from the wimpy-looking remains of the half-frozen plants.  We expected them to die.  Jack watered them a few times, but we are ruthless in our "let nature reign" philosophy of plant survival.  We do nurse tender seedlings through the transplant and rooting stages, but we don't pamper plants as a rule.  But on the south side of our house, these two plants did come back and grow, slowly.  We paired them with a bird feeder so we can watch the cardinals and doves from the office window (better than TV!)    Then we began to notice, what?? could it be??? fruits developing.  We kind of held our breaths and adjusted our expectation, waiting to see if they would be A. eaten by something deerlike  B.  die   C.  be attacked by a voracious insect  D.  rot  E.  be struck by lightning  F. be the brunt of some squirrel's nosedive, armadillo's snacking, raccoon's curiosity, or be knocked off by an overly-enthusiastic senior Australian shepherd's  glucosamine-inspired sprints around the yard.

They are fascinating to observe...and this is a bad picture, but the leaves are large and umbrella-like and the flowers branch out from the main "trunk" (which is really more of hollowish thick stem).  The flowers that are fertile change by swelling and closing at the end, and as the fruit grows, the last of the old petals are attached to the fruits end, and turn brown and fall off.  These are arranged in a spiral upward, which is so cool!  If no catastrophe happens in the interim (deer, demented three wheeler, four horsemen of the apocalypse) it ends up being a big stalk supporting individual ripening fruits (that seem too heavy for it to support, but it does) and spiraling from the trunk bottom all the way up to the top of the plant...SO COOL!! (yes, those of you who grow legions of papayas effortlessly will laugh at our amazement, but this has so so so not happened for us until now, and we're jazzed!)

This may be (knock knock knock, throwing salt over shoulder) our first HARVEST of ANY kind of fruit tree of ours, aside from a handful of raspberries one year and a random lemon and lime or two from the citrus before they died in the freezes. 

And this pic??   This pic is of my very happy moments as a pollinator voyeur, daydreaming with camera in hand,  strolling through the overgrown mini-jungle on a PERFECT day stalking butterflies.  It's delightfully toasty outside,  but with a breeze and much lower humidity, cooler nights, everything refreshed!  This is what most of my photo shots turned out like...lots of pics of the backside of the Attention Deficit butterflies.   Too beautiful a day to say a single bad thing, though...color me happy!!!

I apologize for my slow response to the comments of the past few weeks!  I did just now publish them after finding them here at blogspot but NOT in my regular email inbox (???).  Guess I'll have to be more conscious to do a thorough check instead of relying on my email provider.  Or something.  But THANK YOU for your comments, I love them always!

I'm a  little embarrassed that I know so little about the butterflies I see so often, including not knowing their names.  I'm still trying to ID them.  There are four types that frequent the chaya plants...the Gulf fritillary is the main one, but there is a pale cream version (similar to a fritillary, but I dont know what it's called yet), a sulphur colored bright yellow sort, a smaller white one, and a sharply pointed spotted brown one.  Yeah, those descriptions SO  help, right?? ha   I'll keep looking in the butterfly guides online to help identify them.

It's so interesting that different plants attract specific ones.  Makes sense.  But how very disconnected I've been from even these basic realizations, till I stop and really notice.

Do you have any favorite butterflies and reliable butterfly plants you love to watch every year?     I'd love to see your pics...if you can catch one in your lens long enough to click~!

Happy beginning of October!!