Thursday, November 28, 2019

Ode to Butter, Happy Thanksgiving

I was thinking of you.

Here’s our bounty, two eggs collected this morning from hens that visited our place and decided to stay. The plant sprigs are from our yard, Nandina domestica, one of the few botanical names I remember from Botany class.

That’s the extent of home-grown around here. I joined the rank and file who harvested at Costco.

You probably won’t have time to read this on Thanksgiving Day. Right now, our turkey’s in the oven, and I’m taking a break. I wanted to tell you I’m thankful for you.
And I have decided on my next year’s Thanksgiving celebration: An Oregon excursion to photograph wild turkeys. 

Forget the turkey in the oven.

Who do you suppose brought the first turkey to the first Thanksgiving meal? 
Wild turkeys live in our area. We saw them in Hawaii too, and, when we lived in Marcola, a little town outside Eugene, Oregon, we had one old guy who was turning silver.
On occasion in Marcola, we would see a small gaggle of turkeys, along with the neighborhood peacock traveling together, with him adding elegance to the tribe.

That in was a forested area, and it was fun seeing a mamma hen and her chicks scrambling up and embankment, and slipping under a fence while the Momma did a flyover. 

Turkeys and peacocks and I go way back, and we have another neighborhood peacock here in Junction City—but I haven't seen him for a few weeks. I trust he’ll be back probably after he grows out new feathers. The last time I saw him, he was tailless. 
In Temecula, California,  I fed turkeys for our landlord for a few months before we moved away, and they would send up a choirs of gobbles when they heard my voice. A few got themselves in trouble, though, greeting a coyote by sticking their heads through the fence.

I was surprised to learn that the founding fathers considered the turkey for our national bird, but decided the Bald Eagle was more stately, smarter probably too.

Yesterday we pulled the dining table into the living room, and we will be eating in front of the fireplace. Yesterday the cold weather called for the fireplace, today it’s sunny tee-shirt temperature.

My flag-ship Thanksgiving was in Marcola, I got up at 4 a.m. to prepare the turkey, and I thought of all the women who are filling their tables with turkeys, cranberries and such. I felt like a pioneer.

That day, after the turkey was in the oven, my husband and I drove to the airport to pick up our daughter, who lived in California, and on the way, I saw the lights coming on in the houses, more women in the kitchen, more turkeys and gravy.

I hope your day is or was splendid.

Now, with left-overs, let’s have another Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat.

Well, Howdy.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Spaghettii and more

It’s a Beautiful Day In Our Neighborhood.

One reason Tom Hanks wanted to play Mr. Rogers in the movie A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood, was to counteract the daily cynicism we’re all exposed to and to interject the reminder that it’s okay to feel good. 

(It took Hanks 22 takes to get the entrance to the Mr. Rogers show to everyone’s satisfaction-- the singing, the jacket off, the sweater on, the changing of the shoes.)

What if we have a beautiful day in our neighborhood?

On one beautiful day, I noticed how much fun it was to watch someone else cook, yet I didn’t want to do it myself.

Do you find yourself riveted to cooking shows?

Maybe it’s just me.

And then yesterday I found myself interested in what clothing Jill and her husband wear in Wyoming’s cold winters.

Jill has a lot to say on her fabulous blog,, and when someone asked what they wore in those freezing Wyoming winters, she answered—complete with pictures. 

I laughed at myself for my interest in heavy jackets, silk neck scarfs, and muck boots.  Been there, done that, but then, I’ve cooked too—and I’m still interested in how others do it.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

A couple of days ago I mixed up a quart of Master Cleanse Drink “To cleanse and provide all six tastes--reduces cravings,” so say the instructions I got from my Naturopath. 

The suggestion is to drink 1-2 quarts a day. I haven’t gotten through an entire quart yet, for I keep giving glasses of it away. (My grandson loves ginger, as do I.)

The drink is fabulous, tastes rather like Ginger Beer. (That is nonalcoholic.)

Here’s the recipe:

Mix a quart at a time.
Drink 1-2 quarts a day.

  • ·       4-8 tsp honey or to taste. (No wonder it was good, I measured 4 TABLESPOONS instead of tsp.
  • ·       ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper—reduce if too strong. (I could hardly taste it.
  • ·       ½ tsp fresh grated ginger
  • ·       ½ tsp salt
  • ·       8 TBLS fresh lemon or lime juice. (That turned out to be the juice of one lemon)
  • ·       4 oz. Apple juice
  • ·       28 oz. Filtered water. (This fills a 32 oz blender. I stirred it instead, and used bottled spring water.)

Beware this causes extreme spaghetti cravings.

By the end of the day, I wanted spaghetti so much that I called my husband and asked if he would bring home a box of pasta. 

See, I do cook.  

Everyone has a spaghetti sauce recipe, so carry on with what you like. Depending on who makes it, spaghetti tastes different. My mother put a bit of sugar in hers, for it cuts the sharp tomato flavor. I inherited the idea of adding a little grated carrot to the mix from a dear friend of the family.

Making spaghetti feels creative, throw in a little of this, a little of that, with no measuring. Besides, it’s one of my favorite foods. 

Don’t tell me pasta is bad for me.

Long ago, it seemed that the Italian way was to simmer the tomato sauce half a day, reducing it to a thick paste. Then I found that wasn’t necessary. I like a lighter sauce with a mild tomato flavor, so I make it with only diced tomatoes. 

Here’s my Spaghetti recipe: 

Begin, of course, with garlic and onion sautéed in olive oil. Throw in diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley, and a small amount of grated carrot and zuchinni. Cook until tender, and the flavors are blended. Ladle the sauce over cooked spaghetti, and top it off with plenty of freshly grated parmesean cheese. Oh yes, and add a little butter to your spaghetti. 

(This recipe can be made with meat, of course. My husband skips the tomato sauce and goes with buttered spaghetti, some hamburger, and lots of parmesean cheese.)

I ate leftovers three times the next day.

I think that satisfied my cravings.

Today I mixed up more of the cleansing drink. 

I wonder what’s coming next…

While I am on the subject of food, I ran into information that shocked me.

I have been a whole grain nut for years. 

I grew up on white bread, but after I left my folk's house and chose for myself, I went the whole grain route. I raised my kids on dark bread, thinking that white stuff was an abomination—except for french bread and sour dough, of course.  Various artisan breads entered into the fray, but, for sandwiches, I went the whole wheat route.

Now we hear how wheat is bad for us, especially gluten.

And it puts weight on us. 

And it is constipating.

Then I ran into this:

There are cells called lectins in whole wheat husts that can cut into the gut, or loosen the tight junctions, and leave us with leaking gut syndrome, which means that some large molecules leak out into the bloodstream. 

Once in the bloodstream, these large molecules can affect the joints, skin, heart brain, and the brain goes on high alert, toxins rampage.

The peoples of Asia eat white rice. (That means no husks, no lectins.)

I found that in India, the people ate white bread and white rice. I believed that a country in need of nutrition had it backward.

It looks like I did.

Scientists have found that in the #Blue Zones, the areas where people live the healthiest and the longest, it is not the diets, specifically, for some eat meat, some do not. Some eat bread, some do not, some drink wine, and so on. The bottom line is they have good gut health.

#Lectins are naturally occurring proteins found in most plants. Their purpose is to protect it’s owner, the plant. They are a defense for the plant against insects, and certain herbivores, and have no nutritional value 

Certain lectins can cause digestive distress. Phytohaemagglutinin, found in raw kidney beans, is poisonous. As is ricin, the lectin found in caster beans. (My dog snarfed down a caster bean once—they grew wild in California—I  called the vet, they said to give her a salt ball. Moisten in a palm full of salt, making a ball and pretend you are giving the dog a pill, in other words, push it down her throat. 

She threw up on the way to the Vet and lived many years after.

The good news is Cooking degrades most of the lectins in foods. So soak your beans and boil them.

Lectins are resistant to Dry Heat.
So baked goods don’t apply.

Some foods that contain higher amounts of lectins include beans, peanuts, lentils, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, fruits, wheat, and other grains.

Well, there are my tomatoes on the list; however, I further annihilated the lectins by boiling the tomatoes, and I used white floor pasta, also boiled, so, I’m thinking--that spaghetti was good for me.

Fascinating food facts:

 Raw kidney beans contain from 20,000 to 70,000 lectin units, while fully cooked beans usually contain between 200 and 400 units.
Other ways to reduce your lectin intake is:

  • ·       Fermentation
  • ·       Sprouting
  • ·       Soaking
  • ·       Cooking.

Certain seaweeds and mucilaginous vegetables bind lectins in a way that makes them unavailable to the cells of the gut.

The Benefits of mucilaginous fiber:

  • Prebiotic effect Corrects bowel movements
  •        Suppress blood sugar responses
  •      Beneficial effect on cholesterol
  •        Heal gut lining
  •        Removes toxins     Boosts immune system’helps adrenal fatigue

Foods rich in Mucilaginous fiber: 

  •     Cassava plantain
  •       Fenugreek
  •      Okra
  •       Figs
  •      Marshmallow root
  •      Fermented soy bean
  •       Kelp
  •     Algae

Thursday, November 14, 2019


The Sahara desert is bigger than China and the US combined. 

That massave desert covers about one third of Africa. Seven million years ago, it was an ancient sea,

Holy Cow.

The Sahara is predicted to green up eventually, as it oscillates between being a dry inhospitable desert to a lush green oasis-- every 20,000 years.

I guess we’ll have to come back to earth to catch that act. 
 (A slight tilt in the earth’s axis drives these oscillations and it also drives the monsoons.) 

Why am I talking about the Sahara? 

Well, writing made me to it. I commented—with my tendency to exaggerate--that getting mail across Africa takes about as long as walking across the Sahara.

I didn’t know how big the Sahara was.

But I found it would be a long walk.

That led me to those ships that travel across the sands—camels. You know how investigating one thing leads to another, and so on.  At one time, so say the records, caravans of 12,000 camels traveled across the Sahara.

Now that would be a sight to see.

An impressive desert, that was once an impressive ocean, to impressive camels that can drink 40 gallons of water at a time and then go so long (3 months) without water that their pee turns to syrup. 

And if you want to know where camels came from, go to this fabulously informative and funny YouTube: “You have No Idea Where Camels Came From,” by Latif Nasser.

I wanted this post to be a little closer to home and about seasons, you know Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, but I got carried away with LONG oscillations in the earth’s cycles.

 Beautiful watercolor from magnolia magazine. Kudos to the artist, not named.

Maxi cycles or Mini cycles. I’ve been grieving the end of summer, being a warm-blooded mammal who likes basking in the sun and looking at silky green leaves.

I’m trying to embrace the falling leaves and naked branches. Many people say they like Fall, but for me, it means winter is fast upon us. 

It’s not that I don’t like luxuriating by a warm fire, and cuddling up with a hot drink, or snuggling with my honey, but it’s dreary outside.

My Naturopath commented that our bodies have seasons, too, and you might notice how we like warm heavier foods in the winter and cool lighter fruits and veggies in the summer. 

I hadn’t thought of the biology of it, other than cases of flu come in winter, and we hope to slip by unscathed. I thought of it psychologically that dreary moods come with dreary weather, and that (Yeah!) spring comes at the end of it. 

I get so excited to see the flowers come on, and the deciduous trees push those buds from what would appear to be dead sticks. With fall, I realize how much energy and nutrition those plants have put into their summer clothes. And so I remind the trees that they will get new leaves come spring, and to have a nice winter sleep.

The first year we moved from California to Oregon—many years ago—I had such fun with the leaves, raking them, stacking them, jumping on them—but I don’t think we had as many at that house as we do now. The following year, I said, “Are you guys back again?”

Now I find, through the magic of the internet, that our brain activity changes with the seasons.

 “The National Academy of Sciences reports that the brain utilizes its resources differently to perform the same cognitive tasks depending on what season it is.”
Scientists have found that the brain is more active in the summer on tasks that require attention. 
On memory tasks, brain activity peaks in autumn and hits a low in the spring. 
In winter, the brain is less efficient, and it will be more difficult to do tasks.
Tis the season for chickens to molt that is losing a good many feathers, not all, but enough to make them look like a panther has attacked them. Their egg laying will stop to reserving their protein for making new feathers.
The neighborhood peacock has lost his tail. I’m looking forward to seeing him with a new one come spring, and I’m so grateful that he dropped a half dozen tail feathers at our place. They are gifts of Spirituality, Awakening, Guidance, Protection, & Watchfulness. In Greco-Roman mythology, the Peacock tail has the "eyes" of the stars. ... For this reason, the Peacock feather represents immortality and can absorb negative energies, protecting those who wear them.
Never steal a feather from the bird; he must give them freely.
Here’s one for you.
It will protect you from winter blahs, and so gather your nuts, store them in a dry place, and spend your winter at base camp.
I’m rooting for ya,