Sunday, February 28, 2010


I want to point out a couple of interesting places I've visited recently. Andrea of Chicky-Bit Run (in itself a most interesting blog) turned me on to a great soup page, Soupsong. On this page you can find tons of soup tales, soup jokes, soup this and soup that, including hundreds of recipes for... you guessed it, Soup! As soup is one of my all-time favorite things to eat, I think I'll be spending lots of time here. As I mentioned to Andrea, even though I almost never make a soup exactly as a recipe describes, I have maybe 4 or 5 soup cook books. I even love pictures of soup. Here's a link to a duck soup I'll definitely want to try. I once made a stew out of duck, sweet potatoes and wild rice. It was one of the best things I'd ever made, since the textures and flavors melded together into a heavenly dish. Makes my mouth water to think of it. YUM.

The other site I stumbled upon the other day, I'm not sure how. Probably through following links from other blogs. Anyway, it is called Pretty Smart Natural Ideas. It's not a huge blog with lots of posts, but check the past months and the links. You'll find lots of interesting herbal creams and ointments, lip balms, cleaning formulas and other useful and interesting ideas. The author lives in New York City, but is certainly up on natural ideas! Worth checking out. I'll be back to blogging tomorrow, it was a busy week!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Couple of Devastating Articles from NaturalNews

Whew. I just got done reading a couple of really informative articles from Natural News. If you are concerned at all about your well-being and health, then check these out. The first article is about how GlaxcoSmithKline hid the fact that its diabetes drug Avandia can lead to heart attacks and death. The FDA, of course, knew about this and DID NOT pull the drug from the market, even though its own scientists had recommended it. This one should scare you. Here's a quote from the article:

Do the math on this: if Avandia is linked to 83,000 heart attacks, and 50% of those are fatal (that's just an estimate) then Avandia could concievably be the cause of 40,000 deaths. The terrorists attacks of 911 killed roughly 3,000 Americans and yet just one drug that has been kept on the market by the FDA appears to have killed more than 10 times as many Americans as the terrorists.

My brother Terry is a type II diabetic. He is no longer insulin dependent because he eats right. When he got here we all went on an Atkins style diet--low carbs, high protein, high good fat (butter, olive oil). He still has to watch his blood sugar levels, but he lost a lot of weight and is far healthier today because he switched his diet. Cheap and effective, food as medicine. He could have been killed by BigPharma, but instead is healthy.

The second article is just as bad: Big Pharma researcher admits to faking dozens of research articles, articles that were published in peer-reviewed, respected medical journals. This researcher, Dr. Scott Ruben managed to conceal his fraud for 13 years! And this guy is only one "researcher" for Big Pharma. There must be lots of them. And as Health Ranger Mike Adams says, how are we supposed to know the difference between a real scientific study and these made-up fake ones if they all appear in "peer-reviewed" and "respected" medical journals?

Now, I haven't trusted the American medical system for years and years. But I'm still shocked by these articles. I mean, I knew it was bad, fraudulent and fairly idiotic, the medical system in this country, but even so, these kinds of articles are devastating. What the hell are they talking about when they say "evidence-based medicine"? By evidence I guess they mean those "scientific studies" but now, just like the global warming frauds, we can't trust them an inch. Be careful out there folks. If your doctor wants you to take some pharmaceutical, then do some research on the web and find out all you can before you take the damn pill.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In the Handmaiden's Kitchen

From my last post, y'all know we've been snowed in for the last bit of time. Oh, the 4 wheel drive trucks can get out, and the snow plow has been through, but my brother's van only has wet pavement tires and they don't handle snow at all, let alone snow on top of ice. So here we be. Yes, cabin fever has set in amongst most of us, potentially making us irritable and nasty, but so far we've avoided that.

So I've been in the kitchen cooking and baking. I had a bunch of onions that were just beginning to get soft and then sprout. I needed to find something to do with 'em. I turned to my trusty pile of cookbooks (I love reading cookbooks in the wintertime), and found a recipe for slow-cooker carmelized onions. Hot damn! Just the thing for these onions. And it could not be more simple: cut up a bunch of onions (I did about 8 or 10 of them), toss them in the crockpot, toss in 1/4 pound of butter (that's a stick of butter to you), and let them cook on low for 12-14 hours until they turn a rich, deep brown. Use them to make a carmelized onion soup, use as flavorings for stews and soups, use the butter juice in them in rice, use them however you want. They're great! I used to make carmelized onions on the stovetop, but believe me, the crockpot method is superior as you don't have to worry about them at all, they won't burn or scortch.

Then Michael got on to batter breads, lord knows why. He found a recipe for Oatmeal Batter Bread and I made it. Man, this is a tasty bread! Very healthy for you too iffen you don't pig out on it. Michael found the recipe online, so I'll pass it on to you thataway. If you are like me, and while a good cook, immensely capable of screwing up yeast breads, try batter breads. You don't have to knead them, but you are using yeast--at least it is sort of an introduction to baking with yeast. And do make this recipe--it makes a delightful flavorful loaf of bread. For fun, I'll also be trying this recipe, English Muffin Bread. I love English muffins but have never made them.

Then, because I was reading a novel about a Chilean woman in San Francisco during the gold rush who made money by selling her empanadas to hungry miners (Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende), I decided to make empanadas using a recipe I found in Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook. While the filling was delicious, the dough was tough and hard--entirely my fault as I'm the world's worst dough-maker. I have never made a good dough, ever. But a snowed-in February means I've got the time to at least learn more about making dough, even though the husband and brother might have to suffer through it. :) Anyway, I won't share that recipe with you, there's other ones available on the web here. Claiborne's recipe called for 3 TBS of raisins in the filling, which, along with the garlic, onions, tomato, ground beef, black olives and spices, made such a savory filling. YUM.

I wanted to make something with some of the fruits I dried this summer: peaches, nectarines, apples, apricot-plums, raisins, blueberries. Good grief, just typing in those lovely fruit words made my mouth water. In my How to Dry Foods book I found a recipe for German Pancake which sounded like just the thing for a light lunch. It turned out to be delicious and wasn't overly sweet until we put some blueberry syrup on it. :) Here's the recipe:

German Pancake

Boiling water
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped dried apples, apricots, cherries, dates, figs, pears, raisins or dried currants
6 TBS butter
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
Lemon juice and powdered sugar or berry jam or jelly, if desired

Pour boiling water over dried fruit to cover. Let stand to soften 5 - 15 minutes; drain. (DON'T throw away this water--it makes a wonderful fruit tea!) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In preheating oven, melt butter in a 13" by 9" baking pan, checking frequently to avoid scorching. (Or melt butter in the microwave, high for one minute.) In blender, combine eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Blend lightly to mix. Add flour. Stir in softened dried fruit. Pour into baking pan on top of the melted butter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until puffy and golden brown. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and powdered sugar or serve with jam or jelly.

This was a delectable treat, heavenly with the blueberry syrup. We each had a piece or so and Michael had more of it for dessert after dinner.

Besides these treats, for dinners we've had barbequed ribs, venison stew with carmelized onions over brown rice, and parmesean chicken. We ain't all about beans and polenta, though that's one of my favorite meals.

Today it'll be back to some soup or another. I love soup and could basically live on the stuff. I don't know what soup I'll make yet--but something bean and bacony would be delicous. Cooking is fun, messin' in the kitchen is fun. Most of the times, things turn out not only edible but healthy and delicious, but there have been times when I've had to compost the results. Par for the course, since we don't learn without making mistakes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Winter of Our Content

That's what the huge pine trees across the pond look like this snowy morning. It's basically white out there, all visuals hazy with a mist of snow blowing over all. Wow. It's beautiful! I don't think I've even seen a 4 wheel drive truck go by on the roads this morning. We're all sitting tight.

I haven't been blogging in a while, this computer was in the shop with virus problems. Got it back late last week and we can get back into the swing of things again. With the snow, there's not much else to do anyway!

I don't know why I called this post the Winter of Our Content--I suppose, lifting it from Shakespeare ("Winter of our discontent") but to express the mixed emotions of this particular wintertime. I've had many setbacks the past few months: wrecked a car, been snowed in for a week at a time, computer down and out, friend Fred broke his leg and is in the hospital, aggravating sinus problems, not to mention major doom and gloom predictions from the Gruff Lord, Michael of Staying Alive. All the news has been horrible. So why am I not depressed as I usually am in winter, with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Damned if I know, but I'm not. I think it is because I'm getting better at letting go of non-essentials. What I would have considered essential a few months ago, say a functional auto, a working computer, somehow just didn't seem so necessary to me. I could work around it. If I needed a ride to town, I could ask a friend. And my sense of independence wasn't wounded by that. I could relax and let it be. In other words, I wasn't stressing out over all the problems. Some switch in me got flipped and I could look at the reality of what was, but not necessarily call it "a problem."

How did that happen? How did not having a functioning car become a non-problem? I'm not sure--there's no magic pill or herb for this one. But rather than be upset and nervous, twitching my nights away worrying about it, I've somehow moved it from the category of "awful problem" to a new category "we'll solve that one when we have more options." This is somewhat unfamiliar territory to me and I'm in the process of wondering about it, trying to figure it out. But it's interesting at any rate. Feels like one of those big changes people go through every ten years or so--a new psychological stance of some kind. I feel more adaptive, or rather, more able to adapt to what it without demanding that Reality conform to my desires. I suspect this change will stand me in good stead. I hope anyway.

Well, enough blathering about inward landscaping. I think maybe I'll get dressed up in all my deep snow accoutrements and go out and play. :) (I can barely see across the pond...will I be able to find my way home if I go to a neighbor's house for a cup of coffee? Hmmmmmm)

Enjoy your days in all the ways you can!