Birds · Buddhism · Musings · Nature · Recipes · Small Joys · Treasure

Restless

I chop the shallots into tiny pieces and saute them slowly in a little butter until they are brown.  Then I add washed and chopped baby spinach and fresh asparagus.  I let the water in the vegetables evaporate.  I beat 6 eggs and a half cup of soymilk.  I chop sorpressa into tiny pieces, and lay them on the pie crust, pour in the veggies, evenly, and poor the eggs and milk over top.  I grate fresh local Swiss cheese, and ementhaler cheese and sprinkle it on top.  I bake them in the oven.  We eat them at the table, with coffee and fruit salad, and orange juice.

I am restless.  I throw laundry in the dryer, and mop the bathroom, I water the pots of petunias suspended under the eaves of the garage, where the downpours of the last two days could not reach.  I sit out in the sun.  And lazy with the heat of sun on my black jacket, and sheltered from the wind, I gaze up into the blue sky.

A buzzard is suspended from in the air, as though hanging from a string in the sky.  Not moving.  Just remaining utterly in place.  It flaps once, twice, and circles around and back to a different spot, and hangs, again, not moving, in the sky.  He does this a half-dozen times over several minutes before he has gone off into the sky beyond my vision. 

Do we all struggle with this feeling of lack inside us?  Do we all say, I am not good enough, I do not do enough.   Do we all say, I am not skinny enough, beautiful enough, young enough.  Do we all say, I will never be as good as this person, or that?  Do we all struggle? 

I think the buzzard was choosing the place in the sky on purpose, delighting in the quality of the restless wind, gusting in burst from more than one direction. But it has found its place, its bliss, its joy, its easy place in the sky.  it is delightful to watch, imagine how it must be to fly?

I PIN a million quotes of inspiration.  Be happy where you are.  Find your light and let it shine.  Let others opinions not move you to change who you are, accept yourself. 

If you accept who you are the universe will too.  All that you want, you have to only imagine and it will happen.  You make your own negativity.

I am restless, my thoughts jump across the sky, flipping over metal chairs, and rattling the bone chimes.  I am like the woman and the cloak, as the wind tears at it, and the sun beats down, she sweats, she is cold, she holds tight to her cloak as her hair whips across her face, she is heavy with the weight of it as the sun beats down on her. 

I think it might be time to weed the garden.  I think it might be time to weed out some of the bits that no longer serve.

Instead of wanting to be the buzzard floating still on the restless sky, I want to be me, at peace in this restless world.

Cooking · Eating Locally · Healthy Eating · Recipes

Two Fine Recipes

The pirate and I didn’t make it to the Farmers Market this weekend since it is hunting season and he, instead was finding food from another source altogether.  We decided while we were out running afternoon errands to go to Wegmans, perhaps the biggest and best store in the area.  There was a woman there sampling sausages of all kinds and they were phenomenal.  I bought a lovely smokey chorizo and then came home and made dirty rice.  I was unhappy with the finished product, but the pirate added his touch and viola.   Put two intelligent heads together and here is the recipe:

Dirty Rice ala Pirate and Wench

saute two medium onions, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, three stalks of celery and a green pepper on low heat until soft and translucent.  Push to the outside edges of the pot and add a package of sliced chorizo sausage, brown lightly.  Stir in altogether add two cups of rice (I used Goya medium grain rice which I absolutely cannot stand but that was somehow the only kind we had in the house) and 4 cups of water and your favorite Cajun seasoning.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to lowest setting and simmer til the rice is done.  Add one 8 oz jar of salsa to your taste (we used medium) and also optional a hearty squeeze of Sriacha sauce for extra spice.  mmm

I made my favorite lentil stew for dinner last night.  A meal I love but is not and has not ever been anyone else favorite.  So unless you adore lentils don’t bother.  BTW the pirate didn’t love it, but he liked it enough to have a second bowl.

No Fat Lentil Soup

add one and a half cups of green lentils to a stock pot and put in about 10 cups of water.  chop one onion into large chunks and add 6 whole cloves of garlic.  simmer for about a half hour.  add two large carrots cut into chunks, add one parsnip cut into chunks (opt) and two large potatoes and several stems of fresh thyme.  simmer on medium low stirring frequently until the veggies are soft.  add about six large mushrooms sliced, a half a head of broccoli chopped (you can add the harder stems when you put in the carrots and potatoes)  and about four ounces of tamari sauce.   Remove the thyme stems.  Simmer about ten more minutes until the broccoli is cooked.    Warm, fat free, and rich in fiber and vitamins.  LOVE LOVE.

As a good wine must be kept in a good cask, so a wholesome body is the proper foundation for a well-appointed inner ground. ~Johannes Tauler 

Cooking · Healthy Eating · Music · Recipes

John Brown’s Body

The Westcott Theater is a small local venue for live music.  It has a wide open floor plan a bar on one side in the back, a place to sell shirts and CD’s on the other side of the theater, a sound booth in the middle and a small stage in front.  It was once a movie theater so the floor is at an angle which makes it good for viewing the stage, but not great for standing all night.  Last night the pirate and I went to see the band John Brown’s Body.

John Brown's Body Lead Singer at the Westcott Theater

 

Awesome horn section from the band John Brown's Body

 

 

It was a great show, two other bands played before they did, one of them was called Doc Apple a fun danceable hip hop band from Rochester NY.  The other was a guy called Derrick Hart, after the show ended he was walking around with CD’s and he gave both of us a CD of a compilation of his music and some other folks.  He came on stage all rumpled and looking kind of geeky but then he opened his mouth and he had a great show tunes voice which he proceeded to sing an a capella show tune style song with lots of F…words mixed in in a unique and surprising way.  It was pretty terrific and getting the CD was an added bonus.

A not so lazy Sunday, after being up dancing half the night, I had breakfast with the pirate’s family, cleaned my house, and walked the dog in the brilliant sunshine.  He was so happy, I swear he looked at me and smiled at least twice.  Now as I continue to prepare artwork to send to an unpaid commission, the new clay Jizo sitting on my table by my side, I have a mincemeat pie in the oven and a pot of one of my long time favorite soups on the stove as I listen to the CD given to me by Derrick Hart.

Vegan Lentil Soup

a cup of lentils
and about 6 cups water simmer for 45 minutes on low

meanwhile in a saute pan, caramelize a diced vidalia onion with three cloves of garlic, browning the onion adds loads of extra flavor pour a little water in and get all the browny goodness out of the pan before you add this to the simmering lentils.

chop three carrots and three medium potatoes and add.

Simmer until lentils are tender about another half hour or so.

add a half a bottle of tamari sauce (5oz altogether) and three sprigs of fresh thyme,

or a tsp of dried thyme leaves, or if you don’t have thyme, herbs de provence work too.

freshly ground pepper

add two large handfuls of mushrooms sliced

simmer another half hour

and a medium sized broccoli crown cook until broccoli is soft

cook until the broccoli is tender.

YUM!!

 

Eating Locally · Healthy Eating · Recipes · Uncategorized

Remembering Vegetarianism

Addendum:

The following is an addendum to the original post.  I moved in with my parents after my daughter was born out of financial necessity.  My family ate a typical American diet, meat and potatoes, milk and eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and refined sugars and white bread.  It was not unhealthy and was well balanced but I found myself preferring to eat differently.  The kind of diet I ate when I was at college and the years following was whole grains, honey and maple syrup, nuts, falafel, fresh fruits and vegetables.  When I returned to live with them I had to give up this whole diet because there were no stores in our rural region that supported this kind of diet easily and my family due to habits, and preferences was unable to eat this way.  It is not a judgment on their behalf, rather it is meant as a reflection of the choices I made, and then how they have now come full circle.

Now back to the original post:

For a few years when I was younger I was a vegetarian, when I was pregnant, I craved sausage, kielbasa, hot sausage, breakfast sausage and pepperoni, I didn’t care, if it was spiced ground meat in a casing, I wanted it.  After I gave birth I lived with my parents for a couple years, and lets just say being a vegetarian was basically impossible in that household.  Impossible.  Then once I started living on my own, my daughter had already developed the taste for meat and sugar, which she has never really gotten over the latter.  I really do wish my family had supported me at least on that, not giving her sugar, but anyway, its too late now and she is a fiend for sugar.  It was hard to cook for her, because she never wanted vegetarian food.  I eventually gave up, buying and fixing meat meals to satisfy others, foregoing the brown rice, and whole grains to satisfy others and out of laziness.

My diet has changed tremendously in the last three and a half years.  I rarely eat out, and when I do it is almost exclusively vegetarian Asian food.  I have eliminated dairy almost completely from my diet, I still have cheese a half dozen times a month.  I no longer buy white rice.   And I have had to, recently cut out added sodium in my diet, ultimately due to high blood pressure, which is because that is what adding hormones does to my body.   Then the other day I started watching this movie called Forks Over Knives.  It talked about how the meat and dairy industry has this agenda of pushing us to eat large quantities of protein and dairy, a truth confirmed by my daughter the nutrition major, and her Diatetics magazine, and it talked about how it is important to eat whole foods, and a plant based diet.  I have been trying so hard to lose weight and I thought about how, at my thinnest I ate a whole food, plant based diet and I am considering changing my diet even further.  I thought too about the pirate, and how he eats kind of a crappy diet sometimes, and thought it would help him if I cooked vegetarian, even if it meant one or two meals a week and a lunch here and there, at least it would be cutting back on the high fat, high salt, high meat based diet he eats.

Today I made Cashew Chili.  I don’t even know where this recipe came from and I feel uncomfortable repeating it, because I am certain it came originally from a cook book.  But it is basically, onions, peppers and garlic sauteed in olive oil until soft, chopped unsalted cashews sauted lightly.  Two quarts of canned tomatoes crushed and then simmer on low for about an hour.  Add a lot of chili powder and cumin and a dash of oregano and salt, and some cayenne pepper and or chipotle pepper powder and two cans of drained dark red kidney beans.  Simmer another forty five minutes or so.  And serve.  The pirate added a bunch of shredded cheddar.  I ate mine plain.  He is a willing healthy food eater, because he called me from the bakery to ask if he should get bread, and I said something healthy and he said, not white then right?  Good guy, got a nice whole wheat bread to have with the chili.

I don’t know how far this will go or whether or not it will be too time consuming and if I will give it up or not.  But I don’t think I will.  Today I thought of several recipes that are time tested favorites, the chili, my lentil soup, my marinated baked tofu, black beans and brown rice, curried chickpeas, dal and split pea soup, all vegetarian options for the winter months, black bean salad, jicama salad, black bean spread on tortillas for summer.  I realize now that summer will be tough, I will have to find some nice cold summer salad recipes that are easy to make!  I am not sure I will cut out meat completely, probably not, I have too much venison in my freezer, but at least for a while I will try to eat vegetarian more often.  Today two people said I look thinner, and a couple days ago two other people did also.  I am at the lowest weight I have been in several years.

I will continue on this path.  I actually feel really good about it.

Changing Seasons · Cooking · Recipes · Strong Woman · Uncategorized

Thank you for helping. Best brother ever!!

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The day was warm, a sweatshirt and jeans kind of day.  My brother is visiting for Thanksgiving and he had already spent a couple hours puttering around my yard without me, taking care of the things that I just don’t get to, since I do both the inside chores and the outside; I also tried to do some of it this summer, but my gas mower wouldn’t start.  He cleaned the spark plug, put DW-40 on the sticky part, played with the choke and started it.  Then he mowed down all of my perennials up front, pulled out the crappy little cherry tree (I wanted a weeping mulberry but got this no growth dwarf cherry that had major structural issues) and mowed along the neighbors fence clearing a path between it and the rhododendrons.  I was shopping for groceries and booze and cooking while he did this, but yesterday once the stuffing was made and the bird in the oven, we went out together and continued the job.  We continued mowing, taking back the English Ivy at least another foot.  Pulling out the flagstone wall that was mostly buried in dirt and ivy and put it all along the side of the veranda extending it past the muddy apron.  He trimmed the cedar and some of the other trees hanging over the ivy, while I dragged the brush to the road.   We also put a shelf up in the shed and nails to hang things on and cleaned it up.   He moved the wood pile to another spot on the back porch and swept and cleaned the area around the studio door and found a new place for the rarely used BBQ grill.  While we were working on that side porch, I decided to paint the other back door purple next summer.  He also cleaned out my gutters for me, while I used the leaf blower to clean up corners and crannies around the yard that had lots of leaf build up.  Now every time I look outside I am amazed.  It is clean and tidy and there are boundaries to the overwhelming chaos that was there before.  I do like things to grow wild and unruly but at the same time, this clean even look is great.  It is so wonderful how easy and fast this kind of work is too, when there are two people doing it, and even though I like my autonomy, I like the fact that my brother takes charge and does what he wants without asking.  Because he knows what he is doing, I trust that it will turn out okay.

This morning the backyard is alive, teaming with life, squirrels are gathering nuts and finding hiding places for them.  There are many birds too, a red winged blackbird, blue jays,  cardinals, chickadees, juncos and a dove enjoying the feeders, though I have not seen many of any in recent weeks.  I think the cleaned out area feels safer for them, because it is far more open and they can see whether or not there are cats hiding in the brush.  I have to say that every time I look at the still unfinished flagstone area I am just blown away by how beautiful it looks.  I am looking forward to putting down sand and pea gravel in the area next spring, it will be gorgeous.

Dinner last night was lovely with the four of them, my daughter and my friend Michelle.  Her boyfriend stayed at home but we made him a plate.  He had to work from 3-11 this morning.  The pirate came over for dessert, my brother and he talked hunting.  And he got the thumbs up of approval from both of them.

I made a chocolate pie from Wegman’s Menu magazine.  My brother’s girls are a bit picky with food  and the pirate and my brother are definitely tofu naysayers.  Trust me they are the last people on the planet I would ever expect to eat tofu and like it.  So even if you are not a big tofu fan, but you cannot eat dairy or you are watching your fat intake try it.

Chocolate Dream Pie:
Make a Ginger snap crust, Wegman’s has a specific brand and style but I just bought a box of gingersnaps and followed the recipe on the box.

Filling:
10 oz of semi sweet chocolate chps
1 pkg soft tofu
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
1/4 cup of raspberry jam
and decorate top with red raspberries.

Make the crust.  Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler.  Process tofu til smooth.  Pour melted chocolate and vanilla into tofu and process til smooth.  Pour over pie crust.  Chill for four hours.  Spread with raspberry jam and top with raspberries.

Super yummy!!

Recipes

Enchilada Lasagna

I love enchiladas, there is a local eatery called Alto Cinco that makes really good ones.  Alas my financial situation made it so that I could not really buy take out so I decided to make enchiladas myself.  Problem is, that they are a pain in the beep to make.  The corn tortillas are always too small and they come unwrapped and it is really time consuming.  Today I decided to make an enchilada lasagna.  All the yummy goodness of an enchilada without all the fuss.  My daughter who eats like a bird who only likes frozen dinners and candy (how did I ever give birth to such a child I will never know!) said “Mom, this is the best thing you have ever made!”

Here is the recipe:

Open a can of enchilada sauce.
cut up one chicken breast and saute in oil until it is done through, add about 2 Tbsp of enchilada sauce and a diced onion, two chopped cloves of garlic and about 1/2 of a red, orange or yellow pepper.
Meanwhile spray the bottom of a round cake pan, and then add a thin coating of enchilada sauce.  Place corn tortillas so it covers the bottom.  I used 3 cut in half and placed so the bottom doesn’t show through.  When chicken and veggies are done add about half to first layer.  Cover with another layer of corn tortillas.  Cut up about a cup and a half of spinach and put on this layer.  cover with another layer of tortillas.  Then coat the top of the tortillas with more enchilada sauce.  Add the remaining chicken mixture.  Another layer of tortillas and a thin coat of enchilada sauce then about a cup of cheese (I used soy cheddar) Place a final layer of tortillas on top and then cover with a generous amount of enchilada sauce.  Top with sliced pickled jalapeno peppers.  Cover with foil and cook at 375 for a half hour.  Serve with sliced avocado and diced green onions.

Yummy!

 

Eating Locally · Recipes

Crabapple Pickles

With the help of my Mom, I finally got around to making the crabapple pickles.  Crab apples are a small hard apple that seems to grow wild just about everywhere in the upstate NY countryside.  According to Wikipedia ( I know I know not always an accurate source) the crabapple is used to help pollinate orchard apples, and at times it is used as a root stock when grafting due to its cold hardiness.  Any way.  This is one of those foods from my childhood that I have never had or heard of in any other place.  My Mom’s cousin was here the other day and told her the crabapples up in Osceola go to waste right on the trees.  No one even knows they make good eating.

Grandma C.’s Crabapple Pickles

7 lbs of crabapples
1 qt vinegar (apple cider vinegar is best)
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs cloves
1 tbs allspice
1 tbs mace or  1 tsp of nutmeg
cook syrup 2 mins.  Add apples and cook slowly so as not to break them open.  Simmer until apples are tender.  Pack in warm jars and seal.  Half a batch made six pints.

I only had about 4 pounds of apples and we were able to halve the recipe.  I understand there is lots of pectin in crabapples and that they make a delicious jelly.  But I have never made it.  Maybe next year.  Although I am not a big meat eater (basically only fish and sometimes chicken these days)  I am thinking a pot roast with crab apple pickles is in order one of these days.  Or some sliced and fried venison would be even better.  I wonder if they would make a good ice wine?

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Oh and it is now November and I just opened my first jar a couple days ago, they are a spicey tart treat, I find myself thinking about different meals I can make that the pickles will go with.  Today it was a plain old boring tuna sammie on wheat bread, the pickles added a lovely zing to the meal.

Cooking · Healthy Eating · Recipes · Yoga

Super Organic Potluck

I had a marvelous dinner last night.  There is this couple from yoga who have a big potluck dinner for the yoga crew every couple of years.  Two years I was in no condition to eat dinner with anyone so I missed the last one.  They have a lovely house that my daughter and I used to trick or treat at when she was little.  This couple has been married for 35 years and they were high school sweethearts.  I was talking to the husband about how wonderful it is that he goes to yoga with her, he told me that he works alot and he tries to do things with her when he can because he wants to spend time with her.  I said that not alot of men would go to yoga just because their wife does, and he said he enjoys yoga but he likes it better because it is something the two of them can do together.  I actually talked with him quite alot and it was interesting,  I have been doing yoga with them for 3 years and it was nice to get to know them a little better.

We all brought vegetarian and vegan dishes.  Love the vegan thing with my sudden awareness of my allergy to the protein in milk.  (oh how lovely it is not to have gas and tummy ache and bowel troubles anymore – a life time of “sensitive stomach” goes bye bye. )  Now that I have stopped eating dairy altogether my self destructive reentry into the world of the cow via cheese my dairy allergy is even more obvious,  ie every time I eat cheese the tummy aches and gas come back big.  We had some really delicious spicy kale salad, cabbage and radish salad, dolmades, homemade whole wheat bread, a mixed zucchini and tomato salad, and oddly it was in the dessert that we got our protein, the husband (of this couple) made a delicious oatmeal and nut and raisin cookie and my oat and whole wheat apple crisp with sunflower seeds, plus someone made pineapple cake and another person made chocolate chip brownies.

Apple Crisp

8 tart apples peeled cut up into thin wedges. Grease a 9″ x 12″ baking pan place apples in pan and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar (like the kind you put on toast)

In a separate bowl:

A 1/2 cup stick of butter
1 heaping cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of oat bran or wheat germ
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of whole rolled oats
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
Cut in with pastry knife until butter is well mixed in with a crumbly texture.

Stir in a 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds.
place mixture over apples.

Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour.

When I got home I blogged and then my lovely daughter brought me a cup of cocoa and we sat out on the back porch and chatted under a down comforter.  She told the dog to wish me a happy birthday and he wagged his tail and smiled up at me came around to where I was on the bench, put his paws on my lap and licked my cheek.  It was a beautiful evening.  This morning a big group of my friends are meeting me for a birthday breakfast.  It is good to be loved.

Cooking · Recipes

My Grandfather’s Pancakes

I am awake in my bed.  I am blind because without my glasses the whole world is a blur.  There is an echo of smoke that permeates everything in this house, the Hudson Bay blanket, the heavy sheets, the special pillowcase that my grandmother puts on my pillow with a Victorian lady with a large crocheted skirt.  I can hear my mother and my grandfather talking, cups clicking on the table, a zippo lighter striking and catching, chrome chair legs pushing against the linoleum.  I know that Jesus is on the other end of the room watching me with a palm leaf across the top of his portrait. After a while I hear cupboards opening and closing and then this distinctive sound of a metal ring slapping rhythmically against the side of a metal bowl and a spoon whipping the batter inside the bowl.  I leap out of bed and make it in record time, carefully folding the green bedspread so that it will stay tucked under the pillow.

I burst into the kitchen and take my seat at the table.  How many pancakes?  3 please.

It is 35 years later.  I am home alone for dinner again, and these days I don’t cook too much, it is kind of sad and pathetic to cook for one.  I always have too many leftovers, I cannot seem to reduce my recipes.  It makes me feel alone to eat and have all that food left sitting in the pan.  I have fresh blueberries in the fridge and I look down at the dog’s happy smiling dog face, his jiggling butt wagging with his tail.  You want a pancake?  A HOT blueberry pancake.  He barks excitedly.  Of course he does.

I take out my metal bowl and metal spoon and whip the batter til it gets that stick together look that says the gluten in the floor has been activated.  I turn the fire onto medium under my cast iron pan, grease it with a little olive oil from a pumping spray bottle, I wait for it to get hot and then spoon one two three pancakes and then throw about 10 blueberries into each.  I wait for it to bubble a little and get dry around the edges and flip.  I take each out of the pan and then take the leftover batter and make one big pancake, putting a small handful of blueberries.  Flip.  I take it out and put in the dog’s dish.  He stands over it.  It’s hot.  I say.  He barks at it.  Barks, then tries it.  After a moment he tears into it.  I melt butter onto my three pancakes and then I put alot of brown sugar on each.  I almost never use maple syrup. I like maple syrup on popovers, but not on pancakes.  I take my little dinner to the family room and watch TV.  I savor each bite.

Pancakes

one egg
about two cups of buttermilk *(I think – maybe a little less than two cups)
a tsp of baking powder
a dash of salt
about one and a third cup of flour* (I think)

*(I am guessing on the buttermilk and flour amounts, I never measure.  You want the batter to be thick without being lumpy and thin with out being too thin you can add a little more of either to adjust and it wont hurt the batter)
whip til the gluten starts to stick together, cook in a frying pan or on a griddle.  Add fresh or frozen berries, frozen berries require the heat to be lower so that the outsides don’t burn before the insides are done.

Cooking · Healthy Eating · Recipes

Ratatouille or Mediterannean Vegetable Stew

Veggies For Ratatouille

Simple Stew….sorry for not including detailed amounts, this is how I cook

Add oil to the bottom of a stockpot.

If you are not a vegetarian brown a half pound of hot sausage (i use Gianelli’s turkey sausage.) More if you like it meaty, i squeeze the sausage out of the casing to make it ground.
Add about five cloves of freshly chopped garlic
one large onion and saute til softened and translucent.
finely chop a pepper (i like to mix a variety of red and green usually but had these pretty yellow and orange ones on hand) and add
cut a medium zucchini into smallish chunks add
cut a medium eggplant into smallish chunks add
add two whole large tomatoes chopped finely (or a 16 oz can of chopped tomatoes works too)
add about a cup and a half of water (if you are a vegetarian use veggie stock) if using canned tomatoes reduce water to about a half cup
let cook for 15 minutes on low
add rosemary (just a scooch) marjoram (more than the rosemary) a bay leaf, some fresh chopped basil (about a large tablespoon and salt to taste.
Continue to simmer stirring from time to time about forty five minutes.
at this point I start the brown rice which takes about 40 minutes.
all together simmer stew about an hour and forty minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

Yummy.

And seriously if you ate like this every day you would live to be a hundred and your body wouldn’t hate you for it.